Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The Cutting Edge


Ice skating is probably not the first thing that comes to your mind when thinking of things to do in Houston.

True, we have 2 indoor rinks year-round: 1 in the center of the Galleria and another near the Target entrance of Memorial City Mall.

But from November through January, we are given the opportunity to embrace the experience of true ice skating outside.

Ok, maybe not true in the sense of a frozen pond, but you get the idea.

The Ice Rink at the Woodlands Town Center is so worth the drive to the Land of Wood. Shopping, food, lights and ice skating!

PARKING
Paid Parking
$5 at the parking lot at Six Pines and Lake Robbins Drive

Free Parking (Except for Saturday, November 21, 2009)
Town Center Garage – located adjacent to The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion on Six Pines Drive

OPEN DAILY:
November 21, 2009 through January 18, 2010

TICKET PRICES:
Weekdays (Monday – Friday)
$9.50 for 2-hour skate session (includes $2.50 skate rental)
$ 5 for 2-hour skate session for children 5 and under (includes $2.50 skate rental)

Weekends (Saturday – Sunday)
$10.50 for 2-hour skate session (includes $2.50 skate rental)
$6 for 2-hour skate session for children 5 and under (includes $2.50 skate rental)

HOURS OF OPERATION:
Monday – Thursday, 3 pm to 9 pm
Friday, 3 pm to 11 pm
Saturday, 10 am to 11 pm
Sunday, Noon to 7 pm

HOLIDAY HOURS:
School Holidays: 11 am to 10 pm
Thanksgiving Day: 1 pm to 9 pm
Christmas Eve: 11 am to 6 pm
Christmas Day: 2 pm to 8 pm
New Years Eve: Noon to 1 am
New Years Day: 11 am to 9 pm

KIDDIE RINK
16' x 16' ice skating area
5 years old and under

They also have daily promotions and a $2 coupon available.

Friday, December 11, 2009

F-R-E-E that spells FREE


Looking for some holiday music to get you in the mood?

Amazon.com is offering a free Christmas song each day until Christmas to download and ITunes has some as well.

Don't shoot the messenger when you hear the Billy Bob Thorton and Lady GaGa songs. DO NOT download those....just take my word. The small snippet alone really made me sad and mad at Amazon and the ding dongs who chose to include those terrible songs. But I do give them snaps for including Jars of Clay, Todd Agnew and Casting Crowns.

Also, if you are not checking Freebies4Mom and Dealicious Mom for their free-stuff updates, you are missing a blessing. I made a calendar through Photoworks and a 10-page flipbook through Snapfish for FREE! It's SO worth it to check out their blogs. They are a wealth of knowledge!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Homemade Down Home



I am a lover of gift markets. I LOVE to see all the creativity that resides right here in H'town.

But sadly, I'm no so crafty.

I can follow directions and sometimes come close to what is the intended ending project, but am not fabulously creative on the front-end.

Looking for some homemade ideas this season?

Check out the links below. They have some pretty fabulous ideas. The blogging world is such a wealth!

14 Simple, Beautiful Homemade Gift Ideas

Handmade Christmas Ideas and DIY

Holiday Gifts from the Kitchen

Last Minute Homemade Ideas

Free E-book, Homemade Crafts and Gift Ideas

I'll keep adding as I find more..do you have any to share? My sister made me some kickin' etched glasses one year in animal prints....from what I hear, she used masking tape to tape off the designs and then used etching cream. I think I remember her saying her fingers would never be the same after using an exacto knife to cut out all the cheetah spots. She LOVES me!

They resembled the ones below but were white, not brown.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

George Ranch's Cowboy Christmas


The George Ranch Historical Park is offering a chance for you to experience a Cowboy Christmas.

Experience the beauty of the holidays with guided tours of the 1830s Jones Stock Farm and the 1860s Ryon Prairie Home decorated in the spirit of the season. Mingle with Civil War soldiers at the Ryon home and enjoy the taste of years gone by as Chef Nick Castelberg cooks up a delicious historic food selection at both sites. Wrap up the evening's festivities with singing and story-telling around the Oak Grove campfire with the George Ranch cowboys.

In true Texas tradition, Campfire Christmas will be held regardless of the weather.

RESERVATIONS ARE REQUIRED.

Adults: $40

Seniors/Children/Groups of 10 or more: $35

Times begin at 6 p.m. and rotate every 30 minutes until 8 p.m.

Special Offer for Corporate Bookings

Campfire Christmas sells out quickly. Don't miss out on this one-of-a-kind Texas celebration. Call the George Ranch Historical Park at (281) 343-0218 or e-mail education@georgeranch.org for more information about Campfire Christmas 2009 today!

Interested in a private Campfire Christmas for your group? Call (281) 343-0218 or e-mail education@georgeranch.org for more information.

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Blind Side


My man loves to see movies.

Loves, loves, loves to see movies in the theater on a big screen.

The problem is there is not a terribly large selection of what we both want to see.

The last movie we saw was so awful, I really wanted that 2 hours of my life back.

Truly.

But we saw 2 previews that were promising.

The first was Everybody's Fine and the second was The Blind Side.

We had us a date night last night and went to see The Blind Side.

OH....MY....WORD

I cannot express how amazing this movie was. That 2-hour emotional rollercoaster was quite a ride. And of course...laughter through tears is the best.

I wondered if I would love it as much as I love Remember The Titans.

I did.

This will be another one of those movies that I'll get sucked into watching every time it comes on tv. Heck...I'd go see it again today and again next week. It was just that good.

I SO wanted my kids to see it...but there were parts that would have been just too much for my boys.

I want them to really understand how blessed we are in every way. We want for absolutely nothing.

I want them to know the reason behind why we adopt a family from The Giving Tree. There are great needs in our area.

I want them to know why their school has adopted kiddos from a sister school in CyFair. There are children all over this district that will not eat 3 meals a day during Christmas break because the free/reduced meal option is 2 of the meals they eat each day.

I want them to learn at an early age to look beyond themselves...their lives...their wants.....and see there is lots of opportunities to do a whole lot of good right here in Houston, Texas.

And it made me want to put my hope and efforts in things that are eternal, not things that rust or fade away...now, more than ever.

Go see this movie. I promise you will want to see it again and again.

Want to know more about the Tuohys? Check out the links below.

interview with Sandra Bullock

interview with Leigh Ann Tuohy and another here

Monday, November 30, 2009

Reigning It In




So, it's almost noon and I'm still in my pajamas.

Don't judge. It's rainy and wet...I'm just being productive indoors today.

I've been online shopping and making lists all morning.

Why does it seem like such a challenge to come up with ideas for gifts this year?

Is it because we truly have all we need?

I get it..I'm not a big fat scrooge. I know it's not always about needs at Christmas. What fun is that?

But as I cleaned out my house for a recent carpet cleaning, I couldn't help but see that there were many things that had resigned themselves to live forever on a shelf , in a closet or in a drawer.

Sigh.

Am I the only one who just wants to simplify this season and do several things well instead of doing a bunch of things half-way?

Maybe make a memory instead of buying something just for the sake of having something to wrap and unwrap?

So, in an effort to include our kiddos in the giving, not just receiving, we are trying a few new things this season.

First, we chose to draw names with one side of our family.

Yeah for progress!

Yep, threw everyone's name in a big 'ol bowl and set a dollar limit.

And just like that....the kids have shifted their focus from their own lists to finding something truly fun and unique for someone else that means a whole lot to them.

We also enjoy partnering with Operation Christmas Child, KSBJ's Giving Tree and for the first time, Tillman's Troops with our neighbors.

I'm sure you've heard of the tradition of choosing 3 gifts...as the Wise Men brought 3 to Jesus....but I have to say I LOVED the idea I found today.

Choose 4 gifts: something they want, something they need, something to wear and something to read.

How 'bout them apples?

You could even combine the 2 ideas..and just pick 3 out of the 4.

Need a jump start? Here are some ideas from last year, all in one place.

What about you? Have any ideas you'd like to share?

Monday, November 23, 2009

It Was The Best Of Times

The 80s....a time for big hair, bright colors, funny talkin' and even funnier dancin'.

When John Hughes passed months ago, it brought back a flood of memories of the 80's. I'm pretty sure they don't make movies quite like that any more.

While scouring the internet for ideas for my BIL today, I stumbled a pretty fun website....80's Tees.com

Where else could you find an I Love Jake Ryan t-shirt?

They have t-shirts from 80s movies, music, video games, cartoons. Some are pretty stinkin' hilarious!

My fave? They have Top Gun t-shirts and you can choose which call sign you want on the back. Several reviews mentioned how they used these shirts for a co-ed sports league or matching shirts for a racing team. How fun is that?

They also have non-90's shirts....The Office, 24, Tommy Boy, Yo Gabba Gabba, etc. It's definitely worth a look. And they carry a HUGE selection of the Junk Food tees.

And I'm thrilled as I found an oh-so-cute Christmas shirt.



I had purchased the gingerbread man shirt from Target but let's just say his hands were in the wrong place.

Nice.

So, head over to 80s t-shirts and get your credit card ready! I promise you'll be able to mark someone off your Christmas list after visiting this site.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Holiday Drama


Everyone anticipates a little holiday drama. When you mix that many people and personalities....all you can do is laugh and move on.

How 'bout some real drama?

Check out all these local drama opportunities:

December 12-13th
Houston's First Baptist Church Celebration
7401 Katy Freeway

November 20-22nd
The Nutcracker
Cypress Academy of Peforming Arts
11707 Huffmeister Rd.

December 3-4th
Christmas Theater
Jersey Village Baptist Church
16518 Jersey Dr.
7 pm

Weekends in December (December 4th-17th)
December 3-13th
A Christmas Carol
Houston Family Arts
9191 Barker Cypress

December 3-13th
A Taffeta Christmas
Main Stage Theater
9191 Barker Cypress

December 5-6th
The Little Rascals Rescue Alfalfa Again
Cypress Academy of Performing Arts
11707 Huffmeister Rd.

All Aboard on the Polar Express


The Texas State Railroad is known for their super fun events.....and with the holidays upon us, it's time for a little magic.

All Aboard! The Polar Express™comes to life at the Texas State Railroad.

Inspired by the award winning book by Chris Van Allsburg, come experience the magic of The Polar Express™. Read along with the story as the train makes a roundtrip journey to the North Pole. Meet Santa and enjoy caroling, hot chocolate and a treat. And, for those who believe, a special gift for each child. Everyone is encouraged to wear their pajamas!

Advanced tickets on sale now!

Tickets:

Friday, Sunday, & Weekdays

• Coach $19 child (ages 2-11), $34 adults

• Climate Controlled $21 child (ages 2-11), $38 adults

Saturday Tickets

• Coach $23 child (ages 2-11), $38 adults

• Climate Controlled $25 child (ages 2-11), $42 adults

First Class Seating in Private Car 1511

Climate Controlled - Limited Seating

Enjoy The Polar Express™ Train Ride on our First Class private car. You will experience first class service at your table by Chefs, enjoy a variety of cookies served on silver trays, drink delicious hot chocolate with whip cream and chocolate sprinkles in our collectable Polar Express™ mugs as well as an additional choice of coffee, tea, or sparkling cider. Enjoy a First Class experience on board The Polar Express this Christmas! Table seating for 2 and 4 individuals.

Tickets:

$39 child (ages 2-11), $58 adults

November 13, 14, 20, 21, 27, 28, & 29

December 4, 5, 6, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 26, 27

Times: 5:10pm, 6:45pm, & 8:15pm


**Be sure and check back here for an event with the Lone Ranger in 2010!

It's worth it to visit this site and check out all they have planned for 2010. Even a New Year's Eve Dinner!

Friday, November 13, 2009

A Hope and A Future

There are tons of people doing hard things every day all around us.

Doing things that we might not have the skill set or the grace to tackle. Changing lives one heart at a time.

That is what Mercy Street Ministry does.

I have been reading HoodMamaMel's blog for quite some time and I am slain by her stories of how God works through them. Even more moved by the incredible obedience and faithfulness of she and her husband, Trey.

I'll well aware there are a gazillion things that pull at your time and resources, but if you feel so led, they are in need of a financial shot in the arm.

Would you pray about partnering with them? They are asking for monthly support but I'm quite sure they wouldn't turn down a one time gift as well.

Thanks!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Rooms To Go...Literally

I have had a massive bee in my bonnet.

You see, we are having our carpets cleaned in T minus 4 days and major surgery has to be done for him to be able to actually get to some areas of my carpet.

Don't judge.

So, I began cleaning out every square inch of my house on Monday and I'm not sure my back will every be the same again because I also rearranged my kiddos rooms....

You know where this is going.

So, I have a deal for you!

You've heard of bed in a bag....and a little bit more.



Do you have a little guy who is about to embarque on the wonderous journey of having his very own big guy room?

I'm your gal. Check this out.


I have a custom full/queen duvet comforter, 1 bed skirt, 2 European pillows, 3 accent pillows, 2 sets of full size sheets and a padded mattress cover for $75.



Can you hardly stand how cute these pillows are? The small one is a propeller with leather and fleece trim...like a bomber jacket. The large star pillow has the same leather and fleece trim.

It's true!


The front of the duvet is a black and khaki check and the back is black and khaki ticking. AND the duvet has authentic military buttons as detail.






Both sets of full sheets have authentic ribbon trim purchased at a company that makes military medals and such.

If you are having an 'ick' moment about buying someone else's sheets...I assure you...we are VERY clean people. If you have been reading this blog long, you know I err on the side of OCD. I'm just sayin'....





And the bedskirt is the same fabric as the European pillows with fabric insets the same as the front of the duvet.

Bottom line...these are priced to move.

Entire Bedding Set $75

Interested? Email me at intheknownorthwest@gmail.com

Have a friend who might be? Pass this along!

I also have a gently used Fuzion Scooter for $35 and a huge set of Rokenbok for $40.....ok...stop the madness! I'm done.


**disclaimer....don't worry, I'm not turning my blog into an electronic yard sale. I just wanted these darn cute items to go to a good home and thought I could spread the word to lots of mommies this way!

**I also had several pieces of furniture but they have since sold.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lessons Learned On A Rainy Day

Fun Laurie showed up today and carved a pumpkin with W.

Let me clarify...W was stoked about the 'idea' of carving....but ended up driving his remote control car 'round and 'round the garage while I stuck my hands in the webby nastiness and carefully carved all the important features which Mr. Weston has so exquisitely drawn ahead of time with a Sharpie.

Anyone who has carved knows it's dern challenging to cut exactly where those lines are drawn and then sometimes you end up with a pumpkin who looks like she slept with her makeup on or was the first unfortunate one to fall asleep at a slumber party.

Enter rubbing alcohol.

Lesson #1- Rubbing alcohol takes off Sharpie marker.

Magic!

And now our pumpkin is nice and clean.



Lesson #2 learned today....if you add a smidge of lemon juice to the mashed bananas before you add them to the batter of banana bread, the finished loaf will be a beautiful golden brown.

Love me some banana bread!

Have a great week! And remember....the time change is a comin' on Sunday.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Christmas in a Cup


Do you think it's possible to learn to be a tea drinker?

What?

It's true. If you have known me for very long, you know I'm neither a coffee nor a tea drinker.

Why is this so important, you ask?

I think the root of it is lies with a desire for fellowship.

I'm a relational gal, right down to my flip-flops, and a cup of something warm means the opportunity to share in someone's life is there for the taking.

Coffee became a dealbreaker as I had to add so much sugar and cream, the coffee was no longer even warm and I'd be spinning like a top for the remainder of the day if I continued to drink it like that.

Then my FIL introduced me to Teavana's Sweet Amore tea and I realized he just might be onto something.

That man is Mr. Tea....he even drinks the hardcore Chinese green tea that truly tastes like aquarium water. Shhh..don't tell him I said that.

So, imagine my delight when there was a holiday tea sighting yesterday at Wal-mart.

Yes ladies, there are good things to be found at your neighborhood version of Stuff Mart...if you can get past all the other things that make you want to bang your head against the handle of your shopping cart. Like the time I got behind a lady that had no less than 5 grocery store ads in her cart and proceeded to pricematch her entire shopping cart.....oh, help me.

Celestial Seasonings's Holiday Tea Line has made it's debute! The choices include Candy Cane Lane, Gingerbread Spice, Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride, Nutcracker Spice and Sugar Plum Spice.

You KNOW this marketer's dream threw some of those boxes in her cart immediately! This was the same girl that decided to enjoy a delightful cup of peppermint hot chocolate a few weeks ago at the first glimpse of below 70 degree temps..and said girl ended up with a burnt tongue and feeling as if she was having a hot flash.

Good times.

BUT it was some kickin' hot chocolate. Again, I found this wonderful treasure at Wal-Mart. It is a seasonal item and has crushed peppermint pieces in the hot chocolate mix. You are missing a blessing if you pass that endcap and don't throw a few packets in your shopping cart.

I'm open to suggestions. Do you have a favorite tea? Do share, please!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Winkflash Photobook reminder


****update- they extended this offer until next Tuesday 10/27/09


Don't forget Wednesday is the last day to create a 100-page Winkflash photo book for just $19.99!

I uploaded my pics...now I just have to create the book.

How much caffeine do you think I'll need over the next 3 nights to accomplish that creative task?

I might just become a coffee drinker yet....

If Winkflash doesn't float your boat or you don't have the time to create a book in the next 3 days, Snapfish has a code for you to save 35% off cards, photobooks and calendars. The code is good through November 2nd.

Use coupon code FALL2009

Thursday, October 8, 2009

She's Movin' On

I'm a Tea Room gal.

Love the food, love the iced tea, and especially love the company while I'm there.

I love them so much, I created an entire post, just about Rabbit Food and Fruity Tea awhile back.

So, I'm sitting at Flag Football practice the other night when a good friend texts me that my favorite Tea Room of all time, Idyl Hours, is vacant.

Sign down... empty....deserted.

I couldn't dial my phone fast enough. Texting wasn't going to do! I needed details. Stat!

After going through all the possible scenarios we could think of, we went to the world wide web to solve our mystery.

The answer was right there, front page, on her website.

Stella decided to write that book she's been wanting to write and focus on catering and delivery instead of running the Tea Room day in and day out.

Although my Thursdays will never be the same without her Tequila Lime Chicken Crepes, I'm so excited for her and her new season of life.

Thanks, Stella, for providing such a fun place for us gals to regain some sanity and enjoy some amazing food over the years. There is no one quite like you...and I mean that in the best way.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

WinkFlash's Flat Rate Book Sale


Last year after I went to Italy, I took advantage of Winkflash's amazing Flat Rate Book Sale.

I was able to make a 100 page book for $19.99.

Yep, you read that right..

And here is the BEST part.

I was able to enlarge most of my photos to a full page because I had 100 pages to play with. Enlarging pictures of the Amalfi Coast is the only way to truly see the amazing detail of that water and remember that kind of beauty.

Now, pick yourself up off the floor, find a reason to make a picture book and head over to their site. Use coupon code FLATRATE

I knew there was a good reason for procrastinating and not making a book from our fantabulous Florida trip yet.

Note: This great price is for the Classic Covers only...but seriously? A 100 page book of memories for $20? SOLD!

Offer expires 10/14/09

Friday, September 25, 2009

More Gift Markets, Festivals and Bizarres


One great thing about living in H'town is there is no shortage of places to go and people to see.

A big thank you to the Houston Chronicle for compiling a gigantic list of Fall Bazaars and Festivals....their words not mine.

Who even uses that word 'bizarre' anymore?

I think my friend's Hubs put it best...Bizarre Festivals.

I think you can agree there is some unique selections of items.

I owe The Chronicle a big smooch because not having to hunt down show locations and carefully select the Northwest choices saved me tons of time ...which is muy importante because I'm in the middle of watching Flash Forward...which is a bizarre festival all its own.

I'm not usually a drama-show kinda girl..I'm the type that reads ahead in books because I often can't stand the tension that has been created.

What a WILD ride that show was.

I couldn't hang with 24...but I think I just might be hooked on this one.

Anyhoo...check out the list and let the shopping begin! Fall is here!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Make Wishes Come True at Cold Stone


Thursday, September 24, Cold Stone Creamery is sponsoring the 8th Annual Make A Wish World's Largest Ice Cream Social from 5 p.m. - 8 p.m.

It’s all part of a fundraiser for the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Customers will get a free 3 oz serving of Jack's creation.... Make-a-Wish with a donation.

Look at the bright side....3 oz is much easier to work off the next day, right? And for all your loyal Marble Slab fans....one time won't kill ya, you know.

Friday, September 11, 2009

To Market We Will Go




Save the Dates!

Here begins the post of all the wonderful Gift Markets, Craft Shows, Fall Festivals and other opportunities to buy some really cute stuff!

I'll be updating this as more shows come across my path. If you have a show to share, feel free to give me at shout at intheknownorthwest@gmail.com.


***updated 10/27/09

September 25-26th
9am -3pm
St. Mary's Episcopal Church Fall Gift Market
15415 N. Eldridge

October 2-3rd
9am-5pm
Carousel of Crafts Boutique
Cypress Creek Christian Church
6823 Cypresswood Drive

October 3- October 4th
St. Ignatius Loyola Catholic Church
Fall Festival & Craft Market
7810 Cypresswood Dr.
ignatiusloyola.org

October 10th
10am -2pm
Cy-Fest at Lone Star College CyFair
October 10th from 10-2
lonestar.edu

October 10th
10am -4pm
Forget-Me-Not Craft Fair
Heartland at Willowbrook
13631 Ardfield Drive

October 16th-17th
9am-4pm, 9am-3pm
Coles Crossing Fall Market
Coles Crossing Community Center, Barket Cypress at Jarvis

October 17th
Foundry United Methodist Church Holiday Market & Tea Room
9am- 4pm
foundrychurch.org

October 24th
St. Elizabeth Ann Seaton Catholic Church Arts & Crafts Show
6646 Addicks-Satsuma
832-213-6158

October 24th
11am-4pm
Christ the Good Shepherd Fall Festival
18511 Klein Church Road

October 24th
St. Dunstan's 38th Annual "Street of Shoppes" Bazaar
14301 Stuebner Airline Road
281-440-1600

November 6th & 7th
Junior League Holiday Market
The Woodlands Waterway, Marriott in the Woodlands Town Center
9-6 pm & 10-4 pm

November 7th & 8th
Jersey Village FFA
Home for the Holidays Craft Show
9-5 pm & 10-4 pm
CyFair Exhibit Center
11206 Telge

November 12th-15th
Nutcracker Market
www.houstonballet.org
Reliant Center
10-8pm and 10-6 pm on Saturday and Sunday
$10 advanced tickets, $11 at the door; 1/2 price 3 hours prior to closing

November 13th & 14th
Ravensway Craft Show
9-5 pm
12730 Jarvis

November 14th & 15th
Langham Creek FFA
CFISD Exhibit Center
11206 Telge Rd

November 29th
Northwest Forest Holiday Market
10-5 pm
12715 Telge Road

December 3rd-4th
10am-7, 10am-5pm
Longwood Gift Market
Longwood Golf Pavillion

Saturday, Dec 5, 2009
Ye Olde Gift Market 2009
8:00 am to 3:00 pm
Gleannloch Pines Golf Club
19393 Champion Forest Dr
Spring, TX 77379
(Gleannloch Farms subdivision)
Email: YeOldeGiftMarket@Gmail.com
Tel: 281-777-0859
Note: The proceeds from this event will be used to send Christmas care package for our troops who are serving overseas.

December 5th
Wee Wuns 9th Annual Holiday Market
9-3 pm
Cypress United Methodist Church
13403 Cypress North Houston

December 5th & 6th
CyFair FFA Country Christmas Craft Show
CFISD Exhibit Center
11206 Telge Rd

December 12th
10am-5pm
Rock Creek Holiday Boutique and Craft Show
14223 Winding Springs Road
Cypress, Tx 77429

December 12th & 13th
CyCreek FFA Cougar Christmas Market
CFISD Exhibit Center
11206 Telge Rd

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Shop Till You Drop


Craft Market Season is here again, Ladies!

Find your comfy shoes, dig out your birthday and Christmas money you have been saving and head over to the Berry Center for the Copperfield Womens Club's 'Shop Til You Drop' Arts and Crafts Market.

When? This Saturday, Sept. 12th from 9-4.

I know...short notice. It snuck up on me!

Did you know this is the first ever Craft Market at the Berry Center?

You gals know I don't do crowds...but I might have to make an exception.

I love me a good Gift Market.

Make a list of those you will be buying for and start shopping early for Christmas, birthdays or teacher gifts for throughout the year.

And not to worry...I'm working on a post of all the other Gift Markets coming this Fall. There are some good ones!

Cozy Doze- A New Kind of Nap Map


I know I'm a day late and a dollar short on this post as most of your kiddos are back to MDO... but I came across this darn cute company called Cozy Doze and they make the darn cutest pillows that hold a full-size color coordinated blanket for just under $20 bucks!


Because of kid-friendly handles and overall kid-size (12"x12") and weight (approx. 1 lb. 4 oz.), Cozy Doze® are easy for children to carry—so grown-ups are free to carry other things!

These are functional, durable and washable—quality that allows daily usage and multiple washings.

Check 'em out and see what you think!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Good Trade


I am a reader.

I read all kinds of things.

Books, magazines, blogs, online articles....

I guess I have a need to learn about things.

I often wonder why my oldest son asks so many questions and NEEDS to know a lot of stuff.

I'm thinking if I looked in the mirror I might just have that answer.

Apple doesn't fall far, does it?

Moving on..

If you are a reader like me, you probably have bookcases filled with books that blessed you but need new homes.

Half Price Bookstore could help....but they aren't paying much these days.

You could donate them to your church library or even your public library, as well.

But, what if you could swap them with someone and get another great book in return?

Welcome to Paperback Swap.com

I heard about this site a few months ago from a neighbor friend but hadn't taken the plunge until today.

And plunge I did, ladies. I dove in head first and posted 49 books and already have 9 requests.

Awesome! When I ship these books and they receive them, I get 1 credit for each book.

1 book= 1 credit

And I already have 2 credits for signing up and listing my first 10 books!

Yes, you do have to pay the shipping (around $2.40 for the media rate) but isn't it worth it to get a few books you have already enjoyed out of your house?

I'm thinking, yes.

I mean, really, they have just under 4 million books to choose from. I can't even wrap my brain around that one.

Did I mention they have audio books, hardback books and textbooks too?

It's time to read....swap.....and save!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

O-C-D....that's the way for me


If you know me well, you know I'm ALL about the Purell and washings hands.

Heck, during cold and flu season, I've jokingly admitted I'd let my kids drink Purell if I thought it would help.

Ahem...I'm just joking, people.

I even caught myself getting all sicked out at the gym the other day thinking just how many people touch those machines and free weights.

That is 3-kinds of n-a-s-t-y.

In an effort to combat all of the nutty Swine Flu coverage, here are 8 places around your house that could use a swipe or two from the Clorox Wipes. A good saturating spray from the Lysol can will work wonders as well.

If you are eating, put your snack down before reading any further. I'm waiting....


1. TV remote

Many people watch TV while they absent-mindedly chew their fingernails, snack on food and flip through channels, leaving all kinds of bacteria on the remote. Make sure to sanitize the remote control regularly to prevent sickness. ***this goes for Hotels as well

2. Tub and shower

Your bathtub may have 100 times more bacteria than the trash can, according to an in-home bacteria study conducted by the Center for Hygiene and Health in Home and Community. The Hygiene Council recommends that showers and tubs be disinfected twice a week to get rid of dead skin cells left in the tub that can carry germs too.

3. Pet food dish

Most pet food dishes stay on the floor and do not get washed regularly.

4. Kitchen cloths and sponges

People frequently use sponges or cloths to wipe germs from surfaces in the kitchen. As a result, 70 percent of kitchen sponges in U.S. homes failed the hygiene test by having high levels of bacteria, according to the Hygiene Council. The council recommends running sponges through the dishwasher regularly and washing kitchen cloths on the hot cycle in the washing machine.

5. Microwave touch screen

This spot is notorious for not getting cleaned. Even though the food comes out cooked, the germs that can make you sick are left on the outside of the microwave for the next person to touch. It is important to wipe down the touch screen regularly, especially after cooking raw meat.

6. Light switches

Touching the light switch is practically unavoidable, but keeping it clean is not. The bathroom light switch can have as many germs as the trash bin. Disinfect light switches twice a week, or every day if a member of your household is sick.

7. Baby changing table

During diaper changes, the baby wipes container, the diaper packaging, the trash can and anything around the changing area get contaminated with bacteria through touching after handling a dirty diaper. The baby changing table area should be cleaned often.

8. Kitchen faucets

Typically people wash their hands after handling raw meat in the kitchen, but they touch the faucet to turn on the water and do not think about the bacteria that they leave. The Hygiene Council found more than half of faucets in American homes are covered in bacteria.

And to add my 2 cents....technology. I'm talking computer keyboards, mouses, gaming devices and the remotes that go with them.

And telephone and cellphones....cell phones are going places today that they were NEVER intended to go.

Ok, I'm done. I won't go into how I might have been known to turn off the water faucets in public restroooms with the paper towel that dried my hands and how I might just happen to open the door with the opposite hand that I eat bread and tortilla chips with....yeah, that would be going too far.

That might just be an overshare..

Thursday, August 27, 2009

If I'd Known Then




While reading a magazine article the other day, I was led to check out If I'd Know Then by Ellyn Spragins from the library.

Apparently there are 2 different books in this series. The first is What I Know Now: Letters to My Younger Self and the second, If I'd Known Then: Women in their 2os and 30s Write Letters to Their Younger Selves. Both books profiles the letters of highly accomplished women that includes counsel or encouragement addressed to their younger selves.

The interesting thing is their letters reveal even accomplished women have struggles—the same fears, concerns and shortcomings as anyone else. And in many cases they are still struggling...not wanting to conform to what the world wants them to be and a reminder that living life should be a joy...like playing in the sandbox, not wading through quicksand.

What would your teenage or early 20s have looked like if you had found a letter tucked under the mattress from an older-you? Maybe a few hints about friendships to treasure and relationships to steer clear of...advice about what really mattered and what didn't merit a single thought or worry?

At the ripe old age of 36, I'm not sure my wisdom is very profound...would it have really eased the heartache or fears of a younger-me?

I can't be certain....but I think that I'd have jumped at the opportunity to know these things a bit earlier in my life:


*Wherever you are, Be ALL there....don't dwell in the past or yearn for the future

*Don't allow insecurities to rule your thoughts

*Judgment and assumptions are dangerous territory.... Seek truth in all things

*Want what you have...true contentment brings incredible peace

Do I have all these mastered?

Seriously? Um..not a chance.

But my desire to leads me to the One that can make all those things a reality. You see, there was a greater story written long before me. I think He can handle whatever I bring to Him. He's certainly BIG enough.


What about you? If you could write a letter to a younger-you..what would you include?

Come on all you lurkers...don't leave me flapping in the wind all by myself here. You can even comment anonymously.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Back To School 2009

Here we are again, Lord.

Their backpacks are loaded and their faces are scrubbed

and their lunch accounts are full.

And I know you'll walk with them, Lord.

You always do.

But a mom still has to ask.

Will You walk with them?

Will You whisper to them what they need to hear,

when I'm not there to whisper it?

Will You please, oh please, cover their school

with the protection only You can give,

and will You keep harm far away?

Will You make their minds strong and ready to learn?

Will You help them understand that hard work

honors the One who created them?

Will You guide their teachers, giving them patience and wisdom and creativity and more patience?

Will You bless them for their efforts?

Will You love all those children there,

the ones whose lunch accounts aren't full,

the ones who feel alone?

Will You teach my children to be kind and unselfish

and to love those who are different from them?

Will You point them back toward home

just as soon as you can?

Lord, I give them to You today and every day,

trusting them to Your care.

Amen.



***A Mother's Prayer on The First Day of School, received via email from a dear friend. Thanks M! Blessings to R & J today.

A New Party In Town

The planning of a birthday party can sometimes take the actual fun right out of that party....Especially if you have already tackled all the major ideas like gymnastics, inflatable rentals, pool parties and laser tag.

And if someone asks if you've considered having the party at your own house.... You have my permission to tell them to go sell crazy somewhere else because you are all filled up at your house.

Yes, I did just say that outloud.

How 'bout a mobile video game experience?

What is that you say? A mobile man-cave of sorts?



Yessirreee!

CurbGames.com might just be what you are looking for.

CurbGames features the most popular video games from Nintendo Wii, X-Box 360 and Sony PlayStation 3. 3 mobile theaters are available, each developed to provide up to 24 multi-player stations.

And not to worry...they do have rating systems for what games are featured in the mobile theater that will pull up in front of your casa.

Inside CurbGames you will find an air conditioned "limo style" luxury Mobile Video Game Theater with 4 50" plasma TVs and 16 linked multi-player stations.

Outside you will find 2 50" plasma TVs with an additional 8 linked multi-player stations, all equipped with the latest fully interactive games such as Halo 3, Rock Band, Call of Duty, Guitar Hero 3, Wii Sports, Mario Brothers, Sonic and much more.

Something tells me this isn't going to just be for kids....once the men get wind of this, 40th birthday parties will take on a whole new look.

And we thought rollerskating parties were big stuff back in the day.

Ooops, I just showed my age.

Check out CurbGames.com. They are available for birthday parties, team parties, corporate events, family gatherings or neighborhood events.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Niftee 50ees Turns Back Time


Have you ever driven near 249 and Spring Cypress on a Saturday night and happened to see a Classic Street Rod or a 60's Muscle Car driving past?

Chances are they are either going or coming from the Niftee 50ees Classic Drive-in.

The Niftee 50ees Classic Drive-In is held each Saturday from 6-10 pm in the Kroger Shopping Center located at Spring Cypress and Champion Forest.

This is no small show....on any given Saturday, north of 100 classic cars can be found parked in this shopping center.

The show is geared toward models earlier than 1979.....classic Street Rods, 50's Cruisers, 60s & 70's Muscle Cars. You will be stunned at the selection and the amount of people that mill around during those 4 hours. These types of cars draw quite a crowd. It's a well known fact...avoid shopping at the Spring Cypress/Champion Forest Kroger on Saturday night if you can avoid it.

Grab an early dinner at Schilleci's (read some of their fabulous reviews here)and then take your time walking through rows and rows of amazing pieces of history. Feel free to bring your camera. And don't hesitate to ask the owners questions...they LOVE to talk about their cars.

Don't miss out on this local treasure! Their 2009 season ends right before Thanksgiving.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Free Poster offer from Walgreens

Do you have a favorite pic from this summer that would be perfect as an 11x14 poster?

You are in luck.

Log on to Walgreens.com today and use the code FREEPOSTER when checking out. You'll pay just $1.99 shipping and get a fabulous larger-than-life memory from the summer.

Code is only good for today...so get to it!

Psstt.....Walgreens is giving away free stuff all week! Take a peek:

Wednesday - FREE Photo Clings (you save $9.99, pay $5.99 shipping)
Thursday - FREE 20 4x6 prints (you save $3.80, pick up in-store)
Friday - $0.99 Scrapbook Page 8x10 (you save $4.00, pick up in-store)
Saturday - 50% off Everyday Photo Books (you save $5.00 for 20 pgs, $1.99 shipping)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Sneak Attack




As parents, we are always trying to stay one step ahead of potential danger lurking.

When a facebook post regarding internet filters appeared on my wall last week...I thought this would be a great thing to share.

But an internet filter isn't just to protect the kids in your house...let me explain.

A few years ago, a friend of mine shared with me a children's photograpy website called Chubby Foot Designs. When I went to check it out...I typed in Chubby Feet designs and let's just say that a lot of chubby showed up....but it was large ladies with not a stitch of clothes on.

EEEWWW!

I think I literally let out a primal scream of fear, shut down the site and immediately did several viral scrubs on my computer. I was so convinced this foul site had implanted their nastiness on my computer that I felt the need to warn the Best Buy guys, when taking my computer in for service over a year later, that if they found pictures of naked chubby women to please, for the love, remove them and that I DID NOT PUT THEM ON THERE. They assured me that had pretty much seen it all. And proceeded to laugh their heads off at the possibility of me having chubby girl nudey pictures on my computer.

Boy, would have I loved a filter right about then. Did I mention I also had another lovely site called Hot Lolita's imbedded on my computer?

Magical.

And you thought this would be a boring post about internet filters.

This is not your typical Monday post, Ladies.

A website called Top Ten Reviews has done the research on internet filters so you don't have to....To read reviews of 10 highly-rate internet filter software choices go here.

Two others that have been mentioned in the responses are I Am Big Brother and Covenant Eyes..but I'll be honest and say I've heard mixed reviews regarding the later choice.

After 12+ comments on that particular post, the filter most recommended is YOU. Keep your
kid's computer in a public place like the kitchen, as much as you can.

So there you have it. Check the meat and spit out the bones, if you will..but at least give it a glance for future use.

And stay away from chubbyfeet.com.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

First Impressions

The day is upon us. The day when you meet the person who will spend time with your precious angel from the Lord for 5+ hours a day, Monday-Friday, or some variation. Meet the Teacher is about a week away.

We waited and waited for those letters to come in the mailbox. That little piece of paper brought a range of emotions: happiness, frustration, disappointment, uncertainty. Will this teacher really be able to appreciate how smart, funny and special this child is?

Nothing like a new school year to get you on your knees. God knew who your child's teacher would be this year and know without a doubt, He has a plan for them. Remind me of that when I open my boys' teacher letters. Thank you in advance for reminding me, It is going to be SO fine...whatever the letters says.

My mom-in-law is the Queen of Susus. What are 'susus' you ask? Susus are little gifts that she finds and sends for no reason, just to say she was thinking of you. As a former teacher, I am very careful what I give or bring to the classroom of my boys' teachers. And as one would guess, I usually steer clear of bath products, coffee mugs, stuffed animals and wooden jewelry because I received a lot of it when I taught. So heartfelt, but still too much bath gel isn't a blessing. BUT, when my friends, Leigh Ann & Julie, let me in on their Meet the Teacher susu secret, I had to share.

Gourmet Apples and More is a little shop right in front of Champion Forest Baptist Church that sells chocolate-covered creations. They have chocolate-covered rice krispie treats, pretzels and as you would guess, apples! But these aren't just any chocolate-covered apples, they are works of art. To give you an idea, they have Plain Jane (dipped in caramel and then dipped in chocolate), Rocky Road and Heath Bar. The apples on their website are the large variety which run $14ish and the smaller size are $6ish. And when I spoke to the sweet man who was answering phones today, he said they will last 2-3 weeks in the fridge. They open for the season on Monday and will be open from 10-6 daily. Bless his heart, he had been receiving phone calls from several spirited ladies that day, frustrated that the store had not been open for the private school meet the teacher events.

So as summer draws to a close and you have a bit more spring in your step, remember to bless those sweet teachers as they begin this new school year. Nothing says love like chocolate!

Monday, August 10, 2009

Freeze Frame

Back in December, I spoke of a Christmas Miracle.

You see, we took a family picture this year. I had good hair and all the people smiled.

And the heavens rejoiced.

Um....not really.

But I sure did...because I have 3 males in my home that do not find any joy in fancy picture taking.

It just is what it is.

But back in December, I had only scratched the surface when I described the many talents of our photographer, Audree Garcia. I didn't even mention the very cool 12x18 'interest and activities' collages she creates.

It's pretty great, right?

I'll be accepting donations to put towards the widening of his bedroom door frame, to accommodate his big head.

Oh, I kid.

I didn't order an afghan with his picture on it or anything.....

I love her creativity! She brings a unique edge to each collage she creates. Don't think it's just limited to boys or even sports...she can create collages for dance, cheerleading, scouts, drama/theater...heck, she can probably even do one for the speed stacker in your house.

There's really no limits! Make a through-the-years collage or the-best-so-far collage. Think of the hairdos and hair-don'ts that might appear on one of those babies!

What a perfect way to make time stand still.

You can visit her site here.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Operation Backpack


You have one more week to participate in Operation Backpack!

YMCA’s across the Greater Houston area are gearing up to provide school supplies for children in our communities. The children you help through this project will be filled with hope, joy and excitement as they start the school year. Your investment will provide these children the opportunity to start school with the tools to be successful.

It's so easy! While you are taking care of your regular shopping, pick up an extra backpack and school supplies for a kiddo in our area that may not have the resources to begin school with the needed supplies.

Many willing hearts are needed to assist with this project. Help the YMCA make a difference in the life of a child. Donate a backpack filled with school supplies and change a life!

**JC Penny, Target and Walmart have lots of choices at such great prices...you could even donate several backpacks!

Deadline is August 16th

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Snapfish Photo Adventure

It's August... summer camps, activities and vacations are winding down and you feel like you just might be the poster child for Sunsweet prunes if you don't cut back on the pool time.

Soon.

Very soon.



Help is here.

Snapfish Photo Adventure

Snapfish has partnered with Leap Frog to bring you and your kids a fun photo adventure everyone will enjoy. It's easy to get started, just choose one of their four adventure themes (beach, fun around the house, camping or theme parks & fairs) and let your kids get snapping.

And it's easy to win prizes! Complete all 7 challenges per theme and get 50% off any size collage poster. Finish four themes and get a FREE 5" x 7" photo book!

The fun only lasts until August 31 so get started today. This photo op could be in your future!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Houston Restaurants Week 2009

Are you a foodie?

Get ready to be dazzled.

It's time for Houston Restaurant Week 2009.

From August 10th-23rd, you have a chance to dine out to help fight hunger in Houston. The opportunity to enjoy a three course gourmet meal for $35 per person (not including beverages, tax or gratuity) awaits you. Participating restaurants will donate $5 from each special meal sold to the Houston Food Bank. This is a wonderful opportunity for diners to try new restaurants or re-visit old favorites while helping to fight hunger in Houston.

Need a sampling of restaurants participating? Here's a few....

Americas - Post Oak
Amerigo's Grille
Brenner's Steakhouse
Cadillac Bar Houston
The Capital Grille
Carmelo's Ristorante
Crapitto's Cucina Italiana
Crave Sushi
Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steak House
Denis' Seafood House
Downtown Aquarium
Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar
The Glass Wall
Grotto
Jasper's
La Griglia
Masraff's
The Melting Pot Fondue Restaurant - Galleria Area Houston
McCormick & Schmick's "Fresh" Seafood Restaurant
Mo's…A Place for Steaks
NOE Restaurant (at The Omni Houston Hotel)
Ouisie's Table
Pappas Bros. Steak House
Perry's Steakhouse & Grille
Pesce
Post Oak Grill - Uptown
RA Sushi - Town & Country
Rainbow Lodge
The Remington Restaurant
Ruth's Chris Steak House
Smith & Wollensky
Strip House
Sullivan's Steakhouse
Truluck's
Vic & Anthony's
Willie G's Seafood & Steaks

Click here to check out the menus of many participating restaurants.


Sunday, August 2, 2009

Best Kept Beach Secret

When someone gets wind of a beach vacation to Florida, some of the assumed destinations are Destin, Ft. Myers or even Panama Beach.

I'm here to tell you that we discovered the best kept secret of Florida.

30-A



This county road, of sorts, holds the most beautifully quaint beach communities you have ever laid eyes on.

How could we have NEVER even heard of this place?

I had asked for assistance sifting through all of the VRBO listings and a sweet church-friend helped us narrow our search.

Our particular choice this time around was Seacrest, but we also visited Seaside, Alys Beach, Seagrove and Rosemary Beach...which was literally a 5 minute walk. Rosemary Beach is kinda like Seacrest's Siamese Twin..it's hard to tell where one stops and the other starts. What's Rosemary Beach like? Mayberry-Meets-The Hamptons, if you will.



Our beach house was smack in the middle of a darn-cute community called Seacrest North. This area is North of 30-A, which means you are not staying ocean-front. Not a problem for us as the beach was a short 5 minute walk or 3 minutes by shuttle.

Yes, you read that correctly. We had golf cart shuttle that would pick us and all our gear up and deposit us so close to the beach we could see sand and smell suntan lotion.

I'd be lying if our Beverly-Hillbilly-gear-carryin'-selves didn't love that part.

The sand is incredible- white and soft. The water? Clear as a pool. We could see stingrays from a distance and schools of fish swimming by. W always had the net ready for fish, shells or the occasional purple jellyfish.



The waves were great for boogie boarding and faux-surfing. Photo compliments of the continuous shooting feature on our Nikon D-40. You did not let me down....



The other kickin' part of where we stayed was access to a 12,000 square foot pool.



Did I mention it was open from 9am until 11 pm? And that there was a huge greenbelt area right beside the pool area for the boys to play wiffle ball each day with their new Fat Bat BFFs from Tennessee and Alabama? Those boys' accents were heart-slaying. They were absolutely darlin'.

The Seacrest North Community has a bazillion multi-colored houses that sleep anywhere from 5-10+ people. You'll see kids riding their bikes or scooters all over the area and down to the restaurants.

Restaurants, you say? You know this foodie had to discuss the food we found while we were there.

We were delighted to find outstanding Mexican Food our first night at Mi Cocina and the locals' favorite, Cowgirl Kitchen, was delish as well. We blazed a trail along 30-A and had dinner at The Shrimp Shack in Seaside and the Village Market Cafe in Seagrove. They've been serving deep-fried love since 1949. Be still my southern-fried heart!

Need a sugar fix? The Sugar Shak is the place to be from 10am-10pm. There is line out the door starting at 6:30 every night. Ice cream and vintage candy fill every inch of that place. It's sugar heaven on-a-stick. The chatter while waiting in line that week was of Obama passing a bill that outlawed the making of candy cigarettes. The Sugar Shak encouraged you to get yours while supplies lasted.

Need donuts? A quick to visit Charlie's Donut Truck is a must. It's just down the road, in Alys Beach. Be aware..the donuts are HUGE and there is a line there too.



I know 2 boys who will travel back to Seacrest, Florida in a heartbeat.


And a family that will never forget the summer they discovered 30-A.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Happy Birthday John Tyler!

Nine year ago, we went from a couple to a family of 3.

They sent us home with a vinyl diaper bag filled with cold packs, formula and coupons.

Um...how 'bout a manual...NOT coupons.

We were sure we'd ruin him.



And there are days when we are convinced we have. The days when we see glimpses of 'us' in him....and not always the good 'us'...

And then there are those days when that same blue-eyed boy will say, out of the blue, the words that can't possibly be true... "You're the best mom and dad, ever."


John Tyler Mounce, thank you for having the patience to allow your Mom and Dad to learn as we go, and the grace to move on after we've blown it. You show us daily that kids really have a lot to teach adults about unconditional love, grace and forgiveness. You make us want to be the parents you truly believe we are.


Happy 9th birthday! Just watch and see what the Lord has in store for you over the next years!