I received the following products in order to write a review.  No compensation was received and all opinions are my own.  Enjoy the Holiday Gift Guide!!!

For Grownups

The Dirty Vegan #ad

Man, I am not even a vegan and this cookbook has me drooling!!!

Dirty Vegan lets you prepare delicious vegan cuisine that anyone and everyone can enjoy, and showcases the sheer variety of amazing recipes you can create, all while remaining vegan. For too long, the vegan lifestyle has been seen as limiting–a laundry list of all the things vegans can’t or shouldn’t have.
Providing healthy, vegan alternatives to the sorts of delicious comfort foods that everyone craves, Dirty Vegan makes it easier than ever to live the vegan lifestyle, featuring delicious recipes that use common ingredients available in any grocery store.
Dirty Vegan features over 100 rich, indulgent recipes that are sure to delight, including: Vegan Ravioli Dippers, Avocado and “Bacon” Chees, Cheddar Bread Ring, S’mores Pancake, “Steak” Tips and Sweet Potatoes, Italian Wedding Soup, Vegan Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Blossoms and many more.
With simple, delicious recipes, Dirty Vegan is not just for vegans, but is perfect for anyone who wants to prepare nutritious dishes using minimal equipment and processing.
Self-styled as “vegan junk food”–healthy vegan food that doesn’t skimp on taste–Dirty Vegan is a celebration of all the amazing tastes and dishes available to those on vegan diets.”

If you know a vegan, or just someone wanting to eat healthier, then check out this cookbook.

Valerie's Home Cooking #ad

As the current star of her Food Network show, Valerie’s Home Cooking, and co-host of the network’s Kids Baking Championship, as well as having spent years acting on television, Valerie Bertinelli has made a name for herself in households across America. But to really know Valerie, is to spend time in her kitchen.

Inspired by her family’s cooking legacy, Valerie specializes in showing fans how to make dishes their own families will love that are for the heart and soul. As she often says, there’s a story behind every recipe and Valerie shares them in this gorgeous cookbook, where home cooks will find more than 100 recipes that are easy to make and innovative–they’re just as fresh, vibrant and down to earth as Valerie herself. Many of these classic comforting recipes have an original twist like Bloody Mary Tea Sandwiches, Lobster BLTs, Quick Rotisserie Chicken Gumbo, and S’mores Popcorn. These mouthwatering dishes will become your go-tos, whether you’re having breakfast or lunch on your own, friends are joining for last-minute cocktails and small bites, or the whole family is coming together for a hearty dinner and dessert.

I actually discovered her while at the gym (ironic, I know).  They have her show playing during the time I am there working out.  I love watching her and am super excited to dig into this cookbook!

For the Kids

Snowie Rolie #ad

Rolie Polie Olie wishes his world would turn snowy, but it’s forever sunny—until one day when the sun blows a bulb. Olie’s wish comes true, and—joy, oh joy—it snows! Rolie and his sister Zowie build a snowman buddy, Mr. Snowie, to join in on their snow day adventures. But when the sun gets a new bulb, all is not bright: Mr. Snowie is in danger of melting! There’s only one solution: a rocket trip to Chillsville. Past the dangerous North Wind, Rolie, Zowie, and Mr. Snowie find a cool world filled with frosty friends to eat snowball pie and dance a chilly cha-cha with. And then they get the greatest surprise of all—a visit from Klanky Klaus! Talk about one awesome snow day!

Above the Timberline #ad

When it started to snow, it didn’t stop for 1,500 years. The Pole Shift that ancient climatologists talked about finally came, the topography was ripped apart and the weather of the world was changed—forever. Now the Earth is covered in snow, and to unknown depths in some places.

In this world, Wes Singleton leaves the academy in search of his father, the famed explorer Galen Singleton, who was searching for a lost city until Galen’s expedition was cut short after being sabotaged. But Wes believes his father is still alive somewhere above the timberline.

Hatchet #ad

Thirteen-year-old Brian Robeson, haunted by his secret knowledge of his mother’s infidelity, is traveling by single-engine plane to visit his father for the first time since the divorce. When the plane crashes, killing the pilot, the sole survivor is Brian. He is alone in the Canadian wilderness with nothing but his clothing, a tattered windbreaker, and the hatchet his mother had given him as a present.

At first consumed by despair and self-pity, Brian slowly learns survival skills—how to make a shelter for himself, how to hunt and fish and forage for food, how to make a fire—and even finds the courage to start over from scratch when a tornado ravages his campsite. When Brian is finally rescued after fifty-four days in the wild, he emerges from his ordeal with new patience and maturity, and a greater understanding of himself and his parents.

The Glass Town Game #ad

Charlotte and Emily must enter a fantasy world that they invented in order to rescue their siblings in this adventurous and fiercely intelligent novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making.

Inside a small Yorkshire parsonage, Charlotte, Branwell, Emily, and Anne Brontë have invented a game called Glass Town, where their toy soldiers fight Napoleon and no one dies. This make-believe land helps the four escape from a harsh reality: Charlotte and Emily are being sent away to a dangerous boarding school, a school they might not return from. But on this Beastliest Day, the day Anne and Branwell walk their sisters to the train station, something incredible happens: the train whisks them all away to a real Glass Town, and the children trade the moors for a wonderland all their own.

This is their Glass Town, exactly like they envisioned it…almost. They certainly never gave Napoleon a fire-breathing porcelain rooster instead of a horse. And their soldiers can die; wars are fought over the potion that raises the dead, a potion Anne would very much like to bring back to England. But when Anne and Branwell are kidnapped, Charlotte and Emily must find a way to save their siblings. Can two English girls stand against Napoleon’s armies, especially now that he has a new weapon from the real world? And if he escapes Glass Town, will England ever be safe again?

Together the Brontë siblings must battle with a world of their own creation if they are to make it back to England alive in this magical celebration of authorship, creativity, and classic literature from award-winning author Catherynne M. Valente.

Little Bigfoot #ad

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer Weiner comes the second book in the “smartly crafted” (BCCB) and “heartwarming” (School Library Journal) trilogy about friendship, furry creatures, and finding the place where you belong.

Twelve-year-old Alice Mayfair has a secret. She’s not human. But who—or what—is she? While Alice goes in search of her past, her best friend Millie Maximus, a tiny Bigfoot with a big voice, prepares for her future. Together they plan to sneak off to New York Citywhere Millie hopes to audition for The Next Stage, the TV show she’s sure will rocket her to stardom and free her from the suffocating expectations of her tribe.

Meanwhile Jeremy Bigelow’s Bigfoot research has put him on the radar of a shadowy government organization led by a mysterious man named Trip Carruthers. The Bigfoots have something, a chemical so powerful and dangerous that the government will do anything to obtain it. And Jeremy is tasked with securing it once and for all.

In an unexpected twist of fate, Jeremy, Alice, and Millie find themselves facing off at a crossroads. But in order to determine where they’re going, they have to first figure out where they come from—and draw the line between what is good, what is evil, and what it means to be a hero.

Kid Stir #ad Kid Stir #ad

Kid Stir is subscription service for kids.  They get a monthly box.   The box had a few recipes in it, an apron and one kid-sized spatula.  The spatula was actually really nice!  But I was disappointed at the lack of product.  Obviously, the goal is to keep you as a subscriber, so in that first box you get a nicely bound cookbook that they add their recipes to.  So for a one-off gift it is not great at all, but if you were to do a year long membership, then the child would get a box each month and get to add recipes to that cookbook, slowly building a nice collection.  The recipes are easy to read and easy to follow and a nice mix of really easy (for younger kids) and challenging for the older ones.  Learn more about them at kidstir.com.

Modarri cars #ad

This is one of our most favorite items in our Holiday Gift Guide!!!! These are fantastic.  They are called Modarri cars.  Here is what the maker says:

  • Design, build, and drive your very own creation!
  • Mix and match building system allows for BILLIONS of car designs
  • Finger-driven with real steering and suspension mechanics
  • Super quick assembly times – less time building, more time playing!
  • Screws are retained in the components, they don’t fall out – no lost screws!
  • Real 2-step automotive paint for a beautiful, dazzling finish
  • Durable construction – real metal frames, heavy duty plastic, and strong mechanical linkages
  • 11 interchangeable pieces per car
  • Assembled with the included swivel-tipped hex tool (quick turn action!)
  • Modarri is a STEM toy that educates through open-ended play
  • Satisfaction is guaranteed. If you are not satisfied with your purchase, return it for a full refund. If a part breaks, we will send you a replacement, free of charge.

But here is what I can tell you.  The minute our boys saw these, they were hooked.  After Cliff opened the Modarri Delux 3-pack the boys immediately got to work.

Modarri cars #ad

They assembled the cars and built a play area for them!!

Modarri cars #ad

They are having so much fun with these.  It is hard to say enough about them.  It spurs their creativity and keeps them building and playing for hours.  Make sure you check them out and you can cross of the rest of your Christmas list with these great Modarri products!!!

For the Whole Family

 

Contigo Water Bottles #ad

Contigo Water Bottles make great gifts for anyone on your list.  Every member of our family has one and we love them! The AUTOSEAL Gizmo Sip is literally the ONLY spill proof bottle I have ever found that works for lunches. Benjamin uses his in his lunch every day (and has for 2 years) and we have never, ever had a leak.  And it’s got a great price point, currently 9.99! The Spill Proof Kids Tumbler is great for use around the home.  We let Benjamin keep it in his room for when he gets thirsty at night and it has also never leaked or spilled. Our girls favorite is the AUTOSPOUT Ashland.  It is a nice glass water bottle AND has a hook that attaches easily to their backpacks.  I love knowing they have access to water all day at their schools.

Kristen: Kristen is a wife, mom, blogger and Brand Ambassador. She has four children; 2 boys and 2 girls. Kristen enjoys her role as a stay-at-home mother. Her oldest children are home-schooled. Her interests include gardening, coffee, reading, cooking and finding new ways to be eco-friendly. You may contact Kristen at mudpiesandtiaras at gmail dot com. Click here to meet Kristen

Disclosure: I received these sweet Christmas books for kids in order to do this review but all opinions are my own.  This post may contain affiliate links.

We actually have an entire collection of sweet Christmas books for kids.  Each year as we pack up our Christmas decorations, we place our Christmas books in the boxes with them.  Then the following year when we decorate the tree and home the kids look forward to pulling the books out to read them again.  Now we have two more sweet Christmas books for kids to add to the collection.

sweet Christmas books for kids #ad

Jesus is Born by Sophie Piper.

No story is more beloved—or more often told—than the story of the first Christmas, when Jesus was born. In text that echoes the language of the Gospels of Luke and Matthew, Jesus Is Born tells the entire story of the nativity, from the angel Gabriel’s awe-inspiring message to the Virgin Mary to the miraculous birth of Christ in a lowly manger in Bethlehem; from the luminous star that led shepherds and three wise men to the newborn king to King Herod’s terrible threat and God’s promise to keep Jesus, Mary, and Joseph safe. A timeless and complete retelling of the tale, Jesus Is Born is the perfect introduction to the story at the heart of Christmas.

sweet Christmas books for kids #ad

sweet Christmas books for kids #ad

Babushka by Dawn Casey.

n the eve of the very first Christmas, an old grandmother is busy tidying her home when a bright star illuminates the sky. Soon three wise men arrive and invite Babushka to join them in their travels—following the star in search of a newborn babe, the Prince of Peace. But there are dishes to be washed, and floors to be swept, and Babushka is too absorbed in her work to leave her home with presents for the baby Jesus.

The next day, when Babushka tries to follow the men, she cannot find their tracks. Instead, she finds a little girl shivering in the cold, and a little boy, his tummy rumbling with hunger. Babushka walks and walks, and everywhere she goes she finds children in need of toys to play with or a shawl to keep them warm. And to each one, she offers a gift from her basket and a smile of light and love.

With beautiful illustrations evoking folk art traditions and sensitive storytelling, Babushka tenderly reminds us that nothing is more important during the holiday season than taking the time to show love for one another. This timeless Russian tale will warm your heart and fill you up with the joyful, generous spirit of Christmas.

sweet Christmas books for kids #ad

If you think you would enjoy these sweet Christmas books for kids, then enter for your chance to win.  One lucky reader will win both of these titles!

Kristen: Kristen is a wife, mom, blogger and Brand Ambassador. She has four children; 2 boys and 2 girls. Kristen enjoys her role as a stay-at-home mother. Her oldest children are home-schooled. Her interests include gardening, coffee, reading, cooking and finding new ways to be eco-friendly. You may contact Kristen at mudpiesandtiaras at gmail dot com. Click here to meet Kristen

Give The Gift Of Learning With Bethlehem Books

Our kids LOVE to read.  They love being read to.  We try to read out loud to all the kids…even our teen.  It is always good to read to your kids no matter their ages.  It’s good for adults to be read to!  But finding good literature can be challenging and books are not always cheap.  Bethlehem Books strives to have wholesome books for the whole family.  I will definitely be checking them out!

Bethlehem Books is a great place to find books for the whole family to enjoy. They have regular books and audio books. Books are my favorite things to give as gifts and I am so excited to be part of this giveaways. One lucky person is going to win Five Free Bethlehem Books of your choice plus 5 free audio downloads of Bethlehem Books from Audible.com!

Bethlehem Books is a publishing company that offers many of those “right books.” They specialize in historical fiction, adventure tales, biographies, and family stories that help children and young adults expand their imagination and understand the past. With many titles available, they are a great option if you are looking for exceptional books that captivate their audiences. The books are available in print or eBooks.

About Bethlehem Books:

Bethlehem Books is a small, home grown publishing company dedicated to restoring to children and families a treasury of wholesome, character-building literature. They are more than just a business. Their work springs from the heart of the Bethlehem Community of Benedictine Oblates, a lay group of families and single people which began in 1971.

Here are a few books that would be a perfect gift!

Give The Gift Of Learning With Bethlehem Books KitchenMadonnaMiracleOfSaintNicholas

A Day on Skates: Twins Afke and Evert have a particularly understanding teacher who decides to take his class on a winter skating trip in a nearby town. Evert and his buddies, shy Simon and loyal Afke all have their share of adventures. Everyone (Teacher most of all) breathes a happy sigh of relief upon arriving home safely after a very full day.

Give The Gift Of Learning With Bethlehem Books
 

The Miracle of St. Nicholas is another great children’s book about a Russian boy and his babushka who talk about the past and faith and hope for miracles.

Give The Gift Of Learning With Bethlehem Books
Bethlehem Books has also published a book titled Kitchen Madonna. It is a story about Marta who is unhappy. For quietly aloof Gregory and his sister Janet, Marta, with her thick Ukrainian accent, her good cooking, and her stories, is the anchor of the house. Mother and Father, both busy architects, are gone all day and sometimes at night.

If you are looking for good children’s books or books for the whole family, be sure to look at the selection at Bethlehem Books. You should also follow their Facebook page because they offer discounts on your purchases. You can also subscribe to their email newsletter for updates.

Now for the giveaway. It is open to US residents until November 7. Please enter below and Good Luck!

 

Kristen: Kristen is a wife, mom, blogger and Brand Ambassador. She has four children; 2 boys and 2 girls. Kristen enjoys her role as a stay-at-home mother. Her oldest children are home-schooled. Her interests include gardening, coffee, reading, cooking and finding new ways to be eco-friendly. You may contact Kristen at mudpiesandtiaras at gmail dot com. Click here to meet Kristen

Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a product for review purposes. The opinions are my own, based on my personal experience with the product.

2015 Holiday Gift Guide

I found the neatest gift for our son Jack!  He got his very own personalized book from I See Me.

I See Me #ad

I have heard of other personalized gifts and we HAVE other personalized gifts so I honestly thought I knew exactly what was coming in the mail.  You know, something where it’s a fill in the blank with your kiddos name.  I See Me is NOTHING like that!  This book is 100% customized and personalized JUST FOR JACK.  It is amazing!

I See Me #ad

He received “My Very Own Trucks Personalized Book“.  And everything is customized from the title, to the front page and every page in the book.  The various vehicles are trying so hard to get Jack’s name up on a billboard.  They are towing and pulling the letters of his name throughout the story.  BUT…each vehicle and some of the elements on the page ALSO correspond with the letter they are towing.  A has an ambulance…Y has a yacht.  It is personalized through and through and THAT is what makes I See Me stand out from the crowd!

I See Me #ad

Jack learning how to spell his name thanks to his personalized I See Me book.

 

I normally would not purchase a single book for $34.99, but this is truly worth every penny.  This a great gift for a newborn baby or a baby shower.  It is an excellent gift for a birthday party.  A wonderful idea for grandparents and extended family members to purchase and have it shipped straight to your door.  We love it and would like to get Benjamin his own book too.

I See Me #ad

Jack still reads this book every day and loves it more and more each day.  And to top it off….I See Me is offering one reader their own personalized book to win (squee)! I  am SO excited for one of you to win and see for yourself how incredible this is!

Kristen: Kristen is a wife, mom, blogger and Brand Ambassador. She has four children; 2 boys and 2 girls. Kristen enjoys her role as a stay-at-home mother. Her oldest children are home-schooled. Her interests include gardening, coffee, reading, cooking and finding new ways to be eco-friendly. You may contact Kristen at mudpiesandtiaras at gmail dot com. Click here to meet Kristen

Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample of the product for review purposes. The opinions are my own, based on my personal experience with the product.

 

One of the biggest responsibilities of having a baby is giving him or her a great name.  I remember thinking about future baby names when I was a little girl.  My list changed MANY times over the years.  When I became pregnant with our first, I poured over baby name books searching for just the right one.  The same has been true with all 6 of our children.  All of their names have special meaning and significance.  A wonderful new children’s book addresses this important task.  In “My Name is Leona”, by Carol Gahara Harris, the main character doesn’t like her name.

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Little Leona just can’t understand why her parents picked the name they did and she decides she should change it.  She “tries on” may other names but just can’t seem to find the right one.  She reflects back on how hard it was to pick names for her fish, stuffed animals and cat and soon sees what a huge task it is. (My boys got a kick out of the name she finally decided on for the cat!)  Finally she confronts her parents about her name.  Once she hears why they chose the name Leona, she realizes that it’s just right for her.

I really enjoyed this book!  Little Miss’s name is not a common name and I can picture her asking my husband and I about it when she’s older just as Leona did.  I hope that when we tell her the meaning behind it, she will love it as much as Leona comes to love her’s.  I have to admit I teared up when Leona’s parents explained her name to her.  It brought back memories of those first few minutes with my kids.  I loved the illustrations in the book (done by Kim Fujiwara).  They’re very kid friendly and cute and the boys enjoyed looking at them.  I also liked the fact that the text was not too long and the rhyming drew the kids in.  I loved the fact that the author used names from her family in the book.  Leona was her grandmother’s name.

fishbowl2

“My Name is Leona” won the Mom’s Choice Award Gold Rating for 2013 and has several charity ties.  These include a book reading to hospitalized children at Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, Texas, book signing with portion of proceeds benefitting Nino Salvaggio ‘s Charitable Foundation for Children in Need, in the author’s hometown of Clinton Township, Michigan, and a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital held at local restaurant J. Baldwin’s Restaurant, also in Clinton Township.

This sweet book is perfect for snuggling up on the couch with your little one and enjoying together.  It’s a great way to tell your child how they got their special name!  “My Name is Leona” is currently available on Amazon for $14.47.

So, how did you come up with your child’s name?

disclosure for review

 

Belinda is a wife, mom, blogger, and Brand Ambassador. She has six children including 5 boys and 1 girl. Belinda enjoys reading, photography, crafts and DIY projects, and watching her boys play soccer. You may contact Belinda at mudpiesand tiaras at gmail dot com. Click here to meet Belinda