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?

Calling All ‘Despicable Me’ Fans: 5 Minions-Inspired Gifts for All

Let the Minions mania commence!

If you’re a “Despicable Me” fan, you already know that the third installment of the popular franchise opens in theaters June 30. In celebration of everyone’s favorite banana-eating goggly-eyed, overall-wearing movie stars’ upcoming release, I’ve rounded up some must-have Minion-inspired items that are guaranteed to make your kids (or you – no judgement here!) squeal with delight.

Check them out below:

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Cult luggage band AWAY’s limited edition “Carry On” will be the envy of all travelers when they spot the eye-catching yellow roller bag. Available here (June 20), $225

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Take note, stationery lovers! This adorable Moleskine limited edition large leather bound notebook will add cheer to mundane meetings and positive vibes to never-ending to-do lists. Available here, $25

FunBites® 2-Piece Minions Goggles Food Cutter Set

This nifty FunBites® 2-Piece Minions Goggles Food Cutter Set will get your little one excited to eat just about anything as long as it can be cut into fun goggle shapes.  available here, $13.

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This Minions Sculpted Coffee Mug will give you the caffeine and a jolt of cuteness you need to start your day. Available here, $13

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Your mini-me will get a kick out of the funny phrases this cuddly Despicable Me Sleepy Time Minion Bob blurts out. Available here, $40

Are you or any members of your family “Despicable Me” fans? 

Event Recap: Big Apple Barbecue Block Party

Nothing signals the start of summer in New York City like the Big Apple Barbecue Block Party.

Held the second weekend in June at Madison Square Park, the popular barbecue festival has brought some of the best ‘cue aficionados and BBQ lovers alike together for the past 15 years. With over a dozen grill masters from across the country ‘cueing up slabs of mouth-watering ribs, the two-day fest is a can’t-miss event for foodies.

My husband and I have been attending for years and this time we made it a family affair with our two kids in tow. We opted to attend on Saturday and boy am I glad we did. On Saturday Kingsford charcoal hosted a delicious brunch for members of the media, which consisted of fried chicken, waffles (with Bourbon maple syrup), corn on the cob, shrimp & grits, watermelon salad, and last but certainly not least, Bloody Mary cocktails garnished with a tender pork rib.

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After grubbing on the scrumptious southern classics mentioned above, we made our way to the main event to try even more finger-lickin’ barbecue. Throughout the park, we made our rounds visiting various booths from Alabama to Texas. Finally, we landed at our favorite, 17th Street BBQ, for their delectable baby back ribs and tangy pit beans. The perfectly grilled meat fell off the bone with the slightest bite while the sauce created a tasty blend of sweet, tang and a bit of heat. Not sure if we’re partial because this pit-master hails from our home state, Illinois.

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From spare ribs to brisket to pulled pork sandwiches, the grilled meat festival didn’t disappoint.

Next year, if you’re in the NYC area the second week of June, clear your calendar and experience the ‘cue fest for yourself. If you can’t wait that long to get your hands on some of the country’s best barbecue, take a visit to one of the vendors who has an outpost nearest you. Click here for a list of all the chefs and grill masters and their locations.

Rib road trip, anyone?

What’s your favorite BBQ spot? What makes it the best?

3 Thoughtful Things to do this Father’s Day + Hanes Gift Pack Giveaway

It’s no secret that dads tend to get the short end of the stick when it comes to Father’s Day. Sure, they get the cards and other small tokens of parental acknowledgement, but we moms know that their special day pales in comparison to ours. In fact, The National Retail Federation estimates that U.S. consumers spent $23.6 billion on Mother’s Day this year. Last year, however, the NRF put Father’s Day spending at $14.3 billion. Those numbers prove that we spend our money on mom way more than on dad.

This year I’m letting my husband know how much he’s appreciated by showering him with love and items that he’ll use and won’t get tossed aside after Sunday. Being married for more than a decade, I know that expensive gifts don’t mean as much as thoughtful, practical things. That’s why I’m celebrating his contributions to our family by doing things that will have sentimental and heartfelt impact.

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Stock up on undergarments. Undershirts, underwear and socks may not be hot ticket items, but they’re always in high-demand in my household. Stocking my husband’s closet with comfy, versatile t-shirts is a simple yet practical gift that lasts all year long. Hanes® has been my go to for keeping him outfitted in super soft t-shirts and undergarments since we’ve been married. I’m sure that he’s going to love the brand’s new ComfortBlend® Superior Softness Undershirts, which are a cotton-modal blend that offers maximum comfort and includes advanced odor protection technology.

Bake a tasty treat. Nothing says “love” like homemade baked goods. I’m still no match for my mother-in-law’s scrumptious desserts, but I can make a pretty decent cake. My guess is that most men would appreciate a delicious batch of cookies, mouthwatering pie or any other sweet treat to show you care. Remember, baking always gets you brownie points. 😉

Sneak sappy snapshots. They say men aren’t sentimental, but I beg to differ. Sure, dads may not show their sappier sides as much as us moms, but they’re not robots – they have feelings too! Why not snap a few sneaky snapshots of him cuddling with the kids, reading a bedtime story or doing some other adorable thing with the kids and create a photo album or personalized present with the photographs? Trust me, your husband will be overjoyed with the sentiment even if he doesn’t fully express it. Remember, they’re all big softies underneath their tough exteriors.

In honor of dad’s big day, I’m giving you guys a chance to win a $50 Hanes Visa Card, 3-Pack of Hanes® Superior Soft T-shirts, Package of Hanes® Socks with FreshIQ™. Simply tell me how you plan to celebrate Father’s Day with either your husband, father or both by leaving a comment below or tweeting me @BrownGirlGumbo. One lucky reader will be randomly selected and notified on Thursday, June 15th.

How do you plan to celebrate Father’s Day with your husband or father this year? 

Citrus Makes Summer Dishes Come to Life

When it comes to making meals for my family, I’m no master. Sure, I can prepare the basics, but beyond the simple standard meals, I’m an amateur at best.  Plus, getting my picky 7-year-old and toddler to eat anything remotely unfamiliar is a feat. That’s why I’m always trying new seasonings, spices, and cooking oils that will subtly introduce new flavors to their favorite dishes.

This month, I’ve added a lemon-flavored extra virgin olive oil and a citrus seasoning to my cooking repertoire. The olive oil, sold exclusively at Stop and Shop is a game-changer. My kids and I believe citrus makes just about any dish taste better and this olive oil delivers. Its subtle hint of lemon provides a slight acidity that typical olive oils don’t offer. I’ve used it to sauté spinach, drizzle on baked salmon and toss with pasta.

My daughter at the Limoncello promotion stand at our local Stop & Shop in Brooklyn.

My daughter at the Limoncello promotion stand at our local Stop & Shop in
Brooklyn.

Speaking of pasta, that brings me to my other culinary discovery: True Lime’s crystallized Lime, Garlic and Cilantro. This perfect blend of citrusy seasonings, brings my pasta dishes to life—earning it a permanent spot in my spice rack. From linguine to bow tie to penne, this blend perks up ordinary pasta in an instant. I also sprinkle it over rice and seafood for extra flavor. There’s also True Orange with Ginger that adds a wow factor to Asian-inspired meals. Plus, none of the True Citrus spiced blends contain any artificial flavors, sweeteners, preservatives, or gluten, and they’re also non-GMO.

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I prepared this pesto bow-tie pasta dish with Stop & Shop’s Limoncello Extra Virgin Olive Oil and sprinkled True Lime Cilantro & Garlic seasoning on top.

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In addition to the olive oil, Stop and Shop has an entire lineup of limited edition limoncello-inspired creations that will be perfect for summer dining while True Citrus also offers delightful flavored lemonade mixes. True Citrus products are available in 37,000 stores nationwide such as Target and Walmart, and Amazon.com.

If you love lemon and lime, you’ll love these citrus-inspired offerings. Trust me, your taste buds will thank you!

What’s the one seasoning (excluding salt and pepper) that you can’t cook without?

CVS Pharmacy Removing All Sunscreen Lower Than SPF 15

Summer is almost here, which means even more time to spend out in the sun. Sure, Vitamin D is a good thing, but soaking up rays without the right protection is a no-go.

That’s why CVS Pharmacy’s new Long Live Skin campaign is aiming to increase awareness around skin health and the importance of proper skincare. We brown girls have to do away with the notion that our melanin is enough to safeguard us from harmful UV rays because it’s not. In fact, melanoma tends to be more deadly for us African-Americans according to a July 2016 study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology. While the incidence of melanoma is higher in our Caucasian counterparts, we tend to get diagnosed in its later stages leading to the lowest overall survival rate.

That’s why I’m so impressed that CVS Pharmacy is the only national retailer to remove all sun care products with SPF lower than 15 from shelves and has added more than 30 new SPF+/broad spectrum products to sun care sets that either meet or exceed FDA standards. That’s a commendable step in providing consumers with the best information so that they make smart, informed purchases. Plus, the Skin Care Foundation has certified CVS Health brand SPF products with a Seal of Recommendation.

So, go ahead, have fun in the sun, but be sure to spray or lather on the sunscreen!

Below, check out some of CVS Pharmacy’s SPF offerings:

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Aveeno Active Naturals Protect + Hydrate Sunscreen available here, $11.80

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Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen available here, $10

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CVS Pharmacy Kids Clear Sunscreen Spray available here, $9.50

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Promise Organic SPF 30 Coconut Sunscreen Stick available here, $10

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CVS Broad Spectrum Sunscreen Lotion available here, $8.50

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CVS Beach Guard Clear Spray available here, $10

Do you use sunscreen every day? Do you have any fun for the Memorial Day holiday weekend? 

Product Review: Stride Rite Sneakers for Summer

There’s nothing my daughter, Ava, loves more than shoe shopping. Ok, there are probably a few more things on her list of favorite pastimes, but I assure you that shopping for sandals, sneakers and any other kind of footwear certainly tops that list.

When I told her that I had recently attended a press event showcasing the latest summer offerings from popular children’s brand, Stride Rite, she was bummed that she’d missed out.

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Although she wasn’t able to partake in the media sneak peek, I did share with her the photos of my two favorite shoes from the lineup: Made2Play® Phibians and Leepz. When I saw the Phibians, I knew that they would be the answer to my summertime footwear prayers. Like many parents can attest, finding shoes that are water-proof and can still withstand constant running and non-stop tumbling (I feel like my living room has become a gym!), is no easy feet (pun intended). It’s basically a sandal and sneaker hybrid made in heaven. Available in a variety of shades, these shoes provide that no-slip grip that kids need—at the waterpark, playground and everywhere in between.

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My daughter, Ava, sporting her Phibians in the backyard. (available here, $38)

The other shoes that caught my eye were the Leepz. Having a toddler son, I knew he’d be obsessed with these light-up sneakers. Not only do they light up when he jumps, which is cool, but they also offer memory foam support and provide sturdiness that I’m always looking for when shoe shopping for my son. He runs, jumps and of course, leaps, when wearing these sneakers.

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My son, MJ, posing and playing in his Leepz. (available here, $50)

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If you’re looking for practical, fashionable and kid-approved sneakers, check out Stride Rite. It’s no wonder they’ve been around for nearly a century!

* I’ve partnered with Stride Rite for this post. All opinions are my own. 

How many pairs of shoes do you pack for your kids for a vacation? 

Jane Iredale Launches New Skincare Supplements

Last week, I had the pleasure of celebrating my 37th birthday at a swanky Manhattan hotel.

I was beyond thrilled to start my special day on a foliage-trimmed terrace overflowing with beautiful spring blooms and sunshine gloriously beaming through the glass-enclosed ceiling.

However, the lovely setting wasn’t reserved for me, but for one of my favorite makeup brands: jane iredale.

The premier mineral-based cosmetics line hosted a super chic garden party at the gorgeous Gramercy Park Hotel to showcase its upcoming offerings including five new skincare supplements launching this summer. Each of the supplements promises to treat common skin issues such as: excess oil, aging, dryness, and acne. In addition to highlighting the new products, the event also included a Q&A with founder/CEO Jane Iredale, live demos, and a generous shopping experience for us bloggers and editors.

Being surrounded by nature in the lush space served as the perfect backdrop to launch the natural beauty products developed for a radiant, healthy glow. While I haven’t tried the supplements just yet, I did pick out a cream blush called “Charisma” that has now secured a spot in my springtime beauty routine. The sheer berry hue gives just the right amount of flush to my cheeks, ideal for spring. Plus, unlike powder blushes – a brush isn’t required, which makes for easy on-the-go application. It’s become an instant-fave.

I’ve been using jane iredale products for nearly a decade now. In fact, it was one of the very first brands I partnered with when I launched my blog ten years ago. The quality is unmatched and the range of products for us BGs is outstanding. If you’re looking for makeup that is created to enhance, not mask skin, definitely give jane iredale a try—you won’t be disappointed.

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What are your favorite springtime beauty products? Have you ever tried a skincare/beauty supplement? 

‘Wild Kratts Live’ Coming to Beacon Theatre

Do you live in New York City and have a little explorer in your home? If so, keep reading.

This weekend, my husband and I are so excited to take my 3 ½ year old son son, MJ, to see “Wild Kratts Live” at the historic Beacon Theatre on the city’s upper west side. It’s perfect timing considering he’s reached the age where he’s intrigued by countless critters and creatures. Plus, he’s also a fan of the hit PBS animated series, “Wild Kratts,” from which the theatrical stage show is based.

Similar to the show, the two brothers, Martin and Chris Kratt, will take inquisitive audiences on a wild adventure as they discover fascinating facts about animals. Since it is a live performance, a large, multimedia screen will be utilized to help bring the humorous, yet educational show to life.

If your child enjoys learning about wildlife and the world around him, this is a show you and your family won’t want to miss!

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Tickets are on sale now for this weekend’s performances. Click here for more information.

Do your kids watch “Wild Kratts?”