Beauty Box 5 November 2015 Review: Some Strange Items Included!

Box provided by Beauty Box 5 but all opinions are my own, as always. Affiliate links may be included at no cost to you. 

My November Beauty Box 5 arrived a few days ago, and it contained some really unusual items. Want to see?

BB5 November 2015 2

So this particular box, at first glance, seemed to have more samples than full-size products. I think the soothing facial mask and possibly the DePuff eye pads are already full size. In both cases, I would never pay that amount for something that will get used up so quickly. But on the flip-side, this is part of what makes Beauty Box 5 so fun: I get to indulge in a few expensive products that I otherwise would never even try.

beauty box 5 November 2015 1

My favorite product in the group is probably the Vegan Lip & Cheek color. It goes on strong; I was surprised by the power of the color!

And yeah, I’ll admit it, though the moodchanging lip stick is something I would have bought when I was 13, It actually wears quite nicely (though I’m not convinced that you ever get more than just one shade out of it…unless I’m always in the same mood!).

So…not my favorite box. But the boxes of the last few months have been really outstanding, and I can objectively see where this is a good one, too (I just don’t get overly excited about stuff like face masks). Overall, I continue to love my Beauty Bo 5 subscription and I think it’s a must-have affordable monthly treat! If you subscribe for a year, each box is only $8.75, including shipping (that’s like paying for the lip stick in this month’s kit and getting everything else free!).


My Top Toy Pick for 2015: Dash & Dot

Dash & Dot provided for review purposes. I fell in love with these robots all on my own, though. 

Friends, today I’m SO excited to show you the toy that I’ve been dreaming about ever since I was a little kid. I want you to meet your kid’s first robot friends, Dash & Dot.

dash dot 1 Dash & Dot are from Wonder Workshop, and they are programmable robots that your child can play with and learn coding with all at once. Dash & Dot work with the help of a few different (free) apps you can download from the Wonder Workshop website (they work on phones but I recommend using a tablet so you have more room to play). I’ll go over the apps in a bit more detail briefly, but for now I want to emphasize that Dash & Dot are ready to play pretty much right out of the box. They make adorable little sounds and offer a “hello” greeting when you turn them on, and I can tell you that this “sign of life” from the robots as soon as they came on had my 2 girls hooked and wanting to play. It also earned them instant cuddles. :-)

Our robots did have to get plugged in immediately, not because they were out of energy, but rather because updates had been made to the program since they had been packaged. I took that as a very good sign, because updates mean improvements!

So to get started with either robot, the app I would choose first is Go. This app gives you a basic feel for some of the fun things each robot can do, like different fun sounds or color changes. I think it’s a great app for younger children and a great warm up app for the older ones.

dash dot 3 Path is the app that my kids seem to want to play with constantly, though. In this app, you start to build some programming for your robot through a series of challenges. Dash is perhaps the most fun with this app because Dash is the robot that moves. The challenges seem to build on one another so that the learning continues in the midst of all the fun.

I think one of my favorite moments to witness using this app was when my oldest daughter had to build a program  to make Dash take 3 right turns. Once she got it figured out and successfully ran the program, Dash concluded his path by shouting, “All right!” He celebrated her success, and he also made a joke. Darah instantly got it and fell into stitches on the floor. That’s just one example of the truly thoughtful design behind Dash & Dot.

dash dot 2 We are still pretty new to Dash & Dot, so we haven’t yet spent much time looking at a third app called Blockly, but my husband checked it out and seems really pumped about it. This app seems geared for an older set (ages 8 and up) and gets even more into the details of programming. It sounds as though you can really start to get your robots to do some more sophisticated actions, which is really cool!

Another thing I’m really loving about Dash & Dot is that this is a toy that my children want to play with together. They don’t always want to play the same things since they are almost 3 years apart in age, but they both love these robots. I think Dash & Dot are actually best when played with in a group setting of some sort, be it with a sibling, a friend or a parent, because as you play more and more, you will get into some problem solving issues, and it’s great to have more than one mind working out a problem together!

The listed ideal age recommendation for Dash & Dot is 5 and up, and I think that’s accurate, unless you have a younger child with an older sibling like we do, and in that case, the younger child can certainly play, too! My little one was drawing paths and running simple programs for Dash on the very first night we had him!

dash dot 4 You can purchase Dash and Dot as a combo set for $199.95, or you can order them separately (Dot is $49.99 and Dash is $149.99). Dash is the one that moves about, and I definitely saw the kids playing the most with that robot. But when I asked Darah which robot she liked the best, she said, “Dot!” and I when I asked why she said, “Well you know, Dot can’t move around mom, but that doesn’t stop her from being awesome. She can do really cool stuff!” And right she is. Still, I would highly recommend buying the pair because they are so very much fun together (they give kisses! True story!).

So there it is, friends. This is my very top toy recommendations for kids 5 and up this year. Dash & Dot rock my world. They going to teach me about coding, too! #neverstoplearning

Oribel Portaplay Convertible Activity Center (It Grows With Your Child!)

My sister Laura from Southern Made Simple has a FANTASTIC activity center to show you today. Anyone out there who is expecting or who has an infant should definitely check this out. I know my girls would have loved this when they were babies and would still be using it now! You’ll have to read the review for yourself to understand how in the world older kids could still get use out of it. 😉 

Before I had my daughter, I was warned by other parents that my baby would grow faster than the blink of an eye. They would tell me to savor every newborn moment because those moments wouldn’t last for long, and that babies most certainly don’t keep. I don’t want to say that I ignored people when they said things like that, but I typically chose not to really listen. Frankly, it just sounded depressing to me, and a hormonal depressed pregnant lady probably isn’t a good thing!

And then I had my beautiful baby girl. And she was a newborn for what seemed to be all of two days. And now? She’s 6 months old, crawling all over the place, is VERY vocal (especially when we are feeding her solids..she’s not a fan), and she’s into everything. Why didn’t anyone tell me that they grow SO fast? Seriously. Somebody could’ve at least warned me! 😉

All that is to say that babies really do grow and develop so quickly, especially during their first year. Each time I have had to pack and put away her clothing she’s outgrown, I’m amazed at all of the things she didn’t even have time to wear. I’ve even gone through and found a few of her toys that she seems to have outgrown because she has become too advanced for them. Most of them she hardly even got to look at!

Luckily, the folks at Oribel had the fact that babies grow very quickly in mind when they created the Portaplay convertible activity center. This play table has been a huge hit with my daughter and me since we took it out of the package! It can be used as a fabulous little activity center for babies 5 to 12 months, and then easily transforms to a multi-purpose play table that can be used for children up to 5 years old. I really appreciate that this is something that will grow with my child. I won’t have to put it away with her baby toys (and ugly cry while doing it) because she’ll definitely be playing with this as she gets older and changes developmentally. Hooray for functionality!

portaplay activity center 7

The Portaplay came very neatly packaged and was insanely easy to put together. That’s really saying something in my opinion, because I typically skip out on putting things like this together and make my husband do it because I just know I’ll get frustrated with it. Fortunately that wasn’t the case at all! Once you get the table itself out and the leg height adjusted properly, you simply click the 5 learning toys and the swivel seat into place.


They’re really easy to snap in, and they stay put nicely so that a baby or toddler could not pop them off on their own. When you get ready to transition the activity center into a toddler play table, you can snap out the seat and play toys and put the flat plugs and wooden center piece into place with ease. It took me roughly 3 minutes to transform the play center into a table, and I had no hiccups or issues along the way! The only thing that I feel it is missing is a locking system for the wooden center piece for the table. It just sits in place, and I feel that it would be pretty easy for a curious 3 or 4 year old to take out and play with.


We currently have the activity table positioned at the lowest leg level for my daughter. Her feet don’t quite reach the bottom yet, so we stuck a little board underneath so she could stand properly. My daughter is absolutely on the petite side compared to other 6 month old children, so I feel that most other babies probably wouldn’t have much trouble reaching the floor.


From the moment that I sat her into the swivel seat of the activity center, she lit up like a light with excitement. She went straight to work playing and gnawing on the learning toys. She also thought it was so much fun to spin around from toy to toy with ease. Since she’s teething, she really liked one of the toys in particular:


Each of the learning toys encourages play in a different way and helps stimulate all five senses. The toys help develop hand-eye coordination, fine and gross motor skills, and self awareness. They’re also easily washable, too! Just rinse with a little soapy water and pat dry. This is great since I have a little drool monster on my hands!


My daughter has really been enjoying playing and exploring with the new Oribel Portaplay activity center. Before long, we’ll be transitioning it into a toddler play table. I don’t want to think about that just yet, but I am so glad that Oribel had growing babies in mind and created a play station that will grow with them.

Have I mentioned how great the Portaplay is yet? It’s pretty great, you guys. In fact, it’s SO great, it won 7 awards in 2015 alone, including the 2015 Kids Product of the Year from Creative Child Magazine. So cool! You can purchase the Portaplay activity center for just $149 from their website or from select retailers. They also have a few other really great products and will be releasing a super fabulous high chair in the very near future! I look forward to seeing the innovative children’s products that Oribel comes out with soon!

For the Nerd in Your Life: Fun Gift Ideas (and Great Sales) from

Samples provided by Referral links may be included. All nerdy tendencies are those of my family. :-) 

Without a doubt the person on my holiday shopping list who is the toughest to buy for is my husband. He’s not really into gifts, which makes gift-giving hard right from the start. And he’s a bit of a minimalist, too. He wants things that are highly functional (read: boring) and doesn’t care for too much “fluff” in his life.

But he’s married to someone whose love language is gifts. I want to shower him with fun surprizes! One of the stores I have turned to for several years, now is The name pretty much says it all! If you have someone in your life whose tastes lean toward science, science-fiction, fantasy or anything else on the geek/nerd spectrum, this place is worth a look. They actually have some surprisingly cool items that might just bring out your own inner geek!

For example: one practical item we need in our home is another phone charger (I can’t even count how many we have lost on out of town trips). But here’s an opportunity to turn a boring purchase into something festive!

usb lights

This is the iPhone Merry Phone charger ($14.99) and how can this not make you smile? I’m not going to put it away after the holidays are over, either! It’s SO much cooler than a standard charger. I love it!

star wars bowl 2

And seeing as how we have a daughter named Layah (prounced the same as Princess Leia), it should go without saying that we LOVE Star Wars in our home. We recently watched episode VI, and to celebrate, I surprised everyone with these totally awesome R2-D2 and C-3PO ceramic bowls. They are generously sized for yummy popcorn. Even Wicket wants to get in on that action. They are also priced right at just $19.99 for the pair on

star wars bowls

And though we got to travel to a galaxy far, far away thanks to our television, our bodies had to stay in our own solar system. So we enjoyed lots of snacks out of these GORGEOUS planet glasses ($49.99). Pluto is included (yes, I know that it’s status as a planet is up for debate) and the sun is included, as well. These were such a huge hit and I would highly recommend them as a fun gift idea (that is also practical…everyone needs glasses!). It will be totally unexpected but very much loved.

planet glasses 1 Major Sale! 

Right now is offering 20% off every purchase of $40 or up. And by going through to place your order, you’ll also earn 4% cash back on your purchase. You can also snag free shipping on orders of $75 or higher. It’s a great time to go find rad gifts for those folks on your list who are a bit difficult to shop for. has never let me down!

Do you see anythng on that you’d like to get (either for yourself or for someone on your gift list?)? 


Ozobot Review: Introduction to Coding for Kids for Under $50!

Thanks to Ozobot for the review product. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.


I recently read that 65% of the jobs that people who are currently children will have don’t even exist yet. Say what?!?! It’s just a tad overwhelming to think about how in the world to prepare our kids for work that hasn’t even been created yet.

But one thing I do feel confident about is that it is critical for our children to understand how technology works. I’m not talking about how to find Netflix on the iPad, either. I’m talking about having a basic understanding of what goes on inside a computer so that it can play Netflix in the first place, or run the game you like to play. I’m talking about coding.

I think this is a foundational language (yes, language!) that today’s children need to learn in order to be better prepared for the jobs of tomorrow. Will computers still run the same way that they do now in 15 years? Most likely not, but I know that when I was growing up, understanding how to play on an Apple IIe was a gateway for me to feel comfortable on a Dell and an iMac and beyond. The same is true for our kids. Knowing the basic language of computers will make them more comfortable to adapt and thrive as technology shifts and changes.

So how do you help a young child learn how to code? There are actually a surprisingly large number of options out there, and I’ll be highlighting a few of them this holiday season. I think perhaps the most budget-friendly option I found (that is amazing…there are other budget-friendly options that don’t wow me) is the Ozobot. You can get an Ozobot Starter Pack for $49.99.

ozobot 1

The recommended minimum age for this awesome little robot is 6. Obviously you would need to make a judgment call based on your own child’s interests. After playing around with it a while myself (during which time I learned quite a bit, which was fun!), I think it’s going to be perfect for my oldest in about 8 months, when she turns 7.

ozobot 2

You can find this adorable, customizeable, tiny robot at places like Barnes & Noble,  Toys R Us and Amazon. Curious how it works? Well, it’s coding language is color-based! It comes with a booklet that shows you the color sequences that you can use to give the robot different instructions. Little ones can use some of the provided materials to create a course for the ozobot to run on, or they can draw their own (markers are included). They can also use a tablet and the free Ozobot app to play more fun games!

ozobot 3

The starter pack comes with over 20 activities for your ozobot to perform, as well as code on reusable stickers and ozobot skins with sticker sheets so you can create a customized look for your bot. A USB charging cable is also included.

What an amazing, budget-friendly option for parents who want to get their kids starting with the world of coding. I’m really impressed with this product, and I’m looking forward to learning right alongside my kids! To the future!!!