Lifestyle * Travel * Food

Dec 23, 2014

The Hello Kitty Craze

You see the cute little whiskered face in almost every major store throughout the country and even across the world. It adorns clothing, lunch boxes, diaries, toothbrushes and bed sheets. It is even the theme for an entire hospital in Taiwan! Hello Kitty has become an international craze that continues to take the world by storm. Kids everywhere immediately recognize the unassuming round face and the familiar red ribbon that adorns this cute little cartoon cat.

What is the history of this little cat, and how did Hello Kitty toys become so popular throughout the world? Here is everything you could possibly want to know about Hello Kitty and her rise to fame.

Japanese Origins

Hello Kitty originated in Japan during the 1960’s when a Japanese company called Sanrio developed her character (which is actually known as Kitty White). Previous to selling Hello Kitty products, Sanrio primarily sold small items like pencil cases and other items for elementary-aged children. Once they developed the Hello Kitty character, their sales began to increase.

Rumors Abound Regarding Hello Kitty’s Origins

There are a couple of untrue legends circulating about how Hello Kitty actually originated. One story claims that the cute kitty was developed in an attempt to soften the corporate image of a nuclear power plant. Another story involves a fantastic claim that involves a truce with the devil to create a cute image in his honor in exchange for the healing of a young girl with cancer. Both stories are obviously false and the character was not created in any sinister way.

Emotionless Character

Hello Kitty was made without a mouth intentionally, because the lack of emotion made it more likely for people of all backgrounds to relate to her.  Because she does not seem to portray any emotions, the individual who views her can project their own emotions onto her at any time. It is this strange characteristic that may be part of the reason for her impressive international success.

Hello Kitty Almost Became a Punishment

Back in 2007, the idea was briefly entertained to force police in Bangkok to wear flashy Hello Kitty armbands if they committed minor infractions. This plan was quickly abandoned as it created outrage among both Hello Kitty fans and the Bangkok police ranks.

A Character That Kids and Adults Enjoy

While originally intended for children, Hello Kitty now adorns adult clothing and novelty items as well. Today you can buy Hello Kitty toys, Hello Kitty jewelry marketed to wealthy women, and Hello Kitty themed make up. While it may not be perfectly clear why this cute little emotionless character became so popular, it is clear that she is a character that is able to break through typical cultural, gender and age boundaries.
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Dec 10, 2014

SOL REPUBLIC 100-day Money back Guarantee on Tracks Air (Holiday Gift Guide) Giveaway

CLOSED- Winner is The Attic Girl, Shelly D.! Congratulations!
Have you ever had that moment when you have your headphones on and you're jammin' and about to multi-task when suddenly, BAM! Your headphones come flying off your head because the cord got stuck somewhere. Yep, you know it has happened to you. Annoying, huh? I finally found the answer to my problem; SOL REPUBLIC Tracks Air Wireless Bluetooth Headphones are helping me break free from wires.

These headphones do not disappoint. They still give you the same amazing sound quality you get from the standard corded headphones. It's a step above with not being tied down with wires. Now you can do those tasks without being held back! They are great for taking with you when you are on-the-go, traveling or anywhere you want to enjoy the freedom of listening to music, audio-books or video wirelessly. Tracks Air come in 4 colors and have up to a 15 hour battery life. Another great thing is the SOL REPUBLIC Tracks Air 100-Day Money Back Guarantee.

Tracks Air comes with 100-day Money Back Guarantee, so you can go from 0 to 100% Wireless with nothing to hold you back.

The Guarantee applies only to Tracks Air wireless headphones purchased on or after October 15, 2014 directly from SOL REPUBLIC via the official Web Site at www.solrepublic.com. Tracks Air headphones must be returned within 100 days following purchase to be eligible for a refund. See full details here.
You can purchase the SOL REPUBLIC Tracks Air Wireless Bluetooth headphones directly from the website or Radio Shack for $199.99.

Be sure to follow SOL REPUBLIC on Facebook and Twitter for product promotions and updates.

Giveaway: One very lucky Mom Files reader will win a pair of Tracks Air to put the 100-day money back guarantee to the test. Enter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway Giveaway is open to US Residents only and will end on December 18, 2014. One winner will be picked at random and mandatory entry will be verified. Winner will be emailed for mailing information. Mom Files is NOT responsible for prize fulfillment or for any lost, stolen or damaged prizes.

Disclosure: I received the same item described in this post from SOL REPUBLIC. All opinions are 100% mine as always. 
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Dec 8, 2014

Super Cute Gifts Every New Mom Needs #HolidayGifts

The festive season is the perfect time to show people how much you care about them. If you have a friend, who has recently become a mommy, you might want to do something a little special. We all know how intense the first few months of motherhood can be. Your friend needs your support now more than ever. With Christmas just around the corner, why not treat your friend? Here are some super cute gift ideas for new moms.

1. A Spa Day 

Everyone needs to relax when they have a newborn. It is likely that your friend isn't get all that much sleep these days. Has she had a day off yet? If not, she needs one. Why not treat her by booking her and her partner a spa day? You can offer to look after their baby so that the couple can spend some quality time together. Having relaxing massages and treatments will rejuvenate your friend's energy levels. It will also give her and her partner a chance to celebrate being parents for a moment.

2. A Baby Keepsake Box

In the first year of a baby's life, so many things happen. A great way to make memories is to create a keepsake box for your baby. If your friend doesn't have a cute keepsake box, yet, you might want to consider getting her one. That way, she can remember all the big moments in her baby's life. You can get keepsake boxes online at sites like My 1st Years. Explain to your friend what she has to do with the box.

3. Cute Slippers

As a new mommy, your friend will be spending a lot of her time around the house. Since it is winter, you should get her some cozy, cute slippers. Comfort will be your friend's top priority. That means that she will need to be comfortable all the time. Getting some slippers that she will adore is the perfect present. You should look for slippers that have a fluffy lining inside them so that they are super warm throughout the winter.

4. Jewelry

New mothers need a lot of stuff for their baby, but sometimes, they need things for themselves too. It is nice to treat your friend with a gift that has nothing to do with her child. After all, she is a person too. She doesn't stop being an individual the moment she has a baby. You should consider getting your friend a lovely friendship bracelet or necklace. Getting your friend something just for her shows her how much you care.

5. A Cover-Up Top

We all know it. After women have babies, they struggle to get back into shape. Your friend is likely self-conscious about her current body shape. Get your friend a fashionable cover-up top so that she can cover her lumps and bumps. Tops with extra material that are floaty work well to hide parts of the body. Choose a top that comes in just below the bust, but flows out from there. That way, it will make your friend look like she has a tiny waist.

6. Relaxation Candles

Everybody needs some time to relax after they have given birth. You can pick up some cute, aromatherapy candles in any home store or online. Make sure you choose scents that your friend will like so that the candles suit her. Ask her what her favorite scents are and choose candles accordingly. You might even want to get some incense and body oils so that your friend can create a spa experience at home. There are loads of books on massage and treatments that might also be perfect.
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Dec 4, 2014

Green Ways to Reuse Coffee Grounds and Tea Bags

It’s easy to think of your coffee grounds and tea bags as mere tools with which to brew a little pick-me-up. However, they can both be much more. Once your cup is empty of your favorite hot beverage, you can reuse the grounds and leaves in an environmentally friendly manner. Here are 10 ways to give them a second life.

Remove Odors From Skin
Cooking foods with strong odors doesn’t mean you’re destined to wear them afterwards. Rub your hands with leaves or grounds to freshen your skin before rinsing them with soap and water

Brighten Up Wood
Boil 2 to 3 tea bags in a quart of water to create a green cleaning product for your wood floors and furniture, which will also brighten and leave a shine. Traditional teas (as opposed to the herbal variety) are best to ensure tannins are present. Be sure the wood is darker than the tea to avoid staining.

Deter Uninvited Garden Guests
Your coffeemaker grounds can keep your garden free of ants and other pests. They can also be extremely helpful in keeping the neighborhood cats from turning your beloved oasis into a litter box. Sprinkling only a few tablespoons of grounds near each plant will deter felines.

Deep Clean Dishes
Your pots and pans can be cleaned without the use of harsh abrasives or synthetic chemicals. Instead, use the natural abrasion offered by grounds. If the dish needs to soak, place a tea bag or two into the warm water to allow tannins to break down stubborn residue.

Compost for Plants
Both types of grounds offer nourishment to plants that live indoors as well as those outside. For plants such as roses, strawberries and tomatoes that prefer a more acidic fertilizer, use the remnants from your coffeemaker. For less acidic-loving plants such as lilacs, succulents and geraniums, use the tea.

Pedi Pleaser
Take a few of your used tea bags and steep them in warm water for a good foot soak the next time you give yourself a pedicure. The antibacterial properties of the tea assist in removing odors while cleaning and brightening up the skin.

Fridge Freshener
Place grounds in an open container and place in your refrigerator to add an aromatic scent while deodorizing and freshening the area.

DIY Dye
Whether you are looking to dye eggs, paper, clothing or even your hair, you can steep grounds in hot water to create an earth-friendly dye. Strain the liquid when you have achieved the desired color and leave to cool.

Home Facial
For a light exfoliator and skin brightener, create a facial scrub by mixing grounds with honey or avocado. Reduce puffy eyes by placing two cooled, used tea bags over your eyes for about 10 minutes.

Eco-Friendly Shoe Shine
Once you’ve steeped your brew, rub the damp tea bag over the surface of your dark-colored dress shoes to clean and moisturize.

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Nov 30, 2014

A Milestone with a Twist

My little one has been asking me since kindergarten when I think he will lose a tooth. All of his friends have already lost a few and he was getting impatient. He went for a dental cleaning and check up at the beginning of the school year and the dentist told him he had two loose teeth. That shocked us since his teeth seemed extremely rooted and did not budge if we attempted to wiggle them. About a week ago, I noticed he had two tiny teeth emerging from the bottom (the same ones the dentist said he would lose soon). I got so nervous because neither teeth were loose. I went ahead and jiggled and wiggled with a bit of force-- It was either that or call the dentist's office. That did the trick and within a few days, he finally lost his first tooth! He was super happy that the Tooth Fairy left him a dollar under his pillow. 
By the way, in case you didn't know, the string on the tooth attached to the door trick really works. My husband was determined to get the tooth out since it looked like it was hanging by a string. Sadly, I did not get to experience what William looks like with his first tooth missing. The new tooth is halfway in already. We are working on the second one and hope to have it out in the next week.

Have you ever had the experience of your child losing a tooth after the adult tooth started growing in?
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Nov 29, 2014

Try U-Konserve for healthier lunches and snacks for kids #ad

Ever since my kids were in kindergarten, they have taken lunch to school from home. I have had my challenges when it comes to variety because after a while, it seems like you are repeating the same things over and over. I prefer to send fresh foods whenever possible and like safer options when it comes to keeping food fresh. U-Konserve containers are a great choice since they are tested BPA-free, phthalate-free, PVC-free and lead-free. 

The Large Round Container in neon green is made from stainless steel which means it's non-toxic and non-leaching like plastic containers. The lid is leak-proof so you can worry a little less about a messy lunch box coming home. 
It is perfect to store fresh fruit, veggies, salads, pasta, cheese and more. The Large Round Container is the perfect size; 10 ounces. You can wash the container in the dishwasher, but they recommend the lids be hand-washed to prolong the life and seal it provides. 
This container will last for a very long time and the best part is there is no waste that ends up in landfills. How can you go wrong? The Large Round Container retails for $8.95. I have my eye on the matching insulated food jar. It keeps food warm or cold for hours. This is perfect since my son takes hot food to school daily.  

Check out the entire line of food storage products from U-Konserve/ Kids-Konserve and follow them on Facebook and Twitter for product promotions and updates. 
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Nov 28, 2014

VTech Learning Cartridges Review for InnoTab Tablets #spon

Disclosure: The VTech product, gift card and information have been provided by VTech.

We recently got the opportunity to review the InnoTab MAX from VTech and it has been a great learning tool for my son. He has been enjoying the many apps the tablet offers. We were super lucky to receive two learning cartridges from VTech that work with the InnoTab tablets including the new InnoTab MAX.
We received Pixar Play and I Spy learning cartridges and my little guy could not wait to check them out.

InnoTab Pixar Play Learning Cartridge
(Ages 4-7 years; MSRP: $24.99)

·  The Pixar Store is open, and it’s time to play! In Pixar Play for VTech's InnoTab Learning Tablets, explore fun games and activities featuring your favorite characters from Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Monsters University and The Incredibles!
·  This InnoTab Learning Cartridge includes a variety of features such as five learning games that introduce spelling, letters, vocabulary, reading, phonics and creativity, an e-Book that retells the story of the movie "The Incredibles," and allows you to take photos with your favorite Pixar characters.

Our thoughts on the InnoTab Pixar Play learning cartridge: 

  • They featured many of his favorite characters that are very age-appropriate. 
  • You can choose your level; easy or difficult.
  • The instructions are very easy to follow. 
  • It is a great way to encourage spelling, phonics and vocabulary. 
  • Your child will feel like they are playing a fun game without realizing they are LEARNING!
  • This is an excellent aid for early readers. 

InnoTab I Spy Adventure Learning Cartridge 
(Ages 4-7 years; MSRP: $24.99)

·  I spy a fun-filled problem-solving adventure in this title for VTech's InnoTab Learning Tablets!
·  Kids can practice early reading skills as they read and solve I SPY riddles and play games to unlock 50 levels of play – each more challenging than the next.
·  Find, match and sore a variety of photo-realistic objects across four action-packed thinking games that build logic, vocabulary and visual discrimination skills.

Our thoughts on the InnoTab I Spy Adventure Learning Cartridge

  • It's very simple to understand.
  • Kids have the option of receiving a hint if they get stumped. This helps reduce frustration when they are trying hard to make a match. 
  • My child feels accomplished when he sees how many levels he has moved up in. 
  • We don't have traditional video games in our home (by choice) so this is a great alternative. 
Both learning cartridges are easy to load on the InnoTab and provide hours of wholesome fun. We are comfortable and know our child is playing something safe that he does not require any monitoring with. Be sure to check out VTech on Facebook and Twitter for product promotions and updates. 

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Five Days of Fabulous Deals from Susan Posnick Cosmetics #ad

For a limited time only, you can purchase some of your favorite Susan Posnick items for a discounted price. Susan Posnick Cosmetics is offering an exclusive Five Days of Fabulous Deals! Sign-up to get the promotion codes every day from Thursday, November 27 until Monday, December 1 though http://eepurl.com/5baBv or on Facebook and unlock one of the special deals below.




Five Days of Fabulous Deals:

· BLACK FRIDAY DEAL: Free Mascara with every purchase
· Colorflo -- 30% off
· 50% off any color flo refill
· 20% off all orders
· Free Shipping & Limited Holiday Gift Pack Thru Dec or while supplies last. The gift pack is priced at $49.95 (over $70 value) and includes their new mascara, color eyedefine, and a mini tweezer in a signature Susan Posnick cosmetic bag.
I have been using Susan Posnick Cosmetics for months now and absolutely love each and every product I have. I recently tried the new ColorCoated Mascara and it delivered the results I anticipated. The actual wand/brush is very small compared to most mascaras I have used. It still helped to coat each and every lash and gave them a thick, full appearance. I have not experienced any clumping or irritation and love that they don't make my lashes look fake. The mascara removes easily with eye make-up remover. The mini tweezer is the best tweezer I have ever used. I can gently pluck my eyebrows and get a good, precise finish. That is money saved on waxing!

Susan Posnick Cosmetics is offering a FREE Mascara ($24.00) with any purchase. COLORCOATED Mascara is the newest addition to Susan Posnick Cosmetics! Not only does it enhance and lengthen your lashes, but it is gluten, paraben and cruelty-free. Go grab some of these deals while you can and Happy Holidays!

I received product samples for review and all opinions are my own as always.
 
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Nov 23, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: Keep your feet extra comfy with #ISOTONER Signature Slippers #ad

I have been a house slipper wearer for almost 3 decades now. They are a must when I am standing up to wash dishes, cook and other household chores. Wearing the right slippers is very important since my feet really need the extra support. The ISOTONER Signature line offers me exactly what I need. The  ISOTONER Signature Women's Woodlands Sonja Microsuede Hoodback Slippers are very cute and boy do they feel super comfy and warm! They come in a variety of colors: Ash, Black, Buckskin, Chili Pepper, Chocolate, Navy Blue and Vino. 
I have them in black and I just love how they look. My feet feel like they are wrapped in a warm blanket with added cushion. 
I went away to Myrtle Beach recently and I was so glad I packed my ISOTONER Sonja slippers in my bag. They are so cute oceanfront, aren't they?
Details:

- Comfortable hoodback slipper silhouette
- Supple faux fur lining
- Experience the overall style and comfort of ISOTONER Signature Woodlands slippers, inspired by your favorite vacation escape
- Woodlands slippers offer great colors, plush detailing and comfort-to-go styling
- ResponsIV™ Memory Foam Plus molds to your feet for comfort
- Extra EVA heel cushion to absorb impact
- Durable indoor/outdoor sole

I really do love how durable the sole is because I can run out to the mailbox or let the dog out without having to change into traditional shoes. These slippers are truly the best ones I have ever owned. I have had several pairs in the past by Isotoner, but these are my favorite. I have hinted around to my daughters that I need the navy blue and vino so I don't wear out my black ones too fast. ISOTONER slippers make the perfect holiday gift and I am sure Mom would agree! You can find them at a variety of retail stores as well as on the ISOTONER website. They sell for $30, but are currently on sale for $19.99 on the website. As a matter of fact, since most of the slippers are on sale right now, this is a great time to buy a practical gift for the women in your life or even for yourself. My daughters keep eyeing mine so Santa might just drop a pair off in their stockings.

Connect with ISOTONER on Facebook for product promotions and updates.

I received a complimentary pair of ISOTONER slippers in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own as always. 
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Nov 17, 2014

Aging and Changing, Being 41

I recently turned 41 (gulp). It seems so strange actually writing that number as my age. I really don't feel that old. I don't even know how 41 is supposed to feel. I know one thing though; I'm surely not 20 or 30 anymore. Many things have changed and I have had to take steps to adapt. I went to the doctor earlier this year for a full physical. It had been a few years since I last had one. I admit, I was very nervous. So nervous in fact that my blood pressure registered a lot higher than normal. I have a terrible family history of heath ailments. What if I find out I am diabetic? What if I have high cholesterol? What if I do end up with high blood pressure? I was really afraid. I knew I had to suck it up and get checked out thoroughly.

It only took a couple days to get the first set of lab results back. I felt like I couldn't breathe when I saw the doctor's office phone number show up on my phone. My heart raced and I had to take a deep breath. My doctor informed me that I had a vitamin D deficiency. I am not surprised by that because it is very common for brown-skinned people to have that issue. For whatever reason, our skin does not absorb vitamin D from the sun like a fair-skinned person would. I was prescribed a once a week, 2 month supplement to boost my levels. I noticed that after 4 weeks of taking the supplement I felt different. I had higher than normal energy levels, my nails were stronger and my hair seemed to be growing overnight. Besides the vitamin D deficiency, the doctor informed me my hormone levels that control my thyroid were abnormal. She asked me if I had been experiencing any of the symptoms like rapid heartbeat, weight fluctuations, sweating, and several other things. I told her no and insisted that the test wasn't accurate. I think she sensed my denial and was kind enough to entertain me. She ordered that I retake labs in 30 days. I took time to research hypothyroidism in depth. I had a light bulb go off in my head. Thyroid issues are hereditary. Almost every woman on my mother's side of the family has been diagnosed and is being treated by medication. I also realized that what I thought was extreme anxiety I have been experiencing for about a year or so was actually heart palpitations. I called up my doctor and she was very polite in not saying, "I told you so". She assured me that being put on medication wasn't the end of the world and it would help my situation.

I have been on Synthroid for almost 90 days now and had my labs done a few weeks back to see of the meds are helping. It turns out that my hormone levels are normal and the medication is indeed doing its job. As much as I did not want to be put on any type of medication for the rest of my life, it is what it is. I have my health under control and will be certain to keep up with regular doctor visits to ensure it stays that way. I have advised a few friends who complained of fatigue, anxiety and weight fluctuations to go get lab work done. I have one friend who told me she found out that she too was vitamin D deficient. None of us are getting any younger so it is important to get into the doctor's office at least once a year.

Do you have regular check-ups/physicals with you doctor?

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Nov 14, 2014

Dinners fussy kids are guaranteed to love

Having a fussy eater as a child can be a lot of hard work. But, did you know that the worst thing you can do is let them know that they are a fussy eater? In situations where your child is refusing some food or saying they don’t like something, bite your tongue. Showing them how much you want them to eat something will only give them a power trip and cause more repercussions. Telling them they are a fussy eater will give them an excuse not to eat things, and make them think they have special requirements! Instead, try recipes like these that they won’t be able to refuse:

Shepherd's Pie

Shepherd’s pie is a hearty meal, filled with carbs, protein, and veg. You can alter a recipe as much as you like too, using different meats, veg, and potato to create a different taste. The great thing about this is that it’s perfect for kids who say they don’t like vegetables. You can hide all kinds of veggies in it! 

Homemade Pizza

Homemade pizza is much better than shop bought or takeaway pizza, as you know exactly what’s going into it. You can even swap the bread base for a kind of vegetable, or even meat to make it healthier. Sprinkle over some light cheese (not too much), and press in as many vegetables as you want. One of my favourite recipes!

Wraps

Wraps are the perfect alternative to a sandwich, and you can even get your child involved by letting them fill them on their own. Simply put all of the ingredients in the middle of the table and tell them to help themselves. This is too much fun for them to refuse! 

Grilled Meatloaf Burgers

Meatloaf can be made with lots of different vegetables too, but you wouldn’t know it as it looks and tastes so nice. You can make it look even more appealing to kids, even kids who say they don’t like meatloaf, by putting it on a bun and calling it a burger. I bet with some healthy homemade relish, they’ll ask for this dish again! 

Crispy Chicken Fingers With Apple Fries

Rather than buying chicken dippers from the shop, make your own crispy fingers out of a healthier breadcrumb alternative. You can even use oats to get that nice crunch! Apple fries are delicious and will add vitamins and nutrients to the meal. If you don’t know where to start, browse the Thermomix forum for tips and advice. You’ll be a pro in no time. 

Cheesy Corkscrew Pasta

Pasta is great for giving kids energy, and cheese makes the meal all the more delicious. Try sprinkling crispy bacon over the top for some crunch. Mix in veg like spinach and peppers, as these will hardly be noticeable to your child. Another perfect weekend treat meal! 

Try these dinners on your kids and see if they dig in any faster than before. Just remember not to make a scene, and hide how much you want them to eat it. They’ll get there in the end!


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Nov 13, 2014

Try out Bojangles' Seasoned Deep Fried Turkey for Thanksgiving (Giveaway) #TisTheSeasoning #ad

I have always wanted to have a deep fried turkey for Thanksgiving, but I am scared to death to actually cook one. I think I have seen enough horror stories on the news to keep me from every attempting it on my own. Did you know that Bojangles' offers seasoned deep fried turkeys for the holidays? Bojangles' wants to do the hard work for you by cooking your turkey so you can have more time with your family and friends. After all, isn't that what Thanksgiving is all about?

You can pre-order Bojangles’ Seasoned Fried Turkeys by visiting one of the participating stores. Customers who take home the turkey the same day their order is placed will also receive a bonus $5 Bojangles’ gift card. Those who’d like to pre-order and wait to pick up their tasty turkey can wait until as late as noon on Thanksgiving Day. Bojangles’ Seasoned Fried Turkeys are a customer favorite—often they sell out even prior to Thanksgiving day so the sooner the order is placed the better! The turkeys are sold for $39.99. Each turkey weighs in at 10 to 13 pounds and feeds six to eight people. The turkeys come ready to cook—customers can simply take it home, heat and serve.

All Bojangles’ locations offering Seasoned Fried Turkeys can provide a full Thanksgiving meal, complete with made-from-scratch buttermilk biscuits and family-sized fixin’s such as mashed potatoes, mac ‘n cheese, green beans, Seasoned Fries, Cajun Pintos ® and Dirty Rice® and sweet desserts like Bo-Berry Biscuits®, Cinnamon Pecan Twists and individual Sweet Potato Pies.

Customers can find out if their Bojangles’ is offering the popular Seasoned Fried Turkeys by visiting the bojangles.com/locator and calling their local store. In addition to Seasoned Fried Turkeys, customers can add the delicious taste of Bojangles’ seasonings to every holiday meal by purchasing Bojangles’ pre-packaged French Fry Seasoning at participating locations beginning Monday, Nov. 24. This makes me so happy because I am a huge fan of their seasoned fries! Customers and enthusiasts are invited to share their Bojangles’ seasoned dishes and holiday memories with the hashtag #TisTheSeasoning.

I think the Bojangles' offerings are perfect for office parties, potluck suppers and of course, at home with your family and friends. To get you prepared for Thanksgiving, the folks from Bojangles' have provided me with a $20 gift card to give away to one lucky Mom Files reader. Enter below: a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to US Residents only and will end on November 21, 2014. One winner will be chosen at random and will be contacted via email. Mom Files is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes.

Disclosure: I received complimentary items from Bojangles' to help promote their holiday offerings. All opinions are my own as always.
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Holiday menu items at @IHOP now through January 1st

The holiday season has begun, and what better way to start it than by enjoying a terrific meal at your local IHOP restaurant, which has once again introduced special holiday signature pancakes and heart-warming traditional favorites along with a sweet new desert!

Beginning November 3 and extending all the way through January 1, 2015, IHOP restaurants will be the perfect place to get together with friends and family to celebrate the holidays, take a well-deserved and delicious break from holiday shopping and preparations, or just spend time together making new holiday memories.

To capture the magic of the season in a delicious way, IHOP restaurants will be offering guests their version of a season’s greeting with 3 delicious holiday hotcakes:

· New Caramel Bon Bon Pancakes: A sweet treat of buttermilk pancakes layered with dulce de leche cream then topped with a drizzle of caramel sauce and whipped topping.

· New Pumpkin Cheesecake Pancakes: Our most popular seasonal pumpkin pancakes filled with luscious cheesecake bites and topped with creamy whipped topping.

· Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Pancakes - The return of last year’s favorite holiday signature pancake: Buttermilk pancakes filled with sweet white chocolate chips then crowned with raspberry topping, cream cheese icing and whipped topping.

And once again, IHOP restaurants will feature Traditional and Craveable Holiday Dinners & Dessert:

· Classic Ham Dinner: A seasonal favorite made with hickory smoked ham, glazed with sweet caramel sauce and topped with cinnamon apples. Served with sweet potato fries and broccoli.

· Classic Roasted Turkey Dinner: Sliced roasted turkey breast, layered on a bed of stuffing and topped with warm turkey gravy. Served with mashed potatoes, green beans with bacon and a side of lingonberry jam

· Belgian Chocolate Mousse Crepe: Light and fluffy Belgian Chocolate mousse folded into a cool crepe and topped with raspberries, whipped topping and powdered sugar.

“At IHOP, we truly love the holiday season, and what better way to share that love than by creating meals that are sure to make new holiday memories for our guests,” said Marie Grimm, Vice President of Menu Development and Innovation at International House of Pancakes, LLC. “This year, we’re celebrating the season by capturing both the sweet and hearty tastes that make this time of year so special.”

In addition, once again this year, every IHOP restaurant will be decorated with uniquely IHOP branded decorations, including IHOP ornaments and wrapping paper.

For more information or to find an IHOP restaurant near you, please visit www.IHOP.com. Follow IHOP on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.
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Nov 11, 2014

SOL REPUBLIC Music Made Me Do It- The Ultimate Giveaway #MMMDI

**CLOSED** Winner is William Smith-- Congratulations! 
If there is any one thing that I can think of that just about every person has in common, it has to be MUSIC. No matter what genre, artist or group, we all have songs that have have special meaning or keep us going when we need a boost. I can recall so many instances where music took over me and helped me though situations tough situations or motivated me to be the best.

I remember being a very young adult and living with a room mate. I would go to the night clubs with friends and I was known as the more shy and reserved one. The minute I would hear the bass pumping out of the speakers, it's as if something would take over me and I would be ready to hit the dance floor. While everyone else was drinking alcohol to have a good time, I was getting lost in the music. It was all I needed to truly enjoy myself. When the DJ would play "my jam", we would all run out to the middle of the dance floor and dance into the wee hours of the night. Fast forward to being a 40-something mom of 3-- music still plays a big part in my life. I have a lot of responsibility and motivation doesn't always come easy. I sometimes have big events coming up where I am in charge of organizing most of the details. I get so flustered and stressed to where I don't know where to start. I slip on my SOL REPUBLIC headphones, choose one of my favorite tunes and turn the volume up. After a few songs, I'm ready to take on those mentally draining tasks. Another time where music saves me and also encourages me is when I am working out. As long as my favorite tunes are in my ears, I push myself harder. Music makes me do it!

Right now SOL REPUBLIC is having a Music Makes Me Do It contest where they want to see you Tweet, Instagram, Facebook, Youtube-- share on social media what music makes YOU do. It can be a picture or a video, or just text-- it's up to you! All you have to do is use the hashtag #MMMDI Check out the video below...

Guess what? The amazing folks at SOL REPUBLIC are providing the ultimate prize pack for one VERY lucky Mom Files reader to win.

The prize pack will include:
1 SOL REPUBLIC Deck speaker
1 SOL REPUBLIC Punk speaker
1 SOL REPUBLIC Tracks on-ear headphone
1 SOL REPUBLIC Relays in- ear headphone
1 SOL REPUBLIC Master Tracks over-ear headphone
1 Tracks HD on-ear headphone
1 Jax in-ear headphone
This is an over $700 value! In order to qualify to win this prize, you must share a public link to your social media post and include the hashtag #MMMDI. Failure to complete the mandatory entry will disqualify you from this giveaway and extra entry options will not count. Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
This giveaway is open to Canada and US Residents only and will end on November 27, 2014. One winner will be picked at random and mandatory entry will be verified. Winner will be emailed for mailing information. Mom Files is NOT responsible for prize fulfillment or for any lost, stolen or damaged prizes.

I was not compensated for this post. I am simply sharing a promotion offered by SOL REPUBLIC because I think it would interest my readers. Prize is provided by SOL REPUBLIC. 
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Nov 3, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide: VTech® InnoTab MAX (Giveaway) CLOSED

**WINNER IS Kim S.** Congratulations! 
Do you have a little one that you are thinking about purchasing a tablet for, but you aren't quite sure what to get? I might be able to help. The Vtech InnoTab MAX is a really nice high-quality tablet that is built for a kid, yet gives a slightly grown-up feel. Whether we like it or not, technology is here to stay and it is important that our kids have access at an early age. The InnoTab MAX is an excellent way to guide your child on using an electronic device while also being able to monitor what they are doing. Check out the details below about the products:

VTech® InnoTab MAX (Ages 3-9 years, MSRP: $109.99)



• VTech’s 4th generation kids’ learning tablet features its fastest processor yet with up to six times the processing power of previous generation and a 7” high-resolution multi-touch screen display

• InnoTab MAX features an enhanced 2nd generation version of Premium VTech Kid Connect™, at no additional charge, allowing children and parents to exchange voice and text messages, photos, drawings and fun stickers in real time between the tablet and a smartphone

•  InnoTab MAX offers the best of both learning worlds with access to more than 650 educator-endorsed, age and stage appropriate learning titles as well as carefully cultivated educational Android apps that can be purchased and downloaded through VTech’s Learning Lodge® app store

• The tablet comes with 15 onboard apps including Premium VTech® Kid Connect, My Magic Beanstalk, Movie Maker, Art Studio, Wonder Cam Max, E-Reader with Story Dictionary and more

•  InnoTab MAX also comes with one free Toca Boca app and two additional free apps that can be downloaded from the Learning Lodge

• Other InnoTab MAX features include a built-in rechargeable Lithium battery and kid-safe Wi-Fi so kids can explore appropriate online games, videos and websites that have been pre-selected by VTech

• Parental controls allow parents to manage their child’s apps, web access and tablet time, as well as view a progress log

My thoughts about the VTech InnoTab MAX:


  • It has a very large screen and the quality and clarity are as good as any other tablet I have used. 
  • We find it to be very user-friendly and my six year old son seems to have no problems navigating through the apps on his own. 
  • I love that I can teach my son how to “text” since he will eventually have his own phone. It’s a great way to introduce it. 
  • It has a really good battery life and I like that it has buttons for volume control, home screen and shut-off/on. 
  • I like the alarm clock function. This is great for teaching your little responsibility to get up in the morning and get his/her day started. 
  • The carrying handle is perfect for smaller hands and the cover is convenient when not in use. It’s also lightweight and perfect for travel. 
  • My son loves the variety of activities available and there are tons of options to purchase and download if you choose (at parent's discretion). 
  • The camera is really neat and I like that you can position it in virtually any direction you want. 
Check out the videos below featuring VTech platform learning expert panelist, Dr. Eric Klopfer, who provides an in-depth perspective of the InnoTab MAX:





This tablet is really great overall and we look forward to exploring the huge selction of apps to find appropriate ones for our son. The InnoTab MAX would make an excellent gift for the upcoming holidays. I'm sure any child would appreciate this item! Be sure to connect with VTech on the web, Facebook and Twitter for product promotions and updates. You can purchase the VTech InnoTab MAX here.

One very lucky Mom Files reader will win a VTech InnoTab MAX just in time for the holidays. Enter below:a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to  US Residents only and will end on November 21, 2014. Please follow giveaway rules in Rafflecopter widget. One winner will be chosen at random and will be contacted via email. Momfiles is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!

Review unit and information was provided by VTech. All opinions are 100% my own.
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Oct 29, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide- SOL REPUBLIC RELAYS Headphones are a must-have! #ad #giveaway

**CLOSED**  Winner is Loremil J-- Congratulations! 
Can you believe that 2014 is slowly coming to an end? This means that the holiday gift-giving season is right around the corner. It's never too early to start planning and making purchases to save time. It also helps to stagger spending as well. If you are looking for a gift for the active person in your life, I have the perfect item: SOL REPUBLIC RELAYS In-ear 3-Button Headphones.

These are the absolute best headphones especially for runners or gym-addicts. Not only are they comfortable to wear during physical activity, they also stay put. I have had episodes of running on the treadmill and having one side of my ear buds fall out mid-tunes. They are very light-weight and have a low profile design. These RELAYS don't disappoint. Let's talk about the sound quality-- I am amazed at how crisp and clear my music is. You would be surprised how good the sound is from these tiny little headphones. The bass is superb! They come with 4 different sizes of ear tips to ensure a perfect fit. I also love the sleek little storage case as well for days I want to throw my headphones in my bag. They are really good when you are in the car and need to take a call since they are equipped with an in-line microphone. The person you are talking to over the phone will have no idea you have headphones on. It's just that clear! These are even great for homemakers like me since I move ALL day long. I love listening to music while I'm cooking or cleaning. The only bad thing is that my other family members try to snag them when I leave them out. Additionally, I would like to apologize when you become a headphones snob like I am :)

I think anyone would be excited to receive these as a gift. They come in a variety of colors including: Black, Black White, Horizon Blue, Fluoro Red and Lemon Lime and retail for $79.99. I have a pair in Lemon Lime that I got over a year ago and they are still going strong as if I just took them out of the box. It makes me think of all the years I have purchased headphones repeatedly, only to have them give out on my after a short while. These RELAYS are well worth the money! The work with most Apple and Android devices.

You can purchase these fine headphones on the SOL REPUBLIC site as well as Radio Shack stores. Be sure to follow SOL REPUBLIC on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

One very lucky Mom Files reader will win a pair of SOL REPUBLIC RELAYS. Enter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is open to *Canada and US Residents only and will end on November 11, 2014. Please follow giveaway rules in Rafflecopter widget. One winner will be chosen at random and will be contacted via email. Momfiles is not responsible for any lost or stolen prizes. Good luck!*If you have won a SOL REPUBLIC giveaway in the last 6 months from Mom Files, you will not be eligible to enter.

I received a pair of RELAYS for review purposes. All opinions are my own as always.
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7 Fun things you can do with your kids

Spending quality time with your kids is so important, it can’t be stressed enough. They grow like nobody’s business, so if you don’t spend quality time with them now, you’ll soon regret it. These 7 things are all lots of fun, and you’ll enjoy doing most of them with your kids. Take a look and see what you think:


Go Walking

Taking walks with the kids will not only make you a fit family, you’ll enjoy lots of beautiful scenery too. You have many opportunities when out walking. You could stop for a picnic, take some beautiful pictures, and even play treasure hunts where you need to tick certain items off a list once you’ve found them. Make sure the walks are suitable for their age before embarking on one that’s too long or hard. 

Collect Things

Whether you want to collect dolls, stamps, or fairground models, this is something that you can both enjoy. Building a collection is extremely satisfying, and it may just peak your child’s interest in something special. Perhaps a particular era in time, for example. 

Swim

Taking your kids swimming at least once a week is a fabulous way to keep them healthy and teach them a valuable life skill. Many kids do these in school, but having extra swimming lessons can only be beneficial to them. The younger you take them, the better! Most kids love the water too, and become very strong swimmers. Learning about water safety will be very helpful to them. 

Cook

Whenever you cook, consider letting your kids help you. This will teach them all about the best way to handle food, food safety, and how to use kitchen appliances safely. They love cooking cakes and cookies best, as they get to eat the sweet treats afterwards. To ensure they aren’t eating too many bad ingredients, look up healthier recipes online. They won’t know the difference! 

Make Things

Making things, such as dolls, furniture, or pretty pictures could be a great hobby for them. They could make absolutely anything that tickles their fancy, and it’ll be a lot of fun with you helping them. Maybe you could both make a pretty picture to display in the living room? You’ll need to be brave, but try not to control them too much. They might surprise you! 

Play Games

Playing games is a great way to laugh and have fun without exerting too much energy. By choosing a game they can understand, they’ll benefit a lot more than having their face glued to the television. 

Read Stories

Reading books with each other is so much fun, and will educate them in all kinds of ways. Not only will they improve their listening and speaking skills, they’ll develop more of an imagination too! You can be confident in your parenting skills if you take the time to read to your child. 

These 7 things will ensure you and your kids are having the most fun ever. Spend quality time with your little ones now, before you blink and miss your chance!

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