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!

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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. 

Rhode Island: A State Filled with Gems

Around this time last week, I was giddy with excitement because I was en route to Rhode Island.

While you’re probably thinking, “what’s so special about Rhode Island?” Well, when you’re a working, married mom of two, the thought of traveling solo on a 3-hour train ride alone is enough to make you shriek with thrill. Plus, they do say the fun is in the journey, right? Admittedly, the peace and tranquility on the train was a welcomed retreat, but the destination exceeded my already high expectations.

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The view from my window seat on the train. 

On behalf of the Rhode Island’s Department of Tourism, I was given the opportunity to discover the state’s rich jewelry history through a blogger tour. Getting out of the city for a day to learn about and play with jewelry? Yes please! However, if you’re like me, chances are you had no idea that Rhode Island has a significant association with jewelry in America. In fact, it’s the fashion jewelry capital of the world! Why had I never heard this before? I’m not sure, but it was very interesting to learn how that came to be.

From the 1920s through the 1980s, most of the country’s costume jewelry was manufactured in the heart of Rhode Island. Unfortunately, like many industries, the jobs dried up leaving behind a legacy of awesome craftsmanship and heritage. But, things are looking up! I had the pleasure of meeting some of the super talented jewelry designers who are ready to reignite that legacy.

The tour kicked off with a breakfast meet-and-greet with Rhode Island-based jewelry designers Nicole Romano, Loren Hope and Duo Duet. All of their offerings were standouts with undeniably unique  designs. Each had eye-catching styles that were versatile enough for a variety of jewelry lovers.

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Nicole Romano’s hand-crafted jewelry has a modern, whimsical vibe that would amp up your accessory game instantly. 

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Chic and sassy is the best way to describe Loren Hope’s contemporary collection of jewels.

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Duo Duet’s innovative necklaces and bracelets are so lightweight that you might forget you’re wearing them, but the constant compliments you’ll get will remind you!

The next stop on the tour was in Pawtucket with all-American designer Kiel James Patrick, better known as KJP. I had never heard of this brand, but apparently I’ve been living under a rock! This self-made millionaire has a huge social media following, with over 300K followers on Instagram alone. His hand-crafted nautical, New England-inspired bracelets caught the eye kids in his hometown and spread like wildfire.

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Kiel James Patrick’s (KJP) All-American style has a throwback feel, but with a fresh twist.  Pictured here are a few knick-knacks that create classic belts and bracelets.

The thirty-something entrepreneur even racked up profiles in the New York Times and Town and Country magazine. We bloggers were able to tour the KJP headquarters to get a glimpse into how he makes his magic. The space was a cross between a chotki paradise and a modern day factory. With inspirations like John F. Kennedy and the iconic Ralph Lauren, he’s well on his way to becoming a household name.

Next up was a visit to Jessica Ricci. All of her ultra-feminine handcrafted jewelry goes through an extensive process of mold waxing, which then gets transformed into treasured pieces.

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Jessica Ricci’s lace-inspired necklaces are delicate and feminine. 

After leaving Jessica’s, we’d worked up an appetite and were whisked away to a lovely restaurant for lunch in Cranston. We landed at Bistro 22 where we relaxed, indulged and talked about our experience up to that point, blogging and more. Oh and did I mention, the food? It was outstanding! I ordered my go-to meal of choice—salmon, which was cooked to perfection!

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While this maple-glazed salmon from Bistro 22 was scrumptious, I was still a bit hungry and ordered a side of fries to fill me up!

To my surprise, there was a candy store across the street from the bistro so of course I couldn’t resist and made my way to the gummy bears!

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Unlike most confectionary shops, the sweets at Sweenor’s Chocolates were surprisingly reasonably priced. One bag of those gummy bears were only $2!  

After filling our bellies, it was time to make one final stop: to the Providence Jewelry Museum. Our tour guide got us excited about what was in store from the moment we stepped inside. The unassuming building was filled with incredible finds. From a 19th century workbench from the quintessential jeweler, Tiffany’s to 1950’s jewel-encrusted murals, the museum was a true highlight on our tour.

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A group shot of us bloggers and the Providence Jewelry Museum’s tour guide (center) and Born Republic Co. founder (far left). 

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Being a history buff, seeing this 19th century chain maker machine was a real treat!

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This 1950’s jewel-encrusted mural was dumpster bound before being salvaged and donated to the museum. 

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Our tour guide informed us that this was a discarded Tiffany & Co. 19th century work bench. Can you imagine all of the precious jewels that have graced this workspace?

In addition, we were all able to make our own earrings using a machine from the early 20th century. To top off our tour, we were introduced to one more jeweler, Juan the founder of the up and coming urban line, Born Republic. His enthusiasm and passion was palpable. His designs were masculine with a sexy twist. His use of 3D technology helps bring his accessories to life.

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Juan of Born Republic Co., showed us bloggers how he uses 3D technology to add dimension and shape to his pieces. 

Overall, it was a marvelous mini-getaway packed with fascinating history. Plus, who wouldn’t love looking at gorgeous jewelry all day?

Have you ever visited Rhode Island? Did you know about the connection between costume jewelry and the state?  

Head to the Children’s Place for Your Child’s Holiday Clothes

Calling all Christmas shopping procrastinators!

If you still haven’t snagged the perfect holiday clothes for you kids, look no further than the Children’s Place.

Not only do they have the hottest styles of the season, but at incredibly low prices. From handsome vests to festive dresses and accessories, this one-stop shop has you covered.

Read on for the best deals!

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Keep your cutie warm with this festive flannel robe. Holiday Plaid Hooded Robe available here, $14.95

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Your pint-size gent will look dapper in this sharp vest. Dressy Button-Front Vest available here, $7.60

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Bows and roses are always a sure bet for the holidays! Long sleeve Rose Print Side Bow Velour Dress available here, $11.60

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This cute headband will make any little girl’s holiday bright! Sparkle Headband Cluster available here, $2.47

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Your child will be the coolest kid  on Christmas with this classic button down shirt. Long Sleeve Plaid Twill Shirt available here, $7.60

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Jacquard print is always a go-to for Christmas apparel. Girl’s Jacquard Brocade Skirt available here, $12.48

Event Recap: L’il Critters Fun Day at Central Park Zoo

Last week my children were surprised to a impromptu visit to Central Park Zoo.

Of course, as we moms know, things are hardly ever impromptu when involving kids. So, I knew well in advance that we had been invited to a day of fun all courtesy of L’il Critters vitamins—America’s #1 Kid Vitamin Brand.

Since L’il Critters is all about promoting healthy lifestyles for kids and families, it was befitting to have the afternoon start off with a nice warm-up routine. The activity reinforced the importance of physical activity by encouraging those in attendance to get moving with the help of the L’il Critters mascot! Who doesn’t love exercising with a larger-than-life bear? Needless to say, the kids enjoyed it.

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A few of the L’il Critters vitamins that were on display throughout the event space. 

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Ava showing off her push-up skills during the exercise portion of the event.

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Ava and the other kids giving the L’il Critters mascot high-fives.

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Ava enjoying lunch before taking a peek at Steve Ettinger’s book, “Wallie Exercises.”

After the workout, the kids worked up an appetite and were presented with various healthy lunch options. Ava and MJ hardly ate anything because they were just so excited to be in the presence of the L’il Critters bear. After lunch it was time to see some animals! Unlike regular trips to the zoo, the children were led by a zoo tour guide who provided them with a wealth of information about all of the animals were saw. From penguins to grizzly bears, the zoo has plenty of attractions that will educate and entertain kids of all ages.

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Once the zoo tour was over, we went back to the tent and took more pictures with the L’il Critters mascot and learned more about the brand and what their vitamins offer. Did you know that all of their vitamins are gluten-free? My kids love them and it’s always their highlight after breakfast.

Oh, if you love gummies like me, they have a line of gummy vitamins for adults under their VitaFusion division. Trust me, they’re delicious and nutritious! I like to use the Hair, Skin and Nails multivitamin since I’m still on a quest to restoring my hair’s former luster prior to having children. Plus, I could always use a clearer complexion and these seem to be helping me achieve an even skin-tone.

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VitaFusion Hair, Skin & Nails Multivitamin available here, $14.50

Check out these lifestyle tips to keep your child active and healthy:

* Shop together. Give kids a small budget and let them pick out a new veggie or fruit they want to try as part of their meal.

*Involve kids in meal prep, whether it’s setting the table, cracking the eggs or making a grocery list. Kids who participate in cooking are more likely to eat better and are more willing to try new foods. Praise them for their efforts.

*Make the focus about each other – designate the dinner table a “no screen zone” by turning off the TV and leaving the phones and tablets in another room.

Does your family take multivitamins? How do you keep your kids active?

5 On-the-Go Beauty Essentials

With New York Fashion Week underway, it’s time for those of us who’ll be covering the shows to stock up on a few on-the-go beauty essentials. Even if you won’t be rushing to the runways, we’re all busy women so having toiletries on hand for touch-ups and mishaps is always a good thing.

Check out some of my product picks that should be mainstays in your beauty bag or bathroom shelves for Fashion Week and beyond!

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Keep this Minimergency Kit handy for when you’re in a pinch and need anything from a bobby pin to Ibuprofen—this 22-piece survival kit has everything for fast, beauty and fashion fixes . Plus, the neon pink snakeskin makes it a win-win! Available here, $24

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Q-Tips Beauty Rounds are my new favorite product for fall. Tired of using flimsy cotton balls or wrinkled toilet paper to remove nail polish? These multi-purpose beauty rounds will get the job done and then some! Available here, $5

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Suave Professionals Moroccan Argan Infusion Styling Oil is a godsend for adding last-minute shine to hair. Oh and don’t be fooled, this spray works wonderfully on natural hair. Available here, $7

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Dry hands are never in style. Aveeno Skin Relief Hand Cream ensures that hands stay soft and supple at all times. Available here, $6

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Pond’s Wet Cleansing Towelettes are perfect for when you’re too exhausted to wash you face, but refuse to sleep in makeup. Available here, $3

What are your beauty/fashion on-the-go staples?

GIVEAWAY: Warner’s Bra & Panties Set

Since my boobs are no longer going up and down in size due to breastfeeding, it’s time to get a bra fitting and go shopping!

Warner’s has a line of bra and panties that won’t pinch or tug in all the wrong places. Launching this month, the No Pinching. No Problem. collection promises to provide smooth silhouettes. For me, comfort trumps style—luckily, these bra and panties don’t lack in either department. The seamless underwire or front-closure wire-free bra designs contours to the body creating a functional, yet sexy look. Plus, the hipster and hi-cut panties are soft and practical. Gone are the unflattering creases and painful digs that tight elastic panty bands and ill-fitting bras can cause. Who wants to be tugging and adjusting their unmentionables all day?

Not only can some bras and panties be uncomfortable, but wearing the wrong undergarments can wreak havoc on outfits too! That’s why it’s just as important to put thought into what you’re putting on underneath as what you put on top.

 

warner-bra-panties Warner’s No Pinching. No Problems. collection available here, starting at $12

**GIVEAWAY: If you’re looking to add to your intimate apparel wardrobe, you’re in luck. I’ve partnered with Warner’s to give two readers a bra and panties set valued at approximately $55. Simply leave a comment below or Tweet me (@BrownGirlGumbo) telling me what’s more important to you when it comes to intimate apparel: comfort or style? The giveaway is only open to U.S residents. The winners will be randomly selected and notified via email on Tuesday July 21, 2015 (contest ends 11:59 pm July 20, 2015).

Digital Spring Cleaning: PayPal VP Shares 5 Tips To Keep Your Online Space Safe

Many of us have already packed away winter clothes and finished our spring cleaning, but have we tidied up our digital space? The answer is probably no.

Research shows that each year thousands of Americans are victims of an online crime. In fact, one in four people will become victims.  That’s why it’s so important for us to take  take the time to protect and manage our online footprints accordingly.

Since Internet activity is such an extension of our real-world lives, it’s important for us to use the necessary precautions to properly maintain and monitor our social media profiles, photos and other personal accounts.

I recently caught up with Carey Kolaja, the VP of Global Consumer Products at PayPal, to get tips on what we can do to help ensure that our digital personas stay secure so we can continue to surf the web safely and smartly.

Check out the Q&A below: 

BGG: Why is it  important for individuals to occasionally clean up their digital profiles?
Carey Kolaja: Cleaning up your digital profile is important because it helps to keep you organized and polished. How many times have you forgotten a password or wished you backed up important memories from your digital or mobile device? Keeping an organized digital life will help to avoid unnecessary password leaks and missing memories. And on a personal level, it also gives you a chance to double check that your profiles are current – from updating your photos to freshening up your personal bio.

BGG: What are a few rules of thumb individuals should keep in mind when cleaning up their social media accounts?
CK: When changing your passwords, never make it something obvious. Try adding symbols like an underscore that will make it harder for a hacker to figure out. Also, upload personal photos and videos frequently to a web based home. Streamlining your digital albums will give you peace of mind in knowing that your precious personal content won’t get lost or deleted.

BGG: Apps are such an important part of our digital lives, what’s the best way to manage them so that your phone isn’t cluttered and that you use them optimally?
CK: People’s schedules and lives are constantly changing and apps are supposed to make your life easier. Reevaluate your apps every few months to make sure they are relevant to your life as it changes. For example, if you recently attended a conference and downloaded an app that would help your experience while you were there, now is the time to delete it from your phone to clear room for other content.

BGG: How can you manage an overflowing inbox?
CK: Try unsubscribing to unwanted newsletters and deleting unnecessary emails that crowd your box. You’ll see it drastic reduction in your email folders.

BGG: If an individual can only do ONE thing as it pertains to spring cleaning their digital lives, what should it be?
CK: Of course, when it comes to cleaning up your digital life it varies from person to person. One of PayPal’s main priorities is the safety and security of people’s personal information, therefore when cleaning up your digital life, always make sure your passwords are up to date and secure.

Do you occasionally clean your digital profiles by updating passwords, etc.? Has your online life ever been compromised?