BGG’s Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide 2017

With Christmas less than a month away, it’s time to put your holiday shopping into overdrive.

Still struggling to find the perfect gift for the loved ones on your list? Don’t panic, BGG’s got you covered. From personalized presents to must-have toys, we’ve rounded up the gifts that will make your friends and family shriek with delight.

Try not to keep most of them for yourself!

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IT Cosmetics It Girl Palette
With beautiful packaging and even better quality, your beauty-obsessed BFF will never want to use another brush set again. Available here, $50.

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Personalized Yankee Candle Jar
Want to instantly light up grandma’s face? Give her one of these personalized candles with a family photo—it’s guaranteed to warm her heart and make her home smell scentsational. Available here, prices start at $12.

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The Wisdom of Sundays: Life-Changing Insights from Super Soul Conversations by Oprah Winfrey
What we know for sure is that Auntie O knows her stuff. Give yourself the gift of wisdom with this book of gems. Available here, $25

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I Need A Baker Sweatshirt
This cozy sweatshirt will make you feel good as ’80s & ’90s R&B. Gift this to the girl in your squad who can’t get enough old school music. Available here, $54

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Disney Pixar Coco Spanish Edition Remember Me Game
Get your little cousins off their gadgets and into this family-friendly game. Similar to bingo, this traditional Loteria game features some of the character’s from Disney Pixar’s new animated film, “Coco,” where each player has a chance at luck. Bring on the fun! Available here, $15

 

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Google Home Mini
Know someone who needs a virtual assistant? Look no further than a smart speaker from the brand who’s been our online answer genie for nearly two decades. Available here, $30

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Bevel Shave System Starter
Guys have fully embraced the scruff and lucky for us ladies, the beard gang isn’t going away anytime soon. Keep your guy’s fuzz groomed with this ultra-luxe starter set. Bonus: It’s black-owned. Available here, $72.

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The Body Shop Strawberry Ultimate Collection
Treat your suds-loving sister to this sweet strawberry set. With a wide range of products included, she’ll be set and smelling good all season long. Available here, $50

The Chicago Tribune Book of the Chicago Cubs: A Decade-by-Decade History

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Score a home-run for the sports fan in your family with this historical, photo-rich tome celebrating one of baseball’s most beloved teams. Available here, $25

 

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Ikuzi Dolls
Not pleased with the doll selections at your local toy store? Ikuzi Dolls to the rescue! These beautiful dolls showcase realistic facial features, hair textures and skin tones celebrating the wide range of BG shades. Your mini-me will beam with pride. Available here, $80.

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Gerber Collection 
Celebrating a new addition to the family? The proud parents on your list will appreciate the quintessential baby getup gift: the onesie. A baby can never have too many. Gerber’s sets will outfit your cuddliest family member in style. Available here, $7.

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Love OPI XOXO Holiday 4pc Set
Nail your niece’s wish list with this eye-catching collection of holiday-inspired polishes. From sultry hues to metallic, she’s sure to find something fitting to keep her fingers fab and flawless. Available here, $15.

 

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Sunbeam Renue Neck Wrap
Your hubby will thank you for this thoughtful gift of healing. Sunbeam’s neck wrap will soothe his achy neck and shoulders while providing a relaxing, comfortable fit. Available here, $50.

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Guess Women’s Gold-Tone Stainless Steel Bracelet Watch
Nothing is as timeless as a watch. Sure, our phones may be able to tell us the time, but a classic gold watch will always make a statement. Available here, $125

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Paw Patrol Sea Patroller
Got a Paw Patrol fan in your home? With flashing lights and a removable anchor, this cool and coloful vessel will make him yelp with glee! Available here, $50

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Sugarfina Candy Trunk
The candy lover in your life will flip for this chic trunk filled with gourmet goodies from around the globe. Available here, $195.

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The Very Hungry Caterpillar Show
Making memories with your child is always high on most parents’ lists. What better way to create a lasting impression than the gift of theater? Treat your tot to a performance of “The Very Hungry Caterpillar,” based on the classic children’s book of the same name for a fun afternoon in the City at DR2. The experience will stay etched in your mind for years to come. Click here for ticket information.

What are you the most excited about this holiday season?

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? 

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?

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?