Closetmaid saved the day (in the closet)


You can see here behind my daughter’s clothes where the space was taken- not a huge amount but enough that we had to make big changes. We used to have an entire dresser in the closet for them, and that is gone!

In doing our  bathroom makeover, we had to rob the girls’ closet of some space, in order to install some built in shelving for much-needed bathroom storage.  While their closet is a fairly good sized one for a child’s bedroom, it also has to house all of the clothing for both of my girls, and all of their “stuff” including extra bedding.  We turned to Closetmaid for some help with organization, and we are so thrilled with the results!

closetmaid organizer

We chose a few items to get the girls gear all situated and organized.  First, an organizer.  The Up to 5ft Closet Organizer was the only option we could use, because it was the only option that might fit. It’s been great.  My husband did a bit of a different configuration for the girls’ room (he’s pretty comfortable and confident with tools and carpentry) to get the most out of the space, but we’re really pleased with this organizer.  It retails for about $45 so it’s not going to break the bank, and helps keep things organized. The wire shelving also means that air is circulating and things won’t have that musty odor.  The shelving also means if we have something odd-sized or shaped to hang, there are many options and ways to do so.

Up To 5 Ft. Closet Organizer

The economical way to organize your closets. Ventilated shelving allows for air circulation and room for clothes to breathe. Stacked sweaters become neatly stored and easily accessible. Wasted space is fully utilized. Get it together today, with a Fixed Mount storage system from ClosetMaid®

  • Everything you need to install a shelving system in a closet up to 5ft. wide
  • Up to 7 ft. of hanging space and up to 7 ft. of shelf space
  • All hardware and installation template included
  • Material: Vinyl coated steel
  • All shelving SCS® Certified for minimum of 85% recycled content


The Cubeicals 6 Cube Storage  ($47.0o) has been my favorite thing we added to the closet.  It can house fabric bins, and keep things like off-season pajamas, toys, etc, neat and tidy, but out of sight…but it can also be used to display and store hair accessories, toys that aren’t “out” all of the time, special shoes, etc.

6 Cube Organizer

ClosetMaid® Cubeicals® Storage Organizers are a convenient way to hold hobbies, toys, media and office supplies. Designed to work perfectly with ClosetMaid Cubeicals Fabric Drawers.

  • Stackable 6-cube design great for quick organization
  • Suggest use with Cubeicals Fabric Drawers
  • Available in a variety of finishes/colors
  • Easy to assemble
  • Material: Laminated wood
  • CARB 93120 Compliant
  • Inside Dimensions of 1 Cube: 11.25 in.H x 11.25 in. W x 11.75 in. D

Cubeicals Fabric Drawers fit perfectly into the storage cubes- and look great besides.  They come in a ton of colors to complement your decor and run about $7.50 each.  I have these all over my house- I love that I can find very muted, neutral drawers to have in the main living areas, but get fun and brighter colors for the kids’ bedrooms.

5 drawer wire kit

Wire 5 Drawer Kit

5 Drawer Kit

ClosetMaid® ventilated wire drawer systems provide convenient, drawer storage for closets and other areas in the home. The drawer kit includes five 7 in. deep baskets, 10-runner frame set and crossbars. Locking caster set is sold separately.

  • Smooth gliding action
  • All hardware included
  • Material: Epoxy coated steel
  • Tops, casters, and other accessories sold separately

The wire drawer kit was intended for the girls’ closet but with the changes in our plans, it’s become the best storage EVER for our wooden trains, tracks, destinations and accessories.  The drawers are so easy to slide on and off, and are nice and deep, so you can hold a good amount of whatever you store.  These would be great for craft supplies (paper, fabrics, etc) or for clothing, as well.  The drawer kit was just too deep for their closet once we had it in there and we knew immediately it would have more use elsewhere.

Closetmaid has a really comprehensive site that allows you to not only browse and purchase, but also allows you to plan and design a project and helps you with tips/suggestions based on your skill level.  You can do the design process as a beginner and not feel overwhelmed- and a pro can really get into doing exactly what they would like to do.  The saving feature means you can design something say, at home, and view it again from another location.

Choosing things wasn’t very hard for us because we quite frankly didn’t have a lot of space to work with, and were very limited.  We just know we have to maximize our space everywhere possible in our home.  Given that I shop sales and clearance racks for upcoming seasons, we do need to have some storage available in their closet- doubly so because there are 2 girls, and their extra bedding.  There aren’t many places in our house that are single purpose I guess!

OK. So these all look great, work well, but here’s the thing.  They take some patience to assemble, and patience to install.  You aren’t going to buy them and have them up ready to be used in half an hour.  I think I’ve assembled about 10 of the cubeicals in the past few years, at our house and others’, and I can assemble a 6 cube unit in about 30 minutes.  With kids helping? 45, easily.  Don’t set yourself up for failure.  Plan on it taking a long time.  I usually get a glass of wine and a favorite show on the DVR while I assemble.  I leave the wire shelving to my husband, because we have plaster walls and I don’t have the desire nor the inclination to try to hang something on those walls.  Just plan on having to redo a few pieces and screws a few times, and know it’ll take a bit longer than you anticipate, and you’ll be good to go.

closetmaid 6 cube organizer

One lucky reader will win a a 6-cube organizer (choice color) and 3 Fabric Drawers (in choice color) for their house!  Let’s get ORGANIZED!
Tell me what item you’d like best from or something you learned visiting the site.

*Like Closetmaid on Facebook

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*Share this giveaway on any social networking site (leave a comment here with the URL of your share- can be done 1x/day per site)

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This giveaway will end on November 18th, 2012 at 11:59 PM EST. US only.

I received samples of this product to facilitate my review.  Opinions are my own. 

My Photo Creations – Anza Flush Mount Album Review and Giveaway!! Holiday Gift Guide 2012

Department stores are putting up their holiday decorations which means that it is time start thinking about your holiday gift list! Long ago before kids, I used to have all my Christmas shopping done by Halloween. I always loved hand picking a personal item that would be significant to the recipient. I no longer have the luxury of perusing the shopping aisles for that one perfect gift (impossible with 3 little ones to tote along), but I do have the ability to shop online! I really wanted to get something nice for my mother in law this year. She recently mentioned that she never ordered an album from my wedding 11 years ago. Back in those days digital photography was not all that popular and purchasing a photo photo album through a photographer could be really expensive. I knew that I wanted to get my mother in law a nice flush mount album, and through my search online I discovered My Photo Creations. They offer a variety of items: professional quality prints, photo calendars, photo books, cards and canvas prints as well as flush mount albums. The Anza album is professional quality, with a leather cover, embossing and thick, lay-flat durable pages. The price starts at $269, which is a fraction of the price you would pay if purchased through a photographer.

Anza Flush Mount Photo Album

Think you can only get a top quality album from a professional photographer? Not anymore. With the Anza, you will have a professional-looking flush mount album you create, for any occasion.

  • Anza 20 Choose between two sizes: 8×8 or 10×10 and the Anza 30 comes in 10×10 only
  • The Anza has 20 sides (10 pages) or Anza 30 sides (15 pages)
  • Sleek black leather cover with one-piece construction and square-cut corners
  • The most popular, advanced and easy to use, photo design software is free when you print through MyPhotoCreations.
  • Anybody can create a flush mount photographic album in minutes using our free software
  • Create a photo book in just a few clicks using your album design. Make an album for you and a photo book for friends and family. Makes a great gift!
  • Share your album online w
    The Hypothyroidism Solution

    ith friends and family with a click of a button

  • 3-5 business day turn-around for your album (not including shipping)

My Experience with My Photo Creations The first step in creating my flush mount album was to download the site’s free software. This was a simple and quick process. After taking a few minutes to orient myself to the software I found that it was very easy to use. Simply choose your album (I chose the 30 page Anza album), load your pictures and let the software do the work by using one of their many templates, or be original and come up with your own design. The design possibilities are really endless. I actually designed all of my own pages and it took very little time. I had recently had all of my wedding photos scanned and simply loaded them onto the computer, chose the images I wanted and placed them on the pages. Easy! In a matter of an hour I had a personally designed album. I went with a simple and clean look, with a pure black background and white frames around my images, but you can choose endless colors and designs to adorn your book. Once I was finished designing my album, I uploaded to the My Photo Creations site to make my purchase. Once uploaded you can choose to emboss the cover of your album with gold or silver. This is a really nice finishing touch. My album arrived less than a week later securely packed and in a professional black box and inside a fabric sleeve. I love the extra touches that My Photo Creations included to ensure that my album is protected. Upon opening the album I was so impressed with the thick luxurious cover and professional binding. I think that I was most impressed with the sturdy pages that the images are printed on. This special paper will not rip or tear, and represented my images beautifully with great color and photographic quality. I know that my mother in law will be thrilled with her new album. I can’t wait to give it to her this Christmas! These albums would make a fabulous holiday gift for a loved one. You could design an album with your families most cherished images for a grandparent or spouse. These make great coffee table books and are great conversation starters! One of our VERY lucky readers will win their own 30 page Anza Flush Mount Photo Album!!!

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“A sample of this product was provided to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are my own.”

Come Join Me for The Little Chefs Project Cook-Along 10/24

One of my family's favorite things to do together is cook…bake…even make playdoh together. My kids love to make things “from scrap” and have all loved taking part, even as little one year olds barely able to stand on a chair to hold a spoon.  It's not always perfect, and it's definitely always messy, and I probably won't ever win an award for most attractive food produced, but you know what? It doesn't matter.  Cooking with kids, creating the memories, giving my kids these experiences- that's what matters.  Plus, we'd never refer to cooking from scratch ingredients as making stuff “from scrap” if we hadn't started this journey, and that's way more fun to say than the conventional expression, right?

My little one happened to be the only kid here with me the other day.  Big sister and big brother were both at playdates and she was feeling a little left out that she couldn't have a playdate too, so we decided we'd take a little mommy-little girl time and make pizza together for lunch.  Of the three kids, they all really love helping, but my youngest seems to be a lot more interested in learning about things, and trying to do more than the others have….so it's a real treat for her to do cooking activities just mommy and her.  We decided we'd make the Chef Boyardee Pizza Kit together- we could make it together, and do whatever WE wanted, and no one else could voice an opinion about toppings or shapes or anything.

So, we took the ingredients out…and got the dough mix into the bowl (note the mess starting)

chef boyardee making pizza dough

You have to expect messes when you cook with kids.  Without that expectation, you'll get frustrated.  Just trust me.  Messes can be cleaned.

chef boyardee pizza dough

Let them do it! Look at her face- she LOVES doing it by herself!

chef boyardee pizza dough 3 year old style

Flattening the pizza dough is oh so much fun…

chef boyardee pizza dough flattening

Spreading sauce  is fun too!

chef boyardee pizza sauce

We love to sprinkle cheese- and other fun toppings.

chef boyardee pizza toppings

I totally forgot to take an after photo.  And wouldn't you know it, we ate almost ALL of the pizza for lunch!

Do you and your family love to cook together?  It can be such a great bonding experience, and a learning experience- and really, just plain fun.

What: A virtual Cook-Along called Everyday Fun, part of The Little Chefs Project series on The Motherhood. 

The Little Chefs Project series consists of live chats called Cook-Alongs taking place every Thursday at 2 p.m. ET until November 15, and each Cook-Along covers a different topic around cooking with kids. Everyday Fun addresses how you and your kids can create fun, lasting memories in the kitchen around events like sleepovers or holidays, or around everyday events like family dinners.

When: Thursday, October 25, at 2 p.m. ET.  It will last 30 minutes.

Where: The Motherhood – here is the link to the page where the class will be held:

About the class: 
From weekend breakfast rituals to holidays like Halloween, you can find any occasion to cook up some everyday fun with your kids. Grab a can of Chef Boyardee and join in for further inspiration and ideas for getting started.

To participate, just click the link above, log into The Motherhood using your member ID (if you don’t have one, it’s easy and free to sign up), and chat away in the text-based comments. We’ll also have a video feed running during the half-hour Cook-Along, so you’re welcome to show up simply to watch if you’d like!  (Note: *I* will be LIVE on the video feed.  That's right.  Come watch how nervous I can really be!)

The Cook-Along is sponsored by Chef Boyardee, and it is hosted by The Motherhood.  You can visit Chef Boyardee online at or on Facebook at

I’ll be there with several other bloggers to co-host the class, and I hope you’ll join us!  The fabulous people who will be co-hosting with me are:

Brett, This Mama Loves Her Bargains
Carrie, Making Lemonade
Christi, Frugal Novice
Corine, Complicated Mama
Kim, Shop With Me Mama
Michelle, Ace and Friends Co.
Roxanne, Children Teaching Mama

Chef giveaway

One reader will win a Chef Boyardee Prize Pack so you can have fun in the kitchen too!

  • Kids’ kitchen measure and prep kit
  • Kids’ recipe box
  • Scrapbook album
  • 2 Chef Boyardee chef hats
  • Chef Boyardee adult apron
  • Chef Boyardee child apron
  • Chef Boyardee pizza kit
  • Time capsule
  • 2 coupons for free Chef Boyardee Beefaroni
  • 5 Chef Boyardee recipe cards

TO ENTER: Leave a comment and tell me your favorite activity to do with your kids!

Want extra entries?
* Like This Mama Loves Her Bargains on Facebook

*Subscribe to my site via email or RSS feed

*Share this giveaway on any social network (just leave one comment with the link to your share once per share site per day)  

*Share one of your favorite tips in the Little Chef's e-Book

Winner will be chosen randomly on November 6st 2012 at 11:59pm EST.  Open to US.  One entry per household.   (edit)

This is a sponsored post with The Motherhood. Opinions are my own.

Spider Man Mega Bloks

My son is kind of obsessed with superheros. As are most of his friends.  The current focus of the superhero obsession is Spider-Man.  We eat, sleep and breathe Spidey.  My son has literally worn two Spidey costumes until they fell apart, and is fast doing the same with a third.  I don’t mind- especially when we can find cool toys to go along with his obsession that also help develop fine motor skills, creative thinking, and following directions all at once….and can then be used for imaginative play.  Mega Bloks has a whole line of Spider-Man sets that range from small to large and are sure to delight your little Spidey fan as much as they have mine!

We found these Spider Man Mega Bloks sets to be a lot of fun. I can’t tell you how happy *I* was that each set includes its own Spider-Man figure.  These guys are tiny and will get lost, especially when carried around and shoved into pockets of pants and shorts every day.  Having backups is key.  It also helps to have duplicates when friends come to play.  Or mom.

spiderman megabloks

Spider-Man Speeder

Speed to the scene in style with the Spider-Man Speeder by Mega Bloks! When Spider-Man isn’’t swinging past skyscrapers, he is driving around in this ultra-fast roadster. When sleek design is combined with high speed, Spider-Man is bound to succeed!

Ideal for children ages 6 and up!


  • Buildable Spider-Man Speeder
  • Buildable Spider-Man micro action figure
  • 80 pieces


Bridge Showdown

Recreate the epic bridge battle between Spider-Man and Lizard with the Bridge Showdown by Mega Bloks! Spider-Man and his Spider Jeep square off against Lizard and his tentacle-enhanced Attack Walker with launcher. As both vehicles collide, Spider-Man and Lizard suffer from battle damage, but you decide who claims the victory!

Ideal for children ages 6 and up!


  • Buildable Spider-Man Jeep
  • Buildable Lizard Attack Walker with working launcher
  • Battle-damaged Spider-Man and Lizard buildable micro action figures!
  • 250 pieces
My son’s favorite is the Bridge Ambush. He loves the lizard’s attack walker and the creepy day-glow tentacles that go off of it. He spends a lot of time playing with this set!

sewer lab ambush
Sewer Lab Ambush

Discover Lizard’’s secret, underground hideout with the Sewer Lab Ambush by Mega Bloks! Build the laboratory featuring a hidden trap and watch Spider-Man swing down the zip-line as Lizard tries to escape with his Sewer Aqua-Jet. Will Spider-Man stop lab-coat Lizard, or has the superhero finally met his match?

Ideal for children ages 6 and up!


  • Buildable street-level sewer entrance, Sewer Lab and Sewer Aqua-Jet
  • Attachable zip-line for real spider-swinging action
  • Spider-Man steps on Lizard’’s hidden trap to activate an action-reaction feature!
  • Spider-Man and Lizard buildable micro action figures
  • 247 pieces

There are 12 sets available from MegaBloks with the Spider-Man theme, ranging in price from $6.99 to $39.99 so they are totally affordable and a great gift option- the holidays are coming SOON!  They are recommended for ages 6+ although my 5 year old spends many, many hours of his time building with bricks like these and is able to follow the instructions almost on his own.

Directions are clear and concise, easy to follow, and color coded- kids don’t have to be readers to follow along- which is great- instructions can and do get frustrating for early readers.  These do take some time to assemble, especially the larger sets- but that’s kind of what the fun and draw of the building sets ARE, in my experience.  It’s a great way to spend some quality time with your kids, nephews, grandkids, etc.

Samples of these Spider Man Mega Bloks sets were provided to facilitate the review. Opinions are our own.

Secret of the Wings on BluRay DVD Combo Pack 10/23

Download Activities!

Tink and her fairy pals are back and venturing out further than ever before- over the river to the Winter Woods- in The Secret of the Wings!  There's a lot of excitement as usual but when Tink can't bear to not see the Winter Woods, she finds her wings sparkling, glowing…and she finds herself in a heap of trouble, which of course snowballs (pun intended) into what looks to be disaster for ALL fairies.  There's lots of new fairy friends to meet and even…Tink's SISTER, Periwinkle (Peri).  This is honestly MY favorite of the fairy movies so far although the sneak peek at the next film on the DVD was quite  intriguing!

We received this film about 10 days ago and have already spent 2 family movie nights watching it!  It's really a great film with a lot of good storylines and some fun action parts.  The whole winter-rest of the woods thing is kind of cool, too.  There's even a love story….but I'm not telling you any more…

secret of the wings

Keep up to date with the latest and greatest Disney Fairies news on Facebook! The Secret of the Wings is out TODAY, October 23 on DVD, BluRay combo packs and more!

secret of the wings prize pack giveaway

One reader from US or Canada will win a Secret of the Wings Prize Pack including:

1 copy of the Secret of the Wings Flitterrific 4-disc combo pack (3D Blu-ray/Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Download
1 Secret of the Wings zipper pull
1 fairy-sized Secret of the Wings storybook pamphlet

TO ENTER: Leave a comment and tell me which of the Disney Fairies is your favorite.

Want extra entries?
* Like This Mama Loves Her Bargains on Facebook

*Subscribe to my site via email or RSS feed

*Share this giveaway on any social network (just leave one comment with the link to your share once per share site per day)  

Winner will be chosen randomly on November 4st 2012 at 11:59pm EST.  Open to US & Canada.  One entry per household.  

50 Shades of….International Delight!? #50shadesofID

I don’t do much without having had my coffee first these days.  Lately, my little treat has been some International Delight in my coffee.  I’m loving all of the fun flavors, and the variety they bring to my coffee.  So delicious.  Maybe too delicious.

One thing i love to do when I have some coffee is to sit down and read a good book.  While I haven’t read 50 Shades of Grey yet, clearly someone at International Delight has, because they have come up with a really fun new Pinterest promotion called 50 Shades of I.D.!  I chose my favorite of the 50 Shades- have you chosen yours?

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38b;”>Source: via Brett on Pinterest

Of course, that’s my favorite this morning. It changes. Maybe as often as the weather does here in Connecticut, but it does change a lot. Sometimes I’m lighter, sometimes I’m darker, and often, I’m right in the middle of the color arch. Really, as long as my coffee has some International Delight in it, I’m happy. Now, if you will excuse me, I have some coffee to drink….

Which shade are you? Go to Fifty Shades of International Delight on Pinterest and find and share your shade of I.D.!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of International Delight. The opinions and text are all mine.

Step 2 Fun Time Room Organizer

My toy room has been in desperate need of some organization. I always like to reevaluate my toy situation this time of year in preparation for the holidays. Out with the old and in with the new kind of thing. My philosophy is that every toy must have a place to live. Otherwise chaos ensues!

What I really needed was some time of organizational system. The Step 2 Fun Time Room Organizer worked out perfectly for my toy room. This system contains 11 bins in varying sizes and fun and modern color schemes.

We set up our room organizer next to our play kitchen and place all of the kids play food in the bins. Now they are easily able to play with these items and see what they have. This has increased our kitchen playtime dramatically!  I have placed all of the smaller sized items at the top and can now easily keep these choking hazards away from the little one.  This system has been great for teaching my older kids how to pick up and organize their own toys.  The labelling system tells them exactly where each item is placed.  I used the included labels to write the name of the object and a small picture so my 3 year old can help too!

New colorful Fun Time Room Organizer by Step2, teaches you child to clean and organize in a fun way!   Eleven removable bins can hold a variety of large or small play items. Each bin can be marked with its contents. Perfect for bedrooms, play rooms, or anywhere!

  • Fun time room organizer offers two sizes of storage bins for all kinds of storage needs
  • Store toys, books, crafts, coloring books, cars, and more in thie tastful yet functional storage unit
  • Totes remove easily so each bin can be taken into a different room for clean up or play
  • Bins have decals to mark the content of each bin so your child can learn organization

This Fun Time Room Organizer is useful and versatile.  I am able to grab one of the bins with baby toys and bring it with me to another room to keep my baby occupied while I cook dinner or clean.  When we’re all done, just dump everything back into the bin!

The system seems very durable and took just a few minutes to assemble.  We love this little organizer and recommend it to everyone with small children.  It is perfect for anyone looking to organize a child’s space. It would work great in a playroom, bedroom or closet. The bins are sizeable and durable, the organizer is sturdy and the colors are great.  This product retails for $49.98 and will last for years.

“A sample of this prodcut was provided to facilitate my review. All opinions expressed are my own.”

ET now available on BluRay, DVD, Combo Packs (Trailer, free activities inside)

ET has always been one of my favorite movies.  It was one of my mom's, too.  It's actually got my favorite movie scene of all time- when Gertie goes running screaming through the closet, arms up high- and ET follows suit- I don't know why but I just LOVE that scene! Now I can play it over and over and over again (until my husband says “enough” anyway)!  The film is just as magical today as it was so many years ago when I first fell in love with it.  I actually found this photo at my dad's over the summer and I'm glad I took a picture of it.  I LOVED ET.

me with ET

And now I can share one of my very favorite movies in the world with my kids.  It's quite marvelous.  Sadly, the ET doll is long gone. As are my totally awesome feetie pajamas.  Maybe ET toys will make a comeback too!?

ET bluray combo pack




  • The E.T. Journals:  In this all-new bonus feature, retrace the day-to-day experience of creating E.T from never-before-seen, behind-the-scenes footage shot by Academy Award®-winning cinematographer John Toll.   This piece will give viewers a unique feeling of being on the set and living the excitement of what it was like to make E.T.
  • Steven Spielberg & E.T.:  Watch an all-new interview with Steven Spielberg, as he reflects back on the film and discusses his experience working with the actors, as well as his overall and current perspective on E.T.

·      Deleted Scenes: Two scenes from 2002 version of the film.

·      A Look Back:  A special insider’s look into the making of E.T. featuring interviews with Steven Spielberg, the cast, and others intimately involved with the film. 

·      The E.T. Reunion:  The cast and filmmaker reunite to discuss their thoughts on the impact of the film.

·      The Evolution and Creation of E.T.:  From idea to screenplay, throughcasting and making the film. 

·      The Music of E.T.:  A Discussion with John Williams:  Interviews and footage focused on the long-standing relationship between John Williams and Steven Spielberg.

·      The 20th Anniversary Premiere:  Composer John Williams played the score of E.T. live at the Shrine Auditorium for the re-release premiere of E.T.   This featurette gives us a behind the scenes look at this presentation.

·      Original Theatrical Trailer

·      Special Olympics TV spot

·      Designs, Photographs and Marketing

    • E.T. Designs by Production Illustrator Ed Verreaux
    • E.T. Designs by Carlo Rambaldi
    • Spaceship Designs by Ralph McQuarrie
    • Designs by Production Illustrator Ed Verreaux
    • Production Photographs
    • Marketing E.T.

·      UltraViolet:  The revolutionary new way for consumers to collect movies and TV shows, store them in the cloud, and instantly stream and download to computers, tablets and smartphones. Consumers can now truly enjoy their movies anytime, anywhere on the platform of their choice.  Currently available in the United States only.

·      Digital Copy:  The Blu-ray™ Combo Pack includes a digital copy of the film compatible with iTunes®, iPad®, iPhone®, iPod™, iPod™ touch, Android or online retail partners.

·      pocket BLU App:  The popular free pocket BLU app for smartphones is now even better with newly updated versions for iPad®, Android tablets, PC and Macintosh computers, with features made especially to take advantage of thedevices’ larger screens and high resolution displays.

    • Advanced Remote Control: A sleek, elegant new way to operate your Blu-ray™ player. Users can navigate through menus, playback and BD-Live™ functions with ease.
    • Video Timeline: Users can easily bring up the video timeline, allowing them to instantly access any point in the film.
    • Mobile-To-Go: Users can unlock a selection of bonus content with their Blu-ray™ discs to save to their device or to stream from anywhere there is a Wi-Fi network, enabling them to enjoy content on the go, anytime, anywhere.
    • Browse Titles: Users will have access to a complete list of pocket BLU™-enabled titles available and coming to Blu-ray™. They can view free previews and see what additional content is available to unlock on their device.
    • Keyboard: Entering data is fast and easy with your device’s intuitive keyboard.
  • BD-LIVE™:  Access the BD-Live™ Center through your Internet-connected player to access the latest trailers, exclusive content and more!



·      Steven Spielberg & E.T.

·      Deleted Scenes

·      A Look Back

·      The E.T. Reunion


Universal is also partnering with leading independent games publisher Chillingo to publish E.T.: The Green Planet for the iTunes App Store. Inspired by a novel based on a story by Steven Spielberg, players travel with E.T. to his home planet, explore and build extraordinary intergalactic botanical gardens, and share their experiences with friends.


When an imaginative boy meets a lost alien, it is the beginning of one of cinema’s most endearing friendships, as Elliot (Henry Thomas) helps the marvelous creature he calls E.T. find his way back home before government agents can capture him.

A sample of this film was provided for my review. Opinions are my own.

I took the Whole Foods Market Value Challenge!

A few weeks ago  Whole Foods Market sent me a $100 gift card and asked me to take their Value Challenge to feed my family for  a week.  I was, to say the least, skeptical. I didn’t think I’d come anywhere close to feeding my family of 5 for  a week- but several days later, after a pretty amazing shopping experience….I almost did it.  Almost. I went a few dollars over (and I mean a few- the total for the groceries for 1 week was I think $108.xx but definitely under $110).

whole foods madness sale

That’s right- I shopped Whole Foods Market and took the Whole Foods Value Challenge and (almost) rocked it!  HOW is it possible?

You have to be a smart shopper.  First thing?  Check the sales.  Seriously.  Shop the sales.  Whole Foods Market even has these cool fliers found in a few different places in the store that give you menu ideas for your family in certain price amounts.  They tell you what to buy.  Now, if you are like me and hate planning meals— this is for you.  Trust me.

whole foods $100 challenge

The next thing you want to do is check around for some coupons.  Manufacturer coupons, and store coupons.  Whole Foods Market has a coupon booklet they put out every few months.  They have extras by the customer service booth, and a few places around the store.  At customer service, there’s (at least at every Whole Foods Market I’ve been in) always a little basket with like coupons paper clipped together.  All for the taking. (And the giving, so leave your extras).

Check Facebook.  Erica, my guardian shopper, even told me that a staff member at her store finds amazing deals and coupons, which is how we came to enjoy so much Risotto from Whole Foods Market- for $0.49 each.  COUPONS and sales, my friends.  Even at Whole Foods Market.  Ask the staff.  Chances are, they work at Whole Foods Market because it jives with their lifestyle too- and most people try to be smart with money these days.  I’m sure they’d be more than happy to give you tips and suggestions!

whole foods sale

What kind of meals did we eat for this $108?

Dinner: Eggs, salsa, cheese omelets, fresh fruit on side, loaf of fresh bread ($1.49 with coupon!)  18 eggs cost me less than at my regular grocery store (sale)

Snacks: chips, salsa (weekly deal)

Dinner: Split chicken breasts marinated in 365 Italian Dressing, roasted potato, salad.  (Cooked extra, saved for another night)

Dinner: Stuffed clams- $1/each.  served with risotto ( $0.49 each) and some salad (spring mix was the same price for a huge plastic bin as my regular store has in non-organic bags!)

Sides for Breakfast and Lunch, and Snacks: pineapple, grapes (hands down, the best.grapes.ever), apples – produce is always what gets me but oh so good

 Dessert: 365 Chocolate Graham Cookies- Whole Foods’ answer to Teddy Grahams.  You have been warned.  An open bag=empty bag.  Goodness.

Dinner: Spaghetti Squash with sauce and a salad? Meat free dinner!

Dinner: Kielbasa, sauerkraut (and veggies I had from the garden)

Dinner: General Tso’s chicken (pre-made meal was a splurge $11.99 BUT this is far less than we’d spend for take-out and far healthier) I added more broccoli, filled 5 of us up.

Lunch: Earth’s Best Chicken Nuggets (on sale, plus coupon found at store for $1/bag), fruit, yogurt

Lunch: Chicken at prepared food counter- only a few pieces, but chopped up into salads lasted me for 2 full lunches (3 pieces chicken on a stick, about $3.00)

Breakfast: 365 brand “O” cereal, and brown rice cereal (krispies), fruit, yogurt (Brown Cow, on sale)

Dinner: Homemade pizza- leftover chicken from previous dinner, Irish Cheddar cheese (on sale for less than our normal brand goes for at grocery store) and a little barbeque sauce (already had)  with salad

Lunch: Peanut Butter (365 crunchy- SO good) and Jelly (blackberry)

Dinner: Leftover chicken breast shredded up and served on some of the fresh bread loaf with couscous and salad.

We still have some packets of Risotto left.

I’m still in shock that I was able to buy all of that and have food leftover.

I did BUY more at Whole Foods Market when I was there on my trip, but they weren’t menu items for my week– some health and beauty items I like to buy there.  So those aren’t  included in my total.  My eyes have been opened, and I’m still very surprised at how the folks AT Whole Foods Market  kind of hand you the ways to save on a platter, so to speak- the sales, combined with recipes (and not just for a main dish!) and coupons- it’s almost like they are so obvious about helping us to save more and eat better foods.  The savings were NOT all on the store brand, either, which really surprised me.

I’m kind of thinking that perhaps one of YOU wants to take the Whole Foods Market Challenge, and see if you can feed your family for a week with $100? One reader is going to win a $100 Gift Card to Whole Foods Market to do just that!
1. To enter, leave a comment and tell me where the closest Whole Foods Market is to you.

Want extra entries? 

2. Like my Facebook page (leave a comment on this post that you are a fan)

3. Like Whole Foods Market on Facebook (leave a comment on this post that you are a fan)

4. Share this giveaway-  Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, email  (+1 entry each, just leave a comment with the link of your share please) (This can be done daily but you need to leave a new URL in a new comment each day).

This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm EST on November 4, 2012.  Winner to be chosen randomly.  US only.  One entrant per household.  A gift card  was provided to me for this challenge, but opinions are my own. 

Hidden Valley’s Lunch Break for Kids October 15-19

hidden valley lunch break for kids

Hidden Valley’s  Lunch Break for Kids national fundraiser (October 15-19) highlights ways for parents and kids to come together with chefs and schools to learn more about how simple, good food can make healthier bodies and stronger family connections.   One way we can help our kids have healthy bodies is by sending healthy snacks to school with them.
hidden valley ranch lunch break for kids

I’m pretty extremely lucky in that my kids are not very picky eaters- at least, not when it comes to vegetables.  They eat more variety than I do.  Having struggled with weight my whole life, I’m very conscious about what I give my children for snacks, especially what I send in for snacks at school- I want to give them things they will both like to eat, and that will also give their bodies the fuel they need to get through class until lunchtime.

We get up and are eating breakfast by 6:30 am in this house- my oldest has lunch at 12:30 pm.  That’s 6 hours until lunch.  A long time, when you consider that during those hours, she’s playing outside at recess, doing the bulk of academic work at school (her specials seem to be in the afternoon for the most part)…I want her to have a full belly so she can focus and concentrate on her studies.  We do a healthy, balanced breakfast, and I send a few snacks in.  One favorite snack for all of my children is veggies and dip.  I’m not one to cut things into cute shapes (I try, but I am just not that talented- so we are back to basics around here!)…but what I’ve noticed makes the most impact with the kids is including a container of something to DIP their veggies into (This is across the board, not just at school or camp).

If  buying a few “cute” or “fun” sized containers means my kids will eat more vegetables, I’ll buy as many as they want.  We discovered these peppers that come in bags with red, yellow and orange colored mini peppers in them at the grocery store this summer- those are ALWAYS a favorite with the kids, with a sweeter taste than regular peppers- and paired with some sugar snap peas, carrots, cucumbers, etc. make for a pretty “rainbow” of colors for snack, plus some dip….makes an ideal snack for my little ones.  They are getting healthy foods to fuel their bodies, and I know they are eating well- and something they enjoy eating.

Hidden Valley® Original Ranch® dressings & dips are a great way to get your kids  excited about veggies.  You don’t even need a lot- like I said- at least with my kids, the fun sized container is half the fun of the dip.

One of my favorite “tricks”  to get veggies into my kids’ lunches is presentation.  A plain old sandwich is a plain old sandwich until you use some cucumber slices to make eyes and a nose on top of it, some broccolli for hair, and carrots arranged like a bow tie.  None of this requires fancy cutting skills (remember, I’m without those skills).  I do all of these “faces” within a sandwich-sized reusable container.  The kids get a “surprise” when they open the container, and chances are, they’ll want to eat the fun face and not just push it aside.

What ways do you have to get your kids to eat more veggies at lunch?  

hidden valley dip pouches

Here’s the recipe for making your own Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing (TIP: Kids are known to be more open to eating foods that they help prepare. This recipe is SUPER simple for them to follow, and any age can help)

1c milk

1c mayonnaise (we use light or low fat for less calories)

1 packet Hidden Valley Ranch Salad Dressing & Seasoning Mix

Stir Well, Cover and Refrigerate 30 min before serving.  Stays fresh 3-4 weeks.

Check out the  official Lunch Break for Kids site- be sure to see about any local fundraising events in your area!

The Hidden Valley® Original Ranch®, dressings & dips has provided me with free product to help with my review, but anything I receive from Hidden Valley does not affect my thoughts on its company or their product.