Thursday, July 20, 2017

Cheeky: Tableware Products That Give Back - #MakeMealtimeMatter Review

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.

When I am having a large gathering in my home or hosting a party elsewhere, I tend to bring paper plates and cups, and plastic utensils. That way it all can just be thrown away and a bunch of dishes aren't piled up.  If I'm hosting a small event or eating with the family, I get out the regular dinnerware.

Cheeky is a line of fun, colorful tableware that marries style and design with social responsibility.  Its products include dinnerware, everyday paper goods, and tableware for kids and babies.

What makes Cheeky different than other tableware companies (other than the fresh, bright colors) is that Cheeky provides millions of meals to Americans facing hunger.  They are doing this in partnership with Feeding America, the nation's leading hunger-relief organization.  They also work with No Kid Hungry.  The way it works is simple. For every Cheeky Home item purchased, the company will donate the monetary equivalent of a meal to Feeding America.  For every Cheeky Kids item purchased, the same donation happens with No Kid Hungry.  It's a win-win situation!


I received some of Cheeky's porcelain dinnerware for review.  The dinnerware can be purchased as 16-piece sets or individually.  Each piece is dishwasher and microwave safe.  I like the clean, modern designs of my dinnerware and I've been using them quite often.  I love that this brand has functional products and helps serve those in need.


Break Free - #BreakFreeChallenge Game Review and Giveaway

I received product for review from  YULU Toys.  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.


According to NPD research, games and puzzles are up 18 percent, the largest category in toys last year. Family games are showing no sign of slowing down. 

I grew up playing games with my family, and have passed that tradition on to my kids.  We like to gather around for some friendly competition.

The game, Break Free, joined the new Spy Code game line from YULU Toys in June.  With a great mix of action, strategy, skill and luck, it's perfect for any family game night gathering.

Players in Break Free must race to pick the lock on their handcuff to be the first to break free. Take the #BreakFreeChallenge and record and share your race to escape with the online community. Family and friends are also encouraged to come up with different challenges each round, like playing blindfolded or race to escape after a series of relay races, making the game an endless amount of unpredictable and creative fun.

Contents included with the Break Free game:
hand cuffs with chains - 4
plastic keys - 4
easy level mazes - 4
intermediate level mazes - 4
advanced level mazes - 4
cardboard tokens - 16

This game can be played with 2 to 4 players.  The aim of the game is to use your plastic keys to break free of the handcuffs.  Players first need to decide which level of play they want to try, and connect the hooks of all handcuffs to each other.  The green plastic mazes are easy, the yellow are intermediate, and the red are for advanced play.  

Once each player has placed their plastic maze pieces into the correct position of the handcuff, the players are to close the handcuff on their wrist.  Once that its done, the players have to grab a plastic key and insert it into the keyhole.  Each person has to find their way through the maze with their key by rotating left or right, up or down.  The quickest to unlock the handcuffs is the winner and gets to collect a coin.  The player with the highest points of victory coins after three wins is the ultimate 
Break Free champion.
Break Free can be played in alternating ways for more of a challenge and those game plays are in the instruction booklet.  There is an emergency release button on the handcuffs if you are unable to break free from completing a maze.

I have to say, this game has been quite entertaining.  Even my teens enjoy playing.  It's not hard to catch on, and it works our thinking skills.  And, all this breaking free might come in handy someday if we ever get caught in handcuffs (just kidding!)

Win It!

One person will win a Break Free game.

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

Power of Prayer Thursdays - Week 81

(Photo by Meiying Ng on Unsplash)

I believe in a God that hears prayers and answers them. I've witnessed the miraculous gift of answered prayer. And, I want to pray for you. I've started weekly Power of Prayer post every Thursday. We are now on week 81. If you are needing prayer in an area of your life, please leave a comment and I'll commit to pray for your need or request. You can be as general or as specific as you like. Whether it be for healing, salvation, finances, emotions, or another area of life, I'd like to lift it up in prayer.

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10 NIV

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

It's National Hot Dog Day


Did you know that fans at Major League Baseball parks enjoyed 19.4 million hot dogs during the 2016 season?  Or that Los Angeles residents consume more hot dogs than any other city?

I like hot dogs but don't do anything outrageous with them.  A plain cooked hot dog on a bun is good enough for me.  The best is a hot dog blackened over a camp fire.

In honor of National Hot Dog Day, Sonic is offering  $1 All-American & Chili Cheese Coneys all day today.  Pilot Flying J, a national truck stop chain, is also offering  a free hot dog or other roller grill item just by presenting a special bar code found here. The Pilot Flying J promotion runs through Wednesday, July 26.

What toppings do you put on your hot dog?

Back to School: Fight Bullying With A Smile

I received product in exchange for this post.  The opinions within this post are of my own.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
More than one out of every five students reports being bullied. More than half of bullying situations stop when a peer intervenes. With back to school season right around the corner, Great Expressions Dental Centers (GEDC) wants to take a stand against bullying with one easy gesture – smiling.

Smiling is one of the best and most simple ways to prevent bullying. As your child prepares to head back to school, GEDC would like to share the following tips with you to ensure your child, and your readers’ children, know how to combat bullying:

1.       Simply smile. A simple smile is all it takes to begin a friendship. Encourage your child to smile at their peers when they head back to school - especially those that are the target of bullies. This simple gesture can help someone in need. If your child is the one being bullied, help them understand that most bullies are just looking for a reaction. Encourage them to simply smile instead of getting worked up in an effort to get bullies to leave them alone.

2.       Get crafty. For bullied students, heading back to school can cause great anxiety. Spend some time with your child before school begins and create a craft that they can hand out to their classmates in an effort to make everyone feel included. GEDC recommends adding beads to a safety pin as a “friendship charm” – a perfect addition to a backpack or pencil case.

3.       Stand up to bullies. If your student sees someone being bullied, educate them on how to stand up against a bully. Most bullies feel foolish after being confronted. After confronting the bully, encourage your child to reach out to a teacher or trusted adult to report the behavior.

4.       Treat others the way you want to be treated. This tip is nothing new, but can be very powerful. As back to school season begins, take time to talk with your children on how to respect their peers and use their smile to comfort others and make friends.
Photo by Loren Joseph on Unsplash

Do you have any tips on how to deter or prevent bullying in schools?

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Random Tuesday Thoughts - Birthdays and Bridesmaids

Stacy Uncorked is doing another dose of Random Tuesday Thoughts.  Link up at her site if you'd like to play along.
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This has been the week of birthdays.  Which means a lot of people were busy in the month of October!

Logan and Emma had their birthdays.  He turned 19 and she turned 15.  We took them out to eat at a Mexican restaurant.


My nephew, Ozzy, celebrated his 13th birthday with a carry-in and swimming party at the local campground.  I actually watched this kid be born.

Putting Azra to work.  If I was gonna be there, I was gonna get pampered too!

Saturday I volunteered to help with an overnight spa birthday party.  Seven girls and none of them were mine.  (Never say I'm not a good friend!)  We went swimming, ate pizza, watched a movie, put on face masks, and did pedicures.
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This week is nothing but a mad dash to get stuff done for the yard sale this weekend.  I'm holding a yard sale at my house to raise money for the upcoming mission trip.  I thought I was almost done pricing stuff but tons more was donated last night.  No complaints; Just gotta get busy!
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Shelby asked her oldest step-sister, Allyson, to be a bridesmaid in the wedding.  She said yes!
That's five people down and two more to go.  
There's going to be seven attendants on each side.
Adam was asked to be a groomsman and Logan was asked to be an usher.  
The whole fam damily is going to have to save up to pay for tuxes and dresses!
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What randomness do you have for the week?
How's your summer been so far?

Toy State CAT Tough Tracks Machine Team - Giveaway

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

Toy State is a leader in the manufacture of radio controlled vehicles and construction toys for kids of all ages. The toys, which have made their way into Toys R Us, are perfect for keeping kids busy during the summer season.

One of the many Cat machine toys available from Toy State is the Cat Machine Team™.  Kids can have hours of fun setting up their imaginary worksite with this dynamic team.  Featuring a push-powered 15” Dump Truck and 10” Cat Excavator, the Cat Machine Team is great for indoor and outdoor use – also perfect for a trip to the beach.
Win It!

One person will win a Toy State CAT Tough Tracks Machine Team.

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

Celebrate IHOP's Anniversary with 59 Cent Pancakes

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.

Today, July 18th, IHOP is celebrating their 59th anniversary by offering their diners 59 cent short stack pancakes.  This offer is available from 7 am to 7 pm at participating restaurants.  Will you be going?

Edushape Sensory Hoops - Review

I received product for review from Edushape.  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.
Although I have no desire to have a baby of my own (been there, done that) I love browsing baby selections for friends and family who are due with wee ones. 

Whether you are a first time parent, grandparent or a friend searching for the perfect gift for a young child, Edushape is here to help. Edushape, a company that focuses on learning and fun, recently sent me Sensory Hoops to review. 

Sensory Hoops is a floating basketball game with three easy-to-grasp balls.  It has to be assembled before use.  There are illustrated instructions that are fairly easy to follow, and it took me less than 10 minutes to put the whole thing together.  Once it is completely put together, it creates a floating four hoop "basket".  

The hooped basket is made with Edu-Foam and is resistant to mold and mildew.  It does not absorb water, and it stays upright in water.  Included are three Nubby Sensory Balls, each with different textures and colors.  Children can play with Sensory Hoops in the water and try to dunk the balls in through the hoops.  Sensory Hoops provides lots of fun for young children while they are in the tub, or even in the pool.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

It's National Toss Away the “Could Haves” and “Should Haves” Day

(photo credit: Unsplash)

Are you a person who lives in the past?  Do you often regress to what should have or could have happened in a situation?  Do you know someone who blames their present behaviors on how they were treated in the past or their upbringing?

Today is marked as Toss Away the “Could Haves” and “Should Haves” Day.  It's intended for all to let go of the past and live for the present.  It's a day to make us let go of regrets, break free from the bondage of our past, and live for the present.

Each day is a new slate.  Enjoy it!  Live it!  Make the best of it!

Safe Breaker - Game Review and Giveaway

I received product for review from  YULU Toys.  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.
According to NPD research, games and puzzles are up 18 percent, the largest category in toys last year. Family games are showing no sign of slowing down. The popularity of games is definitely on the rise.

I grew up playing games with my family, and have passed that tradition on to my kids.  We like to gather around for some friendly competition.
A game that we've been recently playing is Safe Breaker, a part of the new Spy Code game line from YULU Toys.  For this game, players must crack the code and successfully break into the safe without getting caught. Each round challenges memory and requires a mix of strategy and luck to win the game. 

Contents included with the Safe Breaker game:

1 x Safe Breaker Vault
1 x Spy Stethoscope
15 x Coins
18 x Game Cards
3 x Diamond coin stickers 
1 x Alarm Bell coin sticker 

Before play, you will need to use a screwdriver to remove the bottom of the vault and insert three AA batteries, which are not included.  This game can be played with 2 to 4 players.

Play is initiated by placing one of the cards in front of you and turning the dial to the corresponding number.  Then you have to use the stethoscope and connect it to the top of the vault.  You'll receive a hint after pressing your finger on the fingerprint scanner.  If the number you chose is correct, the vault will open and you collect the coins.  The amount of coins given each time varies.  If you've entered the wrong number, the vault will give you one of three hints.  Game play continues until the safe has been opened.  You don't want to be the one who gets the alarm clock coin.  That means you have to put all your coins back into the top of the vault.  The player who collects five golden coins or the two diamond coins first is the winner.  There are also two variations of the game that can be played for more of a challenge.

I have to say, this game has been quite entertaining.  Even my teens enjoy playing.  It's not hard to catch on, and it works our thinking skills to remember what numbers could be a part of the winning combination.




Win It!

One person will win a Safe Breaker game.

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

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Four More July Winners

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

The winner of the Wild Republic Huggers giveaway is #24, Charlene S.

The winner of the Pigsticks and Harold book giveaway is #25, Leela.

The winner of the NeoCell Move Matrix Advanced Joint Hydrator giveaway is #22, LeAnn Harbert.

The winner of the Hattie & Hudson children's book giveaway is #5, Marti Tabora.

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

Hartz Delectables™ Lickable Treats - Cat Treats Review

I received products for review from Hartz.  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 one of those crazy cat ladies.  Although I don't own a bunch of felines, the two I have are very spoiled.  Misty and Trader Jimmy bring such joy into my life, and I want them to have food and treats they enjoy.

One line of treats that both cats seem to really enjoy are the Delectables Lickable Treats from Hartz Mountain Corp.  This fairly new cat treat line has five new flavors including Bisque Kitten with Tuna, Bisque Kitten with Tuna & Chicken, Stew with Chicken & Veggies, Bisque with Tuna & Veggies and Chowder with Tuna & Veggies.  As soon as I open one of the cat treat pouches, the cats are there and ready to eat.

Ideal as an in-between meal treat or as a savory topper for dry food, Delectables Lickable Treats' convenient, single-serve pouches provide cats with tempting treats made with real chicken, seafood, and vegetables. Delectables Lickable Treats are available in multiple varieties including regular, life stage (for cats 10+ and 15+ years old and for kittens up to 12 months old) and in 5 and 12-pack variety packs.

The pouches are easy to open and inside are the wet cat treats.  It's obvious to me that the treats are made with real ingredients.  I can tell when I'm dumping it into their bowls.  I received a variety of the treats made for different stages of a cat's life.  My cats are 2- and 1-years old so the Senior line isn't necessarily beneficial to them right now.  But that hasn't kept them from loving the treats regardless!

On Hartz's Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages, consumers are invited to share photos and videos of how crazy fast their cats lick up Delectables using hashtags #lickitloveit, #emptybowl, and #catsgocrazy4Delectables through the "Empty Bowl" campaign.  You're encouraged to participate in weekly drawings for a chance to win Delectables Lickable Treats.  Consumers will also see videos featuring "celebricats," product reviews by prominent cat bloggers, and broadcast and press coverage.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Little Wolf's First Howling - Children's Book Review and Giveaway

I received book for review from Candlewick Press.  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 Overview:

Little Wolf can hardly wait. Tonight he will howl at the moon to the top of the sky. First, Big Wolf demonstrates traditional howling form: AAAAAAAAAAOOOOOooooooooo. Then it’s Little Wolf’s turn. He’s sure he is ready, but when the big moment comes, something happens. Something unexpected, something wild, something unbe-beep-bop-believable! Sisters Laura McGee Kvasnosky and Kate McGee have created a wonderful story about the importance of doing things your own way and being true to your heart when it swells with wildness and joy.

Some may favor the proper way to howl, but what if you have a song in your heart that needs to come out? A delightful, disarmingly funny tale for little and big wolves everywhere.

My Review:

I have a fascination with wolves and consider them to be one of my favorite animals.  I don't want to encounter one in the woods, but I love reading about them and their behaviors.  Little Wolf's First Howling is a hardcover book that tells of a young wolf being taught how to properly howl.  He is shown proper howling form several times by his father, but can't seem to quite get it right.  Father wolf remains encouraging and highlights his little one's other good attributes.  Little Wolf tries to howl correctly again and, instead, comes up with a string of syllables that resemble a tune more than a howl.  Rather than chastising him for improper howl form, the father wolf joins in on the unique howl.

The words of the book are simple and children can try to imitate the howling sounds that are throughout the pages.  The illustrations are done in blue, brown, and other dark colors.  The summary of the story is that it's okay to be original and unique.

Win It!

One person will win a hardcover book copy of Little Wolf's First Howling.

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

It's National Different Colored Eyes Day


My oldest daughter, Shelby, has heterochromida iridium (in layman's terms, two different colored eyes).  One is green and one is brown.  I birthed a unicorn!

Shelby's eyes are most noticeable when she's been outside in the sun.  Her condition is hereditary but it can be caused by injury as well.

Do you know anyone with two different colored eyes?

Wordful Wednesday - Iowa Trip

Jason grilling hot dogs and hamburgers

Well, guys, the time for my bestie to move came and went.  She is officially three hours away from me.  I don't normally travel far and that, to me, is far.  I'm going to throw the Transparent Card out there and tell ya that I've had good friends who I haven't put in a lot of extra effort to keep.  If they decided they didn't want to hang or they moved on for whatever reason, I didn't give it a care in the world.

I'm not going to let that happen this time.  Me and Alaina have grown close and I consider her family my family.  She may have moved away but she ain't getting rid of me!
Me and Jason at La Cantina's Bar and Grill

Last Saturday Jason and I traveled to Iowa and checked out their new place.  It's a freakin mansion!  There wasn't a lot of downtime to relax and catch up because several people were there unpacking and decorating.  But the downtime we did have was great.
Alaina and Todd's food from the Mexican bar and grill came out in a cauldron.

For most of the day the girls were together shopping in select stores while the guys were doing their shopping elsewhere.  Stores don't excite me much, including the Target we ventured into (I know, that's fighting words!)  I did come upon my new favorite store in the while wide world when I went into Stuff, etc.  It's a consignment store that has everything for everyone.  I could've spent a whole paycheck in there.  Now I have to keep being friends with Alaina.  I need a place to stay when I come up to Iowa to shop at Stuff, etc!


Later that night a group of us headed to La Cantina's Bar and Grill and ate outside on the patio.  The menu was Mexican food and it was oh-so-delish!  The next day we packed up a picnic lunch and headed to the local playground.  Then it was time to head home (sad face).

We're already making plans to visit again, and soon!

My Mexican meal - Chimichangas, rice, and refried beans

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Random Tuesday Thoughts - S'mores and Picnics

It's been a while since I've participated in Random Tuesday Thoughts.  I'm back in the game (for this week anyway).  If you'd like to play along, link up at Stacy Uncorked.
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I went to a get-together with my gal pals some time ago and one of them brought along a nifty snack idea.  Rather than cooking S'mores over the fire like usual, you take a snack-size bag of graham crackers and crush them up.  Then place a couple pieces of chocolate inside.  Roast your marshmallows, then place those in the bag.  Grab a fork and eat away!  It keeps from getting your fingers all sticky.
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Logan participated in a local 5K run.  He won first place overall, beating out a couple hundred other runners.  He received a plaque but didn't keep it.  He presented it to the widow of a teacher and athletic director who passed away a few weeks prior of a brain tumor. #AllTheFeels
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Adam, Jason, and Allyson

We only had two of the kids together for Father's Day but it still turned out quite well.  Jason's side of the family held a picnic at the park.  That's the first time in fifteen years of being with him that I've known his side of the family to get together like that.  


Playgrounds aren't just for kids!  Allyson and Adam created their own secret "clubhouse" from the rock climbing wall at the park.  It was all fun and games until Allyson needed help getting down.
#ShortGirlProblems
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Jason got a call from a local grocery store that he won a giveaway.  We both looked at each other perplexed, not remembering having signed up for one.  Then it hit us - Adam had put our names in the hat.  We are now the proud owners of a wooden Bud Light cooler.  Thanks Adam!
#ThisBudsForYou
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Allyson in Europe

Allyson just returned from a two-week trip in Europe.  Logan's in Chicago right now for church camp, after going to a St. Louis Cardinals game two days in a row.  Juliann's in Florida right now for a Catholic humanitarian event.  #MakingMemories
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Logan and George sportin' princess hats.

I'd like to think I've raised my kids right.  Then someone like my future son-in-law comes along and corrupts them!
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I suppose that's all I've got for now.  How have you been?  Have any randomness?

You Are A Princess Doll - Review and Giveaway

I received product for review from Young American Princess.  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.
If you ask little girls what they want to be when they grow up, most likely they will answer with wanting to be a princess.  There's something magical about princesses, and young girls love all the amazement that comes with it.  If you know a child who is into princesses, you will want to check out the You Are A Princess doll line.

The You Are A Princess dolls allow young girls to dive into their imaginations and create a unique character, identity and backstory for their doll. This type of play differs from other types of doll play where the dolls background and personality have already been developed. Each doll features a ‘create and design’ your own story and coloring book.  Each Princess set comes with a doll, a create-and- design your own story and coloring book, and a patented stand for the doll. The dolls come in two sizes, small and large.  Their features and characteristics resemble those of other famous princesses.


I received a small doll - Snowflake Princess- that stands at 11.5 inches.  This particular doll has snow white hair and a blue dress.  She wears a gold crown atop her head.  The arms and legs of the doll move up and down.  The dress can be taken off and put on again.

The included story and coloring book is attached to the box that the doll is packaged in, so it's important not to tear up the box to get to the doll.  The book has fill-in-the blank sections for a child to write in their desired information, and the last page allows the child to finish the story with their own ending.  Some of the pages can also be colored.  It gives your child the opportunity to develop their own story line for their princess doll.


Win It!

One person will win a 11.5" You Are A Princess doll.

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