Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Must Haves for Lil' Monsters: Time To Play Magazine Holiday Showcase Favorites #TTPM

Somewhere on Facebook, someone's status read "Only 10 more Thursday's till Christmas" and my heart fluttered a little because I still haven't accepted that summer has ended, the kids have yet to finalize their Halloween costume and for some reason Thanksgiving somehow gets overlooked as the commercials for all the latest holiday "Hot List" items have our kids racing from room to room to tell us they NEED that new, cool toy. 

Earlier this month I was invited to check out the latest and greatest in the world of toys, crafts, gaming and more at this years Time To Play Magazine Holiday showcase, held at the Metropolitan Pavilion here in NYC. I've gotta tell you there are some pretty awesome products out there, whether your kids are TMNT and Frozen fanatics, or gamers who love Angry Birds or they love crafting, building and gadgets, there's really something for kids of all ages at great price points.

{pictured above} VTech Go! Go! Smart Animals - Zoo Playset: will allow children aged 1-5 yrs old to explore and learn about animals, colors and more. Plus your little animal lovers are able to connect it to other VTech playsets for extra fun!($39.99)

Interactive Talking Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: As an 80's baby, I can totally appreciate the TMNT craze and I get as excited as my boys do when they watch the animated shows and play with the toys. Fans of TMNT will love these latest talking action figures based on the Nickelodeon show of the 4 brothers with fun loving personalities when they interact with each other ($29.95).

Tinker Crate Subscription: is one of three new brands being launched by Kiwi Crate in time for the holidays and the new monthly activity sets had me so excited because they are such a fun, creative outlet for kids and helps to foster an innovative balance between screen time, through problem solving and exploration. In each Tinker Crate geared towards ages 9-14+ you are supplied with a hands on project and magazine that's full of experiments that focus on STEM based themes. ($12.99+)

Frozen Animators' Collection Doll Gift Set: Inspired by Disney's hit animated film, children will love these beautiful Anna and Elsa dolls and the satin dresses, dress forms and Olaf that comes with the set. ($99.95) For individual dolls, you can find them at DisneyStore.com

The Pulse Safe Start ScooterMy Youngest Tristan is always trying to keep up with his brother but finds it hard to balance on most scooters and ends up lagging behind and gets frustrated. This scooter from Bravo Sports is great because it's the first 3 wheel, electric scooter that has a low center of gravity perfect for kids aged 3+ and a pulse button that moves them smoothly, giving them confidence. ($79.99)

Zoomer Dino: My oldest son CJ is having a ROARING good time with the robotic prehistoric dinosaur who has a temper and a sense of humor (the boys love that he burps and farts). Zoomer Dino balances and wander on his own, can sense where you are, can be trained to guard your room, tries to bite you if you make him angry and more! ($99.99)


Basketball lovers of all ages (geared at 4+) are going to think the NBA Heroes from Jazwares are pretty awesome! Featuring NBA superstars that pass the ball, spin, leap and fly through the air like superheros as they go to make those game winning shots. Fans can choose from Lebron James, Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant, Carmelo Anthony, Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose and Deron Williams whose alter egos will make for fun creative play on and off the playset basketball courts. ($16.99)

The adorable Day at Disney Playset will have little ones feeling the magic and excitement of a real Disney moment right at home with their favorite little people characters. From a ride on the Small World boat to a spin in the Tea Cups ride to a simulated fireworks show children will feel like they just spent a magical, fun-filled day at Disney.

Frozen Snow Glow Elsa wears a magical snowflake necklace that when pushed, displays a magical light show on her dress and sings the oh-so catchy song "Let it Go" when her arms are raised. ($34.99) Now I can't stop humming the song, it's so dang addictive.

Who doesn't love that funny and sweet Olaf? Start a new holiday tradition with Frozen: Hide and Hug Olaf which features a fun, brand new story of Olaf the snowman where kids will follow the hide and seek theme of the story and find the hidden, huggable plush Olaf.($26.99)


I remember when my boys would jump across the furniture while throwing out their hands and pretending to catch me with their webs. Now with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Giant Web Slinging figure  the good guys can defeat villains or parents by blasting sticky webs or water with just a push of a button. ($29.99) 

The Hexbug VEX Robotics Construction sets is a unique, build-it-yourself line that promotes creative STEM based play that allows young builders to customize and program their own larger than life robotic bugs. ($49.99-$89.99) Here's a peek on Instagram at how cool they are.

This holiday season some other hot items from SpinMaster include Kinetic Sand , which allows you to bring the creative, fun of being at the beach, indoors without all of the mess.

In the game Moustache Smash the player who earns the most cards after smashing the ones that have a picture or color that matches the mustache they are wearing, wins! Sure to make for a silly family game night. 

Shark Mania will have your pirate players running for their lives while trying to collect the most gold coins before they get caught by the shark in order to win the game. 

Chatsters Gabby is going to be your child's new interactive best friend that chats, dances and includes fun accessories and 25 games and activities for hours of entertainment.

We are huge Angry Birds fans in our house and my boys were super jealous that I got to try out the Rovio Angry Birds Transformers and Angry Birds Stella TELEPODS that allows users to transport their favorite characters directly into the mobile game, making for a unique digital experience.

What little girl wouldn't want to design her own accessories every month? Doodle Crate allows crafters to explore through self expression by providing detailed instructions that demonstrate interesting techniques & fun materials for ages 9-16 ($12.99+).

The monthly Koala Crate was created through collaboration with Highlights and contains materials to inspire projects that are enriching for your preschooler aged 3-4 and a guide for parents with ideas that are perfect for extended play. ($12.99+)

Bandai has some really awesome toys out for fans of the soon to be released film Big Hero 6, have you seen the previews yet? We can't wait to see it in theaters and love Baymax which you"ll find featured as action figures, masks and rocket fists for role-playing, and plush. 

I am so impressed with the longevity of the incredibly popular Power Rangers and the line of new Super MegaForce toys will not disappoint with Morphers and swords for role play, armored ranger action figures and Megazords. 

Kids who enjoy building will find themselves immersed in piecing together their own movable action figures of their favorite heroes with Sprukits. Pieces can be put together without glue or cutting, just by snapping them on and they are also numbered for easy construction which is extremely helpful, right?


Half-Shell Heroes look super kid-friendly and are perfect for preschoolers ages 3 and up,with mini action figures of the cool, pizza loving brothers and villains, plus vehicles, playsets, and a large talking Leonardo. These latest toys from PlayMates are definitely going to make for great stocking-stuffers and presents under the tree.

After seeing Anki DRIVE featured in Fast Company magazine, I was really excited to try it out during the showcase. Not only can you race and compete in battle mode with friends, the cars themselves may try to outsmart you and are capable of navigating the track on their own. Clearly I needed a bit of practice as I sped off the track, but had so much fun racing a few other bloggers who scored serious points while firing weapons at me. You need an Iphone 4s or a later version, Ipod touch 5th generation, Ipad 3 or newer or Ipad mini or newer to play.


Hands down one of the busiest areas was over by Zing Brand Toys where the kids really were having a blast with the Zing- Air Storm Firetek Bow.These foam launchers are great! They light up during the day and night, whistles when it flies through the air, come in green and red and proved to be really exciting to use for target practice for ages 8+ ($29.97) 

Dora and Friends is a great collection of dolls that go on adventures together while learning about new cities. You can even collect and share charms that interact with their smartphone for lots of fun. It's great to see the Dora line expand after all these years with such varied, multicultural looking dolls.

You can believe that the kids are going to love cruising around in the Power Wheels Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Jeep Wrangler that plays music from the show and says character catch phrases. I swear as a kid all I ever wanted was one of these ride on cars, even if it meant squeezing it into our Queens apartment. 

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie based action figures and van will surely be a favorite as your child creates action-packed adventures just like in the film with these mutant fighting heroes.

My boys thought the combination of TMNT and monopoly was pure genius! With fun token pieces like a ninja star, a slice of pizza and Shredders mask, players will travel around the NYC themed board to claim cool locations.

Oh yes, Care Bears are making a colorful comeback! I know they are a hit because my 4 year old son is in love with my miniature sized one and sneaks it to bed with him. Really though, how can you not smile with these vibrant & happy plush bears around?

Hello Kitty is 40 this year and I must say she has aged beautifully. I really wish I could grab this Hello Kitty Shopping Cart for myself because I'm loving that it comes with a coffee cup holder., why don't my markets have these yet? The Hello Kitty Kitchen Cafe comes with a cute fabric awning, a stove that sizzles with lights and sounds a "disappearing" coffee pot and more! ($79.99)

Honestly there are so many Must Haves for Lil' Monsters for the Holidays, have you spotted any that you know your kids will putting on their wishlist this season? Stay tuned & get excited, because the monsters and I will have a few reviews coming up for our Holiday Gift Guide!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Revel in NY: The Grand Opening of LongHorn Steakhouse in Queens, NY #RevelInNY

Are you someone like me, who gets excited when a new restaurant opens up in your neighborhood? Does the idea of chowing down with the family and friends for lunch or for a date night just make your stomach dance for joy? Well if you live here in NYC, you'll be happy to know that the wait is almost over because the first LongHorn Steakhouse to ever exist in the 5 boroughs is opening this Monday, Oct 13th in Queens at 11am!

You'll find this beautiful, new Elmhurst location at 92-30 59th ave, which is across from the street entrance of JcPenney in Queens Center Mall. Both the hubby and I have grown up in the neighborhood and frequently visit with our kids because their grandparents, aunts and uncles still live there. It'll be really nice to have another sit-down, family friendly establishment to eat at because this area draws a lot of visitors who shop not only at Queens Center Mall, but also spend their time at Queens Place and Rego Center especially as we are nearing the holiday season. Sometimes after spending so much time with the family shopping, especially with the kids in tow it's great to have another option aside from a slice of pizza or a quick burger and fries to go. 

The 6,570-square-foot restaurant will seat more than 240 guests and will create approximately 80-100 new jobs for the surrounding community. With a goal to become America’s favorite steakhouse, LongHorn currently operates more than 460 restaurants in 40 states.

LongHorn Steakhouse prides itself on its fresh, never frozen, expertly grilled and boldly seasoned steaks. The restaurant’s design is inspired by the American West and is reminiscent of a rancher’s home. Its interiors feature updated, contemporary artwork and sculptures of horses, western landscapes and sunsets complemented by warm tones, wood, stone and steel fixtures.

The restaurant will open featuring LongHorn’s new fall Peak Season and Chef’s Showcase menus, as well as the new Prime Time menu. 

What's New at LongHorn Steakhouse:
  • Fall Peak Season LongHorn’s Peak Season menu changes four times a year and features fresh flavors of the season. This fall, guests can enjoy new items, like Pub Pretzel Sticks, Mushroom Truffle Bisque, Potato & Leek Au Gratin, Bleu Ridge Wedge Salad, and Pumpkin Spice Lava Cake for dessert.

  • Chef’s Showcase - Chef’s Showcase celebrates LongHorn's Executive Chefs' culinary inspiration and creativity. This fall, it features a Harvest Mushroom Filet and Apple Cider Baby Back Ribs.

  • LongHorn Prime Time - This menu features late afternoon specials at all LongHorn locations across the country, including a variety of $3, $4 and $5 drinks and bold bites. Prime Time is offered Monday through Friday from 4pm-7pm and features dishes like the Spicy Chicken Bites and Sweet Corn Fritters.

The people of LongHorn aim to be a positive force that makes a difference within the communities they serve by supporting organizations and individuals that share the same values of fundraising, donations and grants that benefit local organizations and causes. As part of LongHorn Steakhouse's training period, they will be hosting a friends and family night with proceeds benefiting The Boys and Girls Club of Metro Queens. LongHorn Steakhouse will be a welcomed addition to the Elmhurst community! 

Hours of operation will be: Sunday - Thursday 11am - 10pm and
                                              Friday and Saturday 11am - 11pm

Which new item on the fall menu are you planning on trying?

Monday, October 6, 2014

Lil' Monsters In NYC: Exploring The Discovery Room & Terrace Water Feature at The American Museum of Natural History #LilMonstersinNYC

 There was quite a crisp breeze in the air this morning and I can't help but wish that it was still Summer, is that crazy? Don't get me wrong Fall is actually my favorite season, I just think this year the warm summer days were far and in between this year and geezums, we never even made it to the beach! As we start grabbing more layers to wear and it starts getting chillier, I though over this next week I'd share some of our family excursions I never got to share.

The hubby and I have lived in NYC all of our lives and although there are quite a few attractions we haven't seen, we are pretty familiar with many of the local family friendly sites that are either inexpensive or free and make our best efforts to check as many out as possible with the boys. We have taken our kids to the amazing American Museum of Natural History a handful of times before, spending hours sitting under the ginormous blue whale (as Tristan reminds us that whales can't fly and questions how that really big whale got up to the ceiling), snapping pics of dinosaurs and pretending we were in the Ben Stiller family film, Night at the Museum.Yet somehow we  never knew of their really cool Discovery Room or the awesome sprinklers, seemingly hidden from tourists on their quaint rooftop terrace.

Imagine my boy's faces, full of amazement as they first walked into the AMNH Discovery Room to find this larger than life replica of a two story African baobab tree towering over them. Before they could even get instructions from the AMNH employee they ran up to the table, beyond excited and each went reaching for a magnifying glass, flashlight and a checklist/ activity sheet. They couldn't wait to start searching high and low for all the animals pictured on their list.

A game of memory kept Tristan preoccupied for quite a bit of time as he eagerly uncovered shells that were varied in texture and size. When I prompted him to put a shell to his ear to listen, he thought it sounded more like a ghost, than the ocean.

There were drawers with lots of hidden treasures that visitors were able to hold, which is really great sensory fun for the little ones and made for great conversation with CJ on where he thought he could find an object.

Now, one of the many reasons I love my two monsters is because more times than not, they are very open-minded to going to new places, doing new things (once you convince them to leave the house and the video games behind), meeting new people, or in this case BUGS! Without hesitation, when another employee asked CJ if he wanted to hold a Madagascar hissing cockroach he jumped at the chance. 

Kids can tap into their creative side by creating masks out of felt and if you squint one eye and tilt your head, you can sort of see how much it resembles his daddy, that Tristan was so proud to make. He nailed the bald head, don't you think?

On display you'll find gorgeously detailed masks from different countries around the world. Kids can even try some on, or take a moment to draw a few of their own in a quiet area.

I'm also really one lucky mama, because Tristan is a pretty well behaved kid and he received so many compliments from the staff and later earned himself two stickers because he cleaned up and sorted all the play food that was lying around.

Meanwhile because CJ is a few years older he and the hubby were able to venture upstairs to explore, and this time he was able to interact with a walking stick, which tickled him as he slowly made his way up CJ's arm. I wish that as a child, I had been more open to exploring all those things I thought were icky, but by having two adventurous boys I get a second chance.

There's just so much to be taken in and for little mind to absorb and you could see the kids throughout the space were in complete awe of the beautiful artifacts of old and new.

Another pretty cool feature in the American Museum of Natural History's Discovery room is that visitors can work together to piece together the fossils of a prehistoric crocodile and excavate, using tools that paleontologists use.

It was while reading my favorite blog , A Cup of Jo that I discovered this seemingly magical hideaway on the Upper Westside, that you could tell only those who actually lived in the neighborhood and a handful of others were aware even existed. The monsters absolutely loved splashing around in the sprinklers and making each other crack-up over things that only their crazy selves would understand. Only in New York can you splash around among the planets. It was just an amazingly fun-filled days I know made such an impression on the boys.

The Discovery Room is an exciting way for families and especially kids aged 5-12 by helping them with a behind the scenes and hands on, close-up look at science. You can go in for a timed 40 minute session for Free on Monday - Thursday from 10:30am to 1:30pm
            Friday's they are closed 
            Saturday & Sunday from 1030am - 1:30pm, 2:15pm-5:10pm

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