Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Check It Out: Gimbal’s Fine Candies 2016 Holiday Sweepstakes

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

 Gimbal’s Fine Candies has announced the start of its 2016 Holiday Sweepstakes. The lucky winner of this year’s sweepstakes will win an adorable, dog-themed stocking filled with Gimbal’s famous Black Licorice Scotties. The sweepstakes will runs through through December 12, with all entrants receiving 15 percent off their next online purchase using the code XMAS2016.

The Grand Prize winner will receive 24 stocking stuffer-sized bags of delicious Gimbal’s Black Licorice Scotties and an adorable dog themed stocking to hang on a mantle or add to your holiday d├ęcor.

Each Scottie Dog is handcrafted with real licorice root and pure anise.  Made for the real licorice lover, these adorable Scottie-shaped treats are tender, delicate and bursting with delicious flavor.

To enter the sweepstakes please visit,  I've got my entry in; hurry over and take a chance to win for yourself.

Wordful Wednesday - Thanksgiving

I already spelled out everything I did on Thanksgiving in my Random Tuesday Thoughts post.  We were here and there and everywhere.  The entire day was a lot of fun and everyone got along (that's a plus!).  Here are some pictures of our Thanksgiving:

Chipmunk (aka Trump dog) Has the same orange hair and big attitude as the President

My husband, Jason, and his brother Cody.  The two siblings are 19 years apart.

Me and Logan stopped by mom's grave to offer thanks for her being such a great part of our lives.

I ate so much food I was miserable for hours.  But it was oh-so-good.

Me, my sister and my brother in our obligatory nonsensical pose.
Mom would always hassle us because this is how we'd do pictures when we got together.  "Can't you guys just take one normal photo?" she would say.  (This one's for you mom!)

Me and Jason with five of our kids.  The sixth was with her bio mom.
I'm super thankful to have a great husband and kids.  My heart is full.

How was your Thanksgiving?

Playroom Prep - Preschool Activity Book Review and Giveaway

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.
Although my kids are older, I remember working with them as wee ones to develop necessary learning skills.  Where my children went to school, they were required to know some things before being accepted.  For instance, they needed to know basic shapes, colors, and numbers.  I worked one-on-one with them to make this happen.  Research shows that children who achieve early learning milestones are at an advantage when they enter preschool.  It's a personal belief I also agree with.

Playroom Prep is an activity board book that helps youngsters with reading patterns, drawing lines correctly, and more.  The spiral-bound book was developed by a veteran teacher.  Included with the book is a crayon and a cloth wipe so children can write in the book over and over.

There are six short sections included in the book:


B - balloons and bows
L - ladybugs and lollipops
R - rainbows and rabbits
S - skiing and stick figures
T - trains and trees
Play - draw your own pictures and practice printing your name

I'm not quite sure the concept behind using only certain letters but, overall, the book is a great educational tool to help children learn several developmental skills in an entertaining way.  The book is meant to be used by an adult for one-on-one interaction with their child.  Simple directed instructions are on each page that explains what is desired of the child.  Along with other educational resources, Playroom Prep helps build solid groundwork for young children.

Win It!

One person will win a Playroom Prep preschool activity book.

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

Welch's Christmas Fruit Snacks - 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.

My kids, all teens and above, usually come straight to the pantry after school.  They're on the prowl for a snack, and I keep a variety on hand.  The same goes for when my nieces and nephews come over.  They know that aunt Terra's house is a place for delicious treats.  

From time to time I purchase Welch's Fruit Snacks.  They're convenient pre-packaged snacks that can be taken right out of the box and eaten immediately.   They are fat-free, gluten-free, and preservative free.

New for the holidays are Welch's Christmas Fruit Snacks. There are four individually packaged snacks in one box, and the box is decorated with Santa and other holiday ornamentations.  The fruit snacks themselves are the Mixed Fruit variety.  The Welch's Christmas Fruit Snacks are the perfect stocking stuffers this holiday season.   Welch's Fruit Snacks are packed with delicious flavor and soft texture. 

It's National Meth Awareness Day

I've never been addicted to drugs, so I don't know what it's like.  I've never been in those shoes.  I have, however, been in the shoes of someone who has watched loved ones destroy parts of their lives because of drugs.

National Meth Awareness Day is an effort to send a prevention message to potential meth users and to educate current users about programs that are available to them.

Meth is a poison that can take every fiber of your being and turn it into a downward spiral.  Families can be just as affected as the users themselves.

Several years ago my sister and brother were addicted to meth.  And they both got busted.  Lives were turned upside down.  It's a situation I hope to never be a part of again.  Theirs is a good news story.  Both got clean and are doing quite well with themselves now.  Not everyone gets so lucky.

As a 9-1-1 Dispatcher, I often get calls of people who have overdosed from meth and other drugs.  Narcan can only save someone so many times.

Meth contains pseudoephedrine, a decongestant found in Sudafed, and a number of toxic ingredients such as drain cleaner, battery acid and antifreeze.  And that's not counting the extra ingredients added in by "rookie cookers".

I doubt a simple post will save anyone's life but if you are someone who dabbles with meth or are someone who is affected by the drug, please take this day today to intervene and research.  You can find more info on meth and other drugs at HealthyPlace.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Random Tuesday Thoughts - Thanksgiving and Job Change

Although she's taken a blogging break until the beginning of the new year, I'm still going to go along with Random Tuesday Thoughts, hosted by Stacy Uncorked.
My living room and guest room look like Santa's workshop vomited.  Several times.
There's paper, presents, tape, and tags everywhere.  I've got to get it together, and soon.  Christmas is coming up on us quickly.

I've had absolutely no desire to put up a Christmas tree this year.  I've felt this way for some time now.  But I'm going to put on my big girl panties and do it for the hubby (and kids).
The dog is looking up adoringly at the star runner.

Logan participated in the 37th annual Turkey Run on Thanksgiving morning.  It was super cold but he survived.  He came out with sixth place overall and 2nd place in his age division.

Not to brag (but I'm going to anyway) Logan has had several college scouts seek him out.  He's had offers from colleges wanting him to be on their Cross Country/Track teams.  A final decision hasn't been made by Logan yet, but this mom sure hopes its somewhere close.
Jason with two of his girls, Juliann and Allyson

We had a busy, but very blessed, Thanksgiving this year.  First we headed out to mom's grave.  It was the first Thanksgiving I've had without her.  Then we feasted on all kinds of food at my sister's house.  Tons of obligatory photos were taken and upcoming Christmas Eve plans were discussed.

Me, Jason, Lori, Patty, and Cody

Then we jetted on over to my MIL's house.  We were so full from the first meal that we didn't eat, but we sure had a good time going through old photos.  

Me and Alaina crooning loud and proud

Then me and Jason went over to a friend's house and stayed up till wee hours of the morning.  I can't sing to save my soul but "adult" drinks give me liquid courage.  I belted out tunes all night long.  And like a sleepover from yesteryear, we crashed at their house.
I bought the local paper thinking I was going to have a plan set in place for Black Friday.  Yeah, that didn't happen!  Alaina and I, along with my teen son, just hopped in the vehicle bright and early Friday morning and browsed a few stores.  We hit up Menards, Walmart, Bergners, and CVS.  It was crowded but we survived the chaos.  And I bought a bunch of stuff I didn't need!
Jason has officially been offered the job at the church.  After 13+ years of working at a local shop as a Master Certified Technician, he is going to transition into a Janitorial/Maintenance job.  It's a big step, but I'm behind him all the way.  He wasn't even necessarily seeking out a job.  The church came to him with an offer, and he accepted.
What's your randomness for the week?
Do any Black Friday shopping?
How did you celebrate Thanksgiving?

Squatty Potty and Unicorn Gold Potty Spray - Review and Giveaway

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.

Today I'm going to take you to a place that some people prefer not to talk about.  That's right, we're going to discuss the #2 (code word for poo).  Young, old, rich, poor - we all do it.

Two years ago when I was on the local roller derby team, they swore by certain rites.  Other than knowing how to play the game and keeping up on the rules, there were unwritten standards.  One was to eat pasta on bout day, and another was to make sure you had a consistent poop routine.  The girls on the team had no shame in their game and encouraged each other regarding dookie duty.  At that time, I was briefed on the proper way to take a poo and why a toilet is not designed properly.

Fast forward to this year's Mother's Day.  My sister was gifted with a Squatty Potty. (Some people get flowers and candy. She got a squat stool.)  At first she wasn't quite sure what to think, but now she swears by it.  That, my friends, is how I first came to know about Squatty Potty.  And now I'm the proud owner of one myself.

I won't go into all the details, but the short story is that regular toilets aren't designed to help waste properly eliminate from the body.  Research has been done on this, and the Squatty Potty was designed to put people in a squatting position while using the toilet.  Squatty Potty is a stool that wraps perfectly around your existing toilet and stores out of the way when not in use.  It's designed to be the perfect height, shape and design to work with any toilet.  To use the Squatty Potty, you just pull it out to a comfortable distance and place your feet on the foot rests.  Then relax and let nature take its course.

I'm not a doctor so don't come to me for medical issues.  (I might give bad advice!)  Be sure to see a doc if you have digestive issues.  I'm one of those people myself.  I don't have a proper poop routine and I have remedies at home to help get the process going.  My poo problems aren't completely solved, but the Squatty Potty sure helps to get waste out quicker.  I don't have to rock around on the toilet anymore, trying every which way to "let it go".  Squatty Potty is such a simple concept, but one that I'm satisfied with.

While we're talking poo, Squatty Potty also has a line of Unicorn Gold potty spray.  Unicorn Gold is a ‘before-you-squat’ potty spray.  So be sure to have a bottle on hand to pack the power punch before you dookie.  Just a few sprays of Unicorn Gold into the toilet bowl and that skunky, putrid bathroom stench stays where it belongs – trapped deep below the surface of the toilet water. 

Unicorn Gold is available in five scents - Citrus Squeeze, Mystic Forest, Tropical Dropsicle, Fruity Booty & Pinch of Vanilla, and there are two sizes available.  I have the bottle of Tropical Dropsicle and the fact that I just dropped a deuce in the bathroom is hidden when I spray this in the toilet beforehand.  Unicorn Gold is non-toxic and includes real gold nanoparticles.  It only takes one or two sprays in the toilet for each use so, although each individual bottle is small, it doesn't take much for it to work.

I have to mention that the Squatty Potty commercials are THE BEST I've ever seen.  They make me laugh each time I watch, and they're definitely memorable.  Their mascot is Dookie, a mystic unicorn that poops ice cream.  And I'm not kidding when I say that I want one!

If you need a gift for someone who has everything or want to work on your own poo problems, be sure to check out Squatty Potty.
Win It!

One person will win a Squatty Potty and a 2 oz bottle of Unicorn Gold.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA, 18+ in age.*
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It's National Day of Giving - #GivingTuesday

Right after Black Friday and Cyber Monday is National Day of Giving.  It's recognized as a day to celebrate generosity by contributing to charity and causes we care about most.

Here are some ways you can participate:

Ivory Ella - For every order placed through their site on #GivingTuesday, they will donate a shirt to someone in need.

Tab for a Cause - This is a browser extension that replaces your new tab page with a different page that raises money for charity as you search the web.  Every time you open up a new tab, the sponsors provide money for your favorite cause.  Best of all, it's free to participate.

Wellspring - The organization works to bring quality education to thousands of Rwandan children.  The first $20,000 given on #GivingTuesday will be tripled by generous donors.

Orange Effect Foundation -  All donations help to deliver speech services and technology to those in need.

Gianna Nicole's Heart of Hope Foundation - All donations helps assist children battling with cancer by providing food, prescription costs, and travel expenses.

Soil Solutions - This organization works to support agro-ecological alternatives to industrial agriculture and protect human health, organic integrity, and the natural environment.

Freerice - This is a site that lets you donate 10 grains of rice to a community in need for every correct answer you give to a question. You can choose quizzes on topics such as vocabulary, chemistry, languages and SAT prep.

How will you be participating in #GivingTuesday?  What organizations and causes are you passionate about?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Put Me in the Story - Personalized Children's 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 result may differ.
front cover of Harley's book

I have a large family and I'm known for giving gifts that are original and can't be bought just anywhere. I especially like personalized gifts.  My great-nephew, Harley, is very dear to me and I recently personalized a book for him through Put Me In the Story.

Put Me In the Story is a website that allows customers to create personalized books that integrate a child’s name throughout the story, and includes a dedication page with their photo and a special note from you. There are several titles available in the Put Me In the Story library.

The process of personalizing a book was easy. I first chose which book I wanted, which was Sesame Street: Just One You! book.  I typed in the name I wanted the book personalized to, then I was able to dedicate the book. Harley will know that the book was made special for him by Aunt Terra and Uncle Jason. I was given the option to include a photo, but chose not to.
(stock photo)

Available as a hardcover, the book uses rhythmical verse honoring the child as being very special.   The illustrations are colorful and feature many familiar Sesame Street characters.  Harley's name shows up several times throughout the book. Because it is a hardback book, it is somewhat stiff at first and the pages don't stay open on their own. However, like most hardback books, it will become less stiff and easier to keep the pages down once the book has been read several times.
sample page from Harley's book

Harley is not able to read the book on his own at this time but it's a book that he can refer to when he gets older.  For now, his mother reads it to him.

Put Me In the Story personalized books make perfect gifts for Christmas or any other special event.  Kids and parents love these books, and it’s something a child will love and treasure forever.

stock photo

Win It!

One person will win personalized children's book of choice from Put Me In the Story.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fiber Gourmet - Review and Holiday Discount

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.
I prefer not to go into detail about my digestive system but due to health problems, it is important that I incorporate a proper amount of fiber in my diet. Therefore I was happy to hear of a company that is dedicated to creating reduced-calorie, high-fiber products that taste good and are good for you.

Fiber Gourmet pasta and crackers have fewer calories than others, and taste the same as standard pasta and crackers. Fiber Gourmet pasta has 40% fewer calories than standard pasta and are Kosher certified. All of their calorie and fiber numbers are backed up by actual laboratory analysis.

All of my kids have a hearty appetite and look forward to snacks, especially after school. Although I will let them indulge in junk food once in a while, I try to make sure they are eating healthy snacks for the most part. Fiber Gourmet's Thinables Crackers and Thinables Cookies are snacks that I feel good about serving to my kids. The pouches are resealable.  

The Thinables Cookies are little round, airy cookies that don't have a lot of calories.  There are two flavor varieties of cookies available - Cinnamon Swirl and English Toffee.  The Thinables Crackers are available in several flavors, and we were able to try three of them.  The crackers are light and airy with a delicious crunch.  

Everyone in my house has tried the Thinables Crackers and find them to taste equally as good as competitor's brands. It's an unanimous vote that these snacks taste fresh and are delicious.

My husband made a spaghetti dish with the Light Spaghetti Pasta.  He added hamburger and a red tomato sauce with spices.  The spaghetti was firmer than other brands I've had but I didn't really notice any taste difference.  Everyone liked the yummy dish with the Fiber Pasta spaghetti.  There are different flavors and kinds of pasta available for purchase.

Fiber Gourmet is having a Fyber Monday sale, going on till December 3rd.
Save an additional 15% on their website using coupon code "FyberMonday"
Stack the coupon with their volume discounts for even more savings:
Buy any 2 cases, save 15% + 15% = 30% off!
Buy any 3 cases, save 15% + 20% = 35% off!
Buy any 2 cases, save 15% + 30% = 45% off!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

ShedRain Holiday Edition Mini Umbrella - 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.

You don't really realize how important an umbrella is until you don't have one.  One way to make me feel ucky is if I'm drenched from rain or snow.  Clothes stick to me and my hair turns into a hot mess.

ShedRain offers the perfect stocking-stuffer for the stormy seasons ahead – the ShedRain Holiday Edition Mini Umbrella (available exclusively at Macy’s).  Featured in a brightly colored, open display gift box, this compact umbrella is just the right fit for easy gift-giving.  The Mini makes a big statement in a fashion-forward, colorful, Pop Dot print or classic black and folds up easily to a compact six inches.  The steel shaft and ribs make it both strong and reliable against even the soggiest weather.

Consumers can count on ShedRain to keep them covered.  As the oldest and most honored umbrella manufacturer in the country, the third-generation, family-owned company, ShedRain, offers a quality collection of umbrellas for the whole family.

I have the Pop Dot print holiday edition umbrella and really like it.  First of all, it works for its intended use.  And that is to keep me dry.  I've kept the umbrella for myself and have been using it but I like that it comes in a small gift box.  It'd make a nice stocking stuffer.  To open and close the umbrella, all you have to do is push a round button.  There's no fighting with it.  A matching print carry case adds convenience for storing it in your purse or car.  There's also a wrist wrap for carrying the umbrella.  It's both pretty and beneficial to staying dry.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Nice Day For These November Winners

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

The new winner of the Crispy Fruit giveaway is #55, Breanne.

The winner of the One Small Donkey children's book giveaway is #46, Brandy.

The winner of the Molly Mutt Dog Bed giveaway is #56, Aaron.

The winner of the Christmas Love Letters from God children's book giveaway is #2, Peggy.

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

It's National Cake Day

Weddings, birthdays, and baby showers are special events that often feature cakes but anytime is a good time for some delicious cake.  Settle down for a slice today because, why else, it's National Cake Day!

What's your favorite kind/flavor of cake?  Personally, my favorite is Strawberry Jell-O Poke Cake.  Divine!

The Secret Life of Pets - #SecretLifeofPets Review and Giveaway

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.

From the animation studio that brought audiences Despicable Me and Minions comes the best gift to bring home this holiday season, THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS! Starring an all-star voice cast including Louis C.K., Eric Stonestreet, Kevin Hart, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Lake Bell, Steve Coogan, and Albert Brooks, THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS will be available on Digital HD November 22 and on 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™ 3D, Blu-ray™, DVD, and On Demand December 6 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. The 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD versions feature nearly an hour of bonus content, including three hilarious mini-movies: the all-new Norman Television and Weenie PLUS Mower Minions which debuted in theaters and is now available to own.

This holiday season, the answer to the question “Ever wonder what your pets do when you’re not home?” is answered with The Secret Life of Pets.  In their fifth fully animated feature-film collaboration, Illumination Entertainment and Universal Pictures present The Secret Life of Pets, a comedy about the lives our pets lead when we leave for work or school. Max, voiced by Louis C.K., is a loyal terrier living a perfectly happy existence until his owner, Katie (Ellie Kemper) brings home Duke (Eric Stonestreet) a big, boisterous mutt she finds at the shelter. When Max and his unruly new “roommate” slip away from their dog-walker, they find themselves lost in the urban jungle of New York City. In an attempt to stay ahead of animal control and a rebel band of abandoned pets led by an unhinged bunny named Snowball (Kevin Hart), they put aside their differences to survive the epic journey back home.

Check out the new trailer here:

Recently announced by iTunes, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has partnered with Apple on The Secret Life of Pets to provide Siri the koalifications to answer the question, “What do my Pets do when I’m not at home?" With 15 different programmed responses, this is the first time Apple has collaborated on a home entertainment title and the first time Siri has been programmed to interact with an iTunes movie title. We are not kitten you, this toadally works! See the official Facebook announcement by iTunes here:

I own a cat and a dog and I'm not ashamed to say I sometimes wonder what they're thinking.  The Secret Life of Pets takes a spin on what goes through animals' minds.  The main character is Max, a dog, who is always super stoked when his owner, Katie, is around.  But when she leaves, the thoughts that go through Max's mind are of loneliness.  One day Katie brings home another dog, Duke.  Things are a little hairy between the two dogs and the adventure ensues.  They end up in the "scary" world of New York City and have to keep themselves out of trouble (or at least try to).  Through it all, the dogs end up together as best friends.  

There's several other animal appearances throughout the film, with the maniacal bunny being my favorite.  There's plenty of humor and enough going on to keep you engaged.  There is some mild violence and talk of pets killing humans.  All in all, I liked this movie and how it played out.  

Win It!

One person will win The Secret Life of Pets Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack.

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

American Plastic Toys Deluxe Beauty Salon - 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.
Christmas is here in less than a month and if you're still searching for gifts for little girls, I'd recommend the Deluxe Beauty Salon by American Plastic Toys. The company has proudly manufactured safe toys in United States since 1962, and the Deluxe Beauty Salon is a perfect gift for the little beauty in your life.

This beauty salon features an oval pink sink, handy storage shelves and a mirror with working lights. There's also a pink plastic bench.  Play accessories included are a headband, scissors, comb, eye shadow, lipstick, play compact, play shampoo and conditioner bottles, a hair dryer and a cell phone. The accessories are made of hard plastic and no pieces are painted.  There's plenty to keep a child occupied as she uses her imagination to make appointments, get prettied up, and style hair.  .
Jason assembling the beauty salon

There is some assembly required with the Deluxe Beauty Salon.  Instructions are included.  My husband spent about 20 minutes putting it all together.  Most of it required snapping pieces in to place and adding stickers.  The lights on the mirror require two AAA batteries that are not included.  

The Deluxe Beauty Salon has been a big hit with the girls who come to my home, including my younger nieces and the ones who hang out during Small Group nights.  I think the beauty salon is best for children 3 to 8 years of age.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Put Me In The Story: Personalized Coloring Book - 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 took up the hobby of adult coloring books a year ago.  I've spent quite the time zoning out and just filling in patterned pages with gel pens and markers.  It's relaxing and makes me feel I have a somewhat creative side.  Once my older kids realized I wasn't completely nuts (or am I?!) they got in on the hobby too.

A company known for their personalized storybooks, Put Me In The Story also has a line of personalized coloring books.   I have a nice selection of adult coloring books, but none with personalization.  This company went beyond the general realm by offering that option with their coloring books.

Because Emma, the 14 year-old, has been enjoying coloring as much as I do, I created a personalized coloring book for her.  The personalization process itself was quite easy.  I just needed to go through the steps for which name I wanted in the book and a dedication message.  Easy peasy!

 The Keep Calm and Color on books are available in two versions, one for inner creative and one for stress relief.  I went with the second one with the blue cover.

The book arrived within two weeks.  Both Emma and I were impressed.  There are several pages of patterns and images to color.  Some of the pages have Emma's name on, while some don't.  Most have famous quotes included.  The front cover even has Emma's towards the bottom.  The paper quality is good and the images are pretty.  It's a nice coloring book in and of itself, but the personalization makes it extra special.
Do you own any adult coloring books?
What do you think about owning a coloring book with your name in it?