Taking Halloween to a Whole New Level of Scary

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with AtmosFX. All opinions remain 100% my own.

For the last several years, the idiom, “scared of my own shadow” described my household perfectly. My two young daughters were scared of everything Halloween so our decor ranged from happy pumpkins to friendly ghosts and certainly didn’t include anything remotely ghoulish. But now that my girls are older, it’s time to up our game and get into the business of scaring the neighborhood on Halloween and I found the perfect way to do it.

AtmosFX Digital Decorations Projector
We completely skipped over the goblin inflatables, strobe lighting and creepy music and dove straight into the insanely realistic world of digital decorations by AtmosFX.

Through the magic of digital projection with our Digital Decorating Kits and a little help from props, screens, and Hollywood-style magic, you can quickly turn any room or space into an unforgettable experience.

I couldn’t describe it better. Atmos FX is so much more than traditional decor. It’s an experience. To make the holidays come to life, all you need is the Digital Decorating Kit which includes a projector, mounting tripod, remote control, and AtmosFX Standard Window Projection Material. The kit comes with an SD card pre-loaded with 14 AtmosFX Digital Decorations: 8 Halloween-themed scenes, and 6 seasonal scenes focusing on Christmas and other holidays.

digital decoration set up
The standard window projection material feels like a thin vinyl material (pictured above) and comes with adhesive strips to easily mount to any window. Once your surface is ready, find an ideal spot for your projector, plug in your SD card and select which digital decorations you would like to display. It’s that simple…but the results are fantastic!

digital decorations
I also received the semi-translucent nylon Window Projection Material which I used on an interior door frame to spice up decor for a recent party. I liked this material better as I felt the image was crisper and the material seems like it would hold up longer. But both materials worked just fine and scared the heck out of people walking by our home! Would it scare you?

What I love about the AtmosFX Digital Decorating Kit is that it is not just for one singular holiday. The kit comes with scenes for Christmas, Easter, birthday parties, Valentine’s Day and more. How many holiday decorations can you use for more than one season? I would venture to say none which makes this an unbelievable deal!

How will you digitally decorate this year?

 

 

Writing with the Faber Castell Op Art Water Lily Fountain Pen

This post was written by guest contributor Maureen of LumenNOLA. The pen reviewed here was provided by the manufacturer.

Hey pen friends! I have long been a fan of Faber Castell writing instruments, but must admit that most of the Faber Castell items in my home are art supplies used by my husband, who is a visual artist. I was therefore excited to be offered the opportunity to try a fountain pen of that brand. I have been a fountain pen fan for many years, and I love to experiment with new writing tools of all kinds.

The pen arrived packaged in a white box with a drawer tray, and accompanied by an instruction booklet. The pen has a descriptive tag attached to the clip. The clip itself is springy, but solid. I would have no concerns about using it to attach the pen to a notebook, or the pocket of a bag or briefcase.

Faber Castell Op Art Water Lily Pen with box
The Op Art fountain pen is thinner than the pens that I usually gravitate to, but guess what? With its interesting grooves and lines, combined with a light well-balanced weight, it felt very comfortable in my hand. The surface texture prevented my fingers from slipping toward the nib as I wrote. I have had that problem with other narrow pens.

Faber Castell Water Lily Pen
Also different from my standard preference was the nib size, medium. I like a fine line, especially with European made pens, which have naturally broader nibs than Asian made pens. Like the pen surface, the Op Art nib was also a pleasant surprise. It is a very smooth-writing, steel nib that lays down a solid line! It is a pleasure to write with. The pink of the barrel paired beautifully with a purple ink (my favorite ink color!).

The silver cap of the pen securely snaps onto the section, or onto the back of the pen to write while posted. I found the pen top heavy with the cap posted, but know that I never write with pens posted. The extra weight might balance very well for someone who prefers a heavier pen.

Faber Castell Pink Fountain Pen
The pen has a steel nib embossed with dots, the Faber Castell logo, and the nib size indicator, M for medium. There is no breather hole, which is consistent with other Faber Castell fountain pens I have written with.

The cap also has the logo and company name embossed.

The more I look at it, the more mesmerizing I find the grooved surface of the pen. The construction was solid. All attachments fit well, with no loose joints. The Faber Castell Op Art Water Lily is a nice pen to treat yourself or someone else too. And what a great way to introduce a pop of color and interesting texture as the darker evenings of winter approach!

Cruising with Tweens on the Carnival Dream

This post was written by the Experimental Mommy in partnership with Carnival Cruise Lines. All opinions remain 100% my own.

Snapchat. Selfies. Friends. Instagram. Facetime. These are the staples of my tween daughters’ lives. While they loved cruising with Carnival 3 years ago, I was not sure how they would take to being unplugged and disconnected from friends for an entire week.  Last time we sailed on the Carnival Dream, the girls loved participating in Seuss at Sea, hanging with Mom and Dad at the pool, and learning to make towel animals. But this time I knew would be different.  I knew my two tweens would want a little more independence (which is scary for Mom) but I was also excited to experience the new adventures available to us now that the kids were older. While this cruise visited ports we have already explored, I knew it would be a whole new World!

How to Keep Your Tween Entertained while Cruising (and even forget about Snapchat!)

  1. Hit the Slides: Not only is Carnival’s WaterWorks a great way to cool off in the summer heat, this activity is one way I was able to give my tweens a little independence. Many lounge chairs within sight of the water play area, so I picked a home base and off they went! Bonus: I brought my favorite book and enjoyed a few hours of relaxation myself!
  2. Laugh it Off:  After dinner, my tweens loved attending the family friendly comedy nights at The Punchliner. There’s nothing like making fun of parents to put a smile on your tween’s face.
    Zero Proof Drinks on Carnival
  3. Head to the Bar: For non-alcoholic drinks, of course! My tweens loved the frozen zero-proof beverages and they are still asking me to make the infamous Nutella Pizza.
    Nutella Pizza
  4. Get Pampered: Being without your iPhone can be stressful. Tweens can chillax at Cloud 9 Spa aboard the Carnival Dream during the one hour Teen Pamper Party (additional fee required).
  5. Go for the Gold: There’s nothing wrong with a little healthy competition. Take your tween to the onboard arcade, mini golf course, foosball tables or basketball court….and maybe “let them win” once or twice.
  6. Team Up: We all loved cheering on teams consisting of other Carnival passengers as they competed in “Hasbro, The Game Show”
    Monkey Encounter
  7. Go On An Adventure: Because we were traveling with tweens, there was a ton of shore excursions to choose from since their ages did not exclude them from much. We decided on excursions that would take them out of their comfort zones such as braving the zipline, cave swimming and encounters with monkeys. Watching them conquer fears and support each other was worth every penny.
    Canoeing in Mexico
  8. Go On a Hunt: Circle “C”,  a dedicated lounge just for kids ages 12-14, hosts Scavenger Hunts in the evening. It was a great way for my tweens to make new friends and have some parent-free time.
  9. Dive-In to the Big Screen: Catch a movie at night under the stars on the Lido deck while swimming in the pool! Mom and Dad can lounge on the deck and enjoy some popcorn, too!
  10. Eat It: Unlimited ice cream. Enough said.

In the end, my tweens survived an entire week disconnected from their screens and actually enjoyed spending time with family and living life to the fullest. While wifi packages are available on board, we managed to keep that secret hidden well! To learn more about cruising with Carnival, visit www.carnival.com.

cruising with tweens

Honey Soy Grilled Skirt Steak Recipe with Morton Salt

This post was written by Experimental Mommy in partnership with Morton Salt. All opinions are 100% my own.

When people learn that I am from New Orleans, they automatically assume that I must be a great cook because I am surrounded with culture and incredible food in my City. However, that could not be further from the truth. Since attending Morton Salt’s Next Door Chef: New Orleans event a few months ago, I have been putting my new skills and knowledge into practice and I can honestly say that it has made a huge difference!

Morton Salt New Orleans Next Door Chef
As you may remember, I was welcomed into the home turned pop up restaurant of Siobhan, a New Jersey transplant living in New Orleans for the past seven years. The multicultural meals Siobhan shared with her Grandmother when she was growing up inspired her love for new and exotic foods. To learn how to enhance her cooking through the proper use of salts, Morton paired Siobhan with Nina Compton of Compère Lapin restaurant (runner-up on Season 11 of BRAVO’s Top Chef) and I was lucky enough to taste the results of the partnership!

Morton Salt Salad
This Morton Salt Next Door Chef event was tied around summertime cooking and grilling, which I couldn’t wait to learn more about since grilling is a staple in my home. I could not get enough of the Honey Soy Grilled Skirt Steak so I wanted to share this recipe with you!

Chef’s Tip: For this recipe, you will use Morton® Kosher Salt because it helps break down the fiber of the meat, resulting in ideal tenderness while also providing seasoning.

Honey Soy Grilled Skirt Steak
Honey Soy Grilled Skirt Steak (Serves 4–6)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ½ tsp. Canola oil
  • 1 ½ tsp. Reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. Honey
  • 1 tsp. Chili flakes
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. Red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ tsp. Fresh ginger, grated
  • ½ tsp. Garlic, minced
  • 12 oz. Skirt steak
  • 2 Tbsp. Morton® Kosher Salt
  • 1 ½ cup Scallions, finely sliced

DIRECTIONS

1) Combine 1 Tbsp. Morton® Kosher Salt, canola oil, reduced-sodium soy sauce, honey, red wine vinegar, ginger, chili flakes, 3/4 cup scallions and garlic to create a marinade.

2) Pour over skirt steak and let marinade for 1 hour.

3) Remove the steak and reserve the marinade.

4) Prepare stovetop grill or preheat broiler.

5) Grill or broil steak on high heat for six minutes, turning over halfway through and brushing with the marinade.

6) Remove the steak from the grill and allow it to rest for 2–3 minutes.

7) Slice the steak into 1-inch pieces, top with remaining 3/4 cup scallions and season with the remaining 1 Tbsp. Morton® Kosher Sea Salt.

To learn more about Morton Salt’s Next Door Chef: New Orleans including more recipes from the event and tips for elevating your cooking game using the proper salt, check out the video.  Don’t forget, if you use table salt for all your cooking needs, you’re doing it wrong!