When You Give a Girlfriend a Getaway

This time last year, Jersey Love was in full swing. An enthusiastic group of women from all over the country descended upon Atlantic City, intending to show the world that the region was back and open for business after the wrath of Hurricane Sandy. Together we saw the just what the shore had endured during that storm, and the damage to homes and property. Yet we also had the luxury of experiencing the gaming and resort areas that were ready to bring tourism back to the region. And as a group, we shared a bond that will forever link us together.

When Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City came calling this year, it was an opportunity not to be passed up. These folks just get it. They understand what makes their guests tick. They offer the relaxation, the nightlife, the food, and so much more. They know that a girlfriend getaway can mean a time to party, or time to simply grow the bond of friendship.

During our stay, we experienced a delightful time at the Viking Cooking School, the relaxation of the indoor pool, the fabulous food at Dos Caminos, and the lure of The Pool After Dark nightclub.

As this social good blogger happily notes, Harrah’s is happy to provide the Atlantic City experiencewhile also seeking environmentally friendly alternatives. Especially after Hurricane Sandy, they recognize the invaluable importance of sustainable hospitality. I will be writing more on those environmental efforts soon. For now, enjoy the some of our experience, the pool at Harrah’s!

Join us next time, won’t you? We have lots in store!

#ACGirlfriendGetaway - Harrah's Resort Atlantic City The Pool
#ACGirlfriendGetaway - My view at The Pool at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City
#ACGirlfriendGetaway - Cabana at The Pool at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City
#ACGirlfriendGetaway - The Pool at Harrah's Resort Atlantic City
#ACGirlfriendGetaway - Harrah's Resort Atlantic City Girlfriend Getaway

* Harrah’s Resorts Atlantic City treated us to a two night stay. There was no payment or obligation to write a post on their behalf. All thoughts and opinions expressed are purely my own.

Gifts that Give Back for Mother’s Day

Sponsored Post Disclaimer

 

Two years ago I met Zack Rosenberg at the Social Good Summit in New York. We happened upon the same sofa in the media room at the same time and began to chat. I told him about this site and my passion for social good. He told me about his newly founded company, DoGoodBuyUs.

With each purchase made at DoGoodBuyUs.com, 50% of the proceeds are given back. That is social responsibility at its finest. That money is then dedicated to fighting poverty, hunger, disease, and environmental concerns around the world.

Zack and I have spoken several times since that first meeting, and he always updates me on the progress of the site and blog. They have some terrific items available, particularly for Mother’s Day. You can find several of them in their Mother’s Day Gift Guide. You can also search by product and by cause, depending on your preference. There is still time to get a gift as the last day to ensure regular shipping in time Mother’s Day shipping is Monday, May 5th.

As someone who is trying to stay healthy and fit, I am loving their options for workout gear that gives back. If my kids or husband wanted to buy me these yoga pants by Saving The World I would not be mad at them at all. (Hint. Hint.) Proceeds benefit Women for Women International, an organization that benefits over 350,000 women survivors of war. There are also these great yoga totes by Cambodian Children’s Fund, which provides childcare, education, and sustainable income to Cambodian families in need. They are made from recycled bags from Cambodian rice fields. 

DoGoodBuyUs - Yoga Pants & Yoga Tote

For moms who like bright colors, these two items are happy, fun and make amazing gifts. This royal blue silk Infiniti scarf by Sahalandy Blue is handcrafted in Madagascar. Purchasing this beautiful item for yourself or as a gift will directly impact sustainable economic development initiatives for the community of Sahalandy, the small village in Madagascar where the items are made.

DoGoodBuyUs Raw Silk Infinity Scarf by Sahalandy

These super fun Rain Boots by Roma Boots are made from 100% natural rubber with a glossy finish. They come in seven colors, though the pink ones are my personal favorite. For each pair purchased, Roma donates a pair of warm boots to children living on the streets of Eastern Europe.

DoGoodBuyUs - Roma Rain Boots

One of my very favorite items on DoGoodBuyUs is this love necklace by Bird and Stone. It is both feminine and a statement piece at the same time. The proceeds support empowerment organizations such as after school programs, microloans, educational initiatives, and career development organizations.

Gifts that Give Back for Mother's Day

And for the person who has everything, how about some candles made from recycled wine bottles by Bright Endeavors? They are made from soy wax, using phthalate-free fragrance and lead-free wicks that burn clean and are non-toxic. Bright Endeavors provides coaching, guidance, and on-the-job training to adolescent mothers.

DoGoodBuyUs - Canddles in Recycled Wine Bottles by Bright

Are you ready to place an order and give back? Use the code “welovemom” to get free standard shipping on your order.

Happy Mother’s Day!

 

Vegan Handbags from Big Buddha

 

Win a Big Buddha bag!A handbag is a very personal thing. From the color of your choice to the style you prefer, it is all about your personal preference. Whether you a tote girl or a hobo chick is completely up to you. If you like bright colors or neutrals, that is entirely your call too. Who am I to stand in your way?

It is not just the handbag you purchase, but what goes inside it as well. Does yours contain only the most necessary essentials? Could you reach in there and find just about anything you could ever possibly need in case of an emergency or a pending zombie apocalypse? As my kids have gotten older the number of items in my bag has dropped considerably. Come to think of it, most of the contents in there are actually for me now. How’s that for taking back my purse? So there, kiddos. Watch out, because my car is next on the list.

In the past I have purchased two handbags, make that three handbags, from Big Buddha. Two for everyday use and one for evening. Lucky me, I also received one as a gift from some friends who know my taste well. (Like we already said, you can’t trust just anyone to know your style preferences.) They are versatile, fun, lightweight and wear very well, lasting me several years each.

So when the folks at Big Buddha asked if I would like to give away not one, but two handbags to lucky readers, I jumped at the chance. Not only do I love their styles, the entire line of Big Buddha bags is under $100. That makes it a great price point to buy one for yourself and to buy one as a gift. In case you haven’t heard, Mother’s Day is coming up! You can get one for that person in your life – mom, sister or friend – whose taste only you know so well. (Hint. Hint.)

And no animals will be harmed in the making of your pure, as each Big Buddha bag is 100% vegan, animal-friendly and cruelty-free. (That was what first drew me to check out the brand several years ago.) The line has been featured on the pages of In Style, Lucky, Teen Vogue, Women’s Wear Daily, Cosmopolitan, 0 Magazine, Marie Claire and more. Starting as a small company rooted in Santa Cruz, California, Big Buddha was acquired in 2010 by Steve Madden.

Big Buddha bags are animal-friendly, stylish, and won’t break the bank. They appeal to women of all ages too, with collections that resonate with all handbag aficionados, from the purist to the woman bracing for the next zombie apocalypse.

Want to win one? Just fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Two winners will get a Big Buddha handbag of their choosing! Good luck! Big Buddha Handbags

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Image Source: BigBuddha.com

All That is Bitter and Sweet

Ashley Judd All That is Bitter and SweetRecently I was asked to name a female role model. The women who came to mind are all those who seek to create better opportunities and who speak out on behalf of women and children. I have always admired not just women who thrive in the face of adversity, but also those who choose who feel compelled to use their influence for good. Though I am sure there are many women who do the same without a certain level of influence, and they are equally admirable.

So the names that came to mind were Maria Bello, Christy Turlington, Maria Shriver, Geena Davis, Marlo Thomas, and Ashley Judd. I have had the good fortune to hear Christy Turlington, Geena Davis and Maria Bello speak passionately about their advocacy work and the causes which drive them. I have read The Shriver Report from cover to cover, supported the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and watched as Ashley Judd went testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee about the need to stop the spread of HIV. These women, who are all in a position to continue on the path of their vocation or to simply rest on their laurels, chose instead to make the time and effort to help those less fortunate. Not just by writing a check, but by genuinely getting their hands dirty, as well as by using their voices and influence to spread the word about the injustices for which they have become passionate advocates.

I have to admit that there is something about Ashley Judd that has always intrigued me. When you watched or read her press interviews as she promoted her films, it was evident that she is exceptionally bright. There was also always something in her that to me seemed a tiny bit pained. Perhaps it was the process of doing press, but it appeared to me to be something more. Though I could not quite put my finger on it, somehow it always captivated me. Well, that and the fact that she is a stunningly beautiful woman too.

A couple of months ago I was sent a review copy of Ashley Judd’s autobiography, All That is Bitter and Sweet, and last week I finally had a chance to read the book in its entirety. As someone who usually zips through books, this one was chock full of so many details that I found myself taking more time with it than usual. There was so much information to absorb, so many details about her life that revealed the pain behind that person in the interviews. The story of her life is beautiful and yet so very tragic at the same time. She endured an utterly confusing and painful childhood. The kind that reading about gives puts a pit in your stomach. Yet she had several wonderful people who influenced her in a way that reminded her of the good in life. Her good fortune came in meeting those people along the way. Their kindness, in all likelihood, was what helped her generate the will to save herself. And not only has she thrived though that adversity, she has gone on to help others.

There were a few moments while reading the book when I found the jumping around of time periods a bit confusing. Other than that the book left me feeling floored. Impressed by her openness and honesty about her life, finally understanding the pain behind her eyes, and hoping that in writing her book she has found some solace.

When people think that celebrities lead charmed lives, that all they do is write a check to support a cause, they need to read even just a few pages of Ashley Judd’s book, and her inspiring life story of hope and determination.

“… But I do not regret standing up and saying, ‘This is what life was like for me.’ I owed that to the small child I had been, for whom I am now responsible, whose advocate I am and must continue to be.

… It’s not about staying stuck in it. It’s about having my story straight, so I can genuinely arrive at that place where I can say, ‘That was then, this is now. So what? Now what?’”

 

Disclosure: I was sent a signed copy of Ashley Judd’s book, All That is Bitter & Sweet, though I was under no obligation to write a post about it. All opinions expressed here are purely my own. There is an affiliate link in this post. 

The Smarter Way to Get Kids to Bed

Disclosure

Today my son turned ten. The Smarter Way to Get Kids to Bed

I have no idea how it happened, especially since it feels like we brought him home from the hospital just last week. Last night before bed I gave him my annual weepy mom-on-the-night-before-a-birthday routine.

Me: “I can’t believe my 5-pound baby is turning ten years old tomorrow.”

Him: “Get over it, Mom.”

Sigh. Then I promptly shut off the light and left the room. Next I stopped in to see my younger son. Luckily I still have one who does not think he is too cool for me. He even  likes to chat before bed.

Him: “Tomorrow we get to have birthday cake for my brother, right?

Me: “We sure do.”

Him: “Then I want to go to sleep right now so tomorrow will get here sooner. Good night. Love you, Mom.”

And that was that. So much for chatting. What used to be a bedtime routine of cuddles and stories and lullabies has now become a routine of procrastinating until the last possible second then going to sleep in a hurry.

However, my youngest still will not hit the sack unless there is enough light for him. Between his light, his fan, his clock, and the light in the hallway, I joke that he uses more electricity while he is asleep than most people do all day. However, it is not so much of a joke. The kid is single-handedly running up our electric bills while he is sleeping. So recently when I had the opportunity to try Smart Electric’s Good Night Dimmer Smart Bulb I jumped on it.

This Smart Bulb is my new favorite invention ever. Seriously. You screw it into a lamp or fixture the same way as you would an old, dumb light bulb. What makes this one rock is that it has a chip in the base that controls the wattage. It is a self-dimming incandescent light bulb. In other words, it may start at 75 watts, but it gradually dims to a nightlight level over a 20 minute period.

Smart Electric also makes bulbs that flash in an emergency, as well as bulbs that shut off automatically in either 10 or 30 minutes. They also make bulbs that stay on for 6-hours, turn off for 18-hours and come back on at the same time the next day, making it less obvious when you are away from home. All of their bulbs last up to three times longer than standard bulb, and they all have a 2 year guarantee. See for yourself:

Brilliant, isn’t it? So now my son can read on his own, shut his eyes when he is ready to fall asleep and he will still have enough light to see if he wakes up in the middle of the night. And as most parents know, the more comfortable our kids feel, the less likely they are to wake us up too.

If you would like to try Smart Bulbs for yourself, they can be purchased at Amazon.com.

How do your kids fall asleep? Do they like to keep a light on at bedtime?

When It is More Than Just a Holiday Card

Disclosure
woman taking photoIt is that time of year in my house, when I chase the kids around with my camera in order to get a decent photo of the two of them. As many parents know, it is not easy to get a photo for a holiday card of two reluctant kids who have no interest in looking at the camera or smiling, let alone at the same time.  Holiday cards in our house are more than just a greeting for a happy holiday season. To my husband and me, each year we send out a photo of our growing kids is a reminder of so much that we went through years ago to bring them into this world.

A couple of months ago I was browsing online for a gift idea, when I came across the personalized journals from Minted.com. Then, lucky me, the folks at Minted offered me a gift card to the site if I wanted to write online about a few of my favorite Minted products.

If you have not heard of Minted yet, it has a really cool concept with products such as stationery, wall art, cards and home décor. Minted crowd-sources design ideas from independent designers around the world by engaging them in a variety of design challenges. Both the consumers and designers help curate the site’s product line by voting on the entries to each challenge. Minted produces and sells the winning designs, paying the designer a commission on every sale.

And, it is a woman owned business. Woot!

So the one item that first drew me in to the site is the Chalkboard Dreams Journal designed by Jennifer Pace. It retails for $16 and can be personalized as you choose. There is something about the design on this journal that I just love. (Anyone want to buy me a holiday present?) The Famous Doodles Journal by Avie Designs is a terrific gift idea for a kid of any age. It says, “One day these doodles will be worth a lot of money.” I love how it inspires creativity.

Minted.com Journals

Did I mention that they carry washi tape? My washi-loving friends are going to be thrilled. (I am talking about you, Hillary, Leticia and Lisa.)

Since I do not know how our holiday photo adventure will end, it is somewhat difficult to choose a card just yet. However, I am loving the Simple Flourish Holiday photo cards by Lisa Woodard, the Bold Cheers New Years photo cards by Kristen Smith, and the Headline Banner New Year’s photo cards by Kimberly Morgan. There are so many great designs to choose from. Not only is Minted owned by a woman, all of my favorite cards were designed by women too!

Minted.com Holiday Card Ideas

By the way, not everything on the site is in these colors. I guess it’s just what I am in the mood for this year!

And if you have visited this site before, you know that I am all about brands that give back. If you are fundraising event for a school or a non-profit organization or event, click here for a gift certificate kit or a 50% discount applied to your organization’s order.

So now I am back to chasing my kids around the house while begging or bribing them to smile and look at the camera. Because for us, a holiday card will always be more than just a holiday card.

Hasbro Sustainability Initiative, Fall Toy Lineup and Giveaway

Hasbro KRE-O Cityville SkyscraperMy posts this week have been kind of heavy, so I thought I would end the week with a fun giveaway!

A few weeks ago I was invited to attend a luncheon to learn about the new fall boys lineup from Hasbro, and we even got a few to keep. In addition to doing a lot of great charity work, what I like about Hasbro is that they are stepping up their commitment to be more environmentally sustainable. The company originally set goals in 2008 which they achieved fairly quickly, so now they are taking it further. Their plans to reduce their environmental impact by 2020 includes: minimizing waste, improving energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and conserving water at its owned and operated facilities. In addition, they are trying to utilize more sustainable packaging initiatives, including: reducing packaging material, eliminating PVC from packaging, increasing recycled content, and sourcing paper responsibly. We all have to do our part to be more environmentally friendly, from individuals to big companies – and as individuals who can choose to support companies that are working towards these goals.

The new lineup of toys from Hasbro for this year is really neat because each one can (but does not have to) incorporate a show or social media platform.

The Nerf N-Strike Blazin’ Bow is nothing short of awesome. It is a simple pull-back bow design that is easy to use and can hit targets at up to 40 feet. It comes with three foam arrows and retails at $19.99, making it perfect for a holiday or birthday party present. My kids are so getting these for the holidays.

The Nerf N-Sports Cyber Hoop set is also one that I loved. This is a basketball hoop that hangs over a door and keeps score automatically, but there is also a twist. If you download the free Cyber Hoop app you can play on of their challenges or you can play against someone else in another location. How neat is that? In other words, not only can my kids play against the app or against one another at home, if my kids have one in Pennsylvania and my nephews have one in the Midwest, they can play a game against each other! This also retails for $19.99, a terrific price point for a gift item.

KRE-O now has three different Cityville sets that will wow kids who love to build and play. Each set has sound and motion technology inspired by the accompanying City Ville Invasion app by Zynga. If you know a young builder these playsets will amaze them. Choose from the Skyscrapter Mayhem set (complete with a rampaging gorilla who has escaped the local zoo), the Police Station Zombie Defense set or the Haunted Hideaway set.  They retail from between $24.99 and $39.99 and are perfect for kids ages 7 and up.

If your child is a BeyBlade fan, watch out for the next line of BeyWarriors based on the new TV series, BeyWarriors: Shogun Steel. Kids can battle in a new Octagon Showdown set, which comes with a stadium, two battlers, two ripcords and collector cards. The Octagon Showdown set retails for $39.99. You can also purchase battlers separately for $9.99. With these interchangeable pieces, kids can combine warrior wheels from different tops with a heavier bottom for double metal power.

We had lots of fun playing with the B-Daman Break Bomber Battlefield arena and figures with characters from the B-Daman TV series. Players can scan their figures on their mobile devices to get points and access to digital content. Kids can battle the player next to them or someone across the world. The Break Bomber Battlefield Arena retails for $29.99. Players take opposite sides and blast away at their opponents territory. Each set includes the arena and two B-Daman figures. You can also purchase the figures separately for $8.99.

As it turned out, a good portion of our lunch was spent chatting about the Rebelle line of Nerf products for girls, and how much we like their design. My boys came home from school talking about it one day recently. Even though the Rebelle line is decorated with pink and purple phoenix feathers, it is fierce. If I had known about the line when my kids first started their Nerf obsession I absolutely would have gotten one for mysel’f!

So, let’s get to the giveaway now, shall we? Who wants a B-Daman Break Bomber Battlefield set? Just enter via Rafflecopter below. Good luck!
<center>a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was invited by the Hasbro public relations team to attend a luncheon introducing the new fall boys lineup of toys and was gifted several items at the event. There was no requirement to write a review or monetary payment provided.

Open Letter to Glutino

Dear Glutino,

I am writing this with my sincerest apologies. It was generous of you to send me that box of products in case I wanted to sample and review them on my site. It has been one of those months, when life always seems to get in the way. I fully intended to write about your gluten-free line of delicious products, from the double chocolate brownie mix to the strawberry toaster pastries. (Those toaster pastries are delicious warmed up with a little cream cheese on top, by the way.)

Then I was going to write about how my son who does not need to eat gluten-free prefers your pretzels over any other brand. There was even a cute photo of him to go along with the intended post. He also adores the gluten-free chocolate coated wafer cookies, while I love the lemon flavored ones.

Seriously, let me tell you, I had this post all planned out in my head but just could not get my act together. It was going to end with me explaining how ever since my older son started his gluten-free diet many years ago I had been searching for a tasty cracker with a real cracker consistency. (A good gluten-free cracker is not easy to find. Trust me, because I have sampled them all.) It was not until I tried your multigrain crackers that my search had been completed.

It would have been a really adorable post, highlighting how much my family enjoys your products, even those of us who do not require a gluten-free diet for medical reasons. You would have loved it.Open letter to Glutino

Again I must apologize one last time for not writing the post as I had intended.

Sadly, all of the Glutino products I planned to write about are gone.

Yours truly,

Jessica

 

Disclosure: Please note that I received samples of Glutino products to try, but was under no obligation to write a blog post on their behalf. All opinions in this post are mine, all mine. If you are interested in finding out more about Glutino, please visit http://www.glutino.com/.



Theme Customization by eDesign-Pro Company