Toyota Camry XSE 2015 Holiday Test Drive

camry test drive

Remember a while back I took the Toyota Venza for a test drive?  That was a super cool car and I immediately fell in love. Now I’m similarly gaga over the Camry XSE that I was able to test drive last week. But then I’m a Toyota girl. I’ve been driving my daughter’s Prius for a while now and I think we’ve officially traded cars for good.

My first car was an orange Toyota station wagon. It was like driving a dreamsicle. Who wouldn’t want to drive that when they’re 16?

toyota camry xse 2015

So my first thoughts on the 2015 Camry XSE are “holy loaded mobile.” Backup camera, side mirror blindspot indicators, XM radio, seat warmers, sun roof… just to name a few. And tons of room for me and B:

toyota selfies

All the new features that come with cars today give me the itch for something new.

We took the opportunity to take the Camry on the roadtrip for Thanksgiving.

thanksgiving dinner toyota

It easily carted all the food to Caro’s house for Thanksgiving dinner in the back seat – turkey and all. Granted it’s a short ride, but we’re carrying a baby and all that goes with him too.

Thank you Toyota! We were given a gift card and car to drive for the week to share our experiences with you.

Our #DisneyKids Jake and the Neverland Pirates Playdate! #DisneySide

What happens when 3 toddlers get together in a house full of food, fun, and CAKE?

Complete and udder happiness – and sugar rush. One big sugar rush.

jake playdate

Beck hosted a #DisneyKids party this past weekend – and Mommy andGigi used the event to celebrate his birthday. Because why not?

They had a treasure hunt in the Kinetic sand for (rubber) canon balls, gold coins and used the telescopes to get a really good look. This was a big hit. You are seeing the sand pre-toddler mayhem.  We had so much fun with sand that the other moms (and one dad) added it to the Santa lists for their kids.

treasure hunt

Then they ate cake.

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And snacks.

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And then they ate more cake. Beck more than most. In fact he started to dig into the cake before two of his friends got any.

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It was his birthday after all. And he was just being a PIRATE. I’m sure Jake would have approved!

We received a party kit from Disney (sponsor) to host a Disney Kids playdate. Thanks to Beck’s friends for coming and eating enough cake that we didn’t have any left. Maybe that was mostly Beck. Not sure. Either way, we all had a great time!

Additionally we shared a Disney Vacation Planning video with the moms and dad (and gave them all one to take home). Next year Beck will have his first Disney trip – and we can’t wait. February can’t come soon enough!

 

 

 

 

 

Holiday Gift Guide: Skip Hop

With B’s allergies, we have to pack his lunch for daycare. I don’t know about you, but lunch boxes can get a little dirty and worn after a while. While these might not fit in a stocking, they are a must on our Holiday Gift Guide.

 

SkipHop

We’ve loved our Skip Hop lunchbox from what seems like forever ago with the matching backpacks and I can’t wait to see how much he wants to eat lunch after seeing this under the tree. Although…that might not be a good thing for me first thing in the morning, but it sure will excite him!

These exact styles for the Lunchie & Straw Bottle Gift Set and the Zoo Tableware Gift Set are available on Amazon as a Black Friday Deal so my guess is they will be there for Cyber Monday — so you should definitely check on them because they have some great deals!! (That’s just how Amazon rolls.) They have the classics as well, but I’m absolutely in love with these seasonal styles!

Which style is your favorite?? Let me know in the comments below!

 

Jamberry Nails Black Friday Deals through Cyber Monday!

As your favorite Jamberry Consultant I’m happy to announce this year’s Black Friday deals!

Jamberry is bringing back 12 Sister’s Style Exclusives from the last year and they will be available Black Friday through Cyber Monday! You heard me right, your favorite styles that you thought were gone forever, are back for a limited time starting Friday, November 28 at 12:01 a.m. through Monday, December 1 at 11:59 p.m. MDT

And YES! These wraps are eligible for the Buy 3 Get 1 Free offer!

Black Friday 2014

There is also a Special Black Friday wrap when you spend $50 or more!

NEW Black Friday to Cyber Monday

 

Remember to get your orders in by December 10th for US and December 1st for Canada to ensure Christmas delivery!

 

Most importantly, a portion of the proceeds from each of the 12 Sister’s Style Exclusives will be donated to the Salvation Army to help provide holiday gifts for children. Proceeds for U.S. buyers will go to the Salvation Army in the U.S and Canadian buyers’ proceeds will go to the Salvation Army in Canada. 

 

Get them quick while there is still time!!

 

Which Sister Style Exclusive is your favorite??

What I learned about brand loyalty from a two year old

beck watching yo gabba gabba

My daughter and I have the same conversation with my 2 year old grandson, Beck every morning and evening when we pick up the remote to watch TV.

“Choo choo?”

“Dobby?”

Fortunately we speak toddler. Choo choo is Thomas the Tank Engine, Dobby is Yo Gaba Gaba.

We have a variety of content options – Amazon Prime, Netflix, and FiOS On Demand. But they aren’t necessarily enough different episodes to maintain our sanity.  And Beck lives in a bit of a sandbox, and since he’s not in control of his environment, he only knows what we share with him.

Still, he’s a loyal customer. He tried it and he liked it.

Like any good marketer,  we shared what WE thought he’d like.

We arrived at the recommendation through analysis. I mean “he likes this sticker or this toy, so he should like the show”  right?

We’ve since shared other TV shows with him and he’ll watch for maybe 2 minutes then we hear the repetitious chant demanding his TV favorites: “Choo choo? Dobby?

So we try all kinds of tricks to win him over. “Oh but you love Mickey – you watched it the other day. Or try watching a little Doc. It’s even better than Choo Choo.”

In other words, we try to reason with a 2 year old.

He’s not swayed by outside forces or by our persistence. He likes what he likes because… well, he likes it.

It’s his innocence about the whole thing that makes it really cool to observe. There’s no peer pressure to like something else. He’s basing it totally on content and his likes and dislikes. And he’s not afraid to go after what he wants or to let us know when he’s had enough and is ready to move on.

We didn’t have to build that brand loyalty. Neither did the Thomas or Yo Gabba folks. It’s purely organic. We know it’s a short window of time to enjoy that innocence. Eventually peer pressure and external advertising will lead him to WANT other things, not because of the content itself, but because other people have made him think he should like it.

You know, when he’s 3.

 

When Video Memories Make You Cry Like a Baby #MyMemoryLane

I’ve moved again. Something I swore I’d not do at least for a few years. And yes, just like every time before I’ve had to haul my stuff and my mom’s stuff and my dad’s stuff and every other person who’s passed away in my family’s stuff.

I’m down to about 30 boxes of stuff. Many full of photos since my kids were born in the pre-digital camera age.  And a huge box of VHS and 8MM tapes. It’s one thing to rifle through boxes of still photos and see my mom, my dad, my grandmother… and not get emotional because they are just photos and you see them every day. But when it comes to video – well, I’ve been carting around these tapes from no less than 3 different cameras, some for over 20 years and there is literally a lifetime of memories there.

It was crazy timing that I had the chance to send a few of the tapes to YesVideo to digitize. I knew right where all my tapes were because the same box had been moved 4 times in 4 years. I had no idea what the videos would be – but they had a date on them. 1998. That probably meant gymnastics since I recorded every meet. But what I saw when I got to see the digital copy online made me cry.

That’s putting it mildly – I was not only crying, I was hunched over in the fetal position bawling.

Because my mom was in the video and it was our first trip to Disney. The trip she couldn’t wait to take with her grandchildren and had talked about since the day Caroline was born. (the screengrab from the website isn’t the best, but it’s the awesomest). There was 1998 footage taped over most of it and so there is probably a VHS of the whole Disney trip (in one of the boxes) – but seeing this reminded me of how much I’d love to relive some of those days. And how much of it all I’d forgotten.

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Seeing my mom holding Caroline. Seeing Caroline wiggle around in her arms. Seeing her smile the whole time. This was her dream.

Yes that’s Caroline almost age 3 and Derek about 9 months. That would be 1993 – 21 years ago – just a few frames peeking through a ton of gymnastics footage.

I lost my mom in 2001. And there is a lot of video of her. But that’s just it – it’s all on VHS and I haven’t seen it in years, so seeing her moving, her hugging, her waving and having fun brought forth a lot of very raw and very wonderful emotions.

And had me mad because I hadn’t done this sooner.

I shared the video with Maggie and we talked about our upcoming first trip to Disney with Beck – next February. The trip I’ve waited for since the day he was born. There will be video. And it will live in a place where I can enjoy it.

You know, people today say “put down the camera and enjoy the moment.” I do that sometimes, and I do enjoy that little bit of time, but it’s just enjoying that time in that moment. I’ll remember being there. I might remember something I saw or something I ate. But the things that you’d most like to burn into your brain may be lost.

Like this kiss. Caroline loving on Derek. I could watch that over and over.

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My mom waiving with the kids. I’ve since watched that 20 times.

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You can’t remember everything. So enjoy moments but capture them and for goodness sake take care of the videos – and find a way to enjoy them. I have not enjoyed carrying this box of videos to 3 different apartments and now a house – and I’m done moving it.  I’m saving my money. It’s time to give the footage a more permanent residence.

This was a sponsored post by YesVideo. Here’s more info about them…..

Check them out online and at retail locations like CostcoSam’s ClubWalmart or CVS/pharmacy.

YesVideo accepts VHS tapes, camcorder tapes, movie film reels and 35mm slides. YesVideo’s process is very safe & secure. They handle customers’ memories as if they were their own. Their Memory Factory contains surveillance cameras at every stage, and digital copies of the transferred videos are archived for added security.

Home movie memories make a special and unique holiday gift. While orders typically take 3-4 weeks to complete, please allow extra time as Holiday season is a very busy time in the Memory Factory. Learn more about Holiday ordering deadlines at www.yesvideo.com/yvsymmary_social.html . All home movie media must be in the hands of YesVideo by December 2nd to receive your DVDs by December 24th.

Sweater Weater Has Arrived, Are You Ready? // Fashion Friday

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Everything that is pumpkin spiced flavor is released, maybe even early, the leaves change color and fall, the air cools down ever so slightly.

Here in Richmond, it changed over to fall quickly. The leaves haven’t all changed (almost!) but the weather has barely been above 70 for most of the day these past couple of days…I even pulled out my winter scarf and vest.

I’m ready for my classic fall wardrobe: big comfy sweaters, skinnies and boots. GBA — God Bless Autumn. For today’s Fashion Friday, I’m giving you a small pumpkin spice taste of the season to come.

Of course, with my new Jamberry business venture I had to pair a few wraps with outfits, because it make having the wraps that much more fun!

SweaterWeatherSweaterWeatherSweaterWeatherScreen Shot 2014-10-15 at 10.22.55 AM

 

Sweater//Purse//Shoes//Watch//Jeans//Pumpkin Spice Nail Wraps//Gold Sparkle Nail Wraps

 

I love how cozy this look is. What do you think? Which wrap would you wear?

Safety 1st Car Seat Tips and Infant Seat #Giveaway

Did you know that 93% of parents leaving the hospital made at least one critical error when installing or using their car seat? While this is a troubling statistic, it’s an issue that can be easily addressed by spreading the word about car seat safety and proper installation.

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onBoard 35 Air +Infant Car Seat

Safety 1st onBaord 35 Air has Air Protect + combines the advanced protection of the Air Protect® cushion system with patented GCell HX™ foam designed with hexagonal shapes for superior protection around the torso. TOGETHER they provide full body side impact protection

Importance of Rear Facing

In March of 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) updated their car seatrecommendations advising that children should remain rear facing until the age of two.  According to a study in the Journal of Injury Prevention children under the age of two are 75% less likely to die or be severely injured in the event of a car crash if they are rear facing. When a child is rear facing their head, neck and spine are better supported and in the event of an accident, crash forces are distributed over the child’s entire body.

Location

Typically the center rear seat is the safest place for a car seat, and never install a car seat in the front seat.  If your car does not have a latch connector for the middle seat, you can use the middleseat belt to properly secure the base.  When installing, make sure the base of the car seat moves no more than an inch from side to side. An easy way to test this is to hold at the belt path.

Car Seat Expiration

Car seats do have an expiration date, it is recommended that car seats be replaced every 5-8 years, or immediately after a crash.  The reason for an expiration date is because plastic can warp and materials can fray, which can make car seats not as effective in the event of a crash.  Additionally car seat technology and state and federal car seat regulations change over time.  Important warning labels may wear out and instruction books may get lost, which can lead to improper use of the car seat.

Safeguard the Car

Childproof the inside of the car and eliminate projectiles.  Anything in the car that is not secured is a possible projectile – even a child’s toy, or a water bottle. In a crash, objects take on greater weight due to crash forces.

GIVEAWAY!

Linneyville is giving away one Safety 1st onBoard 35 Air +Infant Car Seat in Germaine (color featured above)

To enter :

1. Mandatory: Leave us a comment letting us know what fact above you just learned and didn’t know.

2. Optional: Tweet (up to once a day) about the giveaway and leave a link to your tweet.

The winner will be chosen at random on November 1 at midnight.

Giveaway is open to US only 18+ and one entry per household.

 

Try Harvest Snaps – they are Pea-rfect!

harvest snaps

 

Feeling like I won the healthy lottery with these pea-ps.

I’m talking Harvest Snaps.

Lentil me tell you about it.

Even Elmo agrees ….

thumbs up elmo

 

What are Harvest Snaps and why is Elmo so happy?

  • The taste, the texture, the convenient, guilt-free snack
  • The Black Pepper and Onion Thyme – his favorite flavors
  • The fact that they are baked, gluten-free, high in fiber and protein, low in sodium and fat
  • And just the right amount of crunch. He’s got to take on Cookie Monster!

Beck likes them too. He basically snapped at the mere mention of a healthy snack until we shared them with him. The flavors were a tad stronger than he’s used to, but he did enjoy them. If you have a picky eater it’s worth testing them out. And they are nice party snacks too – especially since they are a bit of a surprise when you bite them for the first time.

Check them out on Facebook and check out the videos for the Pod Squad.

Want to try even more flavors? Pea-riffic.

Here they are:

The Snapea Crisps are available in four different varieties: Lightly Salted, Caesar, Black Pepper and Wasabi Ranch. Lentil Snaps’ Tomato Basil and Onion Thyme flavors.

Will you try them? “Yes PEAS!” We’ve been snap-snacking on them for a few weeks now. They’ll be a fixture in our pea-ntry.

(I’ll stop now, I promise)

This post was created in partnership with Harvest Snaps. I have been compensated for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.