Holiday Gift Ideas: Go Publish Yourself

As the end of the year and the holiday season approaches I start to think of photos. Whether it's realizing that another year has gone by that I haven't organized our photos into albums, or the thought that maybe I should put together some photos of the kids for holiday gifts.

Luckily my friend, Sara, has figured this all out for us already. She recommends a website called blurb.com which can help you turn your photos into albums lickity split. It's great whether you're just getting organized or perhaps making some holiday gift books. Here's what Sara says:

Middle School Muddle Blog Helps NYC Parents

Don't forget. You have until midnight tonight to enter theГЇВїВЅ Giveaway-a-Thon Finale and win two weeks of dinners prepared for you in your home.ГЇВїВЅ

Many people know about Inside Schools as a terrific resource for parents looking to find information about NYC public schools. It's one of the only places you can find clear, relatively unbiased, anecdotal information about the best NYC public schools from elementary school through high school. The site was created by Clara Hemphill, who wrote the definitive books on NYC schools, New York City's Best Public Elementary Schools and New York City's Best Public Middle Schools.

One of the great things about the website is that they continue to update it and add various features. One new addition is a blog by education writer and fellow parent, Liz Willen. Liz is tracking her own experience as she searches, tours and applies for middle school with her son. She's a veteran. Besides being an education writer, she's been through this before and has an older son at Clinton School for Artists and Writers.

Giveaway-a-Thon Finale: The Dish's Dishes cooks for you

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Congratulations to Sharon who won the Ayumie Horie Pottery Giveaway. It's truly beautiful.

Next up, I've been hyping today's giveaway for a week and a half. I'm super excited about it and I hope everyone else is too.

How many moms have thought, "You know what I really need? A wife."? Probably all of them. While I, of course, have a staff of five (you know, nanny, cleaning woman, chef, Saturday nanny and pet concierge), not everyone is so lucky. But seriously, putting dinner on the table is probably the most challenging part of parenting. It's so much easier to just order in, but that's so expensive and unhealthy.

The Dish's Dish is a new service in New York that is just what every NYC parent needs. The Culinistas at the Dish's Dish will plan your customized menu, do the grocery shopping and prepare a whole week's worth of meals so that all you have to do is come home and heat them up.

Giveaway-a-Thon Day 4: Ayumi Horie Pottery for Kids

Kelly Randt is our winner of the Mugwaz Fashion Craft Kits. Congrats. Today we have a beautiful piece of pottery to give away and tomorrow is our big finale so be sure to check in.

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Did you ever think that some day you would be serving lunch to your kids off Sponge Bob plastic plates? I never did. Wouldn't it be dreamy to have beautiful, but functional real ceramic tableware that you loved as much as your kids did?

Giveaway-a-Thon Day 3: Fun Fashion Craft Kits

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Lots of winners today from yesterday's Prizeapalooza. Evelina won the Kaboost. Rebecca G won the Laughing Pizza concert tickets and CD. And the Blush topless undershirt winners are Izzy's Mama, NeeshaN and Gayle. Thanks everyone who is spreading the word and entering the contests.

And the fun goes on...Today, another great product giveaway created by a local NYC mom. But, before I get into the prizes, a couple of quick notes. Someone brought up the issue of privacy and SPAM yesterday. Be assured, I'm not collecting your email addresses and I wouldn't know what to do with them if I did. You will not get any SPAM from me or any other source when you subscribe to Mommy Poppins or pass a link to a friend through this site.

On the note of subscriptions. If you have subscribed via email, make sure you reply to the verification email in order to activate your subscription. If you can't find your verification email, just resubscribe and reply to the new one.

Now, on to today's giveaway!

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What is a Mugwaz? They're really fun fashion craft kits. Kids can create their own fashion accessories from flip flops to bags to belts. The kits are easy enough for preschoolers, but cool enough for tweens and the packaging is almost as much fun as the kits with cute cartoons all over that are fun to read.

Giveaway-a-Thon Day 2: Prizeapalooza

The response to yesterday's Via Toy Box giveaway was great and the winner of the Via Toy box is...MB Burns. Congratulations. We are all jealous! Thank you everyone who spread the word and entered the contest. And, don't fret, today I've got a slew of great prizes to giveaway.

The first prize is, I think, one of the best new baby product designs of the year. The Kaboost Chair Booster is beautiful, functional and an ingenious new solution to dining with children. It's another product that is great for families in the city because it helps apartments looking stylish and grown-up while still functioning as kid places. The Kaboost Chair Booster turns any ordinary chair into a high chair by boosting the whole chair rather than just the seat. It is also foldable and portable (and storable) other great qualities that city parents need in products. You can see my original write-up of the Kaboost Portable Chair Booster here. One lucky winner will get a free Kaboost.

But there's more...

Mommy Poppins Giveaway-a-Thon: Via Toy Box

Today is the first day of the Mommy Poppins week-long giveaway-a-thon. I've rounded up some of my favorite products and some great new discoveries to give away to readers this week. There will be awesome toys, beautiful pottery, a little something for new moms, and the ultimate dream - two weeks of meals prepared in your home by professional chefs.

I put together this giveaway-a-thon to celebrate the coming of the close of the first year of Mommy Poppins. It's been amazing to watch the site grow this year and I wanted to thank all my readers for all you've done to help out; from your ideas, words of encouragement, feedback and spreading the word about the site to your friends.

Today's great prize is my favorite toy box/storage solution for kids - Via Toy Box. I absolutely love this product because it makes cleaning up and organizing kids toys easy. Great storage is the secret to successfully living with kids in city apartments. You have to have storage that gets everything hidden, yet accessible and looks great because kids and grown up areas are often not as separated as they are in larger homes.

Free Parks Programs Let City Kids Discover the Nature All Around

I think I love being out in nature in the Fall better even than in the summer. The smell of the damp leaves on the ground, the crisp autumn air, it's very relaxing and great being outdoors with the kids at this time of year.

But you don't need to hop in the car to get your walk in the woods. There are woods all around us and the NYC Parks Department has tons of programs to help families enjoy them and teach NYC kids about nature. There are too many in one weekend to even list, but here's the top ones in every borough.

Staten Island: Haunted Hike
Explore the haunted history of Conference House Park, which was once a Native American burial ground. 7PM Friday, Nov 2.

Manhattan:Inwood Park Nature Walk
How would you like a guided nature walk by no less than the chief naturalist of the NYC Parks Department? Spot songbirds and learn about the ecosystems of Manhattan's last natural forest and salt marsh. Sat., Nov. 3. 8-10AM, Inwood Park

Queens: Fall Migration
Help Rangers count raptors as they pass by on their Fall Migration. Raptors are always cool and kids will love that they are helping the Rangers. Flushing Meadows Corona Park, 10AM Sat, Nov. 3.

Brooklyn: Backyard Ecology Walk
A kid-friendly introduction to Fort Greene's wildlife will teach NYC kids about the nature that lives right in their own backyards. Sure to open city kids' eyes to the world of nature around them. Sat., Nov. 3, 1PM, Fort Greene Park.

Bronx: Fall Foliage Walk
Enjoy some of the most exquisite fall foliage in the city on a guided walk through an oak, hickory and sweet-gum forest and search for the special 400 year old white oak. Pelham Bay Park, 2 PM. Sunday, Nov. 4.

Want more NYC nature walks?

Check out trails.com. A member fee is required, but it gives you unlimited access to detailed guides for hiking, biking, kayaking and more all over the US. There's tons of guides for NYC and the surrounding areas and even ideas for hikes with kids. You can try it out with their 14 day free trial.

Gorp is free site that has lots of hiking and other outdoor activity ideas around NYC and the country. The information is less detailed than what you'll find on trails.com or in a book, but it's a good starting place.

Best Hikes with Children in the Catskills and Hudson River Valley

is a book that features 51 easy hikes to enjoy with your kids in the area.

 

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