May 31, 2012

VTech Switch & Go Dino Winner

Thanks to everyone who entered to win the Vtech Sliver the TRex Switch & Go Dino!  (see my review post HERE)

 The lucky winner was chosen randomly...

... and the sixth person to comment was Erin C. Young!

Erin, I'll be emailing you to get your contact info and get this cool dinosaur in the mail for your son.

For those of you who have dinosaur and car-loving kids, but didn't win the giveaway, definitely check them out on Amazon.  They really are cool little toys and I'm sure your kids would love them.

Really Cool Roadtrip-a-Matic on

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of PA Tourism for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

My kids and I love getting in the car and discovering new places together.  Whether it's a kid-friendly museum or an outdoor adventure, it's fun to explore new places and see new things.  Many times we just head out for an afternoon or day trip and we're back home by dinnertime.  Other times, it's nice to plan a little mini-vacation and spend a few days seeing new places.  We almost never take a one or two-week vacation as a family, but rather several two or three-day road trips spread out throughout the year.

Whenever I set out to plan one of these road trips, I often sit down with a map and draw a circle that goes 3-4 hours out from our home here in Maryland.  Then I'll look to find interesting places to visit within that radius, knowing that we'll see some fun sites but we won't be spending forever driving in the car to get there.

The problem with planning these trips is finding a good variety of sites to see within a certain area.  I might find a cool park that would be fun to see, but then I have to spend hours online to find something else nearby to see the next day.  Or I'd end up worrying about finding a decent hotel or restaurant.



Imagine then, how excited I was to find out the great resources for  roadtrips  at   You see, Pennsylvania falls right in my ideal 3-4 hour radius for trips.    We have family near Philadelphia and also in Western PA so we frequently travel in the state and we're always looking for new places to visit.

I tell you, the folks who designed this Roadtrip-a-Matic for pa-roadtrips were some smart people who really wanted to help make travel in their state easy.  There are a ton of ready-made road trips all planned out for you.  There are some trips that focus on outdoor activities and others that focus on food or shopping.   They have planned out activities for history buffs or art lovers.  Seriously, it's really cool!  Most trips are designed to be accomplished in two or three nights and each one has a variety of interesting sites included.  They even suggest restaurants where you can stop for dinner and hotels that are close by.  

I played around with the Roadtrip-a-Matic and I'm really excited for summer vacation so we can go on a few trips together.  I love the Kidslvania Trip to Philadelphia that they suggested.   I've been wanting to take them to see some of the historical sites in Philly and the guide gave me suggestions for those and other fun places nearby.  I also loved the Trails Trip in the Laurel Highlands.  We drive right through that area to visit our family near Pittsburgh, next time we'll be stopping on the way out to see some of the gorgeous hikes and trails they suggested.  It's great that all the planning has been done for me ~ all I have to do is pack our bags!

How about you?  Are any of you planning a trip in Pennsylvania soon?  If so, check out their cool trip planning tool.  Which road trips would you and your family like?






Visit Sponsor's Site

May 29, 2012

VtechKids Switch & Go Dinos Review and Giveaway

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of VTechKids for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
At some point in nearly every boy's childhood (and in many girls' childhoods too), there begins a fascination with two things ~ dinosaurs and cars!   At some point in nearly every adult's time as a parent, they discover the wonder of the Vtech brand.   Well, the folks at Vtech did it again.  The brand that's a favorite of so many parents and kids combined two of a child's favorite playthings into one cool toy.
My kids and I recently had the chance to check out two new toys in Vtech's brand new line ~ these cool Switch & Go Dinos.  With a few simple twists and turns, they switch back and forth between dinosaur and car.  With a push of a button, a neat little LCD screen will show different facial expressions for the dinosaur and drivers for the car.  With a push of another button, sound effects bring the toys to life with up to 30 fun little phrases and different dinosaur facts.  We had so much fun testing them out and seeing all they could do.

Aren't they cool?  I loved the way my son and daughter played together with Horns the Triceratop.  They really liked switching it back and forth from a dinosaur to a car, and the sounds effects and LCD screen were a cool extra feature.  Can't you see the little dinosaur lover or car enthusiast in your life just loving these?
Check out this closer view...

  SwitchAndGo Horns

When I said these were part of Vtech's brand new line, I wasn't joking.  The four Starter Dinos: Sliver the T-Rex, T-Don the Pteranodon, Tonn the Stegosaurus and Horns the Triceratops just became available on  May 21 exclusively at for a suggested retail price of $15.99.  Beginning June 18, they’ll be on sale at and they'll be available at major retailers in Fall 2012.  Also available in the Fall will be Attila the Ankylosaurus (SRP: $24.99), Span the Spinosaurus (SRP: $29.99), Brok the Brachiosaurus (SRP: $49.99)   I can totally see these being the hot toy this season, so I think it's cool that you can Buy today on Amazon and then add to your child's collection this Fall.
Okay,  now if you're an observant reader, you may have noticed that I said I got two new toys from the Vtech line, but I only showed my kids playing with one of them (Horns the Triceratop).  That's because I saved one of them for one of you!!
You see, I just recently passed 5,000 Facebook followers!  That milestone is just so amazing for me and I'm so grateful to have so many of you stopping by to check out our ideas.  I'm sure that a good percentage of those 5,000 moms, dads, grandparents, teachers, nannies etc. who have liked us on Facebook have a dinosaur and car loving kid in their life.  So, I have Silver the T-Rex here and ready to giveaway to one lucky reader.

Check him out...
SwitchAndGo Sliver

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment telling me who he would make the perfect gift for!  That's it!  (Of course, I hope you're one of our followers on Facebook.  If you aren't yet, please go ahead and "like" us) Make sure you're profile is linked to an email address or leave your email address in the comments.  I'll accept comments until midnight (EST) on May 30, 2012 and announce the random winner on May 31st.  In the event that I can't contact the winner by June 3rd, I'll choose another winner.

Visit Sponsor's Site

May 25, 2012

10 Fun Ideas for your next Cookout

This weekend marks the "official" start of the Summer Barbeque season.  To celebrate, I've put together these 10 ways to make this year's cookouts more fun than ever!  

First, let's start with the fun foods...

Wouldn't these cookies be so much fun at a cookout?
They're really easy to make .
You just put them together 
using all store-bought ingredients
(they don't require any baking at all!)
Find out how we made them HERE.

Perfect for Memorial Day, 
Fourth of July or any time 
you're feeling patriotic,
these cute strawberries
make a tasty BBQ treat!
Simple directions HERE.

For a fun way to get the kids (and adults)
eating some more fruit,
make this awesome Watermelon Shark
The picture above shows a shark that I made,
but I used the tutorial from HERE at Sun Scholars.

When the burgers are done but the grill is still hot,
make up a few of these campfire cones.
Start with chocolate chips and marshmallows,
then add in some extras like peanut butter,
bananas, nuts, berries, etc.
Get all the details HERE.

Finally, if your cookout continues after the sun sets,
make up some of these glow-in-the-dark drinks.
You just need two cups (one clear, one regular)
and some glow sticks.
Your beverage never actually touches the glow stick
and you don't break them open,
so it's totally safe (but super cool!)
Check out the simple instructions HERE.

Now, let's move on to the activities!  The following activities are easy to make and set up, so the kids can play while the adults enjoy their cookout in peace.  Check them out...

What's just as much fun as water balloons,
but last a lot longer?
These spongeballs!
They're really easy to make and unlike a water balloon,
they can be thrown over and over again!
Directions to make them are right HERE.

Nothing keeps kids occupied like bubbles
and this refill station is the perfect
solution to spilled bubble juice.
Just pass out a bunch of bubble wands 
and you're good to go!
Check out two recipes for homemade 
bubble solution HERE.

Speaking of bubbles,
these bubble snake makers are 
a ton of fun.
You just need an empty water bottle,
old washcloth, a rubber band
and some liquid dish soap.
Get the easy tutorial HERE.

This is such a simple idea for a scavenger hunt 
but it's so much fun.
Just give each kid several paint swatch cards
and have them search for things that match.
Check out our post on it HERE.

Finally, one of our favorites, these marshmallow shooters.
Use a plastic cup (or empty yogurt container)
and a balloon to make these cool launchers.
You'll be amazed how far they can shoot.
Whether you make up some targets
or just let there be a free-for-all,
these will be a huge hit.
Simple directions are HERE.

Okay, there you have it.  Five fun foods and five fun activities to make your next cookout a hit for both kids and adults.

May 24, 2012

Sad Realization (and cute School Project)

Yesterday, I realized something that made me rather sad.  It's not that my kids are growing up too fast (which they are), it's not that every time I look in the mirror I see more gray hairs (which I do), but the realization that I came to is that

 my oldest daughter is just like me.

Why is that such a bad thing?  Because, along with a love of reading, a love of creative projects, and the ability to plan out some fun get-togethers,

my daughter has also inherited 
my undesirable traits 
of forgetfulness and procrastination.  

I will readily admit that I'm not the most organized person.  I try, I really do, but I'm terrible at remembering to RSVP or bring back library books on time.   I always wait until the last minute to do things.  I think many times I come up with my most creative solutions at the 11th hour, but you can pretty much count on me to be a frazzled mess at 2 in the morning before any big event or deadline.

 Unfortunately, it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks and this old dog has just come to accept that she works well at the last minute and the chaos that sometimes results is just a fact of my life.   It was a little sad though, to see my puppy acting the same way.

Here was the situation yesterday...

My third grader had two projects due this week ~ an oral book report and a quilt that reflects our family values.  According to her, the book report was due on Thursday and the quilt project was due Friday.  I had been helping her to break it down into parts so both would be completed in time.  (See, I'm trying overcome my natural procrastination tendencies here!)

What follows is a brief timeline of the day...

11:30 am ~ I'm at her school ( I work there part-time) and after seeing her teacher in the hallway, I learn that we were mistaken, the quilt project is due first!  Instead of having two more evenings to get it done, it was due the next day.  (YIKES!)  I realize we're going to have to scrap our plans to do a glue batik project like we'd be planning and come up with Plan B. 

1:00 pm ~ I get off work and go right to JoAnn Fabrics to pick up the materials for Plan B ~ prequilted fabric and some Heat n' Bond. 

1:30 pm ~ I get home and outline some square shapes on some white cotton fabric and get out the colors of acrylic paints she'll need

4:30 pm ~ My daughter gets home on the bus.  ( A big downside to not starting school until 9am is the late dismissal time).  As she comes up to the door she has a slightly worried look on her face.  "Um, Mom, I made a mistake, my quilt and report are due tomorrow and my book commercial isn't due until Friday. " 

4:45 pm ~ I explain to my daughter my thoughts for Plan B ~ paint the pictures on squares of fabric like planned, but then cutting them out and  ironing them onto quilted fabric.  She agrees and gets to work sketching her pictures onto the quilt squares so she can get ready to paint them.  Meanwhile, I get my younger two kids set up with something so they'd stay out of our way so we can work.  (I'm not going to lie, I gave them each a bowl of dry cereal, turned on the TV downstairs and told them they could watch all the iCarly and Victorious that they wanted!)

5:15 pm ~ I quickly heat up some frozen kid dinners that I keep on hand for emergency situations like this and feed my younger two.

(At this point, I start taking a few pictures when I realize I can turn the madness into a blog post! ;) )

6:00 pm ~ My daughter is hard at work painting all the different animals and symbols on the squares.  (Each one represents a different family value that she researched and felt reflected our family).  I'm helping her paint the solid color backgrounds (Each color is also symbolic.)

Notice the apple core?  I told her she couldn't eat dinner until the painting was done.

6:30 pm ~ All the painting is done and she and I break for something to eat.

6:55 pm ~ The paintings are dry and I iron some Heat n' Bond Ultra hold onto the backs and cut out the squares.

7:15 pm ~ She helps arrange the quilt squares onto the prequilted fabric.

7:30 pm ~ She works on writing all her research notes into paragraph form, while I iron on the squares.  We wait for the paint to dry on the two squares we'd forgotten about and then put the Heat n' Bond on them.

7:40 pm ~ While she continues writing up her research, I iron the last squares on and trim the edges.  (We were going to sew on binding but nixed that idea and just left them unfinished ~ still looks fine!)

7:55 pm ~ She's finished writing up her report and hot glues some loops of ribbon on the top of the quilt.  I dig around the craft room and find a dowel rod that's the perfect size.

8:00 pm ~ Quilt is finished, report is written and we're all done by bedtime!  (Phew!!)

I'm proud to say that this mother/daughter procrastination team came through okay.  The quilt turned out adorable and she didn't cry once during the process (which if any of you have a sometimes emotional 9 year old, you know that's an accomplishment!).  I'm also proud to say that I only hollered a few times myself when she started to get sassy and whine that she was tired of working and wanted to watch TV with her brother and sister.  ( "Don't you start that with me!  You put a bee on your quilt to show that the value of perseverance and hard work is important in our family.  Now stop your whining and start working hard!")

How about you?  Have you noticed that any of your less desirable character traits are showing up in your own kids?

May 23, 2012

Grilled Cheese Crescent Bites

Like most kids (and many adults), my children love grilled cheese sandwiches.  There's something about the ooey, cheesy goodness that just brings comfort and happiness to your kitchen, especially on a dreary day.  While my kids like eating the grilled cheese sandwiches I make, I'm not really comfortable letting them stand in front of a hot frying pan to make their own.  We decided to come up with a more kid-friendly version they could help make using another one of their favorite ingredients ~ crescent rolls!

Check out our awesome bite-sized version...

They're easy, yummy and perfect for kids and adults!

Here's what you need:

Don't you love two ingredient recipes?  Get yourself some KRAFT Singles (the best for grilled cheese making!) and a package of crescent rolls.  If you're lucky, you'll also be able to enlist the help of a talented young chef.

Here's what to do:

1.  Unwrap your cheese slices and pop open your can of crescent rolls.  (Anyone else get slightly freaked out when opening a can of rolls?  The anticipation of the "pop" when I push down on the container always makes me anxious ~ it's worse than opening champagne)

You'll use a half slice of cheese in each roll.  We folded them into halves, then quarters, and then in half again before putting it on the crescent roll.  

Baking together and a lesson in fractions! :)

2.  Next, begin rolling up your dough with the cheese inside.

3.  Put the rolls on a baking sheet and brush with melted butter.  (optional, but yummy).   You could also sprinkle with a little extra parmesan cheese, garlic salt, etc.

She loved this step!
4.  When they're all buttered up and ready to go, put them in the oven and bake as directed for the crescent rolls.  (We baked ours for about 13 minutes)

5.  Serve with some tomato soup and you're good to go!

We'll definitely be making these again, they were a huge hit with the kids.  My oldest daughter also made a great point while eating hers.  She said these would be "really good for a party if you have a lot of people because you could make a whole bunch of grilled cheeses at once and they would all be the right size."  I totally agree with her!

A quick cute story...  When she was younger, my daughter was convinced the sandwiches were called "Girl" Cheese and insisted that I needed to make something else for her brother instead.   Even though she now knows the correct pronunciation (and allows her brother to eat them), we still call them "Girl Cheese Sandwiches" as a family joke whenever I make them.  When we made this new version the other night and my son ate about 6 of them, we jokingly said we should call our new recipe "Boy Cheese Bites".

One happy boy with his "Boy Cheese Bites"

"As part of the DailyBuzz Moms Featured Publisher Community, 
I received a coupon for free Kraft Singles and a stipend." 

Kid-Friendly Outings, Trips and Vacations across the U.S.

Welcome to our latest Themed Collection!

Some of the best times I've had with my kids
have been on our many outings and trips.
Whether it's discovering new places together
or sharing with them a place I've been to before
and seeing it through their eyes,
getting in the car for a new adventure is always fun!

Let's use this link party to share
all of our kid-friendly road trip adventures!
Think of it as our very own travel guide.
 Share your posts about the places 
you've gone with kids.

Include zoos, museums, parks,
historical places, amusement parks,
local attractions, etc.
If you've gone there, your kids liked it,
and you wrote a post about it, 
share it here!

A few guidelines:
1.  You can link up as many outings and trips as you want, as long as they are kid-friendly.  To help keep this collection easy to navigate, please keep your title brief with the name of the place, the city and the state. 

For example, 
Herr's Snack Food Factory
(Nottingham, PA)
2. Please don't link up your business, shop or unrelated posts.
   (To keep this collection a relevant & helpful resource, I'll delete any unrelated links)
3.  As with all my link parties, this one will be on-going, 
     so you can link up your new ideas at any time 
     and stop back often for fresh inspiration.
4.  By linking up, you're allowing me permission to feature your photo 
     and a description of your project in a "5 Fun Ideas" Featured Post. 
      (With a link back to your full post, of course)
5.  Finally, the more people who know about this collection, 
      the better it will be.  Help spread the word by including 
      a text link back to Come Together Kids.
      Spread the word even further by sharing 
      this post on Facebook or Pinterest!


May 20, 2012

Banana "Ice Cream" (made from bananas ONLY!)

We really like bananas here.  They're pretty inexpensive compared to some other fruits and all three of my kids like eating them.  Like most kids, my three also really like ice cream.  So when I saw a cooking segment on the Today show last spring showing how you can make "ice cream" from frozen bananas, I was all over it.  We made it several times last year and just made our first batch of the summer this weekend.  It's really yummy and hard to believe you can get the creamy texture of ice cream from only bananas.

Check it out...

Here's what to do:

1.  Get some bananas.  We used several "extra ripe" ones that I found marked down at the produce market, but any ripe bananas will work.

2.  Peel the bananas, cut them into approx. 1/2" slices, and put them on a tray.

3.  Pop the tray in the freezer for a few hours until the bananas are frozen.  (Once they're frozen, you can also put them in a bag to use later).

I realize these two photos look the same, but take my word, these are the frozen ones.

4.  Put your bananas in a food processor or blender.  (NOTE:  I used a blender because that's what I have, but I think a food processor would have worked much better.  I had to keep pushing the frozen bananas down in the blender so the blades could reach them and it took a little longer for them to reach the right consistency) 

5.  Start mixing.  First the bananas will just get chopped up.

6.  But as you keep mixing and scraping down the sides, it'll get creamier and creamier.

I swear I didn't add anything else ~ this is just bananas!

7.  You can eat it right now, just out of the blender/food processor, and it'll be like a soft serve custard.

My girls liked it soft-serve.

8.  Or you could put the mixture back in the freezer where it will get harder and more scoopable like regular ice cream.

My son liked his more like regular ice cream

You can also mix in other ingredients when it's in the soft-serve state ~ we like to add in peanut butter, chocolate chips or chopped nuts - YUMMY!!

NOTE:  We just use our blender or food processor to make our banana ice cream and although it takes a little bit of time and a decent amount of scraping down the sides, it works well for us.  However, my daughter was recently at a friend's house and her mom made the same banana ice cream using this  Yonanas Ice Cream Maker.  I wasn't there to test it out or use it myself, but the mom said it was really easy to use and worked really quickly.  I think if you try this out, like it and want to make it often, a machine specifically designed to work on frozen fruit might come in handy. 

Sharing the creamy, frozen banana goodness at:

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...