The Story Of Three: November 2012

Friday, November 30, 2012

Winners

Congrats!


Amy Witherstine, You Are The Winner Of The iTikes Canvas!

&

Chelsea Olivia, You Are The Scentsy Winner!

You Should Have Your Prizes Soon Ladies!


Have A Wonderful Weekend-
Jessica

*Our Holiday Gift Guide* The Original Christmas Classics Blu-Ray

*This Is A Guest Post From Amanda At Open Hands, Read Her Review & Enter To Win!*



I remember as a kid looking forward to Frosty and Rudolph coming on TV and us all sitting down as family to enjoy them! What I really loved was, as a kid my dad worked a lot! So we didn't have a lot of time with him being home but every year when Rudolph came on we would sit down on his lap and watch it, Rudolph was his favorite Christmas cartoon when he was a kid and being able to enjoy that with him was a very special moment and is one of my favorite memories as a child.

 A few years ago we introduced our oldest son to Rudolph and Frosty. He LOVED Frosty but he was so scared of Rudolph, we couldn't get him to understand that the abominable snowmonster was really nice, he just had a tooth ache. The story was the same last year.

 This year we were sent these Christmas Classics along with Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Frosty Returns. We sat down with our boys and enjoyed Frosty and made our yearly attempt with Rudolph, and I am happy to say this year our almost 5 yr old gets it and really loved Rudolph! Passing down this great movie tradition is really special to our family. While Frosty Returns isn't as great as the original it is a fun addition to the classics and its nice to have a little change sometimes. :)


Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer:
This classic 1964 television special featuring Rudolph and his misfit buddies set the standard for stop-motion animation for an entire generation before Tim Burton darkly reinvented it in the early 1990s. Burl Ives narrates as Sam the Snowman, telling and singing the story of a rejected reindeer who overcomes prejudice and saves Christmas one particularly blustery year. Along the way, he meets an abundance of unforgettable characters: his dentally obsessed elf pal Hermey; the affable miner Yukon Cornelius and his motley crew of puppies; the scary/adorable Abominable Snow Monster; a legion of abandoned, but still chatty, toys; and a rather grouchy Santa. In addition to the title song that inspired it, this 53-minute tape is crammed with catchy tunes such as "Silver and Gold" and "Holly Jolly Christmas." Those who grew up looking forward to watching Rudolph every Christmas season will undoubtedly be able to recite the quotable quotes ("I'm cuuuute. She said I'm cuuuute." "Herbie doesn't like to make toys.") as well as any Casablanca cult audience. --Kimberly Heinrichs

Santa Claus is Comin' to Town:
This 53-minute, 1970 animated film may be the most delightful of those sundry, stop-motion animated Christmas perennials that show up on television during the holidays. The clay animation production, boasting a wonderful musical score and art direction that occasionally underscores the flower-power era in which it was born, tells the story of Santa's origins, in which Kris Kringle decides to get toys into the hands of poor children in gloomy Sombertown. Charmingly narrated by Fred Astaire and featuring voices by Mickey Rooney and Keenan Wynn, Santa Claus Is Coming to Town presents a nice bridge between two generations of entertainment, the classic and the hip. --Tom Keogh

Frosty the Snowman:
Jimmy Durante narrates this Christmas story that is based on the song of the same name. To make up for the fact that her students are in school on Christmas Eve, the local schoolteacher hires the magician Professor Hinkle to entertain the kids. Unfortunately, he's not a very good magician. Frustrated in his attempt to pull a rabbit out of his hat, he throws it away in anger. Outside, the kids build a snowman (what to call it? Harold? Oatmeal? Frosty!), and when the hat blows onto it--Happy Birthday!--it comes to life. Professor Hinkle decides he wants the hat back so he can make money off of its newfound magical properties, but the kids want to save Frosty. When the temperature starts to rise, a new problem threatens Frosty's existence. Karen, the leader of the children, comes up with a plan to save him: take him on a train to the North Pole, where it's always cold. With a cameo by Santa Claus, and the promise of Frosty's return every year, this story of life, death, and holiday cheer is glazed with the sweet frosting of hope and happiness. A true holiday classic. --Andy Spletzer

Frosty Returns:
n the same way that many a Hollywood sequel has little to do with the first film, Frosty Returns has almost nothing in common with the original Frosty the Snowman, aside from a man made of snow. The biggest difference is that this Frosty doesn't need a magic hat to come to life. The story: In the town of Beansboro, old Mr. Twitchell has invented an aerosol spray that can remove snow without the hassle of shoveling or plows. This frightens Frosty, who enlists the help of amateur magician Holly and her friend Charles to stop the old coot. Made in 1992, Frosty Returns has an animation style that looks like a cross between the old Schoolhouse Rock and Peanuts cartoons, with voice talent that includes Jonathan Winters, Andrea Martin, Jan Hooks, Brian Doyle-Murray, and John Goodman as Frosty. The story may be divisive, pitting children against adults and a pro-snow contingent against anti-snow people, but the songs are catchy and the message is one that ultimately empowers kids. Like a hero from an old Western, this Frosty is a wanderer who leaves when his job is done so he can work his magic elsewhere. --Andy Spletzer

Product Description

Four original holiday favorites make the perfect stocking stuffer for the young and the young at heart. Includes Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Burl Ives. 1964/65 min.), Santa Claus is Comin' to Town (Fred Astaire, Mickey Rooney. 1970/55 min.), Frosty the Snowman (Jimmy Durante. 1969/30 min.) and Frosty Returns (Jonathan Winters. 1992/25 min.). Animated. 2 Discs. Color/NR





 We are really enjoying this set of DVD's at the start of the Christmas season. You can purchase this box set for just $21.26 on Amazon and one of you will win the Collection to bring into your home! Please fill out the entry form below for your chance to win!! This giveaway will remain open until Friday, Dec 7th! (unlike most giveaways I am only giving this one a week so you can receive it in time to enjoy before the holiday) Good Luck!!!


*Our Holiday Gift Guide* FunBites


We Are Always Looking For Ways To Be Creative At Meal Times In Our House! My Son Has Always Been A Picky Eater, Although He Has Gotten Better Over The Years & Most Of The Time Little Sister C Plays With Her Food More Than She Eats It. Sometimes Trying A New Recipe Doesn't Work & Leaves Me With A Ton Of Leftovers, So When I Heard About FunBites, I Couldn't Wait To Give Them A Try! 

I Loved The Idea That I Could Transform Snacks & Meals With FunBites & Make Them Fun For My Children To Eat! When My FunBites Luv It Arrived, I Was Preparing My Daughter's Lunch For The Day. I Decided To Try It Out On Her PB&J & It Was A Breeze To Use! The FunBites Luv It Cuts Out Little Fun Heart Shapes & They Also Have A Cube It Design Available! 



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So What Do You Think, Cute Huh!? FunBites Are BPA Free & Can Be Handwashed Or Thrown In The Top Rack Of Your Dishwasher! Yay!



Buy It: Purchase Your Own FunBites Online & Use Code MommyFun To Receive Free Shipping! 

Win It: One Lucky Reader Will Win A FunBites!

Use The Rafflecopter To Enter!
Good Luck!


*Our Holiday Gift Guide* Little Tikes iTikes Keyboard

*This Is A Guest Post From Janessa At Thrifty Nifty Mommy, Read Her Review & Enter To Win!*



My husband and I were astonished when our little girl Maggie picked up my iPod Touch a few months ago (she was probably just a few months past 2 years) and started using it like a pro. The girl knows how to adjust the volume, find the games she likes, listen to music--sometimes I think she knows just about as much as I do about it! She LOVES my iPod Touch so much that we splurged on her this year and got her an iPad2 for Christmas. This is a BIG splurge for her, as I would not normally spend that amount of money on anyone on my shopping list BUT we do plan on using it as part of her homeschooling, so that softened the blow a little bit.

Of course, she'll need lots of new, fun, and educational Apps for her new iPad, so I was really excited to see that Little Tikes, one of my favorite kids brands, recently launched their iTikes line.

iTikes is a line of interactive toys that helps kids learn by piquing their curiosity, and changing the way they play. Our goal is to make learning about science, math, technology, academics and the world around us fun through a powerful combination of "cool," real-world topics, lively text, superior graphics, and interactive content. iTikes work as stand-alone toys, and can also connect with your iPhone, iPod and iPad to unlock whole new worlds of free downloadable apps and supplements. 

A whole new world of possibility and imagination...
Where Tech Meets Play.

Where kids can create, explore and dream.


We were sent the new iTikes Keyboard for review. Now, not all of the iTikes products are compatible with an iPod Touch, but this one was, so Maggie was able to start playing already.  (All of the current iTikes Toys are, however, all compatible with the iPad!) I was really excited to receive the Keyboard for review because I played the piano as a girl, and I have always thought that for the "music" part of her homeschooling, I would like to try to teach Maggie to play the piano. Here are the details for the iTikes keyboard:


The iTikes Piano inspires passion for music by combining hi-tech and classic play. Without a device, kids can learn to play songs, listen to built-in music and explore their musical creativity. With the device and free App, the learning is enhanced to a whole new level. Learn to read notes, hear pitch, sight read and play your favorite songs with the iTikes Piano.

Product Features:

  • Standalone keyboard with major & minor keys, volume control and tempo/pitch tuner
  • App-based music games allow kids to learn more note names, musical staff and pitch training
  • 4 ways to play: Freeplay: Open play without background music. Playback: Pick song to hear it play with accompaniment. Solo: Accompaniment plays as child pretends to play; melody joins in. Stepper: Music plays as child presses keyboard, regardless of which keys are “played”.
  • Light-Up Major Keys
  • Record & playback feature
  • Use iPad®, iPhone® or iPod touch® to play learning games, watch visualizations and more
  • Includes 4 built-in songs
  • Includes Cases for the iPad, iPhone, or iPod Touch


Maggie was thrilled to have her very own keyboard to play and she LOVED the fact that she could use my iPod Touch with it! It only took a few minutes to install the batteries and download the free App for the keyboard. Then Maggie sat on the floor for about an hour discovering all the new games and playing on the keyboard!



Since the first night, she has played with this product a number of times. Sometimes she plays with just the keyboard or just the App, other times she plays with both.  There are lots of games on the App to help teach musical concepts to your kids. For instance, one of Maggie's favorite games is the Pinata game. You try to get your character to hit the pinata. You push a key on the keyboard to make them swing the bat. The lower the note, the lower they swing and, of course, the higher the note, the higher the swing.  She also loves the Canvas Game where you paint with the notes!  Some of the games are still a little advanced for Maggie, but I know as she grows this will be a great teaching tool for her!  I love investing in toys that she'll be able to use for a few years! I'm excited for her to get the iPad on Christmas and have a bigger screen for playing with this keyboard!



Overall, Maggie has really enjoyed playing on her new keyboard. With 10 different games, it keeps her busy for quite a while! Maggie's baby brother (6 months old) even enjoys playing music on the keyboard!



The iTikes toys are available for purchase from Little Tikes and also your favorite toy stores like Target, Walmart and ToysRus! The iTikes Keyboard is priced at $49.99, however it is on sale through Dec. 10th at the Little Tikes website for $44.99 with FREE Shipping! 

~Janessa

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*Our Holiday Gift Guide* The Ultimate Veggie Tales DVD

*This Is A Guest Post From Amanda At Open Hands, Read Her Review & Enter To Win!*


As you know from my previous reviews we LOVE Veggie Tales in our home. My husband and I have loved them for years now and we introduced them to our firstborn at an early age and now our 2nd little guy is really getting into them as well.

 We were recently sent the new Veggie Tales: The Ultimate Christmas Collection to view and my boys were so excited the day it arrived in the mail. It went in our DVD player right away! They watched the whole first disc, including 3 episodes, in one sit down session! We had actually seen The Star of Christmas and The Toy that Saved Christmas several times before, these 2 are considered "Classics" in our home as we have been watching them every Christmas for several years now. However , the others in this set were new to us! My favorite in the collection is probably "It's a Meaningful Life". But each one of these movies has a great lesson to them and are such an amazing reminder to why we celebrate Christmas.

 In this box set you also will receive a Veggie Tales:Christmas Sing Along DVD & 25 Favorite Christmas Songs CD.  Our boys love the sing along DVD , we recently went to visit some of my husbands family that live about 2 hrs away and on the way there my boys were both singing and bopping in their car seats to these fun songs.



This great DVD set can be purchased for just 19.99! And would make a great Christmas present for anyone who loves Veggie Tales , one of you will win this collection. Please fill out the entry form below for your chance to win! This will remain open until Friday, Dec. 14th. Good Luck.


*Our Holiday Gift Guide* Safari Ltd


Little Sister C Has A Huge Love For Animals, She Already Knows The Most Common Ones (Dog, Cat, Etc) & Is Always Walking Around The House Saying Animal Noises. She Has Such A Great Imagination & I Couldn't Wait To Introduce To Her Safari Ltd Toys!

Safari Ltd Is A Great Place To Purchase Replica's, Fantasy Figures, Posters & More For Any Child On Your Holiday Wish List! Safari Ltd So Kindly Sent Me The Wild Toob  & The Bundles Of Baby Toob! 

Toobs Are Neatly Packed With Fun Little Replica's That Go Along With That Particular Theme & They Have A Huge Variety To Choose From! While Your Child Is Playing With His/Her New Replica's, There Is Also A "Did You Know" Fact On The Side Of Every Toob! From Around The World Toobs To Mega Toobs Aquatic Adventures, Your Child Will Want To Collect Them All! 



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My Daughter Really Enjoyed Playing With The Babies & Animals From Her Toobs! She Has Been Carrying Around The Tiger Everywhere, It Is Her New Favorite & The Bundles Of Babies Found Their New Home In Her Dollhouse! :)

*As With Any Toy Containing Small Parts/Pieces, Toobs Are For Ages 3 & Up & I Did Supervise My Daughter While She Played*


Buy It: Purchase Your Own Online & Use Code HRTM12 & Get 10% Off!

Win It: One Lucky Reader Will Win A Toob Of Choice!

Use The Rafflecopter To Enter!
Good Luck! 


*Our Holiday Gift Guide* Chicken Soup for the Soul "The Gift of Christmas"

*This Is A Guest Post From Amanda At Open Hands, Read Her Review & Enter To Win!*



  This extra long collection of 121 Christmas stories will warm readers’ hearts and spread the wonder of the holiday season with its tales of love, joy, and awe. A great holiday gift.
Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Gift of Christmas will delight readers with its stories about the joy, wonder, and blessings of the holiday season. This special collection is filled with joyful, heartwarming and merry stories about holiday traditions, family, and goodwill that the whole family will enjoy. Most of these stories originally appeared in a limited edition book called Chicken Soup for the Soul: Tales of Christmas.


 I have only read a few Chicken Soup for the Soul books in my life. I was given one when I was married and I had one as a teen. I loved these books, so I was thrilled when I was given the chance to begin doing reviews for them.

 The first book I received was "The Gift of Christmas". I took this book with me one day when I had a dr's appt. I began reading and for once I actually had a very short time in the waiting room and I was kind of disappointed that I didn't have more time to read. However the great thing about Chicken Soup for the Soul is that the stories are only a few pages long so its a quick read. So as a busy mom these little stories are a great little break in my day.

 Three of you will win a copy of this book to enjoy. Please fill out the entry form below for your chance to win. This will remain open until Friday, Dec. 14th. Good Luck!

*Our Holiday Gift Guide* UrbanWalls

*This Is A Guest Post From Amanda At Open Hands, Read Her Review & Enter To Win!*


I love decorating our home, but with 3 busy kids and not knowing how long we will be in our home as we anticipate a move hopefully in the near future, I don't like to spend a lot of time decorating. I love items that make a change easy and quick! Over the past 2 years I have grown to LOVE wall decals! They are for the most part rather easy to put up and they look great! I have several in my home that people have asked where I got the stencil from , and then they are amazed when I tell them its a decal! Which takes a lot less time to put up than a stencil would.

 Recently I had the chance to work with the company UrbanWalls. UrbanWalls is a company created by Christian husband and wife team, Paul and Danielle. I was able to choose a decal to use in our home, when I went browsing their etsy site I fell in love with many of the decals. I was sent The Simple Things decal. Now I have to admit that I didn't look at the dimensions before this arrived, so I was surprised at how big it was. I was afraid that it would be really hard to put up because of the size. But I got to work....







 I chose to put this decal in our kitchen. I grabbed some masking tape to put the decal in place, since it was so big I wanted to be sure it stayed straight as I worked on getting it up. I used a flat tool to smooth it onto the wall.  My oldest guy took pictures of me putting this up :)





  I was amazed that even though this was definitely the largest decal I have ever put up, it was possibly the easiest! It took me maybe 15 minutes from start to finish. I had a few bumps in some spots but over time they have all seemed to work themselves out.




  Urbanwalls has a wonderful variety of wall decals, I am sure you will find several you just love! One of you will win a $50 credit to their shop. Please fill out the entry form below for your chance to win! This giveaway will remain open until Friday Dec. 14th. Good Luck!


*Our Holiday Gift Guide* Tiny Love Follow-Me Fred and Stack and Play Musical Elephant

*This Is A Guest Post From Janessa At Thrifty Nifty Mommy, Read Her Review & Enter To Win*



It's no secret that my love for Tiny Love products is not........well....... tiny! :) I know, you're probably rolling your eyes, but I couldn't help myself.  Seriously though, I've had the chance to try a number of Tiny Love products now and I have loved every one!

Recently Tiny Love sent me two of their new toys: The Tiny Love Follow-Me Fred and Tiny Love Stack and Play Musical Elephant!



Details on Follow-Me Fred:

Charming self-rolling puppy that features a multi-directional, accordion-shaped body which can be set to move in a straight line or in a circular motion. Colorful buttons trigger music and cheerful doggy sounds.



  • Baby-activated electronic dog encourages baby to crawl by barking and playing a friendly tune.
  • Flexible middle allows Fred to turn in circles.
  • Promotes fine motor skills, cognitive and emotional abilities.
  • Adjustable speed control.
  • Available in pink as "Follow-Me Fiona"
  • Recommended for ages 6M-18M

What We Thought:

We have a real dog and Jacob is already an animal lover! Jacob just turned 6 months about 2 weeks ago, but he's been playing with his Follow-Me Fred for over a month now. He's also been crawling for quite a few weeks and he loves being able to crawl along with Fred (and chew on him occasionally.)  I like that Fred starts walking with just a simple tap from Jacob and I like that you can adjust the direction Fred goes using the flexible middle.  You can also adjust the volume (or mute it completely!) and change how fast Fred walks! This is a great toy from Tiny Love and the features were well-thought out! Oh, lastly, it comes with a set of batteries already--that's always a plus in my book, especially at Christmas time so you don't spend half of your morning installing batteries! We love everything about Fred!



Details on the Stack and Play Musical Elephant:

Enchanting dual-stage elephant-shaped stacking toy with a colorful design

  • 2 game levels: wide opening or narrow opening.
  • Engaging electronic lights & music feedback.
  • Easy-to-grasp rings that can be hooked together.
  • Recommended for ages 6M-18M
What We Thought:



This elephant is just so cute! I love the bright colors! I also love that they alternated the rings with plastic and fabric. Jacob has really enjoyed playing with the balls in this elephant. He will shake them and watch them roll on the floor. He's also enjoyed chewing on the soft fabric rings. He is still too young to be able to drop the balls down into the top of the elephant on his own, but he loves to watch his sister do it! The only thing I wish that was different about this elephant is the door where the balls come out. It pops loose easily so the balls can come through, but it's almost a little TOO easy, so it is hard to store the balls in there without them falling out. Jacob has really enjoyed seeing the balls put into the top and then seeing them fall out the bottom though!

In Conclusion:



Not only does Jacob love his new Tiny Love toys, his older sister Maggie (almost 3 years old) has enjoyed playing with the toys with him--that's always a plus! She shows him how to use the Stack and Play Musical Elephant and encourages him to chase after Fred. 

You can purchase both of these toys (and lots of other great products!) directly from Tiny Love and also at ToysRUs.com! One lucky reader will also WIN Follow-Me Fred AND the Stack and Play Musical Elephant! If you'd like a chance to win, just fill out the easy Rafflecopter entry form below. Good luck!

~Janessa

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*Our Holiday Gift Guide* Little Tikes Big Adventures Action Fliers

*This Is A Guest Post From Janessa At Thrifty Nifty Mommy, Read Her Review & Enter To Win!*


Kids can go anywhere they want to go with their very own airport playset. Kids will love to launch the airplanes off the tower and watch them fly or taxi the planes to the hanger down the spiral tower. Guide the helicopter in for a landing by turning on the tower lights and sounds! Kids will think big with this Big Adventures Little Tikes play set! 


Features:

  
• Toy airplanes can be launched off the tower

  • Send the planes down the ramp to make them "fly"
  • Kids can take the planes and the truck down the spiral ramp
  • Airplane hanger to store the planes
  • Garage for the truck
  • Landing pad on top of the tower has lights and sounds
  • A stop bar can be placed at the bottom of the tower ramp to stop the truck
  • Accessories include:
      * 1-Truck
      * 1-Helicopter
      * 1-Landing pad
      * 2-Foam airplanes
  • Requires 2 "AA" batteries for landing pad (not included


What We Thought:

Well, most people would probably look at this toy and think of it as being a "boy" toy. Well, I do have a girl and a boy, but my little boy is only about 6 months old right now. My girl (who is almost 3 years old) however tends to like a lot of items that others would label "boy" toys, including her Little Tikes Basketball set, a train set, a workbench and cars. When I saw the features of this toy, I was pretty certain she would enjoy playing with it and eagerly agreed to review it! 




She took one look at the box and begged to open it up and play with it. It took me about 5-10 minutes to get it all set up for her. You need to install 2 "AA" batteries, put on a number of stickers, and then snap the track together. Then we were ready to go!




Maggie's favorite part of this toy is launching the airplanes into the air. It's pretty easy to put the airplane onto the truck, and then you just send it down the launching ramp. Now, we did find that sometimes the plane wouldn't launch when it reached the end of the track, but *most* of the time it did and that was meet with huge applause and squeals!




There are a few details for this set that some may feel are drawbacks. The truck is made of sturdy plastic but the airplanes, I'll warn you, are just foam. Because they are launching into the air to fly, I'm sure foam was the only option. Another thing we discovered about this toy is that the track that you use for launching the airplanes comes off of the base fairly easily, which means if Maggie tries to play with it when her baby brother is around, he'll rip it apart (much to her frustration, as you can imagine!). We keep this toy in her bedroom where little hands can't rip it apart on her! Since moving the toy to her room, we don't have nearly as many incidents of the track falling apart on her. If you have a child who tends to be rough on toys though, this might not be the toy for them. I'd recommend it for kids who are at least 3 years old. This toy is not quite as durable as the typical Little Tikes toy, but it IS just as fun!




There's also an additional spiral track for more driving fun. The included truck drives down it well, but we have also used other toy cars Maggie has that worked great with the track. At the end of the day, there is a garage to park the truck in and a landing pad (that lights up!)  for the helicopter.




If you have a transportation enthusiast on your Christmas list I'd definitely recommend this set, keeping in mind that if you have a child who tends to be rough on toys, you might want to enjoy this toy WITH them or make sure they are old enough to know how to put it together themselves!


You can purchase this toy directly from Little Tikes or at your favorite toy retailer. It has a suggested price of $39.99. One lucky reader will also WIN this toy! If you'd like a chance to win, just fill out the easy Rafflecopter entry form below. Good luck!


~Janessa

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*Our Holiday Gift Guide* Journal 10+

*This Is A Guest Post From Amanda At Open Hands, Read Her Review & Enter To Win!*


 If you have been following me for awhile now you might remember my review for a great product called Journal 10+.  This is an amazing product that I have continued to enjoy.

  Journaling has always been a passion of mine, I just love to write! Which really is the main reason I even started my blog. I love writing down cute things my kids say and fun little happenings that I want to remember in the years to come. SO the Journal 10+ is a great product for us


.

  Journal 10+ is an easy way for you to remember all the great things that have happened and even plan goals for yourself. It is a 10 year Journal all in one book! So you aren't trying to juggle a bunch of different little books which can be hard to keep track of as time goes on.

 You can purchase Journal 10+ right now for just 29.95 and one of you will win one of your own! Please fill out the entry form below for your chance to win. This giveaway will remain open until Friday, Dec 14th. Good Luck!!


*Our Holiday Gift Guide* The Boxcar Children Books Box Set

*This Is A Guest Post From Janessa At Thrifty Nifty Mommy, Read Her Review & Enter To Win!*



When I was in elementary and middle school, I LOVED reading. I can remember staying up late until I could barely keep my eyes open so I could finish a book. I would have to wake up for school the next morning and I'd be so tired, but I just HAD to finish that book! My favorite books were mysteries and one of my favorite mystery series was The Boxcar Children.

The Boxcar Children series by Gertrude Chandler has been loved by generations of readers, many I'm sure credit her with their love of reading the way that I do. The first book in the series was originally published in 1942 and introduces readers to 4 children who are living on their own after the death of their parents. They stumble upon an abandoned boxcar and make it their home. The boxcar children seem to stumble across a mystery wherever they go, making these books exciting and suspenseful for young readers. The Boxcar Children series has over 100 titles and 50 millions copies in print!


I don't think I have read every single title in this series, but I am certain that I have read at least half of them! I'm excited for Maggie to get a little bit older so we can read them together (she's only 2 right now, so we have a few more years). I can't remember reading one of these books that I didn't like and I"m sure I WOULD have read every single title had they all been available at my local library!


This Fall marked the 70th anniversary of the Boxcar Children and the publishers are celebrating by publishing a prequel to the series, written by Newbery award-winning author Patricia MacLaughla! The prequel is titled The Boxcar Children Beginning: The Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm and is available wherever you buy books. 


Check out The Boxcar Children website which contains activity sheets, a series checklist, activity guides, and much more!




I'd love to introduce (or reintroduce) you to the Boxcar Children series! I've got a GREAT giveaway today. One lucky reader will win a gift box set of the first four books in the series including The Boxcar Children, Surprise Island, The Yellow House Mystery and Mystery Ranch AND a hardcover copy of the brand new series prequel The Boxcar Children Beginning: The Aldens of Fair Meadow Farm SIGNED by the author, Newbery award-winning author Patricia MacLachlan. This would make a wonderful Christmas gift for the reader on your list!

~Janessa

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*Our Holiday Gift Guide* MailPix

*This Is A Guest Post From Amanda At Open Hands, Read Her Review & Enter To Win!*



MailPix.com is the brainchild of Fred Lerner, a lifelong photo entrepreneur. This site was started from his concern that a whole generation of photo memories -- stored online, on discs, in cameras and in smartphones -- will be lost to future generations unless preserved as photo books, prints, cards, enlargements and other tangible products.
The goal of MailPix is to keep costs low and pass savings along to consumers. Using the latest easy-to-use web technology integrated with social media, Fred is passionate about introducing more people to the importance of "Turning Images into Memories." When he couldn't find it, he built it himself.


 I love taking pictures and we love giving pictures of our kiddos as Christmas presents to family members. We have put them on coffee mugs, cookie jars, magnets, etc. Those precious items are always a hit with the grandparents for Christmas or other special occasions.

 Recently I was given the chance to try out the new company Mailpix. I started browsing their site and was excited at the great items they had to offer. They have fun items from fleece blankets to coasters and everything in between.

 I chose to get some things for our home with my credit, I have been wanting a canvas to hang in our home but they are always so expensive, so I thought this was a great opportunity to get one. When it arrived it was actually the wrong picture.....I had uploaded a picture and then changed my mind and loaded a different one, but somehow I was sent the first picture I loaded. However I contacted them right away and within days I had the correct canvas sent to me. I was very pleased with the customer service I received.



Every year for Christmas I order my in-laws a Calendar with pictures of us throughout the year. We live 12 hrs apart so its a fun way to keep them informed on all the happenings of our previous year. And...well they are hard to buy for and this is a gift that pleases year after year ;-) I really like the way this calendar turned out and the price on it was great. (Sorry no photos of that, just incase my mother in law reads this post)

The last thing I ordered was a photo book. I have started to order one every year of the years happenings. I used to scrapbook before kids and, well now I just don't have the time, so this has become my solution. I typically wait until January to order my photo books so it will have the whole previous year in it, but I really wanted to compare the quality with the one I typically order. I LOVE the way my photo book turned out, my only complaint is price point wise it was a tad more expensive than I normally pay for mine. But I do feel like I had more options as far as layout of the book goes, so for that reason I would definitely order from them again.






    Overall I was impressed with MailPix, my order did take a couple weeks to get to me which I did feel was a little too long. But like I said earlier this is a new site, so I am sure once they get some kinks worked out the process will speed up a bit.

  MailPix does have a great variety of products and the prices are very reasonable so I would give them a try :) One of you will win a $50 credit to be used on this site. Please fill out the entry form below for your chance to win. This giveaway will remain open until Friday December 14th. Good Luck!


*Our Holiday Gift Guide* Hickory Farms Party Planner Gift Box

*This Is A Guest Post From Janessa At Thrifty Nifty Mommy, Read Her Review & Enter To Win!*


I think we've all got them on our Christmas lists! I'm talking about people that you want to buy a Christmas gift for, but you have no idea what they want or need. Who is this on my list? Well, my grandparents, my dad and his wife, and a couple of cousins I'm still close to. Every year I have a heck of a time finding them something for Christmas that I feel like won't just go to waste or get put into a "regifting" bin. 

Well, this year I've thought of one thing for all of them that I really think they will love! It's the Hickory Farms Party Planner Gift Box! The Hickory Farms Party Planner Gift Box contains an array of Summer Sausages, smooth and creamy cheeses, fresh nuts, and a crunchy snack mix!




I'm really not sure why I haven't thought to give them Hickory Farms product before, but I"m really glad I thought of them this year because it's going to save me a lot of shopping around, searching and searching for a gift when I have no idea WHAT that gift should be! Hickory Farms produces high-quality foods and all of the Hickory Farms foods I've ever tried tasted delicious! I know my family will love receiving this for a gift (I would!)


One of our holiday traditions has been to get together with my dad and his wife every Christmas Eve. We go out for an early dinner, then come back to my house and exchange gifts. It's a great way to spend Christmas Eve! I'm looking forward to giving them some Hickory Farms this year when we exchange gifts! What are some of your Holiday Traditions?


The Hickory Farms Party Planner Gift Box retails for $45.50. This year, for every Party Planner Gift Box sold, the company will donate $5 to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry ® Campaign.  So, not only are you giving a great gift, you're donating to a great charity as well!


One lucky reader will win their own Hickory Farms Party Planner Gift Box. If you'd like a chance to win, just use the easy Rafflecopter entry form below. Good luck!


~Janessa

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