Ella the Elephant Season One Volume One now available on DVD


Ella the Elephant DVD

I enjoy watching children’s shows sometimes. That doesn’t make me weird (does it?). I just find them so sweet and charming. Even though I’m an adult I still get a kick out of watching shows on Disney Jr., Nick Jr., and PBS. It makes me miss those years when my kids were little. Sigh… they grow up so quickly.

There is a series I have seen from time to time called Ella the Elephant. It’s a show on Disney Junior.

Ella the Elephant first air on Canadian television. It premiered on Disney Junior in February of this year.

The show is based on book written by Carmela D’Amico and Steven D’Amico.

Journey to an island of adventures where the magic of friendship has never been so much fun! Join Ella the Elephant and her kindhearted friends in this all-new animated series featuring 8 charming episodes. Elephant Island is home to many curiosities, but when Ella and her friends’ appetite for fun lands them in some tricky, often hilarious situations, it’s up to Ella’s imagination and her magic red hat to save the day! It’s a collection of teamwork, lessons and adventure for the whole family to enjoy.

This is truly a very sweet series. It’s hard not to fall in love with Ella and her friends. They are cute and entertaining.

Sometimes kiddie shows can be a bit too much for adults, but I didn’t find that to be the case with this show.

Ella the Elephant is a computer generated animated show. The interesting thing is that the background looks more like illustrations from a book. It’s really a unique looking animation. I like the illustrated look. I think it adds to the shows charm.

If your child or grandchild is a fan of the show you’ll be delighted to know that Ella the Elephant Season One Volume One: The Magic of Friendship is now available on DVD. The DVD features eight Ella the Elephant episodes.

  • Ella’s Got Talent/Safety First
  • Trunk Trooper/Ella in Charge
  • Girl’s Club/Soapbox Squabble
  • Treasure Hunters/Ella Borrows Trouble
  • Ella Bakes a Cake/Camp Ella
  • Ella on the Ball/Up, Up and Away
  • Tea Party Trouble/Home Again
  • Ella’s Carnival/Monkey Business

If you’d like to check out Ella’s YouTube channel where you can catch snippets of the show’s episodes you can find it here – Ella the Elephant on YouTube.

Look for the DVD where DVDs are sold. It has a suggested price of $14.98.

You an also check out the Ella the Elephant page on Disney Junior’s website. There you can find games, coloring pages and more! DisneyJunior.com/Ella-the-Elephant.

Is your family fans of Ella the Elephant? Do you have a favorite characters and/or episode? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Ella the Elephant


*I received a free screener copy 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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Birds Eye Veggin’ In LA With Laura Marano Sweepstakes



As a mom I know first hand that it’s not always easy to get your kids to eat what you want them to, especially if you have a picky eater (or two) in your home.

Did you know that only ONE is ten children eats the recommended amount of vegetables*? (*Statistics from USDA State of the Plate) That is sad! Vegetables are so good and can be made in so many different ways. Parents need to take this seriously and find delicious ways to incorporate vegetables into daily diet.

I’m grateful that my kids have always loved vegetables. When they were little I fed them all vegetables including the vegetables that many children run away from like spinach, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Even now as teenagers my kids love vegetables. We eat broccoli several times a week too. They also eat things like chickpeas as a snack.

Our daughter actually prefers vegetables raw over steamed (I always steam veggies). There are some vegetables, like carrots, she refuses to eat cooked. They must be raw.

I think the key to getting kids and “big kids” (aka – your significant other) is to serve them delicious recipes that incorporate vegetables. They will be too busy enjoying the flavorful meal that they won’t stop to think about the vegetables they are eating.

Birds Eye® and the Walt Disney Company® want to make sure children are eating their vegetables. They have teamed up to increase vegetable consumption awareness among children in the United States.

Veggin in La Sweeps

The brands came up with an initiative called The Veggin’ In LA With Laura Marano Sweepstakes presented by Birds Eye. Their objective is to show children that veggies are “cool”, fun and delicious.

The sweepstakes is currently running and will end on September 24, 2014.

The grand prize is a wonderful Los Angeles, California, to “veg out” and enjoy a private dinner party with Laura Marano, one of the stars of Disney Channel’s popular comedy series, “Austin & Ally,”and a Birds Eye chef.

“We can’t wait to start the sweepstakes and get kids excited about vegetables one bite at a time,” explained Mike Barkley, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Birds Eye. “The collaboration between Birds Eye and Disney is a perfect fit, as we’re both fully committed to children’s wellness and improving the vegetable consumption in this country.”

The sweepstakes is part of Birds Eye’s “Step Up To The Plate” campaign, dedicated to encouraging kids to try new veggies, while helping parents explore different preparation methods and approaches to making veggies fun. The sweepstakes also supports the Disney “Magic of Healthy Living” initiative, which partners with parents and inspires kids to live a healthier lifestyle.

Entering is super easy to do. Simply purchase any Birds Eye products and visit Disney.com/Veggies and input the UPC codes from the Birds Eye product/products.

There is no purchase necessary. You can also enter without the UPC code by sending the keyword “VEGGIES” via a text to 347639 (Disney).

Not only is this an easy sweeptakes to enter it’s also a healthy one because it will encourage families to take their veggie intake more seriously.

Does your child/grandchild enjoy a variety of vegetables? Do you think your child/grandchild gets enough vegetables in their daily diet?

How do YOU get your child/grandchild to eat their veggies? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Laura Marano

Laura Marano


*I have partnered with Birds Eye to bring you this information. I received free product coupons and branded items in exchange for my participation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 



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New from Nickelodeon – Let’s Learn: Patterns & Shapes

Lets Learn Patterns and Shapes

A new DVD will be released tomorrow (September 9, 2014) from Nickelodeon Home Entertainment called Let’s Learn: Patterns & Shapes.

With the new school year already in full swing, this DVD would be perfect for a little one who has just started nursery school or Pre-K. It’s also a fun DVD for children who are big fans of popular Nickelodeon programs such as Dora the Explorer, Blue’s Clues and Team Umizoomi.

This new DVD is part of Nickelodeon’s “Let’s Learn” series.

In a fun-filled two hours of “edu-tainment,” kids can play along to five new episodes from Team Umizoomi, Dora the Explorer, Blue’s Clues and Ni Hao Ka-lan! as they explore circles, squares, triangles, and more. The set also includes a shapes worksheet!

The episodes featured on this DVD include;

  • Team Umizoomi: Team Umizoomi vs. The Shape Bandit
  • Dora the Explorer: Catch the Shape Train!
  • Ni Hao Kai-lan: The Dinosaur Balloon
  • Blue’s Clues: Shape Searchers
  • Blue’s Room: Shape Detectives

The DVD has a run time of 138 minutes and is distribute by Paramount Home Media Distribution.

What I love about DVD’s like this is that they make learning FUN. For most kids it seems like regular episodes to their favorite television shows. What they don’t realize is that they are learning at the same time they are being entertained by their favorite characters.

As a mom I feel like my children learned better when it was fun and entertaining, not boring. Actually I think I learn better too when it’s more fun then learning.

I love that the set also includes worksheets for your little ones to practice with. It’s nice that Nickelodeon and Paramount added that nice bonus with the DVD.

Look for Nickelodeon’s Let’s Learn: Patterns & Shapes where most DVDs are sold.

For more information about Nickelodeon shows visit www.Nick.com.

What do you think about using entertainment to education children? Is it a medium you use in your home? Feel free to share your thoughts.



*I received a free screener copy 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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Back to school with Crayola (giveaway ends 9/20/14)


Girl drawing back to school

By now most kids have started off the new school year. Some children started back week’s ago. My children started last week..

My kids are in high school now. We never know what kind of supplies they need until they attend their first day of class. We always pick up the basics before school starts (lose leaf paper, pens, pencils, highlighters…). We have to wait for school to start before picking up binders and notebooks.

I miss the days when my kids went to elementary and middle school. We always received a supply list in the mail before school started so we could get all the supplies before school starts and be able to take advantage of the great sales.

One staple that was always on the supply list was Crayola crayons. I miss those days! There is nothing nicer then a brand new box of Crayola crayons. I still remember when I went to school and my mom would buy me a box of crayons as part of my school supplies. It was my favorite supply because I’ve always love to draw, doodle and color. I even love the smell of a fresh box of crayons and how all the tips are perfectly sharpened.

Sadly high school doesn’t require crayons, but they do request students have markers and colored pencils. Crayola makes markers and colored pencils so I am still able to buy Crayola products for my teenagers.

I recently went to Staples to stock up on some Crayola products. Some were for my kids (markers and colored pencils) and the other products I am donated to my job. I work in a childcare situation caring for children at our local courthouse. The children in our care are there for a variety of reasons in Family Court (divorce, custody, paternity, order of protection…). As you can image the children all love to color, so it’s always nice to have an ample amount of crayons on hand. The children also love to paint so I pick up some washable paints too.

I was a bit “iffy” about picking up markers. Markers can be so messy. However Crayola carries washable markers. As per my boss older children often request markers so I made sure to include those in my shopping trip.

Check out all the goodies I picked up.


I picked up three packages of Crayola Colored Pencils. One was for my son (he needs it for school) and two for my job.

The Crayola Ultra-Clean Washable Markers are new for this year. I picked up two packages – one is a bit thicker than the other. The all-new washability technology allows these markers to wash out of skin, clothing and painted walls. Ultra-Clean will allow teachers to wash off common classroom desks with ease.

In addition I picked up a larger set of washable markers and a package of Pip-Squeaks markers for little hands.

I purchased three boxes of Crayola Crayons for my job and a big box of 64 crayons for me. My husband and I love to color. I know that sounds strange but we find it relaxing. We especially love to color holiday related images. :-) We’re just big kids at heart.

The Crayola Visi-Max Dry Erase Markers are also new for this year. These are for our dry erase calender at work. These dry erase markers are designed to help maximize classroom visibility. They are also new for 2014. The Visi-Max Dry Erase Markers have improved color vibrancy, making them easier to read.

Lastly I picked up a couple of packages of Crayola Washable Watercolors paints. The kids love to paint but the paint we currently have in our room is not washable, there fore we rarely take it out (unless it’s an older child).

Crayola products are available at many retail locations across the country including grocery stores, drug stores, department stores, office supply stores and toy stores.

For more information about these and other Crayola products visit www.Crayola.com. You can also find the brand on the various social networking sites.

Crayola Logo


Crayola would like to give a lucky reader a $25 VISA gift card that you can use to pick up some Crayola products or other back to school supplies you might need. Thank you Crayola!

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on September 20, 2014 at 11:59 PM (EST). The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via e-mail 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 what your favorite Crayola product is?

For Extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries wont’ qualify (I do check). Extra entries are optional.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*I received a gift card to purchase Crayola products. There was no other compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Dav Pilkey’s Ricky Ricotta Series and Telescope Giveaway! (ends 9/12/14)


Kids Reading

I work with children in a childcare setting. Most children are only with us for a short time, however we do see a few regulars from time to time.

We like to encourage children to read. That is important to us. That is why we give each child who comes through our doors a free book that they can take home and enjoy.

The books we give our are donated. Many have been “well loved” and show obvious signs of wear and tear. Other books are practically brand new.

Not too long ago I received a set of books from the Ricky Ricotta series. The books are written by Dav Pilkey and illustrated by Dan Santat. I have never heard of the series until now.

I am familiar with Dav Pilkey. He writes one of my kid’s favorite book series Captain Underpants.

I read through the first book in the series, Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot. I loved it! I wish these books were around when my son was younger. He’s a “reluctant reader”. He always has been. I think he would have really enjoyed these books.

I did give him the books I received to review and asked if he would read them but he told me “no”. I guess he felt like they were too “young” for him. That might be true, but I enjoyed reading the book and my husband read most of one of the books to and he enjoyed it at well and clearly we are NOT the “target audience” for these books. :-)

In addition to action packed stories and fun illustrations there are also “mini-comics” throughout the books too.

Ricky Ricotta

If you are not familiar with the Ricky Ricotta series here is a brief synopsis.

Ricky Ricotta is a little mouse with BIG problems! Every day he is picked on by the neighborhood bullies. He lives in Squeakyville with his mother and father, and being an only mouse, he is often lonely. That is until SOMETHING BIG HAPPENS! A giant flying robot enters Ricky’s life and an unlikely friendship is born! Together, Ricky and his Robot must save the planet from a galaxy bursting with bad guys!

These are fun books!

I also know that they appeal to children because I took all four books to work with me and they were GONE in two days. The boys went crazy for them – even the older boys (11+ years old).

As I mentioned earlier, Dav Pilkey wrote Captain Underpants. He’s also written other popular books.

When Dav Pilkey was a kid, he suffered from ADHD, reading challenges, and behavioral problems. Dav was so disruptive in class that his teachers made him sit out in the hallway every day. Dav loved to draw and make up stories, so he spent this time creating his own original comic books. 

In second grade, Dav created a comic book about a superhero named Captain Underpants. His teacher ripped it up and told him he couldn’t spend the rest of his life making silly books. Fortunately, Dav was not a very good listener.

Dav has written and illustrated many bestselling books for children, including the Captain Underpants series with over 70 million books in print, the Ricky Ricotta series, and The Paperboy, a Caldecott Honor Book.

Dav grew up in Ohio and now lives with his wife in the Pacific Northwest. You can learn more about him at www.Pilkey.com.

The books are illustrated by Dan Santat who has illustrated many other books.

Dan Santat attended the University of California, San Diego, where he received a degree in biology. Thankfully, he had a change of heart and went on to pursue an illustration degree from the Art Center College of Design, where he graduated with honors. 

After a few years of designing art for video games, Dan switched his attention to children’s books. Since then, Dan has written and illustrated several bestselling books for children, including The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend and Sidekicks. Dan also created the Disney animated hit The Replacements.

Dan was born in Brooklyn, New York, and now lives in Southern California with his family. You can find out more by visiting his website at www.Dantat.com.

There are a few books in the Ricky Ricotta series and I suspect there will be many more added to the series over the years. These are really fun books.

Ricky Ricotta Books


Little Ricky Ricotta has a problem: the bullies at school pick on him all the time. Until one day, he saves the life of a mighty robot. Together, Ricky and his Robot face the bullies, and save Squeakyville from a giant evil lizard monster. That’s what friends are for!


Mr. Mosquito hates Mercury. The days are so hot, they melt his flip-flops, and the nights are so cold, his toothpaste freezes solid! He’s decided to take over Earth instead. Ricky and his Robot must stop his army of massive Mutant Mosquitoes!


Victor Von Vulture hates Venus. His toasted cheese sandwiches are always way too gooey, and ice cream melts in a second! So he and his army of Voodoo Vultures try to cast a spell on the Earth. It’s up to Ricky and his Robot to stop them!


Little Ricky Ricotta has a problem: the bullies at school pick on him all the time. Until one day, he saves the life of a mighty robot. Together, Ricky and his Robot face the bullies, and save Squeakyville from a giant evil lizard monster. That’s what friends are for!

Check out the trailer for the book series.


I love it!

For more information you can visit the Ricky Ricotta Official Site or the author’s site, Dav Pilkey.

In addition I would recommend following Scholastic and ScholasticTeach on Twitter and “Like” Scholastic Parents and Scholastic Teachers on Facebook.

For some addition fun check out these links.

Check out the Classroom  Guide

View the Book Trailer

Play the Make Your Own Robot Game

Read Chapter Excerpts & a Mini-Comic Excerpt

Download the Character Cards

Check out Ricky Ricotta Printables



I have a fun giveaway for a lucky reader, courtesy of Scholastic. The prize package includes;

  • Tabletop refractor telescope
  • Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot
  • Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs Mutant Mosquitos from Mercury
  • Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs the Voodoo Vultures from Venus
  • Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs The Mecha-Monkeys from Mars

Thank you Scholastic!

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on September 12, 2014 at 11:59 PM (EST). The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via e-mail 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 why you’d like to win this prize package.

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries wont’ qualify (I do check). Extra entries are optional.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*I received free product samples from Scholastic in order to do this review. There was no compensation. Scholastic will be providing the prize package. 

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Make Memories Year Round with Candy Cottage


Candy Cottage Logo

I can’t believe the summer is just about over. Not only is it back to school time but the stores are also displaying Halloween decorations and candy.

I happen to love Autumn. Not only is the weather cooler and the outdoors comes alive in an array of beautiful colors, but it’s also the start of the holiday season – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas (Hanukkah) and New Years.

I love to decorate for the holidays. I also love to do holiday related things with my family, such as decorate the Christmas, baking cookies and decorating gingerbread houses.

Decorating gingerbread houses is a great family activity, just like decorating Easter eggs. I have never made my own gingerbread house. I’ve always used kits where the house is pre-baked, you just have to assemble and decorate it. My family has also made mini-houses out of graham crackers.

FYI… Marshmallow Fluff makes great “glue” to hold house pieces together. :-)

Imagine making gingerbread houses for other holidays. How would you decorate an Easter house? Or how about a spooky Halloween house? Perhaps you could make a tropical house for summer. The possibilities are endless.

I think one of the reasons why more people don’t enjoy making gingerbread houses is because they are not easy to make, bake and assemble. What if making one was as easy as 1-2-3, would you make the houses more often and perhaps year round?

I received to review a fabulous product called Candy Cottage. It’s one of those products that makes you wonder why no one thought of it sooner.

Candy Cottage is a plastic house that assembles in about a minute or two. There are four walls, a roof and a base. Once assembled all you need to do is decorate it.

Country Cottage

It’s hard to tell from the photo but it’s a decent size house. It’s made out of plastic.

Once assembled you simply need to spread frosting (or what ever you commonly use) on the house then decorate it with candy, cereal, crackers or whatever comes to mind.

My kids and I made one using watermelon flavored frosting because it was colored green and my kids wanted a green house. You can use any frosting you want (chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, store bought, home made…).

The messy part (as with any gingerbread house) is getting the frosting on. Once frosted you can begin decorating.


I picked up a variety of candy for the house. I tried to buy things I thought my kids WOULDN’T eat, but it turns out the liked it all. That is usually the problem when we make houses – the kids eat the candy before we finish. LOL!

I lucked out and found some gummy flowers which I thought were perfect for this summer-time home.

You can find inexpensive candies at your local dollar store. Or you can stock up on after holiday sales.

Here is our finished product.


I had wanted to make another house but it’s been crazy between trying to squeeze as much summer as we can into the final days of the season, getting the kids ready for back to school and some other things.

My family is planning on making a Halloween house. I’ve already been checking out Halloween candy to see what we can use. I’d like to find something “spooky”. I was thinking marshmallow PEEP ghosts (have one pop out of the chimney and one coming out of a window) and maybe some gummy spiders if I can find some. For that house I’ll use a dark chocolate frosting so I can make it dark and creepy. I would love to get those Candy Corn Pumpkins to put around the house too.

Candy Cottage can be enjoyed year round. Use it to celebrate the holidays, seasons, a birthday, wedding or even “just because”. It’s a great activity the entire family can do together or you can do it with your child/grandchild for some fun bonding time.

Here are some great ideas from the Candy Cottage website.

House ideas

How adorable are these houses? I love the “Crab Shack” one. That would be fun for a backyard barbecue. The pink one (pictured above) is a castle (the top part was cut off in the photo). You can see the entire house on the Candy Cottage website.

The house is pretty sturdy and can handle a lot of candy.

I love that it has a base. Not only does it add to it’s sturdiness but it also serves as a platter/tray so you don’t need anything to put it on.

Candy Cottage comes with a idea booklet too.

The Candy Cottage can be used over and over and over again. It washes off well. All you need to do is wash it, dry it off and put it back in it’s box for the next time.

Here’s ours after we disassembled it (removed the candy, washed off the frosting). Once it dried I put it back in the box.

Candy Cottage washed

Candy Cottage sells for $29.99. It can be purchased online or at several retail locations around the country (there is a store locator on the website).

Candy Cottage would make a great gift or rainy (or snowy) day activity.

For more information visit www.CandyCottage.com. They even sell party packs where you can buy a 4-pack of mini houses for party guests to decorate and keep (they make great party favors!). Party packs are only $19.99.

For inspriation be sure to check out the Candy Cottage Facebook page.

What do you think about Candy Cottage? Are you inspired to create your own one-of-a-king house?

Mini Cottage - Part of the Party Pack.

Mini Cottage – Part of the Party Pack.


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

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