Thursday, September 27, 2007

Fashion Forward -- The Little Black Book of Style

Many years ago, when the hubby and I were "Dinkys", we traveled to places like Rome and Paris, Milan and Versailles. The cities were amazing, the food exquisite. But I was completely entranced with the Italian and French women. They take their fashion SERIOUSLY over there. And it never occurred to me before then that maybe my belt should match my shoes. Or that one's purse and coat play as big a part in creating a certain "look" as the rest of the attire.

I came back from those trips smarter and inspired. And it showed in my wardrobe. But then I got pregnant and decided to become a stay-at-home mom. I traded my Ann Taylor suits for Target track pants and Donna Karan blouses for cheap t-shirts.
I've stayed with this super casual uniform for years. But then came the literary kick in the butt from Nina Garcia in the form of "The Little Black Book of Style."

Nina grew up with a fashion-obsessed, sophisticated mother who knew herself and her style well. Nina is also a fashion director for Elle Magazine and is a fashion judge on Project Runway. In short? She knows her stuff.

What I liked:

The book is a quick read. Nina addresses fashion issues in a breezy and humorous way. The overall voice in the book is fun and friendly. Think fashion talk over lunch with your most fabulous girlfriend.

Her overall message? One doesn't have to spend a fortune in order to create a great look. Buy classic, quality clothing that you can use for years. Then splurge on the occasional "love at first sight, I HAVE to buy this because its so amazing" items. Also, use accessories to create drama. And don't forget to buy good quality, pretty, pretty shoes too! ( She even goes into "toe cleavage". This resulted in me buying a super sexy pair of red heels which the hubby LOVES.)

The biggest helpers for me? The chapter on "How to dress when there is a dress code area". (details what sort of attire is expected in various social settings) and how to "edit" your wardrobe.

There are darling illustrations by Ruben Toledo interspersed within the pages as well as inspirational quotes from style icons and designers. But I did find myself wishing she'd give us some examples of what looks fabulous and what doesn't. I dress fairly conservatively and have a difficult time (when it comes to myself) differentiating a "Wow" from "Over the top" look.

Overall, the book is a fun read. And I've got several friends who can't wait for me to finish this review so they too can learn from the formidable Nina.

This review was written on behalf of Parent Bloggers Network. Check out their site for a list of other reviews.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Zula Patrol is on a mission

Upon unveiling The Zula Patrol DVD, Seth's face lit up. He didn't know that The Zula Patrol , is a cartoon broadcasted on PBS that chronicles the adventures of several silly cartoon characters while educating kids along the way. But he didn't have to. To pique his interest, all Seth had to hear was that this was a kids' show about outer space.

At the age of five, Seth is interested in all things science -- especially outer space. He quickly became interested in the energetic characters and storylines. He loved the zany voices too.

A few days after watching the show, Seth had three kids over (at one time! Gah!) The foursome couldn't agree on an activity so I told them they could watch a bit of a movie. They couldn't agree on what movie to watch until Seth suggested The Zula Patrol and started spouting different facts he'd picked up while watching the episodes.

The kids were mesmerized and each one found the stories amusing. Now when any of the three children come over, they ask to watch that dvd.

Overall, I thought the plot lines were simple and moved at a nice clip. I liked how the information was presented in basic terms without sounding too simplistic. But I have to admit, I couldn't help but roll my eyes when it came to the volcano that was scared to erupt for fear of alienating others. But nonetheless my son was fascinated as to what was happening inside the volcano, underneath the earth's surface. And even days later, Seth was still asking alot of questions about the various layers below the earth. The show got him involved and really thinking -- to me that's the most important aspect.

There's also an amazing website chock full of cool stuff for the kiddos to do. So if your local PBS station isn't airing the show, (ours isn't) you can still introduce your child to the Zula group.

This review was written for Parent Bloggers Network.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Get vocal about your point

See that little button on sidebar for Vocalpoint?

Vocalpoint is a new website where you can get FREE samples as well as coupons for various products. You can also go to the site to pick up all sorts of cool tips, share stories and weigh in on a myriad of topics. And did I mention if you sign up you can get FREE samples on all kinds of cool stuff you use everyday? How awesome is THAT!?!

Click on the Vocalpoint button on the sidebar and take a gander… Or sign up here!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

If the shoe fits... With Ryka, it does!

Abbey-dog is my favorite walking/running companion. We’ve logged many a mile together over the years over all sorts of Illinois/Missouri terrain. But I have to admit that I’m not as consistent as Abbeydog would like me to be. There are those times when life gets busy. And then there are those times where you decided to go out for a 5-miler and come home with blisters on your feet — blisters that take about 5 days to heal. And that really cramps poor Abbeydog’s style. (Cause she be workin’ on her fitness, yo!) And its not fun for her two-legged fitness partner either!

So when the Ryka opportunity came up, Abbeydog wasn’t the only one doing happy waggily dances.

What I thought:

The shoes are super cute and super comfy. The design of the shoe (outside) is sporty but girlie. And I loved how snug my feet felt in them. I have a narrow heel and my heels slide around in most tennis/walking/running shoes. But not with these babies! I reveled in the fit. And the arch was just right — no knee or back issues while walking or running. And no blisters either.

But this sort of fit is what Ryka prides itself on. According to their website: “All RYKÄ shoes are made on a woman’s last (the mold or shape of a woman’s foot), and are designed and developed taking into account a women’s unique fit needs - narrower in the heel and wider in the forefoot (it’s not just you, our toes need more room and our heels slip too). Outstanding fit and exceptional comfort consistently place RYKÄ shoes among the highest rated in the industry.”

What Abbeydog thought:

Abbeydog didn’t really care about the design. She was just happy her two-legged fitness counterpart was happy and comfortable. Because even she knows that happy+comfy= MORE WALKIES! And she wants ya’ll to know that she lost two of those 10 pounds she put on last year due to all of the extra walkies. So thanks to Ryka, being an Abbeydog is an even better gig than before.

What other moms thought:

Since these shoes were comfy, I also ended up wearing them everywhere — like to my son’s soccer practice, trips to the grocers, and mall. I’ve never gotten more compliments on a shoe — let alone a sneaker. So I told them about the part where Ryka is giving away 50 shoes a day through the month of October. (A direct link can be found here.)

Interested in trying some on? Here’s a store locator.

This review was written on behalf of Parent Bloggers Network. Check out their site for a list of other reviews.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Child's play -- Kajeet makes cell phones simple

Man may claim the dog to be his best friend. But that man was never a kid with a Kajeet.

The Kajeet is a cellular phone manufactured for today's busy kids. Since the program is pay-as-you-go, parents and kids can manage the account together. The phones, which are being marketed to the preteen set, have text message and photo capability. When you see how sleek and sophisticated the phones look? Even late teens and adults will be drooling over the device!

I couldn’t understand exactly WHY Kajeet was being marketed to the ‘tween segment. I would love to use this phone – I’m in my mid 30’s. So I decided to conduct an experiment. What would a 14-year-old boy think of a Kajeet? I enlisted the help of super sitter/neighbor Daniel.

Daniel is a busy guy. He plays baseball and football. If he’s not at a game or in practice, he’s at school or hanging with friends. His parents were toying with the idea of giving him a phone so they could reach him when necessary. So we gave it a try.

What did Daniel think?

“I think the Kajeet is a good phone for teenager getting their first phone,” he said. “My favorite things about the Kajeets are the look of the phone’s outside and inside (as well as) the camera. It is also very easy to work.”

What did Patty (his mom) think?

“It’s a nice phone for teens. Easy to use so far,” she said. “Pay as you go is a good starter phone for kids. And its nice to be able to reach him when I want too – especially in an emergency. Also, he has access to 911 anytime and we’ve told him this. Its good for safety’s sake.

From the parents’ perspective there’s a lot to love. Talk time anytime, anywhere, is 10 cents a minute. Photo messages are 25 cents a piece and texting is 5 cents per text message (sent or received). There are no activation or cancellation fees. Plus? Parents can choose when the phone can and can't be used. Parents can also add minutes and monitor talk time online.

What did Daniel like the least?

“My least favorite thing about the Kajeet are the ringtones and the backgrounds,” he said. “Also, there are no free minutes.”

His mom agreed, “I wish there were some “free” minutes available maybe on weekends or at night. This would be a good incentive for kids to use the phone at certain times and not use up a lot of minutes."

All in all, Daniel is keeping the phone. And I’m so happy ‘cause Christmas shopping for our super sitter has gotten much easier. (Daniel is SO getting some Kajeet minutes from us this year! How easy is that!)