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Scandalous Holiday Season Confessions

You know it’s the holiday season when a certain local radio station—the call letters rhyme with NOSI—busts out sleighbell-laden songs. ‘Tis the season to deck the rooftops with partridges. I love Thanksgiving, Christmas, and any holiday that falls during this time of year. If Administrative Assistants Day fell during November and December, I’d totally get an Administrative Assistants Coffee Mug Tree and string it with paper clips. I’d sing carols like, “Carol of the Tasteful Ringtones.” I guess I’m in a partying mood at the end of each year.

However, there are certain norms and rules regarding this time of year. Sometimes, I fear I’m doing the holidays wrong. Or, I get irritated by some of the traditions and only begrudgingly celebrate. Here are my holiday confessions:

1. I love getting adorable family photo greeting cards, but what do I do with them? It’s no longer

Gifts That Give Back: As Seen on 9News

This year you might consider purchasing a gift for someone that goes beyond the person you purchase it for. Consider buying a fit that Gives Back to the greater good of society. I was excited to present the following items on Channel 9 this morning and hope you will be thoughtful with your gift giving this season or through the year. The products that were features were:

1). Baby Teresa (baby-teresa.com)

Baby Teresa was founded by two women who wanted to do something that would allow them to give back.  Rather than simply profit from their organic baby clothes and accessories, they decided to set their company up under a one for one giving model.  For each baby outfit they sell, another one is donated to a child in need somewhere in the world through one of Baby Teresa’s many charity partners (http://baby-teresa.com/donation-sites/).  All of the socially responsible clothing from Baby Teresa is made from fabulously soft cotton that is 100% organic.

 2). You and Who (youandwho.com)

The Books Showing Up on Christmas Wish Lists for Denver Moms

This holiday season, many parents are hoping only that Santa delivers the answer to their most pressing parenting issue. Why won’t my toddler eat anything but candy? How do I help my daughter make friends? Why is my son failing math? Why is every family but ours able to balance sports, an instrument and homework? Will she ever put that cell phone down? Our carpool is a disaster! A girlfriend!?

Dear Santa, please help!

So here’s a list of great books about parenting, our children and education. Some will make you laugh out loud at yourself or your kids. An occasional chapter may make you cry. They all provide guidance that you can take or leave. But the best thing about these books is that you realize you are not alone.

My favorite of 2013 was Masterminds and Wingmen by Rosalind Wiseman. Wiseman is the best-selling author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, which I hear is the go-to book for mothers of girls as they approach adolescence. I happen to have three boys, so I fell for the subtitle, “helping our boys cope with schoolyard power, locker room tests, girlfriends, and the new rules of Boy World.” Apparently, asking boys how their day was as soon as you pick them up from school is totally wrong. Who knew?! This book made me laugh, changed our time in the car, and made me wonder even more about what makes my boys tick. Wiseman’s great interviews with boys are the backbone of the text, which makes her recommendations hit home in a such reasonable way. This is a book from which you will end up reading out loud to your friends over the phone. Great for book clubs!

Delicious Cranberry Salsa Served Over Cream Cheese

Disclaimer: I’m not a fan of cranberries but I can’t get enough of this delicious cranberry salsa served over cream cheese. My friend Eva regularly brings this dish to our Christmas potlucks and I love it. It’s perfect for Christmas but gosh darn it if I’m not adding it to our Thanksgiving line-up. You can either serve it with your turkey or as a side or appetizer while people are waiting for your turkey to cook. As as bonus, it’s totally easy.

Every year, my family participates in Volunteers of America’s service project to serve Thanksgiving dinner to low-income seniors. This year, I brought our cranberry salsa and it was a hit! Talk about the perfect way to spend this holiday–in service and sharing a delicious meal. Enjoy!

Denver Deal: Black Friday Tips

I honestly LOVE to shop on Black Friday. I think it has something to do with just saying I am there – among the throngs of people. I try to get some amazing deals too. Which means that I have to be savvy enough to know what to look for. Lucky you, I have some tips that I have learned that I would like to pass along.

1. Go with a friend – but in separate cars. I go shopping with my sister. When there is a store that we know that will have doorbusters but we both want something. One of us goes for one item and the other goes for the other. We have also had one person stand in line while the other shops and then switch places. We find that the line works best for stores like Best Buy. Also when you have a friend you have someone who can help you lift large and bulky items into our cart.

2. Bring the circulars with you. Not only are circulars good reading while you are in line, but you can also ensure that you receive the advertised price. I have had times when the cash register has not rung up the sale price and I pull out the circular to show the cashier and have had it adjusted.

3. Leave the kids at home. I love my kids. But often I am looking for something for them – and I don’t want them to see me get it. Also, since you have to start so early (late?) they can get cranky or upset and just make your whole shopping experience a melt-down opportunity.

4. Don’t hesitate. When you see something on sale (whether you saw it in the circular or just see it in the store) – get it. Get two! You can always return items that you don’t need/want (with receipt) but many times stores can not get any more of that item in stock or the price goes up (never to come down).

5. Fuel up. I don’t know about you, but when I’m hungry I’m grumpy (crowds don’t bother me, lines don’t bother me, crazy hours don’t bother me but GRRRR if I’m hungry….). Pack some light snacks in your purse or car to keep you fueled or take advantage of great deals like the FREE coffee at McDonalds.

6. Plan ahead. There are several timed promotions – so plan ahead to know where you are going and what time the store opens or ends their “Early Bird Specials.”

I hear that a lot of people despise shopping on Black Friday. But for all the shopping haters out there, there are obviously thousands to that DO like it and will be in the store with you. It remains to be seen how many people do go on Thanksgiving Day and just change up their family traditions vs still getting some of those Friday doorbusters. Will you please let me know which one you do and what great deals you get?

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Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!

Don’t want to miss any of Mile High Mamas’ contests and events? Be sure to sign up for our weekly email newsletter so you can forward these great deals to your friends.

If you’re a twit follow me on Twitter (GeeWhy93).  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out.

Denver Deal: Black Friday Freebies, McDonalds Coffee and More

This time of year, I grab meals on the go far more often than it feels like I do during summer. I recently tried Firehouse Subs. They are amazing!! They are served warm and they have tons of meat (not the three measly pieces that are put on a Subway)! As matter of fact – I would not even put Firehouse Subs in the same food universe as Subway. It really feels like a full MEAL with generous portions of  top quality ingredients. The people are super nice – including calling “Welcome to The Firehouse” upon entering the store. They have kind of become my new obsession.

History Colorado Center

Explore Colorado’s history in the experiential exhibit, Living West at the History Colorado Center. Zebulon Pika takes kids through the activities and sharing fun, interesting facts about life in the West. From 11/23/13-2/28/14 kids ages 6-12 gain a free admittance when they participate in this at-home craft and wear it to the Museum (children ages 5 and under get in free with an adult).

Scrooge

Denver Center presents A Christmas Carol based on the Charles Dickens tale at the Stage Theater November 29-December 29. Plus, you get a 20% discount when you use the code: HolidayPerk when you purchase tickets before December 1.

Black Friday Freebies

  • Game Stop: Free lego set or keychain with purchase of lego game.
  • Aeropostle: Free Skull Candy earbuds with $100 purchase
  • JC Penney: Free 2013 Snow Globe starting at 4 a.m. until supplies last.
  • Macy’s: Free Lil Wayne compilation CD when  you spend $50 or more.
  • PetSmart: Free full pet stocking to the first 100 shoppers.
  • Vera Bradley: Free holiday tote with purchase of $100+ (Have also heard but not verified first 500 guests get a special gift).
  • Cabela’s: The first 600 that are in line by 5:00 a.m. will get either an Browning X-Bolt Medallion Rifle, a Go PRO, a Nikon ProStaff 5 Rangefiner, Bushness Trophy XLT Bone Collector Binoculars, a Masterbuilt 30″ Smoker, or a Cabela’s Gift Card up to $100.
  • Park Meadows: Free pancake breakfast and giveaways on Black Friday morning as well as FREE gift wrapping through the season.

McDonalds Coffee

Free coffee is back! McDonald’s will be giving customers a free small McCafe Coffee for 10 days from Black Friday, November 29 through Sunday, December 8 in the drive thru or inside the restaurant at any participating McDonald’s in the Denver region and throughout Colorado. There are no strings attached and customers do not need to purchase another food item in order to receive the free small coffee.

Chex Mix

Take a break from holiday shopping at Park Meadows at the the Chex Party Mix Station, courtesy of Chex cereal! The event will inspire holiday season fun as shoppers create delicious mixes to take home like pumpkin pie crunch or sugar cookie mix. Friday, December 6: 11:00AM – 7:00PM; Saturday, December 7: 11:00AM -7:00PM and Sunday, December 8: 11:00AM – 7:00PM.

Upcoming Free Days

Ski Deals:

  • Liftopia – Black Friday/Cyber Monday sales (already running)  http://deal.liftopia.com/blackfriday/. The biggest ever, with up to 75% off lift tickets (soem as little as $7.50/day) and more than 117,000 deals at more than 120 resorts. 
  • Arapahoe Basin – Kids 14 and under ski free December 1 through December 20. No strings attached. (Plus, $10 off lessons til Dec. 20 as well).
  • Crested Butte – Free Skiing on Opening Day (also great deals on lodging).
  • 5th Grade Passport FREE for 5th Graders. Send in application and photo.
  • Aspen/Snowmass – Kids free with adult. Ski free with adult lift ticket, Rent free with adult rental, eat lunch free with adult meal purchase.
  • Copper Mountain – One, Two, FREE! Third night lodging FREE, third day rentals FREE, third day lessons FREE, Kids 12 and under ski FREE with adult secret pass purchase.
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Community Feel-Good:

Colorado Gives Day began as an initiative to increase philanthropy in Colorado through online giving. Colorado Gives Day presented by Community First Foundation and First Bank will take place during a 24-hour period on Tuesday, December 10, 2013 and it is your opportunity to support your favorite nonprofit a chance for you to find out more about Colorado’s nonprofit community and identify nonprofits you’d like to support either through charitable giving or through volunteerism.  CLICK HERE to find out more about Colorado Gives Day.

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Email me if you know of any great Denver deals!

Don’t want to miss any of Mile High Mamas’ contests and events? Be sure to sign up for our weekly email newsletter so you can forward these great deals to your friends.

If you’re a twit follow me on Twitter (GeeWhy93).  If I find a great deal during the week, I’ll tweet it out.

Annual Crafting Extravaganza Causes Annual Ulcer

It’s the time of year again that my husband Jamie dreads. That time when I become delusional and somehow forget that I cannot do crafts. That I have never been able to do crafts and I never will be able to do crafts.

Every year, the female members of my church gather for Super Saturday (or Fabulous Friday) in an event that can only be described as Martha Stewart on Steroids.

This year, I recruited my creative and craft-loving 9-year-old daughter to assist me which, in incompetent craft terms, means do it for me. For the first time ever, we had a wonderfully bonding experience as we learned how to decorate cupcakes and paint darling decorative blocks for the holiday.

A few years ago, I wasn’t so lucky. The classes included photography, dutch oven, bread making and fondue classes, Thanksgiving and Christmas crafts, 72-hour kits and general miscellaneous sessions perfectly constructed to send me over the edge.

Chicken (or turkey) Vol-au-Vent Recipe: Perfect for Apres Thanksgiving!

My mom has been making Chicken Vol-au-Vents for as long as I can remember. Sounds fancy? When you’re from Canada, you don’t think twice about incorporating French dishes into your cooking repertoire. I’m not quite sure what vol-au-vent means but following the enthusiastic response this tasty recipe received from my picky kids, I’d translate it as “miracle food.”

Chicken Vol-au-Vents are essentially a light puff pastry shell filled with a ragout of meat, veggies or fish. They’re super easy to make and delicious. The first time I introduced them my husband when we were first married, he didn’t get it.

Me: Voila, dinner tonight is Chicken Vol-au-vents with Parmesan couscous and fresh broccoli from the garden.
Husband: Errr..why do these them thar biscuits have holes in them?
Me: They’re not biscuits, you Southern Redneck. They’re puffed pastries with le fowl francais in them.
Jamie: Errr…where’s the gravy go?

Note for the uninitiated: asking where the gravy goes on the “biscuits” is equal unto putting ketchup on a gourmet steak.

Your 2013 Holiday Movie Preview

‘Twas the night before Thanksgiving, and all through the movie-house …

Well, you get the picture. Starting Wednesday, movie theaters will be stuffed. And with a very few exceptions, turkeys don’t seem to be on the menu. Far from it.

Here are some of the goods film studios — big and indie — are serving up this holiday season.

Black Nativity Writer-director Kasi Lemmons updates Harlem poet Langston Hughes’ 1961 Christmas musical with more than a little help from Jennifer Hudson, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett. Jacob Latimore plays manchild Langston Cobbs, sent by his mother to her estranged parents’ home over the holiday. Nov. 27

Philomena Judi Dench enters the Oscar fray with this moving portrait of a birth mother searching for the son taken from her by the nuns in an Irish “convent” in the 1950s. Actor Steve Coogan co-wrote the screenplay based on BBC reporter Martin Sixsmith’s 2009 book. Coogan portrays Sixsmith, who accompanies Philomena on her fraught and remarkable sojourn. Nov. 27

Frozen Hans Christian Anderson’s fable “The Snow Queen” provides the departure point for Disney’s wintry adventure that follows Anna, mountain man Kristof and Sven the reindeer as they track down Anna’s sister, Elsa, who has put the kingdom of Arendelle in a deep freeze. Nov. 27

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Think of this sequel as fan-fiction on the grandest of scales. J.R.R. Tolkien’s modest novel continues to get expanded by director-co-writer Peter Jackson and his loyal cohort. Dec. 13

Saving Mr. Banks Tom Hanks portrays the master of persuasion in this story about Walt Disney’s attempts to convince author P. L. Travers (Emma Thompson) to allow her beloved book “Mary Poppins” to become a beloved film. Dec. 20
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues By the time Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy makes his way to the big screen in this long-time-coming sequel, he may have worn out his welcome thanks to his incessant hawking for Dodge. But the film’s makers are counting on fans of Burgundy and his cohorts’ brilliant stupidity to make the comedy “kind of a big deal.” Dec. 20The Great Beauty Director Paolo Sorrentino was awarded the

Read more: Holiday movie preview: Serving up hefty movie fare, hold the turkeys – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/entertainment/ci_24565779/holiday-movie-preview-serving-up-hefty-movie-fare#ixzz2lNXFljZN

Kids & Cars: 20+ Boredom Busters for your Holiday Road Trips

Family getaways into the mountains can be amazing and relaxing, at least once you arrive! Kids and car rides can lead to chaos or make wonderful family memories. The challenge of spending time in an enclosed car space with little physical movement can be difficult for even short rides. Any parent can have a panic attack if facing hours in a car with kids. Sure you could just pop in a DVD, but why not establish car time as a unique time to bond, learn to use car time creatively and quietly, or actually learn something.

Most importantly, remember to have fun!

Quiet Activities