Bonggamom's Friday Finds: list your giveaways here


Bonggamoms Friday Finds

Welcome to Bonggamom's Friday Finds! I'm glad so many of you are finding this to be a useful way to get more traffic to your giveaways. And as a person who loves entering giveaways, I have to admit it's a great, easy way to find out where all the best giveaways are.

So feel free to leave links to your giveaways, everyone. And don't forget to get cracking and enter everyone else's, too!


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Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extracts -- my favorite flavoring!




Now that we've found the perfect mixer and the perfect recipe, we never make cakes or cupcakes with boxed mixes.  There's just no substitute for a dessert that's made from scratch!  But you have to have good ingredients:  real butter, raw sugar, real cream, and really, really good vanilla.  I discovered Nielsen Massey vanilla bean paste a few years ago and have never looked back.  It smells so heavenly and make everything taste amazing.  I love the little flecks of vanilla bean in the paste; it gives a nice gourmet look to homemade vanilla ice cream :)  We also use their Pure Vanilla Extract, Pure Orange Extract and Pure Lemon Extract... soooo good.....

Whether it's birthday cupcakes....



... crepes...



... or homemade frosting for an adorable Minion cake!


Whatever we bake, there's probably some Nielsen-Massey in it!


Coconut Vanilla Ice Cream
(recipe was given to me by Nielsen-Massey, Yield 1-1/2-quarts)
Ingredients
½ cup heavy cream
¾ cup caster sugar* (baker’s sugar)
1 tablespoon Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Extract
2 (13.5-ounce) cans unsweetened coconut milk
½ cup sweetened flaked coconut, toasted (garnish)

Directions
In a small bowl, whisk cream, sugar and vanilla extract until combined; set aside. Add coconut milk to a large glass measuring cup; add cream-sugar mixture and stir.
Assemble ice cream maker and pour ice cream mixture through filling hole. For the perfect ice-cream follow the manufacturer’s appliance directions.
While ice cream is churning, toast the coconut. Preheat the oven to 350°F. On a small rimmed baking sheet, evenly spread coconut; place in oven and toast, about 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, as coconut will toast quickly. Cool and store until ready to use.




Disclosure: I received a product sample to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.


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Bonggamom's Friday Finds: list your giveaways here


Bonggamoms Friday Finds

Welcome to Bonggamom's Friday Finds! I'm glad so many of you are finding this to be a useful way to get more traffic to your giveaways. And as a person who loves entering giveaways, I have to admit it's a great, easy way to find out where all the best giveaways are.

So feel free to leave links to your giveaways, everyone. And don't forget to get cracking and enter everyone else's, too!


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Capture summer memories with Mosaic photo books


If you're like me, you've been snapping photos all summer long.  I have photos of each summer vacation, road trip, party, or campout we enjoyed -- but for the most part, they're just sitting on my phone or computer.  What's the point of going to a place like this:


If you can't even remember what it looked like, or what you did there?  That's why I like having photo books of each vacation we've taken.  No need to hunt through thousands of digital photos in hundreds of digital folders, just rummage through some albums and you have something to show your great aunt who hates computers :)

If you want to get all of your memories out of your phone and onto paper, check out the Mosaic photo app.  It lets you create photo books from your phone in literally 5 minutes flat.  Just select 20 photos from your phone or iPad, make sure you like the order in which they appear, and Mosaic does the rest.

On the very first page, Mosaic showcases a selection of your photos in a beautiful collage. The selection and layout is random but if you don't like what appears you can reshuffle the photos and try your luck. Your 20 photos appear on pages 2 thru 21, one photo per page.

There's no zooming or cropping: Mosaic will print the photos on the pages in their original proportion (which means that if you want the largest possible photo, use square photos!). You get exactly 20 photos, no more, no less. If you want to include more than 20 photos, you'll need to combine some in a collage -- but since the finished photo book is only 7x7 inches, your photos will be small.


You can change the background color to black or white, but that's pretty much the only customization you can make.  Sadly, you can't add captions (my only complaint -- well, that, and the fact that the only size available is 7x7).  But the great thing is that you can finish making your book in 5 minutes.


You'll end up with a beautiful, hard bound 7x7 inch photo book with a cut-out cover so you can see the Mosaic photo collage peeking through.  You don't even need to create a Mosaic account (thank goodness, that's one less password to remember).

Even the pricing is simple: $20, plus $4 for US shipping.  It arrives in about 4 days. What an easy and quick way to capture all of your summer memories!


Win a Mosaic photo book
One lucky Bonggamom Finds reader will receive a code good for one free Mosaic photo book plus free shipping.  Winner must download the Mosaic app on an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch in order to use the code.

Required Entry
Leave a comment on this post and tell me which summer memory you would love to capture in a Mosaic photo album.

Extra Entries
For extra entries, you can do any or all of the following. Please leave a separate comment for each extra entry with a way to verify the entry (i.e. tweet link, blog post link, Facebook id, Twitter id, etc.).

1) Follow bonggamom on Blogger (1 entry)

2) Follow bonggamom on Instagram (1 entry)

3) Follow bonggamom on Pinterest (1 entry)

4) Pin this giveaway on any of your Pinterest boards (1 entry -- you can use the "Pin It" button at the bottom of this page!).

5) "Like Bonggamom Finds" on Facebook and write this on my wall (1 entry):
I entered the Mosaic photo book giveaway! http://ow.ly/o3Uht 

6) Tweet this once per day (1 entry per day)
Capture those summer memories w/ @heymosaic!  You could win a  Mosaic photo book on @bonggafinds, enter by 9/3 at http://ow.ly/o3Uht 

7) Join any open giveaway on Bonggamom Finds (1 entry for every giveaway you join)

The Rules
This giveaway ends at 11:59PM PST on September 3, 2013; I will draw a winner at random on September 4 and post their name after they confirm acceptance. Continental US residents only. For additional giveaway rules, click here.



Disclosure: I did not receive a sample or monetary compensation for this post.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Back to School with Balance Bar mini energy bars (review and giveaway)


Balance Bar back to school Bonggamom
Balance Bar back to school Bonggamom
Want some tips on ways to balance your Back to School routine?  Balance Bar has them!

August is winding down and families are officially in “Back to School” mode, which includes packing lunches, soccer games, play-dates, homework and so much more! Balance Bar® in partnership with the Macaroni Kid parent network surveyed more than 5,000 parents of school-aged children and found that 61% of parents thought that Fall (aka Back to School) is the busiest time of year for their families.

What else did we find from this survey? Check it out:

  • 77% of parents said they have 3 or more activities/events per week on average once school starts.
  • 80% of respondents said once school starts, they will be planning more meals and attending more sporting events for their kids.
  • And 57% of parents said they try to have one meal together each day as a family to help balance their schedules.
  • 79% of parents reported that they pack their kids’ school lunches.


To help parents, Macaroni Kid provided some tips on how to better prepare for a school day and balance everyone’s schedules:

  • Do a run through.  Are your kids starting a new school or a new routine? Do a run through. Wake up "school time," brush teeth, get dressed, pack lunch, have a school-appropriate breakfast and maybe even drive or walk to school.  Then, take those packed lunches and head to the park for a final summer break picnic.
  • Plan the menus.  Give your kids several options in each category and let them weigh in on what they'd like to find in their lunchboxes... you won't have to guess each morning and they are far more likely to eat it if they've had a hand in selecting it. We love Balance Bar® minis to pack along for snacks!
  • Clean your closets! Nothing gets you and the kids ready for smooth mornings like purged, well-organized closets.
  • Start a good sleep routine early. Kids love to stay up late in the summer time (and who can blame them) but it makes for tougher mornings if kids are used to going to bed later and sleeping in past "school time" wake up.
  • Set goals with your children for the upcoming school year. Whether it's academics, sports, or extracurricular activities it's great to help kids get motivated for success in the new school year.


One of my Back to School challenges is finding snacks that I can pack into their lunchboxes for a quick, healthy mid morning energy boost.  I always have Balance Bars, but they can be pretty filling, so I never quite know whether to pack them as a mid morning snack (too much?) or as a quick lunch (too little?).  That's why I love new Balance Bar mini energy bars.  They come in mini snack sizes (about the same size as the candies people pass out for Halloween -- now there's an idea!), so I can pack one mini energy bar along with a piece of fruit or cheese.  The kids think it's as good a treat as candy, and I know it's healthier than candy, so it works for both of us.  Find healthy snacks.... now that's one thing off my mile-long Back to School checklist!

(For more information about Balance Bar mini energy bars, head to the Balance Bar Facebook page, or follow @BalanceBar on Twitter).






Join the Balance Back To School Twitter Party
Balance is having a Twitter party on August 20th at 2PM EST.  Tweet with hashtag #back2schoolbalance to join and learn about great ways to balance your Back to School routine.
Balance Bar back to school Bonggamom




Win a Balance Bar Back to School Prize Pack
One lucky Bonggamom Finds reader will win a box of assorted Balance Bar mini energy bars and a reusable snack pouch.
Balance Bar back to school Bonggamom
Balance Bar back to school Bonggamom


Required Entry
Leave a comment on this post with a tip for balancing your back to school routine.

Extra Entries
For extra entries, you can do any or all of the following. Please leave a separate comment for each extra entry with a way to verify the entry (i.e. tweet link, blog post link, Facebook id, Twitter id, etc.).

1) Follow bonggamom on Blogger (1 entry)

2) Follow bonggamom on Instagram (1 entry)

3) Follow bonggamom on Pinterest (1 entry)

4) Pin this giveaway on any of your Pinterest boards with the hashtags #back2schoolbalance(1 entry -- you can use the "Pin It" button at the bottom of this page!).

5) "Like Bonggamom Finds" on Facebook and write this on my wall (1 entry):
I entered the Balance Bar Back-to-School giveaway! http://ow.ly/o1FQw #back2schoolbalance

6) Tweet this once per day (1 entry per day)
You could win a @BalanceBar Back-to-School gift pack!  Enter on @bonggafinds by 9/1 at http://ow.ly/o1FQw #back2schoolbalance

7) Join any open giveaway on Bonggamom Finds (1 entry for every giveaway you join)

The Rules
This giveaway ends at 11:59PM PST on September 1, 2013; I will draw a winner at random on September 2 and post their name after they confirm acceptance. Continental US residents only. For additional giveaway rules, click here.

Disclosure: I received product samples for review. Back to School tips (in italics) were provided by Balance Bar. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Bonggamom's Friday Finds: list your giveaways here


Bonggamoms Friday Finds

Welcome to Bonggamom's Friday Finds! I'm glad so many of you are finding this to be a useful way to get more traffic to your giveaways. And as a person who loves entering giveaways, I have to admit it's a great, easy way to find out where all the best giveaways are.

So feel free to leave links to your giveaways, everyone. And don't forget to get cracking and enter everyone else's, too!


Pin It

Continue reading...

Back to School with Camelbak eddy water bottle



I received a sample for review

School has started today, and it's back to the daily grind of packing books and lunches.  One item that goes into my kids' backpack every day is a refillable water bottle, and it's usually a Camelbak.  Our kitchen cabinets are filled with Camelbak bottles -- the kids take them everywhere, from school to soccer to dance.  Their latest, the Camelbak eddy, features a bite valve with more durability and faster flow.  That water can't come out fast enough to quench my kids' thirst!  Sometimes they don't even realize they're thirsty, and the drinking fountain is too far away, so having a water bottle handy is crucial to keeping them hydrated throughout the day.

The new Camelback eddy bottles come in stainless BPA-free plastic, stainless steel, and glass. They come in all colors of the rainbow, and the kids' sized bottles come in a variety of cute designs.


Each one has Camelbak's famous flip-top bite valve that lets kids sip from their water bottles without tipping them over or spilling.

The Eddy is top-rack dishwasher safe, but I usually clean it by hand.  I love, love, love the wide mouth bottle, which makes it really easy to clean -- but I do NOT love cleaning the bite valve or the straws.  I can just imagine all the germs lurking in there, and eventually the bite valves get all chewed up and need to be replaced.  I much prefer the classic cap (in fact I plan to purchase a whole bunch on Camelbak's online site) but the kids love the bite valve.  If drinking from the valve gets them to drink more water, I guess having to clean the valve is a small price to pay.


Disclosure: I received a product sample for review. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two on Playstation Vita



If you've read this blog for any length of time, you'll know that I'm a big Disney fan - not the kind who gets married in the Magic Kingdom or names their kid Pluto, but the kind that will happily visit Disneyland any day of the year with Minnie ears, Mickey shirt, and lanyard full of pins.  The kind that will let their kids watch practically any movie or tv show that Disney has a hand in, because I've placed my trust in this brand to provide good quality, family-friendly entertainment.

So it should come as no surprise to anyone that I have lots of nice things to say about Disney Interactive's Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two, which came out on the PlayStation Vita at the beginning of the summer. This game has already been on the PlayStation 3 platform for almost a year, but the PS Vita version has some unique features that take advantage of the PS Vita's touchscreen capabilities.  It has been entertaining my kids all summer!

Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two teams Mickey Mouse up with Walt Disney's original cartoon star, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, for the first time ever.  The game is set inside Wasteland, a dystopian world filled with forgotten Disney characters.  Using  Mickey's magical paintbrush (to paint or erase objects) and Oswald's remote control electric zapper (to stun baddies or reprogram them to become good), it's the player's job to  bring Wasteland back to life.

Players can choose to control either Mickey or Oswald.  I think it's neat to have a game that stars Oswald, who seems to have sat in obscurity for such a long time!  Judging by the number of Oswald ears I've seen in Disneyland, Oswald is making a comeback and I couldn't be happier.


The PS Vita's unique features play very well into this game.  Players can use the PS Vita's touch screen controls to target and paint objects in order to restore them to their natural state.  They can also use the touch screen to control Oswald's zapper, burst bubbles, and navigate menus.  In addition, the PS Vita's tilt-motion controls are perfect for the racing sections of the game!


I love the fact that Epic Mickey 2 features some real vintage Disney characters -- does anyone remember The Mad Doctor, Ortensia, Horace Horsecollar, or Pegleg Pete?  You'll see them all inside the game.  What a great way to introduce these classics to a new generation!





Disclosure: I received a copy of the game to review.. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Emotions and spirits soar in Disney's Planes movie



If you haven't watched Disney's new animated movie, Planes, yet, I suggest you fly over to the nearest movie theatre and buy a ticket.  Sure, you could wait for the DVD, but you really shouldn't -- director Klay Hall has given viewers a unique look into the world above Cars that you just can't replicate at home, even in the best of home theater systems.  The camera is constantly swooping, diving, soaring and spinning along with its main characters -- at times it's so much like a 3D ride that motion-sickness prone viewers might even have to look away from the screen at times!  (I certainly had to!).

The storyline of Planes takes you on quite a ride.  After the first few minutes of the movie, I thought I had it all figured out -- small-town plane takes the big racing world by storm.  In fact, to an adult, the plot might seem far fetched (Might? Try will!).  How did Dusty the crop duster manage to qualify for the Wings Around the World race?  If he was so fast, why did his friends from middle-of-nowhere Propwash Junction make fun of him?  Surely he was already lightning fast, a natural prodigy?  Surely he couldn't have become a world-class flier in just a few months?  Ridiculous -- to everyone except a kid.  None of my kids ever questioned it!

More importantly, as the movie progressed, I realized that the underdog story wasn't really the point of the story, it wasn't what pulled my emotional strings.  No, what made me begin to cheer for Dusty was his compassion, his willingness to help friends (and strangers) in need, and his attitude that good sportsmanship is more important than winning. And what finally won me over was seeing how his acts of kindness were repaid to him when he was at his lowest.

Do I recommend this movie?  Absolutely.  Is it worth a second look?  Yes!  Even after you already know the story, there is so much to entertain you, no matter what your age.  Kids, of course, can enjoy the story countless times.  Adults will enjoy the jokes (especially anything to do with El Chu, the lovesick Lucha-Libre racer).  They will enjoy the cameos (even though I was disappointed that none -- zero, zip, zilch -- of the characters from Cars made an appearance!).  My favorite cameos were Anthony Edwards and Val Kilmer as Echo and Bravo the fighter jets (oldies like me who remember Top Gun will love the fact that Iceman and Goose are back in the skies!).  And they will enjoy searching for the many plane shapes littered throughout the movie.


Some shapes are easy to spot, like Skipper's airplane-shaped hangar.


Others are more subtle, like the plane-shaped rock formations in the canyon where Dusty and Ripslinger made their final sprint to the finish line.  In fact, I wasn't able to spot any of them the first time I watched the movie!  I had to ask director Klay Hall for some help.  He gave me three clues on where to look, so the second time I watched Planes, I was ready!  Since I already knew the story, I had time to look around, and I even spotted a few other plane-themed shapes that Klay hadn't pointed out!

Here are the plane-themed shapes I was able to find (I'm sure there are more):
* Propwash Junction -- landing strip shaped like airplanes
* Propwash Junction -- mountains shaped like airplanes
* New York -- Statue of Liberty shaped like a forklift
* Iceland -- ice formations shaped like airplanes
* Nepal -- jungle foliage shaped like a jet engine
* India -- seagulls shaped like airplanes
* India -- tops of the Taj Mahal shaped like radar towers
* China -- Chinese lanterns shaped like hot air balloons

Can you spot them all?  Can you spot any more?  It will probably take a few viewings of the movie to see them all!  But that's okay, I'm sure your little one won't mind watching Disney's Planes again and again and again and again....  



Disclosure: I was invited to an advanced screening of Disney's Planes. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Introducing new Bratz Action Heroez dolls


Bratz Action Heroez dolls, a review by Bonggamom

I've always been averse to Bratz dolls because in my mind, they glorify empty-headed, self-entitled girls who think of nothing but clothes and hair -- I mean, come on, with a name like Bratz, what other sort of image are they trying to project?
Bratz Action Heroez dolls, a review by Bonggamom


But the latest crop of Bratz dolls might be changing my my mind.  This time around, Yasmin, Phoebe, Roxxi, Shira and Cloe aren't just changing clothes, they're changing the world -- trying to stop the evil Evilla Vanderbelt from stealing all the color from Passionview! Make no mistake, fashion still seems to be front and center -- but adding the phrase Action Heroez is already a step in the right direction, because it sends a message of empowerment, leadership and action.

 I don't want to be blinded by my own perceptions, and something as popular as Bratz deserves a second look, so I decided to accept an invitation to take a look at the new Bratz Action Heroez line of dolls. The Pea, of course, was ecstatic -- a new doll with cute clothes and cool hair!
Bratz Action Heroez dolls, a review by Bonggamom


There's no doubt that Action Heroez Yasmin has an outfit guaranteed to make girls sit up and take notice.  It's very bright and bold -- pink and green is The Pea's favorite color combo! -- and looks a bit like a girl-band outfit.  I personally love the POW belt buckle.
Bratz Action Heroez dolls, a review by Bonggamom


Why was Ginger Rogers awesome?   Because she did everything that Fred Astaire did, but she did it backwards and in heels.  Most modern female action heroes seem to have taken a leaf from Ginger's book, including Bratz Action Heroez.  I was surprised to find myself liking these sky-high platform wedge combat boots.  Lady Gaga would definitely approve (and probably only she would be able to wear them in real life!).
Bratz Action Heroez dolls, a review by Bonggamom


I also love her intricately twisted, brightly colored hairdo.
Bratz Action Heroez dolls, a review by Bonggamom


This Bratz doll also has a fun virtual element.  Each doll comes with a small vinyl figure representing her online persona and a cardboard mat that "transports" her there.
Bratz Action Heroez dolls, a review by Bonggamom


To get your Bratz Action Heroez online, download the Bratz Action Heroez app onto your iPad.


Place the figure on the mat and use the app to scan in the figure.  The app helps you by asking you to match the blue corners with the pink corners to make sure that you have the camera positioned at exactly the right angle.  The app even tells you when you need to move your camera down, up or sideways, or tilt it forwards or backwards.


Once the figurine is scanned, your Bratz Action Heroez comes alive in the app!  Check out how virtual Yasmin appears on our iPad screen!
Bratz Action Heroez dolls, a review by Bonggamom


You can now dress your virtual Bratz Action Heroez in a variety of outfits....
Bratz Action Heroez dolls, a review by Bonggamom


.... and play as her in a variety of games.
Bratz Action Heroez dolls, a review by Bonggamom


Yasmin's power happens to be super-twirling like a whirlwind -- really useful when the game is asking you to gather flowers!
Bratz Action Heroez dolls, a review by Bonggamom


The app certainly adds a new, fun dimension to girls' imaginative play. And those snazzy caped superhero outfits might just inspire girls to make their dolls do more than just choose an outfit -- like maybe save the world?  I guess Bratz dolls aren't so bad after all!

Disclosure: I received a sample for review. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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