The Circus is Coming!

The Circus is ComingI must admit that my kids (particularly my oldest) is not typically easily impressed.  So last year when the circus came to town we debated whether or not to get tickets.  The kids ended up seeing the show with their cousins and all four kids absolutely loved it.  Even my tough-customer talked about it for days afterwards.

So when I found out that Ringling Brothers was coming back with an all-new show, I jumped at the chance to write about it.  Not just because my kids had a blast at the last one, but because of the Ringling Bros. Center for Elephant Conservation.

The Asian elephant has long been known as a symbol of “The Greatest Show on Earth and Ringling Brothers takes their conservation and breeding seriously.  In fact, in 1995 the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Center for Elephant Conservation® was established in central Florida in the interest of the species’ present and future well-being.  This 200-acre, $5-million, state-of-the-art facility is specifically dedicated to the nurturing and preservation of Elephants. http://www.elephantcenter.com/

Because of their long-established relationship working with tigers and other big cat species, Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey also support conservation programs for these amazing animals, such as the completion of a Wildlife Health Monitoring Unit in an area of Russia that is home to Amur tiger and leopard populations as well as supporting a local conservation program for tigers in Northeast India.

Ringling Brothers - Wells Fargo Center

“Built To Amaze!” is the 143rd edition of the Greatest Show On Earth, and we will be taking the kids to see it in February, hopeful that they will love this edition even more than the last one.  We’ll watch the circus performers from around the world perform their acrobatics as well as the elephants, tigers and other exciting show-stoppers.

I am excited to be able to give away two four-packs of tickets to the show at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on either 2/14 or 2/15 at either 10:30 am or 7:00 pm.  To enter just leave a comment below telling us what you love about the circus or why you want to win the tickets.  Remember to use the Rafflecopter form!

If you want to purchase tickets to the circus, using the code MOM at checkout to save!  You will receive $15 flat price valid on all $30, $25 seats on 2/14 or 2/15 for the 10:30 am and 7:00 pm shows. Purchase your tickets here.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Contest Rules: To enter, just leave a comment on this post answering the question, “What do you love about the circus?? Why do you want to win the tickets”  Two (2) winners will each receive a four-pack of tickets to “Built to Amaze” at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia on 2/14 or 2/15 at 10:30 am or 7:00 pm.  The tickets will be sent by mail in the form of a voucher.  The contest ends on 1/30/13 at 12:00 am.  Winners will be chosen at random by a third party application notified via email and must respond within 48 hours or another winner will be chosen.  Contact Jessica@FoundtheMarbles.com with questions.

Disclaimer: I very gladly accepted tickets to the circus for writing this post and hosting the giveaway. Hope to see you there!

3 Social Good Apps You Should Download Right Now

3 Social Good Apps You Should Download Now.Giving back has never been more important and now it has gotten even easier.  Here are three terrific social good apps you can download now and give back right from your phone or iPad:

Check in for Good:  http://checkinforgood.com/

Check-in For Good is based on the concept that causes are impacted by groups of people who drive awareness.  When you check in at a participating location using your mobile device, that business will make a donation to a non-profit organization.  It’s a win-win-win social action model where consumers can receive discounts and recognition for their check-in, businesses gain foot traffic and charities gain awareness and funds.  The app also has unique options in place with regards to privacy concerns regarding check-ins.  In addition, there is no fee for businesses other than their predetermined donation pledge. (Free)

Pay It Forward: http://www.payitforwardfoundation.org/buy-the-app/

The official app of the Pay It Forward movement, this is an important reminder that it does not take much to make a positive impact on someone else’s day.  Each day the app will send you a suggestion of an act of kindness to do that day.  You can keep track of your own actions, view social actions being taken around the world and even share your progress with others.  After all, kindness really is contagious.  ($0.99)

Charity Miles: http://www.charitymiles.org/

Whether you are already an athlete or are simply starting a New Year’s resolution, this is a terrific incentive to keep on moving.  As you exercise, this app will track your distance and donate money to the charity of your choice for every mile you have walked, run, hiked or biked. You will earn $.10 per mile for bicycling and $.25 per mile for walking or running.  Just turn on the app, choose a charity, and press start. (Free)

Are you using any of these social good apps already?  Do you have any others to suggest?  If so, let’s hear them so we can all take action to give back.

Gifts That Give Back: From the @HeartofHaiti

In the heart of Haiti there are warriors.  There are warriors who have been fighting to survive and move on ever since the earthquake in Haiti in 2010.  While news about Haiti and its people has waned, Haitian communities are still struggling immensely every single day.  It is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and despite the devastating earthquake in Haiti people there are filled with hope and a desire to improve their lives through employment.

In the heart of Haiti there are artisans. There are artisans who are creating beautiful works of art and selling their pieces to provide for their families.  The Heart of Haiti program through Macy’s provides a source of income to 450 artisans so they can support their families during this challenging time after the earthquake in Haiti.  To date the Heart of Haiti program has employed 780 artisans and improved the lives of over 6,200 individuals. The program pays more than fair wage to the artisans, providing them not only with the dignity of work but also with economic self-determination.

In a recent interview for Forbes.com with Terry Lundgren, chairman, president and chief executive officer of Macy’s, Inc., said, “We also understand that our customers want to know that the company they’re doing business with is responsible locally, nationally and globally; therefore, in addition to being active in our local communities, we recognize our ability to create change on a larger scale, especially within the climate of today’s global economy.”

The items in the Heart of Haiti collection are beautiful pieces and would make a very special gift.  The collection features more than 40 home decor items including quilts, metalwork, jewelry and paintings all made almost entirely from recycled and sustainable items.

Initiatives such as the Heart of Haiti campaign allow companies like Macy’s to focus on global issues and give consumers a method of support communities in need worldwide; upholding the belief that “trade not aid” is a powerful way to create sustainable work and financial opportunities. I love the fact that Lundgren himself has personally visited Haiti to meet the artisans in person and see the impact the sales of these items have on their lives.

Perhaps news from Haiti has waned, but we can still do something to help those who are still in serious need from the impact of the Haiti earthquake. Purchasing items from Macy’s Heart of Haiti is an easy way to contribute to the Haitian community, which now in light of Hurricane Sandy, needs our help more than ever. So when you are considering a gift to buy someone this year, why not give twice?  To see the handmade items by artisans in Haiti, go to:  http://www.macys.com/haiti.


(All photos above courtesy of Macy’s.com)

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. As a member of the #CleverHaiti team I received the beautiful handmade star shown in the photo below. Since my family does not have a Christmas tree of our own, I wanted to give this item to someone special. The moment I saw it I knew exactly who I will send it to because this person truly is a star.

I received exclusive product from the Macy’s Heart of Haiti line that inspired this post. I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own. #CleverHaiti

Guy Kawasaki is helping me write a book. Seriously.

I am going to write a book. I think. Well, maybe.  Perhaps putting it out here on the blog and into the universe will set the wheels in motion.

You see, I have had this book concept in my head for some time now, only I have been somewhat flustered by the daunting task of getting it out of my head and onto the computer screen.  Oh, and then there is the wondering how I am going to publish said book once it is finally complete.

Besides, I have not yet mentioned this new plan to my husband.  When I do break the news, he will smile politely to me then walk away mumbling under his breath something about how I am going to possible find time to write a book between working, blogging and parenting.

This plan of mine did not seem so crazy when the one and only Guy Kawasaki generously agreed to help me publish my book.  Well, at least that is how I would like to think of it.

In truth, I was lucky to score a review copy of Guy’s new book, APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur–How to Publish a Book.  Given that he has authored eleven previous books, he is clearly the right person to learn from.  Guy co-wrote APE with app developer and Pearson Education alumni, Shawn Welch, to help writers take control of the publishing process.

I just downloaded my review copy and started to dig into the first pages.  APE’s concept is based on the simple yet empowering knowledge that and individual can fill the role of author, publisher and entrepreneur in a way that yields results similar to those of traditional publishing.  My plan is to learn about the editing and self-publishing process while writing the book as a way to learn the ropes while staying motivated to keep on writing.  This book covers everything from being your own editor, to concepts from choosing a book cover to uploading your book to financing, pricing and marketing your self-published book.

If you are considering self-publishing a book and want Guy Kawasaki to help you, simply pre-order a copy of APE: Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur–How to Publish a Book now at Amazon.com.  APE will be released on Kindle on December 10th

Hmm… Do you think Guy will come to the book release party?  A girl can dream, right?

By the way, there is an affiliate link in this post. Therefore, if you should decide to purchase a copy of the book through this post, I can drink half a cup of coffee while reading my copy.

Great Gifts That Give Back

As consumers we have a choice of where to put our dollars, of where and how to spend them so that they are put to the best use possible.  When you are shopping for items for unique holiday gifts this year, why not consider purchasing gifts that give back to those who made them or gifts that pay it forward to charitable organizations? While we can give a beautiful gift to the person on our holiday list, we can pay it forward at the same time and put our dollars to use twice.  With that said, here are 13 suggestions of unique holiday gift ideas that give twice:

A Different Kind of Ballerina

Is there someone in your life who has everything?  Then please, I implore you, check out Ballerina.  Photographer Bob Carey has taken brilliant photographs of himself wearing a pink tutu in various locations and compiled the photographs into this fabulous table book.  It costs $50 and all net proceeds support women with breast cancer.  For more information and to see a few of the photos, go to: http://www.thetutuproject.com/support-the-tutu-project/ballerina-the-book/.   

Cure by Design

Rachel began selling beaded bracelets to raise funds to find a cure for diabetes. Since then she has begun designing bracelets for several important causes. For every piece of jewelry sold at Rachel’s Cure by Design over $30, she donates $10.00 to the cause plus $10.00 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Rachel has developed a beautiful selection of bracelets, necklaces and earrings to choose from, all of which would make a terrific holiday gift.  To see her designs, head on over to: http://www.rachelscbd.com/fundraising.php.

Headbands of Hope

For every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to the St. Baldrick’s foundation to fund cancer research.  My personal favorite is the black rose headband for $17.95. Purchase your headband for hope and donate one to a girl with cancer at: http://www.headbandsofhope.org/collections/beaded.

Imaginations Run Wild

Aren’t books always a wonderful gift for a child? Jason Mayo wrote Do Witches Make Fishes to teach children about healthy eating.  The main character in this tale is a boy who prefers candy instead of healthier options. His imagination runs wild as he learns about making wise food choices.  Profits from the sale of the book go towards the Garden of Dreams Foundation.  The book costs $12.99-$13.51. For a list of retailers, go to: http://www.dowitchesmakefishes.com/.

A Scarf for Every Season

As written here before, I am a huge fan of the Connected in Hope Foundation.  Their goal is to provide women in Ethiopia access to international markets as well as to support, encourage and train them to earn a sustainable and predictable income through sales of their hand-woven scarves and baskets.  All profits on the sale of the scarves are re-invested in programs that support the women and their families. There is a wide variety of styles and colors to choose from at: http://store.connectedinhope.com/. (By the way, I own the infinity scarf in merlot and love it.)  For an added bonus, readers who use the code MARBLES will receive a 10% discount at checkout.

Let There be Wine

Charity Wines make the perfect gift for the sports fan on your list. The site partners with professional athletes and celebrities to create wines that help raise funds for a variety of charities throughout the country.  To search the site and find a retailer, go to: http://charitywines.com. Hurry, charity wines are exclusively single run wines.  Once they are sold out they are retired and no longer available.

A Healthy Glow

The one and only Laura Mercier has created the ‘Bonne Mine Healthy Glow’ face & cheeks color palette which is sold at Nordstrom.  All profits from the sale of this fabulous gift will be donated to the Laura Mercier Ovarian Cancer Fund, which raises awareness funds efforts to help diagnose, treat and support women with ovarian cancer.  The Bonne Mine Healthy Glow palette costs $48 and can be purchased at: http://shop.nordstrom.com/S/laura-mercier-bonne-mine-healthy-glow-face-cheeks-color-palette/3364181?origin=keywordsearch&contextualcategoryid=6002216&fashionColor=&resultback=0.

Pearls with Purpose

Last month I met the founder of Pearls with Purpose. While I shopped she spoke passionately about the organization and how their products are created with genuine pearls and stones by women in the Philippines and India.  The proceeds from the sale of each piece helps underprivileged women in these countries.  They also have a fabulous item called The Pledge necklace. For $25 you can buy a necklace and add charms to it as you do pledge to do acts of service in your community.  To shop all items from Pearls with Purpose, go to: http://pearlswithpurpose.com/

Knitted Beauty

Knits for Life is an Etsy store that makes ethical goods for everyday people.  She uses mostly all organic, recycled, and natural farm-direct materials for her knit wear.  For every hand made item purchased, a tree will be planted through The Nature Conservancy. My favorite item is the camel slouchy knit fingerless gloves.  To browse the shop for your favorite, go to: http://www.etsy.com/shop/KnitsForLife.

Inspired Reading

The Kenneth Cole Foundation is all about “awearness” and creating meaningful social change.  Their aptly named book, Awearness, is a collection of over 80 essays and conversations with people who have been the creators of such social change.  This inspiring book costs $25 and all proceeds benefit the Kenneth Cole Foundation.  You can purchase it at: http://www.kennethcole.com/family/index.jsp?categoryId=3261693.

Ten Thousand Villages

A fair trade retail site, Ten Thousand Villages sources handmade items and unique gift ideas from all over the world. The company’s goal is to improve the livelihood of disadvantaged artisans from 38 countries worldwide. My personal favorite from this site is a gorgeous gold horizons pillow cover made in Peru.  Browse through hundreds of items sold through Ten Thousand Villages at: http://www.tenthousandvillages.com/.

Do Good, Buy us

Still unsure what to buy for the holidays? Then go browse http://www.dogoodbuy.us/. I met founder Zack Rosenberg at the Social Good Summit in September and learned about his deep passion for paying it forward.  He has created an online marketplace for charity-made products, perfect for those of us shopping this holiday for gifts that pay it forward.  As the site says, the world won’t change until consumerism does.  There is a terrific selection of items for every person on your holiday list.  See for yourself at: http://www.dogoodbuy.us/.

Gifts that Give

Last, but absolutely not least – at Gifts That Give, you can shop by item type, brand or price point.  First you select the causes that are important to you. Then you shop their gorgeous selection of items in every imaginable category.  For each purchase made, $1 of every $5 spent is donated to the cause of your choice.  You may never buy a gift again anywhere else. Click over to start shopping for gifts that give at: http://www.giftsthatgive.com/.

What will you be shopping for this holiday season?

Please note: There are no affiliate links in this post nor was I was paid in any format for this post. 

Awesome Ideas for Hosting a Wine Tasting Party

Let’s say you have your heart set on a wine themed party, but lack either the funds or the desire to hire a sommelier to run the event.  While this is not a typical post of mine, last weekend I hosted a really fun wine tasting party for fifteen of my closest friends and thought I’d share with you some easy ideas for hosting a wine themed party.

Without a sommelier at the party, you can give guests the chance to taste wine without knowing the wine types or varietals. These fabulous jute bags from Etsy keep wine bottles covered.  Next to the wines there were trays available so guests could taste wine with either cheeses or chocolate to see if either enhances the flavors.

Your guests can also take notes and rate the wines using Rate that Wine pads by Knock Knock.  You could even create a game with prizes for the guests who guess the most wine types correctly.

A wine themed party can be accessorized in a variety of fun ways, from the serious to the whimsical.  Knock Knock also makes these reusable coasters with fun wine related sayings. Wine glass charms can be reused as well, add a touch of flair to the décor and your guests will not lose sight of their wine glass.  Adorable cocktail napkins can also add a touch of whimsy.

Another easy way to keep the wine theme going is to put out wine related table books or board games for guests to enjoy. Since this crowd is more laughs than seriousness, we went with lighthearted reading.  Always good for a laugh when moms’ get a night out are the facetious and funny Sh*tty Mom and How to Traumatize Your Children.  The guests also got a kick out of Color Me Drunk, an activity book which gives a variety of drawing and writing assignments to the slightly inebriated.

Lastly, consider using wine corks to decorate. If you don’t have a collection, simply purchase a box of wine corks and let the decorating begin by filling any bowls or vases you already have in your home.

No matter how you create the setting, let your guests taste the wine and enjoy the company.  That is truly the key to hosting a wine tasting party.  Cheers to a wonderful evening!

 

Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. What does that mean? Well, if you should decide to purchase an item through these links, I will make enough for approximately a quarter of a cup of coffee at Starbucks. Seriously.

Taking the Listerine Sweet Smart Challenge

Well, they did it. My kids brushed, flossed and rinsed for a month straight.  (It’s too bad their teeth aren’t straight but that is a whole other story.)

After we received the terrific package of goodies we posted up a tooth care chart in the bathroom so my boys could check it off each night after they had finished up their bedtime routine.  Funny enough, they needed to be reminded to mark the chart but not to floss and rinse after brushing.

On one hand I am completely shocked that they kept up with it for a month.  On the other hand, they thought it was so cool that it was easy to make rinsing and flossing part of their routine.  My son (who turned six during the month of the challenge) used up an entire bottle of Listerine Smart Rinse during the month.  I actually had to tell him to scale back a bit for fear that he would end up in a twelve step program or at Listerine Anonymous. When we lost power during hurricane Sandy we each packed an overnight bag to stay with friends.  Guess who made sure to pack his Listerine?

The Listerine Smart Rinse is alcohol free and comes with a pre-loaded top so you can easily squeeze the amount needed for one rinsing.  It is also gluten-free which is notable as so many kids (including my own) have a gluten allergy or sensitivity.

Through this experience I learned a great deal about the importance of rinsing and flossing for kids.  For example, oral disease has become the #1 chronic childhood disease and 44% of American kids will suffer from pediatric dental disease before they reach kindergarten.  That statistic makes me grateful to have been a part of the Sweet Smart Challenge so I can instill the habit of flossing and rinsing in my kids right now.

I also learned that rinsing is even more important when a child gets braces since the braces tend to trap food which adheres to teeth and causes cavities.  As my older son will be sporting a shiny new set of braces soon, it is even more important to make rinsing a part of his daily routine.

Do your kids already floss and use a mouth rinse twice a day?  Before this, I considered it a win if my kids actually brushed twice a day.  Experts say that a rinse strengthens our kids’ teeth 99% better than brushing alone, so rinsing they will do.

By the way, when I received that package of toothbrushes, flosses and rinses, included were several items geared for girls.  There were pink toothbrushes and Barbie Listerine Smart Rinse.  I donated those to a local shelter, hoping that a nearby family could use them to teach their own children about the importance of good oral care.  For more information on helping your kids with their oral care routine, visit www.ListerineKids.com.

 

Disclosure: My kids spent a month doing the Listerine Sweet Smart Oral Care challenge and I am so glad we took part.  This post is compensated by The Motherhood and Listerine.  All opinions expressed in this post and the kids who took the challenge are mine, all mine.  The kid in the photo above? Not mine.

Let’s All Save 2nd Base

October being breast cancer awareness month is the perfect time to support terrific breast cancer non-profit organizations, and this is one of my very favorites.  I wrote about Save 2nd Base as one of my first ever blog posts on this site.  I think it is appropriate to revisit that post, because this amazing organization deserves it.

In 2005 a small group of women were getting ready for the Breast Cancer 3-Day charity walk when they met to decide their team name.  Their teammate, Kelly Rooney, a 42-year-old with five children and stage-three breast cancer, came up with a humorous play on words, and suggested their name be, “Save 2nd Base.”  She designed a t-shirt for their team as they got ready for the walk.  By the time the Breast Cancer 3-Day arrived Kelly was too weak to participate, but her teammates wore the shirts and were approached with great enthusiasm for their take on the old baseball euphemism.

Kelly was relentless in her pursuit of wanting to prevent her four daughters from ever facing the same disease.  In July 2006, she asked her sister and close friend to do whatever they could to make sure that her girls don’t get breast cancer.  Rooney’s sister Erin O’Brien Dugery and friend Kelly Day trademarked the Save 2nd Base tagline and began selling the T shirts online and in boutiques.

Kelly Rooney died on July 11, 2006 at age 43, leaving behind a husband and five children.  She had no family history of the disease which she bravely battled for four years.

Fifty percent of profits from Save 2nd Base go towards The Kelly Rooney Foundation.   The foundation was formed to continue Kelly’s hope for her own daughters and for young women of their generation to be breast cancer free.

Save 2nd Base’s goal is to provide exposure for the mission of The Kelly Rooney Foundation.  Each shirt has the potential to spread breast cancer awareness of a beautiful person and the mark she left on the world.  To date, Save 2nd Base has donated more than $30,000 to the foundation which bears her name and to other Breast Cancer non-profit organizations.

As you and your family gear up for baseball season, why not consider supporting The Kelly Rooney Foundation with some humor and a great-looking shirt or accessory?  Save 2nd Base breast cancer awareness t-shirts and accessories can be purchased at www.Save2ndBase.com.

***

Look who Found the Marbles did not receive any monetary compensation for this post. We did receive one t-shirt from Save 2nd Base as a ‘thank you’ for writing the post on their behalf . 

How to be More Efficient with @Ringya

Today we are wearing more hats than ever before.  There is more to get done though there remains just 24 hours in the day.  Any chance to be more efficient is one for the taking.

While technology has surely complicated life in some ways, it allows us to be way more efficient in other aspects of our lives. There are apps that remind us we need milk as we pass the grocery store, apps for managing our calendars and syncing them with our family and apps that allow us to create presentations right from our cell phones.

Far and away the coolest app I’ve seen lately is Ringya.  With Ringya you can create contact lists on your phone, called rings. You can contact everyone in the ring at one time via text, phone call or email and you can share your ring with others.

What makes Ringya so unique is that you can get contacts from other sources into your ring using your phone’s camera.  Let me explain. Last week I took a photo of the contact list for my son’s soccer team.  Within minutes that list became the soccer team ring in my contacts.  I can also make life easier for the other team parents by sharing that ring with them.  Also, when one ring member updates their contact information the entire list automatically gets the update so the list stays current.

This year our elementary schools is going paperless with their contact list.  However, with Ringya I can easily get those contacts sent right to my phone so that I can have a class contact list for each of my children.  When a class parent contacts me, my phone will tell me who it is and which ring they belong to, such as, “Jen Miller, Aiden’s Mom, Mrs. Cantor’s class”.

There are so many ways to utilize Ringya for work too, such as a client contact list, a department at a company or all of the people from various departments working on the same project. With people working remotely, traveling for business and crossing regions Ringya can be enormously helpful for multiple business systems.  It is a simple way to have instant access to people you need to contact but otherwise wouldn’t have added one at a time to your personal address book.

It’s also easy to take current contacts and put them into a ring on your own, whether it be your book club or your extended family members.  If you are one of those people who keeps multiple paper lists on the refrigerator door, just snap a photo of it and the list will be in your phone in no time.  You can also email a digital list to rings@ringya.com and it will be uploaded, organized and sent back to you shortly.

Ringya has extremely strict privacy settings for users and list members.  There is no third party distribution of your lists or rings.

Ringya is currently available on iPhones and free to download at: http://goo.gl/tK8eJ or via the app store at: http://goo.gl/tK8eJ.  To see more about how Ringya works, go to: http://goo.gl/x4e0L.

Life is busy. Let’s live more efficiently by utilizing the tools available to us.  So who will you be putting into your ring?
Disclosure: I am so proud to be working with Ringya to show how Ringya can make life more efficient and help to reduce unnecessary stress.  To that end I am being compensated for this post.

We Made This Movie: Premiere & Review

We made this movie.  Well, not me. I did not make a movie. They did; the kids from Bucktown High School.  Or so it seems.  Actually, it is not what it seems at all.

Let me guess.  Right now you are intrigued but fairly confused.  Good, because that is precisely the point.

Last night I attended a movie screening of Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman’s new film, We Made This Movie.  Rob Burnett is the Emmy Award-winning executive producer of The Late Show with David Letterman as well as president and CEO of Letterman’s production company, Worldwide Pants Inc.  Beckerman is equally talented and this is the pair’s first full length feature movie.

Now it is confession time.  A large part of the reason why I wanted to attend this screening is because Rob Burnett and Jon Beckerman are also the co-creators and producers of Ed, which aired from 2000 to 2004.  Ed was my guilty pleasure; a combination of likeable actors, sweet moments, sarcastic banter and quick wit.

The other reason why this film sounded so interesting is that it is different than almost anything we have seen to date.  Not just because of the content (which I will get to in a moment) and not just because it was made with a small budget and filmed in just 21 days. This film is utilizing today’s media not for merely promoting the film, but for making the film.

All of the music for the film was crowd sourced through the Red Bull Sound Stage.  In other words, the producers put out a call on the site for music.  Initially they wanted four songs and they received almost 1500 submissions.  The producers were so pleased with the music they received that they ended up putting 22 pieces of music in the film.  As Rob Burnett himself said, the music is a vital part of tying the film together.  You can hear the entire playlist at: http://www.redbullsoundstage.com/blog/1892/.

We Made This Movie will be released in digital format only.  It premieres on September 20th in New York City and will stream online simultaneously for free. The movie will be available for free downloads until the next day when it will start to roll out on digital paid platforms, beginning with iTunes on September 21st.  You can sign up to watch the premiere online on September 20th at 6:30 EST at: http://www.wemadethismovie.com/.

The film is about a group of high school kids who are making a movie in the hopes of becoming famous and getting out of small town USA.  They decide to borrow cameras and make a comedy along the lines of Jackass or Borat.  They have three freshmen follow them around with video cameras so that when their movie is a huge hit they can release the DVD extras.  Without the knowledge that each one of them fits into a cliché role, they start out with several hilariously awkward moments and end up realizing that instead of making a movie, they are the movie.

Rob Burnett gave a group of talented yet unknown actors a shot with this film, and it works. He also gave talented yet largely unknown musicians a huge break in this film, and that works too. He even generously gave a high school student a shot in putting together the trailer. How cool is that? You can see it for yourself here:

 

In short, We Made This Movie is not quite what it seems to be and that is exactly the way it is supposed to be.  Got it?

Disclosure: I was invited to a screening of the film We Made This Movie.  There was no request or requirement to write a post about the film nor am I receiving any form of compensation for writing this post. They did, however, make us popcorn.  See?

Connected in Fashion & Hope – @ConnectedinHope

Ryane Murnane traveled to Ethiopia in 2009 to adopt a baby boy.  To her surprise, she fell head over heels for both the country and the people whom she met on her journey.  Ryane knew immediately that she wanted to find a way to give back to the country that gave her a son.

More trips to Ethiopia introduced Ryane to the women burdened with bundles of fuel wood, including the enormous challenges they face in an effort to provide food and shelter for their families. 

Fashion that Gives Back

Do you see this beautiful scarf around my neck?  –> It was made by Alem Ababte, a member of the Former Fuel Wood Carriers Association, Mount Entoto, Ethiopia.

Shortly after returning from Ethiopia, Ryane co-founded the Connected in Hope Foundation, a non-profit organization which was developed as a social enterprise to address the needs of women in Ethiopia. The organization works with 60 women who weave beautiful scarves and baskets by hand that the organization sells in the United States. These women once had to transport heavy bundles of fuel wood (75-80 lbs at a time) more than ten miles down mountains to sell in their wares at markets in Addis Ababa for a profit of less than $1 per day.

Their goal is to provide these women access to international markets as well as to support, encourage and train them to earn a sustainable and predictable income through sales of their hand-woven items.  To that end, 100% of the profits on the sale of the scarves are re-invested in programs to support the women and their families, such as a preschool for the children of the weavers. They also hope to continue to raise funds so they can open a small library for the children and even a health clinic.

I am giving one scarf away to a lucky reader!  The winner will get to choose the scarf of their choice from the Connected in Hope store at http://store.connectedinhope.com/.  All you have to do is leave a comment below telling us which scarf you would choose if you won.

To learn more about Connected in Hope, go to http://www.connectedinhope.com/. I also encourage you to Like their Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/ConnectedinHope.

I am also honored to be working with the Connected in Hope Foundation to offer readers a 10% discount on scarves using the code MARBLES at checkout when you make a purchase at http://store.connectedinhope.com/. Can you even think of a more meaningful gift than one which is both beautiful and gives back?  Buy one of these fashionable scarves for yourself too!

By the way, the scarf I am wearing in the photo above is the Infiniti scarf in Merlot.  You can find it here: http://store.connectedinhope.com/infinity-scarves/merlot-infinity-scarf.

 

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*** Disclosure: I am both honored and proud to be working with the Connected in Hope Foundation. They generously sent me a scarf for writing this post and hosting the giveaway.

Dining at Disney World with Food Allergies

Several times through the years friends and acquaintances mentioned that the folks at Disney are terrific about food allergies and thought, “Yeah, but can they accommodate an extreme case?  How about someone with a gazillion food allergies?”

Not long ago I heard a story from a friend at the Kids With Food Allergies Foundation.  A family traveled to Disney with their young son who could eat nothing.  Sadly he was on a feeding tube.  At each restaurant his family dined at during their stay, the chef brought out an elaborate Disney themed ice sculpture for the boy to enjoy.  How incredible is that?

Those of you who know me or visit this site often know that my oldest has multiple severe food allergies.  One serious food allergy is unsettling enough.  Our list includes: peanuts, tree nuts, dairy, egg, wheat/gluten, oat, soy, beef, pork, white potatoes, tomatoes, all legumes (incl: lentils, chick peas, peas), pineapple, lemon, sesame seeds and more.  There are also many foods he has never eaten so we do not know if they are safe yet.  (We work with doctors to slowly try a few new items each year.)  Due to the potential for contamination issues we have a list of brand-specific foods that are safe for our son.  So you see that when I said that our case is extreme, I was hardly kidding.

Not only had we never been on a family vacation, we had never been out to eat together as a family.  It was too much of a risk.  Yet it was time to try, to make that phone call to see if the happiest place on earth really could accommodate us.

We booked a room with a kitchen to cook there as needed.  Our travel agent told us about Garden Grocer, a nearby supermarket which carries a lot of specialty items.  I ordered food online and they were all set to have it delivered to our room upon arrival.

We looked at Disney’s Special Dietary Requests page to find out about dining at Disney with food allergies.  Upon request, we sent an email with a list of food allergens and our dining reservations to Special.Diets@DisneyWorld.com.

A few weeks before we were set to leave a chef from one of the restaurants called.  He had received our list and wanted to talk about what he could make for our son when we arrived at his restaurant. I asked him to hold for a moment so I could stop my tears.  We really would be able to eat at Disney with food allergies.

Each of the chefs called prior to our reservation and each was fantastic.  Our first stop was Tutto Italia in Epcot, where Chef Alan’s shift was over before we arrived but had stayed longer just to cook for our son.  We didn’t even get a chance to thank him.  While my boy ate his first ever meal out at a restaurant, I shot photos through tears.

We were actually dining at Disney with food allergies.

Chef George at the Rainforest Café in Animal Kingdom went food shopping that morning just to get our ingredients.  (Plus, he made “the best cookies ever.”)   The Chefs at the Wilderness Lodge saved a brand new Mickey Mouse waffle iron to use for our son’s homemade waffles.  He also ate the tastiest sweet potato fries ever and a special drink at the Sci-Fi diner.  Our son was overjoyed and so were we.

To all of those at Disney from the Special Dietary Request department to the chefs, the wait staff and on, please know that you gave our child a week he will never forget.  Since returning home from our trip, he talks more about the meals he ate than the parks we visited or the rides he went on over and over again.

Dining at Disney with food allergies was truly a dream come true.

How to Keep Children Germ-Free at School with @Purell

Though most kids definitely would not admit to it, back to school is an exciting time of year filled with new teachers, new books, new classmates and new germs.  Right now Purell is hosting a sweepstakes called Healthy Starts for Classroom Smarts.  Ten winners will get a prize of a $250 back-to-school shopping spree plus 25 Scholastic books and Purell products to keep your child’s classroom as germ-free as possible.

As most parents of school aged kids know, when one child at school catches a cold or virus, it has a tendency to travel straight through the classroom.  Though frequent hand washing is the best way to try to prevent these colds and viruses from reaching your child, we are not with our kids at school to remind them to wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water throughout the day.

In our school district, many of the teachers have hand sanitizer on the list of school supplies for each child to bring on the first day of school.  I also put a bottle of Purell in each of my kids’ backpacks, just in case they are sitting next to a kid on the bus who has an obvious cough or sniffles.  In hearing about the contest, I also learned that Purell has a new Jelly Wrap carrier that clips to backpacks.  This is a great solution for my kids, particularly my older one who has a tendency to lose just about everything.  By the way, you can find a coupon for Purell here: http://www.scholastic.com/purell.

Knowing that many of our schools throughout the country have been facing severe budget cuts and financial hardships, Purell is offering a full range of hand soaps for schools.  From now until 7/31/2013, when a school system purchases 100 cases of GOJO foam soap they can qualify to receive 10 cases of free Purell products, enough to sanitize the hands of 480 busloads of students. Most school systems need to order way more than 100 cases, so that is an easily attainable number.  That’s an easy target for most school systems to achieve, and after a school reaches its first 100 cases, each additional 10 cases of GOJO foam soap will earn an additional case of Purell for free.  For more information, go to: http://purell.com/~/media/Purell/Files/LIT-K12EXC.pdf.

Don’t forget to enter the Healthy Starts for Classroom Smarts contest.  Who could not use a $250 back-to-school shopping spree?  With ten winners you have a great chance at winning it, plus 25 the Scholastic books and Purell products for your child’s classroom.  You can enter now through 9/30/12 at http://www.scholastic.com/purell.

 

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While I applaud Purell for paying it forward to schools in need, please note that I was compensated for this post.  All opinions are authentically my own. 

What’s in a Namesake?

Rachel Levy Lesser has graced this site before with a terrific guest post about How She Found the Marbles. She is the author of the beautiful memoir of time spent with her mother called Shopping for Love. Now Rachel’s exploration into her family heritage has resulted in her first children’s book, My name is Rebecca Romm, Named After My Mother’s Mom, a heartwarming book about self acceptance.

Rebecca Elizabeth Romm was named after her late grandmother, also named Rebecca. She does not like being named after nor being compared to her grandmother and just wants a name of her own. Rebecca’s teacher assigns the class a project about their names and Rebecca soon learns that several of her classmates were also named after significant people. Some of the namesakes are family like Rebecca’s while other students are named after famous and important people in history. Upon learning more about her grandmother, Rebecca begins to realize that being named after someone might not be an honor after all. She also discovers that despite being named after someone else, Rebecca is still her own unique individual.

Congratulations to Rachel on the release of her book! You can see more about the book or purchase it directly from Amazon.com by following this link: My Name is Rebecca Romm, Named after My Mother’s Mom.

Are you or your children named after someone special? How does it feel to be that person’s namesake?

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Rachel Levy Lesser sent me a copy of her book for review. There is an affiliate link in the post, which means that if you purchase a copy of Rachel’s book using that link, I can get 1/2 cup of coffee at Starbucks.

@Picaboo Photo Books that Keep Children Safe

One night during the Type A Parent Conference a bunch of us bloggers hit a good old Mexican restaurant. Our dinner conversation included everything from our families to celebrity gossip to best practices in social media.

At one point I was chatting with Becca Bernstein, my friend who works in social media for Picaboo photo books, cards, calendars, prints and more.  Displaying my clear inability to think outside of the box, Becca was telling me about some of the ways people have utilized Picaboo’s photo books beyond family events, vacations and life occasions. For instance, Emily from Colorado Mom made a heartwarming photo book for her young autistic son.

Wait a minute. Hold the phones.  Photo books… kids… Here comes an idea.

So if you know me well, have met me or have seen this site before you probably know that I have a severely food allergic child.  I also sat on the board for the Kids With Food Allergies Foundation, the largest online support community for families raising children with food allergies.  What if someone (like me) made a photo book for a food allergic child? 

Wouldn’t it be great if a young child could use that photo book to stay safe? 

Some parents might want to photograph foods that are not safe for caregivers and so the child can have a helpful reminder of what not to eat.  Other parents might want to have a photo book made with safe foods giving the child a book to celebrate all the foods he or she can eat.  Either way would be both adorable and helpful for a young child.  That child could take it to school or daycare, to a grandparent’s house, to a friend’s house and so on.  These photo books could potentially keep a child safe from a severe allergic reaction.

What a neat idea, right?  You can choose a green book for safe foods, a red book for foods to avoid or just go with a child’s favorite color.  The Classic soft cover books start at just $9.99.
You can create your own photo book for your child, whether it is related to foods, family or favorite paces.  Go to Picaboo.com to get yours!  Through 7/16 they are offering up to 40% off Classic books and calendars using the code SUNNYDAYS.

That Becca was on to something.  Now it’s your turn. What idea(s) do you have for unique ways to use a photo book?

By the way, here are some photos of my son’s safe foods!

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Disclosure: After Becca and I discussed the photo book for children with food allergies, we decided that not only would it make a great photo book but it would make a great blog post idea too.  Therefore while the ideas and opinions are all real and true, I did receive compensation for writing up the post.

It’s All @AboutOne

Much of what I post on this site is about finding one’s sanity in the craziness of life, often by paying it forward.  After all, who of us hasn’t at some point felt like we have lost our marbles?

Joanne Lang, the founder and CEO of AboutOne, experienced that moment when her son had a medical emergency.  She is a mom of four young boys who had thought she had it all together but in that moment she was afraid, away from home and unable to provide an accurate list of her son’s medications to the paramedics.  I think all moms can relate to that feeling; that panic and loss of control.  As a mother of a child on eight different daily medications I know I can understand it.

Afterwards, Joanne wondered how she could easily keep the details of her family and home life easily and sufficiently organized.  As a former executive specializing in cloud technology, she had seen how the cloud was working to keep businesses running efficiently.  So she decided to apply that same technology to keeping family lives running efficiently.  Combining her professional and personal expertise, Joanne created AboutOne as a way to simplify home and family management.

AboutOne is a secure, private online organizer for anyone who wants to have a place to organize their family life.  You can upload everything from your children’s photos and artwork to health histories for doctor visits, emergency contact information, babysitter instructions, home inventories and paperwork for insurance claims and even education summaries for college applications.  They also just launched a free Windows Phone companion app.

Knowing that some people might be hesitant about putting personal information online, AboutOne has put in place the same security technology that banks and financial institutions use to protect customer information.  Your AboutOne account is accessible only to you and the people with whom you have chosen to share your login information.

I first learned of AboutOne almost two years ago.  It was an ideal fit for me as a parent of a child with health concerns.  It was a relief to know that I could store a list of his food allergies, his medications and his doctor’s contact information so that in an emergency all of the pertinent information can easily be accessed.  So while that was what initially intrigued me about this system, there is so much more that can be done with it to keep my family and home in order.

Here is another reason to love what Joanne has built.  AboutOne is a majority women-owned and managed company.  Joanne and her team even recently received financing from a network of angel investors dedicated to investing in early stage companies founded and led by women.  How neat is that?

Kudos to Joanne Lang for helping us maintain some sanity in the craziness of life.  Head on over to AboutOne.com to check it out for yourself!

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Disclosure: I was compensated by AboutOne for writing this post but you should know that I honestly believe that AboutOne has a valuable and helpful product.  All opinions are completely my own.

Low calorie, low carb cocktails, anyone?

Who wants to try a low calorie, low carb cocktail?  A few weeks ago the fine folks at Lulu B. Cocktails reached out and offered to send me some of their low calorie, low carb cocktails to try.  There was no obligation to write about the products, just to try them.

Did I want to sample some low carb, low calorie cocktails?  Let me think…. Yes, please.

There was one bottle of margarita and one bottle of chocolate martini.  I brought the low calorie margarita to dinner with girlfriends one evening so we could all have a taste.  The two of us who like tequila enjoyed it though we found it is best served chilled or over ice.  The alcohol content is low so it’s great for sharing over dinner with friends. (I’m not a person who drinks to get hammered so the low alcohol content is just fine by me.)  The margarita has a strong aroma yet a mild taste and would be refreshing served in a pitcher with ice and sliced citrus fruits.

A few days later I brought the chocolate martini to a friend’s house for an a party and barbecue.  It is made with vodka, crème de cacao and rich chocolate flavor.  It is light on alcohol content but has a soothing flavor.  With this one too we found the chocolate martini to be best when served chilled or over ice.  It could easily be added to a coffee-flavored liqueur or kahlua for a fabulous cocktail as well.  It is also a nice option for a low calorie after dinner drink.

Lulu B. cocktails have and 1/3 fewer calories than the average premixed cocktail.  So how do they keep the calories and carbs down while other brands don’t do the same?  They use real lime instead of artificial lime juice and they use other natural flavors rather than artificial ones.

Here’s the lowdown on the two items I tasted:

Martini: 38 calories per serving, 12.7% alcohol, 2 grams of carbs

Chocolate Martini: 48 Calories per serving, 15% alcohol, 3 grams of carbs

They also make a cranberry cocktail and a mojito flavors.  (My three girlfriends love mojitos so next time we may just have to try that one!)  So if you want to enjoy a light low calorie cocktail, here’s how you can find Lulu B.: http://www.lulub.com/my-cocktails.php.

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Disclosure: Lulu B. Wines sent me two bottles of their product to try and I was under no further obligation to write a review of the product. I chose to do so of my own volition.  All opinions are my own. Oh, and I am way beyond the legal drinking age.

Gain Body Confidence With @CoolSculpting

What would you have to lose to gain enough confidence to get naked?  Not long ago I wrote a post about my fabulous friends who are loving their bodies and who put photographs of their bellies online for the world to see.  While I envy them so much for their bravery and beauty, bearing my belly right now would be a genuinely traumatic experience for me.

Recently I learned about CoolSculpting, a non-surgical treatment for getting rid of stubborn fat cells.  CoolSculpting is an FDA-approved and patented technology that freezes fat cells and destroys them.  It is a non-invasive procedure for eliminating a muffin top, love handles or belly fat without needles or lasers.  Doctors say it is a great for those who are active and watch their diets but can’t get rid of fat in some stubborn areas, most commonly around the mid-section.

I am all for losing excess fat and regaining confidence.  As I approach my fortieth year (yikes) it is getting harder and harder to keep my weight down.

Each sculpting treatment area takes about an hour.  Afterward the fat cells break down and are naturally eliminated from the body.  Most patients begin to see results within about three weeks of the treatment with about a 20% reduction of fat in the treated area after one treatment.

It’s not inexpensive, but certainly less than a surgical procedure would cost.  CoolSculpting runs about $800 per area, and most doctors will give a discount for patients who do more than one area.  In my opinion, having more body confidence is worth the price.  The same goes for other cosmetic procedures, from nose jobs to wrinkle fillers.  If it makes you feel better about yourself, then I say go for it!

Guess what? You can enter to win a CoolSculpting treatment and a new iPad at LetsGetNaked.com.  Their new campaign, Let’s Get Naked, is about feeling confident in your skin.  The campaign kicked off with a bang at the South by Southwest interactive conference in Austin, Texas.  Click here to see the Let’s Get Naked commercial or follow along on Twitter at #NakedAtSXSW.

Want to learn more about CoolSculpting? Go to CoolSculpting.com or click here for a downloadable media kit.  You can also follow them on Twitter @CoolSculpting.

Body confidence is all about how someone feels about their outside from their inside. Personally, I am not ready to bear my belly yet.  I wish I had that confidence but the very thought of it scares the daylights out of me. What about you?  What would you have to lose to gain enough confidence to get naked? 

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I have been compensated by CoolSculpting for my participation in this exciting campaign.  I entered the Let’s Get Naked contest and hope to win a CoolSculpting treatment!



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