Head back to school with supplies from PBS KIDS


PBS KIDS School Supplies

Have you finished all of your back to school shopping yet? Do you still have supplies that you need to pick up?

We’ve learned that sometimes it’s better to wait until the first few days of school before picking up school supplies – unless you have a specific list. As children get older teachers are less inclined to send out supply lists. You are pretty much left to guess what your child might need.

Over the years we have over estimated supplies that our kids need. As a result we created a stock pile of supplies that we would draw upon throughout the school year whenever needed. This year we barely had to buy a thing because we had most of the stuff my kids needed for school.

If you find that you are still in need of more supplies, or would like to stock up on supplies so that you don’t run out of things you might need, you might want to check out the new PBS KIDS school supplies that are currently available at Whole Foods Markets across the country.

I WISH we had a Whole Foods Market locally. Sadly our nearest one is too far of a drive for me to visit.

The new line of school products from PBS KIDS are made with our planet in mind. Notebooks are made from recycled paper, organic cotton was used to make their backpacks and they have reusable lunch totes.

PBS KIDS Lunchbags

Here is some additional information on this wonderful new product line.

PBS KIDS and Whole Foods Market have teamed up to offer a new line of back-to-school products, available exclusively at Whole Foods Market stores. Proceeds from the new PBS KIDS back-to-school line will help support PBS KIDS’ mission: to open worlds of possibilities for all children through engaging media content.

One-hundred percent of PBS KIDS’ net proceeds from the line will support PBS KIDS educational programming, dedicated to helping all children succeed in school and in life, while Whole Foods Market will donate a percentage of total sales, up to $25,000, to Whole Kids Foundation, an organization dedicated to improving children’s nutrition and wellness. In addition, for every Esperos backpack, pencil case and lunch tote purchased, Esperos will donate 10 percent of proceeds to help fund education for children in need through the Esperos Carry Hope™ initiative.

“PBS KIDS and Whole Foods Market share a commitment to the healthy development of children and families,” said Lesli Rotenberg, General Manager, Children’s Media, PBS. “Proceeds from the new PBS KIDS back-to-school line will help support PBS KIDS’ mission: to open worlds of possibilities for all children through engaging media content.”

In addition to Esperos’ line of PBS KIDS organic cotton canvas items, Whole Foods Market will debut a line of PBS KIDS reusable food keepers from Lunchskins—perfect for sandwiches, snacks or fruit. Lunchskins is committed to reducing the amount of plastic waste produced every year, as each one of the brand’s reusable bags can replace 500 plastic bags. The grocer will also carry PBS KIDS notebooks and folders for school and play from Mudpuppy, which supports children’s education throughout the year, including a multi-year partnership to support PBS KIDS, as well as other school programs.

“Whole Foods Market’s partnership with PBS KIDS continues to raise the bar for quality children’s products and offers alternatives to what’s commonly found in the marketplace,” said Jeanne Tamayo, global lifestyle buyer at Whole Foods Market. “By working with suppliers like Esperos, Lunchskins and Mudpuppy, kids can get school supplies that truly do more—proceeds from every product support children’s education through PBS KIDS and healthy-eating education through Whole Kids Foundation—plus, each product is either reusable or made with recycled or organic materials.”

To further prepare young children for back to school season, exclusive Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood content including clips from the TV series, printable learning activities and family-friendly recipes, will be available for free at wholefoodsmarket.com.

PBS KIDS sent me a few of their products, which I donated to the children I work with.

PBS KIDS Back to School

One of the products that I received was the LunchSkins reusable sandwich bags. I actually kept this for myself. Not only is it cute it really does a great job keeping your sandwich fresh instead of wasting plastic with regular plastic sandwich bags. It has a really strong Velcro closure to prevent it from accidentally opening up and exposing your sandwich to air (which will make bread stale).

I also received a spiral notebook with an adorable robot on it, a folder and a nice zippered pencil bag.

I love that PBS KIDS kept kids in mind with bright colors and adorable characters. Making them more Earth friendly makes them even better.

If you are in need of more school supplies I would suggest you check out the PBS KIDS line at your nearest Whole Foods Market. You can visit the above link to find a location near you.

What do you think of adorable PBS KIDS school supplies?

whole foods pbs kids


*I received a few free product samples in exchange for my participation. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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School supply shopping for charity thanks to Toyota


Back to school

Back to school shopping used to be a lot of fun when my kids were little. I truly enjoyed helping them to pick out their character lunchboxes, colorful backpacks and folders decorated with animals and funky graphics.

My kids are teenagers now. They rather we give them money to buy their own supplies, or they stuff everything into one binder. I think I would be in total shock if either of them had a folder with a cute character on it.

Sigh… I miss those days.

When children are little, back to school shopping can be the highlight of the year (next to their birthday and holidays of course). Sadly, many children across the country and their families cannot afford even the most basic supplies. That breaks my heart. That is why each year I take advantage of the awesome Back to School sales and purchase more than my kids could ever use to donate them to kids in need. I know a lot of people who do that.

This year Toyota is partnering with Volunteers of America’s Operation Backpack to donate school supplies for kids in need too.

Operation Backpack wants to help children start the school year off right. Your donation to Operation Backpack provides backpacks, supports after-school and mentoring programs, and offers other vital services to a child in need.

It’s not just about school supplies – it’s also giving a child a chance to learn and grow.

Toyota was kind enough to send me a 2015 Toyota Camry and a $50 gift card to purchase school supplies to donate to children in need. For me that will be where I work. I see a lot of children whose families don’t have much, let alone school supplies.


This past Saturday my husband and I canvassed local stores (Staples, Office Depot, Target…) to see what sales were going on for Back to School shopping. I was determined to get the maximum amount of supplies out of the gift card.

Notice how empty the trunk is in the Toyota Camry. I was determined to fill it up with school supplies.

I’m glad that Toyota sent us the Camry. We did a lot of driving that day. We hit up eight stores that – EIGHT! Not to mention we had to stop for lunch.

Our daughter had to work so we took our son along with us. It wasn’t exactly what he wanted to do that day but after a while he really got into it and it turned out to be a great lesson in budgeting, looking for the best deal and giving to those in need.

The first few stores we stopped at DIDN’T have any great deals. They did in their flyer, but we didn’t come across any in the stores.



I was hoping to find crayons for less than $1 each.

We hit up four stores in the same shopping plaza. We really didn’t see anything that we thought was a great deal, so we hopped back into the Camry and drove up the road to Staples.



Staples had a lot of awesome sales going on and plenty of products in stock – except for the crayons I wanted to stock up on.

Staples didn’t have any small boxes of crayons in stock, but we were able to score single subject notebooks for .25 cents, loose leaf paper for .75 cents and two pocket folders for .15 cents. Talk about a great sale!





We made sure to pick up a variety of colors for the notebooks and folders (two of each color).

We also picked up pens, pencils and a few more goodies.

I was shocked that the bill came to $18 and change. WOW!!! We picked up 18 single subject notebooks, four packages of lose leaf paper, nearly two dozen folders and more. That meant we have a little over $30 left on the gift card. It was time to go to another store.



Filling up the trunk of the Toyota Camry with school supplies.

Filling up the trunk of the Toyota Camry with school supplies.

We still had more to get. I was determined to get crayons. I also wanted to get pencil pouches or cases to make up a few “sets” to hand out to children.

Our next stop was Target. There we did find crayons. They were more than I wanted to spend, but, at least I had them.

We also picked up erasers, pencil sharpeners, scissors and a few other goodies.


My husband, son and I were very pleased with all the goodies we purchased, and we still had a little money left on the gift card Toyota sent me.

Target 2


The Capt’n Crunch was for me – not back to school shopping.

After a quick lunch we headed over to our local Dollar Store to see if they had pencil cases/pouches and rulers.

Thankfully the Dollar Store had some awesome pencil pouches. Because I was running low on funds we were only able to get six of them – but that was OK. We picked up three girl-friendly colors and three boy-friendly colors.

In addition to the pencil pouches we picked up small flash cards (alphabet, colors, shapes, numbers…) to put one pack into each pencil pouch. We also picked up six books. I was hoping they fit in the pencil pouches. They did but once we filled the pouches the books no longer fit.


When we got home we poured out our “bounty” on the coffee table to separate everything. My husband and son helped me to fill the pencils pouches with crayons, scissors, an eraser, pencils, stickers, flashcards and other goodies.

My “game plan” is to give each child a filled pencil pouch as well as a folder, notebook and reading book. All the additional supplies (the left over glue sticks, notebooks, folders…) I’ll also donate.


I am very pleased with how they turned out.

Currently I have all the supplies and filled pouches in a tote bag that I am going to take to work with me this week. I cannot wait to see the look on a child’s face when I hand him/her a nice assortment of supplies to start their school year off on the right foot. I just wish I could have picked up more.


supplies 2

This was such a fun day and I a glad that my husband and son were able to help me on my quest to get as many supplies as I could. Although he won’t admit it (you’ve got to love teenagers) my son enjoyed himself too.

It always feels great to give back. It makes my heart smile.

A special thank you to Toyota for letting us use one of their Camrys and for the gift card to purchase supplies.

The 2015 Toyota Camry that we drove is really nice. I have never been in a Camry before. I have seen them but never had the opportunity to drive one.

The Camry is very roomy. Even my son, who has long legs, was very comfortable in the backseat.

The trunk was also very roomy which was great because it held all our school supplies.

I love the color of the car they sent. Its an awesome blue color.





The Toyota Camry is a great family car. Both of my kids said they felt like they had plenty of room in the backseat. As both a driver and a passenger in the car I also felt like there was more than enough room.

The car drove very nicely – very smooth.

It has great pick up too. We live near a parkway which we drive on frequently and we were able to merge into traffic with ease.

Everything was positioned nicely as far as the interior is concerned. Everything was easily accessible.

We received a hybrid and it was VERY quiet. At one point when I was driving and stopped in traffic I thought the car had turned off because I didn’t feel or hear anything. It shocked me for a moment. I thought the car had broke down or shut off.


front seat

We used the car a lot so far and it’s doing good with the gas as well. We haven’t had a need to fill up yet and we’ve used the car every day as well as the air conditioner.

If I hadn’t just purchased a new (used) car a few months ago I would certainly consider the Toyota Camry. So far I am enjoying the ride.

For more information about Toyota, or to find a location near you, visit www.Toyota.com. You can also connect with the brand on social media (all of the links found on the bottom of their website).

Be sure to check out the hashtags #ToyotaGivesBack and #LetsGoPlaces too.

I hope this post will inspire you to donate school supplies to children in need in your community or to donate to Volunteers of America’s Operation Backpack.



*I received use of a car for one week as well as a $50 gift card in exchange for my participation. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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What’s new with Koh’s Cares



If you read my blog on a regular basis you might recall my posts about the Kohl’s Cares program.

If you are unfamiliar with Koh’s Cares it’s a charitable program through Kohl’s that benefits children’s charities. Through the Kohl’s Cares program books, toys and other products are sold online at Kohls.com or in retail stores across the country. These special products sell for only $5.00 each. The proceeds from the sales go direction to the Kohl’s Cares program which in turn is donated to children’s charities that support health and education.

If you would like to learn more about Kohl’s Cares please visit their page on the Kohl’s website.

I LOVE! LOVE! LOVE the products available through Kohl’s Cares. I have been collecting them for years. My favorite Kohl’s Cares products are the children’s books with matching plush toy. Each is only $5.00. Where can you get a hard cover book or a quality plush toy for only $5.00? Best of all the money raised from the sale of these items goes towards children’s charities. It’s a win-win-win situation all around.

I’m a big kid at heart and I love displaying my favorite books with a matching plush on our bookcase. Thanks to Kohl’s Cares I get to rotate them on a regular basis.

Often I have donated the books and plush to the classroom where I work. They remain as classroom copies/toys so that all the children we work with can enjoy them.

Here are just a few of the sets I have collected over the years.







Kohl’s Cares has a new set of products that are currently available while supplies last. These are so cute that I had to buy all of them.

I received to review the classic book “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” along with a matching plush and a super cute matching lunchbox. If you follow me on Instagram you might have seen my photo. Kohl’s also shared it on their Instagram page too.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie

They have other books/plush from the series too including “If You Give a Pig a Pancake,” “If You Give a Moose a Muffin,” and “If You Give a Dog a Donut.”

Kohs Cares

I see the super adorable (and cuddly) dog from the “If You Give a Dog a Donut,” but I don’t see the book available online. It might be sold out in which case you should check your local Kohl’s store to see if it’s there. In our Kohl’s stores the Kohl’s Cares products are sold next to the cash registers.

These sets are SO ADORABLE! I couldn’t resist purchasing all of them. Not only do I find them cute but my kids used to like the story “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” so they have sentimental value to me as well.

Dog a Donut

These sets are fun to display in any child’s room or a family’s library. I love displaying my sets. Here are two of the latest ones and one of my all time favorites (“Put Me in a Zoo”).

Set 1

Set 2

These sets make great gifts. Each book and plush combo is only $10. Where else can you find a quality gift that will be appreciate (and loved) for $10? Whenever possible I like to pick up a few extra sets so I always have great gifts handy when we’re invited to younger relative’s birthday parties (or for Christmas).

Occasionally Kohl’s Cares offers products for adults too, such as cookbooks (I have a few of those as well).

As I mentioned earlier, these products are available only while supplies last so if you are interested in any of them don’t delay.

Bookmark the Kohl’s website and check back every few months for new Kohl’s Cares products.

To find a Kohl’s location near you or to shop online visit Kohls.com. You can also find the brand on social media.

Have you ever purchased Kohl’s Cares products? If so, what were they?

What do you think about these super cute book and plush “sets?”

KC_K Stck Tag C


*I received a free product sample to review. The rest I purchased on my own with my own funds. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Support your favorite charity with Bialetti’s new Illuminate cookware line (giveaway ends 7/19/15)



We live in an itty bitty condo. Our kitchen is incredibly small. My work space is literally roughly the size of a placemat. I’m not kidding! We have things on our counter top (small blender, microwave, coffee brewer) but the two largest items (brewer and microwave) are on the side counter which could not be used for much anyway.

I don’t have the gourmet kitchen of my dreams. I wish I did, or even close to it.

I can’t decorate my kitchen the way I truly want to, but that doesn’t mean I need to settle either.

I have a nice assortment of pots and pans – some even handed down to me from my mother in law and grandmother. Let’s just say those are “well seasoned.”

I guess back in the day you didn’t have much choices with pots and pans. They were all metal colored (some with copper bottoms). While those are find, they are rather bland looking and don’t bring much to your kitchen’s decor. I like pots and pans with a bit of pizazz to them – something that makes them stand out.

A year or so ago I received a pasta pot from a company called Bialetti. They are Italy’s #1 cookware and stove top coffee maker.

I love my pasta pot. I use it many times throughout the week, and not just for pasta. I use it to make soup, stew, lentils, boiled potatoes and of course pasta. The strainer built right into the lid is the best part about it. I don’t need a separate colander.


Another thing that I really like about my Bialetti pasta pot is the color – it’s purple. It’s not the boring old metal color. It really stands out in my kitchen when it’s on the stove and I like that. My eye goes right to it when I walk into the kitchen.

Bialetti offers their products in a variety of colors including a really cool granite looking color. You can even find colors like orange and Robin’s Egg blue.

The brand recently launched Illuminate 10” sauté pans to bring light and funds to worthy causes and the charities that support them, with 10% of all sales going to each pan’s designated cause, including:


Illuminate Pink supports the National Breast Cancer Foundation, which provides help and inspires hope to those affected by breast cancer through early detection, education and support services.


Illuminate Blue supports Autism Speaks, the world’s leading autism science and advocacy organization.


Illuminate Yellow, supports clean water projects through charity:water, a non-profit organization bringing clean, safe drinking water to people in developing countries.

Illuminate’s coating is non-toxic by being PTFE- free and PFOA-free, and is eco-friendly as the coating is applied at a low temperature, leading to a lower emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. Each pan is sold individual for an MSRP of $29.99 at www.bialetti.com and amazon.com.

Bialetti sent me one of their new Illuminate pans to check out for myself. They asked which color I would like. To be honest all the colors are awesome so I asked that they send me any color – just surprise me!

I received to review the Illuminate Yellow pan. I LOVE IT! It’s so bright and cheery. The color really “pops” and stands out in my kitchen.

Pan 2

Our kitchen used to be painted a dull yellow. Currently it’s blue. After seeing the pan in person I’m tempted to repaint the kitchen yellow again. Yellow is such bight and cheery color.

I LOVE the white inside. Normally pans are a metal color on the inside. It’s unusual to see pure white.

I was reluctant to use the pan. I didn’t want to ruin the clean, crisp white inside. Thankfully the pan washes beautifully. I’ve used the pan several times so far from eggs to veggie patties and each time the pan cleans up nicely and the pure white color is still in tact.

Pan 1

I wouldn’t mind more of these types of pans with colorful outsides and beautiful white insides.

The pan is non-stick and as I mentioned before, cleans up perfectly. It’s a decent size too – not too big and not too small. It’s not that heavy either.

Look for Bialetti products at the links (mentioned above). You can also check out the brand on social media. The links are found on the bottom right of their website.

Bialetti LogoBialetti was kind enough to offer a lucky winner an Illuminate pan of their own (choice of color). Thank you Bialetti!

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on July 19, 2015. The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via email and will have three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen in their place.

To enter please comment on this post and tell me which pan charity (or color) you would like if you are the lucky winner?

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries won’t qualify.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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City Harvest Skip Lunch Fight Hunger in NYC: Monday May 11th-Friday May 15th #SkipLunchFightHunger


Skip Lunch Fight Hunger

I know that many of my readers are not in the New York City area, so please excuse this post. For those of you in the New York City area, or perhaps even work in the city, I hope you will consider this special campaign to help fight hunger.

If you read my blog on a regular basis you know that programs that help fight hunger are near and dear to my heart. No one should ever have to struggle to put food on their table, or in their stomachs. There are some days I have completely famished by the time I get home for lunch. I can’t imagine having to go through a day – or days – without a bite to eat.

City Harvest is running a special campaign from May 11, 2015 through May 15, 2015. It’s called #SkipLunchFightHunger.

City Harvest Logo 2


Here is more information about the campaign and what you can do to help.

Join thousands of New Yorkers and fight childhood hunger this spring by participating in City Harvest’s annual Skip Lunch Fight Hunger campaign taking place Monday May 11th to Friday May 15th. This is NYC’s New Power Lunch #SkipLunchFightHunger.

Hunger is a major issue in the city – nearly 1 in 4 children in New York City don’t always know where their next meal will come from, and when classrooms empty for the summer, access to free school meals may become limited. This adds further strain to families who are already struggling to put food on the table. But, you can be a part of the solution: with $15 – the cost of a lunch – City Harvest can help feed 60 children.

Start a Skip Lunch Fight Hunger fundraising team and mobilize your colleagues, friends and family to help feed hungry kids in New York City all summer long. With your support we can raise $1 million and help ensure that no children go hungry this summer.

Anyone who donates $38 or more online between Monday, May 11th and Friday May 15th will receive a voucher for a complimentary sandwich at Potbelly and a voucher for a complimentary cold-pressed juice at Juice Press.

Last year, Skip Lunch Fight Hunger raised $1 million-that’s enough to help feed thousands of children and their families for an entire summer.

Skip-Lunch-Fight-Hunger-Logo2015 2

That is amazing! $1 million! Way to go New York!

When you stop and think about it, how much do you spend weekly, or even daily, on lunch? Some people take lunch to work, but it still costs money (cold cuts are super expensive). Sadly I think I spend $15 a week just on coffee, if not more. I really need to re-evaluate my coffee spending habits.

Please take a moment to view this brief video that provides you with more information about this campaign.


If you don’t live in or work in the New York City, but know someone who does (friend, relative…) please share this information with them and encourage them to participate.

Learn more about the Skip Lunch Fight Hunger campaign that takes place Monday May 11th to Friday May 15th and follow City Harvest on Twitter https://Twitter.com/CityHarvest #SkipLunchFightHunger.

Thank you for the taking the time to read this post. I hope you can find a way to help. Perhaps you can arrange a similar program in your area?

City Harvest NYC New Power Lunch


*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the benefit of the program. Any opinions expressed are my own unless otherwise noted and not influenced in any way. 

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New products from Kohl’s Cares



Are you familiar with Kohl’s Cares? Kohl’s Cares is a special charity from the retail giant that helps to support children’s health and educational programs across the country. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of Kohl’s Cares products goes towards these programs. Since the year 2000, Kohl’s Cares has raised a whopping $257 million dollars. That is amazing.

Kohl’s Cares offers wonderful products for both children and adults. Every Kohl’s Cares products sells for $5.00. And let me tell you from personal experience, the products are worth much more than that. Some people might assume the products are cheaply made for such a low selling point. That is not the case at all. Take their plush animals for example. They are just as well made as the $25+ plush you find in specialty stores. Unlike those plush 100% of the sale of the Kohl’s Cares plush goes towards children’s charities.

I personally enjoy the products offered through Kohl’s Cares. They do offer “grown up” things like cookbooks (which I love), but mostly it’s books and plush animals. Often the plush and the books match up. For example, last time around Kohl’s Cares offered a plush “Dough/Dug” (don’t remember how it’s spelled) from the film Up. In addition they also offered an Up book.


I’m a bit kid at heart so I often purchase the books and matching plush – I can’t have one without the other. LOL! Some I keep for myself. I display them on my bookcases and I rotate them a few times per year. Others I hold on to as a set to give as a gift. It’s always a great idea to have gifts on hand and I like offering the little kids in my life the plush/book combo. It makes a wonderful and appreciated gift plus it only costs you $10 ($5 each). How often can you find a quality gift at that price point?

I also donate some of the plush and books to my place of employment. The kids love them and it makes me smile when I see them enjoying them.

Kohl’s Cares offers new products for a limited time (until supply lasts) every few months. I make sure to bookmark their site and check in every few weeks to see if they have new products available. I don’t want to miss out on anything.

Kohl’s Cares is currently offering some of these delightful products. REMEMBER each product is $5 – they do not come as a set.

Bear Elephant Turtle Whale

Kohl’s Cares was kind enough to send me the Bear and book set, as well as the Turtle and book set. I love the plush and books so much that I went out and purchased the Elephant and Whale plush, as well as their matching books.

These are not mini-plush animals. They are full size (regular plush size) – ideal for hugging and snuggling up with at night.

I love the books! Not only are the stories delightful (perfect for bed time), the illustrations are beautiful too. They are quick reads with only a few words or a single sentence on most pages. These books would be great for early readers too.

If any of these interest you I would recommend you visit your local Kohl’s soon, or shop online. Once they are sold out there will be no more.

Kohls Cares Spring 2015

Make sure to check Kohl’s often, or visit their online site, to see what new Kohl’s Cares products are available. They change throughout the year.

Look for the Kohl’s Cares products near the check out lanes. They are usually on prominent display. Remember, 100% of the proceeds goes towards children’s health and educational charities.

To find a location near you (or order online) visit Kohls.com. To find the Kohl’s Cares products do a product search for Kohl’s Cares. You can also find Kohl’s on all the social media channels (links are found at the bottom of their website).

Have you ever purchased, or received, any Kohl’s Cares products? Would you consider buying them as a gift for someone special? Feel free to share your thoughts.



*I received some free product samples. I also purchased some one my own. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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