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About the author  ⁄ Esther Carlstone

Esther is the mother to a silly 20-month old daughter who hates wearing clothes. Born and raised in Southern California, she attended UCLA where she received her Bachelors Degree in English and continues to live and love Los Angeles many years after. After a decade-long stint as an event planner, she is now a writer/editor for various websites and blogs about all thing lovely at her site, A Lovely State of Mind. She's hates trolling through unorganized sales racks and is obsessed with fashion, food, travel, pop culture, Instagramming, good design, and too many TV shows to count. Oh, and coffee totally counts as a food group (the main one if you have a kid.) You can find Esther on her blog, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

tooqool

 Joovy Too Qool: a new luxury double stroller

In the world of double strollers, there are the heavyweights that everyone knows, and everyone else. Enter the newest luxury double stroller on the market, the Joovy Too Qool, and boy, is it pretty. If you’re like me, you probably haven’t heard of Joovy before, but lately, this children’s brand best known for their Stand-On Caboose stroller, has been coming out with a lot of innovative and stylish new products (like this new HiLo high chair.)

As a double stroller, the Too Qool is awesome because it can be used as both a single and a double stroller, which is convenient when you don’t want to have to lug a giant double stroller around. My oldest loved being able to see her baby sister, and both the 5-month-old and toddler sat in it for a long time with no complaints (which is a huge plus for this mom.)

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The Too Qool also has a ride-along board accessory that Little Miss just about flipped over and refused to get off of (although I personally find all ride-along boards a little awkward — where is the kid’s head supposed to go exactly?) and the graphite frame which we got is sleek and stylish.

The Pros
  • The Too Qool is available in a variety of gorgeous colors to choose from — we tried it out in Jade and it’s a beauty
  • Can be used as either a single or a double stroller
  • Generously-sized basket
  • Generous sun-shade
  • Fabrics are very cushy and seats generously padded
  • Drove very easily over many cracked city sidewalks.
  • Lots of great accessories like the ride-along board
  • The second seat comes included, which isn’t the case with most other convertible double strollers.
The Cons
  • When used as a full double, and having the seats facing each other, the kid in the bottom seat is very cramped and close to the other footrest, and when reversed, the bottom rider is totally hidden from view — but to be fair, this is also the problem with the Uppa Baby Vista.
  • Only the top seat reclines fully — the bottom one reclines a little but not all the way (again, this is the same with the Vista)
  • Folding it isn’t too laborious, but the back seat does need to be removed first.
  • The basket is awesomely large if you’re using this as a single, however, once the second child is in and their feet are in the basket, your space becomes very limited. I would recommend purchasing some Mommy Hooks if you’re going to use this as a double most of the time.

Joovy Too Qool

You can use the Too Qool from newborn to toddler. (NOTE: The TooQool will be releasing car seat adaptors in the near future that should work with most of the major infant car seat brands.) Here’s the official features breakdown:

•      Anodized graphite aluminum frame
•      2 – Fully padded, reversible seats with full recline, leg support
•      2 – Removable, washable seat pad inserts
•      Easy release, full-size wheels with sealed bearings
•      Sealed bearing steering
•      Cantilever 4-wheel suspension system
•      Quick step swivel wheel locks
•      Leatherette wrapped hand-stitched handlebar and bumper bar
•      2 Oversized canopies — front has a zippered extension
•      Large storage basket

While the $799 price tag may seem high at first glance, remember it includes that second seat, which actually makes the Too Qool a pretty great deal compared to other comparable double strollers. If you’re looking for a stylish and versatile full-featured stroller with the option to grow with you family, the Joovy Too Qool is definitely one you’ll want to check out.

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travel gear for babies and toddlers

Clockwise from top left corner: Inglesina Portable High Chair, Cozy Car Seat Sun and Bug Cover, Bumbleride Flite Stroller, Itzy Ritzy Arm Wrap and Tummy Time Mat, Skip Hop Rolling Backpack, Baby Bjorn Travel Crib, Zoli Snack Containers, AjoBebe Portable Changing Pad, Travel Tot Childproofing Kit, CARES Safety Harness, Califone Toddler Headphones, Beco Gemini Baby Carrier

We can likely all agree that traveling with kids typically requires way more stuff than you ever imagined. But with a few must-have items and travel gear for babies and toddlers to make life easier, being on-the-go with kids can be a breeze!

Feeding Supplies

Portable High Chair – Portable high chairs like the Inglesina Fast Table are ingenious space savers. Ours came in  handy when we traveled to Boston and NYC, where tiny restaurants made it difficult to squeeze in a traditional high chair, or didn’t offer high chairs at all. This chair folds up so small it easily fits into a backpack and screws onto most tables.

inglesina fast table

Snack Containers – As seasoned parents know, one key to successfully going anywhere with kids is snacks, snacks and more snacks. These stackable Zoli ones are awesome because you don’t have to carry around 4 different containers on the plane to carry various types of food.

Getting Around

Lightweight Stroller – You’ll want to invest in one of these if you plan on traveling with your kids. We’ve lugged the full-size version around and it isn’t pretty. And lest you be tempted to not bring a stroller at all, remember that carrying 20-something pounds of toddler starts to feel real heavy real fast. The Bumbleride Flite offer both style and function.

Baby Carrier – Baby carriers like the Beco Gemini (which we love because Baby can front face if she wants) are a godsend when traveling. Not only can you wear Baby through airport security, it’s great for keeping them secure once you’re on the plane, or walking around at your destination so you can keep your hands free.

Cozy sun and bug cover

Cozy Car Seat Sun and Bug Shade – I love this product because there’s nothing worse than strolling around in some lovely city attempting to sightsee while Baby screams and can’t fall asleep because of the bright sun in their face. And if it’s the time of year where bugs abound, there’s a second mesh layer underneath that Baby can see out through, but bugs can’t get in. Can you even tell there’s a sleeping baby in there?

CARES Safety Harness – This ingenious way to safely secure that squirmy Baby or Toddler to the plane seat, is also the only FAA-approved child flying safety device.

Other Helpful Gear

Portable Changing Pad – Airplane bathrooms are gross enough as it is (as are many public ones) so having your own changing pad is essential. This gray and white chevron pad from Etsy shop Ajo.Bebe fits the savvy sassy mom bill.

Travel Tot Childproofing Kit – This handy kit packs all the basic childproofing necessities in one easy-to-transport package, so you don’t have to be terrified that your newly crawling baby is going to stick a finger in every socket in the hotel room.

Travel Crib – Unless Baby is used to sleeping in bed with you, you’ll want to bring a travel crib. If you’ll to be a frequent traveler, it’s worth it to invest in a super light one like the Baby Bjorn version.

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Arm Wrap and Tummy Time Mat – We LOVE this product and have brought it with us on several trips already. This super soft tummy time mat rolls up compactly and can even be attached to the handle of your infant car seat making a) carrying it easier on your arm and b) one less thing to have to pack away. It even has a little mirror for Baby to amuse themself with.

Rolling Backpack – If your toddler is in the “I want to do it!” stage, he’ll love being able to help by packing all their goodies in their own bag and proudly rolling it around.

Toddler Headphones – These are adorable and awesome for travel. If you want your toddler to be able to play games or watch shows on the flight, make sure to pack their own headphones. Not only will these fit perfectly over their little heads, but the volume only reaches a certain maximum decibel which is crucial for protecting sensitive little ears. Califone makes adorable animal headphones we’re sure your toddler will flip for.

Is there any other must-have travel gear for babies and toddlers that I missed? Do share!

 

 

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If you’re on the hunt for a perfectly sweet and lovely gift for an upcoming baby girl, look no further than the source for all that is unique and awesome, Etsy. Here, I’ve rounded up seven of my favorite baby shower gifts for girls found on Etsy.
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The Little Pearl Boutique — for glamorous and feminine baby headbands that any expecting mom is sure to go wild over, check out this darling Etsy shop. From vintage-inspired headbands like this one, to a simple but sweet daisy version, this store has got your little one’s head covered.

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Little Posh Bebe — Aren’t these the most adorable pair of baby shoes ever? Little Posh Bebe sells handmade soft-soled baby and toddler shoes in addition to various hair accessories. My daughter has a pair and we always get compliments when she wears them. And we all know no baby shower is complete without teeny tiny baby shoes for everyone to ooh and ahh over.

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The Snug Bug Shop — Okay, check out that ingenious and gorgeous bib above and tell me you don’t want it? The dress-up bib/burp cloth are just some of the stylish items offered by this shop that also features swaddles, chic baby blankets and changing mats in some of the cutest prints. Because even changing diapers can be stylish if you’re a savvy sassy mom!

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King Soleil — Trust me, all moms love to receive personalized baby gifts, and there is nothing lovelier than this custom-made embroidered nursery art. Not only will this gift be displayed for years to come on Baby Girl’s wall, but it also screams heirloom. I mean, seriously, could there be anything sweeter?!

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Red Attic — This Etsy shop can custom make a doll for you to match certain characteristics of your choosing, and fabrics for the outfit. Trust me, this is guaranteed to be one toy that will never get donated. The one pictured above was actually custom-made for one Jessica Simpson.

happy bowtiqueHappy BOWtique – Baby girl rompers made of lace? Oh my. These would be perfect for a newborn or baby photo shoot in the future or just for an everyday case of Dress the Baby.

yarningYarningMade — A perfect gift for the pregnant mom that already has everything, this hand-knit baby blanket is both modern and vintage at the same time and is non-baby enough to be proudly displayed for years to come.

What is your favorite Etsy shop for baby items?
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In the world of infant car seats safety is king and design is gold, but if the true test of a superior infant car seat is how long your baby will sleep in it, the Maxi-Cosi Mico AP infant car seat wins hands down. I’ve been fortunate enough to try out both the Mico AP and another high-end infant car seat for my now 4-month-old. And while both have their pros and cons, the Mico AP is definitely the one she prefers… and really, isn’t that all that matters?

Lightest in its class

Touted as the “lightest infant car seat in its class”, the Mico AP is indeed incredibly light at a mere 8.6 pounds. I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to lift it with the baby inside — especially after having lugged a much heavier version with her older sister. It comes in 14 stylish color choices that any savvy sassy mom would love and works with the car seat adapter for our Uppa Baby Vista which has been super convenient.

Safety features

It also features the advanced Air Protect® Side Impact Technology which, to me, looks incredibly secure. Baby must feel super cozy in the appropriately named Cozi Dozi infant insert as she almost always instantly falls asleep in it… and stays asleep! Beyond all this, the fabric just looks so cushy and comfy even I’d love to doze in it. It’s super easy to clip in and out of the car seat base, and lifting it out of the car is a breeze. While I wish the sun canopy was a bit larger, it’s still significantly larger than the first infant car seat we owned.

maxi cosi mico ap

Other features of the Mico AP
  • For children rear-facing from 5 to 22 pounds and up to 29” in height
  • Superior Side Impact Performance with Air Protect® technology
  • Includes a convenient stay-in-car adjustable base
  • Premium fabrics and padding for a comfy ride
  • Includes Cozi-Dozi™ infant support for smaller babies
  • Integrated canopy, always on hand and easy to store
  • Flip-out visor on canopy for extra protection when needed
  • 5-point harness with up-front harness adjustment
  • Adapters to use Mico as travel system included with compatible Maxi-Cosi and Quinny strollers**
  • Adapters for many other premium strollers available from the stroller manufacturer
  • Available accessories (sold separately):
  • Foot Muff to keep baby warm
  • WeatherShield
  • Breathable Bug Net
  • Additional stay-in-car bases

All in all, this is an infant car seat that I would highly recommend to any of my friends and am so thrilled to have been given the opportunity to try it out. This is one baby purchase you won’t regret (unlike that bottle sterilizer taking up tons of counter space!).

Maxi Cosi Wheel of Style and Color

GIVEAWAY!

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Baby showers are an awesome way to celebrate a new baby’s impending birth. Whether you are hosting a baby shower for a friend or a family member, you want to create a baby shower theme that really sets your shower apart from the rest. Already know the baby’s gender — is it a girl? We’ve got great ideas for a baby girl shower theme that will leave everyone tickled pink. Check out these 10 lovely girl baby shower themes, and be prepared to go Pinterest crazy.

Old World Glam — Personally, this is my favorite out of all the themes I scoured. A little vintage, a little glam, a little romance. Think sequins, lace and sparkle — a girl’s dream come true. From the invitations, to the decor, to the food, this is one party that will be as much fun to plan as it is to attend.

Enchanted Garden — I adore the aqua/pink/yellow color combination used in this shower, although you could use whatever colors you wanted. And the branches in a vase make a simple but breathtaking arrangement. Mini cupcakes with butterflies or fairies and tiny finger sandwiches would be fitting.

Shabby Chic Tea Party — An oldie, but goodie. Most moms-to-be would adore a girly tea party, but take it one step further with droolworthy vintage touches like lovely floral tea cups, vintage-patterned fabrics, lots of wheathered-white everything, and teeny-tiny little bows. Swoon.

Olivia the Pig — If you know the mom-to-be plans on naming her little princess Olivia, or just want a non-traditional shower theme, think pig. Olivia the Pig. The sassy and imaginative title character of the long-running children’s book series makes for an outside-the-box character to base a baby shower around. It also makes gift-giving easy since there are a plethora of Olivia the Pig books out there.

A Little Birdie Told Me… — How sweet is this bird-themed shower? I love the idea of using vintage birdcages as decoration, and could even imagine one filled with notes that all the guests write with advice for the mom-to-be. They can even be re-purposed as decor in the nursery afterwards! And all those adorable bird-themed sweets? Too. Cute.

Parisian Chic — Black, pink and white — just the right touch of Parisian glamour. Painted pink mirrors add a super cute boudoir-like touch, and those adorable Eiffel Tower cupcakes look too chic to eat. Ooh la la indeed.

Bumblebee Cuteness — So over all the super-girly pink showers? Go happy and go yellow with this totally adorable bumblebee shower. Bright sunflowers, lemonade, pom-poms and those paper straws that everyone goes gaga for are just a few of the touches you can add to really make this shower pop.

Alice in Wonderland — If the guest of honor is more of a modern/whimsical person, eschew the traditional ladies’ tea party in favor of a wildly inventive Alice in Wonderland version. Precariously stacked tea cups filled with flowers, and a bold, modern color palette really make this a shower one won’t soon forget.

Pretty in Pink — Pink doesn’t have to mean cheesy. This oh-so-pretty pink themed shower (LOVE the parasols hanging from the ceiling!) utilizes various shades of pink from blush to rose to create a gorgeous and easy on the eyes palette.

Pink Circus — Circus themes are popular, and for good reason. They can be reinvented in a variety of ways, and you get to use bunting. That’s right, everybody loves a good bunting. Whether it’s a mini paper bunting to encircle the cake stand, or a lovingly handmade fabric bunting to be hung in the nursery later, they are universally loved. For a baby girl, a circus shower done in hues of neutrals and pinks adds an especially feminine touch. And don’t forget that pink lemonade!

Which baby shower theme is your favorite?
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Joovy might not be a baby brand that you’re familiar with yet, but with an extensive line of baby products from strollers to slings to high chairs, and now bottles, it’s a name moms will definitely be hearing about more often. Recently I had the opportunity to try out two of their newest products, the HiLo high chair and the Boob bottles.

HiLo High chair

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Joovy HiLo raises the bar

Now, there are high chairs, and then there are high chairs. And the HiLo is definitely what I would call a high chair. Along the lines of the higher-end Stokke Tripp Trapp or Boon Flair, the HiLo is a chair that’s designed to grow with your child from infancy to 6-years-old and beyond. Advertised as “heirloom quality,” the chair’s frame is made of solid birch wood and comes in a variety of colors. It’s incredibly sleek and modern — two qualities I adore in baby products — and would seamlessly fit into any “adult” dining room. Parents will appreciate the generously sized tray (the better to catch all those spills and messes) and how super easy the tray, as well as the seat itself (made of one molded piece — i.e. no nooks and crannies for crumbs to get stuck in) is to clean. Did I mention the tray can also be tossed in the dishwasher? Extra points! The 5-point harness is an added plus for safety.IMG_4150 And with just a flip of the seat (literally!) the HiLo converts to a toddler chair. The toddler side has a lower seat and you can choose to use the tray on that side as well, or just pull it up to your dining table like a regular chair. Little Miss is already past the infant side, but she loves being able to climb into her own chair thanks to the built-in footrest.

While the footprint on this chair isn’t the most space-saving, its style and convenience more than makes up for it. And it easily pushes in under most dining tables. It does come with a higher price tag than most high chairs ($399), but when you consider how long you will use it (and if you really do end up saving it and passing it on to grandkids), it may be worth it for the long run.

Boob Bottles

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Joovy does bottles

The appropriately named Joovy Boob bottles are, as I’m sure you’ve surmised, geared towards breastfeeding mothers so that they can switch baby from breast to bottle with minimal nipple confusion. Made of PPSU plastic, which is known as the highest-quality plastic out there right now (and obviously BPA, phthalate and lead-free), you can literally feel the difference between these and other plastic bottles. They simply feel sturdier. The nipples are made of silicone and have a wider base and longer nipple than many of its bottle counterparts to help emulate latching on to Mom’s breast. It’s also baked an extra time, making them extra strong. No nipple caving in here.

Joovy also employs a CleanFlow vent to prevent Baby from swallowing air, thereby reducing the dreaded colic/gas. Prior to trying out the Boob, we were using Dr Brown’s for our breastfed baby, and while those worked fine, it was a total PITA to wash all those extra parts! I love how simple it is to clean the Boob in comparison. One of the best parts of the Boob Gift Set for me were the breast pump adaptors that screw onto the top of the bottle so that you can pump directly into it (one less bottle to wash, hooray!). It apparently works with all major breast pumps except for the Avent ones. Now the Boob is priced higher than most bottles at around $17, but that’s partly due to the superior quality plastic they use.

At the end of the day, as most moms can tell you, Baby makes the call on which bottles they will or will not take (among many other things.) It is just my experience that my 10-week-old has had no problems with the Boob bottles, and that I would highly recommend them, but to each their own!

What is your favorite brand of bottle?
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Have you seen B. Toys?

While the name may not strike you as familiar as, say, Fisher Price, I’m sure you’ve seen B. Toys products somewhere. From Target to Barnes and Noble, lately everywhere I go, there they are! They’re hard to miss with their colorful and whimsical designs (not to mention cute eco-friendly packaging) and my daughter always gravitates towards them. I love that all of the packaging can be reused or recycled, or even given as a gift as-is (hence the attached gift tag on all the toys, not to mention that some of the boxes can literally wrap themselves by reversing the packaging!) B. Toys also gives a portion of the sale of every toy purchased to Free the Children, a nonprofit organization that builds schools in needy communities. How’s that for feel-good?

New favorites from B. Toys

Some of the newer offerings in their product line includes a Wee M.D. doctor kit (pictured above) that Little Miss just can’t get enough of. Every day she’s convinced she has to “fix” someone (human or dog,) and totes the kit from room to room, then goes through all the steps from checking our chests with the stethoscope, to taking our blood pressure. I was amazed at the array of medical tools this kit came with. The carrying case is also more than roomy enough to keep adding more and more items as they accumulate.

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Another new B. Toys favorite is the Baa Baa Barn. I can see this toy entertaining a child from as early as when they can sit up around 6 months to toddlerhood. My 2-1/2-year-old daughter loves it and plays with it daily, which is no easy feat considering the absurd amount of toys we have. The animals make noises when placed on certain parts of the barn, the lights really turn on, creatures pop out when certain items are moved and there’s music and swirling balls involved. Add a dozen other thoughtful features, and I’m sold.

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Submaplane: For budding engineers

If your older child is into being handy and figuring things out, they could spend hours (OK, maybe that’s just every mom’s dream) playing with the Submaplane. It comes with an actual working child-friendly power drill complete with interchangeable bits. Kids can transform an airplane into a submarine and vice versa or a combination of both using their skills and imagination. And as a parent, I really appreciate how there are no parts that are too little, or too much of a pain to have to pick up all the time (that goes for all of their toys we’ve owned so far.)

These are just a small sampling of the awesomely creative toys that B. Toys makes, so if you ever come across these in the store, I highly recommend you check them out!

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Baby style for the stars

Well known in Los Angeles as the baby store for the stars, Bel Bambini has seen their share of famous mom guests including Jessica Simpson, Drew Barrymore, Jessica Alba, Charlize Theron, the Kardashian sisters and more. Selling everything from stylish nursery furniture, to fashionable duds, luxury strollers, a host of toys and more, Bel Bambini is truly a one-stop baby shop.

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Bel Bambini outlet!

Now Bel Bambini has taken it one step further with what’s sure to be exciting news to all the deal hunters out there… they’ve opened an outlet! Located across from the Citadel Outlets in Commerce, CA, the outlet stocks overstocked and discounted merchandise and floor models all for a whopping 50% off!

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Awesome deals

I recently had the opportunity to visit the outlet, and let me tell you, you will not be disappointed. From wooden Melissa & Doug toys to brand new Dwell Studio bedding and Petunia Pickle Bottom diaper bags, Splendid girl and boy clothes, and the most adorable Oeuf sweater (pictured below), the range of available items is dazzling. There were swaddlers, blankets, cribs, stylish gliders, cribs, bouncers, bottles, bibs, strollers and much more! Inventory is constantly changing, so check back often! 

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Bel Bambini Outlet
2057 Hoefner Avenue
Commerce, CA 90040

Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 9am-6pm (closed from 1-2pm for lunch)

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Check out the Blooming Bath!

Have you ever dreamed of bathing in a soft fluffy cloud? Well, while you might not have that chance, your infant will with the Blooming Bath. I had the opportunity to try out this awesome new product with my newborn, and I can honestly say this would make an amazing baby shower gift for any expecting mom (even a second time mom like myself!). The Blooming Bath provides a soft and cozy bathing experience for Baby unlike many of the infant sling inserts or the hard plastic baby tubs. And it’s seriously adorable to boot —  a Savvy Sassy Mom’s must for best baby tub.

What makes it different

The Blooming Bath is basically a foam bath pillow that “conforms to the size of any sink.” You can place the flower-shaped plush “bath” in your sink, or, since I have a small and shallow sink, we simply placed it in an extra-large bowl, and placed that in the tub. The Blooming Bath can be used for as long as your baby will fit in it, but is especially great for those early weeks and months when Baby’s head is still floppy and the thought of bathing a slippery infant gives you more anxiety than pleasure. You can even use the petals to cover up parts of Baby so they stay warm while you’re getting them nice and clean.

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And if you’ve ever dealt with trying to store those plastic infant tubs (seriously, where do they go?!), you’ll love how space-saving the Blooming Bath is. We simply rinse and wring it out, and hang it on a hook on the back of the bathroom door. Easy peasy, and completely out of the way. Can you believe this was invented by four dads?! You can find the Blooming Bath at your local children’s boutique for approximately $40.

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Santa’s Secret Workshop is back!

This past Saturday, we once again had the fabulous opportunity to attend the always star-studded Santa’s Secret Workshop holiday event presented by Bill Horn and Scout Masterson of Marque Communications (aka the “gunkles”) at the chic Andaz Hotel in West Hollywood. Celebrities such as Sarah Michelle Gellar and Freddie Prinze Jr., Tori Spelling, Malin Ackerman, Denise Richards, Tiffani Theissen, Lisa Ling, Donald Faison, Melissa Joan Hart, Lisa Loeb, DeAnna Pappas, Beverly Mitchell, Busy Phillips, Jensen Ackles, Molly Ringwald, Ali Landry, Dan Bucatinsky, Tamara Mowry-Housley and more… and all had tots in tow for this family-friendly event.

Sarah Michelle Gellar and Phaedra Parks

Activities for all

There was an entire crafts room hosted by Jo-Ann’s Crafts and Fabrics with kid-friendly activities from cookie decorating to DIY snow globes along with gorgeous and delicious sweet treats courtesy of Jenny Cookies. Other activities included glitter tattoos and manicures for the little girls (or boys!). Various family-oriented brands were also on hand to showcase their latest products including Corolle, Stokke, Orbit Baby, Ergo Baby, Ju-Ju-Be, ZoLi Baby, Diaper Dude, Diono, First Bike, Mabels Labels, SugarboogerSmarty Pants VitaminsSummer Infant, and Joovy.

Tori Spelling and Denise Richards

Santa is the star

And it wouldn’t be a holiday event without Santa, who was on hand to take pictures with the kids (at least the ones that weren’t terrified of him), and their parents courtesy of Getty Images. In the spirit of giving, this amazing event benefited L.A. Family Housing, whose mission is to help families transition out of homelessness and poverty through a continuum of housing enriched with supportive services. Guests also brought diapers to donate to the organization. This fabulous event was truly a great way to kick off the holiday season! (Note the post-Santa traumatized expression on Little One’s face.)

xmas portraits

 

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