Sunday, November 23, 2014

Shop local kid's stores this holiday season

I used to enjoy the fun and excitement of going to stand in line at 6am on Black Friday for some cool deals. But when it became 3am, then midnight, and now Thanksgiving, I pretty much checked out of any shopping at big chain stores on the weekend after Thanksgiving. Consumerism has become such a priority in our country, that people have even been trampled in the process. It’s a mess and not one that I want to have a part in. So this year, I decided it would be fun to team up with some of the top local small businesses that only sell kid’s items and promote their love for kids, great products, and building a strong community here in Pittsburgh. I have been to each of these stores and they are fantastic, not only in their creative product lines, but in cleanliness and wonderful customer service. We all know that small businesses usually come out on top in the customer service departments, and these stores are no exception! Every single one of these stores will be closed on Thanksgiving Day as they will be home celebrating with their families. But come Black Friday & Small Business Saturday, they have some amazing deals set to launch and are ready for YOU! So as you start checking off your gift list, please make these local Pittsburgh stores a must-stop for any kids on your list!

Snapology (1699 Washington Road / Bethel Park, opened in 2010) 
Snapology offers creative play great for kids of all ages and includes Lego® Building Station, Lego® Minecraft® Station, Lego® Slot Car Racing, Giant Soft Blocks®, Zoobs®, Lego® Duplo® Blocks + much more! They also offer birthday parties, classes, camps, workshops, parent’s nights out, scouting events, field trips, playdates and special events in their Discovery Center in Bethel Park as well as in schools, recreation centers, libraries and other facilities in North, South, East and West Pittsburgh. Their programs focus on educational play using Lego bricks and other building toys.  They also have some retail building sets for sale at their Discovery Center. Their most popular classes, camps and birthday party themes are Lego Minecraft, Lego Animation, Lego Robotics and Lego Superheroes.  Their most popular building sets are sports-themed OYO sets and mini-figures.
Black Friday Specials: offering creative play as well as both half-day and full-day camps on Black Friday.  Drop the kids off (ages 5+) and get some serious shopping done. How cool is that?!
Small Business Saturday specials: 10% off all building sets.  BOGO creative play [Pay for one hour of Lego Lab, get the second hour free…per child.] A great deal for a lot of fun!

Learning Express of Robinson (290 Settlers Ridge Center Drive, opened November 2009)
Learning Express of Bakery Square (172 Bakery Square Blvd., opened November 2010)

(Please note: there are other Learning Express stores, but they will not have the same products/specials as these listed.)
The Learning Express product mix is carefully selected from manufacturers around the world that produce toys with exceptional play value. Among these distinguished affiliates are Alex, American Girl, Blue Orange, Calico Critters, Choon’s Design LLC / Rainbow Loom, Cloud B, Creativity for Kids, International Playthings, Klutz, Learning Resources, LEGO, Mattel, Melissa & Doug, Playmobil, Schylling, Scientific Explorer, Small World Toys, Sticky Mosaics, ThinkFun, Three Cheers for Girls, Toysmith, Ty, and Workman Publishing. “We are really excited about a lot of great new products on our shelves this year. Some of our hottest toys are a throwback to toys from our own childhood; Simon, Lite Brite, Booby Trap, Spirograph and Fashion Plates. Of course we have the classic favorites too; Lego, Calico Critters, Elf on the Shelf, and Magnatiles. And we will also be featuring a lot of great promotions and special prices throughout the season!”
Black Friday Specials: 20% OFF Storewide Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Early Bird Special - Extra 10% OFF on Friday from 6AM-9AM! $5 in Bonus Bucks for every $50 spent.
Small Business Saturday specials: customers will be eligible for the
$10 credit through AMEX when they shop on Saturday and the storewide sale of 20% off will continue through the weekend!
We also have Complimentary Gift Wrapping, Free Personalization, and Expert Gift Advice! 

Kidz & Company (5815 Forbes Avenue/Squirrel Hill, opened in 2012)
Kidz & Company specializes in carrying fun, unique children's clothing, toys, gifts, and activities, for newborns - Size 12 for girls / Size 10 for boys.  They will begin carrying size 14’s for girls starting this spring. Some of their current best-selling products for girls includes their collection from Mayoral, Lemon Loves Lime, and Biscotti. For boys, Kapital K and Bitz Kids have been very popular. Some of their most popular toys are anything from Hape Toys as well as activities and puzzles from Djeco.
Black Friday Specials: We will be kicking off our sale season in general, and always pick things to mark down more significantly!
Small Business Saturday specials: Our Black Friday Specials will carry on into Small Business Saturday assuming they're still available.  If we actually sell out of everything we had put on special, we'll make new specials!

E2 Toys to Try (426 James Street/Bridgeville, opened six years ago)  
E2 is a wonderful indoor playspace combined with a unique toy store. Owner Meredyth has a background in Speech, Language Pathology and Early Intervention with an emphasis on Social Communication so their toys are geared toward enhancing social communication. They choose toys that encourage cognitive development and social play over toys that do the work of play for kids. E2 has made the indoor picnic space larger during the cold months. They've also added a new morning tot-time from 9-10am which is a special play time for kids 3 and under. E2 has created a special time for younger kids, who can sometimes feel intimidated by older ones, to really use and explore the playground. During this time the bubble machine will be turned on, there will be younger-themed art activities and a parachute is available as well!  Cost is $5.00 (kids can stay and play after that too).
One of their best-selling toys is the Name Train line. Meredyth says, I love Name Trains because they teach reading in a social way. You can make up all kinds of adventures for the train to find the missing letter to turn "at" into "cat" or "in" into "win". Teaching reading in a social way makes it more fun and actually helps kids remember better because it uses more of their brain to process the language associated with reading. They also make great stocking suffers! :)Their Ravensburger puzzles and Haba teethers are also very popular.
Black Friday Specials: spend $40.00 or more and you’ll get a pass for a free playground entry (good anytime). Don't have kids of your own? Can be given as a gift!
Small Business Saturday Specials: spend $40.00 or more and you’ll get a pass for a free playground entry (good anytime).
Play passes for the indoor playspace make great gifts for kids!!

Happy Baby Company (558 Lincoln Avenue/Bellevue, opened 5 years ago.)

Happy Baby Company carries a wide range of natural parenting products. Cloth diapers and accessories, baby carriers of all kinds, amber teething necklaces and lots of great teethers, extended rear facing car seats, body care products for baby and mom, eco-friendly and wooden toys, a small bit of furniture and clothing, blankets & bibs, and much more! The current owners first started a diaper service, Green Cheeks, about 4 years ago, and took over Happy Baby about a year and a half ago, when the store moved to Bellevue. Owner Judy says, We have been selling a lot of Munchie Mugs lately, which are wonderful snack cups for toddlers.  Sakura Bloom ring slings (for wearing your baby) have also been selling quickly, as have many of our toys and teethers.  Amber teething necklaces are always a big seller as well.
Black Friday Specials:  They are still in the works, but we always have great specials online and in store.  We'll have some fantastic gifts with purchase at different levels, and we'll definitely have some in store only specials as well. They'll all be announced on our facebook page as soon as we have them finalized.

Small Business Saturday specials: Many Black Friday specials will carry through the weekend, but there will also be an in store giveaway and a few extra specials for Saturday, so stop by! Judy says, We really appreciate the community coming out to support us on SBS and throughout the year.  We love our loyal customers! :-)

Love these great stores and that each of them are run by hard-working moms & dads right here in Pittsburgh.  I hope you'll be able to stock up on some great gifts from their stores this Christmas season! If you are an American Express cardholder, be sure to register your card online here and on Small Business Saturday, Nov. 29, Spend $10+, Get $10 Back. Up to 3X!! 

Happy Shopping!

This post sponsored in part by each of the stores listed.

Monday, November 17, 2014

2 family events for Pittsburgh Light Up Night

There are many options for fun on Pittsburgh's Light Up Night, which will be this Friday, November 21. You can view the full Downtown schedule here. But I wanted to showcase 2 great family-focused events this Friday:

Winter Wonderland at the West End Overlook, Friday, 11/21, 7-10 p.m.
  • Santa arrives with police or fire truck escort
  • Photos and visit with Santa
  • Raffle
  • Candy cane limbo!
  • Food and hot cocoa for sale
  • Music: Pittsburgh Musical Theatre performance
  • Where: At the Overlook Lot, 601 Fairview Ave, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15220
  • Bonus: Awesome view of the city and you'll be able to see the Downtown fireworks as well!
Photo credit: Cris Mooney / Elliott Community Group
This family event will take place at Station Square and will be extra fun for all those Frozen fans out there!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Holiday Family Fun at Fifth Avenue Place

There is no doubt about it, the Christmas season in Downtown Pittsburgh is one of my favorite things! However, when we've had babies & a passel of young kids in tow, the whining about the cold as we drag them around town can certainly dampen everyone's Christmas spirit. :) Maybe you're at this stage of life and are looking for a fun holiday experiences with your kiddos without the numb toes in tow. I submit to you the good news that Fifth Avenue Place is hosting a variety of INDOOR memory makers! Some outdoor events as well, but in close range of being inside, near a food court and within walking range to a restroom (necessities!) They have a full line up of holiday fun for kids, beginning on Light-Up Night and continuing on through December. Here are some fun events you can plan for in November.

Friday, November 21 / Light Up Night

The Shops, Food Court and Caffè Amante will be open until 9 p.m. with many eateries open later.

5 – 9 p.m. Family Fun & Festivities / Fifth Avenue Place
* Catch up with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and create your own glow in the dark snowflake to light your way throughout downtown.
* Snap photos with everyone’s favorite snowman and show your holiday spirit with a commemorative Airbrush Tattoo. 
* Enjoy holiday caroling with a new twist as the Ice Queen, Ice Princess, and friends serenade the night.  
* Get in the holiday spirit with live musical performances by the: Roger Barbour Jazz Quartet  4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. and Max Leak Trio 7:00 p. m– 9:00 p.m.

7 – 7:15 p.m. Unity Tree Lighting / Corner of Penn Avenue & Stanwix Avenue
Join one of Pittsburgh’s best known neighbors, Mr. McFeely, thousands of Pittsburghers, a majestic holiday countdown, and a splash of fireworks to kick off the official lighting of the historic Unity Tree ~ presented by Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield.

5 – 9 p.m. Fifth Avenue FREEZE / Liberty Avenue & Stanwix Street 
Visit Pittsburgh’s very own Winter Wonderland at the Fifth Avenue FREEZE!  Discover a shimmering display featuring a magical ice castle and glistening ice carvings such as snowflakes, elves, Ice Queen, teddy bears, puppies and more. You can also enjoy live ice carving shows by award winning master ice carver Rich Bubin of Ice Creations.

Saturdays, November 22 – December 20 & Friday, November 28

Every Saturday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.  FREE Fifth Avenue Place Holly Trolley
Discover all the sights and sounds of the holiday season in downtown Pittsburgh aboard the FREE Fifth Avenue Place Holly Trolley.  Hosted by Santa’s little helpers, trolleys circle downtown each weekend picking up at stops approximately every 15 minutes Visit for a listing of all trolley stops.

Saturdays, November 29 – December 20
Creation Stations - FREE Family Fun with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Saturday, November 29, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Frozen on 5th Avenue
Yes, there really “is” a Santa Claus and you’ll find him at Fifth Avenue Place.  Stop by after the parade, meet Santa in person straight from the North Pole and receive a special Surprise.   One of Santa’s favorite helpers, The Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, will be on hand with their own little workshops making snow globes and ice paintings. And, kids can display the colors of the season with creative face painting. 

Friday, November 28 – Monday Wednesday, December 24.
Holiday Parking Validation after 4 p.m. Weekdays and all day Saturdays.  Enjoy FREE Parking with any $20 Fifth Avenue Place retail purchase in the Fifth Avenue Place Garage on Evenings (enter after 4pm) and Weekends. See Stores for Details •  Limit: One Per Person.

Stay tuned for a detailed list of December events at Fifth Avenue Place!

Fifth Avenue Place  
120 Fifth Avenue  
Pittsburgh, PA  15222
Twitter: @FifthAvePlace

This post sponsored by Fifth Avenue Place, however, all opinions remain my own.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Save $10 at Kidecals!

Do you enjoy the idea of keeping track of your kid's items when they are out of your sight at school, church, daycare, ballet, soccer & more? Do you like it even more when you could make it happen with the cutest, most adorable labels on the market? Water bottles, jackets, shoes, gloves.... so many items with potential to get lost. :-/
That is why I love Kidecals! These labels stick tough and can be put through the dishwasher and washing machine without coming loose. And such choices in their fun designs!

If you have a child with allergies, they have great options for allergy alerts!

But there's fun stuff for mom, too!
Chalk board labels are perfect for re-using in the kitchen.
Wall decals are an easy way to change up décor!

Another reason I love Kidecals is their awesome customer service. They ship labels within 48 hours and shipping is always FREE on every order!! This week they are celebrating 10k likes on their facebook page, so use code "10klikes" to get $10 off your order of $25. Code expires on 11/14.
Sponsored by Kidecals. All opinions remain my own.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Giveaway: Ross Dress for Less

Are you a fan of great deals & diverse fashion? Then I'm sure you've stopped by Ross Dress for Less a time of two.  I love that you can find brand names at such deep discounts on a variety of products including luggage, clothing, home accessories, toys + more. They recently invited me to stop by their store and do a little shopping. Tough assignment, I know. :)

 With a variety of toys and kid's clothing at deep discounts, this is a great place to stop for Christmas shopping!

I love their unique home accessories.

Kids sheet sets that includes fitted, flat and a pillow case for $9? Yes, please!

If you love shoes, it's a great place to find bargains for kid's, men's, & women's footwear.
Don't miss the extra hot deals on the clearance racks!

6 pairs of brand name women's socks for $7 is an amazing deal as well! (I can't show brand names in this post, but they carry some very high quality brands.)

Oh, winter dresses. Calling my name.

Decisions. Decisions.

Thank you, Ross Dress for Less, for the chance to stop and see what bargains you are stocking this season!
And.....I get to pass some savings along to you as well because I have a $25 gift card to give to one lucky winner! (Gift Card can be used at any Ross Dress for Less store.) Go here to enter:
Ross Dress for Less has a brand new location in Washington, PA!

1500 W. Chestnut
Washington, PA 15301
(724) 222-3161
Other area locations include:

Fox Chapel / The Waterworks1005 Freeport Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15238
(412) 784-3625

500 Settlers Ridge Center Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15205-1432
(412) 747-4912
Ross Township
7219 McKnight Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15237-3524
(412) 358-8781
The Village at Pittsburgh Mills1000 Village Center Drive
Tarentum, PA 15084
(724) 275-1091
1200 Greengate Center Circle
Greensburg, PA 15601-1285
(724) 838-8394

Go here to find your nearest location.


This post sponsored by Ross Dress for Less. All opinions remain my own.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

In Review: Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ® Presents Built To Amaze!℠,

Once again, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey ® has created an amazing show! I love the combination of athleticism, thrilling stunts, and beautiful dances all sprinkled with a lot of humor, courtesy of the hilarious clown troupe. This year's show is titled Built To Amaze!℠ and it doesn't disappoint!
The All-Access pre-show is a great way to start the evening. Everyone is allowed to be on the floor from 6-7pm and see some of the actors up close & personal.  Some parents & kids will even get to enjoy being pulled into the acts! There is also a bounce house set up that is $5/child.

The show includes choreographed group numbers, acrobats, tight rope walkers, basketball players on unicycles, elephants, tigers, horses, dogs, bunnies & snakes, clowns, human cannonball, gymnastics, a hilarious clown talent show + more!

Circus Celebrity tickets provide you with premium seating on the arena floor for four full acts in this coolest of trains!
The show lasts from 7-9:30pm with a 15 minute intermission. Seven shows left this week!
Thu, November 6, 7:00 PM
Fri, November 7, 7:00 PM
Sat, November 8, 11:00 AM
Sat, November 8, 3:00 PM
Sat, November 8, 7:00 PM
Sun, November 9, 1:00 PM
Sun, November 9, 5:00 PM
Tickets are available Tickets are available online here, at the Dick's Sporting Goods Box Office at CONSOL Energy Center, all Ticketmaster locations including select Giant Eagle locations, and Ticketmaster Charge-By-Phone at 1-800-745-3000.