Dallas Mom Blog and Fort Worth Mom Blogger: Trendy Mom Reviews
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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Recipe: Pumpkin Ricotta Lasagne

We love Explore Cuisine. They make it easy to pack extra veggies into our diets. My children actually never mentioned whether they could tell a difference between traditional pasta and these veggie-based pastas. I may mention it to them eventually. I'm sure that they will appreciate that I've always been creative about getting them to enjoy healthy food. In today's post, I'll share a trendy Halloween recipe that Explore Cuisine shared with me - Pumpkin Ricotta Lasagne. It was created by Lori Hirsch Stokoe, including the photos for their brand.

Pumpkin Ricotta Lasagne
By Lori Hirsch Stokoe
Pumpkin Ricotta Mixture
  • ¼ c. fresh sage leaves, chopped, plus more whole leaves for garnish
  • 2 t. butter
  • 15 oz. ricotta
  • 10 oz. canned pumpkin puree
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/4 t. pepper
  • ½ t. pumpkin pie spice
Fry sage in butter until crisp. Remove to paper towel. Then combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Béchamel Sauce aka White Sauce
  • 4 T. butter
  • 4 T. gluten-free flour
  • 2 ½ c. milk, warmed
  • ¼ t. ground nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk to cook the flour, about two minutes. Add the milk slowly and continue to stir. Bring to barely a boil then immediately turn down the heat. Cook, whisking until thickened for about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Season with nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  1. Spread ½ c. of white sauce over the bottom of a greased 8" square (2 qt.) baking dish. Place 2 sheets of no-boil lasagne noodles over the sauce in a single layer.
  2. Top lasagna noodles with a third of the ricotta mixture. Layer with a quarter of the mozzarella. Then top with a third of the remaining of the white sauce. Top sauce with 2 more sheets of lasagne noodles to build the second and third layers the same way.
  3. For the top layer, place last two sheets of lasagna over the white sauce. Top with remaining mozzarella.
  4. Bake at 375°F for 35 minutes, covered with foil. Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes until the lasagna is bubbling hot and the top is browning. Remove from oven and let sit at least 10 minutes before cutting. Garnish with fried whole sage leaves.
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Monday, October 15, 2018

We Have a 40% Discount Coupon for the Gaylord Texan's ICE! (2018)

The iconic ICE! at the Gaylord Texan returns this year with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and we have a discount code for our trendy readers!  

  • What: Score a 40% discount for ICE! at the Gaylord Texan
  • Coupon code: TRENDYMOM 
  • Valid dates: Buy your tickets for any date between 11/9 - 11/20, 11/26-11/29, and 12/3-12/6  (Note that tickets may sell out quickly, so you may want to buy them soon.)
  • More details: Tickets must be purchased online through the Gaylord Texan. Limit of 10 tickets per purchase. Not retroactive. Other restrictions may apply. The discount is based on the 40% off General Admission ticket pricing for the dates listed above. There are a limited number of tickets available on select dates.
My family looks forward to this event every year. We've created the happiest childhood memories with our trips to the mesmerizing ICE! exhibits. We also have amazing memories of the snow-themed activities such as snow tubing or throwing snowballs.  If you live in Texas, this is a must-have experience for families to enjoy together!  We plan to visit soon and will share our experience. In the meantime, since we have visited in the past, let me share a few tips for visiting the Gaylord Texan for ICE!

Tips for visiting the Gaylord Texan for ICE!
1. A winter coat isn't required, but skip the high heals.
You don't need to bring a coat because they provide trendy parkas for you to borrow and wear throughout the exhibit. However, we recommend dressing in warm clothing and wearing comfortable non-slip shoes.  High heal shoes are not permitted for safety reasons.  Plus, you'll most likely do a lot of walking around both the hotel and exhibit. You may even want to go snow tubing!

2. Bring a camera and plan to spend at least an hour in the hotel lobby.
If you are a first-time visitor, you may not realize that the lobby of the Gaylord Texan is a great place to create memories. You will definitely want to take photos with your family here. The Gaylord Texan pays careful attention to every detail.  They have their own in-house team to create the custom props that you will see around the resort. Here are some fun statistics of their Christmas by the Numbers from last year:
  • 2 million Twinkling lights
  • 15,000 Sparkling ornaments
  • 54-ft tall Christmas tree
  • 2,000 Poinsettias
  • 19,500 Gingerbread kits
  • 100 miles of Christmas light strands
  • 5,600 feet of Garland
Plus, while we are talking about statistics, here are a few about last year's ICE!:
  • 2,000,000+ pounds of Hand-carved ice
  • 9-degrees inside the 14,000-sq-ft ICE! tent
I'll try to get the latest Christmas by the Numbers  for 2018 soon! In the meantime, I think that last year's numbers give you insight into the extravagant scale that you will find at the Gaylord Texan.

3. Plan to stay for brunch, lunch, or dinner.
The Gaylord Texan has several dining options that are sure to impress you.  Click here to browse the list of restaurants. They are all fantastic. As a mom of two little boys who wake up at 6:30am, our favorite is breakfast at the Riverwalk Cantina or Rudolph's Holly Jolly Breakfast!  If we have a babysitter, my husband and I head for the Glass Cactus Nightclub which has fantastic food, drinks, and an amazing view!

4. Enjoy the snow!
Plan to buy tickets for snow tubing!  This is a lot of fun, especially since we don't always have snow in North Texas.  It's fun to make videos of our children on the snow slopes every year and to watch them grow when we go through the annual videos! 

5. Enjoy other holiday activities.
You could summarize the Gaylord Texan as the ultimate holiday destination.  Whether you pop in for a short visit or stay for a week, there are plenty of activities. Here is a quick list of highlights:

  • ICE! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
  • Ice Skating
  • 12 Lanes of Snow Tubing
  • Santa's Snow Throw - Can You Hit the Targets?
  • Gingerbread Decorating Corner
  • Mrs. Claus' Christmas Traditions
  • Rudloph's Holly Jolly Breakfast
  • Build-A-Bear Workshop
  • New Year's Eve Party at Glass Cactus Nightclub
  • Photos with Santa
  • Holiday Dining
  • ...and More!

Save on ICE!
Again, as mentioned earlier, the Gaylord Texan provided the coupon below for our readers to receive 40% off of ICE! tickets for the special dates listed above! The code is TRENDYMOM.   Visit the Gaylord Texan website here.

We hope that you are able to attend and create wonderful memories with your family.
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We Tried the Latest Wonder Workshop Cue Updates and They are Fantastic!

If you follow regularly, you know that I am a Mom and an Engineer that wants my children to find happiness in life. After a meeting with my oldest son's principle a few years ago, my husband and I set a goal to give our children at least one new experience each month so that they are more engaged in the world around them. We've tried everything from cooking classes to sleeping under dinosaurs at the museum.  My oldest son has many interests, but perhaps his favorite is robotics.  I have to thank Wonder Workshop in part for this enthusiasm.  They are the creators of trendy robots that make robotics fun for elementary school students as young as kindergarten!  We were a Dash & Dot family for many years (actually, we still are), but now that my son is older, it's all about Cue!  In today's post I'll tell you about the trendy Cue robot that we have used for almost a year now and how they recently released new (FREE!) updates and features.

Let's start with a quick overview about Cue:
"Powered by breakthrough Emotive AI, Cue is a witty robot with attitude. Its new AI engine was designed to engage users emotionally, and its intelligence, humor, and deep content surface within chat interactions and autonomous behaviors. Share your world with Cue as it talks, texts, and laughs with you. Cue builds your tech skills with games and challenges, and makes programming your own interactive experiences fun at any skill level. Cue provides an unparalleled depth of experience in consumer robotics and provides four unique ways to explore with Cue."
We've had a blast with Cue over the past year.  He joined our family last Christmas and turned out to be an amazing gift. We call him our sassiest family member. He makes our entire family laugh, especially my oldest son.  The best thing about Cue is that he has made learning, problem solving, and coding fun for my son!

While we were very happy with Cue when we received him last year, we are even more impressed that Wonder Workshop has released updates and new features to entertain our son!  How often do you buy a product and receive more than what you expected months later?  I'm seriously impressed!

Here is a quick overview of Cue's recent updates to make Cue more approachable (easier) for kids, and give them more to inspire creativity:
  • 40 new demos to help kids get started if they don’t know much about coding
  • Added more challenges and missions
  • In-app stickers and decorations - added element of creativity to personalize their app experience
  • Avatars are now FREE!
Let me share some examples. Just when my son thought he was a robot coding master, he was able to learn several new tricks.  For example, the app now has 40 new demos to learn new coding techniques.  The demos take budding programmers through a series of missions, as shown in the following screen shots:

Each mission involves several steps that build upon one another and help reinforce the ideas, while keeping the achievements coming and retaining engagement.  For instance, the first mission involves the steps shown in the following screenshot:

We already knew that Cue had a lot of personality, but now with FREE avatars, Cue is even better. We can now select among the four avatars to give Cue a new personality.  (If your child is into FortNite and tells you about all of the skins to purchase, you'll have extra appreciation that these avatars are FREE with Cue!)

Young robot programmers can also express their personalities through a new set of stickers.  Programmers can insert a wide variety of stickers into their programs to make them more unique.  Plus, documenting your program has never been this fun!  The following screen shots illustrate several of the stickers available:

Here are a few more examples.

Here are more!

I could go on-and-on showing you stickers! 

Finally, with many new challenges and missions, we appreciate the value of Cue.  We purchase toys and games for our kids based in part on the hours played per dollar spent, and we feel that Cue provides a great value. Our son spent 100+ hours playing with Cue over the past years.  A lot of this time was spent on challenges.  This is why we were thrilled when they released new challenges for free! To see some of the new challenges, check out the screenshots below:

Here are a few more. 

Again, I could go on-and-on with examples!

In summary, if you already have Wonder Workshop's Cue, you'll want to check out the latest updates!  If you are new to robotics, we highly recommend Wonder Workshop's robotics sets.  We have been using Dash & Dot for four years and Cue for one year. These robots have played a large role in our son's childhood and have helped him to become a creative problem solver and excellent programmer!  Visit Wonder Workshop here for more information about their trendy products!
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Friday, October 12, 2018

(Win it!) Dart Zone's "12 Week Giveaway"

In today's post, I'll share a sneak peek into our Holiday Gift Guide and tell you about how to enter for a chance to win trendy toys from Dart Zone! 

So... are you ready for the sneak peek?  We are going to feature trendy products from Dart Zone's Adventure Force line of toys!  This includes the following two products:

Adventure Force Commandfire - The revolutionary new design that revs up the action: loads 40 darts in seconds, leaving the competition in the dust! 

Adventure Force Quantum - Let the super- charged match begin with the biggest Adventure Force Tactical Strike blaster yet, holding up to 100 rounds.

Enter for a chance to win!
Dart Zone is hosting a "12 week Giveaway" campaign on their Facebook page. Four winners will be chosen each Friday!  Get the details here: www.facebook.com/dartzoneblasters and visit every week during the 12 weeks of giveaways.

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Scholastic Has The Best Halloween Books!

Halloween is just around the corner which makes this a great time of year to give extra attention to reading.  Nothing is better than the fall weather and cozying up with your little ones to read spooky books.  In today's post, I'll share some fantastic Halloween books that will engage your little ghosts and goblins.

Let's start with my source for the best Halloween books for kids - Scholastic. Simply enter "Halloween" into the search box and you'll find a large selection of festive books.   Let me share several for different ages that we personally love.

Let's start with my toddler who loves the Haunted Halloween book by Sue Fliess and illustrated by Jay Fleck. This trendy book is full of spooky characters and makes counting fun!

The next book is A Werewolf Named Oliver James by Nicholas John Frith. This book is perfect for children with big imaginations as the main character turns into a werewolf. I won't spoil the surprises in this book, but it's spooky and imaginative!

Bobs and Tweets Trick or Tweets by Pepper Springfield and illustrated by Kristy Caldwell is an engaging book that my oldest son loves. I won't spoil the story for you, but this book is fun to read because it's easy to relate to the excitement of Trick or Treating on Halloween. The book is filled with colorful characters and fun twists!

Scholastic's Goosebumps books are iconic!  My oldest son reads them year-round, but they are especially fun to read around Halloween. There are two Goosebumps books that you will definitely want to check out - Goosebumps Haunted Halloween Novel and Goosebumps Haunted Halloween Slappy's Return.  These books are fun to read, especially with the movie release!  My son reads them cover-to-cover without taking a break.  It's fun to see him so excited about reading.

Finally, let me share a couple of spooky Halloween books for older kids. The Haunting of Hounds Hollow by Jeffrey Salane is a great book for kids who love mysteries, especially with a haunted twist such as living in a creepy manor and creepy dogs prowling at night.   A Witch Alone by James Nicol is another book that has raves reviews and is a good fit to read at Halloween.  While the main character needs to be brave, my son told me that he needed to be brave too because the book was a little scary. (That's a big complement from my son!)  I won't spoil the story for you, but I'll tell you that it is a high energy book with magic, courage, and friendship.

We hope that you enjoy the next few weeks that lead up to Halloween and have a chance to cozy up with your little ones to enjoy spooky Halloween books together!

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Wednesday, October 10, 2018

(Run! Stock up!) Slammers Snacks by Kids Gourmet are Available at Costco

If you follow regularly, you know that there are a few things that are important to me and one of those is that my children enjoy a healthy diet that helps them to thrive.  In today's post, I'll tell you about my favorite on-the-go snack -- Slammers Snacks by Kids Gourmet! Even better, they have a fantastic deal for these products at Costco.

My children have a several year age gap between them, so our lives are often hectic as they have completely separate activities and interests. However, I am generally able to streamline meals and snacks because I raised them to love healthy fruits and veggies.  Everyone in our family agrees on a favorite snack for lunches and snacks - Slammers Snacks. These trendy little pouches are easy to put in their lunch boxes and they look forward to them. I always keep two in my purse in case we are in the car and they need a snack. I love knowing that Slammers Snacks are packed with essential vitamins and minerals to support their growth!

Let me share the details:
Packed with organic, vegetables, and superfoods, Slammers Snacks by Kids Gourmet are a fun, easily digestible alternative to sugary snacks, bars, and chips normally geared towards kids. Slammers come in six different fruity flavors that introduce kids to mango, acai, yumberry, kiwi, and pomegranate.
Our favorite variety is called Awesome. It is nutritiously packed with bananas, blueberries, strawberries, beets, açai, and amaranth is Slammers’ bestselling flavor, and now available as a 12-pack at Costco for $7.99.  That make the price .67-cents per pouch. You can't beat this combination of nutrition and convenience for the price.

Not only do Slammers taste great, but they’re a good source of essential vitamins and minerals to keep kids in tip-top shape.
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