Saturday, January 31, 2015

Chuggington: Turbo Charged Chugger - DVD Giveaway

I received product or compensation for this post.  This post is in partnership with PR firm.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Fans and their families nationwide will honk their horns for high-speed adventure when “Turbo Charged Chugger,” an action-packed new “Chuggington™” DVD from Anchor Bay Entertainment, pulls into retail nationwide on February 10, 2015. Featuring six turbo-charged episodes, plus a special free custom activity book with colorful stickers from Bendon Publishing, the latest traintastic “Chuggington” DVD is just the ticket for Valentine’s Day fun for preschoolers from coast to coast!

In “Turbo Charged Chugger,” (SRP $14.98), the trainees take their responsibilities to a whole new exciting level. Wilson and the Chug Patrollers attempt a daring bridge rescue, Brewster helps the Chuggineers build a new station, Koko tries to smash her Chug-A-Sonic record, the Speed Fleet competes in the Track Dash, and everyone learns how to use the Piggy-Back Wagon. With old friends and new, including Hanzo – Head of Speed Fleet, Fire Chugger Asher and Tunnel Runner Payce – riding along, young trainees at home will learn to work together, play fair and use good judgment as they take on new responsibilities of their own!

Episodes:

 “Special Rescue Team”
 “Team Trainee”
 “Record Breaker Koko”
 “The Old Silver Mine Line”
 “A Pat on the Paintwork”
 “Top Secret Koko”

DVD Bonus Features:

Badge Quest Episode: “No Time to Waste”
Character Montages: Asher and Payce
Coloring and Activity Pages

In more exciting news, fans can catch their favorite trainees at Chuggington Live!, a live-action, musical children’s show, based on the popular TV series. CHUGGINGTON LIVE! The Great Rescue Adventure gives young fans and their families the opportunity to experience the train-tastic adventures of the Chuggington trainees, Wilson, Brewster and Koko. The tour is currently scheduled to play more than 50 cities throughout North America. The tour schedule and ticket information can be found at www.chuggingtonlive.com.
Win It!

One person will win Chugginton: Turbo Charged Chugger on DVD.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*
 
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An Epic Cake Fail!

I'm hosting a #DisneySide Celebration in my home Saturday afternoon and part of the plan was to bake a Mickey Mouse cake.  I had a pan in the shape of the mouse's head, tye-dye mix, and very expensive frosting.  Being that my husband is a master of most trades, I put it all in his hands.
 
And this here is the end result:
 
How in the world am I supposed to serve this cake at the party?!  Even the 7 and 8 year olds will be scarred for life if they see this jacked-up version of Mickey.  Heck, it's going to haunt my nightmares for years to come!
 
On the other hand, my husband is now taking orders for your cake needs.  Anyone??  Anyone?!

Friday, January 30, 2015

LoveSpoon Candles - Review and Giveaway

I received product for review.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
Whether you are in the market to purchase a nice gift for someone on Valentine's Day or just want to add pleasant fragrance in your home, LoveSpoon Candles is a charming candle company that fits the bill.
 
A high quality, handmade soy candle company, LoveSpoon Candles are 100% soy and have wood or eco-wicks which are made of cotton.  You can choose from their Cornerstone Collection of decorative tins with wood wicks that burn with a crackling sound.  Or you can select from their elegant class jar with a cotton eco-wick from their Monogram Series.
I was given the opportunity to review a candle from the Cornerstone Collection.  There are several scents available, from festive and exotic to serene and sweet.  Moon Lake Musk, the scent I received, has notes of fern and orris that add to the musk flower and woody notes which are infused with natural essential oils, including Patchouli and Geranium.  It's a very masculine musk smell.  Although I tend to gravitate towards candles with more feminine scents, I still liked the smell.  It wasn't overpowering but it was still strong enough that I could distinctly tell it was burning.  (Which I like, because I am inclined to favor candles that are prominent in scent.)
 
The wick was unlike any I'd seen before.  It's flat, thin wood and gives off a subtle crackling sound.  It was easy to light and the candle burnt evenly.  The decorative tin for all the candles in the Cornerstone Collection is the same.  It has a brown background with blue and white floral pattern.  It also comes with a tin lid.
 
I recommend LoveSpoon Candles as a place to purchase candles, and am dazzled by the fact that the company donates monies to a chosen charity at the end of each year.
 
Win It!
 
One person will win a candle from LoveSpoon from the Cornerstone Collection in choice of scent.
 
*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*
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Thursday, January 29, 2015

Lumene Bright Now Vitamin C Beauty Drops - Review

I received product for review.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
I'm 38 years old; youth is not on my side.  I don't believe in miracle creams and don't expect that I'll ever look like a teenager again.  But that doesn't mean I won't do what I can to make my skin look and feel a little better.  I can't stop the aging process, but I can keep it from noticeably showing up on my face and skin so quickly.
 
Lately I've been using Lumene Bright Now Vitamin C Beauty Drops on my face daily.  Lumene is a skincare and cosmetic brand that uses handpicked, wild Arctic berries with scientific technology.  I was aware of Lumene but had never tried their products until I tested the Bright Now Vitamin C Beauty Drops.  Although I can't say I'll go out and purchase their entire product line, I will definitely keep that brand in mind when I'm in the market for skincare needs.
 
Lumene Bright Now Vitamin C Beauty Drops come in a small round jar with 28 orange capsules.  One capsule is to be used once a day, either in the morning or at night.  The serum is applied by removing the tip of a capsule and squeezing content onto fingertips, then applying it to cleansed face and neck.
 
There's enough serum in one capsule to thinly apply it to your facial area.  I love how absolutely silky soft it feels on my skin.  The serum immediately makes my skin feel smoother and softened.  I normally have a rough, dry patch on my nose and it's not as flakey or dry as it used to be. 
 
Lume Bright Now Vitamin C Beauty Drops is formulated with Arctic cloudberry seed oil, Vitamin C, and lingonberry seed oil.  I feel like the purchase price is economical and affordable, and I think the product itself is effective in brightening and softening the skin.
 
 


Do you use Lumene skincare products? What do you use on your skin to keep it soft and youthful?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Outback Steakhouse Celebrates Super Bowl with Two Hot Deals

Whether you like them mild, spicy or hot - nothing says Super Bowl Sunday like a big plate of wings, and this year Outback Steakhouse has you covered with 20 wings for just $14.99!

Outback's chicken wings are tossed in a savory blend of secret spices and paired with cool creamy Blue cheese dressing and celery. The offer is available on Sunday, 2/1, for both dine-in and curbside takeaway so you can enjoy wherever you're watching the big game.

Plus, Outback is keeping the celebrations going even after the game is over with a free Bloomin' Onion on Monday, 2/2. Just say "Free Bloom" to your server to receive the offer, valid with any purchase and available for both dine in and curbside takeaway.
 

I received no product or compensation for this post.  This post is in partnership with PR firm.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Celebrating Chinese New Year with Kids - Giveaway

I received no product or compensation for this post.  This post is in partnership with PR firm.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Make Your Own New Year Dumplings!

Recipe provided by China Institute

Dumplings, called jiaozi in Mandarin, have been popular in China for hundreds of years. They’re especially popular on Chinese New Year. This year, Chinese New Year starts on February 19. We will be moving from the Year of the Horse to the Year of the Sheep. What better way to celebrate than to make your own dumplings! The recipe below is for a traditional pork and chive filling, but the great thing about dumplings is that you can make all sorts of different fillings.

INGREDIENTS

Dumpling (jiaozi) Dough:

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups cold water
1/4 teaspoon salt

Pork and Chive Filling:

1 cup ground pork (can also use beef)
1 Tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt

1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
3 Tablespoon sesame oil

1/2 green onion, finely minced
1 1/2 cups finely shredded Napa cabbage
4 Tablespoons shredded bamboo shoots
2 slices fresh ginger, finely minced
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely minced

DIRECTIONS

Stir the salt into the flour. Slowly stir in the cold water, adding as much as is necessary to create a smooth dough. Don't add more water than is necessary. Knead the dough into a smooth ball. Cover the dough and let it rest for at least 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare the filling ingredients. Add the soy sauce, salt, rice wine, and white pepper to the meat, stirring in one direction. Add the remaining ingredients, stirring in the same direction, and mix well.

Now, prepare the dough for the dumplings. First knead the dough until it forms a smooth ball. Divide the dough into 60 pieces. Roll each piece out into a circle about 3-inches in diameter to create the dumpling wrappers.

Place a portion (about 1 Tablespoon) of the filling into the middle of each dumpling wrapper. Wet the edges of the dumpling with water. Fold the dough over the filling into a half moon shape and pinch the edges to seal. Continue with the remainder of the dumpling wrappers.

To cook the dumplings, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add half the dumplings, giving them a gentle stir so they don't stick together. Bring the water to a boil, and add 1/2 cup of cold water. Cover and repeat. When the dumplings come to a boil for a third time, they are ready. Drain and remove. If you want, they can be pan-fried at this point. Repeat this process for the second half of dumplings.

Post a photo of your dumplings to China Institute’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ourforbiddencity. The chef of the yummiest looking batch will receive a free copy of their We All Live in the Forbidden City books!

China Institute’s We All Live in the Forbidden City program includes children’s books and educational workshops that celebrate Chinese cultural history in ways that are accessible and fun for kids. This is the Greatest Place! uses lift-flaps to teach young readers how nature’s influence can be seen around us, and how people and animals can live together in harmony. In the Forbidden City is a large format book that comes with a magnifying glass so kids can look closely at highly detailed line drawings conveying the grandeur of it’s buildings, gardens, and courtyards. The books have received much praise, including reviews in Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, Kirkus and Foreword, since releasing last fall.

Win It!

One person will win a hardcover book copy of This is the Greatest Place!

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*
 
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From This Day Forward: Five Commitments to Fail-Proof Your Marriage - Book Review and Giveaway

I received book for review from Family Christian.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
 
The choices you make each and every day determine not only your relationship with God but also the quality of your marriage. The decisions you make today will determine the marriage you will have tomorrow.

In From This Day Forward, you will discover five commitments that will absolutely fail-proof your marriage:

Seek God
Fight fair
Have fun
Stay pure
Never give up

If you and your spouse will earnestly commit to do all five of these things, you ll discover a richer, deeper, more authentic relationship and a more rewarding, more passionate love life. Don't be a statistic. Don't be average. Let's get you the marriage you've always wanted.

My Review:

Jason and I have been married for twelve years.  The beginning was rocky.  Our communication skills were rough, we were raising six kids, he didn't have God in his life, and I didn't have a strong focus on God.  It was a recipe for disaster, and divorce.

These last four years of our marriage have been stronger than ever.  We've learned to talk effectively to each other, take time out for ourselves, and have a strong relationship with God.  Our marriage isn't perfect, but I can honestly say I'm committed to staying in it with Jason and I'm more in love with him than ever before.

From This Day Forward, written by Craig and Amy Groeschel who are leaders of LifeChurch.tv, is a guide to help couples (and single people) work towards and obtain a marriage as it's intended to be.  The book focuses on five commitments and explains how they can be applied to a marriage.  The book is mainly told by Craig's point-of-view, with Amy telling her perspective at the end of each chapter.

While I believe that not all marriages can be made fail-proof, I do believe that the five commitments outlined in this book can help couples if they apply them to their lives.  I read this book in one sitting, and found it to have valuable information to build on a firm marriage foundation.  It's written in a way that makes it applicable to people of all walks of life, and is quoted with scripture to show how God intends a marriage to be.

The 'Seek God' commitment stresses that God should come first in life and that partners should do things together that show their love for God.  For instance, it suggests that couples should pray together, and often.  Jason and I have been doing that for a few months now anyway, and I believe it's helped strengthen our marriage.

The 'Fight Fair' commitment verbalizes that couples should fight to come to a resolution, not to always be right.

The 'Have Fun' commitment explains that couples need to carve time out of their lives to have fun together.

The 'Stay Pure' commitment talks about how sexual immorality can creep into our lives and how we can avoid it.

The 'Never Give Up' commitment pronounces that marriage vows should be take seriously and we shouldn't be so quick to give up when things aren't going exactly as we want.

One book is not going to save a marriage but I feel that From This Day Forward is a valuable teaching tool that can help couples accomplish a happier, healthier marriage.

Win It!

One person will win a paperback book copy of From This Day Forward: Five Commitments to Fail-Proof Your Marriage.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*
 
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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Orkin Bed Bug Feud Game - #BedBugFeud Giveaway

I will receive product in exchange for this post. Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services. Your opinions and results may differ.  This post contains embedded widgets.


At Orkin, they use the latest technology and unparalleled training to develop an effective treatment that's right for your needs. To learn more about our pest control based in science or to schedule an inspection, visit orkin.com or call 1-800-800-ORKIN.

Orkin on Facebook: facebook.com/OrkinPestControl
Ask The Orkin Man® on Twitter: twitter.com/AskTheOrkinMan
Orkin YouTube channel: youtube.com/user/OrkinVideo


Test your bed bug knowledge and see if you are keeping a clean bed in 2015. Play the #BedBugFeud Blog App and beat the clock to make it on the leaderboard.  HINT: Use the "Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite" PDF as a cheat sheet.


Win It!

One person will win a CleanRest Complete Pillow Encasement.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA. Each household is only eligible to win (1) CleanRest Pillow Encasement via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.*

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Biscuiteers Baking Company: 15% Off Valentine's Collection

Looking for gift ideas for Valentines? Biscuiteers Baking Company has a whole host of Valentines biscuits, chocolates, cupcakes and cakes to help you celebrate this holiday of love.  Just pick from their range of love themed gifts and a few well-chosen words and they'll pop it in the post for delivery to their door. Showing how you feel just got a whole lot easier.

Use discount code 15CUPID at checkout to receive 15% off  Valentines collection products at Biscuiteers Baking Company.  Offer ends February 1, 2015.


This post contains an affiliate link.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Check It Out: Hunter Fan Company "The Fan Fan Sweepstakes"


Hunter Fan Company combines 19th century craftsmanship with innovative design and technology to create air-movement products of unmatched quality, style and whisper-quiet performance.

Each day, until January 30th, one lucky winner will take home a Hunter ceiling fan of choice valued up to $300.  There will be a total of ten winners.  Try your luck and enter the HUNTER’S ‘FAN FAN’ Facebook Sweepstakes now!



This post contains a referral link.  Please do your own research before purchasing product or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Purex PowerShot - Laundry Detergent Review and Giveaway

As a Purex Insider, I received product for review.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
 
I have six kids and a husband who are bound and determined to attract dirt and stains to their clothing. I've used Purex laundry detergent for a while now, due to its affordability and ability to clean clothes, and was enthusiastic to try the new Purex PowerShot detergent.

I've noticed that Purex is often coming out with new formulas, scents, or ways to do laundry.  I like that they stay on top of things.  The newest, Purex PowerShot detergent, has the only bottle that measures the right amount of detergent every time.  It's easy to use - just Flip. Dose. Done!
Purex PowerShot detergent simplifies the laundry routine by taking the guesswork out of measuring.  Liquid detergent is automatically dispensed with the right amount of concentrated formula.  To use, all you have to do is open the cap and flip the bottle upside down.  I suggest doing this directly into the washing machine and not flipping the bottle upside down anywhere else because the detergent comes out pretty quick.  After you've delivered a dose of detergent into the washing machine, flip the bottle back up right and close the snap-top lid.  The cap automatically refills and is ready for the next dose.  Use one flip for regular loads and two flips for large or extra dirty loads.  Purex PowerShot is available in two fragrances - Mountain Breeze and Natural Elements Linen & Lilies.

I like this new way of dispensing laundry detergent into the wash.  All I have to do is flip the bottle upside down and the correct amount of detergent is added to the wash.  It's simple and convenient!   On top of that, Purex works well with getting my clothes clean.  

To celebrate the release of the NEW Purex® PowerShot™ detergent, Purex is hosting an amazing sweepstakes, the Purex PowerShot Coming Soon Sweepstakes. There will be three grand prize winners of a Whirlpool washer and dryer set. 300 second-place winners will receive a bottle of PowerShot. Sweepstakes ends March 31, 2015.
Win It!

One person will win two free product coupons for Purex PowerShot Detergent.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

First Winners of January

A few of my giveaways have ended and the winners have been randomly drawn.

The winner of the Fat Hair giveaway is #32, bluecat.

The winner of the Robeez giveaway is #3, aperry.

The winner of the JORD Watch giveaway is #24, Kelly Tupick.

The winner of The Book of Life giveaway is #98, Melissa Smith.

The winner of the Anne Taintor giveaway is #45, Tammigirl.

The winner of the Jesus Is___ book giveaway is #22, Tracysweetangl.

Congrats to the winners and thanks to all who entered.  Be sure to check out my current active giveaways, all listed at the top left hand side of my blog.  There's no limit to how many you can enter or how many you can win.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

I'm Turning In My Stripes

A little over a year ago I embarked on a journey and joined the world of roller derby.  Growing up as a girl who went roller skating almost every weekend, I knew roller derby would be the sport for me.  Boy, was I wrong!  It was a period of pure hell.  I found out just how bad shin splints and leg cramps can hurt.  I cried after almost every practice and thought about quitting more than once.
 
But then something changed.  Little by little, the pain lessened.  I was able to focus on learning new skills rather than focus on wondering what I had gotten myself into.  My endurance, and my confidence, soared. 
 
I was part of a team that welcomed all walks of life.  It didn't matter if you were 19 years old or 40 years old.  We had sexual assault counselors, parole officers, fast food servers, and everything in between. 
 
Being that I was a referee, I wasn't allowed to interact with the team on bout day.  I had to remain bias, after all.  But once it was all said and done, I was always given thanks by both teams for my part.
As much as I'm glad for the time spent as a roller derby referee,  I've made the executive decision to turn in my stripes.  I think I'm okay with that decision.  It has nothing to do with the team itself.  But my plate is full right now.
 
In the middle of December I took a Leave of Absence from roller derby.  My plan was to return in the beginning of February.  My plans changed.
 
I went on LOA to take care of my ill mother who is now living with me.  Although she is doing better, she is still very weak and requires a lot of care.  I can't be totally committed to roller derby right now.  It requires a lot of on and off skate practice times with added PR and league meetings.  There's a minimum requirement each month and I'm not so sure I can meet those requirements.  That, and honestly, I'm afraid that I'm going to be back at square one with the physical pain since it's been almost a month since I've been to practice.
 
I'm going to break the news to my brother later today.  I'm a little shaky about that one.  He's the team coach and I don't want to disappoint him.  But I've got to do what's right for me.  I plan on still supporting the team and going to bouts.  After all, this will be my daughter's first full season of playtime.  She joined in April and is a born natural.
 
Joining roller derby has been a great stepping stone for me and I've learned what my mind and body are capable of.  But now it's time to move on and move forward.
 

Dreamtreaders #2: Search for the Shadow Key - Book Review and Giveaway

I received book for review.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Fourteen-year-old Archer Keaton discovers he has the ability to enter and explore his dreams. He is a dreamtreader, one of three selected from each generation. Their mission: to protect the waking world from the evil lurking in the Dream.

The Nightmare Lord has been thrown down, but his throne is no longer empty. Rigby Thames has taken up the evil mantle with Kara Windchil as his queen. Now the only living dreamtreader, Archer Keaton finds himself on the outside of two worlds looking in. Dream Walking Inc. is taking the world by storm, allowing Rigby to build an unstoppable empire. Worse still, Rigby has unleashed the Tendrils, shadow people who can cross over into the waking world. As Archer’s family and friends begin to disappear, unexpected help comes in the form of the Wind Maiden, a mysterious angelic being who seems to know how Archer can rescue his loved ones and defeat the new Nightmare King. But the cost may prove too dear for Archer to pay.

Steeped in epic fantasy and intrigue, this second book in the Dreamtreaders series teaches kids important Christian values such as being a light in the darkness, resisting temptation, and keeping your faith, even when you feel like you’re standing alone.

My Review:

Although this book is aimed towards young adults, I found myself engrossed in Search for the Shadow Key.  The plot concept is different than most I've read; it revolves around dreams in a sci-fi sort of way.  Subtle undertones communicate teachings about peer pressure and standing for what you believe in.  A lot of creativity and imagination are written in the frame-up. 

Although I've not read the first book in this series, I think this second book in the trilogy can be read as a stand-alone.  I'm sure reading the first book would enhance the story or give backdrop insight, but I was not lost in the plot and didn't feel like I had to read the first book to know what was going on. 

Win It!

One person will win a paperback book copy of Dreamtreaders #2: Search for the Shadow Key.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*

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Personalization Universe: 30% Off Valentine's Day Gifts

Surprise your special somebody with a unique personalized gift for Valentine’s Day from Personalization Universe. Let them know how much you love them by creating a gift that’s truly from the heart. Their romantic gifts will complement your night, our funny and flirty gifts will add some levity to Valentine’s Day, and they even have some anti-Valentine’s Day gifts for people who can’t stand this holiday.

Personalized Valentine's Day Gifts: 30% off with code LOVE30


This post contains an affiliate link.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lush Decor - $200 GC Giveaway

I will be receiving product in exchange for this post.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Lush Décor believes that great designs at terrific values will always trump something that is ordinary and promotionally prices.  It's about enjoying their creations for years to come.  Jenny Zhu founded Lush Décor because she aspired to create affordable fashion that can be enjoyed through all phases
of  life.
 
Lush Decor's showroom in New York City has become an important stop for most retail buyers to see their perspective on what's new and exciting in the home textile category.  Lush Décor products have been seen at Bed Bath & Beyond, Kohl’s, Boscov’s, Sears, and other brand stores.
 
Receive 10% off your purchase at Lush Décor when you use discount code LOVELUSH1 at checkout.
Win It!
 
One person will win a $200 Lush Décor Gift Certificate.
 
*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA. This will be a one-time use code with no balance kept and must be used in one purchase.*
 
 
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Little Twig - Baby Bath Time Products Review

 
I don't have any wee ones but there are several in my family.  Because I am always purchasing products for small babies and children, I pay attention to what's on the market.
 
One company that I became acquainted with recently is Little Twig, a business that provides families with a safe and natural bath time alternative.  They utilize organic and botanical ingredients for pure and gentle personal care.  There are three fragrances in their product line - tangerine, lavender, and unscented.
I received the Baby Wash and Body Lotion in the Calming Lavender scent for review.  The body wash is an organic blend of essential oils and mild foam.  The formula combines skin softening vitamin E with lavender and chamomile.  The body lotion softens the skin with lavender, lemon, vitamin E, jojoba and tree oil.  Both are safe on skin and gentle for babies.
 
The character packaging on Little Twig products is adorable.  The fragrance is noticeable but not overbearing.  The price point is in the typical range for organic products.  Little Twig's bath products are effective in cleansing and softening baby's skin, while keeping out toxic and harmful elements. 
I received products for review.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Random Tuesday Thoughts - Life Changes and Opinions

It's Tuesday!  You know what that means....another weekly edition of Random Tuesday Thoughts.  If you'd like to link up, head on over to Stacy Uncorked and play along.
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Me and the two teen boys watched 'Taken 3' at the theater yesterday.  Liam Neeson is an amazing actor and never fails to deliver the action shots.  Seems it didn't do so well with the movie ratings but I felt the movie was a worthy threequel. 
-------------------------------
Now that 'True Blood' and 'SOA' are officially over, I've had to find different shows to get sucked into.  Cheesy reality shows it is. 

My must-see TV now consists of 'The Real World' and 'The Challenge', both of which air on MTV.  Those two and 'Celebrity Apprentice'.  I'm always a day late because I watch them On Demand so I may be past par in saying this, but I'm going to flip a lid if Geraldo Rivera wins Celebrity Apprentice.  He may be a news legend but he's not God.  His arrogance and egotistic attitude are over the top.  Makes me respect him much less.  My vote is Leeza Gibbons for the win.
-------------------

Dark River Derby Coalition had their first bout for the year.  And they won, 306 - 82!  The team has become a force to be beat.  I did not go because I've been on Leave of Absence for a month.  In fact, I believe I may be quitting the team.  It's nothing personal but my plate is full.  I'll post more about it later.
 
This particular bout was the first actual one for my daughter, Shelby, to participate in.  From what I hear, she rocked it!  I think she's a natural and that roller derby is doing her well.
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Along with what seems like a million trillion other bloggers and non-bloggers,  I'll be hosting a #DisneySide Home Party later this month.  I'm super stoked that I get to partake by having a party.  What really gets my goat is reading some of the Facebook feeds.  I cannot believe the immature behavior of some of the people who seem ungrateful about what they may or may not be getting in their party packs, or that their package isn't here RIGHT NOW.  Makes you wonder if MomSelect or Disney will make it through all the griping and groaning and come out sane..
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Because he's glutton for punishment, my husband agreed to go with me to Kansas City over Valentine's Day weekend (which is also his birthday weekend).  It's not necessarily going to be a romantic getaway.  Rather, he'll be hanging out at a waterpark hotel while I join in a Scentsy convention with my sister.  I owe him big time.
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I'm going to take a huge leap of faith and start a women's small group within the next couple of months.  I already belong to one for couples but was encouraged and urged to start one of my own.  It will basically be a group of women getting together in my home one night a week to dig into the Bible, discuss the church sermon, and "do life together".  I'm a bundle of nerves and excitement about it.
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I stopped by Kmart yesterday and scored big on Christmas paper and décor.  Everything was 90% off so I stocked up for next year.  If I didn't already have a tree I would've snatched one of those up too.  Trees that cost over $300 were selling for $25!  That's a crazy good sale!
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Wow, I did a lot of rambling!  Tell me, what's your randomness for the week?  What's your must-see TV show right now?  Are you hosting a DisneySide party?

Friday, January 16, 2015

How Step-Parenting Almost Ruined My Marriage

As if raising kids of your own isn't hard enough, that responsibility is doubly hard as a step-parent.  Step-parents get a bad rap almost from the get-go. 

Jason and I have been married for twelve years, together for thirteen.  He came in with three (actually two at the time with one on the way) and I came in with three.  We've never conceived a child together.  Minus the maid, we were the modern day Brady Bunch.  If Jason and I ever fought about anything, it was almost always about the kids.  And if he and I weren't arguing about it, we were going at it with the other parents involved.  Ugly, I tell ya!  I swore that if he and I ever got divorced, it for sure was going to be because of the blended family breakdown. 

The first day my daughter met Jason she made it perfectly clear she didn't need another father in her life.  One day all six kids would like each other and the next day it was a war of mine versus his.  In all brutal honesty, it took a few years for us to mend the gap and just learn to all get along.  I can't change the past but, knowing what I know now, I would've walked into the relationship a totally different way.

It took a few years of complete chaos but we finally got it right.  His kids are mine and my kids are his.  We all get along and feel as if we are a complete family.
Minus the one on the far right, this bunch of kids belong to us.

I'm no expert (I only play one on TV) but I do have some advice that may help those who are in the throes of a blended family.  I speak from my own experience and from the baby mama drama calls that come in where I work at 911.

1.  Don't go in expecting to be another child's mom or dad.

Kids are usually very protective of their own natural parents.  Bringing someone into the mix throws off that balance.  It's okay to set rules and demand respect, but know that you will probably never take the place of their actual birth parents.

2.  Set rules and boundaries early on.

My husband was very good at setting rules for my kids, but not his own.  I walked on eggshells when his kids misbehaved and rarely disciplined them.  What's good for one kid is good for all the kids.  All rules should be applied to all of them.

3.  Don't favor your children over theirs.

Jason knows that I love my kids more and I know he loves his more.  I birthed my three and raised them with another man before my next chapter in life.  The same for Jason.  With that said, never favor one child over another.  Discipline, rewards, gifts, and praise should be the same across the board for all the kids.

4.  Don't believe everything your child says.

I'm all for listening to what your child says and investigating into it, especially if it's of a serious nature.  But kids can also be manipulators and they know how to play one parent against another.  Don't automatically jump to conclusions without doing some research.

5.  Don't talk smack.

One thing that would make me flip a lid quicker than anything was when my ex would tell my kids how horrible I was.  That wasn't his right to put those allegations into my kids' heads; it was an opinion they could form all on their own.  I told my ex for several years that he could walk up to my best friends or to my work and call me every filthy name in the book, but to never talk that way about me in front of my children.

I don't care if you think a child's natural parent is a waste of space.  NEVER talk bad about a parent (birth or step) in front of the children. 

The same can be said for talking to the kids about the kids.  Don't ridicule or belittle your step-child to your natural child.  It creates huge conflict and makes one think they're better than the other.

6.  Pawns are for chess, not for kids.

I hate when people who are supposed mature adults don't think anything of using their kids as pawn pieces in the game of life.  Kids should never be used as leverage to win a war.

7.  Communicate.

Communicate with your partner, in a calm tone, with what may be bothering you about certain rules or expectations regarding a blended family.  Don't wait until things get so heated that you despise your partner, or even worse, their children.

Being a part of a blended family has been a huge test throughout the years.  Many times I failed.  But, as time passed, we all learned to be cohesive and act as one family unit.  I'm proud to be a parent to six wonderful kids.

Are you in a blended family relationship?  What are your experience or what is your advice for a blended family?

PopStar Club and The Beatrix Girls - #BeatrixSlumberParty Giveaway

I received products in exchange for this post as part of The Beatrix Girls VIP Blogger Program.  This post contains an embedded video.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

The Beatrix Girls is a line of collectible pop-star dolls driven by original music. The Beatrix Girls' message is to empower and inspire young girls throughout the country through their music, fashion and goal-oriented lifestyle. The four band members of The Beatrix Girls includes Brayden, Ainsley, Lark, and Chantal. Kids can interact by collecting their music and joining their fan club.

The Beatrix Girls dolls are very highly stylized and uniquely designed to break the mold of 50 years of "me too" dolls. They are masterfully scuppted in a unique angular design style. Their proportions are differentiated with huge heads, lots of flowing hair, and very large expressive eyes.


The Beatrix Girls: Sleepover

The Beatrix Girls are an accomplished pop-star band with real music that young girls are sure to adore, and they just happen to be beautiful 12" dolls. They're young, they're real, they're spunky, and they're relatable to young girls. These 12" dolls not only interact in the real life-sized human world, but they also produce real music, real hits, and real sales.

Included with each Beatrix Girl doll is a code to register online and become a VIP Trixie. There, you can download songs and watch webisodes. The Beatrix Girls music is also available on iTunes and Amazon. The Beatrix Girls know how to rock, with style!

The Beatrix Girls PJ sets, Pillow Pals and many more accessories are available at ToysRUs.com and on Amazon.com.  Get yours while you still can!
Win It!

One person will win The Beatrix Girls Sleepover prize pack that includes:

A DVD with all The Beatrix Girls webisodes
A Beatrix Girls CD
Posters
Stickers
Tactic Activity Books

Winner will also receive one of the following accessories for a room:
Set of Beatrix curtains
A Beatrix plush blanket
A Beatrix twin sheet set
A Beatrix twin/full size comforter

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It's Taken Some Time, But Think Blog May Be Back In Order

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

I want to thank everyone who has been patient while my blog transitioned to the new URL.  It's been a bumpy road but I think most kinks are worked out now.  All content and information is the same; only the URL has changed.  Thanks to those who pointed out the errors.

Blog on!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mean Girl Makeover #2: You Can't Sit With Us - #sonotokay Book Review and Giveaway

I received book for review.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Book Synopsis:

Written by bestselling author, Nancy Rue, each book in the Mean Girl Makeover trilogy focuses on a different character’s point of view: the bully, the victim, and the bystander. The books, based on Scripture, show solid biblical solutions to the bullying problem set in a story for tween girls.

You Can’t Sit With Us tells the story of Ginger Hollingberry, a new sixth grader at Gold Country Middle School. Ginger has been the brunt of teasing and taunting from the queen bee of GCMS, Kylie Steppe, and her so-called Wolf Pack. Kylie and the Pack favor a new and especially hurtful medium of taunting: social networking. What follows is a candid look into the growing world of cruel cyberbullying, showing kids that bullying doesn’t always end at school—it can now follow you even into your home and torture 24 hours a day.

My Review:

Bullying isn't new but with the age of the Internet and social media, it's become more widespread.  It's a situation that should be addressed and never tolerated.

The second book in the Mean Girl Makeover trilogy, You Can't Sit With Us, takes readers inside a world where a school-aged girl is menaced, both at school and on the Internet.  Ginger is ridiculed from a group of girls, with the worst taunt talking about her dead mother.  Although a "Code" is in place to help protect the kids in school against bullying, it's much harder to handle when the harassment occurs outside of school.  In the end, all turns out well and Ginger learns a few things about friendship and herself.

You Can't Sit With Us is a fitting book for readers in middle school or high school.  It tells the perspective of an abusive situation from the victim's point-of-view.  Because it's told from the eyes of a sixth grader, the wording in the book is written very much like how a middle age student would think and speak.

Win It!

One person will win a paperback book copy of Mean Girl Makeover #2: You Can't Sit With Us.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sync Up Your New Year’s Resolution To Stay On Track -#HelloBetter


With 2015 here, people have made their resolutions for the New Year. The good news is they may be able to increase their chances of achieving their goals by using a smartphone or tablet to keep on track with their resolutions.

Today’s technology and smartphones, such as the iPhone 6, offer a variety of apps and products to help keep users on track and increase the likelihood of sticking with any resolution throughout the year.

Families are already relying on technology in their daily lives. U.S. Cellular is happy to help people leverage the available technology to enhance and simplify their lives so they can enjoy better moments with family and friends over the New Year and all year long. In fact, recent survey findings by Prosper Mobile Insights indicate more than one in four U.S. smartphone or tablet owners plan to use their smart mobile device to help them keep on track with their resolutions.

Some examples of apps that can help you start 2015 right are:

*The Runtastic Six Pack app is great for those looking to lose weight or get in shape. This free app allows users to work out from home by creating custom work outs with a virtual personal trainer which will show users the proper way to do new exercises.  The Runtastic Six Pack and its 50 workout videos can also be paired with the UP by Jawbone - a fitness wristband. It can track what you eat, any activities throughout the day and your sleeping habits, then suggest small changes that will help you reach your goals.

*Getting organized is another popular resolution, and we all know how hard it can be. The Any.Do app is an award winner that’s perfect for enhancing any to-do list. The app allows you to create lists of tasks that need to be completed and organize them by category and importance. You can set alarms and also easily sync your tasks from your mobile to your desktop to help stay on top of any to-do list, no matter where you are.

*Many people resolve to see more of their family members throughout the year. The GroupMe app allows everyone in the family to stay in touch and make plans, no matter where in the country they are located. This app allows users to create several groups in which each member can share events, photos, videos and texts.

*Saving money is a recurring resolution for many. According to a 2014 U.S. Cellular survey, 43 percent of smartphone users made the resolution to save money in 2014. In 2015, smartphone owners can accomplish this task with the Check app. The free app allows users to link bills, bank accounts and credit cards. The app then notifies users of when a payment is coming up and even lets users set up automatic payments.


New Year’s is a great time to reflect, set goals and decide what you really want to accomplish in 2015, and perhaps a great first resolution should be to explore how using your smartphone paired with these great apps can help you reach those goals in the coming year. Those looking for help sticking with some of the most common New Year’s resolutions can use U.S. Cellular’s [4G LTE network, with speeds of up to 10 times faster than 3G] [high-speed network] to download some of the most helpful apps onto their smartphones and tablets.

What apps do you use to stay on track with your New Year's Resolutions?

I received compensation for this post as part of the U.S. Cellular blogger program.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Win Free Subscripton to Family Fun from Purex

Let Purex do the laundry while you spend more time with your family.  Enter to win a year's subscription to Family Fun magazine from Purex!  Sweepstakes is open to residents of the USA, and there will be 15,000 winners total.  Enter before January 30th for a chance to win!
 
I received no product or compensation for this post.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Random Tuesday Thoughts - Birthday and Friendships

Hello there!  I'm joining in with Stacy Uncorked for another edition of Random Tuesday Thoughts.  If you'd like to link up your randomness, you're more than welcome to join in.

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that my mom was in the hospital for two weeks.  It was just one of many recent hospital stays.  She was discharged Thursday and is now back home with me.  She's doing real good with eating but real bad with walking and weakness.  She's already fell twice, once on my outside steps and once out of bed.  She's gonna be the death of me yet! 

Thankfully, starting today, we will have an army of nurses and aides coming in the house regularly to check on her, help her bathe, sort out meds, and all that good stuff.
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Me and my boys went to the theater the other day and watched "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb".  I gotta say, it's my favorite of the three.  It takes a lot to make me laugh during a movie, and this one did several times.  Next, I think we're going to watch "Taken 3".
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Allyson, my oldest step-daughter, turned 20 years old the other day.  What!!!!  It seems crazy that two of our kids are now out of their teens.  They're not kids anymore, yet I still can't imagine them any other way.  We celebrated low-key by taking her to a Mexican restaurant for supper.  Next year she wants to go to Vegas.  We shall see.
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I sadly had to break off a friendship the other day.  A really good friendship....for the most part. 

My husband and I have been good friends with another couple for almost two years now.  We hung out several times a week.  When it was good, it was really good.  But when it was bad, it was really bad.  I'm not out to change people or how they behave, but I do demand a certain level of tolerable conduct.  I've spoke to them about it before, but the other day was the straw that broke the camel's back.  It saddens me to end a friendship, but it is what it is.
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Saturday night, on a whim, we decided to book a hotel room and stay the night at Microtel by Wyndham.  Granted, it was in the same town but it allowed us some time away for rest and relaxation.  My sister, her husband and kid tagged along with me, my husband and teen son.  I was pretty impressed with the place and would definitely stay there again. 
 
Have you ever had to break off a friendship?  What's your favorite hotel to stay at?  What's your randomness for the week?  Do tell.

Game Day Appetizers with Wholly Guacamole - #HormelFamily

 
I'm not a fan of football but I'm a fan of the foods served during viewing parties and the Super Bowl.  With the big game coming up, Hormel Foods is hosting an appetizer recipe contest on Twitter.  Share your favorite big game appetizer recipe mentioning @HormelFoods from now until January 26th for your chance to win the perfect big game prize pack.
 
Wholly Guacamole makes a perfect game day food.  Add a little bit of zest to an average grilled cheese with a Grilled Cheese, Bacon and Guacamole Sandwich.  Or set out Wholly Guacamole Minis for guests to snack on with veggies or pretzels. 
 
Make Gridiron Game Time Dip with Wholly Guacamole, and see if it lasts all the way through the game!
 
Gridiron Game Time Dip

Ingredients

1 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup red bell pepper
1/2 cup onion, chopped
(2) 15 oz. cans black beans, rinsed / drained
2 tsp fresh chopped jalapeno peppers
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 cup salsa
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
14 oz. Wholly Guacamole® dip
1/2 cup sour cream
1 bag tortilla chips

Instructions

Melt butter in skillet; add peppers and onion. Cook over medium heat until onion is softened. (4 minutes) Stir in beans, jalapenos and cumin. Cook until heated. Transfer 1 cup of bean mixture to a food processor, process until smooth. Return blended mixture to remaining mixture and stir to combine. Spread onto an 11x8 baking dish. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

Just before serving, layer over the bean mixture: salsa, cheese and top with Wholly Guacamole dip Spoon sour cream into resealable plastic bag. Snip off small corner and pipe sour cream lines over the guacamole to resemble yard markers on a football field.

What's your favorite food to pair with Wholly Guacamole?
 
I received products as part of the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.