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Disney Interactive Studios Introduces Wii Video Games: Review and Give-Away!

Disney-Interactive-StudiosLast week, the Monkey and I were invited to the beautiful Victorian in Santa Monica, CA for the Disney Holiday Blogger Tour.  It was such a treat to preview all the fun items that Disney Interactive Studios has developed just in time for the holidays. Disney recognizes that one way to spend time together during the holiday season is to make it fun and interactive.

I love playing games with my family and, in my house, that often includes Wii video games. However, I usually reserve our host of Wii games for older kids and adults. As much as my 3 year old is fascinated by DJ Hero, I don’t necessarily think it’s appropriate for him to find his inner DJ Gregg Gillis just yet! Needless to say, I was especially interested in Disney’s new kid-friendly Wii video games.

Disney has created a whole portfolio of video games designed for the whole family. The family-friendly interactive Wii video games include: (continues…)

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Ruckus Media Group iPhone/iPad Apps for Children – Review and Giveaway!

RUCKUSMOBILEMEDIAFINALLOGOIf you’re a regular reader of AYMB, then you already know how much I appreciate kid-friendly iPhone apps for my toddler.  The use of educational yet entertaining iPhone applications for children can be such a fantastic teaching tool and I strongly believe in their value. It goes without saying that I’m always on the lookout for great new apps, which is why I was very excited when Ruckus Media Group contacted me about reviewing a few of their new story apps for children.

Ruckus Media Group, a global mobile family entertainment company, has just released it’s first animated children’s story applications for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. These classic stories include:

Tom Thumb and the Knights of the Round Table, told by John Cleese, illustrated by Tim Gabor, music by Elvis Costello

The Velveteen Rabbit, told by Meryl Streep, illustrated by Dave Jorgenson, music by George Winston


The Velveteen Rabbit (image courtesy of Ruckus Media Group)

Johnny Appleseed, told by Garrison Keillor, illustrated by Stan Olson, music by Mark O’Connor

Pecos Bill, told by Robin Williams, illustrated by Tim Raglin, music by Ry Cooder

John Henry, told by Denzel Washington, illustrated by Barry Jackson, music by B.B. King


Pecos Bill (image courtesy of Ruckus Media Group)

I was given the opportunity to sample The Velveteen Rabbit, as told by Meryl Streep, and Pecos Bill, as told by Robin Williams. With all five story apps, you have the option to watch the video narrated by the actors, read the story yourself, or even read and record the story.

The Velveteen Rabbit

Meryl Streep is one of my favorite actresses and to hear her dramatization of The Velveteen Rabbit story was an absolute pleasure. In a lilting British accent, Ms. Streep brings a wonderful tone to this classic story. The images, drawn by Dave Jorgensen, were visually stunning and rich and the music by George Winston was soothingly gorgeous. The story is the perfect way to end a day and calm a child for sleep. It’s also the perfect story app to have in time for the upcoming holiday season. (continues…)

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Foodie Friday: The New OC Whole Foods Preview and Gift Card Giveaway!

Whole Foods Market(A note to my readers – this is a review of an Orange County, CA based Whole Foods and the give-away included is only open to residents of Southern California, Hawaii, Arizona, and Nevada. My apologies in advance if you are not eligible for this give-away.)

I’ve been a fan of Whole Foods grocery stores for many years so, needless to say, I was thrilled when I was invited to preview the 300th Whole Foods store that just opened in Huntington Beach, CA. Two days before the grand opening on Wednesday, October 13th, I joined up with other bloggers and media outlets for a fun tour that showcased everything the new Whole Foods has to offer its new community.

In addition to many of the natural and organic items that you find in Whole Foods stores across the country, the new Huntington Beach location will offer unique regional products and cuisine from more than 50 local vendors, including Gringo Bandito Hot Sauce, Mary’s Free Range Organic Chickens, Honey Pacifica, Carlsbad Aquafarm, Yasutomi Farms, California Baby, and Xan Chocolates, to name a few. Many of the local vendors were at the preview and I happily sampled their goods. I was introduced to quite a few products I’ve never tried before and saw even more that I know and love. I’ve been a fan of Mary’s Chickens for years (my delicious Thanksgiving turkey last year was from Mary’s farm!), and it was a pleasure to actually meet her in person. It was also a treat to discover other local vendors. I especially loved the Xan chocolates, the sage and eucalyptus honey from Honey Pacifica, the shrimp from Carlsbad Aquafarm, and the hot sauce from Gringo Bandito (a Tapatio loyalist for years, I have to admit that this incredible hot sauce won me over). (continues…)

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The Consumer Conscience

When I recently learned that the Target and Best Buy corporations donated large sums of money to the political group MN Forward, an organization that is supporting an extreme anti-gay political candidate, I included them in my growing list of businesses that no longer hear the ka-ching sound from my wallet. Despite the “apology” from Target CEO Greg Steinhafel, Target will not be getting any business from me until they make a contribution of an equal amount or greater to a pro-LGBT candidate or organization. Considering that Steinhafel and his wife have donated $5,000 each to Rep. Michele Bachmann, I have a feeling that isn’t going to happen anytime soon.

I believe being a smart shopper goes beyond clipping coupons, looking for good deals, and avoiding paying full retail. A smart shopper also shops with their conscience. We all have our own ethical beliefs and values, neither of which should be compromised because of a good deal.

There are issues we all care about, whether it be equal rights for gays, environmental concerns, sweatshop and child labor, animal testing, war funding, white-collar crime, etc… I believe that giving money to a business that goes against our ethical values is like directly contributing to the very issues we object. We would never do that, so why do it when we shop or eat? As consumers, we’re a powerful group. We have our voice and we have our wallets. When we voice our objections to bad business practices and close our wallets, we’re making a powerful statement.

I’m not urging my readers to take up the same causes that I believe in, but I am urging everyone who reads this to listen to your conscience before you buy. Educate yourself about companies that you regularly buy from and how your purchases were manufactured or produced. Learn about their political contributions and donations. We’re not always going to be aware of bad business, but we should all be doing our best to know as much as possible. That’s what makes us a smart shopper.

Are there businesses you don’t support for one reason or another? Would love to hear about your own story.


Interested in knowing more about the businesses that I currently boycott? See below: (continues…)

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Foodie Friday: The AYMB Guide To Trader Joe’s


You know those *haul* shopping videos on youtube? This is my version.

Who doesn’t love Trader Joe’s?!?

No. Really. I actually want to know who you are, because I’ve yet to meet someone that doesn’t love that place. I’ve been a loyal customer of Trader Joe’s since about 1997 and I tend to move to areas that have a TJ’s within 10 minutes of my house.  When realtors talk about location, location, location, all I want to know is if there is a TJ’s nearby.

All loyal TJ’s customers have their favorites and I am no exception. I may have relied on their frozen meals and cheap wine (Two Buck Chuck!) back in the 90′s, but now I rely on their organic and healthy products to feed my family.  Trader Joe’s proves that organic, healthy, and natural products do not have to cost an arm and a leg. From a starving college student on a tight budget to a mom cooking for her family, Trader Joe’s has come through for me time and time again. The majority of my grocery receipts come from TJ’s, which should tell you everything.

Without further ado, these are my favorite Trader Joe’s products. Prices are current as of this post date:


Organic Oats & Flax Instant Oatmeal ($3.29) – when I feel the need to have a particularly healthy breakfast, these individual packets of oatmeal do the job.

8 Plus 2 100% Stone Ground Whole Grain Bread ($2.29) – my favorite bread, made with natural whole grains, soy & flax.

Vanilla Almond Crunch Cereal ($3.99) - this cereal is a favorite in my family. It’s good with or without milk!

Trader Joe’s Low-Fat Cereal Bars ($1.69) – made with organic grains, these cereal bars are perfect for a quick breakfast or healthy snack. I always have a few of these in my bag for when the the Monkey gets hungry.

Lavosh Bread ($1.99) - perfect for wraps or a snack with tahini or hummus.


Organic Creamy Peanut Butter ($2.99) – this is quite possibly the best peanut butter I’ve tried. When mixed well, it doesn’t dry out, either.

Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce ($2.49) - this mustard is incredible and works deliciously on anything from a turkey sandwich to grilled sausage.

Garlic Hummus ($2.49) – spread on lavosh or pita bread or dip your chips and veggies in it. This hummus is the best!

Organic Marinara Sauce ($2.29) - I use this tasty marinara for individual pizzas on English muffins or in pastas.

Panko Breadcrumbs ($1.69) – I prefer panko breadcrumbs to regular breadcrumbs and this panko is one of my favorites.

Himalayan Pink Salt Crystals ($1.99) – this fabulous pink salt comes with a built-in grinder!

Taco Seasoning Mix ($0.79) - this is a great alternative to other taco seasoning packs because you can actually pronounce the ingredients. (continues…)

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