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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Come Explore Creative Steps Summer 2012 With Homemade Raspberry Ice Cream and Magic Drawings

I've said it before, Creative Steps is one of the best children's activity and learning magazines that I've ever seen... and I've got a special peek into the Summer 2012 issue that I get to share with you! Check out these two great activities you can do at home:  Homemade Raspberry Ice Cream (no ice cream maker required) and Magic Drawings, read on to see how to make them, then check out Creative Steps for more great projects.

Raspberry Ice Cream: (Creative Steps, Summer 2012, page 13) (note - US equivalent measurements are in (parenthesis)
What you need:
225g (8 oz)  Fresh Raspberries
50g (just under 1/2 cup powder sugar) icing sugar
150ml (2/3 cup) Greek yoghurt
300ml (1 1/4 cups heavy cream or whipping cream) double cream
Freezer-proof containers

1. Wash the raspberries and dry them on some paper towel.  Mash them in a bowl.

2. Sieve the icing sugar into the bowl of raspberries and mix it in.

3. Add the Greek yoghurt to the mixture and stir everything together well.

4. In another bowl whisk the cream until it is thick with stiff peaks.  Stir in the raspberry mixture.

5. Spoon the mixture into one or two containers, level it off, put on the lids and put them in the freezer.  Get the ice cream out about 10-15 minutes before you want to serve it.  Using a scoop dipped into hot water will help!

Magic Drawing: (Creative Steps, Summer 2012, page 16)
Store Cupboard:
Sheets of dark or brightly colored tissue paper
Selection of paint brushes
Cotton buds
Bleach & bowl

1. As this activity uses bleach, there MUST be adult supervision at all times and we suggest the children taking part should be at least aged 5+.

2. Put one tablespoon of bleach in a bowl and put the bleach bottle away.  Let each child choose a sheet of tissue paper.

3. The children should choose what they would like to 'paint' with and then dip it into the bleach.  They should gently paint as they would normally and after a few seconds, the area painted turns the paper a paler colour.  This will get more enhanced after being left to dry for a few minutes.  Mount on white paper for a greater effect.

In this issue of Creative Steps, there are 100 different activities for kids (broken down into age ranges from 0-5 Years, 5-7 Years and 7-11 Years)  and 50 Top Tips for Summer Fun.

Creative Steps Magazine: Helping Kids Learn Through Creative Play  

Quarterly Publication  ~ Digital and Print Editions Available
Find Creative Steps online: FacebookTwitterWebpage

 Special Reader Discount: Get 25% off both the Digital and Online magazine editions:
For Annual Subscription to the Online Version:
After the discount, the cost would be £9.00 (GBP) or $13.50 (USD)
Use the discount code KARDIG25 and use this email - info@creativesteps.co.uk

For Annual Subscription of the Printed Version:
After the discount, the cost would be £22.35 (GBP, UK Only) or $63.75 (USD, Worldwide) (including postage)
Use the discount code KARMA25 and this link https://creativesteps.subscribeonline.co.uk/all-titles/creative-steps?offer=KARMA25

Disclosure: I had a chance to take a peek at the digital online version of the Summer 2012 edition of Creative Steps Magazine, and was given permission to share the above recipe and project with you!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Movie Review: People Like Us Starring Chris Pine #PeopleLikeUs

People Like Us (in theaters June 29th) explores the amazing journey (based on true events) of hot shot salesman Sam, who, in the span of one day finds his job in jeopardy and finds out that his Dad, whom he has only seen a handful of times over the past years, has died.

He travels to his childhood home with his girlfriend and receives a cool welcome from his Mother, played by Michelle Pfeiffer.  The next day he is contacted by his father's lawyer, whom he meets with.  After this meeting, he finds out that his father wants him to give $150,000 to someone he has never heard of (meet Frankie, who turns out to be his half-sister he had no idea existed), which is really what starts his journey of discovery and growth.

As Sam's personal life seems to be unraveling, he is also developing into a better person.  I loved this aspect of the movie.  While he is at it, Frankie (played by Elizabeth Banks, who was amazing as well) is surviving with her own problems, including her 11 year old son, Josh, who is both smart and getting into trouble in school.  (I dare you NOT to find Josh endearing)

One of my favorite scenes of the movie is when Sam shares the Six Rules that his father taught him with Josh (sorry I can't recall all of them, but here is what I do remember in no particular order):

 - Always Lean In (Speaking of committing to something all the way)
 - Some doors will be open, but a lot will be closed, so make sure you have a good knock
 - Don't shi* where you eat (metaphorically speaking)
 - Everything you think is important isn't, and everything you think isn't important, is

The rules certainly give us something to think about.  :)

The acting was wonderful, as was the heartwarming and very touching story.  The last scene of the movie was very sweet and I know there was more than one teary eye in the theater.  I saw the movie with a few friends, and we all agreed that the movie was wonderful, but that is was a lot heavier (dramatic) than expected.  Still love it and recommend it, but go knowing that not all is light and comedic in this story.

My one and only real complaint with the movie is that Sam's legal problems pertaining to his job were not resolved, so that aspect felt a little unfinished to me.

Synopsis from DreamWorks:
From DreamWorks Pictures comes “People Like Us,” a drama/comedy about family, inspired by true events, starring Chris Pine (“Star Trek”) as Sam, a twenty-something, fast-talking salesman, whose latest deal collapses on the day he learns that his father has suddenly died. Against his wishes, Sam is called home, where he must put his father's estate in order and reconnect with his estranged family. In the course of fulfilling his father's last wishes, Sam uncovers a startling secret that turns his entire world upside down: He has a 30-year-old sister Frankie whom he never knew about (Elizabeth Banks). As their relationship develops, Sam is forced to rethink everything he thought he knew about his family—and re-examine his own life choices in the process.

 The film also stars Olivia Wilde, Michael Hall D’Addario, Philip Baker Hall, Mark Duplass and Michelle Pfeiffer.

 A DreamWorks Pictures presentation, “People Like Us” is directed by Alex Kurtzman, produced by Roberto Orci, Bobby Cohen and Clayton Townsend, and written by Alex Kurtzman & Roberto Orci & Jody Lambert. The film releases in U.S. theaters on June 29, 2012.

Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Michael Hall D’Addario, Philip Baker Hall, Mark Duplass and Michelle Pfeiffer

Clip From The Movie:

*Disclosure: I was invited to see a sneak peek of the movie People Like Us.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Flood®: Wood Care Specialists for All Your Wood Care Needs

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

flood.comOur family is starting to spend more and more time outside, and I've recently come to the conclusion that there are some wooden things in and around our yard that need a little TLC... We have one of those wonderful wooden play structures with a climbing wall, slide and swingset that was new a few years ago, and I can't wait to make it look new again.  We also have a beautiful new garden pergola and wooden-rimmed garden that also need to be protected from the outdoor elements.

I'll need to clean and re-stain the wooden playset, and stain the garden items.  This is where Flood® Wood Care will come in handy.  They have some wonderful products designed to protect and maintain your wooden decks, fences, siding, outdoor furniture and playsets including wood finish removers, wood cleaners, and stains.

A huge bonus of using their website is the ability to use their project planning tool, which will guide you through the steps needed to determine what you need for the project you are undertaking.  I tested the project planner for our playset and was amazed at the tips and options available from Flood®.  Part of the online planning tool also shows you the nearest stores that cary Flood® products, here in our area, the two largest stores are Home Depot and Walmart.

Flood® is a brand that was created by a family of painters in 1841, and they have worked hard whithin the wood specialty to provide us with quality products and personalized care so that we don't have to be the experts and can accomplish the things we want, just like pros, which is why they have become known as "The Wood Care Specialit."

Now is the perfect time to check out their Take it Easy Sweepstakes.  

If you win the sweepstakes, Flood® will provide the labor and supplies to prep and stain your deck and give you $2,000 so you can host a deck party on your newly re-stained deck!

What are you waiting for - hurry over and enter the Take it Easy Sweepstakes.  *You must be 18 to enter, and entry is easy, only taking a minute or two.

Flood® is a brand that was created by a family of painters in 1841, and they have worked hard whithin the wood specialty to provide us with quality products and personalized care so that we don't have to be the experts and can accomplish the things we want, just like pros, which is why they have become known as "The Wood Care Specialit."

Now is the perfect time to check out their Take it Easy Sweepstakes.  

If you win the sweepstakes, Flood® will provide the labor and supplies to prep and stain your deck and give you $2,000 so you can host a deck party on your newly re-stained deck!

What are you waiting for - hurry over and enter the Take it Easy Sweepstakes.  *You must be 18 to enter, and entry is easy, only taking a minute or two.

Visit Sponsor's Site

Friday, June 22, 2012

Movie Review: Disney/Pixar's BRAVE (3D)

Last night, our family got to go see a sneak peek of the Disney/Pixar movie BRAVE in 3D in Seattle.

This was the first movie that our youngest (almost 2 1/2) has seen from start to finish IN the theater, and he did GREAT, even through the darker, more scary scenes.  In fact both boys really enjoyed it, and my husband and I shared many smirks and laughs together throughout the film.

The details and quality of the film were amazing!  There were many scenes where I found myself wanting to reach out and touch something on the screen because it looked so real and textured.

The story was fun, even if a little predicable.  I will caution parents that there are a few really scary scenes with the bears that may scare younger children... and if you've ever wondered what those highlanders have under their kilts... well, you'll find out with a lot of laughter!

Loved the characters, the humor, and the family aspect of the movie.

Set in the rugged and mysterious Highlands of Scotland, Disney•Pixar’s “Brave” follows the heroic journey of Merida (voice of Kelly Macdonald), a skilled archer and headstrong daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to change her fate, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the unruly and uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) andcantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane), unleashing chaos in the kingdom. When she turns to an eccentric Witch (voice of Julie Walters), she is granted an ill-fated wish and the ensuing peril forces Merida to harness all of her resources—including her mischievous triplet brothers—to undo a beastly curse and discover the meaning of true bravery. Directed by Mark Andrews and Brenda Chapman, and produced by Katherine Sarafian, “Brave” is a grand adventure full of heart, memorable characters and signature Pixar humor. Opens on June 22, 2012, in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters.

BRAVE Film Clip:  Whisps

BRAVE Film Clip: Potion Making

Dot.Mine Giveaway: 20 Winners Will Each Win Their Choice of Planner (US, Rafflecopter, 7/6)

Karma Media has teamed up with Dot.Mine Planners to give 20 readers a planner each.  Winners will be given a choice as to which planner they would like from Dot.Mine, day planners that help you find your scheduling bliss!

(Here's my Planner, view my review here)

Giveaway is open to US residents only and will end July 6, 2012 at 11:59 PM EST

Enter the Rafflecopter below and GOOD LUCK!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Seattle Movie Sneak Peek: Get FREE Tickets To See People Like Us June 26th

If you are in the Seattle area (or will be visiting) on June 26th, and would like to attend a sneak peak for the upcoming movie People Like Us starring Chris Pine, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Jon Favreau and Michelle Pfeiffer click below and print off a ticket that will allow you and a guest to see the movie for free!!

From DreamWorks Pictures comes “People Like Us,” a drama/comedy about family, inspired by true events, starring Chris Pine (“Star Trek”) as Sam, a twenty-something, fast-talking salesman, whose latest deal collapses on the day he learns that his father has suddenly died. Against his wishes, Sam is called home, where he must put his father's estate in order and reconnect with his estranged family. In the course of fulfilling his father's last wishes, Sam uncovers a startling secret that turns his entire world upside down: He has a 30-year-old sister Frankie whom he never knew about (Elizabeth Banks). As their relationship develops, Sam is forced to rethink everything he thought he knew about his family—and re-examine his own life choices in the process.
Where:  Seattle
Date: June 26th
Time:  7:00 PM

To Get Your FREE Ticket:  Log into SeeItFirst.net and use code 884944

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Take Control of Your Time With The Dot.Mine Family Day Planner / Schedule Resource

Sometimes I feel like I am functioning and making deadlines by the skin-of-my-teeth.  I have a really hard time saying "no" to anyone, and thus tend to find myself being the over-committed wife, mother of two young boys, daughter, friend, play-date organizer, volunteer, housewife, blogger... I think you get the picture.  LOL  With all these wonderful roles to fill, I've had a few moments of panic over the past months, when I'm sure that I'm forgetting something really important, or I feel that life has spun out-of-control and I can't manage to keep up with the mundane parts of daily life.  (Here I must disclose that I love my busy life and wouldn't trade it for anything)

Then I got the opportunity to check out the Dot.Mine Family Time.Mine Planner, which is going to be a huge life-saver for me.  This little gem is going to whip me into shape when it comes to time management and will help me ensure that both myself and my family won't miss anything important.

One of the first things in the planner is a fold-out Fall 2012 Schedule.  It has a place to pencil in recurring weekly tasks (believe it or not, my son's kindergarten starts and ends at different times depending on the day of the week...), as well as a chart with times going down the left side and the days of the week going across the top - this allows me to plan out routine tasks in a way that makes them more do-able and helps me make sure I'm not going to miss anything.  Believe it or not, this is a HUGE help.  There is a Winter, Spring and Summer Schedule as well.  (I'm going to use pencil so I can easily update the master schedule)

There is also a wonderfully large double-page calender for each month.

Keep in mind that these pages are about the size of a regular 8 1/2 x 11 sheet of paper, so it is a really nice size to write individual tasks for each family member.

Each month is then followed by a page for each week where you can be even more detailed.  There is also a section to put sticky notes and where you can add notes or make lists.

Following the calender pages is a section for family information:
   - phone numbers and names of important contacts
   - name/phone/cell/email for contacts
   - work contacts
   - kids friends information
   - babysitter information

Last but not least is a page showing a small calender for 2012, 2013, and 2014 and a full page of fun stickers to add to your calender pages.

Family_Time.Mine: August 2012 - December 2013  
 by Dot.Mine
Find Dot.Mine on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest 
Edition Reviewed: The NWGWP Family_Time.Mine - Review copy received in exchange for my honest review in coordination with this Karma Media campaign.

Check out what these other Karma Media bloggers have to say about Dot.Mine:

Stay tuned and you might win one yourself!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island DVD Giveaway (US/Can, Rafflecopter) #Journey2

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island is out now and I can't wait to see it!!  Starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Sean Anderson (Recognize him from The Hunger Games??), Vanessa Hudgens and the ever-wonderful Michael Caine, Journey 2 is sure to be full of adventure and fun.  Keep reading to find out how you can win a copy of the DVD for yourself.

From Warner Bros:
Sean Anderson (Josh Hutcherson, The Hunger Games) finds a hidden signal that he believes will lead him to his long lost grandfather (Michael Caine, Miss Congeniality). With the help of his new step father (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, The Scorpion King), Sean finds a map and starts his adventure which leads him to Kailani (Vanessa Hudgens, High School Musical) and the island of Atlantis! Sean and his friends battle giant bees, killer lizards, a volcano of gold, and electric eels to escape the lost city and make their way home!
Check out this great Journey 2 App that the wonderful people at Warner Bros. created just for our entertainment! It is fun and quick...

Activities: Choose Your Own Adventure! Spin the wheel to get your own personalized adventure! Will you brave the wilds of Family Movie Night or map your house and have your own treasure hunt!

Quiz: Would You Survive The Mysterious Island!? Are you a Wilderness Warrior or a Timid Trekker? Take the Mysterious Island quiz and find out how you would fare in the outback of Atlantis!  (I can't wait to hear how you do... I'm a Trail Blazer!)

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island  
 by Warner Bros.   


Giveaway Details:  One lucky person is going to win a copy of Journey 2: The Mysterious Island on DVD.  Entry is easy, use the Rafflecopter form below.  If you have any problems, press F5 to reload the page and if it still doesn't work, feel free to leave a comment!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclosure: This giveaway is being sponsored by Warner Bros.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Father's Day From Disney's Brave

Father's Day is the day we pay tribute to all the great Dad's out there, those with us, and those who are with us in our memories.


 Happy Father's Day!

 PS - Disney - Pixar's movie BRAVE is out June 22nd!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Looney Tunes Click N Learn Phonics Program: A Great Foundation For Parents and Children (Review and Giveaway: 14 winners)

One of the things I thanked my own Mother for recently was getting me into a school that taught Phonics. I started learning Phonics in Kindergarten, and feel very strongly that it gave me an edge with both spelling and reading (I STILL use the skills I learned with Phonics today!).  My husband jokes with me that whenever he is stumped on a word and doesn't want to look it up, he just asks me, and just between us, I use those very Phonics skills I learned so long ago to spell those words for him. ;)

That is one of the reasons why I was so excited to introduce my boys to the Looney Tunes Click N Learn Phonics program.  It is available online, so anywhere we go, I'll be able to work on the Phonics Lessons with our son as long as we have access to a computer and the internet.  And the best part???  They LOVE the program and consider it a cartoon game.  So I am providing my boys with the very same spelling and reading tools that helped me so  much.

It took only a minute or so to set up my son's account, and he got to choose Bugs Bunny as his Avatar (which is one of his favorite Looney Tunes characters).  He immediately wanted to check out what the characters were up to, and he loves that they are helping him learn.


There are 100 lessons, each made up of 4 parts with Looney Tunes short cartoons mixed in.
     1. The Letter Zone: Kids learn letter sounds and shapes, and learn to find them on the keyboard.  They will learn 61 different Phonics sounds
     2. Listening Zone: Kids learn about Phonics Word Blending.  They learn to listen to the beginning, middle and end of the word.  The robot guide will cover 188 different words, sounding out the different parts, and children will work with 357 individual words.
     3. Reading Zone: Kids will learn to read and spell sight words (those that are highly used in daily communication), word families, word endings, Silent-E rule, making sentences, and more.
     4. Speed Zone: Kids use this section to recap and test what they have learned in the lesson (identify letters, sounds, words)

I wanted my 5 year old son to enjoy using this program and he DOES, which is great, but the unexpected benefit of this program and his enjoyment is that our 2 year old is also trying to engage in it along with his older brother, and I'm amazed at how quickly he is catching on to what is happening in the program.

This phonics program is highly customizable, and you get progress reports where you can see exactly how your child is doing.

As a parent, I can't emphasize enough how much I approve of Phonics being given as a tool to our children.  It enables them and increases their chances of success in school and beyond - I can personally attest to that.

Looney Tunes Click N Learn Phonics  
 by Click N Kids, Inc
Facebook / Twitter 
Program has varying rates starting at $9.95

Edition Reviewed: Online Phonics program - I received access to the Looney Tunes Phonics program as part of the Karma Media campaign so I could share the information with you in the form of my honest review!

See what other Karma Media bloggers are saying about the Looney Tunes Phonics program:

Giveaway Details:  
14 winners will each receive a LIFETIME License to the Looney Tunes Click N Learn Phonics website.  Enter below:   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, June 4, 2012

Summer Fit Learning Program: Makes it Fun and Easy to Prep Kids For The Coming School Year

Summer Fit Learning has created a great line of workbooks that you can use throughout summer with your child or children in order to prepare them for the coming school year and keep them physically and mentally active even when they aren't in school.  Each book emphasizes physical activity, reading, writing and math skills that are appropriate for each age (Pre-K through 5th Grade).

 I was really excited to join in the MediaGuests blog tour for the Summer Fit program, and Logan and I chose to try out the K-1 workbook even though he is going into Kindergarten.  He has a great grasp of his ABC's, basic writing, and his numbers, so I wanted the chance to give him a few challenges.

The workbook has a whole section just for parents, providing tips on using the workbook, the importance of fitness and safety, healthy eating and good nutrition, core values and the actual Summer Fit Exercise Program (which includes aerobic, strength and sport exercises). I loved the detailed description of each exercise and activity.

The workbook also provides an area for each section where you can write what the incentive for completing the weekly program (there are 10 weekly programs).  Kids get to check off the activities as they do them, and write their values for the day/week.  Then there are the actual work-pages, which include tracing and coloring, working with numbers (tracing, counting), working with upper-case and lower-case letters, working with patterns, drawing, shapes, feelings, and other fun activities.

The end of the book includes a section for parents with the answers, and a certificate of completion.

We have only done the first few days of workbook pages, and the incentive for completing week 1 is a fun outing.  So far, his favorite parts of the workbook are the coloring and matching activities.  There is a great variety of activities which keeps the learning fun and entertaining.

Check out this fun You Tube video on the Summer Fit Learning program:

 Summer Fit: K-1 Kindergarten to First Grade 
 by Summer Fit Learning
Available for Pre-K through Grade 5  ~ $12.95

Edition Reviewed: K-1 Workbook - Review copy received through the MediaGuests blog tour for my honest review

Check out Summer Fit Learning on Facebook - they post great information all the time!

They also have a great sample book online with samples from each workbook

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Rock N Learn's Multiplication RAP DVD (Review and Giveaway w/ 7 winners)

If you interact with kids in any capacity, you will want to take note of Rock N Learn's fun music learning videos and cds. Our family was sent the Rock N Learn Multiplication Rap DVD to check out and it is great.  The characters are fun, they emphasize the importance of learning and having fun in school, and the songs and raps are catchy - things that a lot of kids love.  They will dance and sing along with the characters on the screen.

The kids love this DVD, which is great as a parent, because I know they are having fun AND learning.  I can feel great about letting them watch this DVD, and they don't even know that it is "good-for-them."  I can't wait to check out other Rock N Learn DVDs.

Not only is Rock N Learn Multiplication RAP available on DVD, it can also be purchased as an Audio CD and Book, and now an iBook.  The Multiplication RAP iBook is the first iBook release by Rock N Learn, and it is available on iTunes for $9.99 (you can purchase individual songs as well).

Another great thing about these is that they get kids interacting and learning on so many levels by encouraging reading (words are shown on the screen), hearing, and speaking (talk along with the characters).

Check out this sample clip from the Rock N Learn Multiplication RAP dvd (found on the Rock N Learn You Tube channel):

Rock N Learn has a great line of educational materials including DVDs, Audio CDs, workbooks and now the addition of iBooks.  They have over 50 products covering early childhood learning (preschool, kindergarden, grade school), languages, language arts, math, science and social studies.  They even have one for dealing with money and change (which my kids need!).

Use coupon code JQ7711 and get 25% off your entire purchase of DVDs and CDs at www.RockNLearn.com (US only).

Multiplication RAP  DVD
 by Rock N Learn

DVD ~ $19.99
Audio CD and Workbook ~ $12.99
Replacement Book ` $3.00
iBook ~

Edition Reviewed: DVD - Review copy received through Karma Media in order to share my honest review with you.

Stay in touch with Rock N Learn: Sign up for their E-Newsletter, Follow them on Twitter, and Like them on Facebook.  They have also created a website www.worksheets-for-math.com to provide parents and teachers free downloadable study materials.

Giveaway Details:  7 Winners will be chosen, and they will get their choice of the Rock N Learn Multiplication RAP on DVD or App.  (Open to residents of the US)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check out what other Karma Media bloggers had to say about the Rock N Learn Multiplication RAP DVD:

Friday, June 1, 2012

Camping With Kids: What Are Your Must-Have's?

Our family has started camping in the backyard as a way to get ready for "REAL" camping.  After having NOT done any camping for about well, ... 20 years or so... I find that I'm forgetting a LOT.

The first weekend of backyard camping with my husband and two young boys (ages 2 and 5) found that we needed a bigger tent.  I love my 3 person, 4 season backpacking tent, but we were sardines... so we went to Sears and got the Coleman Oasis 6 person tent.  It is a VERY basic tent, but we love it.  It provides extra space and  is a cheap way to get into camping ($90 instead of the $204 tent we originally chose).

So, we have our tent, air mattresses (and pumps), coolers, storage tent, and a few other hiking type supplies.  What items do you consider to be must-haves when you go camping?

Review and Giveaway Eco-Orbies: The Eco-Friendly Water Bead With SO MANY Uses (10 Winners, US though June 8th)

From the first moment I saw water beads at the fair I was entranced. Here were these really neat little tiny "seeds" that were smaller than a seed bead or sesame seed, and when put into water, they grew to the size of marbles! They felt neat and looked really GREAT in a vase with flowers or with an ornamental bamboo shoot growing in them.  I could just never bring myself to buy them as they were so expensive.

Now I've found a company called Eco-Orbies who creates the same water marble in great colors at a fraction of the cost, and they are eco-friendly and made here in the US.  They come in nine different colors: Pink, Coral, Blue, Green, Clear, Purple, Orange, Yellow and Black.  You can buy them in a 5 gram package (multiple packages can be used together to create great patterns), and when added to water, they make about 2 cups of water beads.

I received two colors to try out for a Eco-Orbies campaign with Karma Media: Blue and Magenta.  The boys and I were so excited, we forgot to take a "before" picture to show how small they are, but here is the finished Eco-Orbie:

Now, I LOVE these colors together, and they have been out on my table for a little over one week.  In that time, they have been played with, sorted, have nourished cut flowers, and a few have floated in the fish tank. ;)

Visitors have enjoyed looking and playing with these little gems.  Who said sensory objects were only for toddlers?  I think we've had more adults play with these (and found them relaxing) than the kids.  

Possibly the neatest thing I've discovered with these Eco-Orbies is that you can use a few sprays of your favorite perfume or essential oil to have a gentle and pleasing smell instead of a candle.  Each time the water beads shrink, I can add them to water and re-hydrate them and add a new scent.  I love this feature!

Hydrating the water beads (also called water pearls) is EASY and fun to watch.  For each package, put two cups of water in a bowl (I used a large glass measuring cup so the kids could watch as the tiny beads grew), add the beads and let them sit.  It should take about six hours to fully grow. 

When you are done, DON'T throw them out!  Let them dry on a cookie sheet and store them for later use. They take up almost no space at all and can be used over and over!

Other great uses for these Eco-Orbies: they are safe for beta and gold fish tanks, they can be used with dirt to grow wheat germ and herbs, they can be added to the garden to provide extra nourishing water to the roots, they can be used in vases for flowers instead of marbles, they can be used for event centerpieces, in classrooms for projects or sensory time, use as gifts, use in a pot or glass to add color to a desk or bookshelf, for growing/germinating seeds, and even for growing plants without dirt.  For more great uses, see the Eco-Orbies website

Eco-Orbies (Various Colors Available) Water Beads  
 by Eco-Orbies

 5 gram package (makes about 1 qt of water beads)  ~ $4.00
Find Eco-Orbies on Facebook

Edition Reviewed: Blue and Magenta Eco-Orbies - I received this product through Karma Media in exchange for my honest review.

Karma Media

Check out what other bloggers have to say about Eco-Orbies:

Want to win some great Eco-Orbies yourself? 10 lucky winners will each win a package of Eco-Orbies!  Open to residents of the United States, through June 8th.
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