Grace Thomas inspired Ratatouille Recipe

Today’ s ratatouille dish is inspired by  American Girl 2015 Girl of The Year- Grace Thomas. Grace is an adorable brunette doll with a side bang, beautiful blue eyes and freckles.  She has a passion for baking, dreams of opening her own bakery, gets an amazing opportunity to visit France and she is available now until the end of the year. I am so excited to add her to our American Girl doll collection.  With her arrival we were inspired to make a simple variation of a French dish in her honor- Ratatouille, which is basically a vegetable stew.  Kids will take more of an interest in vegetables that they have helped prepare, and if you have a little girl who is mad about Grace use it to your advantage and play up the French aspect. I think Grace  would approve of this healthy and flavorful French dish!

grace thomas

american girl grace thomas


This recipe builds cutting skills and I pre-scored the soft veggies for her to try and keep them relatively the same thickness. The knife and cutting board that came with our Curious Chef 5 Piece Pizza Kit  is perfect for soft veggies. Safe,  comfortable,and manageable for little hands it is a great addition to our kitchen tools. Demonstrate to your child how to hold the vegetables opposite of where they are cutting with fingers tucked in, careful movements with knife.

kids in the kitchen prescore ratatouille



 Here is our inspired by Grace Thomas, her love of cooking and her time in Paris, Ratatouille recipe! 


Kid-Friendly Ratatouille Recipe


1 eggplant

1 zucchini

1 yellow squash

1 sweet onion

14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes

2 Tbsp. +1 Tbsp.. grated Parmesan

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. dried basil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp. pepper


kids in the kitchen ratatouille

Go ahead and pull out everything you are going to need down to spices before starting so you don’t have to walk away from little during prep to grab something. A handy basket works to keep everything together and out of the way.



Preheat oven to 350°

Coat an 11″x 7″ pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Cut eggplant, zucchini, squash, and onion into thin slices.

ratatouille slice kids kitchen

Toss all vegetables, 2 Tbsp. Parmesan, olive oil , basil, garlic and pepper together in a large bowl  until well mixed.

ratatouille mix

Pour mixture into pan.

Top with additional 1 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes.



What do you think of 2015 Girl of The Year Grace?  Isn’t she a cutie? And don’t you think your kids will love our Grace-inspired Ratatouille recipe?


Click here to print the ratatouille-recipe-card– or click the recipe card image and it will bring you right to the download of the pdf for it.  Bon appetit!


Check out our other Kids in The Kitchen recipes


Kid Friendly Overnight Oatmeal

cereal bar horizontal

Homemade Cereal Bars



4.8 from 5 reviews
Grace Thomas inspired Ratatouille Recipe
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 eggplant
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 yellow squash
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp. +1 Tbsp.. grated Parmesan
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Coat an 11x7 pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Cut eggplant, zucchini, squash, and onion into thin slices.
  4. Toss all vegetables, parmesan, olive oil , basil, garlic and pepper together in a large bowl until well mixed.
  5. Pour mixture into pan.
  6. Top with additional Parmesan cheese.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.

Thanks to American Girl for sending us Grace!

American Girl Holiday Giving Campaign #Joy4EveryGirl #SharetheWonder

Have you heard of the American Girl holiday giving campaign, Share the Wonder of the Holidays? Starting November 24 through December 18, 2014, American Girl will match any doll purchase made online, in-store, or via phone with an 18-inch doll donation to the Children’s Hospital Association- up to 1,000 a day! The donation, worth nearly $3 million in retail value, will help bring joy and comfort to thousands of young girls receiving care in any of the association’s 200 member hospitals in the U.S.

share the wonder larger

To celebrate the excitement of giving and receiving American Girl this season, American Girl invites all of us to share pictures and videos of your unforgettable American Girl moments-from unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning to celebrating a birthday or visiting a store-on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #Joy2EveryGirl.

My daughters’ first American Girl moments were mostly captured on film…. my youngset, with her beloved Annabelle…makes me a little teary, because she’s going to get a “big girl” doll of her own from Santa for Christmas this year.


And my oldest with Holly…

first american girl

Oh how I love the magical moment of excitement.  Do you remember our sweet friend Abby?  American Girl sent us a wigless doll when my son was diagnosed with Alopecia Areata and we were so blessed to be able to send that doll to Abby halfway cross country with love, hugs and kisses in that box with her new Abby doll.  One of my favorite blog memories ever.  abby and american girl

American Girl has a long-standing commitment to helping children and families in need. The company is proud to support a wide range of causes and issues affecting millions of individuals, and works with leading charitable organizations to help make the world a brighter place. To learn more about American Girl’s 2014 “Share the Wonder of the Holidays” campaign, visit, or find them on Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram

I’m pretty excited about this campaign.  American Girl is sending ME an Isabelle doll to donate to a local charity or hospital of our choice.  I’m excited to do that, and be able to pay it forward once again.


Check out our Boxtrolls!

The countdown continues until The Boxtrolls comes to theaters (9/26). We finished our Boxtrolls, although we’re still reading Here Be Monsters (and we need to hurry or we won’t finish before the movie comes out!)
We had to enter the #BuildaBoxtrollSweeps and took plain old shipping boxes from this:




To this….

To these!

Create your own Boxtroll and enter to win a trip to the movie premiere! Hurry, because the sweeps ends September 5th! Good luck!


An all-expense paid trip for 4 to the L.A. movie premiere of The Boxtrolls!

How to enter

Make a totally awesome Boxtroll

Snap a pic

Share your photo on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram with the #BuildABoxtrollSweeps hashtag

That’s it!!

Legal and Official Rules  No purchase necessary. 18+ years old. 50 US States + District of Columbia only. 8/4/14-9/5/14. 


Have you made YOUR Boxtroll yet? I’d love to see pics!

4 reasons to visit American Girl Stores this summer

When my niece Sam was 8, I slept over her house on Christmas Eve.  When we got up Christmas morning, she was over the moon delighted to find that Santa had left her her very own Samantha Parkington American Girl® doll.  That was about 20 years ago, and my sweet little Sam will be marrying her best friend in the fall. She’s still got her Samantha doll, and every single accessory that went with her, tucked away at her dad’s house, saved for when she has a little girl of her own.
My niece Erica spent hundreds and hundreds of hours playing with all three of her American Girl dolls.  She played alone, she played with her friends…and even now, as a college junior, she still has those beloved friends in her closet, ready for playing at a moment’s notice.  It’s nice that my girls are so much younger than their cousins, because it lets the girls see what their older cousins played with when they were younger, but it also gives the older girls a chance to play with their beloved dolls again (and again, and again and again….)
My oldest daughter’s first baby doll was a Bitty Baby.  The Bitty Twins were welcomed into our family not long after that.  My girls both got an American Girl doll (a Just like You doll and a Bitty Twin, respectively) when they were flower girls in my nephew’s wedding a few years ago. We’ve added a Molly and McKenna are both currently residing in this house now, too.  These dolls are loved.  They are played with, played with more, and played with more still.
One thing I have noticed about the entire American Girl® line of dolls, furniture, clothing and accessories is that they are made WELL.  American Girl® doesn’t skimp on quality, and that makes a big difference. They are more expensive than many other similar dolls and product lines, but the quality lasts and lasts and lasts. The dolls, the clothes, the accessories are made to be played with and used, over and over and over again.
And that’s not even all of what American Girl has to offer.  I love the books as much as the dolls and accessories. There’s historical books, fiction, arts, crafts, activities, and books about being a girl.  The books aren’t preachy, they aren’t full of inappropriate content or language.  The historical books do a really great job depicting what life was like in different times for 12 year old girls- something that helps kids to understand and relate- and engage even more with their dolls. My only complaint about the whole American Girl concept is that I wasn’t a kid when they were around, I was born too soon and missed out on the awesome. Thankfully for me, I have kids who love it so I can live vicariously through-and with them :)
abby and american girl with eyebrows
I don’t know how many of you remember our little friend Abby, who we sent a wigless American Girl® doll to.  Sweet Abby lost her battle with cancer earlier this year, sadly.  I know that having a doll that looked so much like her meant the world to Abby and her family. Not all companies make a doll without hair for girls and boys who don’t have hair.  Not all companies would allow a lady from Connecticut to be able to gift something like this to a perfect stranger, a thousand + miles away, to brighten a sick child’s day.  But American Girl® does, they did, and continue to do so. american-girls-bitty-twins
One thing that’s a MUST on our summer to-do list this year is visiting our local American Girl®store (local being relative, because we don’t live near the Boston area, but it’s just over an hour drive and worth the trip(S) we plan to take).

American Girl is your Summer Destination for exclusive events and summer-only opportunities that celebrate girls and help them make memories they’ll cherish. You’ll also find summer exclusives in the store, restaurant, and salon!

Top 4 Reasons to visit American Girl


  1. Parties & Special Packages: Thrill her with a gourmet meal, signature desserts, goody bags, doll tiaras, games, crafts, and so much more. Choose the perfect way to celebrate—whether it’s her birthday or any day! (My lucky girls both have summer birthdays, just 2 1/2 weeks apart!)
  2. Exclusive Events: She can take a cooking class. Have a book signed by a favorite author. Spend time learning about one of the characters she loves. These are just a few of the unique events and workshops.

One of the exclusive events this summer at the Boston (Natick, MA) store was  American Girl at the Boston Duck Tour.  Last Friday, we met outside the store, boarded a beautiful coach bus, which of course had Kit’s movie playing for our viewing pleasure, water and snacks were passed out to all of us guests, and we were in downtown Boston in no time at all.  We got to enjoy the 80 minute Duck Boat Tour with Skipper the Skydiver. After a fun 80 minutes- during which some of the girls and boys decided they’d like to have a turn driving a Duck Boat, we headed back to shore, and back to the store.



The store was a BIG DEAL to our little group. None of us had been before. We hadn’t any idea what was in store for us (well, we sort of did, but it was really exciting when we went in!)

The Duck Boat Tours were a lot of fun, we saw so much of Boston and so many cool landmarks and learned a lot of the history of the city.  Shopping after the tours was just the icing on an already awesome cake and we had a blast.
       3.  Dining: From scrumptious starters to delectable desserts, American Girl menus feature girls’ favorites—and dolls are welcome to                join the fun, too! You can make reservations at a Cafe or drop by a Bistro, each offering service throughout the day, from brunch                    through dinner. (Please note: Denver and Kansas City do not offer Dining.)

We enjoyed a lovely lunch before we started our shopping (we needed to refuel!) The chefs made a special batch of cookies just for those of us who’d gone on the Duck Boat Tour (aren’t they adorable??)


Everything was delicious- and I have to note that one of our party is on a gluten free diet and the folks at American Girl couldn’t have been more accommodating.  They had 3-4 options that were gluten free when something needed to be changed or substituted, not just one.  Just that ‘extra’ quality we love about American Girl so much.  The chef actually came out to speak with us personally when we arrived!

      4. American Girl Doll Hair Salon: Treat your girl’s doll to a new ’do, ear piercing, and pampering, too! Visit the Doll Hair Salon,                  and watch the American Girl® specialists work their magic. (My soon to be 5 year old is getting her ears pierced for her birthday,                  and while she cannot pierce her Bitty Twins’ ears, she did find some earring stickers for dolls  at the store- perfect for a 5 year old to              use).


Free events

We were fortunate to head back up to the Boston store to enjoy a Bitty Baby Story Time- an ongoing story time in the Bitty section of the store.  An employee set out special rugs for the kids to sit on and read from an oversized Bitty Baby book.  My girls sat through the story four times, and thoroughly enjoyed coloring while listening. Absolutely worth a visit just for a free story!


The Summer Reading Bookmark Craft has been ongoing Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at 2.  Kids can fill in American Girl themed reading logs, and then make fun Isabelle bookmarks.  I was actually really impressed by the bookmarks- not by the quality, but you can change them up with a simple fold change and have a very different bookmark from everyone else.  There are, of course, stickers to decorate.  My kids LOVE to read so they were happy to have fun new bookmarks. My little one is in LOVE with Isabelle so she really can’t stay away from anything related to her!


Have you visited your local American Girl store yet? 


This post is sponsored by American Girl. Opinions are my own.

American Girl Gift Ideas

Here are several American Girl Gift Ideas  for that girl in your life who just loves her 18 inch doll play!! American Girl Gift Guide

American Girl of 2013  – Saige Doll & Paperback Book $179

Doll Wheelchair Set for 18″ Dolls $36.95

Doll Soccer Outfit $23.50

Doll Bunk Beds With Ladder $35

Doll Cheerleader Outfit Set $12.95

18″ Doll Cookware Set $15.95

Junior Girl Scout $14.99

Lavender Field ~ Party Doll Dress & Sandals $24.95

Doll Scooter & Helmet Set $22.95

Salon Doll Chair $27.95


American Girl Mini Dolls $12.48 to $26.50

American Girl Clothing:

American Girl dolls are a toy that every little girl wants at one point in her life. Not only are they beautiful, special, and lots of fun, but the fact that your child and their doll can dress the same is pretty darn neat.

This holiday season is the perfect time to let your little girl dress the same as her doll.

With the super cute holiday dresses available from American Girl, there is no reason not to!

Red is the perfect holiday color, and when you pair that with sparkles, you have the perfect dress. Available for big girls and little girls, plus their dolls – this is one dress that you don’t want to miss out on.


The little girls Twinkle Party Dress features a knit bodice with puff sleeves, an adorable bow, and a sparkly mesh bubble-skirt. Available with a matching satin-covered headband, this outfit is sure to be a favorite. Available in sizes 3 to 7, it matches perfectly with the doll version (that fits the Bitty Baby and Baby Twins).


For older girls, the Sparkle Party Dress is where it’s at. This fancy, sleeveless dress has just the right amount of sparkly in the mesh bubble-skirt, and ties in the back with a satin sash. Finish off the look with a luxurious cream-colored shrug and matching rhinestone-studded satin headband. This fabulous outfit is available in girls sizes 6 to 16, and the matching ensemble is available for the larger American Girl dolls.

Gift Ideas for Girls

Some of these gift ideas for girls  were received in exchange for inclusion in the gift guide.  Others we just love.  Some items were donated to local organizations or national organizations for those less fortunate.


American Girl Clothing:

American Girl dolls are a toy that every little girl wants at one point in her life. Not only are they beautiful, special, and lots of fun, but the fact that your child and their doll can dress the same is pretty darn neat.

This holiday season is the perfect time to let your little girl dress the same as her doll.

With the super cute holiday dresses available from American Girl, there is no reason not to!

Red is the perfect holiday color, and when you pair that with sparkles, you have the perfect dress. Available for big girls and little girls, plus their dolls – this is one dress that you don’t want to miss out on.


The little girls Twinkle Party Dress features a knit bodice with puff sleeves, an adorable bow, and a sparkly mesh bubble-skirt. Available with a matching satin-covered headband, this outfit is sure to be a favorite. Available in sizes 3 to 7, it matches perfectly with the doll version (that fits the Bitty Baby and Baby Twins).


For bigger girls, the Sparkle Party Dress is where it’s at. This fancy, sleeveless dress has just the right amount of sparkly in the mesh bubble-skirt, and ties in the back with a satin sash. Finish off the look with a luxurious cream-colored shrug and matching rhinestone-studded satin headband. This fabulous outfit is available in girls sizes 6 to 16, and the matching ensemble is available for the larger American Girl dolls.

 Goldie Blox 


 This is one of my favorite things my girls will be getting this year for Christmas.  I’ve been excited about this company and their products since I heard the first inklings of a toy concept that encourages engineering and spatial thinking…for girls.  I’m not necessarily one to buy into the boy / girl toy thing but I’ve long said that many “girl” versions of toys that echo the concepts in using GoldieBlox seem to be dumbed down.  Goldie Blox has taken those skills and elevated them on a whole new level.  It’s no wonder they are selling like hotcakes.



PlayMG Mobile Android Entertainment System Bundle with Charger – 24GB Storage

(We loved this last year too!)


Parents, get your phones and tablets BACK from the kids!  A portable does-everything-but-make-calls smartphone (I guess you could say it’s a smart device??)  that fits in a (largish) pocket and comes bundled with all you need to get going!!

And parents, we have control measures!! YES! No More Over Spending Issues With The Prepaid MasterCard®. Included with every PlayMG is an optional dedicated SpendSmartTM Prepaid MasterCard that helps manage app spending. Get $10 free when you sign up and add at least $10. Manage your app spending through a real-time balance on your home screen! 

Not only have Olivia Holt (Disney) and Kyrie Irving (NBA/Cavs) joinedPlayMG as partners/owners,  they are now fully integrated into the product experience with a new app recommendation engine and weekly app recommendations, including a widget on the home screen.



Stickers are lots fun, but let’s face it – they can be a bit frustrating. As a little kid, I cannot even tell you how many times I stuck my favorite sticker down on something crooked and ripped it trying to get it back it off.

Plus, most sticker packages offer the same sticker many times, instead of providing a bigger variety. This is great if you like the main sticker, but most of the time I prefer something a little more unique.

Gelarti has a fun solution to these traditional sticker downfalls.

It all starts with creating your own stickers. The Gelarti Designer Studio has everything that you need to create these mini masterpieces.

There are 6 sticker sheets filled with a variety of fun images. Simply pick the sheet with your favorites and place it on the rotating platform. Using the 3 different colored paint pens and the glitter paint, get to work making it pretty and perfect!

Finish off the look of your sticker by swirling the paint with the marbling tool and sticking on one of the fun gems or embellishment pieces that come with the kit.

After letting your unique, created-by-you stickers dry completely, stick it wherever you want.

Yup, you read that right.


No, I haven’t gone crazy – these fabulous stickers are removable and re-stickable! They can be placed wherever your heart desires because it you don’t like it, you can simply move it – without having a ripped sticker or sticky residue left behind.


Zelfs Venus Flytrap Spin Salon


Zelfs are a little toy full of big, imaginative fun. Only coming out when the twilight moon is in the sky, they live in a magical secret garden filled with, well, magic.  Each Zelf has a head full of wild hair, and their own special powers.

But let’s focus for a moment on that hair! It’s wild. It’s crazy. It’s tons fun. It is almost as tall as the Zelf itself (and oftentimes taller), and can really get out of control. These magical little creatures need someone to help them tame their mane!

Thankfully, Zardenia – their magical garden – has a Salon!

The Venus Flytrap Spin Salon is the perfect place in town to get a hip new style. You can curl, crimp and primp each and every Zelf that comes in and sits in the funky purple and green chair. Feed their hair into the mouth of the fly trap, push the button and let the spinning – ur – styling begin!

The Venus Flytrap Spin Salon, run by the gossipy hairdresser, Tressa, comes with hair extensions, hair accessories, and storage space (the salon folds together to look just like a potted plant!).

Available at Toys R Us and Walmart, this is must have for all homes with Zelfs in them.


Blingles Glimmer Glam Styler:

This holiday season, give the sticker lover on your list the Blingles Glitter Glam Style and let them bring on the sparkle!
Girls can create their very own stickers, and use them to customize their favorite accessories, textbook covers, bag, pencil case and so much more. The Blingles stickers are designed to stick to almost any smooth surface making them the perfect way for kids to express their very own sense of style.
Perfect for ages 6 and up, the Blingles Glimmer Glam Styler comes with everything needed to create 60 sparkly, fabulous stickers!
Included in the Blingles Glimmer Glam Styler:
  • Glimmer Style Studio
  • Glitter Styler Collection Tray
  • 1 Glimmer pen
  • 1 Glimmer brush
  • 4 different color Glitter tubs
  • 8 Sticker Sheets (Makes 60 Stickers!)
  • 10 Large Gems
  • Instruction booklet

My Little Pony Rainbow Dash Sling Gym Drawstring Bag Backpack


Every little girl needs a backpack of her very own. One that is light enough for her to carry all by herself; and of course it has to be super cute, easy to open and close … with lots of room for her to pack all of her favorite toys.
And it wouldn’t hurt if it was fuzzy and soft, too.
Sound like an impossible task? Well, it’s not as hard as it may seem! The My Little Pony Rainbow Dash Sling Gym Drawstring Bag Backpack is just what you are looking for.
It covers all the necessities – its cute, lightweight, easy to open and close, big enough to fit all those must-bring-everywhere toys, and yes, it is even fuzzy and super soft. But the real icing on the cake is the adorable face of Rainbow Dash that covers the front of the bag.
This is a must have bag for any My Little Pony fan in your life! Cute and practical, it will quickly become your child’s favorite accessory.
Pinkie Pie Storyteller:
What could be better than snuggling up and hearing a good story?
Cuddling up and hearing that story from a talking My Little Pony of course!
The My Little Pony Pinkie Pie Storyteller Plush Horse is sure to be any little girls best friend. Soft, cuddly and super cute, Pinkie Pie will enjoy hours of play and story time with your child.
The story controls are soft and easy to activate, insuring that even little kids will be able to work Pinkie Pie’s magic on their own. Your little one will be thrilled to see that Pinkie Pie’s mouth actually moves in sync with the stories she tells and the songs she sings, making her seem that much more alive and special.
Pinkie Pie comes with 4 full color storybooks, and she knows them all by heart. Anytime a toy can invoke a love of reading, it is quickly marked a winner for me. Recommended for kids ages 36 months and up, any My Little Pony fan will be thrilled to have Pinkie Pie as a friend.
Hello Kitty Dance Doll:
Calling all Hello Kitty fans! For the first time ever, Hello Kitty is being offered as a large posable doll!
Now that Hello Kitty can sit, stand, turn her head and strike a pose, fans everywhere are going to have a new best friend for hours of play. Plus, the new Hello Kitty dolls feature removable clothes, offering tons of fashion possibilities!
Available in 4 different dress-up themes, these dolls are perfect for girls ages 4 and up.
The Hello Kitty Dance Doll is 13-inches of pure dancing fun! Perfect for any little girl that loves to dance, this super cute doll will be ready to practice with her all day long. Hello Kitty comes dressed to impress in an adorable removable outfit; a pink and teal dress, purple “knit” hat,  legwarmers, socks, and shoes.

Minnie Mouse BoomBox

Pretty, pink, and super fabulous, the Minnie Mouse Sing & Stroll MP3 Boombox Purse lets your little music lover rock out in style.
Weighing in at only 1.6lbs, this mobile music station lets even the smallest of Minnie Mouse fans bring their favorite tuns with them wherever they go.
Whether you choose to sing along to the built-in Minnie songs, or plug in your very own MP3 player, this stylish “purse” will not disappoint. There is even a handy compartment on the back that can be used to hold your MP3 player, or another small item.
Special voice effect let your superstar sound just like Minnie, and there is even the ability to add an echo to their voice. And ever performer needs a standing ovation – the applause effect gives the perfect amount of encouragement for the next song!
And don’t worry about where to find a microphone – the Minnie Mouse Boombox Purse comes with a real working daisy-style one attached!



The FURREAL FRIENDS DAISY PLAYS WITH ME KITTY pet is an adorable orange tabby cat that is full of energy and eager for playtime! Show DAISY PLAYS WITH ME KITTY pet her toy and this frisky kitty will bat at it, swatting her paws in the air like a real cat. DAISY PLAYS WITH ME KITTY pet can rise up on her back legs and bat her paws, lower onto all fours and knead her front paws.  She even pounces forward, mewing and purring as she plays. A day full of fun makes for one tired kitten. When it’s time to wind down DAISY PLAYS WITH ME KITTY pet loves to cuddle; stroke her back and this kitty will gently purr and knead her paws as she relaxes. Includes four “AA” demo batteries. Four “AA” replacement batteries required. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on




In the land of EQUESTRIA, studious TWILIGHT SPARKLE represents the element of magic. Now, the magic is in your hands with the PRINCESS TWILIGHT SPARKLE figure, a moving, talking pony that comes to life! The PRINCESS TWILIGHT SPARKLE pony is the most interactive MY LITTLE PONY friend to date.  This magical pony will respond to touch and motion; simply touch her cutie mark and she will move her head and blink her eyes as she awakens. Brush her mane and the PRINCESS TWILIGHT SPARKLE pony will hum songs and speak whimsical phrases as she’s being pampered. Her iridescent turquoise wings and unicorn horn illuminate with a touch, creating enchanting patterns of light. Push her along and watch as PRINCESS TWILIGHT SPARKLE pony’s wings flutter as if she was getting ready to take flight! Includes four “AA” demo batteries. Four “AA” replacement batteries required. Available at most major toy retailers nationwide and on

What’s on your list of gift ideas for girls? Be sure to check out our gift ideas for boys too!




Disney Princess Peasant Dresses for Girls and Dolls

We are surprising our children with the news of our upcoming family trip to Disney World on Christmas morning, so many gifts this year are themed around the trip….and I knew I wanted to have some Disney princess dresses for the girls to wear while down there. My problem was that the dress up stuff we have- even the really nice quality stuff, doesn’t seem like it would be very comfortable to wear walking around a park, nor would it be conducive to going on and off rides all day. So I set off to see what I could find on the internet.

That’s how I met Shannon from Nannabells on Etsy. Let me tell you, this woman is my hero (and her cousin, but we’ll meet her later). She had some darling peasant style dresses for babies (and more recently, toddlers!) on her shop site, but none in sizes that would fit my girls. Dresses that were cotton, and didn’t go down to the ankles or longer, that looked like a kid could spend all day playing in and still be- well, a kid playing all day. I sent her a message. Within hours we had all kinds of plans. I wanted dresses with doll dresses to match in the girls’ favorite princesses. She wasn’t making bigger sizes, but she was absolutely ready and willing to start!

After a little while, we decided upon a Snow White, Cinderella and Tinkerbell for my little one, and Merida, Tinkerbell and Rosetta for my older daughter. As of today, we have Snow White

snow white peasant dress

and Merida here – and you won’t see photos of these with my girls in them because they are, indeed, Christmas gifts. But I’m too in love with them NOT to share, so here you go!

merida peasant dress

Shannon even added a bit of embroidered “flair” to each of the dresses for the girls. Her seams and stitching is top notch. These dresses are made to last and they look fabulous. The dresses have a really generous elastic neck for pulling over heads to get on and off, which makes things a lot easier for the girls. The sashes are such a fun accent but the dresses look amazing without them, too- and they are not attached in any way.

Shannon’s cousin, Jaime, from Sew Every Whim, makes her own custom 18 inch dolls in her shop (they are darling, check them out!) and was also the one to make the doll dresses to match my girls’ dresses. The dresses are not identical but I think that works out perfectly- they look the same, but the girls should have *something* extra, right? Like the appliques or embroidery, each is a beautiful embellishment for the girls’ dress.

merida 18 inch doll dress

With the Snow White doll dress, the applique is the same, but if you look closely, the doll’s dress has a polka dot ribbon on the sleeves. A tiny difference, that makes the dress stand out a bit. The doll dresses have a nice generous elastic so that you can slide the dresses on the dolls with ease. My 3 year old will need help with these (she needs help with dressing her dolls) but my 7 year old will love this. Velcro closures always get snagged on things and annoy us all.

snow white 18 inch doll dress

Here are all of the dresses together (and I WILL update with pics of the girls after Christmas!)


Shannon and Jaime are both SO talented, and work quickly- I’d recommend them in a heartbeat (and already have a new order pending…Minnie Mouse, Rapunzel and Jessie have been added to the list of dresses they can do) and what a FUN way to let your princess be a princess at Disney – or at the playground- in comfort and style! I’m sure they are able to even more styles and designs- just ask!

merida dress for girls with 18 inch matching doll dress

snow white peasant dress with matching doll dress

Nannabells’ dresses range from $35-$50 depending on the size/design/ruffles/applique on the dresses, if there is an applique added there is a $5-$8 charge depending on the size/detail of the applique.

Sew Every Whim’s doll dresses range from $20-$25 again depending on the design/ruffle/applique on the dress.

What kind of dress would you like to see next?


I did receive a discount on the dresses I ordered from Shannon and Jaime, and wasn’t obligated to post about them- but I am so head over heels in love with these dresses and supporting women’s businesses I just HAD to share!




Don’t forget to check eBay for the hottest toys of the season!

shop ebay for hottest toys of holiday seasonThe holidays are upon us! Have you started your holiday shopping yet? The kick-off to the shopping season is officially on Friday, or rather, Black Friday.  I’m a Black Friday shopper, but more for the fun of it.  The bulk of my shopping is done already.  I want to know more about what’s on everyone’s list, and what’s left to buy.  What tricks or tips do you have for shopping during the busiest time of the year?

Something I just learned is that eBay has the hottest toys your kids want this holiday season. Shop the Toys-R-Us store on eBay and get access to the same great toy selection and service from Toys-R-Us without ever leaving eBay. Talk about stress-free shopping!  Yes, Toys-R-Us has a store on eBay.  I would NEVER have thought to check eBay for Toys-R-Us storefront!  I was so excited to find this! 

Here are 10 toys my kids would love to receive this holiday season…all sold on eBay (and not for outrageous pricing, either) and in no particular order:

doc mcstuffins wood puzzle toysrus ebay

Doc McStuffins Wood Puzzle (My three year old loves Doc McStuffins and she loves puzzles.  This is simply perfect for her).


Meep! Kids Tablet (I don’t want to share my iPad anymore. Is that so bad?)

power rangers pop and race game

Power Rangers Pop and Race Game (this one is just like how I remember Trouble was as a kid!)


Tapefiti (I didn’t know this existed before right now, but let me tell you this may be the best product ever.  Kids + tape= happy in my house.  My kids can go through tape like nobody’s business.  But designs on the tape? They’ll be over the moon). 30 rolls of tape would keep them occupied for at least a full hour.  Maybe two.

totally me zigzag sewing machine kit

Totally Me! Zigzag Sewing Machine Kit (My 7 year old has been begging to learn to knit or sew for months).

transformers masterpiece action figure optimus prime

My son would be over the moon for the Transformers Masterpiece Action Figure- Optimus Prime (although he calls him “Octopus Prime or Octimus Prime)

charlie brown mini figure set with fold out christmas stage

*I* would love to get the Charlie Brown Mini Figure set with fold out Christmas stage. I am such a Peanuts fan- thankfully the kids like watching our old holiday specials with us!

My oldest really, really wants the Molly doll from American Girl.  This is not in the budget this year, but I’m finding tons of Molly dolls even new in the box on eBay for sale!

My little one would love the Doc McStuffins Magic Check Up Center, and I’m hopeful I can find it at a reasonable price!

The last thing on the wish list that I *just* bid on is a “retro” toy – some Magic Kingdom tiny Polly Pocket sets.  That’s part of the surprise to tell the kids we’re going to Disney.

I love eBay shopping. We’ve had some of our very best gift finds from there over the years.  They even have a gift guide to help guide your shopping process! I have already got the eBay app for my phone- and when my new phone arrives this week….it’ll be one of the first things I add to it.

 What are you looking for this holiday season? Have you found “the wish” on your child’s list? 

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour for Mom Central Consulting on behalf of eBay. I received a product sample to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Abby’s new American Girl Doll

Last month, when I found out my son has Alopecia Areata, I reached out to my friends at American Girl to see if they had images of the new wigless dolls that were not stock photos- images of little girls with no hair who were loving their dolls.  Not yet, they said, but would you like us to send you one?  Being the lover of American Girl, I of course said yes, and the doll now known as Abby arrived a few days later. I’ll explain her name in a few minutes.

American Girl knows that many girls have lost their hair to medical conditions or to medical treatments.  They know it, and they decided to broaden their doll line to include dolls without wigs, so that girls with little or no hair could also have a doll just like them.  Just like in real life- there’s nothing different about these dolls except they have no hair.  Same bodies, same loveableness, same sweet faces- just a soft, smooth head instead of a wig of hair.

Just like any little girl (or boy) who has no hair.  She’s not different, she’s just not got hair.

I think it’s pretty awesome of American Girl to work so hard to have a product line that encourages acceptance and inclusion.  (You’ll see more on the service dog and the wheelchair soon).

So after this doll arrived, I had a talk with my kids.  We came to the conclusion that perhaps this beautiful doll, no matter how much we love her, would maybe make a little girl’s day, or week, or month.  Maybe there is a little girl out there, who already did lose her hair, or doesn’t have any left already, and maybe having this particular doll would just be a wonderful thing for her.  A quick sendout on Facebook and my friend Andrea sent a message.  My friend’s daughter Abby would love this doll, she said.  She’s going through another round of chemo soon, and she’s lost her hair.

So we did what many would do.  We took the doll out, hugged her, kissed her, made some cards for little Abby, and filled that box with all of the love we could (in the form of paper hearts, and a prayer chain from paper)….and sent her on her way.

About a week later, I received this email from Abby’s mom.

Abby meets her Just Like Me (wigless) American Girl Doll

I wanted to thank you for the American Girl doll that you sent Abby.  She was beyond excited when she opened it.  It arrived the day after her discharge from the hospital after five days of chemo, so it was a welcome distraction from all the chemo side effects.  She named herAbby because she looks just like her.  She kept rubbing her head and saying, “She has no hair, just like me.  Her head is so soft, just like me.  I have little eyebrows and my baby has little eyebrows.”  She kept rubbing her head and had to put her to sleep because she felt sick from chemo too.
I am so thankful that you were able to send her this doll.  We’d never have been able to afford one for her with all the costs of treatment and being off work.  It is definitely something that she can identify with.
And that’s how Abby got her American Girl doll, named Abby.  It’s also how my children learned important lessons about doing for others, and how amazing it can feel to know that you did something pretty special for no reason at all.
I hope that my friends at American Girl see this post, and see Abby’s face, and read her mom’s email sharing what Abby’s reaction to seeing her doll was.  Because  I think they should know that this doll, this one doll, has made a pretty huge impact on one family’s life.  I think companies should get the chance to see photos like this, that Abby’s mom was kind enough to share, so that American Girl and other companies like them can see what an impact their products and decisions have on us.  I’m so honored I could be part of it.
If you or someone you know would like to order one of the wigless dolls from American Girl, you can visit the “doll hospital” on the site- or give them a call at the number listed below.

We’re delighted to provide a My American Girl® 18″ doll that’s just right for your girl. Each of our new dolls without hair is specially designed from a variety of doll faces, skin tones, and eye colors.

Plus, if you already own a My American Girl® doll, you can admit her to the Doll Hospital where our experts will be happy to replace her head to create a doll without hair.

For more details, call customer service at 800-628-5145to discuss options and to order a doll without hair.


I did receive Abby’s doll to facilitate my review.  Opinions are my own.

I selected this post to be featured on my blog’s page at Top Mommy Blogs.

Unexpected Parenting News, continued- and I went shopping, of course.

Yesterday I shared with you some new words in my vocabulary: Alopecia Areata.  I did what many of my friends would do- I started poking around online.  Shopping is therapeutic- but this was a different kind of shopping for me. It’s funny- looking around online – Bratz and Moxie Girlz both have dolls out with bald heads.  Moxie Girlz actually sent us one, which I knew immediately would be donated to Connecticut Children’s Medical Center– what a cool gift to be able to give a child losing their hair from a treatment was my first thought.  Now, I think it’s pretty cool that a kid with Alopecia Areata might get to take one of those Girlz home.  I cannot explain to you how great it is that companies are taking steps and being proactive to help raise awareness and give kids toys and playthings that can help them to have a better self esteem- to have dolls that look like them and are still marvelous and awesome in every single way.

Back in February MGA announced that they would be coming out with hairless fashion dolls to support the fight against pediatric cancer. Under the banner “”True Hope,” MGA released three Bratz® dolls – Cloe™, Yasmin™ and Cameron™, and three Moxie Girlz™ dolls, Avery™, Sophina™ and Jaxson™.  Available at Toys“R”Us® stores and ,  MGA will donate $1 for every “True Hope” Bratz® andMoxie Girlz™ doll, sold to distributors, to City of Hope for cancer research.

My blogging friend Jeanne from Inside Out Motherhood shaves her head for St. Baldrick’s each year.  This year, she went pink.  She wears it well.  She’s awesome with and without hair.  Like we all are. Mattel has a Beautiful and Bald Barbie. Barbie.  Well, a beautiful and bald friend of Barbie.

The Beautiful and Bald Barbie is finally becoming a reality. A bustling Facebook campaign urged toymaker Mattel to create a doll that appeals to kids undergoing cancer treatments or suffering diseases such as Alopecia, and after receiving 150,000 “likes” in under four months, Mattel will soon put the bald doll into production. Mattel spokesperson Alan Hilowitz told CBS News’ HealthPop that the doll will be created as “friend” of Barbie. She’ll come complete with wigs, hats, scarves and other accessories, with the option of going fully bald. While many of the 152,000-plus fans that the movement has garnered will be clamoring to get their hands on one of the dolls (this writer included), Mattel said that the bald Barbies will not be sold in stores. Instead, the dolls will be donated to children’s hospitals, as well as the National Alopecia Areata Foundation. Read more:

American Girl has a wigless doll out now…or you can send your child’s doll to the doll hospital and they can send her home bald.  I can imagine that could make a pretty big impression on a little girl going through a chemotherapy treatment, or a little girl with Alopecia Areata.

American Girl has announced a new line of dolls without hair as part of the My American Girl® line for girls affected by cancer, alopecia, or any medical condition causing hair loss. This new product line provides even more possibilities for a girl to create a doll that’s as unique as she is. Customers can choose from a total of five different dolls in light, medium, and dark skin tones. In addition, girls can choose their dolls’ eye color from a selection of options. Finally, because we know that not all hair loss conditions are permanent, American Girl is proud to offer one free doll head replacement should a girl’s need for a doll without hair ever change. Charitable Giving: To help provide comfort to kids who may be affected by medical conditions that cause hair loss, American Girl is including the new dolls in its annual $100,000+ donation to the Children’s Hospital Association.

American Girl also just released an option to have a (pink) hearing aid onto your doll.  I think that’s a pretty cool step for them to take.  There’s also a sweet, adorable Service Dog setthat will make your heart melt.

American Girl has a long history of creating items that speak to diversity and inclusion, and these new products are yet another way we are expanding in this important area. As part of the My American Girl® line, we are providing even more options for a girl to create a doll that’s as unique as she is. Hearing Aid This removable hearing aid is specially made to fit 18” My American Girl dolls and can be worn on either ear. Purchase includes a permanent piercing to ensure the hearing aid is expertly fitted to the doll’s ear for easy placement and removal. Service Dog Our new service dog-in-training set comes with Chocolate Chip (a soft-fur, solid-body dog), a service vest with a handle that a girl’s doll can hold, and faux treats.

Bald doesn’t have to be a stigma.  We can all be beautiful and amazing and accepted for who we are.  Hair is not defining us.  We need to  work together to embrace and accept diversity and inclusion.