Sunday, September 30, 2012

Winners for the Week of September 23, 2012


Congratulations to the winner: Jenilee B.!


Congratulations to the winner: Marysa N.!


Congratulations to the winner: Sara A.!


Congratulations to the winner: Jennifer M.!


Congratulations to the winner: Melina R.!


Congratulations to the winner: Heather P.!


Congratulations to the winner: Zara D.!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Share Your Chess Story for a Chance to Win Cool Prizes!

Most chess enthusiasts have a story or two to tell about their adventures with the game. Some are tall tales of exploits over the board or crazy moves that cost you the game. Some are stories of why or how you started playing chess. Perhaps your story is about the first game you played or the first time you taught your child chess!

Share your “chess story” in 1,000 words or less, and you are in the running for some cool chess prizes! This giveaway is pen to all ages from anywhere around the world! It doesn’t matter if you’re a child or adult, a beginner or a seasoned player! Here’s what you can win:
  • Double-Weighted Ebony Bridled Knight Chess Pieces -- Valued at $300!
  • A Free 1-Hour Consultation with Laura Sherman, chess coach and co-author of Chess Is Child’s Play
  • A Free Autographed Copy of Chess Is Child’s Play: Teaching Techniques that Work
  • Gift Vouchers at Games from Everywhere
How to Enter:
Write down your chess story in 1,000 words or less. Send it as a Word .doc or .pdf attachment to If possible, add a photo of you playing chess (no larger than 500kb) or even a drawing! Include your full name, address and reply email.

Entries close at midnight on October 12, 2012, and the winner will be announced on December 10, 2012!

Super Saturday Giveaway Linky (September 29, 2012)

I got so absorbed last night in watching Pride & Prejudice starring my celebrity crush, Colin Firth, that I completely forgot about posting this week's giveaway linky! So, I hope you'll forgive me for swooning over Mr. Darcy and posting this late. If you've got some great giveaways on your blog or website, please share them with us in the linky below! And if you love to win prizes, be sure to check out my current giveaways listed on the right sidebar, as well as those posted in the linky. Have a great week, and enjoy the fall weather!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Celebrate National Coffee Day with Dunkin’ Donuts!

This Saturday, September 29, is National Coffee Day, and Dunkin’ Donuts is celebrating with two new coffee flavors, a special offer, and their biggest-ever Twitter sweepstakes:

New Pumpkin Mocha and Pumpkin White Chocolate coffee and lattes. Available hot or iced, these two new, innovative flavors are available for a limited time at participating Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants nationwide.

Dunkin’ Donuts’ 16-ounce packaged coffee is available for only $5.99. For two days only, September 29 and 30, bring home America’s Favorite Coffee at a discounted price.

Their biggest Twitter sweeps ever. Beginning this Friday and continuing through Sunday, you can share with @DunkinDonuts on Twitter “How do you take your Dunkin’ coffee?,” using the special hashtag #DunkinNCD. Five hundred and ninety-nine (599) winners will receive a 16 oz. bag of Dunkin’ Donuts’ packaged coffee.

Enjoy this infographic from Dunkin’ Donuts featuring “5 Tips for Brewing Better Coffee”!

Disclaimer: No products or compensation were exchanged for this post.

Life on Hold Book Tour: $25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

Life on Hold, by Beverly Stowe McClure

A paper found.
A secret revealed.
A girl’s life changed forever.

Myra Gibson’s life is a lie. For sixteen years, her parents have kept their secret, but the adoption paper she discovers while cleaning the guest house tells the truth. As the past and present collide, Myra finally stands up for herself and begins a journey she may regret.


“All I can say is ‘wow’! Beverly Stowe McClure knocked this one out of the ballpark. The story of Myra and her search for the truth touched upon one of the fundamental needs of all children (and teens): the need for a father in their lives. ... The school librarian at the middle school where I teach is already looking into buying a copy for the school library. It’s that good.”
~Award-Winning Author Darby Karchut -

“Beverly did an awesome job with this book. Myra’s character and the decisions she make throughout the book are believable. Her friends, family and love interest, Jeremy, are all characters that the readers can relate to.”
~Peggy Tibbetts -

About the Author:

When Beverly Stowe McClure was a child, she hated to read. Even though her eighth grade teacher sent her poem, “Stars,” to the National High School Poetry Association -- and it was published in Young America Sings, an anthology of Texas high school poetry -- she hated to write. In spite of her rocky relationship with books, she attended Midwestern State University, where she read too many books to count, and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in Education degree. She taught in elementary school for twenty-two years. Reading Dr. Seuss to her sons and Newbery winners to her students made Beverly realize what she’d been missing: Reading was fun.

Now, she reads most every day. She also writes. Her articles for children’s magazines, many of them about activities her classes did in school, have been published in leading children’s magazines. One article was reprinted in a Scott Foresman Anthology, Grades PK/K. Her doggie story appeared in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book.

Beverly’s five novels for teens and tweens are published by small indie publishers. Her YA historical novel, Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines, is a finalist in the 2011 Next Generation Indie Book Awards, Novella Division. The book also is a finalist in Dan Poynter’s Global eBook Awards, Teen Fiction, and is an Honor Award Winner in the Reader’s Favorite Book Award Contest, YA Category, as well as an Honor Winner in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards, YA Category. Listen to the Ghost was a finalist in the 2003 Dream Realm Awards. Her first picture book came out in June 2011. Her latest book, Life on Hold, is a YA contemporary novel. She lives in the country with her husband, two cats, and a variety of wild critters that come to visit.


$25 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway
Ends 10/4/12

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Attention, Johnny Depp Fans! Enter This Giveaway for a Dark Shadows DVD! #DarkShadows

Warner Bros. Pictures is pleased to announce the release of Dark Shadows on DVD and Blu-Ray on October 2, 2012 -- along with the Dark Shadows Blog App! From the incredible mind of Tim Burton comes the hit film, Dark Shadows, based on the classic television series! Barnabas Collins (Johnny Depp) has been trapped for two centuries by an evil witch (Eva Green), who just happens to be an ex-lover. Barnabas now has to struggle with the ever-changing 1970s and save his family’s business! With an all-star cast that includes Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter, Chloe Grace Moretz, Jonny Lee Miller and more, Dark Shadows will be sure to whet your appetite for fun.

Check out Warner Bros.’s new Dark Shadows Blog App below:

Fun Features of the Dark Shadows Blog App:
Are You Creepy Enough Quiz! Do your friends refer to you as a Child of the Night or do you shiver at the thought of a creepy crawly? Take the Are You Creepy Enough quiz to find out.
Barnabas’ Terror Trivia! Are you a Barnabas buff? Take the 3 truths and a lie trivia all about Barnabas Collins, and you can unlock clips and downloads from Dark Shadows.
Dark Shadows Horror-Scope! Whether you are a Virgo Vampire or a Transylvanian Taurus, you can get your custom hauntified Horror-Scope.

Go ahead and play around with the fun app above, and then read on to find out how you can win your own copy of Dark Shadows, starting Johnny Depp!


One lucky winner will win a Dark Shadows DVD! To enter, simply fill out the easy Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on Sunday, October 14, 2012 at 11:59 PM ET.

An Exclusive Interview with Jessica Valenti, Author of the New Book, "Why Have Kids?" #whyhavekids?

A thought-provoking book by Jessica Valenti called Why Have Kids? A New Mom Explores the Truth about Parenting and Happiness has been garnering a lot of attention because it dares to tackles many of the tough questions that parents and potential parents should be addressing. It’s also an honest exploration of the reasons why motherhood is truly a mixture of ambivalence, joy, guilt, and exhaustion! I recently had the opportunity to interview Valenti about her findings and views on parenthood. Here’s what she had to say:

Is parenting more difficult than it used to be? Why or why not?
I think it depends who you ask. I do think emotionally, the demands on women are very different than in past years. The modern expectation that children will complete your life or fill you with joy can be difficult for parents -- mothers especially -- for whom this doesn’t happen.

Do you feel that many women are afraid to admit that motherhood isn’t as fulfilling as they had expected? If yes, what holds them back?
I do think they’re afraid to admit that! Because if you don’t think your kids are the center of the universe and the best most important thing ever -- you’re a bad mom. There’s room for moms to complain about the everyday troubles -- the exhaustion and work, for example. But there’s not a lot of space to say: This isn’t at all what I expected. Or, maybe I’m not cut out for this. There’s too much fear around being labeled a bad mom.

It seems to me that parents have relinquished much of the control in their family’s lives. Their activities are largely focused around keeping the children entertained and happy. Do you agree or disagree with this observation? And what do you think are the consequences?
I do agree with that! There seems to be this idea that children are meant to be happy all the time. Kids should be occasionally upset -- that’s what discipline is about. And kids should be occasionally bored -- that helps them develop their own set of play skills. I don’t think there are consequences as much for kids as there are for parents. How exhausting must it be to feel like you need to manage every minute of your child’s day in order to squeeze the most stimulation out of it? It’s all just too much.

There have been several books published recently that compare American parenting with that of Chinese parents, French parents, etc. Do you think that American parenting is different, and do we have something to learn from other cultures?
What bothers me about those books is the idea that there is one answer to parenting woes. That if we just follow one set of rules our kids will not only be okay -- they’ll be amazing and successful. Parenting is more nuanced than that and there isn’t a perfect formula for creating a perfect kid. I think it’s more important that we’re asking ourselves broader questions about what could make parenting easier -- things like more affordable child care, paid maternity leave, etc.

What are some of the solutions you propose for making parenting a more enjoyable and successful experience?
On a straight policy level I think we need mandated paid parental leave, paid sick days and subsidized child care. That would certainly help! But more generally, I think we need to lose the expectations around what parenting is going to be like. It’s going to be different for all of us, and carrying around these expectations only make us disappointed if they don’t pan out.

Learn more about Jessica Valenti and her book, Why Have Kids?, at Follow her on Twitter and Facebook, too.

Disclaimer: This post contains my Amazon affiliate links.

Create Beautiful Photographic Works of Art with CollageIt!

I’ve never taken any training in graphics programs, so I usually need help to create any graphics that go beyond the basic. But I recently discovered an awesome program called CollageIt that helps me create beautiful works of art with my photos! This program is SO easy to use that even a graphics-challenged person like me can use it with no problem. There’s a FREE version of the software, which gets the job done nicely. Or pay just $19.90 for extra features. Here are two collages I created using CollageIt. Both took me about 5 minutes to do!

This collage features photos from our summer vacation to Nebraska:

And this collage contains pictures I took of the flowers at a place called Butterfly World:

Aren’t they gorgeous? And I can’t get over how quickly I was able to create them. I just uploaded the photos, and they did the rest of the work! If you’re a little more savvy, you can easily customize your photos and layouts, too.

CollageIt is available for both Mac OS X and Windows. In fact, it is the #1 free photography app in the Mac App Store in more than 20 countries! Some of the great features include:
  • 4 collage styles – Mosaic, Grid, Center, and Pile – with 30+ templates in all.
  • Personalize your collage by the adjusting the number of photos, photo space, page margins, and more.
  • Decorate your collage with borders and shadows.
  • Save your collage as an image file that you can use as desktop wallpaper, email to your loved ones, post on your blog, or print!
The following video shows you how easy it is to use CollageIt!

[Email subscribers, please click on the title of this post to view the video online.]

Learn more about this awesome program at Download the free copy or upgrade to CollageIt Pro for just $19.90! I really love this program, and I’m excited about all of the beautiful collages I’ll be able to create!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Our Family’s Birthday Tradition at Disney World

With all four of my sons, we took them to Disney World for the very first time for their 6th birthdays. It really was the perfect age to introduce them to the Magic Kingdom. I’d seen too many families struggle with smaller children, who got overtired after a long day of walking. When kids are about six, they’re old enough to go on many of the rides, no longer require naps, and get so excited about all of the wonders of Disney. Here are some photos from my twins’ 6th birthday trip to Disney!

Did you notice the birthday buttons they were wearing? When you let Disney World (or a Disney hotel) know that your child is celebrating his or her birthday at Disney, they give them a birthday button to wear in the park. Everywhere they go, strangers will yell out, “Happy Birthday!” My birthday boys loved it!

If you’d love to start a family Disney tradition, you might want to hurry over to this contest hosted by BodyLogicMD! They’re giving away a trip to Disney World for a family of four that includes hotel and airfare. Wow! Go here to enter:

Giveaway for the New Harry Potter for Kinect Video Game!

If you’ve got an Xbox 360 with Kinect, then you’re in for a real treat! On October 9, 2012, you’ll be able to attend the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry through the new Harry Potter for Kinect video game! Rated E10+ (for ages 10 and up), Harry Potter for Kinect allows you to attend Hogwarts, cast spells, brew potions, interact with professors and other students, and fly on broomsticks to catch the Golden Snitch in Quidditch. Players can even scan their face to create a wizard avatar in their likeness and play as that character ~ very cool! Other features include:

Experience scenes from all eight films, from being sorted into a house at Hogwarts to the final battle!

Call out spell names through Kinect’s voice-recognition capabilities to cast spells at your opponents!

Attend class to improve your casting, brewing and dueling skills!

Challenge friends in mini-games or join forces with others to defeat a mutual opponent in co-op games!

This game looks amazing, and is a definite must for your holiday wish list! Mark your calendar for Tuesday, October 9, to pick up a copy of Harry Potter for Kinect!


One lucky winner will receive Harry Potter for Kinect! (Note: You must have an Xbox 360 with Kinect system to play this game.) This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on Tuesday, October 9, 2012, at 11:59 PM ET. Good luck!

Concilium Book Blast: $50 Amazon Gift Code Giveaway

The Concilium Book Blast has started at Susan Heim on Writing!

Concilium by Michelle K. Pickett

A tale of deadly creatures and forbidden romance...

Leslee hit a strange animal with her car. Now she’s marked for death.

It was a simple car accident -- the animal didn’t even die -- but it drew the attention of the Cruor Imbibo. Driven by their insatiable need to feed, the secret society of Imbibo has devoured the dregs of civilization for centuries. Afraid Leslee will expose them and put an end to their meal ticket, the Imbibo want her dead.

The Concilium is Leslee’s only protection. Guardian of the ancient secret and the protector of humans, the Concilium fights to control the Imbibo and end their feeding frenzy. Miller works for the Concilium. Keeping Leslee alive is his next assignment.

Now Leslee is on the run, and the only thing between her flesh and the snapping jaws of the Imbibo is Miller. He and Leslee quickly form a bond, but will falling in love make Miller’s job more difficult? Because if he fails, Leslee will be next on the Imbibo menu.

The Cruor Imbibo are coming, and they're coming for Leslee.

To celebrate the publication of Concilium, author Michelle K. Pickett is giving away a $50 Amazon gift code!

Giveaway: $50 Target Gift Card!

Who Could Use a $50.00 Target Gift Card?
Well, Here Is Your Chance to Win One!
Sponsored by Crafts-Things!

To enter, use the Rafflecopter form below. This contest is open to U.S. residents only and ends on October 5, 2012. Winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize or another winner will be selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Bloggers helping to promote this giveaway are not responsible for shipment of gift card.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Adorable Plush Gifts at Claradolly!

I love to find gifts for people that are unique, something they’re highly unlikely to get from anyone else. I was recently introduced to the adorable handmade plush creatures from Claradolly. Clara’s creations make especially lovely gifts for new babies, moms-to-be, and young children! Check out some of the beautiful items at Claradolly:

There are crocheted items, too!

Halloween is coming up … how about a cute bat for your little one?

As you can see below, my son Caleb absolutely loves the great duck called Mayonnaise that we received for review!

If someone you know is expecting or just had a baby, or if you’re looking for a lovable gift for a little one, please click over to Claradolly and pick out the perfect item! Your recipient will be delighted with this one-of-a-kind, soft and sweet gift!

Funny Face Dried Cranberries: A Healthier Snack Option!

Sometimes, I really struggle to find healthier options for my boys’ school lunches, so I was really excited to hear about a new product called Funny Face Dried Cranberries! They look kind of like red raisins, and they come in four fun flavors: Rootin’ Tootin’ Raspberry, Choo Choo Cherry, Freckle Face Strawberry, and Goofy Grape.

Funny Face Dried Cranberries are all-natural snacks made with real fruit. They’re naturally fat-free and have 5 times more fiber than traditional sweetened dried cranberries. My husband likes them so much that he keeps a bag of Funny Face Dried Cranberries on his desk and munches on them when he wants a healthy snack. We received the Freckle Face Strawberry and Choo Choo Cherry for review. His favorite was the cherry, although he likes them both. I think they’re tasty, too!

Will your children eat them? Like anything, it really depends on the kinds of flavors they like. Even though these are sweetened, you still get a bit of the tart taste that cranberries naturally have. One of my sons likes them; the other doesn’t. Why not pick up a package and give them a try with your kids? If they like them, they’re a terrific option for getting something healthy in their school lunch or as an after-school snack. Learn more about Funny Face Dried Cranberries through the links below.