Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: Dora the Explorer: Celebrate with Dora DVD Review

Dora the Explorer: Celebrate with Dora
Three DVD Box Set

I can see this at the top of many little one's lists this year! With a two year old in my house I know how popular Dora is. My daughter is a huge fan and gets so excited when we get to watch it. This box set is FULL of some of the best episodes all in one place, perfect for gift giving this holiday season!

Inside this box set you will find 3 DVD's; Dora's Christmas, Dora's Halloween, and Dora's Big Birthday Adventure.  Each disc has a funfilled celebration themed episode plus 3 more episodes (Dora's Big Birthday only has three extra episodes because the birthday episode is double length). This provides hours of fun with your favorite characters.

Holiday Gift Guide: Somersault Snacks Review

Somersaults are the result of our quest to create healthy, tasty snacks for people who want more than just empty nutrition. What followed was a philosophy and lifestyle that adds joy and delicious goodness to your everyday life. We invite you to share in the unexpected pleasures that Somersaults offer, with crunch, zing and a little zest for adventure!

With a toddler at home I am always on the look out for new snacks that are healthy and delicious. I had never heard of Somersault Snacks, but when I looked into what they offered I was intrigued.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Memories Review and Giveaway

I love to scrapbook! There is something so special about taking your precious memories and creating a book that you can share with friends and family. And since I take a ton of pictures, it's important for me to organize them and keep up with them. But scrapbooking takes a tons of time. From cropping and mounting to digging through your supplies, it could be hours before you finish one event. So when I was offered the chance to try out My Memories I was intrigued.

My Memories is a scrapbooking software that allows you to create digital scrapbooks. I love the idea of this because it seems like a time saver and I can share my scrapbooks with family and friends who live far away.

Holiday Gift Guide: Ethical Ocean Review

Our purchasing decisions affect our society and the planet.
It’s up to each of us to know what we are buying and why—and how each product we spend our dollars on impacts other people, animals, and the environment.
But that doesn’t mean we have to know everything. We can share our knowledge, and ideas, to help one another choose wisely. That’s what Ethical Ocean is all about.

Ethical Ocean takes only the best products that meet one of their criteria - Good for People, Good for Animals, or Good for the Environment. They then offer all of these products in one spot for convenient and ethical shopping. They have such a wide variety of items that you can shop for everyone on your list. From clothing and shoes to electronics, food, and toys... it's all there. And each product offers an explanation of what it is and why it matters.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: Zumba Fitness 2 Review

Featuring hot new music tracks, electrifying choreography, new venues and double the number of dance styles from the original video game, the Zumba® Fitness 2video game invites players to party their way into shape with a fun and proven program. Get moving with amazing Zumba® presenters, Beto, Tanya Beardsley and Gina Grant as they guide you through each exhilarating routine, ranging from Merengue and Hip-Hop to Bollywood and Latin Pop. For the first time, players can customize their own class with their favorite routines and track calories burned.  Whether playing in Single Song, Full Class or multiplayer mode with support for up to four dancers, players will have a blast with this unique dance-fitness experience that shapes, tones and transforms their bodies, and makes them forget they’re even exercising.

A New Spin on the Cookie Exchange: Host a Chex Party Mix-Change!

The holidays are coming and I am always looking for tasty treats to serve my guests. But lets face it... the holidays are a busy time, and finding the time to create the perfect snack can be tough. So Chex Party Mix might just be the perfect answer! You can create a tasty treat with minimal ingredients and minimal time.

This past weekend we had a Chex Party Mix Party! MyBlogSpark provided me with a great party package to get me started.  It included 2 boxes of Chex Cereal, 5 yummy recipes, 10 take-out containers to share my party mix, and a $20 gift card to get more ingredients!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked Video Game Review

Dance Along with Your Favorite Chipmunks and Chipettes in this Exciting Musical Adventure

The game is based on the forthcoming Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked movie in theaters December 16th, which finds the trio vacationing aboard a luxury cruise liner until they become ‘chipwrecked’ on a remote island. The Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked video game continues the story with an around-the-world journey that has the ‘Munks visiting six tropical locations inspired by the movie. While dancing as the playable Chipmunks or The Chipettes, players perform more than 50 different dance moves to excite the crowd while rocking out to 30 of the greatest Chipmunk tunes that all generations can enjoy together.

The first thing I need to say about this game is that I love the song choices! There are 30 amazing song choices that include hits like La Bamba, Life is a Highway, Hit Me with Your Best Shot, Crocodile Rock, Love Shack... oh, I could go on!

Holiday Gift Guide: J.A.S.F. Review

Here's a great gift idea for the teen or guy in your life! I didn't feel qualified to write this review, so I used my expert video game reviewer.... my husband. Here is what he had to say about Jane's Advanced Strike Fighters:

I'm a big fan of flight simulator video games.  There's nothing like being in a dogfight with an enemy jet, hearing that radar lock on before launching your rockets and watching the enemy blowup.  However, now that I'm a dad, I don't have time to play the traditional flight sims.  There are too many options and it takes too long to get into a mission and play it through.

Holiday Gift Guide: Lifetherapy

This is the first time I have been introduced to Lifetherapy. So I was looking over the website and checking out the story behind how this company got started. It is a really interesting and beautiful story about one woman's desire to enhance a mood or create a feeling. And it touched on something that I can completely relate to... how a scent can transport you to a different place... or help you experience a different feeling. I have found this to be very true of familiar scents in my life. Ones that remind me of certain people or places. I can spray a certain perfume of mine and be transported back in time. It's amazing and powerful.

The woman behind this company is Lynette Lovelace, and I had the wonderful opportunity to check out some of her products.  For this review I was sent a sample of the Play Hydrating Body Lotion and Skin Nourishing Body Scrub.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Prep and Landing on DVD Today!

Prep & Landing is an adorable holiday story about a high-tech team of elves who ensure homes around the world are properly prepared for their visit from Santa. After working for a tireless 227 years, an elf named Wayne (voiced by Dave Foley) is upset when he doesn’t receive an expected promotion. Instead he is partnered with an idealistic rookie elf named Lanny (voiced by Derek Richardson) to execute a special Christmas Eve mission. While on their journey, Wayne and Lanny encounter unexpected challenges that push them to their limits and ultimately threaten Christmas for children around the world. But in the end, these two elves work together to guide Santa through a raging snowstorm in order to save Christmas.

Holiday Gift Guide: World Vision Review

During the holiday season it's very easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of things. And it's very easy to forget what this season is all about. It's the season of giving, but there are so many people in this world who would benefit so much from so little.

While we all enjoy shopping for our friends and family, we should keep those in need in our minds. World Vision has created the perfect opportunity to give to those who need it most. Through their World Vision Catalog you can give the gift of life by feeding a family in the US for a day for only $16. You can help fund a child's education for only $32. Or you can purchase a goat for $75. With the purchase of a goat you are providing children with protein from the milk and allowing families to sell the surplus.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: Pink Papaya Review

Pink Papaya is an awesome company that offers relaxing, spa quality products as affordable prices. And the best part is that you can browse this selection while spending time with your friends at one of their at-home spa parties!

Pink Papaya works like most at-home party companies. You can find a consultant near you... or you can become one yourself!

Pink Papaya sent me a few of their products to check out... and now I am itching to attend an at-home party. I never would have known just how awesome these products are without seeing them in person. So an at-home party is the perfect way to get up close and personal with the products!

Holiday Gift Guide: Pink Princess Review

Pink Princess is a great online site that offers so many choices of beautiful dresses. They have everything you would need for flower girl dresses, Communion dresses, Christening gowns and more! Pageant dresses, accessories and pettiskirts and tutu's can all be found on their site. They also have an entire section for Boy Formal wear, as well as shoes for boys and girls.

Pink Princess offers a beautiful selection of holiday dresses. I was fortunate enough to receive one of these dresses for review. It came packaged up beautifully in a plastic garment bag to keep it clean and protected. I took it out of the box and it was ready to be worn. I didn't have to press any wrinkles out or anything!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: Embelle Bibs Review

What is the perfect baby gift for the doctor or businessman in your life?  Imagine your little baby girl as a ballerina or Woody from Toy Story?  Now your audience can with Embelle novelty bibs. Not only are they adorable,but they are much more affordable than your average novelty bib. Available at Target for $5.00, Embelle bibs are fun and playful while being practical for your baby.

Ok, these bibs are seriously adorable! I checked out the selection on their website and just went... awww! And then I received three for review and loved them even more in person.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: PetCakes Review and Giveaway

Seriously, are these little guys not just the cutest? I saw these and fell in love. This is the 2nd Series of PetCakes, the Forest Animals Assortment. In this series there are 4 adorable friends, Honey Cakes, Bamboo Berry, Nutty Nicky, and Roco Coco.

Each PetCake comes in their own little cozy cupcake holder. The plushes come completely out of the cupcakes, so you can mix and match or play with them outside of the cupcake.

My daughter absolutely adores her PetCakes! She loves to set them up and swap their cupcake wrappers around. She thinks their "hats" (the frosting) is just the funniest thing ever! She even pretends to eat them when she's feeling extra silly. And they are the perfect size. I imagined they would be much smaller than they are. But they are a really nice size.

Holiday Gift Guide: Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker - Book Review

If you are looking for a fun book that is hard to out down then this is for you! Diary of a Beverly Hills Matchmaker, by Marla Martenson, is a glimpse into the lives of the rich and fabulous in such a way that you see the grass is not always greener on the other side.

In Diary of a Beverly Hills MatchmakerMarla takes her readers for a hilarious romp through her days as an L.A. matchmaker and her daily struggles to keep her self-esteem from imploding in a town where looks are everything and money talks. From juggling the demands her out-of-touch clients to trying her best to meet the capricious demands of an insensitive boss to the ups and downs of her own marriage to a Latin husband who doesn't think that she is 'domestic' enough, Marla writes with charm and self-effacement about the universal struggles that all women face in their lives. 

Marla's job is set these incredibly rich men up with the women of their dreams. Except, in many cases their dreams are totally delusional! It's hysterical to read about the check lists that these men create in order to form a picture of their perfect woman. They take shallow to a whole new level! And they are willing to pay the BIG bucks for a chance at "love." And when I say big bucks I am talking up to $100,000!

While many of her clients are entertaining enough with their prerequisites, the laughs continue as she sets them up with a woman. The complaints some of these men come up with are unreal!

This book is like meeting a new friend. You get to know Marla inside and out, from her professional life to her personal life. It's a quick read because it's written straight to the point. You will be turning the pages for more!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: ZipBin Review and Giveaway

The idea of the ZipBin came from a parent. Could you have guessed? Parents are geniuses because they know exactly what they wished existed. So when a parent invents a product I am usually fairly confident that it's brilliant. And ZipBin most certainly is!

ZipBins are toys that make less mess. Yay! Why? Because you open them up to play and close them up to clean up. Poof...gone! It's like magic!

ZipBin sent me their Dollhouse PlayPack and I think it's one of the best ideas ever. It's a backpack that unzips and opens up to be a dollhouse. It even comes with a doll. Here is some information about this product:

Holiday Gift Guide: Eye-Fi Review

If you are anything like me you will be taking a ton of pictures this holiday season! I am the camera queen and I try to capture every moment with my camera. But then I have a tendency to let them sit on my camera for months until there are so many different events that I don't even want to upload and organize them. So when I learned about the Eye-Fi I was sure it was something I could use!
The Mobile X2 card works with more than 2,000 digital cameras and uses Eye’s Direct Mode technology to instantly transfer photos directly from your digital camera to various devices (phone, tablet, computer) –without cords -  so you can share/post photos and images wherever you are.  

Wow, this thing is really cool! I love to share pictures and with this you have so many options. You can send pictures to your phone, tablet, even directly to Facebook. Very cool!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: Learning Curve Brands Train Sets Review

This holiday season Learning Curve Brands has something for every kid on your list from infants to toddlers to preschoolers! This season I was fortunate enough to get to check out two of their hot holiday items!

Chuggington Interactive Railway All Around Chuggington Set:

This set has an SRP of $69.99 and is recommended for children ages 3 and up. It is created with 60 pieces that create a railway that has a 3 foot layout! We first constructed it on kitchen table, but then we moved it to the floor when we realized that my daughter would have trouble accessing everything with it on the table.

Holiday Gift Guide: Green Toys Review and Giveaway

As parents we have a lot to worry about. From the moment they are born we worry. About everything from their health to their happiness to their future... and all the little things in between. One thing we should never have to worry about it whether or not their toys are safe.

Parents spend time, money, and effort picking out toys they think their children will enjoy. We shouldn't have to worry about whether or not they are safe or contain toxins. But sadly, in many cases you do have to worry about those things. But not with Green Toys. Green Toys makes their very own line of children's toys that are made from recycled plastic and other environmentally friendly products.  With their toys you are protecting your children and the environment.... win win!

Green Toys offers a great selection of toys for babies and kids. They have trucks, play food, gardening tools, and more. And I got a chance to check out their newest addition, the Sandwich Shop!

Holiday Gift Guide: Nickelodeon DVD's Review

What better gift for kids than an adventure with their favorite character? As the mother of a toddler, we spend a lot of time catching up with all our friends on Nick JR and Nickelodeon. And now that she's old enough to ask for what she wants she is very often asking to watch her favorites. So having some great DVD's on hand are a must... and Nickelodeon has so many great ones to choose from! Here are a few hot ones this holiday season.....

This one was my daughter's favorite by far! It features all her favorite friends in over 2 hours of holiday episodes. My daughter knows all these familiar faces and will ask for certain episodes on different days. Dora and Kai Lan are the most popular with her, but she does enjoy them all! It's rare to find a DVD where your child enjoys ALL the episodes, but this one is it for us! A true hit in our household and a perfect holiday gift this season.

Pretty much all the Nick JR shows offer educational value, but this DVD has hit the nail on the head! I love that it is an entertaining show that is also really teaching age appropriate math skills. This DVD offers 3 episodes and one of them is you get tons of fun in one DVD. I am amazed at how quickly my daughter picks up counting and patterns after watching this. It's so engaging for her! I would definitely say this is a great gift for a toddler or young preschooler.

Spongebob is geared a bit more for the older kids. So my husband and I decided to review this one on our own without our 2 year old. I find it interesting how a kids show can be so entertaining to adults. Spongebob is one of those shows. Yes, he's goofy and immature, but it is some good, clean fun for the family. I wouldn't recommend it for toddlers and preschoolers, but maybe kindergarten age and on. Mostly because the younger kids won't get all the jokes. But this was a fun one to laugh along with.

Nickelodeon DVD's make great gifts for kids of a variety of ages! They have so many different ones to choose from and are available at most major retailers. Check them out this holiday season!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Spreading Holiday Cheer with #hasbroKREOsets

Tis the season to be jolly! I adore the entire holiday season! People often complain about the hub bub starting too eary. But for me it can't start early enough! When November 1st came I had to force myself not to start listening to Christmas music!

But one thing that can be started as early as I would like is holiday shopping! I started hunting fro deals and the perfect gifts months ago! But now we are in the midst of the the hottest shopping season of the year and I am seeing more and more awesome toys that I would love to wrap up!

One of those awesome toys is from Hasbro and it's KRE-O Transformers!  These building sets look like so much fun and are geared for kids ages 6 and up. I remember transformers from when I was younger, and they have stuck aroudn this long. So you know they must be popular with kids. They also have movies now... yeah, these toys are going to be at the top of lots of kids lists this year!

My daughter is a little too young for KRE-O Transformers, but I love to shop for all the kids on my list. So I checked these out and they are a great option because they range in price. You can get a basic set for as little as $7.99 and move your way up. So no matter your budget you can get a great toy!

I love toys that keep kids busy. That engage their minds and their creativity. Kids can have fun putting this together and then they get to play with what they built. So awesome! In my mind the holidays are really about the kdis. And the smiles they have on their faces when they open a gift they love is just priceless!

While presents do a great job of lifting spritis and keeping everyone bright during the holidays, it's certainly not what the entire season should be about. For us it's really about family. Spending time with the ones we love and celebrating the season and each other. We go out of our way to make sure we see everyone during the holidays. It takes 3 weekends and hours in the car. But it is so worth it to feel the love and warmth from the ones you love. Pluse they adore seeing my daughter and how much she has grown!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hasbro blogging program, for 8,000 My SocialMoms Rewards Points and a KRE-O gift. The opinions expressed in this post are mine and don’t necessarily reflect the opinions of SocialMoms or Hasbro. For more information on how you can participate, click here

Holiday Gift Guide: Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Dance & Play Puppy Review

Let your children dance and play games with their favorite new playmate, Dance and Play Puppy from Fisher-Price's Laugh and Learn toys. Dance and Play Puppy guides children through their first experiences with motions and games while simultaneously teaching them how to count and how to recognize the alphabet.

As a mom and a teacher I can totally appreciate this toy! This puppy talks, sings, and dances with a simple push of a button. There are two buttons (one on each foot). One foot is the "ABC" mode and the other foot is the "Let's Play" mode. The ABC mode is all about learning in a fun way with the alphabet, numbers, and giving simple directions that your child can follow (like "reach up high"). The Let's Play mode is full of fun songs that your child and their puppy can dance and sing along to.  It has easy steps, like clap your hands, so your child can participate with their puppy.

I think this is an incredibly engaging toy that has enough features to keep the interactions fresh and exciting. The puppy has a cute voice that is not intimidating, and it is also designed with bight colors and fun shapes - making him very approachable (since he is kinda big in size). 

Holiday Gift Guide: Contigo Coffee Mug Review

The Contigo® 20 oz. West Loop Vacuum Insulated Travel Mug with AUTOSEAL® technology keeps your favorite holiday drink hot for up to six hours. AUTOSEAL® self-sealing lid technology offers press-to-sip drinking and automatically seals between sips making it spill-proof and leak-proof – there are no lids to remove and no spouts to open. The West Loop is also top rack dishwasher safe. Throw some instant coffee packs or tea bags in the mug to make the perfect gift. MSRP $24.99 
As many of you know... I love coffee and so does my husband. We have at least one cup every morning. But I often find myself running out the door to work and either dumping my coffee or bringing it with me in a travel mug. In fact, I have several travel mugs at home but they're not really working out for me. Why you ask? Because when I walk in the door to my job I am usually pulled in 5 different directions and may not even sit down at my desk until an hour or more later. Cold coffee.

So I was really excited to try out the Contigo Travel Mug and see if it could keep my coffee warm until I could sit down and drink it. But when the mug arrived I met a new challenge... my husband.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: Sogno Coffee Review

As a true coffee lover, I am always up for trying a new type of coffee. And when I read a little bit about Sogno Coffee I knew I wanted to give it a shot.


Is it your dream to find that perfect cup of coffee? But among the thousands of chain coffeehouses and the dizzying array of trendy brands, where do you start? Actually, it's simple. Here at SOGNO Coffeehouses, we know it all starts with the beans... and we're here to spill the beans. Truth is, many people have not had the pleasure of enjoying a real quality coffee.No matter the price, brand, or packaging, it all comes down to the beans. SOGNO roasts only the finest Arabica beans in our one of a kind, custom-built roaster. The product is unrivaled: the aroma, the body, and that very sip... it's like un sogno, a dream.

Holiday Gift Guide: The Original Christmas Classics Blu-ray Box Set Review

One of my favorite things about the holiday season is cuddling up to watch a Christmas special. It takes me back to my childhood and really gets me in the holiday spirit! And getting a chance to watch the classics is a real treat! And now I can watch them whenever I want because the are available on Blu-ray!

This box set is sure to be a hit with the entire family! It captures four of the most beloved Christmas specials; "Frosty the Snowman," "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," "Santa Claus is Coming to Town," and "Frosty Returns."

The Littlest Angel Review

Available on DVD Today!

The Littlest Angel tells the story of a young boy who arrives in heaven before his time.  Home-sick and lonely, he will travel back to earth, with his friendly pup Halo, to retrieve a most selfless and precious gift for The Baby Jesus. First released in book form in 1946, The Littlest Angel became popular for its ornate words and phrases paired with beautifully muted oil paintings. Tazewell’s book was adapted into a TV musical in 1969 starring Johnny Whitaker, and theatrical versions continue to be done by schools and church groups today. The author would follow-up with another childhood favorite, "The Littlest Snowman," that would be read annually on the “Captain Kangaroo” show. 

“This is a story that has made so many people happy over the years,” says Lance Thompson, one of the producers of the film. “We’ve added some new elements to this production, but this is still The Littlest Angel everyone remembers from their childhood, and one that parents will enjoy introducing to their kids. I think Tazewell would enjoy knowing his work lives on.” 

It’s a modern twist on the timeless tale of an Angel that discovers the greatest gifts in life are faith, friendship and doing the right thing. This new version of The Littlest Angel features wonderful animation and great vocal talent, including Ron Perlman (“Beauty and The Beast,” Tangled), and is sure to become a holiday favorite, much like the book it’s based on. The Littlest Angel is a motion picture that will put a smile on everyone’s face, and what better gift is there than that.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: HearthSong Review and Giveaway

If you are looking for fun, exciting, and unique toys this holiday season... then you have to check out HearthSong! HearthSong prides themselves in offering their customers quality toys that allow kids to be kids and get lost in their imaginations. Their website is designed in such a way that you can easily browse their selection to find exactly what you are looking for. The option to browse by age allows you to look at safe and age appropriate items. You can also shop by interests, such as cooking gardening and arts and crafts. The easy layout makes it fun and easy to shop for the perfect gift!

I had a blast checking out all the great toys, games, and crafts that HearthSong offers for boys and girls ages toddler to about 12. I came up with a great list of items to share with family and friends that I think my daughter would love this holiday season. But for this review I chose something that I knew would encourage her imagination, a Corolle baby doll.

Holiday Gift Guide: Country Dance 2 Review

Kick Up Your Heels to Your Favorite Country Hits with GameMill Entertainment’s 
Country Dance™ 2 Available Now Exclusively on Wii™

Country Dance 2 is the ultimate country music video game experience featuring more than 30 tracks from the biggest names in country.  The Country Dance 2 star-studded lineup includes music from Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley, Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, George Strait, Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood and many, many more. Building upon the simple gameplay loved by fans of Country Dance, Country Dance 2 amplifies the fun with an all new sing-along features, duet dancing and a new calorie-counting exercise mode.  Whether you’re cutting the rug on your own, line dancing side-by-side with your partner, or taking on friends and family in a dancing duel, Country Dance 2 will transform your living room into an energetic dance floor with today’s hottest country songs from America’s best-selling country artists.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: Nonni's Biscotti Review and Giveaway

With the Holidays coming my mind is on all the wonderful things we have to look forward to. And at the top of my list is spending time with family and friends. Of course, that doesn't come without some planning, stress, and worry. When I have family and friends come to visit during the holidays I want everything to be perfect! So I spend a lot of time thinking about what to serve. Nonni's Biscotti has now taken care of that for me!

Nonni’s Biscotti grew out of true Italian tradition. In the little town of Lucca, Italy along narrow cobbled lanes surrounded by elegant piazzas, our Nonni (an endearing term for Grandma) made biscotti to share with family and friends. When Nonni came to America, almost a century ago, she brought the family recipe with her.

To this day, the same family recipe using real eggs, butter and gourmet bittersweet chocolate is still used to give our biscotti a light, crunchy texture that is delicately sweet. Our devotion to quality ingredients has been the foundation for the growth and continued success of the company, and the key reason Nonni’s Biscotti is the number one selling biscotti in the country.

Holiday Gift Guide: Color of Rain Book Review

I'm not going to lie... this book was hard to read. It's hard to open yourself up to something so real. This story brings us into the lives of two people who have lost their significant others. One their husband and the other their wife. They lose their loved ones to cancer and are left alone with their children to battle the "why's." As a wife and mother this story was sad and frightening. The idea of losing your best friend, a parent to your children, is unbearable. Yet, there is something uplifting about this story as well.

This real-life Brady Bunch story is about what it means to endure the unthinkable---and still open one's heart to what's next. When two childhood friends die of cancer six weeks apart, the shared experience of loss brings their grieving spouses together. After months of late-night phone calls, family dinners, and countless dreams and tears, this unlikely pair builds a trust, a love, and a shared life. Told from alternating points of view, The Color of Rain illuminates the stepping-stones of healing that lead to a joyful new beginning for Michael and Gina Spehn and their five children. Like many who grieve, Michael and Gina had to choose to hope again. Along the way, they discovered that God can restore the darkest circumstances---and even from death, He can bring new life. Michael and Gina's gripping story of 'growing new hearts' will inspire readers not only to survive loss but also to receive the new courage, faith, and identity that God gives in the midst of tragedy.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: Kidorable Holiday Gift Buying Quiz

Tis the season to be giving! To me, giving is way better than receiving. I love to see faces light up when I find just the right item for someone special! But shopping doesn't always come easy as we hunt for the perfect gift. But Kidorable has a great Gift Buying Quiz that really opened my eyes to what a great gift for a kid consists of.

This quiz will take a lot of the guess work out of gift buying by helping you understand what will be most meaningful and useful in a child's life. I was pretty impressed with myself scoring a 4 out of 5, but it did bring a lot of things to my attention. Sometimes we are buying what we think kids will like without really knowing any better. Guilty as charged! Check out the quiz to understand what I'm talking about and get a better idea on where to begin your holiday shopping.

And while you are there taking the quiz, be sure to look around at their great selection of products! They put the "fun" back in functional. From umbrellas, to backpacks, to raincoats and more. Kidorable products are cute, fun and high quality! And with the weather turning cold make sure you take a look at their knitwear collections of hats, gloves, and scarves! We sure do love our ladybug set!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fresh Scents from Nature

Ahhh.. .there is nothing like a fresh scent. I love when things smell fresh and clean. And there is nothing fresher and cleaner than scents straight from nature.

In terms of natural scents I really have a lot of different favorites for different parts of my life. For instance, in my kitchen I adore the smell of fresh lemon. It smells delicious and makes the whole room feel bright! I often buy cleaners and soaps that smell like fresh lemon, and I even have a candle for my kitchen that smells like cut lemons. Yum! There is something very refreshing about it... and it even seems to wake up my senses in the morning when I am trying to get my day going.

But in my bedroom I always use the scent of lavender. I had read somewhere in college that lavender was supposed to be relaxing and even help you sleep. So with the heavy course load I was carrying I was really looking for something that would help get the work out of my head and lead me to dreamland.

I purchased some satchels of potpourri and put them under my pillow and now I'm addicted! I now have a lavender spray that I use to on my pillow every night and it brings me to my happy place. I love how you begin to associate scents with things... and lavender is now associated with sleep and rest for me.

While these scents are fabulous and many companies do a great job of putting the scents into bottles, nothing quite beats the real thing. Sigh, how I wish I could sleep in a field of lavender or have a large supply of lemons that I could keep cutting open and squeezing all day long.

But needless to say we are often left to purchasing our favorite scents. So I buy a wide variety of candles and wall plug ins to help bring that scent home.

This holiday season I have been filling the house with a lot of fresh apple scents. That makes my house feel warm and cozy. It really reminds me of family gathering and chowing down on apple pie. Nothing better on a cold fall night!

I have so many wonderful scents that I love that come straight from nature. From burning candles to body sprays, I do whatever I can to get my fill of them! And each one takes me someplace else and gives me a different feeling. Whether the lavender is putting me to sleep, the lemon is waking me up, or the apple is warming my soul I know I can transport myself with just a sniff!

I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Seventh Generation blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here

Holiday Gift Guide: Veggie Tales The Little Drummer Boy DVD Review

When choosing a DVD for my daughter Veggies Tales is usually at the top of my list. I love providing her with an entertaining show that also reinforces Christian morals. Each Veggie Tale DVD is packed with good messages and lessons that I want my daughter learning. So when I learned about their new holiday-themed DVD I was excited!

Veggie Tales The Little Drummer Boy retells the classic tale of a child discovering the true meaning of Christmas. In our world today it is very easy to lose track of what Christmas is all about. We all get caught up in the excitement of gifts and Santa. And all of that is really fun and I am all for it. But I also want my daughter to have a real understanding of why we are celebrating Christmas. After all, Jesus is the reason for the season!

Having Junior Asparagus illustrate this message is a great way to start teaching her at a young age. The DVD is fun, has great music, and an important message all rolled into one. This is a great DVD for a child this Christmas!

Holiday Gift Guide: Gyro Bowl Review and Giveaway

I had seen an advertisement for the Gyro Bowl on tv awhile ago. I remember turning to my husband and saying, "we need that." We all know that life with a toddler is messy. But they seem to be at their messiest when they are eating. My daughter desperately wants to be independent, and this includes wanting to carry and hold her own snacks.

The Gyro Bowl looked awesome on tv, so when I was given the chance to check it out in person for review I jumped at it. It's designed so that no matter what angle the child holds the bowl at the contents won't spill. It uses a 360 degree technology that makes the inside bowl spin when being carried or dropped. Interesting, huh?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide: Om Nom from Cut the Rope Review

Have you heard of the mobile game, Cut the Rope? It's a really fun game and I have it on my iPad. In fact, my husband and I started with the free version and became so addicted that we purchased the full version. We each have our own iPads, so we race each other to see who can beat the levels the fastest.

Well, Om Nom is the adorable star of Cut the Rope. He loves to eat candy and int he game it's your job to get it to him. When I learned that Om Nom was now available as an adorable plush friend I knew I had to check it out!

Talk about the perfect stocking stuffer! This guy will be tucked into my hubby's stocking as I know he will appreciate how awesome this is! The little plush Om Nom is so cute and a must for any lover of the game. If you aren't familiar with Cut the Rope check it out!

You can find Om Nom on ToyWhiz and Amazon in 5", 8", and 16". And check out Cut the Rope on Facebook for news and updates.

Holiday Gift Guide: My Baby Clothes Review and Giveaway

If you are looking for a unique and affordable gift for a little one this holiday season you should check out My Baby Clothes.  Their team searches for the cutest dresses, tops, bottoms, shoes, tutusbaby hats and more for young children ages newborn to 4T.  They then offer these items at incredibly affordable prices. I was really impressed when I saw the name brands for low prices.

The site is very well organized and allows you to search by gender, size, or style. They don't have an overwhelming selection, but they certainly have more than enough options for you to find something you love. They even have a nice selection of accessories, including baby headbands.