Archives for November 9, 2015

World-Class 4-D Theater Experience Debuts On The Queen Mary

The Queen Mary will open a new state-of-the-art 4-D Theater experience on November 20, 2015. This attraction will replace a decades-old theater located in the aft section of the world’s best-known ocean liner. This innovative and exciting experience is the latest addition to a growing array of visitor venues and ship upgrades.
The 4-D Theater was designed by SimEx-Iwerks Entertainment in close collaboration with Queen Mary historians. This theater attraction will complement the look and feel of the Queen Mary and evoke a sense of old Hollywood glamour and art deco style.

The 121-seat theater delivers a high-definition viewing experience in 3-D with 7.1 digital audio surround sound and features a variety of sensory surprises that are built into the seats and theater environment. On-screen images are brought to life with coordinated 4-D effects such as bubbles, wind, and scents for a fully immersive cinematic experience.

“Our guests are not only going to enjoy the shows in the theater but appreciate the authenticity of the environment itself,” said Queen Mary General Manager, John Jenkins. “We could not be happier about the timing of the opening with our popular CHILL holiday event and launching this incredible new theater with the Polar Express 4-D.”

THE POLAR EXPRESS 4-D Experience® will run from November 20January 10. This 13-minute show is a family-friendly, modern classic.

Starting on January 11, the 4-D Theater will feature SpongeBob SquarePants 4-D: The Great Jelly Rescue and Planet Earth:  Shallows Seas 4-D Experience®, along with a custom pre-show content featuring scenes from the many Hollywood films shot on and around the Queen Mary.

Queen Mary 4D Theater

Credit: The Queen Mary.
About Queen Mary
Located in the Port of Long Beach, the Queen Mary ( features a rich maritime history, authentic Art Deco décor, and stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Long Beach city skyline. At the time of her maiden voyage in May of 1936, she was considered the grandest ocean liner ever built. The Queen Mary features award-winning restaurants, historical attractions, numerous special event salons and 346 staterooms.

About SimEx-Iwerks Entertainment
SimEx-Iwerks Entertainment specializes in designing, building and operating special F/X driven cinematic attractions that feature blockbuster content form the world’s major film studios. We build successful partnerships that provide 4-D Experiences® films and services to over 150 attractions in more than 30 countries. Our attractions generate revenue, drive attendance and provide family-friendly memorable experiences to over 50 million guests each year.

THE POLAR EXPRESS and all related characters and elements © & ™ Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.  (s15)
Planet Earth: Shallow Seas is a BBC/Discovery Channel/NHK co-production in association with the CBC. © 2015 Viacom International Inc. All Rights Reserved. Nickelodeon,
SpongeBob SquarePants and all related titles, logos and characters are trademarks of Viacom International Inc.
SpongeBob SquarePants created by Stephen Hillenburg.

Nielsen-Massey Vanillas for the Holidays! Gourmet Peppermint Hot Cocoa is a must-try! Giveaway Opportunity!


This holiday season, Nielsen-Massey Vanillas invites you to take a break from hectic seasonal shopping and planning to meet with friends and loved ones and warm up with cozy cocoa to create lasting memories.

Bonding over drinks is a delicious way to stay socially connected with the people you care about the most and it may ease holiday stress. Studies have shown that spending time together increases happiness and helps alleviate depression (

Here is a wonderful recipe from our friends at Nielsen-Massey Vanillas:

Gourmet Peppermint Hot Cocoa

Serves 6

⅓ cup unsweetened quality cocoa powder (Dutch processed)
1½ cups powdered sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
4 cups whole milk
2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract
½ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Peppermint Extract
¼ teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Chocolate Extract

In a medium saucepan, combine cocoa powder, sugar and salt. Place over medium-low heat and gradually whisk in milk and half-and-half until combined. Stirring occasionally, heat to desired temperature, being careful not to let the mixture boil. Stir in pure vanilla, peppermint and chocolate extracts.

Before serving, top with a Vanilla Bean Marshmallow. For an extra blast of peppermint, drop a peppermint candy in the bottom of each mug before serving.

I received a sample of the Nielsen-Massey Pure Chocolate Extract and it is a real baking must-have!

Visit the Nielsen-Massey website for more product information and additional recipes.

We have teamed up for a Holiday Giveaway! One winner will win the Pure Chocolate Extract! To enter, visit their website and tell us in the comments below which recipe is your favorite! Deadline to enter is November 15th, 1015 at noon PST. One winner will randomly  be selected via

Self Disclosure: I received a free sample to facilitate this post. Recipe/photo credit: Nielsen-Massey.



HGTV Celebrates The Holidays With ‘Santa HQ’ At 10 Macerich Malls

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HGTV’s interactive “Santa HQ” holiday activation will continue to revolutionize the traditional Santa Claus experience when it returns to 10 top Macerich malls, connecting the brand with millions of targeted consumers in key markets.


For seven weeks, from Thursday, Nov. 5, through Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, Santa HQ spreads holiday cheer to guests of all ages with a 21st century immersive journey that features state-of-the-art digital technology. In addition to the classic photo with Santa Claus, mall guests can take an Elfie selfie to star in their own holiday video, use Elf-Ray Vision to explore Santa’s Observatory, and test out the Naughty or Nice O’Meter.


At select locations, fans can get autographs and take photos with HGTV and DIY Network stars, including Anthony Carrino and John Colaneri (America’s Most Desperate Kitchens) and Alison Victoria (Kitchen Crashers).  Anthony and John will appear at Danbury Fair on Nov. 7; and Alison will appear at Tysons Corner Center on Nov. 20.


“Santa HQ was a tremendous success for HGTV last year so we are expanding the event this year to make it even more magical for kids and their families,” said Shannon Driver, senior vice president, marketing and creative services. “Holiday celebrations go hand-in-hand with home, so this is the perfect time to engage with our fans in a meaningful way.”


The unique attraction offers a powerful HGTV brand experience at each of the high-performing, market-dominant Macerich properties that host Santa HQ. “Our beautiful, amenity-rich retail properties are magnets for families during the holidays, providing an unrivaled marketing platform for brands to connect with ready-to-shop consumers in top markets,” said Ken Volk, chief marketing officer, Macerich. “Santa HQ is an excellent example of a well-executed strategic partnership that enables brands like HGTV to come to life at our malls to engage their target audiences.”


While visiting Santa HQ, guests can customize their individual experience by using augmented reality to view Santa’s Workshop and Observatory in a magical way. Visitors can download the Elf-Ray Vision app or use a provided tablet to discover the enchanting world of Santa HQ in stunning 2D and 3D digital scenes. Shoppers can continue their adventure with a custom photo opportunity, a visit with Santa inside his modernized sleigh and an opportunity to enter for the chance to win $10,000 in HGTV’s Spreading Holiday Cheer Sweepstakes. Reservations to visit the experience can be made in advance at HGTV knows the holidays are a special time for the network’s audience, so fans are encouraged to share their Santa HQ experience on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using #loveHGTV for the chance to appear on


The Santa HQ experience will be featured at 10 Macerich properties as follows:


Chandler Fashion Center, Chandler, opens Nov. 7

Scottsdale Fashion Center, Scottsdale, opens Nov. 14


Vintage Faire, Modesto, opens Nov. 5

Los Cerritos Center, Cerritos, opens Nov. 7

Lakewood Center, Lakewood, Calif., opens Nov. 7



Flatiron Crossing, Broomfield, opens Nov. 7


Danbury Fair, Danbury, opens Nov. 6


New Jersey:

Deptford Mall, Deptford Township, opens Nov. 5



Washington Square, Portland, opens Nov. 7


Washington D.C. area:

Tysons Corner Center in Virginia opens Nov. 14


Santa HQ was conceived in collaboration with HGTV, Macerich and Pop2Life, a New York-based experiential marketing agency.


America’s leading home and lifestyle brand, HGTV features a top-rated cable network that is distributed to more than 96 million U.S. households and, the premier source for home-related inspiration, instruction and entertainment, attracts more than six million people each month. The brand also includes the HGTV HOME™ consumer products line which showcases exclusive collections of paint, flooring, furniture, plants, fabrics and other home-oriented products. For more information on HGTV HOME branded products and to find a retailer, go to In partnership with Hearst Magazines, the HGTV Magazine, a home and lifestyle publication, is currently available on newsstands. Viewers can become fans of HGTV and interact with other home improvement enthusiasts through Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram. Headquartered in Knoxville, Tenn., HGTV is owned by Scripps Networks Interactive, Inc. (SNI).



Macerich, an S&P 500 company, is a fully integrated self-managed and self-administered real estate investment trust, which focuses on the acquisition, leasing, management, development and redevelopment of regional malls throughout the United States. Macerich currently owns 55 million square feet of real estate consisting primarily of interests in 51 regional shopping centers. Macerich specializes in successful retail properties in many of the country’s most attractive, densely populated markets with significant presence in the Pacific Rim, Arizona, Chicago and the Metro New York to Washington, DC corridor. Additional information about Macerich can be obtained from the Company’s website at



Pop2Life is an experiential marketing + music agency that specializes in branded entertainment, social experiences, and unique promotions that “go beyond.” The company was founded in 2003 by former VP of Marketing & Promotion at RCA Records, Eric Murphy, who played a vital role in launching the careers of notable artists and bands including *NSYNC, Dave Matthews Band and Christina Aguilera.  P2L works with some of the biggest media + entertainment brands in the world including Clear Channel Media + Entertainment, MTV Networks, HGTV, AMC, Cartoon Network, Dreamworks, Food Network, NBC and many more.

Credit: HGTV, Macerich and Pop2Life.

Hair Warrior is a Beauty Must-Have!

Hair Warrior 4

If the heat and sun are taking a toll on your hair, then you need to try Hair Warrior. Hair Warrior adds hydration and protection to your hair during physical activity and fitness. Apply it prior to yoga, running, hiking, or working out and Hair Warrior will work with your body heat to smooth, protect and condition each strand – preventing damage and strengthening your hair. Works on ALL hair types! Hair Warrior is cruelty-free, tested only on humans and solar-manufactured in the USA. Comes in a travel size for $4 or 6 ounce tube for $24. Hair Warrior is sold at gyms and yoga studios nationwide and also online at

I received a travel size and highly recommend! I tend to have hair on the dry side and it is color treated and it worked great on my hair!

Self Disclosure: I received a free sample to facilitate this post.



PBS KIDS Nature Cat Logo

PBS KIDS’ newest super-hero cat will be joining the neighborhood next month! NATURE CAT, a new animated series that encourages children to explore nature debuts Wednesday, November 25, the day before Thanksgiving. Inspired by research on the health and educational benefits of spending time outside, NATURE CAT encourages families to get active and go on their own outdoor adventures.


The weekly action-adventure series stars an ordinary housecat Fred (voiced by SNL’s Taran Killam) who becomes his alter-ego, “Nature Cat”, backyard nature explorer extraordinaire, when his family leaves for the day.

Each episode, packed with humor designed for kids ages 3-8 – and their parents – provides science-based adventures to spark children’s interest in their own adventures, with the clever use of music and pop-culture references. Kids and parents can share their own discoveries and experiences as they observe and absorb the natural world around them through nature-based activities and ideas.

Voiced by an all-star cast parent will recognize from late-night TV fame, NATURE CAT harnesses the power of creative playtime with the quality science and technology children’s programming viewers have come to expect from PBS KIDS.  With the addition of NATURE CAT to the cadre of quality science children’s programming, PBS is continuing to lead the discussion to connect kids to science at a younger age.

Credit: PBS KIDS.

Parents Magazine Names 10 Best Children’s Books Of 2015

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Parents magazine today revealed its picks for the 10 Best Children’s Books of 2015. The magazine sought input from children and librarians across the country to select their favorite reads from the collection of books released this year. The full list of the 10 Best Children’s Books appears in the December 2015 issue of Parentsmagazine and online:


According to the Parents magazine, the 10 Best Children’s Books of 2015 are:


Board Book:

Hi! By Ethan Long

In this story about the ways animals and humans say hello, bouncy rhymes like “hoo” and “moo” and “chirp” and “slurp” made our toddler testers giggle. “The comic-like illustrations are just as much fun as the text,” says one mom of a 3-year-old. Birth to 3, $8




Fictional Picture Book:

Wolfie the Bunny, by Ame Dyckman and Zachariah O’Hora

A zany premise (a family of bunnies adopts a baby wolf left at its doorstep) leads to suspense (repeated refrains of “He’s going to eat us all up,” from his bunny sister) and a surprise ending. “This fresh take on sibling rivalry is so much fun to read aloud,” says Ginny Collier, a children’s librarian in Atlanta. Ages 3 to 6, $17




Number Book:

Counting Dogs, by Eric Barclay

The format won families over: Bound in a sturdy box, the book contains graduated pages and die-cut tabs. Turning each one reveals an adorable spotted dog encountering an increasing number of animals, such as three turtles, nine fish, and, finally, ten counting dogs that look just like him. Ages 1 to 4, $11



Nonfiction Picture Book:

Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh, by Sally M. Walker and Jonathan D. Voss

“No way—Winnie is real?” exclaimed one 6-year-old reviewer after hearing this sweet-as-honey account about a Canadian soldier who brought his pet bear Winnie (short for Winnipeg) to be cared for at the London Zoo while he was in battle. Christopher Robin came to visit the zoo with his family, and the rest is history. Ages 4 to 8, $18.

All of these would make great holiday gift suggestions!





The Day the Crayons Came Home, by Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers

The story is funnier than the creators’ original blockbuster, The Day the Crayons Quit. Each crayon sends Duncan, the main character, a postcard highlighting what’s happened since they walked out. From neon red: “Looks like I’m almost home. … Just crossing New Jersey by camel now! New Jersey has giant pyramids, right?” Ages 4 to 8, $19



Early Reader

Ballet Cat: The Totally Secret Secret, by Bob Shea

Although the vocabulary is simple enough for early readers, the story of a cat and a pony doesn’t lack substance. “It helps children learn how they can express their desires without compromising a friendship,” says Lorie Bonapfel, children’s librarian at The Public Library of Cincinnati & Hamilton County. Ages 4 to 6, $10




Journey to the Moon, by Andy Mansfield

Kids oohed and aahed over the pop-ups (especially the spirally moon landing), but parents got a kick out of the twist ending (let’s just say it’s extraterrestrial!). Ages 4 to 8, $13




Beginning Chapter Book:

The Story of Diva and Flea, by Mo Willems and Tony DiTerlizzi

Fans of Willems’s Elephant & Piggie series will grow into this 80-page story about a streetwise cat and a tiny dog who explore Paris. Says one 8-year-old tester: “I liked the pencil illustrations.” Ages 6 to 9, $15




Graphic Novel:

Roller Girl, by Victoria Jamieson

A relatable main character, realistic dialogue, and expressive illustrations won over our tween reviewers. “Even though I can barely roller-skate, I felt like I was reading about me and a couple of my best friends,” says one 9-year-old. Ages 7+, $13




 Big-Kid Chapter Book

The Marvels, by Brian Selznick

Testers thrived on unraveling the mystery of how two seemingly stand-alone stories (one told entirely through nearly 400 pages of illustrations) are connected. Says children’s librarian Elizabeth Bird: “It will keep your kids guessing.” Ages 8+, $33.


Self Disclosure: No products were received or compensation to post. Credit: Parents magazine.



Reindeer Romp Holiday Celebration at the Los Angeles Zoo!


Photo: Los Angeles Zoo’s REINDEER ROMP, the only opportunity to see real reindeer in Los Angeles,
is featured daily from Friday, November 27, 2015, through Sunday, January 3, 2016 (except Christmas Day)

LIVE REINDEER, ICE CARVING, PUPPET SHOWS, AND VISITS WITH SANTA CLAUS ARE JUST SOME OF THE FUN AT THE LOS ANGELES ZOO’S REINDEER ROMP HOLIDAY CELEBRATION Friday, November 27, 2015, through Sunday, January 3, 2016 (daily except December 25) 10 am to 4 pm Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

The Los Angeles Zoo presents a rare opportunity to see live reindeer at its Reindeer Romp Holiday Celebration, which debuts Friday November 27, 2015, and runs through January 3, 2016 (except Christmas Day),10 am to 4 pm.  Guests are invited to make the most of the season with a full day of fun and adventure at a great value highlighted by a visit with Noel, Belle, Velvet and Jingle in their wintry Reindeer Village home, the only place to view live reindeer in Los Angeles.  A flurry of other activities on weekends include holiday crafts for youngsters, ice carving demonstrations (Saturdays), Swazzle Holiday Extravaganza puppet shows (Sunday mornings), entertainment by the Satin Dollz, Los Angeles’ popular retro musical troupe (Sunday afternoons), docent talks, and a rotating schedule of animals unwrapping gifts all their own.  Visits with Santa Claus in an all-new whimsical Santa Village and photo ops (for a nominal fee) take place every weekend through December 20 plus December 21, 22 and 23 from 11 am to 3 pm.

“The Zoo is a wonderful place to spend quality time with kids and extended family during the holiday season,” says Kait Hilliard, Vice President – Marketing and Communications for the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association.  “Visitors can enjoy the seasonal weather along with an enriching experience of magical holiday fun as well as the chance to see our animals and meet our newest baby giraffe, snow leopards and giant river otter pups.”

All activities, except Santa photos, are free with paid Zoo admission, which is $20 for general admission (ages 13 to 61); $17 for seniors (ages 62+), and $15 for children (ages 2 to 12).  No ticket is required for children under age two.  Admission for Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association members is free.

The landmark Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens, drawing 1.6 million visitors each year, is home to a diverse collection of 1,100 animals representing 250 different species, many of which are rare or endangered.  Its lush grounds on 113 acres feature the LAIR (Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, and Reptiles); Elephants of Asia; Campo Gorilla Reserve; Rainforest of the Americas, an extraordinary collection of endangered and exotic mammals, reptiles, fish and amphibians living in spaces that exemplify their natural habitat in the rainforest biosphere; Tom Mankiewicz Conservation Carousel; an Indian Rhino Encounter direct-contact opportunity; Chimpanzees of Mahale Mountains, home to one of the largest troops of chimpanzees in the United States; Red Ape Rain Forest, where visitors can walk among orangutans; the Winnick Family Children’s Zoo; one of the largest flocks of flamingos in any zoo in the world; a botanical collection comprising over 800 different plant species with approximately 7,000 individual plants; and much more.  Accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), whose members meet rigorous professional standards for animal welfare, the Zoo has achieved renown as an international leader in the preservation of endangered species and a conservation center for the care and study of wildlife.  The private, non-profit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), which has supported the Zoo in partnership with the City of Los Angeles for more than five decades and provides funding for and operates seven essential Zoo departments, has 60,000 member households representing more than 240,000 adults and children.

The Los Angeles Zoo is located in Griffith Park at the junction of the Ventura (134) and Golden State (5) freeways.  5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, CA  90027.  Free parking is available.  For additional information, contact (323) 644-4200 or visit

Credit: Los Angeles Zoo. Photo Credit:  Jamie Pham.

TurfMutt Program is great for children in grade K-5!


Parents everywhere would like to help kids learn in ways that are fun and help others. Meet a real-life rescue dog named Lucky, the inspiration behind the TurfMutt environmental education and stewardship program. Lucky can help parents teach their children how to take care of green spaces and get them outside – and has important reminders to share for families living in drought-afflicted areas.

Rescued from the side of an Indiana highway, Lucky is now “pawing it forward” by inspiring children to care for green spaces while learning science. Designed for children in grades K-5, the TurfMutt program ( is partnered with well-known children’s publisher SCHOLASTIC, and can be used at home – with a digital storybook, home-based learning activities and interactive games.

The TurfMutt program was created by the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s Education and Research Foundation.

Check it out!

Credit: TurfMutt program/SCHOLASTIC and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute’s Education and Research Foundation.