Man’s Best Friend Deserves A Beautiful Collar

Sadie with Annie in 2006

I never had a pet growing up, so when my husband and I adopted our little dog, Sadie, from the Citizens for Animal Protection 16 years ago – it was a big deal. We fell in love with her the minute we saw her. She is a beautiful border collie, sheltie mixed breed and when she looked up at us that day, well – we melted.

Sadie has been with us through thick and thin. She’s lived in three different homes with us, was there when we brought both of our babies (now 10 and 5 years old) home from the hospital and has loved us unconditionally…even when life got so busy that long walks to the park became less frequent.

I love my dog so much. I know that she won’t be with us forever and even though she’s got a lot of spunk left in her for an old gal, I can certainly tell she’s slowing down. It’s hard for her to see, she can’t jump up on the coach or go upstairs anymore and she walks a bit slower. But she’s happy and I’m so thankful for every day we have with our sweet Sadie Lady.

I was brushing Sadie the other day and realized that she’s had the same collar for a LONG time. Unacceptable! Really, a collar is the only way a doggie can can glam it up!  I looked for one at the local pet store, but they were all kinda…boring. So I looked online and found a great website, Dog Collars Boutique, that has a ton of great pet collars…so many that I had a hard time deciding which one to select. They have everything from bling to “rock star” leather style collars to subtle solid color canvas collars in all sizes and price ranges. Collars with spikes, crystals and beads. Preppy-style argyle print collars, personalized collars and 60′s style flower-power collars.

Sadie Lady has simple taste and so I decided on a simple but beautiful pink, round-rolled leather collar by Auburn Leathercrafters. These collars are perfect for long-haired dogs because the round shape helps prevent tangled and matted fur around the dog’s neck. Which is good for Sadie because her hair is so long you can barely even see her collar!

My order shipped quickly and when the package arrived, it was wrapped up so cute in paw print tissue!

In addition to dog collars, they also carry cat collars, dog training collars and organic dog toys.

Me and Sadie...9/12/11

Sadie loves her new collar and I love that I did something nice for her. I think it’s time for a nice, long, (albeit slow) walk to the park. Just me and Sadie!

I was given a collar to review by Dog Collar’s Boutique but wasn’t otherwise compensated for this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 

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Correct HALO ProBar 40% Off Link and Code

As mentioned in yesterday’s post – I’m offering 40% off an online order of HALO bars. The link given to me was incorrect. Please use this one  http://theprobar.com/shop and enter “BLOGGER” upon checkout (all caps). Sorry for the confusion! (It’s corrected in the post now!)

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Buck: A Documentary

Last night my family and I saw the premiere of the documentary Buck and had the pleasure to meet Buck Brannaman, the horseman that it is about. We were, unfortunately, a few minutes late; however, from where we jumped in (about 10 minutes into the film) we were hooked.

Buck is a horse whisperer of sorts. Abused by his father as a child, he turned his painful past into a life where he travels 40 weeks a year teaching clinics that help people GENTLY train their horses. Highly regarded in his field, he assisted Robert Redford with the making of the movie, The Horse Whisperer starring Scarlett Johansen….which is covered briefly in the documentary.

Buck was present to answer questions at the end of the film and while many in attendance were horse owners with questions about specific problems they have with their own horses, many more people commented on how the film moved them to tears and applauded Buck for the work that he does. Known  as a humble and quiet-tempered man, Buck thanked each audience member for their comments…dodging any kind of indication that he is out of the ordinary. In fact, he doesn’t even consider himself a horseman but hopes when he meets his trainer, Ray, in heaven some day that he’ll be proud of him.

I loved Buck’s sense of humor that came through both in person and in the film. And his honesty. At one point in the film he works with a wild and dangerous horse that can’t be broken and while dealing with both the owner and the horse, he stayed calm but spoke from his heart. It was a moving scene for sure. Buck believes that many “horse” problems are really “people” problems. Truly, issues with children have much to do with the parents. Same holds true with horses, Buck believes.

In fact, questions from the audience that didn’t have to do with horse specific issues were mostly about those that suffered abuse in some way…or those that work with abused children. After Buck’s mother died he lived with foster parents that he loves dearly. He said of the film, if it makes someone aspire to be like Betsy Shirley (his foster mom) and give a kid no one cares about a home, then it was worth it.

I asked him how a cowboy from Wyoming handles sudden movie star status.

Standing in the theatre with brown cowboy boots, a yellow dress shirt with a western decorated tie, cowboy hat and jeans tight enough to see the outline of a round tin can in his front pocket he answered: “The film has a beginning, middle and end and one day when it’s in the bargain bin at Walmart, I’ll be back doing what I was doing and be just fine.”

Pretty authentic.

I highly recommend you check Buck-The Documentary out when it hits theatre July 1st.

I was invited to a special screening in order to review this movie but received no other compensation. All thoughts and opinions are my own.


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Father’s Day Present Idea – Personalized Cufflinks!

I never know what to get Ed for Father’s Day. Flowers seem weird and hand tools are too expensive! Because I’m a scrapbooker I like to make meaningful gifts, usually with photos. When I heard about the customizable cufflinks from PhotoJewelryMaking.com; I knew I found this year’s gift.

I have a lot of different jewelry with Annie and Jackson’s photos on them and PhotoJewelryMaking.com offers tons of choices for women including bracelets, necklaces and rings; however, they have items like the cufflinks for men, too – which I think is brilliant.

I received my Father’s Day Easy Change Photo Cufflinks Kit ($19.99) in the mail which contained instructions, photo paper, the cufflinks and the EZ photo resizer CD.

After installing the software, I was able to download the photos I wanted to use and size to fit the cufflinks perfectly. I printed them on the photo paper, cut them out and placed them on the cufflinks. Easy peasy!

I wish I had selected a photo of Jackson that wasn’t so close up (I picked photos of the kids in their baseball team hats), but I think they turned out great.

I really like that the website carries all supplies you need to make photo jewelry and if I wanted to get another set of cufflinks without the CD etc, I can order them for just $9.99. They also carry several different home business kits with supplies to make many necklaces, etc. Perfect if you had a lot of gifts to give or want to earn a little extra money on the side.

What are you giving your dad/husband for Father’s Day this year?

Disclosure: I was provided a free cufflink kit to review but wasn’t otherwise compensated for this post. All opinions are my own. (So are the cute kids on the cufflinks!)

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Cube Dog App Review



Thank you to Cube Dog for sponsoring this review. For more information about Cube Dog please visit the Facebook page or download it on iTunes.

Ever since I got my iPhone 4 I’ve been all about the apps. My kids have theirs (which have saved me on more than one occasion when waiting in a long line or for a doctor’s appointment) and I have mine (I loves me my words with friends!). Once in a blue moon, we all enjoy the same app. Have you heard of Cube Dog? It must be a blue moon because my kids and I ALL think it’s cool.

This free app allows you to customize up to three dogs by choosing features including eyes, mouth, body and ears. You can choose what color you want your dog to be (Annie picked pink, go figure?!!) and name him or her. Then you are able to interact with your dog through different strokes on the screen. Jackson loved putting his pet, “cuby dog” into Ninja mode and Annie loved it when her dog, “Marlo”, got hearts in his eyes! You can play ball with your cube dog and he can even “call” you on his cell phone…so cute!

The feature we love the most, though, is the ability to take photos of your cube dog and WITH your cube dog. The high-quality 3D animations; compatible with the iPhone and iPod touch 4 with camera, are really cool and Annie and Jackson give the app 2 thumbs up!

In the cube dog store you can also purchase more parts and animations to further your cube dog fun and creativity.

Check out this video which shows how you can customize your own cube dog!

You can also check out Cube Dog on Facebook here. They are hosting a fun contest from June 13 to June 17, 2011!

What do you think? Do you love your Cube Dog?!

While Cube Dog provided me with the app to review, the opinions I’ve expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Cube Dog, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity.

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Review and Giveaway: Knowledge Adventure Online Games

Sometimes I need a little peace and quiet but feel slightly guilty about putting my kiddos in front of the TV (I said ‘sometimes’ – other times I don’t feel any guilt about turning on a little Spongebob or ICarly) On the days I’m feeling especially mother of the year-ish, I try to find activities for the kids to do that are both fun AND educational. I know – I’m awesome like that. It’s just how I roll.
My kids and I were recently given the opportunity to check out a cool kids website, http://www.jumpstart.com/ that we think IS both fun and educational. Let’s call it – “Fudcational”. Knowledge Adventure created this virtual world for kids ages three to 10 years old where they can create their own avatars and explore magical worlds, discovering and unlocking games, videos and storybooks that teach them about subjects including math and reading. (Without them really knowing that they are actually learning stuff. Which is sometimes key to the ”Fun” part of Fudcational.)

The company told me that they constantly add more features, portals and learning games to the site, so there’s always something different to do. My nine-year-old son, Jackson loved the fact that because of how it was designed you never “finish it”.

“With some games once you win, you’re done – but with this you know you’ll always have something new to check-out whenever you log-on” he said.

You can design your own avatar…and name it!

He is wise above his years.

I was a little skeptical about a website that claimed to appeal to both my five-year-old daughter AND my nine-year-old son…they are worlds apart in their “gaming” skills. But there are many places to explore once you launch JumpStart. The first is an area called StoryLand, aimed at 3-5 year olds, and Annie loved it here. She was able to design her own “jumpeez”, which is the character she named “Olivia Brave Daisy”, and within about 20 minutes was able to navigate throughout the land all by herself. YAY!

She spent a lot of time in the art house where she could paint pictures and in the movie house where she could sing and dance to songs like “Head, shoulders, knees and toes!” She adopted a pet in one area and it followed her along to other areas. Very cute.
 
They also have AdventureLand and MarineLand, designed for kids in kindergarten to second grade and FutureLand, geared towards older children. Jackson hung out in this area a lot and liked the Industrial Zone. His jumpeez had a glider outfit so he could fly around. He thought the Buggy racer was pretty fun and the Ghost Town Grab game was challenging and cool.
 
JumpStart also just launched what is now their most popular area, the Enchanted Sanctuary, where kids can hatch and raise their own dragons…which satisfies their “I want a pet” desires without me having to run to the pet store for new goldfish every week.

They add fun seasonal things to the site often!
We all really liked the seasonal play areas (in the winter they could throw virtual snowballs and right now they have Valentine’s Day themed attractions). Parents can visit the JumpStart Blog at http://blog.jumpstart.com for information about the latest additions to the game.
You wanna try it out? How about for FREE?! The great folks at Knowledge Adventure/JumpStart have given me a three-month membership to give away to a lucky “Still Living The Dream” reader (that’s you, silly!) just in time for Valentine’s Day. Just a little way for me to say, hey – I love ya!
The membership includes access for six kids, unlimited access to Jumpstart.com, Mathblaster.com (the new virtual world for kids 6-12) and 4 downloadable games. All you have to do is leave a comment about how you would spend some quiet time while your kids are playing JumpStart. I’ll pick one randomly on February 14th. Isn’t that cool?

FutureLand





Counting game in StoryLand
Disclosure: I was provided with a JumpStart membership at no cost by Knowledge Adventure in order to test the products’ abilities and give my own personal opinions on it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others but were not influenced by the company or the free product provided.








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Monster Truck Jam

I’m kinda a girlie girl in a lot of instances. So when I found out I was having a boy nine years ago I sorta panicked. I didn’t have brothers and grew up with just my mom and sisters for the most part. I wasn’t sure I was going to be any good at “boy” things.

Fast forward to 2010 and you would have never known I had any anxiety about raising a son. I’m immersed in cub scouts. I become crazy mom at baseball games and swim meets. I attend airshows and rodeos. I camp. I buy shoot em up video games and bb guns and (as of this week) I decorate bedrooms with all things military. So I shouldn’t have been surprised when I went to the Monster Truck Jam last weekend and had a blast.

But I was. I really didn’t expect to have a great time. I knew my son and husband would think it was cool (and they did) but I wasn’t convinced that Annie and I would be entertained. We were.

I like spas. And the theatre. And nice clothes. And good food. And things that don’t require earplugs.

And now I like Monster Trucks.

Driver David Smith (King Krunch) who is from Houston!
Annie and Jackson on the course before the show!
Autograph session after the show
I was surprised that it was such a family friendly type event. I expected a lot of men, drinking a lot. For the most part – it was the typical family of four in attendance. Lots of moms who like manis and pedis just as much as me! We had the fantastic opportunity to meet drivers before the show and almost all of them were sweet guys who have kids of their own and love the fans more than anything else. (There was also one female driver there, Madusa, who is a rock star. I found out while she doesn’t have any kids right now, she is planning to adopt soon.)
So check out my official review of the event at savvysource.com soon. And enjoy these photos from our visit. Oh – and as Madusa would say, “Eat dirt!”
Madusa used to be a pro wrestler!
Jackson and Annie signing one of the cars that got demolished in the show
Driver Alex Blackwell of Captain’s Curse. He won both events!
Driver Dan Evans and his wife Lorri. Super cool people.

Disclosure: I was provided with tickets to Monster Jam at no cost in order to review the event and give my own personal opinions about it. The opinions I have given are mine and may differ from others, but were not influenced by the company or the fact that I was given tickets to the event.

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Carl’s Jr. – I Just Don’t Get It

A couple of weeks ago a Carl’s Jr. burger joint went up a couple miles down the road from me. Apparently it’s the only one in Houston and is a big deal. Everybody’s all, “Oh my gosh, there’s a Carl’s Jr. here now” and I’m all “What the heck is a Carl’s Jr.?” and there all, “Oh my gosh, it’s the best.”

Which I was assuming was true because since it’s opened there has been a line of at least 20 cars in the drive-thru at all hours of the day. Today Ed said, “Let’s go see what all the fuss is about and get a burger.” And I said, “ok”. Because I’m pretty easy-going like that. And I wanted to see what all the hullabaloo was for myself. And because I love any opportunity to say and/or write the word “hullabaloo”.

So we went there at 11:30 a.m. and at noon we finally got through the drive-thru line. As we waited in line I looked over across the street at poor little Wendy’s. Just sitting there. All alone. No one in line. I’m thinking the owner of that particular restaurant was like, “It’s so awesome that Carl’s Jr. opened up across the street. That makes me so happy. The only one in Houston – right across the street from me. Can you believe the luck?!!”

Then I looked over to the left and saw Chick-filet and thought the owner over there was probably thinking, “Hamburgers are for losers, Carl – it’s all chicken – baby!” Then I remembered that they are a Christian organization and they probably wouldn’t think that. They probably wish Carl well and think there’s room for everyone in our fast-food obsessed market. Plus – they have a really kick-ass drive-thru system and you’re in and out quickly. So they have that going for them. And the cow mascot. They’ll definitely be ok.

I ordered “the original $6.00 burger” combo with a coke. They were out of Coke. That wasn’t a good way for me and Carl to start off our relationship. Mama likes her Coke. Not Coke Zero. Not Diet Coke. Coke. It’s how I roll.

But what was really disappointing (besides the fact that I ORDERED my $6.00 burger with lettuce, mayo and ketchup and GOT my burger with cheese and meat, is that it just wasn’t good. It was overcooked, dry and cold. Just like I make them at home. Yuck.

So Carl’s Jr. – I’m sorry – but I just don’t get it. But thanks for the inspiration for this blog post.

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Good Things: Episencial Skin Care

Recently I was given the opportunity to try out an all-natural skin-care line for children called Episencial with my friends. MommyParties sent me some of the products from the line to try out as well as a “playful foaming wash” to give to each of the moms at my party.

According to the company, Episencial is the first and only professional-quality, all natural skincare system created specifically for the unique developing skin type of babies and kids. Free from the bad stuff like parabens, phthalates and fragrances, Episencial products are loaded with all-natural goodness and healthy organics. Plus, these gentle, newborn safe formulas feature an exclusive skin immune complex™ to boost the skin’s immune functions and help the body ward off illnesses.

This skin care line is good from the get-go…starting with their packaging. Everyone loved the Eric Carle caterpillar art-theme on each bottle. One of the moms said her son is particularly sensitive to things that “look” to babyish and wouldn’t try other shampoo that was clearly made for babies. This packaging got the thumbs-up so is obviously good for kids of all ages!

The line is free from additives, parabens and petroleum which really appealed to my friends. Anytime we are able to stay away from harmful chemicals…that’s a good thing. BUT the products need to still work…and work they did.


The protective face balm, which contains organic coco butter, aloe, licorice and zinc was a favorite of one mom who said she had trouble with dry lips and no other product felt as good as this one did.

Another mom was happy to see the sweet dreams bubble bath with organic peach, oat, plum extracts. “I worry about giving my daughter a bubble bath with chemical-based products because she always gets infections,” she said. “I’m glad to see an all-natural alternative that also smells good!”

The better body butter felt smooth and wasn’t greasy and the soothing cream for eczema, itches and bothered skin felt like heaven on my winterized hands and arms
Other products we tried included the sunny sunscreen and the nurturing balm (for diaper rash). Everyone liked them so much they wanted to go to Ulta right away to buy. A couple moms have used other natural product lines that cost much more so they are excited for a great product at a great price. (i.e. the playful foaming wash – which is good for body and hair – retails for $9.00.).

If you want more information about Episencial, visit http://www.episencial.com/.

Disclaimer: While I was given some products to try for free, I was not compensated for this blog post and all of the thoughts, words, actions, feelings,etc., etc. are my own. (Not that anyone would claim them…but I just wanted you to know because I’m super honest like that!)

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Family Friendly Film – Flicka 2


While at Mom 2.0 I had the chance to see a bit of the new movie, Flicka 2 – which will be released May 4th. Directed by Michael Damian (yes – that Micheal…aka Danny from The Young and The Restless) produced it and he and his wife, Janeen, are out promoting it with influencial people such as myself.

I AM TOO influential!

I think my 8-year-old and 4-year-old will like it. (Jackson will be mortified to learn that they don’t have internet connection at the ranch….gasp!) Shot in Vancouver, the backdrop is beautiful and I’m looking forward to seeing one of my favorite comedians, Patrick Warburton, play a somewhat serious role. Michael and Janeen promise that the movie is very family friendly – no swearing etc….a rarity these days.

Here’s the gist….

When her grandmother is diagnosed with dementia, skateboarder Carrie McLaughlin (Tammin Sursok) is forced to leave the pavement of the big city behind to go live with her estranged father Hank (Patrick Warburton) on his horse ranch in Wyoming. With her skateboard tightly in hand, and no ramps or cement in sight, Carrie feels completely alone and is determined to make it back to the city. While putting in her time at the ranch, Carrie makes an unlikely friendship with a wild horse named Flicka who is just as unhappy and alone as Carrie. When Flicka is taken away and her life is in jeopardy, Carrie will stop at nothing to bring Flicka home safely where she belongs.

On a side-note….Michael and Janeen are just as sweet as can be. They are so excited about this movie. Janeen is a horse expert and was a champion rider so she knows a little bit about working with these animals. Michael is still a cutie-patootie…just as much so as when I watched the Young and the Restless when I was a teenager. When my friend Karen heard I was meeting “Danny” she asked if it was Danny Jr. or Sr. I haven’t watched “my programs” since college and so I thought he was Jr. Apparently – he is Sr. and he and I are a little older then I think. Whatever. He looks like a Jr. to me!

Fun fact….they used 8 different “Flickas” in the making of the film!

I know I’m setting myself up for a very long discussion with Annie about why I won’t buy her a horse. But I think we’ll see the movie anyway!

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