Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Experience Marine Life Like Never Before: Curious Creatures Marine #Review

Ever since we took B to the beach for the very first time, he has been fascinated by ocean life. Since we can't experience ocean life and sea creatures up close and in person all of the time, we make an effort to take some time out to learn about ocean life at home. We incorporate some educational programs like The Wild Kratts into our at home lessons, and also visit our local aquarium, so we can continue the fun and learning. Recently, we were given the opportunity to take a first look at a gorgeous picture book, Curious Critters Marine, by Photographer David FitzSimmons.

Inline image

Introducing CURIOUS CRITTERS Marine! Following nine national book awards and over 100,000 copies sold of the volumes one and two, CURIOUS CRITTERS Marine features a spectacular spoonbill, a proud puffin, a rare blue lobster, and other stunning photos of Atlantic and Pacific Ocean sea life.

Our Thoughts...

Here's our copy of this gorgeous book.

When we received our copy of Curious Critters Marine, I couldn't wait to flip through it and become acquainted with some of the curious critters that were included. I love animals, and this beautiful book showcases some that I have never heard of before, and I knew that my curious 4-year-old would have questions for me! 

Curious Critters Marine offers full spreads of interesting marine life from birds and fish to various sea creatures.

B was very excited to see many of the creatures that he has learned about through a couple of children's shows which teach kiddos about sea life. The starfish is one of B's favorites, and the photo in Curious Critters Marine looked so life-like to him, that he half expected it to jump off the page.

Another favorite critter, the Loggerhead Sea Turtle. The sea turtle excited B a lot, because we had just seen a live sea turtle at the aquarium!

Take a look at this stunning spread from Curious Critters Marine, featuring the Atlantic Horseshoe Crab, and the American Lobster!

The photos in Curious Creatures Marine are just breathtaking! They are so vivid and colorful, capturing details you would never be able to see, looking at these creatures through a wall of glass. This book allows you to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures, without having to leave home. Each creature feature includes really neat information about the creatures. B and I have both been learning a lot from this book, and we're making a list of creatures that we want to look for on our next couple of trips to the ocean, which will be coming up soon!

David FitzSimmons is an award-winning free-lance photographer and writer. David
photographs and writes for various magazines, including Outdoor Photographer,
Popular Photography, Professional Photographer, and Shutterbug. His 100+
calendar credits include numerous titles by BrownTrout, Barnes & Noble, and TF
Publishing. David’s most recent publications include Animals of Ohio’s Ponds and
Vernal Pools, Curious Critters, and Curious Critter Volume Two, which have won
nine national book awards and sold over 100,000 copies, as well as audiobooks for
both Curious Critters titles. Curious Critters Marine will be released April 2015 and
will feature animals of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Salamander Dance, a
picture book exploring the annual life cycle of vernal pools, will be released Spring
One of seven Sigma Pro photographers in North America, David presents seminars
and workshops to a wide variety of audiences, from public school, college, and
university classes to photography groups and civic organizations. His works have
been exhibited at the Roger Tory Peterson Institute, the National Center for
Nature Photography, and the Telluride Photo Festival.
Before becoming a freelance photographer and author, David taught for over
twenty years—first high school English and then as a university professor, having
instructed at Cornell University, Ohio State, and Ashland University. He holds a
Ph.D. in English from Ohio State University, with a specialty in narrative theory—
investigating the components of storytelling—something that influences his
photography and writing.

To see more of David’s work and to know more about seminars and photo

Want it? Get it!

To learn more about David’s award-winning picture book, Curious Critters, visit

Special thanks to David FitzSimmons for allowing us to review and share about his gorgeous book.

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies BluRay #Giveaway

11118 816098705092403 886256215035015648 n

From Academy Award-winning filmmaker Peter Jackson comes "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies," the third in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien. "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies" brings to an epic conclusion the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, Thorin Oakenshield and the Company of Dwarves. Having reclaimed their homeland from the Dragon Smaug, the Company has unwittingly unleashed a deadly force into the world.

Special Features on the Blu-Ray combo pack include: 

New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth Part 3 
Recruiting the Five Armies 
Completing Middle-earth: A Six-Part Saga 
Completing Middle-earth: A Seventeen-Year Journey 
The Last Goodbye: Behind the Scenes 
Music Video 


Own it on Blu-ray NOW


• Are you Brave like Bilbo? Take the quiz to find out if you have the bravery it takes to journey through Middle Earth! 
• Mouse over the Interactive Map to learn fun facts about Middle-Earth. 
• Watch the official trailer & click the box art to bring the film home today!

Which characters from The Hobbit series are your favorites? 

Want it? Win it!

One lucky reader will win a copy of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies on BluRay! This giveaway is open to US residents, 18 and older. Each household is only eligible to win One (1) Blu-ray The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. This blog is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

Special thanks to our friends at PartnersHub for making this giveaway possible for our readers.

Good luck!

Tasty Tuesday- Homemade* Banana Cream Pie

At the beginning of the month I had some pretty ripe bananas on the counter and wanted to do something with them besides banana bread or muffins, which is what I usually do. Matt's favorite pie is banana cream pie, so I was on a mission to find a recipe. 

I had to search through a few recipes, and thought this one here would be the easiest to make. I didn't follow the recipe exactly, for example, I used a pre-made graham cracker pie crust from Aldi (hence the asterisk after homemade in the title), but it still came out so good that I ended up making it again during our anniversary weekend. 

It Still Has to Set a Bit, but Here is Our Anniversary Banana Cream Pie!


1 (9-inch) graham cracker pie crust 
3 cups of 2% Milk (the original calls for whole milk, but the 2% worked just fine)
1/2 cup of white sugar 
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt 
3 egg yolks, slightly beaten
2 Tablespoons of butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla  
3-4 ripe bananas


In a large saucepan, scald milk (directions in the link, I had no idea how to scald milk at first)

In another saucepan, combine the sugar, flour, and salt and gradually stir in scalded milk

Cook mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened

Cover and let cook for another 2 minutes, stirring occasionally 

Prepare the 3 egg yolks in a small bowl, add a small amount of the hot mixture to the yolks and stir, being sure to mix thoroughly, then add egg yolk mixture back to the hot mixture in the saucepan 

Stirring constantly, cook one minute longer

Remove from heat, blend in the butter and vanilla, and let sit until lukewarm

When the mixture is lukewarm, slice bananas and place in pie shell. Poor the mixture over the bananas and voila- you have an absolutely delicious homemade (well mostly)  banana cream pie! 


Monday, March 30, 2015

Spotlight Sponsor: Azuli Skye with Anna #Review and #Giveaway

It's a new season which means it's time for a new look. That doesn't just mean clothes, hair, and makeup, I'm talking accessories too. I don't normally wear too much jewelry, but I have an affinity for it. I recently added a new piece to my collection, that is quickly becoming one of my favorites It's the  'Pixi Silver Toggle Bracelet' from Azuli Skye with Anna.

Anna is a Founding Director with Azuli Skye. She is based out of North Carolina, but thanks to the wonderful world wide web, she is able to provide services to customers just about anywhere. You may recognize Anna's name because she has been one of our Spotlight Sponsors for a while now, but this was my first time working with her. It was such a great experience. Right away, I was drawn in by the level of enthusiasm she had for her company and this collaboration. 

Spring & Summer 2015 Catalog Cover- You'll LOVE What's Inside!

Anna was kind enough to ask what type of jewelry I preferred, and I chose a bracelet. She let me know that a silver 'Pixi Toggle Bracelet' and a few 'Pixi Pops' would be making their way to me soon. Even though I knew what was coming ahead of time, I was still pretty excited and when the package arrived I couldn't wait to open it!

Awesomeness Was Definitely Enclosed!

I Found These Waiting for Me Inside of the Bag- The Bracelet Still Wrapped in Blue Tissue Paper, 2 Informational Cards, and 3 'Pixi Pops'

The Other Side of the Informational Cards 

Here is the Awesome Pixi Silver Toggle Bracelet 

I've always preferred silver to gold, so I really like the look of this bracelet. I also like the idea of the 'Pop' charms, which snap in (or out) just like a button. The fact that you can change them out so easily, makes the bracelet perfect for casual wear or dressing up. 

The Bracelet with the Sparkle Pop (Turquoise)

The Bracelet with the Just Dance Pop (Swing)

The Bracelet with the Whimsy Pop (Heart)- MY FAVORITE!  

I couldn't wait to wear my new bracelet, and of course the girls had to try it on as well. I wore it to church with the Whimsy 'Pop' and received so many compliments. I have my eye on a few more Azuli Skye pieces and definitely want to add some more 'Pops' to my collection. I know it's a bit early, but I've already started a wish list for my birthday and have some gift ideas for a few friends and family members that I know would love jewelry from Azuli Skye with Anna.

Rocking the Whimsy Pop 

Here are a few of the pieces I have my eye on...

The Sisters Be Yourself Pop For Me (I Have 3 Sisters Myself) 

The Music Be Yourself Pop Would Be Perfect for My Sister Lindsay

Love This Motherly Love Necklace, What a Great Mother's Day Gift Idea! 

Want It? Buy It! 

Love the look of Azuli Skye jewelry? You'll love the prices too! Check out all of the fabulous pieces via Anna's Website. If you are interested in earning free jewelry from Azuli Skye, you could always Host a party with Anna. If you are looking to earn an extra income, ask Anna about the benefits of Joining Azuli Skye as a representative, Be sure to connect with Anna on Facebook too! 

Want It? Win It! 

One lucky MBP reader will win $25 to go shopping with Anna! Just use the Rafflecopter entry form  below to enter! Giveaway is open to all US residents ages 18 and up- one entry per household. This blog is not responsible for prize fulfillment.

A Special Thank You to Anna for being so wonderful to work with and for this awesome giveaway for our readers! 

Good luck!

Lunchbox Buddies Review


Introducing Lunchbox Buddies™, silly notes that are a great new way to add a little fun to your child's day. Each note has a different goofy character and a playful message. Simply pull one off and pack it in your child's lunch — it's that easy! (And there's plenty of room to add your own personal message, too). Lunchbox Buddies makes lunchtime fun for everyone!

Created by professional designer and father of three, Jim Adorney, Lunchbox Buddies provides a quick and easy way to make healthy lunches more fun. With creative collections ranging from superheroes to space creatures, each packet of Lunchbox Buddies contains a month’s worth of silly characters and messages to add excitement to what kids may consider to be a ‘boring’ healthy lunch.
                                          Yay!  Our package arrived!!

I pack my 6 year old son's lunch most days and it's hard to find much to "mix it up".  When he was in Preschool the sweet, little "I love you" notes were fine but put that in there now and it's the end of the world.  I received two packs of Lunchbox Buddies and what a hit!!  Aiden saw them when they arrived and immediately thumbed through the pack.  He could read most of them and thought they were hilarious.  He picked his favorites and even asked me to put in different ones for certain friends.  He came home after the first day of me putting one in his lunchbox and was so proud that his Lunchbox Buddy had been passed around the table at lunch.  They were a hit with his friends at the lunch table and he can't wait to see which one is in his lunch every day.  He usually checks in the morning on the way to school.  I feel good knowing that when he sees that at lunch every day he will think of Mommy and know how much he is loved.

Aiden and I both thought these were cute.

He thinks they are pretty cool.

Aiden couldn't wait to rip them open and check them out.

Reading them and picking out his favorites.

So far, these three have been Aiden's favorites.

A little funny for the lunchbox.

Want it? Buy it!

To purchase your Lunchbox Buddies go to www.lunchboxbuddies.com

Thank you to Lunchbox Buddies for the fun addition to our usually boring lunches!!

Monday Motivation: Celebrate Monday!

Happy Monday, All! 
I hope you all had a wonderful weekend. I spent mine with Cory, shopping and eating and just being together. It was a great weekend, and I didn't want it to end. But, it did and now here we are, Monday morning, a day most people dread, and wish could change places with Friday.  Here's the thing, Monday doesn't have to be a day to dread, it can be a day to celebrate. Don't believe me? 

Monday starts your week, it sets the tone for your week, and you can choose to be happy that it's Monday, or hate that it's Monday. I'm willing to bet that if you choose to celebrate Monday, it will make the week that much better. 

I know it can be hard, many of us don't like our jobs and would rather be some where else. I get it, I've been there before and I know it is hard to feel great about Monday morning. However, I decided a while back to start looking forward to Monday, and to keep people happy on Monday. It made a huge difference in my attitude, and theirs as well. 

Good can happen if you choose for it to happen! So with that I ask, will you celebrate Monday?