Tag Archive | "christmas 2011"

‘Tis The Season – Icon Vs. Icon’s Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts For Everyone!

‘Tis The Season – Icon Vs. Icon’s Holiday Gift Guide: Gifts For Everyone!

The is nothing more appreciated than a helping hand during the holiday season. Let the staff of Icon Vs. Icon help you plan your shopping list with our annual gift guide. We’ve chosen some iconic brands, some up and coming brands, and a few items that will allow you to think outside the box to create or choose your own special gift.  Items range from a few dollars to several thousand, but most are geared towards people like us: regular working stiffs who just want to give a great present that won’t break the bank!  Start making that list, we’ve got the best roundup of gifts that everyone will enjoy! The second part of our series is “For Her!” — Get a look at some unique items for the holiday season for all the special people in your life! Whether it is for him, her, the kids, the coworker or the neighbor, this list has something for everyone.

Chuao Chocolatier
I try to eat pretty healthy and exercise regularly. You know, watch my calorie and fat intake, workout at least three times a week, drink lots of water. However, I allow myself a treat from time to time! Everything in moderation!

Everyone loves chocolate!

Now, if I’m going to cheat, it better be worth it! The worst is being disappointed! Can’t take back those calories girlfriend!

Luckily, I found my ultimate treat source — Chuao (pronounced chew-WOW) Chocolatier — www.chuaochocolatier.com. The first Venezulan chocolatier based in the United States, Chuao is the pioneer of fusion chocolates to offer unusual, unexpected and delicious flavors. They have everything for everyone on your list — bonbons, chocolate bars, hot chocolate, artisan treats and non-dairy items. They also have treats to pair with wine or scotch, and mixes to bake at home.

Everything is delicious and fresh!

Picture treating yourself to a piece of coquito: white chocolate, cranberry and toasted coconut infused with cinnamon, clove and black pepper for a crisp, fresh and flavorful sweet delight. Then you taste a granada: pomegranate caramel and a caramelized walnut in crunchy, sweet dark chocolate. Next up is spiked eggnog: creamy eggnog ganache spiked with dark rum in a white chocolate shell! On to the peppermint crunch: milk chocolate, peppermint caramel with a crunchy old fashioned mint candy center. Absolutely divine.
Your mouth watering yet?

80stees.com - You source for good schtick!

Movies are universal. We remember quotes, scenes and characters. We cry, we laugh and we scream. We tell our friends they’ve gotta watch and, when the time is right, we watch the movie together with our kids. We come back to watch these films again and again, quoting some lines verbatim.

Maybe you’re a fan of “Die Hard” — Yippie Ki Ya! Or maybe you’re more of a “Road House” kinda guy and the Double Deuce. Or you could possibly have watched “Sixteen Candles” at least 150 times like myself and pictured Jake Ryan waiting for you in his Porsche 944 with his smirk and fitted jeans, his flannel shirt and boots, his hair slightly disheveled. Sigh.

Anyway, whatever the movie, 80stees.com has you covered this holiday season for everyone on your list because they have everything in the realm of graphic tees: movies, TV shows, cartoons, video games, music and superheros! Although they definitely have the ‘80s covered, hence the name, they also have non-’80s items! Check them out while I sit back and relax in my pink “I love Jake Ryan” T-shirt!

Light their fire this holiday season!

The Duraflame Electric Stove with Heater
I just had new windows installed in my house, but you know what? There is still a draft. Even with new insulation and having the contractor come back to check things out, there is still a cold that seeps in to give me the chills. What’s the gift I want to receive this year? The Duraflame Electric Stove.

This electric stove can heat a room up to 400 square feet, that’s roughly the size of my first two apartments! It will provide stylish supplemental heat to a den, office or bedroom, and of course would also be great in a drafty hallway, vestibule or entry-way. This stove features a picture window with arched frame detailing on the operable glass door, and an old fashioned brushed nickel coil handle. In other words perfect for whatever style you or your gift recipient home is decorated in, part of the charm for me is that it really looks like a small fireplace. There are two operable doors, glowing logs, an ember bed, and a thermostatic dial. The flame effect can be operated with or without the heat feature so if it’s already warmed up in your room but you want the ambiance of a fire you can have it. A huge bonus in my opinion is that it comes with a remote control. So imagine laying in bed and realizing you are toasty enough, there is no need to get out of bed to unplug the stove, you just get your handy remote, turn it off and go back to dreamtown. It ships fully assembled, ready for immediate enjoyment, and can be easily moved to meet any zone-heat requirements. This Duraflame electric stove comes with a black finish on metal.

So to review:
* Black finish
* Operable door
* No hookups required, vent-free
* Operates with and without heat
* 1350 Watts/4600 BTU’s per hour
* Supplemental heat for up to 400 sq. ft.
* 4 switches and thermostatic dial
* Realistic and dimmable flame effect
* Glowing logs and ember bed
* Slim-line remote control
* The best gift your friend of loved one will receive this holiday season!

Check out Duraflame’s site. There is a button off to the side featuring all of the stores you can purchase this item from, I’ve seen them on QVC and in Rural King as well as Wal-Mart.


Can you name someone on your gift list that doesn’t drink soda, tea, or water? Answer- no! So why not give them a fun gift that puts a bit of fun into things? Instead of popping the tab off of a can or unscrewing the top of a bottle, they can decide what type of beverage they want and what flavor and whip it up in less than 2 minutes. If you haven’t heard of this machine yet then let me explain, it’s pretty simple: The SodaSteam turns plain old water into a carbonated beverage with a few short pushes of a button. Ok, so you have to fill up the 1 liter bottle it comes with first, but then all you do is screw that into the machine, push the button up to 3-6 times (depending on how much carbonation you want), then add your choice of dozens of flavorings. It’s really that simple!

The choices of flavorings is insane, of course if all you want is cola or diet cola then you can have that. But if you look at the range of soda mixes at the company’s official website, you will find you can make energy drinks, sparkling teas, sparkling waters, and their sparkling naturals which are made from all-natural ingredients. The new SodaStream Sparkling Naturals make great-tasting “better for you” sodas. Sparkling Naturals contain no artificial flavors, no artificial colors and no artificial sweeteners, and do not contain any preservatives, making them a perfect, sparkling, natural soda alternative for the entire family.

The convenience alone is worth having this machine, but if you do the math on the savings incurred when most of the mixes make 33 cans of final product and I’ve seen them for less than 5 bucks per mix then you’re obviously getting more with the SodaSteam. Environmentally, the SodaSteam is an “Active Green” product, meaning that consumers are actively reducing their CO2 footprint every time they make soda or sparkling water at home instead of buying it from the store. The more the system is used on a daily basis, the more CO2 footprint the user actively saves. (This differs from “Passive Green” products, which use green-friendly production processes, but their products are not inherently helping the consumers save on their daily footprint.)

Because SodaStream uses water straight from the tap, the system makes traditional store-bought beverage bottles obsolete. That means less plastic manufactured, less plastic waste is created, and fewer bottled beverages must be transported from manufacturers to distributors to stores to homes. Globally, 206 billion liters of bottled water were consumed in 2008, and the energy required to make water bottles in the US only, is equivalent to 17 million barrels of oil. According to the US Recycling Institute, more than 80% of bottles in the US do not get recycled and end up in landfills. Also, an estimated 4.7 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions were produced in the process of replacing the 134 billion bottles and cans not recycled in 2005.

Using your own home carbonation system means:
• Less packaging waste from cans and bottles.
• Less pollution caused by transport of bottled beverages.

One SodaStream carbonator makes 60 or 110 liters, equivalent to 170 or 310 aluminum cans! When empty, the carbonator is refilled and reused, ready to make more fizzy and tasty soda whenever you want it.

The machine is slimline and takes up very little space, I put mine under my kitchen sink with some of my favorite mixes (currently Cranberry Raspberry and the Pomegranate Peach tea) where it’s simple for me to grab when I want to mix up a new bottle. But when I get my grandmother’s old side table out of storage, I’m going to set this baby up on it right beside my Hollywood Popcorn Machine and have the rockinest munchie bar set up in the neighborhood!

iTunes Gift Cards
In years past, I always steered away from giving gift cards as gifts. They seemed to have an impersonal touch when it came to gift giving. Boy how times have changed! Actually, I would be hard pressed to think of a more personal gift — as the recipient can get the music and movies they love or discover something totally new! Apple continues to change the way people compute and get their entertainment fix with the phenomenon that is iTunes. For the few who might be unfamiliar with iTunes, it is a free application for your Mac or PC. It organizes and plays your digital music and video on your computer. It keeps all your content in sync. And it’s a store on your computer, iPod touch, iPhone, iPad, and Apple TV that has everything you need to be entertained. Anywhere. Anytime. iTunes boasts the world’s largest online music store that features 13 million high-quality, DRM-free songs priced at just 69¢, 99¢, or $1.29 each. From finding their favorite songs, renting or buying the newest digital video releases or discovering new music by going social with  iTunes Ping, iTunes puts the power of entertainment into the users hands. Apple iTunes gift cards are available practically everywhere and make for a truly unique entertainment experience.

The Gift of Netflix
Netflix has become one of the most recognizable names in home entertainment over the past few years. The company cut its teeth by mailing out the latest DVD releases as well as the classics in little red envelopes to homes across the nation. It was a sensation that quickly swept the nation (much to the chagrin of chain videos stores that ruled the land since the late ‘80s). I received a Netflix subscription as a gift in years past and found it to be a gift that keeps on giving! With thousands of titles to choose from, the subscription satisfied new entertainment jones’ all year long.Things got even cooler over the past year with the inclusion of a streaming feature of many of their titles. For $7.99 a month, Netflix members can instantly watch unlimited movies and TV episodes streamed over the Internet to PCs, Macs and TVs. Among the large and expanding  base of devices streaming from Netflix are Microsoft’s Xbox 360, Nintendo’s Wii and Sony’s PS3 consoles; an array of Blu-ray disc players, Internet-connected TVs, home theater systems, digital video recorders and Internet video players; Apple’s iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, as well as Apple TV and Google TV. In all, more than 200 devices that stream from Netflix are available in the U.S. and a growing number are available in Canada. Gift subscriptions are available at Netflix.com.

DeBrand Fine Chocolates
It’s a shame DeBrand stores aren’t worldwide, luckily you can order online or call an order in (1-800-482-4373) and have a comparable experience at home. The stores are exquisitely decorated, giving you a warm and inviting feeling the moment you walk through the door, if you are in the Fort Wayne, Indiana area I highly recommend stopping by one of the four shops to encounter the best chocolate in the world! I’ll just say it – you can’t go wrong with anything. People will love you for finding a gift that is so “them”, because gifting DeBrand is fail proof. At the top of their website, www.debrand.com, you will find a tab to “Enter Chocolate Shop.” I suggest you take a look at the “Holiday Baskets/Gifts” and my personal pick would be item number one, The Holiday Gift Tote. Contained within a reusable sleek, brown tote you will find a half pound of the Classic Collection, 9 pc. Connoisseur Collection, 6 pc. Truffle Collection, 2 chocolate tasting bars, 1 box of Pecan Brittle, 1 box of Holiday Medley, 1 box of dark cherry cordials, and your choice of a Happy Holidays bar, a Merry Christmas bar, or a Happy Hanukkah bar.You can go to each collection on the site and “take a bite” by scrolling over each chocolate to find out what’s inside. Each piece is individually molded and there is an artisan aspect to everything DeBrand makes. The Connoisseur Collection is very interesting as well as delicious, DeBrand uses spices and ingredients found from all over the world, bringing a diverse array of flavors to this particular collection. Each piece seems to balance so nicely, my favorite is the Aztec which is a crushed pecan brittle with pecan gianduja dipped in milk chocolate and garnished with finely ground chili peppers. So luxurious with complex flavors that are very complimentary. If you are looking for stocking stuffers, DeBrand is my number one recommendation, their Holiday Medley ($17.50) contains Italian pistachios, tart raspberries, buttery caramel, salty pretzels, and crisp rice encased in creamy white chocolate – YUM! This is all put into a golden box with a bow and tag.

For little ones there is a special Santa Coin ($4.25) which has delectable milk chocolate inside of a large GoldPak coin with Santa embossed on top. The Holiday Place Setting ($7.75) has a milk chocolate Happy Holidays bar, 2 pieces from the Classic Collection (the rose carmella and dark raspberries and cream) and a milk chocolate almond bar, they are stacked like a mini tower and a gold bow ties them all together. You can also purchase small box sets of 5 piece chocolates ($9.25) from the Classic Collection: Chocolate Silk, The Nutcracker, Rose Carmella, and Raspberries and Cream are the choices. DeBrand was on my list long before Oprah chose them as one of her “Favorite Things” selections, I swear! But she is so right, DeBrand will quickly become a favorite of your recipient!

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‘Tis The Season – Icon Vs. Icon’s Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Gifts For Her!

‘Tis The Season – Icon Vs. Icon’s Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Gifts For Her!

The is nothing more appreciated than a helping hand during the holiday season. Let the staff of Icon Vs. Icon help you plan your shopping list with our annual gift guide. We’ve chosen some iconic brands, some up and coming brands, and a few items that will allow you to think outside the box to create or choose your own special gift.  Items range from a few dollars to several thousand, but most are geared towards people like us: regular working stiffs who just want to give a great present that won’t break the bank!  Start making that list, we’ve got the best roundup of gifts that everyone will enjoy! The second part of our series is “For Her!” — Get a look at some unique items for the holiday season that may prove to be the perfect gift for that special lady in your life!

Wow her this holiday with Kindred Stones!

Kindred Stones
Buying a present for that special woman in your life can be a daunting task, so let’s try to make it simple. What does every woman love? Jewelry! However, how do you make sure the piece you purchase is both special and unique? Don’t worry. Breath! We’ll get through this together!

This holiday season, stay away from the big box stores with run-of-the-mill items and go for a custom-designed jewelry line featuring unique and powerful zodiac gemstones known for energetic properties — Kindred Stones (www.kindredstones.com).

These precious and semi-precious stones are collected from around the world and can harness energy to do an array of things, from attracting love to promoting fertility to deflecting fear, worry and negativity. They have a stone for everything!

You pick the amount of stones, the chain, the energetic property and voilà, your unique and personal piece of jewelry is complete. Show that special person in your life how truly special they are!

My gorgeous necklace features black onyx to wear when I need personal strength, vigor, stamina and confidence, and aventurine for power and prosperity to stimulate my inner creativity, promote decisiveness and enhance leadership.

Anjolee Diamond and Gemstone Anniversary Rings
Although it used to be that you would give an anniversary ring because, as the name implies, it’s your anniversary, but in 2011 that rule doesn’t apply any more. Trust me, I’m a girl and I know these things! You may also think that jewelry is sort of a no-brainer gift, but when you buy from Anjolee you aren’t just clicking on a “BUY” button and putting in your credit card info. Anjolee has been in business since 1974, and while their gorgeous jewelry can be found in many stores their website offers a unique experience that lets you decide exactly what you want for the lady in your life. Does she prefer yellow gold to white? Then you can choose yellow gold. Would she rather have garnets or sapphires because they represent your children’s birthstones but the ring is being shown with peridots? No problem, with just a click you can choose the stones YOU want.

Take for example their Five Across Alternating Gemstone Anniversary Ring
You first choose the metal for the band, then the carat weight of the stones, next you chose the gemstones you would like to incorporate into the ring, then the ring size, and finally the quality of the diamonds. Price will depend on the choices you make, and you can always go back and alter your choices. All jewelry ordered comes with a certificate of authenticity and you can even add a third party i.g.i appraisal certificate to your order if you choose. This particular ring is absolutely beautiful and in my opinion is a simple and clean look that would go great with a wedding set or by itself.

Also take a look at the Beaded Edge Detail Gemstone Ring!
I love the beaded edge detail which gives this ring a more contemporary feel, and it has a channel set look although there are small prongs holding each stone into place. This ring can be chosen to be made in two different weights, and remember to check out the sidebar where you can listen to a commentary about the ring and see it in a 360 degree view.

My favorite, and the ring I personally chose is the Splendid Romance Double Row Gemstone Ring.
This is a .42 carat weight ring with 42 stones set in a double row. GORGEOUS! Diamonds and your choice of gemstone (I chose garnets) alternate along the top of the ring and make this item of jewelry a statement piece of good taste.

The fact that it has 42 stones makes it very eye-catching in appearance and something that’s different from the typical look of an anniversary ring. It would be perfect to stack a few of these, which would create an even bolder reflection of the type of jewelry the wearer likes and you again can choose the gemstones based on her favorite stones or color, her birthday, yours, or children.

Each ring comes in a luxurious wood box with a leatherette interior, a sterling silver heart pendant (Bonus! Another gift!), and a certificate of authenticity. But Anjolee doesn’t just have rings, please take a look around their site as they offer any type of jewelry you are looking to purchase. Visit Anjolee’s official website at www.anjolee.com .

Vera Wang Lovestruck Perfume
Another item that may strike the “she’ll think I put no thought into this” myth, but again you must trust that my intuition on what a woman really wants is spot on. Okay, I’ll give you this: if she’d rather be on a field trying to tackle Tim Tebow then maybe she wouldn’t like this as a gift. And please not I didn’t say watching him be tackle, I said doing it herself. I believe I am a 9.5 out of ten on recommending a great present so you need to listen to me!

With notes of pink guava, mandarin, tuberose, lotus blossom, precious woods, and sheer musk, Lovestruck by Vera Wang is Vera’s interpretation of being madly in love. It’s been called a spontaneous and romantic fragrance and I think those categories are correct, however it’s unlike any fragrance typically classified in the floral or romantic genre. One thing I like about it is that it’s light yet still noticeable because of the woodsy and musk notes, and it really stays with you throughout the day but isn’t overbearing. And hey, nothing is worse than having to sit beside the person who is wearing some harsh stallion fragrance for eight hours a day! You won’t have that problem with Lovestruck!
Something else that I really like about it is the packaging. Instead of a plain bottle with the name labeled on the front this design is something that’s very pretty and can be kept out on a dresser or vanity. The 3.4 oz. has six plum colored flowers and a matching tulle bow, there is also a 1.7 oz., a 1 oz., and a .35 oz. roll-on tube. The fragrance was created by Stephen Nilsen from Givaudan in collaboration with Doreen Bollhoer, under the supervision of the Coty cosmetic company. It can be purchased at Sephora or Ulta is still offering a special buy gift set that comes with the 3.4 oz. eau de parfum Spray and a 5.0 body lotion. You also get a free robe right now for buying a fragrance that is over $30.

Pamper her with June Jacobs!

June Jacobs
What do women love besides jewelry? To be pampered, of course! Obviously not everyone can afford regular spa days so the next best thing is to bring the spa to your home!

June Jacobs Spa Collection — junejacobs.com — features everything needed to pamper yourself at home, from cleansers, scrubs and toners to serums, moisturizers and age defying products, they have items to brighten, soothe and heal from your lips and hair to your skin to under your eye to your feet, they’ve got your body covered!

This year pamper your loved one! Not sure what to purchase? Try one of June Jacobs’ kits! I love my Peppermint Hand and Foot Travel Kit with the polish, cuticle recovery cream, therapy lotion, foot mist and the refreshingly rich smell, I can pamper myself at home or on the road!

June Jacobs is the creator of three global skin care lines so leave your pampering up to the expert! They also have a fabulous men’s care line!

For that makeup lover in your life, give the gift of variety this holiday season with Tarte: The Jewelry Box from Sephora. This limited-edition palette features 32 new eyeshadows, eight lip glosses, a mineral bronzer, shimmering powder, five long-wearing eyeliners, and a detachable necklace. Last Christmas I received a gift box similar to this – they have different ones to choose from — and loved it! It’s the ultimate kit for women and teens who love makeup, always wanting to try out new shades, colors and looks. It’s like playing dress up for adults! This kit not for your giftee? Sephora’s not just about makeup, but skin care, cosmetics, fragrance and perfume, hair, beauty products and even makeup tips. Stepping in to a Sephora store can be overwhelming with so many products, so ask for help! Tarte: The Jewelry Box is available at www.sephora.com to order online or find a store near you.

LUSH Handmade Soaps and Cosmetics
“Guilt free luxury” are the words that come to mind when talking about LUSH products. Why? Guilt free because LUSH is committed to the practice of no animal testing, using little packaging for their products (they call them “naked”), recycling, using little or no preservatives, making products from fresh, organic fruits and vegetables, the finest essential oils and little synthetics, and they ethically source their materials from all over the world. The luxury comes in when you use the products: Candy Cane Bubble Bars that smell so good you want to eat them and make the greatest long lasting bubbles, Snow Fairy lip tint that tastes like bubblegum and makes your lips shiny and pink, Honey I Washed The Kids soap which smells like toffee and is loaded with honey and aloe and is infused with bergamot and sweet orange, the Lil LUSH Pud Figgy Christmas Fizzer a bath bomb that leaves you dreaming of figgy pudding and makes your bath smell like cloves and a slight lemon scent and leaves your skin feeling soft as a baby.

There are hundreds of items to chose, from fragrances to hair care, skin products and bath items. This season I would choose from the Holiday line, easily seen at www.lush.com or by going into one of your nearest shops to touch, smell and see the products. The items are for anyone, but for women the Stardust Gift Box would be a great choice. It comes with a Candy Cane Bubble Bar, Angel’s Delight Gift Star, Snow Fairy Shower Gel, Twilight bath bomb, Bon Bon lip scrub, Sugar Plum Fairy shower scrub, and Iced Wine shower jelly, packed and ready to give wrapped in pink star paper with a silver bow and gift tag. Or you can mix it up and choose the wrapping that you want. This particular box set is $49.95 and can be found at www.lushusa.com/shop/products/gifts/wrapped/stardust-gift.

Posted in Blog, Movies, TV and More!, Music, Pick of The Week, ReviewsComments (1)

‘Tis The Season – Icon Vs. Icon’s Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Gifts For Kids!

‘Tis The Season – Icon Vs. Icon’s Holiday Gift Guide 2011: Gifts For Kids!

The is nothing more appreciated than a helping hand during the holiday season. Let the staff of Icon Vs. Icon help you plan your shopping list with our annual gift guide. We’ve chosen some iconic brands, some up and coming brands, and a few items that will allow you to think outside the box to create or choose your own special gift.  Items range from a few dollars to several thousand, but most are geared towards people like us: regular working stiffs who just want to give a great present that won’t break the bank!  Start making that list, we’ve got the best roundup of gifts that everyone will enjoy! The first part of our series is “For Kids!” — Get a look at some unique items that may be the perfect gift to brighten the holiday season for the child in your life!

Moccasins For Kids

For the little ones on your list, think outside the box … box being the gift list they signed, sealed and delivered to Jolly Ol’ Saint Nick three times and recited to you at least a dozen. Instead of some new electronic thing-a-ma-jig advertised to no end on TV, buy them something practical yet totally hip and stylish.

Pick up a pair of handmade leather moccasins from Freshly Picked — freshlypicked.bigcartel.com. The adorable footies are available in a variety of colors, as well as suede, and are handmade when ordered!

Freshly Picked is run by Susan Peterson, who describes herself as entrepreneur, designer, seamstress and writer. Check out her blog, www.freshlypickedblog.com, which provides tutorials on everything crafty, from sewing to fixing furniture.

As the motto of Freshly Picked goes, these moccassins are “so hip it hurts!” I mean, come on, these cute shoes are worn by the son of fashionista Kourtney Kardashian! You may not be a fan but you gotta admit, the girl knows fashion!

Blee Inara

Blee Inara
There comes a time in every little girl’s life when they want to start wearing jewelry. Maybe friends at school do or maybe they’ve seen mommy carefully select pieces to match outfits. They want in on the fun!

So, what to buy? Obviously you want to make it special but also fun and specifically designed for kids. Blee Inara — www.bleeinara.com — has you covered this holiday season for meaningful, well-made pieces of jewelry in their Blee Kids section. There’s the blue and white beaded, stretchy bracelet with charms, including a teddy bear and rabbit. Or the large safety pin with a yellow ribbon and teddy bear charms. Their items are bright, cheerful and well made!

The company was started by Ivonne Kino, who’s been creating jewelry since 2000. She wanted to combine design, comfort and beauty in her pieces, all inspired by a sense of harmony, bliss, goodwill and peace — perfect for the youngsters in your life. A key aspect of Blee Inara is to layer the jewelry and create your personal combination.

When you hit up the website, also check out items for women, from bracelets, necklaces and wraps to the earrings, anklets and rings, they have everything!

Leap Frog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet

Leap Frog LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet
Parents can breathe a sigh of relief as they regain ownership of their iPads and other tablets! The LeapPad Explorer Learning Tablet has been on the market since summer and is high on Santa’s list for many girls and boys. Marketed for children ages 4-9, this tablet could easily work for younger children. It’s customizable for up to three kids, so multiple children can play at their level, and comes preloaded with four free apps: Art Studio, Pet Pad, Story Studio, and one of your choice. Additional apps can be purchased online and, as a bonus, Explorer game cartridges work with the tablet. This product follows along the lines of other Leap Frog items, it adds to the mental enrichment of your child with games improving or teaching reading, math skills, writing and art.

A stylus (and an extra) are included, and it also has a touchscreen and a tilt-sensor so the tablet is usable when held either up or down or from side to side. There is a camera and a video recorder that are very simple to use. Up to 30,000 photos can be stored on the unit or up to 120 minutes of video. After taking a photo your child, you can go into the Photo Lab app and use different functions to write on the photo, stamp it, morph the image, or turn from color to black and white. When connected to your computer, the photos, videos, or art can be emailed to friends and family or posted to social media sites.

Another item I really like is, like other Leap Frog items, you can track your child’s progress online with the Learning Path and see what areas they need help with. This is easily my gift of the year to give a child and, aside from getting your tablet back, you can also be assured the child you give this to will learn as they have fun! You can purchase this item at http://shop.leapfrog.com/leapfrog/.

Another Great Gift For The Holiday Season!

Rory’s Story Cubes
Ah, such a simple and brilliant idea. Kids (and adults) of any age will have a blast with these cubes! Unlike other board games, the concept here is very basic. You roll 9 cubes, with different pictures on all of their sides. After they land, you have to make up a story based on the pictures. However, you can change the rules to make endless ways to play. If younger children are using the game, playing as recommended is the way to go, but with older kids or adults you could have time limits or get to pass off so many of the dice to the next player and they have to continue making up a story using what they’ve been given. You could make up dozens of ways to play! When combined with the amount of different pictures on the dice, this is a game that would be used often and for many years. Players have to use their creativity and imagination and also decipher what the photos on the cubes mean to them and will end up using different narratives and developing characters along the way.

Games like this need to be developed and encouraged more often! Rory’s Story Cubes are made by Gamewright, which also carries other games to foster learning and using your mind in ways other than how to knock some pigs off of a screen (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Check them out at this location or visit this link to purchase the Story Cubes. Come on, they are only $7.99, and I can guarantee you will get hooked on this fun-filled game!

Insect Lore's Live Butterfly Garden

Insect Lore’s Live Butterfly Garden
I love to mix a little bit of learning in with the fun of the holiday season when it comes to kids. With Insect Lore’s Live Butterfly Garden you an your child will witness one of nature’s most spectacular transformations up close with this reusable, collapsible habitat.

Fine, transparent mesh lets you see butterfly metamorphosis up close. Product includes easy-to-use feeder and complete instructions for habitat. Butterfly larvae with food is shipped directly to your home. The habitat collapses for storage when not in use. You can adopt and raise a handful of caterpillars, watch them transform into painted lady butterflies, then lift the garden cover to release your beautiful specimens into the wild.

This exciting habitat makes a fabulous introduction to the miracles of nature.The larvae and food are available round the year. I haven’t met a kid (or an adult) who hasn’t had a blast with the set! The best part is that you can reorder more butterfly larvae and do it again and again! Priced at about $15 bucks, it is a learning experience that can’t be beat!

Jam out this holiday season!

Paper Jamz Pro Series Microphone
Looking for something for the child who has rock star dreams? Look no further than Paper Jamz Pro microphone which lets anyone sound like a pop star. Using cutting-edge technology to deliver a unique and fun singing experience to your favorite songs, the Paper Jamz Pro Microphone includes 2 built-in songs and the following enhanced features that help you sound like a professional recording artist. There are three pre-programmed songs into the unit which you cycle through by hitting the different Song buttons. For more songs, you can visit the Paper Jamz website to download new songs from their library or add your own favorite songs from your computer. Features include for the unit include: Perfect Pitch Technology (analyzes and tunes singer’s pitch in real-time); Solo/Duet Mode (sing with the artist or become the artist by turning the original vocal track ON or OFF); Auto-Harmony (doubles or triples singer’s voice and shifts pitch to create perfect harmonies); Auto-Vibrato (adds perfect vibrato to singer’s voice); Chorus (multiplies singer’s vocals to add depth); Auto (recreate original sound of song with real-time effects control). With this technology, your child will be singing like a pop star in no time! Paper Jamz Pro Series Microphone, it is available in three colors (pink, neutral, and gray) and can be found at your local retailer or online shop. The unit provides hours of entertainment and the opportunity for experimentation for young minds. Who knows, maybe you are the proud parent of the next Lady Gaga!

The Martian Matter Alien Maker Spaceship Playset

Hasbro’s Martian Matter Alien Maker
Spaceship Playset

What kid doesn’t love aliens? I know I did and Hasbro’s Martian Matter Alien Maker Spaceship Playset lets kids unleash some truly out of this world fun! As soon as they pop open this alien spaceship (which holds all of their supplies) they will discover all sorts of alien-making technologies, including Lunar Lava gel and reusable Meteor Mud compound, which are used to create alien forms.

They can mix and match the 14 different half-molds to create more than 90 different wacky alien combinations!. The alien creations can be placed in the spaceship’s pods to ‘fly’ the aliens home or the child can use the tools to flatten or dissect their alien creatures.

The Martian Matter Alien Maker Spaceship Playset comes with 14 alien half-molds, plastic knife, roller, tweezers, cutter, 3 two-ounce bottles of Lunar Lava gel, and 3 two-ounce cans of Meteor Mud compound. Refills of Meteor Mud can be purchased as well to keep the fun going! Priced at a mere $15 bucks at most retailers the set provides hours of creativity and fun for everyone!

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