Monday, December 31, 2012

My "Word" for 2013

New Years Resolutions. I usually make them. I usually do not keep them.

I like the idea that I see more and more people adopting...choosing a "word" for the New Year. A special word that is meaningful to them; that will guide them through their new year.

After thinking and mulling over what I would like 2013 to be like for me, I have chosen my word for the year...
It's an itty bitty word. Two little letters. But, those two little letters can pack a powerful punch. defines "do" as follows: to perform an act, duty, or role; to accomplish; to put forth; to be the cause of; to bring about.

In 2013, I want to DO many things.

Do take care of myself by exercising and eating healthy.

Do more things with my kids. They are tween/teens now and it's easy for us to be caught up in our own things. I want to make sure to spend quality time with each of them.

Do help my mom to enjoy life and not feel so lonely by getting her out of the house for some fun activities or just spending some extra time with her every chance I get.

Do learn something new. This is a tough one for me - one that I always put on my list of resolutions but never seem to accomplish. Whether it's learning to play a song on the piano or ukulele, learning to bake a homemade pie crust, or learning some new technical blogging skill...I do want to learn something new. Hopefully many somethings.

Do read, read, read. That's something I always want to do.

Do not be afraid to make some decisions and stick to them.

Do kind things for others.

Do learn to better manage my time.

Do things that make me happy. Don't do things that make me unhappy.

“This life is yours. Take the power to choose what you want to do and do it well. Take the power to love what you want in life and love it honestly. Take the power to walk in the forest and be a part of nature. Take the power to control your own life. No one else can do it for you. Take the power to make your life happy.”   ~Susan Polis Schutz

So, there you have it. My word for 2013.

Do you have New Years resolutions or your own special "word" for 2013? I would love for you to share below...


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Fire Drill Fail

So, I think we need to seriously brush up on our fire drill preparedness or else I need to confiscate my teenage daughter's earbuds.
Here's what happened...

Last night around 11:30 pm I was laying in bed watching tv. My husband was at work - he is a firefighter and was working a 24 hour shift at the firehouse. The kids were still awake but in their rooms doing their own thing. Suddenly, all of the smoke alarms in our house started blaring! This freaked me out and I immediately jumped out of bed to go investigate.

At about the same time, I met up with my boys who had also run out of their room to investigate. We didn't see or smell any obvious signs of fire so we continued to search for the cause of the alarm.

Next, we enter my 16 year old daughter's room. She is sitting at her computer desk, earbuds in her ears OBLIVIOUS TO THE BLARING SMOKE ALARMS! Oblivious. As in she really did not hear them.

She did not even realize smoke alarms were going off! And, they were so loud!

On the other side of her room, there was a candle burning. The flame had gotten too big and the candle was smoking slightly, thus, causing smoke alarms to go off. Which my daughter DID NOT HEAR because of the stupid earbuds in her ears and the loud music she was listening to.

Well, this is just a big ol fire drill fail. My husband, THE FIREFIGHTER, will be so unhappy to hear about this.

I think we definitely need to brush up on our fire drill preparedness AND confiscate my teenage daughter's earbuds.

Do you have teens who constantly have earbuds or headphones on? It's so frustrating!


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2013 Release Schedule for Walt Disney Pictures

Looks like we will see lots of great new releases from Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures in 2013.

Check out just a few of the upcoming releases we can look forward to next year...

March 8
Oz The Great And Powerful
May 3
Iron Man 3
June 21
Monsters University
July 3
The Lone Ranger
Sept 13
The Little Mermaid 3D
Nov 27

Images and release dates courtesy of Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Enter to Win an HP Envy 23 TouchSmart AiO Computer from SheScribes

Didn't get that new computer for Christmas that you were hoping for? Well, don't despair. You can head over to SheScribes and enter or a chance to win an awesome HP Envy 23 TouchSmart Aio Computer (approx. value $1100.00)

Hurry, the giveaway ends 12-28-12. Enter via Rafflecopter with various entry options available. Good luck!


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!
Wishing you all peace and blessings for the New Year!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Pajama Elves by Hayden Edwards

When my kids were little, we often gave them new pajamas on Christmas Eve. It was fun to see them in some warm, cozy pajamas as they got ready for bed in anticipation of Santa's arrival. As they got older, we gradually stopped the pajama tradition but it's one that I miss and it brings back happy memories of when my kiddos were young.

Giving pajamas at Christmas-time is a common tradition for many families. Author Hayden Edwards started the tradition in her own family. To help build excitement for her kids on Christmas Eve, she wrote a poem all about the Christmas pajama tradition. Using’s CreateSpace self-publishing platform and Kindle Direct Publishing, the author wanted to share this very special tradition from her family as a nice compliment to the Christmas pajama tradition in other homes too!

“The Pajama Elves” is the enchanting tale of elves at the North Pole who deliver pajamas to good children on Christmas Eve.  These pajamas are sewn with magical thread that guarantees that Santa can visit unnoticed. 

The Pajama Elves by Hayden Edwards is a 24-page book that's full of delightful pictures and a very sweet poem that is perfect for sharing with kids at Christmas. For those of you who already give your little ones new pajamas during the holidays, this is the perfect accompaniment to go along with that tradition. It would also make a thoughtful gift to share. You can find it on Amazon in paperback or Kindle edition ($9.99/$7.99).

I received a free copy of "The Pajama Elves". I was not obligated to write a positive review and all opinions expressed in this post are my own.


Monday, December 17, 2012

The Great Gift Card Giveaway from Punchbowl (with GIVEAWAY)

Punchbowl is an online source for party-planning and digital cards. They not only offer online invitations and cards, but they can help you with everything from choosing a party theme to helping find venues, caterers, and more.

Punchbowl announces The Great Gift Card Giveaway!...going on December 17th through December 31st, 2012. Keep reading to learn more about Punchbowl and this great event.

Christmas is getting really close and some of you (like me) may still be struggling over what gifts to buy for certain people. One gift that will work for just about anyone is a gift card. With Punchbowl, you can handpick a gift card from leading brands like Banana Republic, L.L.Bean, Sephora, and many others, and deliver the gift card inside a digital greeting card. This makes the perfect gift for those hard-to-shop for folks on your shopping list.

And, now for details about The Great Gift Card Giveaway... To enter, simply send a gift card on and you will be automatically entered into the drawing. Prizes total $2,500, including a $500 Grand Prize gift card. Every gift card sent is an additional entry into the giveaway. How easy is that? Wrap up your holiday shopping quickly and easily while also entering to win great prizes!

As a thank you for my help in spreading the word about their Great Gift Card Giveaway, Punchbowl has generously offered to give away a free Platinum membership ($99 value) to one of my blog readers. With a Punchbowl membership, you get access to exclusive designs and even more useful features to help you plan an unforgettable celebration. Visit the Punchbowl website to see more information about Membership benefits.

To enter to win the free Platinum Punchbowl membership, leave a comment below telling me if you are finished with your holiday shopping and/or if you plan on giving any gift cards as gifts this year.

Optional Entries: (leave a separate comment for each):
- Follow Punchbowl on Pinterest
- Like Punchbowl on Facebook
- Follow @alas3lads on Twitter
- Tweet about this giveaway 1x daily (leave link to your tweet)

"The Great Gift Card Giveaway" from @ - Visit @ for details & chance to win Punchbowl Membership - 

Giveaway will be open until 7:00 pm EST on Dec. 31, 2012. At that time one random winner will be selected from all eligible entries. U.S. entries only please. Please make sure that I have a valid way to contact you in case you are the winner.

Punchbowl is providing a free membership to one of my blog readers in exchange for my help in spreading the word about their Great Gift Card Giveaway. Punchbowl is responsible for prize fulfillment. I did not receive any compensation for this post and any opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pine Brothers Softish Throat Drops with Giveaway

We have been pretty lucky at our house in that we've been able to avoid getting sick this year. But, inevitably, each winter someone will come down with the sniffles and a sore throat. There's nothing more irritating than a sore, scratchy throat. It's so uncomfortable and bothersome and it can sometimes be difficult to get any relief.

I am not a "cough drop" kind of girl. I hate the menthol-medicine taste and smell of most of those and just do not like them. Instead, I usually stick to something like a cup of hot tea to try and get a little throat pain relief.

I recently learned of a brand of throat lozenges called Pine Brothers Softish Throat Drops. I wasn't familiar with this product, but learned that they've been around for a long time as a trusted brand that's been soothing sore throats for over 140 years. And, now they are back, re-launching their popular throat drops.

Pine Brothers Softish throat drops are quite different from most that I've tried in the past. They are soft and chewy and actually taste great - no strong medicine taste at all! They combine the soothing natural qualities of glycerin and the healing properties of gum acacia with a natural flavoring and a sweetener - all which help soothe and provide comfort for a sore throat. I love the fact that they are made in America and contain only 5 calories per drop.  Right now, they are available in Natural Honey and Wild Cherry flavors. You can get them in bags or small refillable containers that are perfect for carrying around in your purse or backpack.

I received some samples to try out for myself and my family. When I started feeling that first tickle of a sore, scratchy throat coming on yesterday, I gave them a try. The soft, chewy texture is very unique and I honestly felt like I was just having a piece of candy. Because they are so mild tasting, I didn't really expect to get much relief. Boy, was I surprised! After finishing one of the drops, my throat definitely felt better. Both flavors have a good taste, although I personally prefer the Natural Honey flavor over the Wild Cherry - just my personal preference. I'll for sure be keeping some of these on hand for whenever we need some quick and easy throat pain relief.

Besides the free samples that I received, Pine Brothers has also generously provided some for me to share. I have an assortment of both Natural Honey and Wild Cherry Softish Throat Drops to give to one of my blog readers. This is the perfect time of year to stock up and have these on hand in your home. You never know when a sore throat is going to strike!

*To enter, please leave a comment telling me how you usually try to get relief from sore throat pain.

Optional extra entries: (leave a comment for each)
- Follow @pinebros on Twitter (leave Twitter name)
- Follow @alas3lads on Twitter (leave Twitter name)
- Tweet the following message 1x daily:

Win an assortment of @ Softish Throat Drops and be ready to tackle sore throats this season. Details here:

Giveaway is for U.S. residents only and entries will be accepted until 10:00 pm EST on 12-17-12. At that time one random winner will be selected from all eligible entries. Please make sure I have valid contact information from you in case you are the winner.

Pine Brothers provided me with free samples of their Softish Throat Drops for myself and to share. I was not obligated to write a positive review. All opinions expressed are 100% my own and may differ from others.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Santa's Doing Things A Little Differently This Year

When I was a kid and Santa came to our house on Christmas Eve night, the gifts he left were always unwrapped. He simply pulled them out of his sack and displayed them under the tree. Everything was already opened, assembled, batteries in place, and ready to go. It was so exciting to run and gather around the tree on Christmas morning and see our goodies waiting for us. Wrapped presents were from Mom and Dad or siblings, and opened on Christmas Eve.

My husband grew up pretty much the same way. So, when we had our own kids, that's the tradition we continued. A lot of our friends thought that was crazy (that Santa didn't wrap the presents), but, it worked for us just fine and that's how we liked doing things.

Now, our kids are getting older (they are 12, 14, 16, and 19). We have pretty much outgrown the "toys" phase and the gifts they want are things like clothes and techy stuff, such as video games, cell phones, iPods, laptops, etc. Because these type of gifts are often more expensive, the kids are getting fewer actual items for Christmas than when they were little and would get loads of toys. I started thinking that it might be fun to try something different this year. (But, it also feels a little scary to be messing with family traditions.)...

What if "Santa" still puts their gift under the tree on Christmas Eve but he wraps everything this year? It might prolong the fun just a bit and add some new excitement to Christmas morning. I asked the kids what they thought and, at first, they balked at the idea. They wanted to keep things the same, rolling out of bed and immediately seeing all of Santa's goodies under the tree. But, after we talked about it some more, they finally agreed (as long as one item for each would still be displayed unwrapped).

I gotta tell ya...I'm pretty excited about this new little change in routine. It will be strange to do things so differently. However, I think it's going to be easier in that "Santa" can wrap everything ahead of time and have it ready to go. Normally, we spend hours on Christmas Eve night after the kids have gone to sleep - dragging gifts out of Santa's bag, opening and assembling everything.  This should make Santa's schedule a little easier at our house.
How does Santa do things at your house? What are your Christmas-present-opening traditions?

Friday, December 7, 2012

Something On My Bucket List

When I was young, I took piano lessons for awhile. At the time, I fussed and complained about my "mean old" piano teacher and all the practicing I was supposed to do. My mom finally gave in and let me stop lessons after about three years. As I got older, I started to wish that I would've continued playing. To this day, it's one of my biggest life regrets.
I've thought about taking lessons again but I probably never will.  I had a pretty good ear and was able to memorize pieces fairly easy - I just wasn't any good at reading music. I still know a little, maybe even enough that I could teach myself a few favorites. This Linus and Lucy piece by Vince Guaraldi is one that I love. It's such fun music and conjures up warm, fuzzy childhood memories of watching Charlie Brown Christmas shows on tv. On a whim, I looked it up on YouTube and found quite a few video tutorials.
So, I decided something just now. Right this minute.
I WILL learn to play this song no matter how long it takes me!

(I still have the same family piano that I played on as a child and my daughter has a very nice electronic piano)
Have a listen and enjoy. Maybe sometime in the not-so-distant future I will be able to play it for you myself.


Sea Rescue with Sam Champion: Family-Friendly Programming on ABC

Tune into ABC tv on Saturday mornings for Sea Rescue with Sam Champion. This family-friendly, educational programming by SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is now in its second season.

Sea Rescue with Sam Champion shares the stories of marine animal rescue, rehabilitation and release by SeaWorld’s dedicated wildlife rescue teams. This season viewers can expect new adventures, told through firsthand accounts and remarkable video footage, including whales that lost their way and ended up down a river, a dolphin attacked by a shark, and thousands of penguins in peril from an immense oil spill.
For more details and schedule information, visit the Sea Rescue website.


Turtle Trek - A Free Game for iPhone and iPad

SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment introduces their first mobile game, Turtle Trek.

This family-friendly game is available as a free download from the App Store.  Players guide an adventuresome sea turtle through a beautiful but perilous ocean full of challenges, friends, and treasures while receiving help from fellow sea friends such as Shamu the killer whale and Nylah the green sea turtle.
Turtle Trek provides lots of fun and educational benefits, as well. Work to complete a virtual sticker book - stickers that open to reveal fun and interesting facts and photos about real ocean animals.
- Plays on your iPhone and iPad
- Free download
- Guide an adventuresome sea turtle from the beach through the ocean and avoid natural dangers
- Avoid sharks, barracuda and other ferocious predators
- Meet friends and collect stickers of them for your virtual stickerbook
- 21 different friends to meet, including Shamu
- Learn interesting facts about the animals you meet along the way
- Experience 5 different zones with unique challenges
- 33 achievements to earn
- Collect coins to buy in-game surprises
- Customize your turtle with new shells, pendants and boosts to help your journey
- Simple & easy to play – one finger tap to swim
- Family-friendly adventure
Check out Turtle Trek and let me know what you think! 
No compensation of any type was received for this post and I have not personally used the above mentioned app. As always, opinions expressed are my own and may differ from others.  

Saturday, December 1, 2012

A Major Paint Project Right Before Christmas? Are We Crazy?

With only a few weeks until Christmas, what do we decide to do? Take on a major drywall repair/paint project in our great room and foyer. My husband is doing all the work himself (I will help roll paint but mostly I just supervise;) Anyway, he has been super busy with his real work so this home project is only getting done in bits and pieces. Needless to say, I'm chomping at the bit to get it done so I can start decorating for Christmas. We have 27 people coming over on Christmas Eve - we HAVE to get this project done!

*please excuse the mess in the photos, everything is a work in progress right now

If you look at the last photo, you will see the fireplace in our great room. There used to be a large opening above it where our television sat (it was one of the dinosaur tvs that was big and bulky and weighed a ton). After scoring a great deal on a flat screen Smart TV on Black Friday, we decided to close up the opening and mount the new tv on the wall above the fireplace. In addition to that drywall work, we also have several areas that just needed to be repaired from nail pops and house settling kind of stuff.

These spaces are really big and right now all of the walls are a basic, boring taupe color (the walls are about 1-2 shades darker than the ceiling). The kitchen is a medium gray and the dining room is aqua blue and cream - both rooms are kinda open to and visible from great room and foyer. Hubby and I are having a hard time agreeing on colors. He would pick something like green or blue. But, I want something more neutral that will work with a variety of decor. I'm leaning towards shades of butterscotch-caramel color or rusty-brown. Here are some paint palettes I found on Pinterest that I like.

Last year, we started painting some of our interior doors black. We are going to finish that up and are also considering painting the fireplace black. It's a non-vented gas fireplace and when it runs, it gets the white paint a little sooty and black. It's hard to keep the white fireplace looking nice so maybe the black will work better.

foyer looking into great room
great room, dining room to right 
 great room looking into foyer
 great room looking into dining room
 great room fireplace
We have a big mess right now but hopefully in the upcoming week, we can make some headway and get a lot done. I'll keep you updated and post more photos. Wish us luck!
What about you? Have you ever taken on a big home improvement project on a really tight schedule?
P.S. If you notice the wooden columns between the foyer and great room, those are one of the things our puppy has been destroying...she has chewed up the wooden corners at base of columns. UGH!