Sunday, September 30, 2012

Other Stuff I Wrote Recently: A Review of Hotel Transylvania, After-School Snacks and (Too Cool for) School Supplies

It's been a write-y, and fun, couple of weeks here at Random Handprints corporate.

The whole family went into Manhattan for a preview of Hotel Transylvania - which we loved. The full review is here at

On Momtrends, I reviewed the All-in-One Toddler Sleep Mat from Woolly Boo - which just happens to be a Jersey Mom company.

Over at New Jersey Family magazine, I've got:
In other news, starting tomorrow I'm going to embrace my love-hate relationship with Halloween and post about the best and worst holiday of the year all month long. I can't wait.

What are you doing this week? And what are you, your kid, your dog and your house going as for Halloween?

Friday, September 28, 2012

Duane Reade Balance Rewards: New Look, Big Rewards

If you're a New Yorker, you've probably already noticed the signage on the Duane Reade stores that they're changing from FlexRewards to a new program, Balance Rewards. But if you haven't shopped in a Duane Reade lately, you maybe don't know any of the details about the switch - but don't worry, that's why I'm here.

As a Duane Reade VIP Blogger, I'm going to explain the whole thing in this post. (Spoiler alert: There's really no "whole thing." It's super-easy to use the new rewards system).

The first thing you need to do is switch over your current Duane Reade FlexRewards card for a new Balance Rewards card. You can do this at any register at Duane Reade, or even online.

If you do it in-store, as I did, you'll need to dictate your information to a Duane Reade employee who needs to type it into a touch-screen - which I will admit is not an ideal system, but once it's done it's done. You even get to review your information to make sure it's all correct.

Balance Rewards signs are easily visible throughout the store, and in the store I visited, there were even festive balloons.

Use the signs and the weekly circular (available inside the store, or online) to find the best deals.

My best find was Advil ($6.99 each when you buy 2), and that's not all - that purchase also earned a fantastic 5,000 points.

I will admit that I'm not any kind of extreme couponer - I'm not even a moderate or beginner couponer - but I did take a look at the online circular at before going shopping because I wanted to see what the current good deals were both in terms of price and points, and that's where I saw the great Advil deal - a savings of $9 (31% off), plus 5,000 points.

 And if you look closely, I also got a copy of US Weekly, which was totally not for me but for the rest of my family, who cray-cray love the magazine:

I think you can redeem your points once you reach 5,000, but the cashier didn't ask if I wanted to, and I didn't ask her either because as I just mentioned, I'm not so good at the whole couponing thing - extreme or otherwise.

But I'll be back to Duane Reade soon. And when I'm there, I'm so swapping those points in and seeing what I get. Maybe enough for another copy of US Weekly!

You can see more photos of my shop, and my family reading US Weekly in the Google+ Album: Duane Reade Balance Rewards.

Follow the conversation on Twitter via the hashtag #DRBalanceRewards and follow Duane Reade @DuaneReade, as well as on Facebook at /DuaneReade.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been
compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Duane Reade. #CBias #SocialFabric

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Hotel Transylvania: You Vant to See This Movie!

My whole family went into the Big City on Saturday for a special advance screening of the newest flick from Columbia Pictures/Sony Animation: Hotel Transylvania.

The movie has an amazing line-up of stars who are the voices behind the monsters, like Adam Sandler (no relation, sadly), Fran Drescher, Molly Shannon, David Spade and Steve Buscemi - and that's just some of the stars. So we were already pretty excited for the film, and we were not disappointed.

A few scenes from Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania is a really fun film with nothing to scare my 3-year-old and not too insipid that my seven and nine-year-old daughters would feel to grown-up for it. Throw in a few clever commentaries for the grown-ups (the beginning of the film has Dracula describing humans to the other monsters as "getting bigger, and yet their clothes are getting smaller:), and you've got a film the whole family really could, and did, enjoy.

My kids also got a big kick out of the celebs who were at the screening - Mariska Hargitay, Ali Wentworth, and their families were sitting in the row behind us - and I loved overhearing Ali's kids asking their mom, "Do we know anyone else here besides Mariska?"

My kids also loved posing with the movie characters, even if they were so frightened!

Bottom right: Bloggers on the scene included, NextKidThing and
There was a candy-themed party afterwards at Dylan's Candy Bar and my kids acted, well, like kids in a candy store. And the car ride back to Jersey? Delightful.

My full review of Hotel Transylvania is at Check In and Check Out Hotel Transylvania: Where Monsters Go to Get Away.

Hotel Transylvania opens this Friday, September 28. For more about the film, follow Hotel Transylvania on Twitter ( @HotelT), like Hotel Transylvania on Facebook, or visit the film’s site:

This film has been rated PG by the MPAA for Some Rude Humor, Action and Scary Images.

Thanks to and Impress Media for having me cover the opening of Hotel Transylvania! My kids say thank you too!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rookie USA Now Open in NYC - and a Giveaway Too!

Everyone knows that New York City is a shopper's dream, but despite all the stores there aren't that many places to buy cool athletic clothes and shoes for kids. But now there is, with the new Rookie USA store that just opened up at 808 Columbus Avenue (at 99th Street). It's part of a fantastic new complex of stores - Columbus Square - which also includes Whole Foods, Duane Reade and HomeGoods.

I went shopping at Rookie USA with my seven-year-old daughter Kay. She's an athletic kid who loves gymnastics, ice skating, softball and swimming, but she's also a young fashionista and very, very picky about what she wears. Kay loved everything in the store, from the collection of Nike sports tee sand shorts in bright, fun clothes to the display of Converse shoes in all the colors of the rainbow.

Kay chose a few items to try on, and we both thought the hipster-rustic changing rooms with the cool retro Locker Rooms sign added another great touch to the overall shopping experience.

Kay finally narrowed it down to a choice of two tees:

After a bit of thought, she decided on this tee:

It captured all her loves - purple and glow-in-the dark. You can't tell in the photo but it really does glow in the dark!

And, because we both knew what was good for us, we didn't arrive home empty-handed for her older sister sister. We got Magpie, age 8, cool purple Levi's from their colored denim line.

When we checked-out I found out the jeans were actually on sale for 20% off, which was a nice surprise. And we got to take the new clothes home in this sweet Rookie USA bag:

The store is a great modern space to shop, has a huge selection and friendly staff, and we'll definitely be back for shoes and other gear. Just look at this selection of sneakers!

Back home, Kay and Magpie put their new clothes to the test in our front yard...

... cartwheels, check!

... wheelbarrow, check!

... happy kids with new clothes, double-check!

To learn more, follow Rookie on Twitter @RookieUSA (or via the hashtag #RookieUSA), like them on Facebook, or visit them online at While you're there, sign-up for email, and receive a $20 gift card to use for your first in-store purchase.

To see more photos from my mother-daughter trip to Rookie USA, check out my Google+ Album.

Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been
compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™ and Rookie USA #CBias #SocialFabric

Win a Rookie USA gift card! The first five people to leave a comment on this post are automatic winners, so leave something witty (or not so witty) and you can go shopping at Rookie USA!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Shana Tova! Happy 5773!

Tonight at sundown marks a new year in the Jewish calendar.

A few years back I made a Rosh Hashanah video, so I figured why not share it again - I mean, who doesn't enjoy listening to a kid blowing over and over again on a plastic shofar?

I've got lots of ideas to Celebrate Rosh Hashanah with Kids at

Wishing all celebrating a sweet year of health and happiness!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ring in the New Year Twitter Style with MamaDrama!

I'm joining in on the fun this Thursday night when MamaDrama is hosting a #HighHolidayHappyHour on Twitter, and I hope you will, too!

We'll be sharing Rosh Hashanah traditions and ideas, and of course trading stories and recipes as well!

Here are the details:

When: Thursday, September 13, from 9-10 pm EST (8-9 pm CT; 7-8 pm MT and 6-7 pm PT)
Hashtag: #HighHolidayHappyHour
Moderators: @peekababy, @primetimeparent, @mommymusings001 and me - @Anna_Sandler

And there are prizes!
*Two (2) Manischewitz bundle of goodies, great for makin’ some fab Rosh Hashanah meals
*Two (2) copies of Get Cooking: A Jewish American Family Cookbook & Rockin’ Mama Doni Celebration
*Two (2) sets of Hot Mamalah: The Ultimate Guide for Every Woman of the Tribe and Cool Jew: The Ultimate Guide for Every Member of the Tribe by Lisa Alcalay Klug

Head over to MamaDrama's Ring in the New Year Twitter Style and share in the comments that you'll be at #HighHolidayHappyHour.

See you there!

I was not compensated for this post or for my participation in the Twitter Party.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

You Can Crochet!

Actually, I have no idea if you can crochet.

What I'm really saying is my mom can crochet.

For the record, I can not crochet.

And I'm so glad my mom can crochet, because she had made my kids the cutest little animals from the book Voodoo Maggie's Adorable Amigurumi: Cute and Quirky Corocheted Critters. (Tuttle Publishing, $15.95)

Voodoo Maggie (really Erin Clark) has directions and beautiful photographs for eighteen different crocheted friends, and my three-year-old was endlessly delighted to stroll through the book looking through the photos and picking out what "gramma gonna make next."

So far, we have these two Amigurumi darlings at our house:

Yeti (5 inches tall and 4 inches wide)

and Luna the Baby Dragon (11 inches tall).

My kids love their amigurumi companions, not only because "gramma made them!" but also because they got to pick out the details, like the yarn color, making them truly one-of-a-kind little treasures.

There are directions to make creatures that are suitable for all skill levels from beginner to more advanced crocheters. Personally, I'm hoping gramma makes me one next. (I'm partial to Bella la Batty, but I'll take anything. Thanks, mom!)

I received a copy of Adorable Amigurumi: Cute and Quirky Crocheted Critters for review. My mom made everything herself, with her only compensation being her grandchildren's delight.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Other Stuff I Wrote Last Week: Back to School Shoes, Books and a Last Hurrah of Summer

This week I'm shifting from summer to fall. The kids are back to school on Thursday, and while I'll miss the sun and the fun, I feel like it's time.

I wrote about our trip to Six Flags Hurricane Harbor for, and while it wasn't the best day out ever, it was pretty fun.

For back to school, I covered See Kai Run, maker of great kids shoes. Here's my son modeling his pair from (gasp!) last season:

And here are some of the hipster styles from See Kai Run for this fall:

I also shared three of my favorite books about the first day of school. 

Marco Goes to School, by the hilarious Roz Chas, has particularly grown on me over the last 1,816 times I've read it to my enthralled son:

Next up, getting my own three kids back to school.

What are you doing this week?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Giving the People What They Want: 10 Cute and Clever Dry Erase Ideas - Mostly DIY

My Dry Erase Crayons.
Purchased thinking I would maybe
one day make one of these
DIY Dry Erase Boards.
I love Pinterest.  I have almost 100 Boards and over 2,000 pins on everything under the Pinterest sun. I have an entire board devoted to Nutella and another board just about Big Duckie.

And yet the board that gets the most action on Pinterest is.... Cute and Clever Dry Erase Ideas - Mostly DIY.

So if you are looking for cute and clever dry erase ideas - mostly DIY - here are 10:

1. Make super-awesome dry erase table signs - excellent for entertaining.
2. Write with dry erase marker on top of the washing machine anything inside it that shouldn't go in the dryer.
3. Glass + Burlap makes a really cool dry erase board.
4. Glass + Scrapbook paper makes a really pretty dry erase calendar.
5. Use dry erase paint and make an entire dry erase wall.
6. Love this - a dry erase clock to write in what the kids are doing when.
7. The Dry Erase Clipboard - loves it.
8. Bamboo Dry Erase - great design statement.
9. Dry Erase Board with a list of what the kids need to do.
10. And last, I'm a big fan of the Dry Erase Decision Maker. Some days I could really use one of these.

Do you have a favorite Dry Erase idea? Share in the comments below!

And if you're on Pinterest leave your name so I can follow you!

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