I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas! We had a great time with family and are still trying to digest all of that yummy FOOD!
I am going to extend the Holiday just a touch, since I have some lucky winners to announce!
Thanks so much to everyone who entered! The winners have been e-mailed and have 48 hours to claim their prizes!
Okay, so first I want to say I am NOT hating on Melanie. Not at all. She has a fantastic voice and she deserves a recording contract. That being said, she's not unique. I have heard her before, albeit in a dozen other faces, such as Whitney or Mariah. She has immense talent, but she is not different. Melanie doesn't have anything unique to bring to the table. She's very cookie cutter, overall. Yes, I like Melanie. But I don't view her as being the most talented or diverse performer on this season of X Factor USA.
Josh Kracjik, on the other hand, IS. He put every ounce of his heart and soul into his performances, and stunned the world with a voice like no other. He has a certain quality that touches the souls of those watching him perform. He has given me goosebumps, made me cry, made me laugh...Everything that a good artist should be able to do. I was shocked when he did not win. He deserved to win in my eyes, and I am sure that some very smart label will pick him up and he will be MORE successful long term than Melanie. Just saying. Josh, you may not have won the X Factor, but you have a houseful of fans in my home and we look forward to buying YOUR albums and going to YOUR concerts.
Just in time for Christmas, 5 of you can make your own custom iCaughtSanta photos! Here are my lucky winners:
Congrats! Ladies, you have all been e-mailed with your gift code. Have fun! Merry Christmas!
As a busy mom, it's easy to get lost in a mealtime funk. Sure, I love to cook, but at times we do get into a rut. We will end up eating the same 5 or 6 dishes every single week. Why? Well, because we get used to certain comfort foods because my unimaginative family always requests the exact same things. I don't know about you, but tacos, chicken cordon bleu, Cincinnati Chili and "bacon chicken" aka Monterey Chicken, while tasty, can become ho-hum if they're done on a very regular basis.
Another thing that really doesn't help the matter is that my preteen is VERY picky. He won't eat steak, roast, brisket, mushrooms, olives, or anything with a white sauce. (Just to name a few.) Making meals that everyone will enjoy can become incredibly challenging when dealing with such a picky eater in the house. If Kyle had his way about it, we would live solely off of Ramen noodles, macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, and chicken nuggets. Oh, and pizza. I can't forget the pizza!
Recently I have been able to shake up dinner with the help of Kikkoman. You all know Kikkoman, right? They're leaders in bringing Asian cuisine into kitchens around the world. They're most noted for their soy sauce, but they actually have a very wide range of products available, like Panko, Ponzu Sauce, Rice Vinegar, and even Teriyaki sauces, just to name a few. I was thrilled to receive several Kikkoman products to review with my family. Maybe dinner time doesn't have to remain so mundane, after all!
I have some lucky winners to announce! Thanks so much to everyone who entered, and check back often for more great giveaways! Without further ado, here are my lucky winners:
Santa Claus Wii Game:
Sing4 Wii Game:
My Memories Suite:
Congrats, Ladies! You have all been e-mailed and have 48 hours to respond and claim your prizes. Thanks again, and Happy Holidays!
Well, here we are! It is now a mere 3 days before Christmas, and I know that some of you are scrambling to get those last minute gifts taken care of. Maybe there's someone on your Holiday gift list that is hard to shop for, and you're left scratching your head? I know in my family, my preteen is the toughest to shop for. He claims he "is not a child", and is too old for toys. At the same time, we can't afford to give him the gifts he REALLY wants like an iPad2, a trip to the Sarah Winchester House, or a mansion with a pool. Oh, a golf cart, too. My kid actually wants a golf cart, for reasons that are beyond my comprehension. Yep, he doesn't quite get that we don't all have bank accounts with no limits, and his wish list is quite unrealistic.
Despite his lofty wishes for this Holiday season, I do know some other things he would enjoy. One thing he loves? Board games! We have a whole closet full of them. As a mom, I love games that are ever-changing, not repetitive, and challenge the mind. For me, the best kind of game for my son is a game that has him doubled over with laughter all while teaching him something. Yep, educational games that don't SEEM like a school lesson. After all, kids tend to learn the most effectively while they're having fun!
I recently came across a game that looks like it fits the bill perfectly. You've Been Sentenced is a great game made by McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds that challenges the players to create their own fun sentences with the cards that have been dealt to them.The real fun begins when players have to read their sentences out loud and explain what they mean to the rest of players. They form the jury and vote thumbs up or down on whether the sentence and justification stand and the points are scored. 540 cards with over 2,500 words insure billions of possible sentences so the game is never repetitive and has unlimited re-play value. They even offer fun, add-on decks to keep the game ever-changing and even touch on the interests of individual players. My son, for one, loves space and astronomy. Guess what? There's an add-on deck for that! There are also decks that are right up my alley dealing with Pop Culture. After all, I am the "cool mom" who stays on top of the latest music, etc.
I think this game sounds amazing, and is a great way to spend quality family time and share a bundle of laughs! I will be featuring this game in a review and giveaway after the Holidays, but I wanted to let you all procrastinators know that there's still time to get this game under the tree for Christmas! Here's how to connect:
You can purchase You've Been Sentenced and other great family games on the McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds website.
For those in that Holiday scramble, their games are also available NOW at Barnes & Noble, Toys R Us, and Kohl's!
You can also follow McNeill Designs for Brighter Minds on Facebook and on twitter to stay on top of the fun, as well as for exclusive offers and coupons!
***Disclosure: I have not been compensated for this post. I simply wanted to share this info with my readers. However, I will be receiving samples for future review. As always, all opinions are 100% honest and have not been influenced in any way.***
When you have a baby in the house, you quickly discover that there are certain must have items that make your life as a new parent substantially easier. For me, my must-haves include a good bouncer seat, a lightweight stroller(which I have yet to find), and of course, a playard. (Or two in my case, as I have 2 toddlers!)
Having a decent playard probably tops my list as my youngest baby gets older and more mobile. Xander has sadly outgrown his MamaRoo and his cradle swing, so I was in need of another safe place to lay him down for naps, or just contain him and keep him out of trouble when Mommy needs to go to the restroom, sign for a package, or cook a meal.
You see, babies cannot be left to their own devices, even for a moment. My husband learned this the hard way when he went to use the restroom and came back to learn that our daughter, Sophie, had completely destroyed our cable and DVR box in the 90 seconds he was gone by banging an unopened can on the corner of the TV stand, causing it to explode and spray all over the place. The cable box was drenched and obviously shorted somehow, and ultimately needed replacing. When I returned from the store, hubby was not at all happy, but he knew it was his fault for not putting Sophie in the playard while he did his business. Since then, he fully understands the importance of having a good playard. Lesson learned!
I can't believe that Christmas is less than a week away! This year really has flown by, hasn't it? This Christmas, we will be heading to my husband's aunt and uncle's home for their annual Christmas Brunch. It's always a ton of fun, and we get to spend time with some of the most awesome people around. (Yes, I actually LOVE my In-Laws!) Luckily, they're just across state lines in Maryland, so it's only an hour or so from us, making for an easy, comfortable drive.
However, right before Thanksgiving we went to Cleveland, Ohio to see my Grandparents. Now that wasn't such a quick journey. We had to drive through a few states through the mountains, and we had to endure the boredom that the Pennsylvania Turnpike brings. (Don't ask me why, but I have always hated driving through Pennsylvania!) Our trip was about 8 hours. With a preteen, a dog, and 2 toddlers, it could have been very tedious. Surprisingly enough, it wasn't. Neither baby fussed at all, my oldest was happy with his Nintendo DS and mp3 player, and the biggest hiccup was the dog jumping into the front seat as we were driving through the mountains. Awkward!
Why was it so smooth and uneventful? Well, because I was prepared. A lot of families travel during the Holidays, and road trips with children can be quite challenging. Kids tend to get bored and antsy, and parents run the risk of completely losing their sanity listening to fussing and an endless barrage of "Are we there yet?" This can be avoided by planning ahead and taking measures to bust the boredom before it starts!
Love candles? I know I do, especially during the Holiday season. I have a TON of candles, sconces, and other decorations I love putting on display in my home. I especially love candles that smell good. Some of my favorite scents? Apple Pie, Buttercream, and Sugar Cookies! I suppose you could call me a candle addict! The only bad thing about being a candle junkie? It can get VERY expensive over time. One great way to score some amazing candles and accessories for little to no cost is by hosting a PartyLite party!
PartyLite is the world's #1 direct seller of premium candles and home-fragrance products. Their products are sold through direct sales – that is, at home parties – and on-line in every state in the U.S. and in 17 other countries. There’s a PartyLite party going on somewhere in the world every 18 seconds!
Even better news is that when you host a PartyLite party, there are so many FREE products you can earn! Just by bringing together friends, neighbors, and coworkers you can really redecorate and refresh your home at little to no cost!
They even have some great incentives to join, like sweepstakes and giveaways. Most recently, they had a great sweepstakes, the PartyLite Simple Pleasures Holiday Sweepstakes, (ended on December 15th) where FIVE people won $500.00 PartyLite Gift Certificates! Just think of how many candles, warmers, and reed diffusers you could buy with that!
But another thing that makes PartyLite Parties so much fun is that they give you the chance to spend quality time with friends and family, all while discovering new must-have products and even earning some extra cash! I would love to get together with some girlfriends, a bottle of wine and some cheeses and chocolates, and make an evening of it!
PartyLite is always coming up with great ways to refresh and redecorate. Their Winter/Spring catalog just launched on December 16th, and I can't wait to make my own PartyLite wish list!
For more info about hosting your own PartyLite Party and some exciting incentives online for party hosts and guests, checkout the PartyLite Facebook Page!
Okay, I have something here that will make any small child squeal with delight this Holiday season. It might also make kids behave throughout the year to avoid that lump of coal reserved for those on Santa's Naughty List! Now I must confess, I was told from a VERY early age that Santa was not real. So I didn't really get to enjoy that magical part of the Christmas season the way many other kids do. Well, my children will believe in Santa as long as I can help it... Or until my 11 year old breaks the news to them that Santa is actually Mom, Dad, Grandparents, etc. (Which hopefully won't be anytime soon!)
Recently, I discovered an awesome online service that is sure to turn even the naughtiest of children into believers. At iCaughtSanta, you can turn a typical Christmas morning into something spectacular by presenting your unsuspecting children with a custom made photo of Santa himself, being caught on film in your own home! How cool is that?!
The process of making your iCaughtSanta photo is quick, easy, and fun. You can upload your own personal photo and choose from one of 20 Santa images to insert into your photo. Once you've chosen your perfect Santa pose, he can easily be resized to fit your photo perfectly, making for quite a realistic looking scene! On top of that, you can even choose from several whimsical borders to make your photo even more special. I made my own iCaughtSanta photo in less than 5 minutes! Talk about FAST! Once your image is created, you can download and print it. Come Christmas morning, give the kids the shock of their lives when you show them photographic proof that Santa visited their home. What a great way to keep the wonder of childhood alive and well for many years to come!
PR Friendly Mama!
I'm Brandy, a happily married, proud mama of two munchkins and a teen. You can read more about me HERE. If you're interested in building a working relationship, please feel free to e-mail me at: NewlyCrunchyMamaOf3@gmail.com
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