5 Ghoulish Halloween Treats for Grownups

 

Thought Halloween treats were just for kids? Think again.

I’m far from the school-age set, yet I still have a serious sweet tooth that can only be satisfied by delicious candies. From fruit-flavored gummies to tart & chewy confections, I rarely discriminate when it comes to sugary treats.

So, this Halloween the kids won’t be the only ones trick-or-treating, I plan on stocking up on some ghoulish goodies from my go-to candy shop for grownups, Sugarfina. The chic confectionery boutique imports some of the most unique gourmet sweets from around the world. This season, it’s all about candies with a creepy twist.

Whether you’re hosting a spooky soiree or simply want to treat yourself to some zombie brains or indulge in sugary skulls, Sugarina has you covered for your Halloween cravings.

Check out a few of my favorites:

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These Zombie Brains will turn you into a brainiac after noshing on these squishy, gummy noggins all night long. Available here, $7.50

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Imported from Sweden, these Sugar Skulls will send shockwaves to your tastebuds. Available here, $7.50

SPOOKY-SWEETS-3PC-COFFIN-CANDY BENTO BOX®

Can’t decide on what Halloween-inspired candy to try? Don’t worry, this curated Spooky Sweets 3pc Coffin Candy Bento Box®  will deliver a trio of devilishly delicious choices. Available here, $28.

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Time to pick your perfect pumpkin! These American made Pumpkin Patch gummies are bursting with mouthwatering orange flavor. Available here, $7.50

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Not just for Halloween, these Champagne Bears are perfect for any festive occasion. Available here, $8.50

What’s your favorite Halloween candy? 

‘Gazillion Bubbles’ Will Make Kids Bubble Over with Excitement

Like many parents, I’m always looking for fun things to do with my kids on the weekends.

Whether it’s taking them to see a new exhibit at a museum or a play at our favorite children’s theater—there’s always something to do in the city that never sleeps. Recently, I had the pleasure of taking my son and daughter to a magical place that they won’t soon forget, the Gazillion Bubbles Show.

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Located at New World Stages Theatre on the city’s west side, the bubble-filled extravaganza is one of the most unique and fascinating shows that we’ve ever experienced as a family. We watched Melody Yang, the self-taught suds expert wield her awe-inspiring skills by transforming bubbles into intriguing, bouncy works of art.

We observed in amazement as countless transparent spheres floated into the crowd, creating a lively interactive exchange that made all attendees feel like part of the show. Part science, all fun—this bubble-tastic, soapy spectacle kept us captivated throughout its entire 60-minute duration. Just when you thought the bubbles were slowing down, more and more would appear turning the theater into a delightful bubble wonderland.

Click here for more information and tickets to the Gazillion Bubbles Show. 

From start to finish, the mind-blowing display of bubbles was astonishingly wondrous and brought out the kid in all of us.

If you’re in the New York City area and looking for a cool place to take your little ones, look no further than the Gazillion Bubbles Show.

Below, check out a quick clip from the show:

 

Have you ever attended the Gazillion Bubbles Show with your family?

Olympic Gold Medalist Dominique Dawes Talks Family, Healthy Eating and Her Legacy

I remember 1996 like it was yesterday. I was a sophomore in high school and can vividly recall being transfixed by the Olympics. It was the first time that I watched the world’s biggest sports spectacle on TV and one gymnast in particular was responsible for my fascination—Dominique Dawes. The gold-medal winning champion looked like me and that was mind-blowing to see, even in the mid-1990s.

That year, Dawes and the rest of the U.S. women’s gymnastics team (often referred to as the “Magnificent Seven”) took home the U.S. gold. She also won the individual bronze medal—becoming the first African-American to win an individual Olympic medal in women’s gymnastics. These accolades and ground-breaking records inspired countless young African-American girls and women (myself included) to pursue their dreams in sports and beyond. So, you can imagine how excited I was to meet her at the Disney Social Media Moms Celebration earlier this year during the GoGo squeeZ activation.

Now a mom of two, the former gymnast is a GoGo squeeZ Goodness Ambassador where she helps further the applesauce and yogurt brand’s mission of making it easier for kids and families to be a little healthier and happier every day.

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I recently caught up with Dominique to discuss food, family and of course winning the gold! Check out our Q&A below:

BGG: What’s your favorite meal to prepare for your children? Why?
Dominique Dawes: For my two kids, I must be creative, but I have some picky eaters. One day they will love my mac and cheese with roasted cauliflower added in and then another day they won’t even touch it.  My girls do love Brussels sprouts and broccoli so I have made a few different renditions of those vegetables. Roasting, sautéing, adding garlic, twist of lemon, and a few other ingredients that will attract their last buds. And anything that provides protein, fruit and/or veggies is a win in my book when it comes to snacks. Bonus points if I can take it on the go, like GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ or peanut butter and a banana.

BGG: How do you incorporate GoGo squeeZ into your daughters’ meals? Do you have any fun recipes that you make with the applesauces?
DD: My girls love granola bars, so one of our favorite things to make together are my YogurtZ Bars using GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ. We make them using Strawberry or Banana GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ, fruit, nuts, and a few other simple ingredients. They take just 25 minutes to make, and the GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ gives them 4 grams of protein and a good source of calcium and vitamin D. I add that to their lunch to balance out their meal. They feel like they’re having a treat, but it’s something I feel good about them eating!  Also, I love to add GoGo squeeZ YogurtZ to their smoothies!

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BGG: How do you instill healthy eating habits in your children at such a young age?
DD: I provide them with a variety of different healthy options and I love spices and fresh herbs that add to the flavoring of all types of foods that I make for my girls.  They have enjoyed going to the farmer’s market and we talk about the different foods and how they are grown.  For the past two years, we have had a small herb and vegetable garden on our deck so my daughters feel like they have some ownership over the food that we make. Weekly, they will cut fresh herbs or a vegetable from our garden and add it to a dish that we make together.

BGG: How do your daughters inspire you?
DD: They remind me what’s important in life. It’s about enjoying the little things.  When we will go for a walk and they will stop to pick a flower and comment on its fragrance, to pick up a caterpillar and inspect every spot on its back, they will stop when they hear a bird chirping and wait patiently for it to fly from a tree…I am amazed to see life through the eyes of my daughters because that is when I realize that all the things that I worry about are not important.

BGG: What’s the biggest misconception about motherhood?
DD: That motherhood is routine. Every day is different from the next.

BGG: I know you started taking gymnastics classes when you were six, did you always have dreams of becoming an Olympic Gold Medalist?
DD: My dreams of becoming an Olympic wasn’t until I was around 11 years old.  I won a local competition and the journey began soon after that.

BGG: As the first African-American to make the national women’s team and the first to win an individual medal in women’s gymnastics, what advice would you give to aspiring young gymnasts of color?
DD: Well, the beauty is that Gabby Douglas and Simone Biles have continued to pave the way for young girls of color to see the sport of gymnastics as an opportunity for them to excel. Having positive role models that are examples of a strong work ethic and never giving is key.

BGG: If you weren’t a three-time Olympic champion, what kind of career would you have pursued?
DD: FBI agent.

BGG: Would you ever want your girls to become professional athletes?
DD: No, I want them to have a more well-rounded childhood and not make the same sacrifices that I did.

BGG: It’s been 21 years since you won the Olympic gold, other than winning, what stands out to you the most about that time in your life?
DD: What stands out most is that even after 21 years of making history people still come up to up to me to talk about that historic moment.  They remember where they were and the emotions they felt.  Just the other day two young kids came to my door for a photo because their dad and grandmother told them about my career.  So, I showed them my gold medal and they both lit up and talked about my performances that they looked at on YouTube.

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BGG: What fun activities do you and your family enjoy doing to stay healthy?
DD: We are a very active family.  My girls don’t care to sit still of long so we are always out walking, at the park, biking, going to open gym at a local gymnastics gym or just dancing at our home.  My husband loves to have dance parties with the girls and both my girls love performing gymnastics moves in our living room so there is never dull moment at home.

BGG: Do you have a workout regimen to maintain your healthy lifestyle?  
DD: My workout regimen today is being active and engaged with my girls daily. It’s incredible how two toddlers can put me through a much more rigorous workout keeping up with them than a fitness class.

BGG: What do you want your legacy to be?
DD: I would like to be known as a mother that put her faith and family first.  Inspiring others along the way either it be through my Olympic accomplishments or philanthropic endeavors (encouraging others to live a healthy lifestyle) would be icing on the cake.

Do you remember watching Dominique Dawes during the 1996 Olympics? What healthy snack wins the gold in your household?

4 Tips to Get Your Child Ready (and Comfortable) for the First Days of Preschool

It’s hard to believe that summer is basically over. For us moms, it’s even more bittersweet because our little ones are heading back to school. With my daughter starting second grade and my 3-year-old son entering pre-school this week, mixed emotions are running high in my household.

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Me and my little MJ. I love him to pieces! I’m sure he’ll thrive in preschool despite his current anxiety.

While my daughter is beyond excited to go back to school and socialize with her friends, my son is expressing just the opposite. He’s scared, uncertain and downright sad about this new transition in his young life. If your child is also showing signs that he’s not exactly thrilled to spend his days coloring with other kids and participating in circle time, don’t worry—I’ve got you covered.

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Here’s a list of things to do that will hopefully make the transition smoother for you and your child:

  1. Read to your child. Carve out time to read books about preschool in the days leading up to his big day. Books focused on the first day of school will give him an idea of what to expect in the coming days, while giving the two of you quality time. “The Night Before Preschool,” by Natasha Wing is an excellent choice!
  2. Reinforce self-help skills. Now’s the time to let them exert their independence. Encourage them to use the bathroom alone (hand-washing and properly wiping after using the toilet included), put on their shoes, open their snacks, etc. By allowing them to do these things on their own, boosts their confidence and gets them ready for this big stage in their lives.
  3. Start a special routine. Kids love consistency. Create a fun routine that doesn’t take too much time in the morning, but still reassures him that you’re there for him and will continue to be. Whether it’s allowing him to set the table for breakfast or encouraging him to draw a picture before drop-off, the regularity will help him feel secure.
  4. Encourage self-expression. In many cases, this is your child’s first time in a setting where you won’t be present. To a preschooler, that’s frightening. Embolden them to talk about their feelings and why they feel apprehensive or fearful. Knowing that you’re listening and supportive will make them feel safe and loved.

Retail therapy may not be the antidote to your preschooler’s back-to-school jitters, but it definitely won’t hurt. To get your family in the pre-fall, back-to-school spirit, I’ve partnered with Hanes for a fun back-to-school giveaway!

**One lucky reader will win a $50 Visa Hanes gift card, along with 3 back-to-school styles (socks, tees and underwear) from Hanes. The contest is only open to U.S. residents and will run until September 18th, 2017. To enter, simply leave a comment or tweet me with how you plan to make (or made) back-to-school fun for your child. A lucky winner will be notified via email or Twitter by September 20th.

How do you plan to make (or made) back-to-school fun for your child? 

Brandy is Returning to ‘Chicago’

Calling all Brandy fans!

The multi-talented entertainer is making her way back to the Great White Way. The Grammy winner is hitting the Broadway stage again for a 17-performance engagement (August 17 through August 31) at the Ambassador Theater where she’s reprising her role as “Roxie Hart” in the Tony-Award-winning musical, “Chicago.”

Brandy Norwood as Roxie Hart in CHICAGO THE MUSICAL
Set in the Windy City, the musical tells the story of Roxie, a housewife and nightclub dancer who murders her on-the-side lover after he threatens to leave her. The show is filled with tantalizing numbers and eye-catching costumes that will surely keep the audience captivated.

From the catchy 90s tune “I Wanna Be Down,” to the hit TV show “Moesha,” the stunning powerhouse singer/actress has created melodic magic and onscreen allure for more than two decades. We’re sure that her performance in the classic roaring 20s tale will deliver the same amazing pipes, undeniable charisma and indisputable flair that only Brandy can bring.

If you want to see the talented triple-threat do her thing live, this is a show you won’t want to miss.

For show dates and tickets click here

Have you ever seen “Chicago?” What’s your favorite Brandy song?

Review: ‘Endangered! The Musical’

This past Sunday, my family and I visited New York City’s International Zoo.

Never heard of it? Well, that’s because this zoo was set center stage at the Davenport Theatre right in the heart of Manhattan. The “zoo” is the backdrop to the brand new off-Broadway show, “Endangered! The Musical,” which tells the story of a budding kid reporter who gets stranded with a group of endangered animals in the middle of a record-breaking storm.

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Directed and choreographed by David Chase Gosselin, “Endangered! The Musical,” is a delight for the senses. Through heartwarming songs, foot-tapping dances, and funny pop-culture references sprinkled with educational tidbits, audiences are treated to 70 minutes of pure entertainment.

Each of the talented, multi-cultural cast members brought their characters (tamarind, skunk, crocodile, crane, cheetah and panda bear) to life with witty dialogue coupled with their respective, uncanny “animalistic” attributes.

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Photo by Jeremy Daniels

The musical is an amusing way to introduce little ones to the importance of taking care of the ecosystem and looking after all living things, not just people. Afterall, earth is the only planet we have and we must do our best to preserve it and all its creatures. Again, this show does an outstanding job of addressing these issues in ways that are engaging and interesting to children.

Both of my kids enjoyed the show from start to finish. My son was especially enthralled by the music and occasional flashing lights.

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If you’re a parent of a young child in the New York City area, I highly recommend catching this wonderful musical.

Click here for show times and ticket information.

Disclosure: I was provided complimentary tickets for review purposes only. All opinions  expressed are my own. 

What shows have your family seen this year? 

Cirque du Soleil’s ‘OVO’ Gets Bugged Out in Brooklyn

There are circuses and then there’s Cirque du Soleil.

The popular Canadian-based entertainment troupe has been wowing audiences since the early 1980s, and this week my family got to see its latest show, “OVO,” right in the heart of Brooklyn.

Inspired by the ecosystem, OVO, which means “egg” in Portuguese is a captivating production showcasing dancers and acrobats dressed as colorful insects and creatures as they live, eat, play and flutter about in breathtaking stunts. When they encounter a mysterious egg, the curious creepy-crawlies are fascinated by the enigmatic sight.

Comprised of 50 performing artists from around the world, spectators are treated to eye-catching costumes, stunning choreography and jaw-dropping feats that defy gravity. Both of my kids enjoyed the show from start from finish. Their eyes lit up even more when the green crickets leapt and bounced from a nearly transparent trampoline to a giant rock-climbing wall set center stage.

If you’re looking for a thrilling evening for the entire family, head to the Barclays Center or NYCB Live and catch this awe-inspiring show.

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“OVO” runs at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn through Sunday, July 9th and at NYCB Live on Long Island  from August 30 through Sunday, September 3rd. Click here for ticket information. 

**Full disclosure: I was comped a pair of tickets for review purposes only. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Have you ever seen a Cirque du Soleil show? If so, which one did you see?

5 Reasons Why I’m Attending the 2017 Essence Festival

Today, I’m attending the Essence Music Festival in New Orleans for the first time. I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to pack my bags and head down to the Big Easy for a weekend of music, fun, food and fellowship.

I’ve always been a fan of Essence magazine and have only heard great things about the annual festival, so it was only a matter of time before I made my way. Plus, after my recent visit to New Orleans last fall, I fell in love with the ambiance, culture and of course, the delicious cajun cuisine.

After eyeing the nightly concert lineups and speakers booked for the 3-day event, I am beyond excited to head to the Crescent City this Fourth of July weekend. Below, check out several reasons why I’m looking forward to attending my first Essence Music Festival.

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Networking opportunities. Essence Festival is synonymous with black girl magic, so it goes without saying that the event will present plenty of opportunities to connect with fellow boss babes, entrepreneurs and professionals from various industries.

Mouthwatering dishes. From crawfish étouffée to scrumptious beignets, New Orleans is known for their delicious food. Being here during the festival provides countless moments to get a good meal.

Beauty Carnivale. Being a beauty buff, I can’t wait to get the latest makeup tips and tricks from fellow bloggers and editors at the festival’s first-ever beauty carnivale at the expo.

Getting inside scoop. Tons of actresses, singers and pop culture luminaries will convene in New Orleans this weekend for the festival. Hopefully, I’ll be able to snag a few exclusive interviews and get the scoop on some of our favorite stars’ upcoming projects and more.

Top-notch performances. They say music is the soundtrack of our lives. That’s why I’m so excited to take a trip down memory lane with a few of my favorite artists from the 90s and early 2000s. What teen growing up in the 90s didn’t love Xscape’s R&B hits? The quartet’s recent reunion has been music to the ears of R&B fans around the country and Essence Festival attendees are lucky to hear them live on Saturday. They’ll join a roster of other talented artists including India.Arie, Diana Ross, Solange, Master P and Chance the Rapper.

Will you be in New Orleans for the Essence Festival this weekend? If not, have you ever attended in the past?

Product Review: Baby Dove + GIVEAWAY

When it comes to trusted health and body care products for me and my family, Dove is always top of mind. In case you didn’t hear, the 60-year old brand recently released a line dedicated to our littlest family members: babies.

Yep, the brand behind the celebrated Beauty Bar is now bringing its skincare expertise to infants with its new Baby Dove line. Developed for babies with normal to dry skin, this mild hypoallergenic array of products including Body Wash, Body Lotion, Face & Body Wipes, Shampoo and Baby Bar soothes baby’s sensitive skin and moisturizes effortlessly.

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Baby Dove products are available here, starting at TK  

Although I’m no longer a mom to babies, I do have a toddler whom I’ve tested these new offerings on. However, when my 7-year-old daughter blurted out that these products were for “babies,” my son wasn’t too pleased. I assured him it was also for big boys and that it would make his skin smooth and smell yummy—and I was right. As expected, it smelled fresh and clean, but not too fragrant.

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Plus, the body wash hydrated his skin like no other cleanser I’ve ever used. Usually, after bathing, his skin looks super ashy and dry as if he’s rolled around in baby powder! Luckily, after using the new body wash, his skin appeared and felt moisturized—even before applying lotion. The rich formula reminds me of the regular Dove Body Wash that I swear by, which leaves my dry skin super soft after just one shower.

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While I could skip the lotion with him, I still rub it on because it locks in moisture and provides an added layer of hydration. Plus, it amplifies that baby fresh scent that I love.

If the positive results I’ve experienced with my 3 ½ year-old son are any indication, this innovative formula would work wonders on babies with even gentler skin.

**GIVEAWAY**Have you used the new Dove Baby line? If so, what are your thoughts? I’ve teamed up with Dove to give one lucky reader the chance to win the entire line along with a few Beauty Bars (for moms). The winner will be randomly selected and announced on July 5th. This contest is only open to U.S. residents

How do you make bath time fun for your children?

5 Reasons to Take Your Kids to Gulliver’s Gate

Looking for a place to keep your kids cool and entertained on a hot summer day?

If you’re in the New York City area, look no further than Gulliver’s Gate. This brand-new attraction brings a miniaturized version of the world to the heart of Times Square. Based around the popular adventure story, “Gulliver’s Travels,” this awe-inspiring exhibit of miniature wonders is nothing short of amazing.

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With more than 300 built-to-scale scenes, including model landscapes in New York, Asia, Latin America, Russia, Israel and many other regions from across the globe, it will keep you and your little ones intrigued for hours on end. Plus, upon entry, guests are given a key (that’s yours to keep!) that with a slight turn, can bring parts of the exhibit to life. For example, by inserting the key at the kiosk in the New York scene, makes the famous Macy’s Day Parade move through the minuscule city with colorful characters.

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Both of my children (daughter, 7 and son, 3) especially enjoyed Russia because the snow-capped models reminded them of Christmas—and of course, New York, because of its hometown familiarity. My personal pick was Washington D.C. I’ve visited the nation’s capital countless times and I’m always blown away by the classic architecture and designs. The level of detail that the talented team behind the exhibit demonstrated to recreate popular D.C landmarks is truly remarkable. Seeing replicas of former President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama waving from the state-of-the-art White House was a pleasant surprise and nod to their legacy.

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Not only are the scenes mind-blowing, there are also novelty stations such as “Make a Rainbow” that allows kids to use their cognitive skills to connect the colors of the rainbow. There’s also an interactive “waterfall” where visitors can take a digital photo and have it displayed in the cascading water. Plus, there is also a 3D photo booth, where families can get photos and even a miniature version of themselves to take home at an additional cost.

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In a nutshell, here are 5 reasons why you should take your kids to Gulliver’s Gate.

  1. Keeps kids cool. It’s a great indoor attraction to escape the heat during the summer months.
  2. Makes learning fun. My daughter asked many questions during our visit and the staff were knowledgeable and shared interesting tidbits about the replica regions displayed throughout the exhibit.
  3. Nonstop entertainment. With so many intricately-designed displays, there’s just so much to explore! You’ll be entertained at every turn.
  4. Convenient location. The Times Square location makes it easy to travel to from public transportation.
  5. Good for kids of all ages. My 7-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son enjoyed the exhibit equally. My daughter was fascinated by the fine details, while my son was excited to find a few of his favorite characters (hint: Spider Man is hanging in Brooklyn 🙂 ) hiding out in scenes throughout the exhibit. I’m sure older kids and teens would find it interesting too.

Whether you live in the Big Apple, or planning a visit, Gulliver’s Gate is an awesome attraction for the entire family.

Gulliver’s Gate is located, 216 W. 44th Street in New York City. Ticket prices are $36 for adults and $27 for kids (12 and under).

(Full disclosure: My family and I were comped entry to Gulliver’s Gate for review purposes. All  thoughts and opinions are my own.)

Have you visited Gulliver’s Travels yet? What’s your favorite museum and/or exhibit?