Have a Berry Good Halloween!

I love Halloween! It is my favorite holiday for so many reasons. One big reason is that on Halloween you can dress up as anyone you want. You can wear the most outlandish outfit and it's perfectly okay. It's a day to just get out there and celebrate life!

I found this cute little idea on Pinterest, and I tried it out. They are witches brooms. Cute huh? They taste good too! ;)

I hope that you are having a truly awesome Halloween. Stay safe out there. I can't wait to see all the little kids in their costumes for trick or treat!

My husband got this vintage Strawberry Shortcake costume for me. I think it's the exact one I wanted as a kid that Mom wouldn't spend the money on, so... I'm finally getting to be Strawberry Shortcake, only it's a lot creepier than I remember. 

Happy Halloween!

Wordless Wednesday, A Village of Mushrooms

A tree stump in my neighborhood recently became home to some mushrooms. They just seemed to appear out of nowhere, and I just thought it was so pretty. I mentioned it to my daughter, and she took a picture for me.

Look at it; It's like a small village of mushrooms. I wonder if there are any Smurfs in there. :)

The mushrooms are gone, but I still have this pretty picture of one of nature's wonders.
The song stuck in my head today:
♪Take me to church, I'll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies♪ (Hozier)
disclosure: posts on this site may contain affiliate links. All opinions expressed are my own.

A Look Inside Disney's Into the Woods

I'm really excited for this movie. It has a great cast, and a great story, and of course, it's a musical, so that makes me very happy. I'm eager to see it all pulled together on the big screen in December. Until then, we have to settle for these little glimpses into the fantasy world Disney is creating.

Take a look inside Disney's Into the Woods.

What do you think?

The Question is Parenting, and Censorship is Not The Answer

This originally posted in 2011, but with the recent demand for Toys R Us to remove a toy from its shelves because a mom thinks it's inappropriate, and their compliance to do so despite having 6 times as many signatures asking them to continue selling it, I think it shows that censorship continues to be a problem. This post is just as appropriate now as it was 3 years ago. It's time we take ownership rather than place blame, and teach not censor.

I recently read a post about the use of expletives on television and in public. The writer compared profanity to second hand smoke declaring the need for it to be banned because of it's offensiveness. She declared that the use of expletives on television is an insult to our intelligence and is having a negative impact on our children.
Really?! Second hand smoke?! Come on! It's words...Words don't kill!

Words are just words, and have no power unless you give them power. The word "bitch" used to mean simply a female dog. The "F"word was actually once a common term for banging two items together, and the word "fag" in England means a cigarette. It is society that has changed the meaning of the words to suit our purposes. If people stopped using these words, new ones would just replace them and take on different meanings.

When you drop something on your foot and yell "Oh, Sugar!" Aren't you meaning the same thing as if you said "oh shit!"? You just had sense enough to "know your audience" because you know your 3 year old is standing there and will quickly repeat what you said.

TV networks have to do the same thing. They adjust the words used to that of their audience. You won't hear Bob the Builder scream profanities because it's designed for children. But, tune into a show designed for adults like "House" and you may hear the occasional bad word.

This is not an insult to our intelligence, in fact it is a compliment to our knowledge. If a network tried to put a drama on that had all the characters yelling "oh phooey gosh darn gee wiz I really just don't like you." it would very quickly fail, because people want to watch dramas that depict reality. TV shows have more "expletives" on them because they are being more true to the real world. It's just how people talk.

As for the negative impact of foul language on children...

I have never shielded my children from words, but have raised them to know they are inappropriate in everyday conversation, and were off limits to them to use as children. Now this doesn't mean they were free to watch whatever shows they wanted, and listen to the musical artists that they do now when they were kids. No, I filtered what they could view, what they could listen to, and if they repeated something they heard, they were disciplined. I took the responsibility of parenting, rather than point fingers at what the rest of the world was doing wrong, I taught mine to do what's right.
My daughters are teenagers, they have attitudes, they don't like to do homework, they listen to music I don't always like, and sometimes they make bad decisions, but overall they're good kids. They know right from wrong, and while I'm sure they say some cuss words with their friends, they are smart enough never to say them in front of an adult because... they know their audience.

Eliminating foul language from the world to protect our youth is no more the answer than is burning books to shield them from inappropriate thoughts. Just as TV Networks, and movie producers know their audience, so must we as parents. Watch what your children are watching and if necessary change the channel! Listen to their music and discuss the meanings of the lyrics with your child. Don't shield them, teach them, parent them, because they are your audience.

Take this pink ribbon off my eyes, I'm exposed and it's no big surprise don't you think I know exactly where I stand this world is forcing me to hold your hand (No Doubt)

6 Witch Songs, Music For Halloween. #MusicMonday

It's our last Music Monday before Halloween, so it only makes sense to celebrate with some Halloween music. And, since Halloween is the Witch's New Year, let's let the witches have their moment on the dance floor. Here are 6 songs about witches.

Let's get things started with "Black Magic Woman" by Santana.

I know there are many other versions of this song, but this one is just so much fun! Bette Midler performing "I Put a Spell On You" in Hocus Pocus.

Another great song, "Witchy Woman" by The Eagles.

This one is a bit harder hitting with a reminder of the ugly history of The Salem Witch Trials. This is "American Witch" by Rob Zombie.

This one is a classic from 1966. It is "Season of the Witch" by Donovan.

We couldn't have a list of witch songs without the queen of witches, the fabulous Stevie Nicks. This is Fleetwood Mac performing Rhiannon.

Have a great week and keep on dancing!
If you love music, make sure to enter our Sol Republic Music Made Me Do It Giveaway!

Music Made Me Do It, Sol Republic Punk and Tracks Giveaway #MMDI

Music has always been a huge part of my life because of the emotional pull it has. Like a time machine, a song can pull us back to that special moment in our lives when we heard it playing. Music expresses what we often fail to put into a words; our deepest raw emotions. Music can also be our friend to get us through rough times or to inspire us to do great, and sometimes not so great, things.

Music made me name my youngest daughter, Rose for the song made famous by Bette Midler.

Music made Rose and I get the word "Imagine" tattooed on our wrists for the John Lennon song, and as a reminder of all the great possibilities our future holds if we can only imagine.

Music also made us take a trip to Central Park in NYC to visit the John Lennon Memorial together. We made the trip to celebrate. You see, Rose struggled with depression after being bullied. Getting through school was a battle for her, but she graduated High School, and it was the promise of the NYC trip that helped motivate her. She made it through a tough time and deserved to celebrate, so we went to NYC, and to Strawberry Fields. It is a memory of a special time shared with my daughter because Music Made Me Do It.

Now, I want to know what moments of yours are made special because of music! Just by sharing your story you'll be entered to win a Punk speaker by Sol Republic and Tracks headphones by Sol Republic.

To enter comment below with your music made me do it moment or share a story on Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc...) using #MMDI . Then complete the Rafflecopter form below to complete your entry.
1 person will win both the Punk and the Tracks by Sol Republic.
Open to U.S. and CA.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Relive Your Childhood With Retro Monster Cereal at Target.

When I was a kid, I really enjoyed the Monster cereals. The commercials made monsters seem less scary, and the fun flavors made me more likely to eat breakfast. My favorite character was always Franken Berry because he was pink, and pink was not everywhere like it is now. I also liked that despite his large size he was just a friendly goofy monster. It's a good reminder not to be afraid of things just because they look different.

Now, at Halloween time, we can take that walk down memory lane, and share the fun with our kids, with Monster Cereal in retro packaging that is only available at Target. Remember the fun cut out masks? Well, Target has them! You can eat your favorite flavor and then dress up as your favorite monster. I bet they could even be incorporated into Halloween decorations, maybe on a pumpkin, or something? I'm sure there's someone out there with some crafty idea for them! I'm going to put mine in frames to decorate my kitchen with next year.

Retro Count Chocula mask

Along with the Monster cereals, there are also Boo Berry and Franken Berry fruit roll ups, and a Count Chocula cereal bar treats that my family really enjoyed having for snacks.

Monster Cereal products from General Mills

For you bargain shoppers, I noticed that the Target cartwheel app has a deal for 20% off the Monster cereal until 10/31, so make sure to take advantage of the extra savings.

Fun to see retro Monster Cereals on the Target shelves

I was provided free product by General Mills to inspire this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Nature Photos From a South Carolina Hiking Trip #WordlessWednesday

For the past few years, hubby and I have gone on a hiking trip in the Fall. We love the cooler weather, and the chance to enjoy nature. This year's trip was to South Carolina's Foothills.

It was rainy, and hazy so some of our views were diminished, but we still had a great time. We even did our first moderate trail! This is a big deal for me because a year ago, I was barely able to finish a short easy trail because of Psoriatic Arthritis. Now, I'm controlling the disease instead of it controlling me. Life is good and I'm ready to explore it!

Mary Lambert's Debut Album, Definitely Worth a Second Listen. #HeartOnMySleeve #O2O

When I first heard "Secrets" on the radio, it immediately caught my ear and it replayed in my head throughout the day. I couldn't get enough of it, and had to hear it again. It's such as an honest song where Mary Lambert puts it all out there in a very offhand, oh well, this is me kind of style. There is just something very inspiring about the song that reminds us that we all have things we're not proud of, but those things are what make us who we are. We need to be better at being okay with being ourselves and putting it all out there.

Because of how much I enjoy the song "Secrets", I couldn't wait to hear the rest of Mary Lambert's new album Heart on My Sleeve.

I have to admit that, at first,  I was a little disappointed in it. I expected to hear more upbeat songs like "Secrets". I wanted that same inspirational high from bouncing along to that song that first caught my ear. When I didn't hear it right away, I skipped through the rest of the album hoping to hear something just as bright, but I didn't find it so I set the album aside.

The next day I decided to give it another try. This time with fresh ears and an open mind. I sat down and listened to the album without the built up hopes that I had first heard it with. What I found was that there is inspiration, and there is brightness and honesty; I was just blinded to it by my own expectations.

Mary Lambert puts her raw emotions into her songwriting. You can feel the passion she has for love and life in her lyrics, and her voice makes you feel the emotions along with her. One example of this is on "So Far Away", where we are reminded of that deep loneliness and struggle that can come from being in a long distance relationship. You are so lonely when you're apart, but the time together makes it all worth it.

In the album's title song "Heart on My Sleeve" Lambert confesses her desires to be with the "one I gotta have". It's full of all the excitement and hopes that come rushing in with a new relationship.

I've now listened to this album several times, and find that I really like it.  I can see quite a few of these becoming radio hits, and yes, some of the songs have weaved their way into my head on repeat. There's even a cover of "Jessie's Girl" that Lambert gives a whole new sound to.

With "Secrets" rising up the charts, and the powerful love songs on this album, I would expect to hear a lot more from this singer/songwriter. She has a great career ahead of her.

Heart on My Sleeve is available on iTunes and Amazon
Follow Mary on Twitter @MaryLambertSing 

I participated in the Mary Lambert Heart On My Sleeve album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided a free album to review but all opinions are my own.

A Special Look at Disney's Feast

Disney will premier its new short "Feast" in front of "Big Hero 6" which opens in theaters on November 7. Here's a look at it.

Doesn't that little dog just look adorable?! Now, along with looking forward to seeing the adventures of the Big Hero 6, I'm also looking forward to seeing "Feast"!

Disney's Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Shows How Many Negatives Make a Positive. #VeryBadDay

There are certain children's books that just seem to stick with you. Even after the kids are grown they have a lasting memory for you, and maybe you still pick it up and read it even though there aren't any kids anywhere around. For me, one of those books is Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst.

Because I like the book so much, I was wicked happy to hear that it was being made a movie, and even more happy that it was being done by Disney. Along with that excitement came a little bit of uncertainty about how well it would translate to the screen. You just never know with such a loved book how it will do in live action form, but...I'm happy to say that Disney did an excellent job!

Disney's "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day" tells the story of Alexander, a middle school aged boy who always seems to have those days while the rest of his family seem to have absolutely perfect days all the time. This all changes when Alexander makes a wish for them to understand what a very bad day is like.

The movie does a great job of sticking with the tone of the book, including an opening scene with Alexander waking up with gum in his hair which is straight from page 1. This is really a fun and humorous movie with a delightful story that delivers a message about the importance of positivity.

If you're looking for something to watch with the whole family, this is good because it really offers something for everyone. And, if you're like me, and your kids are all grown up, go see it anyway because it's fun. Besides, with all the very bad days that us grownups have we need a reminder that it's all going to be okay. Remember, "You have to have the bad days to love the good days."


Disclosure: I attended a free screening for this movie in order to complete this review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are my own. This site may contain affiliate links.

Why Did I Wait So Long To Make Homemade Brownies? Recipe is Easy and Delicious!

For the longest time, I've wanted to make brownies from scratch, but for one reason or another, (laziness) I always went back to using a box mix...until now!

I found this awesome recipe on Pinterest. Um, where else? Everything is found on Pinterest these days, so that's almost a given. Anyway, I found it on Pinterest awhile ago, and I kept looking at it, and I finally did it. My oldest daughter came home this weekend, and we baked these babies up, and OH MY GOSH!
These are A-mazing!
I can't go back to a box mix after this!
For real!
Not only were they incredibly good, but they were also incredibly easy! I don't know why I thought it would be so much harder to do. I've wasted so much time messing around with trying to find the best mix in a box when all along the best mix was made of stuff already in my house!

Homemade brownies

Even the batter was happy to be mixed up! Look at that smile.

Brownies made from scratch with easy recipe

For the recipe, head over to Buns in My Oven.
The recipe is so perfect there is no reason to change a thing, but I replaced the vegetable oil with Pecan Oil because I prefer it over vegetable oil. Coconut Oil is also a great option here. I also left out the espresso powder, just because I didn't have any.
For something different; you could add nuts, or top it with melted peanut butter cups or caramel.

By the way this recipe is for a 9x13 pan so there is plenty to enjoy. Go ahead and eat half the pan and tell them it was just a regular size brownie recipe. They won't know the difference, and I won't tell.

Enter to Win a Trip to Florida to Meet Florida Georgia Line on Halloween.

If you love music like I do, then you are going to love this sweepstakes. 1 winner will win a trip for 2 to Jacksonville Florida to meet Florida Georgia Line on Halloween.

The prize includes roundtrip airfare for 2, a 2 nights hotel stay, 2 t-shirts, a signed album, a meet and greet with the band before the concert, and 2 tickets to the Coors Light 2014 Anything Goes Tailgate Party and Concert in Jacksonville, FL. Pretty sweet, huh?!

To enter just go here and complete the form before 10/24. 1 entry per person. Must be a U.S. resident, 21+.
Good luck!

I was not compensated in anyway for this post. All opinions expressed are my own.

Boom! What a Way to Kick Off the Week!

The Walking Dead came back with a big bang and I'm so pumped about this season! I don't want to spoil anything for those of you that didn't stay up to watch it, but I will say it was explosive! There were edge of your seat moments, reunions, and plenty of dead walkers. It was AWESOME!

Because I'm so excited for The Walking Dead, and I'm ready for an awesome week, let's get it started with some music to get us up and moving.

Let's kick this Music Monday off with a boom.

And, end it on a bang!

Have a bangin' good week!

Autumn at Disney World #WordlessWednesday

Guess where I went this weekend?!
Cinderella's castle

Finally, we had a nice day with cooler temperatures, lower humidity and not a cloud in the sky, so we went to Disney. We haven't been since June, and I was starting to have withdrawals. I needed some magic from the happiest place on earth!

Like a kid I skipped through the Magic Kingdom giddy with the joy of Autumn...and maybe the buzz of espresso.

jack-o-lantern Mickey

Sunflowers in Frontier land

Main Street USA decorated for Halloween

Sleepy Hollow Inn

Disney does Harvest time right, and I can't wait to go back again!

A Day at the Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, Florida

My oldest daughter loves the Dali museum. For years she has been trying to get us to go with her, but for one reason or another, we didn't go; until now. We finally went on Saturday. We enjoyed walking around the museum learning about Salvadore Dali's career. We would have enjoyed it even more if there weren't so many people there, but it was Free museum day, so I guess I can't complain too much.

We stood mesmerized by the beauty and curiosity of some paintings, while others barely captured our attention. One piece I adored was "Sentimental Colloquium". When I view this painting, I feel an urge to sing ♪going on a sentimental journey♪ as the people ride across the page like music notes. What do you think?
Sentimental Colloquium

The best part of the day was just spending time with my husband and daughter.

Amethyst and daughter

My oldest daughter and Mr. Dali
Family reflection selfie
Sunny day in St. Pete, FL
Interactive art allowed me to become part of the Illusion gallery. Do you see my face in there?
Dali Museum, St. Petersburg, FL
Silliness with a giant mustache
The wishing tree at Dali Museum
The wishing tree in the Dali garden is so cool. We made a wish, attached our wrist band to the tree, and became part of the community art project. A perfect end to our day.