Easy, Beautiful Holiday Decorating with Crab Pot Christmas Trees

Crab Pot Christmas Trees

How was your Christmas and First Night of Hanukkah! We had a great time opening presents, watching holiday baking shows, baking cookies, and admiring our holiday decorations. This year we welcomed a new piece of decor -- Crab Pot Christmas Trees sent us one of their sparkly, pre-lit trees, and it is the perfect size for our beloved Derpy Deer ceramic ornament!  Derpy Deer sits outside our home year-round (we love him that much) and welcomes us back home every time we pull into the driveway. The Crab Pot Christmas Tree puts Derpy Deer in the spotlight and we couldn't be happier. This tree is so easy to set up and looks so good outdoors, we will certainly be using it every year from now on!

Crab Pot Christmas Trees

If you don't own a Crab Pot Christmas Tree, now is the time to get one. All trees are discounted right now (gotta love those after-Christmas sales!), and you can choose from trees as tiny as 1.5 feet all the way to a majestic 8 feet tall. Each tree comes pre-lit in a variety of styles. You can choose between colored and white lights, as well as twinkling lights or steady lights. You can even choose LED lights to save energy!

Crab Pot Christmas Trees

The tree arrives in a flat triangular box (keep the box, it's great for storage).  Setting up the tree could not be more simple. Just undo the twist ties that keep the tree closed, then open up the tree in a fan-like motion. Twist tie the two ends together to keep the tree open, and you are done! The tree is already pre-lit so you don't have to mess with stringing and evenly spacing your lights.

Crab Pot Christmas Trees

The finished tree stands all by itself and can be used indoors or outdoors. I would definitely recommend using the tree outdoors, because it's essentially a green chicken wire frame with lights attached to it. You could fill it out with greenery, but it's pretty threadbare on its own.
Crab Pot Christmas Trees

Where the Crab Pot Christmas Tree truly shines (pun intended) is outdoors at night. The green wire frame blends in with the surroundings, so it doesn't intrude on your outside decorations -- but at night, this tree is quite stunning. They fold down so quickly and take up so little space that you can buy lots and lots of trees to create an outdoor holiday wonderland. The tree comes with stakes so you can secure it to the ground and leave it there throughout the season.
Crab Pot Christmas Trees

Save 30%

Right not, Crab Pot Christmas Trees are already discounted, but I have a code you can use to save even more! My Readers save 30% Off Crab Pot Christmas Trees that fold flat and sparkle from every angle Use Code: USFG16

Disclosure: I received a sample Crab Pot Christmas Tree to review. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Give the gift of color this holiday season: Color Blind Glasses

Color Blind Glasses by Vino Optics

Alfie is the most color blind person I know. He was told that he has pretty much the highest degree of color blindness there is. Forget mistaking green for red. He also frequently mistakes pink for brown, and blue or lavender for pink. When we watch soccer, he often can't tell the difference between the two teams playing because they're both wearing dark colors and we're viewing the players from a distance. It's difficult to comprehend exactly what his world looks like, but the closest I've come to understanding it is his explanation: Go to your tv and turn the controls for color way down, just a few steps above black and white. Yikes.

When I first heard about color blind glasses that help color blind people see colors, I was so excited, but Alfie was skeptic. He felt that he was so color blind that he would probably be one of the few people for which the glasses wouldn't work. Also, how could we ever tell that he was seeing the colors that you and I see? Finally, wouldn't they cost thousands of dollars?

Lucky for us, I got the chance to review Color Blind Glasses by Vino Optics for O2Amp. They're available on Amazon for $304, which is significant but not outrageous... if they work. So, did they? I'm happy to report a big, colorful YES!!  Alfie put the glasses on and passed the Ishihara color blindness test with flying colors (pun intended). Glasses off, he couldn't distinguish a single number. Glasses on, he saw them all.

So, what's it like when a color blind person puts on these glasses? When Alfie puts the glasses on, he says amplifies the intensity of everything he sees, even the colors he can identify. He says that objects almost glow neon (or what he identifies as neon, anyway!).
Color Blind Glasses by Vino Optics

How about when a non-color blind person puts on the glasses? The glasses are tinted pink, so when my kids and I put the glasses on, everything turns pinkish. Interestingly, Alfie doesn't notice the pink tinge! We also notice that color intensity increases, but not as dramatically as it does for Alfie. He's really fascinated by how well he can distinguish colors!
Color Blind Glasses by Vino Optics

Alfie's final word? He's still a bit of a skeptic -- he says that we still don't know whether we're seeing the same colors..... but then again, who is to say that any two people see exactly the same colors! Also, these are not glasses that Alfie would wear every day. He already has prescription glasses, so he can't wear both at the same time. Also, these glasses have a distinct style, with a wraparound athletic look that would suit road bikers, but probably wouldn't look good when you are wearing a tuxedo at the opera (unless you're Bono).  They are definitely something every color blind person should get. Whether they wear it all the time is up to them. Anyway, Alfie looks forward to seeing the Grand Canyon wearing these glasses!

Color Blind Glasses by Vino Optics

About the glasses

Looking for “outside of the box” holiday gift ideas to share with your audience? Consider the Color Blind Glasses by Vino Optics for O2Amp. These glasses are a remarkable gift to give to the loved-one in your life who is color blind. Giving the gift of color is a once-in-a-lifetime gift!

For the remarkable 8 percent of men and .5 percent of women with Northern European ancestry who have the most common form of red-green color blindness, they no longer need to let their vision impairment hold them back in life or career. The Color Blind Glasses by Vino Optics for O2Amp further enhance color vision signals, thus aiding those with color blindness to see proper color, perhaps for the first time.

Disclosure: . I received a product sample to facilitate my review, but have not been paid to review the product or give my opinions. Product information (in italics) is provided by the featured company/product. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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SAP Center hosts Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular

I've been to SAP Center in San Jose many times and I've seen many kinds of performances -- pop concerts, ice skating shows, the circus, ice hockey, indoor football, motorcross stunt shows, even animatronic dinosaurs! You'd think by now I'd have seen every different kind of show you could possibly put on in a large concert arena, but you'd be wrong. Last night we saw something at SAP that we've never seen before -- a live orchestra.

We took the family to see Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular, a one-of-a-kind holiday show that combines acrobatic circus acts and live holiday music. The show had about a dozen acrobatic circus acts (I lost count!), each set to a different piece of music. The orchestra is seated at the back of the stage, and the acrobats perform their acts at the front of the stage. The stage backdrop features winter-themed animations that constantly move and change.  Here's a description from the show producers:

Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular is a fun filled family holiday event featuring the cast of Cirque Musica together with all-time favorite holiday songs performed by a live orchestra! Cirque Musica is a concert and visual experience where audiences journey into a world of high-flying adventure with amazing acrobats, aerialists, hilarious hijinks and holiday cheer, too! The show blends the spell-binding grace and dare-devil athleticism of today’s greatest circus performers with the sensory majesty of the greatest holiday music of all time.

Acrobatic Performers
The acrobats were some of the best that I've ever seen. There is nothing to distract from their performance -- no flashy lights or colorful props or scenery, and there are just one, two, or three on stage at a time. So they really have to be good in order to capture the audience's attention! We were on the edge of our seats the entire time, hoping and praying they wouldn't fall. The strength and skill required is astonishing.

All my kids play a musical instrument, so they were just as excited to hear the orchestra as they were to see the acrobats. Hearing a live orchestra is always a treat, and hearing them play familiar tunes is a nice bonus. I was a bit worried that they'd be playing Christmas carols throughout the show, but it wasn't like that at all. They did play some carols and Christmas songs, but they also played classical music by Johann Pachelbel, Rimsky Korsakov, Franz Schubert, and John Williams. My daughter recently danced in The Nutcracker, so we were thrilled to hear two selections from Tchaikovsky's famous score. The musical repertoire was a great mix of classical, pop, and holiday, and I couldn't have asked for anything more.

Insider Tips
The stage was about the size you would see in a concert hall, so it was a smaller performance area than I'm used to seeing at SAP center, which is a big concert arena.  They had chairs out on the arena floor, so for the best views of the acrobatic acts, those were definitely the best seats to get. You'll probably get a better view if your seats are in the 10th row or farther so you don't strain your neck looking up at the stage. The side rows are also good but the regular seats (not on the arena floor) are quite far away. However, every single seat in the arena is a good seat for appreciating the wonderful music!

One final tip, I definitely recommend getting a programme. It only costs $5, and you get a list of all the acrobatic acts and all the music performed during the show.

If you've had your fill of the usual holiday shows like The Nutcracker, Handel's Messiah, A Christmas Carol and the like, Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular is a refreshingly different kind of celebration! It's also a great way to introduce your kids to classical music, because many kids get distracted when listening to an orchestra with no visuals. At Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular , they can watch the acrobats while listening to the music, and it all combines for a wonderful experience.

Tickets and performances
Cirque Musica Holiday Spectacular runs till December 18 in California, Texas, Washington and Arizona. Purchase tickets at Ticketmaster.com or on http://www.cirquemusica.com/holiday-spectacular

Disclosure: I received tickets for my family and I to attend the show. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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AdoramaPix photo books: the perfect present

Looking for the perfect present? Check out AdoramaPix photo books. Friends and family will love these photo books are holiday presents, birthday presents, anniversary presents, or any time of the year! They are the perfect way to capture special memories of a trip that you took together, a special event (like a wedding, a birthday party, a concert, etc...) or just a chronicle of how your relationship has grown over the years.

AdoramaPix makes it so easy to create a gorgeous photo book. You can customize everything from start to finish -- choose from gorgeous linen, hardcover and leather covers as well as a variety of finishes, great layout options, fonts, and stickers. You can even choose the level of customization. If you want to work on every last detail, AdoramaPix's photo book creation software lets you start with a completely blank page and design every single aspect. They have a huge selection of digital stickers, borders, embellishments, and fonts that you can resize, flip, and position anywhere on your layout. If you are pressed for time or don't trust your layout skills, you can choose from several premade templates and trust in the impeccable sense of style of AdoramaPix's designers. Just select which photos you want to include, and AdoramaPix will populate your photobook for you! Or you can go somewhere in between - use one of their templates and tweak it so it reflects what you want. The software is really easy to use, and it lets you spend as much or as little time as you want to create your perfect photo book.

These photo books print out so well and they last forever. There's no better present to gift your loved ones with than the gift of memories preserved in an AdoramaPix photo book!

Disclosure: I received a credit on AdoramaPix to help me write this review. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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The Piano Guys say "It's Gonna Be Okay"

2016 has certainly been a rough year for world events and culture. In May 2016 my home country of the Philippines was surprised and shocked when Rodrigo Duterte (aka captain murderfest) was elected President of the Philippines. In July, Alfie's home country, the UK, was surprised and shocked when its citizens voted for Brexit. Then just a week ago, the USA was surprised and shocked when its citizens voted to elect Donald Trump as President of the United States. And don't even get me started on all the pop culture legends -- David Bowie, Prince, Leonard Cohen, Gene Wilder, Muhammad Ali, Alan Rickman to name just a few -- passing on!

I doubt if The Piano Guys knew all that would happen when they first started collaborating on their latest album, Uncharted -- but its release on October 28 could not have come at a better time. It's as though they knew that we would need the healing touch of their music to uplift us and inspire us to keep going, even in a world gone topsy-turvy. They have a magical way of blending the classical sounds of cello and piano with contemporary hits to make beautiful music that every generation can relate to.

I can't get over how perfect the name of their album is, not just for the music itself but for the present time. The Piano Guys became famous with their videos, and three of the videos for this album were shot in literally "Uncharted" (at least for them) territory -- Scotland, Mexico, and Jordan. The music is "Uncharted" in the sense that they've combined so many different styles, from pop music icons Justin Timberlake, Adele, Coldplay to modern composers John Williams and Hans Zimmer to classical composers Mozart and Handel.

I've listed Uncharted's song list below. To be honest, I could listen to any of those songs again and again, because The Piano Guys are one of my favorite musical groups, but I have a special fondness for Pirates of the Caribbean, Fight Song/Amazing Grace, and the Jungle Book medley.

  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Can’t Stop The Feeling
  • Indiana Jones and The Arabian Nights
  • Okay
  • Celloopa
  • Holding On
  • Tour de France
  • Uncharted
  • Fight Song/Amazing Grace
  • Sky Full of Stars
  • Hello/Lacrimosa
  • Jungle Book/Sarabande

Finally, I can't publish this review without mentioning the tragedy that befell The Piano Guys just a few days before the release of Uncharted. Pianist Jon Schmidt's 20 year-old daughter Annie went missing, and after weeks of frantic searching, her remains were found at the bottom of a cliff. I can't even imagine what Jon and his family are going through. Every time I listen to Uncharted, I think of Annie and her dad and mom and the rest of the Piano Guys family. Somehow it makes the album even more meaningful. When I listen to "It's Gonna Be Okay" or "Amazing Grace", I imagine telling Jon and his family the same thing. I think a lot of people are listening to Uncharted and thinking the same thing.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Uncharted to facilitate my review The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Free Pancakes for Veterans and Military on Veteran's Day


Today is Veteran's Day, and IHOP is honoring the men and women who have served in the military by offering a complimentary stack of patriotic Red, White, and Blue Pancakes -- three fluffy, yummy buttermilk pancakes with glazed strawberries, blueberry compote, and whipped cream! This is happening at IHOP restaurants nationwide, and some are even throwing in a free breakfast combo with 2 eggs, hash browns and 2 pieces of meat (bacon or sausage). Just show your proof of military service (US services ID card, US services retired ID card, veterans' organization card, or even a photo of yourself in US military uniform, military dog tags, a citation or a commendation.  Darren Rebelez, IHOP president, is himself an Gulf War veteran with the Army Rangers.  It's a small token that IHOP is offering to thank our men and women in uniform for their service!

Since school was out due to Veteran's Day, I took the boys to our local IHOP and boy was it busy!  I don't know if there were lots of military families or whether people simply took advantage of the school holiday to visit IHOP, but it was more crowded than usual. 3Po and Jammy love IHOP, and not a month (or at most, 2 months) goes by without them innocently remarking that IHOP has some great new menu offering that we should really try!


It's a good thing that I have 3 kids, because I always want to try whatever is new, yet I can't bear to give up my regular order of 2 pancakes, 2 eggs, 2 pieces of sausage or bacon, and hash browns. I let the kids order the new stuff and I try all of it!

Speaking of new offerings, IHOP's Holiday Menu offerings are back, so Jammy indulged in some Pumpkin Spice pancakes, and we treated ourselves to some Frosted Mint Hot Chocolate.  It is sooo nice to indulge in comfort food at IHOP on a chilly day!

Disclosure: I received an IHOP gift card to assist me with my review.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Get 20% off wine at Grocery Outlet

Grocery Outlet Bargain Market

What time is it? It's Wine-O-Clock, and it's time to head over to your nearest Grocery Outlet Bargain Market for their Thanksgiving wine sale! They are offering an extra 20% off their everyday low wine prices from November 2-8. That's up to 80% savings on over 150 wines! What a great time to stock up for your holiday parties! Even if you're not throwing a holiday party, you're going to be invited to one, so you can stock up on hostess gifts without breaking the bank. Take a bottle of wine -- or two -- to every party you attend this holiday season!

Here are a few examples of the wines you'll find at Grocery Outlet Bargain Market, and just how big the discounts are (note that stock will vary from store to store).  I've also included a couple of suggestions on what to pair them with:

Indigo Eyes Sparkling Brut

Sparkling wine is my favorite, and I usually find myself sipping it at late night parties or at brunches. But with the Indigo Eyes Sparkling Brut going for just $4.79, every day can be a party day! And since brut is a bit dryer, you don't have to limit yourself to chocolate or strawberries when sipping it! Did you know that sparkling wine goes great with fried foods?

Appetizer: zucchini sticks
Main course: fish n chips
Cheese: gouda
Grocery Outlet Bargain Market

Pra Vinera Cabernet Sauvignon

My  husband loves Cabernet Sauvignon; it's so rich and complex! We think California Cab is the best in the world, so when Grocery Outlet Bargain Market sent us a bottle of Pra Vinera Reserve, it was like the holidays had come early. He's not a big fan of meat, but I think he'll make an exception for this Cab.
Appetizer: mini beef empanadas
Main course: hamburgers
Cheese: manchego

Grocery Outlet Bargain Market wine sale

While you're at Grocery Outlet Bargain Market shopping for wines, make sure you check out the rest of the store. They have bargains on EVERYTHING from grocery staples like bread, milk, and cereal, to treats like ice cream (my favorite Three Twins is in stock right now!!), to gourmet foods like ground bison or stilton cheese or chocolate, to organic foodie items like coconut milk and quinoa. I pass by Grocery Outlet at least twice a week (fortunately our local store is on the way to my daughter's dance studio!) to see what they have in stock. How do they do it? They buy surplus inventory (NOT expired inventory) from bigger chains that have ordered too much, or products that have undergone packaging changes, or seasonal products or products with seasonal packaging. It just makes so much sense!

That's really the key -- Grocery Outlet's stock varies store by store and week by week, so you never know what's going to be in the store, or how long your favorite bargains will stay on the shelves! That's definitely going to be the case for the wine sale -- it's getting to be a not-so-well-kept-secret these days. It seems like everyone knows about the Grocery Outlet Bargain Market wine sale these days, so go to your local store as soon as you can (and definitely before November 8) to make sure your favorite wines don't sell out!

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Crab Pot Christmas Trees: big on shiny, small on space

Do you live in a small space? Do you stress out about storing your holiday decorations every year? Check out Crab Pot Christmas Trees! Crab Pot Christmas Trees are remarkable, perfectly shaped trees that are pre-lit, fold flat for storage, sparkle from EVERY angle and are easily set up. What makes these holiday trees so unique and the MUST HAVE of the season for home decor? Crab Pot Christmas Trees are made from the very durable PVC Coated Crab Pot Wire which withstands all that Mother Nature throws at it.

Check out this video to see how they are folded:

My Readers save 30% Off Crab Pot Christmas Trees that fold flat & sparkle from every angle  Use Code:USFG16

Disclosure: I will be receiving a product sample courtesy of US Family Guide. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Marvel's Dr. Strange opens November 4

Marvel Dr. Strange

Whenever a superhero movie releases, most people are already familiar with him or her, so they go into the movie theater with a preconceived notion of what to expect. That is how it has always been with me. Dr. Strange is the first superhero movie that I've watched knowing absolutely nothing about the character, his powers, his backstory, or his enemies.  Sure, I've seen illustrations of Dr. Strange, but he just looked like a sinister old guy, so I was never really interested in delving deeper into his story. When Marvel announced they were doing a Dr. Strange movie, I wasn't exactly counting the days until I could watch the movie. I was mostly counting on the reputation that Marvel and Disney have built up with the Avengers for coming up with an entertaining movie.

After watching a preview last night, I'm happy to report that my faith was rewarded, and all the hype that Dr. Strange is getting is well deserved! It's like The Matrix without all the confusing plot twists combined with a classic kung fu movie, with amazing special effects, humor, and contemporary references (Beyonce, wifi passwords) thrown in.

I was surprised to discover that I actually love the character of Dr. Strange. He reminds me a lot of Tony Stark -- the arrogant genius part. I love how Benedict Cumberbatch brings a younger, more modern, and more handsome look to Stephen Strange than the classic comic book image. Actually, I love Benedict Cumberbatch, period. He makes a great arrogant doctor, a great bearded bum, desperately seeking salvation, and a great hero, using his intellect along with his willpower to defeat his enemy. The costume he ends up with when he fully embraces his identity as Dr. Strange, sorcerer, looks a bit cheesy, especially with the cape -- but his Cloak of Levitation actually turns out to be the best thing about his costume because it is a sentient object, much like Aladdin's magic carpet. I really hope they develop the cloak's character a lot further in future movies!

A word on the special effects: I've read reviews saying that you should watch this movie for the special effects alone. They are that good. You may have seen some of them on the movie previews, and I'm here to say that this is NOT one of those cases that they've shown the best scenes in the previews. There are way more and way better scenes! Dr. Strange's enemy, along with his mentor, have the ability to warp time and space, so you will see buildings fold into themselves, floors turn into ceilings, people running upside down, all at lightning speed. I actually found myself getting dizzy from all the shifts in perspective! Watching the movie in 3D really enhanced the experience. There are many movies where I think it's a waste of time to pay extra to watch in 3D -- Dr. Strange is NOT one of them. The occasional dizziness and nausea I felt was actually worth it.
Doctor Strange

Another thing I had to address: the whitewashing. I had read a lot of criticism about Marvel's whitewashing of the Ancient One character played by Tilda Swinton. That, along with the comic book image, were the only 2 preconceived notions that I had coming into the movie. I have to say that I agree with the critics; the Ancient One could have been played by a more ethnically appropriate character than Tilda Swinton. She's an amazing actress but I don't think she brought anything unique to the role. However, I don't think this is a reason to boycott the movie either, because if a black man can play Johnny Storm, then a white woman can play The Ancient One.

Oh, yeah, the story. Here's the synopsis:
From Marvel Studios comes “Doctor Strange,” the story of world-famous neurosurgeon Dr. Stephen Strange whose life changes forever after a horrific car accident robs him of the use of his hands. When traditional medicine fails him, he is forced to look for healing, and hope, in an unlikely place—a mysterious enclave known as Kamar-Taj. He quickly learns that this is not just a center for healing but also the front line of a battle against unseen dark forces bent on destroying our reality. Before long Strange—armed with newly acquired magical powers—is forced to choose whether to return to his life of fortune and status or leave it all behind to defend the world as the most powerful sorcerer in existence. Join Strange on his dangerous, mystifying, and totally mind-bending journey when Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange” opens in U.S. theaters on November 4, 2016.

I deliberately left the story for last because I thought it was the least important thing about the movie. The movie lasted less than 2 hours, so in comparison to other Marvel movies you don't get a lot of the plot complications or surprise endings or extended fight scenes (which is a good thing). You don't get a lot of character development either (which is not a good thing). You definitely get the feeling that this movie was more like a backstory intended to introduce viewers to Dr. Strange and get them invested in his story. If that is the case, they definitely succeeded: as soon as I got home, I went on the internet to find out more about Dr. Strange, and I can't wait for him to show up in other Marvel movies! Would I watch this movie again? Probably. Would I watch a sequel? Definitely!

As always, stay till the end of the movie for 2 bonus scenes, both featuring some well-known actors.

Dr. Strange opens in theaters across the US on Friday, November 4.

Disclosure: To assist me with my review, I was invited to an advance screening of Dr. Strange. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Year Round Family Fun with California's Great America

California's Great America

Summer may be over, but the fun continues at California's Great America! All this month the park has been celebrating Halloween with Trick or Treating with Snoopy for the little ones and Halloween Haunt for older kids and adults. (Check out my post about Halloween Haunt 2016 on Bonggamom Finds!). Here are a few Halloween Haunt photos to get you in the mood:

Then, in December, the holidays are coming to the park with their first-ever WinterFest celebration. I can't wait to celebrate the holidays at California's Great America!

California's Great America

If you have never visited California's Great America, you're missing out! Located in Santa Clara, CA, the heart of Silicon Valley and at the edge of the San Francisco Bay, California's Great America is the Bay Area's best entertainment value. With more than 70 rides, slides, shows and attractions on 100 acres, California's Great America truly has something for everyone.

California's Great America

New for 2016
California's Great America and Electronic Arts (EA) have teamed up to create a first-of-its-kind guest experience at Great America. This dynamic new attraction features settings and characters from EA's critically acclaimed Mass Effect videogame series developed by BioWare.

Riders climb aboard motion-based seating and wear 3D glasses as they are taken on a thrilling adventure. A live performer curates the journey and appears to interact seamlessly with the next generation 3D visuals. These elements are integrated with motion seating, high tech sound and other 4D effects to create a truly compelling and immersive attraction. Guests travel through space to a distant planet, face off against bigger than life adversaries and ultimately help save the day.

California's Great America

My Readers can Save $23 off Tickets at California's Great America Theme Park #greatamerica use code: BLOG4CGA http://www.cagreatamerica.com

Disclosure: I will be receiving free tickets to California's Great America courtesy of US Family Guide. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Holiday Card Checklist -- what to do to ensure the perfect family holiday card


The holidays are coming, the holidays are coming! It's time to start planning your annual holiday cards! Here's a checklist of things to do in the next 3 weeks or so:

  1. If you haven't had your family holiday photos taken, now is the time. Book a photographer or set up a tripod and do it on your own. 
  2. Go through last year's card list. Make sure all mailing addresses are current. Don't forget to add all the new friends you've made in the last year!
  3. Family newsletter: yes or no? Some people love 'em, some hate 'em, but if you're on the love side it's time to start thinking about what you want to include.
  4. Buy holiday stamps at the post office before the rush begins
  5. Print out holiday address labels or order personalized ones online.
  6. Last but not least, choose your holiday card designs!

Speaking of holiday card designs, check out AdoramaPix's  AdoramaPix's holiday collection. Choose from a wide range of stunning designs and paper options. Then, upload your photo and customize any holiday card with your own personal touches. Holiday snail mail has never looked so good!

Shop Now: http://bit.ly/2d7blyf 40% off greeting cards. Use code:. PXUSFAM40 Sale ends 12/20/2016 11:59 PM EST

Disclosure: I will be receiving sample cards from AdoramaPix for review.  The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Telemedicine: treating patients in the 21st century

One of the best things about living in the 21st century is the ability to connect with friends and family even when they are far away. Inexpensive phones and data plans as well as numerous software makes it easy for people like me who live apart from extended family. Without email, instant messaging, and Facebook, I'd never know what was going on halfway around the world!

The ability to communicate over long distances doesn't just help families stay together. It helps businesses and educational institutions collaborate with partners to share knowledge and information. And when applies to the field of medicine, it even helps save lives! There's even a term for it: Telemedicine.

Telemedicine, or the use of telecommunications and information technology to provide healthcare from a distance, is a growing phenomenon. There are so many areas in the world where doctors are scarce, so what better use is there for modern tech than to bring more medical expertise to rural communities and other disadvantaged areas? For example, a community may have trained midwives to deliver babies, which is adequate in 99% of all birthing situations, but for rare medical emergencies I can totally see midwives using telemedicine to consult with neonatal experts.  As another example, many patients travel hundreds of miles to see specialists and have procedures done. In many cases, the specialists could monitor the patients as they recuperate from home, eliminating the need for them to travel back to the doctor for a routine follow-up visit.

Telemedicine doesn't just help patients in developing countries or rural communities. Even suburban moms will find that telemedicine helps streamline their busy lives! I can't tell you how many times my kids have had a cough or a rash and I've had to make room in my schedule for a doctor's visit, only to have the doctor say it's just a viral rash/common cold/postnasal drip due to allergies, then prescribe rest and fluids. You don't want to ignore the problem, but you don't want to waste everyone's time either -- and consulting Dr. Google is definitely not a viable option! Having an option of videoconferencing with a qualified doctor would be so much easier and more efficient for everyone involved.

I know I'm not the only mom who feels this way. Click on the infographic above to see how women feel about combining technology and health management!

That's where telemedicine companies like Live Health Online come in. LiveHealth Online uses two way video to connect you with U.S. based board certified doctors. And since it’s an online experience, it’s quick, easy and always on your terms. But convenience also comes with excellent service. Doctors using LiveHealth Online can answer your questions, assess your condition and even provide prescriptions, if needed. For more information, check out Live Health Online's Facebook Page and Twitter feed.

Of course, telemedicine needs to be used carefully. Sometimes a doctor needs to be physically present. Data connections need to be impeccable, otherwise information can be transmitted inaccurately (i.e. blurry images due to poor lighting or grainy cameras). Safeguards need to be in place so that information does not get lost or stolen. However, I firmly believe the pros outweigh the cons. We live in a global, connected world, and telemedicine is just another manifestation of that fact. Telemedicine has the potential to save many lives and spread information all around the world.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions 2016 features Final Five

Kelloggs tour of gymnastics champions

Do you wish you could have gone to the Rio 2016 Olympics and seen the Final Five compete? Gymnastics fans all around the US will get their wish, because gymnasts Simone Biles, Gabby Dougls, Laurie Hernandez, Aly Raisman, and Madison Kocian will be performing all around the country with Kellogg's Tour of Gymnastics Champions! They will be at SAP Center this weekend and I can't wait to see them.

The Final Five won hearts all over the world this summer when they won a treasure trove of medals: gold in team, gold in women's all-around (Biles), gold in vault (Biles), gold and silver in floor (Biles & Raisman), silver in uneven parallel bars (Kocian), and silver and bronze in balance beam (Hernandez & Biles).

Other gymnasts on the tour include Nastia Liukin (2008 all-around women's gymnastics Olympic gold medalist), Shawn Johnson (2008 all-around silver medalist), Jordyn Wieber (2012 US gymnastics team member and gold team medalist), the 2016 US men's gymnastics team, and more. I'm really keeping my fingers crossed that we get to see all these athletes, especially the Final Five, because the cast varies from stop to stop.

There are still tickets available for this weekend's show, so head on over to the SAP Center website to purchase! If you're not from the Bay Area, check out the tour website for locations and dates.

Disclosure: I received tickets to attend the event with my family. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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