Friday, December 10, 2010

When I think of digging in the dirt boys always come to mind. Having grown up with only sisters we really didn’t get to do a lot of digging or playing in the dirt. But I have a niece who is a girly girl, but who also loves to get out there in the dirt with the boys as well. She collects bugs and animals and has absolutely no problem touching a dead insect. 

So when I received this new computer game by Dig It entitled Roman Town, I immediately thought of her. Roman Town: The Premiere Archaeology Game for Kids, from Dig-It! Games, is a CD-ROM game for Windows based computers and is compatible with Windows 2000/XP/Vista. I decided to have my niece be the guest of honor at this party and I told her to invite ten of her inquisitive friends who also liked to learn. I was provided with a party kit which included the game, cool Dig It knit caps, plastic water bottles and coupons for everyone to get their very own copy of the game. 

Roman Town: The Premiere Archaeology Game For Kids is an award-winning video game that provides kids with an entertaining way to learn about archeology and ancient Rome. The game utilizes 3D rendered graphics of authentic artifacts, Roman buildings and a realistic excavation site and teaches kids through interactive activities and fun games.

The game’s story follows the excavation of an ancient Roman town, called Fossura that was destroyed in 79AD by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Players will embark on a virtual archaeological dig of the town that leads to the unearthing of what every-day life was like for the town’s ancient inhabitants. One of the coolest features is the ability to explore the buildings of Fossura, which are littered with artifacts like coins, pottery, bones and paintings.

Archeology is the study of past human societies, primarily through the recovery and analysis of the material culture and environmental data which they have left behind, which includes artifacts, architecture, biofacts and cultural landscapes. Because archaeology employs a wide range of different procedures, it can be considered to be both a science and a humanity,[1] and in the United States it is thought of as a branch of anthropology, although in Europe it is viewed as a separate discipline.

Archaeology studies human history from the development of the first stone tools in eastern Africa 3.4 million years ago up until recent decades. It is of most importance for learning about prehistoric societies, when there are no written records for historians to study, and which makes up over 99% of total human history, from the Palaeolithic until the advent of literacy in any given society. Archaeology has various different goals, which range from studying human evolution to cultural evolution and understanding culture history.

The discipline involves surveyance, excavation and eventually analysis of data collected in order to learn more about the past. In broad scope, archaeology relies on cross-disciplinary research. It draws upon anthropology, history, art history, classics, ethnology, geography, geology, linguistics, physics, information sciences, chemistry, statistics, paleoecology, paleontology, paleozoology, paleoethnobotany, and paleobotany.

During the dig, the participant’s skills are tested in areas such as memory, analytical thinking, logic and problem solving. Puzzles taken in the lab, allow players to see how much they’ve learned using L.E.A.R.N (Locate Engrossing and Remarkable Knowledge).

My niece’s friends ranged in age from 8-10. The game was easy for them to grasp and get the feel for and they didn’t feel like someone was trying to teach them a lesson. Since all the children couldn’t be on the computer at the same time, the ones who were waiting had the chance to enjoy playing word search and word scramble games. They were also able to enjoy some archeology themed snacks and drinks, like mummy wraps and fossil juice, which they thought were cool. I heard one of her friends ask his mother if they could maybe go on vacation there so he could help dig up some artifacts. I was pleased to see their enthusiasm towards this educational game, as were the other parents. I must admit however, except for my niece, the boys who attended the party seemed to be a bit more interested than the girls were in seeing what they could find next. Each parent was happy to go home with a Dig It beanie, a water bottle and a certificate for their very own copy of the game.

***I received the above items from the sponsor and mommy parties, to accommodate my review and party. The opinions expressed are those of myself, and party guests and have not been influenced.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Community is a smart comedy series about a band of misfits who attend Greendale Community College starring Joel McHale, Chevy Chase, John Oliver, Alison Brie and Yvette Nicole Brown.  Community has scheduled their holiday episode for tomorrow evening and it will be in stop motion animation.  If you are old enough, you may remember the claymation holiday shows of the past, I especially remember Mr. Freeze from I think Frosty the snowman. I am a big fan of the show community, which airs on Thursday's on NBC primetime,  I either watch or record each episode weekly.

I love watching this show because each characters personality is so different and extreme from the other characters.  These truly are a band of misfits.  Abed's imagination usually comes into play in each episode and takes the cast on various adventures, whether it be in their own head or in reality. My favorite part of this episode was when each member of the group became Christmas versions of themselves and especially when Shirley became baby doll Shirley, complete with diaper.  To quote Shirley, "What, what the hell?!"  Each person's Christmas version of themselves reflected their personality to Abed, accurately so in my opinion.  

I also enjoyed that Abed sang throughout this episode which he's never done in the regular episodes.  My favorite song was when he re-worded the opening song for the show, to correlate to the Christmas holiday. Abed continues his search for the meaning of Christmas throughout the episode and I can gladly say he finds it at the end.  One by one, members of the group fall away during their search for the meaning, for various reasons.  I especially liked Abed's interpretation of humbugs.  Several members of the group, including Abed, do not celebrate Christmas due to spiritual beliefs and other incoherent reasons, and it was very interesting to see them experience it throughout the episode and what their take on the rituals associated with this holiday where. This episode has it all, the North Pole, Santa's Workshop, and each group members Christmas version being a toy that is generally received by a child for Christmas.

This group of misfits truly are a family, and this episode, as do many of the others, show just how much each of them care for the other.  Even though the show is in Stop Motion Animation, this is more for the adult audience and is something that I think would bring a smile to even Scrooge's face.   Take a sneak peek at a clip from the episode below and check your local listings to watch it tomorrow evening.


***As a member of one to one, i received an advance screener in order to accommodate this review. The opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

So, I was watching one of my other favorite programs on the Food Network this weekend, Mexican Made Easy, and saw this great recipe from Marcela Valladolid for Coconut Flan. I had purchased several cans of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed Milk prior to Thanksgiving with a gratis coupon I received and was dying to have the chance to try something new with this product.  Also, being that I love, love, love flan and Marcela made this recipe appear so easy I had to give it a shot. The hardest part of this recipe was finding the coconut milk at the grocery store.  I had no idea where to begin to look for it having never purchased it before, but I finally found it. I followed the recipe to the letter except for the shredded coconut.  I love the flavor of coconut by not the texture of it in my mouth, so I omitted it from the recipe. This flan turned out to die for.  To keep from eating the entire thing ourselves, I took half of it to my parent’s house for them to try.  They fell in love.  They both said that it’s the best flan they’ve ever had and that this is the dish I have to bring to Christmas dinner this year. I am usually responsible for bringing a dessert and they told me that this will be the one they request from now on.  This recipe makes a lot of flan and it is very dense, but definitely something you should try during the holidays.

Here is the recipe:
Coconut Flan
Recipe courtesy Marcela Valladolid

Prep Time:10 min
Inactive Prep Time:--
Cook Time:1 hr 40 min
Serves:8 to 10 servings

  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1 cup cajeta* or caramel sauce, at room temperature
  • 3 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 (14-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1 (12-ounce) can evaporated milk
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded sweetened coconut, toasted
  • *can be found in Hispanic grocery stores

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 10-cup Bundt or tube pan with vegetable oil cooking spray.  Drizzle the cajeta into the prepared pan, turning to coat the bottom and sides. Set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the milks, eggs, vanilla extract, and salt. Pour the mixture into the pan. Place the pan inside a large roasting pan. Fill the roasting pan with enough water to come halfway up the sides. Cover the Bundt pan with foil.  Bake until the center jiggles slightly when pan is moved, about 1 hour 40 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool at room temperature for 30 minutes. Refrigerate, covered, for 3 hours or overnight. Turn the flan out onto a platter. Sprinkle with toasted coconut and serve. 

So, to make using this wonderful product even more exciting, Eagle Brand, one of America's leading producers of sweetened, condensed milk, has partnered with Ingrid Hoffmann, host of the Cooking Channel's Simply Delicioso, and Delicioso on Telefutura/Univision, for a nationwide search to find America's signature recipes!

Ingrid Hoffmann ( is passionate about food and entertaining and spends each day sharing her enthusiasm and talent with an international audience. She currently hosts Simply Delicioso on the Cooking Channel while her clever 60-second food and entertaining tips, Un Minuto Delicioso, air daily on Galavision. Her Spanish-language show, Delicioso, is on Univision/Telefutura and is a weekly one-hour lifestyle cooking show. Ingrid's cookbook is available in both English and Spanish, SIMPLY DELICIOSO: A Collection of Everyday Recipes with a Latin Twist (Clarkson Potter/Random House) and DELICIOSO: Una Coleccion de Mis Recetas Favoritas con Sabor Latino. She developed her own Latin-influenced cookware line, Simply Delicioso by Ingrid Hoffmann, with top cookware and kitchen appliance manufacturer, T-fal, as well as her own cutlery and kitchen gadgets with Furi. She writes a monthly column in People en Espanol, appears weekly on the #1 Spanish-language morning show Despierta America, and makes frequent appearances on the Today show and The CBS Early Show.

"Food is my passion. I am always experimenting in the kitchen to make my desserts full of flavor and texture without adding extra steps." says Ingrid "Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk caramelizes quickly and evenly, to make my favorite, Dulce De Leche. Sweetened condensed milk also provides the perfect base for countless delicious dessert recipes. I love to bake as much as I love to eat, so I'm excited to team up with Eagle Brand to taste the best signature dessert recipes out there!"

All home bakers need is a little imagination and a can of Eagle Brand sweetened condensed milk to infuse their signature style into an original dessert recipe. Entries may be submitted in one of five categories: pies, cheesecakes, fudges, cookie bars and "other".

Signature recipes can be a new modern favorite, or a recipe passed down through generations, but they always please a crowd! Now through January 10th, 2011 the Eagle Brand Signature Recipe asks home bakers to showcase their signature recipes and creative spins on holiday classics for a chance to win a grand prize of $10,000!

Entrants can submit their recipes at through January 10th, 2011 (limit one entry per category).  The top five recipes in each category will be judged to determine a finalist recipe in each category. The finalist recipes will then be judged by a qualified panel of judges. One finalist recipe will be declared the grand prize winner and receive $10,000 and the four finalist runners up will receive $2,500. The top five entrants in each recipe category will receive a gift basket of Eagle Brand products and baking supplies!

Ingrid Hoffmann offers her expert tips at and in Spanish at Eagle Brand recipes, tips for usage, and product information are also available!

The Eagle Brand Signature Recipe Contest ends January 10th, 2011. Open to legal residents of the 50 United States and D.C. 18 years and older. Void where prohibited. For details and complete official rules please visit:


Monday, December 6, 2010

I’m sure that I have mentioned before that I am a tech junkie.  Whatever the latest and greatest electronic product on the market, its on my must have list. So, when I was given the opportunity to review the Powermat for my Holiday Gift Guide, I was so happy, since this item has been on my wish list for over a year. Just by myself I have two cell phones, two IPODS and a Nintendo DS.  Of course this doesn’t include all of the other household members and their various electronic gadgets as well. So, I knew that I would be able to put the Powermat through its paces when charging all of my equipment.
I don’t know how many times my blackberry charger has gotten unplugged only to find out the next day while away from home that its battery has died on me.  I also hate the sight of wires and cords dangling all over the place or running along the wall to the power strip. Powermat to the rescue. I received the Powermat Home/Office Wireless Charging System to review along with three sleeves to accommodate my Blackberry, IPOD and Ninetnedo DS. When you open the wireless charging system box you'll find the power cable to plug in the Powermat to an electrical outlet. You also get a Powercube Universal receiver, which is required for powering a device that doesn't have a Powermat receiver case available. There are also a variety of adapter tips to connect the Universal Receiver to your phone. 

One might think what’s the use of having this, versus just plugging devices into an outlet?  As mentioned earlier only one power cord to worry about, no dangling wires or cords to keep up with or wonder who might have taken them. A sleek design which will help save energy as the charging stops when the device has fully charged. Each person can have their own device and if you purchase the portable wireless charging system you can take it on the go without all the extra cords and it folds for easy transport. 
This product went together smoothly and easily and charged my gadgets effortlessly.  I like the fact that there is a sound to confirm that the device is properly connected and charging, you will hear the same thing when the device has been disconnected from the charging system. If you have a technophile on your Christmas list this item will surely bring a smile to their face.

****I received the above items to accommodate my review. No other form of compensation was received.  All opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Just recently, I had the opportunity to introduce my mommy friends to a great product line of eco-friendly, baby friendly items. Episencial is the first and only professional-quality, all natural skincare system created specifically for the unique developing skin type of babies and kids. The gentle, newborn safe formulas feature an exclusive skin immune complex™ to boost the skin’s immune functions and help the body ward off illnesses.

As mom's, when it comes to bath and skin care products for our babies, most of us have always gone with the tried and true brand that our parents used, and their parents used on them, rarely deviating from the course to try something new. So, when I was given the opportunity to try this line of products out, I could hardly stand it.  Thankfully skin problems or skin allergies are not a problem for our little ones, but being more eco-friendly and environmentally conscious is a large blip on our families radar.

So, after trying out the products I received on myself and the little ones and loving the results I saw on everyone's dry winter skin, I had to narrow down the list of mom's I would include on my invite list.  The chosen mommies and their babies had the chance to sample the products and take home a full size bottle the Episencial Playful Foaming Wash which they all seemed to love, as did the babies. Each mom also had the opportunity to try out and take home samples of several products in the line including, Sunny Sunscreen SPF 35, Soothing Cream for eczema, itches and bothered skin (aka winter skin), Better Body Butter , Sweet Dreams Bubble Bath,Nurturing Balm for diaper areas and sensitive places and finally, Protective Face Balm. These products not only are non-irritating to your babies skin, but they also help boost immunity.  The most heard comment during the party was, the scent of the products was very "clean and fresh", no perfumes that can be harsh on an infants skin. If you are looking for pefurme-y heavily scented products to use, these are not them, but if you are looking for something that is soothing to your senses and gentle enough for your babies and you, this is the line for you. All natural and organic.
 I had set up a couple of  bathing stations for the infants and had some of the moms who had toddlers use the bathtub to bathe they others.  Not one child experienced adverse reactions to the products and some mothers even commented on the fact that their children even appeared to be more calm after using the products.  Many of the little ones took a nap after being bathed and soother with all the wonderful products and the mommies had a chance to play some fun games and enjoy some adult time.  Many mommies went online to friend Episencial and Mommy Parties, so they could get in on some of the fun.  We then shared with each other what bath time rituals we use with our little ones and enjoyed some light snacks.

Everyone was really happy to learn about the Green Your School Grant Preschool Program.  Episencial, will be providing 12 preschools with the opportunity to win over $2250 in cash and products to go green; one preschool  per month will win. Applications will be accepted from May 4, 2010 to May 4, 2011 and the products will be delivered to your pre-school's doorstep. Just visit their facebook page and click on the Get a Grant tab at the top of the page, don't forget to also click on the coupon tab to get a $10 off coupon to use at Thank you Episencial for making such great products, good for our little ones and the environment.

***I was provided with a party kit to host this event by Mommy Parties and Episencial. No other form of compensation was received. The opinions expressed are those of myself and my family and friends, and have not been influenced.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

With at least one holiday party on nearly everyone's list of things to do this month, I was really excited to have the chance to sample and review the line or REMBRANDT Whitening products and the Reach by Design line. It seems like every year around this time, I begin to think about my dental health.  Usually everyone is concerned with what outfit to wear to what party, but for me that's easy, find something in the store I like and it fits....sold. But my smile has always been something I have been self conscious about.  After having braces as an adult, I began to smile more, but noticed that my smile wasn't as white as I would like.  I have also heard a lot of horror stories about dental office tooth whitening procedures causing tooth sensitivity. So when I received the Rembrandt line that I could do myself, in the comfort of my home, I was thrilled.

The REMBRANDT 2 Hour Whitening Kit was first on my list of items to try.  The REMBRANDT 2 Hour Whitening Kit contains enamel-safe whitening ingredients, like rapid-release peroxide formula that begins working on contact to oxidize dyes and chemicals found in food items and beverages, such as tannins in tea, coffee and red wine. Visibly whitens teeth in just one 2-hour treatment. The procedure is fairly simple, in all you need to do is SHAPE your COMFYTRAY Applicators to fit your teeth, FILL the bottom of the trays with a thin ribbon of our specially-formulated whitening gel, APPLY tray to teeth and start your first 20-minute session. When time is up, rinse your mouth and the tray with water, REST 10 minutes, REPEAT the 20-minute wear, 10-minute break method 3 more times (totaling 2 hours). I can honestly say that I noticed my teeth to be one shade whiter.
Rembrandt Toothpaste, Intense Stain, Mint Flavor, 3-Ounce Tubes (Pack of 3)
So, to keep my new whiter smile up to par throughout the holiday season, I began using the REMBRANDT INTENSE STAIN Toothpaste. This paste has a very minty flavor and none of the chemical or medicinal taste one might think.  You can keep enjoying your favorite food and drinks, while you polish away stains with REMBRANDT INTENSE STAIN toothpaste. The dual-action formula removes tough stains while actively restoring and strengthening tooth enamel. Formulated with a special blend of performing micro-polishers and a strong stain-fighting ingredient that helps fight tough stains like red wine, coffee and tobacco. This time of year I also increase my hot tea consumption, which is not very smile friendly.  Using this product, I can enjoy my favorite holiday tea without the worry of it staining my teeth.
It works by targeting particles left behind from food and drink, while 2 types of micro-polishers help to remove surface (extrinsic) stains while Tetrapotassium Pyrophosphate helps prevent future buildup. Sodium Fluoride restores enamel, which strengthens teeth, allowing this combination to be effective at polishing away stains and keeping teeth strong.
 And of course, no toothpaste could properly do the job of whitening your teeth without the proper assistant, enter REACH by DesignThis limited-edition collection brings together style, vibrancy and oral hygiene, providing an innovative brush to accommodate that special someone’s fun and fashionable lifestyle. With eight REACH by Design choices you will find a brush with an angled head to fit your smile and a designer looks to fit your style. This item would be great to put in a care pack to send college kids back to campus with, there's a design for everyone.

Curated by interior designers Tom Delavan and Celerie Kemble and celebrity stylist Brad Goreski, the new REACH by Design collection adds a splash of style to your brushing routine while also offering the uncompromising cleaning performance you’ve come to expect from REACH. After all, why can’t your toothbrush be functional AND beautiful?  I have kids, so I always get them fun toothbrushes, well this was my first fun toothbrush as an adult and I love it.   The bristles we so much different than what I was used to and I can say I loved it!  I will definitely be getting some more REACH by Design.
Rembrandt Plus Peroxide Toothpaste, Wintergreen Flavor, 2.6-Ounce Packages (Pack of 3)
The final item I received to try out is one that could be added to anyone's daily oral hygiene regimen. The REMBRANDT Plus Peroxide Wintergreen Toothpaste. Whiten your smile while restoring tooth enamel with REMBRANDT Plus Peroxide Toothpaste. Specially formulated with a rapid-release peroxide that starts working immediately on contact for visibly whiter teeth. Our refreshing, fresh mint flavor leaves your mouth feeling clean and invigorated. Also available in Fresh Mint flavor, this proprietary formula contains Active Dental Peroxide which releases oxygen for superior whitening.

IMHO, these items are a must have for your Christmas  gift list. I'm certain that nearly anyone would appreciate a whiter smile this time of year and it they receive it in their stocking they can use just in time for those New Year's Eve parties. 

***I received the above referenced items to accommodate this review, no other form of compensation was received.  The opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Another must have product on your holiday gift list is the reasonably priced line of Febreze home collection products. Even if the gift list is your wish list for Christmas, or it's something for that hard to shop for friend, teacher or book club friend. What is more relaxing than sitting next to a roaring fire and snuggling up with a good book? Well, if you do not have a fireplace available to you, Febreze Home Collection Wooden Wick candles are the next best thing! This items is available in nine premium scents, including holiday scents, such as gingersnap vanilla, which I received. These candles are designed with a wooden wick to recreate the ambiance and sound of a crackling fire indoors. Without even lighting the candle, and just leaving the lid off in a closed home, it smelled like someone had been baking gingerbread all day.  Of course this is not the intended use for the wooden wick candle, and the crackling fire sound is the purpose of this candle. and is designed to help create the ambiance, but if you are a little weird like me and don't like burning your pretty candles, you can enjoy it without burning it, at least for a little while. Each candle comes in a clear glass jar with a Home Collection label, wooden removable lid, and each candles wooden wick burns up to 80 hours!

The fragrance of the candle is highly concentrated, which is why it scented the house without being lit, the scent is a true ginger with a detection of vanilla and other spices. 
I decided to finally bun this one over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.  Everyone who came into the house kept asking where is the gingerbread, ooh it smells so yummy in here and the like.  The scent was not overpowering and after the day progressed I really didn't notice it amongst the smell of all the other delicious eats on the table. But, apparently if you entered from outside, it was the first thing everyone could smell. his candle also offers a clean burn with no soot residue.
I also received a Febreze Home Collection No Spill Wood Diffuser to try out.  I decided to place this on the windowsill  in the kitchen where the window is always kept open. I received the Anjou Pear Spice and I found the fragrance to be light and gentle.  It was not overly sweet and had the perfect combination of sweet and spice. It is described as the gentle sweetness of fresh fruit lingering in a comforting blend of spices.Most of the time it goes unnoticed amongst the usual kitchen odors, until the breeze catches it and you get a whiff of the ever gentle scent and think, ooh where did that come from.
The final product I received was this cutie above.  This is sure to fit into any holiday home, and I think the best place would be the guest bath during your holiday event.  The Febreze Home Collection Flameless Luminary is my second favorite product in the collection. When you purchase the starter kit it comes with a shade in the the kit, but additional shades may be purchased separately, in a variety of eight additional scents.  I especially enjoyed the Vanilla Frost snowman shade I received. It is described as the comforting scent of vanilla wrapped in a soft harmony of floral and spice. I can't wait to place this in the guest bath at one of our upcoming holiday parties.  It emits a strong long-lasting scent, which makes it perfect for high traffic areas that need freshening throughout the day. I love how it fits into my home decor and looks like a item that would cost more than it does. Take a look at this video to see how it works.

Any one of these products would fit perfectly into your holiday home or that of a friend, boss, teacher, or just about anyone. Pick some of these items up, you will not be disappointed. You can find Febreze on Facebook, You Tube and Twitter.

Gift Guide Item #3

***I received the above referenced items to accommodate this review. No other form of compensation was received.  The opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced.