Category Archives: Product reviews

Reading and Cooking with the Kitchen Club Kids!

*I was gifted copies of these books as compensation for this review. All opinions are my own.

Dave and I both love cooking and helping in the kitchen is one of the *few* chores that Ella is thus far interested in. She LOVES cooking with us (which, regardless of what we are making, mostly involves her self-assigned task of spooning teaspoons full of baking soda into a bowl or cup, or eating the ingredients as pictured above). So when one of the authors of the adorable Kitchen Club Kids series contacted me and asked if I would be interested in sharing their books with Ella, I jumped at the chance. And trust me, they have quickly become a staple in our house!

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#boardbooks #parenting #kids #babies #childrensliterature #readtothem

9 Board Books That Won’t Drive Parents Nuts!

#boardbooks #parenting #kids #babies #childrensliterature #readtothem

Before I had Ella, I don’t think I realized how many weird children’s books there are out there. I had images of us happily reading for hours, tickled pink by the wide array of stimulating prose and lovely illustrations we would encounter (ok, that’s a little much). I was mostly thinking about the classics, like “Goodnight Moon,” or “The Runaway Bunny.” While we have had a lot of fun reading together, I’ve realized that a lot of kid’s books are just plain boring or annoying! And of course, those are often the ones they decide to become obsessed with, right? Ella had this book about cupcakes (my fault….I bought it for $.50 at a library sale) which was her favorite for months, and I’m pretty sure it was just because there was glitter on the cover. If I never read the words “You Are My Cupcake” again, I’d be happy.

So….how do you sort through the mindless puppies behind flaps and TV show adaptations and find the stories for your little one that are truly witty, educational, and sweet–books that you, as a parent, can happily stomach night after night and aren’t tempted to hide or “accidentally” drop into the trash? Well, this is by no means a comprehensive list, but these are a few board books that we really love (as you can tell by the wear and tear on the spines in the pic above!) and I feel like have really helped her learn a thing or two. I’ve just stuck to board books, as currently, if you try to read a normal picture book to Ella she will very calmly take it from you and toss it across the room. So board books it is.

1. My Big Animal Book
: So, think isn’t so much a story (though it does have little questions on the bottom of each page which are a little over Ella’s head) but Ella LOVES seeing the huge pages of animal pictures, and I fully attribute the fact that she knows “owl” and “guinea pig” to this book. Because I certainly didn’t think to teach them to her. Cat and Dog is about as complicated as I get.

2. Olivia: This one is a bit of a cheat because the original isn’t in board book form (though the story is simple enough thar it works well), and chances are you’ve already read it because these books are adorable and have won all kinds of awards, but it deserves a mention because Ella and I both love it. Who isn’t charmed by a spunky little pig who loves ballet? And Ella is always very interested in the part where Olivia gets time out. Probably because she can relate.

3. Pride & Prejudice: If you haven’t seen these BabyLit books already, you need to! They are the cutest little “babyfied” versions of classic literature. This one is a counting book (5 sisters, 2 handsome gentleman, 3 country estates, etc.) but as a parent who loves the original story I find it witty and the brightly colored illustrations are perfect for toddlers. I kind of thought this one would be more for me but Ella really loves it!

4. Barnyard Dance! : Sandra Boynton is no newbie on the board book scene but this one is our favorite! The rhyme and the rhythm are really pleasant and the image of barnyard animals having a hootenanny is cute. I probably read this to Ella like 400 times between July and December of last year. Hence, my ability to impress everyone at Christmas with my recitation by memory, complete with actions (they were…not actually that impressed).

5. First 100 Words: I love this book because long before Ella was really into characters and storylines (ok….at 22 months I don’t think she’s really there yet, even now) she really loved books that had actual photos instead of illustrations. While this book might not seem that exciting, I actually think it did great things for her language and recognition skills. It’s still one of her favorites and we go through it and point out things or ask her to point to the ball, the airplane, the boots, etc. Maybe not the most creative book ever, but really worthwhile.

6.Good Dog, Carl: I remember reading this as a kid, and I’m so glad Ella loves it too. It’s mostly word-free, which makes it fun because we can kind of just talk about what’s happening on each page, or now, we’ve started having Ella tell us what’s happening (because she basically knows it by heart). It has pretty illustrations and the idea of a baby and dog getting into mischief while mommy is away is charming (though, one has to wonder what kind of mother thought leaving a black lab in charge was a good idea).

7. Mommy Loves: I think I found this on a book list somewhere (I can’t remember where!) and ordered it on a whim. It’s a really sweet little book about how all mommies love their babies, with a counting element thrown in. And it highlights the names for different kinds of baby animals (mice are “pinkies,” etc.) which is always kind of fun.

8. Baby Faces: Again, like First 100 Words, this isn’t going to win any awards for innovation, but Ella loves books with photos (especially other babies), and this one shows babies feeling different emotions: nervous, happy, scared, etc. You know, I thought talking about feelings might be a good thing. Empathy is nice. Although at this stage, every baby is just “sad”–even the laughing one. We’re working on it.

9. The Mitten:  I thought the story might be a little complicated for a not-quite-two-year-old, but Ella loves it–and the idea of these different woodland creatures squeezing into a mitten is sweet. Plus, the illustrations are killer, as they are in all of Jan Brett’s books, so I can be entertained by the gorgeous Scandanvian vignettes as we read 🙂


So there you have some of our current favorite board books! I’d love to hear some of your family’s favorites in the comments! I’m particularly looking for ones that teach letters and colors, as I’m realizing we don’t really have many of those. So suggest away!

I’ve linked to the books I mention on Amazon. These are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase through them I make a  small commission, so feel free to shop around for the best price!

You Doll Designs Giveaway!

You guys, I was so excited about this giveaway I couldn’t sleep last night. Ok, that might be an exaggeration, but I have been looking forward to sharing one of my favorite unique, independent shops with you guys for a while now and I am thrilled the day has come!

So last year I decided it would be a good idea to take Ella to a craft fair. You know, because crowded aisles filled with delicate merchandise is a great place to take a small child. Needless to say we left in a hurry but I am so glad we went because that’s when I first saw Laura Udall Miller’s gorgeous watercolor prints! I made a mental note of her shop name, You Doll Design, and went home and browsed the rest of her stuff online and I was in love! I loved her gorgeous florals and her choice of inspiring quotes to highlight–not to mention, she also does custom work so keep that in mind if you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind piece of artwork or a calligrapher. 
Some time went by but last Christmas when I was trying to think of a creative gift for a sister-in-law who had just moved into a new home, You Doll Design came to mind. I knew my sis-in-law would love a meaningful, pretty quote to hang in an unoccupied nook. And sure enough she did!
I kept up with Laura’s new work on Instagram but I still hadn’t ordered anything for myself until a few months ago. I saw Laura post a print with a quote from one of my favorite children’s books of all time, Love You Forever, along with this sweet painting of a mom and little one and I was smitten. Seriously, have you read that book? If you can get through it without sobbing uncontrollably you’re my hero.

I knew this picture would be perfect in Ella’s room and the best part…..You Doll Design is super affordable! We definitely don’t have a huge budget for decorating but at such a reasonable price I emailed her ASAP about purchasing it. Laura responded right away and was SO nice and accommodating. After that I knew she had a loyal customer in me from here on out! 
This is the exciting part….one of YOU will get to choose the print of YOUR CHOICE (5×7 in size) from You Doll Design! She has SO many pretty choices, and a variety of quotes that would inspire or apply to anyone (not just mommies). Entry is super simple. Just visit Laura’s website and let me know which print you would choose in you’re the lucky winner! Bonus entries for following You Doll Design on Instagram, sharing this post on social media, and one more for following Slapdash Diaries on Instagram.

Note: As of 7/17/15, Laura is out of town at an event so her Etsy shop is closed for the rest of this week, but will be reopen next week so if you’re interested in ordering something, check back then! 🙂

Giveaway opens 7/13 at 12 am and will run until 7/20 at 12am MST. All entries will be verified, and this giveaway is not affiliated with Instagram in any way. I was provided with a print to giveaway to a reader but all opinions are my own. I just really love this shop and hope that you will too!

May the odds be ever in your favor!

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Aurorae Aqua Beach Towel Review and GIVEAWAY!

*I was provided a complimentary beach towel by Aurorae for review. All thoughts are my own!

If you live in Utah you probably know that we have had a major heat wave the last few weeks. I am NOT complaining because, as I have already mentioned, we had a very wet and cold May. So bring on summer! We are, however, basically living at the pool or various splash pads throughout the valley. Between the hours of 10-6 that’s pretty much the only bearable way to be outside.

Now with swimming comes beach towels, obviously. Even though I am pretty sure I have been quoted as saying good linens are worth paying a pretty penny for (I love me some soft sheets!), I have not followed my own advice when it comes to beach towels. Which is why, until Aurorae got involved, I was lugging crusty old hot-pink bath towels from my single days with us to our various water-based outings. Hardly inviting to snuggle up with after getting out of the water, not to mention they weighed 200 pounds and weren’t that absorbent.

Ella knows that pool time=snacks. Therefore she partakes before even deigning to enter the water.
Thankfully, the the very nice people at Aurorae contacted me to see if I would be interested in reviewing one of their awesome beach towels (AND offer one to a lucky reader) and I jumped at the opportunity. So my family has them to thank for finally giving me a reason to give our extremely sub-par pool towels the old heave-ho.
For those of you not familiar with the Aurorae brand, they are a popular e-retailer of yoga, fitness, and aromatherapy products. I did a little research to see what other people were saying about Aurorae online and I was blown away by how positive their customer reviews are. Aurorae sells the best reviewed yoga mats, yoga apparel, and yoga and meditation accessories online. You can browse their yoga mats, yoga bags, yoga apparel and other yoga accessories here. Really, check out what people are saying on Amazon–it’s impressive!

Personally, my favorite aspects of this towel is how lightweight and compact it is when rolled up. We usually walk to the pool and splashpad and so it’s a nice change to not be lugging this huge heavy thing with me. The towel is extra large (32″x 68″), but it rolled up nice and tight and fit right in my normal diaper bag.

I also loved the microfiber material because it is super absorbent and fast-drying. So that means that Ella and I can share the same beach towel because….I am lazy and enjoy only packing and washing one towel 🙂

The one little negative I would mention is that the microfiber does tend to pick stuff up, so if you set this down on grass expect some to stick to the back. But since I always wash towels after use anyway, it isn’t a huge deal.

Ella’s favorite part is that now we have a more compact towel so there’s more room in my bag for snacks!
If you are interested in learning more about the Aurorae brand here is where to find them:

As mentioned, Aurorae is giving away one of their beach towels to a Slapdash Diaries reader! This entry begins at midnight on July 1st and runs until midnight on July 8th, MST. Good luck!

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