Rockin Mama™ Motherhood, Giveaways and Product Reviews2016-02-06T19:43:24Z http://rockinmama.net/feed/atom/WordPress Caryn Bailey http://rockinmama.net <![CDATA[Valentine’s Day Crafting Party For Kids]]> http://rockinmama.net/?p=59636 2016-02-04T11:14:17Z 2016-02-04T07:41:13Z {Sponsored}

If your kids have outgrown the popular character Valentine’s Day Cards, or you’re looking to add a personal touch to your greetings, you’ll love this simple idea for a Valentine’s Day Crafting Party. It’s also a great weekend winter activity for kids and will give them an opportunity to express their creativity while making each greeting unique and meaningful.

Valentine's Day Crafting Supplies

I shopped for my Valentine’s Day Crafting Party supplies at my local Walmart, and my biggest challenge was narrowing down what exactly I wanted since their crafting and Valentine’s Day sections are expansive and filled with a variety of items. Kids are often more engaged by simple activities that they can complete in a short amount of time, so I decided to pick up a variety of marker, stickers, glitter glue, washi tape, pom poms, fuzzy sticks and card stock. I also picked up a Create a Valentine Kit from Creative Hands, which includes a variety of stickers and sequins to personalize each note.

One of the trends I’ve been seeing lately is for kids to include a small toy with their Valentine instead of candy. Walmart has a section filled with inexpensive favors including pencils, erasers and small toys, so I picked up a few packages that include stickers to gift with each personalized Valentine.

DIY Valentine Cards

Once your kids’ Valentines are complete, they’ll need a place to store them in anticipation of School Valentine’s Day Parties. You can opt to pick up a Valentine Card Holder or make your own. I found a few DIY Mailbox Kits for boys and girls for just $1.44. Each kit is easily assembled in just a few minutes and can then be personalized by kids with stickers.

Valentine's Day Party

No party is complete without snacks!  Since the focus of this party was on crafting with kids, I picked up a few boxes of Conversation Hearts to spread out on the table and a box of Assorted Valentine Cookies which are available in the Bakery section of your local Walmart.

Looking for additional Valentine’s Day Party Ideas? Check out these festive, affordable tips and inspiration from my fellow Walmart Moms for your next Valentine’s Day Party:

Valentine’s Day Party Tablescape

Valentine’s Day Cookie Decorating Party

Eat Your Heart Out Party

Valentine’s Day Party For Kids

Valentine’s Day Party Decor

Tissue Paper Pom Poms

Walmart Moms Disclaimer.2013

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Caryn Bailey http://rockinmama.net <![CDATA[Cuties Mandarin Bars]]> http://rockinmama.net/?p=59547 2016-02-04T23:46:21Z 2016-02-03T18:29:27Z {Sponsored}

People are often surprised when they see my kids making healthy choices at such a young age. They are by no means perfect, but it isn’t uncommon for them to choose fruit over dessert. My son likes to tell me that “he wants to be healthy,” and I know he has some understanding of how foods like fruits and vegetables make him feel (and on the contrary, how he feels when he’s had too much sugar).

Cuties Mandarin Orange Bars

With Valentine’s Day just 2 weeks away, I’ve been thinking about how to celebrate each of my kids without overwhelming them with sugar. I love to bake, and it’s become an activity my kids and I share together. Along with teaching them the basics of measurements and math, it’s an opportunity for me to impress upon them the importance of putting the right foods into our body.

Cuties Mandarin Oranges

My kids enjoy a variety of fruits, but one of their favorites are Cuties. These kid-sized mandarins are grown in California and perfectly sweet. As a parent, I like the fact that I can pack them in my kids’ lunches and they can peel them easily without any help. Packed with Vitamin C and Vitamin A, Cuties are the perfect kid-friendly snack. My kids will eat them on their own every single day, but I thought I’d get creative with them by whipping up a batch of Cuties Mandarin Bars.

Mandarin Orange Bar Ingredients

For these healthy snack bars, I started with a crust comprised of pecans and a white/whole wheat flour blend.

Mandarin Orange Filling

I then pureed and cooked a handful of Cuties over the stove with a touch of sugar and some vanilla extract. Since Cuties can vary in sweetness, I encourage you to adjust the amount of sugar accordingly. Pour the mixture over the crust, bake, and you’ll have a delightfully sweet bar that you and your kids can feel good about eating. These bars are packed with protein, whole grains and fruit making them a delightful alternative to the traditional Valentine’s Day treats.

Cuties Mandarin Bars

Cuties Mandarin Bars

Ingredients

    For the crust
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 6 T unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • For the Cuties Mandarin Filling
  • 12 Cuties, puréed
  • 4 T organic cane sugar
  • 4 T flour
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Instructions

    For the crust
  1. Combine pecans, flours, sugar and salt in a food processor until finely ground
  2. Add butter and pulse until combined
  3. In a small dish, whisk egg and vanilla extract together
  4. Add egg mixture to the food processor and process until the mixture begins to combine but is still crumbly
  5. Reserve 1/2 cup of mixture to use as topping for the Mandarin Bars
  6. For the Cuties Mandarin Filling
  7. In a medium-sized dutch oven, whisk puréed Cuties, sugar, flour and vanilla extract over medium heat until thickened (this process can take up to 10 minutes)
  8. For the Cuties Mandarin Bars
  9. Preheat oven to 400°F
  10. Prepare 9x13 inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray
  11. Press pecan crumble into prepared baking dish to form a crust
  12. Spread Cuties Mandarin filling over the crust
  13. Sprinkle reserved topping over the filling
  14. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes
  15. Reduced heat to 350°F and bake for an additional 20 minutes or until crust is lightly brown
  16. Allow to cool completely (approximately 2 hours) before cutting into bars
http://rockinmama.net/cuties-mandarin-orange-bars/

Cuties and Mighties wants you to swap sweets for fruit this Valentine’s Day! If you visit CutiesCitrus.com, you can make the pledge to swap candy for Cuties this Valentine’s Day by downloading their sweet anthem here. If they reach 10,000 song downloads, a city with the top downloads the week leading up to Valentine’s Day, a city with top downloads will be taken over by Cuties, spreading sweetness and love. The takeover will be broadcasted live on Periscope so everyone can follow along as Cuties spreads the love.

Pecan Crusted Orange Bars

For additional healthy recipes featuring Cuties, visit CutiesCitrus.com.

This blog post is part of a paid SocialMoms and Cuties & Mighties Kiwi blogging program. The opinions and ideas expressed here are my own.

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Caryn Bailey http://rockinmama.net <![CDATA[Dark Chocolate Truffles]]> http://rockinmama.net/?p=59625 2016-02-03T11:39:13Z 2016-02-03T07:31:24Z {Sponsored}

I can go days without dessert, and more often than not, I’d take macaroni and cheese over cheesecake when I’m craving something indulgent. But dark chocolate is my weakness, so much so that I’ve been known to grab a handful of dark chocolate chips at dark thirty to stave off my craving.  Over the holidays, I received an elegant box of dark chocolate truffles from a local chocolatier that made every store-bought box of chocolate pale in comparison.

Chocolate Truffle Ingredients

Valentine’s Day is just 2 weeks away, and while I know you’re going to want to pick up the first heart-shaped box of chocolate you see, why not get creative with these Dark Chocolate Truffles. The base recipe is just 2 ingredients (dark chocolate and cream) and with a bit of time, you can personalize it so these truffles look and taste exactly how you like them. Everything you’ll need for this recipe can be found at your local Walmart.

Dark Chocolate Ganache

For my Dark Chocolate Truffles, I decided to infuse the ganache with vanilla bean and then roll them in cocoa powder, chopped pistachios, shaved coconut and sprinkles. I then picked up Valentine’s Day-themed treat boxes and mini baking cups to display them.

Dark Chocolate Truffles

Dark Chocolate Truffles

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 8 ounces of dark chocolate (60% cacao)
  • Toppings: cocoa powder, crushed pistachios, shaved coconut, sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Whisk seeds from the vanilla bean into cream
  2. Heat cream over a double boiler until simmering
  3. Turn off heat and add chocolate, but do not stir
  4. Let stand for 10 minutes
  5. Whisk until smooth but do not over mix
  6. Cool approximately 2 hours in the refrigerator
  7. To assemble, use a teaspoon to spoon out ganache
  8. Roll into balls and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper
  9. Refrigerate for 15 minutes
  10. Roll truffles in desired coatings
  11. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve
http://rockinmama.net/dark-chocolate-truffles/

Truffle Toppings

These Dark Chocolate Truffles are absolutely decadent…rich in texture and mildly sweet. I personally love the fact that I can customize the ganache AND the toppings. Try experimenting with the cream base by adding dried lavender, cardamom or cinnamon. You can also add flavor to your chocolate, some of my favorites being espresso, peanut butter, or amaretto. If you’ve ever had a store-bought truffle, you might notice that some have a hard chocolate coating, which is easily achieved by simply dipping the truffles in melted chocolate before rolling them in your favorite toppings.

Valentine Truffles

Fine Cooking has an excellent article about personalizing your Dark Chocolate Truffles and I encourage you to check out all of the ways you can elevate chocolate.

Looking for additional Valentine’s Day Treats? Check out these inspired recipes from my fellow Walmart Moms:

Saltine Cracker Toffee

Valentine’s Day Cake Pops

Strawberry-Filled Cupcakes

Valentine’s Day Popcorn

Heart-Shaped Krispy Treats

Strawberry Cheesecake Milkshake

Walmart Moms Disclaimer.2013

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Caryn Bailey http://rockinmama.net <![CDATA[The Ink & Paint Department at Walt Disney Animation Studios: Preserving an Art Form]]> http://rockinmama.net/?p=59655 2016-02-06T19:43:24Z 2016-02-03T07:12:20Z No compensation was received for this post.

Walt Disney Animation Studios

The fusion of technology and art is something Walt Disney had a hand in originating, and his ingenuity revolutionized animation. You might know that Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the Disney’s first animated feature film, but what you may not know is that its success and subsequent proceeds were used to purchase 51 acres of land in Burbank to conceive and construct a studio dedicated to making animated films.

The Multiplane Camera

Multiplane Camera

Always striving to enhance the art of storytelling through technology, Walt’s many accomplishments include the multiplane camera (used in the production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), the synchronization of sound with animated images, the use of storyboards and the development of a new type of optical printer.

Kwik Print

Ink and Paint at Walt Disney Studios

Continuing Walt’s legacy, the studio is guided by the philosophy that art informs technology and technology inspires art. The vivid imagery you see displayed on-screen today is the result of inventions like Deep Canvas and state-of-the-art digital techniques used to create hand-drawn animation. Even in an age of CG animation, the studio is constantly pushing the bar, testing the limits and blurring the lines between imagination and reality.

Snow White Art

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, deemed The Greatest Animated Movie of All Time, will be released for the first time ever on Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere and High Definition Blu-ray on February 2nd, 2016. In anticipation of the release, I spent a day at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank for a look back in time at the history of Disney’s Ink & Paint Department.

Ink and Paint Artists

Prior to today’s computer-generated imagery, artists just like Assistant Supervisor of the Ink & Paint Department Sherri Vandoli would ink cels with precision before painting and then carefully adding a touch of rouge to Snow White’s cheeks or tipping a fleck of dust onto a fairy’s wings with a brush no larger than the size of a pin.

Rikki Chobanian

Art at Ink and Paint

This meticulous approach to animation was used by the artists of the Ink & Paint Department for over 70 years, as line by line, stroke by stroke, the characters and their worlds were brought to life.

Inking and Painting

While computers now generate the images you see on-screen, the artistry of Disney’s Ink & Paint department endures through limited-edition artwork created on-site. These pieces are sold and collected across the globe, connecting the collector to the film and its legacy.

 Disney Punch

Paint

Color Matching

Drawings at Ink and Paint

As we entered the Ink & Paint Department, I was struck by a sense of nostalgia, a simpler time where paint and paper converged into cinematic masterpieces. Paint in a rainbow of colors lines each wall, a vintage-looking, well-read Principles of Color Technology book sits on a table as reference, and drawings in various stages of the ink and paint process can be spotted throughout the paint mixing lab.

Xerox Camera

Camera at Ink and Paint

Image Transfer

We begin our walk through the ink and paint process at the Xerox camera, which was created to streamline some of the more intricate and time-consuming inking involved with animating cels. This camera/photocopier, which is still used today, transferred the artist’s actual lines to the final cel. Of interest, 101 Dalmatians was the first film to be completed with this technology and The Little Mermaid was the last, which showcases just how quickly technology has advanced.

Lining an Image

Adding Special Effects With Paint

Antonio Pelayo

Once the image transfer is complete, artists like Antonio Pelayo line the image, then apply paint to the back of the cel so the line work is undisturbed. To complete the cel, Pelayo adds details and special effects using a stencil and an airbrush. Despite Pelayo’s seemingly effortless demonstration of this process, he is a rarity int he industry and one of the few men specializing in the art of inking and special effects painting.

Paint Mixing

Paint Colors

A walk through the Ink & Paint Department wouldn’t be complete without commenting on the paint used during this process. Assistant Paint Lab Supervisor Jim Lusby oversees the mixing, blending and inventory of paint housed at the studio. With over 3800 colors, his job includes working together with the artists to choose specific colors based on the original recipe cards on file. At one time, all paints were custom-made at the studio lab, but the gum-based resin paint used took up to 8 hours to dry. A fast-drying paint was used for the first time in the production of Oliver & Company, and while the material used for this paint is purchased outside, all of the mixing and matching is still done in this lab and matched against the master chip for accuracy.

Snow White Inks

Sleeping Beauty Artwork

Walt’s forward-thinking approach is consistent with Walt Disney Animation Studios’ continued pursuit of technological advancement in filmmaking. But this homage to an art form that created such treasures as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is integral to fusing a connection between the history and artistry that formed the building blocks of the studio that continues Walt’s legacy.

Images: Rockin’ Mama unless otherwise noted. 

 

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Caryn Bailey http://rockinmama.net <![CDATA[Beer Cheese Fondue Recipe]]> http://rockinmama.net/?p=59588 2016-02-01T11:41:36Z 2016-01-31T14:16:18Z {Sponsored}

So much of my inspiration for food and adventurous palate has been the result of my travels. In my 20s, I spent quite a bit of time exploring Europe, and during a visit to Switzerland I found myself at an authentic fondue restaurant. Deemed the national dish of Switzerland, fondue is simply melted cheese served in a communal pot that is then served with dipping bread using long-stemmed forks.

Beer Cheese Fondue

With the Big Game and the end of football season just one week away, my inspiration for today’s recipe stems from my love for all-things cheese. Traditional cheese fondue is made with a blend of cheeses, wine, and seasoning, and is actually quite easy to make. For this Beer Cheese Fondue, I used a blend of Gruyere and Sharp Cheddar Cheeses, a Pale Ale beer, and a touch of Cayenne to give it a spicy kick. Flour or cornstarch will help prevent the cheese from separating and a fondue pot or slow cooker will ensure this Beer Cheese Fondue is melted consistently and stays that way.

Beer Cheese Ingredients

I purchased all of the ingredients for this touchdown recipe at my local Walmart. My particular store has a section dedicated to artisan cheese, and here is where you’ll find a variety of aged cheddars and my favorite cheese in the world, Gruyere. A mild-flavored beer like a pale ale will pair nicely with the gruyere and the cheddar without overwhelming the cheeses.

Pretzels Bites With Beer Cheese Fondue

Pretzels Bites With Beer Cheese Fondue

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces Gruyere, shredded
  • 8 ounces Sharp Cheddar, shredded
  • 1 cup Pale Ale
  • 1 T Flour
  • Saltand Pepper to taste
  • Optional Cayenne pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook beer in fondue pot until boiling
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer
  3. Add cheese slowly until melted
  4. In a separate bowl, combine flour with 2 T pale ale
  5. Whisk flour mixture into cheese mixture until smooth
  6. Serve with pretzel bites
http://rockinmama.net/beer-cheese-fondue-recipe/

Pretzel Bites

My favorite way to eat cheese fondue is with cubed bread. But since this Beer Cheese Fondue is being whipped up for the Big Game, I decided to serve it with an Easy Pretzel Bites Recipe. Simply use your fondue forks to dip these soft pretzel bites into the warm Beer Cheese Fondue. While Pretzel Bites are relatively easy to make, they do take time. You could prepare and cut the dough in advance of the Big Game, then bake when you’re ready so that the pretzel bites are warm upon serving.

Looking for additional Game Time Recipes? Check out some of my favorites from my fellow Walmart Moms. You can also visit Walmart.com for inspiration for your next Game Time Celebration.

Cauliflower Nachos

Italian Meatball Subs

Buffalo Style Chicken Wings

Buffalo Chicken Cups

Walmart Moms Disclaimer.2013

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Caryn Bailey http://rockinmama.net <![CDATA[DIY Cold and Flu Care Package]]> http://rockinmama.net/?p=59575 2016-01-29T19:49:04Z 2016-01-29T19:35:32Z {Sponsored}

I sat down on Christmas day after my kids had opened their presents and the cinnamon rolls were in the oven and breathed a sigh of relief. While it is my favorite time of year, there are moments of busyness and stress that can leave one feeling fatigued. Combined with the tendency for people to stay indoors due to the weather and the need to shop, I always find myself getting sick right around this time. Without fail, just a few days after we celebrated, I found myself battling laryngitis…the first illness in our family in months.

Allergy

While back-to-school tends to be a common time for the common cold and flu, the CDC states that the season typically peaks between December and February. While there is no cure for the common cold or flu, there are many steps you can take to keep your family healthy. Hand-washing, rest, exercise, a healthy diet, and probiotics are my mainstays for avoiding illness during cold and flu season. I also get a flu shot every year at the beginning of the season, and because of this important practice, I can’t remember the last time I was sick with the flu.

Flu Shot at Walmart

If you’ve yet to receive a flu shot, you can visit the pharmacy at your local Walmart without an appointment. Most insurance plans don’t require any out-of-pocket expenses which means staying healthy has never been easier or more affordable. You can find your nearest Walmart pharmacy by visiting Walmart.com.

Cold and Flu Care Package

While getting sick at some point throughout the year is almost inevitable, there are several things you can do to hasten and ease recovery time. I like to combine natural remedies with a handful of medications to relieve symptoms. I also like to put together a cold and flu care package so that I don’t have to search for items or go to the store when I’m sick. This package can also be tailored for kids.

Herbal Tea: Something warm and soothing is typically my mainstay when I’m sick. If I’m suffering from congestion or a sore throat, I typically don’t want to eat much, so sipping Chamomile or Peppermint Tea is idea. Avoid caffeinated teas which are stimulating and have the potential to interfere with the rest your body needs.

Probiotics: While I typically take probiotics as a preventive measure, I’ve also found them to be useful during illness. These live bacteria can be found naturally in your body and are also available over the counter.

Tissue: Pick up small packages that can be tossed into a purse or handbag and a couple of larger boxes for the home.

Hand Sanitizer: While they say you are likely most contagious before symptoms begin, I still find it crucial to keep hands clean during illness, to avoid passing it along to others. Hand-washing is ideal, but keeping a bottle of hand sanitizer for those moments when you physically can’t get up can help prevent the spread of germs.

Lip Balm: Dry, sore, chapped lips are common during the winter, and illness only intensifies the symptoms. You or a loved one will appreciate having a supply of lip balm on-hand during cold and flu season.

Emergen-C: I never feel like eating much when I’m sick, yet the body requires vital nutrients to heal itself. I like to keep a supply of Emergen-C and a few bottles of water on-hand to support my immune system with B vitamins, vitamin C, electrolytes and antixoidants. A pediatric version is also available and can be included in a Kids Cold and Flu Care Package.

Vicks: Because of a minor medical condition, I can’t take traditional decongestants. The result is that when I’m sick with a cold or the flu, I can’t breathe! I’ve been using Vicks VapoRub since I was a child, and while its intended use is for cough, I find it to be particularly helpful for sinus congestion and a game-changer when it comes to being able to sleep.

Cough Drops: Coughing can leave one feeling physically exhausted, so having a supply of cough drops during illness is essential. I prefer Ricola’s Natural Herb Cough Drops since they’re free from artificial flavorings and colorings and suitable for children 6 and older.

Tylenol: With no cure for the common cold or flu, you’ll notice that this list consists primarily of natural, supportive remedies as opposed to medications. However, Tylenol is the one medication I like to have available to relieve fever, headaches and sore throats.

Books/Movies: If you are planning to gift this package to a friend or family member, include a favorite movie or book. This will help keep them distracted from their symptoms while still encouraging restful activities that don’t require exertion.

Package everything in a basket with a blanket and cozy socks so that it’s all in one place. For kids, I recommend including Pedialyte (or another electrolyte replacement fluid), pediatric Tylenol, Probiotics and Cough Drops, Coloring/Activity books, and some healthy snacks.

Walmart is your go-to for cold and flu prevention and management. Visit your local store to get your flu shot or stock up on these cold and flu essentials.

Walmart Moms Disclaimer.2013

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Caryn Bailey http://rockinmama.net <![CDATA[Jack Black Talks Fatherhood and Reclaiming His Inner Dragon Warrior]]> http://rockinmama.net/?p=59584 2016-01-29T18:57:51Z 2016-01-29T07:05:42Z No compensation was received for this post.

“If you only do what you can do, you will never be more than you are now”

Kung Fu Panda Quote

It is a pivotal moment for Dragon Warrior Po in DreamWorks Animation’s latest computer animated film, Kung Fu Panda 3. In the third installment in the film series, Po is challenged mentally and physically to transition from student to teacher in order to defeat villain Kai, who’s sole mission is to steal the chi from kung fu warriors to further fuel his growing powers. Always questioning who he is, Po’s growth as the Dragon Warrior is complicated by the emergence of his biological father. While seemingly inopportune, Po comes to understand that in order to defeat Kai and find out who he really is, he must traverse to where he came from…Panda Village.

Jack Black returns once again as Kung Fu Master Po in Kung Fu Panda 3, infusing humor, heart and life into the film. During a recent press conference, Black discussed how he embraced his inner Dragon Warrior and why the film will resonate with families.

Jack Black

While prominent in the world of film and television, Black also has achieved success as a musician and is currently the lead singer for the band Tenacious D. His versatility as both an actor and a musician, in part, led DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg to approach him to voice Po. Hesitant to give up his “cool rock and roll edge,” animators working on the film put together a mock-up animation of Po using Black’s voice from High Fidelity. The realization that Black didn’t have to “Romper Room” the part was compelling, since he wasn’t required to do a “character voice.” “With this particular character, I was really just being myself…kind of a younger version of myself.”

KUNG FU PANDA 3

Part of what makes Po so relatable is the humanity Black brings to his character. Always funny and appealing, Black conveys Po’s enthusiasm, likability and eagerness (Director Jennifer Yuh Nelson). Reclaiming his inner Dragon Warrior was easy for Black, who explains how he revisits his younger self when he’s voicing Po. “I just go back to a younger me, when I was starting my career.” Black sees Po as a young lover of kung fu and while his interests were of the rock and roll, they both share an “unreserved passion.”

Po and Father

In Kung Fu Panda 3, audiences finally meet Po’s biological father when they reunite in the Valley of Peace. One of the unique strengths of this particular film is the distinct relationship between father and son and how integral that relationship is to Po’s evolution as Dragon Warrior. Fatherhood involvement “is one of the great themes of the movie” and the coming together of a community to help Po conquer evil forces in the universe will resonate with audiences on a variety of levels  (Black).

Kung Fu Panda Poster

Visually immersive and possessing a type of depth not often found in animated films, Kung Fu Panda 3 will delight younger audiences with humor and action while inspiring important discussions about family, community and self-discovery.

Kung Fu Panda 3 debuts in theaters January 29th, 2016.

 

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Caryn Bailey http://rockinmama.net <![CDATA[5 Game Day Traditions We Love]]> http://rockinmama.net/?p=59570 2016-01-28T19:39:45Z 2016-01-28T19:13:44Z {Sponsored}

Truthfully, I don’t remember any of the games I watched as a child with my father on Sunday afternoons during football season. It’s a sport that I have always been fascinated with, but never quite understood. What I remember are the moments we shared together as a family.

As the season comes to a close with the traditional celebratory culminating Big Game, I thought I’d share some of our favorite game day traditions.

  • Gather with friends and family over a shared passion for football. I don’t typically need an excuse to get together with loved ones, but carving out time can be difficult in the midst of busy schedules. During football season, planning a viewing party can be the impetus to getting friends and family together. Plus, rooting for your favorite team is more fun with friends.

Vegetarian Super Bowl Recipes

  • Use game day as an opportunity to get creative in the kitchen. I absolutely love to cook and experiment with new recipes, but I can often be deterred by busyness. A football viewing party is the perfect motivation to try out a new recipe or create one of your longstanding favorites to share with friends and family.
  • Show your team spirit. As a UCLA graduate, I can relate to the desire to show my school spirit and to this day, I still proudly display the sweatshirt I purchased over 10 years ago. You may not be terribly inspired to sport that hat or jersey, but amongst friends and football enthusiasts you’ll feel right at home.

Game Day Essentials

  • Take time to care for yourself. Watching football on a lazy Sunday can feel, well, lazy. But after a long work week, it’s important to take time to care for yourself physically and mentally. Give yourself permission to spend an afternoon watching a sport you love.
  • Get your game on. There is a slippery slope between spending an afternoon watching football and becoming so absorbed that you neglect the physical activity your body needs. Purport to get outside and active during commercials and half-time so that you don’t succumb to sitting on the proverbial couch sidelines.

As you prepare for the Big Game, don’t forget the essentials you’ll need to plan and host the perfect viewing party. Everything you need to continue your #GameDayTraditions can be found at your local Walmart.

In order to prepare my home for guests, I ensure that my floors are clean, the bathrooms are tidy, the kitchen and dining areas are meal-ready and I have a supply of clean-up supplies on hand for accidental messes. P&G’s cleaning line-up makes it easy to ensure your house is game day-ready.

As a mom, I can’t tell you how often I’ve spent all of my time readying my home only to neglect my own personal appearance. As you prepare for your next game day viewing party, remember that simple beauty essentials like a touch of COVERGIRL’s LashBlast Mascara, fresh breath thanks to Crest Prohealth’s Advanced Toothpaste, and silky smooth legs achieved with Gillette’s Venus Swirl Razor can give you the confidence you need to make your Game Day party a success.Game Day Essentials

Pick up your favorite Game Day Essentials at your local Walmart.

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Caryn Bailey http://rockinmama.net <![CDATA[12 Things You Need to Know About The Wizarding World of Harry Potter]]> http://rockinmama.net/?p=59533 2016-01-27T19:08:11Z 2016-01-27T18:54:23Z This year, my son’s reading skills have dramatically advanced, so I wasn’t surprised when he brought home his first Harry Potter book. As I imagined, he is completely hooked on the series, determined to read every single book. I adore his enthusiasm as he shares the adventures of Harry Potter and his friends.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

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With immense popularity, particularly among young adults, J.K. Rowling’s series inspired eight fantasy films, which brought his stories and characters to life on-screen. Seeking to further immerse fans in the world of Harry Potter, Universal, in partnership with Warner Bros. debuted The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at the Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida. At present, there are 3 Universal Parks & Resorts theme parks which feature this themed area with 4th to debut at Universal Studios Hollywood on April 7th, 2016.

Flight of Hippogriff rendering

If you’re in Southern California, you’ve likely been anticipating The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood. The newly themed land has been in development for over five years and will engage families in the world of Harry Potter, taking them to the places they’ve read about or seen on-screen.

Hogsmeade

In anticipation of the Grand Opening, I’m sharing 12 Things You Need To Know About the Wizarding World of Harry Potter:

  1.  The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will authentically depict the stories, characters and places that fans have come to know and love from the books and films
  2. Hogwarts Castle will serve as the land’s iconic focal point and house Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
  3. Universal Studios Hollywood will debut Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey for the first time in 3-D
  4. As part of the opening of the new land, Flight of the Hippogriff will debut as Universal Studios Hollywood’s first outdoor roller coaster
  5. Students from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry will perform live throughout the day
  6. Guests can feast on authentic food and drink at one of several food and beverage locations including Three Broomsticks, Hog’s Head Pub, Honeydukes, Magic Neep and Butterbeer
  7. Eight new retail shops will open including Zonko’s Joke Shop, Ollivanders, Owl Post, Wiseacre’s Wizarding Equipment, Dervish and Banges, Gladrags Wizardwear and Filch’s Emporium of Confiscated Goods
  8. Visitors can send letters home to friends and family with an authentic Hogsmeade postmark at Owl Post
  9. At Ollivander’s, you’ll witness a wand choosing a wizard
  10. Looking to up your magic skills? Find Sneakoscopes, Spectrespecs, Omnioculars and even broomsticks at Dervish and Banges
  11. Honeydukes is your go-to for exploding bonbons, Chocolate Frogs, Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavor Beans and more
  12. SoCal locals and visitors will finally have an opportunity to quench their thirst with Harry Potter’s signature Butterbeer at Three Broomsticks

Madam Puddifoots

As we count down until the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, be sure to visit the interactive website, where you’ll embark on a virtual tour through the land’s shops, dining locations and attractions.

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Win the Ultimate Harry Potter Trip Around the World!

Universal Studios Hollywood, in partnership with TripAdvisor, will send one winner and 3 guests to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Hollywood, Orlando and Japan and The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. You can enter by visiting TripAdvisor.com/WizardingWorldHollywood before February 24th, 2016.

Hogsmeade village, and the Butterbeer cart

To stay up to date with the latest on the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, follow Universal Studios Hollywood on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #WizardingWorldHollywood.

Images: Universal Studios Hollywood

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Caryn Bailey http://rockinmama.net <![CDATA[Seafood Paella Recipe]]> http://rockinmama.net/?p=59535 2016-01-26T09:29:07Z 2016-01-26T07:00:19Z {Sponsored}

People who knew my father would often comment about his love for seafood. I remember weekends where we would go to the store together to buy fresh shrimp, crab or fish and then spend time leisurely preparing it with his signature cooking style for the two of us. Any special occasion was celebrated at a classy coastal seafood restaurant and I credit him for my adventurous palate.

Four years ago, I finally decided to a commit to a Pescetarian diet. Motivated in part by a desire to live a healthier lifestyle, I gave up all types of meat and can honestly say that I don’t miss it. For many, the decision to go meatless even for a day can seem daunting. But the number of meatless and seafood-inspired dishes I’ve enjoyed and even created has shown me that it can be done and be enjoyable.

In just a few weeks, the season of Lent will be upon us. If you’re unfamiliar with Lent, it is a solemn religious observance which begins on Ash Wednesday and continues throughout the six weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. During this time, many who identify with Christianity choose to abstain from certain activities and luxuries in order to focus on prayer and repentance. Common practices include fasting (for short durations) and abstaining from meat during this time. Meat has traditionally been centric to celebrations and feasts, and while many have made the switch to more plant-based diets, the season of Lent and abstinence from meat is still very relevant today.

Paella

In honor of Lent, I decided to re-create one of my father’s favorite seafood dishes, Paella. This Valenican rice dish is the national dish of Spain and while the traditional recipe consists of white rice, green beans, meat, white beans, snails, and seasonings, you’ll often find vegetarian, vegan, seafood and mixed paella recipes. My version features Wild Shrimp, Wild-Caught White Fish, Wild Crab Meat, brown rice, red bell peppers, and Spanish Saffron, all available at your local Walmart.

Seafood Paella Recipe

Seafood Paella Recipe

Ingredients

  • ½ onion, diced
  • ¼ red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T olive oil
  • Handful of fresh parsley
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • Pinch of Spanish saffron
  • 1 tsp red pepper (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups brown rice
  • 1 cup crab meat
  • 1 filet of white fish, sautéed
  • ½ pound shrimp
  • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Fresh lemon

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet or cast iron pan, sauté onion, red bell pepper, and garlic in olive oil until soft (do not brown)
  2. Add parsley, tomatoes, and spices, and cook over medium heat until thickened
  3. In a separate skillet, heat white wine and vegetable broth
  4. Add brown rice to tomato sauce and toss to coat
  5. Add white wine/vegetable broth mixture to rice and simmer for 30-40 minutes, or until rice begins to soften
  6. Fold crab meat, cooked fish, and peas into rice mixture
  7. Cook shrimp by tucking into rice mixture, approximately 10 minutes or until pink
  8. Serve paella with fresh lemon
http://rockinmama.net/seafood-paella-recipe/

Paella Sauce

Paella Rice

While somewhat time-intensive, this dish is well worth the wait. The inclusion of a wide variety of fresh fish and shellfish was the main reason my dad ordered this dish nearly every time we visited a seafood restaurant. This Seafood Paella is hearty enough to suffice for a meal yet, can also be served as a side dish if desired. Brown rice gives this dish a hearty dose of whole grains while keeping you satiated. If you are serving this dish to kids, I recommend decreasing or omitting the red pepper as the dish still holds its flavor well without it. And while I opted for shrimp, crab and white fish, you can always switch these out for your favorites including clams, squid and/or lobster.

Paella Recipe

If you’re looking for additional Lent recipes, visit Walmart.com.

Walmart Moms Disclaimer.2013

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