Fun at Home Birthday Party Game for Kids

Having your kids birthday party at your house can be an overwhelming task to take on. Do you invite the whole class; do you invite siblings; how long do you have the party for; and where in the world can I find a cow pinata…oh wait, it’s just my daughter that insisted on a cow pinata (I did finally find one and I stuffed it full of Tootsie Rolls…). At any rate, no matter what theme your child chooses, the older they get, the harder it seems to plan.

Today, however, my family and I had the opportunity to try out a fun toy that I think would make a fun game at a kids party! Especially a boys party. My son seemed to have more fun with it than my daughter, but she had a hard time getting a hang of it.

**I received the pictured toys for the purpose of this post. All stories and opinions are 100% my own**

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My kids are holding the Aeromax Toys Sky Blaster. This toy gets your kids outdoors, running around and having a blast. And best of all…it doesn’t take batteries! I know, parents around the world are cheering now! Nothing worse than having a toy that takes a bunch of batteries that you don’t have when you need them!

Using the Sky Blaster is rather easy. Simply hold on to the yellow tag at the tail of the rocket while pulling back like a slingshot and releasing! As kids get better at launching these rockets, they can soar 50 or 100 feet or even 120 feet!

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Wouldn’t this be a fun addition to a birthday party? You could have the kids compete to see who shoots the rocket the farthest. I guarantee you, the kids will want to do it over and over and over again. Mine did! At the birthday party, you could have a bunch of different competitions set up and prizes for the kids. The prizes would be their goody bag to take home with them! At the end of the party, you can see if anyone can perform my husbands little trick with the rockets…trying to shoot more than one at a time, and yes…I got it on video!

About Aeromax

President Mark Levine began his company 17 years ago with one product, the Aeromax 2000 Tangle Free Toy Parachute, which is pictured in the company’s logo. Today the Aeromax product line boasts 300 (and counting) items and every top toy industry award. Charitable giving is an important component of Levine’s business plan with thousands of units donated to Kids Wish Network and most recently, Kids in Distressed Situations (K.I.D.S). 

The Sky Blaster is recommended for ages 8+ and sells for $7.95 each.

Have Fun this Summer with the Sphero Robot Ball

We have four days of school left and I am dreading the “I’m bored” comments all summer long from the kids. They are signed up for sport camps and a summer parks program, but I know there will be those days where they just need to chill in the house. That’s why, when I was asked if I would like review the new Sphero Robot ball, I knew I had to try it out. It sounded exactly like something my kids would like to play with.

**I received one Sphero Robot Ball and a nubby cover for the purpose of this review. All opinions are 100% my own.

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What Is It?

Sphero is the FIRST robotic ball that kids have the ability to control using their smartphone or tablet! Using your smartphone or tablet, you have the ability to drive Sphero any direction, turn on a dime, flip in the air and change colors. Kids love technology. I don’t think there’s a kid out there that doesn’t now more about the different technological devices in their home than their parents do! Sphero allows children to engage with technology like never before by uniquely mixing the virtual world with reality. For instance, take a look at this Zombie game for Sphero:

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This game is pretty neat. You play it on your tablet or smartphone, but what you see is whatever you are aiming the phone/tablet at. It will automatically pick up Sphero. There are over 30 FREE apps that kids can play independently or with friends and family. You can come up with homemade obstacle courses to steer Sphero through or you can turn your family room into a video game with augmented reality!

Another game we liked is called Flappy Ball. With this game you set your smartphone or tablet on your lap or the table and you hold Sphero in your hand to control the on-screen games. I was NOT good at this one. Zachary, on the other hand, was very good at it!

Sphero Flappy Ball game

Each Sphero comes with a Quick Start guide, two ramps, a charging base, and information on how to download dozens of apps. Sphero is compatible with both iOS and Android devices. You can find Sphero at GoSphero.com and it retails for $129.99. However…from now until June 15, 2014 you can pick up your very own Sphero for just $99!!

My Thoughts

It’s pretty neat and very easy to use (though, I’m not all that good at maneuvering it…my kids are though)! It paired with my phone very quickly and I had no problems with it whatsoever. However, the one thing that I found a little irritating is that the battery did not seem to last very long at all. My kids played with it for about 30 mins and then once they were in bed, my husband went to try it and Sphero was moving VERY slowly, like it needed to be charged. Other than the battery, this is a great toy for 8 year old children and older!

Disney’s The Little Mermaid Diamond Edition #giveaway

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On October 1, 2013, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released The Little Mermaid (Two-Disc Diamond Edition: Blu-ray / DVD + Digital Copy)!  My daughter has been waiting for this to come out.  She absolutely LOVES The Little Mermaid.  Bella is not really into the Disney Princesses, but there is something about Ariel and the rest of the gang in The Little Mermaid that she loves!

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About the Film

Ariel (voiced by Jodi Benson), is a free-spirited mermaid, who is off on the adventure of a lifetime with her best friend, the adorable Flounder (voiced by Jason Marin), and the reggae-singing Caribbean crab Sebastian (voiced by Samuel E. Wright) at her side. But it will take all of her courage and determination to make her dreams come true—and save her father’s beloved kingdom from the sneaky sea witch Ursula (voiced by Pat Carroll).

Voice Talent

  • Jodi Benson (Toy Story 2, Toy Story 3) as Ariel
  • Samuel E. Wright (The Lion King Broadway Show) as Sebastian
  • Jason Marin (Back to the Future) as Flounder
  • Pat Carroll (Laverne and Shirley) as Ursula
  • Buddy Hackett (The Music Man) as Scuttle
  • Christopher Daniel Barnes (The Brady Bunch Movie) as Eric
  • Kenneth Mars (Young Frankenstein) as Triton
  • Ben Wright (The Jungle Book, 101 Dalmatians) as Grimsby
  • Paddi Edwards (Hercules) as Flotsam and Jetsam
  • Edie McClurg (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off) as Carlotta the maid
  • Will Ryan (The Land Before Time) as Harold the Seahorse
  • Rene Auberjonois (The Patriot) as Chef Louis

Bonus Features

  • All New Music Video
  • @Disney Animation
  • Disney Intermission
  • Deleted Character
  • The Real Little Mermaid:  Live Action Reference Model
  • Part of her World:  Jodi Benson’s Voyage to New Fantasyland
  • Howard’s Lecture
  • Classic DVD Bonus Features

The Little Mermaid:  Diamond Edition has a feature run time of around 83 minutes.  It is rated G and the suggested retail value is between $39.99 (for the 2 disc combo) to $49.99 (Blu-ray 3D 3 disc combo).

WIN!  WIN!  WIN!

One Bowl Baking: Simple, from Scratch Recipes for Delicious Desserts

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I like to cook.  Haven’t always liked to.  I think I’ve told you about my incident where I burned the outside of a chicken breast, but the inside was raw.  Yes…that happened!

One thing I’m not really good at, is baking.  Mainly because I don’t like all the steps, the mess, and all the different bowls, mixers, etc that you need to do to bake a muffin or a cake.

*This post may contain affiliate links that I do get paid pennies if you were to purchase anything from that site.  I use those pennies to buy random things, like this Cleocatra Cat Costume that I want for my kitten.

Yvonne Ruperti, recipe developer extraordinaire, has solved that with her new book, One Bowl Baking: Simple, From Scratch Recipes for Delicious Desserts.  That’s right…say goodbye to separate bowls for wet and dry ingredients, mixers…the mess, well that’s depends on how well you whisk and stir!

Yvonne Ruperti has been baking and cooking for over 15 years, in professional kitchens, test kitchens, and her own bakery.  You may recognize her from her three seasons on the Emmy-nominated hit PBS cooking show, America’s Test Kitchen.  She is also a writer and currently pens the weekly Chocoholic column for the James Beard award winning food site, Serious Eats.

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I’ll let you in on a little secret.  When a recipe says to “sift the dry ingredients”…I don’t do it.  I hate the sifter.  It makes a huge mess.  So I put everything in a bowl and make sure I mix it really well.  However, I am really liking the idea of not pulling out the mixer (it’s stuck in this corner cabinet that sounded like a good idea when we were redoing our kitchen, but in fact…it was the worst thing we could have done.  I curse that cabinet every time I open it). And don’t even get me started on the multiple bowls you are told to use.  So obviously, I liked this cookbook, not just for the amazing recipes inside, but because a lot of the times, you can get a recipe mixed up and in the oven within 15 minutes!!

Below is a recipe from the book…enjoy!

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

Simply stated, red velvet cupcakes delight everyone.  They never failed to fly off the shelves at my store.  These cupcakes are moist from buttermilk and have a subtle chocolate flavor.  Add just enough coloring to tint the batter.  Too much red food coloring may impart an off flavor.

Makes 12

Cupcake Batter

  • 6 tablespoons (3 ounces or 85 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (7 ounces or 200 grams) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 2/3 cup (160 mL) buttermilk, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons red food coloring
  • 1 1/3 cups (6 2/3 ounces or 190 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Frosting

  • 10 ounces (285 grams) cream cheese, softened
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces or 55 grams) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces or 55 grams) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Make the Cupcakes

Place an oven rack in the middle position.  Preheat the oven to 350 F (180 C).  Line a 12-cup muffn pan with cupcake liners.  In a large bowl, sir the butter, sugar, and salt until combined.  Whisk in the oil, then the egg, egg yolk, buttermilk, vanilla, and food coloring until completely combined.  Add the flour, cocoa, and baking soda to the bowl, then whisk gently until combined.  Scoop the batter into the cupcake cups and bake until just firm, about 18-20 minutes.  Let the cupcakes cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

To Make the Frosting

In a large bowl, whisk the cream cheese, butter, and confectioners’ sugar until combined and creamy.  Add the vanilla and continue to whisk until the frosting is slightly lightened, about 30 seconds.  Spoon about 2 tablespoons of frosting on each cupcake to frost.

*recipe posted with permission

List Your Favorite Films

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been doing a List it with Leah series.  If you haven’t followed along…why?  Just kidding, well not really! Anyway, to catch you up, I was at Target and I came across (link will take you to Amazon) the book, Listography: Your Life in Lists.  Being the list crazy person I am, I had to buy the book!

So this weeks list has to do with movies…

My Favorite Movies!!

  • 10 Things I Hate About You…RIP Heath Ledger
  • Top Gun…This was before Tom Cruise went all, jumping on Oprah’s couch, crazy
  • Pitch Perfect…If you are Facebook friends with me, you’d know that I am currently OBSESSED with this movie!
  • Dirty Dancing…I used to know how to do Patrick Swayze’s part at the end!  No joke and it was before YouTube…so no video evidence!
  • Armageddon…Ben Affleck, need I say more?!?  And yes, I am perfectly OK with him being the next Batman!
  • Wanderlust…I caught this movie one night when I couldn’t sleep and I think I’ve now seen it 3 times!
  • Bad Boys…This is another movie I’ve seen a bunch of times…mainly because of Will Smith!
  • Bad Boys II…read above!
  • Friends with Benefits…Justin Timberlake (yes…I have a lot of celebrity crushes ha!).
  • Grown Ups…This movie reminded me of my husband and the goofy things we do with friends!
  • Big Daddy…”I can wipe my own…”, favorite line of the whole movie!
  • Parental Guidance…we watched this with the kids and not only were the kids laughing, but we were too!
  • Meet the Millers…we just saw this at the theater, and it was great!!

What are your favorite movies???