Upgrade the Laundry Room with LG and Best Buy

Charlie does our laundry at this point. It’s nice because I don’t have to climb to the basement to do it. The bad part is that he doesn’t always remember to do it. Last weekend we had family over for a huge party. The morning before I woke up and was straightening things up around the house only to find 6 loads of laundry that needed to be done. Knowing we didn’t really have the time to do it, I headed to the laundromat to get it done quickly. Why didn’t we have the time? Our washer and dryer are older and need to be replaced. It takes forever for a load to dry. I’m talking  2-3 hours for a load of colored clothes. That’s why I want to upgrade the laundry room with LG and Best Buy. The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.

Best Buy has so many different brands of appliances but I love the LG products. They offer so many options that I haven’t seen in other brands. Upgrade the Laundry Room with LG and Best BuySome of the key features are:

  • Cleaning and Convenience are at the top of the list when it comes to front load
  • Benefits would be that cleaning performance within front load is better than top load
  • Front loaders will typically use less water and also consume less electricity
  • The washer also spins faster to help keep clothes drier to reduce overall drying time.
  • Best cleaning performance
  • Gentleness on clothes so they last longer
  • Most energy efficient to save on utility bills
  • Highest spin speaks to dry clothes faster
  • SideKick compatible – providing additional capacity to wash 2 loads at once

Right now if you purchase an LG Front Load Washer and SideKick you will save an additional $150. If you’re still not sure about which washer is best for you, Best Buy Blue Shirts are experts in the benefits surrounding LG Front Load laundry.

For us I think the SideKick option is the biggest time saver. Hello 6 loads at the laundromat last week. This is like a small washer that goes under the main washer and allows you to wash 2 loads at one time. While it’s small, it’s mighty. It has 6 wash cycles and 2 temperatures. I think this is why I’m excited. I can throw our swim stuff in the bottom and wash a full colored load on the top. It would also be great for families with smaller kids, especially babies. Imagine having a diaper blow out and being able to through that in the small SideKick while you wash everything else from the day up top. Upgrade the Laundry Room with LG and Best BuyIs it time for you to Upgrade the Laundry Room with LG and Best Buy?

Pixar Production Pipeline & The Next Generation of Cars 3 Cars

We all love watching movies but do you ever really think about how they are made? Live action films I can say are one breed. They get a story, develop a script and film it. Of course they make tweaks here and there and reshoot scenes that don’t look quite the right way. But animation is a different breed. When we were in San Fransisco for the Cars 3 Event ( All expense paid trip so that I could write these articles for you on our experiences.), we got to talk about the Pixar Production Pipeline and The Next Generation of Cars for Cars 3. I knew that making an animated movie was more work but I never realized just how much work it was.

Production Pipeline

A Cars 3 art review, including Bob Pauley, John Lasseter and Director Brian Fee, as seen on January 28, 2016 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)


Unlike a live action film, an animated movie has so many more steps and the biggest one is the changes in story. So they start with an idea. So Cars 3 idea came from looking at the changes that professional athletes go through themselves. The next step is research and lots of it! Then the creators need to create a world that is tangible and visually appealing. As Bobby Podesta, supervising animator, said, Cars 3 is made for computer animation. I loved the way he talked about making the Cars 3 cars come alive. He was so proud to say that the cars are just like the cars we pass on the street or see at the race track but these cars are characters.

Bobby Podesta is photographed on January 24, 2017 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

So they have a story, they have a set and they start to animate. Then as they do animation and they add in characters, they have to make changes. When doing test shoots with Cruz Ramirez, they found that Lightening had been the main focus of the whole movie to that point. But in this one particular scene, Cruz needed to be front and center and they need to change the story and the lines to make it fit her more. She needed to become a focus instead. She steps in with her European meets American muscle car design and becomes a focus. She provides a place for McQueen to grow and become more of a character than even in the first movie. cruz ramirez

The “Cars 3” Long Lead Press Days, held at Sonoma Raceway, including presentations by Directing Animator Jude Brownbill, Production Designer Jay Shuster and Characters Supervisor Michael Comet, held on March 28, 2017 in Sonoma, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

The same can be said when working with Jackson Storm. He was the antagonist for Lightening but he also provides a character that makes Lightening be more than he has been. It was a matter of taking his design and making it a complete opposite of Lightening. He needed to be smooth and sleek with minimal graphics. He needed a logo that would be a true counter part to Lightening’s lightening bolt. Hence the reason Storm has a stylized version of the international symbol for a Hurricane.
jackson storm
So they’ve done an idea, done a story and started some animation. Now they’ve changed designs on characters, added new characters and made characters become more of focus. But they aren’t done yet. They still do more tests, learn that story parts need to still be changed and they do that. The film isn’t fully finished and ready until it’s in the can. The production team has to take the designs of the characters and manipulate them into the scenes and that leads to more changes.

One of the hardest aspects that the team dealt with on Cars 3 was mud. There is a particular scene where there is mud literally everywhere. It’s on the ground, its on the tires, it lands on the cars, it even covers Lightening McQueen. But what’s so hard about mud? Its not fluid and its not solid so animating it is more difficult. The teams all work together to make it really work. They worked with the set shaders to make sure that the ground around the mud puddle looked wet. Jon Reisch, Effects Supervisor, put the challenge eloquently “So the challenge for us was doing that and 160 shots, coordinating across half a dozen departments all while keeping true to the consistent, very crafted, realistic look.” They definitely did it though. And they used the designs of the characters to make the mud look like mud and actually interact with the characters. I can’t wait to see the entire movie and check out how the mud is involved a little more.

“Cars 3” Effects Supervisor Jon Reisch is photographed on December 14, 2016 at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville, Calif. (Photo by Deborah Coleman / Pixar)

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CARS 3 opens in theaters everywhere on June 16th!

MYCHANIC Making It Easy for DIY Mechanics

It’s no secret that I’ve been taking on more and more of the car duties in our house. The biggest thing is that I spend so much time working on Charlie’s kart that I’ve learned more than I ever imagined I would. I’ve been able to learn how to change the oil, drain his carburetor, scrape tires and this year the goal is to learn how to change the spark plug. But this rolls over into fixing things at home too. If I can change the oil on his kart, I can change the oil on the cars too. The key to it is to know what you’re doing and to make things as easy as possible for you. DIY maintenance doesn’t have to be hard and its easier if you have the right tools, whether you’re male or female! I fell in love with mechanic stools last season and desperately wanted. No seriously all I asked for last Christmas was a wire twist tool and a mechanic stool. I got the wire tool but Steve wasn’t sure which stool to get so I waited. And then I waited some more. It was something I wanted but it wasn’t a must have. I’m really glad I waited since I had never heard of the MYCHANIC line and it has by far been the best looking and most functional stool to date. I was even more surprised when they sent me one of the Side Kick Stools and the Blade Multi-Light to work with and see how well it work with our lives.

The first thing I was looking for in a stool was something that would help keep tools close by. There’s nothing worse than getting ready to work and you have to get up 13 different times in order to get a tool. The MYCHANIC Side Kick Stool is multifaceted in the tools close area. First off there are two drawers under the seat. It was so nice to have our all the time use items right there. No longer having to go hunting for them over and over again. mychanic sidekick stoolThe bottom drawer is a little deeper and I was able to nicely fit our heat gun, heat gloves and even the gas siphon and alcohol fuel lines in the drawer. The top drawer while not as deep still holds quite a bit. It now has our most used 10 mm wrench, tire gauge, adjustable wrench, spare rag and T Handle hex wrench. These are things I use every single time we’re at the track and every single time we do maintenance on the karts. I can see doing regular car maintenance for your car with the oil filter clamp, oil filter, spare rags and screw drivers all ready to go.

But that’s just the first two spots for helping making it easy. Each side has a folding tray. These trays fold up and are held in place with a strong snap system. But the trays themselves are magnetic. As you’re working on the car, you can easily place your nuts, bolts or screws right next to you and just reach over to grab them. No more getting lost.

The final tool spot is the tool rack built into the back of the stool:

You  can easily slide screwdrivers or wrenches into the slots and they are ready to go when you are. We use this feature some when at the track because it’s an all day thing. When scraping tires I use a long handle screwdriver to clear the heat gun of build up. I have to keep that to the side though because it gets hot. This allows cool air to flow around the shaft and it cools fast.

Whether doing maintenance on your car or working on a go kart in the middle of the race track, there are going to be times when the sunlight fades and you’re left trying to finish a job in the dark. The MYCHANIC Blade Light is amazing for working on this. Not only is it a great flashlight but its a multilight. My personal thought is that every single car should have one in the trunk. Not only are there two different levels of brightness for the white lights but there is also two red flashing emergency light modes. This is why I think it’s important to have at least one in every car. As a mom who travels a lot with the kids by myself, there has been at least once where the kids and I were traveling, and wound up with a flat tire. Thankfully it was the middle of the day but in the night it would be hard to change the tire and not be worried about getting hit or just making sure everyone around is saw us clearly. This light looks almost like a pair of nunchucks straight out of the package but it means that it can be maneuvered into all sorts of positions to make the light get to where you really need it. the other day we were putting up tire racks in the trailer. It was dark and the light came in handy. I turned it on and used the loop at the end to hang it easily on a hook and project light exactly where we needed it.  photo Tool Shop_Blade Multi Light.png
Tracking PixelIts time to make life easier for DIYers, get us all more involved in doing our own auto care and most importantly be efficient and multifunctional.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of MYCHANIC.

Amazon Prints is REALLY worth the try!’ $1000 of Amazon Gift Cards to be Won!

I love having physical photos of the kids and they love having them. While I love the school photos that we all get, its time to take our digital photos to a physical print too. Thanks to Amazon for sponsoring this post and providing prizes for the giveaway! I love the Amazon Prints and how easy they are to make.

amazon printsAmazon has launched a photo printing service that allows all customers to print their memories.  Prime members can upload images to their Prime Photos account, print the product of their choice, and receive free delivery. If you’re not a Prime member, you’ll receive 5 GB of storage free on Prime Photos and be able to print your favorite photos.  Prints start as low as $0.09. Prime is one of my favorite expenditures for our house each year. We get so much for our little fee including the fact that Amazon Prints are free shipping! I love the idea of photo gifts and this is a perfect time to be looking at them. Imagine making a photo book for the graduate including photos from childhood through to today’s best friend selfies. Or my personal favorite which is photo canvases. I love the ease of making a beautiful piece of art for the wall with my favorite subjects, the kids. I printed one for my dad for his birthday of Charlie go kart. I’m just waiting for it to arrive.

Amazon, Fire and the Amazon Fire TV logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates.

A few helpful notes about Amazon Prints

  • Free delivery with Prime
  • Prime Photos Benefit – As a benefit of Prime, customers get free unlimited photo storage with Prime Photos. If you’re not a Prime customer, you can still get 5GB of free storage
  • Low Pricing (Prints starting at $0.09)

Is this not the best photo canvas?

amazon prints

Toys for Summer Trips Thanks to Flipazoo

It’s hard to be a work at home/stay at home mom during the summer. It’s hard because we’re in charge of doing it all for the kids and the family and making it fun. This year I want to focus less on the electronics and more on creative activities for the kids. I’m loving some of the newest toys I’ve seen come out and thought it would be great to check out some of the toys for summer trips. We’ll be traveling a lot since Rachael will be in North Carolina and Charlie and I will be traveling back and forth so he can still race. Lots of fun coming right! Hours in the car with my boy! This is a sponsored post by Flipazoo. I was sent a selection of products to compliment my article.

  1. The first tip I have for toys for summer trips is to find toys that you can interact with as well. I may be driving but I can still have a conversation with a hippo or polar bear while the kids are playing. Flipazoo
  2. Make sure they’re portable. Nothing’s worse than finding a toy your child loves but its so big that it will get take up the entire car. 
  3. Skip the lovies. That’s right leave that security item at home. It’s hard for even me to say this since I’m currently remaking Charlie’s beloved blank. BUT there is nothing worse than getting home and finding that you’ve lost the lovie somewhere in a different state. Flipazoo
  4. Make the toys portable. Finding something that is small but creative is key. I have showcased a few of these already this month including Surprizamals!
  5. Make them cost efficient. As I said in Number 3, you will probably lose a toy or two so make sure they are something that can be replaced without breaking the bank.

A toy that we have found that covers all these bases are the Flipazoo line. These toys are changeable so its two toys in one. As I said I can talk with a polar bear or golden hippo much more easily than I can a truck or doodle set. Flipazoo comes in different sizes and range in price from $14.99 for 7 small Flipazoo and a blind bag to $19.99 for a large plush. They do have them in blind bags and these of course are all the craze right now. Because there are more than one series, they’re perfect for collecting. Make sure you purchase your Flipazoo from a trusted retailer.

 

Being a Girly Girl in a Boy World

I love our little family. We have a strong bond and while we have our issues (who doesn’t?) we will always be there for each other. The one thing that is hard is to allow Rachael to be Rachael. I know that sounds bad but it’s hard. I’m not a girly girl. I could care less about make up or fashion. I’ve never wanted to be involved in most of the stuff the other girls will do. So it’s hard to raise a girly girl in our very boy centered world. I’m much happier to be involved in the go karts and working around the house than any of that stuff. I do have my moments though. Rachael however is a girly girl who wants to be involved in fashion. She’s looking forward to spending the entire summer with my parents and learning to sew with my mom. While I knit and love to it’s not the same for her. She doesn’t have the attention to knit but she loves to sew. She will often take pieces of fabric and just sew them up on her little machine and turn them into designs for her babies. She’s currently working on making a new dress for Koe.

Koe is a Shibajuku doll that was sent to Rachael to review. These dolls are a different breed than others. They combine personality with a different look. But above all they are true girly girl dolls. Each one comes with a few hair pieces that can be used in the doll’s hair or even your own. Rachael loved that because she was able to style Koe’s hair the same as styling her own. Rachael got to pick which girl was most important to her. Koe was absolutely the best fit for Rachael. A few years ago we watched the movie We Bought A Zoo. And Rae fell hard. She wants to own a zoo. She has dreams of us selling our home when she graduates and buying a zoo. I’m not sure what she’s going to do with it since she wants to be a baker and designer but Rae and Koe share a love of animals. Koe comes with hair clips that show her animal love.

I love that Koe is not an overly made up girly girl that is just over the top in the way she looks or her attributes if you catch my drift. I think the eyes drew me in the most. They have an innocent look to them and that’s how I want to keep Rae. I want her to be the innocent girly girl for as long as I possibly can.

So for us we are being a girly girl in a boy world by sharing our love of the girly things, enjoying our hobbies and not taking crud from anyone for doing it. You can find Shibajuku girls that match your personality and help keep you strong in your girly girl attitude at stores nationwide or online at Amazon:

Surprizamals Revealed

While at TTPM we found quite a few companies that we were excited to be working with. My favorite PR firm was there and they of course had several clients there but one we didn’t get a chance to see was Surprizamals! Thankfully for us we came home to an email asking us to review some of the latest from Surprizamals. We received a selection of Series 2 and Series 3 Surprizamals to review but all opinions are our own.

So what are Surprizamals?

 

These plush friends come in two sizes. Cuties are 2.5 inches tall and Wackys are 4 inches tall. They are small but packed with fun. The kids love the blind bag phenomenon so it was great to find another item that was available in this format. I loved that it’s not a million tiny pieces inside of a small bag that gets lost or stuck in the bag and thrown out. Suprizamals are decently priced at $9.99 for 4 or bigger discounts when you order up to 20 at one time for $99. The best part is finding if you can grab one of the rare or ultra rare ones.

surprizamals
Each Surprizamal comes in a small ball, almost like an Easter egg. The only hard part we had was taking the cellophane wrapper off. Grab the ball at the right spot and it will come off easily. I might suggest they should add a perforation area to make it easier for smaller hands.

Inside you will find not only your Surprizamal but also a series sheet so you can keep track of which one’s you received.

surprizamals

We did get a few duplicates but that is the fun part of getting surprise toys! You never know what you’re going to get. For us it was nice because there was no fighting over who got what. The kids each picked a few of the balls, opened them and then traded their duplicates. It was funny that each picked duplicates but they didn’t separately have duplicates.

See some of the Surprizamals and order from their site.

Easy Gardening with My Fairy Garden

A year or so ago, Rachael and I fell in love with the idea of fairy gardens. We went to the nursery and bought all the parts to make one. The problem is it was really expensive, we had flowers that didn’t live and it didn’t wind up looking as cute as we wanted it to. While at TTPM we found the My Fairy Garden line and were sent a My Fairy Garden Cottage to test out.
my fairy garden
The box comes with everything you need to get started except some water. A key to making this work is to not rush the process. Inside the box are the soil packets. They have to be soaked in water for at least 30 minutes. After just a few minutes, we could see all the water was soaked in but we waited because it has to get through all of the soil not just into the outer edges.

Putting the My Fairy Garden Magical Cottage together only took 2 minutes. It’s pretty self explanatory with the pieces basically just setting on top of each other. The pink toadstool at the top and the purple roof rim allow you to use the provided watering can to water easily. These pieces have holes in them to spread water easily and using the provided water can means you can’t over water.

We followed the directions to soak the soil packs for 30 minutes and then we started the fun. Rachael spread the soil through the two rings in the Cottage and set up the accessories. This set comes with a table and chairs, fairy and a small animal to make it truly fairy like. The My Fairy Garden Magical Cottage really was a lot of fun just to get put together.

A few days passed and we waited to see what would happen. We have sprouts people! Its obvious that for a change I didn’t kill the plants and it was easy for us to garden.

Come back in a few days to see if you can see some more flowers growing in our garden because I’m definitely going to be excited to see what all happens in the My Fairy Garden Cottage.

Taking a Spa Day with Alex Brands

Rachael turns 9 in just a few days and I’m not ready. It means more girly stuff, make up, jewelry, slumber parties and so much more. This year her friend had a spa party and Rae fell in love. She absolutely decided to that was the theme she wanted too. So we got to work on planning. We fell in love with some of the Alex Brands we found at TTPM and they were nice enough to send a slew of products to help us in taking a spa day with Alex Brands. All opinions are our own.

Our first step was invitations. You can order some but I found that it was just as easy to create our own. Feel free to click our invitation in order to download a PDF version, print, fill out and make it a spa day for you too!
Then our products arrived. Alex Brands has a huge Spa line and it’s pretty great to see them all. Our favorite by far was the ALEX Spa Glitzy Locks.

The best part is that these are super simple to do and kids can do it by themselves. It adds some sparkle and shine but is completely removable.

To make us a little more beautiful we also received these items but haven’t had the chance to try them yet. Our party is a few days away still:

But we did also try the ALEX Toys Spa Show Your Glow Tattoos. I think these were my favorite item.

Like most temporary tattoos, you simply cut out the design you want, place design facing down, and wet with a sponge for 30 seconds.

Rae really wanted to test out the Shrinky Dinks Bake and Shape 3D Jewelry. And well I kinda loved the nostalgia of going back to my childhood. This set comes with everything you need. A series of bands to make bracelet cuffs, rings and earrings including the findings for the earrings.

We haven’t quite perfected the bracelets yet but we’re getting better at it. I happen to love my little rings. Even for an adult, it fits well on my finger. As its an open loop it can be adjusted.

Make sure you check out Alex Brands on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram!

StarPath Dolls Bring Individuality and Creativity

Rae is obsessed with dolls of all sizes and shapes. But lately she’s really gotten into dolls that have a different ethnicity. At Christmas time we went on a 3 state hunt for an Asian doll at Toys R Us. We eventually found it just after Christmas and of course I felt horrible. She had found it at one store and I talked her into getting something else because it was on sale. Lesson learned! When StarPath dolls approached me about doing a review I looked hard at the different options.

Rae and I talked about each of the dolls and their personalities. They are completely different styles, personalities and interests. So I wanted to make sure if we went forward it would be with a doll that Rae would use over and over again. Eventually she settled on Shining Star and StarPath dolls sent us Shining Star to review. All opinions on this review are ours alone. starpath dolls

So each doll has their own personality but because personalization is key to the line, they also have personalized books that you can order. You can grab a book either as a physical book or e-book. I think this is a great way to get kids really involved with creative play. There are currently two books to chose from. The first one is A Fairytale Gone Wrong and the second is Tiger Magic. As you personalize the book, you see your child truly enter the book. As they read with their doll, they are truly engaged with not only reading but play.

Tiger Magic is a story of an adventure led by a mysterious cat through the jungles in India. Suddenly, it is up to you to protect an endangered tiger cub from poachers who want to capture it for money. You will also make an Indian friend and learn about her life in a village, and what she finds important.

A Fairytale Gone Wrong is a story that every little girl dreams of. After making the exact same birthday wish, you and your best friend accidentally find yourselves inside the Cinderella fairy tale! Now it is your job to keep the story on track so Cinderella will wind up with her prince and you can return home safely to your family. A visit by the Fairy Godmother, a trip to the Royal Ball, and a ride on a magic swan await you on your adventure.

So what makes the dolls themselves different? It’s really the story of the personalities of them. We chose Shining Star for Rachael because they had so much in common. While all the dolls have brushable hair that can be styled and a huggable cloth body with moveable head and limbs, Shining Star has a personality to beat no other.

Shining Star is described as being a wonderful friend who loves to dress up like a fashion model. This is perfect for my little miss who dreams of sewing her way into the fashion industry. She loves to see what new things she can create and I love seeing her have a friend to sit next to her as she sews and creates. She’s already started working on making new plans for sewing this summer.


I just loved the expression I got when Rachael finally got Shining Star out of the box, hat on and ready to play. It was pure magic.

Which one of the Starpath dolls fits your child’s personality? There are currently 4 dolls to chose from and they all have different stories and ethnicities.