Friday, March 19, 2010

American Baby Photo Contest! Not too late to enter!

Nothing makes me want to grab my camera more than sunshine filtering through leaves while my kids are rolling around playing on the grass. Luckily for me, Spring is just a day away and the sun has shown up right on time!

Unfortunately for me my kids are too old to be entered in The American Baby photo contest. (The photo to the left was taken two summers ago. Oh... my baaabeeee... she has gotten so big since then!)

Yours might not be though!

The deadline for contest entry is March 31. Ages of the kids have to be between three months and 24 months as of the date of entry. The grand prize winner will be featured on the cover of the August issue of American Baby.

Come on. Admit that you've always believed that your baby could be a cover model! This is your big chance to see that dream come true!

Parents can visit the American Baby website to see a list of the most frequently asked questions. One question that always comes up is how are the winners picked, and it’s no secret! It’s one-third the child’s appearance, one-third the child’s personality as reflected in the photo, and one-third the quality of the photo. The best thing parents can do is just upload what they think are the most compelling photos of their little one.  Feel free to check out the official American Baby contest video to learn more.

The great folks at American Baby have a few suggestions for how to capture the perfect shot:

  1. Remember how professionals get all those gorgeous shots? They take lots and lots of shots to get that one good one, so take a ton of photos.
  2. Photo judges don’t really take to cranky babies, so capture your child in a happy moment – not too posed – so it reflects your baby’s personality.
  3. Don’t cover up the beautiful little one – no big hats or towels, just the cute baby will do fine!
  4. Simple backgrounds are best. Try to remove clutter so that the focus of the picture is your adorable baby.
  5. Often times the best shots are taken spontaneously, so keep your camera handy during this period.
Want some more advice on how to take great pictures of your kids - for the contest and for yourself? Check out this blog post I wrote on the Tiny Prints blog back in November: Tips for taking great pictures of your kids.

What are you waiting for? Go forth and take gorgeous pictures of your babies!

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

Mirra - Beauty Product Review

I love shampoo and conditioner. OK, to be honest I love taking showers because it's the only place in my house where I can be alone for a few minutes. But I also truly love shampoo and conditioner. 
I try to exercise restraint, but I'm not very strong willed when it comes to new bath products. Which is why there are probably no fewer than ten bottles of shampoo or conditioner in my shower at this time. 

Knowing that, imagine my excitement when the lovely ladies at the Global Influence Network asked me if I wanted to test a few new beauty products. 

Mirra products are made with natural ingredients like olive oil, aloe leaf juice, cranberry, bamboo, honey, and chicoree root extracts. They've been created with fancy scientific proven technologies that help make these natural products extremely effective.*

Then imagine my sorrow when I discovered that these incredible, sweet smelling, luscious products turned out to be only available at Kroger stores. Last I checked, we don't have any of those in California. So, so sad. 

But you my friends, you who are lucky enough to have one of the Kroger family stores near you, please hurry and go try one of the new Mirra products for yourself. (If you click here you can even download a $5 off Mirra coupon!)

Enough about the pitch. I bet you want to know why you should hurry and get these. 

Well, in short because they smell amazing and they are awesome. I was fortunate enough to be asked to try the shampoo and conditioner (yay!), the body wash, the day face cream, the eye cream, the face soap, and the hair gel. (I know! I'm spoiled!)
Now, I don't actually use hair gel on my frizzy mop, but my darling husband does and was happy to try it out. He found the hold to be much better than his usual Suave stuff without making his hair feel like cardboard. I found the smell to be irresistible and couldn't keep myself away from him. Ahem.

I put the shampoo and conditioner in the shower and used them as soon as possible. My hair is in a terrible place right now and could really use a close encounter with some sharp scissors, but the Mirra shampoo and conditioner did a lovely job anyway. My hair wasn't miraculously sleek and voluminous, but it was clean, healthy looking, and smelled heavenly. Until I get a trim I can't ask much more of any shampoo.

The body wash is just heavenly. I'm not exaggerating when I say it's silky. It comes out of the bottle in shimmery swirls of gold silk. And it actually feels like silk as you lather up. It almost feels too decadent for a daily shower. I've been saving it for special occasions. Though in truth that's actually every day because I can't resist it and because being alone for five minutes is a special occasion, so it totally qualifies. Plus it smells amazing and I can't resist.

Have I mentioned the smells yet? Woodsy, natural, vanilla-y. I can't put my finger on it. I just love how I'm instantly transported back to an undefined place in my childhood. It makes me feel all fuzzy and happy inside. Love it. Awesome way to start the day. Or end it, depending on when I manage to take a shower.

The face cream isn't too thick or greasy and it didn't leave my face looking shiny. In fact, it left it feeling smooth and soft and perfectly hydrated. My only beef with this cream was that it didn't have any SPF in it, which for me is a deal breaker because I am somewhat lazy in the skincare department and yet have to protect my skin form the California sun. I'm toying with using it as a night cream. I think it would do wonders for my thirsty skin. 

The scrubby face cleanser was nothing short of awesome. I love a good deep clean and scrubbies always make me feel like that's exactly what I'm getting. It left my face feeling soft and clean, not stripped and dry. In fact, despite my incredibly dry skin, after using the face soap I never feel the urge to slather on face cream to make everything stop feeling tight. A definite bonus in my book!

I wish I could be honest and say I loved the eye cream, but in truth I haven't tried it yet. It smells lovely, but I honestly have no clue what eye cream does or how to use it, and it kind of scares me a bit. I know. I'm a wuss. I'm sorry.

All in all I'd have to give the Mirra line a big thumbs up and next time I'm in Ohio visiting my sister I'll have to make a point of stopping at Kroger to stock up. In the meantime I'm going to ration out what I have left so I can keep basking in that delectable smell that makes me so darn happy. I'd say it would be awesome if someone could bottle it, but, uh, they have, so I won't. 

*Please don't ask me what, I failed science repeatedly in class. But pretty! And smells good! And makes my skin and hair feel soft and healthy! Do you really need to know more?

Please note: I received the above mentioned products for free so that I could review them. I was in no other way compensated for this review by Global Influence or The Kroger Company. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are mine and mine alone.

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Thursday, March 4, 2010

The 2010 Census - Children Count Too

This isn't a review. This isn't a giveaway. It's just a public service announcement that you really need to hear. Well, if you're in the US that is...
You know how your school is underfunded? You know how there are never enough playgrounds? Well, you can do your part to help change that. And it won't cost you a dime. 

Every child loves a good game of hide and seek. There are the fun butterflies they get in their tummies when they're waiting to be discovered and the pride they feel when they're able to count to ten and then yelling, "Ready or not, here I come!"

But children who are hidden from the U.S. Census counts (taken only once every 10 years) are not a laughing matter. So, ready or not, here comes 2010 Census ... and you have an important role to play!

Many parents may not realize the importance of accurately reporting the number of children in their family, including newborns. The truth is that the undercount of children means that we do not get a true picture of our nation and our communities do not get their rightful share of public funds.

Why Children Count Too
Children have been undercounted in every census since the first one in 1790. Local communities rely on census information in planning for schools, child care, health and other critical services. Babies need to be counted today, so they can benefit tomorrow from community services.

Census counts are used, in whole or in part, for more than 140 programs that distribute more than $400 billion of federal funds to states and localities, including such child-focused programs as:
  • Special Education Grants to states ($10.8 billion)
  • Head Start ($6.9 billion)
  • State Children's Health Insurance Program ($5.9 billion)
  • Foster Care Title IV-E ($4.7 billion)
  • Improving Teacher Quality State Grants ($2.9 billion)
Unlike adults, who may bear some responsibility for making sure they are counted in the Census, children are dependent on others to make sure they are included. Yet in 1980, 1990, and 2000, Census Bureau data show children, particularly young children, are one of the groups most likely to be missed in the Census. In fact, in the 2000 Census, there was a net undercount of more than 1 million children under age 10.

Global Influence is working with 2010 Census to help spread this important message for the next week to all of the parents who read our blogs. We need your help to make sure that every child is reported so they can receive the services they will need in the future.

When playing hide and seek your children have the opportunity to be found after ten seconds.

The Census only comes around every ten years. So when you receive your Census form in mid-March, make sure your child (no matter how old) is counted!

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Disney's California Food & Wine Festival Fun

In case you were still in doubt about whether or not Disney could really deliver on grown-up fun, then I have something to share that might just convince you. 
From April 16-May 31 Disney is holding a California Food & Wine Festival with complimentary and Signature events at Disney's California adventure. Tickets for the Signature events are on sale now at
If you're a foodie or a wine lover this could just be the ideal way to explore Disneyland. I haven't been to many Disney events, but I can say one thing: Disney knows how to do things right. Their attention to detail virtually guarantees that every event they put on will be spectacular. I have no doubt that this will be no exception. 

Plus, you get to meet some of my favorite Food Network stars. Seriously, if I ever met Robert Irvine or Guy Fieri I would possibly faint. Or drool all over their shoes.
So scroll on down for the full event program and start looking for a foodie friend or two. This is going to be one event you're going to want to share. I for one can't think of a more delicious way to explore Disneyland.

Anyone want to take me? I promise I won't throw myself at Guy or Robert's feet. Honest!
The fifth annual Disney’s California Food & Wine Festival celebrates “The Art of Flavor” April 16-May 31, 2010, at the Disneyland Resort.
  • Complimentary demonstrations featuring culinary experts and celebrity chefs, including Guy Fieri, Cat Cora and Robert Irvine
  • Seminars that feature wine, beer and spirits
(Festival Showplace, Hollywood Pictures Backlot; Sunshine Plaza; Golden Vine Winery and Pacific Wharf areas)
Signature Events* (additional fee required)
Taste Food-Wine-Life May 29, 7:00–10:00 p.m.
Eat, drink and celebrate in an immersive party for all the senses! Presented in “grand-tasting” style, this event offers delectable creations from Disney chefs, outstanding wines and live entertainment. Theme park admission not required.
Festival Wine Walks and Beer Walks  Daily
Enjoy tastings of your favorites, and discover the flavor of new wines and beers as you stroll through Stage 12, at the Festival Showplace.
Winemaker Dinners   Fridays: April 23, 30, May 14 and 21
6:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Award-winning wines paired with delectable culinary creations at Steakhouse 55, with Chef Jason Martin
New! Brewmaster Dinner Friday May 7
6:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Join experts from Karl Strauss Brewing Company for delicious food paired with beers, at Steakhouse 55.
New! Riedel Glass Tasting  Saturdays, April 24, May 28
6:45 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.
In this fascinating class led by an expert from Riedel, learn why the glass matters when it comes to wine tasting. Guests at this event will go home with a tasting set of four Riedel Vinum series lead crystal wine glasses.

Sweet Sundays  April 18, May 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Enjoy Sunday morning buffets featuring elegant dessert items from acclaimed pastry chefs, at the Festival Showplace inside Disney’s California Adventure.
Taste Wine Like an Expert Saturdays: May 1, 8, 15 and 22
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.
Entertaining education with Sommelier Joy Cushing of Napa Rose restaurant
Napa Rose Cooking School Saturdays: April 17, May 1, 8, 15, and 22
10:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Executive Chef Andrew Sutton of Napa Rose leads guests in preparing a four-course gourmet meal. Guests receive a commemorative chef’s coat, embroidered with the Festival logo.
*Additional fee required for signature events. Most events held in Disney’s California Adventure® Park require Theme Park admission which is not included in the price of the event.  For details and ticket information, go to

Please note: I was not compensated for this post. I just really, really want to go and I thought you might too.  
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