Disclosure: Some posts on this blog are sponsored, meaning that I received goods, services, or monetary payment for my writing. My opinions however, are not 'purchased' and are always 100% my own. Posts contain affiliate links that I earn a commission on. This disclosure is done in accordance with the FTC 10 CFR, Part 255, Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Activity Review: Family Golfing at the PGA Village

If you have kids, you know how hard it can be to go on a family vacation. First you have to figure out who wants to do what, then you have to figure out if it's even going to be feasible for everyone to be involved. If you have younger kids, it's even harder because someone might have to stay behind to keep an eye on them if the activity is only for older children!

Recently I was given the opportunity to review the facilities at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Florida. My stay there was complimentary since I went as a Superoo on behalf of this awesome travel site I'm a part of called Trekaroo. Although my stay and some of my activities there were free, please know that, as always, my words and opinions are 100% my own! For more information on my disclosure policy, please see the tab titled 'Let me disclose to you'.

(To find out how you can have your own travel fun with Trekaroo, please check out their website at www.trekaroo.com.)

As part of our stay, we were able to participate in a family golf lesson that allowed us to involve our entire family. Our daughter (who is less than a year old) wasn't able to play of course, but we were able to bring her onto the course with us. The director there, Holly Taylor, even told me that she used to take her baby out onto the course by strapping a car-seat into the golf-cart with bungee cords! (For more on my general review of the PGA Village, please click here.)

With our daughter ensconced in her stroller and my son eagerly twirling around the grass, our instructor Ryan began to tell us a little about the course, and how they really try hard to get kids interested in golfing. We could really tell that Ryan spent a lot of time around kids and was a real pro at teaching them the game - not only did he immediately get our three-year-old to respect the rules of golf-safety, but he got down on eye-level with him to talk. As a mother, that impressed me more than I can say. Lots of people are good with kids, but very few will actually take a knee to talk to a toddler at their level. My son listened to him right off the bat - and although he wasn't a star pupil or the next Tiger Woods, he had a lot of fun.

After our son had tired of playing for a while, he sat down to watch mommy and daddy play. I was a bit nervous about how I would play, and our instructor was quick to work with us on our posture and explain why it was so important to stay relaxed. We learned a lot about how to properly hold the club, how to get distance, how to follow through, and how to keep our swing straight.

My husband never thought he would be interested in golfing, but after our lesson he came away with a new perspective. Not only does he think of golfing as a fun activity now, but he realizes that he doesn't have to be a pro, buy a new outfit, or be country-club rich to enjoy the game.

Our lesson was completed with Ryan reminding us that we could swing by their 6-hole short course for a free game. That's right, free. They even have clubs available for people to borrow at the bag drop!

We were a bit sore after our lesson (it turns out golfing is good exercise!) and more than happy to head back to our conveniently located hotel. A dinner at the golf-themed restaurant on-site completed our awesome day together as a family. (Click here for a further review of the hotel, and here for one of the restaurant.)

To find out more about the PGA Village, their properties, and all the fun they have to offer, check out their website at www.pgavillage.com. Or, you can connect with them through social media on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.


Hotel Review: Hilton Garden Inn in Port St. Lucie

Recently I was given the opportunity to review the facilities at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Florida. My stay there was complimentary since I went as a Superoo on behalf of this awesome travel site I'm a part of called Trekaroo. Although my stay and some of my activities there were free, please know that, as always, my words and opinions are 100% my own! For more information on my disclosure policy, please see the tab titled 'Let me disclose to you'.

(To find out how you can have your own travel fun with Trekaroo, please check out their website at www.trekaroo.com.)

There are three properties to choose from at the PGA Village, and we ended up staying at the Hilton Garden Inn. It's been years since I've stayed at a Hilton, but this one was just as fantastic at the others I'd been able to stay at in the past. (For more on our general review of the PGA Village, please click here.)

The rooms were clean and inviting, and I loved that the air smelled good when we walked into our room. The room had a refrigerator and microwave in it - which I count as a must when you are traveling with kids like me! - and it also had a surprise feature: a Keurig coffee-maker! Although the coffee available wasn't a blend that I cared for, the fact that there was a Keurig machine in the room was a definite bonus. Had I known ahead of time, I certainly would have brought along some Dunkin' K-cups, which are my favorite.

We also had in-room Wi-Fi, which was great for working on our laptop. Even better than that though was the Business Center they had available just down the hall from our room, complete with a printer set-up and a paper shredder. My husband was excited about their huge exercise room, and we were both wishing for a moment alone to try out the hot-tub out by the pool.

The Sam Snead's Tavern on site made grabbing breakfast, lunch or dinner easy, and the beautiful lobby was a nice place to sit and have a coffee or read the newspaper. (For more on our restaurant review, please click here.)

The staff at the hotel were spectacular. The check-in clerk, Junior, was especially helpful and friendly and made sure that we knew where everything was. He even let us know that we could get a ride over to the PGA Center on a golf-cart if we just asked at the front desk! We were equally impressed with how well the hotel service treated our room and belongings while we were gone. Shoes and clothes were scattered across the room from the morning's frenzy to dress our little ones and get out the door, and when we returned from the day's activities, they were all neatly placed next to our suitcases. (For more on the review of our family-golf activity, please click here.)

All in all, we had a fantastic stay. To find out more about the PGA Village, their properties, and all the fun they have to offer, check out their website at www.pgavillage.com. Or, you can connect with them through social media on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.


Restaurant Review: Sam Snead's Tavern in Port St. Lucie

sam sneads in hilton garden innRecently I was in Port St. Lucie to check out the PGA Village, and while we were there we decided to eat in the hotel restaurant. Of course, it was Sam Snead's Oak Grill & Tavern - the chain named after a golfing legend. (For more on my PGA Village review, please click here.)

The restaurant not only offers lunch and dinner, but an breakfast buffet that is available from 6:30AM to 10:30AM. Diners can choose from a cheaper continental option or go for the all-out buffet that includes cook-to-order items (like omelets) and all the tasty usuals (homefries, bacon, pancakes, etc.) for a few dollars more.

sam sneads in port st lucieWe went for dinner and I was thrilled to find that there was an offer available on restaurant.com that allowed us to get a great discount. Luckily the hotel had a fantastic business center available, and I was able to hop on the computer and print out my discount in a matter of minutes! (For my review of the Hilton Garden Inn in Port St. Lucie, please click here.)

kids love sam sneads tavernDinner was great, from the quick seating at our arrival to the service and food. The restaurant had a great decor, and the golf memorabilia on the wall was interesting to look at. After our long day out and about (we'd had a golf lesson just earlier, you can read more about it here) my husband and I were both worried that we didn't look quite 'fancy' enough for such a spectacular-looking establishment. We found within minutes that most of the other diners there were people who had also come in from hitting the links!

One of my bigger concerns was that my toddler, who has a strong love of chicken nuggets, wouldn't want to eat the chicken strips that they had there. The problem? Real chicken, along with real breading, and sauce that didn't come in a little plastic cup. Lucky for us, he devoured it in between making our waitress laugh with his silly faces.

Sam Snead's Tavern on UrbanspoonMy husband and I decided not to splurge on one of their aged Angus steaks (we like to save that sort of thing for romantic dinners when we're alone!) and opted for sandwiches instead. I had a sliced ribeye sandwich that was tender and beautifully seasoned. My husband opted for his favorite - a patty melt - and was pleased to find that the bread was deliciously crispy despite the juicy burger sitting within.

We had an all-in-all fantastic night that completed a fantastic day.

Want to know more about Sam Snead's Tavern and the player behind it? You can check out their website at www.samsneadstavern.com.

To find out more about the PGA Village, their properties, and all the fun they have to offer, check out their website at www.pgavillage.com. Or, you can connect with them through social media on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

Sam Sneads Tavern Port St Lucie on Foodio54Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post, and as always, my opinions are purely my own.


Florida Travel Review: PGA Village in Port St. Lucie

Recently I was given the opportunity to review the facilities at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie, Florida. My stay there was complimentary since I went as a Superoo on behalf of this awesome travel site I'm a part of called Trekaroo. Although my stay and some of my activities there were free, please know that, as always, my words and opinions are 100% my own! For more information on my disclosure policy, please see the tab titled 'Let me disclose to you'.

(To find out how you can have your own travel fun with Trekaroo, please check out their website at www.trekaroo.com.)

When I heard that we were going to go to PGA Village, I was pretty thrilled. Other than heading out to the driving range for some fun now and again, I hadn't truly been 'golfing' since I was around 17 years of age.

My husband on the other hand, was not exactly excited. Sure, he was looking forward to staying on the property (who doesn't like to stay someplace other than home now and again?) but he had never been golfing before and didn't know what to think of it. His biggest fears were the same as most people's when it comes to golfing: he thought he wouldn't be able to hit the ball and he was afraid he wouldn't 'fit in' with the usual golf-crowd. (Luckily, all of those fears were put to rest in our awesome golf lesson!)
hilton garden inn at pga village
The property has three different lodging options to choose from, and we ended up staying at their Hilton Garden Inn. (To see our hotel-specific review, please click here.)

I was able to meet with Holly Taylor, who is the director, and spoke with her a little about what makes the property a perfect choice for families. I came away from the conversation feeling pretty good about our stay there, and definitely sold on the idea that this makes a great vacation getaway for anyone, young or old!

One of the most important elements of our interview that I noted was the child-friendly atmosphere. I had originally thought that it would be a huge hassle, possibly even an annoyance to others, for me to have my young children on or around a golf course. I couldn't have been more wrong about the PGA Center, because it's actually geared towards families and has a great program for teaching younger players about the game! They even have special holiday camps!

The Center is also great for instructing older players like me who might need a serious refresher course, or even for an adult who has never even picked up a club (like my husband). While I was there, I found out that one of the best features the PGA Center has to offer is their 6-hole short course that is free to anyone. That's right - free! Don't have any clubs? It's fine! Just ask at the bag drop! No clubs for little players there? Go to the main shop in the Center, they have lots of them there and have the same borrowing policy. I asked if there was any catch to this 'free' activity, such as an age limitation - as it turns out, it's just one of the few awesome perks left in this world! "It's free," Holly told me, "It doesn't matter how old or young you are, anyone can play the short course for free; no catch."

Further, if you feel like dropping a few bucks to play (or learn to play), they can work with you on a budget! Let them know what your limitations are and what you'd like to be able to do, and they'll work on a plan with you. This place is still old-school, and I love that. (To see our family golf-lesson review, please click here.)

pga museum of golf in port st lucieBesides being a great place in general to vacation, the PGA Village also has the amazing benefit of being located close to a lot of fun attractions. Vero and Jensen beach are both around 30 minutes away, along with Fort Pierce and at least three state parks! If for some reason the weather turns out rainy, you can always check out the PGA Museum of Golf for a look at some of the collectibles they have in store there. You can even head to Superplay, which is less than 5 minutes away, for an afternoon of family fun. An on-property restaurant named after famed golfer Sam Snead even makes it easy to grab a quick bite. (To see our restaurant-specific review, please click here.)

sam sneads at pga villageTo put it simply, if you are looking for an amazing vacation destination that will get your family outdoors and having fun together, the PGA Village in Port St. Lucie is certainly worth a look.

To find out more about the PGA Village, their properties, and all the fun they have to offer, check out their website at www.pgavillage.com. Or, you can connect with them through social media on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Grab a prize pack perfect for a cozy day indoors!

I lived next door to my grandparents when I was a young girl, and their home was constantly filled with visiting family. It's no wonder that I spent a lot of time with my many cousins because of this, and we spent many wintery afternoons playing or drawing indoors. I remember that one of our favorite activities was coloring. My cousin Tina and my Granny taught me their special way of coloring - dark borders on the outside with a lighter inside - and I would color for hours if no one disturbed me. If someone had asked me what my favorite pastimes were, I certainly would have named coloring as one of them - I thought I would never stop!

Well, we all grow up unfortunately, and I did stop coloring as I grew older. Apparently, however, my fondness for it didn't completely go away. A few weeks ago my son asked me to color a few pages with him, and I was surprised at how quickly I fell back into my 'special' method, and how involved I got in my drawing. It's amazing how childhood pursuits stay so close to our hearts!

Le Chateau BidaineImagine my pleasure when I was asked to do a coloring book review just a few days after that! Sometimes the timing for things like this seems as if the universe is trying to remind us to slow down and remember who we used to be. I was more than happy to accept, and a friend of the artist behind the book's concept sent me a copy of Le Chateau Bidaine. Although this post has been sponsored (meaning I received money, goods, and/or services in exchange for my writing) please know that my thoughts and opinions are always 100% my own.

For more on my disclosure policy, please see the tab marked 'Let me disclose to you'.

Before we go further, let me outline the premise of this very special coloring book. Unlike the typical coloring books you might find, this one is detailed to the point that it could be a collector's item. The home (or chateau) in the book is actually an elaborate miniature house that was created to look like the real Chateau Bidaine in France. The miniature version was created by the artist I spoke of earlier, Suze Perry-Hinkle. 

Le Chateau BidaineSuze is famous for her minature art and love of all things French; and this book is meant as a token of recognition to her mentor in French art, Lillian Williams, who owns the home the book and miniature are based on.

Although I had investigated the book a bit before it arrived on my doorstep, I was still a bit taken aback as I leafed through the pages - nothing had prepared me for the detail that was involved in the drawings! I had originally intended to let my son color a page or two in the book and ask him how he liked it, but I couldn't bring myself to allow his childish-scribbles to sully what could only be called a work of art.

It should be noted that this book is recommended for children 8+, since this is really more for children who want to create something special and have a love of drawing or art.

Le Chateau BidaineI decided to call my sister-in-law and have her bring my 12-year-old niece over since she is in a good age range for this book, and she absolutely loves to draw and color pictures.

I wasn't disappointed when, as soon as she opened the book, she exclaimed at the pictures and took it over to show her mother. I happened to have a beautiful set of art markers on hand, and she happily spent an hour coloring at the kitchen table.

When she was done, she told me that she liked the book very much, but she had a bit of trouble getting the shading correct since some of the markers were so dark that they covered up a the lighter areas of the drawing. For this reason, I would suggest using lighter markers, or a nice set of colored pencils. Many of the illustrations have delicate features to them, and I recommend gifting this book to a child who likes to take his or her time with their artwork. As a bonus, the pictures have wording in French and English, so this would also make a fun workbook for a child who wants to learn another language.

I have been trying to pull away from the technological gifts that are becoming ever-more popular with children these days, and focus more on the types of gifts that I would have received as a child. Although video games are fun, it is becoming more and more obvious that too much time in front of the TV is a problem for many families. Why not toss in a traditional present such as this one now and again to even things out?

Do you think this would make a great present for someone you know? You can purchase the book on Amazon at this link! Find out more about Suze and her incredible career here, or connect with her on her Facebook page or her Etsy Shop!
Wintery Day Prize Pack

Wait, there's more! In remembrance of all the wonderful winter days I had with my much-loved Granny, I'm offering a giveaway to my readers! The winner will be able to cozy up with this prize pack featuring a copy of Le Chateau Bidaine and everything else you need to have a great time indoors! This would be perfect for a 'Mommy & Me' day, whether for yourself or as a gift to someone you know!


This giveaway will run from 11:59PM on 11/25/13 and will end on 12/18/13*. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only, 18+. Winner will receive a copy of Le Chateau Bidaine, one package Bear Creek Creamy Potato soup, one box of Starbucks Double Chocolate Hot Cocoa Mix, one container JetPuffed Mallow Bits, one package Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix, one container Betty Crocker Rich & Creamy Rainbow Sprinkle Frosting, one 500 Piece Puzzle, one Zany Tales Word Game, one package of markers, and two extra-large red mugs - plus a few bonus coupons that we put in the box as an extra treat!

Good luck!

*Please know that due to some issues with GiveawayTools' website during our giveaway, we have extended the length of entry time by a day in order to make up for the day that our readers were unable to enter. Thank you for your understanding.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cartoons of our Childhood

Does anyone else feel like today's cartoons just aren't as good as the ones we watched as a child? Even the Christmas specials of nowadays are generally passed over for classics like Rudolph or the Peanuts' Christmas.

This afternoon as I was thinking back, I decided to look up a couple of my favorites to see if they were available to watch on the internet: A Claymation Christmas Celebration, and the Garfield Christmas special from 1987. When I was younger, we watched these so many times that I could still recite most of either one.

There were two huge differences that I noticed in both of these cartoons from the cartoons of today. First of all, a great deal of effort had been put into both of them - and not just because of the work that had to go into the animation back then. The dialogue was intelligent, and even though it was a cartoon for children, the jokes weren't about farting or dumbed down to the point that every other line was childish. I actually remember as a child that I would have to think about the jokes to get some of them. And some of the jokes with bigger words prompted me to ask my mom what they meant. Sometimes I figured out the meaning by thinking about the way the word was used. The cartoons made me think, and that made me smarter. The creators weren't worried about whether or not their entire audience would get every joke, every time - and that's part of what made them great.
Garfield Christmas
The creators also weren't worried about the other big difference I noticed: being politically correct. The family in Garfield's Christmas prayed, and grandma bopped Doc Boy in the head with a spoon when he started to protest about being picked as the prayer-giver. The Claymation Christmas featured carols that sang of Jesus and His birth, and the Joy to the World carol included imagery of the Virgin Mary holding baby Jesus. Personally, I never noticed the inclusion of God or Jesus in our cartoons when I was younger, but now that I am older and looking back, the exclusion of Him in today's cartoons is starkly felt - and it isn't a good feeling.

I find myself wishing now that I could replicate the way the world was in my childhood for my kids. How am I to do that though when it seems like our government is bent on freeing us from religion rather than giving us the freedom to have it? I don't think that a religion should be shoved down everyone's throat - that would be wrong, and that isn't the point of having a religion or faith. But if we are forced to endure a society where everyone is forcing non-religious beliefs at every turn, isn't that just about the same thing?

I myself have never minded seeing other religious symbols in public, such as the menorah or the Buddha. Those items don't represent my personal faith, but I've never taken offense at them and can't understand why anyone would. That's not to say that there aren't people from every religion who are overbearing and try to force others to believe the same way that they do - I can understand how someone who is Buddhist may take offense from another religious person mocking them, or how an Atheist may take offense from someone who tries to convert them everyday with rude tactics. Those things are inexcusable and aren't a true reflection of the great majority of people within a religion. But generally speaking, I don't see why we can't all get along in this great country.

Was our country in a great turmoil during our childhood? Was there massive animosity between us all due to the inclusion of religion on tv, or on store-posters, or even in school? I think in the end, a handful of noisy people spoke for our country, before our country was allowed to have a voice in the matter, and being 'politically correct' grew out of hand before anyone could stop it. Wouldn't you like to go back to a time where you could say "God Bless You" when someone sneezed without worrying that they would bite your head off afterwards? Is it such a bad thing for a person to wish a blessing upon you? Has anything bad ever come of being blessed, regardless of who is doing the blessing? I would welcome someone of a different faith blessing me from their religion. I would see it as a sign from a beautifully harmonized country, where people from all faiths can live together peacefully rather than being purposefully set at odds with each other by rules and regulations in our government.

For the sake of our children, people - let's go back to that time if we can. Drop your petty squabbles and learn to live peacefully. Don't take offense the next time someone says something to you that isn't your personal belief. Let someone bless you if they want to bless you.  And please, someone bring back the good cartoons!

Stop Worrying: Umbilical Hernias

Have you or someone you know expressed concern over an extremely "outie" bellybutton on a newborn? If so, the infant is probably one of many babies that has an umbilical hernia. About 10 to 20 percent of all babies will have a herniated bellybutton, with increased risk for those who are premature, girls, or African-American. Although the herniation is most common in newborns, they can still appear suddenly up until a few months after birth.

A herniated bellybutton is simply a ring of muscle that has not closed together. Think of your child's abdomen as a sheet of muscle covering their intestines. The umbilical cord goes in through a small opening in this sheet, and a hernia is formed when the umbilical cord detaches prior to the muscles closing back together. The lining and fluid around the intestines (not the actual intestines themselves) are usually what is poking through to cause the skin to 'poof out' where the bellybutton is. Most umbilical hernias are less than an inch across and may become more or less evident when the baby moves.

Many people fear that their child is in pain from the hernia, but in actuality they are rarely even bothersome. As a matter of fact, your doctor may push the hernia back in when checking it, and this also causes no pain. Unless the hernia becomes infected, swollen within the herniated area, or changes color, your doctor will probably tell you that it is nothing to worry about.

Newborn Umbilical HerniaThis may seem like a tall order for parents who were hoping to view their perfect little bundle of joy with their perfect baby bellybutton. Fortunately, most umbilical hernias go away on their own by the child's first birthday, and the rest of them usually heal before five years of age. If your child is one of them who still has a hernia after the age of five, your doctor may recommend a small surgery to close the gap. The surgery is relatively easy and your child will likely be released home the same day. There are almost no complications following this type of surgery, but many doctors will not do the surgery until at least age 2, and then only if the hernia is causing problems.

Don't be afraid to wash the herniated area gently with soap and water, just as you would with any other newborn. There is no evidence that the hernia will go away quicker if you tape a nickel over their bellybutton (as it used to be suggested), but the tape may give your child a rash. If you think pushing in the hernia will help, a pair of normal-fitting elastic band pants will do the job just as well, but without causing your baby unnecessary discomfort.

Make sure to alert your doctor to the hernia at well-visits so that he can check the area and give you an update on its progress. Herniated bellybuttons in newborns are mostly just a cosmetic issue, and should go away on their own. For now just relax, and be thankful that your child is happy and healthy!

Disclosure: I'm not a doctor and I don't play one on TV either! I don't claim to know all the facts or have all the answers. Please consult with your doctor or your child's doctor before making any big health decisions. I received no compensation for this post.

Ready to clean out old medicine?

With the beginning of another year coming up, it's the perfect time to go through your medicine cabinet and figure out what to keep, and what you need to replace. Most people are surprised to find that when they go through their cabinets, they find over-the-counter medication that is long past the expiration date. Lots of times bargain hunters (myself included) will go for the big bottle of OTC pain relief because it's the cheapest per pill. However, unless you are a constant pain sufferer, or you have a very large family, the chances are that you won't finish that big bottle before it goes bad.

Many people believe that their medication can still be used after it is "expired", and that the manufacturer puts an expiration date on that shortens the life of the medication for safety reasons. This is only partially true. While some medications can technically still be used with a benefit after their expiration dates, in most cases the date the manufacturer puts on the label is an expiration on the potency of the medication, not a date of use for safety. The FDA requires drug manufacturers to determine how long it takes their medication to reach 95% of their original potency, and that is what becomes the expiration date.

Obviously with some medications, such as a tablet of acetaminophin for instance, it may not matter too greatly to you if you take the medication at 94% of it's original strength. The problem with that though is that drug companies aren't going to needlessly spend money trying to figure out how quickly their medications deteriorate after they've reached the 95% mark. Some medications could reach a third of their original efficacy within weeks, some months, maybe others years. Because that data doesn't exist, taking expired medication becomes a gamble.

Some medications should never be taken after the expiration date. Medications that are controlled, and need to be taken at a constant level should never be taken if expired. For instance, taking a less-than-effective dosage of medication could cause severe damage if the medication is life-saving, and could cause a dangerous chemical imbalance if the medication is taken to control mood swings. Children's medication should also never be taken after expired. Not only do children have under-developed metabolic systems, many of their medicines come in suspension form. Suspensions are another medication that should never be taken after expiration. They can turn rancid, or worse - grow bacteria after expiring due to the decomposition of the medicine. Finally, never take anibiotics after their expiration date. Not only does the decreased efficiency of the medicine allow a reprieve for the bacteria (which can make fighting it take much longer), but tetracycline - which is a very common antibiotic - has actually been proven toxic after it's expiration date.

Once you have made the decision to throw out your expired medication, you have to dispose of it properly. Simply tossing it into the trash can is no longer the best way to do this. Not only are there children and pets to think about (should the trash bag accidentally break), but if you have prescription medications to get rid of, there may be FDA regulations regarding how you dispose of your medication.

How to throw out expired medicineA popular myth is that flushing medicines down the toilet is the best way to dispose of them. This is not always true. There are some medications that the FDA has determined should be flushed down the toilet, due to the danger they could cause if someone other than the prescribed individual were to take them. The list of medications that are to be disposed of by flushing can be found here at the bottom of the page. This list is updated as needed and should be checked whenever you think you have a controlled medication to dispose of.

Due to concerns that the environment could be damaged if everyone starts to flush their medications down the toilet, unless your medicine is on the FDA's list, everything else should be thrown out in the trash, but with the following precautions:

First, peel off the label and destroy it. Although the chances of someone going through your trash and stealing your identity through a prescription label are probably not high, it's better to be safe than sorry!

Next, find a plastic bag and place the pills you are disposing of into it. If the trashcan liner does break, this will ensure that the pills don't fall out someplace where someone or some pet could accidentally eat them.

Now find something gross to put in the bag so that even if the bag was found, the contents are unappetizing enough that no one will want to take one. Good things to put into the bag are: used kitty litter, coffee grounds and rotten food (like that mystery item in the fridge that is growing a nice layer of mold).

If you have a small child, dirty diapers are the perfect place to dispose of old pills. Just drop them into the diaper, roll it up and stick them in a plastic bag as usual before dropping it into the trashcan.

Finally, put the empty medicine containers into the recycling bin.

If you had to get rid of a lot of over-the-counter stuff, don't forget to buy more when you next go shopping or you could find yourself making an emergency trip to the pharmacy the next time someone in the house gets a bad headache or runny nose!

My Most Memorable Christmas

When I was around 10, my whole family got the flu over winter break. Now, this doesn't sound like anything extraordinary - and it definitely doesn't sound like fun - but it ended up being my favorite Christmas.

Memorable ChristmasAlthough no one else in my family may remember that holiday season, I remember it quite clearly for two reasons: First, it was the only time I had ever seen my mother sicker than my dad. Secondly, it was the only Christmas that we spent so closely confined to one another.

My mom had just finished shopping for the last of the presents when my brother started getting sick. Not fearing that an impending Christmas 'disaster' was upon us, my mom tucked him into bed and kept at the holiday preparations. Within a day, we were all feeling so ill that we could barely get up. By Christmas morning we had passed through the worst of it, but we were nowhere near our usual festive mood.

The grandparents didn't come over that day, and I watched in awe as my dad prepared our holiday lunch - soup - as if I was seeing a true Christmas miracle. My mother was sitting back in the large easy chair in the basement as we unwrapped our presents, every single one of us huddled up into blankets to keep the chill off. To this day I can remember the sweet look of love that passed between my parents as my dad handed my mom a hot mug of soup. She wasn't at her best that day, but my dad's face said it all: she was his beautiful sweetheart. I never got that look out of my head, and I spent a good chunk of my adulthood searching for a husband who would look at me that way when I was down and out!

After we had settled into the most quiet Christmas-opening we would ever experience in that house, I realized that we were all snuggled up together. Everything was subdued, cozy, calm. The entire scene spoke of peace and tranquility, entirely the opposite for our usual happily-noisy selves. When we had finished opening the gifts, there wasn't much for us to do but settle into the rest of the afternoon, and we spent it watching Christmas movies together and looking through the 'bonus' gifts in our stockings.

I can remember every moment of that day; from what we watched, to the threadbare look of my mother's childhood Mickey Mouse blanket. The feeling I get when I recall that Christmas is one of pure love from beginning to end and I realize how very blessed I have been to have grown up in the family that I did.

This Christmas, think about what it really means to you, and to your family. The true meaning of Christmas is about love, peace, joy, and happiness. If we let the noise and bustle of the holiday season overtake us, and stress us out, we're losing out on the most wonderful part of Christmas that there can be.

So don't be afraid to take a few minutes for quiet this holiday season, whether you watch a movie or just tell one another that you are thankful to be a family - capture the peace of the moment together, and your Christmas will certainly be filled with love.

And from our family to yours... have a very Merry Christmas this year!

(The giveaway that was associated with this post has expired, please check out our giveaways tab for a list of available contests!)

Princess London's TuTu Boutique - Handmade Items for Your 'Little Princess'!

A couple of months ago I was contacted by the awesome woman behind Princess London's TuTu Boutique to see if I wanted to do a review of a couple of her items. I was thrilled, and she was good enough to provide me with a tutu dress and matching headband so that I could do this review. Please know that although I received those items for free, my opinion is completely my own. (For more on my disclosure policy, please see the tab at the top of this page titled 'Let me disclose to you'.)

There are a lot of great mommy-start-ups out there providing clothes, gadgets and toys for our little ones. I mean a lot. That means that we, as parents, get a lot of variety and a lot of great deals, but it also means that we are going to be inundated with more than we can handle, and possibly miss out on some of the cooler items. Hopefully though, a good chunk of you out there will be able to add a new 'cool' company to your must-shop list after seeing this review!

Although I'd never personally heard of Princess London's TuTus before, I was pleasantly surprised after asking around to see that I had a couple of friends who had heard of them! Not only did they love the handmade items for the cuteness factor, but they told me the quality was incredible. I usually try to remain a bit cynical until I have seen an item for myself, but in this case, my friends were (if anything) under-selling these adorably made tutus.


The company makes a variety of tutus or tutu related items for sizes anywhere from a new baby to a girl's size 6, and they allow you to custom-create a color-combo if you don't find a standard one that you prefer! When placing my order, I chose custom colors for my little lady. I've always adored bright pinks on baby girls, so that's what I asked for. My favorite colors to pair it with are usually white - or silver - and since I wanted this to be something my sweet-pea could wear for a while, I asked for white to go with it.

Within just a week or so I had received a beautiful dress in the mail, complete with the matching headband to go with it. (Note: you can buy just a tutu without the top attached, so you can pair it with just about anything!!)

I was super pleased to see that the flowers weren't actually sewn into the dress or headband, but cleverly attached with a barrette pin, which allows me to reposition them whenever I want. This comes in especially handy if you are taking pictures, and suddenly decide that you want to switch the flower from the left to the right, because you can change the look without messing up a nice hair-do! (Or in my case, without reminding the baby that she's wearing a headband that she could possibly decide to start pulling off!!)

The dress was cleverly sewn together, and the quality was excellent. I have no worries or fears that this is going to come apart or unravel, and contrary to it's delicate appearance, it is really quite sturdy! Now that my daughter has had it for a while, I no longer worry about crushing the tutu portion (it always fluffs back up) and I have no qualms about tugging the ribbon up to tie it around my daughter's neck (there is no chance I'm going to break the knitting).

What do I wish I could change about it? Well, nothing! That's actually a disappointment to me, because I usually like to find at least a tiny negative to write about, otherwise, where's my customer feedback? In this case, there is just nothing to change - it's incredible! I was able to perfectly customize the outfit, it came quickly, it looks fantastic, the quality is superb... I guess my one upset is the fact that my daughter will eventually grow out of it! And even then - because I got this dress for my daughter when she was quite small, she'll be able to use it as a doll dress, she can use the detachable flowers as hair barrettes, and the headband will still be useable for quite a while! What's to complain about? Nothing!

This item is deserving of special placement in the world of handmade children's items, and that's why I'm putting it on my list of mommy-must-haves.

Ready to connect with Princess London's Tutu Boutique? You can find them on their website at www.princesslondonstutus.com! Then head over to connect with them on Facebook or Pinterest to see the great deals, giveaways, and new looks that they're continually coming out with!

Hey there's more! You can enter the coupon code MOM2013 for a 25% discount when you check-out at the boutique's online register.






Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Secrets of Toys"R"Us

Did you know that you could be getting a great deal at Toys"R"Us (or Babies"R"Us) and you might be skipping right over it? Although I won't disclose the name of my contact at the popular children's retailer, let's just say that she and I share a love of finding a good deal. Here are a few small tips that she has shared with me about when and how to shop at Toys"R"Us:

1. Look carefully at the price. Did you know that you can spot close-outs at Toys"R"Us just by looking at the price? Anytime a product is going to be discontinued from their stores, the price will end with "98" instead of "99". This can be very helpful if you are trying to get a good deal, and especially helpful if you are trying to decide whether to buy now or later. This is also something to keep an eye out for if you are thinking about buying something that comes in the set. Make sure that the items you want are still going to be carried before you invest a lot of money in them! Examples of things that you don't want to start buying when they are about to be discontinued are bottle sets and re-useable diapers. If you happen to need a new bottle top, or extra liners for your diaper set, you might be out of luck!

2. Not all stores carry the same deals. Although the retailers are commonly thought of as being basically the 'same' company, Babies"R"Us & Toys"R"Us run their deals separately. When I popped into the local Toys"R"Us a few months ago to purchase a booster seat for my son, my inside-friend quickly informed me that I should head over to Babies"R"Us instead because they were running a deal on it! Don't be afraid to ask a store clerk if they happen to know (or have a way to find out) if the closest Babies"R"Us is selling what you want for cheaper!

3. Clerks can check inventory from other stores. Shopping for a necessity item that you need fast? Don't settle for a design or color that you don't want just because you gotta-have-it-now. Head over to the customer service counter and ask if they can search through the inventory. You could be just a few miles away from the item that you really want.

4. The coupons have limitations. Heading to the store with your coupon book in tow can be an exciting prospect, especially when you think you're about to get a great deal. But uh-oh... don't forget to check out the fine print on those "R"Us coupons! Almost all of the time, there will be a laundry list of things you can't buy, which more often than not includes things like toys! Don't get to the check-out station without thoroughly inspecting your fine print. You could be setting yourself up for an embarrassing moment at the check-out register when the coupon you thought was going to land you a big discount ends up not working at all!

5. Don't have any coupons? Ask for a discount. Shhh. You aren't supposed to know this... but the check-out clerks can frequently give you a discount, even if you don't have a coupon. And this isn't just limited to the "R"Us stores. Anyone who has worked in retail can tell you: they have the power to give a discount. The coupons that float out the door on the end of receipts and in flyers never all make it back, but the same discount button is used for all of them. Asking nicely and being polite to your check-out clerk can make a world of difference when it comes to the total on your bill. More often than not, they will be more than happy to give you the same discount that they are giving to those who remembered to bring a coupon from home.

6. Stay in the loop. You can learn a lot just by checking up on the Toys"R"Us website from time to time. Keep their info center book-marked so that you can click through it once a week. See a great deal or sale coming up on something that you want? Put it on your calendar so that you remember to take advantage of the savings.

7. Buy in bulk for the biggest discount of all. Did you know that if you take out a credit card with Toys"R"Us, they give you a discount that isn't subject to the same rules as the usual coupons are? You can get a huge (and immediate) savings by waiting until you are ready to take out a credit card to make all of your purchases. Get your one-time discount to really matter by making your big purchases or buying a year's worth of gifts all at once. Don't want an extra credit card? Make sure to pay off the balance when you get your first statement, or break it up into three equal payments and get rid of the balance in three months' time - just like layaway!

You can connect with Toys"R"Us or Babies"R"Us on their website. Or stay connected with them through social media on their Facebook and Twitter accounts!

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post, and as always, my opinions are purely my own.

(The giveaway that was associated with this post has expired, please check out our giveaways tab for a list of available contests!)


Socks for a dollar? Bring it on!

If you've ever been to Target, then you most likely know that they have an entire section at the front of every store that is dedicated to dollar deals. Although they've recently added a few $2 & $3 items to the section, the majority of items can be snagged for just a buck.

The thing that I stock up on the most when I head over to Target? Socks for the kids. The bins are always full of socks that start at newborn-sized and end somewhere around kids 14. And the socks aren't 'lame' either... they're the kind that kids zero in on and beg for. They're also socks that I can get behind because they are sturdy, cute, and cheap. The sock designs change up frequently - we always see new ones whenever we shop. The thing I love most about it though is that they come out with awesome holiday designs. We picked up this adorable pair of black kitty socks for my daughter right around Halloween.

Socks for a dollar, just one of the many reasons I love Target. Check out a Target store near you to see what sort of socks you can grab this holiday season - they make awesome stocking stuffers, shop before the Christmas rush to get the best selection!

You can see more of what Target has to offer on their website, or you can stay in the loop by following them on social medias such as FacebookTwitter, YouTube, and Google+.

Disclosure: I received no compensation for this post, and as always, my opinions are purely my own.

(The giveaway that was associated with this post has expired, please check out our giveaways tab for a list of available contests!)

Monday, November 18, 2013

It's a $200 Walmart Gift Card Giveaway

This year, I decided to go the creative route for the holidays - in other words, we got thrifty. We reused old decorations, made our own stockings, and even took our own Christmas photos.

The photo thing actually turned out pretty great, and although I initially did it for a blog post, in the end I bought clothes so that we could all match and we took an 'official' family portrait. The cost for the new clothes? Thirty dollars. And that isn't bad considering that I got myself a nice top and both of the kids brand new outfits. (Hubby already had the right clothes at home.) The only way buying new clothes for us would have been any cheaper is if it had been free.

Luckily for someone, this giveaway is going to grant them just that - $200 worth of free stuff from Walmart! Everyone loves free money, and giveaways like these make it easy to score some quick cash when you need it around the holidays. Check out the entry form below to see the contest rules, then get to entering... you could be on your way to a win!



Hosted by:

Co-Hosted by:


One lucky winner will win

a

$200 GC for Walmart


Details:

November 18 to December 9

US Residents only

All entries are optional

We appreciate the support of our  co-hosts, please show your support by following them on their social medias pages.


Disclaimer: MasterofMom.com  is not responsible for the awarding of the prize and did not receive compensation for this post.  Sponsor is responsible for prize fulfillment.  If you have any questions about this giveaway, please email the host at nysavingspecials@gmail.com.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Bloggers: This blogger opp is gonna be a hot one!

It's that time of year again - you know, the time of year where our readers become so consumed with buying gifts and making holiday plans for their children, friends, and family that they forget to take time for themselves?!? Be your readers' best friend this year by bringing them a giveaway that will help them to take a breather and recharge after the hustle & bustle dies down.

This is going to be a hot giveaway (come on, who doesn't love a good glass of wine?) so make sure you sign up soon!


Make Our Own Network
Prize:
Uncorked Ventures Gourmet Gift Basket
The Mood Sign Device and Card Game
and more...
ARV $165
Hosted by:
Master of Mom
and 
Make Our Own Network
Sign-ups close 12/3
**The blogger with the most referrals will receive the additional links at no cost
Click HERE to sign up and for more html info.
M.O.O.N. has now added several perks/discounts for frequent participation in our events but you must be a member of our Facebook group to be eligible.  Please visit the M.O.O.N. group if you are a blogger and would like more information regarding these perks and other group events.

**If you are a company and would like to see your brand advertised in a M.O.O.N. event similar to this or a Blogger interested in working with M.O.O.N. please contact MakeOurOwnNetwork@gmail.com

Bloggers! Check out this great software bloggeropp!

Hey there bloggers! Check out this great opportunity to participate in a software giveaway event! With the holidays coming up, people are bound to have videos on their mind - which means they are going to love entering this giveaway! The software is designed to make it quick and simple to take different videos and convert it into a format that is easy to watch, share, or just load onto a DVD. That means no more keeping precious video on cell-phones and no more editing difficulties due to the video format!

Help your readers out this year by signing up for this group event and bringing them a prize that they will truly enjoy!

A Lucky Ladybug
Prize:
Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate
5 Winners ($50 ea.)
ARV $250
Hosted by:
Master of Mom
and 
Make Our Own Network
Sign-ups close 12/13
**The blogger with the most referrals will receive the additional links at no cost
Click HERE to sign up and for more html info.
M.O.O.N. has now added several perks/discounts for frequent participation in our events but you must be a member of our Facebook group to be eligible.  Please visit the M.O.O.N. group if you are a blogger and would like more information regarding these perks and other group events.

**If you are a company and would like to see your brand advertised in a M.O.O.N. event similar to this or a Blogger interested in working with M.O.O.N. please contact MakeOurOwnNetwork@gmail.com

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Love Disney Classics? Check Out This Box Set

Recently I was given the opportunity to participate in a blog post campaign from One2One Network and Walt Disney Records. I receive compensation for my sponsored posts, such as this one, in the form of goods, services, or money, but my words are 100% my own! For more information on my disclosure policy, please click here.

I was able to sample a CD from the box set this week, and when I started to play it, I was surprised at how many fond memories it brought up! I knew all of the songs, word for word - even though it had been years since I'd seen some of the movies. The first song, from The Little Mermaid, brought up some especially happy recollections since that was my favorite video when I was younger. I still remember that my grandma got it for my birthday (on VHS of course) and I played that tape until my mom begged me to watch something different!

My son, who hadn't seen all of the movies that correlate to the songs, was equally happy with the CD; although his happiness was mostly due to the fact that I was dancing around like a crazy person with him and singing all the songs in funny voices!

I've really been trying to peel my son off of the lure of technology lately, but at the same time I don't want him to feel like he's being punished or disallowed to do something. I think that if he knows there is a mini-ban on anything (like movies or TV), he's just going to want it more. CD's like this really help, because he knows that they are attached to some of his favorite movies (which appeases his need for TV), but at the same time I can get him interested in doing something else - like building his train set into a mini-city, or even pretending that he IS the Lion King.

CD's make a great gift for kids (and adults too!) not just because they are fun to listen to, but because they call out to us to use our imaginations and unwind for a little while. In today's ever-so-busy world of technology, that's really important!

You can check out the details on this box-set through Amazon at http://bit.ly/DCBoxSet. The box set officially released on November 12th, and is available for purchase wherever music is sold. There are 4 discs in the set with 94 original recordings. As a bonus, some box set purchasers will be able to download a new medley of Disney hits by the a capella YouTube sensations Peter Hollens & Alex G for free. You can check out the amazing way they recreate the Disney sound using only their voices at this link!

For more on Disney and their selection of music, visit their website at www.disneymusic.com, or connect with them on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.

Wondershare Review - Save Old DVDs and Upgrade The Quality Your Videos

There comes a point in every person's life when they use a tool and think "How did I ever get by without this?". Whether that tool is a car with remote start for those hot sweaty days or snow-cold mornings, a drill that bends any way you need it to, or an automated baby swing that finally allows you some sleep; convenience is key to less stress, and anything that makes a task less stressful is worth it.

I recently was given a free copy of Wondershare's Video Converter Ultimate in exchange for my review. Over the many years that I've been using computers, I have learned to treat every computer product cautiously until proven safe or relevant. I've concluded that while not every tool in this program will be useful for every single person (some may be too complex for the average user), this software is something everyone can get some good use out of in today's ever-growing digital age.

For those less savvy in the tech world, don't fret just yet. Wondershare does a wonderful job of keeping its software very user-friendly to install and very user-friendly to play with. After following the instructions to install the program on your machine and registering your product, it looks like this:

Screenshot of Wondershare's Video Converter Ultimate

You can see how user-friendly it is right off the bat. The interfaces are conspicuously shown and its clear what each button is for. You can start converting videos, music, and pictures within minutes of installation.

How this software can save you money:

Now as a parent, and I'm sure many parents have gone through this ordeal before...there is always that one DVD your kids love but never seem to take care of. Before you know it, their favorite movie you paid $20 for is all scratched up and unreadable. (The result being a waste of $20 and what would have been an otherwise occupied and happy child watching their movie.) The situation is mostly inevitable but luckily Wondershare helps us with that.

If you click on the menu options in the top left, then hit "Tutorial and FAQ" button, the program will open up your default browser to their tutorials page. From there you can select the option on how to make backup copies of DVDs you already own into virtually any format. Sounds simple enough, right?

And it can do even more:

Saving DVD movies isn't all this program has to offer though. In this advanced digital age, we capture life through cell phones, video cameras, voice recorders, and a plethora of other devices. Many of them have different ways of saving those precious or funny moments and what ends up happening is that a file made by one device can't be viewed on another. Again, Wondershare to the rescue. For instance, if you recorded a video on your iPhone and it can't play on your computer or Android device, you can just change the type of video it is to a type that can be played on any device.

As if that wasn't cool enough...

Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate can also download a webpage and make an audio or video file from it. For instance, with this function you can copy the address or URL of your favorite YouTube music video and paste it into the "Add URL" of the program. You then have the option of having the program make a file of the music video on your computer or just the music by itself as a mp3. This is all made easier by downloading the Wondershare Video Converter add-on if you use the Firefox Browser.

My favorite part?

You can increase or decrease the quality of a video. Why would you want to decrease it? Well, videos with less quality don't take up as much space on a computer or cellular device, and they are also more easily uploaded to a website like YouTube. By the same token, there are times you want the best quality of a video, such as for making DVDs or making copies of movies you already own on the computer. This program can make a subpar video captured with a cell phone and increase it to DVD-quality. Examples of this are shown in the pictures below.

Increase cellphone videos to DVD quality

You can decrease video quality to take up less room with video conversion software.

As you can see from the screenshots above, the pictures on the left are from the original source while the pictures on the right are after they have been increased in quality by the program. It eliminated the blur almost completely and added more detail.

The list of utilities of this product go on and on. Burn DVDs of your videos, burn music CDs, edit videos with special effects, take multiple videos and merge them into one video, 3D conversions, add subtitles, edit music, screen recording function, or convert audio and video files to different sizes and types depending on your needs.

I was pretty impressed with this software and the obvious time & effort that the people at Wondershare have put into their product. I did not encounter any problems or bugs (glitches) while using it.

Bottom line?

Whether you are a new-comer to a product like this or a tech-savvy software junkie, the Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate is a program that I fully recommend.

For a more in-depth look into the technical specs of this software, click here.


Where to purchase?

If you're considering buying this software, we'd love it if you would help us keep our blog running by using one of our affiliate links to make your purchase. You can find this software on Amazon HERE.

Wondershare Video Converter Ultimate 6 [Download]


Connect:

You can find out more about Wondershare on their website at www.wondershare.com. You can also follow them on social media through Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or YouTube.

What do you think of this software? What feature do you think you'd use most?
Chat with me in the comments below, I love talking with my readers!

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