Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Our $50 Giftcard Winner!

We have chosen the winner of our $50 gift card giveaway!

We had 112 entries in the giveaway, and the winner, chosen by Random Integer Generator, was comment #71 by bdiane34, who wisely took advantage of the multiple entry methods to WIN!

Congratulations, bdiane4! I just need your shipping info so we can get that gift card right out to you!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Last Minute Gifts! (yes, it will get there in time!)

...is for Last Minute Gifts!

Wow, you really put it off, didn't you? Well, that's okay. This is a busy season. Procrastinators rejoice: You can STILL get those gifts there by Christmas!

Amazon.com gets top marks for offering FREE one-day shipping on the items on this page. Any time you don't have to pay extra for extradited shipping, that's a HUGE deal!

Amazon also will upgrade you to one-day shipping for just 3.99 if you have a Prime membership. Order as late as 3:30 PST (varies by item), get it there by Christmas, and they'll even gift-wrap eligible items!

You can still order e-giftcards from Barnes and Noble, including ones that allow kids to make their own books!

J.C. Penney offers e-giftcards. Order by noon on December 24th and they'll be in your recipient's email by Christmas day.

Kohl's also has e-giftcards for Christmas.

Order from ProFlowers by 6 PM PST today to ensure Christmas delivery.

Order from Toys R Us by 3 PM EST today and choose Express shipping for Christmas Eve delivery.
Walmart has e-giftcards, too!

Today is also the last day to use FedEx Express to ship an item yourself (within the U.S.) and have it arrive on Christmas Eve. If you are made of money, FedEx Same Day will also deliver Christmas day (poor FedEx guys! Working on Christmas. I hope they pay you extra-special double-time pay for that!).

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Despicable Me Giveaway WINNERS!

It's time to announce the winners of our HUGE Despicable Me Giveaway!

To Recap, the prizes were:

DESPICABLE ME Blu-ray and DVD Beanie (one size fits most)
DESPICABLE ME Blu-ray and DVD Stickers
DESPICABLE ME Blu-ray and DVD Activity Sheets 

In addition FOUR first prizes will be awarded! 
DESPICABLE ME Blu-ray and DVD Beanie (one size fits most)
DESPICABLE ME Blu-ray and DVD Stickers
DESPICABLE ME Blu-ray and DVD Activity Sheets

Okay, so, drumroll...

We had 118 comments on this contest! Woot!

The winners, chosen by Random Integer Generator, were the following comments:

97 (Grand Prize Winner!)
29 93 45 7 (First Prize Winners!)

Who were, in order:

fancygrlnancy said...
follow on twitter
@fancygrlnancy (97)

tyson2468 said...
Blog following via gfc (tyson2468)
tyson 2468 [at] charter [dot] net (7)

Cheryl said...
I follow you via Twitter @HeartnSoulmom

http://twitter.com/HeartnSoulmom/status/15273885301735425 (29)

Katie said...
I would have them all get jobs and make me some money! I need a vacation!
katiekarr at gmail dot com (45)

amy said...
I follow on GFC

kerismommy@gmail.com (93)

Congratulations, fancygrlnancy, our Grand Prize Winner! 
And congrats to all our first prize winners: 
tyson2468, Cheryl, Katie and amy!

Just for Kids!

...is for Just for Kids!

Have a niece/nephew you need a little extra gift for? A stocking stuffer for the kids? Or are you just running behind schedule? Here are a few gift ideas that are sure to be a hit with the kids:

Midnight Madness at Toys R Us Stores

Beginning at midnight tonight and running through 6 a.m. Thursday (stores only, not online).  Deals include: games (Hungry, Hungry Hippo & Memory Value Pack or Elefun & Memory Value Pack) for $10; Buy one, get one at 40% off on all Xbox 360 and PS3 games; 50% off Razor S Scooters; $15 off all FAO Schwarz dolls and more! Check Here for all deals and coupons.

The Monster at the End of This Book--Or Your iPad Screen

The Monster at the End of This Book for iPad is now available in Apple’s App Store. The first Sesame Street app designed specifically for iPad, The Monster at the End of This Book takes full advantage of the platform to bring the beloved children’s classic to life with vibrant animation, engaging sound, and lively music. 

The Monster at the End of This Book for iPad enhances the classic book with a completely immersive user interface that draws children into the story. As everyone’s favorite lovable, furry blue monster tries to secure pages with everything from ropes to brick walls, children will delight in interacting directly with the story elements. The Monster at the End of This Book for iPad is available from the App Store on the iPad or at www.itunes.com/appstore/ for a special holiday promotional price of $.99.


with the new GeoPalz Activity Tracker (www.geopalz.com), it’s easy to encourage kids to get on their feet! The GeoPalz easy-to-use pedometer sits on your child’s belt and comes in several kid-friendly designs. 
And the cool thing about GeoPalz? You walk to win! Every mile your child achieves with GeoPalz counts as one pedpoint. Your child can manually enter his or her steps online and once the points start to add up, he or she can use the points to redeem fun, activity-focused prizes, such as basketballs, jump ropes and frisbees. 

All user information is kept private, so your child’s information is completely safe and secure. GeoPalz keeps parents connected and involved with their children’s activity by sending weekly updates to show progress, alerting them of awards they have won and notifying them when their child has won a free prize.

To explore the GeoPalz online community, check out www.geopalz.com. You can find GeoPalz at stores like Crocs, Toy Chest and REI (check the website for locations near you!).

I Spy Search-and-Find Play Mats

If you're a member of Sam’s Clubs, they now carry I SPY™ School Days Search-and-Find Play Mats.  The I SPY riddles and search-and-find missions on the interlocking, foam puzzle mats -- based on the best-selling Scholastic I SPY book series -- provide a soft, engaging play surface for kids.

I SPY mats have games built right into them, which makes them an ideal solution for a child’s play area,” says Venture Products Partner Steve Fischer.  “The games aren’t simply entertaining. They also promote thinking skills, concentration, and memory – plus, they look great in kids’ rooms.”

Each package contains four 2x2-foot tiles that can be connected to create a single, expansive play space.  Every I Spy mat features holes, into which the 56 included, insertable clue dots can be fit. Children reposition the colorful dots – which have unique graphics and images printed on them – to begin new search-and-find missions. 

Flex Waterproof Headphones, Amphibx Cases

Perfect for the kid on the go! Through water, rain, sweat and whatever you can put them through Flex All Sport Waterproof Headphones will keep delivering clear and rich sound. Affordable and personal, pick from 4 colors and 3 ear plug sizes. 

Or choose a sturdy, waterproof case instead. The Amphibx Armband provides a fully integrated, wearable, water sports music solution. This armbands unique shape and specialized materials have been designed to comfortably grip your arm while you're dropping in, cutting back or wiping out. 

I received a complimentary GeoPalz pedometer to facilitate my review in this posting. I received no other compensation.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

I Caught Santa!

...is for I Caught Santa, an absolutely brilliant idea that I'm surprised no one has thought of before now. It's ingenious, and inexpensive, and perfect for the holidays.  And you'll want to order now, because they are going to be really rushed come Christmas Eve night.

Here's how it works: I Caught Santa lets you take a photo of Santa in your own home:

In 3 simple steps, iCaughtSanta can help you turn a typical Christmas morning into something spectacular!
Want Santa by the Christmas tree? Coming down the chimney? Eating milk and cookies? Sleeping on the sofa? Stealing a kiss from Mommy? For less than $10 anyone can bring back the wonder of Christmas and be a hero to children by catching Santa "in the act."

I know! Isn't this an amazing idea? And a photo is less than $10 (told you it was inexpensive). You can also share your photo digitally through Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Act now and, if you use the code TWITTERMOM you'll get 50% off (expires 12/31).

Or leave a comment HERE for the chance to win a free photo (they're giving away one a day until Christmas!).

Hickory Farms for the Holidays

...is also for Hickory Farms!

I announced our ABCs and Giveaways for the Holidays Gift Guide with a special kick-off post featuring the Hickory Farms Home for the Holidays giftbox giveaway.

But I wanted to make sure I included Hickory Farms in the actual Gift Guide, too, because it really has become a go-to for us the last few years, and especially now, with my kitchen *still* being out-of-service (though it's almost done with the remodeling now, the contractor tells me!).

Right now, if you order an item from Hickory Farms priced at $35 or more, you can get free shipping with guaranteed delivery by December 23rd, which is not only a super savings but will, I know, come as a relief to those last-minute shoppers out there who are still frantically deciding what to get for the relatives across the country.

I can personally recommend not only the Home for the Holidays giftbox, which we just devoured, but also the Summer Sausage and Cheese giftbox, which is the most popular Hickory Farms sells, and at $36 gets you just over that $35 amount for free shipping!

Of course, they also have lots of items priced lower (there's a whole section under $30, for example), so here's an idea: why not send yourself a little something for the holidays? You'll have ready-to-serve appetizers for those unexpected drop-in guests and for Christmas Day before the big family dinner is served!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Hickory Farms and received two signature gift boxes from Hickory Farms to thank me for taking the time to participate.

Holiday Tips and a $50 GiftCard Giveaway!

...is for Holiday Time-Saving Tips! 

1. Road trip rules: Seasoned holiday road-travelers invest in a quick pass to whiz past hour-long lines at the tolls, 2) plot out where to get the cheapest gas along the way by using a “gas prices” feature on MapQuest, and 3) pre-pack energy-boosting snacks and beverages to avoid crowded rest stops and fast-food joints.

Viv's take: We absolutely use our toll quick pass whenever we are traveling through Orlando (which the Engineer does all the time, as he flies out of there for work) to save us from having to wade through the tourists at the toll booths. I feel for them, as those tolls can add up, and some of them are fumbling for change with horns honking, while we just breeze right through!  

2. Babysitting or playdate exchange: Gain kid-free time to make your way through your holiday to-do list by coordinating a playdate exchange with another family.

Viv's take: if you can get some parents together and create a babysitting co-op just for the holidays, you'll have a much easier time wrapping the kids' gifts without little eyes spying to see what you're up to!

3. Make sure it's in stock: Nothing wastes more time than driving from store-to-store in search of a specific item.  Do yourself a favor and call ahead or better yet check store inventory online before you leave home.  Many major e-retailers offer customers the convenience of purchasing items online and then picking them up in-store…some with express pick-up lines.

Viv's take: I do the majority of shopping online these days. Whenever possible, I try to have an item shipped to me or to my local store that way. Saves time!

4. Wrap it up: Socialize and wrap up your holiday duties by inviting your friends over to chat, nosh and yes, wrap gifts! Everyone brings a roll of wrapping paper, ribbons and other decorative elements to share with the group.  Also, watch for “free gift wrapping” promotions from online merchants.  Sometimes you may have to spend a certain amount to get the promotion to kick in, but it may be worth it given the time you’ll save on the backend.
Viv's take: This is a great idea, and one I haven't tried, the getting together with friends and having a--wait for it--wrap party. I do try to use online wrapping when I can, though I haven't found any free wrapping promotions.

5. Take advantage of online banking to save time! If you are a Bank of America customer, you can set up alerts to remind you to pay bills, check your balance and transfer money, all online. Check Bank of America's solutions center  for even more tips and information! And follow Bank of America on Twitter: @BofA_Tips.

Viv's take: I'm a Bank of America customer myself, and I do the majority of my banking online these days. They even have a mobile app for your phone. So now, I don't have to make a trip to the bank as often! If I do deposit a check at the bank, though, I can save time there, too, because I don't even have to fill out a deposit slip or put the check into an envelope. I just feed it into the ATM, and with their Deposit Image ATM I get *pictures of the checks deposited* as proof that they were received by the bank! 

And just for reading through these tips, 
you could win a $50 preloaded 
Bank of America giftcard!   

Initial Entry (required for all): Leave a comment below with one of your own tips for getting through the holidays with less stress. Or let me know which one of the above listed tips you think you will try this year!

Additional Entries:

  • Follow @Cool Moms Rule and @BofA_Tips on Twitter, and tweet about this giveaway (3 entries!).
  • Put our Holiday Gift Guide badge on your site (or let me know you already have!).
  • Post about this giveaway on your Facebook page, blog, or a giveaway listing site (3 entries!).
Deadline for giveaway entries is Christmas Eve, December 24th, at midnight EST.

Good Luck!

I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Bank of America and received a Bank of America preloaded gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate. 

This giveaway is hosted and fulfilled solely by Cool Moms Rule!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Gaming Gift Ideas!

...is also for Gaming!

You may know that I am that rare bird, a Mom Gamer.

I know some of you who don't game get frustrated with your kids sitting in front of the TV playing games.  When the Wii came out with fitness games and sports to play with the family, I was really glad, too, that more kids were getting off of the couch and into the action.

But don't forget the benefits of gaming: improved concentration and focus, better hand/eye coordination, attention to detail, etc. And kids who game with online connections use gaming as a social community. Gone are the days of the lone gamer in the basement. Now, we are all connected! And even offline, the whole family can game together.

So, here are my favorite gaming gift ideas this season!

Top of my list: Xbox Kinect. It's amazing what this thing can do! Imagine: no controller, just your body doing the work. Talk about getting off the couch! And no more batteries to buy for the controllers, or trying to find lost controllers buried in the couch cushions, either!

The Kinect comes with Kinect Adventures. Recommended additional games: Kinect Sports, and Dance Central. Each of these games can be played with at least two players and will keep you moving AND entertained.

The Kinect sold one million units in just 10 days (!), and topped 1.5 million at the end of last month. If you can find it, you'll be someone's favorite Santa this year!

Games I personally reviewed and can recommend:

The Sims 3 (Xbox, PS3, Wii, Nintendo DS).
I had never played a Sims game before, and was a bit overwhelmed with all you can do in this game. It's incredible the way you can customize it! I created a family with two teens just like my kids (really, not only do the avatars look like them, but you can give them personality traits like, 'doesn't like outdoors.' 'social,' 'clumsy,' or 'computer genius'!).  I learned that my own Sim lady needed cooking lessons after the oven in my little Sims 3 kitchen caught fire twice. And my Sims husband ended up delivering coffee for a living, while our oldest son in the game worked in a hospital and the youngest slept in and skipped school! Uh oh. Very, very cool game, with nearly endless possibilities for customization. I like this one for older kids and adults, as there is a learning curve (though tutorials help you get the hang of your options).

There's also a Sims game for younger kids, MySims SkyHeroes, which is just adorable. Cute little Sims fly through the skies, defeating dangerous enemies in aerial dogfights. What's especially nice about this title is the cooperative gameplay option for two friends (so many games have competitive multiplayer without offering a co-op one!). So kids can work together to defeat the bad guys.

If you are a fan of traditional board games, you'll really enjoy Monopoly Streets (Xbox, PS3, Wii) and will probably end up taking over the controller from the kids and playing it yourself! To celebrate its 75th anniversary, the world of Monopoly comes to life through a living, breathing city that you can build, own, and monopolize. MONOPOLY STREETS has everything you love about the board game, presented as a street level tour of Mr. Monopoly’s (okay, I never knew that was his actual name, did you?!) fully animated world. You can customize the game and play with your own avatar on Xbox 360 or Mii on the Wii, and when you play online the virtual board is populated with all your friends' avatars, too! 

The Tony Hawk: Shred (Wii, Xbox 360, PS3) bundle has the coolest controller I've ever seen outside of Guitar Hero: a skateboard with flames on it! The board has special motion-sensor technology, allowing you to lift, rotate and tilt the board to get "big air" on your tricks, and the gritty surface allows the player to stay on the board and "ride like the pros." The game is intended for ages 6 and up, and I think adults will like it, too (I did!). And if you have any skaters on your list, they will LOVE this game! Kids can play as one of 11 professional snowboarders/skateboarders, and unlock an additional mystery 4 through gameplay. You can even use the board controller to snowboard down mountains. To really get a feel of what the game play is like, screenshots don't do this game justice. Check out the videos here. Oh, and I have seen the bundle on sale on Amazon, with the board, for the price you would normally pay for just a game! That's a great bargain.

I received a copy of Sims 3, MySims SkyHeroes, Tony Hawk: Shred with board controller and Monopoly Streets to facilitate my review of the games. I received no other compensation (though, hey, if anyone wants to provide a Kinect...j/k), and my opinion is purely my own.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth Winner!

The winner of our giveaway for the Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Ugly Truth video is ready to be announced!

Thanks to all of you who posted your favorite cookie recipes! I loved reading and sharing them. Remember, naming, listing or linking to your favorite cookie recipe was REQUIRED for the initial contest entry. This was strictly enforced.

Okay, so the winner, chosen with Random.Org was.... Sheila!

Congratulations, Sheila! 

Sheila said...

Our favorite cookie at our house is the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip cookie. The recipe is on every package of Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chips. You can't improve on perfection. I remember my mother making these cookies - over 50 years ago!

I'll get your shipping info from you and send your prize right out.

Despicable Me Giveaway!

...is for Giveaway!

Today, Despicable Me was nominated for a Golden Globe!
And...it's out on Bluray and DVD!

The perfect gift for the holidays arrives in the hilarious and heartfelt animated box office sensation, Despicable Me, available today from Universal Studios Home Entertainment.

Despicable Me is one of those rare titles that moviegoers of all ages have enthusiastically embraced,” said Craig Kornblau, President of Universal Studios Home Entertainment. “It’s not only one of the highest-grossing movies of the year but also one of the most popular animated films of all time. Perfectly timed for the holidays, Despicable Me will be high on everybody's wish list as the must-have Blu-ray/DVD of the season.”

BONUS FEATURES EXCLUSIVELY ON BLU-RAY™ 3D Combo Pack, Blu-ray Combo Pack, and DVD Double Pack: 

·      THREE ALL NEW, MINI-MOVIES Starring THE MINIONS — The fun continues with three all-new mini-movies, created exclusively for the Blu-ray Combo Packs and DVD Double Pack!  Available for a limited time only!  Get more laughs and more minion mayhem with "Home Makeover", "Orientation Day" and "Banana" - you'll want to watch them again and again!
·      THE VOICES OF DESPICABLE MEGo behind-the-scenes with Steve Carell, Jason Segel, Russell Brand, Miranda Cosgrove, Kristen Wiig and Julie Andrews as they give life to their animated characters. Includes character profiles for each of the cast members!  
·      SUPER SILLY FUN LAND—Join Agnes, Margo and Edith at the Super Silly Fun Land Theme Park and play Feed the Creatures and Freeze the Floating Minions to win super cool prizes. 

·     GRU-CONTROL  - Through a picture-in-picture window, see the making of the film with behind-the-scenes footage and cast/filmmaker interviews
·     MISS HATTIE’S TOP SECRET COOKIE RECIPES—Margo is proud to present the recipes for those wonderful cookies that the loveable orphans under Miss Hattie’s care enjoy so much! 
·     BD-LIVE™—Access the BD-Live™ Center through your Internet-connected player to get even more content, watch the latest trailers and more.
o   MY SCENES—Bookmark your favorite scenes from the movie.
·     pocket BLU™ app— For the first time available on iPad®, owners can enjoy a new, enhanced edition of pocket BLU™ made especially to take advantage of the tablet’s larger screen and high resolution display. Consumers will be able to browse through a library of Blu-ray™ content and watch entertaining extras on-the-go that’s bigger and better than ever before.  USHE’s groundbreaking pocket BLU™ app uses iPhone™, iPod® touch, iPad™, Blackberry®, Nokia® Smartphone, Android™, PC and Macintosh to work seamlessly with a network-connected Blu-ray™  player and offers advanced features such as:
o   MINION ME—Exclusively for iPhone® and iPad® -- Personalize photos of friends and family by turning them into Minions. Pictures can be customized with glasses, bowties, hats and hairstyles to make it really hilarious! Send it to your friends with a Minion laugh.
o   MINION DOMINION APP—Exclusively for iPhone® and iPad®   Control a Minion by turning, tilting, rotating and shaking your phone. Tap the screen to make him speak, tap it again to hear him laugh. Or do battle with the two-player “minion mash up.” Download to your iPhone and see who can inflict the most damage on the other’s minion. 
o  Advanced Remote Control: A sleek, elegant new way to operate your Blu-ray™ player. Users can navigate through menus, playback and BD-Live™ functions with ease. 
o  Video Timeline: Users can easily bring up the video timeline, allowing them to instantly access any point in the movie. 
o  Mobile-To-Go: Users can unlock a selection of bonus content with their Blu-ray™ discs to save to mobile devices or to stream from anywhere there’s a Wi-Fi network, enabling them to enjoy exclusive content on the go, anytime, anywhere.
o  Keyboard: Enter data into a Blu-ray™ player with your device’s easy and intuitive keyboard to facilitate such Blu-ray™ features as chatting with friends and sending messages.

·     The World of Despicable Me
·     Despicable Beats—Director Chris Renaud talks about the cool factor of renowned music producer Pharrell Williams.
·     Gru's Rocket Builder—In an all-new game, Vector has stolen some of the most famous landmarks from around the world and replaced them with the pieces to Gru’s rocket. Players must return all the stolen landmarks to the correct countries in order to build their own rockets before Vector hacks into the system and steals the rocket plans. The reward for completing the rocket is a launch to the moon! 
·     A Global Effort—Learn all about the global effort behind Despicable Me. A director from France and another from the USA, plus an American and English cast created a movie in France, with artists from all over the world for a truly international movie!
·     Commentary with directors Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin, featuring the Minions! 
All three products include a digital copy of the movie to watch anytime, anywhere.  A single disc DVD will also be available.

And we have an amazing Despicable Me Giveaway for you!

DESPICABLE ME Blu-ray and DVD Beanie (one size fits most)
DESPICABLE ME Blu-ray and DVD Stickers
DESPICABLE ME Blu-ray and DVD Activity Sheets 

One grand prize will be awarded.

In addition FOUR first prizes will be awarded! 
DESPICABLE ME Blu-ray and DVD Beanie (one size fits most)
DESPICABLE ME Blu-ray and DVD Stickers
DESPICABLE ME Blu-ray and DVD Activity Sheets

How to ENTER (required for initial entry):

Leave a comment on this post on how you would put your own minions to use this holiday season!

For additional entries:
  • Put our Holiday Gift Guide button on your blog or Facebook page
  • Follow coolmomsrule on Twitter (if you don't already), tweet this giveaway and post the link in the comments (3 extra entries)
  • Blog about this giveaway (3 extra entries)
  • Follow this blog on Google Friends connect (left sidebar)
  • Subscribe to our feed
Deadline for entries is December 21st.

Good luck!

Failblog Fun!

...is for FAIL Blog, just for fun!

This is one of my kids' favorite websites, and today at noon, the FAIL Blog Community Names Justin Bieber the Prince of FAIL in 2010!

From a failed Segway getaway to a driving test meltdown and a run-in with a revolving door, the FAIL Blog community today ranked Justin Bieber as the Prince of FAIL in 2010. With a landslide win of nearly 50 percent of the votes, Justin Bieber beat out MTV’s train wreck, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, as well as Tiger Woods and Mel Gibson.  

“When you’re the planet’s biggest teen sensation, nominated for a Grammy, and Barbara Walters calls you one of this year’s most fascinating people -- surely someone out there will capture you in FAIL moments,” said Ben Huh, CEO of the Cheezburger Network of humor sites that includes I Can Has Cheezburger?, FAIL Blog, and The Daily What. “Justin Bieber seems to appreciate humor, so hopefully he’ll wear this crown with pride knowing that a few Bieber FAILS gave us a fun opportunity to laugh at someone else’s misfortune.”

Of course it wouldn’t be a complete FAIL list without ranking the FAIL Blog videos submitted by fans from around the world highlighting average people doing dumb things. The winner in the Top 10 FAIL Blog videos for 2010 is the Watermelon Launch FAIL – footage from the reality TV show, The Amazing Race, where a woman takes a watermelon in the face with a giant slingshot. Answering Your Phone in Class FAIL ranks second and Roller Coaster Vomit FAIL follows closely behind.

Here are the Top 10 funniest gaffes and craziest antics that happened around the world in 2010 according to the FAIL Blog community:

Top 10 Most Memorable FAIL People:
1.Justin Bieber 44%
2.Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi 10%
3.Tiger Woods 8%
4.Mel Gibson 7%
5.Lindsay Lohan 5%
6.Bristol Palin 5%
7.Mike Sorrentino (aka “The Situation”) 4%
8.The Kardashians 4%
9.Brett Favre 4%
10.Miley Cyrus 3%

Honorable mentions: Each receiving 2 percent of the votes were Charlie Sheen, Jesse James, and Paris Hilton.

Top 10 Most Memorable FAIL Moments:
1.BP Oil Spill 34%
2.Jessi Slaughter’s Dad Goes Ballistic 8%
3.Lincoln Park Rapist 8%
4.The Farmville Murderess 7%
5.No Snow at the 2010 Winter Olympics 5%
6.The iPhone Hates Left Handed People 5%
7.Katy Perry’s Video Gets Banned on Sesame Street 5%
8.The Sex Line on OchoCinco’s Cereal Box 4%
9.The Jay Leno/Conan O’Brien NBC Debacle 4%
10.Meg Whitman tries to out FAIL Blog 4%

Honorable mentions: Each receiving 3 percent of the votes were “The Woman Who Married Herself in Thailand”, “Tiger Woods’ Sort of Apology”, “Robert Green’s Error at the World Cup”, and “The McNugget Rampage in Toledo”. In at 2 percent were “The Toyota Recall” and “Scientists Call Shenanigans on the Triceratops”.

Top 10 Most Memorable Videos and Photos on FAIL Blog:
1.Watermelon Launch FAIL 34%
2.Answering Your Phone in Class FAIL 13%
3.Roller Coaster Vomit FAIL 9%
4.Stripper FAIL 7%
5.Handwashing FAIL 7%
6.Ghost Ride FAIL 6%
7.Elephant FAIL 5%
8.Orchestra FAIL 5%
9.Rock Band FAIL 5%
10.Tattoo Recipient FAIL 5%

Honorable mention: “Dirty Dancing FAIL” received 4 percent of the votes.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Educational (but still fun!) Books for Christmas!

is for Educational!

Wait, where are you going?! Hey, come back here!

Seriously, educational gifts can be fun, too! You just have to sort through to find the best ones, the ones that align with your spouses, or child's, or friend's, or relative's interests!

Yes, I know, easier said than done.

Which is why I am here to help you! It's okay. I'll talk you through this.

So, when I was a kid, my parents Santa Claus used to leave comic books and paperbacks in our stockings. This was absolutely brilliant, because the rule was that, on Christmas morning, we could all attack our stockings BEFORE waking Mom and Dad (but none of the presents that Santa left under the tree).

So, we'd eat the odd candy or two, unwrap a small toy or pull out a (yay!) dollar bill, and then there'd be something to read. And we'd invariably open that up and at least read a page or two, and sometimes a whole chapter or an entire comic book, before we went in to wake up Mom and Dad.

That's right, they ended up with about another additional extra half hour's sleep with that little trick. Santa's pretty clever, isn't he?

So I like books as presents, and those are often educational as well.

One of my favorites each year is the Ripley's Believe it or Not and Guinness Book of World Records editions. My grandfather, bless his heart, used to always tell us stories about the tallest man in the world, and how he could wear a child's bracelet as a ring on his finger, and how Grandpa met this man at some time in his life. He LOVED the Guinness Book of World Records.

And the kids love Ripley's, because there is always something gross and/or bizarre in each edition.  So I can recommend both of those books, which have editions available at Amazon.com.

This year, I also had two new books that looked promising, Puzzle Baron's Logic Puzzles and World's Best Origami, to review in the Educational category.   

Logic puzzles are really great for keeping your mind active.

You know how these kinds of puzzles work, right? 

You are given a situation (picking one randomly from the book: a group of people running a race) and then a series of clues (all the racers come from different schools, each school has a colored uniform, and the one in red finished behind the racer from this school, etc.). 

I like the way Puzzle Baron's Logic Puzzles puts up charts so you can organize the information, fill in the chart and figure out a solution to each problem. This would have really helped me in school, and I think it would be great at teaching kids to organize their thoughts, eliminate unlikely solutions and come to the correct one through a process of logical deduction. +1 for getting kids to think! Also recommended for adults, especially anyone you know who likes Sudoku or brain puzzles. I'm thinking of putting one of these in the Engineer's stocking! (Puzzle Baron's Logic Puzzles is $10.17 at Amazon.com).

Unfortunately, I really can't wholeheartedly recommend World's Best Origami, though. This is because I feel that some of the directions are confusing. I tried out a few of the origami projects in the book, for instance, (to be fair, there are LOTS of projects in the book), first, a bird, and then a pig. Both of these are "Level 1" difficulty projects. I found the Bird quite easy to do. But with the Pig, I ran into difficulties with just the third step! Not only could I not figure out what I was supposed to do (it called for "sliding" the "right" edge of a basically equilateral triangle into the "left edge" layers), I called in my 17 year-old, and the Owl couldn't figure it out, either!

Okay, so that was frustrating, but that alone was not enough for me to give the whole book a bad review, though I did question the "Level 1" difficulty of the projects. I know I am not always the best at crafts.

No, what really curbed my enthusiasm for the World's Best Origami book was that, in trying to figure out how to complete the Pig origami project, I went online, hoping to see someone fold it in a video--and Every. Single. Video. I found used a different technique from the one in the book,  and they all used the same technique as each other, which makes me wonder why the book went in a completely different direction, one which, in my mind, made it more difficult to do. 

Add on to that the fact that I feel most kids would want to jump around, from project to project, doing the ones they found most interesting. I just can't see many kids sticking through to the more difficult ones if the Level 1 difficulty frustrated them they way it did me. So, no recommendation for me on this book. However, Amazon reviewers had different opinions, and you can check those out here.

I received both of these books to facilitate my review, but no other compensation for their inclusion in this guide, and my opinion is mine and mine alone.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hickory Farms Giveaway Winner!

Announcing the winner of our Home for the Holidays giftbox from Hickory Farms!

I know you've all been waiting for this one. It was hugely popular, and I only wish I could have kept the giveaway going a little longer because I know some of you didn't get those entries in on time (shame on you! Now go enter the Diary of a Wimpy Kid or DealPop USA giveaways RIGHT NOW!).

So, without further ado, the winner, chosen by Random Integer Generator as usual, is....

Commenter #59!

And boy, did this commenter want that giftbox! She subscribed, she blogged, she did it all and it paid off!

Here's the winning comment, in a series of comments left by this user:

the Crave to Save said...


blogged 5
gina.m.maddox (at) gmail.com
Congratulations, Crave to Save! I'll be emailing you for your shipping info so the sponsor can get that Hickory Farms Home for the Holidays giftbox right out to you!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

DealPop USA Giveaway!

is also for DealPop!

DealPop USA lines up great deals for you, a different one every day, so you don't have to search all over the internet to find the best prices on holiday gifts you want. And DealPop USA will still be around once the holidays are over to help you keep saving year-round.

For example, Here is today’s Deal for DealPop USA:

Thursday, December 9th: Nikki's Cookies only $15 for $40 worth of cookies made from generations-old homemade recipes, and holiday specialties. 

Note: Here's how it works: Go to DealPop USA to get the daily deal, print up your voucher and take it to your local restaurant, club, theater or store to redeem!

Want an even BETTER deal? Use the code DEALPOPHOLIDAY through 12/24 for an additional 15% off!  

DealPop is also offering one lucky Cool Moms Rule! reader $15 in a giveaway just for us! To enter, leave a comment below the post. Ends 12/16/10.

Additional Entries:
  • Follow coolmomsrule on Twitter and tweet about this giveaway.
  • Tweet about our Hickory Farms Giveaway or our Diary of A Wimpy Kid giveaway or BOTH (3 extra entries EACH!).
  • Subscribe to our feed or follow Cool Moms Rule! blog with Google friend connect (check the sidebar).
  • Put our Holiday Gift Guide badge (middle sidebar) on your blog sidebar (3 extra entries!).
  • Blog about this post (3 extra entries!).
That's a total of FIFTEEN entries you could have to win $15 from DealPop!

Good luck!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

DVDs and Decorations for the Holidays!

is for DVDs and Decorations!

I know we've already covered Bluray videos, but I also know that not everyone is married to an Engineer technophile, so how about...
A custom holiday DVD created just for your child?  This site will let you make your own personalized Santa DVD.

Here's a trailer to show you just how easy it is.

Recommended for kids ages 2-8.

Or, if you just want to curl up on the sofa with some hot chocolate, popcorn and a good flick, NBC's Universal Studios store has holiday DVDs on sale, for two days only, 3/$30!  You'll find everything from Curious George: A Very Monkey Christmas all the way back in time to the holiday classic, Holiday Inn.

Or you can head over to Barnes and Noble online, where you can find this year's hottest movies for kids: Toy Story 3, Shrek Forever After and Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue, all on sale. Accept their offer of a free trial membership and you'll also receive Free Express Shipping on every order! I'm a B&N Member myself, since we have a local store, and save up to 40% off new bestsellers, get coupon offers for their in-store cafe, and lots of other benefits, so I personally recommend that option.

Now, on to Decorations!

Michael's has you covered for the holidays, with their Christmas project ideas. I usually opt for the simplest in decorating inside, like some hanging garlands and wreaths and of course the Christmas tree. Outside is the Engineer's piece de resistance, the oak tree, which he COVERS in white Christmas lights, extending up the trunk of the tree and up and out the longest, thickest branches to extend almost to the roof of the house. Every Christmas, it seems like there are more strands lighting up that tree. We even had the power go out one year! He's pretty cagey about it, too, but I can see those new empty light boxes in the trash can. ; P

Anyway, if you are craftier than I am, Michael's has a coupon for 50% off Martha Stewart Craft items through December 24th.

You can also dress up other rooms in the house in simple ways, like this holiday hand towel project from the woman behind the Bowdabra. Have you seen this contraption? They have it at Walmart, and of course online, and it helps klutzy folks like me tie bows that look all pretty.

Full project instructions for the Holiday Hand Towel can be found in this free, downloadable ebook.

Real Simple has decorating ideas that run the gamut from simply tying ribbons around champagne flute stems (because of COURSE we all have champagne flute stems sitting around anyway) to setting up five-foot bamboo plant stakes(!) on either side of your fireplace and, "light up your room with twinkling topiaries." I don't know, that doesn't sound "Real Simple" to me. Trimming the mantle with white votives and flowers is a nice one. Of course, I don't have a fireplace, hence no mantle, so that *could* be a problem, too.

But! There's 30 ideas in all. So what I am getting at here is that there's bound to be at least one that appeals to you. For instance, tying ornaments to napkins with curling ribbon? Yes, that's a good one. Or putting vintage ornaments (read: old silver, red and green balls you don't like any more) on a cake stand with some silk leaves. Easy-peasy.

One decorating craft I like for kids (both to make and to help eat when it is done) is a Candy Christmas Wreath.  There's a great video on YouTube, from Jill Cooper of Living on a Dime, that shows making one from a coat hanger.

I have also seen them made with HALF a hanger for kids (how much candy do you really need, after all?) or a wire craft hoop (as recommended by Martha), or even a wooden embroidery hoop covered with paint or green floral tape to look nicer once the candy is gone.

Now, when Martha Stewart makes one, naturally she color-codes the candy in alternating rings and all of that, but the main thing is to buy candies in wrappers with tied ends, like Sweeties, tootsie rolls, Jolly Ranchers, peppermints or butterscotches, so that you can easily attach them to the wreath.

I also like including scissors, hanging from the wreath by a ribbon (use kids' scissors if you want to be all Safety First about it or, you know, if you actually have kids). Then you can hang the wreath on the front door. If you wait a second after you hear a knock knock knock (Penny? Penny? Penny?*), you can catch your guests with incriminating wrappers in their hands and mouths full of candy when you open the door. ; )

For the dining room, pine cones or pine boughs with candles make for a pretty winter centerpiece.

What I do is buy some green florist's foam and a big round candle, like the kind with 3 wicks. You cut out a small hole from the foam, just slightly smaller than the candle, and then kind of screw the candle into the indentation you've made, so it fits firmly. Then you take evergreens (if you have a real Christmas tree, save the pine branches you trim off when you shape the tree), and stick them around the candle.  You can also lay all the pieces out on a decorative platter or tray (or hey, use that cake stand idea from Real Simple, or you could use a hurricane glass in the center). For a finishing touch, spray the whole centerpiece with artificial snow! The DIY Show Off has some lovely examples of centerpieces, like the one to the left.

*Big Bang fans will get this joke. Why yes, I am a geek.
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