This week I had the opportunity to preview the Phoenix Ballet’s Nutcracker, which will be performed December 9-11 and December 22-24 at the beautiful Orpheum theater in downtown Phoenix. I must admit, I was not familiar with Phoenix Ballet, as my Nutcracker outings have always been to see that “other” Nutcracker at Symphony Hall. Let me tell you, I thought it was fab. Plus, it’s not every day you get to hang with Herr Drosselmeyer.
The Phoenix Ballet Nutcracker, under the direction of Slawomir Wozniak will be performed by both professional dancers and students of the Master Ballet Academy, which I learned is one of the premier dance academies in the country, located in Scottsdale. The preview was simply beautiful (I may have even gotten a little teary), and I am looking forward to taking my kids to the performance next weekend. If you’re going to go, you should know that the first weekend’s shows will be accompanied by live music from the Phoenix Symphony.
It was so impressive to see the talent of both the professionals and the young students, who despite their age, have achieved some pretty big success. I spoke after the preview with Elizabeth Gay, the mother of 12-year old Avery Gay, who has been on the TV shows Little Big Shots (my kids love that show — especially Steve Harvey’s expressions, which they enjoy freezing with the pause button, resulting in huge belly laughs) and So You Think You Can Dance. Elizabeth explained that her daughter practices up to 7 hours a day, most days of the week — yes, she is home schooled, so that her schedule lets her log more time in the studio. And judging from her Instagram following (over 60K!), she has a pretty impressive fan base.
Last year, Phoenix Ballet sold out all Nutcracker performances, so get your tickets now! Tickets can be purchased at phoenix-ballet.org. To save 50% off all tickets (excludes price level 4, valid on adult tickets only) Fun Finds For Mom readers can use the code Coupon Code FRIENDS after selecting seats. Once coupon code is entered, use drop down to select 50% each ticket.
Holiday cards. Calendars. Stationery. Art. Home decor. Fabric. Minted really does have it all! And I am so excited to tell you that not one — but TWO lucky Fun Finds For Mom readers will be receiving $125 to spend at Minted. YAY! (Enter the giveaway here before midnight on Friday, Dec. 18.)
If you’re a procrastinator like me, it’s not too late! Minted has hundreds of holiday cards to choose from – all designed by independent artists. Or if you’re just not going to get those cards out until January, I’m a big fan of the New Years card:
The artwork available on Minted is amazing, and seemingly unlimited. Drawings, paintings, photography. You can sort by style, color, shape and more. Here’s one I have my eye on:
I’ve also given their personalized notebooks as gifts, and they are always a big hit!
So head over to the giveaway page and enter for chance to win $125 to spend at Minted however you choose! Happy Holidays!
I first spotted the new hoverboards about a month ago, when a group of neighborhood boys went cruising by. It was my daughter’s dream come true. Back to the Future-style hoverboards! Okay, so maybe they’re not cruising off the ground, Marty McFly-style, but it’s still pretty cool to have a Segway-like skateboard that lets you scoot around hands-free. Make no mistake, these hot 2015 Christmas toys are not cheap. So when splurging on a hoverboard, how can you know what’s the best hoverboard?
I turned — where else — to Amazon. My research showed the highest number of customer reviews, with the highest number of stars was the CoolReall Self Balancing Scooter Two 6.5″ Wheel Self Balance Electric Hoverboard Drifting Personal Transporter Mini Unicycle with Led light. This hoverboard (also called a powerboard) had 176 customer reviews and a 4 and a half star rating.
At $429, the price of this hoverboard was higher than some, lower than others.
For under $300, the hoverboard that seemed to have the highest number of 4-star ratings was the Mini Smart Self-balancing Two-wheel Electric Scooter, which had 64 customer reviews with an average 4-star rating.
If price is no object, and you’re looking for the highest quality hoverboard, you’ll want to check out the “Original” top of the line IO Moonwalkers Hoverboard, which costs $1,599.
Or maybe while your kids are saving up to buy their own hoverboard, you can go old school and get them a Penny Skateboard!
If you’re in the market for a bento lunchbox, I say “Right on, sister!” As you may or may not know, I am a PlanetBox fan, and have not tested all these bentos myself. However, the reviews on Amazon are plentiful, so hopefully you will find one that suits your needs.
These are some of the bento boxes my readers have been buying:
Bentology Lunch Box ($20)
EasyLunchboxes 3-Compartment Bento Lunch Box Containers, Set of 4 ($14)
Here’s what I would look for in a bento box:
Ease of cleaning
Is it dishwasher-safe? Because if it’s not, let’s be honest. It’s going to sit in your sink waiting until you can’t stand to look at it any longer. And the last thing you want to do is to have to hand-wash a lunchbox in the morning. Or the evening. Or the afternoon.
Read the reviews and find out if it is really and truly leakproof. In three years, I have never had a problem with my PlanetBoxes leaking (knock on formica.) It’s nice to have the flexibility to pack sauces, fruit that may leak a little juice, or dressings.
Personally, I like metal. It’s durable. It doesn’t “leak” chemicals. It takes a licking and keeps on ticking. Thankfully many of today’s plastics are free of BPA, phthalates, and other junk that was so prevalent when my kids were babies. Check the product description to make sure. And they are certainly more budget-friendly, which brings me to…
Thankfully, bento boxes now come in all budget categories. Some are so inexpensive, you don’t have to worry if they fall into the school lost and found vortex, lost amidst dirty socks and moldy water bottles forever. Others are a significant investment, but you’ll use them until your kids go to college.
Make sure your kids like their lunchboxes. If they are embarrassed to have a lunchbox that is different from everyone else, it’s a hard sell. My almost-12 year old is at that point. I told him I like packing my bento boxes, but if he wants to pack his own lunch in a “regular” lunchbox, have at it. Part of the problem is that he doesn’t love the idea of me taking pictures of his lunch and posting them on my Facebook page. Sorry bud. A mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do.
I recently had the opportunity to try the new Boom Chicka Bites. They’re sweet popcorn snacks that come in all the yummy flavors you see here: fruit and nut, sweet and salty nut, tropical mix and mixed berry. If you like popcorn and have a sweet tooth, you will love these treats. The taste reminded me of the candy-coated popcorn that was such a huge trend when I was a kid.
These little guys aren’t just popcorn. They have “ancient grains” like popped sorghum and puffed amaranth — and if gluten is an issue, you’ll be happy to know they are gluten free. They are not sugar-free, however, so I mixed a little of these Boom Chicka Bites in with plain popcorn to cut the sugar. Plus, I like a good sweet-salty combo. Here are a few pics of these popcorn treats in the kids lunchbox:
You can buy Boom Chicka Bites at Target, where they’re part of the handpicked Target “Made to Matter” snack selections. What are you snacking on this summer? Share your latest snacking obsession in the comments!
Only a few more weeks until one of my favorite holidays — Valentine’s Day!
Did you know you can order adorable kids classroom Valentines from Minted? Save yourself the hassle of running out to the store, and order one of Minted’s many indie designs from the comfort of your own home! They start at $14 for 15. You can also get fancy and add a photo or order matching stickers for envelopes or treat bags.
To share a little love this Valentine season, Minted is offering two of you a $75 credit to use any way you like at Minted. Use them on Valentine cards, gorgeous art, party decor, or even fabric by the yard designed by independent artists.
Here are some of my favorite Minted classroom Valentine designs.
And if you’re throwing a Valentines Day party, be sure to check out all of the fun party decor on Minted. Here’s a peek:
To enter, just leave one comment on this post by midnight on Friday, January 30. I’ll then randomly select the two winners of the $75 credit for Minted. Good luck!
Congratulations to Andrea and Sara, who were randomly selected as the winners of the Minted giveaway!
If you live in Phoenix, you’re probably familiar with the many amazing Fox Restaurant Concept spots like Flower Child, True Foods, The Henry, North and Olive & Ivy. Their latest and greatest concept is Juby True, an organic cold pressed juice joint. There are now three locations, and the newest is right around the corner from me at 40th Street and Camelback.
I stopped in for a green smoothie to check it out, and all I have to say is if you like fresh pressed juice, you will love this place. And if you want to start off the new year with a juice cleanse, well then you’ll have to enter my giveaway! Juby True is generously giving one Fun Finds For Mom reader a 3-day juice cleanse. (You have to be in the Phoenix area to redeem your prize.) Detoxification, here you come! To enter, just leave a comment on this post. But first, let me give you a quick tour.
Inside Juby True, you’ll find cases of beautiful juices ready to grab and go. They also offer infused waters and fruity coconut waters called “hydrators,” organic salads, almond “mylk” blends, snacks and sweets and coffee and tea. I didn’t try any of the food, so maybe that will need to be the subject of a future post!
I got an invitation to take a peek behind the swinging door to see where the magic happens, and I gotta say it’s quite an operation. This is the location that supplies all the Fox restaurants with juice, so this crew is busy.
Apparently the “Basillion” is quite popular as there were rows of this green juice all lined up and ready to go. It’s made with green apple, spinach, basil, lime, chlorophyll and cayenne. Sounds tasty. It’s also $9 for a bottle, so I think I’d sip it very slowly. Word to the wise: cold pressed juices are not cheap!
Like all Fox concepts, the people who work there are super smiley and friendly. My son and I still giggle when we think of the cashier at Flower Child who kept calling me “Girly Girl!”
Okay — now down to business.
To enter the Juby True 3-day juice cleanse giveaway, leave one comment on this post by midnight on Tuesday, January 20. I will randomly select one lucky winner! Congratulations to Brigette who was randomly selected as the winner of the Juby True 3-Day Cleanse Giveaway!
Happy New Year! I am so excited to start a brand new year with a blank slate. This year is about loving, nurturing, friendship and adventure. And of course, as always, I’m also ready to blast off the holiday bulge. No more noshing on leftovers, cheese and cracker trays, cookies and chocolate. More green smoothies, turkey sammies and thinly sliced Fuji apples bathed in lemon or lime juice. More yoga, hiking and running. Less sedentary hibernating. For the kids, it’s back to the healthy packed lunch boxes. Hooray for 2015!
If you follow me on Facebook, or are coming from the Sprouts website you may know that I am “starring” in four videos that are part of the Sprouts Every Meal is a Choice Sweepstakes, where you can enter to win a year’s worth of free groceries. I spent an afternoon being followed around by a few kind gents from Sprouts as I shopped, shared some of my favorite products and reasons why I shop at Sprouts, and invited them (and all of you) into my kitchen for a peek into my healthy lunch boxes and packed snacks.
You can see all the videos and enter the Sweepstakes here: https://www.sprouts.com/choosehealthy
Congratulations to Krissie who was randomly selected as the winner of the Sprouts $100 Giveaway!
And you can enter to win a $100 Sprouts gift card by leaving a comment on this post by midnight MST Wednesday, January 7.
If you’re new to Fun Finds For Mom, I invite you to check out the following posts:
P.S. If you’d like to receive the Fun Finds For Mom guide to packing healthy lunch boxes, just enter your email address in the “Get Updates” box in the top right corner of this page. And follow me on Facebook for more healthy lunch box pics and other fun finds!
Back by popular demand, I’m happy to share my picks for this year’s top 6 real tool sets for kids. These tool sets are for parents looking for tools for their kids that aren’t pretend plastic tools, but real tools they can actually use to fix and build. We got our kids real tool sets a few years ago, and not only did they use them, but they looked pretty darn cute wearing their kid tool belts and safety goggles. So here they are… this year’s top real tool sets for kids.
($44 at Amazon.com)