Friday, December 30, 2011

Guest Post: First Disney Trip (Final Post)

Time to go.  Mixed feelings-- we were excited to actually get home bc we were exhausted and had to work on Monday. But of course Disney magic is great!

Of course it was not without stress that we went home.   Got back to the hotel checked out bags in but due to a snafu on the part of my DH's names we had to check our bags ourselves in the airport.  AGAIN not really getting the full effect of the Magical Express.  They ALMOST loaded our bags onto the wrong magical express bus, too.  FAIL on magical express. I am the crazy lady who ran out of the hotel screaming "that is our bags dont' load them up"...We were apologized to like a million times, but it woudl have been ugly if I didn't have super detective skills.

Airport good.  But at the last minute they changed our gate so we had to move. THEN the US AIR debacale. 

We are ready to go (again our faults for booking a later flight since boys were cranky and had a stinky diaper right at take off).  We are moving to our seat and realize that ALL of my family's seat were double booked.  So I have my 4YO, 2 YO and DH and I without seat.  My parents were willing to give up their seat for us and stay the at Orlando Airport knowing that we had to get home.  But the stewardess (well one) decided to "remedy" the situation about 20 minutes into the boarding (my son is hysterical because he needs a diaper change right now and my other son is sitting alone next to some stranger.  So the stewardess says ok 2YO boy sits here, 4 YO sits here, You sit here and DH sits here.  ALL SINGLE SEATS.  So in essence, this lady's remedy is to have my 2YO sit next to a random person.  ARE YOU NUTS???  My DH lost it--the other passengers--thank goodness for the kindness of strangers.  They moved themselves around so at least me and my 2YO were together and my DH and 4YO were together. 

So again MORE WAITING and finally we were able to take off 30 minutes into boarding.  I had to diaper change my son while we were "supposed" to be buckled in bc he was hysterical.  But he survived too--thanks to lots of gummi bears and my Iphone for his videos. WE MADE IT HOME.  With a story to tell.

In SUMMARY---I am sure you are NOT still reading this though.  :)
We were slightly disappointed in our trip.  I guess when you put your trust in something like Magical Express, travel agent, there thing you can't anticipate to happen....we also didn't expect the magnitude of the people there.  I know it was supposed to be crowded but with youngin' like mine I just was stressed the entire time about losing them.    BUT, we LOVED it at the same time.  My son's expressions, the memories the pictures, the videos.  Its worth another trip.  But we'll do it OUR way next time.

My DH has sworn off planes and we basically "decided" that next time we go we will drive ourselves, stay in the resort for the bussing (which we liked), and drive back. 

Grading scale-
  • Dining Plan-  B     EH-  again, we waiting just SOOO long at Rose and Crown it was just not worth it.  To do it again, we may just do counter service and book our own character thing one time.
  • Disney Photo Pass A+++ -- I am an avid scrapbooker.  It was worth it all.  For that great family shots.  And great memories to boot.
  • US AIR  F F F  never again.
  • Flame Tree BBQ  A+
  • Rose and Crown C -- see above.
  • Caribbean Beach B- -- too many bus stops and waiting. GORGEOUS though.  Perfect for couples and adults.  Kids, not so much.  I would have preferred to stay at at the value resort or some kind of theme.
  • Magic express-  C -- they almost lost of our luggage and due to a typo on my travel agents' part (and us showing tons of id's to prove the mistake) they would not take our bags and again LOTS OF WAITING
  • Favorite ride-- Toy story mania and Jungle Cruise
  • Favorite place- Hollywood Studios (Jedi Training was a super big event)
  • Disney staff- A+++++  They were super accommodating and nice.  I just think if I was in another lifetime I would totally work there.
  • Disney's rules for handicapped-- My mom needed a wheelchair mid way thru the trip.  It was unreal how much they accommodated her and us.  Kudos to them for that.
  • Disney's magic on my life-- A++++  -- my kid's are still talking about it and they want to go back.  So all is not lost.
So we are finished with the trip.  Positive thoughts now will always be in my mind.  Praying that we can go again and do it differently....our way.  We are going to try out the Disney Cruise next I think. Although right now--I am starting to mentally prepare myself for the epic DISNEY VACAY scrapbook.  :)
Thanks for reading. 

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Guest Post: First Disney Trip (Post 3 of 4)

Day three- HOLLYWOOD Studios 

This was the day I was looking forward to.  We had dining plan with Hollywood and Vine with the Disney Junior characters.  My son's FAVORITE was little Einsteins.  It would be my 2YO's 'justin bieber' moment.  I had every camera ready!!!  It was a great experience.  All the characters came to the table and both boys were HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY to see them.   There was a time when my 2YO rested his head on Leo's shoulder and closed his eyes in happiness.  (WORTH IT ALL!!!!!!!!!)

Then we knew we needed to sign 4YO up for Jedi Training.  So we did that.  Then we did star tours.  HOLY MOLY THAT WAS  A W E S O M E.  Just a super star wars fan growing up and it was just well done.  4YO was alittle freaked out and said to the guy next to him "get me outta here"...but in the end it was good.  :0)  Then it was right on to Toy Story Mania.  MY favorite by far of all the rides in Disney.  IT was awesome.  Just great.  I can't really explain it one of those you just have to do it rides.

Indiana Jones stunt show--- AWESOME.  Then it was off to see the characters--  we are pixar fans so we saw Monster Inc, Cars, Jake from Neverland Pirates, we also did the Muppets too.THEN...the moment of my 4YO's life....his shot at beating Darth Vader.  As a mom of 2 boys, I don't get the princess experience so this was pretty close.  All of us lined up with our cameras in hand to capture the moment.  OH BOY-- it didn't disappoint.  He battled Darth Vader with his light saber.  All of cheered.  What an AWESOME experience for a little boy. 

After it was all over, I said to him "Oh MY Goodness, you beat Darth Vader!"  He said, "No I didn't beat him, he's not dead.  But I got a good fight."  Yes, my boy, you did.  PRICELESS.

SCI FI diner  WIN WIN WIN...we LOVED IT the boys loved it kept them busy watching the movies. Really cool experience.  Also they showed a Tom and Jerry movie.  My 4YO's fave...bonus surprise.  Then we stayed for the OSBOURNE Christmas lights.  WOWSER.  That was amazing....Pictures don't do it justice.  My 4YO just said WOW.  Got us right in the Christmas mood. 

Day 4- our choice.
We asked the boys where they wanted to go.  We went to all the parks really so it was up to them to pick the repeat park.  I was thinking MK since we didn't see it all in our tired stupor.  BUT they chose shocker-- HS see the other shows we missed and to see Darth Vadar (again) we obliged.

We had to stop in to see the Playhouse Disney show--that was well worth it too.  Bubbles from the ceiling, "treasure" falling from the ceiling..singing and dancing along.  AGAIN-- my 2YO got to see his favorite people- Little Einsteins.  He was in heaven. 

We did get to see the Pixar Friends parade front and center with all of the Pixar movie people that was great.  We missed alot of parades in all of our travles so I was happy we finally saw someothing.  They LOVED it.  They were waving and pointing.  WORTH IT.

(to be continued tomorrow!) 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Guest Post: First Disney Trip (Post 2 of 4)

Day Two- Animal Kingdom/Epcot

We woke up early for first thing Animal Kingdom.  Thank goodness my father in law purchased some cool Disney windbreakers for the boys because the weather was *gasp* 55 degrees??  Sorry Floridians, I guess we brought the Jersey weather to you.  So it was a chilly start there.  We went right to the Kilimanjaro safari-- it was great but we didn't have that good of a time since it was cold and most of the animals were "sleeping"/probably in shock over how cold it was.  (Again, Six Flags has the wild safari too and we frequent there my 4 year old kept saying that we can do that when we get home.)

Off to Dinoland-  what a TREAT.  They love dino and they love the boardwalk.  SO that was a fun place.  All the games of chances made us feel like we were back on the Jersey Shore boardwalk (minus the annoying Snookies :-) )  We were there for a while and decided to use our snack credit at some place with Ribs.

**Parent's worst Nightmare** My parents and DH went to buy the food, I stayed with the two boys for a seat.  That is when 4YO decided to "run and find daddy" while 2 YO played with the ketchp.  I was so stressed out so I bolted after 4 YO and the GREAT STAFF at Disney immediately jumped in and inadvertently babysat 2YO (who really didn't pay attention to the fact that I was gone running--he loved pumping the ketchup into cups).

DISNEY STAFF ROCKED (actually they rocked the entire trip but this was a super up for that.) So we were all there safe and sound---I, after suffereing a minor heart attack--was able to actually eat food.  My DH stated that his ribs were the best ever so YAY Animal Kingodom - FLAME TREE BBQ- !!!
EPCOT was next...we hopped on the bus home to drop out stuff off and waited again for ANOTHER bus to take us to Epcot.  **note to all** if you don't like busses stopping all the time around the hotel...Caribbean Beach is NOT for you.  For a family that was just tired and traumatized from the way in more waiting and bus stops just made us unhappy.

EPCOT-- Hmm, C R O W D E D.  Food and Wine festival there.  Looked cool, but my oh my, just too many people.  With a trauma of my bolting kids in the crowd already I just couldn't do it again.  But we had dining reservations there so we stayed and did some attractions.  It was fun, but really not a place for a 4YO and 2YO.

Dining- Rose and Crown.  HOLY MOLY--MORE WAITING.  I swear we must have waited there to get served for THREE HOURS.  Three hours of my life and disney wasted to eat average food.  Waitress was really nice and gave the boys some light-up buzzes so that was good.  But three hours COME ON.  It was horrible.  HORRIBLE.  Again, Crankiness level was UP again on all of us.  Boys, parents, DH, and yes. even me-- Positive Polly.

We desperately wanted to see more and do more.  So FINALLY we were done.  Everyone dispurses and did they own thing.  I was determined to see more things at Epcot since half of our day was spent siting at a restaurant.  So we did the character spot (more waiting but worth it in the end) and Nemo / Crush thing.  I LOVED it.  "DUDE!"  My 4YO was cracking up at the silly Crush again it made the frustration of a 3 hour dining meal melt.

Day two summary-- AK good, Flame Tree BBQ- AWESOME (and staff at AK even more AWESOME for staying with my kid) Epcot (eh)  ROSE and CROWN EPIC EPIC fail.  Crush the turtle-- DUDE it was  totally tubular.  :)

(to be continued tomorrow)

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Guest Post: Our First Disney Trip (Part 1 of 4)

Where to begin?  I have been happily dreaming of a Disney vacation for quite some time now with my 2 boys ages 4 and 2.  My DH hasn't been to Disney EVER and its been quite some time since I went.  But when I thought about it and discussed with some people I was advised to wait until they were older.  But some people were convincing us that we needed to go while the "magic" was still there. 

Finally, my husband dropped the ball and decided to book our trip.  It was in August that the whirlwind of events took place- where to eat, when to go, where to stay, what to do.  BOY is it EXHAUSTING and stressful.  So we just left it up to a travel agent who did it ALL for us.  Great BUT not great at the same time.  (Will explain later about that one)
So it is all booked.  We would go in November when the entire state of NJ has off for their teacher's convention.  (I am a teacher in NJ and yes, I have actually used this time off to go to the convention and attend workshops...this year though was about family!)  We also decided to include out grandparents and uncle in this trip too.  Great idea (sort of).  Well, apparently I missed the memo that EVERYONE IN NJ goes to Disney like us.So we were booked at Caribbean Beach Resort (sounded great-- Beach, Resort, paradise, on Disney property (busses to parks!))

 Dining plans- and booked character meals at Crystal Palace, Hollywood and Vine, and table at Epcot Rose and Crown.  Flights late at night out of Philly airport.  SO lets break it down.

Flight there:
We were so excited to go.  The boys were excited,  I over packed, got the Ipod ready, the portable DVD player ready for hte plane, gummi worms for the boys ears.  AND we arrived 2 hours before hte flight, right?   Isnt' that what your supposed to do nowadays for planes??   Not a good idea....super hyped up kids.  RUNNING around the airport terminal picking up ancient phones in the phone booth to talk on them (yes, I santized their hands afterwards)....Basically, that was the precursor of our trip with 2 little boys-- chasing, chasing, worrying about where they were.  The other people waiting must have HATED us  boarding that flight silently thinking "Please don't let these kids be seated near us...." OFF we went, my DH's fear of flying and all.  Not a bad flight at all.  We landed.  So I guess its a start.

Orlando Airport:
Unfortunately, we missed the "magical express" bag delivery timing because our flight was in past 10pm.  So we had to get our luggage ourselves off the belt.  Thus negating the whole fact of magical express.  We had to then shlept ALL of wheelie luggage 2 strollers and loads of carryons to the next line for Caribbean Beach resort.  We are waiting for that bus (exhausted from the plane) to take us to the resort.  Then we hear people saying "OH, it takes about 45 minutes to get to the hotel"  WHAT??  45 mintues??  Are you kidding me?  We didn't know that.  So here we are, 2 little ones shlepting onto a bus tired and cranky (and the kids are too), watching a video about the awesome time we are going to have.  OK, lets just get there. NOTE TO SELF--- book an earlier flight PERIOD.

COMPLETE and UTTER NIGHTMARE---  Didn't do much research after our agent booked it for us.  We thought we would just love it.  NOTE TO SELF- not a good idea.  We were all tired now its now 12am.  We are super tired.  Just want to check in.  So we wait on this LONG LONG line.  WHY is the line long??  OH, because they decided to have ONE computer working for check in.  There was a line out the door because most of the the people that got off our flight checked in to our hotel.  Finally about an inch of motion in the line (remember 4 and 2 year old of crankiness---) we are next.  We had specifically asked for our rooms to be together and to get a crib for my 2 year old.  We were told YES, my agent also called we were told YES. 

SO, when I was in front of the guy and triple checked that info...what was I told NO!!  "No sorry, we could accomodate you but you are a building away from each other and you'll have to wait for the crib" ITS NOW 1am my sons (and adults) NEED TO SLEEP.  We get a shuttle to our room because OF COURSE where we checked in is NO where near walking distanct so we shlept and wait again.    THEN we realize that Caribbean Beach Resort has NO ELEVATORS.  So we must SHELPT ALL LUGGAGE UP STAIRS AT 1am.Crib doesn't come until 2am.  YES. that is right.  2am.  So we didn't sleep until 2am.  What a first night??!!  Right.

Day one-- Magic Kingdom
Great place.  It was overwhelming to say the least though with just the amount of tourists.  Seeing the castle up so close is just AMAZING/Breathtaking to say the least.  We took about a million pics.  But then we started walking around.  I didn't know where to go and none of us knew where to go so we just followed the crowd.   Dumbo ride LOOOONG wait so we passed.  Frankly, the boys didn't care either since we have passes to Six Flags Great Adventure and can ride the Bugs Bunny Planes anyway.  :)

We headed to the jungle cruise and pirates of the caribbean.  LOVE THEM BOTH.  I don't remember much of anything else since we were SOO SOO tired from the day before.  I think that long day spoiled day one of the trip.  ALL of us were cranky and really just couldn't get over the fact that we had just a horrible experience--all that positive thoughts about going there and all the dreams for going there.  POOF up in flames bc of poor flight times and poor hotel service and lots and lots of waiting.

I, for one, Positive Polly wasn't about to let this spoil our day though so we trucked on. Crystal Palace for our dining experience.  It was great and to see our boys' faces for the characters--priceless.  Even my husband enjoyed it for his birthday.  :)
Back to the pool we went, and just destressed from the long day and actually, we bypassed all the parades and shows....for our own sanity, we just wanted to rest and get some sleep.  I think that was the best decision.  Maybe again we'll go and see the electric light parade-- but with a 4 and 2 year old and lack of sleeping for 24 hours---I think we made the right call.

(to be continued tomorrow!)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Exciting Week!

I am preparing this post ahead of time - so that it will hopefully post without a hitch! 

I hope that your Christmas was spectacular!  I can tell you that ours was crazy (even before the fact!)  We host Christmas Brunch at our house at 11 a.m. for my side of the family.  Hubs' side has dinner planned ... at 2:00 p.m.   I think we may be a little late!!  We'll see.  I'm still running behind schedule for my wrapping so fingers crossed that it all got finished in time and everyone was happy!!

Uploaded from the Photobucket iPhone App
The Christmas Tree @ Wilderness Lodge 11/11
This week, I am featuring a guest post series about a first trip to Disney!  My friend Ali Z. and her family took their first plunge to the World during the first week/weekend in November. During our NJ Teachers Convention weekend.  Our schools shut down for two days (generally the first Thursday and Friday of November) so that the teachers can attend their annual convention which takes place in Atlantic City 

Their cast of characters were:  Mr. & Mrs. Z (both teachers!), their 2 sons who are 2 and 4, and their inlaws.

Since we are a little freakish about Disney, I thought it would be cool to have someone else give their perspective on a Disney trip, especially a first trip.  Disney can be overwhelming (even to veterans)!  Disney can also be loads of fun and have many special *magical* moments.

I hope that you enjoy your holiday week and these next posts by my friend!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Celebrating in Heaven.

Disney Dream, Mickey MouseStressing over the holidays? I certainly am not.  It's not like they snuck (is that a word?) up on me or did any kind of stealth tactic  Still the same time, year after year after year.  The difference?  This year we were away, on the Disney Dream, over Thanksgiving and the official "kick off" of the Christmas shopping season.  (I am not complaining!)  I am just saying that being out of touch with internet for a few days and therefore out of touch with the shopping madness reality, put a few kinks in my schedule.

Couple that with my best friend since childhood losing her baby brother at the age of 34 last week.  He was laid to rest yesterday.  And I was at work.  Where I didn't want to be.  I wanted to be able to be there.  To help.  To give strength if the family needed it.  I was able to go to Michael's viewing Tuesday night.  It was apparent that he was as well loved in his adulthood as he was in his childhood.  I remember him fondly from weekends spent at Laura's house.  Both of her brothers, and her parents too, became part of my extended family because we spent so.much.time together.  It was nice.  I didn't have any brothers.  As much as Laura thought they were bothersome, I thought having brothers was cool (only two girls in our family) and tried to always make time for them.  Not a lot of time (that would have been weird) but a simple conversation here or there.  Or even just a hello.

Michael - he was a jokester.  At home.  At school.  Wherever.  He had a personality that was infectious.  The photos shown of him at the funeral home Tuesday night reflected that.  He leaves behind not only his son but his long time girlfriend, his mother, his sister and his brother.  The viewing was on the 18th anniversary of his father's passing.  Really, does this family need any more grief at what is supposed to be a happy time?  While I enjoyed seeing the photos of the man he had become and the life he was living, I was happy to see the photos of him as a young boy - the boy I remember so fondly.  (The dogs I remember hanging out with too:  "hi misty - hi sandy")  The photos of him grinning and playing ... the family photos.  The picture of the three children that they had done when they were *almost* grown up.  (Really, when are we all the way grown up??)

The sobs that came out of my bestie...they tore at my heart.  I would give anything to take away her pain, her grief, her sorrow and sense of loss.  I've said it many times to her in many different ways:  I hope that she feels the love she is surrounded with here - and the love that emanates from the heavens above for you.  You are not walking this walk alone.  I will do anything for you and your family ~ just say the word.  Michael is now celebrating this Christmas with your Dad - the first one in 18 years! 

May you rest in peace Michael.  Thank you for making me a part of your family all those years ago.  And, most of all, thank you for leaving your mark on all of our hearts. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

It's been quite the crazy week!  How often have I repeated that same sentence?  

Last weekend saw Twink's first gymnastics "team" competition.  She didn't place but she did a great job.  Scoring an impressive 6.8 on the vault, which she hates!  She did really well in my eyes.  I cannot imagine the pressure she felt going in to that competition.  It was a long day.  Luckily, my mom drove since she used to live in the area of the gym where the competition was held and I had my own personal navigator.  A big thank you to her for going with us, driving and missing her scheduled "girls night out" with her friends because the day was extra long and the team girls wanted to get dinner before we came home -which they certainly earned with all of those hard hours of competition in.  Thanks Mom!! We really appreciate it!!

Then, this past Wednesday night, my sister in law hosted her annual Christmas Ornament (Holiday decoration) exchange.  That is always a load of fun, this year especially.  D put out a fabulous spread and introduced me to 14 (12?) Hands red wine.  YUM!  The ladies that attend this exchange are fun to be with any day and especially fun when we exchange the ornaments and steal the gifts from one another.  Another huge thank you to my SIL for hosting such a fun night out.  (Too bad the weather was crappy!!)  I came home with a really cute present luminary and I can't wait to put a candle into it to see how pretty it looks all lit up! 

On Sunday, we picked out and brought home our Christmas tree.  My hubs lovingly put it up last night and if the kids can get all of their homework done and we can have a relatively calm dinner tonight, we'll decorate it tonight.  "IF"  got it?  No promises.  But I do promise that I will post photos when we finally get it all done. 

I can tell you that the kids were super excited about the tree coming into the house.  So excited that they thought they didn't need to do last night's homework.  That they were exempt because the tree was coming in and going up.  Not so in my book.   "IF" they do not get their stuff done today, that tree will sit there, with lights only, until this weekend when we are "off" on Saturday (after we take Guinness to the vet.)  Don't you agree?  When do you put your tree up and decorate it?  On a school night?   Or on the weekend when you can all enjoy the task at hand and get into the spirit?? 

Fun post(s) coming up this week:  my friend Alison is going to be guest blogging here on Family, Scrapbooks and Coffee!!  I may have her on two days instead of one day --- we'll have to see how it goes.  She recently went to Disney for the first time with her family and is going to tell us all about her trip with her husband, her in-laws and her two little boys!!  I am so excited to have her share her escapades!  

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Crayola! Just in time for Christmas!!

Inspire hours of wonder, adventure and dreams by giving a child more than presents for the holidays!!  (If you are like my friend Traci, you're only looking for Crayola products to bring your child's ideas to life!)  Crayola gives you many ideas in their Holiday Gift Guide (clickable link is green or you can copy and paste: )
"From fun coloring and drawing products to activity toys -- every product inspires kids to explore, discover, play, pretend and dream."  Crayola and MyBlogSpark have teamed up to offer you an AWESOME gift this holiday season!!  A gift pack that includes the Crayola Jewelry Boutique, Crayola Glow Book, Telescoping Crayon Tower and Ultimate Art Supply Kit will allow your children to be original as they bring their ideas to life!  The prize pack is one of each of these!!  FOUR wonderful genuine Crayola products worth over $75 combined!  Your kids will be lucky to have these this Holiday season. 

Crayola Jewelry Boutique:  Kids can become their own jewelry designers! Crayola put a unique “spin” on jewelry making with a special “jewelry spinner” that creates multi-colored beads using Crayola Model Magic. As kids spin their beads into shapes, they can string them together to create original bracelets, necklaces, earrings, and pendants that reflect their own personal style. Let the designing begin! Recommended for children ages 6+, each Jewelry Boutique kit includes 8 packs of Crayola Model Magic to mold 160 beads, 5 bracelet charms, 3 pendant charms, 2 shape cutters, a bead dryer rack, 5 toggle sets, 4 earring posts and ear wires, a bead punch, 18 gems, 2 necklace cords, 1 elastic cord, bead glaze, and the Jewelry Boutique Spinner with storage areas and retails for $24.99!

Crayola Glow Book:  Let your kids’ imaginations run free this holiday season while creating glowing, moving art with the Crayola Glow Book. Turn the lights out and watch their artwork come alive on each page and appear as if it is actually moving! Using special glowing-ink markers to draw on each of the four clear pages, kids can choose one of the four tracing guides to create original scenes, signs and messages, and arrange them in their desired order. Then, just hit the lights and allow your kids to wow you with wildly colorful, glowing animated scenes. Variable light settings create colorful, multi-layered effects. The Crayola Glow Book wipes off easily so kids can use their imaginations to create endless glowing artwork! A simple wet cloth will do. Recommended for children ages 6+, the kit includes one Glow Book with 4 clear pages, 4 animation tracing guides and 6 glow markers and retails for $24.99.   (My girls have seen this commercial on TV and have both put it on their wish lists for Santa!)

Crayola’s Telescoping Crayon Tower and Ultimate Art Supply Case: For everyday inspiration and creativity, be sure to keep Crayola’s Telescoping Crayon Tower and all-inclusive Ultimate Art Supplies case handy, so they’re can always be prepared to create! Filled with crayons and all of the classic art tools for drawing and painting, kids can share their creativity through colorful works of art!  The Telescoping Crayon Tower puts limitless color at kids' fingertips and compacts neatly for storage with 150 Crayola Crayons and a built-in sharpener for extra convenience.   The Crayon Tower retails for $17.99.

Recommended for children 4+, the Ultimate Art Supply Kit contains 24 crayons, 8 washable broad line markers, 12 colored pencils, 8 washable watercolors, 1 paint brush, school glue, scissors, and colored paper and retails for $16.99.

Have you seen any of these items on the TV commercials like my kids have? 

It's easy to win!!  There is one mandatory entry and many "bonus" entries.  The contest will run from tonight until 12:01 a.m. EST on Wednesday, 12/7/11. 

Disclosure: The Crayola Innovative Holiday prize pack, product information and prize pack for giveaway have been provided by Crayola through MyBlogSpark.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

"Enjoy" Scrapbook Page Pops with Flowers

From Close To My Heart's Corporate office - Hope this gives you some new inspiration. And, today is the last day for the awesome November constant campaign. Check it out at my Close To My Heart site.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks Giveaway - Scentsy!

Pictured above is the Beautiful MID SIZE Graphite warmer.  How pretty is that?  Measuring approximately 4" wide and 5" tall, these beautiful warmers pack a powerful punch in getting a delicious scent spread throughout your home, safely.

Scentsy uses a low-watt bulb to slowly melt specially formulated wax. With no flame, smoke, or soot, the Scentsy wickless candle system is a safe way to enjoy Scentsy fragrances.  When you get your new Scentsy, insert light bulb (included,)  plug it in, add Scentsy wax to the top of the warmer.  Sit back and relax.   Really, it is that easy.

Scentsy is not all about warmers though.  The last time my favorite consultant, Christine Worrell, had an open house, I learned about a lot of new product the company has come out with.  Not only are there three different sized warmers (full, mid and plug-in size), there are also Scentsy buddies (a special holiday one, no less), wax bricks, wax bars, scent packs, scent circles, room sprays, travel tins, fragrance foam and fine fragrance too! Yes, Scentsy perfume has arrived.

Even my kids love the Scentsy collections.  Each has a warmer in their room.  We have plug ins in the bathrooms.  A full size in the living room.  We cannot live without them.

A favorite scent?  I'm glad you asked.  I'm partial to non-floral-y type scents.  Food type scents?  You betcha.  Calming, relaxing scents?  Love them too.  My favorite this season?  Pumpkin roll.  Smells like heaven when I walk in to the house, after a long day of stress at work and smell the deliciousness of Pumpkin Roll.  And, I know that I could never recreate that scent in a food (I'm really not a good cook) so it soothes me.  :-)

For readers of the blog?  A giveaway, compliments of my favorite consultant!  The Prize Pack?  A Mid Size warmer and three bricks.  See the Rafflecopter below to enter!  It is easy, peasy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

General Mills Product Giveaway!

Recently, I received the coolest box in the mail.  It arrived on my step a few Saturday mornings ago and was marked "MyBlogSpark" as the return address.  Inside?  Glorious goodies!  2 Large boxes of cereal:  1 Honey Nut Cheerios and 1 Lucky Charms.  We are in heaven - how did they know these are our faves?  Also was one pack of four DC Comic books and an action figure of the Green Lantern. 

General Mills, one of my favorite cereal producers (they're not paying me to say that!) recently teamed up with the folks over at DC Comics to place 4 new, special edition comic books in specially marked packages of General Mills Cereals.  Participating Big G cereal include: Cinnamon Toast Crunch (17 oz.), Lucky Charms (16 oz.)(the fave of each of my children), Honey Nut Cheerios (17 oz.)(one of my faves!), Trix (14.8 oz.), Golden Grahams (16 oz.)(the other fave of mine!), Reese’s Puffs(18 oz.) and Cocoa Puffs (16.5 oz.) .  Take a sneak peek at the website which previews the special offer both cereals and comic books:  You can even take a look into the comic books. (Cool!)

Seeing these DC Comic book heroes brings back many memories!  I was once Wonder Woman for Halloween!!  Too bad I don't have her body now!  Wowzers!  Aquaman?  The man who could communicate with the animals of the sea?  So cool!  I loved watching their adventures on the Saturday morning cartoons!  

Drumroll:   General Mills is sponsoring a prize giveaway here at Family, Scrapbooks and Coffee in conjunction with MyBlogSpark. See the Rafflecopter below for all of the easy ways you can enter to win your very own prize pack, similar to what I received.    You will receive:  One Box of Cereal, One Green Lantern Action Figure and One 4-Pack of DC Comic books.  

Disclosure: Product, information, and giveaway have been provided by General Mills and DC ENTERTAINMENT through MyBlogSpark.

Monday, November 21, 2011

A New Social Network for Health: CAFE WELL

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Cafe Well for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

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CafeWell.  Have you heard of it?  If you are like most of us, you have not heard of this new and invigorating social website.  CafeWell was created in order to provide a safe, secure and anonymous healthcare destination that wants to connect you with other people who share your same healthcare interest and needs.  The CafeWell community is there address your needs, whether it be for a chronic condition support (fibromyalgia, etc.), to healthy lifestyle tips and even wellness challenges. 

There is an event now at Cafe Well RACE to the MOON.  Race to the Moon is open to all HealthAmerica subscribers and is a corporate wellness program whose goal is to get members more fit and active through running or walking.  (The Philadelphia Marathon was yesterday.  I wonder if any Race to the Moon members participated?)  Race to the Moon provides, free of charge to qualified participants, wireless pedometers which tracks their steps and rewards them for milestones and goals.  In just under a month, the Race to the Moon participants have recorded over million steps, an average of 2.5 million per day!

Participants in Race to the Moon are enjoying themselves!  Here’s what participants are saying:

“This race has opened my eyes to my second chance. This is where we turn things around. This is where we get off the couch, go outside, and enjoy life. I always say we do puzzles and board games as a family because it's cheap, but taking a walk with my daughter is free. So, starting tomorrow we are going to take a walk after dinner. Then the next day, and the next day, and the next.”

“The program has finally gotten me on the treadmill to attempt running; I’m trying!”

At my work, we are doing a weight loss challenge.  Seems that many of us are "too busy" for exercise.  (That is my excuse.  All of mine are:  too busy (work/kids' schedules/homework/etc.), tired, lazy.  There I admitted it.  Laziness.)  This week, however, I weighed in 4 pounds lighter than the week before.  Why?  I cared.  I asked questions about what I ate.  I moved.  Maybe not as much as I should have but I definitely did more moving than the week before. 

Unfortunately, I will be on vacation when the weekly results are announced.  I do, however, think I have an excellent chance at winning this week.  We will finish up our challenge just before Christmas break and then will probably start up another after the first of the year.  You know, like all good people who make the New Year's Resolution to "be more healthy."  With CafeWell, we may no longer have a reason to not be more healthy.

Inbox (16 messages, 1 unread)

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Have you seen Puppies v. Babies? The Ultimate Showdown!

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Puppies vs. Babies for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Animal Planet is currently holding a contest to see who you think is cuter:  Puppies or Babies?  (Puppies vs. Babies online contest ends 11/23/11 so get your vote in now!)  The winner will receive $5,000 cash! 

It's really hard for me to make a decision of who to vote for.  We all know that there are some babies out there that you'd never tell their mothers are not cute! (Yes, I have three kids of my own so I'm not some "no kid" person making that statement!)  Puppies, on the other hand are CUTE.   All puppies.  Sorry babies.  I think the puppies will have this one made in the shade. 

Puppies vs. Babies   Who will you vote for?  Leave me a comment - tell me who you think will win the contest.  Did you check out the video of the Labrador puppies exploring the outside for the first time?  How stinking cute was that?  How about the Making of a Guide Dog video? 

Of course, I do have to say - check this cute one out ---

Do you think I should have entered her??  She is pretty dang cute and still a "baby" even though she acts as if she's going to be 12 in April instead of 4.  I totally missed out if you think I should have since we're in the final voting phase now - no more submissions are being accepted.   

Puppies v. Babies - who do you think will win? 


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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tassimo Professional - In Your Office?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Tassimo for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

Are you one of the people who has to brew the entire pot of coffee when you get in to the office in the morning?  Or do you have to wait for the next post to brew when you arrive because you arrive a tad bit later than everyone else?  Have you considered a professional Tassimo single-cup coffee maker in your office?  If you have been on the fence or haven't even thought about it yet, Tassimo is offering a free demo of their professional single-cup hot beverage system in your office now!  Here is the link you'll need to sign up:    Tassimo Professional

brewer straight on.jpg (2 documents, 2 total pages)We have a Keurig machine in my office but I'll be signing up for this free demonstration for the girls in my office.  This Tassimo machine looks similar but the end result looks yummy.   There are many reasons why to sign up for this FREE demonstration  ... but these are just a few that I've discovered recently: 

1. High Quality Taste - Tassimo Pro creates coffee-house style beverages right in the office. Cappuccinos and lattes can be prepared using real Gevalia espresso and real milk creamer. Variety of drink combinations possible.  (You would have to get very creative with the Kcups for this option; there are no creamer options that I know of presently for the Kcup products)  And Tassimo helps out by providing possible drink combinations and recipes! 

2. Top of the line brand availability - Gevalia espressos and coffees, Suchard hot chocolate and world renowned Twinings teas. How can you go wrong?    (EVERYONE in my office thinks that this part ROCKS!)

3. Smart T DISCS - The Tassimo Pro uses a unique double-bar brew codes to ensure proper brewing &  quality.  The double bar codes on Tassimo Pro  T Discs also help control your employees trying to take them home or steal to sell (Some offices really do have problems like this!) because the home based machines are not compatible with the double-bar brew code. 

4. Ease of use:  one touch activation can create a specialty drink (to rival an unnamed coffee house up the road from your office) in under two minutes.  It is easy to read the LCD instructions to brew, clean and perform maintenance on the Tassimo Pro.   (I'm all about ease of use!) NEW Tassimo Pro logo.jpg (2 documents, 2 total pages)

Are there any flavors or specialty drinks that you can make in the Tassimo that you can't wait to try?  Check this page out  it shows exactly how to make a few.  Or, if you're more inclined to "roll the dice", check out this slot machine to pick a flavor.  I pressed my luck and came up with a "Red Eye Medium" which sounds wonderful to me - Gevalia Signature Blend mixed with Gevalia Expresso.  YUM! 

Don't forget to stop by    Tassimo Professional free demo  to try this cool machine out in your office (Hurry, before the offer expires!!)                         

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Monday, November 7, 2011

Winner Announcement: Seventh Generation Giveaway

Thank you, thank you, thank you for your overwhelming support for the Seventh Generation and LeCrueset Giveaway which ended last night!!  I sure do appreciate it!!

Using Rafflecopter, this giveaway was a cinch for me to run!  They even use to select the winner - which makes it easier for me too!  Our giveaway winner today is:   Elena!  I have already been in contact with Ms. Elena and have her mailing info so she will have her superb prize pack shortly.

A big thank you to MyBlogSpark and Seventh Generation for sponsoring such a wonderful event as well!  

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Once A Month Mom Holiday eCookbook – $3.00 Sale {Ends Midnight 11/4/11}

It’s TIME! The Once a Month Mom Holiday 2010 eCookbook ONCE A MONTH MOM HOLIDAY COOKBOOK is NOW on sale! Use the below coupon code to get your copy while they last at the $3.00 price! And they won’t last long. This code is only good until midnight today (Friday, 11/4/11).   Simply click on the photo link above and it will take you to where you make your purchase.  Ensure you enter your special code for your discounted book! 

Discount Schedule, original price $9.99:
  • 100 eCookbooks available for $1.00 – SOLD OUT
  • 200 eCookbooks available for $2.00 – Code:  SOLD OUT
  • 300 eCookbooks available for $3.00  Code:   300OAMM
IMPORTANT: After completing your purchase you will receive an email with a download link from info @ It will go to the email that you use with PayPal, so be aware if this is not an email you use often. Sometimes the email ends up in your SPAM folder, so make sure to check there if you don’t see it right away!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Seventh Generation Product and LeCrueset Giveaway

Just how "green" are you?  How big is your carbon footprint?  I know that our family has a GIANT carbon footprint.  We are a gadget based family.  We have iPhones, Droids, iPods, iPads, laptops, Wii, xBox, etc. in our house.  If all five of us are home, I would take a gander that at least 3 are in use at one time.  Terrible, I know.  We are a recycling family and I am enjoying learning more about buying recycled products and products that aren't as harsh on the environment (or my family!)
Seventh Generation has been around for a while now.  I have seen their products in many different retail and internet based stores.   An interesting tidbit I picked up while visiting their website to learn more about Seventh Generation is that "all product and outer packaging boxes are now made from 100% post-consumer recycled cardboard except our baby diaper boxes and the boxes from one of our paper towel manufacturers. The U.S. standard is 40%."   That is amazing! 

The power of scent is remarkable. It can have positive effects on your mood, reduce stress, and even help you sleep better. But not all scents are created equal. The fruit, floral and herbal ingredients used to create the scents in Seventh Generation´s new natural dish liquid come from fields, not factories.

And, they are sponsoring an AMAZING giveaway!  I am speechless - because I have already received (and utilized some of the contents) of this wonderful prize package.  Check it out:
    Your Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid prize pack will contain:
  • (4) bottles of Seventh Generation natural dish liquid varieties in Free & Clear, Lavender Floral & Mint, Fresh Citrus & Ginger, and Lemongrass & Clementine Zest scents
  • Premium 3 Qt. 12" x 9" Baking Dish from Le Creuset©
  • (2) Twist© loofah sponges and (2) Twist© scour pads made from 100% post-recycled materials
  • Set of 3 organic cotton dish towels
Entering is easy via the Rafflecopter below.  The contest will run for one week and will close next Monday at 12:01 a.m. (eastern time). (Please enter by Sunday so that you don't miss out!)  

Using Rafflecopter is easy!!  There are two entries that you can do without leaving my blog (for all others, simply open a new tab so that you can perform the entry requirement then come right back here to tell me you "did that")   1) to tell me which scent of dish washing liquid you would choose for your family and 2) tell me which essential oil sourcing site would you be most excited to visit, if you were to win the "Nature Makes Perfect Scents" sweepstakes? (if you enter the contest, more entries!!) Visit Seventh Generation to learn more about each scent’s origin.

And, because I'm in the cooking mood - here is a link to a recipe that I found in honor of the Fresh Citrus and Ginger dish detergent that is my favorite!  It's perfect for fall and it's perfect if, you, like me, are looking to keep it healthy while using your slow cooker.  Slow Cooker Lemon Ginger Oatmeal is a recipe post from The Healthy Slow Cooking Blog.  If you decide to give it a try, let me know if you loved it!!

Disclosure: The Seventh Generation Natural Dish Liquid prize pack, product and information have been provided by Seventh Generation through MyBlogSpark.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Vampire Mystery: The Boxcar Children #120 - A Book Review

Recently rereleased in eBook (Kindle, Nook, etc.) The Vampire Mystery from the Boxcar Children is sure to delight your early chapter book readers!

From the publisher:


Henry, Jessie, Violet, and Benny meet Mr. Hudson, a local author who is best known for his novel about a vampire. But rumors of a real vampire are going around town—a vampire who haunts the graveyard behind Mr. Hudson’s house! Since vampires don’t exist, the children soon realize that someone must be trying to scare people away! Who brought the old legend back to life—and why?

What I thought:

A quick and easy read for the young and old, with about 45 pages.  This book will tickle the "scary" bone of your young chapter book readers.  A wonderful mystery book!  My daughter is in the fourth grade and was excited to get started after I finished reading this book on the iPad.  She is about halfway through it in 3 fifteen minute reading sessions.  (Probably more - I can't tell because she let the battery die in the iPad yesterday while reading!)  The plot wasn't too hard to understand and the words were "just right".  If there are a few words they have trouble with, it is easy for them to come ask for help (and for you to provide it without consulting the dictionary!)   

A lot of fun at Halloween time or anytime!! It does not have a Halloween theme to it, other than the Vampire, as did the other books have that I have recently reviewed.  

If you pick it up, please stop back by and let me know what you thought! 

Note:  I received a free galley copy of this book from the publisher via  I was not compensated to provide a favorable review but am pleased to provide one here at Family, Scrapbooks and Coffee. 

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Trick or Treat - A Spooky Book Review

Recently re-released in Ebook format, Trick or Treat by Richie Tankersley Cusick.  

About the book: 

Product Description (from

A young girl is tormented by her new house’s terrible past
Martha wants to be happy for her father. She likes his new wife—even if she’s a terrible cook—but she doesn’t understand why they had to leave Chicago and move to this horrible house in the country. It’s big, broken-down, and miles from anywhere, alone in the woods with nothing on the property but an overgrown cemetery. But at night it doesn’t feel empty.

Conor—her new, weird stepbrother—chose Martha’s new room for her. It’s dark and drafty, and no matter how she tries to fix it up, she can’t sleep easily there. At night, whispers come from the closet, filling Martha with a sense that something terrible happened here. She’s right. Not long ago, the house was the site of a gruesome murder. When Conor and Martha’s parents leave town on their honeymoon, the two teens will find out why the dead don’t rest easy at the old Bedford house.

This ebook features an illustrated biography of Richie Tankersley Cusick including rare photos and never-before-seen documents from the author’s personal collection.

What I thought:  

Creepy doesn't even begin to describe this book!  Although not gory, it has a unique scariness to it.  If it was a movie, I'd have had my eyes closed through most of it!  Step-siblings thrown in an old, reportedly "haunted" house, while their parents honeymoon across the country ... hidden secret passageways within the house ... a cemetery in their backyard ... and it's Halloween!  

I loved this book, even though I was afraid to turn the page sometimes.  I think that it is a good YA book, better for kids in early high school years and late middle school - I have a 5th grader and a 4th grader - I think they'd have enjoyed this as a movie but the book is a little above their reading level.  

If you're looking for a spooky, Halloween book for your kids to read (while the East Coast is bracing for snow this Halloween weekend,)  I definitely recommend adding this to your reading list!!

Note:  I was provided a free galley copy of this book from the Publisher via in exchange for my honest review.  I was not paid or otherwise compensated to provide a favorable review. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Baby, It's Cold Outside - A Book Review and Giveaway

About the book: (from the Publisher)
Dottie Morgan has no desire to share her home or her heart over the Christmas holidays. After all, her Christmas spirit froze over when Dottie lost her son in World War II. But when a blizzard of the decade traps Dottie in her home with four near strangers, she just might discover that opening her door might also open her heart to a Christmas miracle and a new reason to celebrate Christmas

Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren is another book I have the opportunity to review here at Family, Scrapbooks and Coffee which embraces the Christmas spirit as its theme.  It centers around four (then a surprise fifth!) lonely, hurting people during the 2nd World War.  In the middle of a snowstorm, hope and love warms their hearts.

I enjoyed this book thoroughly - my Grandfathers were both in the War, one in the Army in Europe and one in the South Pacific serving in the Navy.  The time period interests me immensely as neither man is still alive to share their stories with us.  Too, I learned of "snow homes" for the children who lived outside of city limits and still attended the local schools.  Not only was I reading for enjoyment, but I also learned quite a bit.

I enjoy reading Susan May Warren's novels.  I have a few more on my "to be read" shelves!  I anxiously awaiting having the time to get to them.  You can learn more about this wonderful author at

Note:  I received a copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group for review purposes.  No compensation was received nor was I asked to give a positive review, yet I am pleased to present one here.  

One festive winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. Giveaway ends on 10/26!

But, wait there’s more! Join Susan May Warren on 10/27 for merriment and a few early Christmas presents at her Baby, It's Cold Outside Christmas party! Grab your Christmas sweaters, socks and pj’s and join Susan and a few friends for a fireside chat about her recent books (Heiress & Baby, It’s Cold Outside), holiday traditions, favorite Christmas recipes, a trivia contest and more! Invite your friends and don’t miss the fun!

RSVP here and we'll see you on October 27th at 5 PM PST / 8 PM EST!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Franklin's Halloween - A book review

Just in time for Halloween!  I was asked by the publisher to read and review this e-release, Franklin's Halloween: A Classic Story.

Released again, in a digital format, Franklin's Halloween is a tale that will not disappoint your little ones.  My preschooler is three.  She loved this book.  We received a copy via the publisher on  We were able to download it into our Ipad,, using the Bluefire reader.  The graphics were wonderful and the story was classic Franklin. 

We loved reading about Franklin picking his Halloween costume and following him to a Halloween party with his friends and family.  All of our favorites were included - Beaver, Fox, and even Bear (although we later learn Bear was sick!) My little one loved the Haunted House scene and enjoyed picking out the different details in illustrations.  She did, however, point out that the party was missing a pinata.  Maybe next time?

Thank you for this opportunity to review one of our favorite childhood characters this Halloween.  You can pick up your copy from, or another of your favorite ebook sellers.

Note:  A digital galley of this book was received from the publisher via  No compensation was received nor was I asked to provide a favorable review. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Baby, It’s Cold Outside – warm up with a Kindle Fire from Susan May Warren

Warm up to Christmas early this year with Susan May Warren's Baby, It's Cold Outside! To celebrate the release of her new Christmas book with Summerside Press, she and the publisher are giving away a Kindle Fire and hosting an early Christmas Party on FacebookI am scheduled for a stop on this blog tour on 10/26/11 but that is also the day the contest ends so I wanted to make sure you all had the opportunity to win a new Kindle Fire!!

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One festive winner will receive:
  • A brand new Kindle Fire
  • Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. Giveaway ends on 10/26!

But, wait there’s more! Join Susan May Warren on 10/27 for merriment and a few early Christmas presents at her Baby, It's Cold Outside Christmas party! Grab your Christmas sweaters, socks and pj’s and join Susan and a few friends for a fireside chat about her recent books (Heiress & Baby, It’s Cold Outside), holiday traditions, favorite Christmas recipes, a trivia contest and more! Invite your friends and don’t miss the fun!

RSVP here and we'll see you on October 27th at 5 PM PST / 8 PM EST!

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

Friday, October 21, 2011

Zombie Church - A book review (Tyler Edwards)

Welcome to the blog tour for Pastor Tyler Edwards, Zombie Church (Kregel Publications, October 2011)! Believing there is a way to breathe life back into the church, Tyler Edwards highlights and challenges the problematic attitude of today's believers. Written for the discouraged, disenfranchised, and anyone unsatisfied with their same-old church routine, Zombie Church is an accessible, humorous book that challenges readers to turn away from Spirit-draining (or life-draining) habits that stop them from achieving a full, fulfilling life in Christ. For all of us who have ever attended First Church of the Frigidaire, Edwards' book will be warmly welcomed. It is a fair-minded and tenderhearted critique. . . . This novel lens of zombies allows the reader to see afresh the desperate need for awakening in the church. -Mark Moore, PhD, Professor of New Testament, Ozark Christian College Kregel Publications is sponsoring a $50 giveaway! To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using @litfuse) about Zombie Church or share about it on Facebook, your blog, GoodReads, etc...! If you tweet we'll capture your entry when you use @litfuse. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email us and let us know ( Easy.

Not sure what to tweet/post? Here's an idea: TWEET THIS: Zombie Church by Tyler Edwards - a fair-minded & tenderhearted critique of the church @litfuse RT for $50 to @amazon


FACEBOOK THIS: Don’t miss Edwards - a fair-minded and tenderhearted critique of the church. Written for the discouraged, disenfranchised, and anyone unsatisfied with their same-old church routine, Zombie Church challenges readers to turn away from hollow religious practices, which characterize “zombie Christianity,” and turn toward a radical relationship with Jesus. Share this for a chance at $50 to

What I thought:  I though this book was very, very interesting.  I was raised Catholic and have since all but left the Catholic church in favor of something ... something that I thought was missing.  I found my husband's Methodist Church to be welcoming and breathing. 

Recently, our Pastor spoke of the situation Pastor Tyler Edwards points out in Christianity - the Walking Dead - but our Postor didn't quite say it the way Pastor Tyler does.  A problem in the Church of people coming to church or finding reasons to not worship with a church ... it is seen everywhere and our Pastor pointed out that the "christians" are the problem, as does Pastor Tyler. 

This book draws a wonderful parallel between Christians who are just "doing Church" and not "living Church."  It also gives details on how to ensure that you and your congregation are not among the living dead.  Check out these chapters - then pick up a copy of the book - and decide for yourself if you are among the Zombies within a Zombie Church.

Chapter 1:  Warning Signs
Chapter 2:  Infected
Chapter 3:  The Transformation Process
Chapter 4:  The Symptoms
Chapter 5:  The Undead Heart
Chapter 6:  Lost Soul
Chapter 7:  The Rotten Mind
Chapter 8:  Zombie Strength
Chapter 9:  The  Disease Spreads
Chapter 10:  Zombie Community
Chapter 11:  Awakening the Undead
Chapter 12:  Searching for the Cure

Note:  I received a free copy of this book, for review purposes only, from the Litfuse Publicity Group.  I was not expected to provide a positive review but am pleased to present one here. 

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Winner Wednesday!

I'd love to give a shout out to Barb K. who was the winner of our 2 Days til Sundae Giveaway!  She seemed pretty excited when I contacted her.  Heather Muzik was also quite pleased with the responses to the Giveaway and the comments left on her Guest Blog post!   She is so stoked, we've drawn another winner for an autographed 2 Days Til Sundae paperback which just released this week!   The newest winner is Jill K who not only completed the mandatory entry of leaving me a blog comment but she also visited Heather's website ( and knows that Heather attended Georgia Tech!!  I'll be emailing you shortly Jill to get your information.  

Thanks to all who entered the Giveaway!  Remember, if you didn't win, you still can pick up the paperback or the ebook version of 2 Days!  Happy Reading!!  

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A Sundae Lost & Giveaway! (guest post by author Heather Muzik)

I guess the problem started long ago…. You see, I have always loved miniature things. My good friend Sam would tell me that I have the “little disease.” When I was young, I collected Strawberry Shortcake dolls. Herself the Elf? Had her too. Oh, and those 80’s fashion dolls, Glamour Gals, that were like tiny mutant  Barbies—loved them! Teensy shoes, wee wardrobes, bitty brushes—I even had a palm-size baby doll. I had so many wonderful mini childhood treasures... and that brings me to the crux of the matter: a tiny doll named Caramellie and her little sundae-shaped house. My favorite toy ever and the impetus for Cat’s riotous adventure in 2 Days ‘Til Sundae. 

I am certainly not Catherine, but she is a part of me—the part that has a sentimental streak a mile wide and a penchant for the dramatic. And like her, I know how it feels to lose what you thought was safely stored away. When I graduated from high school and left home for college, I didn’t realize that I would never go back to Jersey, so I left many things behind. I hopped a plane to GA with the clothes on my back and a couple of suitcases in baggage and shipped the rest of what I truly needed through UPS. I was eighteen at the time, living in a dorm; I couldn’t bring along my younger self and all her collections! And then I was married and living in a tiny apartment; I didn’t have room for all those memories! But by the time we moved into a real house, with an attic and extra rooms, it was already too late. It turns out that one person’s treasure is actually another person’s trash—sounds a lot less hopeful and promising that way, doesn’t it?

So I can relate to Catherine’s plight. And further, I can certainly attest to getting the occasional post-auction crazies when someone snags a win out of my clutches in the last seconds, although as of this point I have never actually hopped a plane to claim what I feel is rightfully mine…. In that respect I have to envy Cat’s guts and gumption, and I sure enjoyed going along for the ride. 

To be fair to my parents, even though many of my treasures are still MIA to this day, how can I hold a grudge when 2 Days was born out of that loss?  Besides, it turns out that my Caramellie has finally been accounted for. It seems she’s been “homeless” and naked (probably since the 80’s—it was a wild time), living in a box (a Herself the Elf box) with several other tiny misfit dolls. She deserves better.

Now I find myself closer to Cat than ever, trolling the antiques and garage sale circuits and searching eBay late at night, in hopes of finding a new or used sundae house. Meanwhile Caramellie waits patiently in a place of honor on a bookshelf in my office, reminding me that sometimes a story can come from the most unlikely of places…. And that “little disease” I mentioned earlier? That is alive and well and manifests itself in a quasi-obsession with Christmas ornaments. ;-)

An EXTRA huge thank you to Heather Muzik for providing the above post for me today!   I have reviewed each of Heather's books here on the blog:  Celia's Journey, 2 Days til Sundae (via the pre-release ebook) and Apathetic (via the pre-release ebook).  I am excited to announce that 2 Days Til Sundae will be officially released in paperback on Tuesday, October 18, 2011.  (But you can totally get it now with the link I provided - shhhh!!)

Heather has generously agreed to giveaway a signed copy of 2 Days til Sundae here on Family, Scrapbooks and Coffee!!   The contest opens today and closes 10/17/11 at 11:59 p.m.  The winner will be chosen on 10/18/11 via and the winner notified that day via email.  

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Do you like it?

Do you really like it?  I think this is going to be one of SweeTart and Twink's Christmas presents.  Comes in two colors.  Carries their electronics, cutely.  Two colors are available so there will be no fighting over which one belongs to which daughter.  If they would only come up with something cool like this for our son.  (Off to do some research -- I will let you know what I find!) 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tweens / Hormones? Oh my!

As I struggle to be the (good) Mom of a 9 year old girl and 10 year old boy, I have to tell you that I insist that "hormones" are flying all over our house like no other matter could.  And the 3 year old?  Let's not go there right now (since she thinks she is 15.) 

Now, I know that some of you are thinking that I'm giving away TMI with this post, but really - when should I be expecting the hormones in the kidlets to hit the fan?  I need to know.  I've been wondering but not doing too much research.  I've been tapping into minds of other moms, although I do not ask for advice easily.   The general consensus:  yes, it's hormones (both of them) and no, it's not going to be over anytime soon.

With that tidbit of information, I'm sure that I should be planning my responses to both kids with more empathy.  With more patience.  With more compassion.  Alas, I have not.  And, I'm a little upset with myself about it. 

Today, I received an email from a newsletter to which I subscribe.  There was an article called "Holy Hormones" which I think you will enjoy, especially if you are struggling with this in your homes. 

I would love to hear what everyone else who has tweens in their lives is going through - and how to best handle the outbursts, tears and screams.  (please?) 

Green jacket and Pink jacket belong to us!  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Amazon Freebies

I do have to say that I have not read any of these books which appear on this blog post.  But if you are a kindle kind of gal, you might want to take a quick look see at them ... one or all ... they're free on Amazon at the time of this posting.  No telling how long they'll remain free for but if you buy them now (for free), they will remain in your Amazon purchases until you get to read them ... or forever, whichever happens to come first. 

Happy Free Reading!

It's October - Are you saving with Straight Talk?

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Straight Talk for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.

I've said it before - I'm an iPhone girl.  I'll say it again, that I'm probably wasting a lot of money on my contract (I think I am still "locked in" for another year!)

If I were to switch to Straight Talk?  NO CONTRACTS! (also, no surprise bills and/or credit checks!)  I would use my savings for the Disney Cruise we'll soon be going on - while the cruise is paid for, the other "extra" stuff is not ... we'd have a heck of a savings account if we switched carriers!  Hook, line and sinker

Also available from Straight Talk (for the skeptics) great nationwide coverage and excellent reception/ connectivity. Straight Talk only uses trusted phone manufacturers like LG, Motorola, Kyocera, Nokia and Samsung.  Android on Straight Talk

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Everything you need including very convenient monthly plans: 

  •  The “All You Need Plan” meets even the needs of heavy phone users with 1,000 minutes, 1,000 texts and 30 MB of web data.
  •  Unlimited Monthly service is only $45, and includes calls, text, picture messaging, and web.
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  •  411 calls are included at no extra charge.
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I'm pretty sure Straight Talk will be who we turn to when we are in need of the phones for the kidlets.  Maybe for Christmas?  If I had switched earlier, I'd probably have enough saved to get both phones and pay for the plans for a year!!

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