Archives for July 2014


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DIY Flowers made easy! What a great idea! Have you heard of Bloominous? You really should check them out! They have different collections such as Party Pop Collection and The Vintage Cottage Collection. You can visit their website here. 

The Party Pop collection looks so pretty! But, my favorite color is pink! You can also find them on Facebook!

Self Disclosure: Compensation was received to post but SoCal City Kids also believes that this website would be of interest to our readers.

5 educational apps to stop the Summer Slide

Summer holidays are here and no doubt kids are looking for a respite from the classroom. The well-deserved downtime comes at a cost though – the “Summer Slide” according to the US Department of Education.

Here are some thoughts below  from Mat Peterson, the app developer behind Shiny Things.


Shiny Things is an educational app development startup who have developed their children’s apps in line with the Common Core curriculum – which has now been adopted across forty four states.

Designed to be interactive, engaging and inspire children to learn basic numeracy and literacy skills through play, the apps have caught the attention of educators and editors of Apple’s burgeoning App Store, including three Shiny Things apps in the Best of 2013 list.

With a strong policy to respect their users privacy, Shiny Things apps collect no data from users and have a strict no in-app purchases so parents don’t have to worry about their kids accidentally racking up huge bills.

Now here are 5 of their apps that can help kids stay on the ball throughout summer without feeling like they’re back in the classroom.


Shiny Picnic – For ages 2-4, toddlers join Charlie the Monkey and his jungle friends catching flying fruits, packing the picnic basket, and feeding their animal friends across three fun and educational games that teach essential pre-number skills, such as matching and sorting. Shiny Picnic is also a storybook with highlighted text as the story is ready aloud.

Shiny Circus – For ages 4-6, this app introduces mathematical concepts in a fun and engaging way. Kids will begin to identify measurement qualities and their relationships and lets kids experiment with weight and distance. It’s also an interactive read-along storybook. Watch the trailer here.

Shiny Bakery – For ages 2-5, Shiny Bakery introduces early number sense through counting, measuring, dividing, and sequencing activities as kids help Alice the Zebra help mix, measure, decorate, then serve cakes and cookies to customers. Watch the trailer here.

Quick Math – For ages 6-12, Quick Math improves math proficiency and promotes development of mental strategies for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and mixed operations. The in-built unique handwriting tool improves the child’s handwriting skills and strengthens muscle memory.

Quick Math+ – A challenging step up for ages 8+, Quick Math+ builds on Quick Math, introducing indices, negative numbers, and order of operations questions. It includes new game modes to test memory, logic, estimation ability, and pattern recognition. Watch the trailer here.

Mat Peterson

Mat Peterson, the app developer behind Shiny Things.

Self Disclosure: No compensation was received to post. Credit: Shiny Things.

Pout-Pout Fish by Debbie Diesen Illustrated by Dan Hanna Giveaway Opportunity!

It’s almost time to start thinking about Back-to-School! I know…it’s still summer and I am not ready to start thinking about school either. If your kids are feeling a bit nervous, they aren’t the only ones: our beloved picture book character, The Pout-Pout Fish, faces a bit of anxiety in the newest book in the series, THE POUT-POUT FISH GOES TO SCHOOL, which is every bit as charming and adorable as the previous books in the NYT-Bestselling series. This looks like it would be a great book for those young children who are starting school this school year.

You can purchase on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or

Pout Pout Fish Goes to School     Pout Pout Goes to School Interior 2

I just love these illustrations!

We have teamed up for an early Back-to-School Giveaway! One winner will win the book! Leave a comment below telling us why you are or aren’t looking forward to back-to-school! Deadline to enter is August 6th, 2014 at noon (PST). One winner will randomly be selected from all entries!

Pout Pout Goes to School Interior 3   Pout Pout Goes to School Interior 4

Self Disclosure: No compensation was received except for a book will be sent to the winner.


Fun, easy ice-pop recipes from Simply Sweet’s new cookbook Colorcakes Fun, easy to make and delicious recipes!

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This summer, the ice cream man’s jingle will be drowned out by the sounds of delight coming from your own kitchen. When it comes to whipping up homemade, frozen treats, the new dessert cookbook Simply Sweet Colorcakes has you covered with a number of ice-pops that are refreshing, colorful and best of all, incredibly easy to make. Most have 5 ingredients or less and are great to stock in your freezer for the warm summer months — just pull a few out when you need them. Whether you have a backyard full of playing children or find yourself hosting a spontaneous get-together, it’s great to be able to hand out healthy ice pops made with ingredients like fresh fruit and yogurt, including:


  • Frozen Berry Yogurt Ice Pops made with vanilla yogurt and frozen blueberries
  • Red, White and Blueberry Pops full of fresh strawberries and blueberries
  • Pineapple-Mango-Kiwi Pops dotted with colorful slices of kiwi and chunks of pineapple

Here is a delicious recipe:

Frozen Berry Yogurt Ice Pops


Makes 8 servings Hands-On Time: 4 min. Total Time: 4 hours, 9 min.


2 cups vanilla yogurt

1⁄2 cup frozen blueberries

1 Tbsp. blueberry preserves

8 (4-oz.) ice pop molds

1⁄4 cup blackberry jam

8 (4-inch) wooden craft sticks


1. Process 1 cup vanilla yogurt, blueberries, and blueberry preserves in a blender until smooth. Pour mixture into ice pop molds. Top with blackberry jam and remaining 1 cup vanilla yogurt, and swirl. Cover each mold with foil; insert a wooden stick into each pop. Freeze 4 hours or until pops are frozen.

2. Dip bottom of molds in warm water for a few seconds to release pops.


*Simply Smart Tip*

If you want to make several batches of these pops but only have one set of molds,   just freeze pops, remove from molds, and place in zip-top plastic freezer bags before returning to freezer. Wash molds before starting a second or third batch of pops.

I received a copy of this book and all the recipes look so delicious! There really is a recipe for everyone! I had a difficult time figuring out which one is my favorite. I like that they are easy recipes to follow and love the colorful photos. It is a beautiful cookbook! I know that my son and I will be making the tie-dyed cupcakes soon. There are so many recipes that are just perfect for the Summer! Here’s one of my favorite below!


watermelon  cupcakes

makes 24 cupcakes Hands-On Time: 30 min. Total Time: 1 hour, 40 min.


Paper baking cups

1 (18.25-oz.) package vanilla cake mix

Water, vegetable oil, and eggs called for on cake mix box

1⁄2 tsp. green food coloring paste

1 cup butter, softened

1 (32-oz.) bag powdered sugar

3 Tbsp. watermelon-flavored gelatin (from 3-oz. box)

1⁄3 cup milk

11⁄2 tsp. red food coloring paste

Large disposable decorating bag

1⁄4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate morsels


1. Preheat oven to 350°. Place paper baking cups  in 2 (12-cup) muffin pans.

2. Prepare cake mix according to package directions  for cupcakes, using water, oil, and eggs and adding green food coloring. Cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely (about 30 minutes).

3. In large bowl, beat butter and half of powdered sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Beat in gelatin (dry) until blended. Gradually add remaining powdered sugar alternately with milk, beating until frosting is smooth and spreadable. Beat  in red food coloring.

4. Insert a large star tip into decorating bag; fill with frosting. Pipe frosting onto cupcakes. Decorate with chocolate morsels to look like watermelon seeds.

You can find this wonderful book full of the best recipes at Amazon! Your family will thank you!

Self Disclosure: I received a Free book to facilitate this feature but any opinions expressed are truthful. Photo Credit and Recipe Credit: Simply Sweet Colorcakes.


Energy Saving Tactics for Families this Summer

With record drought and a hotter than expected summer facing California, the state has launched an initiative to help Californian families conserve water and energy.

Easy actions include:
– Using advanced smart strips to stop standby power
– Replacing inefficient light bulbs with energy saving bulbs
– Installing smart thermostats and home energy monitors
– Using low-flow showerheads
– Playing fun family games at night by candlelight
– Following Energy Upgrade California on Facebook ( and Twitter ( to learn more about energy management, upcoming events, contests and more!
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Self Disclosure: No compensation was received to post. Thank you to Energy Upgrade California!

US Swim School Association Provides Tips to Stay Safe While Boating Natural bodies of water can pose a greater drowning risk than swimming pools

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While many parents worry about their children’s safety around swimming pools, as they should and need to do, drowning incidents can also occur in natural bodies of water. Safety precautions need to be taken around all water environments. According to the Center for Disease Control, about half of all drowning incidents occur in natural water settings such as lakes, rivers, or oceans. And, almost 75% of people killed in boating accidents die as a result of drowning. As the summer boating season begins, there are steps parents can be taking to keep their children safer in the water. The United States Swim School Association has put together the following guidelines to help keep children safe while boating this summer.


  • Make sure your children know how to properly wear a lifejacket. And always have children under 12 wear a life jacket at all times when boating or using personal watercraft.
  • Personal floatation devices (PFDs) should always be U.S. Coast Guard approved. Never substitute water wings or other recreational type floating toys for an approved PFD.
  • Create a water safety plan for your family and have water emergency drills with your kids covering how to recognize the signs of someone struggling in water and what to do in this type of emergency.
  • Teach your children the “throw don’t go” rescue method. Instead of entering the water to help a struggling person, teach your child to throw in a rope, reach with a stick, paddle or other object to pull the person in.
  • If you take your kids on a shore excursion while boating, be aware of tides and currents and other risks the ocean or beach may have.
  • Non-motorized boats can also pose a risk. If your family is canoeing or kayaking be sure your child is wearing a life jacket and knows what to do if the boat flips.
  • If your child is playing near a natural body of water and accidentally falls in, teach your child to roll over on his or her back and float until help arrives if exiting the water is not an option.
  • Never use floatation devices or water wings to keep your child safe in the water. Rely on your direct supervision.


Swimming lessons are a great addition to help keep your child safer while boating and around open water.  For more information about swimming lessons and water safety and to find a Unites States Swim School Association member swim school near you, visit:


About US Swim School Association

US Swim School Association (USSSA) began in 1988 to fill a gap in the swim school industry. USSSA has become the largest and preeminent swim school association in the country with over 400 members providing swim and water safety instruction to over 500,000 students each year. Swim schools receive invaluable benefits as USSSA members, receiving the latest training in water safety, swim instruction methods and tools, invitations to annual conferences, and many other benefits that help establish and build each individual business. Through USSSA, parents and students are provided with a reliable and trustworthy resource when searching for a swim school and can rest assured they have chosen a top school when they choose a USSSA affiliated location. For more information, visit

Self Disclosure: No compensation was received to feature. Thank you to the US Swim School Association for these helpful tips! Photo Credit: United States Swim School Association.




AKVIS OilPaint


Are you looking for a fun and creative way to make your photos look like oil paintings? AKVIS OilPaint  is a fun an easy photo to painting software. What I like the most about it is that it is quite easy to do. I like that it is not so complicated that kids can also do this without a lot of help. It’s just a lot of fun! We plan to use this during homeschool this year for Art time.

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We’re still not experts and this is one of the photos we did when we first started! We can’t wait to do more!



More information:

AKVIS OilPaint is photo to painting software that creates oil paintings from photographs. The characteristic feature of the program is a unique algorithm of the artistic application of brush strokes that authentically reproduces the technique of the real brush.

Creating a painting in oil colors is long and complicated process. Usually it may take months. With this cutting-edge software you can become a painter and turn your photos into paintings in just a few minutes!

Even if you are not a professional painter you can create your own masterpiece! Just use AKVIS OilPaint to turn a regular photo into an oil painting.  The mysterious production of a painting happens right before your eyes. The program creates a work of art that looks like a handmade oil painting.

Personalize your work of art by adding a signature or a greeting! To make the painting even more realistic you can adjust the canvas.
The program offers a number of ready to use Presets that let you familiarize yourself with the features of the software. The Batch Processing support lets you automatically convert a series of images with the same settings.
Adjusting the density, texture, and thickness of the brush strokes, you can not only enhance the volume and get impressive effects, but also find your own painting style.

AKVIS OilPaint is available as a standalone program and as a Photoshop plugin.
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Planes: Fire and Rescue – Great Entertainment for Your Youngest Viewers KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions,


Disney’s sequel to its successful Planes film and in this one, world-famous air racer Dusty finds a new career as a fire fighting plane. This anthropomorphic character charms us once again in a tame adventure that you can feel comfortable taking your preschoolers to. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Gerry O, age 12, comments, “What a great add-on to the series… there are a lot of great messages and a lot of references to things in real life.” Haley P, age 11, adds, “Planes: Fire & Rescue is not what I expected at all.  It’s even better!  Although this is a kid movie, it has a message comparing real life situations even adults can relate to.” Adam C, age 8 says, “If you enjoy fun, thrilling action scenes then Planes: Fire and Rescue is the movie for you.”  See their full reviews below.

Planes: Fire and Rescue
Reviewed by Gerry Orz, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 12

What a funny and entertaining film! I did not know what to expect, this is the fourth film in this vehicle’s universe with the two Cars movies and then the first Planes movie. I was wondering if maybe Disney pushed it a little bit. However, Planes: Fire and Rescue is an entertaining film that is a fantastic sequel in this magical franchise.

The story isn’t about just one topic. This is a little bit of humorous romance and also a lot of action. They make some pretty funny jokes while adding a little sprinkle of drama and a great message for the kids as well.

The story starts when Dusty sadly learns that a key component in him is broken and he thinks he will never race again. When a fire breaks out in his airport, they realize the town needs a second firefighter. Dusty steps up to the plate and goes into training. If you want to find out what happens and if he becomes a firefighter, you have got to watch the film.

What a great add-on to the series; the jokes are perfect. Julie Bowen (Lil’ Dipper) is funny through the end. Also, there are a lot of great messages and a lot of references to things in real life. However, this film is very predictable. Ten minutes in, I knew the ending, so it probably would be more captivating for a younger audience. Also, Planes: Fire and Rescue is very similar to the last three films. There is a challenge, a serious character and some comedy.  Other than that, the voices are well done and they even changed a Native American folk tale into the version of vehicles just for this film! Very clever!

My favorite scene is when Dusty first arrives at the firefighting station for his training. He is introduced to some Smoke Jumpers, cars that parachute into the fire to tackle fallen trees and save wildlife. One nearly takes off his head and the other two introduce themselves. Once they all get acquainted, the first fire breaks out and cars and planes all get into action in a well-choreographed manner!

This is a kid’s film and nothing really is here that parents should be worried about. I recommend it for ages 3 to18. Even kids that don’t understand it will enjoy the bright colors. I give this film 4 out of 5 stars for great jokes and a fantastic story line, even though a bit predictable.

Planes: Fire & Rescue

Reviewed by Haley Powell, Age 11, KIDS FIRST! Film Critic


Planes: Fire & Rescue is not what I expected at all.  It’s even better!  Although this is a kid movie, it has a message comparing real life situations even adults can relate to.


Dusty Crophopper (Dan Cook) is a famous racing plane.  While enjoying some fun and flying full speed, Dusty hears a sound he never heard before…”CRACK!”  He looses control but is able to land safely.  When his crew checks him out, they find Dusty’s gear-box is broken – a part in his engine that has been discontinued.  His crew promises to search everywhere for a replacement but in the mean time, he can no longer race.  Feeling sorry for himself, Dusty gets angry and goes on a flying frenzy. His wing accidentally clips a building that bursts into fire.  Inspectors shut down the town runway because the fire safety plan was totally outdated, especially the fire truck in charge.  Dusty feels bad and decides to get certified as a firefighter to help get the town runway reopened.  In the process, he realizes it means more to put other people first and he risks his engine to save the life of someone else.


My favorite scene is when the whole forest is on fire.  It’s the largest wildfire the smoke jumpers ever have to deal with.  The crew springs into action to contain the wildfire and save everyone’s life.


I just loved Dotty (Teri Hatcher) the most.  It is hysterical the way she has a crush on Dusty. She doesn’t’ leave his side.  Blade (Ed Harris) is also a great leader.  He risks his own life to protect Dusty in the wildfire. The 3D animation makes the story come alive.  It’s like being in the middle of a real forest fire.  The whole movie is action packed.  The moral of this story is if life throws you lemons, make lemonade and never give up on your dreams in the process.


This movie is a good fit for ages 5 through 18.  Boys, girls and even adults will enjoy Planes because it has many life lessons.  I rate this movie a 5 out of 5 “dazzling” stars!  Planes: Fire & Rescue is in theaters now.


Planes: Fire and Rescue

Reviewed by Adam C., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 8


If you enjoy fun, thrilling action scenes then Planes: Fire and Rescue is the movie for you.  This is a sequel to the Disney movie Planes where Dusty Crophopper becomes a famous racing star.  Dusty’s engine is damaged and he may never race again due to his equipment failing. The local airport is closed due to safety concerns and the only way to save it is for Dusty to become a certified firefighter.  Dusty decides to go to learn to be a firefighter with Blade Ranger and his team in a gorgeous National Park so he can be a certified firefighter.


My favorite character or should I say plane is Dusty Crophopper (voiced by Dane Cook). He portrays a wide range of emotions in the movie from sad to happy.  I can relate to Dusty wanting to help the forest out when Blade Ranger was not able to do it.


The scenery is beautiful in this film.  The national park is gorgeous and pristine.  The animation is thrilling with the planes flying over the majestic national park and dropping fire retardant on the fires.


My favorite part of the movie is when Dusty and the team fight a huge fire without their leader Blaze Ranger.  Dusty is brave to go out without his mentor and earns his certification as a firefighter. The firefighting scenes are beautiful and exciting to watch especially for boys my age.


The film’s positive message can apply to all age ranges.  Sometimes in life things do not go as we plan them to be and we have to have a positive attitude and not give up.  Dusty provides a good role model for this as he takes on the brave role of fire fighter when he cannot race anymore.


I give this movie five out of five stars.  I am eight-year-old boy and I loved it. It is geared more to young boys who will love it and want to buy the merchandise.  I recommend it to ages four to ten, especially boys. The movie is in theaters now.

Credit: KIDS FIRST! Coming Attractions,