Thursday, December 22, 2011

Unique Gifts from

Imagine the look of wonder and surprise when a child receives a photo of Santa caught in the act in his or her very own home. is a unique website that helps visitors create those memorable keepsake photos.
In three simple steps anyone can upload a holiday photo, add Santa Claus and print it as proof… or share it via Facebook and Twitter. Last-minute shoppers can purchase Gift Cards and eGift Certificates for loved ones with children, making a great gift idea even if you don't have kids yourself.

Merry Christmas!

Disclosure: This post serves my entry into the iCaughtSanta blogger giveaway. No monetary exchange took place.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

My Favorite Scents Fresh From Nature

Scent is one of the deciding factors that impact my purchase of cleaning products. I can't stand artificial scents that are strong and smelly. When choosing a dishwashing liquid or laundry detergent, I prefer natural scents that remind me of fresh fruits or wild flowers.

Seventh Generation, one of my favorite "green" brands, has launched a line of Natural Dish Liquid featuring natural scents from real plants like lemongrass, lavender, citrus and clementine. In honor of this new product line, Seventh Generation is giving away an all-expense paid trip for 2 through the Nature Makes Perfect Scents Sweepstakes. The winner will be able to choose her destination among France, Italy, and Vermont. Trips in Europe will include a tour of one of the Seventh Generation source farms will the trip to Vermont, where the company is based, may include a visit to their offices. The sweepstakes runs through the end of this year. So there's still plenty of time to enter. Good luck!

As I mentioned earlier, I love floral and fruity scents most. Lavender is not only my favorite color but also my favorite natural scent of all times. The smell of lavender is gentle, sweet, soothing as well as uplifting. It evokes feelings of serenity and tranquility and may transport me to a large open field with lovely purple flowers blossoming everywhere, green mountains blurred in the background, clear blue sky high above, and a gentle breeze whispering to the flowers. I can picture myself lying in the middle of the sea of flowers, eyes shut, enjoying the pleasant scent and the beauty of nature. Because of the magic power of lavender, I love to have its scent in my laundry detergent, shampoo, body wash, hand wash, lotion, and air freshener.
My favorite fruity scent is green apple, partly because apples are my favorite fruits to eat. The green apple scent is delicious, clean, refreshing and enticing. It's my number one choice for dish soap. I love the fresh scent it leaves on my dishes as it makes me want to eat more tasty food. When I smell green apple, I feel as if I were taken to an orchard with fruitful and prosperous trees here and there, little birds singing in the trees, and drops of dew sparkling on the leaves. I would be sitting casually under an apple tree and wait for ripe fruits to fall and be savored (Oh, writing this makes me feel hungry!).

I also like mixed scents like tropical fruits and wild flowers. They are good at creating a colorful, cheerful, and aromatic picture inside my head and make me feel happy and relaxed.

What scents fresh from nature do you love? Where do those scents take you? What do you think of the natural scent selection that Seventh Generation offers? Feel free to share your story with the SocialMoms community and you could be rewarded with a $50 Target gift card! Don't forget to enter the Nature Makes Perfect Scents sweepstakes for your chance to win a trip of a lifetime!

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Seventh Generation blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Protecting a Family Nest

Have you ever thought of purchasing life insurance as a way to insure your love and protect your family? You work hard to start a family and provide your loved ones with what they need and desire to keep them happy. What happens if you have to leave them to their own devices for good? In an effort to raise awareness about the importance of life insurance, Allstate Insurance has teamed up with SocialMoms on a new blogging program. Be one of the first 50 bloggers to share your ideas for protecting a family nest in a thoughtful post and you will be rewarded with a $50 Amazon gift card!

Here are some thought-provoking stats provided by Allstate:

Half of Americans say they are under-insured? That’s 58 million of us. And 70% of people with kids under 18 say they would be in serious trouble if something happened to the primary breadwinner.

Experts say a good rule of thumb is to insure 5 to 10 times your income. It sounds like a lot, but it’s really not. Think about what you’re really worth. Life insurance will help cover the cost of your mortgage, medical & funeral expenses, continuing childcare, living expense and college tuition.

How many people would have to be hired to do all the things you do for your family? estimates the average stay-at-home mom would earn $117,867 per year if she were paid for all the work she does.

It's fortunate that my husband's employer covers a considerable portion of his life insurance premium. As he is the primary breadwinner of our family, we find it extremely necessary to have him insured so that in case of a life-threatening situation, the rest of the family will be able to maintain our current lifestyle and keep future plans on track. Not only will life insurance help the beneficiaries meet important financial needs, but will also provide them with tax-free income (life insurance benefits are exempt from federal income tax).

Most people feel overwhelmed when they think about life insurance. An experienced Allstate agent can talk you through your situation and help you plan for the future today. Allstate and their agents have been helping customers protect their families for over 50 years.

Besides life insurance, we have also set aside an emergency fund to prepare for the unforeseen. We've opened multiple savings accounts with different financial institutions as part of our financial safety net. If anything happens to one bank, there's at least one other for backup. We also have a 401k account to save for retirement.

Life insurance is not the only type of insurance we use to protect our family. Car insurance, health insurance, and home insurance are all important ways to help our family survive accidents, serious illnesses, and other unfortunate life events.

Another way I deem important to protect our family financially is to stick to a budget and not to overspend. We always pay our credit card bills in full and avoid getting into debts whenever possible. The fewer liabilities you build up now, the lower the risk you will have to deal with in the future, when a significant source of income is suddenly lost.

Do you have any good suggestions for protecting your family net? Please share and we could all benefit!

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Allstate blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Ten Tips & Tricks to Get Kids to Eat More Veggies

We all know that vegetables are rich in nutrients, vitamins, and fiber that are important to children's health and growth, but it's not always easy to get the kids to eat and enjoy their veggies. To brainstorm for solutions to this common problem, SocialMoms has teamed up with Sarah Matheny, author of “Peas and Thank You: Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love,” on a new blogging program, which encourages moms to share creative veggie recipe ideas. The first 50 qualified participants will each receive a $30 gift card!

I'm lucky to have a child who loves to eat veggies, so I never really have to make an effort to get him to eat vegetables. But still, I've got some tips for growing a veggie lover.

1. Introduce vegetables into your child's diet from early on. Babies' food preferences can be "forged" by parents. Babies who start with mild flavored foods are more receptive to low-sodium meals when they grow up. Likewise, introducing vegetables to babies are likely to get them used to the tastes and texture. As early as 4-6 months, you may start adding homemade vegetable juice to your baby's daily diet. Mashed vegetables make a great staple type of baby food. There is no need to add any additional flavors at this stage.

2. Make a colorful presentation. From my experience, kids love to eat dishes that are visually appealing. Mixing veggies with different colors are more likely to get kids to taste it.

3. Set a good example as a veggie lover. Kids like to learn from their parents. It's important for parents to be a positive role model. Both my husband and I love to eat vegetables. When we eat veggies, we show our son that we enjoy them a lot with facial expressions and sounds. My son will then be convinced that vegetables taste delicious.

4. Diversify the ways to cook veggies. Kids and adults alike love varieties. Experiment with different ways to cook veggies: fresh veggie salads, steamed, boiled, stir-fry, grilled veggies, etc--and your kid will sure find her favorite way to eat her veggies.

5. Tell kids about the benefits of vegetables. We often tell our son that eating vegetables will help him grow taller and stronger and that not eating them will make him sick. This motivates him to eat his veggies happily.

6. Make up interesting stories about vegetables. Kids love small animals like rabbits, squirrels, and piggies. Tell stories stressing how these animals love vegetables and that it is vegetables that make them so cute.

7. Don't force kids to eat vegetables that they hate. Each individual has her unique taste preferences. Kids are no exception. Forcing your child to eat vegetables that she absolutely hates will make her feel like being punished and thus more unwilling to try them in the future.

8. Make eating veggies a fun activity. Eating can be as enjoyable as a game. Cut vegetables into interesting shapes or make them part of a counting or sorting exercise. Kids are more likely to cooperate when they think eating veggies is fun.

9. Introduce stems before leaves. Vegetable stems are easier to chew and digest than leaves. For young kids, start with stems and move onto leaves (preferably cut into small pieces) when they get familiar with the taste.

10. Try new veggies and flavors. Again, variety wins. Kids can get tired of eating the same kind of vegetables day after day. Introduce something new from time to time, especially vegetables that may become great substitutes for the ones that your child hates.

I hope you'll find these tips useful. Please visit SocialMoms for more great tips and tricks from Sara Matheny and other members of the community.

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Peas and Thank You blogging program for a gift card worth $30. For more information on how you can participate,click here.

Turn Daydreams into Reality with JCPenney

It's this time of the year again--time to shop for all the back-to-school supplies! Do you decide for your kids or give them ample freedom to express their own style when it comes to clothes shopping? Seeing that children’s sense of style is often fueled by imagination, JCPenney wants to celebrate the idea that daydreams can become reality and empower kids to express their individual style with affordable clothing items. This back-to-school season, JCPenney has joined forces with SocialMoms on a fun blogging program on children's individual sense of style. The first 80 qualified participants will each receive a $50 JCPenney gift card!

Young as my son is, he has already developed his unique sense of style. I always encourage him to make his own choices when shopping for new outfits and when getting dressed in the morning. He prefers bright colors to dark colors, lime green, red, and navy blue being his favorites. He shows a keen interest in tops featuring his favorite objects or cartoon figures. As a car fanatic, anything with pictures of cars would draw his immediate attention. Mickey Mouse, Dinosaur Train, Winnie The Pooh are his top picks for cartoon themed outfits. Clothes with cute animals like sea turtle, dolphin, monkey, elephant and giraffe are also likely to catch his eyes. Bucket hats and sunglasses are his must-have accessories during summer.

Besides color and pattern, my son also chooses what to wear based on comfort. He will refuse to put on a piece of clothing if it gives him the impression that the fabric is stiff or makes his skin itch. He prefers roomy clothes to those that feel like straightjackets. He favors crew neck over turtle neck, and sports pants over dress pants. For newly bought clothes, he would remind me to take off the labels that may cause discomfort for his skin. It's probably his sensitive skin that has made him so particular about his fabric and style choices.

It often amazes me how well my son expresses his sense of style verbally. When he receives a new outfit as a gift, he will tell me what he thinks of it, what he likes or doesn't like about it, when he wants to wear it, etc. When we go window shopping, he will get excited at the sight of clothes he loves and direct my attention to them. From time to time, he makes compliments about the clothes that his friends at school wear. Not only does he have strong opinions about clothes designed for his age group, he also likes to comment on clothing choices made by adults, like his mom and dad. When I get a new piece of clothing, I love to seek my son's opinion besides that of my hubby's. He would tell me if I look great in this new dress and how it compares to the old one I was wearing. The earnest look on his face often makes me laugh.

I bet your child has her very own sense of style too. Tell us about it in a blog post and you could win a gift card to shop for stylish and affordable clothes at JCPenny!

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and jcpenney blogging program, for a gift card worth $50. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Verizon FiOS Features That Appeal Most to Our Family

I've heard a lot about Verizon FiOS TV and Internet service lately on Twitter, Facebook, and blogs. The amazing features make me so envious of those who have access to them because unfortunately Verizon FiOS is not yet available in the area I live. Completely new to Verizon FiOS? Here are some fun facts:

  • Verizon’s advanced fiber optic technology lets you watch HDTV with less interruptions, pixelation, or weather interference.
  • FiOS is more weather resistant and more durable than the copper phone lines or coaxial cable .
  • With the massive bandwidth of a 100% fiber-optic network connected directly to the home, you’ll be “future-proofed” for all the hot new Internet tools and applications coming down the pike.
  • Verizon FiOS TV was rated #1 in value, overall quality and customer loyalty, according to the 2010 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Survey for the largest subscription TV service providers.
  • J.D. Power and Associates ranked FiOS "Highest in Residential Television Service Satisfaction in the East Region," three years in a row.

Verizon FiOS features include Flex View, Media Manager, TV Widgets, FiOS Internet and In-home Agent. SocialMoms and Verizon FiOS would like to know what appeals most to your family about Verizon FiOS. The first 100 qualified participants in this fun blogging program will be each rewarded with a $25 Amazon gift card!

The most appealing feature for our family is definitely FiOS Internet--"Internet as fast as it gets". We're in desperate need of a stable and fast Internet connection. Our current DSL connection is cheap, but slow, especially during peak hours in the evenings and at night. Our daily life relies so much on the Internet that fast internet speed could save our time tremendously.

I use the Internet to do all varieties of things: shopping, banking, searching, learning, parenting, blogging, social networking, sweeping, gaming, texting, video chatting, and even making phone calls. It drives me crazy when it takes minutes to load a webpage, send a tweet, upload a picture, or complete a transaction. Had we got access to the FiOS Internet, I could get more things done over the Internet or spend more quality time with my family instead of being trapped in front of the computer.

My second favorite Verizon FiOS feature is Flex View, which allows you to "watch what you want, where you want". With Flex View, you can buy, rent and watch on-demand video titles on your FiOS TV, on your computer or on your mobile phone. Who wouldn't love choice and flexibility when it comes to entertainment? We could watch our favorite movies or TV shows on demand and without interruption even when we leave home. How cool is that? We could maximize our viewing pleasure by skipping lousy commercials and being more mobile.

The media manager also sounds like a neat feature to me. It lets you access media content that either resides on or is streamed from your PC. With Media Manager, you can access digital photos, music files, Internet radio stations, home videos, Internet videos from certain web sites directly from your FiOS-connected TV. It makes your TV more powerful and versatile. It's like having an extra computer in the house.

I so look forward to the day when Verizon FiOS service becomes available in our vicinity. It could bring a significant change to our daily routine, in a good way of course. Already got the service in your home? Lucky you! Please kindly share your experience with me and the rest of the SocialMoms community.

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Verizon FiOS blogging program for a gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Twizzlers Landmark Summer Sweepstakes and Our Favorite Family Road Trip Destination

Twizzlers Candy, the perfect on-the-go treat, is helping to sweeten family travel this summer with the Twizzlers Landmark Summer Sweepstakes, where Twizzlers fans could win a trip to a well-known United States destination and win road trip-themed prizes instantly every day from now through September 4, 2011! Please visit for your chance to win.
Our favorite family road trip destination is Washington D.C. It's the city to see lots of U.S. landmarks all in one place and to visit some of the best museums in the country completely free! I look forward to winning one of the great prizes from Twizzlers Landmark Summer promotion and use it on our road trip this summer.

Family travel expert Emily Kaufman, “The Travel Mom,” has offered some tips for a fun and safe family road trip and I'd like to share them with you:

*Create a boredom bag. Convert a hanging travel cosmetic case into a case full of fun and hang it from the seat back in front of the kids’ seats. Consider creating fun works of art with Twizzlers. Pull ‘n’ Peel Candy before snacking on them!

*Take your trip “online.” From GPS systems to phone applications, trips are no longer a navigation nightmare.

*Think through the snacks you pack. Avoid packing snacks that are easy to spill like juice boxes or snacks that melt. Try plastic bottles with sports tops and bring along Twizzlers Candy or Twizzlers Nibs Candy – they are easy to share and don’t melt, making them the perfect car ride treat.

Disclosure: By writing this post, I'm entering a contest for a Twizzlers Landmark Summer promotion prize pack as a member of the Mom Bloggers Club.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Coke Inspired Family Recipe

Ever since I was a little girl, I've been wondering what makes Coca-Cola so special that it remains not only America's but the world's best selling soft drink for so many years. Out of curiosity, I once conducted a blind-fold taste test with a couple friends and I was able to correctly identify Coca-Cola from its competitor brand. That subtle difference in flavor must be one of the company's secrets to success.

As a classic American beverage, Coke has witnessed the most cherishable moments of millions of families. To encourage using these sweet memories to inspire your culinary creativity, SocialMoms and Coca-Cola have teamed up on a new blogging program that invites you and your readers to share a classic family recipe or fond family memory inspired by memories of Coca-Cola and mealtime. The first qualifying participants will each receive a $25 Target gift card!

I love the unique taste of coke, but I have never tried using coke as a cooking ingredient until five years ago, when a friend from Hong Kong showed me how to make Coca-Cola Chicken Wings. It's very simple to prepare and tastes delicious. It has become one of our family's favorite recipes, especially popular among kids because of its sweet taste. It offers an all-new culinary adventure for both chicken and coke lovers.

Picture source:
Coca-Cola Chicken Wings
  • 1 lb chicken wings
  • 1 can of Original Coca-Cola
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1tbsp rice wine
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • grated green onion to taste
  • grated ginger to taste
  • Marinate fresh, cleaned chicken wings with 1/2 can of Coca-Cola, rice wine and grated ginger for at least half an hour. This step is to tenderize the meat and let coke flavor penetrate. (Tip: you may soak the chicken wings in cold water for 30-45 minutes beforehand to get rid of blood that remains in the meat)
  • Heat olive oil in pan. Sauté green onion until it starts to turn darker. Add in drained chicken wings and stir fry with medium heat until brownish
  • Pour in soy sauce the other 1/2 can of Coca-Cola and bring to a boil. Let the ingredients simmer with cover for 15-20 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Stir frequently to prevent the contents from getting burnt. Add a small amount of water if you prefer juicier meat. 
  • Best served with mixed veggie and brown rice.
  • You may substitute chicken wings with drumsticks. Add 5 minutes cooking time for drumsticks.
Have you ever tried cooking with coke? I just learned from SocialMoms that there's a website dedicated to coke inspired recipes: That's a great place to start if you want to experiment with recipes featuring coke as an ingredient. You could also get your own recipe featured on the website by participating in this blogging program. How fun! Let's get cooking!

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Coca-Cola® blogging program. If I am one of the first 100 blogs received by SocialsMoms, I will receive a $25 gift card. For more information on the program, click here.

Monday, March 28, 2011

My Favorite Thing About Easter

Easter is drawing close. Many kids are already getting excited about the upcoming holiday. They can hardly wait to see what gift the Easter Bunny will bring on Easter Sunday!

Have you got plans about things to do around Easter? How about watching a great movie with your family? I highly recommend you to check out Hop, a new release from Universal Pictures, which features a super cute Easter Bunny who talks, poops candy, and plays drums like a pro. Hop will be in theaters on April 1st, right before Easter!

In celebration of Easter, SocialMoms and Universal Pictures have teamed up to introduce a new blogging program that asks bloggers to share their favorite things about Easter. The first 100 qualified participants will each receive a $25 Fandango gift card. You could watch Hop for free if you won!

My favorite thing about Easter is definitely the quality time I can spend with my family. When I was a kid, I longed for Easter outings with my parents. Now that I'm a mother myself, Easter means a great opportunity to bond with my child and participate in entertaining family activities, such as egg decorating, egg hunt and fun family games.

We also plan to take part in parties and celebrations organized by our local community. There will be puppet shows, scavenger hunts, parades, and even live bunnies and chicks! My son will be getting to know some new friends in the neighborhood while we will have the opportunity to socialize with other parents.

Another thing I love about Easter is that it encourages families to establish great traditions and create lasting memories. Easter comes at a time when flowers are blossoming and everywhere is filled with signs of new life. It's the perfect occasion for us to embrace the new season, get close to nature, and enjoy outdoor activities together. Kids can also learn useful skills (e.g. coloring, making crafts, cooking) and explore the world around them. Consider take your kids to watch wildflowers, or egg hunt at the local arboretum, or the zoo, and let them appreciate all the new beginnings.

Easter is the most colorful holiday in many ways and is well-loved not just by kids. I wish you all a very happy and meaningful Easter! Feel free to share your favorite things with me and other Social Moms! Link up your post and be entered to win a nice prize. Don't forget to watch Hop in theater when you get a chance. Your kid will love you even more :) See more details of the movie below.

About Hop:
Blending state of the art animation with live action, Hop is a comedy about E.B. (voiced by Russell Brand), the teenage son of the Easter Bunny. On the eve of taking over the family business, E.B. leaves for Hollywood in pursuit of his dream of becoming a drummer. Once there, he encounters Fred (James Marsden of the X-Men series, Enchanted), recently fired and determined to pull his life together. Feigning injury, E.B. persuades Fred to take him in, and Fred finds himself living with the world’s worst houseguest. Back on Easter Island, the Easter Bunny’s second in command, an oversized chick named Carlos, seizes E.B.’s disappearance as an opportunity to plot a coup. Ultimately, Fred and E.B. are Easter’s only hope and they find themselves returning to Easter Island, locked in an epic battle to save the beloved holiday. The film is helmed by Tim Hill, director of the blockbuster Alvin and the Chipmunks and produced by Chris Meledandri’s Illumination Entertainment (Despicable Me). 
Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the SocialMoms and Hop blogging program, for a gift card worth $25. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Win 1 of 7 $100 Walgreens Gift Cards!

To help spread the word about Walgreens branded health and wellness products, seven BlogHer Reviewers are each giving away a $100 Walgreens gift card on their blogs. Winners could buy a ton of stuff at Walgreens with the gift card! Enter by March 13 for your chance to win! Good luck to us all!

Suburban Turmoil
The Frugal Girl
Happy Fun Pants
Slice of Lemon
The Meanest Mom
A Quad Mom Named Suz

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Redbox Lucky to Have Friends Like You

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner. Are you feeling lucky? You certainly will if you have some great friends and invite them to join the Redbox Lucky to Have Friends Like You promotion! Between now and March 17th, redbox is giving everyone the chance to receive free movie rental credits. Simply follow these easy steps:

1. Sign-up for a redbox online account at
By signing up for an online account, you can see what movies are currently in redbox kiosks near you and reserve your picks to guarantee they’ll still be waiting for you when you get there (until 9 p.m. the next day).
2. Redbox will email you a personal web address link
3. Share the link with your friends
3. Every time someone reserves a movie online through your personal web address, you’ll receive a credit in your online account for a free one-night DVD rental. If it is your friend’s first time reserving online, they’ll also receive a credit for a free one night rental
4. Spread the luck! Email it, post it to Facebook, Tweet about it

And there is NO LIMIT to how many free rentals you can get from referrals!

Hurry up and start sharing! You could have free movies every night through the month of March.

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while entering a giveaway for free redbox movies and movie snack packs as a member of the Mom Bloggers Club. For more information on how you can participate, click here.