California Wine Club is spoiling me. You should let them spoil you, too.

Last month, I was introduced to the greatness of the California Wine Club.  I have to say that the very idea of someone selecting quality wines for me and shipping them to my door is appealing on its own, but the folks at California Wine Club (see how I liked my first shipment) really know their business.  They pay attention to detail and really seem to want us to know the who, the what, the when, the where and the why of the wines they include in club shipments.   I’m becoming spoiled, having this wonderfulness brought to my door.

Each package arrives very carefully protected from breakage or the elements, and each includes a monthly newsletter giving information and history about not only the wines in the box but also the wineries they are from.  Not sure you want to enjoy your wines immediately?  Don’t worry- they’ll let you know how long you can keep your wine and still enjoy it. This is key information for those of us who are kind of (or completely) clueless about what wines to buy to go with which foods, occasions, etc., particularly with the holidays upon us and wine being such a great gift for a host or hostess.  Don’t forget they have a free app you can get that helps with these decisions (I have it). [click to continue…]

Cars 2 is available on BluRay/DVD! *Fun activity/printable links inside too

I think i’ve seen Cars 2 eight times already.  Obviously the first 2 viewings were probably the most exciting, given that I was at a screening in LA and then got to walk the Red Carpet and attend the World Premiere!!

In Cars 2, we revisit many of our friends from Cars- only time has passed, things have changed, and the feel of this film is far more ‘big kid’ than little kid. Don’t get me wrong, kids all love it (my 2 year old and I have both got a mad love for Mater) but this is more a James Bond meets Pixar kind of film. Its fun, its funny, it tells a great story, and my beloved Mater gets to have a starring role in this film!

The extras are really fun for me to watch, especially the interviews with the stars, since we got to meet several of them during the Cars 2 press junket and at the party after the world premiere. It kind of puts a different feel on the film, watching it, having met the people who are the character’s voices. It seems like everywhere we go lately we see Cars 2- toys, games, apparel- our TV died right when the power came back on and when we were shopping for TV’s to replace it, guess what was on the entire wall of screens? You guessed it!! [click to continue…]

Striiv: Personal Fitness Technology that lets you give back

I’ve been lucky enough to have a Striiv to play with- and keep track of my physical activity lately.  What is a Striiv?  A personal fitness technology device.  It’s kind of like a pedometer but includes walking based games to motivate (which I am never finding for myself), and donations to charity with every step taken.  Yes, your daily walks not only do YOU some good, but also do good for others.


The Striiv is tiny.  Smaller than a credit card (thicker, though) and can slip right onto your keychain.  There’s a lot of cool incorporated into the tiny size, and if you have a techy person on your holiday list, or an exercise buff, this is most definitely an item you want to consider putting under the tree for them!!  You – or they- or you can all- get fit AND give back!! That’s a win for everyone! [click to continue…]

JJ Cole Urban Bundle Me Review and Giveaway

I don’t know about you, but I am always looking for excuses to try out new baby gear. Before now, I never had a small baby in the winter time and therefore never needed to worry about keeping them warm while traveling. Now that the weather is turning cool, I need to keep baby L all bundled up when we travel, but hate the idea of putting him a snowsuit every time we go out. In my search for the perfect solution I ran across the Bundleme by JJ Cole. This is a one-size-fits-all cover that zips up around a car seat or stroller. I am sure all of you moms out there are familiar with the JJ Cole brand of baby items. They offer everything from diaper bags, strollers and car seats to diaper stackers and pacifier pods. Because I have run across this brand many times in the past, I had very high expectations of the Bundleme and I sure wasn’t dissapointed. [click to continue…]

Visa Gift Guide wants to know what kind of shopper you are (#Giveaway)

The Visa Gift Card Holiday Guide wants to know what kind of holiday shopper you are. I am a Gift Giving Guru to no surprise (again!) but I love, love love Christmas and the holiday season in general so I’m already started on things. Have you shopped yet?

Visa Gift Cards are a wonderful gift idea for someone you don’t know well or who just has everything- one size fits all, no one will return it, and they can get whatever they want or need!!

Well done, Guru! You have mastered the holiday shopping season. Every year you make your shopping list, check it twice, and have everything wrapped ahead of time.

Holiday Gift Giving Tips for Gurus:
We know you take a lot of pride in giving the perfect gift, so you should know that getting the people on your list exactly what they want might be easier than you think! According to the 2011 Visa Gift Giving Survey, 78 percent of survey respondents said they would rather receive a Visa Gift card over a gift card for a specific store or restaurant this holiday season.

The folks at Visa Gift Card want to give one of my readers a $50 Visa Gift Card. Hello! That’s free money, friends!! [click to continue…]

Little Tikes Cupcake Kitchen (Giveaway)

The Little Tikes Cupcake Kitchen is a whole lot of sweetness in a compact package. With the smaller profile of this kitchen, it can easily be slipped into any sized room for hours of pretend play. The muted colors suit our living room far better than our former play kitchen (which now lives in the church nursery) and the kids have had a blast preparing cupcakes and tea parties galore. This toy was seeing a lot of play time before the big storm last week but with zero power and no school for a week, the kids were really getting a lot of serious play time in, and I can’t even tell you how many tea party picnics they had with their baby dolls (yes, even my son) in the living room enjoying some of the treats made in the Cupcake Kitchen. (My batteries were dead, no photos. Sad. Very sad).

This kitchen does not take a long time to assemble. An 18 volt power drill made fast work of the screws that do need to be put in but I think you could do it without a drill – it might take longer. I had the entire thing assembled with stickers in under half an hour. (This is something that I want to know when I think about toy purchasing that requires assembly, so I’m sharing with you). [click to continue…]

My Publisher Photo Books (Giveaway)

This fall, my oldest nephew got married (yes, my nephew.  I’m the youngest of 8, remember?  I’m kind of the generation in the “middle”).  Needless to say we had a million and more photos from the wedding, maybe in part because all three of my kids were IN the wedding?!?!  and I love taking pictures.  Given the closeness of my kids with the bride and groom and all, when My Publisher asked me if I wanted to do a review of their photo books, I jumped at the chance.  There wasn’t going to be another time for me to get those photos organized so quickly, so I went for it.  After signing up for an account and a quick download of their software, I was good to go.   (Photo will be changed to one of my book when another nephew can unhide all of my images from my laptop- he promises they are not gone but I can’t find them).

It took me maybe 25 minutes to get my 100+ photos set to go in the book, then organize and place each page as I wanted it.  Given that the book really just encompasses one event, this probably would have taken me a lot longer for any other book I make.  Maybe not.  I over think things a lot…

Once my book was finished I was able to preview it (I have actually had a dickens of a time with other photo book creating companies and their preview options- never seems to work for me!!) with ease, making sure my fonts and text looked ok placed on the cover, the captions for photos, and the spine of the book itself.  Once I was happy with what I was seeing, I clicked to upload my creation to the My Publisher site and voila!!  A few minutes later I was confirming my purchase and DONE!!  Just a few days later I had my shipping confirmation and within a few days of that the book arrived, well protected from the elements or heavy objects, and we’ve enjoyed it since. 

When I say enjoyed it, I mean it.  My kids, as I said, were IN the wedding, so they’ve been looking at these pages over and over and over again.  We’ve brought it with us when we visit my dad in assisted living twice, and probably will again in a few weeks.  This book is really well made and stands up to much loving and attention from a 2, 4 and 6 year old.  (And, a 77 year old).   I’m really happy with how this book turned out, the speed of processing my order, the shipping, and the quality of the book itself.  The precious memories of the wedding are preserved and able to be enjoyed over and over again by all of us. [click to continue…]

LeapFrog’s LeapPad and Tag Reader (We had another party!)

LeapFrog has done it again. Or maybe I should say, done it still? LeapFrog is one of our favorite toy brands, and has been since Busy Bargains was a new baby. We’ve had countless toys and games from LeapFrog, and I forsee many more in our future.

Recently we got some really cool stuff from LeapFrog to check out and share with some friends. After a few scheduling glitches, we were able to get together with friends and share the Tag Reader with several books and a World Map, and also the brand new LeapPad Explorer, which I have a feeling is going to be a very, very hot item this holiday season. (Mr. Bargains finds the LeapPad more appealing than my tablet!!)

The Tag Reader is something I’ve had my eye on but not purchased over the years. The kids thought it was really neat to be able to sit with a book and not ask mom for help – they were having a blast reading with just their friends!!  (I am a mom who adores reading with the kids- but the kids love their independence and this was so fun for them).    kids did really like the books, especially with their favorite characters in them, and having the books read aloud to them or being able to play games within each book.  My son and his friend Q were so excited to see Spiderman in a book made for their age group! 

Learn to read with the #1 selling reading system!* The amazing touch technology of the interactive Tag™ Reader sounds out words, reads stories and brings books to life teaching phonics, vocabulary, comprehension skills and more.

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#Win Audiovox Portable DVD Player #ShoutMedia

I had a post started last Saturday, right at this time, set to go live on Monday, 10/31, talking about the Audiovox Portable DVD player we got to review, and how its nice and compact, and works well.

I just erased all that, a week later, because during my drafting of that post, we lost power.  It came on late at night on Thursday- almost 6 days later.  When we lost power, because we’re on a well, we lost water, our landline, tv, internet, and probably some of our sanity.  No joke.  Have YOU ever been housebound during a substantial snowstorm in October with 3 small children?  Neither had I.

We were ill prepared for this storm.  One thing we did have was this DVD player, and something that I will forever love my husband for purchasing, about 2 years ago- a Coleman PowerMate.   With the power mate, we were able to plug the Audiovox in using the car adapter,  and let the kids sit and chill and watch a dvd at some point each day while the power was out.  This gave me time to go out and get snow melted on the grill to wash dishes, or to heat water to rinse them once we were able to go get water from my sisters up the road…or to just try to figure out a plan for minimizing food waste and loss from the freezers, keeping the house as warm as possible (it was in the 20s several nights this week) and honestly, just trying to sit down and chill for a few.  [click to continue…]

Shopping for running shoes at Finish Line! #CBias


IMG_20111027_103149Can you even believe it?  Me, who isn’t a runner, or I guess haven’t ever been a runner, needed to go to the store to buy running shoes.  For running.  Since I’ve not done this before, I had no idea where to start or what to think.  I had the opportunity to check out Finish Line at my local mall, and I honestly had a GREAT experience.  My two year old and I were greeted with a friendly welcome, and my anxiety about being the “fat girl” shopping for running shoes were put to rest very quickly.  I didn’t really think that they’d laugh at me but man, I was nervous. I’ve lost a lot of weight already and come far in terms of progress with the Couch 2 5k program but I have a long way to go and it felt weird heading to the mall to purchase running shoes!! 

IMG_20111027_100904Once we were at the women’s running shoe section, I realized, very fast, that there wasn’t a way for me to make this decision solo.  There were like 4 sections just of running shoes- different brands, different styles, different colors- oh gosh, it seemed like the choices were endless!!  I did spot this cool little station that can help you narrow things down but honestly, for a novice like me, I wanted serious assistance.  Both staff members working were so nice to us and so willing to help me figure out the best shoes for my needs!! 

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