Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Make 2016 the Year of Giving Back and Show Your Children Ways They Can Help Make a Difference in the Lives of Those Less Fortunate #SproutClangers #ad @helloclangers

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with “Clangers”and Coolabi. All opinions are my own.

'Tis the Season of Giving Post

First, let me start by wishing you all a happy and safe New Year's. I hope that 2016 brings many wonderful things your way.  I, for one, am looking forward to the new year, after a crazy past two months with the girls being sick and then me in the hospital two days before Christmas with an acute sinus infection, bronchitis and pneumonia.  Not how I was planning to spend the holidays.  But, thanks to family and friends who stepped up to help make the holidays easier with meals and keeping the girls entertained while I rested.  Now, that I a finally on the mend, I can't help but look back at this past year and try to pick out highlights of 2015.  

Do you do this?  If so, what was top on your list.  We started homeschooling this year and the girls are doing so well.  In addition, the girls are now at the age that they are understanding things more, asking questions and appreciating things like the holiday.  This year, the girls learned the true meaning of Christmas and helped with the donations of toys for kids in needs, coats and mittens and even went through their old toys and clothes to donate.  In years past, they would only think about toys they wanted and picking out a new winter coat for themselves.  But, now, they are thinking of others and looking for ways to help.  I can't stop smiling thinking about their kindness and big hearts.  I can say that they have big hearts like their moms and will be forever touching people's lives going forward in a positive way by giving back.

Prior to Christmas Savannah joined Bella, my husband and I, as we raised money and walked in the Jimmy Fund Walk.  They walked for their mommy, a cancer survivor, relatives who are no longer with us, and everyone else affected by cancer.

A few weeks before Christmas this year I took my girls to the local town hall for them to pick names off the wish tree of kids in need looking for a special gift to find under the tree on Christmas morning.  

In addition to the kids' wish tree there was also a tree for the elderly looking for care packages or a special gift (like audio books, cookies and coffee, gift cards, etc.)  After we had our kids and seniors to shop for, the fun began.  

This is how we dress for shopping :-)

We headed shopping to fulfill our wish tree wishes.  I thought that the girls would get sidelined when they saw the toy aisle and would ask for new toys for themselves.  But, to my surprise they were on a mission to find the perfect gift and then wanted to help me wrap the gifts, too.  

As far a gifts, Bella drew a little boy, age 6, who wanted Matchbox cars and Minion stuff.  This was easy for Bell as she is huge Minions fan.  She loved shopping for gifts knowing how much she liked certain toys and how often she played with ones over others.  She ended up using her allowance money saved to buy a couple Matchbox cars and a 6-piece mini minions set.  For her elder wish recipient, she stocked up on $15 dollars worth of goodies from the Dollar Store, which included coffee, tea, cocoa, cookies, crossword puzzle books, note cards, a 2016 calendar and a few other goodies.  

Savannah, on the other hand, struggled a bit as she drew a 12 year old girl.  Only being 5 1/2 yrs old., she wasn't sure what the older girl would like.  She put down makeup, books, and music for her present requests.  We ended up picking her up a cute Hello Kitty bath and body wash set, a My Little Pony lip balm set enclosed in a cute metal lunchbox tin and some cocoa with a mug she could write on as it had a chalkboard label.  For her senior wish recipient, we picked up the audio book they had requested in addition to hard candies, tissues, cookies and tea.

After we were done with our Secret Santa shopping, we brought our stuff home and I taught the girls how to wrap.  Well, they at least helped with the tape and signing the labels.  It was nice to be able to teach the girls about how it is better to give than receive and see them wanting to use their birthday and allowance money to buy the gifts.  They even had money left over, which they had me donate to the local Toy Drive at our neighboring fire station, as well as use some to buy a bag of groceries at the market for a holiday meal for a family less fortunate.

We filled bags of food to drop off at the local food pantry, in which Savannah included some of her favorite snacks. :-)

I loved hearing the girls tell family and friends about the gifts they bought for others and how it made them feel good knowing that these less fortunate kids and seniors would wake on Christmas to gifts under the tree for them.  Bella asked if we could go to the mall to see Santa as she wanted to tell him of her kindness and community service and how he didn't have to get the minions set and cars for her wish list recipient. :-)   

We did run into Santa a few days later at a lights show and when asked what they wanted for Christmas, both of my girls told Santa that family is all that they need and to put the extra time into giving gifts to those that can't afford them.  They teared up as they said they didn't want to see kids wake on Christmas to an empty tree.  It is amazing what little ones will say and think about, especially when they are 4 and 5 years old.  My girls' hearts ached for the kids and their wishes when we went to drop off our gifts for the wish tree. 

They asked if we could choose a few more wishes to shop for, as they really wanted to see the tree with wishes, meaning all the kids would be getting a gift.  How could I say "No."  And, so we were back out shopping and wrapping and talking about the importance of giving back, what the holidays really mean, how to spread joy through kindness, community involvement and outreach and just being accepting of others.  

Savannah will surely make a little girl happy when she unwraps this Disney Princess doll she asked for on Christmas morning.

Each and every time I found myself talking about these things, I couldn't help but think of the Clangers television series, which airs on the Sprout network.  


 Clangers covers so many great life lessons, including celebrating diversity, curiosity and exploring the unknown, family and friendship, just to name a few.  

You may recall reading a post or two about his show, which is narrated by William Shatner.  

"The Clangers are a unique family of imaginary pink long-nosed creatures who live on a small blue planet in space. These inquisitive and adventurous creatures – who are very loving and supportive of each other and their friends - communicate through distinctive Clanger whistles. The Clangers family – alongside a cast of many other extraordinary creatures - create a warm and harmonious world of fun, imagination, exploration and invention."

It premiered back in June of this year on Sprout, and has become a favorite among my girls and myself.  The show is all about kindness, community, discovery and accepting of others — all which are important during the festive season. 

Family = LOVE!!!! :-)

I am so happy that a show like Clangers is available for young children to watch. Not only is it educational, but it also does a great job in instilling important life skills and morals in children, including Clangers who are all about kindness, acceptance and generosity.  So, if you are looking for wonderful educational series for your preschooler that teaches social skills and life lesson, and have Sprout as part of your cable lineup, you will definitely want to tune in each and every evening at 7PM EST.  Once you meet the Clangers and their friends and hear them communicating through high and low pitched whistles, you will see why my girls and so many other Sproutlets can't get enough of this new series. 

And, as we get ready to ring in the new year tomorrow night with family and friends, why not spread joy of the season by giving back.  Make 2016 the year you and your family give back to your community, to those less fortunate, etc.  You can start new traditions that center around giving back.  You don't have to wait until Christmas next year to give back.  There are so many worthwhile charitable organizations and non profits who are looking for monetary donations throughout the year, as well as for people to volunteer.  While my girls are too young to volunteer, they will be doing things like donate their allowance to St. Jude's, recycling and participating in Earth Day events including planting trees.  

We can't wait to find other ways to give back and help out and will be writing down each and every thing we do to add to our 2016 Acts of Kindness jar, which will will jump out on New Year's Eve 2016 and read about all the great things we did throughout the year that benefited others.
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"It's all very well trying to be something we aren't. But true happiness is being something we are."

What are your holiday traditions?  And, how do you give back during the festive season?  I can't wait to read your comments below and get ideas on how my girls and I can continue to gift of giving into 2016.

Don't forget to check out Clangers, which airs daily on Sprout Network. And, to stay up--to-date on all things Clangers be sure to follow Clangers on Facebook at and/or “Follow Clangers on Twitter” @helloclangers.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post in collaboration with “Clangers” and Coolabi. All opinions are my own.

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Monday, December 21, 2015

Hickory Farms Helps in Making Your Family's Holidays That Much More Memorable #HickoryTradition

Disclaimer: Compensation and products for review were provided by Hickory Farms via MomTrends. I received a free sample of the product for the purpose of this review and to facilitate a giveaway.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Hickory Farms. 

Hickory Farms - Inspiring Traditions since 1951.

Hickory Farms Deluxe Smokehouse Gift Box
$10 2-DAY Delivery on Shipments $20+* ENDS 3PM ESTT

Last month I shared a post about my family's old and new family traditions and how Hickory Farms has been a staple in my family's tradition, especially when it comes to gift giving. If you missed my post, you can read it here:  Today, I wanted to take a few minutes to share about my family loves Hickory Farms so much and why when I think of holiday traditions, this company stirs up nostalgic memories of my youth and is one of the first stores I shop when starting my holiday shopping.

Traditions matter would you answer that question?  For me, traditions have become even more precious and important to me after battling cancer and welcoming my two girls, as I don't take life for granted anymore.  Each and every day is a gift and one that I cherish.  And, especially around the holidays, being together with family and friends and sharing in special moments and traditions make the holidays that much enjoyable and treasured.  

And, speaking of Hickory Farms, are you familiar with this, America's most famous holiday food gift brand?  I remember growing up my mom would send food gifts from Hickory Farms to family who lived far away and wouldn't be joining us for the holidays.  

Hickory Farms Signature Summer Sausage has been awarded the Masters of Taste Gold Medal for Superior Taste for having the #1 Summer Sausage in America. 

In return, we would receive a handful of packages from Hickory Farms in the mail from family doing the same. :-)  Hickory Farms offers perfect gift ideas for the holidays and year round.  

"According to a national survey, nearly half of American adults agree that the holiday shopping season officially starts when they see Hickory Farms arrive at their local mall."

From Sausage and cheese gift sets, to fruits and nuts, baked goods and chocolate to even wine and cheese combos, Hickory Farms has the most amazing selection of gifts to meet everyone's budget. They offer gifts for under $20 up to ones $90+.  Whenever the holidays roll around, I head on over to the Hickory Farms website to place my orders for family and friends.  I pick up a few gift sets to bring to my parents who host Christmas dinner, as hostess gifts.  Not only do my parents expect these gift sets year after year, but so do family and friends who come for dinner.  The baked good sets I bring make the dessert table that much more inviting and who can resists reaching for dried fruit and nuts while they wait for the turkey dinner to be done. :-)

Quality, freshness and value are key traits of Hickory Farms’ gift and products

"Many Americans have a distinct memory of Hickory Farms at their holiday gatherings; Hickory Farms is very proud to be a part of those nostalgic moments and continues to focus on and celebrate its long heritage of tradition and authentic holiday memories."

Instead of stressing out on what to get those hard to shop for people on my holiday list, I find myself putting down "Hickory Farms" next to their names when I start putting together my holiday shopping list in November.  I know that whatever gift I order will be well received by the gift recipient, as the quality of these gift sets are what make loyal holiday shoppers seeking the perfect gifts for family and friends for over 60 years coming back to order year after year, and passing the tradition of shopping Hickory Farms from parent to child, just like my mom did with my brothers and I. :-)

Want a few ideas from Hickory Farms that would make the perfect last minute gift ideas this holiday season? Check out these mouthwatering gifts which include seasonal favorites and some new food gifts including the new White & Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark, which I ended up picking up to try firsthand and absolutely LOVE :-) ...

White & Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark

(A custom blend of creamy white chocolate and dark chocolate made from West African Cocoa beans, hand swirled with pure mint and topped with crushed candy cane pieces.)

Tea Time Collection Gift Box
Shh, I ended up picking up this set to bring to my Mom's house for Christmas dinner, so that she can offer an assortment of tea and accompaniments at dessert. :-)

Hickory Farms Summer Sausage and Cheese Gift Box

Hickory Farms Holiday Treasure Chest

Hickory Farms Holiday Cravings Assortment

Hickory Farms Fruitful Gift Tower

Is your mouth watering yet from all the delicious looking food gifts I just shared?  Mine sure is! 

Hickory Farms helps people appreciate shared moments that are worth embracing and passing down through generations of families, but also creating new traditions and sharing them with loved ones. So, as you prepare for the upcoming holidays, why not consider shopping Hickory Farms for any of your last minute gift giving needs?  Remember, you have until 3PM EST TODAY to get your orders in to receive them in time for Christmas and to take advantage of the $10 2-day shipping special.  What are you waiting for?  Stop stressing over what to get those hard to shop for people on your list or last minute gift purchases and get your holiday shopping done at Hickory Farms.  You and your gift recipients will be glad that you did! :-) 

And, if knowing that Hickory Farms has been a trusted company since 1951 and one so many Americans include in their holiday gift giving and gatherings, did you know they also do wonderful things for the community, too!  Not only does Hickory Farms offer an amazing array of food gifts, but they are also known for their charitable giving.  

Thank You for Your Share Our Strength $5 Donation

Did you know?...

Hickory Farms is proud to support No Kid Hungry®. No Kid Hungry is, working to end childhood hunger in America by ensuring all children get the healthy food they need every day.
Hickory Farms Signature Party Planner Gift Box

Hickory Farms has contributed more than $4 million to No Kid Hungry since 2008.  For every Signature Party Planner purchased this holiday season, Hickory Farms will donate $5 to No Kid Hungry. 

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In addition to the No Kid Hungry program, Hickory Farms is also  a supporter of the U.S. Armed Forces.  The company provides year round complimentary shipping on select products to military addresses across the globe to ensure families can send loved ones warm wishes and a favorite taste from home. Visit for details.  I made a point to share this information with family and friends who serve in the military and/or will be sending gifts to military addresses this holiday season.  It was news to them, as it was me, but one that only made them love Hickory Farms even more as it makes sending food gifts to loved ones that much easier and affordable. :-)  Go Hickory Farms!

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So, as I count down the final few days until Santa's arrival, I can't help but find myself thinking about my family's holiday traditions and what matters most.  And, come Christmas morning I know many of my family and friends will be unwrapping food gifts (if they haven't already) to enjoy with those near and dear to them.  It isn't Christmas without Hickory Farms in my family.  How about yours? :-)

Disclaimer: Compensation and products for review were provided by Hickory Farms via MomTrends. I received a free sample of the product for the purpose of this review and to facilitate a giveaway.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions of Hickory Farms. 
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Friday, December 18, 2015

Zest Introduces a New Fruitboost Revitalizing Shower Gels Line That Will Leave You with Beautiful, Glowing Skin #ZestFruitboost @Zest @Walmart

Disclosure:  I was provided with samples from the vendor in order to write up an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.

Zest Soap
Fresh. Fruity. Zestfully Clean™!

Feeling the craziness of the holidays yet? Hopefully you are all done with your shopping and wrapping. If not, hope you get it done soon so that you can enjoy time with family and friends when they come to visit or you travel to see them.  This year my mom has decided to host Christmas dinner at her house, which I was more than happy to accept after a crazy time putting together a Thanksgiving dinner for 15 people last month.  She wants to be the meeting place for all the kids and grandkids to meet, to enjoy family and great food.  Now, to just drive the 2 hours (or more, depending on Christmas Day traffic) with the girls in the backseat asking if we are there yet.  Fun times, right?  As I find myself wrapping the final presents and checking and rechecking my shopping list to make sure I got everyone on the list, I can't help but time a little extra "me time" for me each evening to enjoy a long, hot shower to unwind and to enjoy the new Zest Fruitboost shower gels I recently picked up at Walmart to try out.

Visit to print your $1 off coupon now 
and use on your next Walmart shopping trip.

Zest, known for their class "Zestfully Clean" slogan has recently launched a new innovative, revitalizing shower gel line called Zest Fruitboost, that exclusively launched at WalMart last month.  

Available in four luscious fruit filled scents (Citrus Splash, Very Berry, Peach & Mango and Pomegranate Acai), Zest Fruitboost stimulates your senses at a whole new level. It’s also twice as concentrated as the average shower gel providing double the lather and double the scent, and can be used to up to 40 showers making it a great value.

Not only do these new shower gels smell amazing, bu they also work wonders on your skin, especially during the harsh, cold winters.  The new innovative, revitalizing shower gel helps reveal beautiful, glowing skin with rich moisturizers and the antioxidant power of Vitamin C to help nourish your skin.

I have only been using the Zest Fruitboost for a couple weeks, and can't get over how my skin looks and feels.  No more dry, rough skin from the heat and dryness indoors and cold and wind outdoors. 

2X concentrated for more lather, more fragrance, 
and great value for a boost to begin each day!

I noticed more softer, subtle skin after the first use of Zest Fruitboost.  The shower gel really does awaken your senses, as the luscious fruit scents really do smell amazing and leave your skin smelling great, too! I was not the only one who loved the new Zest Fruitboost shower husband does, too.  I caught him the other day reaching for my Zest Fruitboost in Very Berry as he showered for the morning.  I couldn't help but bring it up at the breakfast table. After he blushed and tried to cover it up, he fessed up and said he, too, loved how it awakened his senses with the fruity smell in the AM (which usually leave him dragging) and his dry skin was left moisturized and soft.  He never saw results like this with other shower gels.  And, other shower gels I have in the bathroom have girly floral scents that are just not his thing. hehehe --- couldn't help but laugh when he said this, as I intentionally pick up these types of products so he doesn't use them. :-)  But, knowing just how well the new Zest Fruitboost shower gel line is, I am willing to share and will definitely be making a point to pick up more to have on hand when we start to run low.  

The ultimate Citrus fragrance experience. A citrus sparkle with a touch of key lime to boost the power of your shower with an escape to the tropics, leaving you…

A deliciously sweet scent.
An exotic burst of white peach and champagne mango to boost the power
of your shower with this wonderfully juicy scent, leaving you…

A smooth burst of succulent berries combine in this luscious berry filled scent that nourishes your skin leaving you…

Fresh. Fruity. Zestfully Clean™!

And, when family comes to visit this holiday season, they will be greeted in the shower with three out of the four new Zest Fruitboost shower gel scents.  I still can't find Pomegranate Acai at my local Walmart, but will continue to keep an eye out for, as I just love the smell of Pomegranate.

So, if you are looking for a pick me up in the AM when it comes to your shower routine, or just love trying out new shower gels that will add moisture to your skin, you will definitely want to check out the new Zest Fruitboost shower line.  

I know that once you do, you will fall in love with these shower gels and have a new go-to shower gel to help kick start your day on a great note, or to help you unwind and relax after a crazy day with the kids.

To learn more about the new Zest Fruitboost shower gel line available exclusively at Walmart, visit today.  


Want to give the new Zest Fruitboost collection a try?  Then, complete the entries on the Rafflecopter form below for a chance to win Zest Fruitboost to try for yourself.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure:  I was provided with samples from the vendor in order to write up an honest review. All views shared are mine and mine alone.
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Tuesday, December 15, 2015

New Kids' Profiles in DISH Anywhere Filter Age-Appropriate Content for Unique Profiles

Disclosure:  I was provided with free service from the vendor in exchange for an honest review of their services and product offering. However, all views shared are mine and mine alone.

"With the launch of the new “Kids’ Profiles” feature in DISH Anywhere, now parents can hand over their tablets and laptops to their kids guilt- and worry-free! The new feature integrates Common Sense Media certified ratings into profiles, so you can set age-appropriate programming for your children. Kids' Profiles are available today on, as well as in the DISH Anywhere app for Android tablets and smart phones as well as Kindle Fire HDX. The feature will be available on iOS tablets and smart phones in the coming weeks.
Below you’ll find each step for setting up Kids’ Profiles in the DISH Anywhere mobile app. If you’re setting up Kids’ Profiles on, the process is similar.
1. From your DISH Anywhere app home screen, select the “Settings” icon from the bottom right-hand corner.
2. Next, select “Manage Profiles.” This is how you will begin the process of setting up a Kid’s Profile. Here you have the ability to add additional administrator or user profiles for other members in your household who aren’t children, or don’t need age restrictions. For more information on DISH Anywhere’s individual profiles, check out this blog post
3. Now you need to add your first Kid’s Profile. To do this, tap “Add Profile.”
4. Once your new profile has been added, you will need to add specific details to optimize your Kid’s Profile. First, personalize the profile by adding a name--we chose “Johnny.” Second, designate this profile as a “Kid,” so DISH Anywhere knows to apply age settings. Lastly, use the sliding bar to select your child’s specific age to ensure they can access movies and TV shows deemed age-appropriate by Common Sense Media.
5. If your kid is lucky enough to have his or her own mobile phone or tablet, or you don’t use DISH Anywhere as frequently as your child does, you can set your Kid’s Profile as the default profile. We have done that, below, with Johnny.
6. You may also choose to apply a passcode that must be entered in order to exit a Kid’s Profile. Simply tap “Manage Profile” from the Kid’s Profile you just added and tap the toggle for “Require Passcode.” 
7. Enter the passcode of your choice. Now, you are all set up with your new Kid’s Profile! To add additional Kids’ Profiles, simply repeat the steps outlined above. Below is an example of what the final Kid’s Profile for “Johnny” looks like once we completed his set-up.
To stay up to date on all things DISH Anywhere, follow @DISHNews. "
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