Four Little Monsters Blog
The adventures of a Mom and her monsters.
Four Little Monsters is your source for family friendly event, product  and travel reviews in Mid-Atlantic USA. We find fun wherever we go, even right here at home.
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Luray Caverns of Virginia Getaway Guide

by EJ on 04/30/15

It's time to start planning those summer family getaways. If you're in search of a trip that combines earth-friendly experiences, learning and fun, then Luray, Virginia is the destination for you. Luray, Virginia is home to Luray Caverns, a world renowned U.S. national landmark and one of the largest cavern systems in the country. Walking through the Luray Caverns' tunnels is an amazing experience for kids and families, introducing them to a whole new world underground. Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, historic Luray is also minutes away from Shenandoah National Park, treetop adventures and ropes' courses, history and museums, camping, hiking and the breathtaking views of Skyline Drive. 

Families will find excellent camping opportunities in Luray, Virginia.

Our preferred base camp in Luray is Yogi Bear's Jellystone Park, which offers tent and RV camping as well as furnished cabins and endless activities for kids. We avoid the hotels and definitely the motels - camping or cabin rentals are the way to go if you want your family happy and comfortable. Whether you prefer tent camping or fully furnished cabins (or something in between), the mountain views and the campfires alone will bring so much joy to your trip. Stay a few days or more.

Takes kids on an underground adventure with a tour of Luray Caverns.

Luray Caverns is accessed only by tour and tour groups depart every twenty minutes. If you get there early, you'll avoid the potentially long lines. Tours include historical information, the geology of the caves (... what's the difference between a stalactite and a stalagmite?) and beautiful underground views. There are no super tight spots so if you're the claustrophobic kind, you should have no problem.

The walkway through the caves are paved but due to the continuing process of cave formation, seeping water sometimes creates slippery spots. Rails are available to keep you upright and safe. Strollers are permitted BUT there are a lot of steps at the entrance and exit so small strollers are recommended. The entire tour is 1.25 miles long with repeated stops to discover natural formations, take pictures and descriptions by the tour guide. The cave is open year-round.

FUN TRIP IDEA: When we visited Luray Caverns, we'd just finished up a Lord of the Rings movie marathon. We themed sections of our trip around different Middle Earth environments, from The Shire (our campground) to the Dwarf Caves (Luray Caverns) and the forests and mountains were the perfect backdrop for this themed trip.

Fascinating Luray Caverns Facts:

1.  Luray Caverns formed when rainwater picked up diluted carbonic acid as it sunk through decaying vegetation in soil. The hollow spaces
formed as the acidic water traveled through the limestone, dissolving layers of rock. As the water filled the empty spaces, the hollow areas grew bigger and continued downward creating the huge chambers seen today. The process continues and Luray Caverns grows one cubic inch per 120 years.

2. The National Park Service and the Department of the Interior named Luray Caverns a Register National Landmark.

3. The largest body of water inside the cave, known as Dream Lake, has only a maximum depth of 18 to 20 inches. The lake's perfect surface creates a mirror image of the ceiling, tricking the eyes. 

4. All formations in Luray Caverns are made of calcite. Pure calcite is white. 

5. When a stalactite and a stalagmite come together, they form a column. The tallest column in Luray Caverns is 47 feet tall.

6. Luray Caverns is home to the Stalacpipe Organ, the largest musical instrument in the world.

7. A cave kiss gives you good luck for one year! (... so I'm told. And we got lots and lots of kisses).

Admission to Luray Caverns includes admission to the Car & Carriage Caravan Museum and the Luray Valley Museum. The Garden Maze and Rope Adventure Park are additional fees.

Luray Caverns General Admission Rates

Seniors (62 & up): $22
Adults: $24
Children (6-12): $12
Includes guided Luray Caverns Tour and self-guided tours of the Car & Carriage Caravan, Toy Town Junction and Luray Valley Museum.
Children ages 5 & under are free when accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters Blog received admission to Luray Caverns in exchange for promotion and review. All opinions belong to the blogger.

 

Spinosaurus, Lost Giant of the Cretaceous, National Geographic Museum Exhibit Review

by EJ on 03/30/15

After snow storms kept us from visiting the National Geographic Museum in Washington DC two separate times over the winter, we finally made it to the Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous exhibit on a chilly but brilliantly sunny day this March. Our dinosaur-obsessed ten year old and future paleontologist was more than thrilled to explore an exhibit devoted solely to her most favorite creature to have ever lived. Trust me, I've been hearing about this dinosaur for quite a while and I'm bombarded by Spinosaurus facts several times a day. According to my daughter, he's been underrated for some time (especially when compared to everyone's favorite Tyrannosaurus Rex) and his stats are quite more impressive. She was delighted to find that National Geographic appreciated her dinosaur so immensely as well. 

Spinosaurus is a story of discovery, adventure, loss and rediscovery.

The exhibit began with the first discovery of Spinosaurus fossils more than 100 years ago, by German paleontologist Ernst Stromer, whose story was full of discovery and loss. His partial skeleton of Spinosaurus was the first find of its kind. Living within dangerous Nazi Germany, Stromer was an outspoken critic of Hitler's regime. The Munich museum that housed Stromer's life work, research and fossil finds was bombed and destroyed in 1944. All of his work, including his beloved Spinosaurus fossils were completely gone. His loss did not end there and as a lover of science and as a mother, his story had me in tears. 

The adventure continued over a century later, with National Geographic explorer and paleontologist Nizar Ibrahim who was not about to let Spinosaurus disappear forever. On a mission to bring Spinosaurus back to light, he embarked on a journey of rediscovery, with the help of fellow explorers and records kept by Stromer. The results of this incredible trek across Northern Africa are documented throughout the exhibit, with an interactive Moroccan fossil market as well as accompanying sound and video.

The exhibit featured far more than only the history of the Spinosaurus fossils; it presented the entire ecosystem of northern Africa during the Cretaceous period, which consisted of a variety of predators in a tropical landscape. How did so many predators thrive in such a place without herbivores for a food source? Researchers have come to the conclusion that Spinosaurus was an aquatic dinosaur, adapted to life on land and in water, with aquatic creatures as its primary food source. 

Our daughter was definitely in the dinosaur zone throughout the exhibit, barely breathing a word to us as she noted in her journal and took photographs with her own camera. Unlike some other dinosaur exhibits we've been to, this one really drew you in and created a sense of adventure for the visitor. From the moment you step into the exhibit, you're taken on a journey. In fact, the whole thing - from Stromer to Ibrahim - it's all just begging to be made into a major motion picture. My daughter is also a budding filmmaker (all her movies are about dinosaurs, of course), so maybe she'll have to take care of that, too.

In the museum courtyard stands a true-to-life sized Spinosaurus, which thrilled the kids to no end. The musuem asks visitors to hashtag #SpinoDino when posting their photos with the magnificent dinosaur. Here's one of ours!

Don't miss your chance to see Spinosaurus: Lost Giant of the Cretaceous. The exhibit runs through April 12th of 2015.

About the National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC

The National Geographic Museum in Washington, DC brings past and current expeditions, adventures and scientific research to life for visitors of all ages. While tours are offered in the museum, they are not offered for offices and the National Geographic headquarters. To read about the museum, plan your visit and read about current and upcoming exhibitions, visit their website, located HERE.

You can also access information about lectures, live events and speakers for special events HERE.

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters Blog received admission to National Geographic Museum in exchange for promotional and review purposes. All opinions belong to the blogger.

Inspiralize the Spring by Tuttorosso and Ali Maffuci, Great Prizes and Recipes

by EJ on 03/19/15

Tuttorosso has teamed with Ali Maffucci, who blogs at Inspiralized for an "Inspiralize the Spring" promotion that runs from March 25th through April 15th. This promotion, which will run on Facebook, will give fans the chance to win great prizes, perfect for the springtime cooking season. Prizes include 750 Tuttorosso aprons, 15 copies of Ali's cookbook Inspiralized, a signed copy of Inspiralized as well as fun kitchen gadgets packed in a picnic basket. The promotion will also host a Virtual Dinner Party to exchange Spiralizer ideas and recipes. 

The Inspiralizer Tri-Blade vegetable spiral slicer is a fun way to get more fresh veggies and fruits into
your meals. Using firm fruits and vegetables, the spiral slicer can turn apples, onions, carrots, zucchinis, cucumbers, beets, turnips, rutabagas, cucumbers and more into spiral slices or "pasta" strands. 

Head over to Tuttorosso on Facebook for details on chatting with Ali Maffucci and to stay up to date on the Inspiralize the Spring promotion!

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters received Tuttorosso products in exchange for this promotion. All opinions belong to the blogger. 

 

Harlem Globetrotters Coming Back to Philly, #WIN tickets Family 4 Pack, GIVEAWAY

by EJ on 02/26/15

The Harlem Globetrotters visit the greater Philadelphia area from March 5 - 8th, ending at Wells Fargo Center on March 8th. The world-famous Harlem Globetrotters will bring back some of the greatest athletes on the planet to show off their innovative ball handling wizardry, amazing rim-rattling dunks, trick shots and side-splitting comedy when they visit the Greater Philadelphia region for five games, including stops at The Liacouras Center on the campus of Temple University on Friday, March 6 at 7 p.m., Sun National Bank Center in Trenton, NJ, on Saturday, March 7 at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., and at Wells Fargo Center on Sunday, March 8 at 12 p.m. and 5 p.m.

Use our Harlem Globetrotters Ticket Discount Code

Use our exclusive discount code "HGBLOG" to save money on these events. Get your tickets HERE.

Win tickets to see the Harlem Globetrotters at Wells Fargo Center

Four Little Monsters is giving away two sets of 4-pack tickets to the Wells Fargo Center performance on March 8th at 12 pm. Yes, TWO winners will win FOUR tickets! Enter below and good luck! 

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters is hosting this giveaway in partnership with Comcast Spectacor. All opinions belong to the blogger.
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Kids and Theater Sets the Stage for Strong Life Skills, Empathy, Compassion & All Kinds of Good Stuff

by EJ on 02/18/15

Live theater is one of those things that makes me me. So much of who I am and what I believe in, goes back to something I saw on stage. When I attend a live theatrical production, my whole being feels moved, like I've had a spiritual connection to the stage and everything that happens on it. Maybe that's because I dreamed of being onstage myself as a child, but was too shy to push myself to be involved. I was first inspired to love and appreciate live theater when my father took me to see Cathy Rigby starring as Peter Pan when I was six years old. My whole life since, I've been drawn to the art of live theater. Whether it's the musically and visually beautiful Beauty & the Beast or the complicated and amazing puppetry of War Horse, I find something completely real and meaningful in every show.

I've had my children involved in a local live theater group for the last three years for these reasons. I'm not pushing theater as a career goal on any one of them (most of them want to be scientists), but I do think that the act of being on stage and being involved in theater teaches them so much about themselves and life. When kids play make-believe at home, it's so important. Theater is a great place to hone a ton of skills while kids find meaning in playing make-believe.

Theater Rocks For Kids and Here's Why:

1. Theater improves children's ability to listen, communicate and engage in dialogue and understanding with other people. Everyone must do this in life and theater is a great place to nurture this skill from a young age. Lauren Gunderson writes in her article, How Theater for Young People Could Save the World, "...so much of the toxicity in this world comes from a collective draining of empathy. We don't understand each other, and we don't want to. But theater invites us -- no, forces us -- to empathize."

2. Theater allows kids a place to practice public speaking. It teaches courage! I was still mortified about giving a speech in front of a class in high school. My kids are so comfortable on stage that I know with continued participation in theater, that likely won't be an issue for them.

3. Theater encourages literacy and education. In many cases, it teaches history. Kids have to pay attention, read and remember scripts, make quick decisions and movements and learn and practice language skills. Why does a character say this? What does this line mean? Then, when did this character live and what did they go through? Theater encourages the asking and answering of all kinds of questions.

4. Theater encourages practice, which is important if you're to get better at anything in life.

5. Theater brings children together to accomplish a task. Play dates are okay but it sure is amazing when kids come together to create something as a group. Every individual involved brings something to the table.

6. Theater allows a huge amount of self-expression. It's art on stage! Kids learn to create art through language, song, movements, tone and the list goes on.

7. Theater doesn't have to be a career goal for a child to enjoy it and find usefulness in it. A friend once assumed, "You must want your kids to grow up and be actors." Well, no, that's not the point. It's an activity that will serve them their whole life long, just like sports. I push my children to have a sport to participate in and they also need to be involved in theater. I believe it's that important.

8. Kids can participate in live theater as audience members, too. While I never made it onstage as a kid, I did find myself in a lot of audiences and I'm pretty sure that did me a ton of good. I take my kids to as many live performances as I can. I'll never ever forget taking my then six year old to see Cathy Rigby as Peter Pan over twenty years later from when I'd seen her when I was six.

9. Kids can do all kinds of stuff backstage. There's more to live theater than who's on stage. There are sets to be built and changed, as well as lighting and sound to be organized and managed.

Delaware Theater & Acting Programs for Kids

Here in Delaware, families have a great selection of theater centers to choose from. Delaware is a great state for families and kids who want access to theatrical programs and workshops and here are a few of our favorites:

Premier Center for the Arts with locations in Middletown and Milton, Delaware.

Delaware Children's Theater in Wilmington, Delaware.

Rehoboth Children's Theater in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware.

Do you know of a great theater program for kids in the Mid-Atlantic area? Please share info and links in the comments below.


Winter Wonderland Frozen Queen Elsa Themed Birthday Party Ideas

by EJ on 02/17/15


With Disney's Frozen the birthday theme of the season (and every season, it seems), our Elsa-obsessed youngest monster would settle for nothing less than a house turned winter wonderland for her second birthday.

Every Snow Queen must have a royal gown on her birthday.

First on the list: our Snow Queen's royal birthday gown. I found a handmade, flowing tutu dress from Lavish Too. There are a ton of handmade Snow Queen inspired gowns available on Etsy to fit every personality and size. The one we chose featured little fabric snowflakes over blue tulle and soft, white feathers along the bottom hem. The accompanying cape also featured snowflakes in the embroidery and was an instant hit for our little lady.
 

Paper snowflakes can turn any room into a winter kingdom.

With the gown's blue and white colors in mind, I pulled in the same white and blue using paper snowflakes I picked up from the teacher's section of the Dollar Store. One dollar bought me a huge pack of these snowflakes so I stocked up on these and plastered them all over the main level of our home. They were also great  accents when hung from the ceiling. I doubled up the hanging snowflakes so they would appear on both sides when they twirled.

Balloons are a great way to display bursts of color.

I then brought in some purple and pink using Disney's Frozen Latex 12" printed balloons. I placed clusters of balloons, featuring Olaf cut-outs over the base of each cluster.

Free Frozen Printable Banners can be used as photo backdrops.

We found a great site, PoshTartParties.com, with free Frozen banners and other party printables. I put together a "HAPPY BIRTHDAY" and "LET IT GO" banner, one for the main party area and the other for a backdrop where photos would be taken. Our little queen loved getting photographed while sitting on a cozy, white comforter in front of her backdrop of snowflakes and decorations.

Dress up your winter wonderland guests with printable crowns and antlers.

I found several free printable Frozen crowns and games when searching online. The crown and antler headbands were a huge hit as well as a printable Pin the Nose on Olaf game. 

Do you have a great idea or link for a Winter Wonderland Frozen party? Share in the comments!

Philadelphia Flyers and Chaddsford Winery Valentine's Date Pack

by EJ on 02/10/15

Photo Courtesy of Chaddsford Winery
It's the week before Valentine's Day and if you're looking for an awesome experience to share with your Valentine, then check this out. The Philadelphia Flyers have teamed up with Chaddsford Winery to offer the ultimate Valentine's Date Package. Package includes two tickets to a Flyers home game plus a wine tasting at any Chaddsford Winery. Starting at $99, the Valentine's Pack includes one pair of tickets to select Flyers home games in February and March, plus a bottle of Chaddsford's Flyers Wine (red or white), a Flyers chiller bag and wine opener accessories, specialty hockey puck choclates and a free wine tasting at any Chaddsford Winery location. 

Valentine's Date Packs include a pair of hockey tickets, a wine tasting, a bottle of wine and accessories. 

Valentine's Packs can be purchased at PhiladelphiaFlyers.com or by calling 215-218-PUCK. 

The five available game dates for the Valentine Packs are February 17 vs. the Blue Jackets, February 19th vs the Sabres and Flyers Hall of Fame Induction of Eric Desjardins, March 3 vs. the Flames, March 5 vs. the Blues, and March 10 vs. the Stars. All games begin at 7 p.m. 

Wine and accessories are redeemable at any Chaddsford Winery location in Chadds Ford, PA or Peddler's Village in Lahaska, PA now through April 30th, 2015. Reservations are required. Instructions are included on your tickets when mailed. 

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters received a Valentine's Pack in exchange for promotion and review. All opinions belong to the blogger.

Be A Dino's Valentine at Paleopalooza! The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University

by EJ on 01/30/15

Do your kids love dinosaurs? Then head over to The Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University this Valentine's Day weekend for Paleopalooza. This event features dinosaur fossils, paleo-illustration classes, live animal shows and more. Academy scientists will be available to show off fossils collected in central Pennsylvania. Dig for real fossils to take home and interact with a paleo-artist. 

More Paleopalooza activities include:

·         See a real duckbill dinosaur fresh from the field as it is prepared in the Fossil Prep Lab.
·         Dance to hip tunes by the Diggity Dudes band. Noon and 2 p.m.
·         Take a guided tour of Dinosaur Hall.10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m., and 4 p.m.
·         Watch paleo-illustrator Jason Poole bring dinosaurs to life and try drawing your own dinosaur.
·         Make a dinosaur food chain and other paleo-perfect crafts to take home.
·         Enjoy four different live shows: “So you want to be a paleontologist?” at 11 a.m.; “Snakes Alive!” at 1 p.m.; “Old Bones, New Technologies,” with Drexel University Professor Kenneth Lacovara, who discovered Dreadnoughtus, at 2:30 p.m.; and “Birds of a Feather” at 3:30 p.m.

Paleopalooza is free with museum admission and runs from February 14th through 15th. 

Replacing Ground Beef With Ground Turkey using Five Star Home Foods Super Lean Ground Turkey

by EJ on 01/22/15

Now that the holidays have passed, we're all looking for ways to lower the amount of fat in our diet. A great way to do this without sacrificing flavor, is to replace ground beef with ground turkey in some of your recipes. When replacing ground beef with ground turkey, however, you should consider the fat content in both. Look for ground turkey in the 90% lean range. We've been using Five Star Home Foods' super lean, chemical and hormone free, 100% ground breast turkey. Here are two of the ground turkey dishes we've made over the past several months that we absolutely love. 

Ground Turkey Tacos

Ever since we had taco seasoned ground turkey at a friend's house last year, we made the switch and never went back. With proper seasoning, the kids never realized that we weren't using beef anymore and they've gobbled up their dinner on Taco night without fail.

Ingredients:

1 lb. Super Lean Ground Turkey Five Star Home Foods
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. onions, chopped
1 1/2 c. tomato sauce
3/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic, pressed
4 oz. cheddar cheese, grated
Taco shells or flour tortillas
 
Heat the oil in a skillet. Add ground turkey and chopped onion. Saute until meat loses raw color. Add tomato sauce, garlic and the seasonings. Mix well and simmer for 10 minutes or more to allow flavors to blend. Serve in heated taco shells, sprinkled with cheese or wrap in flour tortillas, sprinkle cheese over and warm in the oven or about 5 to 10 minutes. We also use shredded lettuce, fresh chopped tomatoes, low-fat sour cream and guacamole.

Ground Turkey Pasta Sauce

Ingredients:


Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 tbsp
Garlic, 4 cloves  
Green Peppers, 1 cup, chopped
Onions, raw, 1 cup, chopped  
Turkey, Ground turkey, Super Lean Five Star Home Foods, 1 lb.  

Oregano, ground, 3 tbsp  
Basil, 2 tbsp 
Parsley, dried, 1 tbsp  
Hunt's Tomato Sauce, 2 - 3 cup 
Garlic Salt, to taste

Heat onion, peppers and minced garlic in oil in a skillet until onions soften. Add ground turkey and cook until it loses its raw color. Add seasonings and continue to brown. Add tomato sauce and stir. Simmer for 10 minutes and add garlic salt to taste. 

If you're in Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey or Maryland, you can try Five Star Home Home Foods Super Lean Ground Turkey, too! In fact, request your free food sample to get started. With over three hundred food products to choose from, you can have healthy, organic meat and poultry products delivered right to your door, allowing you to skip the grocery store and make the most of your time and cooking!

Disclaimer: Five Star Home Foods provided us with food samples for the purpose of review and promotion. All opinions belong to the blogger.


Give the Gift of Volunteerism This Season, Donate to Local Homeless Shelters & Food Banks

by EJ on 12/12/14

Through Girl Scouts, my daughter and I recently volunteered at a homeless shelter, Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing in Dover, Delaware. Although we've volunteered for other causes over the years, this was our first experience volunteering at a homeless shelter. The girls prepared an enormous variety of foods in the kitchen, set the tables and served the food. We also wrapped additional meals for those men who were working during the meal. The experience made such an impression on us both. Prior to serving dinner, all volunteers and guests joined in a circle of hands and thankful prayer. Anyone who wanted to speak was able to say something, whether it was offer news of a local job opportunity or give a short speech of thanks. While my daughter was serving each guest, I could see her mind working as she looked into the eyes of strangers she didn't know, who had so much less than she. Each person's situation was different and a variety of ages of adult men were served, all of whom were extremely thankful to our group of girls and to the facility.

A huge part of the success of local food pantries, shelters and food banks depends on volunteerism. This is the perfect time of year to get your family started on a path of volunteerism. If you are unfamiliar with how to get started volunteering in a shelter or food bank, here are some helpful tips.

1. Find A Local Homeless Shelter or Food Bank. Search for local homeless shelters and food banks using websites like HomelessShelterDirectory.org or FeedingAmerica.org. Visit the various websites to find contact information.

2. Prepare a meal for a local homeless shelter. Spend an evening at a local homeless shelter preparing and/or serving a meal. Many facilities offer breakfast, lunch or dinner services that depend on volunteerism.

3. Donate clothes, supplies and food to your local homeless shelter.

Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing's mission statement is as follows: We are an interfaith community organization addressing the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of homeless men in the Greater Dover area by providing them with shelter and sustenance, fostering self-reliance, and offering encouragement and a vision of hope for their lives. 

If you're in the Dover area this holiday season, consider volunteering at Dover Interfaith Mission for Housing. Contributions can be a full dinner or part of the evening's meal. The building houses a full-size kitchen where meals can be prepared or you can bring contributions from home. You can also donate clothing, food, bicycles and other items.


CHARM IT! Charm Bracelets Make Perfect Gift for Girls, Giveaway

by EJ on 12/03/14

This Christmas I'm on the hunt for creative, special gifts that my girls will appreciate long after the holiday season is over. Here's a great gift for girls that will put smiles on the faces of girls of all personalities. We featured CHARM IT! on the blog last year and my nine year old has had so much fun building her charm collection ever since. Perfect for gifting all year long, the CHARM IT! collection is the "it" product for girls this holiday season and I cannot wait to give my six year old her very first charm bracelet this Christmas. The greatest part is that you can continue adding charms all year long, for all occasions.

I just love the colorful, creative designs featured in the CHARM IT! collections. Each charm is super detailed and there are many categories to choose from, making it super fun to find the perfect charm for the occasion. Categories include: Animals, Birthday, Disney and Frozen, Fashion, Food, Friends, Family, Hobbies, Letters, Peace on Earth, Princess, Sports and Dance, Sweets and more. Every charm is different; some charms even feature little "secrets" and super special details. For instance, the firefly charm glows in the dark. The treasure chest charm opens and closes on a hinge and includes beautiful little jewels inside. The gumballs inside the gumball machine charm move around and shake. CHARM IT! even has new Frozen charms available now which are so perfect for the season.

Give the gift of self-expression this holiday with custom detachable charm jewelry for girls ages five through fourteen by CHARM IT! A favorite product of celebrity moms like Sarah Jessica Parker and Heidi Klum, CHARM IT! bracelets are fun, modern and super creative, with charm options for many interests and accomplishments. Each charm is colorful, highly detailed and feature little surprises that girls will simply love. Charms are $6 each and bracelets range from $5 to $14 each.

CHARM IT! Available at Gap Kids
"Empowering girls with the gift of self-expression is the heart behind the brand. Our number one mission is to inspire individuality through our collection that celebrates creativity," says Renee Levy, president of High IntenCity. 

Join in on the fun over on Instagram for a chance two win two CHARM IT! Bracelets. Here's what to do: 

1. Follow us on Instagram.com/charmit_
2. Post a pic on Instagram featuring a smile (get creative!)
3. Tag us @charmit_
4. Include #spreadsmiles

Just in time for the holidays, one lucky Four Little Mosnters reader will win the bracelet and charm collection shown. Enter below and good luck! Giveaway is open to US residents of the 48 continguous US states only. Must be 18 years or older to enter.


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All About That Beef! Five Star Home Foods Grocery Delivery #FiveStarHomeFoods

by EJ on 11/28/14

When you visit the grocery store, there are so many unhealthy options to sidetrack you from your dietary health goals. Potato chips, ice cream, pie, oh my! When you have Five Star Home Foods on your side, you choose from over three hundred all-natural meat products, breads, fruit and organic frozen vegetables. The options are so diverse that you won't get bored with your options. Choosing Five Star Home Foods Delivery service is a great way to spend less time at the grocery store and avoid those snack aisles.

Now that we're all nice and sick of poultry post-Thanksgiving, let's see what Five Star Home Foods has to offer in it's beef department. Remember, Five Star focuses on portion control and all excess fat is trimmed for you.

All About That Beef with Five Star Home Foods

Check out these great beef options when you order frozen food delivery from Five Star Home Foods.
  • Beef Fajita Strips
    •  Fajita style slices of tender sirloin, 16 oz. per pkg.
  • Beef Kabobs
    •  Tender Sirloin cubes skewered with fresh peppers, mushrooms and onions, 3 kabobs per (16 oz.)pkg.
  • Beef Stew
    •  16 oz. of tender beef chuck cubes per pkg.
  • Beef Tenderloin Tips - Filet Mignon
    •  16 oz. of gourmet tender filet mignon cubes per pkg.
  • Sirloin Sandwich Steaks
    • 16 oz. of thinly sliced real sirloin steak, two individually wrapped 8 oz. portions per pkg.
  • Sliced Beef Liver
    • Four individually wrapped 4 oz. slices of delicate beef liver per 16 oz. pkg.
  • Gourmet Steak Burgers
    •  Ground steak seasoned with onions and spices, 87%. Four burgers per pkg
  • Ground Beef Patties
    •  Four individually wrapped 4 oz. patties per pkg. 87% lean
  • Ground Beef, Lean
    •  16 oz. of 81% lean ground beef per package.
  • Ground Bison
    •  All natural, premium ground bison. Raised without antibiotics. No added hormones. 1 lb. pkg.
  • Meatloaf, Ready to Bake
    •  16 oz. of 90% lean ground beef seasoned with onion, red pepper, celery and garlic, per pkg.
Five Star Home Foods makes eating smart super easy. Here's how it works:
  1. Contact Five Star Home Foods to request a complimentary Five Star Home Foods sample package consisting of all-natural beef, chicken, pork and organic vegetables.
  2. A Culinary Consultant schedules a visit with you at your home to build your custom meal plan. There are over 300 healthy options, with new food products arriving monthly. 
  3. Your order is scheduled for delivery to your home within two to three weeks on a day and time that works for your schedule.
  4. A Five Star Delivery Specialist arrives at your home and packs and organizes your new or existing freezer with your order. Every time you place an order, your Delivery Specialist will rotate remaining items to the front of your shelves before packing your most recent products.
  5. Tell them that Four Little Monsters Blog referred you! They'll donate $100 to our blog!
Disclaimer: Five Star Home Foods provided Four Little Monsters Blog with their products in exchange for promotion and review. Five Star Home Foods will donate $100 to Four Little Monsters Blog for every new customer referred. All opinions belong to the blogger.

Transform Your Home with Xfinity Home Security, X1 TV Platform and Apps, #XfinityMoms Lunch & Learn

by EJ on 11/19/14

Ever since I attended Xfinity Lunch & Learn last week at the Philly Magazine Design Home with Real Mom Media, I've been bugging my husband to switch our TV over to Comcast Xfinity. He's hesitant to give up the satellite routine that we're all so familiar with in our home, but I'm fed up with the rising cost of DirectTV and getting less and less for all the money we throw into it. The Xfinity X1 television platform is certainly cool. For me, it's not about television. With Xfinity TV, Home, Phone and Internet, you get a ton of services right at your fingertips and Xfinity Home is my absolute favorite feature of their whole package.

Xfinity Home lets you keep eyes on your home no matter where you are.

Xfinity Home offers impressive home security options beginning at $29.95 a month. You can turn your house into a "smart home" using your phone, tablet or computer. The platform combines electronics, appliances and security technology to bring you video monitoring, online control, text and e-mail alerts about what's going on at home. You can download an app using the X1 television platform to get a snapshot of your home on TV. Using your tablet, phone, or work computer, you can access your home's settings from pretty much anywhere. Some of the possible security features include water sensors, glass break sensors, door/window sensors, small appliance control, cellular back-up, wireless keypads, smart thermostats, indoor and outdoor cameras and smart light switches.

Xfinity X1 Television Platform gives your more control, more search options and more shows and movies to choose from. 

Xfinity X1 features new guide views, an advanced remote control and apps that allow you to control your TV from your device. I liked the cloud-based DVR system which allows you to take your DVR shows and movies on the go. Once they're in your cloud, they're with you wherever you go. As the Xfinity reps were describing this, I was imagining a major kid freakout in the grocery store and me handing over the tablet or phone to the crazy youngin', thus calming them immediately.

Xfinity Apps connect you to the content you love. 

Xfinity apps allows you to watch television on any device anywhere you go. You can watch a ton of shows and movies without having to connect to the Internet. You can also connect your tablet or phone to Xfinity TV and use it as a remote control, browse TV listings and more. Use your device to change channels on your television, schedule your DVR remotely, view or change recordings and more. 

You can bundle all this great stuff starting at $119.99 per month with a 2 year agreement. The second year increases to $149.99. This includes 140+ channels, access to millions of wi-fi hotspots nationwide, download speeds of up to 25 Mbps, unlimited nationwide talk and text as well as the Xfinity Home Secure 300. 

The Xfinity Lunch & Learn setting was fabulous, of course. Located in Wyndmoor, Pennsylvania, the $3 million Philadelphia Magazine Design House 2014 sits amid a community of old stone Tudor homes, huge trees and luscious country landscapes. Inside, the Design Home literally went on an on, surprising us at every turn. You could probably fit twenty people in the master shower... and we were all trying to come up with creative scenarios where that would be appropriate. Zombie apocalypse? Who cares. Who wouldn't love all that space? Personally, I would hang out forever in the girl's bedroom. The light and color was amazing and I would totally want to be a kid in that room.

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters Blog received a product from Xfinity Comcast in exchange for promotion and review. All opinions belong to the blogger.

 

Snyder of Berlin New Packaging Pays Tribute to Pennsylvania Landscapes

by EJ on 11/18/14

Snyder of Berlin Potato Chip New Packaging 2015
Some of the best snack foods are made in Pennsylvania and Snyder of Berlin Potato Chips are no exception. With the football season progressing and the holidays coming, you'll want to start planning your appetizers and snack menus for all your gatherings. When thinking of snacks, be sure to grab some bags of Snyder of Berlin Potato Chips and check out the brand-new packaging. Beginning with their 2.75 ounce potato chip bags, the new packaging will extend throughout all their products by 2015. The new packaging pays tribute the landscapes of Berlin, Pennsylvania and each flavor's bag features an informational panel on a different location in Pennsylvania: the Ohiopyle Falls, the Wolf Rocks in Linn Run State Park, the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail, the Somerset Historical Center and the Lower Humbert Covered Bridge.
 

Snyder of Berlin Potato Chip New Packaging 2015
The Snyder family chip business began in a small Pennsylvania town in 1920 in the home kitchen of Edward Snyder II and his wife Eda. As the chips' popularity grew, the business expanded toward Pittsburg. Potato buyers and farmers joined together with the Snyder family and built a self-sustaining chip factory in the fields of the Laurel Highlands. The plant opened in 1947 and the company has grown to include other products such as cheese, snacks, popcorn and more. Snyder of Berlin is available in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and Ohio. Having been to several of these locations, I think the new packaging is a great draw for Pennsylvania residents. I'm imagining that many a Penn State tailgate includes Snyder of Berlin Potato Chips! My kids gobbled up the BAR B Q chips!

Here's a text sample off the back of the Original BAR B Q Flavored Potato Chips by Snyder of Berlin: 

Westward pioneers called them the "Endless Mountains". We call them beautiful, fun and home. 

Wolf Rocks is just one of many sandstone outcrops of 2,500 feet. From many perches along the summit of Laurel Ridge, the skyline of Pittsburgh is visible -  nearly 50 miles away.

Snyder of Berlin Potato Chips New Packaging 2015
More than half of the land along the ridge is public land set aside for conservation. The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail twists along the ridge for 70 miles. The trail is thick with Mountain Laurel, Eastern Hemlock and Rhododendron, plus boulders as big as houses.

"With the introduction of the new packaging, consumers are not merely eating a snack, they can learn about and discover Pennsylvania's sights while bringing Snyder of Berlin snacks along for the adventure," says Jeff Leichleiter, Vice President and General Manager of Snyder of Berlin. 

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters received product samples in exchange for this promotional post. All opinions belong to the blogger. 


Cranberry Apple Butter Pan Cooked Chicken, Cranberry Walnut Balsamic Spinach Salad, #FiveStarHomeFoods

by EJ on 11/17/14

With our freezer just packed by Five Star Home Foods, I've been totally inspired to cook up some great things. Since cranberries are my absolute favorite food in the world and they're the perfect fruit for the season, I decided to use them in my food creations this week. So I stocked up on cranberries and got to cooking. I came up with an amazing sauce, perfect over our Five Star chicken breast and then a cranberry packed salad served alongside a Five Star London Broil.

Cranberry Apple Butter Pan-Cooked Chicken

Ingredients:

4 - Chicken breasts (we used Five Star Home Foods chicken)
1 cup of Apple Butter Spread
1-2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T Olive Oil
1 can of whole cranberry sauce

In a large skillet, add olive oil and garlic of medium-high heat. When garlic is slightly brown, add chicken. Add half the apple butter over top of each chicken breast. Cook for four to five minutes on that side. Flip chicken and add the remaining apple butter and cook for four to five minutes on that side. Lower heat to simmer and add half to all of the cranberry sauce (depending on how much sauce you like - we like A LOT). Cook for about twenty minutes, allowing sauce to bubble and thicken. 

We served our Cranberry Apple Butter Pan Cooked Chicken alongside Local Honey and Brown Sugar Carrots and Seasoned Roasted Potatoes.

Cranberry Walnut Balsamic Spinach Salad

Ingredients:

1 bag Fresh Spinach
1 block Feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 cup dried cranberries 
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp pepper
1 - 2 diced tomatoes
Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Toss spinach, Feta, cranberries, walnuts, pepper and dressing. Top with tomatoes. Chill before serving. 

This is a gorgeous, simple salad that packs a ton of flavor. We served our Cranberry Walnut Balsamic Spinach Salad with a Five Star Home Foods London Broil and Garlic Red Skinned Mashed Potatoes.

While these recipes are my own, you can find more great recipes from the Five Star kitchen on their website and Facebook page.

Disclaimer: Four Little Monsters received Five Star Home Foods products in exchange for promotion and review. All opinions belong to the author. Five Star Home Foods will donate $100 to Four Little Monsters Blog for every new customer referred through the blog.

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Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_popocorn'>popocorn / 123RF Stock Photo</a>
Copyright: <a href='http://www.123rf.com/profile_popocorn'>popocorn / 123RF Stock Photo</a>