Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It's the most wonderful time of the year - Christmas card time

One of my favorite things about the holidays is the sending and receiving of Christmas cards. I love the whole aspect of taking the girls somewhere and taking numerous pictures. I love picking out the perfect picture. And I love designing the perfect card. I love mailing them out - usually the day before Thanksgiving. And then checking the mailbox to see the cards from friends. Once the season is over, I love scrap booking them all together for the perfect holiday memory. I even take a picture of my girl scout troop, which we then make into a photo card and send to the families of the girls for a holiday surprise!

The last few years, I have had my cards designed with the help of a friend and printed through a third party company. This year, I cannot pass up going back to Shutterfly for my Christmas cards. The hard part this year will be choosing the perfect background for my cards. There are so many to choose from, it's going to be tough to decide!

I love this card for the simplicity of it. A happy family picture all tied up with a neat little bow that says Merry Christmas. Simple yet elegant. I also like how there is plenty of room inside to personalize it for my family.

I also like for my cards to have the date on them. While I scrapbook the one's I receive, I know other people may not. In reality, most people probably chuck them after the holidays (although I hate to think that after all the work that goes into them). Other may put them in a box - to save or look at in the future. I like to look back and remember when the picture was taken. I like this particular card because it has room for three pictures and I have three daughters. And while I'd LOVE to say that they take perfect pictures, it is a royal pain to get the perfect picture of the three of them - one where they are all smiling and looking at the camera, not making goofy faces or giving each other bunny ears. Sometimes it's just easier to take individual pictures and have them on the card. I love the contrast of browns and greens with Christmas cards. It's warm and homey and almost any picture fits.

I like to try to include a yearly note with my pictures. But in reality, I can never narrow the list for the year down. I also never get around to printing it as well as my cards. So normally, if I complete a letter, it never gets printed. This card takes care of both. I love how you can share the highlights of the year with your friends and family as well as wish them a Merry Christmas!

One of the reasons I went to using a different company in the past was I like to have my cards printed on heavy card stock with a matte finish. While I like the glossy photo pictures, my preference is the heavy card stock. And I could never find one that fit my needs. With hundreds of designs to choose from available on the heavy card stock at affordable prices, Shutterfly has met my needs this year.

As to what background we will pick for our holiday cards this year, you'll just have to wait and see!

This post was written as a promotion for Shutterfly. I will be receiving 50 FREE cards this year. For more information on how you can get 50 FREE holiday cards from Shutterfly, click here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Brain Fuel

The end of August heralds in the start of the school year. After a summer of sun and fun, it’s time to get the brain focused. There are many places to look to find games, but if you’re looking for something new, visit BrainFuel4kids. Brain fuel has tips for parents on how to boost your child’s brain function and tips and trivia for kids.

My daughter’s favorite section of the website, besides the brain facts, was the games. There are matching games, speed games and math games. Games that rely on memory and problem solving. Not surprisingly, her reaction times were a bit sluggish at first, but after just a week, she was able to boost her scores. Her favorite game was Monster Garden. You had to make your way home avoiding the monsters along the way by remembering which square they were in.

I liked the forums, where you could get hints from other parents and talk to a registered dietitian. While I didn’t actively participate in any of the conversations, it’s a great resource to read and pick up hints to do at home - from food to eat, to excise tips and ways to relax. A plus to the games were they were pretty quick. As parents, you don't always have time to sit at the computer for hours on end. In just a few minutes, you could play through a memory game. And each step, while timed, waits to start until you click okay. So if you need to get up mid session to change a channel or grab a drink, you score isn't affected.

And of course, the games were addictive. Not satisfied with my scores, I tried many different games over and over until I felt happy with my results. Over the week, I could see how my scores improved and as I was playing, I could tell I was making the connection faster. My favorite game, and one I found tough at first was the face-name recognition. Have you ever walked up to someone and know that you’ve seen them before but can’t place their name? This game did just that. They showed you a face and gave you a name with it and you had to make matches memory style. It was super easy when there were just 3-4 people, but once they added in more, it was hard to keep straight. Did Nathan have glasses? Was Jane blond?

As a parent, I am going to continue to let my daughter play with these games. I can feel confidant in knowing that she’s working her brain while she’s having fun!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central on behalf of BrainFuel and received an insulated lunch bag from Innovations to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Skinny Cow Ice Cream

Ice cream is my downfall. I tend to unwind at night, with a bowl of ice cream watching TV. Even in the dead of winter. Walking by the freezer containers at the store, I always skip right past the healthier alternatives to my favorite treat - the fruit ice creams, the low fat versions and the sugar free versions.

The ladies at MOM Central sent me some coupons to try Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches on them, so for once, I had reason to stop short of my favorites. Growing up, ice cream sandwiches were a treat. I was pleasantly surprised when I took my first bite. It was the same creamy vanilla flavor inside and the same stick to your fingers chocolate cookie outside. So I did the next thing, I gave one to my husband to try. And then my kids. And everyone agreed that they tasted like regular ice cream sandwiches.

We tried the vanilla/chocolate combo and mint flavored sandwiches. All were delicious! Other sandwich flavors include cookies and cream, strawberry and chocolate peanut butter (which sounds interesting but I couldn't find nearby). We even went back and tried their fudge bars- yum! Next on the list is the new truffle bars.

Skinny Cow ice cream now has a place in my freezer.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Eggo Bake Shop Twists

Eggo Bake shop Twists definitely bring new meaning to "Leggo my Eggo". When I fist picked them up, it was the middle of the day. That did not stop my girls from wanting to try them. So we had them after lunch, as sort of a snack. My girls devoured them. And asked for more.

They currently come in two flavors- apple and strawberry. And while we didn't eat them in the way they were made, they would definitely make a quick and tasty breakfast. In just 20 seconds in the microwave (for one, as per the box), you have a tasty fruit-filled treat. A quick word of caution though, make sure you let them cool for a few minutes. The inside gets hot. And if breakfast isn't your style, use them as a sweet after dinner treat. They tasted similar to turnovers for a sweet snack.

My seven year old's first comment (after looking at the box) was "thanks Mom, you brought me some protein (they had 3 grams per serving)." She's on a protein kick and tends to read the labels on everything.

The only downside is that there are very few in a box. They come four to a package, and are a bit on the smaller side. We each had 1 of each flavor with my girls asking for more. So if your an adult, you could easily eat a whole box for breakfast. Or if you have kids, easily go through 2 boxes in one sitting. The upside is, they are fairly inexpensive, depending on where you shop. My first stop to get them was at a local grocery store and they were $3.60 a box (I didn't buy them there as this store tend to err on expensive side). I picked them up at Target for $2.04 a box (another grocery store had them for $3.00).

So if your looking for a quick, sweet breakfast, you should definitely try them. We recommend the apple.

This post was made possible through the women at Mom Central.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Milkshake Winners

Winners have been picked by random.org and are in the process of being notified.

CD/DVD : Danielle
Concert Tickets : Rachael

Congratulations to the winners.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Music, it's food for the soul. When we become parents, we start out by introducing our kids to classical artists, such as Mozart and Beethoven. As they get older, they discover the Wiggles, Raffi and other various children's artists. Music, that will, eventually drive any sane person insane. But as parents, we continue to play the same music, over and over. Some of use buy overpriced concert tickets to take our kids too. Concerts that they won't remember when they are a bit older.

For us, we tried to throw some other genre's into the mix. Nestled in between our Wiggles and Raffi CD's are various other children's mixes, some folk, some rock, some country and some reggae. But nonetheless, we are always on the lookout to add to our music library. So I couldn't wait to review Milkshake's newest DVD, Screen Play, as well as one of their CD's.

So we got the CD and DVD in the mail and I looked at it and thought "wow, the packaging is busy" and "they're on PBS, so it's probably nothing spectacular". Then I popped in the DVD and was very pleasantly surprised. While they appear in wacky outfits - they are catering to kids. And since their outfits are nothing different then what you'd find my two younger girls wearing (even some of their dress up outfits were pictured on kids on the package), they must know what their doing. Their songs are all about things kids can relate to, however they definitely have a rock sound. The guitar and drum beats sound similar to some that Einey jams along to on Guitar Hero. In the car, I put in the CD and the girls keep asking for me to play it over and over. We've only listened to it a few times, but already they have their favorite songs. The songs themselves, are pretty catchy, the girls love walking around singing "miiiLLLKK- SHAKE" and "it's a rainy, rainy day".

I like it because I have no problem listening to it over and over without fearing that my head will explode. And I don't have to worry about my four year old singing songs of sex and drugs and death. I'd much rather her learn to love music of all origins in an age-appropriate manner. I am very glad to have been introduced to Milkshake and love having more music to add to our library. I would highly recommend picking up a CD when you get a chance.

And as a super sweet treat, they sent me an addition DVD and CD to give away. All you have to do it join their Facebook fan page and then leave a comment back here. The winner will be drawn Wednesday February 25th at 12:00 pm EST. I need an email or blog link to be able to contact the winner.

Even sweeter? I also am offering a four pack of concert tickets for their live concert, March 28th in Foxboro, MA. This offer is open to local residents (MA, RI and CT) only. Again, you can win by becoming a fan of Milkshake and then leave a comment back here by noon EST, Wednesday February 25th. In addition, take a few minutes and look around. Tell me what your favorite song is!

Please be sure to note if you are entering for the CD/DVD or the concert tickets or both!

We like Happy Song and We got a Band.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Regal Reptiles Birthday Parties

Last weekend, we had a birthday party for my oldest daughter, who turns seven on Christmas Day. She's not your typically little girly girl, as she prefers sports, video games and all things slimy. Her #1 want for Christmas or her birthday was a turtle. If not a turtle, then frogs. We said no turtles and while we were prepared to get her a kit where you grow your own tadpoles, they can't ship until nighttime temps are above 25 degrees. Living in New England, that's going to be awhile.

Having a December birthday is tough. Tough in finding something to do that won't cost a ton of money and that will equally entertain a group of kids. It was never our intention to actually host any of her school parties at the house, but this year, it was so easy. We hosted a reptile party with Regal Reptiles. Based out of Warwick, RI, it wasn't to far of a drive to have them come to us. Shawn, our presenter, was absolutely amazing!

He started off with showing us a herbivore. Speedy the tortoise was our first visitor. Einey, the birthday girl, go to bring Speedy around to all the kids. After that, Speedy took up residence on the floor. After that, Shawn had Einey as his personal assistant. He asked if anyone knew what a carnivore was. He told us his next reptile was a carnivore and then asked Einey to hold out her hand. (Of course, people are made out of meat). He then handed Einey Boogers the Tree Frog. Of course, the kids got a kick out of that. After Boogers, came a gecko, a legless lizard, snake, scorpion (which made many people flinch), tarantula, bearded dragon, another snake, a python and an alligator. In addition to explaining a little bit about each creature, the children were allowed to touch, and hold (if they wanted to) each animal. Shawn's style of presentation was injected with numerous comic references, which made everyone laugh. Einey, surprised us by showing no fear whatsoever with reaching into cloth bags to pull out whatever creature was inside.

The cost, $150 for an hour (if they come to you) plus travel, was well worth it. According to the website, they bring 20-25 animals. We only saw 12, but it filled up the whole allotted time. We had a total of 21 kids and 15 adults who were willing to watch the presentation. A few opted to stay upstairs for it.

It was, by far, the best party we've ever hosted and one of the best we've ever been to. Everyone seemed to have had a great time. And the birthday girl could not stop smiling. I haven't seen her smile so big in a long, long time.

If your in the eastern CT, RI, eastern MA area, I would highly recommend giving them a call if your looking for something for your next party. They also have an option, where you can visit their facility in Warwick (their website still says Providence, however they moved to a larger facility over the summer. The new directions are linked on their site) as opposed to having them come to you.

(This post was a not a paid review).