Capture the joy and warmth of the holiday season through coloring



I have a confession to make – I love to color. I always have, ever since I was a little girl.

My husband is not afraid to admit that he likes to color too. Yes! Men color too. In fact, every year for Christmas I always buy him a brand new box of Crayola Crayons (the 64 count size with the built in sharpener). It started off as a joke, but it turned into a holiday tradition.

My husband and I sometimes sit and color together. We both find it very soothing and relaxing. After a stressful day, sitting down to color for 30-60 minutes helps us to relax and unwind.

My kids are teenagers now but they used to love to sit and color with us too.

I like to color different kinds of things. I’m not picky. My husband on the other hand likes to color scenes and landscapes.

I think it’s great that “adult” coloring books have been popping up at book stores and online. Now more and more people are aware of the benefits to coloring.

I have a few adult coloring books. One is mostly scenery and landscapes and the other one has a variety of things (animals, flowers, designs…).

I even have about 100 colored pencils (most are different colors) so that I can color just about anything.

Not too long ago my husband and I were walking around Barnes & Noble, killing time before we went to go see The Peanuts Movie. While we were there was happened across a Christmas adult coloring book. The book is appropriately titled Christmas to Color.

Christmas to Color

Step into a wintry wonderland with illustrator Mary Tanana’s intricate, gorgeous illustrations of Christmas magic, lovingly represented in this delicately rendered coloring book. From snowflakes to stockings, reindeer to wreaths, every aspect of the holidays is waiting to be brought to life through your creativity. With nearly one hundred pages of pen-and-ink drawings, the wintry coloring book fun will last you well into the new year!

I was sent a copy of the book to review from Harper Collins Publishing Company.

Christmas to Color has a lot of different deigns inside the pages of the book. Some are easy and simple and others are a lot more involved and difficult. There is a nice assortment.

The designs are such that you’ll need to use colored pencils or markers to color them. Crayons will not work. The book is for people ages 4 and up, as long as you use something with a “fine tip.” I have colored pencils. For some of the designs I think I want to use markers so that they are more vibrant.

I snapped some photos inside the book to give you an idea what it’s like. Some of the photos didn’t turn out so good (it’s not easy to take pictures and hold a book open at the same time), but hopefully you can see enough so you know what to expect from the book.

Page 1

Page 2

Page 3

Page 4

I’ve been working on bits and pieces here and there (I color bits and pieces on different pages – whatever suits my whim at that time).

So far I have finished one page completely, but I am considering coloring in the background.

It’s not the greatest, but it’s the best I can do. I suffer from Carpal Tunnel in my right wrist/hand and I’m right handed. Sometimes it’s fine, other times its hard to hold a pencil.

Coloring Page

The flash on the camera made the colors a bit lighter than they actually are.

Please excuse the spots I went outside of the lines or didn’t color in fully. It was due to my Carpal.

Even though I’ll never be an artist, it’s still relaxing and enjoyable to color. Christmas to Color is the perfect book for this time of year.

The page even lie flat too, which makes it easier to color. You could also easily tear out a page and hang it up in a frame if you wanted to turn your coloring into wall art.

Christmas to Color would make a great holiday gift or stocking stuffer. It’s also a fun way to introduce coloring to grown ups on your holiday shopping list.

Look for Christmas to Color at a bookstore near you. You can also find it on the Harper Collins website where the book is also available for purchase. The book retails for $15.99. Pair this with a package of  colored pencils and/or markers and you have a fun gift.

You can also follow Harper Collins on social media – Facebook and Twitter.

What do you think about this coloring book? Are you into coloring? Do you own any “adult” coloring books?



*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Gifts for the whole family for $5.00 from Kohl’s Cares



If you follow my blog on a regular basis you probably have read some of my posts about the Kohl’s Cares program.

Kohl’s Cares sells books, toys and other items through out the year that benefit the Kohl’s Cares program. New products are introduced throughout the year and are available for a limited time both in stores and online at Kohls.com.

Pproceeds from the sale of products in the Kohl’s Care collection goes towards children’s charities. Kohl’s Cares donates 100% of the net profit to Kohl’s Cares charities that support kid’s health and education programs nationwide. Since 2000 Kohl’s Cares has raised and impressive $257 million dollars.

Now is a great time to shop for Kohl’s Cares products. Not only can you get wonderful gifts for $5.00, you can also feel good knowing that the proceeds are going towards children’s charities. After all, the holiday season is about good will towards others. What a better way than to purchase wonderful gifts for those on your holiday shopping list AND help out children’s charities at the same time. It’s a win-win situation.


Currently Kohl’s Care is offering adorable, soft and snugly plush animals and matching books by Nancy Tillman. The stories are charming and the illustrations are beautiful.

I LOVE the book/plush combinations that Kohl’s Cares puts out year round. I have many “sets” in my family’s library collection. I like to display the book and plush together on the bookshelf. I rotate them every few months.

I’m just a bit kid at heart and I love displaying charming things around my home. I am also making a nice collection of children’s books for my future grandchildren. I’m looking forward to reading them the books while they cuddle with their furry friend.


The current available book titles are;

  • You’re Here for a Reason
  • On the Night You Were Born
  • Where Ever You Are My Love Will Find You
  • I’d Know You Anywhere My Love

The books are truly beautiful and each one expresses love in its purest form. I enjoyed reading each and every one of them.

The matching plush animals are adorable. The Panda is especially fuzzy. Every time I pick it up I utter the words “It’s so fluffy!,” just like Agnes did in the film Despicable Me.


Each item is only $5.00 (a book/plush combo will cost you $10.00). Where else can you get a beautiful hardcover book AND a quality made plush toy for $10.00? Most hardcover books will cost you that amount, and the plus animals would sell for MORE in other stores.

These “sets” would make for great holiday gifts as well as “grab bag” gifts for school. You can also buy them as sets or individually and donate to a local children’s charity such as Toys for Tots to give to underprivileged children and families in need. Not only will you be promoting literacy, you’ll also be provide a child in need with a new “friend” which will provide comfort and joy.



color me Christmas

Another fun children’s product from the current line of Kohl’s Cares products are Color Me Christmas Cards. Your child can color and decorate their own holiday cares and write their own personal messages inside. The set comes with 20 cards to color, envelopes and three markers. You can also color the cards with colored pencils. The lines are very thin, so crayons might now work as well.

Kohl’s Cares always has products from grown ups too. This time they are offering a holiday music CD by Blake Sheldon – Blake Sheldon Christmas. The holiday CD features the following songs;

  • Jingle Bell Rock – featuring Miranda Lambert
  • Oklahoma Christmas- featuring Reba
  • There’s a New Kid in Town- featuring Kelly Clarkson
  • Home featuring Michael Bublé
  • Winter Wonderland
  • Silent Night- featuring Sheryl Crow
  • The Christmas Song
  • Blue Christmas- featuring Pistol Annies
  • I’ll Be Home For Christmas
  • Silver Bells- featuring Xenia


I’m not a fan of country music, but I do enjoy this CD. I especially like the duets with Kelly Clarkson and Michael Bublé.

Kohl’s Cares is also offering a holiday book called Holiday Delights featuring recipes, crafts and gift ideas from Good Housekeeping, Redbook and Country Living. Not only would this make a great gift it would also be nice for you to buy for yourself to help you with yummy recipes for your holiday meals and gifts you can make for family and friends.

The holiday book, Christmas CD and Christmas cards are also only $5.00 each and all the proceeds goes to the Kohl’s Cares program.

For more information or to find a Kohl’s location near you visit www.Kohls.com. You can also find Kohl’s on the various social media sites (all the links are found on the bottom of their website).

Have you ever purchased Kohl’s Cares products? What do you think about the new collection? Feel free to share your thoughts.



*I received some of the products free in order to do this review. The remaining products I purchased myself on my own. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Celebrate the 30th Anniversary of the holiday classic, Polar Express


Family reading book

Can you believe the holiday season is upon us? In just a couple of weeks we’ll be gorging ourselves on a Thanksgiving turkey and all it’s accouterments (stuffing, pie, mashed potatoes…).

Many stores have already begun to decorate for the Christmas season. As much as I love Christmas I think there should be a rule that you don’t put out the holiday decorations and holiday items for purchase until AFTER Thanksgiving. Putting the things out as early as October takes away from the magic, joy and excitement of the holiday.

My family and I are excited about the holiday season, especially listening to holiday music and watching our favorite holiday movies. Each year we watch the same holiday movies without fail. There are just some films that we feel like we MUST watch, or we’re not getting the full holiday experience.

One such film is The Polar Express. The film is based upon the book by the same name which is celebrating it’s 30th Anniversary this year.

I never heard of The Polar Express until my son was in elementary school. His teacher showed the movie to the kids just before Christmas break. Our son doesn’t watch much TV, and he shows little interest in movies (even as a teenager), but there was something about the movie that he truly loved and he couldn’t stop talking about it.

Knowing how much my son loved the movie I knew I had to look into it further. That is when I learned that the film was based on a book by the same name, written by Chris Van Allsburg. I knew I had to get a copy of the book for our son (which I did) and give it to him for Christmas that year.

A few years later I finally saw the movie on television. I can see why my son was so into the film. It’s a magical story and one that really gives you reason to believe in the season.

The Polar Express is not a classic holiday movie and book – not only for my family but for families all over the world. Now this special story is celebrating it’s 30th Anniversary with a special edition of the book.



Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has introduced a stunning 30th anniversary edition of The Polar Express, which reveals a new jacket design and expanded interior layout. The anniversary edition also includes a letter from Van Allsburg, downloadable audio read by Liam Neeson, and even a lovely golden keepsake ornament.

I was sent a copy of the 30th Anniversary book to review. I was excited to see it. Even though it’s a wee bit too early to think about Christmas, reading the book and seeing the beautiful illustrations put me in the holiday spirit.

I may be an adult, but every time I read the book or see the film I feel like a kid again. I can recall the excitement, wonder and joy I felt as a child around the holiday season.

Look for the anniversary edition where ever books are sold.


Ornament that comes in the 30th Anniversary Book.

Helping to mark this milestone, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has created an extensive social media book donation campaign. Every time the hashtag #ReadandBelieve is used on various platforms, a copy of The Polar Express will be donated to Christmas in the City, a Boston-based nonprofit helping families in need. Readers and fans can share quotes from the book, holiday wishes, or family traditions, and the like.

This is such a wonderful book. In fact, The Polar Express has been honored honored with a Caldecott Medal, the highest accolade in children’s books. In has also inspired dozens of seasonal train rides around the country, served as the theme for countless elementary school pageants and perhaps most important of all, remains a steadfast reminder to readers young and old of the true magic of Christmas. That is why I want to encourage all of my readers to PLEASE take to your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram…) and share your holiday memories, wishes, favorite quotes from the book or anything else you’d like to share and use the hashtag #ReadandBelieve so that beautiful book can in the hands of children and families in need to help bring them the magic of the holiday season.

Are you a fan of the book? Do you have a favorite quote or character from the book? Feel free to share your thoughts.



*I received a free copy in exchange for my post/review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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HomeTeam – Bringing together families in a meaningful way


Holiday Grandparent Reading

Can you believe that it’s already NOVEMBER? When did that happen? It seemed like only yesterday my kids were gearing up for final exams. Now they are busy making their Christmas wish lists. Sigh… time flies too quickly.

I love this time of year. Not only do I enjoy the cooler weather, but I am also excited about all of the holidays. Not only am I crazy about decorating, I also love spending quality time with family and friends.

This time of year also makes me feel a bit sad. I miss my kids being little and getting excited for Santa Claus and Christmas morning. They are teenagers now and it’s just not the same as when they were little.

The holiday season also makes me miss my mom and dad, mother in law and great-grandparents. I had such amazing childhood memories when it comes to the holiday season. I miss it all – right down to the great big Christmas morning breakfast my mom would make for everyone.

I also miss spending time with my cousins and other relatives who are far away. Distance can make things difficult when it comes to getting together for the holidays. It’s not easy for some people to take off from work, hop on a plane and spend a week with you. It’s especially hard for elderly relatives, such as grandma and grandpa, most especially if they are in ill health or not able to travel.

Thankfully we have technology that can help loved ones stay in touch when they are unable to be there in person such as telephones, Skype and HomeTeam.

HomeTeam Logo

Have you heard about HomeTeam yet? It’s a wonderful way for people to stay connected no matter where they are in the world.

Some people, especially parents, might think that technology is not always good for children. HomeTeam’s mission is to turn “tablet time” into “family time.” HomeTeam helps to bring families together and foster love and relationships.

HomeTeam is an app that is available on iTunes or Google Play. You can also sign up for HomeTeam on your desktop or laptop computer.

Once you create an account you are able to connect with family and friends. Once connected, your child (or grandchild) can connect with loved ones to chat, play games TOGETHER, read books and more.

HomeTeam has a delightful library of wonderful ebooks that can be read together or your child can have grandma or grandpa read one of the books to them via HomeTeam.

HomeTeam Books


HomeTeam has a great library of books for children up to age 12 including popular characters like Marvel, Disney, Pixar, sports books, animal books, science and more. There are plenty of wonderful options to choose from.

You can even read books of your own via the live video feed option. Imagine reading The Night Before Christmas to your grandchild/grandchildren “in person” via HomeTeam.

Using HomeTeam your child can have their grandparent, or perhaps even a parent who is deployed or living in another part of the country, read them a bedtime story.

I wish HomeTeam was available when my parents were still alive. I think it would have been amazing to have my mom or dad (or both) read my kids a bedtime story and be able to interact with them on the computer or tablet (similar to Skype). What a wonderful way to make special memories to cherish a lifetime.

HomeTeam is not just about books and reading – your child can interact with loved ones and play games together with them too. Imagine your child being able to play Connect Four or do online puzzles with a grandparent who lives thousands of miles away. I love it!


Games HomeTeam

There are plenty of games for all ages as well as games for children up to 12 years old.

In addition to playing games and reading together, HomeTeam is also a way for children and parents/grandparents to talk to one another, face-to-face, on the computer or tablet.

HomeTeam was created by Panasonic

HomeTeam brings grandparents and grandchildren closer together, helping to reduce a gap that may exist due to geographical distance or cultural differences. Phone calls with young children, often filled with yes and no answers, lack the depth and duration needed to build strong relationships and can leave individuals searching for something to talk about. Panasonic built HomeTeam from the ground up to address these and other unique challenges facing today’s families striving to build regular and meaningful contact.

“HomeTeam bridges the gap that sometimes separates today’s grandparents from their grandchildren, be it distance, culture, familiarity with technology or a lack of topics to discuss,” said Todd Rytting, Chief Technology Officer at Panasonic Corporation ofNorth America. “By providing activities that create common ground and shared experiences between grandparents and grandchildren, HomeTeam engages them in a way a weekly phone call never will. Panasonic studied how families struggled to create meaningful connections outside of family events and visits and this service was built to overcome the most common barriers. HomeTeam is easy to use and provides a natural experience with the power to unite families, anytime and anywhere.”

You can give HomeTeam a “test drive” for an entire 30 day for FREE (no credit card required). If you enjoy the service you can subscribe to it for $8.99/month. Personally I think that is a decent price for access to the games, books and having the ability to connect with loved ones far away. You are lucky to be able to buy one game or book for that price – and that doesn’t include the ability for your child’s grandparent to read it to them or play with them.

You and your child can also play the games and read the books without being connected with someone else.

If you would like to learn more please visit www.MyHomeTeam.com.

Child Tablet

You can find the app in the Google Store and on iTunes. You can also sign up directly from your Desktop/Laptop.

With this being the holiday season HomeTeam would be a wonderful way to connect with family and friends for the holidays, especially those who cannot be with you in person. I think this would make a great “family gift” too.

Don’t forget to check out Panasonic on social media – Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

What do you think about HomeTeam? Does it sound like something your family would enjoy? Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.

Panasonic Logo


*I have partnered with HomeTeam to bring you this information. Although compensated the opinions expressed are entirely my own and not influenced in any way. 

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Quick and easy dinner ideas from Cathy Mitchell’s Dump Dinners


Grilled salmon with vegetables

Do you ever get bored with what you serve for dinner? I sure do – and so does my family. I tend to stick with the same meal options. Every day I say to myself I need to make something different.

I have a lot of recipe books – and there are plenty of great recipes I would like to try out. The problem is that I just don’t have the time to measure and weigh things, not to mention buy ingredients that I don’t normally have on hand. I need recipes that are simple to make.

I started a new job last month so I went from working in the morning to working in the late afternoon. By the time I leave work, pick my daughter up from her job, and get home it’s already 5:30 – 5:45. My husband gets home from work at 5:45. Most of the time he’s starving so I don’t have time for something that has a lot of prep work. I need something I can literally throw together and can be on the table in around 30 minutes or less.

Are you familiar with author Cathy Mitchell? She wrote the book Quick & Easy Dump Cakes. I wrote about her book last year. You can read the review here – Cathy Mitchell’s Quick & Easy Dump Cakes.

The term “dump” might not sound appealing – but it’s not as weird as it sounds. By “dump” Cathy is referring to dumping things into a pan, pot or dish without the need for weighing and measuring.

Cathy has another book with is very similar except this one focuses on main meals. It’s appropriately entitled Dump Dinners.

Dump Dinners Cathy Mitchell

Photo Source: Dump Dinner Facebook Page

Dump Dinners is the same concept as Dump Cake – it’s meals with require few ingredients, little to no prep work and can be on the table in around 30 minute or less (some might take a wee bit longer).

Dump Dinners features around 250 recipes including soups, stews, main meals, breakfast, appetizers – even recipes for larger crowds.

Some of the recipes you’ll find within the pages include;

  • Chicken Tortellini Bake
  • Orange chicken
  • Deep Dish Pizza
  • Minestrone Soup
  • Beef & Broccoli
  • Meatball Casserole
  • Meatloaf “Muffins”
  • Mexican Pizza
  • Lettuce Wraps
  • Fijitals
  • Lasagne

and much more!

One of the easiest recipes I have tried is lasagna. I would never attempt to make lasagna the traditional way. It just seems like a lot of work and too time consuming. The Dump Dinners recipe is so much easier. All you need is pasta sauce (jar), frozen ravioli (beef or cheese – we used cheese), shredded cheese and spinach (optional). Just like you would with a lasagna you simply layer the ingredients (sauce, ravioli, spinach, cheese… repeat). Then pop it in the oven and bake for the recommended time and BOOM! Lasagna! To be honest with you it tastes just like a traditional lasagna. You don’t notice the difference in taste (you do notice the ravioli but that doesn’t effect the taste at all).

One of my favorite things about the recipes in this cookbook is that many recipes that would call for a traditional dough are replaced with pre-made biscuit dough. It makes things a lot easier and quicker. In the past I would make my own dough. Now I use canned biscuit dough for a lot of recipes I’d make my own dough.

Photo Source: Pillsbury

Photo Source: Pillsbury

In addition to the recipes you’ll find pages with short cuts and substitutions, money saving ideas and make ahead recipes for things like chicken, beef and eggs.

You can also check the back of the book for a specific ingredient and it will give you the page number/numbers of the recipe/recipes that utilize that ingredient.

You can do the recipes “as is,” but I prefer to adapt them to my family’s preferences. I add my own seasoning (mostly black pepper, garlic and occasionally onions). You can also add in a few ingredients you feel would add to the recipe. Most recipes are very flexible allowing you to make them your own.

The only thing about the book I wish was different was the number of photos. There are only a few pages with color photos. I prefer to have photos of all the recipes (or at least most of them). I like to make sure the finished product looks the way it’s supposed to. Not only that, I am more likely to try a recipe when I can see it then just reading it off a page.

If you would like to learn more about this book visit BuyDumpDinners.com. You can also check out Dump Dinners on Facebook.

This book would make a great addition to your cookbook library. It would also make a great gift for newlyweds, new home owners, a college student or someone who simply doesn’t have the time to cook extravagant meals.

Do you own this book or any other book from Cathy Mitchell? What do you think about “dump” cooking and baking? Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.

Dump Dinners Skillet Recipe

Photo Source: Dump Dinners Facebook Page


*I received a free product sample in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way. 

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New from Eric Carle – The Nonsense Show. Could this be his last book?


The Nonsense Show

Are you a fan of author/illustrator Eric Carle? Some of his popular books include The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?, Do You Want to Be My Friend?, The Very Quiet Cricket and many other delightful books – 70 of them to be exact.

A new book by Eric Carle is set to release on October 13, 2015. It’s called The Nonsense Show.

Gorgeous, funny, enchanting – it’s a whimsical homage to surrealism that combines wordplay and visual jokes to offer young readers something playful and silly on every page.

The publisher shares some insights: “When taken in context with Carle’s two most recent titles, The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse and Friends, The Nonsense Show forms a trilogy of sorts, opening to young readers the worlds of expressionism, abstract art, and now surrealism. He is creating more than books; he is preparing children for a lifetime of loving words and art.”

In fact, Eric Carle created The Nonsense Show to educate children about the surrealist art movement.  You can read more about him in the WSJ at this link: http://on.wsj.com/1OomFzu.

According to the article (linked above), The Nonsense Show might very well be Eric Carle’s last book. He’s seriously considering retiring. He has said that before, but this time he might mean it. It will be sad if he does. His books have been cherished by so many over the past several decades, myself included. I keep one of his books and plush on one of my bookcases.

Eric Carle

I have a copy of The Nonsense Show. It’s charming and very colorful. It’s true to Eric Carle’s signature style and fans will not be disappointed. The book makes children think. It’s a fun book. It’s the perfect bedtime book.

The Nonsense Show is for children 3-7 years old (pre-k to grade 2 reading level). It has 40 pages.

Look for the Nonsense Show where ever books are sold after October 13, 2015.

About the author:

Eric Carle (www.eric-carle.com) has illustrated more than seventy books, many bestsellers, most of which he also wrote. To date, more than 127 million copies of his books have sold around the world. Eric Carle divides his time between the Florida Keys and the mountains of North Carolina.  Visit (www.carlemuseum.org) to find out more about The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art in Amherst, MA.

Are you a fan of Eric Carle? Do you have a favorite book? Feel free to share your thoughts.

Eric Carle's The Nonsense Show


*I received a free copy in order to do this review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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