DIY Advent Calendars

I purchased advent calendars for my older 2 kids- but I’m struggling for my 3 year old.  She’s not old enough for the LEGO advent calendars, and I set out to poke around and find some DIY advent calendars that we can make this week for her.  I figured someone else might be looking too…so I’m sharing some of what I found.  Let me know if you make any- and how it turned out!

This Countdown Calendar from Multiples and More is great- it’s not specific to advent so you can use it for anything you are counting down to!

This Matchbox Advent Calendar from Cute as a Fox looks really, really fun and festive too!

This Activity Advent Calendar idea from A Year with Mom and Dad is quite simple (and I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t screw it up…)

I already LOVE Maileg, my kids play with our Matchbox Mice daily…and this Santa Advent Calendar is simply divine.  I love it.

I kind of think I want to do a version of the Muffin Pan Advent Calendar– just not sure what to put INTO it. I was thinking a few pieces of a puzzle each day?!

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Thrifty Ninja’s Christmas Tree Advent Calendar is super cute too- and would be so festive on the mantle!

She did a Party Cup Advent Calendar last year, too that looks simple and affordable.

I stumbled on this tutorial for a Grinch Advent Calendar and now I’m seriously debating if I have the skills to replicate this. I’m in LOVE.  The Grinch is one of my all time favorite books- and I love the over the door shoe pouches for the Advent Calendar!

If only I could crochet, this Crochet Advent Calendar would be darling too!

My friend Mary decided to wrap up each of the 24 Christmas books her children already own and let them open one each day to read before bed. That’s simple- and free (except for wrapping paper).

My grama used to make us advent calendars with Hershey Kisses– a simple strip of ribbon and a hot glue gun made for a quick, inexpensive and easy advent calendar.  I bet you could do it with some green foam board and make it like a tree- and how cute would it be with all of the different flavors they have now!?  These were made back in the day when kisses came in silver foil wrappers only (so long ago?!)

What do you use for advent calendars in your family? Please share!

40% off Organic Infant Apparel 1-day BlackFriday Sale

Tootie and Dolly is a brand that just came onto my radar, and let me tell you, cuteness abounds.  Cuteness that gives you adorable baby clothes like this little fox romper:

tootie and dolly fox romper

There are several things I love about this romper. First, it's color. This is not your typical baby blue. I love it. Second, the fox is just darling- and not really a critter you see on baby clothing all the time. So it's different. Third, it's organic, so there's not a thing to worry about next to baby's skin.  Lastly, the details on the rompers. The lap shoulders- they make life so much easier trying to dress babies, you know?  And I LOVE when there are little flaps of fabric to keep your little one from scratching themselves.  The biggest problem? Choosing between the fox, the hippo, giraffe or ant! (Or do you just get them all?)  These just look so soft and snuggly and all around adorable.  I'd like them in adult sizes, please?! (I am joking). (I bet my cousin is going to LOVE these-it was really hard to choose which size to order for her winter baby…so I went with some that will fit for this year and some that will fit for next year!)

Tootie & Dolly sells totally organic infant clothing, blankets, baby washcloths and organic baby socks. You will love our soft selection of organic onesies and your little one will never want to let go of our cozy organic blankets. The organic makeup of our infant apparel is low-impact, there are no harsh chemicals in the manufacturing process so you can feel good about what your infant is wearing and they’ll certainly look cute while doing so.  Our aim is to make organic cotton affordable and still maintain superior quality! Shop at for all your infant essentials
tootie and dolly sale
Tootie & Dolly has some fairly reasonable pricing on their site, for certified organic baby items.   Factor in the 40% off discount with free shipping (over $75) for Black Friday and it's  a steal!  This deal is ONLY available on Friday, November 23, 2012.  Use code BLACKFRIDAY.
Tootie & Dolly also sells baby blankets, washcloths, rompers, dresses, onesies and sleepwear in addition to the rompers.  They don't have a huge selection but what they have is a great option- either for neutral items or just basics.  I always wanted long sleeved baby onesies in solid colors and I can remember so many times being frustrated at finding only white in long sleeve, especially for sizes over 6 months!    Time to do some holiday shopping for that baby or parents to be in your life!
What's your favorite item from Tootie & Dolly?

You can find Tootie and Dolly at Remember, the code for the sale is BLACKFRIDAY.

I will be receiving some samples to thank me for sharing this sale.  Opinions are my own. 

Imagine Fashion Life for Nintendo 3DS #HGG #UbiFashionLife

imagine fashion life mannequinI have three children in my house who have a very clear sense of style all of their own.  I can choose what I like for them, but they decide what to wear with what, and assemble their own ensembles.  Which is probably why my son wore snow boots for about 14 months straight, and why my then-5-year-old wore one shoe from 2 different pairs of sneakers for a few months back in Kindergarten. I guess fashion is subjective, but it’s fun to see what people come up with.  As my kids get older, their sense of “style” is coming out more and more, and it’s just so fun to watch their personalities expressed in their clothes.  (Except for my 5 year old.  If he’s able to wear a superhero shirt everysingleday then he’s happy.  Non superhero shirtdays? He’s not happy).  Of course, I’m not really super trendy so they may or may not have just ended up like their mama.

imagine fashion life 3ds

With Imagine Fashion Life, you can create your model, and then create the looks, change the looks, be the looks, and more.  You can create an entire “line” of fashions and accessories in 3D, and then even share it with friends!  That’s what’s the most fun, I think- being able to show off your designs.  Why design something fabulous if you aren’t going to share it?  That sense of style my kids have can be turned into entire ensembles and wardrobes with this game- which is totally fun. It’s a fun game to play with your girlfriends too!

I love that there are games that let kids express creativity and don’t include violence.

Imagine®, the original Games for Girls brand, introduces the most realistic and customizable fashion design game yet for the Nintendo 3DS™ system that allows you to create whatever you dream. Chart your own path to becoming a world famous fashion designer by creating the most unique and lifelike 3D looks, developing the wardrobe of your dreams and sharing your creations with friends. Imagine Fashion Designer 3D fully leverages the Nintendo 3DS system’s features, with almost-touchable 3D designs and textures, StreetPass™ sharing, 3D camera captures and more.

Imagine Fashion Life for Nintendo 3DS is available at and Amazon for about $29.99.  It’ll make a great gift for your little fashionista this holiday season!

This is a sponsored post with Clever Girls Collective.  Opinions are my own.

Imagine Babyz for Nintendo 3DS #HGG #ImagineBabyz

imagine babyzI spent most of my evenings and weekends in high school babysitting. I loved it. I always wanted to be around kids.  Then I “grew up” and went to college- to study early childhood education, and continued to work with kids- although my babysitting times were limited to family and to families who used the child care center at Loon Mountain where I was working.  Once I graduated, I started working in child care centers and preschools…became a live in nanny, and now here I am, mom of three.  I guess you could say I kind of like kids?!  Babysitting is fun for me- and I knew I’d want to check out Imagine Babyz.  I figured it was a game made for folks like ME!

The babies in Imagine Babyz are  6-18 months old (which happens to be my favorite age range…) You can play with them, dress them, take them to the park, budget to buy them new things, travel with them, and more.  They are cute, they are interactive and they are adorable.

imagine babyz game

So, I think this game is super cute. It took a while to “get” how to play, which may deter some folks.  My daughter spent most of her time with the game changing her avatar around.  The idea is cute, and it can be fun, but for both my daughter and I, it took too long to figure out what to do  for us to really get excited about it.  I totally assumed I’d love this game because it’s got babies and I love babies.  I do like it, but it’s taken me a long time to get into it… so after a few weeks I’m still not loving it.   I think we’re going to put it away for a few months until my daughter is a bit older and try again.  It’s a game geared towards the 6-13 crowd but I think most girls at the younger end of that age range are going to be frustrated or lose interest like my daughter did.  I think with an older child who has a little more patience this might be a better game for them.

I would have loved this game as a gift when I WAS a nanny– and I’m sure there are lots of au pairs and nannies who would say the same.  How cool to have a video game of your work?

In Imagine Babyz, experience the life of a popular babysitter with incredibly lifelike 3D visual animation! Travel the world caring for babies and helping them grow, keeping both the babies and their parents happy in order to build your reputation as a babysitter and ultimately open your own dream day care business.

Imagine Babyz for 3DS is available online at ToysRUs and Amazon for about $29.99.

This is a sponsored post with Clever Girls Collective.  Opinions are my own.

The “Acts of Kindness” Advent Calendar

the acts of kindness advent calendarI just stumbled on a really, really cool advent calendar.  Sure, the kid ones are fun, but this, this is different. is putting on an advent calendar online that people can go to and participate in acts of service on a daily basis. It’s a nice idea, especially during the holidays. It’s also interactive.

Each day, throughout December, you get an email in your inbox with the day’s act of kindness.  I was looking through the 2011 acts and saw things like “call someone just to call them and say hey, I’m thinking of you!” or writing a note to someone you love on a post it note and hiding it where they’ll find it (soon).  What a wonderful idea, don’t you think?  I’ve already signed up so I don’t miss an email. I think this may be a ritual we do together as a family before we do the “material” advent calendars this year. noomii acts of kindness advent calendar

Would anyone want to participate with me?  We can even start a thread in the forum to discuss how we did our acts of kindness or what we did each day.  I’m game, if you are.  When I was looking through the acts from 2011, nothing struck me as super hard, or challenging and they even give you a “quieter” way to do things if you don’t want to be public about it.  Won’t you sign up and make a difference with me? I have a feeling it’ll make the holiday season feel that much more festive.

The folks at Noomii would love for each of us to subscribe to get the daily emails, so that none of us misses our acts of kindness email in the morning.  Let’s do it! You’ll get one email each day from December 1 to 25, 2012.  That’s it.


I’m telling my story with Chamilia

I am a sentimental girl.  I love things with history. I love hearing stories- family stories, friendship stories- they just make me feel so connected to a time, a place, a person.  I think that’s what draws me to the whole idea of the charm bracelet.  A simple bracelet (or necklace) that starts out plain  and then, as time goes by, the stories and events that shape the owner of that bracelet’s life start to fill the bracelet and give it personality, and meaning.

chamilia pouch

For my birthday this year, my husband surprised me with 3 beads for my (now broken) bracelet from Chamilia.  A pink peony, because they are my favorite flower.  A “B” bead…well, because I’m Brett, and then a bead with XOXOXO.  I was so thrilled that he’d chosen those particular beads for me, and added them to my bracelet immediately.  I was so crushed when my bracelet (not from Chamilia) actually BROKE and the company wasn’t willing to replace it even though I’d had it just under a year.  So my beautiful beads went back into the bright green pouch from Chamilia, to await a new bracelet.

chamilia bracelet

This fall, I got the chance to review a new Silver Snap bracelet and some beads from Chamilia. I couldn’t believe my luck.  We’ve had a lot going on this year and I wasn’t about to spend money on a bracelet for myself when we had expenses to pay for, you know?  So I was feeling a little sad that I’d not be able to not only wear my bracelet but add to it.  This was my chance!

chamila bracelet with beads

Delighted, I chose the Silver Snap bracelet, which is sleek and  simple.  Then I set to find a bead or two that spoke to me.  How would I choose a bead for myself?  It felt a little strange at first.  But then I saw this adorable little dolphin bead, and I knew it needed to be on my wrist.  You see, dolphins are my favorite animal.  I’ve swum with dolphins twice, something my mom said more than once was one of the very few regrets she had in life- she’d always wanted to swim with dolphins and never did get the chance.  Another way to kind of stay connected to my mom.  Perfect.

My other choice was Silver Engraved Mickey bead.  I’ve always loved Disney and Mickey Mouse, so I knew I wanted something Mickey on there!  I’m sure there will be another Mickey bead soon, as we’ll be taking our family to Disney for the first time and my souvenir of choice is definitely another bead…and it’ll help tell my story.

One thing I really, truly love about these bracelets and beads is that you can find something for almost any budget or price range.  There are starter sets and themed sets if you aren’t sure what to buy, but you can also get super personal and create something (or just start something) very special for someone you love. There are bracelets available from $40.00 all the way up over $1200.00, and many, many options in between.  The beads also come in a variety of materials and pricing so you can find something beautiful AND stay to your budget.

If you have someone you are shopping for, I definitely recommend considering a bracelet (or necklace- which is what I’d love to get next!) for that special someone.  It’s a gift that you can keep on giving and that others can add to, over time.  But it’s also something special that helps us tell our stories.

When you start perusing on the Chamilia site, you’ll soon realize there are more choices than you realize, and you may want to give some thought before you start going through beads.  It can get a little overwhelming if you just jump in, although it’s totally doable.  I suggest that if you do decide to go with one of these bracelets, to think about how your story is intertwined with the person you are giving it to, and have some ideas ahead of time (even if it’s a starter kit!) to make things easier on you….although you never know what you may find when you are browsing.

There’s even a Miss Chamilia available with smaller sized jewelry and beads as well.  Very reasonably priced and such a sweet gift for a little girl.  I know my 7 year old would adore one of the Miss Chamilia bracelets!

Do you have a bead bracelet like this?  What are your favorite beads?

Samples were received to facilitate my review.  Opinions are my own.

iPad Mini Giveaway

ipad mini giveaway


Welcome to the iPad Mini Giveaway.  I love my iPad so much that I decided to join up with some other bloggers to give one of YOU one of the new iPad Minis!

Good luck to each of you and don’t forget to check out my other giveaways by clicking on the giveaway button in the menu bar or by the list in the sidebar!

Hosted by:

Swank Savings & Dixieland Mom Product Reviews

Co-Hosted by: Mommy Needs Her Coffee, Virtual Musings, Stay a Stay at Home Mom, Still blonde after all these YEARS, Mommy Bear Media, Monica’s Rants, Raves & Reviews, This Mama Loves Her Bargains, BlogShopWin, Reel Mama,, Shopaholic Mommy, Freebie Spot, AtlasTravelWeb Travel Blog, RewardIt Sweepstakes, and Penny Auctions Canada

The prize: An iPad Mini or Cash Equivalent

This giveaway is open world-wide from November 21 at 12:01 a.m. EST through December 16 at 12:01 a.m. EST. You must be 18 years old or older to enter. Please enter the Rafflecopter below to start the giveaway. All entries will be verified. Winner will be selected by Random.Org. Winner will be emailed and has 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

Allow some time for the Rafflecopter to load. If it doesn’t load and you only see a link, click to open the link in a separate tab. You can still enter that way. Thanks!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This blog is not responsible for prize shipment.

Kmart’s Fab 15 Holiday Toys #HGG

Kmart has a LOT of the hottest toys this holiday season.

  • Johnny The Skull  Johnny the Skull is an electronic game that, when he swivels his head around the room, ghosts are projected from his eye. Shoot quick or you may miss them! The blaster will count the number of ghosts hit. Hear the ghosts make spooky sounds throughout the game. Game has 3 different skill levels — can you master them all?
  • Twister Dance An updated, modern version of the ever-popular, classic game.  It’s Twister, 2012 style.  Fun for parties and family get togethers!
  • WEE Brawlin’ Buddies Stuffed versions of popular WWE stars who can handle a throwdown and even use familiar phrases used by the real stars!

furreal friends bouncy pup exclusive kmart gift set


  • FurReal Friends Bouncy My Happy To See Me Pup– This little pup is just cute as can be.  A nice small size, this little pup comes with it’s very own tote bag and brush (an exclusive to Kmart gift set) and is all ready to interact and play with your little one.  This little pup even jumps and spins!
  • Monsuno Strike Sector Combat Set Step up your game and take your Monsuno action into the battle zone! The Monsuno Strike Sector Combat Set allows for fast-paced battle anytime, anywhere. Quickly & easily snaps apart and folds up for easy transport! Comes with an EXCLUSIVE translucent blue Charger figure, core & card!

holiday barbie 2012


  • 2012 Brunette Holiday Barbie- This is a brunette Barbie in a gorgeous, holiday red ball gown, with shimmer and silver accents.  She’s a favorite collectible and any Barbie fan will love to have her!

lego monster fighters vampyre hearse

  • LEGO Monster Fighters: The Vampyre Hearse With all of the success of the Twilight movies, LEGO has found a way to give the “bigger” kids some fun – and safe- vampire toys.  We’re huge LEGO fans anyway in this house but I am loving the “edge” of this product line!
  • HotWheels Dune Racer Ride On My son would be over the moon for this dune racer, although it’s not in our budget and we have some ride on toys already.   It is totally cool, though.  I wouldn’t mind if Santa dropped one by the house!
  • Furby Furby’s back and I secretly hope someone decides to tell Santa I’d not mind having a pink one.  Why?  I was “too old” for them last time, but always wanted one.  Now they are back and the kids are almost old enough…and I still want one!  It’s hard to resist such a cute, furry toy that’s interactive.
  • Air Hogs Hover Assault- Super cool R/C vehicle that can also FLY!
  • Imaginext CastleWe are HUGE fans of the Imaginext Line- so much opportunity for creative and dramatic play!  There are also accessories and add ons for every budget and this is going to be a big hit under the tree….and one of those toys that’s played with for a really long time.  Anything Imaginext we’ve had has been played with for hours upon hours a week…
  • Cinderella Enchanted Carriage Vanity My 3 year old is fully engrossed in the world of princesses.  She saw this vanity in the store and I’m telling you, my child’s eyes filled up with tears.  “It’s so beautiful, mommy,” she said in a whisper.
  • LeapFrog Explorer LeapPad2 The #1 learning tablet just got better! LeapPad2 Explorer inspires kids to imagine and explore with front-and-back cameras and video recorders, 4 GB of memory and a library of 325+ cartridges and downloadable apps, including eBooks, videos, music, creativity apps and more for limitless learning and fun!
  • Master Moves Mickey- Mickey’s always a hit and Master Moves Mickey is no exception. He’s a dancing machine and does handstands and even 360 spins.
  • Monster High Roller Maze Gift Set Skultimate Roller Maze is a ferocious game that requires monster skills. Unfortunately, the star players have all gotten injured, and the ghouls of Monster High have to save the day! This Kmart exclusive gift set includes both Ghoulia Yelps and Abbey Bominable dolls. Ready to roll, each player has a “fangtastic” skating outfit with helmet, knee pads and skates.

And Kmart has some of the hot toys that aren’t ON the list- like any of the Doc McStuffins toys- each time I head to Kmart I peek at the Fab 15 toys and check for Doc McStuffins and I can tell you that at least in the Vernon, CT store, there have been items in stock a few times per week…when other local stores are sold out!
What are the toys on YOUR shopping list this year?

Samples of these products were received in exchange for this post.  The samples were photographed in their packaging so that we could donate them to ToysforTots. 

H&R Block’s Emerald Advance ($300 MasterCard Gift Card Giveaway) #HRBlockLoan

hr block emerald advance

With H&R Block’s Emerald Advance  service, folks may be eligible for up to $1,000 without having to jump through lots of hoops.  People can apply starting November 19th and receive their cash advance in time for the holidays. Whether they use Emerald Advance to cover holiday gifts or travel expenses to spend time with family over the holidays, people can feel good about relying on a financial expert they can trust all year – so they can do more celebrating and less worrying!

More details on H&R Block Emerald Advance:

  • Starting November 19th, apply to get up to $1000 cash in time for the holidays
  • All you need to apply is a valid photo ID and your most recent pay stub (no W2 form required!)
  • You don’t already need to be an H&R Block client to apply

H&R block mastercard giveaway
One lucky reader will win a $300 MasterCard Gift Card from H&R Block! To enter, simply use the Rafflecopter form below.
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H&R Block has provided the $300 gift card for the winner of this giveaway. The prize was provided and may be shipped to the winner by H&R Block, but H&R Block is not a sponsor, administrator, or involved in any other way with this giveaway. All opinions expressed in the post are 100% my own and honest opinion and not those of H&R Block. Entrants must be 18 or older and located in the US only. Winner to be chosen at random. I did not receive compensation for sharing this information or running this promotion.


Peppa Pig Toys (Review) #HGG

One of the best perks of my kids watching Peppa Pig is the Brittish accents they carry forward long after the show is over. Seriously, so cute.

My three year old daughter and four year old son have been long-time fans of Peppa Pig – we watch the humorous [and totally relevant] shows on Nick Jr.

We had yet to purchase any of the Peppa Pig toys but ironically just started seeing them in stores while shopping for Holiday presents.  So when I let them open the box  of Hug ‘n Oink Peppa, The Peek n’ Surprise™ Playhouse and the Muddy Puddles and other stories DVD before Christmas they were ecstatic.

peppa pig house folded

The Peek ‘n Surprise™ Playhouse by Fisher-Price is so fun! My kids instantly sat on the floor and played with the figurines (Peppa and her little brother George) and their house for a long, long time!  (and if you have kiddos you can attest, any length of time greater than 2.3 minutes is a success – so 35+ minutes straight without snacks, whining or fighting is…heaven on earth.

peppa pig house

The Peek ‘n Surprise™ Playhouse comes with several pieces of removable furniture; many, like the table, oven, bunk bed and tv come with a ‘flipable’ piece to change the scene.  For example, you can take the bed from messy to tidy or the table from arts and crafts to dinner time with just a flip! Endless scenes and scenarios for lots of imaginative play!

peppa pig house playing

For easy storage and on-the-go fun the Playhouse folds closed and comes with a handle!

Although we loved this feature the one negative is that it’s a little cumbersome to get all the pieces inside, staying put while trying to close the doors. But after a few tries we got it down.

peppa pig doll

The Hug ‘n Oink Peppa by Fisher-Price is a stuffed  toy Peppa pig  with  fun melodies, phrases and even oinks and giggles and sings when she’s squeezed.

My daughter grabbed it right away and didn’t want to let go and I don’t blame her! It’s made of super soft materials with a removable red shirt (which hides the Velcro opening to the battery case – which, by the way, is screwed shut for safety – yay!) and quality details like embroidered eyes, nose and mouth.

These Peppa Pig toys are so great and I know a few other Peppa fans who will love to receive one as a Holiday gift! Different, unique and so fun!
This is a guest review from Hannah over at to the moon and back!  Samples were received but her opinions are her own.