Tuesday, May 22, 2018

#Giveaway Early Man Movie and Claymation Kit

Talk about getting lucky: right after we had a chance to watch and review the DVD for the new Claymation movie from Lionsgate Early Man, we had the opportunity to receive a stop motion Claymation kit and create a movie of our own. How cool was that! So we obviously said yes and eagerly looked forward to getting the kit. Claymation, for those fuzzy on the meaning, is a method of animation in which little figures and backgrounds are made from clay and then are filmed using stop-motion photography, i.e. taking a picture for each action and then piecing all the pictures together to create a movie.

As soon as the kit arrived the family, adults and kids alike, got together to open it up and start planning our movie. The kit includes creature-creating clay, a miniature stage, interchangeable backdrops, props, detailed guidebook, and a phone stand. The last ingredient is to download a stop-motion app on your app (of which there are many on the app store), and you are good to go.

Now if you have see the movie (and we recommend that you do), one of the most entertaining characters is Hognob, a smart pig that’s the movie hero’s best friend and pet. The kids loved Hognob and we were happy to learn that Lionsgate has put together an instructional video with the film’s stars Eddie Redmayne, Tom Hiddleston and Maisie Williams with Aardman’s very own Jim Parkyn about how to make our very own Hognob.

We very soon lost control of the Claymation video project to our 4 and 7-yr old boys and they had a blast working together to plan, create and shoot their own stop-motion video. While the final product was short and a little crude, it took over an hour of work (I would call it hard work if it wasn’t so much fun!) to put it together. We totally plan on creating more Claymation masterpieces together soon.

We would highly recommend trying out the kit yourself and creating your own Claymation movies. The whole family can get their hands ‘dirty’ and have fun unleashing your inner animators! On that note, our friends at Lionsgate are giving away a Blu-Ray/DVD copy of the movie and the Claymation Kit to one of our fabulous readers:

Product received, thank you to Lionsgate as well as the PR for supplying us with a product for this review, all opinions are our own.

Monday, May 21, 2018

Starting Small With Kitchen Safety

Every year over 100,000 people are injured in a kitchen related accident. This is why it is so important to start teaching your little ones how to be safe in the kitchen when they are young. It is also a valuable time to start showing them the basics of cookery, and the joy of food. Making cupcakes with Mommy is great fun, but also an opportunity to teach your children how to stay safe in the kitchen.

Too hot!
Children as young as one can be taught about the hot items in the kitchen, such as ovens, kettles, and toasters, using simple sign language, gestures, and noises. They might not have the language capacity yet to describe an item as being hot, but they can certainly understand that you shouldn’t go near or touch certain objects. As they get older, definitely around age 7, helping to prepare simple meals, such as baked beans on toast, or scrambled eggs will give them the opportunity to learn about using the cooker in a supervised environment. They will also take great pride in cooking their own dinners.
Using knives
It is entirely irresponsible to give a small child a sharp knife, but there are plenty of ways you can start teaching them how to use and handle knives safely and carefully. Children can help with tasks like emptying the dishwasher from around the age of five. Show them how you would move a knife into the rack or drawer, by holding the handle, knife pointing downwards to the floor, away from the body. You can also teach them cutlery skills at this age - how to butter a cracker with a blunt butter knife. It will help them with fine motor skills too.

Cooking with the microwave
Many children have their first experience of cooking and baking independently using the microwave, for instance using easy recipes such as the chocolate mug cake. As soon as they are old enough to use the microwave - age 6 or 7, then you should discuss with them important safety aspects. For instance, never run the microwave when it’s empty. You should also never put anything metal or metallic in the microwave, for instance, forks, or aluminum foil. Show your children how to read the instructions carefully on a recipe or a packet.

Teaching kitchen safety can start when your little ones are really young. Use it as an opportunity to spend time together in the kitchen, enjoying cooking and baking.


#EarlyMan Movie Review - Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack

Have you ever had a time when you are in the middle of a hectic day, on the go from one thing to another, you come across something that makes you slow down and take notice. In the big-budget, visual effects-laden, mega-budget blockbuster summer movie season, a movie like Early Man is the equivalent of a moment of joyful zen. We will admit that the movie wasn’t much on our radar screen when it came out on the big screen in February this year. However, when we had a chance to review the movie on DVD, we thought it would make for a fun movie night with the kids and we weren’t disappointed.

If we were asked to define the movie in one word that would be ‘charming’ or perhaps ‘adorable’. There is just something to an old-school claymation movie, with its goofy-looking characters, that brings a smile to one’s face even before the movie really gets going. Though we can only imagine how much painstaking work must have gone in to create this stop-motion movie. We weren’t sure how the kids would enjoy the claymation experience, given that they have been used to slick animation features so far, but they thoroughly enjoyed it with lots of giggles and laughs along the way.
The movie is based on the story of an ‘early man’, Dug, who lives with his fellow cavemen (all with crisp British accents) in a lush forest, surrounded by desolate wasteland. As the stone age dwellers focus on the merits of hunting rabbits vs. mammoths, they are confronted by an invading force armored in bronze and led by a French-accented general. Why a French accent you ask? Best not to ask, there are many such unanswered questions throughout the movie. The accent is highly amusing though, and in that sense works well. So the stone age is defeated and banished by the bronze age, and our hero, Dug, has to find a way to get his land back. That way ends up being a game of football (soccer to us, football to the world), with the winner taking the land. No prizes for guessing who wins in the end, but the ups and downs of the journey along the way are fun to watch.

Some of the funniest characters turn out to be the animals: there is Hognob, the smart pig that acts more like a dog, a gigantic rampaging duck, and a hilarious messenger pigeon. There is an interesting nod to a message of anti-sexism along the way too, with the coach-in-the-form-of-a-savior for the stone age team being a girl. However, the movie ends up not taking itself, or most of its characters, very seriously and that was all right by us, and our kids. Go in expecting to be delighted and entertained and you will not be disappointed.

As is customary, the Blu-Ray/DVD version of the movie, coming out on May 22nd, has a few special features: 
  • “Before the Beginning of Time: Creating Early Man” Featurette 
  • "Nick Park: Massaging the Funny” Featurette 
  • “The Valley Meets the Bronze” Featurette 
  • “Hanging at Aardman Studios: A Workshop Exploration” Featurette

Product received, thank you to Lionsgate as well as the PR for supplying us with a product for this review, all opinions are our own.


Getting Our Fur Babies Ready for the Summer Ahead

This post is sponsored and written by me on behalf of Petcurean through a campaign managed by their PR. All opinions are my own.

It is hard to believe that we are already in the month of May, but it is true. Which for me and I am sure many others out there, means it is time to prepare for the fun to be had this summer. Like many, this means not only preparing for the fun to be had with our kids, but also the fun we will be having with our fur babies. And like many, we are not only proud parents of a older rescue dog, but also want to ensure that as we prepare for summer fun that we have the tools needed to ensure everyone's safety as well. So when the people from Petcurean told me about two really great things to share with our readers, I was excited to add them both to our line up of summer fun with our fur babies!

To get started, I found the information provided by the experts at Petcurean on microchips for pets to be very valuable. These are a must have in my book, and with summer vacation plans coming up, having our fur babies microchipped can make all the difference in how our summer goes. You can read more on microchips and what exactly they do below:

If your pet got lost, would you be able to find them?  Unless you have super powers, your best bet for being reunited with your furry friend is to have them microchipped. ( And, it’s your best bet even if you do have super powers – even Spiderman relies on microchips!)
In honor of National Chip Your Pet Month (May), Aimee Gilbreath of Michelson Found Animals Foundation, the creator of the first, free national microchip registry, is answering all your questions about microchips, below.  If you have additional questions or would like to speak with Aimee, just let me know!
·         What are microchips?
o   Microchips are rice sized chips that are scannable and contain your pet’s unique number, it’s like their social security number. This can be scanned by a shelter or vet, and the number is used to find the pet’s owner.  It is not a GPS device and does not contain any personal information.
·         Why do I need a microchip?
o   Pets get lost all the time – they run off, slip out of collars and slide through gates.  No one likes to think about losing a pet – but being prepared just in case will increase the likelihood that they’ll get back to you and give you peace of mind.
·         Does it hurt my pet?
o   Implanting a microchip is a simple procedure and vets say it’s like getting a vaccine. Once it’s implanted, it stays in place and lasts for their lifetime.
·         Where do I get my pet microchipped?
o   When you adopt a pet, they are usually microchipped at the shelter.  Veterinary offices also do the procedure. 
·         Do I need to do anything else once I get a microchip?

o   Yes, the microchip only works if you’ve registered it – go to, the first free national microchip registry, and enter your information.  Remember to keep it updated if your phone number or address changes.  This ensures that you can be contacted if your pet is found.

Then to make those summers even more special, right now, the people from Petcurean are hosting an amazing contest that is open to shelters in Seattle, Oregon, Vancouver and Toronto! With this, Petcurean has created a really fun contest with the goal of increasing adoption of “underdogs” – dogs who are traditionally less likely to get adopted due to age, appearance, or other issues. By inspiring people to see beyond these so-called imperfections and focus on the amazing heart and spirit of the dogs, the contest will help underdogs find the loving homes they deserve. Which for my family and I, really hits home since our senior dog Chloe was a underdog that we adopted when she was 5, just 10 years ago! You can read more about this incentive and how you can participate by reading the information provided by the people from Petcurean below:

As part of its commitment to putting pets first, premium pet food manufacturer, Petcurean , is pleased to announce its “Uplift the Underdogs Contest,” an online contest open to all rescue groups and animal shelters located in Seattle and Portland, and their surrounding areas. Open now through June 1, the contest will help increase adoption consideration for “underdogs” – dogs who are traditionally less likely to get adopted due to age, appearance, or other issues. By inspiring people to see beyond these so-called imperfections and focus on the amazing heart and spirit of the dogs, the contest will help underdogs find the loving homes they deserve.

In 2017, nearly 13,000 dogs were rescued by the Seattle Humane Society and Oregon Humane Society alone1. When you factor in dogs rescued by other local rescue groups and shelters, this already impressive number climbs much higher.  While some dogs get adopted very quickly, others have a much harder time finding their forever home.

The Uplift the Underdogs contest intends to shine a light on dogs that were rescued but haven’t been adopted and still need loving homes. Rescue organizations are encouraged to submit details about their most deserving dogs for the chance to win a lifetime supply of Petcurean’s GO! Solutions® food for the winning dog and a 500lb donation of pet food to the shelter or rescue group.

“We believe all dogs are deserving of forever homes. Whether they’re older, have dietary issues, aren’t conventionally cute, or face unique challenges of any sort. We want to encourage people to give these overlooked dogs forever homes,” said Christine Mallier, PR & Community Relations Manager at Petcurean. “It’s what’s inside that counts and these dogs all have so much love to give. At Petcurean, we recognize and celebrate the unique traits that each individual dog has and are committed to helping them live healthy, happy lives full of love.” 

After completing the online application form, two finalists from each city will move to the next round, along with four finalists from Canada.  During this round, consumers will vote for their favorite dog through Petcurean’s Facebook and Instagram. The dog that receives the most comments and likes over one week will be awarded the grand prize. The winner will be announced on June 18.

Prizing details:
Grand Prize
  • Lifetime supply of Petcurean’s GO! Solutions dog food
  • Feature in a Petcurean marketing campaign
  • Promotion on Petcurean’s website and social channels
  • Free make-over grooming service
  • 500lb donation of Petcurean pet food to the winning dog’s shelter/rescue group
  • A Petcurean gift basket filled with supplies, toys and more

All Finalists
  • 1-year supply of Petcurean’s GO! Solutions dog food
  • Free make-over grooming service
  • 500lb donation of Petcurean pet food to the winning dog’s shelter
  • A Petcurean gift basket filled with supplies, toys and more

“Shelter dogs are already underdogs due to a lot of misconceptions about how they wind up there in the first place.  And those with “issues” are the underdogs of the underdogs, having a much harder time finding their forever home,” continued Mallier. “We hope that all dogs featured in the contest find forever homes, and we encourage all rescue organizations and shelters in the area to participate, as this is a great opportunity to generate more visibility and awareness for these groups who tirelessly advocate for the adoption and welfare of pets day and night.”

For more information on Petcurean’s Uplift the Underdog contest and to enter, visit Eligibility restrictions apply. Entry is open now through June 1, 2018.

GO! Solutions is available at independent pet specialty retailers nationwide. For more information about GO! or to find out which recipe is best for your pet, visit .

So as you go to prepare for your summer, be sure to not only stock up on products from Petcurean, but also have your fur babies microchipped and consider adopting by adding a very loving and adorable underdog to you family!


New Legendary Pokémon for Nintendo 3DS

Summer is coming and the time to start planning and preparing for those summer adventures is now. This includes ensuring you get the snacks in place for those road trips, movies to watch if you are flying and also games to help keep the kids busy while traveling. And like many kids out there, mine will be traveling with their Nintendo 3DS in hand, as they play together or even single player with some of their favorite games which include the very popular, Pokémon games. So when we were sent two new games which offer some of those new legendary Pokémon characters that the kids want to obtain as they play, I was excited to share them with my kids and add them to our list of must have games to pack as we head out on those summer adventures.
With the new Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon games, the kids get some of the most powerful and legendary characters that are very well known. Where they can add more and more of those characters that are highly sought after during their game play. We also like that each month in 2018, we can get those new characters that will be featured, allowing the kids to continue to collect and battle not only over the summer months but all year long! These characters will be revealed through the free download codes that they will be getting through their game play with their Ultra Sun or Ultra Moon games. Then along with those legendary characters the kids can also learn Z Moves, explore Aloha, battle in The Battle Agency and so much more! Making the choice to add the new Pokémon Ultra Sun and Pokémon Ultra Moon games for the Nintendo 3DS to your summer line up, a choice that your Pokémon fans will be glad you made.

Product received, thank you to Nintendo for supplying us with a product for this review, all opinions are our own. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

#Giveaway Bring Memories to Life with Canvas Factory

As the seasons change from winter to spring, and summer right around the corner, we start thinking about getting the house ready for long, warm days. This usually means getting the windows clean and putting in the screens, reacquainting ourselves with the yard and warming up the mower, and cleaning out the grill. It’s also the time we look to renew our indoor wall photo collection, especially with mother’s day and father’s day conveniently placed close together as well. While we all carry around large digital photo albums on our phones, the small screen size barely does justice to most photos. We do like getting a few pictures blown up into nice prints, or for something more sturdy, unique and stylish we go with a canvas print. Hence, we jumped at the opportunity to test out a canvas print from our friends at Canvas Factory.

Once we had gone through the step of selecting a picture for the print (took us longer than we expected, obviously!), the rest of the process was thankfully very simple and speedy on Canvas Factory’s website. Firstly, we had to choose the type of print we wanted (e.g. single, split, collage, etc.), and then upload a photo(s). It is nice that we can retrieve a photo from one of the common social media sites or upload one from our phone or computer. Next we got to choose the edge design and the ability to add optional text, and then we were good to go.

We didn’t have to wait long for the finished canvas print to show up at our house, and boy were we impressed by what we saw. The print had vibrant colors and crisp, clean picture quality coupled with a sturdy canvas, wrapped on a nice frame. The canvas was cleanly wrapped around the edges and even the back of the picture was cleanly arranged. We feel really good about prominently placing the picture on our wall and know that it will last for a while, as nothing beats canvas when it comes to longevity.

Now we are curious about trying out one of the other design options (e.g. a collage) and see how that one turns out. With the reasonable pricing for the prints, creating new ones wouldn’t put a big dent in our pockets either. Additionally, for special gifts and occasions Canvas Factory also offers the option for creating Acrylic or Metal prints in addition to canvas. If only we can come up with an easier way to pick out the right pictures to use!

The wonderful people at Canvas Factory are now making one of their canvas prints (Canvas size: 16x20'' / 40x50cm) available for free to one of our fabulous readers: 

Product received, thank you to Canvas Factory for supplying us with a product for this review, all opinions are our own. 
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