Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fancy Guest Appearance! Today only! No Paparazzi, please!

Oh, Hai!

Dis is Fancy, Mom's only girl kitty, coming at you.

I'm visiting from the Cheezits to remind you dat today is the LAST DAY to enter the giveaway for the FIVE Uncle Milton Petcams.

Here's da linky thing for the giveaway. I want all my fans to win Petcams for themselves--I heard some of you even requested a pikshur of me--thank you, and here you go!

Fancy (the pretty kitty)

Shopping Sprees go farther with savings at T.J. Maxx and Marshall's

So, you know how some people say that gift cards are cold and impersonal?

What utter rot.

I love getting gift cards! Especially during the Christmas season, because it's like getting twice the gifts--once, when I open up the gift card and then again when I choose what I want the most. Gift cards give me a way to find those things I wasn't lucky enough to get the first go around, and let me extend the Christmas season a little longer.

And I was even more fortunate in that my gift cards were to T.J. Maxx and Marshall's.

You may be familiar with them already, and know that they both sell designer labels and the like at discounted prices--but if not, you need to check them out, because you can save as much as 20-60% off of department store prices. And, you know, I can ALWAYS stand to save some money.

So, yeah, I'm definitely a fan of giving T.J. Maxx and Marshall's gift cards for Christmas. Remember that when this season rolls around again next year. ; )

I was so excited to get away from all the post-holiday clean-up and chores I had and go shopping!

I needed a skirt and a belt, and I found them both at Marshall's.

This stylish skirt, which can be worn several different ways, was JUST what I was looking for, and it was on sale in the clearance racks for even more $ savings. My $25 gift card still had some credit available (5 whole bucks!), which paid for half of a really nice brown leather belt, the kind of everyday accessory I couldn't pass up. Since I couldn't really wear half a belt, I threw in the other half out of the cold hard left in my pocket and went away well-pleased with my bargains. Less than a half-hour into my shopping spree, I already had everything I needed, and I still had a $25 gift card left at T.J. Maxx!

I already knew that T.J. Maxx had great deals on apparel, but I never realized they had so many OTHER products--men's personal items, gift baskets and chocolates, Christmas and holiday decor. Since I had already found my skirt and belt in record time in Marshall's--so great, not having to visit a million different specialty stores to get them--I could just go crazy and have fun, and that's exactly what I did.

I spent, I think, about a half an hour just at the front of the store, going through all the holiday merchandise, which was deeply discounted. I nearly caved and bought some Harry and David chocolate coconut macadamia nuts, despite my resolution to start eating right now that the holidays are over, because, I mean, coconut AND macadamia nuts, people! And outrageously inexpensive--we're talking less than six dollars! But I remained resolute, and opted for tea instead for my comfort food. And I still had so much left over, I had a ball with more fun purchases.

I bought EVERYTHING in this photo on the right--the black knit shirt, the tin of English Breakfast Tea, even the funky hat--and still had change left over!

I can pair the shirt with my new skirt today, to celebrate New Year's Eve (I am in fact wearing them right now!), then cart the rest with me for my trip to MacWorld next week.

I'm thinking it will be chilly in San Francisco, and I'm looking forward to wearing my sporty new hat and sipping a quiet cup of English Breakfast Tea in my hotel room for a spot of silence amidst all the hubbub of the conference.

You really have to go check out T.J. Maxx and Marshall's for yourself (even if you dont' have a gift card), because the savings for someone on a budget (like me, and I'll bet these days, you too), especially when coupled with the high quality of the items they both offer, just can't be beat!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Designing the Duchess

One of the movies I have on my must-see list just came out on DVD this past weekend, and I'm trying to find a way to clear all the guys out of the house so I can watch it, since they seem to think it's a "chick flick."

I'm talking, of course, about The Duchess (you clever readers will already have figured that out), pictured to the left.

The Duchess is the story of Georgiana Spencer (Keira Knightley), who married the wealthy and influential William Cavendish (Ralph Fiennes) when she was just 17. As he was the fifth Duke of Devonshire, she became upon her marriage a Duchess, and her new title put her in a prime position to influence society. If the name of Spencer seems familiar to you, you'll be interested to know that Georgianna was a direct ancestor to Princess Diana.

Now, Georgianna at 17 was obviously young to be both a married woman and a titled lady in one fell swoop, and you would think that she would just be flighty, and she apparently did start out mostly interested in high fashion and the like, which means the costumes from the movie are gorgeous. I've been lucky enough to score sole lovely costume sketches from the film to include in my review for you all to see from costume designer Michael O'Conner.

To her credit, the Duchess of Devonshire began to see that the power behind her influence could be used to promote real change in society, and as she matured she became one of the most impassioned political voices in all of 18th century Britain. Sadly, her marriage seems to have been a sham, "Beloved by a nation but betrayed by her husband, Georgiana’s charisma, political savvy and distinct flair for fashion would make her the “It Girl” of her era…"

I'm a Kiera Knightley fan , having seen her in everything from Bend it Like Beckham to all the Pirates of the Caribbean movies (I missed Atonement, another one on my list), and word is that she really shines in The Duchess. Plus, I just adore period pieces like Pride and Prejudice.

So now, like I said, I just need to clear the menfolk out of the house (though the Engineer might be persuaded to watch, even it is a "chick flick," because he has a thing for Kiera Knightley).

The Duchess is available on DVD (19.99 US) and Blu-ray (29.99 US), and if you enjoy costumes like me, be sure to check out the Blu-ray version, which includes among its bonus features a costume diary!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Contest Winners!

First off, a reminder: you can still enter to win one of five free Uncle Milton Petcams! Check the current giveaways link on the sidebar to enter. Also, if you are a winner of one of our contests, you need to respond within 3 days of the official winners' notification post (like this one) to claim your prize!

Okay, here goes!  

I'm pleased to announce the winner of our Refresh 'n Dryer Towel, which freshens up those clothes without sending them through the wash all over again!

We asked that you name one of the teen girl's possessions from the Refresh'n Dryer  Towel video on their site.  Some of you, btw, had trouble viewing the video, and I want you to know that I did count your entries, and I'm sorry for the inconvenience (you probably have an older media player on your computer). 

The winning comment's number was drawn by the Random Integer Generator:

Timestamp: 2008-12-29 19:29:11 UTC

And the 6th comment was:


Who said...

zebra purse! thanks for the giveaway!
Way to go, Betsy! 
please forward your shipping address to me and I will let the Refresh'n Dryer Towel folks know.

Next, the winners for the Five  Guitar Hero on Tour: Decades games for the DS:

Wow, this one took me a little while!

Thanks to all of you--113 entries! --who followed the directions.  I admit I made it a little tricky on this one!

First, you had to name one of the five bands from our Guitar Hero on Tour: Decades listing.  This was our "freebie" entry, and I meant for it to be easy.  Some of you forgot, though, that they needed to be bands named in that listing, so I had to disqualify a few entries for that reason. : (

You could get additional entries by naming one of the other bands and using an additional entry method.  Wow, that caught a lot of you up! I'm SURE it was just an honest mistake, but some of you just named a band to get those extra entries, and that wasn't enough--you needed to Tweet, blog, subscribe, visit or put up a button (you can read the original rules on the giveaway itself if you want to get all technical and stuff).  

So, we started out with 130 comments, but only 113 were eligible entries--which is still not too shabby! Way to go, smart people! ; )  Give yourselves a hand for following my tricky instructions.

Once I had all of you qualified, we needed to award a winner for each band. That was a little tougher, even with our friend the Random Integer Generator helping, because I had to separate 'em out. *sigh*  

But I made you all go through hoops to enter, so it was only fair for me to do a little work.

So, *drumroll* here (I know, finally!) are the winners, who will each receive a rockin' copy of Guitar Hero on Tour: Decades for the Nintendo DS:

Here are your random numbers:

76 44 111 43 50

Timestamp: 2008-12-29 18:58:40 UTC

Those numbers corresponded to the following comments:

Jen said...
Added your button to my site:

Linkin Park. (43)

kaylee8 said...
Bon Jovi is one and is my favorite! (44)

JenReg said...
I've tweeted about your contest on Twitter


mandjregan[at]gmail[dot]com (50)

craftymamaof4 said...
tweeted here
seether (76)

Liz said...
I visited Give and got some donations in. For this one Blondie. Since I loved to listen to her back in the day (111)

Congratulations to you all!  

Please forward your shipping addresses to me and I will send them along to the wonderful Activision folks who sponsored this giveaway.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

What's on the Tube?

Family-friendly programming suggestions for the holidays:

Polar Express at 6 and 8:30 PM ET/PT, during ABC Family's 25 Days of Christmas programming.

FUNNIEST COMMERCIALS OF THE YEAR: 2008 – TBS, Tuesday, Dec. 23, at 9 ET/PT.
Kevin Nealon again hosts the fourth annual edition from New York City.

Miser Brothers--ABC Family, Christmas Eve, 7 ET/PT. I'm looking forward to this show, based on two of my favorite characters Heat Miser and Snow Miser. The video above will refresh your memory, if you've forgotten who they are (did you know that Big Bad Voodoo Daddy recorded a version of that song?).

How the Grinch Stole Christmas
-8 PM ET/PT Christmas Eve. Narrated by Anthony Hopkins.

A Christmas Story--24 Hour marathon, beginning at 8 PM ET/PT Christmas Eve. THE classic holiday comedy ("You'll shoot your eye out, kid!").

Monday, December 22, 2008

They'll be Home for Christmas

The kids are out of school for the holidays!


So--you're busy wrapping presents, cleaning the house, baking cookies, and making travel arrangements, and they're whining, "Mom, I'm bored!"

No worries.

When snow days have you all cooped up inside and you just need a little peace and quiet, here are some great winter activities for the kids.

Oh, and if you need a little holiday boost, these will put you in the right spirit, too!

Now is a good time to remind the kids that Santa is watching

And you know what? Mom can text him if you are acting up. Yes, really--Santa is on TWITTER!
They can also Tweet him themselves with gift requests.

Are your kids on the Naughty or Nice list?
Let them "check twice" here (and also find a link to animate the disco-dancing Santa pictured above).

Games to Charm A Kid's Heart
Little ones can make some merry music with Christmas Bells, while their siblings learn about Hannukah piecing together the Animated Dreidel Jigsaw Puzzle. Older kids, and Mom, will find Christmas Mahjong challenging (tip: the 2nd and 4th tile sets are the toughest!).

Where's Waldo Santa?
Search for Santa along his route by checking out the daily clues, and Enter the Sweepstakes while you're there! Then try your hand at some holiday Trivia, or try making matches in Mix-Up Memory. In this Concentration-style game, the faster you make the matches, the higher your points.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

One of these things is not like the other

I ran across some great gift ideas and holiday suggestions, both fun and practical, while compiling the Cool Moms Rule! Holiday Gift Guide for you, and I put them all in categories, which hopefully made your shopping simpler (or at least finding giveaways easier!).

But there were a couple items that just didn't fit easily into categories, and I want to share them with you, too!

For example: The Johnny Light. When you first hear what it does, you'll stifle a giggle--and then you'll find yourself thinking, "You know, that's a really clever idea!"

Johnny Light is a soft green night-light, attached to your toilet, which is activated by a gravity switch that turns it on when the toilet seat is raised. Yes, really!

You can just raise the seat for enough light to see by, something that the guys in my family will especially no doubt appreciate, since it seems like they don't want to turn on the light in the middle of the night to "go".

Also, considering the results of a study I read recently indicating that guys, ahem, hit the mark more often when they have a target or guide to help them, you know, aim, this is a gadget that could be popular at my own house for cutting down on bathroom clean-up time. Women will like the that aspect of the Johnny Light, while guys will enjoy the end of the ages-old Seat Up or Seat Down controversy.

The Johnny Light fits 94% of all commodes, tucks out of harms way, and installs in a minute or less. And I just love that their website plays, "This Little Light of Mine" (Johnny Light, available nationwide in Lowe's Home Improvement stores, at, or by toll-free phone, 888-566-LITE (5483), 13.95 including batteries).

When I think "Sherpa", I used to picture a trusty mountain guide. But now I think of Sharpie marking pens.

Why? Because the Sherpa is a new attractive pen holder from Paradise Pens built to hold your (sorry, Sharpie) ugly black marking pen, the one you use for putting the kids' names on their stuff or marking shipping boxes when you move. The pen case can also be used to cover highlighters.

My only complaint about the Sherpa is that, for its size and function, the price tag seems a bit high (Sherpa pen cases, 29.95).

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Purrfectly Pleasing PetCam--We have 5 to give away to YOU!

I want to tell you all my funny story about the PetCam, which is just this incredibly fun gadget from Uncle Milton!

First, though, to correct an error I made: I have one SmartShopper to give away and somehow, inexcusably, forgot to include the giveaway info in the review! I've amended it now, but I want to make sure all my readers, who might have already glanced at the review, know about the giveaway. Just leave a comment on the SmartShopper review and you are entered!

Okay, so here is my funny story! One of my cats, Colby, is a regular Houdini. He escapes from our screened porch all the time. We have a hole in the screen the Engineer hasn't gotten around to fixing, and we have covered it up and just done everything we can think of, and still Colby escapes. So I got him a collar, with his name and our number on it, so at least if he is found the neighbors will know he is one of our kitties and not a stray.

But then I received the most amazing pet product ever--really, if you own pets, you will love this, and if you know anyone with pets, it's a great gift idea. Plus, your kids will just love this! It's called the Petcam, and you can pick it up at your local Target.

The Petcam snaps right on to your pet's collar. You have to charge it first, which you do simply by pugging it into your PC or laptop for a couple hours. Then, when you put it on your pet, you just turn it on and the Petcam does all the work.

What does it do?

It takes pictures from your pet's point of view!

Isn't that cool? The Petcam takes the pictures at regular intervals, and you can see what the world looks like through your pet's eyes.

So, anyway, naturally I put mine on Colby's collar. My other two kitties really don't try to escape.

By the way, the PetCam works best for pets of at least the size of a normal house cat. My cat, who I have seen push a whole backpack off of the couch just so that he can sit there, acted like he was weighed down by the PetCam around his neck, but he got around just fine, as you'll see in a moment.

So, Colby was on the screened porch, and when he came back in the house with the PetCam on just a few minutes later, I didn't even know he escaped.

But the PetCam pictures told a different story! All I did was plug it into my computer through the USB port to download all the pics it took, and the results were amazing!

Colby went all around our back yard, around the side of the house, even in the neighbor's yard, in just those fifteen minutes! And now I know all his secret hiding places. Ha! Take that, Houdini cat!

You can see all the photos from the PetCam, and read Colby's side of the story, here, over on The Cheezits' blog. It's pretty funny, you'll want to take a look!

And here is the amazing part--Colby is so famous now that the wonderful PetCam folks are giving us FIVE PetCams to give away. This is an amazing deal--each one retails for 49.99--so you'll definitely want in on this giveaway!

To enter, just read Colby's story, and comment below with the name of either of the other two cats featured on The Cheezits blog!

You can gain additional entries by:
  • Subscribing to the feed for EITHER Cool Moms Rule! or The Cheezits! (or both! You get an entry for each)
  • Putting the Cool Moms Rule! badge on your blog
  • Tweeting about this contest
  • Blogging about this contest
Remember to leave me a comment for EACH entry method you choose. And make sure I have your email address so we can contact the winners. Deadline is midnight, December 31st, so you can start the New Year's right with your PetCams.
I know our winners will enjoy spying on their pets. And once your kids see those pictures, they will love imagining they are the family dog or cat! ; )

Good luck!

Scrapbook Factory winner!

The winner of our Scrapbook Giveaway for Cool Moms (and hot Mamas!) is nanja, whose multiple entries, including blogging about the contest and following the Cool Moms Rule! blog on Blogger, have won it for her!

Congratulations, nanja, and just send my your shipping info in an email so that I can get your prize out to you!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Refresh'n Dryer Towel: Review and Giveaway!

So, the Rhino is a slob.

I know, that's a terrible thing for a Mom to say about her son, but it's the truth. We are working on it, and making progress. For example, we just put new carpet in his room, and so he had to clean it, and now his room looks great!

But he had a *ton* of clothes on his floor. And most of them had never even been worn. Unbelievable. He grabbed for something off the hanger (oh yeah, sometimes he breaks hangers, too), and the shirts next to it fell off their hangers, and of course he didn't hang them back up!

So I was looking at a lot of clothes to wash, not because they were really dirty, but just because they were sitting, wrinkled, on the closet door.

And here's how famous I am: they made the Refresh'n Dryer Towel just for me!

Okay, not really.

BUT it was certainly made for Moms like me, and I know I am not the only one whose kids leave clothes on their floor. I can't be, can I? Please tell me I'm not.

Here's how the Refresh'n Dryer Towel works:

1. Wet the Refresh'n Towel in your sink and wring it out.

2. Take up to 3 of the Rhino's shirts (if you are me) or any other clothes that need freshening up, and put them in the dryer with one Towel. Or you can use 2 Refresh'n Dryer Towels to freshen up to 8 items at a time (yes, of course, I chose the second method. Saving water is better for the environment! Plus, you know, I'm lazy.)

3. Lay the Refresh'n Dryer Towel on top of the clothing. (Since I was using two, what I did is sandwich the clothes between the two towels. Easy-peasy!)

4. Set dryer to high heat for 10-15 minutes. (If you have my dryer, it takes 15 minutes, because it is practically an antique.)

5. Voila! Clothing comes out fresh, reshaped, fluffy, smelling fresh and ready for you to hang, fold or wear. (Or, you know, make the Rhino do it. Seriously. I'll send him over to your place, if you want!)

It really is that easy. Plus, the Refresh'n Dryer Towel is chemical free, non-toxic, and can be re-used 25 times. Then, give it to DH, and he can dry the car off with it. When you have finally used it up, the Refresh'n Dryer Towel can be recycled.

According to the Refresh'n Dryer Towel people (I don't do math in the mornings, especially without my caffeine fix):

1 Refresh'n Dryer Towel will Save:
* $365 in dry cleaning costs
* 700 gallons of water
* 90 kwh of electricity

For more info, you can visit their site, where they have all the directions, and the commercial, and then you can order the Refresh'n Dryer Towel online.

Or, you know, you could WIN IT!

That's right, you can win a Refresh'n Dryer Towel for yourself! Here's how to win:

Visit the Refresh'n website, watch their commercial, then come back here and name any item or decoration that's in the teen daughter's room in your comment on THIS post.

That's all!

Contest ends December 26th at midnight (EST).

Good luck!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Make Merry Music

Team Mom recently sent some delightful toys from the Parents® toy line out to Mom bloggers like me.

Now, when my boys were younger, Parents® Magazine was just a staple in my house because it was full of good, sound, practical advice. All of their toys, in my experience, are good quality, and of course they're SAFE (100% phthalate free).

Here's the toy I received, though it is really an entire musical band, the Critter Conga!

The Critter Conga is a huge plastic barrel full of musical toys, with the friendly face of a spotted leopard on the front. The top of the barrel also does double duty as a jingly tambourine, and inside are all kinds of musical instruments, all with cool animal themes. Retailing for $39.95, it's intended for kids from about 18 months on up, to foster a love for music and encourage kids to use their imagination. If your child likes animals, too, then they will especially love this toy.

Inside are two Snake drumsticks, a crocodile cabasa and clacker (the jaws snap, or you can twist parts of the croc to make clicky sounds), an antelope whistle, giraffe maracas, an elephant whistle, a monkey rainstick, and another bird whistle. I was starting to wonder what was up with the whistle, and then I read the directions, and get this: the bird whistle actually warbles like a real bird when you pour water in the top. Isn't that cool? I'm an adult and that blew me away.

Plus, remember the big barrel they all came in? Your child can use that as a conga drum when you put on the tambourine top. Let them whack away with those snake drumsticks! : )

All of the animal instruments are brightly-colored and very inviting to curious kids. I'd highly recommend Critter Conga to any parent with toddlers, or even young elementary school children. It's a great toy for a rainy day. You can find the Critter Conga online, at specialty stores with educational children's toys, or at your local Costco store.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Beethoven's Big Break

Set to release on DVD the day after Christmas, the big mutt that's charmed dog lovers since he first hit the screen returns in Beethoven's Big Break, a new offering available exclusively on DVD from Universal Studios.

This charming flick is delightfully engaging. Animal lover though I am, I was surprised to find myself buying into it completely, and really enjoying the movie from start to finish.

Starring comedian Jonathan Silverman as stressed-out single Dad Eddie, working in Hollywood as an animal handler, Moises Arias (Rico on “Hannah Montana”) as his son Billy, and Daytime Emmy® winner Jennifer Finnigan (“The Bold and the Beautiful”) as a sweet, befuddled script writer on the new animal film who's thrown together with the duo through a series of unlikely events, Beethoven's Big Break also features the music of popular musical artists your kids will love, like the Jonas Brothers, Rhianna, High City Miles and Everlife.

The rambunctious romp sports a supporting cast parents will recognize from other favorite features, too--Rhea Perlman (“Cheers”), Joey Fatone (“Dancing with the Stars,” ‘N Sync), Stephen Tobolowsky (“Heroes”), Oscar Nunez (“The Office”), Eddie Griffin (Undercover Brother) and Cesar Millan (“The Dog Whisperer”) in his feature film debut.

But honestly? My favorite supporting member is the newly-introduced (but sure to to become a mega-star after his debut) Pete The Lizard. Love that lizard.

And don't even get me started on the plus-one-million cuteness factor of Beethoven's puppy co-stars, pictured to the right.

The plot of Beethoven's Big Break is simple: Although animal handler Eddie (Silverman) works with lots of creatures, he has a strict NO PETS ALLOWED policy at home (which is a little counter-intuitive until we learn a secret from his past that Explains All).

Well, as I'm sure you can guess, that policy doesn't last. Though Eddie resists letting his son Billy keep adorable stray dog Beethoven and his family of puppies (who could resist these puppies?!), when the star of the animal film Eddie is working on goes missing, Beethoven jumps in with all four big paws, and Eddie is forced to accept him AND his puppies into their home ( I like the moment when his son, Billy, in a smooth maneuver, points out that Beethoven is a single dad just like Eddie. Nice move!).

Naturally, through his typically rambunctious antics and larger-than-life personality, Beethoven not only crashes into Hollywood but into Eddie’s heart as well.

Beethoven's Big Break is full of more of that over-the-top physical humor kids love, and of course Beethoven is just plain lovable as the shaggy mutt that charms a single Dad.

Featuring lots of great bonus materials, like deleted scenes and a gag reel over ten minutes long that makes me appreciate Silverman's improv (and his co-stars' patience) all the more, Beethoven's Big Break, available exclusively on DVD December 26th, is priced at just $29.98.

Here's a cute clip from the movie that shows how Beethoven gets his name:

Cool Mom tip: Kids can visit for a FREE coloring page of Beethoven and those adorable puppies to download, print and color at home!

Smart Shopping

I'm sitting alone in my living room this morning. "Cat litter," I say. "Ziploc bags, cat food, diet soda."

Am I crazy, sitting there talking to myself? Well, just this once, no.

I'm testing out a new hand-held gadget, the SmartShopper, and I'm loving it.

After I'm done speaking (no typing, yay!) my shopping list for the day into the mic, I just press a button and my shopping list prints out. The SmartShopper has already sorted the items I listed neatly into categories, so that I can find them easily in my grocery store. Now, I just walk over to my fridge and leave my SmartShopper sticking to it--the back is magnetic.

The SmartShopper folks have thought of everything. Extra rolls of paper come with the SmartShopper, which does not require any messy ink cartridges, as does a mounting kit if you want to take the trouble to mount it somewhere--as I say, I'm just sticking mine to the fridge for easy access. The SmartShopper runs on 4 regular AA batteries, and neither the batteries nor the paper require screwdrivers, or any tools at all, to replace, a feature that I love, since I can never find the right-sized screwdriver around our house, and always end up stripping screws. In contrast, the SmartShopper has fasteners that just click open for access. I can flag items on my list if I have coupons for, so I don't forget to take advantage of those savings. And I can even have concurrent lists going at the same time! Pushing any button turns the SmartShopper on, it powers off over time if left unused, and your lists are saved unless you delete them.

Have something unusual to add to your list, that isn't in the SmartShopper's pre-loaded library? Just go to the main menu and use the screen to type in the new word, then say it. (In my case, for instance, it was "Gingerbread House", because the Rhino wants to decorate one for Christmas, but neither one of us actually wants to build the thing.) The new term you've put in is saved in the SmartShopper's library, so you won't ever have to re-enter it again manually, just say it. Occasionally, the SmartShopper has trouble understanding your voice, but in my case that only happened when I had a TV on in the background. It worked fine once I turned it down.

At 79.99, the SmartShopper is not cheap, but it certainly is value for your money. I love all the convenience of printing up a list right on the spot. Plus, I know I will use this gadget constantly in a household full of guys with big appetites. Daytime talk show host Rachael Ray agrees--the SmartShopper was featured on her show in a segment about easy grocery shopping.

You can order the SmartShopper online, and you need to order by December 18th (that's Thursday!) to get it by Christmas. Orders placed between now and December 31st receive FREE ground shipping.

In addition, you can get $5 off the SmartShopper just for reading this review! Enter this code at checkout for your discount: BG38806.

Or, you could WIN IT! Just check out the SmartShopper website, and then leave a comment below this post with the last item you forgot to get at the grocery store--I know you must have forgotten something sometime, we all do it!

Good luck!

Feeling Empty Inside?

I know, you are missing the Cool Moms Rule! Holiday Gift Guide, aren't you? Well, I have two suggestions for you.

First, I have several reviews coming up, some giveaways, and even some additional products you might be interested in, that just didn't seem to fit into a particular category, and all of those will be coming up in my next posts, so don't despair. ;)

Secondly, consider Mom Central's Holiday Gift Guide in the meantime! I love Mom Central, and they are running giveaways every single day now! Here's what they have coming up this week to round up their gift guide:

Day 14, December 16th: For Him Gift Package
Day 15, December 17th: For Her Gift Package
Day 16, December 18th: Family Night Gift Package

Here's the link for the Mom Central's Holiday Gift Guide giveaways. Registration (and a comment) is required for entry into each giveaway:

MC Blogger Button

Monday, December 15, 2008

Do You Believe?

In Miracle on 34th Street, one of my favorite Christmas movies, when a very young but skeptical Natalie Wood pulls the beard of the Macy's Santa Claus, she discovers it isn't just a fake. She hears him speak to children in other languages. She sees the letters children all over the world have written, asking for presents, delivered--by the U.S. Post Office--to this same Santa. And she starts to believe.

My own nephew just began believing in Santa again, after seeing a very similar thing happen in his school--Santa's beard was real, so Santa must be real, too, right?

And way back in 1897, when a little girl named Virginia wrote to the New York Sun to ask if Santa was real, because her father told her, 'If you see it in the Sun, it's so,' what was the editor's response?

"Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

So tell me, do you Believe?

This holiday season, Macy's (how fitting!) wants everyone - from the most enthusiastic to the most cynical- to Believe in and embrace the holiday spirit of love and charity.

Every year, at Christmas, for as long as any of us can remember, kids have dreamed about Santa bringing them that special present at Christmas. They spend weeks trying especially hard to be good (don't want to be on Santa's Naughty list!). And they write Santa a letter, hoping he'll grant their wish.

This year, Macy's is collecting these letters in a special Santa letterbox at all Macy's stores. For each letter received, Macy's will donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. And the Believe Meter will measure America's belief, based on our collective spirit – including the amount of letters received and other current events that reflect the season's generosity.

Please join me in supporting the Macy's Believe Campaign this holiday season. Encourage your children to each write a letter to Santa, and have them drop their Christmas wish lists in Santa's letterbox at a Macy's near you.

Check out our listing for Guitar Hero on Tour: Decades and WIN one of 5 copies!

You may remember that when I posted our original Gifts for Gamers listing in the Cool Moms Rule! Holiday Gift Guide, I hadn't yet received a review copy of Guitar Hero on Tour: Decades.

Well, my fabulous contact not only came through for me, making sure I did get that review copy, she came through for you, too, in a BIG way, offering five copies of Activision's Guitar Hero on Tour: Decades for the Nintendo DS for us to GIVE AWAY here on Cool Moms Rule!

So, here's how this giveaway is going to work. Since we need five winners, we are going to do this a bit differently. I've named five bands in my amended Gifts for Gamers post that are available in the game. To win one of our five Guitar Hero on Tour: Decades games, you need to find those names and mention one in a comment below THIS POST.

Now, here's the thing: I'm going to assign one copy of the game for each band named. So, say some bands were Queen and Kiss (WARNING: THOSE ARE NOT ELIGIBLE MUSICIANS), everybody that named Queen in their comment would be in the running for one copy of the game and everybody who named Kiss would be in a running for a different copy of the game. Got it?

Now, naturally you'll want to try to pick an artist that not too many others have picked, so you'll have the best chance at winning your own copy of Guitar Hero on Tour: Decades.

Or, maybe you will want to hedge your bets, and enter five times, one for each artist. Can you do that? Sure, if you follow the rules!

Here's how you can do that: use an additional entry method, and for each one, make sure you include a musician from the Gifts for Gamers post in that entry, too. You can enter several times with the same band name, or once for each band, it's up to you, but you have to use an additional entry method after the first comment.

Here are the additional entry methods:
  • Blog about this post and include the link.
  • Tweet about this contest, and include a link to the Tweet.
  • Add my badge to your blog.
  • Subscribe to Cool Moms Rule!
  • Visit
There you go! You can have up to SIX entries, including that first comment.

Deadline for entries is December 22, Winner announced December 23rd. Don't forget to include your email!

Good luck!

Gifts for Cool Moms (and Hot Mamas!)

This is the last of the Bonus sections for our Cool Moms Rule! Holiday Gift Guide. In addition to this listing, which might have a giveaway hidden inside (hint, hint!), we have a new giveaway coming up in the very next post, too! And I still have plenty of tips for making things a bit less stressful this holiday season, so stay tuned. Plus, if you are still shopping, I'm going to let you all in on another holiday gift guide to check out this season!

So, why do the Cool Moms have to wait until last? Well, let's face it, ladies: a majority of husbands and boyfriends are last-minute shoppers.

I used to work at a little boutique in the local shopping mall when I was in high school (wow, am I old!), and on CHRISTMAS EVE we would still have men coming in, absolutely panicking, looking for gifts for their wives. (Funny story--whenever we would ask, "Well, okay, what size is she?" The man in question, no matter which one of us he was talking too, would look completely bewildered and then invariably answer, "Oh, she's about your size!" Given that all of us were teens or young twenties, and not even shaped like each other, let alone any Moms I can think of, it's not surprising we got a LOT of returns the day after Christmas!)

So, round up the men in your life, and have them read this post. Or print it up for them. Make it easy. Then gently remind them that, yes, there really are only 10 days left until Christmas!

First up, let's deal with that holiday fashion dilemma, and some gifts you might just want to purchase yourself.

What to wear under those clingy holiday fashions? Shapeez has a garment called the Unbelievabra that will keep you looking svelte and sexy in the tightest sweater dress.

You can get the Unbelievabra in one of three styles to suit your body type (ultimate, mini, or shortee) , and let him purchase that sexy sweaterdress for you! (Shapeez Unbelievabra, $75-85, Sweater dress from Victoria's Secret, originally $58, on sale now for $39!).

Slip on a pair of sexy Flingz thong panties from Flingwear to complete the outfit! For convenience and freshness, each pair is individually folded into a small, resealable, clear bag - making it simple to pack and tuck in a handbag or clutch. Afterwards, treat them all to a handwashing with your favorite Soak wash, available in three fresh fragrances (Flora, Aquae, Citrus) Soak's rinse-free formulation is gentle and deliciously scented with fabric-friendly ingredients that revitalize fibers so they look great and last longer (Flingwear 3-pk $18, Soak, $16).

Keeping track of important dates, whether because you are (like me) over-scheduled, or because you have a special moment you want to remember for always, has never been easy with these next two gift ideas.

Weekdate is the perfect planner and schedule-keeper for busy Moms! With its unique, patent-pending design, you only write each event once, even for weekly, monthly, on-the-date, or annual re-occurring events, like those soccer games, after-school activities or play dates (Weekdate weekly planner, pictured in Red Rush, 34.95).

For those important dates (birthdays, anniversaries and the like) that are just too special to ever forget, the Not Just Any Old Day line of commemorative jewelry makes the perfect accompaniment to your holiday wardrobe. The unique Calendar keepsake has been designed to identify a very significant month and day in the life of the person who wears it, marked with a genuine Swarovski crystal on the date that holds a special meaning (Not Just Any Old Day jewelry, $98-258).

For those crafty Moms who prefer scrapbooking to Swarovski crystals and rose bushes to rolexes, we have suggestions, too!

HGTV, the #1 home improvement network, offers a home and gardening suite for your desktop that lets you plan out every bit of home design, including room additions and countertops, and all your landscaping from rose bushes to oak trees. You can even see how it will all look in 3-D (HGTV Home and Landscape Platinum Suite, 79.95).

Hallmark wants you to know that they have fun craft programs for Mom, too! Their Hallmark Card Studio Deluxe 2009 creates more than just cards.

Using their software, families can also create photo cubes, frames and mini-albums, calendars, gift tags, invitations, and more (Hallmark Card Studio Deluxe 2009, 49.95).

Last, but certainly not least, comes our GIVEAWAY! And you crafty Moms are going to love this.

We have a copy of the #1 selling scrapbooking software, Art Explosion Scrapbook Factory, to give away!

Scrapbook Factory gives you 6,000 Designs and customizable projects, with 60,000 (!) graphics right in the box and over 1500 fonts to choose from, so that you can customize the perfect scrapbook pages, and even view the photo scrapbooks you make right on TV! The software normally retails for 39.99, but you can WIN IT on Cool Moms Rule!

Just leave a comment below THIS post on your favorite gift idea from any of our Cool Moms Rule! Holiday Gift Guide listings to enter.

For additional entries:

Subscribe to our feed, blog about this contest, Tweet about it on Twitter, add this post to Stumble Upon, or visit That means you have the chance for SIX total entries!

Make sure to leave a comment for each additional entry method you use, and please provide a link where applicable. Also, make sure we have your email!

We want to try to get Scrapbook Factory out to you by the holidays. No promises, but we will end the contest this Thursday, December 18th, and announce the winner Friday, so we can mail the software right out! So, deadline for all entries is midnight, December 18th.

Good luck!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Giveaway Winnners Announced!

I just love giving things away, and giveaways at the holidays seem so special! I wanted to let you all know before we begin that we have a very cool giveaway coming up very soon, so stay tuned to Cool Moms Rule!

I also wanted to tell our Lee jeans winners who gave me all your info, I did send that on to Lee, so you should have your jeans soon!

Without further ado, here are our WINNERS!

For the Land's End Amazing giveaway, we used the Random Integer Generator. There were 75 entries, and here are the results:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-12-13 17:08:25 UTC

Comment #65 was

walters123, who said...

The cashmere tee looks very nice. I like the vivid plum color for my wife. It would be a very nice gift for her. Thanks.

Congratulations! I have emailed you with the info I need so that you can claim your prize!

Next, we have the winner of the Kooky Klickers Collector's Club giveaway.
correctly answered with the name of the Kooky Klicker pen reserved only for Club members, Desmond. Jennifer, I have emailed you as well with the info needed.

As for the winner of the FREE Kidzui membership for a year to "the internet for kids," the winner, again chosen by the Random Integer Generator, was:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2008-12-13 17:32:57 UTC

And comment #6,

Andreah said...

I went to Give Respect and gave some respect =)

Congratulations, Andreah! I have all your info because you were also a winnner in our Lee Jeans giveaway, so I have already given it to the Kidzui people for that free membership!

Next, the copy of the inspirational
Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Tough Times
goes to ellen,whose extra entry for subscribing to our feed won for her!

And lastly, we offered a copy of Natsume's Princess Debut on Nintendo DS to one of our feed subscribers. All they had to do to enter was leave a comment, indicating they subscribed, on the post.

Unfortunately, although we have ninety-something of you subscribing to our feed, only 4 responded.

We have a standing policy that we need at least five respondents to make a contest official. There's good reason for this, as, for items that are not shipped directly to the winners from the manufacturers, I have to send them out and pay for the shipping myself. We are actually raising the limit to at least ten respondents because the cost of shipping has become so expensive, but I decided to wait until after the holidays to do this, because I just have this feeling about the holidays, that they are a magical time everyone should enjoy, which is why with only 7 commenters, I still am sending out the Chicken Soup for the Soul: Teens Talk Tough Times on my own dime.

But, I'm sorry to say, we will have to wait for another opportunity to give out the Princess Debut, perhaps linking it to another giveaway. I'm disappointed, myself, with the way this played out, but I'm sure you will all understand, and hopefully we can run another contest for our feed subscribers soon, with a better turn out.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Gifts for Cool Dads! (2nd of 3 BONUS listings)

Dads are always tough to shop for, aren't they? And actually trying to get them to tell you what they want can be like pulling teeth ("Oh, anything is fine!").

Don't worry, though! I've got you covered. All the cool Dads will be grinning from ear-to-ear on Christmas morning if you pick them up a little something from our list.

Are the kids getting new PC games this Christmas? Have you purchased any new software, or saved that annual Christmas letter to all the relatives on the hard drive?

If Dad's the man the whole house turns to when the computer breaks down, cut down on his stress (and yours!) by making backing up all that valuable info easier on all of you. Consider Clickfree, the one-step backup solution that lets the whole family breathe easy.

With Clickfree, all you do is plug the (small, lightweight) unit right into your USB drive, and it automatically backs up everything on your computer. There's no special software to install and configuration to set up as long as you have a PC running Microsoft Windows Vista or XP. Clickfree backs up any new data on your hard drive automatically. Just detach it when you're done, and all your data is safe! (Clickfree comes in several varieties, from a 120Gig portable backup drive that retails for 89.99 all the way up to a 500Gig backup drive that will run you 219.99)

Next up, for the shutterbug Dad that loves to take pictures every holiday season, but occasionally end up with less-than-stellar results: the NEW Flip Mino HD, "the world's smallest HD camcorder," is just what Dad needs to take his game up a notch.

I have a standard Flip video recorder myself, and I LOVE it. It's really easy to use, and it's as portable as my iPhone. I can take great videos to share with the family, or push a button and SNAP! I have the perfect picture, taken right from the video.

The new Flip Mino HD goes one better than my version and gives you that HD quality that makes Dads drool. Plus, the Flip Mino HD gets the seal of approval of FixYa, a DIY repair community of 10 million members and visitors that has already declared the Flip Mino HD THE hottest camera of the holiday season (Flip Mino HD Video Recorder, $299).

But even if, somehow, Dad is still having trouble with those still images, Adobe comes to the rescue. If you still think of little mud-brick houses when you hear "Adobe", you are living in the last century. Every blogger, graphic designer, website developer, techie, geek or just plain camera guy I know has Adobe products and swears by them for editing their images. And let's face it, we all need to edit sometimes, even if it's just taking out the red eyes that make our kids look demonic in the family photo albums.

This holiday season, Adobe is bundling together two of their most popular offerings, Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements, that together can make an amateur photographer get results like the pros.

With Scene Cleaner, Dad can actually take objects (or your sister's embarrassing ex) out of his photos, while Toothbrush lets him whiten teeth. Blue Sky turns drab skies into a postcard-perfect azure blue. He can even use Movie Theme to create his own cinematic masterpiece!

Add in a Plus membership for more storage space, ideas and templates, and Dad is good to go for a whole year (Adobe Elements and Premiere Elements holiday bundle with PLUS Membership ( PLUS Membership available only to Windows users), 179.99) .

Where to put all those perfect pictures? Consider the sleek and stylish Wedge Digital Frame for Dad's den. It doesn't even require a PC to get going--the frame comes with three images already pre-loaded, and all you do is plug it in and turn it on to display them. Then Dad can just insert a memory card from the family camera, or play music or even movies (made with Dad's Adobe software!) right on the Wedge. It even comes with a mini-USB port for connecting to Macs or PCs (Wedge Digital Frame, ~$80, at and Target stores).

For all of his gadgets, Dad will need this attractive Spinning Charging Station to keep the power going all holiday season. He can plug in his new camera, his cell phone and yours and still have room left over, and you won't have to worry about messy counters or tangled cords taking up all your spare counter space. There's even a lid on top for extra storage space inside (Spinning Charging Station Organizer with Power Strip, $43.68).

After Christmas dinner, Dad will enjoy relaxing from all the holiday hubbub (isn't hubbub a great word?) in front of the TV, with a favorite movie on DVD. Make it really easy on yourself and pick up this fantastic gift idea from Paramount Home Entertainment: pre-wrapped DVD bestsellers! Choose from summer blockbusters Ironman, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull or Kung Fu Panda, already packaged in holiday gift wrap so you can duck in and out of the store and be home for the holidays in record time. Just slide off the outer sleeve and place Dad's wrapped gift under the tree (Pre-Wrapped DVDs, 19.99).

You know what else would make a great gift for Dad for the holidays? The Lands' End Wheeled Duffel, one of the three prizes offered in our AMAZING Lands' End giveaway! Winners had a chance to choose their favorite of three Lands' End prizes, and we will be announcing the winner, and which prize was picked, in the next post!
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