Get Colorful with Duncan Hines Spring Velvet Cake Mix

This post is written by Beth of Experimental Mommy. While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

One of the best things about spring and summer is saying good bye to the dreary winter and saying hello to the beautiful colors. Now you can even have those beautiful colors in your desserts. Duncan Hines has introduced a new line of signature cake mixes including Blue Velvet, Spring Velvet and Pink Velvet.

As soon as we received the mixes my daughter insisted on starting to bake, which she loves to do. She choose to make a cake with the Spring Velvet. The directions were simple to follow and came out tasting great. I think it surprised everyone when I cut into the cake and there were two different colors. No one could believe that they came from one box of cake mix. The cake had a great taste to it and was a hit with everyone who tried it, especially my daughter.

Blue Velvet and Pink Velvet also tasted great. Finally, you can get creative with your cakes without having to do anything but put it in the oven. No food coloring, dyes or gels that make a mess and never come out like you wanted it to. The blue and pink are perfect for little one’s birthday parties and the now popular gender reveal parties. They are great for making cakes, cupcakes, cake pops, short cakes, bundt cakes and so many more. You will never want to switch back to the boring white and chocolate mixes again. You can find a ton ofto turn your box of mix into a baked masterpiece.

We also received the new Salted Caramel Brownie Mix. We got our package late one night and my husband by all means wanted me to bake these brownies at 11:00 at night. His mouth was watering just looking at the boxes. He fell in love with these brownies. The salted caramel gives the brownies that extra rich flavor and the brownies themselves were mouthwatering. There are actually two different directions on the box, one for cake like brownies and one for more traditional brownies. We stuck with the cake like brownies and they were delicious.

Happy Baking!

Easter Basket Idea: Here Comes the Octonauts DVD

This post was written by Beth of the Experimental Mommy. While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

If there is one thing that I have learned from my son over the past five years of his life is that a daily routine makes life a lot easier. We have tried everything to calm him down at night and the thing that seems to work the best for him is laying down and watching 30 minutes of television.  If you are like me, you are probably tried of the same on shows on their favorite station or recorded on the DVR.

Here Comes the Octonauts from NCircle Entertainment is the first ever DVD for the Octonauts and contains six episodes which are about 11 minutes each. I love the 11 minute episodes, it makes it easy for them to watch a quick episode before school or when they ask for just one more, it is only for 11 minutes. The episodes include: Sea Snakes, Walrus Chief Adelie Penguins, Electric Torpedo Ray, Colossal Squid and Crab & Urchin.

In Here Come the Octonauts, Captain Barnacles must figure out how to free an old friend who is trapped beneath the ice; Kwazii tries to rescue a reef full of creatures before an undersea storm strikes; and Peso must help a school of frightened fish who have invaded the Octopod!

Not only are the Octonauts fun to watch, but they are also very educational. Each episode is about the Octonauts adventures and the creatures they meet along the way. They teach our children how to help each other in order to make their world a better place. I also love how the Octonauts show how if they work together they can accomplish their goals. My favorite is when the baby sea snake gets rescued from the outside of the Octopod.

The DVD also contains Creature Reports, which gives you more information about the sea creatures from that specific episode.  To add to the fun, you can also join your friends, Captain Barnacles Kwazii and Peso Penguin, to play games, watch videos and other fun activities.  Can’t get enough Octonauts? Check out these printable activities.

The Octonauts: Here comes the Octonauts DVD which can be found at Walmart and retailers nationwide would be a great addition to your child’s Easter Basket.

Gift Ideas for Girls: Little Tikes Cook ‘n Grow

This post was written by Beth of the Experimental Mommy. While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

With only one shopping day left to the big day, it is decision time. If you are like me you can walk around a store for an hour and have no clue what you are going to get for your spouse, children, parents, etc.

Since I have young children, I always walk through the toy aisle to see what’s new out there. One of the hardest things about buying infant and toddler toys is the fact that they outgrow the toys before they use them.

A couple of years ago for my daughter’s first Christmas, I really wanted to get her a kitchen set. She loves to make tea in the bathtub. I thought the kitchen would be a great gift for her. The only problem was the fact that she was not tall enough to stand and play or crawl up to any of them. I wish I would have known about the Little Tikes Cook ‘n Grow!

The Cook ‘n Grow literally grows with your child. With the two stages of this toy, your child will get plenty of use out of it. When your child is around 1 or so, the Cook ‘n grow adjusts so that it is at the right height for them to be able to play independently. In the second stage of the kitchen, your child will be able to play with the same Cook ‘n Grow. Simply follow the directions and change the layout which in turn adjusts the height. There will be no need to waste your money on another kitchen. Your child will be able to us his/her microwave, oven and refrigerator, just like mom and dad do.

You will have an inspiring little chef with this realistic kid’s kitchen playset that grows with your child. When this Little Tikes kitchen is opened it is the perfect height for toddlers. When the kitchen is compacted it is now the perfect size for your preschooler to cook your dinner. Browse our full Play Kitchen collection for more fun toys.


  • Kitchen has 2 age grade configurations
  •  Kitchen is expanded and the height is just right for toddlers
  • Compacting the kitchen makes it just right for preschoolers
  • Electronic cooking sounds
  • Hooks for hanging cups
  • Molded in slots to hold plates
  • Oven, refrigerator and microwave doors all open and close
  • Shape-sorting lid for pot helps develop fine motor skills
  • 26 accessories included

With Cook ‘n Grow, your child will develop new skills and will have fun doing so. Like all of Little Tikes toys, the Cook ‘n Grow is durable and sturdy while remaining light weight for easy portability.

If you are looking for that last minute gift with a serious WOW-factor, check out the Little Tikes Cook ‘n Grow Kitchen!

Keep Your Little One Warm with Dots on Tots this Fall

This post is written by Beth of Experimental Mommy. While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

Keeping our children well is hard enough, but as soon as that first blast of cool weather comes we all seem to start with the sniffles. And when I say blast of cool weather down here in the south anything below 70 is down right cold! So with this nice fall weather comes the worry of frequent trips to the doctors office with my little ones.

My youngest has had ear problems since she was 3 months old and eleven ear infections and two sets of tubes later we are constantly fighting the ear infection battle. I have always believed in a hat on her head in the cold weather and covering her ears has always been difficult. It is so hard to find a hat that has flaps over the ears and is not too hot or to small to fit her head.

Needless to say I was THRILLED when I received the Dots on Tots Baby and Toddler Ear Protection Organic Cotton Hat.  The hat is a perfect weight for cold weather or for just a really windy day. The Ear Protection Hat comes in sizes small, medium and large which fit infants all the way to a three year old and they come in white, pink, natural and blue.

We received the large pink hat and I was able to fit it on her head and not even take her ponytail down. She still has a lot of room to grow into it, so it should last us a couple of winters. The soft ear flaps connect under the chin with a small piece of Velcro. There will be no need to worry about the hat falling off, because it is very secure on their head.

My daughter did not want to take the hat off even after I came inside the house, which proves to me it was comfortable on her. We now carry it in our car so that when we get to the park or playground and the wind is blowing hard she can wear it to protect those sensitive ears of hers. We have had the hat for about two weeks and so far so good, even with this cold weather we have not had any ear problems and with the Dots on Tots we hope to keep it that way.

Another great feature about this hat is the fact that it is made with organic cotton and is hypoallergenic my daughter has really bad eczema so I don’t have to worry about her breaking out from the material.

Dots on Tots also offers Aviator Ear Protections hats which offer up to a 50% reduction in outside noises. This is perfect for crowded noisy areas such as at football games (WHO DAT!), concerts and outdoor festivals.  They would also be perfect for your child that might have hearing sensitivity, like my son, for fireworks and parades. He is almost 5 and I actually tried the Ear Protection Hat that we received on him and it fit him really well. So even though the website says up to 3T I am sure you could use it for older children.  The final hat that Dots on Tots offers for the Fall is the Sherpa Cotton Hat. This is a heavy weight material that is perfect for cold temperatures. It offers the same ear flaps as the other hats but is made for really cold weather.

The Dots for Tots founder, Olivia Entin, is a mother of two with a master’s degree in fashion and has a few tips to stay healthy this fall.

  • Safety First! Equip children with a small, backpack-friendly emergency kit in case of any scrapes, bumps or unexpected cuts on the playground. Although the nurse is close by, having small supplies handy at all times, such as a kit with fun, colorful bandaids, hand sanitizer and sun tan lotion will allow children to remain safe no matter where they are.
  • Keep children protected from day 1!  Whether your child is a first-timer at school or a seasoned classroom attendant, entry into a new classroom, lunch room or school bus can still cause allergic reactions in children. To keep children safe and comfortable, outfit them in products that will keep them safe, such as organic materials.
  • Run down the checklist the night before!  Do they have everything packed? What are they wearing to school today? As much as sending your child off to school can be a stressful process, going to a new place without mom, dad or siblings can also be scary for them. Talking to your child about fears/excitements and packing up their materials with them the night before will help them (and you!) know that they are prepared to take on the school year with their best foot forward.
  • Make check-in’s a game to ensure child’s health and safety!  We all know children love games, and parents love ensuring children are safe when out of sight, so combining these two ideals will make everyone at ease! Check in periodically with your children on how the school year is progressing – are they enjoying their classes? What kinds of foods are they eating? Are they feeling headaches, allergies/sneezing in the cafeteria or classroom? Some great ways to make this into a game setting are having them draw pictures of their day or rating aspects of their day on a scale using foods they love or toys. This way, you can check in with your child and make sure they’re keeping in check with their happiness and health.

Hope your Fall is sniffle free!

Travel Easy with a Safety 1st BoostAPak

This post is the opinion of Beth of Experimental Mommy.  While a sample was received to facilitate the review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

With my oldest now in Pre-K 4 and as he says “a big kid,”  he has quite the social life.  It is not even a month into the new school year and already he has been to several parties and class get-togethers.  Like most parents it is not always easy to get him were he is supposed to be going especially if you have another child.  We have become friends with many other parents of children in his class and are starting to count on each other to help out.  Not to mention that I rely on my parents and in-laws a lot to help pick up and drop off at different places.

One thing I worry about when carpooling is the expiration date on car seats.  In a recent interview with Julie Vallese, a Consumer Safety Expert, she said:

Car seats expire and recommends that car seats be replaced every 5-8 years. This tip is so important, because more than 40% of the car seats checked during a recent Safety 1st car seat check at the Indy 500 Community Day were replaced due to expiration or a recall.

While they are now ‘Big Kids’ they still need to be secured in a non-expired car seat whenever riding in a car.  It is a real pain to have to keep moving the car seats and remembering to move them from one car to another, besides the fact that they are big and bulky.  Safety 1st BoostAPak is the PERFECT solution to this problem.  Not only is it light weight it doubles as a pack back! No need to meet up with the other mom and give her your car seat and try and remember to pick it up the next day from her.

This backless booster is perfect for your preschooler age 4 and over, 43-52 inches and 40-80 pounds.  Is your little one having a sleep over at a friends house?  Simply pack your child’s over night necessities inside the seat of the car seat, zip and they can carry it to school as a backpack!

The BoostAPak is also perfect for a trip to Grandma’s house.  Like a lot of  grandparents, my mom picks up my son one or two days a week from school, so having a car seat in her car all of the time can sometimes be an inconvenience.  With the BoostAPak you can simply use it when he is in the car and it is small enough to fit in the trunk of the car when he is with someone else.

Another great time to use the BoostAPak is on vacations.  While most toddlers do not need to have a booster seat on an airplane, once you are at your destination you will have to use the car seat in your rental car.  No need to rent a car seat (and who knows where those have been!) or check it at the gate.  You can use the BoostAPak as a carry on!  It is perfect for a change of clothes and a few necessities that you will need to keep your little one entertained during the flight.   It even fits in the overhead bins.

The BoostAPak has a durable hard shell outside that your child will sit on, fold out seat belt guides that lock into place when opened and removable cover for cleaning. My son barely just the 43″ requirement for backless boosters, so the seat belt tends to be a little high on him; however the BoostAPak has a seat belt guide.  Simply adjust the seat belt guide strap to the height of your child’s shoulder and feed the seat belt through when buckling your child.

We have had great success with BoostAPak!  The seat retails for $69.99 and can be found at Buy Buy Baby stores nationwide.  Safe travels!

Rejuvinate Your Room with Wallmonkeys

This post is the opinion of Beth of Experimental Mommy. While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

Have you ever looked around a room in your house and thought,  “This room really needs some character!” Or are you tired of looking at the same picture frames and decorations? I wanted to make a change but was NOT ready (and too busy) for a huge painting job.

My daughter is going on three years old now and while I love her nursery themed room, it was time to go from a gender neutral Winnie the Pooh to something a little more girly.  We decided that we would just change her bedding, curtains and wall decorations and in a year or two we would let her help pick out new colors for her room.  While the bedding and curtains will look great, there was nothing to pull the girly theme together.  Wallmonkeys is the perfect solution to that problem.

Wallmonkeys is a premium wall decal company and has over 20 million different images (that is a lot of images to choose from and believe me I had a hard time narrowing it down).    You can choose from a wide variety of decals from Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa to a picture of a hamburger.   In my case this is a wonderful way to change out your child’s room, because this week they like dinosaurs and next week they might like space ships.  Getting a custom mural painted is not only expensive and time consuming, but it also makes you think twice about changing your ‘theme’ to that room.  Wallmonkeys is an inexpensive way to keep up with your ever changing children.

Currently my daughter is really into dress up, she loves to play princess and walk around my house in a fancy dress, high heel shoes and her crown.  In searching for the perfect princess decal,  I found the Princess Crown and Magic Wand, I knew she would love it.  We received a 36” x 34” which sells for $49.99.  It was extreme simple to put on the wall and stayed exactly were I put it.

I definitely suggest this being a two person job with such a large size decal as it just made everything a little easier.  After I got it up on the wall, I decided that I would like it a little higher so that if my daughter stood in her bed she could not reach and pull on it.  I simply removed it from the wall and moved it further up with no problem.  The great thing about these decals is that they are reusable and they never lose their ability to cling to the wall, so if we decide to paint I can simply remove the decal, paint the wall, wait a few days and put the decal back up.  There is no glue or tape needed, it leaves no messy clean up and does no damage to your wall after it is removed.

Another unique option that Wallmonkeys provides is custom decals.  Just take a picture, upload to their website and you can have your child’s favorite picture, a picture from that once in a lifetime trip, or anything you can dream of on your wall in no time.  Wallmonkeys come in variety of sizes and prices, and the custom decals range from 12-72 inches and $35-$100.  Don’t miss any news or discounts by following Wallmonkeys on Twitter and Facebook!

Fighting Dry Summer Skin with Aveeno Baby {Giveaway}

This post of the opinion of Beth of The Experimental Mommy.  While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

Ever since my little girl was an infant she has suffered with skin problems. From dry itchy skin to cracked and bleeding. To say that I was thrilled to try the Aveeno Baby line is an understatement. Over the past two and a half years, we have used countless brands of baby wash and lotion that are supposed to be for ‘sensitive skin.’ About a year ago I discovered Aveeno Baby Wash and Shampoo and cannot express the difference it made on my daughter’s skin.

We just received the Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash, Moisture Cream and SPF 55 sunscreen. This is one of the worst times of year for my daughter between the sun, swimming pool and sandy beaches, her skin has really taken a beating. The Aveeno Baby continuous protection lotion sunscreen is fragrance free and goes on smooth. The sunscreen has UVA/UVB protection, SPF 55 and is considered to be as mild as water. The best part is it works wonderful, but remember as directed reapply every 2 hours and after swimming for the best protection possible.

No matter how hard I try there are just sometimes when her skin is going to be dry and itchy, that is where the moisture cream comes in. Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Moisture Cream with Natural Oatmeal moisturizes for 24 hours and is clinically proven to soothe your baby’s skin. No matter how hard I tried by daughter got a few patches of dry skin after our trip to the beach last weekend. Using the moisturizing cream after her nighttime bath helped to reduce the amount of eczema on her body, especially on her feet where her eczema is generally the worst. I actually used this cream on myself as well and it doesn’t leave you feeling like you have grease on your hands and feet. Unlike many other lotions for eczema it does not leave that medicine smell either, since it is completely fragrance free.

While I still swear by the Aveeno Wash and Shampoo, I have also fallen in love with the Soothing Relief Creamy Wash. The wash is fragrance free and soothes skin in the bath. There is no medicine smell to it and makes her smell as she says “good as new.” I have even found an improvement in my hands from using the wash while bathing her, they are not as dry as they usually are this time of year.

Could your baby’s skin use some extra special attention?  One lucky reader will win each of the products reviewed above!  Enter below:
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Get Ready for School with Schoolies!

This post is written by Beth of Experimental Mommy.  While samples were received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

As a child, I always remember having to play catch up the first few days or weeks of school because we all seemed to have forgotten what we learned the year before.  Now children are expected not only to know the material from the previous year, but also advance over the summer.

My little man will be starting Pre-K 4 this year and is so excited to wear his new big boy uniform just like the rest of the school.  To keep him on track all summer we have been trying to review some the material he learned in Pre-K 3, but it is not easy when all he wants to do is play. My daughter who will be going to a program for 2 and 3 year olds in September has no idea what to expect when it comes to school. I have spent the summer drilling numbers, letters and colors.

We were so excited to receive Schoolies so learning can be more fun and less “work”. The first book that I introduced to my little scholars was the My School Day book.  With a movable clock my son was able to change the time as the Schoolies enjoyed their day from waking up, getting on the bus and all the way back home to bedtime. My four year old really understood how this worked and enjoyed a ‘refresher course’ on how the school day works.

The next book we looked at (and my personal) favorite was the School House which was perfect for my two year old little girl to get to know what school will be all about this Fall.  The book includes four foldout school scenes, characters, accessories and stickers so your child can create their own story.  This book was a big hit with my two!

The next book, Lets Get Ready for School, is perfect for your Pre-K or Kindergartener. This book is jam packed with activities to help reinforce the skills they are learning. The best part is once your little one writes in it, you can wipe it clean and it is good as new for the next time.

Making Friends and First Day of School also helped my daughter to understand everything she could expect as she enters school for the first time. The books encourage friendship and overcoming shyness, which any child is going to have on the first day of a new school. These are great books, and were great for my son’s summer reading project.

Finally the Activity Flash Cards were good for both of my children. My daughter was able to relate the pictures to the colors, shapes and numbers and my son was able to trace the letters to spell words and practice his letters. These are also great for the car ride to keep your little ones entertained while still learning. They are 26 cards that are double sided and come with a wipe and marker so that they can be reused over and over.

With school only one month away we will definitely be using these books and cards everyday until school starts and even after school starts to reinforced what they are learning.

Are your kids ready for school?  Enter the giveaway below for your chance to win the entire Schoolies set courtesy of MacMillian Kids!


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Swimming Fun with AquaEars

This post is written by Beth of Experimental Mommy.  While a sample was received to facilitate this review, all opinions remain 100% honest.

In my daughter’s short life of only two years she has had 11 ear infections and two sets of tubes, so with summer here it is time to be extra cautious. Since she currently has a set of tubes in her ears, most doctors suggest that she wear some type of ear plug while bathing and swimming. There are several different types of ear plugs including foam, plastic and even custom made. While custom made is fine, I found that in a matter of a few weeks she had outgrown them. To me silicone ear plugs are the best way to go; not only can they be molded to fit her perfectly, she will never outgrow them.

One of the hardest parts of putting the ear plugs in is convincing my two year old to stand still long enough to put the plug in properly. With AquaEars for Children that will no longer be a problem. Finally a solution to my problem – ear plugs with a beloved character on them! AquaEars come in several different colors and with your favorite character on them ncluding: Mickey Mouse, Nemo, Dora, Sponge Bob, Cars, Princess and Hello Kitty.

What child wouldn’t be thrilled to have their favorite pal in their ears? We tried the Nemo ones first, my daughter just patiently stood next to me while I put in her ‘fish’ in. They molded nicely into her ears and they did not seem to bother her. After swimming or bathing simply put the plug back into the plastic case and you can use them again next time.

AquaEars for Children is a soft silicone earplug that offers dual protection for water-sensitive ears by sealing out water and reducing ear discomfort due to water pressure. Ideal for swimming and bathing, AquaEars doesn’t interfere with normal hearing like other earplugs for water-related activities. The new licensed characters make the earplugs fun while helping to reduce the non-compliance challenge parents might have with children wearing earplugs. AquaEars also have a noise reduction rating of 22, making them perfect for protecting sensitive ears from noise during music events, fireworks shows and more.

Not only are the earplugs good for water activities, they can be used for other events as well. My son is EXTREMELY sensitive to sound, he holds his hands over his ears for loud music, fireworks, and even when the toilet flushes. He has been like that his entire life and I never know what to do to help minimize the sound for him. We will definitely be trying the Mickey Mouse AquaEars!

Happy Swimming!

Organize Your Summer with SwimOutlet

This post is the opinion of Beth of Experimental Mommy.  While a gift card was received to facilitate this post, all opinions remain 100% honest.

Picnics, BBQs, sandy beaches, swimming, flip flops, and family vacations are just a few things I love about summer time down here in the South. I love when I walk out of my house and all my neighbors are out watering their gardens and the children are riding their bikes down the street.  Summertime just seems to bring families together.

The worst part about summer time is the heat, we are only in early July and already in the mid-90s, but with our high humidity, it feels like it is well over 100. One thing I have learned from having children is no matter where I go or what I do I need to be prepared. From a simple day at the beach to a week long theme park vacation, keeping your sanity means being prepared for the unexpected. Your one stop shop for everything summer is SwimOutlet as they have everything from swimsuits and pool toys to MP3 players and beach chairs.

One of the most unique items I found on their website was the Picnic Time Zuma Backpack Cooler available in blue or black. The top section of the backpack is a mess bag with draw strings which would be perfect for a spare change of clothes or a wet swimsuit. The bottom section is an insulated cooler featuring a large zipper and can hold up to 20 canned drinks. There is even a front pocket that would be perfect for your keys, phone or wallet.

You will no longer need to tow around a big bulky ice chest everywhere you go. Just slip the backpack on and you are ready to go and have your hands free to carry everything else children need! The backpack would be perfect for a day at the beach, zoo, children’s field trips or just to keep in the car during a long car ride. Available at SwimOutlet for only $29.95.

Love the backpack?  Check out what else you can find to cool off your hectic summer at!