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Easter is just around the corner! Get ready to celebrate with HarperCollins Children’s Books

 

Our son gathering Easter Eggs taken approx. 12 years ago.

Our son gathering Easter Eggs taken approx. 12 years ago.

This time of year you expect to see Valentine’s Day cards, candy and decor. After all, stores started to stock their shelves with Valentine’s Day stuff practically the moment the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day (or so it would seem).

Believe it or not I have seen EASTER candy on store shelves already – and Easter is not until April 16th of this year. We have a very long time to think about it.

Our kids are 17 and almost 20 years old. Needless to say it’ been a while since the Easter Bunny stopped at our home delivering Easter baskets (although my kids still wand candy on Easter).

We never put too much candy in their Easter baskets because we knew their grandparents and great-grandparents would spoil them like crazy with candy. Instead we put in the basket a small plush toy, coloring books, crayons, a movie and a book. We also included some candy too.

If you are like us and you like to include a book in your child or grandchild’s Easter basket, you should check out these titles from HaperCollins.

I work with Kindergartners and I think these titles look (and sound) adorable for young children.

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Egg
Written & illustrated by Kevin Henkes

9780062408723 — $17.99 —Ages 4 to 8 

The multiple-award-winning and national bestselling author Kevin Henkes’ 50th book for children is a graphic novel for preschoolers about four eggs, one big surprise, and an unlikely friendship. Egg is not only a perfect Easter gift but a classic read-alone and read-aloud for all year round.

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The Runaway Bunny: A 75th Anniversary Retrospective 
Written by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd

9780062489944 — $19.99 —Ages 4 to 8 — On Sale 1/24/2017

A 75th anniversary edition of the bestselling classic story, The Runaway Bunny, with a historical essay by Leonard Marcus, featuring archival materials all presented in a beautiful linen case cover with a commemorative foil sticker.

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The Story of the Easter Bunny Board Book

Written by Katherine Tegen, illustrated by Sally Anne Lambert

9780062381552 — $7.99 —Ages 4 to 8 — On Sale 1/24/2017

Everyone knows who the Easter Bunny is, but not everybody knows where he comes from. This fresh, innovative story describes how one little rabbit became a legend. Now in board book!

 otter-loves-easter

Otter Loves Easter
Written & illustrated by Sam Garton

9780062393395 — $9.99 —Ages 4 to 8 — On Sale 1/24/2017

For her next paper-over-board picture book, Otter celebrates Easter with a little too much chocolate and a lot of creativity.

 how-to-be-a-bigger-bunny

How to be a Bigger Bunny
Written by Florence Minor, illustrated by Wendell Minor

9780062352552 — $14.99 —Ages 4 to 8 — On Sale 1/24/2017

Perfect for springtime and Easter, Florence and Wendell’s joyous picture book celebrates the powers of persistence and learning from good books. Featuring lots of adorable bunnies as illustrated by the inimitable Wendell Minor!

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Fancy Nancy and the Missing Easter Bunny

Written by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

9780062377920 — $4.99 —Ages 4 to 8 — On Sale 2/7/2017

Fancy Nancy can’t wait for Easter… and this year, the family is in for a treat. Join Fancy Nancy in a fabulous storybook adventure about Easter, complete with fancy stickers!

Are you gearing up for Easter?

What do you put in your child’s/grandchild’s Easter basket? Do you often include books?

This is an Easter cake that I make often.

This is an Easter cake that I make often.

Kimberly

*I was not compensated for this post. I shared this information for the benefit of site readers. Any opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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Looking for a last minute gift idea? Give the gift of entertainment

holiday shopping

It’s crunch time! Christmas and Hanukah are less than a week away. Have you completed your holiday shopping list yet?

I think we are done shopping. I would have loved to have picked up a few more things for our kids but we already exhausted our holiday budget. They are also teenagers. They don’t need a zillion gifts like a child would. Plus their gifts costs more than they did when they were kids (I think gifting our daughter a new car battery and an oil change is a wee bit more expensive than a Barbie doll. LOL!).

If you have someone on your holiday shopping list that enjoys great movies and television shows, why not gift them a one year subscription to Netflix?

Netflix stars out at only $7.99/mo. There are other plans for people who want to stream on multiple devices. For a six month subscription you’ll be paying around $50. For a one year subscription it will be about $100.

When you think about it a quality gift if going to cost you in the $50 range. I think six months of unlimited movies, original series and favorite television shows – available 24/7 – is a great gift idea.

Netflix is great for everyone – young and old.

Our daughter never goes a day without watching her favorite series on Netflix.

Netflix has so much to offer. Check out some of the new series arriving this month.

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My husband and I binge watched the first season of Fuller House in two nights. Over the holiday break we’ll no doubt binge watch the second season too.

Just in time for long holiday trips “over the river and through the woods” to grandma’s house, Netflix recently announced that members can now download many of their favorite series and movies at no extra cost.

To start downloading today, make sure your Netflix app is updated to the latest version and head to the ‘Available for Download’ menu on your tablet or mobile device. Don’t miss out on all the Netflix movies and series available to take with you, anywhere you go.

Coming to Netflix this week is a new series from Dreamwork Animation called Trollhunters. The new series will provide families with 13 hours of adventure, suspense and limitless imagination.

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Sadly, Anton Yelchin was killed earlier this year. I guess his character will have to be voiced by another actor for their second season.

Most kids are off from school the week after Christmas. Trollhunters is a great way to ward off boredom.

DreamWorks Trollhunters can help parents keep the whole clan excited with 250+ inspiring moments from the epic saga. And parents, this is no ordinary kids fare… you’re just as likely to get hooked.

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To get you even more excited about the new series, Netflix has some DIY projects to make your own sword and Hard Rock Candy (my husband loves Hard Rock Candy).

Simply click on each image to get the instructions you can download and/or print out.

sword

candy

If you would like to learn more about Netflix, or to check out the new series, visit Netflix.com. You can also find them on social media (all of the links are found on their website).

Are you a fan of Netflix?

Would you gift (or like to be gifted) a membership to Netflix?

Do you plan on checking out Trollhunters? Why or why not? Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.

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Kimberly

*I receive free membership in exchange for my participation. There is no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed are entirely my own and not influenced in any way.

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Movie Review: A Frozen Christmas

 

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I love the holiday season. My family and I love to watch as many holiday movies and specials as possible. In fact, this weekend we spent all day Saturday (literally!) watching as many holiday specials and movies as possible. It was bitterly cold outside, and snowing. Instead of dealing with the elements we opted to lounge around on the couch and watch all our holiday favorites. What we couldn’t squeeze in yesterday we watched this morning.

When it comes to holiday programming, I’m happy to watch just about anything. It’s a great way to keep in the holiday spirit.

A new DVD is now available called A Frozen Christmas is a nice option for young children.

A Frozen Christmas is the perfect way to get the family in the Holiday spirit with the most beloved animated Christmas characters, including Santa Claus, the Snowman, Elves, Santa’s Reindeer, and more! Gather around and listen as Santa and his young elf pals narrate time honored Christmas story classics such as, The Elves and the Shoemaker, Little Girls’ Christmas and more!

Here is a trailer for the DVD.

 

I’m not a big fan of this type of animation, but it did look cute. I was looking forward to reviewing it.

Sadly, looks are deceiving in this case. This is NOT an animated film filled with short stories like it would appear.

The images ARE in the movie, but, most of the movie is just swirls and colorful displays dancing across the screen while stories are READ to you. Another words, the stories are not acted out, they are simply read to you. You need to use your imagination to picture what is going on in the story.

The animations you do see come at the beginning and end of the stories, as well as in-between the stories that are being read. The do no play out throughout the entire movie.

I was disappointed. It was not what I had expected.

From an adult point of view, it’s not something I would watch. If I wanted to have a story read to me with no actual visuals I’ll have my Amazon Alexa read me a book from Audible.

However…

This might be fun for younger children who enjoy being read to and might appreciate the swirly, random images that appear on the television screen as the stories are being read.

There is some holiday music and songs also featured on the DVD, which I thought was a nice touch.

The DVD has a run time of 73 minutes.

This would make a cute stocking stuffer or maybe something to entertain a child while traveling “over the river and through the woods” to grandma’s house.

Look for A Frozen Christmas wherever DVDs are sold. I did find it on Amazon.com.

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Kimberly

*I received a free screener copy to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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Special gifts from Simply Personalized

 

Personalized soap from Simply Personalized

Personalized soap from Simply Personalized

Shopping for everyone on your holiday shopping list is often easier said than done. It think it’s fair to assume that almost everyone has at least one (or more) person on their holiday shopping list that is impossible to buy for. I happen to have a few people on my list like that.

I think that gifting someone something that is personalized just for them is a great idea. I’m not a big fan of personalized gifts for kids (like clothing and backpacks) for obvious reasons (you don’t want strangers to know your child’s name). But for adults, I think personalized gifts are great.

Personalized gifts are great for newly weds (gifts with their last name on it), new homeowners and for anyone who wants something just for them.

If you are interested in personalized gifts you should check out the website Simply Personalized. Not only do they carry gifts you would expect can be personalized (mugs, clothing, books), but they also offer consumers items I honestly would never think to personalize.

Here are a few examples of the gift ideas you can find at Simply Personalized.

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Personalized Plates & Bowls

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Personalized Drinkware

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Personalized Photo Frames

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Personalized Fake Magazine Covers (newspapers too!)

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Personalized Photos Puzzles with matching boxes

These are fun gift ideas. I especially love the personalized plates and bowls. I would love a set of those.

I have a gift for my husband from Simply Personalized, which I think is extra special. It’s a book filled with newspaper headlines are articles spanning the entire Dallas Cowboys NFL career.

My husband is a HUGE Dallas Cowboys fan. He knows everything about them. He even wrote a book about them (but it was never published). Even our son is named after his favorite team (his middle name is Dallas).

The Dallas Morning News Dallas Cowboys Book features;

  • An comprehensive newspaper history of the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 onwards
  • Choice of two individually bound hardbacks gold-embossed for free
  • Traditional burnt sienna or premium black leather cover with color pages from 2006
  • Featuring in-depth articles as originally reported by the Dallas Morning News
  • Reproduced to an impressive 12.5 x 15 inches of stunning content
  • Fascinating Dallas Cowboys memorabilia

This is a beautiful book. It’s very well made. You can even have the book cover personalized with the recipient’s name. The book I have is personalized for my husband but due to safety issues I would never display my husband’s name on my blog.

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The pages are actual copies of actual newspapers, so the ink quality varies. That is NOT from the copy but from the newspapers themselves. I like that. It gives it a more natural look, as if you are really reading a newspaper from 1968, 1975, 1982… and so forth.

Now may husband can read the headlines from the year he was born, and read about what was going on with his beloved Cowboy before he was born all the way back to when the team was formed.

Needless to say I think this is the perfect gift for someone who loves football.

Simply Personalized has newspaper books like this for various other teams, including baseball teams. If my dad was still alive I would have gifted him a New York Yankees newspaper book (it was his favorite baseball team).

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A book like this can not only be cherished for a lifetime, but it’s also a great way to refer back to special moment in the team’s history and read first hand accounts from people who got to experience them.

Every now and then I gift my husband a super special gift that I am excited to give him BEFORE the holiday. It has taken every ounce of strength NOT to give him this gift early. I had to wrap it up and tuck it in the back of the Christmas tree (out of sight, out of mind). Since the other gifts I picked him up this year are not that spectacular, I am going to make sure that he gets this gift last to open.

Simply Personalized gifts are not just for the holiday season. They have gifts for year round holidays and occasions. Simply Personalized has gifts for men, women, teens, children and just about anyone else you can think of – including your pets.

Personalized gifts also make great hostess gifts.

For more information, or to check out the unique gift ideas, visit SimplyPersonalized.com. The brand can also be found on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you like to gift personalized gifts?

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Kimberly

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

 

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525,600 minutes! 525,600 (Precious) Moments to cherish

 

Our kids at Christmas (approx. 10 years ago)

Our kids at Christmas (approx. 10 years ago)

Can you believe that Christmas and New Year’s Day are fast approaching? It seems like just yesterday it was summer vacation and my family and I were at the beach and complaining about how hot and humid it was. Now it’s the end of the year and we’re dealing with snow and bitter cold. It just amazes (and saddens) me how time flies.

This year has brought so many amazing things and great memories. It also made me appreciate those few precious moments we have each day with our family and friends.

Did you know that there are 525,600 minutes in a calendar year? Those minutes can be filled with moments you’ll want to remember for a lifetime – a first kiss, the birth of a baby, stepping foot in your first home, an anniversary, a first birthday (or 100th birthday)… the list goes on and on. Think back on how many precious moment you experienced this past year, and ones you hope to experience in the upcoming new year (graduation, new job, retirement, wedding…).

When it comes to the holidays I can’t help but look at my own children and to see how much they have grown. Gone are the days when they would wake us up at 4:00 AM because they were so excited to open their presents from Santa, or the excitement and joy they had on their faces when they went to meet Santa and tell him their Christmas list.

My kids are young adults now (19 1/2 and 17). Instead of wanting toys they want gift cards and new computers. Sigh…

With all of life’s special moments, it makes perfect sense to celebrate them with figurines from Precious Moments.

Precious Moments has been around for as long as I can remember. Our family has been collecting pieces for 20+ years. My husband (prior to us even meeting for the first time) used to buy Precious Moments figurines for his nieces on their birthday (birthday train pieces).

What I love about Precious Moments is that they have beautiful figurines that represent those special moments in our lives. They are a beautiful reminder of those precious moments in our lives that we never want to forget.

Here are just a few examples.

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First Anniversary

1st-communion

First Communion

first-steps

First Steps

graduation

Graduation

grandaparent

Gifts for Grandparents

loss

Grief/Loss

military

Gifts for those in the military

retirement

Retirement

wedding

Wedding (this would be a wonderful cake topper!)

If you happen to follow me on Instagram you might have seen my video of one of our newest additions to our Precious Moments collection. It’s a holiday piece that not only lights up, but it also plays music.

For the life of me I can’t find the original video, so you’ll have to view it HERE.

The piece is BEAUTIFUL! It features a mother, father and their two children (a girl and boy – the same as we have) sitting on the floor next to their Christmas tree, giving each other presents.

The tree features colorful lights that twinkle along with the music and a sweet little angle perched on top of the tree.

precious-moments

tree

What I love about this piece is that it is a lovely reminder of when our son and daughter were little and Christmas morning was full of joy and excitement.

This piece is very special to me because it will be a forever reminder of a time in life that means the world to me. My kids may grow up and some day be parents themselves, but no matter what, I will always think about them as little kids every time I look (and listen!) to this adorable Precious Moments holiday figure.

Precious moment has plenty of other delightful Christmas gifts available, including musical ones.

The next one I’d love to add to our collection is this musical piece that also lights up. It’s adorable!

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Precious Moments figurines, dolls, plush toys and ornaments make wonderful gifts – not just for the holiday – but all year round. After all, precious moments happen 365 days of the year.

You can purchase Precious Moments directly from the official website (PreciousMoments.com). Precious Moments products are also carried at fine retailers and gift stores across the country.

The brand is also found across the social media channels. All links are found on their website.

What moments in YOUR life this past year were most precious to you? Feel free to share them with me. I always love to hear from readers.

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Kimberly

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

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Pet Proof a home for the holidays

jack russel terrier and kitten

Shockingly it’s December already and too many pet owners may walk in on a similar scene as in the photo above. In addition to the wonderful holiday festivities, we need to consider the health and safety of our pets. Certified Humane Education Specialist and award-winning author, Diane Rose-Solomon has a quick list to Pet Proof a Home for the Holidays. She is available for interviews.

This year, Chanukah and Christmas fall on the same day. Here are some tips to create a save environment for everyone living in your home:

In the home…

  • Christmas trees and their decorations can be beautiful. Make sure the tree base is solid to avoid tipping over, or being knocked over by a rambunctious dog or a cat exploring tree branches. Yes, it’s hard to stop them from climbing, but a sturdy base will eliminate tree crashes and potential fires.
  • Wiring on the lights should be done properly and the wires should be in good shape. Any electrical wiring should stay far away from a curious pup- especially if he’s a chewer. Ornaments should stay high up away from dogs and cats. Way too appealing for a toy loving animals.
  • Get down on your hands and knees and check for safety from your pet’s eye level.
  • If you light candles make sure your dogs stay away while they burn and the candles aren’t left to burn unattended. Pets often to get up on the table to lick crumbs. With candles burning it could be disastrous.
  • Holly, mistletoe and poinsettia are all toxic to dogs. So is chocolate. Keep them out of your dog’s reach.
  • Will your family be unwrapping gifts? Wrapping and gift-wrap decorations along with toys with small parts, or any toys that can be chewed or even that pair of socks from Aunt Gertrude, can all pose a potential danger to your pooch or kitty.

Holding a holiday celebration?

  • If your dog isn’t too friendly to strangers, consider placing him in his crate and be sure to give him plenty of love and exercise prior to lockdown. Cats either hide or are fine with most guests, but can be food thieves. So no food can go out onto the table unattended if your cats are mixing with the party. It is a challenge!
  • When entertaining, Diane suggests you ask your dog walker if she can take the dogs out for a bit. It gets them out of the house, stimulated and it’s an alternative to the stress of having them here- at least for part of the time.
  • Will there be noisemakers or fireworks on New Years Eve? Dogs are rather sensitive to loud and sudden noises. Help reduce their stress and keep them from fleeing by using the crate.

Traveling over the holidays?

  • Traveling with or without your pup is a great option too. If you travel and Fido stays home, be sure to find a trusted pet sitter or doggie daycare to care for him while you are gone.
  • Bringing Fido along? Check airline regulations if you are flying and he is small enough to have in the cabin with you. If you are driving make sure he’s securely fastened in a crash tested car harness or car seat. Pack enough food, treats, leash, travel food bowls, a dog bed and his favorite toys for the adventure. And don’t forget poop bags. You will likely need them wherever you go!
  • Be sure the information on his tags and microchip are up to date with your cell phone number just in case he gets lost while you are traveling. Always know where the nearest emergency vet is located. The unexpected always happens at the worst time.

Once pet parents have the safety matters handled their minds will be free to enjoy a fun and joyous holiday.

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About the author:
 
Diane is a charming and relatable guest, a strong animal advocate and gracious pet lover who delivers helpful information with simple steps any pet parent can do. She lives in Santa Monica with her family and two rambunctious dogs.

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