Monday, September 29, 2008

K'NEX Meets Sesame Street

What do you get when you combine popular, educational children's characters with a classic and fun construction toy?

You get the brand new, delightful and innovative Sesame Street-themed building sets from K'NEX! Specially designed for children ages two and older (the youngest audience yet for K'NEX), the new sets are filled with colorful KID K'NEX rods and connectors, as well as all-new KID K'NEX blocks. The blocks are designed to provide an easier building experience for younger children.

And to heighten the play experience, each set comes with engaging and interactive educational content such as tips for parents and fun activity cards for kids, as well as lots of building ideas.

We were able to try out the Ernie Building Set, which is packaged inside of an adorable, Ernie-shaped storage container:

The parts can be combined to make a variety of creations. Here are a few examples:

It even comes with Ernie's famous Rubber Duckie! How cute!

There are three other fun $10.99 sets that kids will have a blast with: Elmo and his goldfish Dorothy, Cookie Monster, and Oscar the Grouch with Slimey the Worm. Each 14-15 piece set also includes Sesame Street activity sheets and educational activities.

There are several other building sets in various price ranges and sizes. Click here to see the entire collection.

K'NEX has several specials going on, including free shipping on orders over $75. Click here to view all of the specials.

I know what I'll be giving to my little cousin this Christmas! These sets will be a sure hit with him!

So A Blonde Walks Into A Review

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

One Click to Save Lives

With just a click, you could help save the lives of needy/hungry children around the world.

International Medical Corps has been matched to one of the Top 25 in American Express’ Members Projects, "Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children."

Chosen out of 1,190 projects, “Saving the Lives of Malnourished Children” is now eligible to receive up to $1.5 million in funding. The project with the most votes receives $1.5 million, 2nd receives $500,000, 3rd $300,000, and 4th and 5th $100,000. The funding – made possible by your votes – would bring a vital lifeline to hungry and malnourished children around the world.

They need your help between now and September 29th. Voting is easy and doesn’t cost a thing! In just a click, you can save the lives of thousands of malnourished children. Click here to vote.

And click here to learn more about this very important charity.

So A Blonde Walks Into A Review

Dial Campaign for Clean Hands Giveaway

If there is one thing my kids will remember me for when they grow up, it will be my famous question, "Did you wash your hands?" I always have my kids wash their hands when coming back from being outside, after using the bathroom, etc.

And we do the 30-second rule too. "Warm water, wash for 30 seconds, then rinse."

As our pediatrician put it, "Would you rather puke, or wash your hands?" Which I make sure I ask my kids whenever they complain about having to wash up.

I had the opportunity to review Dial Complete and our whole family loves it! We tried their "Soothing White Tea" scent and it smells heavenly. It definitely gives me more incentive to wash my hands, just because I love the smell so much.

In addition to the delicious scent, the soap foams up nicely and contains lotion, something very important to me and my children as we all have sensitive/dry skin.

Dial Complete recognizes the importance of good hand washing and has put together a Campaign for Clean Hands. Based on findings from the Dial Complete® brand's Campaign for Clean Hands survey, moms are the top influence in teaching their children proper hand washing.

When asked, "When you were a child, who taught you proper hand washing?," 76 percent of the individuals surveyed answered their mother was responsible for teaching them to wash their hands. So I'm obviously not alone!

The Campaign for Clean Hands is a program designed to engage and educate families about the importance of proper hand-hygiene.

The campaign's Web site features:
  • a video contest for kids
  • an online "DC Germ Blaster" video game
  • a variety of fun, educational hand washing materials parents can print and share with their children, including a home hand washing chart, coloring and activity sheets, bookmarks and a memory game.
  • a sweepstakes visitors can enter to win a year's supply of Dial Complete foaming hand wash.

Head on over and take advantage of all the site has to offer!

Want to win a case of Dial Complete right here? Just leave a comment on this post. Bonus entry if you blog about this contest with a link to this post and to the Campaign for Clean Hands. (please leave a separate comment here with your link so I can give you credit for your entry).

Be sure there is an email I can find where you can be reached or your entry cannot be counted. Deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Wednesday, October 1.

Disclaimers: Winner has two weeks from the time of notification to claim their prize or the prize will be forfeited. So a Blonde Walks Into a Review is not liable for any prizes not delivered by contest sponsors or prizes lost in the mail.

So A Blonde Walks Into A Review

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

New Outfit

Notice anything different? :)

Many thanks to Lindsey from Mommy Chronicles for putting together this awesome look for me! She did a FABULOUS job!!

So A Blonde Walks Into A Review

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Sweet Life Winner

Congratulations to Lindsey from A Kindred Spirit's Thoughts! Lindsey's entry was chosen at random through as the winner of the Sweet Life gift basket giveaway!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and to author Mia King for sponsoring such a fabulous giveaway!

Stay tuned for more fun giveaways coming soon!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Horizon Organic Milk

With school back in full-swing, it can be hard for us moms to make sure our kids are getting the nutrition they need, not to mention making sure that what they eat/drink is healthy for them.

There is one product, however, that meets all of those needs, and is quick and convenient - Horizon Organic Milk.

Horizon Organic provides essential nutrients without the dangers of antibiotics, pesticides, or growth hormones so parents can rest easy when serving it to their kids.

My kids absolutely LOVE Horizon Organic's Flavored Single Serve Milk, which come fortified with Vitamins A and D, and come in fun flavors and travel-ready containers. Vanilla is their favorite and they especially beg me for it whenever I swing by Starbucks (where they can just grab one out of the refrigerator case there).

Click here to sign up for free coupons so your family can enjoy the taste, nutrition and convenience that comes with Horizon Organic Milk!


Smart Solutions for Everyday Moms


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Responsibility Project

If there's one value that my younger two kids could use some work on, it would definitely be personal responsibility. While my oldest has always been independent and driven, my younger two have always needed an extra push to get their chores done, finish their school work, etc.

Now there is a wonderful resource to help parents in their drive to teach personal responsibility to their children. Liberty Mutual has created "The Responsibility Project" - a resource that can help parents talk with their kids about personal responsibility in a meaningful way.

Do you remember Liberty Mutual's recent commercials that were based on a "pay-it-forward" theme? In the commercials, people are inspired to commit random acts of kindness after watching others do the same.

Due to an overwhelmingly positive response to those commercials, Liberty Mutual created a website devoted to promoting this important message. The site includes resources such as short films, discussion guides, and a blog to help families teach and talk about personal responsibility.

Here are a few of the short films you'll find on the site:
  • ~The Lighthouse: In this animated short, a community comes together to help an elderly lighthouse keeper when he accidentally shatters the beacon as a ship approaches land. This film is appropriate for kids as young as age 4.
  • ~The New Boy: A tough move to a new country gets a little easier when boys who start out as enemies come together over a shared moment of laughter. Elementary-aged kids will especially appreciate this short film.
  • ~Father's Day: Despite past differences, a mother reconnects with her estranged father for the sake of her daughter. Directed toward an older audience, this film is best for middle school students.

My favorite short was "Hot Seat." Kids and adults alike will really appreciate this one, in my opinion, and I was even giggling along myself as I watched. It's an animated film that takes place in an office and when you watch it, I'm sure you'll be nodding your head like I did, knowing we're all guilty of doing this very thing.

Over at the blog, you'll find hot topics such as teachers being allowed to bring concealed weapons into the classroom (really!) and whether or not it should be legal to leave our laundry out to dry.

And finally, be sure to check out the wealth of resources available at the site to help you spread the responsibility message. There's even a discussion guide to accompany the "Hot Seat" short, which has some very interesting, thought-provoking questions to ask your kids.

Now I'm off to teach some personal responsibility to my children!


Smart Solutions for Everyday Moms


Sunday, September 14, 2008

Ringling Bros. - A Tradition of Fun!

I can clearly remember my very first visit to the circus. Not only was I enthralled by the various acts and animals, but I also spent much of my time looking at the cute boy sitting in my row, rather than looking forward like this:

The look of awe was the same, though. *grin*

Seriously, though, it was a magical time and that same excitement has been handed down from generation to generation, thanks to Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey Circus - The Greatest Show on Earth! It's such a valuable family tradition that in a recent Mom Central survey, 88% of Moms regard it as a "not to be missed" childhood experience.

Who can resist the amazing lights, acrobats, clowns, elephants and more? Not only is it a fun night out with the family, it's a memory that lasts a lifetime and a tradition that can be passed down from generation to generation.

Right now, you can enjoy a 20% discount on tickets by entering the code MCC at Ringling Bros. The discount is only valid for the following shows:

Grand Rapids, MI - Sept. 18-21, 2008
Denver, CO - Oct. 2-13, 2008
Boston, MA – Oct. 8-13, 2008
Cleveland, OH - Oct. 24 - Nov. 2
Chicago, IL - Nov. 6 - 30, 2008
St. Louis, MO - Nov. 6-9, 2008
Auburn Hills, MI - Nov. 12 - 16, 2008
Highland Heights, KY - Feb 27 - Mar. 1, 2009
Cincinnati, OH - Mar. 4 - 8, 2008

To help your family get started on the Ringling Bros. tradition, click here and sign up for their "Baby's First Circus" program.

If your baby is up to 12 months of age and you are a citizen of the continental U.S., you will receive a free ticket voucher that can be exchanged for a free ticket to any Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey performance, anytime, anywhere. No expiration date. In addition, you'll receive a very special personalized baby certificate, printable online!

Feel free to spread the word and share the discount code with your friends and family. Enjoy!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sweet Life - Interview and Giveaway

Don't you love when you stumble upon a book that you can't put down? I just finished such a book - Sweet Life by Mia King. With rich characters, an intriguing plot and an unforgettable message, this book is going down on my favorites list.

The book's tag line sums it up best: "What if you got away from it all—and then it all got away from you?"

The main character, Marissa, is someone you come to love quickly. All of her quirks and vulnerabilities are exposed along with her strengths and good qualities. King does an impressive job of creating a well-rounded heroine.

As she follows her husband Paul from New York to his new job in Hawaii, (with daughter Pansy in tow), life begins to unravel. Instead of finding paradise, she loses her marriage...and herself.

King, however, takes us on an entertaining ride as we watch Marissa find herself once again, as well as what defines her and makes her truly happy.

One aspect I loved the most is that King, like me, is a homeschooling mom and weaves her experience seamlessly into the plot. Stereotypes are quietly exposed and explained away, much to my delight.

I also loved the setting...the beautiful state of Hawaii. I learned a lot about Hawaiian traditions, foods and more. As a bonus, recipes to many of the dishes talked about in the story can be found in the back of the book.

Check out this enticing promotional video and see if you can't wait to read it as much as I wanted to:

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview Mia King and I think her answers will give you good insight into the making of Sweet Life:

1. Did the story of Marissa and Paul come to you through experience, or did you do research into the issue of a strained marriage? If the latter, how did you go about that?

The story of Marissa and Paul came to me as a result of moving to the Big Island. I noticed in the eight years that I've lived here that the island has a way of pushing you to look at your issues, ready or not. Many marriages and relationships get tested here.

For some reason living on the mainland seems to buy you extra time -- you can maintain status quo for a while. But if you move to the Big Island, look out -- if there is anything simmering under the surface of your marriage, well, it's going to come out.

Living here has definitely strengthened my own marriage, and for that I am forever grateful, but Pele and the island definitely make you work for it! ;-)

2. How does being a homeschooling mother influence your plot, if at all?

As a homeschooling parent, I struggled with finding my own definition of homeschooling and then defending it to friends and family who couldn't understand why I was homeschooling. By including it in my novels, I like to think that I'm mainstreaming the concept for more people, along with the truth that ANYBODY can homeschool. I would never had dreamed I would be homeschooling, but here I am, and I love it.

3. How do you find the time to craft such a brilliant novel while homeschooling?!

The ultimate compliment! My daughter is 7 1/2 and very smart, which helps, and my other two are still pre-K (well, one's less than 3 months so he's pre-pre-K!). I just write when I can, and work homeschool around my schedule as a family.

We're unconventional in that we have our own business as well and work weekends, so homeschooling gives us the freedom to spend time together and fit other things in. But some days I feel like I can't get anything done - homeschooling or writing, much less laundry or cleaning the bathroom - and I just try to give myself a break on those days.

4. Did you use to live in New York like your character Marissa? If so, what caused you to move to Hawaii?

I've been to New York a lot but never lived there. I did a lot of schooling on the East Coast, though, and wanted a character that would really experience a culture shock in moving to Hawaii. I've been fortunate enough to live in a lot of places so the move to Hawaii wasn't a big deal for me.

My husband and I were living in California before and came out on vacation when I was 5 months pregnant. We felt "the call" to come here, so we sold everything and did, two months later. We gave up our corporate jobs and my husband started a golf school, The Spirit of Golf Academy ( and we both started writing. We've never had island fever and love being here, though we do miss family.

5. I love the painfully honest journey we get to take through Marissa's character, especially when she admits to faults such as looking down on the barista and the "hippy mom." What goes into defining your characters and their traits? Do you draw from experience, watch others, or something else?

The secondary characters and relationships are just as important to me as the primary ones. I love relationships and friendships that are borne from the unlikeliest of circumstances, and among the unlikeliest of people. People that Marissa never thought she'd become friends with, and yet they're the ones that help her deepen with herself and become a more authentic person.

I've had that happen in my own life, too: a woman who really bugged me moved next door to me and for three years I tried to move away, but couldn't! In the end, she became one of my dearest friends, and remains that way today.

6. What lessons/insights do you want your readers to come away with most after reading "Sweet Life?"

That life sometimes has greater things in store for us that we may not be able to see at first, and that it's never too late to change or uplevel your life.

You can probably see why I'm also adding Mia King to my favorite authors list!

And Mia is offering a SWEET giveaway to readers here! Check out this glorious gift basket which one lucky winner will receive:

The basket is filled with goodies:
  • ~one small gold box of Chocolate Dipped Original Shortbread Cookies
  • ~one gold box of Kohala Brownie Assortment
  • ~one petite box of Hawaiian Macadamia Nut Rocky Road
  • ~one petite box of Combination (Dark and Milk) Chocolate Covered Macadamia Nuts
  • ~three Dark Chocolate Dipped Original Shortbread cookies
  • ~one Original Biscotti with Milk Chocolate waves
  • ~one Original Biscotti with Dark Chocolate Waves
  • ~one signed copy of GOOD THINGS
  • ~one signed copy of SWEET LIFE
  • ~an assortment of temporary hibiscus tattoos, tropical key chains, monogrammed GOOD THINGS and SWEET LIFE pens, and bookmarks

And since Mia and I have homeschooling in common, she offered to throw in extra homeschool-related goodies. In addition to the basket, the winner will receive a Hawaiian studies workbook and stickers!

To enter, simply leave a comment here letting me know which part of the interview interested you most and why (for example, "I love that Mia homeschools"). For a bonus entry, blog about this contest on your site with a link to this post, as well as to Mia's site. Then leave a separate comment here with your link so I can put you down for another entry.

Deadline to enter is 11:59 EST, Saturday, September 20. U.S. residents only, please. Further disclaimers as follows:
  1. 1. Must be 18 or older to participate.
  2. 2. Any prize or prize notification returned to Mia or Big Island Candies as undeliverable will result in the awarding of that prize to an alternate winner.
  3. 3. No purchase is necessary to win.
  4. 4. The gift baskets, books and promotional items are given in-kind and have no cash value.
  5. 5. Basket contents and style may vary slightly depending on availability.
  6. 6. This give-away contest is offered in good faith and in the spirit of fun and aloha. Mia King,, Big Island Candies and Penguin Group USA, Inc. and So a Blonde Walks Into a Review assume no liability for damages associated with the gift basket or contents contained herein.

Good luck and happy reading!

Pizza Hut Tuscani Pasta Dinner Winners!

Congratulations to JMarie, Steph, and JanetFaye!

They have each won a gift certificate for a free Pizza Hut Tuscani Pasta dinner! Congratulations winners, and thanks to everyone who entered!

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Win a Custom Blog Design from Mommy Chronicles!

Mommy Chronicles

Looking for a new design for your blog? Lindsey from Mommy Chronicles is hosting a giveaway for a custom blog design! And judging from her own blog, the winner will be getting a very gorgeous look.

Good luck!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pizza Hut Tuscani Pasta Dinner Giveaway!

If there was only one food my little girl could eat every day for the rest of her life, it would be macaroni and cheese. She can't get enough of it.

So she was beyond thrilled when our family got to try out the new Premium Bacon Mac 'N Cheese Tuscani dinner from Pizza Hut. In fact, it was a big hit with my whole family.

And what better way to save time as the busy back-to-school season is in full gear?

We ourselves had just gotten back from vacation and from picking up our puppy at the sitter's (over an hour away) as well as unpacking and doing laundry when the delicious, piping hot meal was delivered to our door, complete with breadsticks and dipping sauce. So delicious and SO convenient!

The dish was filled with chunks of bacon and the cheese was plentiful, covering every inch of the Rotini pasta. It's more than three pounds of food so there was plenty leftover for lunch the next day. The breadsticks (five of them) were just as tasty as always and were eaten up fast!

Premium Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese is a permanent addition to the collection of Tuscani Pastas from Pizza Hut. The dish is just $12.99 and includes enough food to feed a family of four. (Prices may vary by participating location)

Premium Bacon Mac ‘N Cheese is the latest addition to the collection of Tuscani Pastas from Pizza Hut. The other two dishes include Meaty Marinara (which I reviewed before....delicious!) and Creamy Chicken Alfredo:

Good news! THREE lucky winners will each receive a gift card for a free Tuscani Pasta dinner from Pizza Hut!!

To enter, simply leave a comment here telling me which of the three dishes you'd like to try. Deadline to enter is 11:59 EST on Friday, September 12.

For an extra entry, blog about this giveaway with a link to this post and to Pizza Hut, then leave a separate comment here with your link.

Winner has two weeks from the time of notification to claim their prize or the prize is forfeited.

Good luck to all!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Remember Your First Cabbage Patch Kids Doll?

I remember my first Cabbage Patch Kids doll. It was a girl with blonde hair and had a blue nightgown. And she was one of my favorite dolls.

So I was delighted to hear that Limited Edition 25th Anniversary Cabbage Patch Kids have hit the shelves (for a limited time only). Each Cabbage Patch Kid is a one-of-a-kind replica of an original doll made in 1983, crafted with the same sculpts/molds and materials.

They have the same face, name, and clothing as the originals. How cool is that? More than 115 million Cabbage Patch Kids have been "adopted" since 1983, making them the best-selling large doll of all time!

Here's the doll my daughter Natalie received for review:

Meet Reba Gloria, a "born again" doll (my term, not theirs, *grin*) that is so adorable and much loved by Natalie:

The doll is just as well made as it was 25 years ago, with the Xavier Roberts signature on the bottom just like before. And it still has a pleasant baby powder scent. The dolls also come with a "silver anniversary" baby spoon, commemorative silver-stamped 25th anniversary birth certificates and adoption papers.

Wouldn't it be something if we could all find the doll that we had as a kid??? There's only ONE of each doll out there (well, now two if you still have your doll from back then), so these are bound to be huge collector's hits.

The Cabbage Patch Kids Playzone is something I wish I had as a child. There, your child can change the name of their doll if they wish and print out a new birth certificate, watch dozens of videos celebrating 25 years of Cabbage Patch memories, play games, and more.

Feel free to submit your own Cabbage Patch memories on the site. I'd love to hear about your memories as well, so leave a comment if you'd like, sharing those memories with me.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Starbucks Gift Card Winner

I want to offer a HUGE thank you to everyone who voted for me in the Hot Blogger Calendar contest. Unfortunately, I was not one of the winners but I did make a good showing thanks to you!

The winner of the $10 Starbucks card is Amy! Congratulations!

Stay tuned for more contests coming soon. Thanks again, everyone! :)
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