Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Frozen Fundraiser ~ all proceeds to benefit children and elderly in Romania

Some friends of ours are having a super exciting fundraiser next month that you will not want to miss if you are in the area.  This fundraiser is being coordinated by a 22 year old named Josh that came to the United States from Romania when he was 3 years old.  Josh runs a project called Operation Snowflake through which he raises money to support children and elderly in Romania.  He and his mom, Lynn, travel back to Romania as often as they can to offer physical, emotional, and financial support to families there.  For example, a few years ago, Josh and his mom found out that there was a mother in Romania that was carrying her 9 year old son 3 miles back and forth to physical therapy because they could not afford a wheelchair.  Operation Snowflake was able to raise enough funds that year to buy that family a wheelchair!  Josh and Lynn are heading back to Romania in 8 short weeks and they are raising funds again!  Here are the details!

Operation Snowflake ~ Frozen Fundraiser
Sunday, August 24 
2:30 PM - 5:30 PM
Wilmington United Methodist Church
87 Church Street
Wilmington, MA 

Photos with Elsa and Anna
Queen Elsa and Princess Anna from Party Palace in Northfield, NH will be on hand to take photos and sign autographs.  Families taking photos will be asked for a good will offering or a photographer will be on hand to take photos which will be available the day of the event for a price of $5 per child up to a maximum of $15 per family.

photos courtesy of Party Palace

Frozen Themed Food
Elsa's Snow Cones
Olaf's Drinks
Kristoff's Rice Krispy Treats
Anna's Baked Items

Frozen Themed Crafts and Games

Silent Auction
A night at the Homewood Suites by Hilton
Reiki Session
Elsa Cake for a future birthday or another celebration
Patriot Handmade Pillow Cases
$100 Gift Card to Showcase Cinema
A basket with all the items you need to make an Elsa Dress
Celtics Championship Plaque with all engraved Championships
Brand New Garnett #5 White Celtics Jersey
2008 Celtics Championship Sweatshirt XL
and more!

All proceeds will go to help children and elderly in Romania.

For more information, please contact Lynn Powers at 617-538-0736 
or via email at grapeadv@comcast.net

You can RSVP on Facebook or just come join us on the 24th!

Those unable to attend the fundraiser can still help by making a tax deductible donation written out to Missio International.  Please write "Veritas" in the memo and mail to:
c/o Lynn Powers
Wilmington United Methodist Church
87 Church Street
Wilmington, MA 01887

We would love your help spreading the word about this event!  You can share on social media by clicking on the small buttons located at the bottom of the post.

From Lynn ~ Some background on Operation Snowflake:
Lynn met Josh when she went to Romania in 1993 to help create an orphanage based program for many of the kids that were highlighted in the 20/20 specials about 100,000 orphaned and abandoned kids in the country. It was an eye opening experience that you needed to live it to understand why Romanians were not at fault for what was seen in those programs. The majority of Romanians never knew these children existed and the dictatorship in place prior to December 25, 1989 made it very difficult for families to survive. Once he and his wife were eliminated the outcry was loud to have Non Profit Government Agencies from the West come and help train the Romanian Caregivers.

Although it took two years Josh came home to the Boston area and began living a much easier lifestyle than what he had been used to surviving. At age six Josh and Lynn returned for what become a yearly pilgrimage back to Romania. After his third trip to his birth country Josh was watching an Amy Grant Series called 3 Wishes. One of the wishes on a particular program was about the Happy Factory, a company with a huge heart. They made wooden cars and trucks for underprivileged kids all over the world. After its airing they were inundated with requests for those little wooden objects. But what surprised them the most was a letter from a nine year old boy from the Boston Area. It was Josh’s request for some of those cars and trucks for the kids in Romania for Christmas presents. He already knew at that age that was something these kids did not get. Three weeks late we received 200 wooden items for the kids. In an effort to ensure the girls also received a Christmas gift he enlisted several people to make them bracelets. In February while in NYC Josh and Lynn went to see Fiddler on the Roof and Wicked. Both showed had similar themes, as they walked back to the hotel it began to snow beautiful big snowflakes. As they talked, Lynn said to her son do you know what people and snowflakes have in common? Her response was that no two are alike. The next day it was settled the on-going work would be called Operation Snowflake because people look at snowflakes and say how pretty they are even though they are all different and if there are enough of them they can cause grief. But those individuals who are different are often not thought of the same way, instead they are given labels. The Motto of Operation Snowflake is to “Admire the Beauty in All.”  

Although Romania is not on the news any longer it does not mean that life is good there. Yes some things are better but those with disabilities still struggle to access services. We work with Veritas Romania. The work with disabled individuals, the elderly, and victims of domestic violence. The program to date has worked with several thousand children and families. You may go to their website at veritas.ro, please link on the British Flag for English.  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

DIY Floral Sets from Bloominous

This post is sponsored by Bloominous.   
A promotional item was received in exchange for posting.

Bloominous is a new startup that is changing the way people DIY floral decor for their events, weddings, and parties.  Their DIY floral kits give you everything you need to DIY easily and successfully.  Their collections are professionally designed by renowned florists, and their flowers are cut-to-order ensuring freshness.  Their farm-direct flowers are delivered in the right proportions along with photo-instruction cards and videos.  Take the guesswork out of DIY, and save time and money!

Bloominous packages together everything you need - from florals to vases to instructions - to create your own bouquets, centerpieces, and boutonnieres.

Bloominous has some really beautiful collections available and is offering 30% off trial kits plus free shipping.

If you have an event coming up, consider Bloominous for your floral needs!

This post is sponsored by Bloominous.   
A promotional item was received in exchange for posting.

Friday, July 25, 2014

York's Wild Kingdom

We were provided with complimentary passes to York's Wild Kingdom to facilitate this review.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed are my own.

This past weekend we had the chance to visit York's Wild Kingdom, New England's only Zoo AND Amusement Park!  I cannot believe that I have lived just over an hour from this gem for my entire life and have never been there.  It was the absolute perfect day in every way.  I honestly don't think I can say enough good things about York's Wild Kingdom!  But I'll try.

From the moment we drove through the entrance we were impressed.  We turned at the sign and drove down a wooded road with large signs of animal silohettes and trivia!  How creative and fun!

We arrived around 10:30 AM and were able to park for free right on site and walk to the entrance, however it is good to know that there is offsite parking that is free with a free trolley ride to and from the park.  The ticket line at the entrance was quite long so I would try to get there early if you can... or just be prepared to wait a bit!  There are several different ticket options.  You can purchase an unlimited pass for both the zoo and amusement park or choose one or the other.  Go Karts, pony rides, and camel rides are extra.  It looked like you could also pay per ride with tokens but unlimited is definitely the best way to go in my opinion.

We started our day in the zoo portion of the park and were greeted immediately by ducks!  My four year old loves ducks so this was the best welcome ever!

There are food dispensers located all around the zoo, anywhere the animals can (and would love) to eat.  Make sure you bring your quarters!  I'm so thankful that my friend Nicole over at Southern New Hampshire Kids visited York's Wild Kingdom the week before we did and wrote a review with that important advice!  We came prepared and are so glad we did!  I think you can tell that the animals were pretty glad too!

The animals were incredibly friendly.  What a neat experience for all of us to be able to get up so close to them.  They seemed to be having as much as we were!

While in the zoo we also visited the Butterfly Kingdom.  What a beautiful treasure!  There were so many beautiful butterflies of all different shapes and sizes.  They fly all over the place inside this habitat.  It is so neat!  I love the fact that in the exit hallway there is a mirror in which you check to be sure there are no butterflies on your clothes or hair before you leave!

The Deer Feeding Area is another spot that you must not miss on a visit to York's Wild Kingdom.  There is a sign upon entering telling you not to go under the fence.  This doesn't stop the deer though!  Be ready for some cuddles and hungry noses sniffing your hands.  And again, make sure you have quarters (and your camera)!

Getting up close and personal with the animals at York's Wild Kingdom is a must, but don't worry!     There are hand washing stations located throughout the zoo!  There's no need to be shy about letting those animals eat right out of the palm of your hand!

We moved from the zoo to the amusement park at about 12:30 and honestly had not even seen all of the animals yet!  You could absolutely spend a whole day just at the zoo and I may have if it was not for a four year old begging for "rides!"

We decided to have a quick bite to eat before playing and riding.  There was a large covered picnic area for eating as well as an uncovered area with picnic tables.  You can either bring your own food or purchase at the park.  We purchased there and I was actually surprised that the prices of most items were very reasonable.  Our group ate a Crispy Chicken Sandwich, Cheese Pizza, Cheeseburger, Steak n Cheese Sub, French Fries, and Onion Rings and there were no complaints!  The area was clean and pleasant.  And I have to mention that the people visiting York's Wild Kingdom the day we did were so kind!  The wind kept blowing my trash off of my table and each time it happened, a different stranger would pick it up and offer to throw it in the barrel for me.  I think this is evidence that this wonderful place attracts a wonderful crowd!

This was my four year old's first amusement park experience.  I was nervous that she may not be old enough or brave enough for rides.  The rides at York's Wild Kingdom are absolutely perfect for kids in her age group!  There were only a couple of things that were really too big for her but for the most part there was a really nice variety of child friendly rides.  She started small with the boats and worked her way up to the roller coaster, stopping at every other age appropriate attraction along the way!

You may notice in the pictures that the crowd at York's Wild Kingdom wasn't too overwhelming.  Despite the fact that there were tons of people there on the day we went, it didn't even feel crowded.  We never waited more than 5 minutes to ride a ride, and in fact, didn't wait at all for most of them.  We didn't wait to order our food either.  I think the longest we waited for anything was the bathroom and that line was still only a couple of people deep.  The set up of the park is very open, and it feels clean and spacious.  It doesn't feel congested at all!  The longest line I saw was the one to purchase tickets at the entrance.

Needless to say, we loved our trip to York's Wild Kingdom and cannot wait to return soon!  If you're in the New England area and are looking for a fun family activity, I highly recommend a trip to York's Wild Kingdom!

We were provided with complimentary passes to York's Wild Kingdom to facilitate this review.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed are my own.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Use the Perfect Pop App from Pop Secret for Perfect Popcorn Every Time!

This post is sponsored by Pop Secret through Linqia.  All opinions expressed are my own.

The last two family movie nights in our house were for Mommy and Daddy only.  What movies did we watch, you ask?  One night it was Frozen and the other night it was The Lego Movie.  HA!  It's true!

There is something a bit sacred about nighttime in our home and I'm guessing if you're a parent maybe it feels the same way to you.  Our daughter is in bed, the house is quiet, dinner is done, kitchen is cleaned up, lights are low, couch is calling.  Pop in a movie, let the previews roll, pour some drinks, throw a bag of Pop Secret Popcorn in the microwave, smell the butter, listen to the pops, spend a few minutes social media stalking my friends...

And then... what's that smell?

The relaxation comes to a quick halt.

Raise your hand if you can smell it right now.

The dreaded smell of burning popcorn!

If you're anything like me, you don't like to waste, so you just pour the popcorn into your bowl, pick around the burned pieces, and hope there is enough that didn't burn to enjoy. And then you smell that burned popcorn smell throughout your house for days.

According to Pop Secret, 1 in 3, let me repeat that... ONE IN THREE bags of microwave popcorn ends up burned!  Obviously this statistic is unacceptable and thankfully Pop Secret came up with a solution.  They created the Perfect Pop app!

No more relying on the popcorn button, guessing how many seconds in between pops, or getting so totally distracted that you forget to listen!  Pop Secret is serious about perfect popcorn, and the less you have to worry about, the more time you can spend enjoying your relaxing movie night at home!  Perfect Pop listens to the pops, waiting for the precise moment to let you know when your popcorn is perfect.

All you have to do is download the free app to your iPhone, follow the instructions within the app, put a bag of Pop Secret popcorn in the microwave, let the app listen to the popping, get some fun facts and trivia on your phone courtesy of Pop Secret, see some magic inside-the-bag views of your popcorn popping, and wait for the app to tell you when your popcorn is done.  It's super easy and super fun!

 Now, I will be honest that I did have this issue...

I'm not sure if it was a problem with my phone case or my microwave but we had some technical and sound issues and the app was not pleased that it wasn't able to hear my Pop Secret Popcorn popping!  But the popping hadn't even started yet!  Clearly I need to work on mastering this technology a bit more, and next time I'm taking my case off first, but in the meantime, I hope you'll give the app a try and let me know how it works for you!  

Despite my failed technology attempt, I thankfully ended up on the right side of the burned popcorn statistic and am enjoying some yummy Pop Secret Popcorn as I type this post!

Download the Perfect Pop app now so you'll be ready for your next movie night!

The Perfect Pop app can be used with iPhone 5+ on iOS 7+.

This post is sponsored by Pop Secret through Linqia.  All opinions expressed are my own.
Disclaimer: Apple is not affiliated and does not endorse, 
sponsor, or support this third party app.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Petbrosia ~ Review, Coupon, Giveaway!

I received a complimentary box of Petbrosia Pet Food to facilitate this review.  
All opinions expressed are my own.

I spend a good deal of time writing on the blog about things that my "family" loves.  We really enjoy opportunities to check out something new to us that we can share with you.  Well, I will be honest that when it comes to talking about my family on the blog, I never mention our dog!  Poor thing!  We have a 10 year old whippet!  She's certainly an important member of our family so she deserves to be mentioned and she deserves getting to review a new product like the rest of us have!

We were recently offered the opportunity to review Petbrosia's new Grain-Free Salmon Dog Food.  Within the past year or so our dog has gotten quite picky about the foods she will eat.  I guess maybe it's old age?  Who knows.  All I know is that she used to have no preference but now she only will eat certain kinds... or one certain kind... so although I'm always excited to try new products with my family, I was a little bit nervous that this wouldn't fly with her.
What is Petbrosia?  Petbrosia determines the right Petbrosia diet for your dog or cat based on their breed, age, weight, food allergies, activity level, and other needs you feel should be brought to our attention.  At Petbrosia, we believe that feeding your pet the very best dog food and the very best cat food begins with all-natural meats, fruits, and vegetables.  We use only the highest quality, all-natural ingredients, grown and raised by farmers across America.  No corn, no wheat, no soy, and no by-products.
Information courtesy of Petbrosia
We ordered our first box of Petbrosia easily, right from the company website.  We had to enter some information about our dog such as her age, weight, gender, activity level, etc to be sure that the food recommendations would be appropriate for her specifically.  Once our order was placed and confirmed, it was shipped and arrived very quickly!  It was packed in a sealed bag within a shipping box.  Neat and convenient!  (I meant to get a photo for you but my overachieving husband had all the food in the food bucket and the packaging in the recycling bin before I had a chance to suggest otherwise!)

The dry dog food is made up of small little balls of doggy deliciousness.  I can tell by the smell that it's the real deal.  The salmon smells fishy!  It hasn't stunk up my house or anything but I can only imagine that it's quite flavorful since the aroma is definitely present.  All of the pieces are crunchy pieces.  I've noticed that much of what we are finding in the stores lately includes chewy pieces.  This must be the "in" thing for dogs right now.  All I know is that our dog is not into chewy pieces at all and she will pick around them.  There is no need for picking with this food!  We have never served our dog a salmon based food (another reason I was a little nervous to try this!) but I have to admit, that she seems to like this!

The best part about Petbrosia, is that we can feel confident that we are feeding our dog what's right for her because Petbrosia takes into account specific, personal information about our dog when they recommend the formula that's just right for her.  The health of our dog is important to us.  She's a member of our family and she deserves the best just like the people family members do!  We feel confident that she is receiving the nutrition that she needs plus a whole lot of extras when she's eating Petbrosia.
What are the benefits of our NEW Grain-Free Salmon?
  • Salmon is an excellent source of vitamins, essential fatty acids, and protein, and can be a great meat alternative for senior dogs and dogs with food allergies or sensitivities.
  • Our Grain-Free Salmon is truly a single protein formula.
  • Added L-Carnitine, helps the body utilize fat for energy while maintaining the lean muscle mass which helps reduce the overall body fat.
Information courtesy of Petbrosia
Petbrosia would love for you to have the opportunity to try their new products as well and they are offering both a giveaway and a promotional coupon to our readers!

You can take $10 off your first purchase of Petbrosia Pet Foods by entering the promotional code BRL10 at checkout on their website.

Enter the giveaway below to win a free 3 pound box of Petbrosia Dog or Cat Food!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is only open to residents of the lower 48 states of the USA only as Petbrosia is unable to ship to Alaska, Hawaii, or outside of the USA at this time.  The winner's email address will be provided to Petbrosia so that they can forward the promotional code for a free box which the winner will order online.  The giveaway ends on Thursday, July 17 at 11:59 PM.

Good luck!

Petbrosia would love for you to check out the following links to access more information about the benefits of their products!
Benefits of Salmon for Dogs: http://petbrosia.com/benefits-of-salmon-for-dogs/ 
Benefits of Salmon for Cats: http://petbrosia.com/benefits-of-salmon-for-cats/ 
Petbrosia’s dog food delivery program: http://petbrosia.com/ 
Switching Dog Food: http://petbrosia.com/how-it-works/switching-foods/ 
Dog Food Comparison: http://petbrosia.com/our-product/comparison/

I received the product above for free using Tomoson.com.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Keep Momming

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Shire.  
I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

The relationship that exists between mothers and daughters is unlike any other. It has many unique moments, memories, and yes, even challenges along the way. The relationship dynamic can be even trickier when your daughter is in those tween-age years. What can be even more difficult is when some people dismiss certain behaviors as “typical tween girl behavior” when those behaviors can be symptoms of something more serious. Research suggests that girls are more likely than boys to report having mostly inattentive Attention- Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) symptoms. Since inattentive symptoms can be less noticeable than hyperactive and impulsive symptoms, it is important that moms know what to look for.

I’m proud to be joining forces with Shire, CHADD and Holly Robinson Peete to announce the launch of keep momming, a new public service initiative geared towards the moms of tween girls to raise awareness of ADHD.

The campaign is anchored within a new digital hub, KeepMomming.com, where you’ll find tips, tools and other go-to resources for moms, including a checklist to help recognize the symptoms of ADHD – inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity – and then encourages moms to talk to their daughter’s doctor. The keep momming initiative can help moms learn about ADHD and provide ideas on how to spark a conversation and stay connected with their tween.

Don’t miss Holly’s message about the keep momming initiative http://goo.gl/3tqd5q, and be sure to check out the website at KeepMomming.com.

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting (#MC) for Shire.  
I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Arnold's Family Fun Center in Montgomery County, PA

Our family was provided with complimentary snacks and game credits / "points" to facilitate this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.

We took a whirlwind road trip to Pennsylvania a couple of weeks ago for a blogger conference and while there had the opportunity to visit Arnold's Family Fun Center!  The name says it all, right?  I told my almost-four year old that after we made it to Pennsylvania and settled into the hotel we were heading to Arnold's Family Fun Center for dinner.  Her eyes got wide with excitement!  Prior to arrival, we checked out Arnold's website to see all that they had to offer and we were amazed!  We have some similar places nearby to where we live but this place looked HUGE.  I remember wondering how it could be possible to have all of the things they offer under one roof... a bistro, a bar, go karts, bowling, rides, games, bounce houses, miniature golf, a tour of some cool guy's amazing collectables... see what I mean?!  HUGE.

Now, before I tell you more about Arnold's let me say that I am not particularly familiar with Pennsylvania.  This trip took us to the Valley Forge / King of Prussia area of Montgomery County... what a beautiful place to be!  We headed to Arnold's around dinner time on a weekday, so traffic was a bit difficult on the main roads between our hotel and the facility but once we turned off the main road, we were greeted by beautiful backroads that led us to our destination.  We followed our GPS and actually thought we were taking wrong turns because these roads looks as though they could only lead to fields and farms, but sure enough, we made it to Arnold's fairly easily.   We only had to turn around twice... I do wish there had been more signage on the streets to show that we were getting close!

When we arrived at Arnold's Bistro & Bar, we were greeted by John Golden, Director of Communications at the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, and Lorin Richter, the Sales Manager of Arnold's Family Fun Center as well as a very friendly serving staff.

We picked out some yummy dinner foods and heard all about Arnold's and the American Treasure Tour, a tram ride through one man's massive collection of Americana!  Our family opted out of the American Treasure Tour since our daughter was understandably quite anxious to get out to the play areas.

We ate quickly (so quickly that I forgot to photograph my food for this blog post) so we could get playing.  I ordered a Chicken Ceasar Wrap and French Fries and my husband ordered a Reuben and French Fries.  The Bistro has a kid's menu as well but our daughter was way too preoccupied to order or eat her own meal so she snacked on ours.  Everything was both reasonably priced and delicious, the staff was friendly, and the service was excellent.

Just adjacent to the Bistro & Bar is a full blown bowling alley.  Say what?!  We didn't bowl, but what a perfect place for a get together with friends!  Grab some food, drinks, and then bowl.  It's the perfect set up!  If you're looking for a quiet, intimate dinner, this is probably not the place for you, but if you're looking for a delicious sit-down meal, with a ton of fun on the side, you've found a treat!

photo courtesy of Arnold's Family Fun Center

After eating, we headed to the play area.  It was about 7:00 in the evening on a Wednesday and I must say that the play areas were fairly empty.  Our suspicions about this place being massive were confirmed.  We saw go karts, miniature golf, a haunted house, rock climbing wall, a mini bowling alley, a carousel, a bazillion arcade games, a bounce house (house is an understatement), bumper cars, and more!  It was actually a little overwhelming!  The sites and sounds equaled total fun.  My four year old was on the younger side for many of the activities and unfortunately by the time we made it over to the section for her age and size, it was already closed for the evening.  It was nice, however, even to just see that there was a section that would have been just for her!  She did find plenty of fun... especially in the bounce zone and playing air hockey and skee ball with her Daddy!

4 year old's review of Arnold's...
"I liked when I bounced and when I went down the slides.  
I really liked the really big slides.  That was really fun.  
I liked riding on the choo choo train.  
And they had a carousel and a golf ball course."


The staff members we encountered at Arnold's were fantastic.  They were super friendly, helpful, and accommodating!  This is Matt, one of their smiling staff members who helped us figure out how to add more points to our card and get into the bounce zone!

Clearly, we had a blast at Arnold's Family Fun Center!  Our only disappointment was that we were there for a short time and really could have spent much, much longer exploring and enjoying everything it had to offer!  We need to go back soon for go karts, rides, and more bounce!  We also heard from our friends that went on the American Treasure Tour that it was amazing and we'd really like to get back to check that out someday too!

We are looking forward to our next visit to Montgomery County, PA!  The area has so much to offer and we are sad we were only there for about 24 hours!  Next time you're headed to or through Pennsylvania, I'd encourage you to check out Montgomery County.  While you're planning your trip, jump on your favorite social media channel and search for #MAKEITMONTCO... I guarantee you'll find some fun info and be able to piece together the perfect adventure for your family!  You can also reach out to the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board for more information about everything Montgomery County has to offer.

Next time you're in PA, #MAKEITMONTCO!

Connect with Arnold's Family Fun Center on social media!  
Website:    http://arnoldsffc.com

Our family was provided with complimentary snacks and game credits / "points" to facilitate this review.  All opinions expressed are my own.
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