Friday, January 29, 2010
Friday, January 22 I had the privilege of attending a press event at The Please Touch Museum in Philadelphia. The Please Touch Museum was unveiling the new traveling exhibit "Exploring Trees Inside and Out". This interactive exhibit, sponsored by Doubletree Hotels & the Arbor Day Foundation, encourages visitors to explore trees, well, from the inside and out!
There were various activity stations which appeal to a variety of ages and learning styles:
- The "become a forest creature" area lets kids don costumes of birds, squirrels, butterflies, etc. in front of a green screen which projects them onto different backgrounds. This was a big hit with the kiddos because who doesn't want to see themselves on tv?
- A giant acorn where you can help a seed grow (Rayna loved hiding in the acorn, it was like a private little house for someone her size)
- A station for smelling & guessing various tree-related scents and another for hearing & guessing tree-related sounds
- The coloring station--sit on mini acorn-shaped chairs and draw a picture of a tree (of course the simplest thing would be Rayna's favorite, right?)
- A little spot perfect for toddlers to make a "nest" out of soft twigs
- And of course a tunnel and slide area to let out some steam
On an extra note, this was our first trip to the Please Touch Museum. I have always wanted to go, but I'm not a fan of driving into the city in general, especially with Rayna in tow. Sarah from Chester County Moms had mentioned this event & nothing motivates me like trying something for free. :)
We were able to check out the whole museum while we were there and Rayna had a blast. She is just about two years old, so she was thrilled with every little thing at Please Touch. It was larger than I imagined, with lots of areas to explore, such as a train station, an Alice in Wonderland area and the big hit, the ShopRite Supermarket. It didn't take long for Rayna to "lose it" however, and we had to leave sooner than I would have liked, so I definitely want to go back soon. In addition to all the different areas, there is also a carousel (which is not included in admission) & I was pleasantly surprised with the quality of the Please Taste cafe, which had reasonably priced lunch items & lots of healthy options.
To learn more about the Please Touch Musuem, click here to visit their website. For more information about Exploring Trees Inside and Out, click here.
Disclosure: I was granted free admission to the museum as part of the preview for this exhibit. I was also given free parking and carousel tickets while I was there. I was not under any obligation to write this post. All opinions are mine.
Phew! What a busy week! I have a bunch of posts coming up in the pipeline, but I didn't want to wait any longer to share my good news with you.
As you probably already read, I am a part of the Mrs. G TV & Appliances "Very Important Bloggers" program. This is a great series of networking events hosted by Mrs. G's. At the kick-off event, Mrs. G's CEO Debbie Schaeffer announced a contest to win a gorgeous Electrolux dishwasher. All the bloggers had to do was try to drive some traffic to their Mrs. G's VIB blog posts.
I've been linking to my post here on the blog, tweeting it out on Twitter and emailing it to friends & family, asking them to check it out. Well, all that work paid off on Wednesday when, at the second VIB event, Debbie announced me as the winner!
I'm still so excited, I never win contests and this one is an awesome prize! Thank you to everyone who checked out my post & stopped by the Mrs. G's website. Debbie said that Queen Mother Blog was right under the Trentonian as a referring site. Isn't that awesome!?
I'll post more about the second Mrs. G's VIB event soon. Thanks again to Debbie Schaeffer & Mrs. G's, Electrolux for sponsoring the series, Hilary from Mrs. Mo's New Jersey and everyone who helped me win! (That sounded like an acceptance speech!)
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
I'm so excited to host a giveaway especially for readers here in my area! Sesame Street Live is coming to the Philadelphia area March 4-7 at the Susquehanna Bank Center Indoor Theater!
If you're not familiar, Sesame Street Live is a larger-than-life, musical touring stage production featuring your favorite Sesame Street characters: Big Bird, Elmo, Cookie Monster, Bert & Ernie, etc! Each performance is 90 minutes of singing, dancing and audience participation, including a 15-minute intermission to get the wiggles out! :)
This particular show is called "Elmo's Green Thumb": "When Elmo’s sunflower, Sunny, outgrows his flower pot, Big Bird’s garden seems to be the perfect place for Sunny to flourish. An excited Abby Cadabby, Sesame Street’s fairy-in-training, casts a spell to make Sunny grow faster. The spell does just the opposite and, instead of growing, Elmo and his friends shrink! As Abby tries to reverse the spell, Elmo, Zoe, Telly and friends explore Big Bird’s garden from a smaller perspective and learn some big lessons about patience, overcoming fears and appreciation of nature."
I think that sounds like such a fun show! There are lots of show times and different price ranges for seating. Click here for more details on the show dates and times. I'm giving away a FREE family 4-pack of tickets that you can use towards whichever date and time works best for you!
Here's how to enter:
Just leave a comment letting me know which Sesame Street character is your favorite! Be sure that you leave a valid email address either in your profile or in your comment so that I can contact you if you win. You can enter it like queenmotherblog(at)gmail[dot]com if you are worried about spammers.
Optional: If you'd like additional entries you may:
Subscribe to my blog (either by feed or email)
Follow the blog (see "My loyal subjects" :)
Follow me on Twitter
Tweet about this giveaway (leave link to your tweet, 1x per day, max. 3 tweet entries)
Blog about this giveaway (leave link to your post) = 5 extra entries!
***Just be sure to leave a separate comment for each extra entry, so that you get all the chances you've earned when I do the number generator***
Looking to purchase tickets right away?
Click here to purchase from LiveNation and use passcode: ERNIE to receive $3 off tickets!
This giveaway is for the Philadelphia show only, therefore this giveaway is US only. Contest will end by 8PM on February 8th and will be a random drawing. Good luck!
Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by The VEE Corporation & Sesame Street Live. I was not compensated in any way to host this giveaway.
Monday, January 25, 2010
Make that a box of Honey Nut Cheerios! A while back I had a post as part of ShopRite's Bloggers in Caring program, where each comment I received would equal a box of cereal donated to area foodbanks. Since I participated in this program, my little face (along with the faces of many other area bloggers) is part of a collage on the back of specially marked "Bloggers in Caring" boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios available exclusively at ShopRite. You can click the picture below to open a larger version. It's kind of like Where's Waldo, but there's one pic of me (my usual profile pic) under the right eye (there's a few reused in there):
I was sent a box, but I'm going to run to my local ShopRite and pick up some more...I mean, how often can you say your picture is on the back of a box of Cheerios?!
But wait, here's an opportunity for you to be on the back of a box! Shoprite Partners in Caring is teaming up with General Mills for an "Expressions of Hunger" contest. This is a video contest that challenges you to submit a video "using song, poetry, dance or dramatic reading that creatively express the plight of the hungry or offer solutions to the issue of hunger." Up to six grand prize winners will have their stories and photos featured on a special-edition Cheerios box available exclusively at ShopRite stores in September 2010! Visit www.ExpressionsofHunger.com to view all of the details. Entries are being accepted now through March 1st, so start taping!
Disclosure: I was not paid to participate in this program or compensated to have my picture on the box. I did receive a thank you gift which included a free box. This post was not obligatory; all opinions expressed regarding this program are mine.
I mentioned in an earlier post some of the cool blogging-related events that I'm going to in the near future. One has already passed (The Martha Stewart Show trip), I had another one pop-up that I went to on Friday (a trip to the Please Touch Museum--review coming soon!) and my Mrs. G's event is this week.
And then I also glossed over a couple biggies. Blissdom & The Disney Social Media Moms Conference. I am insanely excited about both of these. And I mean insanely. Is it terrible to admit that I find myself completely preoccupied with them lately? Well here's the scoop on them, in case you don't already know.
According to their website, Blissdom is "the premiere conference for women who find and express their bliss by publishing online." This conference is a fun way to finally meet a bunch of online friends whose blogs I currently love & to also make new connections. Then there's the actual conference sessions. I'm so excited to learn more about how to grow this little blog into something that will be more fulfilling & rewarding for both me and you, my darling reader. Right now I have a bunch of blog-related thoughts and questions swirling through my head that I can focus on during the conference & absorb all the information I can in the presence of others who have done the same. Last night Marc & I actually used a babysitter and got out of the house together (a small miracle) and I feel like I bored the man to death with blog & twitter talk. I am also pretty sure I'm boring the heck out of my friends and family on a daily basis, and I'm looking forward to chatting with others who know that there's a difference between Blogger & Wordpress.
Ok, so those are serious-sounding reasons to want to go to Blissdom, but it's going to be just plain fun, too. The conference is being held this year at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN & thanks to my friend Yukline (who has regaled me with tales of how much she loves it there) I have been wanting to experience that hotel for a while. So after we're session-ing it out in the amazing hotel, there's also parties...including a party with Harry Connick Jr. Wait, what? Yes. Harry Connick Jr. will be performing for us & I might even be getting a little photo op! Swoon! If you want to check out more about the Blissdom Conference, click here.
Before I had decided to bite the bullet and book the Blissdom trip (ok, I just have to acknowledge the alliteration there) we had been thinking about booking a little family trip to Disney World sometime in February. I absolutely love Disney World and am always trying to scheme a way for me to get back there. Well, for one reason or another the Disney plans were tabled and I signed up for Blissdom. We then thought about making a little family trip out of that, but Marc thought being alone with Rayna while I was in the conference sounded like no fun at all & that I would get the most out of the sessions if I didn't feel like I had to rush back to them. So there went the family trip altogether.
Flash forward a couple of months and I see all this talk swirling around online about a Disney Social Media Moms Conference. Some other mom-bloggers had gotten invites to the conference & then it suddenly was opened to the rest of us. I excitedly (or frantically, rather) read Marc the details from this post and we were giddy over the insanely good deal. How could we pass up a Disney trip for only $350? To make a very long story a tiny bit shorter, after waiting on pins and needles I was confirmed for the trip and we were able to book the airfare exclusively using frequent flier miles! The airfaire was going to be pretty steep, so to cash in our miles for this was really worth it for us. If you're interested in reading the itinerary for the Disney conference you can do so here.
I feel so super blessed to be able to attend both of these amazing conferences. I am expecting to get so much out of both of them, but of course they cost quite a bit of money. (Bay, you mean your blog isn't supplying you with a steady stream of income?! hehe) This is where the term "sponsorships" comes into play. If you know of any relevant companies who would be interested in sponsoring me to these or future conferences, please let me know. In exchange for sponsoring any level (travel costs, registration fees, etc.) I could put together a personalized marketing plan that could include sidebar advertising, tweets, blog posts, etc. just drop me a line at queenmotherblog(at)gmail.com.
Of course I can't wait to tell you more when the time comes. If you are going to be at either of these events, please leave a comment so I can look for you!
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
I am honored to present my first guest post, written by Debbie Schaeffer of Mrs. G TV & Appliances. I am a part of the Mrs. G's VIB program and have already learned so much just after attending one event (if you missed my post on the first event be sure to click here and check it out!) Now I've learned that the government is rolling out a "cash for clunkers" program to help you replace your inefficient home appliances. Here is Debbie to explain it for us:
Many customers ask about “Cash for Clunker Appliances” or “Cash for Appliances” rebates ever since Secretary Chu announced a $300 million rebate program, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act created early summer 2009 to encourage purchases of energy efficient appliances. This program is actually called ARRA Energy Efficient Appliance Program. It is easier to say Cash for Appliances – and easier to remember what the program is designed to do!
Most customers are expecting a significant dollar rebate, a la the huge rebates offered during Cash for Clunker Cars. Because Mrs. G TV & Appliances is committed to helping our customers, we wanted to help explain the program and get everyone up to speed.
First, a little background on the program: Nearly $300 million of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has been set aside for state run rebate programs for consumer purchases of new innovative ENERGY STAR® qualified home appliances. Each state picks their own time frame and designs their own promotion, within certain DOE guidelines.
First let’s look at New Jersey. If you visit the government’s Energy Savers site, click through to New Jersey and you will see that our state rebates for energy star refrigerators, clothes washers, and dishwashers are anticipated in April 2010 (and are subject to availability). Rebates will end when funds are depleted, so your best bet is to shop early. Right now Pennsylvania is not offering rebates for home appliances (i.e. refrigerators, washers, dishwashers), but if this changes, we will be sure to pass along the information!
Another website full of information for New Jersey energy efficient appliance rebates is New Jersey Clean Energy. If you take a look at rebates and promotions as of December 29, 2009 the ARRA funding of NJ’s $8.33 million for incentives are tentatively scheduled for April 2010. For now, it’s a sure bet these rebates will happen in April.
This plan highlights home appliances rebates as follows: clothes washers will receive a $35.00 rebate, dishwashers will receive $25 to $75 rebates and refrigerators will receive $75 to $100. Do not be discouraged by the low amount. Don’t be surprised to see added incentives from the manufactures and exclusive rebates from Mrs. G’s!
New Jersey currently offering two rebates for home appliances. A $50 rebate to recycle your old energy guzzling refrigerator that is still working. The refrigerator early retirement incentive will dovetail with the ARRA Energy Efficient Appliance Program. New Jersey also continues the $75 rebate on Select Tier 3 Energy Star Qualified Clothes Washers and a $25 rebate on the purchase of dehumidifiers that have earned the Energy Star label. These rebates will continue through December 31, 2010.
So, if you want to wait till April to take advantage of aggressive rebates to stimulate the economy and do your part to make your life more energy efficient, be sure to stop by Mrs. G’s and talk to one of our knowledgeable sales staff and they can help you pick out the best appliance for you.
We understand not everyone can wait until April to purchase new appliances for their home. Until the rebates are finalized, Mrs. G’s will give you the best guaranteed lowest price possible with outstanding customer service. No one can beat that! We have 75 years of experience and very satisfied customers on our side!
In the meantime read up on the rebate programs and stop by our showroom to find a great selection of ENERGY STAR® qualified home appliances!
Thanks Debbie! Want to know more about Mrs. G TV & Appliances? Click here to visit the website. For more information on Debbie click here.
Friday, January 15, 2010
Yesterday I had the opportunity to sit in the audience of The Martha Stewart Show. Martha had a special call for the audience to be full of bloggers, who would be live-blogging and tweeting from their seats using netbooks, iPhones & Blackberrys.
If you missed my earlier "live" posts that I wrote while sitting in the audience, you can check them out here and here. The show was a lot of fun to watch; Martha has a gorgeous set for her show (would you expect anything less?) and I also had a great time in NYC, since I arrived the evening before.
I met up with a group of Philly mom bloggers and we stayed together at the Holiday Inn Express Madison Square Garden, which gave us a great rate. (Thanks Kelly for arranging the deal for us!) The location of the hotel was perfect, we were within walking distance of Penn Station (I took the train in from NJ) and Martha's studio in Chelsea.
The night we got in we attended a tweet-up (a Twitter meetup) at the Roger Smith Hotel in midtown. We had dinner there & then moved over to the bar where the tweet-up was occuring. It was so great to meet and greet people who I tweet with and whose blogs I read. One darling friend made my night by recognizing my face as "Queen Mother Blog!" So that rocked. :)
After gobbling up the hotel's free breakfast (which was actually quite decent, not the usual Continental breakfast of stale bagels) we headed over to Martha, where I met up with my friend Linda from TGFMom. I told you earlier that she was the one who suggested I attend, thanks Linda! :) We then were herded into the holding cells where we waited to be placed into the studios. Here's a pic of me (far right), Linda (middle) and our other 'real-life' friend Heather (who has a great blog called Penny Pinching Mama-thanks to her for the pics) while we wait in the holding area:
I'll spare you another recap of the show, but I will touch briefly on a few random points:
1. I was struck by how lovely Martha was in person (and I mentioned her killer stilettos) and she seemed very gracious and friendy. After the taping of the show, she answered some audience questions and she didn't seem like an ice-queen at all, which is actually how I kind of imagined she'd be.
2. The ice queen was Martha's daughter Alexa. Phew! Everyone I've talked to who watched this show was taken aback by how unfriendly and mean-spirited she was. Apparently Alexa has made a name for herself by making stabs at her mother, so maybe this is a persona? I don't know, but I have to say I cringed when she said that, as a blogger, she doesn't read anyone else's blogs. In my world, writing a blog and reading other blogs are inseparable.
3. A little confession: I was a bit disappointed that the only audience gift we got was a cookbook from one of the guests. Linda & I were both really hoping for a copy of Martha's "Cooking School" book, which was being featured on the show. Or I'll admit, I was also holding out hope that the "blog show" guests would get some cool gadgetry or something social media related. I'm not too bitter about it, because any gift at all is a bonus, but I especially felt bad for the bloggers that made huge efforts to be there for the show that day. I overheard one girl talking about how she flew in for the show!
Since the smell of the Pad Thai cooking in the studio made us very hungry, we were getting ready to run over to a Thai restaurant (gotta love New York for availability of pretty much whatever you'd want to eat) when we spotted Martha's "crowd pumper-upper guy" Joey Kola outside the studio. He was such a fun character during the show, getting the crowd clapping and even making a very brief cameo on-camera to deliver a gift basket. Linda wanted to take a picture with him while we were in the studio so she was stoked to see him outside, ready to have his picture taken with us :)
All in all it was a fun trip, I was able to meet so many online friends & share a really cool experience with them. Going to NYC is always so much fun, but also wears me out really fast! :)
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Well I managed to get a couple of "live" blog posts up while I was in the studio for Martha Stewart, but the show taping really flew by fast. I was able to be in the audience of Conan once and realized that even though these tapings aren't live, they might as well be. They don't pre-record multiple takes of things; everything just goes really smoothly the first time.
Immediately after taping, I ran to Spice (an NYC Thai eatery) so I could try some Pad Thai for myself. And immediately after that? I wanted to get home and see my little one :)
I'll get a full Martha recap post up later with pictures!
Ok, they just cut a slice from a round cake, and Martha had an awesome tip: When you are cutting wedge slices from a round cake, don't serve the first slice, slice up two and remove the second piece. It will come out neat and perfect. Love it!
Next up was just Andrew Ritchie who is another Martha enthusiast. They just did a really cute card craft project using yarn, that actually looks like a wannabe-crafter like me could actually do. I'll try to link up to it later...
:) How's this live-blogging going? I don't have a cool widget for chatting like my friend Heather at Penny Pinching Mama, but I think I'm doing pretty well!
I am so multi-tasking challenged that blogging and watching the taping of the Martha Stewart show kind of crashes my brain :) But here I am doing my first-ever live blog post!
Martha Stewart looks amazing, you wouldn't guess on the show that she's wearing some super hot high heels! The guests on today's show are Alexis Stewart (Martha's daughter!) & Jennifer Koppelman Hutt of Whatever Girls.
Pim Techamuanvivit is from Bangkok and cooked up some Pad Thai that made the whole studio smell amazing, and now I am hungry! (And I'm super stoked to get a free copy of her cookbook, woohoo!)
The next few guests are Jeff Blumenkrantz, Andrew Ritchie, and Briana Campbell. I'll try to post some more while it tapes, if my ADD brain can handle it :)
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
My blog-friend (and Martha Stewart excursion roomie!) Kelly of The Censtible Life is celebrating her one year blog-iversary with a bunch of giveaways (including cash) totaling over $600!
Click here to go right to her giveaway post and starting entering! Good luck!
...She's so much better than me, who forgot my blog-iversary ;o)
Well, let me just tell you that the blogger events goal? It is already in over-drive for me!
Recently, my "real life" friend Linda from TGF Mom passed on information about a special audience casting call for The Martha Stewart Show before I heard about it from anywhere else. The girl is a Martha Stewart show junky! ;o) Martha is having a show all about blogging and wants real live bloggers in the audience with their iphones and netbooks! I excitedly applied and was accepted to go. Then I found out that half of the world (exaggeration) was going to this very same show & it has turned into an *overnight* NYC trip complete with a tweet-up the night before & a blog-buddies lunch the next day. Hooray! Oh yeah, and seeing Martha Stewart up close and personal! :) I am sure we will be doing some type of live-blogging from the show, so look out for that on Thursday.
Then what's next on my plate? Another awesome session of Mrs. G's VIB series. Remember my Mrs. G's blogger event with Electrolux post? If you don't, just click that link and read all about it (and tell all your friends...the more unique clicks the more entries I get for a new dishwasher! ;) At the end of the month, the Mrs. G's Very Important Bloggers have the pleasure of meeting Dr. Joanna Dolgoff, author of "Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right" and a child nutrition expert. I am slightly obsessed with nutrition these days, so I'm excited for this!
AND THEN (this is where I wonder if I have completely lost my mind, in a good way) I am going to the Blissdom Conference AND the Disney Social Media Moms Conference in February! These are both amazing trips that I can't wait to tell you more about! As usual lately, I'm super short on time, so I promise to share more details on these in another post very soon because I am so, so excited about them!
Sunday, January 10, 2010
I was told to pass this link on to my readers so you can get a two sheet sample of Purex 3-in-1 Complete to try. Be sure to ACT FAST as these samples will not last long and I'm sure you will love trying these out!
Click here to request yours.
I have lots of military friends and readers so I wanted to pass this on in case it applies to you and you didn't already know about it! Anheuser-Busch is offering a free admission to one of their theme parks for members of the military and up to three direct dependents.
This applies to one visit at an Anheuser-Busch park (this includes SeaWorld Orlando, San Diego, or San Antonio; Busch Gardens Tampa Bay or Williamsburg; Sesame Place; Adventure Island or Water Country USA)
Click here to visit their website and register for your free visit!
Thanks to The Happy Housewife!
Thursday, January 7, 2010
My dog Buddie Love eats better than I do. I say this because he eats Merrick brand Turducken dog food, which is an organic, American-made dog food (I wish I ate all organic). It is quite pricey, but after the death of my first and super beloved Dalmatian, Freddie, I made the vow that I would feed my next dog the best food that I could.
We've had Buddie for almost 4 years and this was before all of those scary pet-food recall issues. When they went on, I did have peace of mind knowing that his food is from a reputable (and Christian, family-based) company. Oh and did I mention that the food is pricey? lol... That is one issue that gets me time and again when I pay just about $50 for a 30 lb. bag.
If you live in my general area & have a pet, you should check out Cutter's Mill. There are stores in Princeton & Cherry Hill, as well as Chalfont & Paoli, PA. It's a great place to find natural and organic pet products and here's my favorite part: they love to send out coupons. Sign up in the store or online and you'll get coupons both mailed and emailed to you, some for as much as 25-30% off one item.
They've been sending me coupons for a while now, but I don't always go to the store because the one near me is not exactly the most convenient location for us. But a couple days ago I went into the store with my mom and I asked the question I never asked before: "are the 'one item' coupons good on food?" The sales person told me that they are valid on any regular price item, and food is rarely on sale, so yes.
Epiphany! Armed with my 30% off coupon, Buddie's 30 lb. bag of Turducken was only $35. I just got another email from Cutter's Mill with a 25% off one item coupon, and I don't have to tell you that these are big savings!
If you also tend to spend a lot of money on your furry friends, I hope this tip helps you out!
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post. I was not compensated in any way for this review. All opinions are my own.
Sunday, January 3, 2010
I haven't figured out the WW points for my recipes this week, but everything is very WW-friendly. If you have read this blog for a while, you might remember a little series I did on pantry/freezer organization. I've been wanting to re-do that, as I have reached a place again where I have no idea what I have. I haven't had the time to set aside to do this, but I do want to use up some cans that have been bouncing around for some time (salmon & chicken...I'm not a fan of either in canned form, but I want to just use them up). So I just put this together really quick using a couple of "stand-by" favorites:
Monday- This recipe for WW Beef Goulash
Tuesday- Salmon casserole from Fix-it and Forget It Lightly cookbook (I found a linked up copy of this recipe on this page, it is near the bottom)
Wednesday- My stand-by Chicken & Orzo
Thursday- Homemade pizza
Friday- Another standy-by, Chicken Tortilla Soup
If you need a little inspiration, check out the other menu plans over at Orgjunkie.com!
Saturday, January 2, 2010
Thought this was a great deal, but also a good way to try diapers that are a bit more sustainable ;o)