Freezer Fruit Pops Make for Healthy Summertime Snacks

Summertime snacks for our family are often synonymous with fresh, ripe fruit and chilled frozen yogurt or ice cream.  Actually, with all this heat we’ve been enduring this summer, anything cold sounds good right about now!

This post and activity was inspired, in part, by Healthy Child Healthy World’s weekly twitter party, and by a recipe I stumbled accross on one of my favorite kiddie cuisine sites, Weelicious.

Since we’ve been staying with family for the past few weeks, with three kids in the house and a Costco down the street, we’ve been stocking up on all the delicious fresh fruit.  And fruit from Costco…you know what that means.  We had a ton of it!


We had a surplus of strawberries and mangos; meaning, we had more ripened fruit than we knew what to do with!  Cue in Weelicious’ yummy recipes!

With all the extra fruit that was on the cusp of getting too ripe, I enlisted the two bigger kids to help me make some fun homemade popsicles!

I used:

1 set of Tovolo Groovy Pop molds, which yield 6 bigger fruit pops
2 ripe mangos, sliced into thirds and then cubed and pureed
1 cup of ripe strawberries, pureed
1/2 cup of blueberries, pureed
1/2 cup of Mott’s Medley’s juice

I mixed and pureed fruit for each pop, personalizing each flavor for each kid.  Since these fruits had so much of their own fruit juice, I only had to add a few splashes of the juice to help solidify the mixture once frozen.

It was fun to get creative with the kids and let them mix, then help pour each pop.  The making of the pops was a fun outdoor activity, and I’m sure it’d make a great (albeit messy) indoor or rainy day activity too.


The beauty of the Tovolo freezer pop molds is that each container is a good size and actually stays put.  I’ve used other molds in the past that used questionable plastic and the sticks never stayed in place.  Plus, Tovolo has a bunch of great shapes to choose from.

Looking for more healthy summer snacks?  Check out Healthy Child Healthy World’s Twitter Party (tonight at 9-10) and their site for more great ideas!



Imagination Playground Debuts in NYC

Innovative design is all around us, and that often includes our kids’ playthings.

Yesterday, NYC unveiled the long-anticipated Imagination Playground, an innovative Play Space that was designed by architect David Rockwell. The Imagination Playground at Burling Slip in lower Manhattan is the first realization of Rockwell’s site-specific park concepts that can be designed and conditioned for any place or community, and includes a full set of Imagination Playground loose parts and a sculpted landscape, as well as sand and water installations.

According to the Huffington Post, the playground was paid for with $4.5 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and $3 million from the city’s Department of Environmental Protection.

I’ve been reading a lot of information and preliminary reviews about this playspace that’s being described as “revolutionary.”  One bit of information that I loved reading about was how KaBOOM! partnered with Rockwell Group to help distribute Rockwell’s innovative Imagination Playground to communities across the country.

I’m one of the KaBoom Summer Challengers, and, well, I love how the organization has its hands involved in so many prolific movements relating to play.

I fully expect our travels to bring us to the city to check out this playspace for ourselves, but in the meantime, check out all the cool features of the Imagination Playground.

Let Them Eat Cake!

Last weekend, I had a fun mini-party that I billed an NKT playdate.  It was a super small gathering of some of my friends from back home, some of whom I hadn’t seen since we embarked on our own crazy adventures of parenthood.

At the playdate, I showcased a number of toys and product samples that I’ve received, but haven’t had the chance to write about on NKT.  It was a great way of getting the products into my friends’ hands, and getting a different perspective while sharing some cool kid finds.  I’ll be sure to write a more thorough post on what I shared and what some of them had to say.  Since it was my birthday earlier this week, naturally, I still have cake on the brain!


One of the cool activity sets I featured was the Girl Gourmet Cake Bakery from Jakks Pacific, which came out last fall.  The Cake Bakery is one of those fun activity sets that’s quite timely in relation to the ongoing cake craze.  With the rise in popularity of cakes from hit shows like our neighborhood favorite, Carlo’s Bakery of The Cake Boss fame to the ever-inspiring Ace of Cakes, cake-making and decorating has never been so sweet.

This set allows kids to create cakes with a little help from Duff of Charm City Cakes, the bakery which is chronicled on the Food Network’s Ace of Cakes.  With the Girl Gourmet Cake Bakery, kids can create a mini 2-tiered fondant cakes. Kids just add water to one of the cake flavors, stir and pour into the cake molds, and then place into the container and microwave for 30 seconds. To create one of the fondant mixes, water is added and then can be rolled out onto the non-stick mat. The cakes are then removed from the mold after they cool, which are then ready to be covered with the fondant. The mini cakes can be placed on the decorating turntable and can be fancied up by using the air powered gel decorator gun.  Need more embellishments? Add the included candy garnishes!   How sweet it is!

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They Say it’s Your Birthday: Do Goodery Edition

If I made a laundry list of things that I wanted for my birthday, besides the obvious choices, I doubt any of it would carry that much weight.  I mean, what do I really need?

Given the influx of bad luck, drama, and not-so-happy times our family has been weathering the past few weeks and months, now is the time to negate all of that bad energy.  In fact, the husband and I were talking about how we needed to find ways to give back to our community. So, just in time for my birthday tomorrow, I will be doing some Do Goodery in NYC with some fellow bloggers.

77kids, together with the fabulous have tapped seven bloggers in each of the 11 participating cities (77 peeps altogether!) to do random acts of kindness in our communities on July 14; and I’m so thrilled to be a part of the vibrant NYC team.  It sounds like the other teams have a number of truly wonderful acts of kindness lined up.  Our team is hammering out the last details, but once we’re all set, I’m sure I will be tweeting as we go!

Who is this 77kids I keep mentioning?  In case you aren’t familiar, be sure to remember the name, because you will hear more about them soon!  77kids is American Eagle’s new baby: it’s their baby, toddler and youth division that evokes the same fun, modern, casual and cool style, but for the smaller set.  77kids, which is about to debut a handful of retail locations, seems like they’re all about following through with their do good philosophy.

Do Goodery on my birthday?  Happy, indeed!

Disclosure:  I will be receiving a stipend for my participation in this campaign.

NKT Favorite Sunblock Make EWG Top-Rated List

I hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!  Our family celebrated our country’s independence, perhaps, just like most of you: with tons of fun in the sun, fireworks and good times with friends and family.

Photo Credit: Illuminate Life

I know much of the east coast right now is enduring really steamy weather and with this weekend’s festivities in mind, I thought it’d be a good time as any to share some thoughts about sunscreen. 

Since becoming a parent, I’ve learned so much that I didn’t already know about sunscreen, particularly how it expires, some of those pricey brands are nothing but bottles of toxic lotion and how so many different kinds just are not suitable for the kids.

Earlier this year, the Enivornmental Working Group, released the fourth annual list of their best rated sunscreens.  The nonprofit research organization that says they aim to use information to protect human health and the environment, say their top-rated sunscreens all contain the minerals zinc or titanium. EWG says these types of sunscreen are best for people who are looking for UVA protection without any chemicals considered to be a potential hormone disruptor, and for like-minded parents, these details are pertinenent when selecting sunscreens that work best for our family.  Not-so-surprising observation here:  not a single spray sunblock makes their list

It’s important point out this staggering statistic: 
EWG researchers recommend only 39, or 8 percent, of 500 beach and sport sunscreens on the market this season.

As a full disclosure here, I’m sure I mentioned before that my husband works in the health and beauty sector as a warehouse planner for a big box store, thus I get to try out many great brands (and not so great ones, t00).  When summertime rolls around, I’m always on the lookout for the samples of the “better” sunblock, meaning those brands that aren’t laden with chemicals that I don’t want to slather over the kid’s super-sensitive skin.

EWG’s list this year included many of those brands that I considered tried and true, particularly my two favorite brands for the kid:  Blue Lizard and TRUKids.  Both brands were samples that I came across from husband’s work and haven’t strayed since.  They’re staples in my beach bag and I’m super happy to see them on the EWG top-rated sunscreen list.

Last year, in fact, I reviewed TRUKid’s Sunny Days, which received a 1 overall score from EWG’s rating system.

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Junk Ball Features MLB Players

The Boys of Summer are in mid-season right now, gearing up for the All Star Game, which is just a few weeks away.  Just in time for the All Star Game, Little Kids sent us a sample of their Junk Ball Bat and Ball set.

This year, Junk Ball was granted the MLBPA license for their bat and ball sets which feature some of the hottest MLB players including, Tim Lincecum, Dustin Pedroia, Alex Rodriguez, C.C. Sabathia, Johan Santana and our family’s favorite player, David Wright.

The Junk Ball Bat and Ball set comes with a classic Junk Ball Baseball, Junk Ball Bat and a sheet of stickers that features 6 players, so that kids can customize their own bat. The Bat and Ball set retails for $9.99, (an MLB ball featuring one of the aforementioned players can be purchased separately) making it an extremely affordable outdoor toy that little ones, all the way up to big kids, can enjoy their very own game of ball.

“Junk Ball,” in baseball terminology often refers to a pitch that is difficult to hit due to movement rather than velocity or power, such as a breaking ball or a knuckleball.

And what makes this Junk Ball pretty cool is how it makes throwing “junk balls” so easy.  In addition to the diagrams on how to throw a few pitches, Junk Ball balls feature a “Dial a Pitch” that allows anyone to throw curves, sliders, even knuckleballs—-again suitable for the little guys and big guys, including daddies, too!

Junk Ball, David Wright

For our family, there’s nothing more synonymous with summer, outdoors and family time than baseball, whether it’s watching a game at Citi Field, catching a Sunday game on tv or playing our own game of Junk Ball.  The kid, dad and I had a great time fielding and hitting the ball around.  I personally love the sound of a bat “cracking” and the whizzing of a ball, even if it is a plastic set meant for kids.  It’s the love of the game!

If you’re on the market for an alternative to those other plastic baseball sets, be sure to check out Junk Ball’s bat and ball set and get your game on.

A product sample was provided to facilitate this review, but the opinions expressed herein are my own.

Lego Debuts New Store in Rockefeller Center

Amidst a complex of skyscrapers and shopping, Rockefeller Center, a celebrated NYC landmark serves as a backdrop to 30 Rock, home to NBC, some of the most iconic art deco and architecture, the famed namesake Christmas Tree and now, Legos.

Lego Store in Rockefeller Center


Lego lovers, specifically the Tri-State contingent,  rejoice: Lego officially opened another retail location, this time in the heart of Midtown Manhattan in Rockefeller Center.  Overlooking the skating rink, taking over the old Brookstone location in Rock Center, the NYC Lego Store location is sure to be a tourist must-see and local resource for stocking up on Lego essentials.


This location features the largest Pick-a-Brick Wall, as well a “big apple” Lego set and I Lego-Heart NYC merchandise, which are exclusive to the NYC store.  Overlooking 49th street, the location has a Master Builder Bar, which can double as a space for birthday parties, Lego Club meetings and other events.  The midtown location also features a Shop & Ship option where tourists and locals alike can purchase items in-store and have them shipped instead of schlepping them around town and on to trains, planes and buses.


The retail location drenched with sunlight and complemented with views of the hustle and bustle of Rock Center, boasts wall to wall shelves full of the latest and greatest Lego sets, paraphernalia and accessories.  Because of the Lego Store’s unique location, Lego commissioned their Lego Masters to recreate architecture, art, mosaics and replicas that mimic Rockefeller Center.  Some of the incredible oversized Lego creations on display include a huge Atlas replica, a cityscape of Rock Center and several mini scenes that portray life in NYC.


During my sneak peek of the store the day before it opened, I was in complete awe of the attention to detail that the dioramas and custom Lego models showcased.  But it was Atlas overlooking the skating rink and the enormous and intricate Rockefeller Center diorama truly blew me away; I could have stared at the hundreds of different Lego mini people all day.  Lego Master Builders have quite an imagination and sense of humor to boot.


Lego, a true classic toy and one of, if not the favorite toy in our house, has outdone themselves yet again!  At Toy Fair, with several other bloggers and members of the media, I had the chance to check out their new Lego games (while I’ll talk about later and perhaps give one away.)  I’m truly, truly excited about this Lego store not only because it’s in NYC, but because it may just be a contender for a special birthday party/play date/ tourist outing in the future.  Take note, family.


Check it

In the NYC area?

Check out Lego’s new store in NYC and help build a giant 16-ft. Big Apple to celebrate the store’s debut. Lego is hosting a free, three-day public build in Rockefeller Center.  The build begins on June 29th with New York Yankee, Nick Swisher laying the first brick and ends with the last brick being added at 3pm July 1st.


Graduation Gift Idea: Yay You!

The month of June typically celebrates summer, dad, grads and the end of the school year.  This past weekend, our family celebrated dad and our very own grad.  Our niece graduated from high school, which undoubtedly closed one chapter and initiated another.

As a writer, specifically one who spends a lot of time focused on children’s products, I knew I wanted to gift our niece with a book.  But which one?  As much as I love Dr. Seuss and the ubiquitous Oh the Place You’ll Go, I knew I wanted to get something a little different.  Thank goodness for this idea I saw on Twitter!

One of my friends on Twitter tweeted about a perfect book and gift idea for grads.  When her son graduated, the famed children’s author, illustrator and definitely one of our kid’s all time faves, Sandra Boynton penned a coming of age book called “Yay, You: Moving Out, Moving Up, Moving On.”  The book embraces the possibilities and the upward trajectory of a new journey, is a perfect gift idea for graduates, or anyone embarking on a new chapter in their life.

Like our favorite children’s board books, “Yay, You: Moving Out, Moving Up, and Moving On” features Boyton’s clever rhymes and quirky illustrations.  As someone who set out on my own in my mid-twenties and left everything familiar behind, myfavorite line has to be, “Whatever you do, now or later, big or small, loud or quiet—whatever you do, don’t worry.  Just try it.”

Sandra Boynton does it again with “Yay, You: Moving Out, Moving Up, and Moving On.”  If you’re on the market for a wise and memorable book for a graduate, be sure to check out this Boynton classic.


Toy Story 3 Hits Theaters Today

Well, the day has finally arrived!  After years of preparation and months of anticipation, Toy Story 3 officially hits the big screen today.

As Andy heads to college, Buzz, Woody and the gang find themselves in a precarious predicament after mom mixes up the trash and the “keep” pile.  The toys find themselves at a daycare where they befriend new pals in an eclectic lineup of other toys from the daycare.

The third film in the wildly popular Toy Story series, TS3, like the earlier installments, is expected to break the bank, and be one of the biggest tickets of the summer.  The original Toy Story earned $191 million with its original release and $363 million worldwide.  As evidenced by the plethora of licenses for towels, shoes, cereal bowls, Pull Up diapers, bread and more, TS3 is quite the hot commodity in children’s gear.  And I’ll be the first to admit that our toy box has been filling up with our own respective gear in anticipation of the film!

Why is this flick so popular?  Well, for many reasons.  In part, what started 15 years ago as a collaboration between Disney and Pixar, has turned into a fleeting success.  Since their initial partnership, the studio has gone on to develop a laundry list of computer animated classics, with the original Toy Story as its springboard.  The story, cast of characters, exceptional graphics and more have kept audiences engaged for well over a decade.  Now, the original audience’s kids, nieces, nephews and perhaps grandkids, are just as excited for the toys’ shenanigans as we were 15 years ago.


Fifteen years ago, I was still in school.  [Let’s just leave it at that ;)]  Today, I’m planning to take my 2 year old who has been harping on Buzz and ‘Wooly’ for months now!  It’s incredible to think how much has changed for me between now and then; but what’s even more incredible is how these characters are still touching lives, even after all these years!

After all of the movie’s clever marketing, the film’s early reviews are looking quite bright!  I can’t wait to share my thoughts, and maybe even a some of our favorite kid gear to boot.  For now, take a look at this pretty cool behind the scenes clip with interviews from some of the voices.  If you go to see Toy Story, be sure to tell me what you thought!



Check it!

Speaking of how much things have changed in 15 years, did you know Disney Pixar has a Facebook app where you can buy Toy Story 3 tickets via Facebook? You FB-obsessed people (like me) don’t even have to leave the site to secure your own movie tickets!  Just head to Disney Together to get the app and click, click and you’re done! Features Cool Threads for Cool Kids

While most of you are updating and/or breaking out your summer wardrobes, our family continues to pack for our move. Between us, there’s nothing I’d love more than to chuck all of our clothes and start over so we can be done packing already!  But that would be too easy.

With all of these summer clothes posts lately, it couldn’t be more timely to introduce you to a rather sweet shopping site for cool kid gear. is a site that features trendy kids clothing from the outdoor, surf, and snowsports markets. The clothes reflect that slightly edgy surfer/skate aesthetic that I mentioned that I adore, especially for boys.

Growing up in Virginia Beach, and even to this day, we’ve always worn skate and surf brands, and this site caters to like-minded shoppers and parents.

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The site features brands like Patagonia, Volcom, Roxy, Billabong, DC, Quicksilver, just to name a few, that I know my tween nieces and nephews would appreciate. Among the cool logo t-shirts, shorts, pants, jackets, dresses and more, there’s also a few vintage-inspired tees I wouldn’t mind for myself!  How about that adorable summer dress from Roxy!

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