Take the best holiday photos and videos with these great tips


3d illustration: Technique. concept camera

Yesterday I posted about holiday photo cards from Vistaprint.

Most people use photos of their family taken throughout the year, however others love to pose for the “perfect” photo under, or around, the Christmas tree.

I have a few photos of my kids in front of our tree, but mostly from when they were little. It’s not always easy to get little ones to sit still for photos so I didn’t bother to try and prefect it. I figured any picture was better than no picture at all.

If you are planning on taking a lot of photos this holiday season, here are some great tips to help you get the “picture perfect” shot.

Please note that the text might be a bit hard to read. Simply click on the image and it will bring up a larger one that is much easier to read. With the larger image you should get the little magnifying glass pop up. Simply click on the image and it should get even larger.


In case you are planning on taking plenty of videos this holiday season to capture each and every precious moment, here are some additional tips to help you take a quality video that you’ll enjoy year after year.

As it was with the above graphic, if you click on it you can get a larger view so it’s easier to read.

Video Tricks_en

Do you have any additional tips you’d like to share?


*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the enjoyment of my site readers.

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X Out Review

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for X Out. I received samples of X Out to facilitate my review and a thank you item for my participation. 

X Out Review

I remember when I was a teenager. It can be a tough time in a young person’s life. There are a lot of perks to being a teen, but at the same time there are some negative aspects too.

One big issue I had as a teen was acne. I was fortunate that it didn’t hit me until my late teen years. I was around 17 years old when I really started to get a lot of pimples. Many of my best friends and classmates started in their earlier teens.

Some days were so bad I didn’t want to leave the house! I’m sure many people can relate to that. It’s embarrassing to have a face full of pimples, even if it’s common for teens.

I know that acne has different “extremes.” Some people get the occasional pimple where as others get it so bad that it leaves marks (scars) on their face and their complexion is horrible.

I didn’t want that to happen to my teens. As soon as they started to approach their teen years I worried about what kind of acne issues they might have.

Both of my kids deal with acne. My daughter (17) tends to get acne on her forehead and chin. My son (15) tends to get it on his cheeks and forehead. My daughter gets big, red pimples whereas my son gets smaller acne marks. None the less it bothers both of them.

My daughter is a senior in high school and looking good is important. She wants to make sure she has clear skin for all those photos her and her friends will be taking all year long, plus she wants to have clear skin for senior events such as the senior luncheon and the ever important prom.

My son is very shy and the last thing he wants is for someone to make fun of him. Sadly kids can be cruel and it’s easy to make fun of someone because of acne issues.

I’ve tried to get a few shots to show you my kid’s acne issues. That was easier said than done because they run and hide when they see a camera coming when they are having a “bad skin day.”


My son’s problem areas are his cheeks and his forehead.


My daughter’s problem area’s are her forehead (between her brows) and chin.

My kids are going to be so mad at me for sharing these photos. It’s actually the same photo – I just cropped it so you can see an up close of their acne.

My kids have tried many different acne products, but as you can see, we haven’t had much luck finding something that works well. Sometimes a product works well for a short time, then it stops being effective. It’s also hard to find a product that works well for both of my kids. My medicine cabinet used to be filled with acne products.

Some products require multiple steps. My kids simply do not have time for that. They are super busy getting ready for school in the morning and in the evening they are too busy studying and getting homework done to be bothered with lengthy treatment procedures.

Thanks to Mom Central I was able to get the X Out product to try out with my kids. X Out is great for busy, on-the-go teens because it’s a wash in treatment that washes powerful acne fighting medicine into your pours to kill the bacteria which causes pimples. There are no multiple steps needed.

X Out even helps to moisturize skin. Both of my kids commented on that after using X Out. Dry skin is a huge complaint for both of them and both of them commented on how X Out didn’t dry out their skin. In fact X Out not only moisturizes the skin it exfoliates dead skin cells too.

X Out contains a PROVEN acne fighting ingredient – 8.5% Benzoperoxide. It’s also sulfate and paraben free and non-comedogenic. Non-comedogenic means it doesn’t clog pores. Clogged pores can lead to the dreaded blackheads.

X Out is also good for all skin types. As a parent I especially like this because I know both of my kids can use the product and I don’t need to keep a medicine cabinet full of acne treatment products.

My daughter was quick to want to try X Out. She had a senior luncheon coming up and she wanted to make sure her skin was nice looking. My son was a bit reluctant because he figured it was just another acne treatment.


Senior luncheon. Forehead acne is barely noticeable (there is nothing really there). Chin acne looks much better.

Above is a photo of my daughter heading out to her senior luncheon. Notice the marked improvement of the forehead acne (between her eye brows) and he chin acne looks much better (the mark above her lip is a cold sore).

She’s wearing the same make up she always wears in both photos.

Here is another photo of her forehead acne BEFORE using X Out for a few weeks.


It’s nice to see that the forehead acne has smoothed out. She still has some marks (scars) on her face, and some bumps/discoloration on her chin, but it’s a huge improvement. Even my daughter is pleased.

My son eventually gave X Out a try too.

My son's cheeks and forehead are his problem zones.

My son’s cheeks and forehead are his problem zones.

You can see the acne on his cheeks. He even has some bumps on his chin (normally his problem zones are his forehead and cheeks).

He found the product super easy to use. He’s not one to spend a lot of time with skin care (usually girls spend more time caring for their skin). I’m happy that my son used the X Out on a daily basis.

Here is a a photo of my son taken a couple of weeks ago at a restaurant as well as a belated birthday cake at his grandparents house.



As you can see his cheeks and forehead look smoother and cleaner. He may have a few marks here and there but nothing as noticeable as he used to have.

My kids were sent the X Out Wash In Treatment, X Out Shine Control, X Out Spot Corrector and X Out Body Soap (for body acne).

The X Out Wash In Treatment is the product my kids used twice daily – once in the AM when they were getting ready for school and once in the PM after they got ready for bed. You simply wash the product on your face like you would any other facial cleaner and rinse it off. That’s it! That is all you have to do. You don’t have to follow any kind of process. There are no extra products that you need to use.

We’re a family of four with ONE bathroom. My husband and I both work and my kids both have to get ready for school. None of us has much time in the morning because everyone needs to get ready. As a parent I LOVE having my kids get in and out of the bathroom much faster than before. They don’t have to use multiple products and wait to rinse them off or to dry. Just wash and go. Even my kids appreciate the ease of this product and have commented multiple times at just how easy the product is to use.

My daughter has the X Out Shine Control in her locker. She uses it at school after gym class. It not only moisturizes the skin but also gives it a more “matte” like look by absorbing (for lack of a better description) the oil in your skin. My daughter’s skin does tend to be oily. She likes to keep it at school for “touch ups” during the day. She doesn’t use facial powder, so she doesn’t really have a way to control the “shine” caused by excess oil in the skin. She tells me that she likes the product, and in fact she asked me to get her some more.

Spot Corrector

Both of my kids have used the X Out Spot Corrector from time to time. It’s just an added bit of help against pimples. It’s more so for those pesky pimples that don’t want to go away, or pop up at a time when you can wash your face. It just gives the X Out Wash In Treatment and added “boost” on stubborn acne.

We haven’t tried the X Out Body Soap yet. No one in our family has body acne. I kept it just in case. I know in the hot weather months sweat can cause acne.

My daughter is happy that her skin is looking better than it has in a very long time. She has a lot on her mind these days between finishing up her senior year, preparing for college, looking forward to prom and graduation and of course boys (LOL). The last thing she wants to have to worry about it acne.

I was supposed to have my daughter video tape her review of X Out but due to unforeseen circumstances she’s not been in a “happy place” lately to do the video. I would ask my son but he’s BEYOND shy and would never, ever agree to do it (I’ve even tried bribing him – LOL).

My son is the quiet type. He’s not one to express his feelings too much. I have asked him about his thoughts on X Out and he told me “Can you get more, we’re running out.” Knowing my son I take that as a positive thing. He wouldn’t ask me to get more if he didn’t like it.

I think he likes that it’s so easy to use and it has made a noticeable difference on his skin.

As a mom I am pleased with the product and I plan on purchasing more for my kids. This mom gives X Out two thumbs up.

If you would like to learn more about X Out visit www.XOut.com. You can also find the brand on Facebook and Twitter.

Have you or your teen tried any of the X Out products? If so, what did you think about them? Feel free to share your thoughts. I always love to hear from readers.

X Out Logo


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Enjoy the sweet goodness of Wonderful Halos (giveaway ends 12/20/14)


Our produce drawer in the fridge.

Our produce drawer in the fridge.

My favorite part about the spring and summer months is the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms. We try and “stock up” whenever possible and always take advantage of the wonderful produce of the season.

One family favorite has always been oranges. Oranges make a delicious and healthy snack. The only downside is that they are not always easy to peel. That is my least favorite part of the fruit – that darn peel!

I remember having to peel them all the time for my kids. Even now that they are teenagers I often find myself helping them to unpeel them because some are more difficult to peel than others and it’s very frustrating. Many oranges have to have their seeds removed as well, which is something else I did for my kids when they were younger.

For these reasons we have switched to Wonderful Halos. Wonderful Halos are from the same people who bring you Wonderful Pistachios and POM Wonderful.

For many years I have skipped past them in the produce aisle. They are small in size and I figured they really didn’t have much to them. That is until one day about a year ago my daughter was shopping with me and saw them and asked if we could get them. I wasn’t overly pleased with the oranges in the produce section that day so I told her to pick up a package.

Wonderful Halos

To my surprise the Wonderful Halos were super easy to peel, seedless and very juicy. They are totally delicious!

I didn’t know that Wonderful Halos are California grown mandarin oranges. I just thought they were tiny oranges. I buy mandarin oranges in cans. Silly me! Now I can enjoy them fresh, they way they were meant to be enjoyed, and not in can with Wonderful Halos.

Wonderful Halos are in season November through April. They make great any time of day snacks and they are small enough to toss inside a lunch box. They are also portable so you can enjoy them on the go.

I find that I grab for Halos more often then a regular orange because they are super easy to peel and enjoy. They are not as much of a “chore” to peel and pop the seeds out of like most other oranges. I want to enjoy my sweet juicy snack – not have to work for it. LOL!

At only 50 calories and containing 45% of your daily recommended amount of Vitamin C, Wonderful Halos are an ideal, healthy snack for both young and old alike.

For more information about Wonderful Halos visit HalosFun.com. You can also find the brand on all the social media sites (all the links are found on the top right of their home page).

There is even a FREE Halos Fun app that you can download and enjoy. It’s kid friendly and packed with fun and adventure. The app is available to download on both Google Play and the App Store.

Not all contents of the prize package seen in the photo - winner will receive FREE product coupons not the actual product.

Not all contents of the prize package seen in the photo – winner will receive FREE product coupons not the actual product.

Wonderful Halos would like to give a lucky winner as special Halos prize package which includes;

  • FREE product coupon
  • Halos branded flashlight/key chain (it’s cute – it has the Halos logo on the flashlight so the image shows up where you point it)
  • Light up cup (my kids love this)
  • Halo branded lunch bag
  • Halos branded hat
  • Halos branded lip balm
  • Halos branded drawstring backpack

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and will end on December 20, 2014 at 11:59 PM (EST). The winner will be chosen at random using a random number generator from all eligible entries. The winner will be notified via e-mail and will have three days to reply or a new winner will be chosen in their place.

To enter please comment on this post and tell me why you would like to win this prize?

For extra entries you can use the Rafflecopter widget (below) but you must complete the initial entry requirement or the additional entries wont’ qualify (I do check). Extra entries are optional.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*I received a free prize package in exchange for my participation/review (although we already purchase the product). There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and no influenced in any way. 

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Keep warm this winter with Heat Holders



It’s not the official start of Winter yet but we’ve already seen snow – and a lot of it – here in the Northeast. With snow comes cold. Brrr… my old bones are shivering just thinking about it.

As a mom I always try to make sure my kids are fully protected from the elements when they go outside. Now that they are teenagers they make their own decisions (which are not always the right now). All I can do now is provide them with warm clothing and accessories to wear and hope that they use their noodle and make the right choice.

Usually it’s our son who doesn’t dress appropriately during the winter months. He doesn’t like to use his locker (he says he doesn’t have time) and he doesn’t want to lug around a winter coat all day so he usually wears an insulated hoodie. I cringe EVERY TIME he steps outside without being dressed properly. Ugh!

Our daughter is a different story. She used to be that way until it was discovered that she has Raynaud’s Disease. When she gets cold her blood vessels spasm and she turns white – as in PURE WHITE – where ever she is cold. Usually it’s her hands and fingers but we’ve seen other parts of her bod (feet, toes, arms…) turn white too.

She’s ALWAYS cold. Even in 60 degree weather she’s freezing. Her hands are always like ice, even in warm weather. For this reason we make sure she has plenty of clothing and accessories to keep her warm.

Not long ago I was sent some products from a company called Heat Holders to review. They sent me to review tights, gloves, a hat and socks. I gave the tights and hat to my daughter (they didn’t have my size tights and I don’t wear hats) and I took the socks. We share the gloves since our hands are the same size.

Heat Holders are different due to the way they are manufactured. Their products are made with specially developed fibers.


I didn’t know what they meant by “thermal tog rating” so I looked it up on their site.

TOG means Thermal Overall Grade. It is a scientific test that measures the thermal (heat retaining) capacity of fabric. Heat Holders® when tested using this standard rates TOG 2.34. This is 7x warmer than cotton socks and almost 3x warmer than an ordinary thermal socks! We test socks from most major brands that we can get our hands on and it is safe to say that Heat Holders® is almost 40% warmer than the warmest sock we have ever tested, which was a heavy sock with 80% plus wool!

Wow! That’s impressive.

I have the Heat Holders socks. They are very thick but surprisingly not too heavy. I don’t wear them with shoes. I put them on when I am home and wear them around the house. I’m sure they would be just fine with shoes and chances are I’ll have to wear them outside in the near future now that I work outside the home.

Theses socks are not only incredibly comfortable they DO keep your feet very warm.

I have a problem with my toes getting very cold. They turn into ice cubes on the end of my feet. Regular socks don’t help. I have to wear socks, with slippers and put my feet under a blanket just to warm them up. With the Heat Holder socks my toes warm up in a matter of minutes and they stay warm while wearing the socks. I love them! I really, really, really LOVE them and I plan on getting a few more pairs. The pair I have are purple. I want to get black and white pairs so I can wear them out and about (I have nothing that would match with purple). I also plan on getting a pair or two for our daughter. She wanted these socks but after trying them out for the first time I was in love and couldn’t part with them.

Heat Holders

My daughter wears the tights often under her leggings, jeans and sweatpants. They give her extra warmth without extra bulk. She loves that she can still wear leggings with these tights because they don’t show through. They are similar to stockings in a way (very thin). With the special fibers the Heat Holder tights helps to keep the chill off your legs. You can’t wear them alone. You’d need to wear them under something else (they are very sheer).

My daughter likes them and has asked for a few extra pairs so she can wear them daily in the winter.

The hat is really nice too. I am not a hat person but I love the look and feel of the hat. It looks cute on my daughter too (she was not in the mood to model it for me so I could take a picture). It’s also purple and like the socks it’s very thick and oh-so-soft.

She’s only worn it a few times so far. She tells me it’s comfortable to wear. She wishes they had a scarf too because she thinks a hat and scarf set would really keep her face, head and neck warm and protected from the elements.

I’ve used to gloves for the first time last week when it snowed. I needed them. It was cold!

The gloves remind me a lot like the socks as far as the feel. They are very comfy and you can wear them while you are driving. I have gloves that are fine for shoveling snow or clearing off my car but I don’t feel comfortable wearing them while driving. I was able to keep these gloves on while driving with no problem. They were comfortable and kept my fingers warm, as the should.

Heat Holders do exactly as they are supposed to – warm you up and keep you warm. I am very impressed. So much so I plan on ordering more products in the near future.

If you would like to learn more about Heat Holders visit www.HeatHolders.com. They can also be found on social media.

Heat Holders Logo


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





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Be “Proactive” when it comes to illnesses with the Sickweather app

*I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Sickweather. I received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.



I wouldn’t call myself a “germophobe” in the true sense of the word, but I am very concerned about picking up germs and spreading them around to my family. Aside from keeping my home clean I wipe down and spray frequently used things in my home with disinfectant – places such as remote controls, door knobs/handles and stair rails.

Ever since a very early age I have always taught my kids to wash their hands frequently and not to put their hands near their faces unless they are clean.

My kids are teenagers now and are aware of how colds and illnesses are passed on from one person to another. They know it’s important to wash their hands after touching a shopping cart or using things in public places. They even know to use a paper towel or their sleeve to open public doors. Each of us carries a small bottle of hand sanitizer just in case washing hands with soap and water is not possible. I even carry handy wipes in my car.

I work with little children and often have them coughing and sneezing all over the place – on the table, the toys and even in my face! I’m just as conscientious at work as I am at home when it comes to germs and stopping them before they can get anyone sick. I’m always wiping down and spraying things around the classroom.

What if there was a way you could find out that an illness is prevalent in your area? That way you can take the necessary precautions to ensure that you and your family are safe from the illness, or at least prepared for it.

Sickweater logo

There is a FREE app you can download called Sickweather. Sickweather was recently featured on the Today Show (you can see the video here).

Sickweather helps to identify illnesses in your area. It’s been referred to as a “weather forecast for illness”. It works similarly to a weather forecast too. It even gives you “today’s forecast” which identifies illnesses (cold, strep throat, allergies…) in your area. There are over 20+ illnesses that are covered with this app, some I’ve never even heard of like Fifth Disease and Man Flu. Man Flu? Women get the flu too. LOL!

You can have the app keep track of specific illnesses, such as the common cold, or group them together under Respiratory, Gastrointestinal, Environmental or Childhood.

Illnesses are pinpointed on the map via social media and individual reporting. Sickweather scans social media for public postings such as “My son has strep throat” or “Many co-workers are out with the flu”. The app then pinpoints those reports on a map. People can also manually report an illness through the app anonymously which will also be included. Your personal reports will be saved so you can keep track of you or your family’s health (found under “My Reports”).

The app will notify you when illness is reported in your area. It will also let you know if you are traveling into an area where an illness was reported (a “Sick Zone”) so you take the necessary precautions.



You can check out the app at any time and see what illnesses are in your area. You can even check reported illnesses across the country with the 5 day forecast. This will show the natural progression of the illness/illnesses so you can “guesstimate” when it might be coming to your area so you can prepare for it.

When you look at the Sickweather reports you can click on the “Sick” cloud graphic to see what illness was reported (date and time).

I live in the suburbs of New York City. There must not be too many people using the app or reporting illnesses in my area. Only once since downloading the app have I seen something in my area (Flu). However more populated areas, such as New York City, are FILLED with Sick clouds. I looked at a few of those recently and it was a hodge podge of illnesses (there wasn’t one specific one that was more prevalent than others). On the flip side I was checking out a random area in New Jersey and saw a lot of flu reported.



I hope more people are aware of this app and take advantage of it, that way more rural and remote areas will be able to benefit from this just as much as larger metropolitan areas.

The only downside to this app, other than not much going on when you live in a rural area (which is NOT an app issue but more so lack of users and reporting) is the ads that display at the bottom. It is a FREE app and that is how the app makes money in order to continue, so you really just have to deal with it otherwise it would have to be a paid app.

If you would like to learn more visit www.sickweather.com. You can also check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

What do you think about the Sickweather app? Do you like the concept? Do you think you’ll download it?



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FREE Flu shots for pregnant women and moms from Text4Baby



I know that people have their own opinions about the flu shots. I would never, ever push my thoughts or beliefs on anyone. I respect everyone’s opinion.

My family and I do get the flu shot (or mist) each year. We had a few years in a row where one, two or all four of us picked up the flu. The flu is nasty and horrible. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. One time when I came down with the flu I almost passed out in a parking lot!

We have been getting the flu shots (or mist) for many years now and so far no one has come down with the flu. We are grateful for that.

Did you know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all pregnant women receive the flu shot? The shot is sae for women who are pregnant or nursing. It will not harm their infants either.

A pregnant woman can get the flu shot any time during her third trimester.

It has been shown that getting the vaccination during pregnancy can protect both the mother and her baby from influenza-related illness and hospitalization.

For more valuable information about the flu and flu prevention please visit the Centers for Disease Control website, www.CDC.Gov/Flu.


If you are pregnant, have you heard about the service Text4Baby?

TEXT4BABY sends pregnant women and new moms personalized health information that is sent straight to their phones. The information will help support you throughout your pregnancy and your baby’s first year with topics such as prenatal care, baby health, parenting and more.

Pregnancy and being a first time mom can be scary. It’s nice to know that there is plenty of support and information available to you.

The program was founded by Johnson & Johnson.

Each week you’ll receive up to three texts with informative topics such as baby’s development, breast feeding, safe sleeping, immunizations, nutrition and more.

The service is FREE. It can even use the service to set up appointment reminders.

To join simply send a text to the information below (one is for English and the other is for Spanish).

Text4Baby is offering FREE flu shots for pregnant women and moms of children under the age of one.

To get the code for a FREE flu shot you must first sign up for Text4Baby. You  will then receive a text message in regards to the free flu shot offer. The offer will instruct you on how to receive the FREE flu shot at your nearest Rite Aid store.

Rite Aid sent me a voucher for a free flu shot. I made sure to get it as soon as I received it. I didn’t want to take any chances. I work with little children and often they come into us sick (either the parent didn’t know or they just didn’t care). The last thing I want is to get the flu while at work.

If you are pregnant, or know someone who is, please pass along this information about how they can receive a FREE flu shot.

For a Rite Aid location near you please visit www.RiteAid.com. You can also find Rite Aid on social media.



*I was not compensated for this post. I posted this for the benefit of my site readers. The opinions expressed are my own unless otherwise noted.

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