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 13, 2014

Re-mixing Tradition for the Holidays #GetYourBettyOn #spon $15 Paypal Cash Giveaway

Thanks to Betty Crocker™ Potatoes for sponsoring today's discussion

The Holiday season is in full force and our family has been busy, busy, BUSY! One of our favorite holiday traditions that we started just last year has been the very popular, "Elf on the Shelf". Although I was not initially a fan of the whole phenomenon, it grew on me as I watched the joy in my son's eyes over something so simple. It is so much fun for little ones to see what their very own Elf has in store for them each day. Our Elf is named Oreo and moves 2-3 times a day! My son is already dreading when Christmas Eve comes and his sweet Elf has to go back to the North Pole.Our other Holiday tradition is to allow each child to open one gift on Christmas Eve. They love that and even at 18 & 20, my girls still get excited over it.

When it comes to food, I almost always go with the more traditional type of meal on Christmas. You know, typical holiday family-friendly foods. This year I am adding something to help save some extra time in the kitchen that can be spent with what matters most, my family.

Betty Crocker™ Casserole Potatoes are a great solution to making a fabulous side dish. Whether you prepare them on your stove top or in the oven, you can really personalize your potatoes in any way you like. You can add your favorite veggies, chopped ham or turkey, herbs, spices or anything you love to pair with potatoes. My favorite way to prepare my potatoes is with fresh baby spinach and a few shakes of cayenne pepper for a kick. I prepare my Scalloped variety of potatoes according to the stove top method, except I add 2 extra tablespoons of milk and a couple cracks of black pepper. I add the spinach in after the potatoes are tender and sprinkle the cayenne pepper on top. Last, I stick it under the broiler for a couple minutes to brown it a little.
This is a family favorite and takes so little time and effort to prepare.

Another delicious variation is adding finely chopped ham or turkey and sprinkling the top with crushed savory crackers for texture. Any time I bake the potatoes in the oven, I lightly sprinkle some paprika over the top for a little pop of color. Did you know there are  11 varieties of Betty Crocker™ Casserole Potatoes? Betty uses 100% real potatoes for the best flavor available.

Betty Crocker™ Casserole Potatoes (box)
1. Au Gratin
2. Scalloped
3. Three Cheese
4. Cheesy Scalloped
5. Julienne
6. Loaded Casserole
7. Sour Cream & chives
8. Parmesan & Asiago
9. Cheesy Hashbrown
10. Cheddar Bacon
11. Roasted Garlic
With so many flavors, you have so many options to come up with your own unique re-mix on the classic potatoes. Right now you can grab a coupon so save $0.50 off two boxes. This is a great time to stock up on some extra boxes during the busiest time of year. This coupon is only available for a limited time, so get it while you can!

Giveaway: One Mom Files reader will win a $15 PayPal cash prize to stock up on Betty Crocker™ Casserole Potatoes. Enter Below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Giveaway is open to US Residents only and will end on December 29, 2014. One winner will be picked at random and mandatory entry will be verified. Winner will be emailed for mailing information.
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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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