FIVE THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE YOU BUY A GIFT CARD Shares the Top Gift Cards Issues for Givers and Receivers This Holiday Season –
Gift cards may be the easiest option for gift giving this holiday season, but they are not the safest and carry complicated penalties. Stores are secretly making a profit off of your thoughtful gifts and causing many problems for consumers. Before you buy those gift cards, educate yourself on some of the issues.
1. THE DOLLAR AMOUNT IS A LIE – The amount on the card will slowly dwindle as the company will charge you interest on the card. This will range anywhere between 5-10% of what you purchased. In addition to this, you pay a fee to activate the card, so the amount of money for both you and the recipient adds up.
2. GIFT CARDS EXPIRE – Many gift cards only last for 12 months — or even worse, less than that. To prevent all the money from disappearing read your gift card closely to see if there is an expiration date. If there is, alert the recipient to spend the gift card as soon as possible.
3. STORES LOCK YOU IN – Gift cards require you to spend the set amount of money at that particular store, yet the recipient of the gift may wish to spend the gift funds somewhere else.
4. YOUR PERSONAL INFORMATION IS BEING RE-SOLD – Often the store that you purchase the gift card from will collect your personal information and use it for their marketing purposes. Some companies will even go as far as selling your information to other marketers.
5. SPECIAL DEALS WITH GIFT CARDS – Remember that special deals with gift card are too good to be true. For example, two massages for the price of one may be the rate for the introductory massage only. If you are purchasing the card for a regular customer they will not be able to take advantage of the introductory rate which was what the card was intended for.
Remember this holiday season to read all the fine print associated with the gift card to avoid these headaches. is a premier consumer advocacy group, featuring consumer reviews and complaints in a social networking environment. The company uses online tools to publicize reviews and complaints filed by consumers on the Internet. In addition, the site offers a set of free tools necessary to bring the dispute to a fast and successful resolution, including a consumer complaint letter generator and collection of consumer tips and advice in the site’s consumer advocacy section.

Fingerprint is giving away 4 iPad Minis to one lucky family!

125x125.jpg Fingerprint is the first kids’ mobile learning and entertainment platform, providing sharing and engagement opportunities between kids and parents across mobile devices and the web. The Fingerprint platform invites kids to explore and discover learning game apps on their own and then share the fun with their grown-ups via the one-of-a kind, in-app Mom Comm.
Every Fingerprint Play app, whether first-party or ‘fingerprinted’ by third-party developers, is selected to promote academic, social, and emotional skills with a heavy dose of just plain fun. Fingerprint offers an easy-to-integrate SDK that allows 3rd Party Content Developers to participate in the network.
Most Fingerprint Play apps are free to play, with an option to enhance and extend the experience for an additional charge as your child further engages with the App. Fingerprint is currently available on iOS platforms (iPhone, iPod touch and iPad), and will expand to Android devices in early 2013.
There are currently 15 Apps available including top titles like – Big Kid Life Firefighter with non-stop logic and math action, Whole Wide World which introduces kids to history, culture and geography, and DoReMi 1-2-3 which inspires creativity through music. Every Fingerprint Play App whether first party or ‘fingerprinted’ by third party developers is selected to promote academic, social and emotional skills with a heavy dose of fun.
Here are the new apps being released throughout the month:
Scribble My Story (ages 3-8): Based on the award-winning Scribble Press app for iPad, this new app lets the youngest readers write, illustrate, and customize their own stories. Kids can customize their very own audio stories or create a book based on Fingerprint’s wildly popular Big Kid Life or Whole Wide WorldAdventure. (iPad only)
Green$treets: Unleash the Loot! (ages 5-8): The brainchild of Neale Godfrey, creator and leader in the “Kids and Money” field and bestselling author, this app teaches kids goal setting, budgeting, the value of money, and financial decision making while saving the planet. (Available now)
Panda Panda No More Mess (ages 3-6): A fun sorting game and interactive book that teaches shapes and colors. Children help Panda, a happy little bear armed with a vacuum, clean up by dragging and dropping toys, blocks, clothes and even snacks into the right toy chests.
Step-by-Story: The VeggieTales Collection® (ages 3-6): Featuring the beloved characters from VeggieTales, this Step-by-Story collection helps kids associate words, sounds and pictures in preparation for reading. Plus, the apps focus on key character values (i.e., share your gifts, use your imagination, make new friends). The new collection includes The Goofy Gift, Thanks for the Franks, Larry’s Missing Music, and I am That Hero!
For your chance to win this great prize, simply go the website, and enter! The winner will be picked on December 7th, so enter now!
The Company:
Fingerprint Digital is a San Francisco-based mobile entertainment company for kids. It was founded in 2010 by Nancy MacIntyre, a former executive at Leap Frog, and K2 Media Labs. They launched their first kids’ edutainment platform, Fingerprint Play, in December 2011, with a mission to help kids grow through learning made fun. To date, kids have played over 34 million minutes on the Fingerprint platform.

Alma’s Multigrain Mac & Cheese Recipe

macandcheese.JPGAs we all prepare for T-Day, it’s important to have a dish that we KNOW the kids will eat . Here’s a healthier version of the boxed mac and cheese that the kiddies are sure to enjoy. Happy Thanksgiving!
Multigrain mac and cheese:
2 boxes multigrain Barilla Pasta , 13.5 oz each
4 cups shredded, mild cheddar cheese , about 3/4 lb
2 cups whole milk
6 TBS flour
2 TBS butter, diced
tsp salt
1/8-1/4 tsp pepper
Boil pasta . While it is boiling, begin the rue:
In a medium sized sauce pan over low-medium flame, heat up milk until it starts to bubble
Add in the flour to the milk slowly while stirring with a whisk
Keep stirring until mixture begins to thicken and then add in diced butter and let melt , stirring all the while until mixture is thick and sticks to the spoon
Add in salt and pepper and combine. Set aside until pasta is done cooking.
Add the rue and grated cheese to the drained, hot pasta and stir until all the pasta is coated and the cheese melts. Serve hot and enjoy!
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.

10 Things That I’m Thankful For

As Thanksgiving approaches this year, I’ve decided to come up with a list of what I’m thankful for this year. Here it goes...
IMG_0370.jpg1. I’m thankful for my family and the fact that we all have our health, heat and electricity and luckily, no trees fell on our house this year.
2. I’m thankful for good friends — the ones who make me laugh, the ones who love to reminisce and the ones who make me reflect on the things that matter most.
3. I’m thankful for having the courage to close a chapter in my life and move on to bigger and better things.
4. I’m thankful for my friend Holli — my new personal walking partner, therapist and the big sister I’ve always wanted.
5. I’m thankful to still have my amazing mom, dad, mother in law and fathers in law in my life. I hope they all remain healthy and vibrant for many years to come.
6. I’m thankful that I can now have date night with my husband since my daughter is old enough to babysit.
7. I’m thankful to get the chance to inspire my children to follow their passion and achieve their dreams.
8. I’m thankful for two adorable cats who love us unconditionally — even when they are racing like lunatics around the house in the middle of the night.
9. I’m thankful for our fabulous summer vacations this year at Jake’s Resort, Block Island, Nantucket and more!
10. I’m thankful that my children know the importance of giving back.
So what are you thankful for this year?

A Day of Mother/Daughter Beauty at Benefit

There’s one thing that’s amazing about having a girly girl for a teen daughter. If you love to shop and get pampered, then there’s nothing better than spending the day together. This past weekend, we got the chance to explore New York City together along with her friend and did all the things that my daughter and I love to do in a weekend.
Our adventure started out in SoHo at Benefit, a fabulous cosmetics boutique and brand that was hosting a private event for bloggers and their daughters. Holly and Erin from MamaDrama were our fabulous hostesses and the moment we arrived, we were greeted with champagne, orange juice, pink cupcakes and smiles.
Within minutes, we were whisked over to a make-up chair where my daughter and her friend were given instant makeovers. What I loved about Benefit was that while the girls were given the royal treatment complete with purple mascara, eye shadow, blush and lip gloss, they still looked naturally beautiful. More importantly, they looked their age! Take a look…
As for me, I was amazed by all the products — including a concealer that promises to perk up those circles and lines under your eyes instantly (it totally works). But what I loved even more was the eyebrow treatment I received that came complete with tinting. Yes, I had my eyebrows tinted to match my hair color. In fact, I loved it so much, they already slotted me in for another appointment next month!
Once we were dolled up and ready to take the city by storm, we used my iPhone map to find the nearest train, zipped up to Bryant Park and did some holiday shopping. Well not exactly. We grabbed a bite at Celsius, where the girls kept pointing out cute boys who were skating on the ice rink below (gotta love hanging out with teens). I picked up a great pair of earrings, the girls kept trying on funky ear muffs and we sampled some chocolate before we headed back to the car for the drive home.
All in all, the girls had the best time and even thanked me for taking them into Manhattan. Nothing like a day of beauty and shopping with my favorite girl.

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

Here is a healthy and low calorie/low fat recipe for Egg Salad that adds an extra punch of nutrients by mixing in the leafy greens. Makes enough for two sandwiches. Enjoy!
Take Back the Kitchen V-Egg Salad Sandwich!
2 eggs
1 tsp mayonnaise
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1-2 tsp 0% fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup Swiss Chard or Fresh Spinach leaves
salt and pepper to taste
1. Hard boil the eggs by placing them in a pot covered with water until they boil.
2. Turn off the flame and then let sit for 5 minutes.
3. Immerse in cold water, peel and chop in a bowl.
5. Add in mayo, mustard and yogurt. Stir until combined
6. Wash and chop the greens and stir into the egg mixture.
7. Salt and pepper to taste and serve with multigrain bread or healthy crackers like Mary’s Gone Whole Grain Crackers
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.

Get Zapd!

Thumbnail image for Select Theme Screen.png I love taking pictures. Some may even call me “obsessed”. I am constantly capturing moments with my kids and friends on my digital camera and on my phone. These are memories I love to look back on and share with everyone. For many of us, however, the pictures tend to be forgotten or left as unused photos that sit in the black hole of our phone for months. Now, the first free mobile website creation product, Zapd, introduces the concept of social websites, created within about one minute, helping to ensure every memory is shared – whether it be through photos, words or links.
For those not into social media, it creates a stand alone website… for those into social media, it can be shared through Facebook and Twitter. The big differentiator with Zapd, is that other people you choose are able to collaborate and post photos on your new site. Zapd 1.0 launched in early 2011 and quickly ranked in the top 10 on the iPhone App Store in 11 countries. It was also featured as iTunes’ app of the week for multiple weeks. With Zapd’s newest version, users will have the ability to not only create a website in 60 seconds or less from their iPhone, they will also be able to share and collaborate with friends, family and other Zapd users.
Thumbnail image for Featured Screen.png
Some of what’s new in Zapd 2.0:
• Collaboration – invite others to make websites with you
• Easier, faster creation – batch uploads of photos
• Photo editing -­ filters, cropping and more image enhancing options
• Personalization -­ a dozen new themed layouts
• Feeds – discover and follow other Zaps and authors
• Easy integration – connect the app with existing address book contacts and Facebook friends
Zapd CEO and founder, Kelly Smith, has launched several successful start-ups, including, Imagekind, and RocketVox. “Zapd is about easily capturing an experience – either work or play – and sharing it in a new way, what we call a social website. All this can be done from the iPhone, which liberates millions of users and billions of photos to create themed chapters of their lives,” explains Smith. “Zapd is at the forefront of the changing direction for website creation, design and purpose. Either individually or collectively, Zapd puts website creation literally into the hands of everyday users, in the form of their iPhone.”
For more information on Zapd, and to experience a variety of featured Zaps, visit

Take Back the Kitchen with Alma Schneider

Here’s a banana bread with a sweet and salty twist, perfect for cold wintery days ahead!
Banana Bread with Salted Caramel Topping :

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup White Flour
1/2 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (if you don’t have , just use 1/2 cup white flour)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Mix together in a large bowl
Wet Ingredients:
3 very ripened bananas, mashed
1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt or sour cream
1/2 cup safflower oil or canola oil
3 beaten eggs
Mix together in a large bowl
Combine wet and dry ingredients until fully combined
Pour mixture into buttered loaf pan
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and bake bread for 50 minutes to an hour on the middle rack of the oven or until a knife comes out clean in the center
Let cool and then spread caramel topping all over the top and sprinkle with sea salt or Kosher salt
Caramel Topping:
1/4 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
pinch of salt
Combine ingredients and stir over a low flame until thickened
Set aside
For more great recipes from Alma Schneider, visit her at Take Back the Kitchen.

Why Politicians Need Media Training

I know this is a bit of a departure from our usual posts about movies to see, events to attend and great things for your kids. Nope — this is a post about the election. While I never shared who I was voting for in this election, it’s now safe to say that while my entire family was gunning for Mitt Romney, I stuck to my principles and voted for President Obama. And despite the grumbling from my kids and husband, I was doing a jig last night after I heard that my daughter’s future is once again safe and secure now that the people who truly live in the 21st century are still in positions of power.
The Republicans seem to be suffering from foot in mouth disease. Every time one of their members opens their mouths, they say the most nonsensical things without even realizing how many people they’ve offended along the way. As a publicist, I want to offer some heartfelt advice to the Republican party. If you think that one of your own is about to utter a cringeworthy statement on national or local television, do everything in your power to keep them away from the media. Or better yet, rather than put duct tape on their mouths, ensure they receive media training.
Moving forward, the Republican party should issue talking points for all of their members. And they shouldn’t be talking abouts about which agenda their party supports. They should be the talking points that cover questions that reporters want answers to that will definitely put them in hot water. Here are a just a few:
* What’s your stance on abortion?
* What about abortion during cases of rape?
* Do you believe in gender equality?
* Do you approve of Gay Marriage?
There are plenty more questions where that came from but the bottom line is the reason the Republicans lost is because their representatives are trapped in the 1950’s spewing nonsensical statements like becoming pregnant after you’re raped is a “gift from god” or there’s a chemical in women’s bodies that knows when it’s raped so it instantly has a miscarriage. Or, you set out on an expedition to find qualified women for your cabinet and your staff came back with binders full of women who would fit the bill.
The quotes that did in the Republican party will pretty much go down in history as sexist, idiotic and degrading. Which is why moving forward, there should be a media training expert on hand 24/7, coaching politicians on what they should and shouldn’t say during an interview or an intimate townhall meeting that’s being surreptitiously recorded on an iPhone 5.
Get with the program Republicans. If you want to get elected, you need to be real. You need to take no crap like Governor Chris Christie and reach across party lines because that is the right thing to do. You need to hug people, truly care about the well being of others and don’t spew fire and brimstone about how the President and the Democratic party are destroying our nation. We are all in this together. So find a few business savvy Republicans who are good guys who started out with nothing, built an empire, gave back to charity, can hug women and children and maybe hire a few who are qualified to work on your team. Don’t say stupid things you’re going to regret and most importantly, THINK BEFORE YOU SAY SOMETHING that’s going to pretty much jeopardize your party’s chances from ever moving into the Oval Office in this century.
I know our economy is still broken and our deficit has never been higher. I also know there are people who recently lost their homes and businesses to a horrific storm that could be caused by climate change or global warming. I want to know that we have a government that is fiscally responsible but is also looking out for the safety and well being of my children and future generations who will live in our country long after we’re all gone. I also want to know that the people who are truly successful – the infamous 1% are doing their part to give back to those in need. That’s just good karma and maybe, just maybe, that’s what will happen over the next four years. We all do the right thing and good things will happen in our nation.
So here’s to the Republican party finding a few more good candidates who are charismatic, real, and inspiring. And let’s not forget the media trainers and speech writers who make their words come alive and inspire the public to believe in them. While Ronald Reagan is long gone, his speech writer Peggy Noonan is alive and well and sorely needed to breathe some life back into this windbag of a party. Perhaps if you re-enlist Noonan to write better speeches and message points for your party, you’d all be in a lot better shape. Until then, you’ve got four years to figure out how to get your act together again and move toward the future with the rest of us.