29 June 2008

Product Review: See Me Read Kit - Complete 6

Have you wished there was an educational product out there - one you could add your child's pic to, that would help him/her get better at reading ? See Me Read  is a product aimed at helping early readers succeed. After seeing her success from working with her own son - Lori Albert Luke , worked with childhood literacy expert Lynette Frentte to create the See Me ReadTM kit, a program that features personalized whole-word learning tools.

See Me Read Kit
Completely customizable...

The Product Specs:
I received the complete kit. The kit includes:
  1. Laminated Reader Cards (24 words)
  2. Reading Books Level 1 and Level 2
  3. Labels (24 words)
  4. Writing Pad
  5. Parent Guide on encouraging reading and
    tips for success
When you go to the See Me Read site , you
have 3 options, or kits, to choose from.
The largest kit is the complete kit.
You have the option to "Buy now,create
later" or "create now".
When you create your personalized kit,
You will be asked to choose 24 words out
of 39 words - the words are people,
objects, animals or places(such as dad,
or bathroom) . You will then be instructed
to take pictures of your child or upload
pictures you already have, that match
the what each word
describes (such as a picture of Ella stand-
ing in"Ella's room " or "Ella's cat"). These
are the words your child will be learning
to spell and read.

If you have selected the full kit you will also
need to fill out a questionnaire because the
Reading Book Level 2 has more advanced
sentences that need to be personalized to
fit your child's kit.
This process will take anywhere from
45 minutes to an hour. So prepare to have
some time freed up if you will be ordering
this complete kit.
The selected kit will then be shipped out and you
should receive it via USPS in 2 weeks.

Product Pros:
  1. Flash cards are large and heavily laminated, and are put on a jump ring - this is great because I know with my kids they loose anything cards related, having these cards on a ring ends having to pull them from every which corner and crevice in our house months after the fact.
  2. The Labels, Flash Cards, Reading Books 1 & 2 are all written in large print , and are not to busy or distracting, making for kids friendly reading.
  3. This kit integrates learning to read into your child's environment so everything your child is reading about is familiar and welcoming - there is no instance for your child to feel overwhelmed by being in a strange environment, so the learning is natural and at your child's own pace - SO much so that your child will wake up wanting to learn more.
  4. By using your own child's name and pictures on these tools, this encourages your kids to embrace themselves in a new light - one that will boost self esteem and confidence
  5. The kit is designed with pre-school and kindergarten curriculum in mind
  6. This kit is easy to use, and your child will practically teach him/herself.
  7. The included notebook has exercises to stimulate your child's creativity and fine motor skills by encouraging your child not only to read the object but to also draw the objects she/he has been learning to spell out.

Product Cons:
  1. The parent guide mentions putting the labels on the object they are describing (such as a dresser), at your child's eye level to encourage them to read wherever they are and learn through association. But I can't help but wish the labels were laminated like the flash cards.
Hint: If you purchase the kit I would recommend you take the labels into Kinko's to get them laminated - especially if you will be using with younger siblings later on.


The See Me Read Kit Complete is an excellent tool to help get your little one on the right track to reading regularly. I would definitely recommend it.

27 June 2008

Baking Theory Notes: Cake Baking and Ingredients 6

It all started as...
----->Bread dough enriched with butter and spices, leavened with yeast and air was whipped into the dough.

----->ca. 1837 : Baking Powder revolutionizes cake industry (allows for consistent leavening)

moist coconut cake by babe_kl

Characteristics of Cakes:

*Pound / White / Yellow

  • Batter - high ratio cake (fats) , Chemical leavened.

*Angel Food

  • Foam - Air leavened, uses whipped egg.


  • Combo of Batter & Foam - whipped eggs added to batter


  1. tenderizers
  2. moisteners
  3. flavorers

*Flours Used in Cake baking
  • Mainly cake flour (7-9% protein, soft milled)
  • Can use AP, Pastry,
Why Specific Protein Count needed, how it forms Gluten Structure:
  1. Bleached flour (has carotenes taken out)
  2. Flours are Made with Matured Wheat - if using a heavier protein percentage (i.e in bread flour etc, will cause cake structure to become dense, unstable and collapse into it's self.
  3. Moisture content comes from the flour

*Sugars Used in Cake Baking

What sugar does for cakes:
  1. Acts as a Sweetener
  2. Extends the shelf life of the cake
  3. Aides in creaming (process of whipping air into the batter)
  4. Gives cake crust it's color
  5. Spreading action (the process of melting during bake off)

Related Posts:

25 June 2008

Book Reviews: Let's Get Ready Series 8

I am excited to review 2 wonderful children's books that are geared at readying your little ones for Kindergarten and First Grade. My daughter will be entering kindergarten this Fall, and these books couldn't have come at a better time.

Out of all the "get ready" books I have seen so far, the Let's Get Ready Series from Cedar Valley Publishing are the most engaging for kids and made from materials that are kid friendly.

Both books are paperback, with thicker than average paperback pages - that are laminated! What a great feature, this allows you to let your children, or even their younger siblings handle the book without worrying too much about the book getting torn.

These books aren't just work at home books - they teach the curriculum that is found in your child's kindergarten and firstgrade classrooms.

Plus 10% of the profits are donated to literacy programs.

Let's Get Ready for Kindergarten! (Let's Get Ready Series)
is written by Linda Desimowich and Stacey Kannenberg . Illustrated by Joyce Babel-worth.

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Cedar Valley Publishing (March 1, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1933476001
ISBN-13: 978-193347600

Mrs. Good , the books fictional teacher guides you and your little reader through the skills needed to prepare your child for her kindergarten class: telling time, recognizing money, making a calendar, colors and shapes, body parts, counting to 100, learning 5 senses, rhyming words, opposites, seasons and much more.

From reading, to recognizing money, to learning which hand is left or right , the fictional classmates in the book show your child learning IS fun. My daughter was begging me to teach her with this book.

The illustrations are very lively and fun. With great colors to keep little ones interest on each page you share.

This book not only will give you the tools and confidence to teach your child in an engaging, age appropriate way - But will also give you tips on how to ready your child for school days, and coach her on classroom issues such as bullying.

Lets Get Ready For First Grade!(Let's Get Ready Series)
Written by Dori Schmitz and Illustrated by Tracey Jackson.

Reading level: Ages 4-8
Paperback: 44 pages
Publisher: Cedar Valley Publishing (March 1, 2006)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1933476109
ISBN-13: 978-1933476100

Mrs. Best, the books fictional teacher, and fictional classmates, will help you teach your child important academic milestones to learn for first grade : Writing full name & number, recognizing upper and lower case letters that out out of sequence, adding & subtraction, numbers 1-30, counting to 100, recognizing patterns, skip counting by 5s, 10s to 100, know money and value, reading basic sentences, under standing weather and so much more.

The illustrations are still fun and inviting, but are much more detailed in this book, sure to interest more motivated first graders.

Lets Get Ready For First Grade! really details first grade classwork. You will feel right at home teaching and following along with the book.There are also tips for fostering self esteem and proper ways to handle sensitive issues.

Overall Let's Get Ready Series are great books that will having you wondering why you didn't find them sooner. Your children will enjoy having the time spent with you and learning the cool skills in these books. I highly recommend them!

Product Review : Screen, Inc's Tween Screen 2

As an eczema sufferer and a very allergy prone person, I am always weary of trying new lotions or creams - afraid of the onslaught of terrible itching a wrong ingredient will send my skin reeling from. Most of the time I loath even "sensitive skin" formulas because they usually cause even more irritation.

Tween Screen by Screen Inc. But I was pleasantly surprised when opening Screen Inc. The lotion was very lightly scented with a tropical smell. There are no heavy perfumes or chemical smells.

When I applied the lotion - my eczema was not even affected a little. I didn't get any hives or itchiness. This is pretty big considering my history with lotions and allergies.

A little of the Tween Screen went a long way to cover a larger area. The sunscreen when applied to skin was very light, and there was no greasiness whatsoever. The sunscreen went on smoothly and absorbed quickly into the skin - it didn't need to be worked in and massaged diligently like some major brand sunscreens.

Plus there are allot of botanical ingredients I felt were nice to see when going through the list of ingredients. Screen Inc. Sunscreens are all made in the USA.

Tween Screen is geared toward daily use on the face. It has a SPF of 16+. That SPF is pretty standard for facial sunscreens.

Higher SPFs are available and are recommended - but that day I forgot my sunscreen and this was handy in my purse.

Overall I felt this would be a sunscreen I could be comfortable recommending - especially for people with extremely sensitive skin - who are prone to eczema , and for tweens who are at that stage when they are just approaching puberty - this will not clog pores, or feel to greasy on their skin - and if has a very pleasant scent.

Screen Inc. Also has other sunscreen products such as Man screen, Chick Screen (for us women folk) and Teen Screen (for the active teen). You can even purchase the screen in bulk.

22 June 2008

Beatboxer adds different sounds as if adding ingredients in his kitchen 2

O.k, hopefully you haven't seen this yet? I just found this while searching for baking related diggs. I love music and beatbox and baking --- this dude combines all three of my favorites...o.k AND improve! He is in an apron and has a kitchenaide in front of him. Part Monthy Python , part Martha, part B-BoyyZ.

A must see! The incredibly original and talented beatboxer Beardyman presents a hilarious routine where he "bakes" a beatbox routine from the different sound "ingredients" he has in his repertoire. Amazing, incredible, and all those digg-worthy adjectives!

digg story For more Kitchen related You-Tube :

09 June 2008

Reader Comment Carnival 9

Readers have left some great comments lately and I wanted to give thanks - In appreciation I will post some of them here, and continue to do it as a regular feature of the best comments every 2 weeks.

macro shot of whipped cream.

I am sorry I haven't kept up with my comments, I have been sick and the kids have been sick and we are dealing with a lot of personal stuff right now.

I wanted to thank you for taking the time to comment, so I have linked to your sites/profiles under your comments quotes. If you post and use a blogger profile - please make sure your blogger profile is enabled for public viewing, some of yours weren't - so I couldn't visit your sites.

Reader Comment Carnival

"These are some really high quality pictures, I especially like the one of the oil mixed with water on the ground."

David Spiele on My Photographic Mind

"Looks delicious...much nicer than what I used to watching on Edible Incredible!"

Amabaie on Food Photography : Banana - Midori Strawberry torte

"This is really great, I love the way you decorated the plate! I almost thought it was painted on :). BTW, I read your about section and I can completely relate :D!!! I have a BA in English (have a poetry blog too!), currently work as a food blogger, and plan on attending culinary school in the near future (only thing is, I can't decide if I want to be a pastry chef or a savory chef :D).

It's nice to meet you :)"

Sophie on Food Photography : Banana - Midori Strawberry torte

"Your plated desserts ROCK...stunning, each one of them!"

Passionate baker...& beyond on Food Photography : Banana Strawberry Torte

"Your dessert was absolutely delicious! Also David & Lee did a fine job capturing the image. Taking photos of food sounds easy, but it is a fine art just as creating the dish is."

teeth whitener on Food Photography : Banana Strawberry Torte

"I look here again and again in different times by and am pleased about the interesting and well written contributions. Cordial thanks and many greetings from the center of Germany."

Bernhard on Uncommonly Cute : Infant & Toddler Clothes

"In the first picture I see a ship struggling against a stormy sea, water spraying, wind tossing.

Great pic & thoughts, love your blog!"

Colleen on Saterday Soul Search : Food Poetry

"That look absolutely wonderful. It's amazing what you can create with a little bit of handy and imagination."

Fudge on Saterday Soul Search : Food Poetry

"Great post - we had a store down the road from us (I'm on the other side of the planet to you) selling loads of cute shirts like that.

We bought our friends two shirts when their son was born - Dad was a web developer, so his says "1.0" and the kid's says "2.0"


Jonathan on Uncommonly Cute : Infant & Toddler Clothes

"This is a very detailed review. All I can say is WOW!"

NDS Games on Game Review : The Tuttles Madcap Misadventures

"I wouldn't worry so much about getting the "right" picture on the blog. For me, a REAL plate with a meal on it is often better than all these "leaning tower of Piza" creations that no one in their right mind would create at home on a thursday night.

Your writing is excellent, and i would love to see what you are creating.

Anyone can make a Mignon taste decent, those that can make something good for less than $10 are the real chefs."

Erik Johnels on On Taste Memories and The Economy

Thanks soo much for contributing. And keep it up - read my posts and share your thoughts, your comment just might make it into a future Renaissance Culinaire's Reader Comment Carnival. It doesn't matter if you comment on newer or older posts - I will post according to the dates the comments were submitted.

08 June 2008

I've Been Schmapped! Northwest Photo Short-list 1

Apparently I have been Schmapped! Well I just checked my flickr mail and look what was inside:

Hi Amber,

I am writing to let you know that one of your photos has been short-listed for inclusion in the second edition of our Schmap Northwest Guide, to be published at the end of this month.

Clicking this link will take you to a page where you can:
i) See which of your photos has been short-listed.
ii) Submit or withdraw your photo from our final selection phase.
iii) Learn how we credit photos in our Schmap Guides.
iv) Browse the first edition of our Schmap Northwest Guide.

While we offer no payment for publication, many photographers are pleased to submit their photos, as Schmap Guides give their work recognition and wide exposure, and are free of charge to readers. Photos are published at a maximum width of 150 pixels, are clearly attributed, and link to high-resolution originals at Flickr.

Best regards,

Emma Williams,
Managing Editor, Schmap Guides
This is the photo that they wanted :

Fremont bridge - portland,or

Wow, that's kind of cool. My Northwest Flavor is traveling the web :) This is a picture of the Fremont Bridge in Portland, OR.
The Fremont Bridge is a steel tied arch bridge over the Willamette River located in Portland, Oregon. It carries Interstate 405 and US 30 traffic between downtown and North Portland where it intersects with I-5. It has the longest main span of any bridge in Oregon and is the second longest tied arch bridge in the world (after Caiyuanba Bridge across the Yangtze River, China).[1]
The bridge was named for John Charles Frémont, though one of the connecting streets was previously named Fremont Street in honor of the same individual.
The bridge has two decks carrying vehicular traffic, each with four lanes. The upper deck is signed westbound on US 30 and southbound on I-405. The lower deck is signed eastbound on US 30 and northbound on I-405. - facts Via Wikipedia

This photo was taken with my little point and shoot 3mp. It was raining and stormy when I took it - I kind of manipulated it a bit with contrast which made it grainy and added some deeper concentration of color. It is best viewed larger.

07 June 2008

Custom Invites , Fast Service 2

Do you value fast service? Most people would answer this question with a resounding yes. In an age when convenience is king, customer service sometimes gets left at the wayside. But apparently not at izzyprints.com. They will ready your invites within 2-3 days and ship them to you as fast as possible. If you find an error or have a problem with your order - they will go above and beyond to help rectify it and make sure your needs have been met.

...Invites in A hurry?
..birth announcements..
Visit Izzy Prints.com
...party invitations...


Here is one of their baby shower designs:
Click here to view Baby Shower Floral 3
Click on the above image to view the product page.

On reviewing the website, I was pleasantly surprised at the layout. This site is customer very customer friendly.There are no itty bitty fonts, or hidden links - everything is within your view. The navigation is straightforward and logical, with all their products linked via text link, under six specific holidays or celebration categories in the right sidebar, or on the horizontal drop down menu below the header. The site search and customer service number are well defined at the top of the page.

Everywhere you look there is a navigation link - so forget about getting lost in a sea of webpages. Kudos for the website's usability.

The graphics are not drab. Images are easy on the eyes, and not over done. When you click on an item link, the product page layout is great. All the info you could possibly need about an invitation is right there in an organized format. Their are no cluttered links or images to distract your attention - just an image of the invitation design it's self.

This is a site I would recommend to anyone based on user friendliness alone - so grannies get your glasses, you will feel technologically uplifted when ordering this years Holiday seasons greetings.

The prices are reasonable and the card designs are really cute. Izzyprints.com present their product well and seem to regard their businesses reputation, as well as the customer's satisfaction very highly.

From the Site:
Izzyprints is dedicated to bringing you a quality
service at affordable prices, while ensuring fast
turnaround times. We strive to make your life
easier by simplifying the online design and
print process while allowing you to share your
memories with the world around you.

What products do we offer?

* Birthday Invitations
* Birth Announcements
* Party invitations
* Thank You cards
* Christmas cards
* Hanukkah cards
* Religious Invitations
* Baptisms
* Christenings
* Religious Celebrations
* Bar Mitzvahs
* Baptism Party
* Christening Party
* Baby shower Invitations

I was really interested to find a invitation category for Quinceanera (W) and also for Kwanzaa(W). Those holidays aren't as mainstream (yet) as they should be within other businesses sites.

Overall I can say this website gets an A+ for navigation, readability and usability .
All logos / product designs , pictures are © 2008 Izzyprints. All Rights Reserved.

02 June 2008

Uncommonly Cute : Infant & Toddler Clothes 18

Uncommonly Cute is an infant and toddler clothing e-store run by a husband & Wife team hailing from New York. They pride themselves on cute & cool apparel that is unique, which expresses your baby's individual personality. I am especially enamored with the site because they support two great causes :
R Baby Foundation (proceeds of 50% from this page go directly to R Baby Foundation) and Room To Grow. It is great when businesses give back to their community or country.

About Uncommonly Cute

...Got A Bun
In your tum?
...soon to arrive

Freshly Baked Baby Tee @ Uncommonly Cute
Freshly Baked?
Get this tee for your New Arrival.

This website is what the name implies.
A fabulous line of newborn, baby onsies and toddler
tees, that will make you smile. Baby clothes come
in size newborn - 2T. In a choice of gender
specific colors.
I especially liked the newborn onsie that has
"freshly baked" across the chest. For a baker
such as myself, not only is it funny but very cute.
Many a joke has been had at a pregnant
girl's expense referencing her "bun in the
oven". This simple statement is both endearing
and laughable. Your child is an Artisan made
creation, after all. Celebrate your handy work!

And for the geek in you - why not
check out this "famous on facebook"
tee, Deck your child out in some Social
Networking vanity goodness.

The funniest tee I saw was the"Elmo is my homeboy" shirt. Hilarius. This would go great with some Infant / Toddler Adiddas or maybe Infant / Toddler K-swiss .Teach your baby to embrace his or her's dopeness.

And for those political types, infant and toddler tees & onsies that say "I'm a Democrat" or "I'm a Republican". 2008 is an Election Year after all , babies may not talk - but they sure can scream and what is better than a screamer ? A screamer who supports his or her political party! Aww the magic moments of parenting.

To see the above tees and more...Visit the website to view all the baby goodness.

Type-A Parent New York City Bootcamp (Focus: Brand-Blogger Relations)
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