Thursday, December 6, 2018

Wrap up your Christmas Shopping on Amazon

This is a sponsored post in collaboration with the Mom It Forward Influencer Network. All opinions, memories and photos shared within this post are my own.
As a child, I remember reading the Harry Potter series. Then as a teen I went to the theaters to see the films. I literally grew up with this series. Later when my son first showed interest into the magical world of Harry Potter, I was ecstatic! I desperately wanted to help encourage his reading and recreate the moments from the pages of the J K. Rowling's books. With the new movie, Fantastic Beast and Where to Find Them and The Crimes of Grindelwald, we have been on a hunt for all things Harry Potter!
Luckily, we don’t have to travel all the way to Diagon Alley or push our way through the barrier of Platform 9 3/4 to enter the Wizarding World. We just needed to venture over to Amazon. While I was browsing the Amazon suggested gift section, I spotted the perfect magical gift for my son!! 
This Harry Potter Hogwarts Lego set, pictured above. 
I received this wizarding essential, owl posted ("shipped", for any muggles reading this), to our castle for FREE. Did you know everyone gets free shipping through the holidays on hundreds of millions of items?! Us Amazon Prime members, can also take advantage of FREE same-day delivery on three million items! talk about convenient and perfect for any procrastinators out there!!
As a family we have traveled to see the infamous Hogwarts castle in Orlando Florida! By reducing the time it normally takes for me to find the perfect gift, we can focus on making memories together instead of all the exhausting shopping trips we normally take. 
 
The smile Amazon will deliver Christmas morning when my son opens this Lego set is going to be priceless. Not only does it represent a place we have made family memories at in a miniature size but it also represents our family. Constantly striving to encourage building, creating, reading and spending time together as we put the 878 pieces together!
If you are struggling for those last minute Christmas Gifts, I could not recommend Amazon more! It really has saved us time, money and the Holiday stress of finding the perfect gifts for everyone on our list!
What people do you still need to buy for??
What items have you purchased on Amazon this Christmas??
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Monday, December 3, 2018

Hosting a Christmas Cookie Party Annually

Did you know that December 3rd is the biggest party planning day of the year and when the most people send out party invitations? In true Holiday fashion I am one of those people because we host our Annual Christmas Cookie Party! Need some great invite suggestions?? 
I have the perfect place to snag invites, Punchbowl.com!
This is a sponsored post on behalf of  Punchbowl.comAll opinions expressed are my own.
They have several invite designs for all sorts of parties including: gingerbread house decorating, Jingle & Mingle parties and even a kids ugly sweater party! I usually send them out 1-2 weeks before our event. With the new texting feature I can send my Punchbowl.com invites right to my friends and family without the hassle of writing out cards and mailing them.
Once the invites are sent it's time to prepare for the festivities! Since I have hosted a version of this Cookie Party ever year I have this down! I set up our dining room table with my 302 cookie cutters I have collected over the years. Some flour dishes, set out, snacks, water and juice boxes.
I always make cookie dough ahead of time. That way when the kids arrive we could just whip it out, roll it and everything was ready for cut-outs. Nothing is more fun then cutting out cookies with little ones. We started doing this when my little guy was young. He now has so many memories dong this with our family and friends. 
The fun begins when the adults get in on the decorating. 
What is not to love about frosting and sprinkles??
Of course I had to hold the smallest attendee to let his Mom decorate cookies too. I just love throwing fun parties in our home. It really brings in the Holiday spirit! 
These are what each guest brings home with them. 
We usually decorate around four dozen cookies! 
What Christmas Invites if your favorite??
Does anyone else do Christmas Parties??
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Thursday, November 29, 2018

R/C MECH Robo Cannon Review

 Have a person on your holiday shopping list that would LOVE a remote control toy car?? As a kid my brother and I spent hours outside with our remote controlled vehicles. I remember my parents investing in these over the years. I have to say the devices on the mark far surpass what we played with back then. Take this R/C MECH Robo Cannon for examples. One of the great Gift ideas I suggest in my Holiday Gift Guide
 This post is sponsored by New Bright. All opinions expressed in this post are all mine. #NewBrightHoliday
When this was delivered to my door the teenage hockey players could not wait to dig right in! I have to say I was equally excited.
 Simply charge the device's battery pack, load blasting rounds of foam projectiles, adjustable the barrel and "FIRE". 
    With this particular model you can battle one another or set up an ambush.
R/C MECH Robo Cannon Features: 
Full Function Radio Control 
12.8v Rechargeable Lithium Battery 
2.4GHz Frequency 
Laser Sight Aim assist 
Adjustable Barrel 
Hi-Traction Treads with Pivot Control 
Blast rounds at 100 ft per second 
All Batteries Included
Includes 60 Foam Projectiles 
Multi Player sync capabilities 
ThR/C MECH Robo Cannon would make a great gift for anyone 14 & older on your list. Just check it our at your local Walmart.
Have you started Christmas shopping yet?
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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Stock your Fridge for the Holiday Feasting

 We are in the Holiday Season, finally! Now is the time family and friends starts to come home or take time off from work. We love getting together over meals and catching up. Before we get those surprise visits I like to stock my pantry and fridge! Let's talk about the main breakfast essential, BACON!! The North Country Smokehouse just launched a new sugar-free bacon line! If you have followed my family for any amount of time you know our little one can't digest sugar so this is AMAZING!! 
 This is a sponsored post on behalf of North Country Smokehouse. All opinions expressed are my own.
The new North Country Smokehouse line offers two bacon varieties, 12oz Natural, Certified Humane Fruitwood Smoked Bacon and 8oz. Organic Applewood Smoked Bacon. You can find some at your local Hannaford’s Supermarket, Whole Foods Market, Big Y, and Stop & Shop. Search locations on their store locator hereWe sampled both and my personal favorite was the Applewood flavor but you go right ahead and judge for yourself!  
 Now we have used them in several recipes from breakfast deliciousness to bacon sandwiches! If you are interested in the recipes for any of the dishes we made check out my "Recipe Tab" located at the top bar of my website!
I also want to say these bacon products are perfect for anyone keeping a Paleo, Keto, or Whole 30 lifestyle. It can be so hard to stick to a diet during the holidays so I encourage anyone on that path!
We are so excited for Christmas this year. I feel like the Christmas spirit just hit us hardcore early this year. We wanted to decorate after Halloween. My pantry and fridge are stocked, I cant wait!!
Are you ready for the Holiday feasting? 
What groceries do you personally stock up on??
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Sunday, November 25, 2018

Expand your Financial Freedom with PayPal

Thank you PayPal and Walmart for sponsoring this post. Introducing PayPal cash in and cash out money services, the financial services alternative which allows you to manage your PayPal account and cash flow needs on your own terms!
The Holiday shopping season have started and as usual, I’ve been incessantly browsing stores for the best deals. We have a rather large Christmas list to buy for this year. After adding hockey players to our home my list has doubled. I would be remiss if I didn't also send a little something home to their families. I should take a moment to say I know we do not HAVE to buy anyone anything. I enjoy giving to others and finding the perfect gifts that put a smile on their faces.  
My budget is always in the back of mind. I need the ability to purchase luxury gifts while exercising financial freedom. In October, I paid to have a new roof put on our house. At that time, I really thought Christmas would be a bit stressful. It was a huge purchase. Luckily, with PayPal "cash in and cash out"(exclusively at Walmart stores) services, I have been able to scour deals and pick up items at a fraction of the price. Just last night we walked into Walmart, a literal treasure trove of affordable gifts at your fingertips, and finished off our stocking filler list. I was not expecting to shop but price wise, they had basically everything we needed in one location. 
I just transferred money via the PayPal "cash in" option and VOILA my stocking purchases are done for the Season. I no longer worry whether if I have enough cash on me. PayPal users can access the money in their PayPal account, easily load & withdraw money, at any US Walmart store (just pay the flat $3 fee). I can now have the freedom to spend my money when and where I want or need too. 
My other secret weapon I have when I am shopping at other stores or online... This PayPal Cash Mastercard, which allows me to make purchases or pay bills (anywhere Mastercard is accepted). You can also keep track of your spending by using the Walmart Service Desks or ATMs. 
Having the financial freedom to access my money anytime, anywhere, I need it, has revolutionized the way I shop for gifts this year. I no longer wait the last minute or have felt the Holiday pressure. Try out the PayPal Cash in and Out feature by clicking here.
Could you use some financial freedom this Holiday season?

What's  on your Christmas list?

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of CLEVER and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.
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Saturday, November 24, 2018

Technology for the Teenagers on your Christmas List

This post is in collaboration with Verizon . All opinions (and memories!) are my own.
Last year we didn't have a long list of people to buy for. I personally don't have a large family but I married into one. By hosting hockey players in our home this year we doubled our Shopping list. We have 2 teenagers (and their families) on our list now. YAY!! Let me tell you, adding teenagers to the mix really changes your Christmas List up a bit! Where toys seemed to overtake my shopping, now technology does. Verizon has my back with their NEW Family Tech website. Perfect for parents like us who maybe have fallen out of "What's cool" and "hip" yet want to WOW them! I found some great tech resources, product reviews and gift ideas on the website as well. Today, I'm sharing my favorite tech gifts for the teenagers who might be on your list!
1. The Bose Bluetooth speaker. This wireless speaker, with it's 360–degree, delivers superior sound in every direction! I have actually talked once before about it's superb sounds here. Fill up the room with deep, loud, immersive bass, so everyone in the house can enjoy. 

Having the teenagers in the house was an adjustment. Not because they were awful but because they were so....shy. We never imagined hockey players would be shy. Thinking back on it...I guess if you are thousand miles from home and living with a new family you would be a bit timid. They live in our finished basement so we don't really hear much of what goes on down there. Until one evening we heard sounds from their speaker followed by them yelling things like "Welcome to (insert the town we live in) and "hashtag smell this". I laughed until I cried! To this day we still joke with them about it!
Which brings me to my next gift idea, Wireless headphones ðŸ˜‰!
2. Wireless Headphones- My suggestion are the Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones. They are on the pricer side BUT what you get is QUALITY!! These particular headphones deliver adaptive noise canceling, which actively blocks outside sounds and distractions. I personally use wireless headphone to listen to music when I am writing. Perfect for listening to music while doing homework or pre-game motivation!
3. The Nest Cam Security Camera. Sending off our teens to college is hard. Their bedrooms that once were full are now empty. Gift them: piece of mind for their dorms or apartments. I will never forget the day I was waiting for my son and another kid was walking down the hall with my son's hockey equipment. He saw my son's expensive stick, wanted it and took it. Luckily I got it back immediately but I take security VERY seriously around here! 

The Nest Cam Security Camera lets them keep an eye on what matters most to them. Even if they are not home. This device has 24/7 live video streaming that goes directly to your mobile device or tablet. You can even set up alerts if something happens and watch footage live in super clear 1080p HD. 
4. Verizon Smart Family - your new partner in parenting. 
The Verizon Smart Family program lets you know where your kids are by tracking their device. It also allows you to limit what they see on their devices by setting content filters. This is perfect for younger teens who are just starting out in the technology world or your veteran teens who have a more freedom.
5. Fitbit Ionic. We house two talented athletes so I have to suggest something that fits their lifestyle. Not just a workout band but so much more!! The Fitbit Ionic automatically records one's sleep patterns and gives suggestions for a better night’s rest! Optimize your routine. Craft your ultimate workout and get step–by–step coaching right from your wrist. Stay motivated with on-screen guidance that adapts based on your input. Monitor your heart rate zones with PurePulse® and use GPS/GLONASS to automatically record distances and new routines.
We could not be more pleased to have this opportunity to host hockey players in our home this year and many more years to come! They truly add something that we never imagined was missing! These gift ideas are just a few that I have found to be useful. I will be sharing what gifts I think are great for kids 12 and under next month!!
Please feel free to give us more suggestions in the comments below! 
I am always looking for great gift ideas for teenagers. 
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Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Greatest Showman- Reimagined album Review

This post is sponsored by Atlantic Records but all opinions are my own.  
Did you know The Greatest Showman - Re-imagined album comes out TOMORROW, Friday, November 16th? It showcases songs from the film, all written by GRAMMY®, Tony, and Academy Award-winning duo Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (La La Land, Dear Evan Hansen) covered by a remarkable cast of artists! The stars include Kesha, Missy Elliott, Panic! At The Disco, P!nk, Kelly Clarkson, Sara Bareilles,Ty Dolla $ign, James Arthur, Zac Brown Band among others. Want to know my personal thoughts on the album as I was lucky enough to get a sneak preview?? 
The Greatest Showman movie was one of the most heartwarming films I have seen in a very long time. From talented vocalists to inspiring themes of humanity this film has it all. I felt so emotionally connected to the characters and what would unfold right up until the very end. This album had some major shoes to fill because after watching the movie it needs to deliver in the same manner. I am happy to report that I feel it has. It is my opinion that these artists truly gave you another reason to sing these theme songs. Each one giving you a little twist in their particular version. In some cases I prefer the artist verison of the song verses the movie! My personal favorite: This Is Me by Kesha. I honestly enjoy this version over the movie song and want it on my play list! 
Here is the complete track listing for the album: 
1.The Greatest Show – Panic! At The Disco A Million Dreams 
2. P!nk -A Million Dreams (Reprise) 
3. Willow Sage Hart -Come Alive  
4. Years & Years and Jess Glynne -The Other Side  
5. MAX and Ty Dolla $ign -Never Enough  
6. Kelly Clarkson This Is Me (The Re imagined Remix) 
7. Keala Settle, Kesha and Missy Elliott Rewrite The Stars  
8. James Arthur and Anne-Marie Tightrope  
9. Sara Bareilles - From Now On  
10. Zac Brown Band 
BONUS: 
The Greatest Show -Pentatonix 
Come Alive - Craig David 
This Is Me - Kesha

Have you seen the movie??
Are you excited to hear the NEW re-imagined album?? 
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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Celebrate Family Caregiver’s Month this November

Today I want to share a little about my care giving over the past few years. This post is in conjunction with Family Caregivers and AARP, I could not be more thrilled! I hope you find this not only beneficial but insightful! If you are a care giver, know you are NOT alone!
This post is made possible with support from AARP’s Disrupt Aging. All opinions are my own.
When I was 16, I moved out of my Mom's home and rented an apartment. We both needed time to recover from years of abuse. It was hard, I worked a full time job while putting myself through high school. When I graduated I moved around until I officially had a 2 bedroom apartment on my own. Sure I dated but taking care of my younger brother was my priority. At one point I turned down my engagement to my long time relationship because they were deploying and I wasn't ready to leave my brother. You could argue that I have been in the "Care giving" role most of my life and you would be right! 
Luckily as I got older, my Mother and I, mended our fences. I truly can say I would be a complete wreck if I ever loose her!
Can I just take a moment and say though that Care giving is HARD! They defined "caregiving as providing support with basic functional (e.g., help with eating, bathing), household (e.g., meal preparation, help with shopping),  medical/nursing tasks, and arranging and coordinating care.
I remember the first time I was put in the Care giving role with my Mom. She just had a hip replacement which grew a nasty infection following. It was so bad she was emitted to a hospital 2 1/2 hours away. They would not allow me to spend the night and watch over her (in a college town there was no hotels rooms to be had). So, I drove to be with her everyday for 10 days (200 miles round trip). I watched her slip further and further away from me. That day I realized parents aren't the superheros you have made them out to be. She was a fragile human just like the rest of us.
When she finally came home we were her around the clock care. Bathing, feeding, cleaning and emptying her incisions. No one ever prepares you for this. What can I say it's gross, it's embarrassing, it's humbling but it's necessary. Sure I could have shipped her to a facility but she's my Mom. I wanted to care for her. The same women who changed, fed and bathed me as a child needed me. 
Can I give you some advice? TAKE BREAKS! If you are in the situation of caring for another make sure you are also taking care of yourself. This was such a hard lesson. I would joke how one of the major aspects of my life was a mess in order to fill the others. My house was clean, my Mom and family was taken care of, but I was a MESS! 
Finally my spouse gave me the best advice I could honestly pass along. If you are not making sure you take care of yourself you are no good to anyone! Think of yourself as a cup full of water. Each time you give a little water leaves your cup. You need to keep replenishing your cup daily or you will be empty. 
Did you know that Caregiving is one area that touches every generation. Surprisingly, 24% of the 40 million family caregivers in the United States are Millennials (those born between the years 1980 and 1996). The proportion of this group holding full time jobs is higher than any other generation, yet they are the least likely to identify as caregivers or talk about their unpaid family responsibilities in the workplace, minimizing the opportunities for support.

So, if you are a care giver...you are NOT alone! Can I promise you will not get frustrated and the person you are caring for won't get on your nerves? No, I fight weekly with my mother over silly things like taking her to Physical Therapy. Not because we are bad people but this is a HUGE adjustment for both of us. She depends on ME! She is used to coming and going as she pleases and now can't drive. Plus, I am the one in charge, most parents have a hard time taking orders especially from their kids. 
It's hard, but we get through it one appointment at a time. 
Since it is Family Caregiver’s Month this November, we are reflecting on our personal care giving journeys! I hope sharing a little about my journey helps. I also want to share some amazing resources that WILL help you along your way!



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