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:


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.


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

Despicable Me Sleepy Time Minion Bob

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.









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.



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

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.



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.



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

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?

3 Reasons Why Post-it Notes Keep Me Sane

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t find joy in using Post-it® notes. There’s just something amusingly satisfying about scribbling a quick note on a small, sticky pad of paper. That’s why I was excited to check out some of the brand’s newest products at a media sneak peek last week.

Known for their classic yellow sticky note offering, the brand has since expanded into a kaleidoscope of colorful options, cool designs and other fun supplies to keep our daily lives in order. From electrifying, neon colors to cute emoji-shaped pads to stylish dispensers and planners; Post-it® has become synonymous with practical, yet playful notes and office supplies.

Like many working moms, you can find Post-it® notes scattered everywhere around my house and office. Whether I’m jotting down passwords or using an adhesive dry erase board to write down weekly meal plans, Post-it® has been my go-to for list-making and staying organized at home and work.

Here are three top reasons why using Post-it® notes and supplies keep me sane:

  1. I’m super forgetful so I have to write things down. Otherwise, I’ll never remember my tasks at hand.
  2. At work, I’m in countless meetings throughout the day. To stay on top of things, I use colorful tabs to keep my notes and files organized.
  3. Being a wife and working mom of two, keeping track of everyone’s schedules can be tricky. Using a dry erase surface helps me stay on top of my family’s whereabouts.

Check out some of the cool items I came across during the media preview:






At the event, attendees were asked, “What do we want to make stick in our lives?”I shared that I want  be more present. So, I’m going to ask you the same thing? “What do you want to make stick in your life?” 

GIVEAWAY: My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Fashion Runway Playset

I don’t know about you, but growing up, Easter was by far my favorite holiday. Sure, Santa Claus, countless gifts and yuletide carols made Christmas wonderful, but old Saint Nick didn’t have anything on the Easter bunny.

See, I love the spring. Trench coat weather, flowers in full bloom, pretty pastels abound and of course, Easter! What’s not to love? My penchant for Easter and spring has been passed down to my kids too.

From egg dyeing to backyard egg-hunts, I make Easter fun and hopefully unforgettable for my family. This year, I’ve partnered with Hasbro to make my daughter’s candy-filled Easter basket even more special. The popular toy brand has recently released, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Rarity® Fashion Runway Playset, that I know my daughter will fancy. She’s been obsessed with My Little Pony since she was four—I am an ‘80s baby so I totally understand—I grew up collecting the adorable ponies too.

The fashion-centric playset comes with 3 super cute clip-on outfits and 7 hair and fashion accessories. I know my daughter is going to flip when she sees this in her Easter basket on Sunday. I’ve never put toys in there before so I’m sure this will be a welcomed surprise. Now, I have to figure out what toy the “Easter Bunny” will place in my son’s basket!

MLP Rarity Fashion Playset - In-Pack

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic Rarity® Fashion Runway Playset available here, $20

What are you planning to put in your children’s Easter baskets this Sunday? Since it might be two late to get this playset in time for Easter, it would still be a pretty awesome just-because gift that I’m sure the little girl in your life would adore. Simply leave a comment below sharing your most memorable Easter growing up (or as an adult) or tweet me @BrownGirlGumbo.  Two lucky winners will be randomly selected and notified via email on or by Thursday 4/20/2017. This giveaway is only open to U.S residents. 

Mount Airy Casino Resort: The Perfect Getaway

Nothing can recharge your batteries like a quick getaway.

My husband and I were in desperate need of a little R&R and Mount Airy Casino Resort in Mount Pocono was just what the doctor ordered.

Located only 90 miles from New York City, we packed our bags and hit the road to the quaint Pennsylvania town—and boy are we glad we did. Upon entering the resort we were instantly captivated by the cascading waterfall in the hotel’s foyer and overall welcoming atmosphere. We knew immediately that we were in for a great weekend.

The welcoming waterall in the foyer of Mount Airy Casino Resort.

The welcoming waterall in the foyer of Mount Airy Casino Resort.

Rooms fit for royalty

Our home for the next couple of days was spacious and inviting. The vaulted ceilings added a lavish feel while the dark wood throughout the space added richness to the room. Having the comfy king size bed all to ourselves was a forgotten luxury since we usually end up sharing our bed at home it with our 3-year-old. Oh and my husband of course loved the huge flat screen with countless premium channels. Plus, we had an amazing view of the resort’s golf course just across the way. Our room was the perfect home away from home.


My hubby reading one of the complimentary newspapers provided at Mount Airy Casino Resort.

The view of the Mount AIry Casino Resort golf course from our room.


Relax and recharge

Some trips are all about being on the go and exploring, but we all need those excursions where we can relax and unwind. Mount Airy Casino Resort is the best of both worlds. With a spa and salon onsite, you don’t have to leave the resort to spoil yourself. I was treated to a deep tissue, signature massage where the masseuse added just the right amount of pressure to relieve my trouble spots and kinks after a stressful workweek.


The serene spa entrance at Mount Airy Casino Resort.

From rubdowns to makeup applications, the pampering options are virtually endless and just steps from your room.

Relaxing and reading before my massage at Mount Airy Casino Resort.

Relaxing and reading before my massage at Mount Airy Casino Resort.


The pool was surprisingly warm, which made for an awesome January evening.

Although I indulged in a treatment or two, my husband simply wanted to relax poolside right down the hall. I eventually joined him and was pleasantly surprised by the warm water—and privacy provided by the cabanas.

Food for the soul 

Like most people, I love food. If there’s seafood on the menu, I’m in heaven. With several restaurants located on the second floor of the resort, I had plenty of seafood options. Being a Food Network fan, I was excited to check out Guy Fieri’s Mount Pocono Kitchen. I ordered mahi mahi tacos as an appetizer; salmon for my main course while my husband skipped apps and decided on a classic burger for his entree. He was a bit wary because Fieri is known for his outrageous creations, but we were both pleased with the taste and quality of the food. The following evening we dined at Bistecca by Il Mulino, the resort’s upscale steakhouse. The “white tablecloth” service was only surpassed by the mouth-watering meals. Spaghetti and prawns was my main dish while my husband ate “one of the best burgers” he’s ever had.

Mahi mahi fish tacos at Guy Fieri's restaurant at the Mount Airy Casino Resort.

Mahi mahi fish tacos at Guy Fieri’s restaurant at the Mount Airy Casino Resort.


Scottish salmon at Guy Fieri’s restaurant at Mount Airy Casino Resort.

Spaghetti and prawns at Mount Airy Casino Resort’s Bistecca by Il Mulino.

Room service at Mount Airy Casino Resort.

Room service at Mount Airy Casino Resort.

For breakfast, we ordered room service and it was absolutely scrumptious. Having breakfast in bed is truly one of my greatest pleasures and this didn’t disappoint.

Never-ending entertainment

When it comes to my preferred source of entertainment, gambling isn’t high on my list. Since we were visiting a casino, I was game for a few cracks at a slot machine. However, I was so busy checking out the candy and yogurt shops that I never actually sat down at one of the casino’s nearly 200 machines! My husband and I did make our way to Gypsies, the resort’s premier nightclub, for a night of dancing. The venue was chic and outfitted with cozy banquettes and booths for large groups. Throughout the night we enjoyed music that was a perfect blend of old school and current R&B, pop and hip-hop hits—my favorite since my personal playlists consist mostly of ‘90s and early aughts tracks.

Me and the hubby before heading out.

Me and the hubby before heading out.

The south entrance of Mount Airy Casino Resort.

The south entrance of Mount Airy Casino Resort.

The hubby and me at Gypsies lounge located inside Mount Airy Casino Resort.

The hubby and me at Gypsies lounge located inside Mount Airy Casino Resort.

Make lasting memories 

If you’re in the tri-state area or looking for a fun and relaxing escape to the east coast, Mount Airy Casino Resort should definitely be a top consideration.

Me before heading out.

Me before heading out after a wonderful weekend.

From the all-around top-notch service to the exquisite food to the endless entertainment, our experience is one that we’ll forever cherish. In fact, it just might be our perfect getaway for years to come.

Disclosure: Mount Airy Casino Resort provided Brown Girl Gumbo food and accommodations for review purposes only.  All opinions are 100% my own.


Do you have any upcoming getaways planned? What’s your favorite weekend getaway destination?