Fun and Easy Halloween Lunchbox Ideas

Happy Halloween! We get all into this spooky day by tricking out almost anything and everything…and, not surprisingly, that includes school lunch!

If you follow me on Instagram, you might already know that I’ve been a longtime lunchbox fan. I play with my kid’s food, all in the name of smiles.  For Halloween, I thought of spooky characters and incorporated them into lunch.

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 An easy go-to for Halloween-themed lunches include pumpkin-shaped sandwiches. I usually make a turkey or ham sandwich, but something not too thick. I then cut the sandwich with my pumpkin-shaped cookie cutter which has the lines in the formation. For the fruit and dessert, I cut 2 slices and pop some mini-marshmallows in for the teeth. For some containers you can just place the slices and marshmallows without any help. Since my apple wasn’t that big, I had to use tooth picks to secure the apple-lip formation, but then the marshmallows stayed in place. I just put mixed berries on the side, or rather, Boo-berries.  And finally, to give the lunch a super fun look, I threw in one of our Halloween rings I saved from our local ice cream shop. Spiders or other tiny trinkets work well for decor. Easy peasy.

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For this lunch, instead of bread, I used a pita and cut it into fourths. I stuffed the pita with ham and mustard for an easy sandwich. For the veggie, I roasted sweet potatoes the night before, like you would sweet potato fries. But before roasting cut out a jack o’lantern face to give it a fun effect.  For the fruit, I threw in more berries!

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And today’s Halloween lunch includes an easy, kid friendly salad.  Salad? Why salad? Because my kid will be consume candy by the fistful later, I thought I’d throw in some nutrition for lunch. In a Konserve stainless steel container, I mixed some greens, goat cheese, tiny apple chunks and cranberries. I included some honey balsamic on the side and will cross fingers at least some of it gets eaten! For extra measure, I made a quick pumpkin-shaped sandwich and berries. The candy eyeballs were totally for effect. I wonder if those will get eaten first?!

 

For me, making lunch isn’t supposed to cumbersome, but rather, fun and delicious. If it takes more than 10 minutes to make, that’s just not fun for me. If my 7 year old can’t do it himself, again, that’s not fun. So, rule of thumb, make lunch fun and keep it simple.   So, with that said, here are just a few Halloween-inspired lunches.

So, if you’re not into bento boxes or fun lunches for kids, before you say “somebody’s got too much time on their hands,” consider this: bento boxes have been around for centuries in Japan, and they incorporate healthier eating by limiting portion size and encouraging more wholesome foods.

Happy Halloween!

 

Trap or Treat: Skylanders Trap Team Halloween Video

Some of our favorite characters who just might already live in a fantasy land are starring in a Halloween-themed video to give us a glimpse of some ghoulish shenanigans. In honor of Halloween, the Skylanders Trap Team released this Halloween video to get us in the spooky spirit while sharing some of the latest installment of Skylanders.

Happy Halloween!

 

Disclosure: This video was sent to me from Activision for promotional purposes. I was not compensated for this post, but received samples to facilitate a review of this game. As always, all opinions are my own.

Best Halloween Costumes for Boys 2014

We’re just few days away from Halloween, and more than likely, you’ve got your costumes all picked and ready to go.  But for those of you who don’t, I put together a round up of some of the most popular boys’ costumes for the 4-8 year old range.  Four is a bit beyond the cutesy animals and eight isn’t quite into all the gory monsters quite yet.  There’s quite a few boy costumes that touch graze the gore factor but focus on that super hero/machismo theme.

Saban’s Power Rangers have some of the fiercest costumes at reasonable price points.  My guys had the chance to check out the toddler ranger and the Red Ranger, both of which were bold and appear powerful with the muscle detailing.  What we liked most about these costumes is that they featured a lot of details and were true to the characters from the show.  

Spider-Man must have some kind of record for being one of the most popular Halloween costumes.  This Marvel costume that can be found at Party City boasts lots of muscles and webbing details the only thing missing are the instant webs!

Batman is another favorite boys’ costume, particularly with the younger and much older boys.  This toddler Batman costume mirrors the old school dark knight costume, and one that’s likely to be a hit with the littlest fans.

Ninjas seem to be a longtime favorite for boys, presumably for its mysterious, yet powerful stature.  As opposed to the common black ninja costumes, this ninja costume from Halloween Spirit has green details that set it apart. Double swords and a draped mask complete this mysterious get-up.

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Ninja Turtles are, perhaps, one of the biggest comebacks in terms of revived characters and surrounding frenzy.  TMNT is expected to be one of the most popular costumes for boys this Halloween, so be on the lookout for all types of turtles, specifically in the likeness of Leo, Donnie, Mikey and Raphael.

Expect to see a lot of video game-inspired costumes this weekend, including Minecraft, Mario and lots of Skylanders.  Activision’s über popular video game franchise recently released a new installment, Trap Team, so be on the lookout for Skylanders of any kind.  My older guy will be donning a Chop Chop costume, which is essentially a ferocious skeleton warrior.

In case you’re on the lookout for a last minute costume, all of the above can be found at Walmart, Target, Halloween Spirit or Party City. Happy Trick or Treating!

 

Trick or Treat at Jenkinson’s Boo on the Boardwalk

In the weeks leading up to Halloween, there’s no shortage of festivities, and that includes down the shore, here in NJ! In the spirit of Halloween, Jenkinson’s gets all tricked out for Boo on the Boardwalk. The fun on the boardwalk includes trick or treating, crafts and lots of tricks in between. We were onhand last weekend to experience the fun and I have the photos to prove it.

 

Boo on the Boardwalk has lots of games for the kids to play, with plenty of prizes too!  Entrance includes 2 free games, and there are several games that you can pay to play.

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I love that kids of all ages can participate in the games! Littles had a blast with this Plinko-like game! Lucky us, he won 5 little prizes!

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Boo on the Boardwalk is slated for this weekend, October 25 and 26 from noon to 4:00. Get the kids dressed up and head to the boardwalk for lots of family fun!

 

In between all of the activities, we did some trick or treating! We forgot our trick or treat bags, but Jenkinson’s gives you a bag upon entry.IMG 1578

 

The boardwalk performer, aka Frankenstein, entertained the kids with a little show!

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And what’s a visit to Jenkinson’s without a visit to the aquarium? We had a blast checking out our favorite friends.  We even caught the penguin feeding for the first time, something we always missed over the summer!

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We loved that the animals had their own pumpkins throughout the aquarium!

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And to stay in the Halloween spooky spirit, I was able to get my fortune read right by the penguins exhibit.

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Apparently, all of my ongoing struggle will pay off in the end! Good to know!

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It was a wonderful fall day on the boardwalk, which is my absolute favorite time at the beach: less crowds, more beauty and just as much fun! If you have a chance, be sure to check out Boo on the Boardwalk this weekend at Jenkinson’s!

 

Full disclosure: I am a Jenkinson’s ambassador and received compensation as part of this program. My family received complimentary admission to facilitate this review, but as always, opinions on NKT are my own.

School Days with Paul Frank

For September, Saban sent us some awesome school supplies and essentials, all of which we’ve been enjoying. Paul Frank has a myriad of school supplies for kids of all ages, including notebooks, pencils, pouches and more.  But, it’s the backpacks that we’re definitely digging the most.

 

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These sleek backpacks keep it fun but stay stylish. I love the modern aesthetic of Paul Frank products. My older son loves the faux leather feel to this back pack. It’s easy to clean and carries everything he needs. 

Be sure to check out Amazon for more Paul Frank backpacks and school supplies.

 

Full disclosure:  As a Saban-Brandbassador, I received product samples to facilitate this review. As always, all opinions on NKT are mown

 

2014 Holiday Gift Guide Sneak Peek

And because Christmas is just two months away, I’m reluctantly, but excitedly looking ahead to the holidays. Actually, I’ve been thinking about the holidays since the summer because of all of the holiday press previews.  I’m finally organizing my thoughts and ideas for this year’s holiday guide. As in years past, I will be categorizing my guide, starting age and possibly by theme.  So, as a fun preview, here’s a sneak peek of The Next Kid Thing Holiday Gift Guide, babies and toddler edition.

NKTBabygiftguide14The items feature above have been included in NKT at one point or another. Here’s a round up of just a few of the items I’ll be featuring in our gift guide:

  • Starting with the Stokke Steps, babies and tots can grow with this sleek seating system. 
  • The Jack Spade/Kate Spade for Gap collaboration has my heart all aflutter, so I couldn’t help but include the fun blue oxford and striking red ballet flats with a gift bow detail at the bottom right.  
  • Feeding gear and other practical baby items are among some of my personal favorite stocking stuffers and add-on gifts. As always, Tommee Tippee keeps it cool with these sweet section plates and Truly Spill Proof Straw Cups
  • Stride Rite’s Isaiah Motion will keep the kids on their toes for the holidays. 
  • Aden + Anais will forever be one of my go-to baby gifts because of its versatility and sustainability. liam the brave sweet dream gift set would double as a gift for mama and babe. 
  • When it comes to classic kid powered toys, Melissa and Doug can do no wrong. Throw some pancakes into the mix, Melissa and Doug’s delicious playset is certain to be a toddler must-have.   
  • Kitchen sets are a favorite when it comes to toddler big ticket gifts. Plan Toys’ newly redesigned kitchen set keeps its same small footprint and sustainable design, while showcasing its modern aesthetics. 
  • And, perhaps some of my favorite baby board books to date, Baby Lit turns classic literature into baby board books. With fantastic imagery and graphics, simple one-word story lines, these line of books are perfect baby (or rather, parent) gifts for classic lit aficionados or English Majors like yours truly.

Stay tuned for more holiday gift ideas to come! 

 

 

 

Creative Galaxy Inspires a World of Imagination + Glow in the Dark Rocket Ship Craft


If the world is our oyster, then the galaxy is most certainly our canvas.

As a creative person who’s constantly creating, whether plotting projects in my head or in real time, I appreciate it when books and shows encourage the same thing for my boys.  The new original animated series, Creative Galaxy, featured on Amazon Prime Instant Video is an example of a show that gets our artistic juices flowing.

 

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In a galaxy far away, aliens co-exist and create art every day and solve problems by harnessing their imagination and creativity. The main character, Arty, is an inquisitive young alien who often asks questions to his audience. Creative Galaxy may have a familiar format and feel because it’s the product of children’s programming veteran Angela Santomero, the brains behind PBS Kids’ Daniel Tiger, Emmy-nominated Super Why and the classic kid’s favorite, Blue’s Clues. 

Each episode of Creative Galaxy begins with a problem that must be fixed with art.  To fix the problem at hand, Arty makes his way around Creative Galaxy and gathers items for his idea box. Arty tackles problems with his shape-shifting sidekick, Epiphany and friends along the way like Jackson, Shift, Seraphina and Gallaria. 

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Jason Priestly and Angela Santomero at the Creative Galaxy Launch. Source: Zimbio

Creative Galaxy boasts colorful imagery and fun, yet relatable story lines. Familiar voices lend their talent to round out the show: Cloris Leachman is Galleria, Brooke Shields is Seraphina and Jason Priestly is Sketch. 90210 fans will appreciate Sketch’s coy greeting: what brings you to my zip code? 

The show encourages art with a variety of mediums covered throughout: painting, crayon, drawing, paper—even glitter.  According to Amazon, this series is designed to support a child’s natural inclination to use their imaginations, make and create. Art is everywhere, as examined by Creative Galaxy; we are always surrounded by art, and ultimately, art is an important resource is our day to day life.

Geared to preschoolers, this show really struck a chord with my 2.5 year old, as well as my seven year old. Already a super fan of Amazon Studio’s Tumble Leaf, it took my two year old a few episodes to really appreciate Arty’s adventures.  Once he did though, he was really engaged into Arty’s projects.

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Though my older son is beyond these types of shows, I did find him getting into Arty’s adventures just as well as the two year old. Creative Galaxy makes kids feel as though they’re making art alongside of Arty and the kids featured on the show. As for my seven year old, he appreciates the real kids doing craft projects in between, which prompted us to do our own. More on that below!  I love the true educational content throughout the show. Creative Galaxy has a knack for implementing real artists such as Kandinsky and parlaying it into a relatable activity within the show, gives art appreciation a new meaning as a parent. I appreciate the different dimensions of this show. From the fresh-faced characters to the artwork created by real kids in between segments to the fun songs wrapping up story lines… “shapes and lines make everything,” Creative Galaxy is undoubtedly another intergalactic hit for Amazon Kids and Angela Santomero.

 

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As a diehard Amazon Prime Instant Video fan, I absolutely love the depth of kid’ shows that are now available on this streaming service.  Amazon made a smart move by tapping the best in the business when creating children’s programming.  Dr. Alice Wilder, another one of my idols, is the Educational Advisor for Amazon Studios and is also one of the executive producers for Creative Galaxy.  Dr. Wilder is responsible for developing the Amazon Originals curriculum for kids and is helping implement Amazon’s educational point of view into the development of new series. If my kids are going to be watching kid shows, I love knowing that educational professionals like Dr. Wilder are at the helm, helping to craft Amazon Originals’ curriculum for kids.

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It Iooks like I’m not alone in loving Amazon Prime Instant Video’s Creative Galaxy. Common Sense Media gives this new show four out of five stars. “The stories incorporate valuable prereading skills such as patterns, color identification, and counting in fun ways, and its interactive format encourages kids to consider how they might handle challenges such as the ones that Arty faces.”

 

 And because crafts and tactile activities go hand in hand with fabulous shows like Creative Galaxy, here’s a craft we had fun creating.

Glow in the Dark Rocket Ship Craft

From this creative show, we were inspired to do our own craft à la Arty and Creative Galaxy. Because my seven year old is much better at structured crafts than my 2 year old, he served as my crafting companion. But truly, this craft can be done with toddlers up to grade schoolers. 

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We used two pie tins, some glow sticks and Play Doh to create a simple Glow in the Dark Rocketship. 

IMG 1661IMG 1663We punched holes in the pie ties with hole punchers.  We used two different size hole punchers, and I’m sure you can use a variety of shapes. We did the sides, but we’ll probably do more on our next version.

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I then strung some baker’s twine between the two pans to create a way to suspend the flying saucer. Before sealing our rocket ship we ignited our glow sticks. You can use any lightweight illuminating device, as long as it’ll fit in the pie tins.

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Once the glow sticks are lit up, you can seal the tins with modge podge and pinch the lips of the two tins together. As the glue is drying, you can create your alien who will be flying the saucer. IMG 1689

 

Have your child envision the torso and head of the alien, which will sit atop of the flying saucer.  Once the alien is sculpted with the Play Doh, secure the figure onto of the tin. Ideally, wait until the glue dries before placing the figure on top. Modge Podge usually takes a few hours to dry. 

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Place the plastic cup over the alien, which will serve as the bubble for the flying saucer.  Love my technical terms? To secure the cup, use Modge Podge along the lip of the cup and then center it over the alien.  After everything is dry, decorate your flying saucer as you wish.

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The more colors, the better!  Since glow sticks only last a few hours, it’s fun to make this craft in the afternoon so you can use the Glow in the Dark Rocket Ship as a night light.  Use the twine to create a suspension device to hang from the ceiling!

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This craft hones in on fine motor skills and can serve as a conversation piece to bridge Creative Galaxy to some tactile play and creation. From this craft, parents can engage in conversation on stars, as well as light and dark.

 

As Arty and friends remind us: go and be amazing! That’s a pretty perfect catch phrase if I ever heard one!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

Highlights of the 2015 Toyota Camry

Because cars and technology are paramount purchases in most of our homes, many car companies have been reaching out to parent bloggers and including us in their media outreach. As such, I’m currently in Ponte Vedra for Toyota’s press preview for the 2015 Camry, Sienna and Yaris.  Dubbed the Toyota Family Reunion, this press preview has involved a lot of test driving and presentations with company executives, including the marketing team, engineering team and the other brains behind the evolution of some these vehicles.

 

 

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I will have much more information to share, but I wanted to unveil this quick Q & A I did with Camry’s Chief Engineer, Monte Kaehr.  So, if there’s anything you need to know about the Camry, Toyota’s top-selling vehicle, Kaehr is your guy.  Lucky me, I had the chance to shoot a candid, off the cuff video, where I asked Mr. Kaehr to highlight just some of Camry’s latest developments.  And since many of you are like me, tech-minded, yet cautious consumers, I asked Mr. Kaehr to cover some of the latest security developments.

 

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As mentioned, I’ll have more to share soon, but for now, check out what Monte Kaehr has to say about the 2015 Toyota Camry:

 

 

Review: Max Tow Truck

There’s no shortage of cool boy toys on the market these days, and that definitely includes cars and trucks. The new Max Tow Truck from Jakks is destined to be a popular truck this holiday season, and not just for its cool factor. 

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Max Tow Truck is described as being able to tow up to 200 lbs.  He talks and moves, but more importantly, he tows!  My guys are really enjoying playing with Max.  Between the 2 and 7 year olds, Max appeals to both younger kids as well as older boys—my husband included.  

 

Max can tow things, without a doubt.  We towed toys, wagons, little brothers…but we never got as far as towing 200 lbs. We found a few glitches, but after shifting a few times, we were able to get Max to tow (most of) the things we wanted.  His rubber and almost hollow wheels allow for maneuverability and monster truck action. We loved watching the truck go up hill and over any and everything.  And contrary to what Bigs said in the video, I don’t think Max can move boulders.  Small boulders, maybe. 

All in all, Max Tow Truck is pretty awesome and lives up to its cool factor.  We’ve had so much fun with the truck, I’m sure I’ll end up posting more about it soon.

Curious George Boo-Fest Returns for Halloween on PBS Kids

Fall and all of the fun that it brings is one of my favorite times of year. Lucky us, so many of our favorite shows underscore the fall fun, including our faves over at PBS Kids.

Later this month, be sure to check out new adventures with everyone’s favorite mischievous monkey, Curious George. New adventures of Curious George will debut on PBS KIDS October 28-30, including George testing his super spy skills and exploring an aviation museum. October 28 features the premiere of “Submonkey,” an underwater adventure that includes the song “Down, Down, Down,” performed by Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go’s.

 

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Be on the look out for more Halloween fun with episodes from other PBS KIDS shows, including Dinosaur Train, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, Wild Kratts and more. 

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To find out more about the Curious George episodes read more after the jump:

Descriptions of the upcoming Curious George episodes via PBS Kids:

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