Friday, October 31, 2014

#LionsgateHorror The Blair Witch Project Giveaway!

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My kids love trick-or-treating, but love watching scary movies even more so I am looking forward to watching something chilling tonight! #LionsgareHorror has some recommendations for you in the blog app above.  Scroll through each of the GIFs to watch each trailer to see which one will creep you out!
The Blair Witch Project follows a trio of filmmakers on what should have been a simple walk in the woods, but quickly becomes an excursion into heart-stopping terror. It is one of my all-time favorite movies. I watched it when people thought the footage was real and I could not sleep for days!

Or dive into a new horror experience - from the director of The Blair Witch Project comes Exists: for five friends, it was a chance for a summer getaway - a weekend of camping in the Texas Big Thicket. But visions of a carefree vacation are shattered with an accident on a dark and desolate country road.

What’s a Halloween party without some creepy background visuals? Download the films and be prepped for this month’s creepy festivities:
EXISTS 
CABIN IN THE WOODS
CABIN FEVER
THE DESCENT  
 THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT
Win it here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I will be provided with a digital download as a thank you for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.  

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Last Change: Ghostbusters Giveaway Ends 10/31


Friday is the last day you can enter to win Ghostbusters on DVD! You can enter to win here.

MedCenter Review

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Doctors and Pharmacists agree that taking medications on a set schedule is crucial for managing your health.  With two prescriptions or more, taking them correctly can be complicated. It's easy to forget to take them or confuse the dosage time. With the MedCenter System, taking your medications on schedule becomes a part of your daily routine. It helps to take the worry out of health management by simplifying your daily routine and eliminating the confusion about what to take and when to take it. 

How the MedCenter works:
  • Set up to 4 daily alarms to alert you when your medication is due
  • A repeating friendly reminder notifies you of the time, the date, and which daily dose to take
  • Press the "Alarm Acknowledged Button" to confirm compliance and the MedCenter Talking Alarm Clock tells you when the next daily dose is due
  • Red and green color coding shows when the daily dose is complete
  • 31 daily pillboxes organize prescriptions by the month
  • Today's Pillbox section allows you to place the day's pill box to the front for clear and easy access


Review:  I decided to see how my 89-year old grandma would do with the MedCenter. My mom fills her pillbox on a weekly basis and I thought that the MedCenter may help keep her medications organized. 




Pros: 
  • My grandmother really seemed to enjoy the design. She really likes to keep things organized in her house so she was quite impressed with the overall design. 
  • The alarm feature is really great, even though my grandmother opted not to use it since she does not have difficulty remembering to take her pills. For someone who gets distracted, forgetful, or confused, this is a fantastic feature. It is also quite impressive that it tells you which dose to take. 
  • The red and green color coding system can help reduce the likelihood of getting lost on the day of the month. 
  • The ledge to hold "today's pills" can help reduce confusion throughout the day.
Cons:
  • The pill boxes were extremely difficult to open. My mother and I opened and closed them a number of times to help reduce the likelihood that she would be unable to open them with her arthritic hands.  She has been able to open them all thus far.
  • My grandmother has a number of pills that are filled at different times throughout the month which means that my mother would never be able to actually fill the MedCenter on a monthly basis. Rather, they both decided that they would just use one week's worth of boxes at a time and continue to fill them on a monthly basis. 
As you can see, there are certainly more pros than cons so I would recommend examining the needs of the person needing the MedCenter. It could certainly be a wonderful system for a variety of people!

Buy it here: MedCenter System products can be found nationwide at any WALGREENS, also at a variety of retailers, including  Amazon and on the company’s e-commerce site: www.medcentersystems.com.

*I was provided with the above mentioned product for the purpose of facilitating this post. All opinions expressed are my own (or my family's). 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Stephanie Sorkin Books Review and Giveaway!

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Stephanie Sorkin is the author of numerous children’s books and is extremely proud of the fact that most of the proceeds of her books are donated to organizations that help children around the world. I just love it when people give back! 


Nutley, the Nut-free Squirrel is a whimsical tale about a squirrel with a food allergy. Nutley’s message of community support and friendship resonates with all students. As the parent of a child with multiple food allergies, Sorkin donates 100% of the books proceeds to F.A.R.E, an organization dedicated to food allergy research and education.

The book is an absolute must for any child who has an allergy. The book does a nice job of normalizing food allergies and helps to teach that they can be quite common and nothing to feel ashamed of. I would also highly recommend this for classrooms as it also teaches kids that they have to mindful and supportive of other children who may have allergies. The illustrations are colorful and the characters are all adorable. I would guess that any child, allergies or not, would enjoy this sweet book.  At the end, you will find a recipe for nut-free and egg-free banana bread! 

Another one of Sorkin's book, Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces is also quite entertaining! When a young boy finds himself accidentally wearing chocolate shoes, he must find a way to solve this tasty problem. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Soles4Souls, an organization that supplies new and gently used shoes to those in need both domestically and abroad. Chocolate Shoes has recently won a Mom’s Choice Award.

This book is also pretty adorable and a nice, quick read for little ones.  I loved the illustrations in this one which were quite bold and likely appeal to both boys and girls. There is a bit of a hidden message in this book that can open up a dialogue about finding the positives in a seemingly difficult situation. Even if the message is over children's heads, a chocolate-themed story will still certainly be entertaining. Plus, there is a bonus recipe for actual chocolate shoes with licorice laces in the back!




Buy it here:  
Nutley, the Nut-Free Squirrel is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Mascot Books and many retailers nationwide. Chocolate Shoes with Licorice Laces can also be purchased through Mascot Books. 
 
Connect here: Check out Stephanie’s Twitter posts to find healthy recipes and exciting news about her books!

Win it here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was provided with the above mentioned products for the purpose of facilitating this post. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

FlipBelt Review

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When I decided that I would start running for exercise this past year, I thought I could just lace up my sneakers and go. After a lot of trial and error, I finally found clothes that worked optimally for outdoor running, but I still had a couple of gripes. Most notably, I don’t have a smart phone aside from my work cell.  I know that is hard to believe in this day and age but I don’t. So, when I go running, I need to carry my iPod touch with my music and running apps on my arm band and if I want to bring a cell phone with me, I either need to strap on another arm band (dork alert) or carry it my hand (still pretty dorky).  When I saw an advertisement for the FlipBelt, I was hoping that it was the answer to my dorky dilemma.

The FlipBelt is a stylish waistband that fits phones, money, keys, and more while you work out so you don’t have to worry about bulky pockets or holding items. It is made of a moisture-wicking  spandex-lycra blend that slides right on and sits snug on your hit. Its design is bulk-free and it stays in place while you exercise. It is machine washable and dryable and comes in a variety of colors.



Review: The FlipBelt is seriously a product I can’t live without after using it. They are unisex and I followed their sizing guide and found that the size I chose (based on my pant size) was absolutely perfect. It is easy to put on and I love how everything stays securely  in place after flipping the belt. It was extremely comfortable and I am not even aware that I am wearing it when  I am running even though there is the weight of my phone inside.  The best part about the flip belt is that it looks like the top of running pants so you really can’t even tell I am wearing it.  The FlipBelt has the functionality of a fanny pack with a sleek design allowing us to say goodbye permanently to dorky running looks! 






I don’t  give it very often, but the FlipBelt is being awarded my Seal of Approval. This is really one of the best products I have tested all year and I am going to highly recommend that all of you runners out there consider scooping one of these up!



 Buy it here: FlipBelts are available through the company's website for $28.99.  They are also available through  Amazon and a variety of retail locations

*I was provided with the above mentioned product for the purpose of facilitating this review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Haunted Gingerbread House

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When you think of gingerbread houses you probably think Christmas, but why should only one holiday get all the fun!  You can also make a great "haunted" house for Halloween! I made this one using the Haunted House Cookie Cutter set from Good Cook but you could also purchase a pre-made one to decorate!


My Haunted House

Gingerbread Recipe


Ingredients
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour, plus extra for dusting
1/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup molasses
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preparations:

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. 
2. Place brown sugar, molasses, cinnamon, and ginger in a large saucepan over medium low heat. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in baking soda. Stir in butter a tablespoon at a time, stirring well between additions. Add egg, vanilla and salt, stirring to combine.
3. Add flour, a cup at a time, stirring to combine.
4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until dough comes together and is no longer sticky, adding flour by the tablespoonful if necessary. Place dough in refrigerator for 2 hours or until thoroughly chilled.
5. Using parchment paper or baking mat, roll approximately 1/2 of the dough into 1/8 in thickness. Cut and stamp desired pieces using the stamping wheel to add fun details.


6. Place the parchment paper with cut out dough onto a cookie sheet. Bake for 12-18 minutes or until the edges are lightly brown. Remove from heat and pieces cool on cooling rack for about 10 minutes

7. Once cool, assemble with royal icing and decorate to your spooktacular design.

Assembling the House:

When I bake, it is really important to me that 95% or more of the finished product is edible and everything on this house, except one toothpick) is completely edible!

You will need:

Royal Icing: (Royal Icing Recipe)
Buttercream: (Buttercream Recipe)
Graham Crackers
Icing Bags and the following tips: 2, 5, and 233
Candy (candy corn, candy pumpkins, Reeses Pieces, black or chocolate licorice, mini marshmallow, and gummy worms)
Leaf shaped sprinkles
Caramel
Toothpicks
Food coloring
Patience - a lot of it!! 

My husband came up with the idea to stick toothpicks into cardboard and use those to hold up the sides while it dried and it worked like a charm. The roof was even trickier and since one piece was not large enough, we used strips of licorice held together with royal icing to keep it from having a big gap. 

Toothpicks can help keep the house from falling apart while the royal icing dries

Once the house is together, decorating it is a lot of fun. I covered the roof in buttercream and then made candy corn shingles by placing a row facing down and then alternated with a row facing up. I covered the royal icing "glue" with some purple frosting and added a caramel chimney with a tiny ghost (made of a mini marshmallow) peeking out. I then added licorice (all candies were adhered with Royal Icing) around the outline of the roof to cover the royal icing and make it look like gutters.



Candy corn roof

I piped on a ghost coming out of a window with royal icing. I then made the door look like a monster face by using candy corn as teeth, filling in the mouth with purple icing, piped eyes, and then added licorice as eye brows. To add some more fun, I put Reeses Pieces in a pattered order around the outline of the house

Monster face

My daughter decoratingMy daughter and I decided to make the house together and she never ceases to amaze me with how creative she is. The pumpkin patch was completely her idea and everything in it (aside from the writing on the sign) was made by her.  She even used toothpicks to "carve" little faces on the pumpkins! The grass was made using tip 233 (see here for an explanation of the grass technique).  We added some brown Reeses Pieces to outline the crushed graham cracker walkway and put some gummy worms coming out of the grass. We also added some leaf-shaped sprinkles to the grass. Finally, we added some candy corn as a fence around the graham cracker crumb and candy pumpkin patch and put one side of a  toothpick into a graham cracker the other into a caramel for the pumpkin patch sign. I then piped the sign using a #2 tip. 



I would love to see your Halloween treats - feel free to email me yours at jamielz@verizon.net and I may just feature them here on Cake Mom!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Thirty One Fresh Market Thermal Review

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I have a new obsession by the name of Thirty One. The company offers high quality bags and other accessories that can help you get organized in style. Their trendy collections are often sold during in-home parties and they are also available for purchase through their website. Each season, they expand their collections with new products and amazing patterns that I absolutely adore. I have several of their products and have absolutely fallen in love with the fun look, durable make, and functionality of each and every one of them. 

With the holidays approaching, I was happy to have the opportunity to review their Fresh Market Thermal. The roomy thermal can fit up to two 9x13 pans so it is perfect for holiday potlucks! It also has expandable sides that are the ideal size to fit 2-liter bottles inside. It can also be used for grocery shopping. Plus, it comes with long handles to make carrying a breeze.  The thermal lining is water resistant. You can keep items cool by tucking frozen ice packs inside or you can keep food warm with the use of a hot pack. Both the water-resistant liner  and exterior can be easily cleaned using a dam cloth and mild soap. 

I absolutely adore the fun "Plum Plaid" design of the bag. What I really like about their patterns is they have managed to develop some really youthful looks that are bright and colorful, but not juvenile.  The bag is much larger than I was expecting and I instantly realized that this tote is going to make my life so much easier during the winter holidays when I am carrying a number of pans, cakes, and more from one house to another without an opportunity to stop home.



The bag is built to last and can hold an amazing amount of stuff. The handles are well secured to the bag and are just the right size that you can sling it over your shoulders with enough of an ergonomic design that you can still easily walk no matter how much you have shoved into this bag. I managed to pile about 8 pounds of food into my bag and was easily able to close and carry the bag without any signs of stress on the bag. Check out how much I placed into the bag that is pictured zippered in the first picture:


Wait, that is not all! There is a pocket in the bag so I also snuck a bag of almonds in!


The internal and exterior of the bag is great as well and since it is designed to carry food, Thirty One was smart enough to make it with material that can easily clean. 




If you have never owned a Thirty One product before then you may have apprehensions because of the prices. I had admired the bags for years and just made my first purchase a year or so ago. I assure you, the bags are worth the money.  They are a small investment but as far as I can tell, these bags could easily last you many, many years if not your lifetime. They are so well constructed that they can take some serious abuse without showing any signs of wear or tear.  Plus, their designs are just so attractive - you will get tons of compliments! 

Buy it here: The Fresh Market Thermal is available from Thirty One in three patterns and retails for $50. You also have the option of adding embroidered personalization so it would be a perfect treat for you or a great gift for someone else.  If you do not yet have a Thirty One Consultant then I would high recommend connecting with Misty Hovis. She is extremely active on Facebook and keeps all of her customers well informed of upcoming deals and has special online events such as auctions for discounted products and games to play for extra discounts! 

*I was provided with the above mentioned product for the purpose of facilitating this post. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Last Chance: Sleep Well for Kids Giveaway Ends 10/27




If you have trouble getting your kids to sleep, then this giveaway is for you. Monday is the last day you can enter to win Sleep Well for Kids: Relax at Bedtime CD.  You can read my full review and enter to win here.

Duff Goldman by Gartner Studios Review

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The Duff Goldman line by Gartner Studios line of bakeware and cake decorating products was designed by celebrity bad-boy-of-baking and star of Food Network’s Ace of Cakes, Duff Goldman to let everyday bakers “unleash their inner artist” and easily create masterpiece cakes of their own at home. The line offers a trend-forward, high-quality collection of products never before available outside of professional bakeries
.


I was lucky to have the opportunity to review a few great products so that I could create my very own Halloween cake. However, as soon as my daughter saw the products she asked if she could make a cake this year. Sure, why not?! It is great to see my daughter taking after me in the kitchen!   Their Halloween Scream Premium Cake Mix allows you to create swirled layers of Halloween colors so your cake can look festive inside and out. To complete the cake, I was also able to sample the line's White Creamy Frosting as well as Color Gels. 



The cake mix comes with both chocolate and white cake mix along with color packets. The directions were very easy to follow. I had to make some slight adjustments to the measurements of the layers because I was using a non-traditional pan but the color effects still worked great .There was a small amount left over so I made a couple of mini Halloween cakes as well. 


The cake baked up beautifully and Bella was really excited to frost it. The frosting was very creamy which made it very easy for her to decorate with. 
In the end, she was quite proud of her ghost cake!
I tried out some of the food coloring on my mini pumpkin cake and I will say that I was very impressed with the bold orange and definitive black. The colorings come in squirt tubes which were extremely easy to use. The frosting was not thick enough to use decorating techniques that I am used to, but the pumpkin certainly was adorable! 


Most importantly, the finished cake was really delicious. The mixture of the chocolate and white cake made it very flavorful. They were perfectly sweetened and very moist. Plus, having the fun Halloween inspired design when you cut into it made it that much more fun to eat! The frosting was pretty tasty as well. I will always prefer whipped or buttercream over canned, but this was much easier for my daughter to decorate with and was a definite time-saver. In the event that I need to use canned frosting, I prefer the creamy and sweet taste of the Duff Goldman frosting over other brands I have tried.



Buy it here: You can find Duff Goldman products at Walmart and from Gartner Studios

*I was provided with the above mentioned products for the purpose of facilitating this review. All opinions expressed are my own. 

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Gymboss Review & Giveaway

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Last year, my goal was to run a 5K. In 2015, I plan on running a 10K and want to do an obstacle course. In order to prepare for both, I realized that it was time to do some cross training. After just a few workouts, I was extremely frustrated. I found some great apps but timing the different intervals was quite a challenge. I either needed to get out of my app to set a timer or constantly keep an eye on a clock. Enter the Gymboss.

The Gymboss is an interval timer designed to make your workout easier. You can set it so an alarm will beep, vibrate, or both after you have completed the required time interval. It can be set for up to 99 different rounds. The manual mode acts as a countdown timer and it also has a stopwatch function. The alarm duration can be sent for either 1, 5, or 1 seconds and the small device (about the size of a pager) can securely clip onto your clothing.  It is also water and shock resistant.

I am so thrilled that I received a Gymboss to review and it has certainly been helpful as I expand my training beyond just running.  It is extremely easy to set and there are even reminder instructions on the back of the product so you don't have to constantly refer to the paper directions. It clips on to your clothes easily and it was really easy to reset in between intervals with just the push of a button. The beeping noise is quite loud so you easily hear it over music or TV (and it may just drive everyone else in your house crazy so I am glad that you can set it to only beep for 1 second).  I am so glad that I have the Gymboss. It really allows me to stop worrying about the time of my workout so I can focus on the exercises themselves. 


Buy it here:  You can purchase the Gymboss for $19.95 from the Gymboss website or from Amazon.

Win it here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I was provided with the above mentioned product for the purpose of facilitating this review. All opinions expressed are my own.