Dec 192014
 

**The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free**

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I got my first camera when I was in 6th grade.  Somehow I lucked out in school that year and ended up with a teacher who loved taking the class on field trips.  We went on approximately 15 of them that year (yes, 15) and after the 3rd or 4th field trip, I started begging my mom incesantly asking for a camera so that I could be like all my friends and take pictures. That year for Christmas, I got a Kodak Disc Camera (I totally just dated myself, right?) and thought it was the coolest thing ever. I took my Kodak Disc on all the rest of my field trips that year and ended up with hundreds of pictures of my friends and the places I went.  And thus began my love of photography.

Since then, I have upgraded my camera quite a few times, and I like to think that my photography skills have come a long way since I was that 11 year old girl running around in the 80’s with my Kodak Disc.  Lately I have been thinking about another upgrade and there are a few cameras that I have my eye on.

Best Buy is the ultimate destination for the latest cameras and camcorders to capture your high-stakes memories. These three cameras from Nikon, Sony and Samsung, all come equipped with built-in Wi-Fi so you can share amazing photos with ease. Upgrade your camera in time to capture precious holiday memories. Continue reading »

Dec 182014
 

**Disclosure: Thanks to Old Spice for sponsoring this program.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Do you remember when I told you recently that I was partnering with Old Spice and Second Chance Toys to help collect gently used, clean plastic toys for their  HoliSPRAY Toy Donation Exchange?   I was chosen to help collect toys that would be distributed locally through the nonprofit organization Second Chance Toys. This was a first-of-its-kind, phil-MAN-thropic holiday exchange by Old Spice and I was so excited to be a part of it.

Second Chance Toys is a non-profit organization that has been dedicated to keeping plastic toys out of landfills by donating them to children in need throughout local communities since 2006.  I was thrilled when I heard that the donated toys were going to be given to kids right in our own community.

The toy exchange was held at my son’s dojo.  They have lots of families in and out of there every day, so I figured that the toy drive would get more exposure if I held it there.

The drive was held at:
America’s Best Defense (ABD)
1470 New State Highway
Suite 22
Raynham, MA 02767

ABD Raynham

The folks at ABD let me leave the bin for the toy donations in their lobby, so it was easy to spot as soon as you walked in the door.  For every family that donated, someone who was working at the counter helped to hand out a bottle of Old Spice’s new Re-fresh Body Spray (one per family) to them in exchange for their donation. Continue reading »

Dec 172014
 

**Disclosure: I received a pair of tickets to see The Nutcracker at no charge in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

When I was in the 4th grade, my class took a field trip into Boston to see a matinee performance of Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker.  Being nine years old at the time, I basically had no appreciation for what I was watching.  Fast forward to the present when I had a chance to go see this years production of The Nutcracker at The Boston Opera House and got a second chance to take in the show – as a “grown up” with a whole different outlook on the show.  My husband, Chris, had never even seen The Nutcracker before, so I knew he was going to be in for a real treat.

Boston Ballet The Nutcracker

“Mikko Nissinen’s The Nutcracker is based on the libretto by Alexandre Dumas père titled The Tale of the Nutcracker, which is adapted from E. T. A. Hoffmann’s story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King.”  

The show itself was absolutely breath taking.  All of the dancers were so graceful and they all did such a great job of telling the story through dance.  Chris and I sat there in awe throughout the entire show.

More than 300 dancers will perform in the new production and each performance has approximately 150 dancers involved. There are 250 children in the performance, making up three or four casts (classical ballet students from the Boston, Newton and North Shore studios). Continue reading »

Dec 162014
 

Are you looking to have a little Elf on the Shelf fun this holiday season? If so, take a look at these fun and frugal Naughty Elf ideas a try! You will find that it can be so fun and easy to help your Elf on a Shelf get into some holiday trouble. Here is how you can get started!

1. Clubbing Elf
This elf loves to get down to the beat and dance until the dawn. Grab a pack of glow sticks at your local dollar store, activate them, and then tie them around the elf. He will look like he is ready to party in no time. Cue the house music!

Clubbing  Elf on the Shelf

2. Boozy Elf
Uh oh! Looks like someone found the booze! Boozy Elf looks great when set out with a bottle, wine corks, and a wine glass. For extra fun, stuff him inside of the glass. Bottoms up! Continue reading »

Dec 152014
 

**I was invited on a sponsored press trip to the John Carver Inn’s Beach Plum Spa and WaterFire Tavern, but all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Recently I was invited to join three other area bloggers at the John Carver Inn in Plymouth, MA for a day of pampering at the Beach Plum Spa and some great food at the WaterFire Tavern.  I live in the area, so I have actually stayed at John Carver Inn before, but I had never had the chance to try out the spa or eat at the WaterFire Tavern, so I was excited to get the chance to experience both of those things for the first time.

The great thing about the John Carver Inn is that it’s a quaint, charming hotel that’s within walking distance of the Plymouth waterfront, shopping and attractions of historic Plymouth like the Plymouth Rock and Mayflower.

john carver inn

When we arrived at the John Carver, we got a tour of some of the rooms as well as the opportunity to go check out the Pilgrim Cove Indoor Theme Pool.  I have actually been to the pool with my kids before and it was a big hit with them. They ask to go back all the time.

After our tour, it was time to head to the Beach Plum Spa, located on the second floor of the hotel.

john carver inn beach plum spa

The Beach Plum Spa at John Carver is a full service spa and they offer a complete array of spa treatments for men, women and children. Yes, children.  In addition to traditional spa services such as massages and facials, the Beach Plum Spa offers a full range of cosmetic medical services including skin rejuvenation, body sculpting & contouring, and pain-free hair removal. Continue reading »

Dec 142014
 

How to Wrap Gifts Almost Perfectly

Every birthday and Christmas I try my hardest wrap my gifts perfectly. I’ve never wrapped them perfectly, but I have learned to wrap them almost perfectly. Check out my tips below to follow along in my secret wrapping.

#1. Pick out wrapping paper you love.

I’ve learned that the secret to wrapping a gift almost perfectly is picking out wrapping paper that I love. I take some serious time choosing several types of wrapping paper that will help me wrap my gifts. I especially love finding incredibly beautiful wrapping paper for Christmas. The shinier than the better when it comes to Christmas wrapping.

#2. Grab your supplies.

There’s nothing worse than starting to wrap a gift and you realize you forgot scissors or tape. I always have everything ready before I start wrapping any gifts. The more prepared you are than the better your gifts will turn out. Continue reading »

Dec 132014
 

**I received product a no charge in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

If you know me in real life, you already know that I am completely hooked on Dunkin Donuts coffee.  I am not exaggerating when I tell you that  I am there every single day – at least once. Usually I stop at one of their restaurants for coffee a couple of times a day, though.  I am really lucky because where I live, I have four Dunkin Donuts shops within a few miles of my house. Sometimes I just don’t feel like leaving the house to get my coffee from one of their shops, so thankfully Dunkin’ Donuts has K-Cups available so that I can have a cup at home any time I want!

Dunkin Donuts Dark Roast KCups

Dunkin’ Donuts’ has made one of its boldest additions ever to its coffee lineup, with Rainforest Alliance Certified™ DarkRoast Coffee which is now available at Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants nationwide.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ new Dark Roast Coffee uses a unique roasting process to bring out key characteristics of different beans, creating a bold flavor and the smooth finish without the bitterness typically associated with most dark roast coffees.  When you go to a Dunkin’ Donuts shop, you can enjoy the new Dark Roast Coffee served either hot or iced, but it is also available for sale for brewing at home in both packaged coffee and in K-Cup® packs.

Dunkin’ Donuts new Dark Roast Coffee features the Rainforest Alliance Certified seal, indicating that it is made with at least 30% coffee beans sourced from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. The Rainforest Alliance is an international nonprofit organization that works to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods. Rainforest Alliance certification helps to protect wildlife; safeguard soils and waterways; and improve quality of life for workers, their families and local communities in order to achieve true, long-term sustainability.

Plus, it’s seriously delicious! Continue reading »

Dec 122014
 

**Disclosure: Product was received at no charge in order to facilitate this review.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Is your family up for trying something amazing this year? We had a chance to try out the new Skylanders Trap Team (for the Wii) recently and my boys were completely blown away when I opened the package and they saw what was inside.  We’ve always loved playing video games together, my boys especially, so we were excited to give this video game a go! The Wii is one of our favorite systems to play, so it only made sense to give the Skylanders Trap Team a try!

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They have been Skylanders fans since day one and as soon as they heard a new set was coming out, they starting asking for it.  I kept telling them that maybe Santa would bring it for them this year for Christmas, but Christmas came early for them this year!

The particular starter pack that we got came with the game, the portal, two Skylander “guys” and two traps. Trust me, there are a lot of hours of fun packed into such a small game. The boys even invited Chris into join in the fun and he loved it. Continue reading »

Dec 112014
 

**The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free**

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Do you have someone who’s really hard to buy for at the holidays?  I have a couple of those people to be honest.  One of them happens to be my 10 year old son.  He’s at an odd age where he doesn’t really want toys anymore and he’s just now starting to get into electronics.  We have a gaming system already, but it’s old and I have been giving serious thought into getting him the Xbox One this year for Christmas.  He could also use a new pair of headphones, so I definitely have to get over to Best Buy to finish up my shopping for him.  When it comes to great gift ideas, Best Buy is the place to shop! They have everything I’m looking for all in one place.  You know, things such as the Xbox One, JBL speakers and headphones, Garmin and TomTom!

Check out some of the things I’m thinking about getting when I go to Best Buy this weekend:

Xbox One:

Xbox One was built by gamers, for gamers. With the best exclusive titles (Halo, Sunset Overdrive), the biggest blockbusters (Assassin’s Creed and Call of Duty) the hottest sports franchises (Madden 15, FIFA 15, NBA 2K15) and top family titles (Fantasia: Music Evolved, Just Dance 15, Skylanders) Xbox One takes gaming to a whole new level.

In addition to being a great gaming console, Xbox one connects consumers unlike any other device.  Xbox One enables access to the latest TV shows and movies through your favorite apps.  With Xbox One all of your media is at your fingertips when you want it. Continue reading »

Dec 102014
 

**Disclosure: I received compensation from McDonald’s in exchange for writing this review. Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own**

I have to admit that the holidays seem to bring out the hustle and bustle in all of us. I strive so hard to keep my family happy and healthy during the holidays albeit I sometimes fail miserably. I wanted to share my best tips for managing some of the holiday craziness while still on the go.

Plan Ahead

One of my best tips is to plan ahead for the day. You can’t predict every single thing that will happen, but you can plan ahead for what might happen. I write my day down and add a few notes to what I can do to help stay on track and keep things running smoothly.

Tone Down the Schedule

If I feel like things are getting too busy during the holiday season, I pull back and tone things down. It’s important to remember that spending time with family and friends is more important than anything else this holiday season.

Wholesome Fast Food Choices

As much as I love everything on the McDonald’s menu, I like to make the best choices possible and offer those same choices to my kiddos. I’m so excited that McDonald’s is adding fresh fruit items, like Cuties, to their menu! Beginning December 1, 2014, customers nationwide can choose to enjoy Cuties as a side in Happy Meals and Mighty Kids Meals, as well as “a la carte,” or just purchasing the side option itself Cuties are a sweet and delicious kid-sized fresh fruit choice providing an excellent source of vitamin C and providing about one-quarter (1/4) cup of fruit; they are small and easy-to-hold and peel! Make sure you try the Cuties in your Happy Meal because they will only be served while they’re in season (thru March 2015).

J-Mcdonalds-cuties-happy-meal

Happy Meal Evolution

The traditional Happy Meal is amazing, but I love the chances that are happening! McDonald’s continues to evolve the happy meal to help keep their smallest customers happy and healthy. Want to know more about the Happy Meal? Continue reading »

Dec 092014
 

Linden Square

**Disclosure:  I attended a sponsored media event, but all opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Last week I had the chance to meet up with a few fellow area bloggers and take a little stroll around some of the shops and boutiques at Linden Square in Wellesley. You’ve never heard of Linden Square?  Let me tell you a little bit about it!  Linden Square is a 250,000-square-foot shopping, dining and lifestyle destination located in the heart of Wellesley, MA and it’s only ten miles outside of Boston.  There are all sorts of fun shops, restaurants and services to choose from there.

Our first stop of the day was Roosters Men’s Grooming Center. At Roosters, you’re going to get charm and comfort of a classic barbershop, but it’s combined with barbers who are skilled in modern men’s haircuts and grooming techniques.  In order to demonstrate a little bit of what they do there at Roosters, we all had the opportunity to shave a balloon with a straight edge razor. Trust me, it wasn’t as easy as it looks. Continue reading »

Dec 092014
 

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There’s nothing worse than spending a ton of money on Christmas decorations year after year. Whether you’re looking to purchase new Christmas decorations for a first time home or replace your old decorations, there are some ways you can save money.

Borrow Christmas Decorations

There’s nothing weird about borrowing someone else’s Christmas decorations. Let’s say a person is no longer using something fabulous, decoration wise, and it’s just sitting in their basement. It’s best to ask  to borrow it than just watch it sit there.

Garage Sale Christmas Decoration Finds

Garage sales are some of the BEST places to find Christmas decorations. Whether you’re looking for a tree or lights, it’s best to find them for the lowest price possible. There’s no use in spending your whole Christmas bonus on something like this. Look around during the summer months for decorations that you can use during the winter months. Continue reading »

Dec 082014
 

Old Spice Logo

**Disclosure: Thanks to Old Spice for sponsoring this program.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

Do you have some toys laying around the house that you kids might have outgrown, but other kids could still enjoy?  Have you considered donating those toys to children in need?  Well, now is your chance! I  am partnering with Old Spice and Second Chance Toys to help collect gently used, clean plastic toys for their  HoliSPRAY Toy Donation Exchange. All toys collected will be distributed locally through nonprofit organization Second Chance Toys.  This is a first-of-its-kind, phil-MAN-thropic holiday exchange by Old Spice and I am excited to be a part of it.

But wait, I said “exchange”!  What that means is that for every toy donated, Old Spice will be gifting a bottle of their new Re-fresh Body Spray (one per family).

old spice

Old Spice Re-fresh Body Spray is the gift that keeps on giving, one spray at a time.  “It contains a P&G proprietary Re-fresh Technology that features a patented cyclic molecule with an empty core that absorbs some fragrance as the Body Spray dries on the skin. As a guy sweats, fragrance is pushed out of the core releasing bursts of scent when a guy needs it the most.” 

“One spray lasts all day”!

The toy donation exchange was inspired by the hilarious moment from the new Old Spice “Dadsong”  TV ad .  You know, there one where the dad runs over his son’s childhood toys with a riding lawnmower, signifying his boy’s entry into manhood?  Wicked funny, right?  The Old Spice HoliSPRAY Exchange is designed to rescue all of those gently used toys and bring some joy to the lives of disadvantaged children during the holiday season!

As soon as I was asked to help, I knew exactly where I wanted to hold the exchange.   My son’s dojo. Continue reading »

Dec 072014
 

Perfect Christmas Pranks for the Kids

Every year I have to be THAT mom and have a little fun with my kids. Life just isn’t the same if you do not spend time having fun. I think Christmas time is the perfect time to have a little good clean fun with the boys. I wanted to share some of my best prank ideas to pull on the kids.

Empty Box Wrapped Up

Okay, this one might be just plain mean, but it’s hilarious. Wrap a huge box with wrapping paper and place it under the tree. Don’t say anything and let your kids open it Christmas morning. I’m just saying that you have to have something amazing for them to open after pulling a prank like this.

Early Christmas

Take things from around the house and wrap them up. Surprise the kids about a week before Christmas and tell them you are having Christmas early. They may just love opening a box of brownie mix a week before Christmas.

Wake Them Up Early Continue reading »

Dec 052014
 

**The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free**

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I am definitely not a professional by any means, but I love taking photos.  I would say that the vast majority of the photos I take are of my kids and family, but I love documenting my travels and every day life as well. Most people who know me in real life will tell you that whenever they see me, my camera is almost always attached to me.  That is why a great camera is so important to me.  I have this great little Canon point and shoot camera that has served me very well over the years, but I have been eyeballing the Canon EOS Rebel T5i lately and I am hoping that Santa sees this and that I find one under my tree on Christmas morning.

Without giving you a major lesson in cameras, DLSR cameras are generally faster and produce sharper photos than compact (point and shoot) cameras. The DSLR acronym means that the camera uses a Digital sensor with Single Lens Reflex technology to create the image. They have interchangeable lenses, which means they are can capture great photos in any situation. DLSRs are professional cameras, so they are larger and a bit more bulky than point & shoot cameras, but totally worth it if you want to capture high-res, amazing photos!

Continue reading »

Dec 042014
 

Levana Keera Two Camera Baby Monitoring System

**Disclosure: Product was received at no charge in order to facilitate this review.  All opinions expressed here are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

If you are a new parent, you might be looking for ways to get a better night’s sleep. A baby monitor is the perfect way to keep your eyes and ears on your child when you can’t be in the room with them, and Levana has introduced a new monitor to help you do just that. The Keera two camera baby monitor by Levana is the perfect way to monitor to your child, ensuring an easier night’s sleep for the both of you. I recently had the chance to sample this product, and I am looking forward to sharing my findings with you!

Levana Keera Two Camera Baby Monitoring System 1

The Keera two camera baby monitor is different than most monitors, offering features such as night vision, lullabies, two way radio, and more. Here are some of the features you can look forward to enjoying with the Keera model: Continue reading »

Dec 032014
 

Snowman Donuts NOM

The holidays are filled with gift shopping, whipping up feasts that will please a crowd, putting up decorations, planning festive gatherings, cleaning up after the festive gatherings, making lists, and checking them twice. It can all be overwhelming, but the fun in the season is worth every moment of making magic.

These Snowman Donuts are incredibly easy and quick, so you can get back to making three different kinds of mashed potatoes to suit your guests’ desire. They require no baking, but just a little imagination that will have your family wanting to join in.

You Will Need:

*Powdered sugar donuts – You can make your own by frying up some pre-made biscuit dough. Just use a small circular cookie cutter to create the shape. Double-dip them in powdered sugar and let them cool. Or, you can buy a bag. I won’t tell.

*One small piping bag of white-hued frosting

*Candy orange slices

*Chocolate chips (Regular M&M candies work well, too.) Continue reading »

Dec 022014
 

**Disclosure:  We received a Nerf Mega Thunderbow Blaster at no charge in order to facilitate this post.  All opinions are strictly my own and were not influenced in any way**

IMG_6513

Boys and nerf guns go together like peanut butter and jelly. If there’s one thing my kids like, it is a fun and well built nerf gun. Recently, we were able to try out the new Nerf Mega Thunderbow Blaster. There are several reasons my kids loved it and I’d love to go into the details.

Attitude

This Nerf Blaster has so much attitude I love it. Sure, traditional nerf guns are awesome but there’s something doubly awesome about this bad boy! You’re sure to have fun with the Nerf Mega Thunderbow Blaster, even though you bought it for the kiddos.

Fun

My boys played with the Nerf Mega Thunderbow Blaster for hours! It was fun to have an indoor Nerf “Bow” fight. We played with the new ones and also of course with the Nerf Mega Thunderbow Blaster! After I got tired, the boys continued to play. Continue reading »

Dec 012014
 

**I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Dunkin’ Brands. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation**

Anyone that knows me in real life, knows that I am hooked on Dunkin Donuts coffee.  No joke, I am there every single day – at least once.  Usually I stop there for coffee a couple of times a day, though.  I am lucky because where I live, I have four Dunkin Donuts shops within a couple of miles of my house.  I even walked four blocks out of my way in New York City last week to get my fix:

Dunkin Donuts in NYC

Are you as big of a Dunkin’ Donuts freak as I am? If you are, you probably already know that back in January 2014, Dunkin Donuts announced their awesome DD Perks Reward Program and this past June they surpassed ONE MILLION members.

The DD Perks Reward Program is unlike any other rewards program out there, in my opinion. They like to thank their customers for all of the support. If you know anything about me, you know that I’m a big Dunkin Donuts fan and my local store knows me by my ‘usual.’ How awesome is that?

When you sign up for DD Perks Reward Program, you earn five points for every dollar you spend. Guess what? Once you reach 200 points, you get a coupon for a beverage of your choice. That is a reward at its finest. I love that Dunkin Donuts truly appreciates their customers for their support. They recognize that there is a lot of coffee competition out there and that their customers are the reason for their success (and their amazing products of course). Continue reading »

Nov 302014
 

Monsters Inc. Mike Wazowski Holiday Ornament

Do you love Monsters Inc. or know someone who does? If so, this Monsters Inc. holiday ornament is the perfect craft. Simple and inexpensive to make, this Monsters Inc. holiday ornament is the perfect way to add a little monster fun to your tree or holiday décor. Take a peek below at how to get started crafting your own Mike Wazowski ornament and see how much fun you can have!

Supplies needed:
Clear holiday ornament (opt for plastic)
Green craft paint (Hot green or a vivid green is perfect, typically less than $1 at most craft stores)
White, black, and blue craft felt or construction paper
Black marker
Craft glue Continue reading »