The Busy Giffs: February 2016

February 22, 2016

Top Toys at Toy Fair 2016

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Toy Fair in a day.... whirlwind is an understatement.
I absolutely could have spent 3 full days there but was able to see a lot in the one day that I did attend.

First off, how cool is it that I was accepted as press for Toy Fair? I am a very little blog so getting an acceptance for something like that is crazy to me! Thanks for reading this little piece of my life and getting me there!

There will be multiple posts over the course of the month for all the amazing things I saw but I wanted to start with the top toys I saw, things I fell in love with immediately.  In no particular order, a few of my favorite toys from Toy fair last weekend:


1. Fimo Clay

Any one else grow up playing with Fimo? I am so excited about the "rebirth" of Fimo, launching kid play kits complete with scenes for interactive play- they even have glitter polymer clay! I can promise that the Easter Bunny will be leaving some Fimo clay for Emma!



2. Yookidoo Water Toys

These things are adorable! The systems have spray hoses, googly eyes, and pipes that run water from the tub and since they use the water already in the tub, I don't need to keep the water running or worry about an overflow. I'm already dreaming of how easy it will be to wash the kids' hair with this adorable sprayer set! All the sets Amazon sells can be found here.




3. Comfy Critters hooded blankets

These are ridiculously adorable, and soft! It's a wearable, hooded blanket and it even has little hand flaps! Right now you can purchase a handful of designs, including a unicorn!, but a little birdie told me licensed characters like The Hungry Caterpillar, SpongeBob, Paw Patrol, and the Ninja Turtles will be gracing shelves soon...



4. Little Cosmetics

This was maybe the only booth the entire time that made me literally stop in my tracks.  I was on the phone with Dave and actually said "I need to go, right now" and hung up! Ha.  Emma is so obsessed with my make up and while I don't really mind, there is always the fear that she'll grab eye liner or lipstick and it will be a much bigger mess than just her overly pink cheeks.
Not only do these look real, but they feel real! I was amazed when I touched the "powder" compact and nothing came off on my finger!I'm torn between buying her the Sweetheart setthe Essentials Set, or the Beauty Set (all available on Amazon).



5. Floof and Bag O Dirt

Have you played with kinetic sand before? It is super cool. Bag O Dirt is similar to the kinetic sand but is much more "boy" oriented with a mini tractor trucks and big bug accessory kits.  My kids would love it and it's dirt I'm okay with having in the house!

The real show stopper from them was the Floof! It feels like marshmallow and clay had a baby. I could have stood there all day playing with it, it was so stress relieving. Neither will be released until later in the year but I promise I'll let you know when you can get your own!


6. Goldie Blox

I met Goldie Blox last summer at Blogger Bash and I fell in love. STEM activities targeted for girls.
The understanding of gears, pullys, and construction really helps develop little brains! I loved the parade float that was shown on Thanksgiving, but can't wait for even more sets to be released.


7. Green Tones

I spent waaaay too long at the Green Tones booth, literally just playing music! The instruments are all made out of wood and are adorable.  I really loved the baby bear shaker and the beginner drum set. You can find most of them right on Amazon.


8. MoYou Nails

I am totally obsessed with this nail set! I almost walked by the booth because I thought "it's just another nail kit" but it is so cool. She gave me a french manicure in less than 5 minutes! It was crazy! With normal nail polish, it lasted 4 days, however the design on my accent nail is still perfect. Amazon offers lots of different sets that fit any budget. I want to grab them for Emma because of how easy it will be do decorate her nails!



9. Tech 4 Kids Squishy Pops, Fash-Ems, and Vinyl Figures

There were so many things at the Tech 4 Kids booth that Emmalee would just love. Her big favorite right now is the Squishy Pops. She received a handful of  them after Blogger Bash and after getting another from Toy Fair, we've already purchased 8 more blind balls to add to her collection! She also loves the Fash-Ems and Mash-Ems and will be obsessed with the new vinyl figures they'll be releasing later in the year.


10. Plan Toy

These are so cool because they are all natural, organic rubber wood and they use every single piece of the tree.  The wooden pieces are made from the trees (that are already being cut down and are easily replanted) and then they collect the wood shavings, press them together, and create even more items from them!

I love the little penguin in the boat but the sets range from small figures to full blown scenes, you can see more sets here. I'd be happy to spend my money on an amazing sustainable company!



The problem with all these amazing toys is that I want to buy them all! Which are your favorites?

February 21, 2016

30 by 30: I'm 30!


Welp, I'm 30 today. It's kind of exciting but kind of scary. I had made a 30 by 30 list more than 3 years ago and sadly, I did not quite hit it all, although part of me knew I wouldn't.

On my 30th birthday, this is where I ended up...

1. Be an English Teacher (have my own classroom)
2. Have baby #2.
3. Buy a house.
4. Own a pair of Manolos. (Really not my lifestyle anymore-- might be a pair of Jack Rogers instead)
5. See a show ON Broadway.
6. Run a 5k.
7. Weigh 150 lbs again. (muscle weighs more than fat-- this will never happen. Maybe we'll say, be a size 8/10)
8. Get my Masters degree.
9. Do a photography challenge for a month.
10. Pay for someone else in the drive through behind me.
11. Get my palm read/fortune told.
12. Go to a blogging conference.
13. Re-learn how to sew and make a blanket from Em's old clothes. 
14. Own a car that's less than 5 years old.

15. Go for a weekend trip to Martha's Vineyard.
16. Adopt a family for Christmas.
17. Buy a bicycle. A regular old fashioned bicycle.
18. Go to Vegas for my 30th! (The 29th can count too right?! I just wanted to go!)
19. Start (and keep) a vegetable garden.
20. Spend a day getting pampered.
21. Learn to crochet or knit. (Why was this important to me?!)
22. Buy brand new furniture.
23. Have dinner out with my husband at Top of the Hub or go to Blue Man Group (he's never been!)
24. Wear a bikini to the beach... no cover up.
25. Bring Emmalee to see the Rockafeller Christmas Tree.
26. Do a boudoir photo shoot.
27. Go to a group fitness class.
28. Buy an original piece of art and frame it in our house.
29. Go on our first family vacation (must be out of state, can't be CT)
30. Make a list of 100 things that make me happy.

22 out of 30 in just about 3 years is pretty awesome to me!
I'm excited about 30.  I am exactly where I need to be, exactly where I wanted to be, even though 10 years ago, I didn't know this is where I wanted to be. 

I think a 40 by 40 is my next list.

As Tim McGraw says:

I think I'll take a moment celebrate my age

End of an era and the turning of a page 
Now it's time to focus in on where I go from here 

Lord have mercy on my next thirty years...


February 19, 2016

Our Experience with Care.com



Let's be honest... Care.com and every other one of those "meet a babysitter online" ideas is scary as hell as a parent, am I right? But, we're at the point where I need a babysitter for 4 out of the next 5 weeks and I can't ask my mom or sister to cover that many days, it's too much.  It really has been the push we needed to find a local babysitter.  We asked around and didn't get much back from others so I tried Care.com. I mean, I used to get babysitting jobs through the site, so how different could it be to be on the hiring side?

It is so different! I am so ridiculously nervous. How do I put my kids into the hands of a stranger?

First off, there is a fee, but I of course had a coupon, which you can find here. After the coupon, it was under $20 per month for 3 months. I was apprehensive at first but am already so impressed with the outcome.

Care.com made it super easy.  I posted a job, looking for a sporadic babysitter, one or two nights a month but I had a few specific dates that I knew I'd need. I hit publish and went to bed.

Within 24 hours, I had 16 messages from caregivers who were interested in the job. Care.com has some automated rejections which made it easier to say no to a few who just didn't fit what we were looking for on paper.

I was able to respond to the applicants that looked like what we were hoping for on paper. I sent a message to 8 of the applications and ended up scheduling 3 interviews. Two of the girls are amazing and we'll be asking them back while one fell a bit short in person.

We did the "interviews" in our house which allowed the perspective sitters the chance to play with the kids and for me to see how they interact with toys and the outside playground, but there is the option to meet at a library or Dunks, etc. We did not opt for the background checks ($59 additional) but did ask each girl to provide some references and I'll be calling to follow up with them. Assuming the references check out, which I can't imagine them not after meeting these girls, we'll have 2 new babysitters on file!

I'm still getting messages so there is a chance that we could end up with a few more names before our 3 month period is up!

If you're considering trying out Care.com, you absolutely should! I can't even tell you how excited I am to have babysitters lined up already for the next month worth of events!


February 17, 2016

Emma Unboxes Tsum Tsums!

Do you watch Youtube videos where someone is opening up a blind bag with a surprise toy inside? The 4 year old is obsessed with them and is always asking to watch them.  When we saw the new Disney Tsum Tsum Blind Bags, Emma asked for 2 and then asked if she could make her own video.

disney tsum tsum

Adorable, right?

She even set up her own little table with a cake plate to hold her tsum tsums! Check out her/our first attempt at a video and leave a comment letting us know what you think! I may have a superstar on my hands! :)




February 12, 2016

Dressing Up with Skinny Tie Madness

Disclaimer: I was provided product in exchange for my post, however all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Valentine's Day is quickly approaching, and while we hardly ever do more than a card and flowers or a cheap box of chocolate, this year we're heading out to dinner! Okay, not really. We are heading out to dinner, but not because it's Valentine's Day. In fact, I'm kind of upset it's Valentine's Day because now that means it will be even harder to find a table somewhere...

I digress. We're heading out to a Toy Expo Show and because we'll have an all day babysitter we're going to grab dinner as well! We figure since we'll be meeting with so many companies, we might as well look nice and it will transition to dinner perfectly.

While Dave has to look nice every night at work, he's much more laid back when he's not at work.  I wanted to grab him something "special" that wasn't too over the top.  I came across Skinny Tie Madness and figured they were the perfect combination of classy but fun- exactly what I want our night out to be!

Skinny Tie Madness has so many amazing ties, priced at $29.99 and many include a sleek tie clip. It's an amazing price point considering how great the materials are plus they have both classic and trendy styles.


He cleans up nicely, doesn't he?

I'm going to order him a few of the madras plaid styles... and maybe the boats... okay, maybe more than he actually needs, but I just love them! Which design is your favorite?


February 10, 2016

My Current Favorite Meal : Southwest Chicken Bowls


I have been on a pretty awesome health kick lately. Menu planning, meal planning, pre-prepping snacks... I'm "in it" now and it feels good. I did lose a handful of pounds and then went a week of not prepping and felt myself falling back. Sad.

This week however, I'm prepping my favorite meal and wanted to share!

Southwest Chicken Bowls

1/2 tsp EVOO
2 cups fresh or frozen corn
1 can black beans (low sodium), rinsed
1 cup chopped onion
2 chicken breast
Taco Seasoning (I use Atlantic Spice Co's)
2 cups rice (brown or white - sometimes I use quinoa instead!), prepared according to directions. 
1 tsp of shredded cheddar cheese (optional)
1 tbsp of salsa (optional)

1. Put two chicken breasts in the crock pot, sprinkle with taco seasoning to your liking, and set on low to cook while you're at work (or wherever...)
2. Add EVOO to a skillet on low heat, then add chopped onions and corn. Cook until onions are transparent and corn is roasted.
3. Add can of rinsed black beans and mix together. Cook until beans are heated.
4. At the same time, use microwave or rice cooker to prepare 2 cups of rice. 
5. When all items are ready, layer the plate with 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup of corn and bean mixture, a palm sized piece of chicken, and a sprinkle of shredded cheese or salsa if desired.

Southwest Chicken Bowl Recipe




February 8, 2016

Surprise Sale from Kate Spade


Kate Spade started their most recent surprise sale over the weekend, and I'm smitten. Here's a few of my favorite items:

vegas jewels scatter necklace $25




But seriously... this balloon print is amazing! I kind of want all of these, I don't even care about the repeating print...


Although this shopper is my favorite. I'm obsessed with the navy colorway.


But I'd have a seriously hard time deciding between the balloons and these lemons!

lemon street len $159.00


Both Valentine's Day and my birthday are coming up.... it may be time to clean out the closet and invest in a new bag!

Which is your favorite from the site?


Have a Girl's Day Out at King Richard's Faire

I was provided admission in exchange for my review, however, all thoughts and opinions are my own.  It is definitely Fall now.  Sweatshirt...

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