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In the Kitchen with Amelia

Welcome Amelia to the Critique of the Unique! Join Amelia in the kitchen for great down-home cooking ranging from appetizers, to tasty main dishes all the way through to awesomely delicious desserts!!

"Winnie the Pooh" in Theaters this July

Return to the Hundred Acre Wood this July and revisit your old time favorite characters!

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Win a Family Pass to "The Bretts" in Branson, Mo

Having appeared on worldwide television and in more than 3000 live performances around the globe, The Bretts deliver high energy, high-caliber professional entertainment to audiences of all ages. Voted Best Morning Show in Branson, The Bretts consistently make their daytime performance the place to be on the Strip. As singers, songwriters, dancers and musicians, each of the Brett family members has the talent to deliver a full-length solo performance, but together The Bretts are captivating, exploding onto the stage with a moving display of music, dance, lights and artistry that has inspired audiences across the world for years. Visit www.brettfamily.com

Super US Family Guide Special:  http://bransonkidsguide.com/coupon.php?bid=9389&dealid=431

This coupon enables the holder to purchase a family pass to see The Bretts at $50 plus tax (Savings of $13.50 per pass). A family pass includes two adults and all children 4-16 yrs old (0-4 are always free). They may also purchase adult tickets at $20 per adult (Savings of $10.50 per adult ticket), and child tickets at $5 plus tax (Savings of $7 per child). Please present this coupon to the box office prior to purchasing your tickets. Not valid with any other offer. Call 417-336-3100 to reserve your seats today!  

Register to Win: http://www.usfamilyguide.com/The_Bretts/Win a Family Pass to The Bretts
The Best Morning Show in Branson
One Family Wins EACH WEEK 

Disclosure: I have to give a big thanks to the US Family Guide for providing our family with a free family pass to attend this wonderful attraction.  I am in no way affiliated with US Family Guide nor The Bretts. Copy ad was provided by the US Family Guide. 

Thursday, July 14, 2011

In the Spotlight: Activist Lisa Sellman

Guest Post:

What Can One Person Do?
Activist Reveals How One Act of Community Service Can Spark Thousands More

Don’t tell Lisa Sellman that one person can’t make a difference. She knows better.

Sellman, a community activist and lifelong volunteer, recently learned how one act of kindness can set off a chain reaction that can span the globe.

“It just started out with me asking a regional pet food company for a donation of dog food for Red Lake Rosie’s in Minnesota,” said Sellman, a professional dog trainer and owner of a pet care business. “I called Solid Gold Northland, and one of the marketing managers there advised me that they were trying to increase the number of people who ‘liked’ them on Facebook, and that if I could get 40 new Facebook members to click on their ‘like’ button, they’d give me $200 worth of pet food.”

So Sellman, who currently volunteers for six different community groups, sent a message out to all her Facebook friends inviting them to Solid Gold Northland’s fan page on Facebook. Somehow, the invite made it to the Facebook page of The Patrick Miracle, a page devoted to the story of a two year old pitbull found by a janitor in a dumpster. Their Facebook page has charted over 109,000 “like” clicks from users. When the founders of the page posted Sellman’s invite, Solid Gold Northland received more than 2,000 new fans from all over the world in the course of about 48 hours.

“When I contacted them the next week, they were blown away by how quickly the response took off,” said Sellman, also author of the children’s book The Legend of the Wolves of Gunflint Lake (www.dreamcatcherpress.us), which contains the theme of the value of community service and which she hopes will serve to inspire others. “As a result of the combined outreach, Solid Gold Northland and Chuck and Don’s Pet Food Outlet have committed a donation of $2,000 worth of pet food, and I’ve helped to forge new friends from other countries who all care about the same things I care about. And it all started with a simple posting on Facebook because I wanted to help a local animal shelter. It’s been magical.”

Sellman’s simple act was a drop in the bucket compared to her schedule of volunteer activities. She works as an after school care volunteer at the Minneapolis Indian Center, a special events assistant at the Loft Literary Center, a volunteer marketing director for canine events at the Gunflint Lodge (the real location contained in her children’s book), and a trail staff assistant with Wilderness Inquiry, where she and her husband take disabled children and adults on outdoor adventures throughout the US. They’ve been volunteers with this organization since 1997.

“Although I work hard, I love being able to serve my community.” Sellman said. “The people in all the organizations I’m involved with, all share my values and my world view and they are my friends and my family. The people and the activities fill up my life with fun, joy and a purpose I could never have achieved any other way. It doesn’t mean that I think everyone should take the same path that I have. I know most people don’t have the time. My point is this: it only takes one simple act, one click of a mouse button to start a movement. It happened to me and it can happen to you. All you need to do is give it a shot.”

About Lisa Sellman:
Lisa Sellman, owner and professional dog trainer at Aloha Pet Care & Dog Training, volunteers for half a dozen charitable organizations. She believes that community service is its own reward, a message that resonates throughout her new children’s book The Legend of the Wolves of Gunflint Lake.

Thanks to Lisa Sellman for sharing her story. I found it very inspirational and worthy of passing along!

Let's talk about it:  What is the one thing you do to make a difference in your community? 

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

"Winnie the Pooh" Sneak Peek

Don't forget "Winnie the Pooh" hits theaters July 15th!!

Sneak peek brought to you by courtesy of Disney:

Website and Mobile Site: Disney.com/Pooh
Like on Facebook: facebook.com/WinniethePooh
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/DisneyAnimation

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln by Robert L Bloch Review

Product: My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln - A Tale of Two Boys from Indiana
Author: Robert L. Bloch
Illustrations: John W. Ewing
Publisher: Castlebridge/ Big Tent Books
Category: Books, Children
Price: $13.95

Story Summary:

In 1820, Sam Harding and Abe Lincoln forged a strong friendship, based on their love of learning and of the outdoors. This timeless story is about the special bond between two boys, the experiences they shared growing up in early America, and how one of the boys eventually became the sixteenth President of the United States.

My Best Friend, Abe Lincoln - A Tale of Two Boys From Indiana is a wonderful story written by Robert Bloch geared toward readers aged 5-8 years old! This book is about the budding friendship of two boys... Sam Harding (a fictional character) and young Abe Lincoln. It takes the reader on a historical journey through Abe's childhood on upward into adulthood where Abe eventually earns the title of President of the United States. The pages are full of amazing artwork thanks to the talented illustrations of John Ewing, who has previously worked with Disney animation in such works as "Winnie the Pooh" and "Sleeping Beauty".

What I loved about this book is that it inspires a love for history! Although the book is fictional, the plot interweaves fact and fiction so delicately that it allows for the reader to learn interesting facts about our sixteenth president in a way that is not too preachy, but more of an insider's view of the type of life Abe Lincoln might have had up until his presidential election.  It touches lightly on political issues of the time such as poverty and slavery, giving children a glimpse into what life would have been like during such trying times. The suggested age range is appropriate in both reading level and interest and I would even recommend it to earlier readers if you want to read it aloud to your child, as there are enough interesting and entertaining illustrations that a younger child can easily associate the pictures with the spoken words.

If you are looking for a book about Abraham Lincoln based solely on fact, then this is not the book you are looking for, but if your goal is to make your child more interested in learning about history and you want a story that will start their natural curiosity, then this book will definitely be on your "must read" list!

Author Questions and Answers:
Describe the specific event that occurred which inspired you to write  the book.
I was in an antique shop a few years ago and had a fun, “Walter mitty” type experience. I imagined I found the missing diary written by the childhood best friend of my hero, abe lincoln. then I saw it in my mind as a fun children’s book.

Why did you decide to write the book through the eyes of a best friend?
I know from raising my own kids that children enjoy hearing stories about other children. they naturally relate better to the characters in books in this way. I also wanted to tell a story about a close and personal relationship between two boys who had a lot of fun together, and one grew up to become famous.

How did your research into the times and life of lincoln influence the adventures you chose to write about in the book?
History books have relatively little personal information on  lincoln’s childhood years. I built the story around the few facts I did find—lincoln family history, pioneer farm, knowledge that abe worked hard and went to school, small descriptionsof his personality and physical appearance to name a few.
then I researched the pioneer era in the little Pigeon Creek region—log cabins, one-room schoolhouses, fishing creeks, caves, bats, Indians, and slavery. I tied it all together in the form of a fictional tale geared to four through eight year-old readers.

How were you personally influenced by President lincoln as a child, and how did that carry over into your adult life?
My parents took our family on a trip to Washington, DC when we were old enough to appreciate the fact that our great-great grandfather knew Lincoln. He had also been a guest in their home. 
I was extremely impressed with the imposing and powerful lincoln memorial. (It also didn’t hurt that 
he was on the $5 bill and the penny.) The older I got the more I wanted to learn as much as I could 
about this great leader. I am impressed that he stood up for his high principles that changed America forever!

What advice would you give to parents about how to help their children form values of hard work, honesty, humility, and building good relationships?
Reading biographies is a great way to learn how to live one’s life. Lincoln sets great examples 
because he always learned from his difficult experiences and mistakes in life. this made him a very 
powerful and wise leader. more important than anything, true wisdom is attained by learning from 
our mistakes.

What will be the focus of future books you are planning?
I intend to create a series of “My Best Friend” children’s books. Kids are inspired by all types of 
people who can enrich their lives. the series will include famous artists, explorers, political leaders, 
famous women, scientists, and athletes

About the Author:

Robert Bloch has worked at the H&R Block Foundation since 1989. He lives in Mission Hills, Kansas, and has four sons and a wonderful wife. Bob graduated from Menlo College in Menlo Park, California, (1974) and the University of Missouri at Kansas City (1979). His passions are Art History and American History.

Bob's great-great-grandfather, Jonas Wollman, was one of fifty-two Leavenworth merchants and businessmen who signed a letter written by Mark Delahay requesting that Abraham Lincoln visit Leavenworth, Kansas. Lincoln obliged by traveling there to give his first campaign speech in December, 1859.

About the Illustrator: 
John Ewing attended Chouinard Art School in Los Angeles before joining the team at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank. In his eleven years there, he worked on many projects, including Winnie the Pooh and The Jungle Book. In addition to John's illustration work with Dragonpencil, he is also an art professor and an avid flight enthusiast.

Work can be seen at www.Dragonpencil.com.

How to Connect:

Friday, July 1, 2011

Recipe: Tomato Salsa

Tomatoes- the vegetable-turned-fruit that comes in over 7000 different varieties can help prevent certain types of cancers, according to the latest news provided by AARP The Magazine.  Simply incorporating three or more servings a week can even reduce risks for heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.

Photo Source

Here's a great recipe to get you started toward a healthier you! Just in time for the July 4th celebrations!

Yield: About 2.5 cups

            2 cups seeded, chopped tomatoes (red, yellow, and orange)
            ¼ cup diced red onions
            ½ teaspoon minced garlic
            ¾ teaspoon freshly ground cumin, roasted
            2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
            1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and diced
            1 banana pepper, stemmed and diced
            ¼ cup diced green mango (optional)
            Salt and pepper
            ½ cup minced cilantro leaves (for garnish)

Combine the first seven ingredients and the mango if using. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate. Just before serving, garnish with the cilantro.

Recipe provided by AARP The Magazine.
Reprinted with permission.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

'Winnie the Pooh' Premieres in Theaters on July 15, 2011

Coming to a theater near you!!! This July, don't miss the return of your favorite Hundred Acre Wood characters as "Winnie the Pooh" premieres in theaters nationwide.

Walt Disney Animation Studios returns to the Hundred Acre Wood with “Winnie the Pooh.” Featuring the timeless charm, wit and whimsy of the original featurettes, this all-new movie reunites audiences with the philosophical “bear of very little brain” and friends Tigger, Rabbit, Piglet, Owl, Kanga, Roo—and last, but certainly not least, Eeyore, who has lost his tail. 

 “Ever have one of those days where you just can’t win, Eeyore?” asks Pooh.  

Owl sends the whole gang on a wild quest to save Christopher Robin from an imaginary culprit. It turns out to be a very busy day for a bear who simply set out to find some honey.

 Inspired by three stories from A.A. Milne’s books in Disney’s classic, hand-drawn art style, “Winnie the Pooh” hits theatres on July 15th!

Follow "Winnie the Pooh" on Facebook

Four Free eBooks for the Collector in You

Photo Source
If you are an avid collector, then you will love this great deal! From now until July 4, you can download four great eBooks courtesy of Krause Publication and F+W Media, Inc, an offer extended in consideration of our nation's birthday!!

These great titles are compatible with the Nook, Google and iTunes! To view available titles, visit their site!

Have a happy and safe Fourth of July!

Thanks to Krause Publication and F+W Media, Inc. for this gracious offer! FTC regulations require that I disclose that no compensation was offered or accepted for the sharing of deal. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Endangerables CD Review and Giveaway

Product: Endangerables CD
Performed by: Fred Bogert
Category: Kids, Family, Music
Price: $7.99

"No matter How Far Away We Are, We Will Always Be Linked Together"
                   --The Endangerables

Deputy Endangerable is here to save the day!! Deputy Endangerable (aka --your little ones) first pledge to do their very best to protect all the species of our planet (including one another)! All they have to do is raise their right hand and repeat the Endangerables Oath and then the fun begins! It starts with learning the secret and official Deputy Endangerable handshake that will surely be a hit with your little ones and their friends! Then, put on the rocking CD and learn about ways to help save the planet through 10 originals songs, all composed by Fred Bogert, the three-time Emmy nominated musician-performer! Your child will learn such songs as:

  • Extinction For Extinction
  • Crocodile Shoes
  • Girls Rock & Rule
  • and many more!
The Endangerables consist of the following pals, all who are either endangered, threatened or vulnerable species, all working together to protect and care for all those that need help! You will meet:
  • Ulysses the Eagle
  • Milton the Orangutan
  • Sasha the Baby Seal
  • Bucksnort the Indian Rhino
  • Ms. Scarlet the Scarlet Macaw
  • Khul the Tiger
  • and many more!
Not only will your child learn some amazing, rocking tunes but these tunes will help to raise your child's awareness about the endangered species on our planet and how to help these species, as well as other animals on our planet!  The Endangerables pals are available in a plush toy as well, so your child can collect them all!!! 

Our Experience: As soon as I put the CD in, my son started dancing to the music! He's nine and although he has his own taste in music at this point, he was still greatly entertained by the Endangerables CD. The music is in tune with the current music trends and is definitely a CD that can be enjoyed by all ages!! My son loved the song "Crocodile Shoes" and I have admit, it was my favorite too!! Had a familiar beat and was very upbeat! He thought it was fun to learn the oath and the secret handshake and he immediately felt as though he was part of a special club!

Want to hear more songs? Not a problem. Simply visit the Endangerables website and preview some of these amazingly fun songs!! Also, if you have children  that would love to become Deputy right away, then visit the sign up page for them to become deputies! It's free and includes other great activities such as coloring pages, games and much more! Simply by signing up and putting "SSA" as the option for where you heard about the Endangerables, you will receive an email with a link to the free mp3 of the Endangerables theme song "Extinction to Extinction". 

Where to Purchase: The Endangerables website

ONE lucky reader will win an Endangerables prize pack consisting of:

  • One PLUSH TOY (winner can choose either Ulysses the Eagle, Milton the Orangutan, Sasha the Baby Seal, Bucksnort the Indian Rhino, Ms. Scarlet the Macaw or Khul the Tiger)
Giveaway Ends on JULY 10, 2011. Midnight Central

WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT:  Winner of this giveaway is Eileen L. from Missouri!! Congrats Eileen!!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Guest Post: I’m Lost! How to Prevent and Handle a Lost Child Situation by Keith Kepler

A lost child is a parent’s worst nightmare. And, as families plan to spend more time outdoors, on vacation and in busy public places this summer, it is important to be prepared. A survey of parents by the Center to Prevent Lost Children showed that 90 percent of families will experience losing a child in a public place at least once, and 20 percent said it has happened more than once. The United States Department of Justice reports that more than 300,000 children become temporarily lost for at least one hour, but the good news is that a majority of those children are quickly found and not harmed.
It is important to try to prevent a child from getting lost but even more important that the child knows what to do if they do get lost. Preparing yourself and a child can make this frightening situation become a bit easier for everyone involved.
·        Before you go anywhere, talk to your family about what to do if someone gets lost. Discuss a designated place to go if you get lost or advise children to stay right where they are when they feel they are lost. Tell children to find a security officer, police officer or an employee if you are in a public place, or remind them they can ask another mom with kids for help.
·        Prepare your children so that they can identify themselves. For younger children, have their identification information in their pocket. If they are old enough to speak and can relay the information, practice reciting your phone number with them, and let them know they can always call 911.
·        For younger children or when clothes don’t have pockets, be creative. Make a bracelet out of numbered beads or write your phone number inside a shirt collar or on a shirt tag with a fabric marker.
·        Dress children in bright colored clothing so they can easily be spotted. Lemon yellow and lime green are the suggested colors because they easily attract the eye. You might also have a piece of clothing that is only worn when the child goes out in public so you can easily remember what they are wearing.
·        Take a photo of your child with your phone before you leave home or when you arrive at your destination. This will help police find a lost child because they will be aware of exactly what the child is wearing, and how they look that day.
·        Positive reinforcement is the best way to prevent a child from wandering away from you when you are in a public place. Speak with your child about stranger danger, and remind them of the importance of staying with you.
Sometimes children do get lost, and it is easy for parents and guardians to forget what to do in this scary situation. Many public places have standard procedures of what to do when a child is missing, so make sure authorities and the venue’s management are notified that the child is lost. Authorities will be able to help because they are familiar with the area’s surroundings, and could have the capability to lockdown buildings or issue an alert.
Amusement parks and vacation spots are not the only places where children can get separated from their parents. This can occur at home as well. If the child is lost at home, be sure to look in the most common hiding and play spots first.
·        If you are at home, search your house first before going outside. Check closets, laundry baskets and piles of clothes, in and under beds, in large appliances, in vehicles and other areas where the child may hide or play.
·        If you still can’t find the child in the home, call 911 to notify them and let them know if you feel the child is in any danger. Police departments would rather be aware of the situation and called back when the child is found, rather than wasting valuable minutes to find the child. Time is crucial once a child has been separated from you.
·        Stay calm. Screaming the child’s name won’t help you locate the child any faster if they are not close by. Plus yelling the child’s name could lure the wrong type of person to your child who may be screaming back for you.
·        Make sure the phone number your child knows, preferably a cell phone, is on and is receiving a signal. Also, be sure to have a close family member or neighbor near your home phone so that you can stay in the area where the child was last seen.
Just like any other emergency plan, it is important to review and practice your family’s strategy if a child gets lost. Children can be better prepared to know what to do in the situation, and will feel more confident that they will be reunited with their family if they understand the family’s “lost” procedures.
About the author: Keith Kepler is the Vice President and General Manager at AlliedBarton Security Services. AlliedBarton is the industry’s premier provider of highly trained security personnel to many industries including higher education, commercial real estate, healthcare, residential communities, chemical/petrochemical, government, manufacturing and distribution, financial institutions, and shopping centers.

National Tire Safety Week June 5-11

Summer driving season has officially arrived and while we are all concerned with safety on the road, we often forget one of the most important components: our tires.  According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 660 highway fatalities are caused by underinflated tires annually.
This National Tire Safety Week (June 5-11, 2011) tire expert and Michelin subjective test driver, Sarah K. Robinson shared her tips for tire safety.  She also explained some of the simplest steps you can take to ensure you have a smooth, and most importantly safe, ride this summer travel season including:

  • Check you tire pressure – Check your tire pressure at least once a month and before and after a long trip.  Tires can lose 1-2 psi per month.
  • Examine your treads – Always make sure your tires have at least 2/32” of tread depth (the penny trick). Examine the wear patterns; the wear patterns can tell you whether your tires are over or under inflated and if your alignment is off. 
  • Avoid hydroplaning – Simple adjustments to driving including reducing your speed and avoiding wet spots, especially standing water can reduce your risk of hydroplaning.
  • Rotate – Tires should be rotated every 6,000-8,000 miles.
  • Keep deepest treads in the rear – Make sure when replacing just two tires that you put the two tires with the deepest treads on the rear axle regardless, whether you have front-wheel, rear-wheel or all-wheel drive.
Thanks to Sarah K Robinson for these great tips!


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