Inspiration

Minted Giveaway!

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[Disclosure: All  links in post are affiliate links + I received complimentary cards. 100% my own opinions. Minted is my fave.]

Minted Giveaway 2016

MY MINTED GIVEAWAY 2016 IS OPEN NOW AND ENDS 12/3/16

– – – >   All you have to do is CLICK HERE and enter your email address  to enter   < – – –

I am a minted.com fanatic when it comes to their holiday card selection, user-friendly ordering system and unique designs from around the globe. This is my fourth year ordering my cards from minted and every year I continue to marvel at the new products continually added for the holidays! This post today is all about how to create your perfect Minted holiday card along with a special Minted giveaway where three winners have the chance to win a $100 Minted credit to put towards your holiday card or gift order. Oh, JOY!

minted giveaway 2016

So before I get started on why I love Minted’s holiday cards, I want to make sure you enter to win $100. All you have to do is CLICK HERE and enter your email address.

Did you do it? Awesome. Now let me tell you a little about why I love ordering my holiday cards through minted!

Black Friday Deal!

Minted’s best deals of the year are going on for Black Friday (extended to 11/27) and includes 20% off all holiday card, gift and art orders of $150 or more or 15% off all orders. Use code BF2016.

Minted “Find It Fast” Feature

By far, my favorite feature of designing holiday cards with Minted is their “Find it Fast” feature, which allows you to filter your holiday card design search depending on different parameters like number of photos, type of card, photo orientation, price, etc. Then, click “On” at the bottom for the Find It Fast feature, and it will populate your photo(s) into a ton of different designs.

I can’t tell you how much this  cuts down on the time spent selecting a design! You can actually see your photo in all the different ones to quickly sift through and find the ones that work.

mintedfinditfastfeature

The Personalization Options are Endless!

When you see a design(s) you like, select “personalize” and you will be taken to a screen where you can further customize your card.

Many of the designs have different color options you can try on, different border choices, zoom options, font choices and options to edit text or wording.  I heart options.  Make sure to keep clicking “save” so you can save some favorites to share for opinions if you wish.

minted personalization

On to the Back!

Once the front of the card is complete, you should be  ready to print, right? WRONG! Minted gives you a ton of personalization and customization options on the back too!

Did you have a hard time choosing a favorite photo for the front? Add some photos on the back! Want to share a few highlights from 2016? Add some text! So many fun choices to make your card special.

mintedbackers

The Envelope Please…

But folks, there’s more! Now comes the envelope!

Minted’s Address Assistant and FREE recipient envelope printing is another HUGE benefit to choosing Minted to print your holiday cards. The matching envelope elegance just puts their designs over the top!

A few years back I entered in all my recipient addresses so now when I order my cards, my friends and family’s names come printed FOR FREE in a darling matching design on the envelopes!  Do you know what this means?  I no longer have to get in a fight with my computer printer while attempting to print my own labels! Hallelujah!

After the envelope is gussied up, your design is complete! This year they even have matching POSTAGE designs! Wow.

mintedenvelopes

Our Family’s 2016 Holiday Card

When scrolling through all the designs, this design grabbed me. I love the “Love is All Around” wording, because of the love we have experienced from so many people this year with loss of my beautiful mom.  Love truly has been all around us.

Happy Holidays from my family to yours this season and I hope you have the opportunity to design your own Minted holiday card. Good luck on the giveaway!

love is all around

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New Year, New Home Update?

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This article is in partnership Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen

As a homeowner, there comes a time when you notice certain rooms in your home are looking a little, well, outdated. If visions of a new year remodel are dancing in your head this holiday season, I hope this post gives you some design inspiration as you plan your new years home resolutions.

The first areas to show signs of aging are usually the kitchen and bath, where outdated materials can tell the tale of days gone by. Home improvements like new cabinets, fixtures and countertops can make a dramatic difference and bring you back to the current day.

Keeping your home updated can also be a smart investment, and the kitchen and bath deemed are wise choices when prioritizing. A minor bathroom remodel came in #1 with a minor kitchen remodel following at #3 in this HGTV article on the top 15 home updates that add value to your home.

kitchen bath remodel

Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen

San Diego-based Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen specializes in bath and kitchen renovation. This family-owned and operated business has been creating beautiful living spaces for more than 33 years.

Offering their clients unique services such a dedicated project manager, day-to-day schedule with exact start and completion dates and a 5-year workmanship warranty, Remodel Works helps take the anxiety out of remodeling so you can focus on the exciting aspect of your stunning end result.

Here are some before and after photos of recent Remodel Works projects I loved when checking out their gallery online.  You won’t believe the dramatic differences! Let’s start with two of their kitchens.

A Transitional Kitchen Design

Here’s the first before photo. A rather uninspiring kitchen, right?

before

before2

And afters!

after

after2

Transitional design is one of the fastest growing choices when doing a kitchen remodel.  A transitional design marries the warmth of traditional design with the clean, simple lines of contemporary style.  Transitional spaces project balance and harmony.

And gray is the new white when it comes to kitchens and I love the contrast of the charcoal countertops with the white cabinets and subway tile. Un-cluttered, striking and beautiful.

A Modern Farmhouse Kitchen Design 

Here is another example of a kitchen before Remodel Works came in. Kitchen design has sure come a long way since then…

before4

before5

And the afters!

This beautiful kitchen embodies many of the current trends in kitchen design: transitional and farmhouse.

RemodelWorks4

Once again, it is transitional, blending traditional warmth with contemporary elements.

In combination, the shaker style cabinets, retention of the cozy hardwood floors, farmhouse sink, wooden barstools and dining table make this this a modern farmhouse style kitchen.

One I wish were mine. Sigh…

after6

New Year, New Home

My husband is going to be really bummed I worked on this post because I am typing this in our outdated kitchen and have a lot of new ideas with what kind of updates we could do! Time to start planning ahead, and budgeting. Will you all help me with choices if he gives us the green light to proceed? Wish me luck!

In the meantime, for more information on Remodel Works Bath & Kitchen visit www.remodelworks.com.

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Story Angels

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Story-Angels

The story of a chance meeting. The story of when you fell in love. The story of a life-changing trip.  The story about the time you made a decision that changed the course of your life. Our stories are our legacy, precious and unique, and play a large part in making us who we are.

Some family stories might get passed down through the generations, but no one tells the story better than the person who lived it, which is why capturing these stories on video or documenting them on paper is a priceless family heirloom.

Story Angels

Last week I was invited to a special media event to experience a new program in the Fullerton school district. The fifth graders from Laguna Road School are the first to participate in the district’s new “Story Angels” program where students interview and film seniors about a life-changing event they experienced. 

The 5th grade students were paired with one senior in teams of four kids at the beautiful Morningside retirement community for this very special project.

You guys, my heartstrings were tugged at every turn watching these two very different generations interact together.

The first time the kids met their senior partner, they brought only their ears and notebooks as they listened to their stories.

Stories of surviving childhood polio, hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, tending to the animals on the farm and having a goat as a pet, moving to the banks of the Amazon in Brazil at the age of 11 with missionary parents. Life events, that probably sounded astonishing to the 10 and 11 year olds.

Honing their narrative writing skills, the children then worked on their own individual essays about their senior, which were fact checked via mail by the residents.  One of the students showed me her essay.  Can you even get over the first paragraph she wrote? I got the chills.

story angel essay

For the second meeting, students were armed with iPads provided by the Fullerton School District and the teams videoed their senior telling the story of this life event.

The students shared with me that they will then take the footage and learn how to edit it into one film.

The district and Morningside plan to hold an event next month in which the student projects will be screened and the final video heirlooms will be presented to the seniors and their families.

story angels taping

Make Your Own Story Angels Project

I was so touched by this I am completely inspired to have my girls work on a Story Angels project like this with each of their grandparents.

The obvious choice in a family would be to do interview the grandparents or a relative, but the senior could be anyone close to your family and it would make such a special gift.

These days with our aging family members are precious. I know. Now is the time to capturing their stories for generations to come.

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Cox Smart Home at Canopy at Esencia

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Disclosure: This is a sponsored post to spread the word about the Cox Smart Home and Amazon links in post are affiliate links.

Did you know that the average household connects six devices to the internet these days? We are talking phones, laptops, tablets, gaming systems, etc. and that number is expected to increase to 50, yes 50, devices by the year 2022.

I don’t  know about you, but my Wi-Fi can be S-L-O-W at times and it drives me crazy. Lots of spinning rainbow wheels and error pages on dropped web searches. Lagging Wi-Fi can also result in a very irritated 5th grader when it inhibits her from posting one of her fabulous videos on Musical.ly.

With the need for internet connection and speed increasing and our tolerance for slow connection decreasing, Cox Communications and Warmington Residential are paving the way to the future of digital living at one of Orange County’s new master planned communities, Canopy at Esencia in Rancho Mission Viejo with gigabit-internet speed.

It’s the future people.  And it’s here.

CoxSmartHome

This week I got to preview Cox Communications and Warmington Residential’s Cox Smart Home in Esencia where they have designed a modern living space to showcase all of the different ways families are going to be using technology in the future and all that is possible with gig-speed internet. The Cox Smart Home will be open this weekend to the public and I urge you to go  see it for yourself.

Cox Smart Home at Canopy at Esencia Powered by GIGABLAST Internet Speeds
Open to the public
Sat. 10/1/16 and Sun. 10/2/16 from 10am – 6pm
100 Vasto Street, Rancho Mission Viejo, CA 92694

For those of us that are not super techie, let me tell you what living the Gig Life means. Gigabit connectivity gives customers internet speed that is 100, yes 100, times faster than the average speeds offered today. Now that is what we call GIGABLAST!  Sign me up Cox!

With gigabit internet service you can run all your devices at the same time, download an HD movie in less than 60 seconds, upload 1,000 photos in about a minute, download 100 tunes in only 3 seconds, stream live video, do anything that requires heavy bandwidth, and do it at lightning speed.

My Top Five “That is So Cool!” Moments at the Cox Smart Home

I saw so many cool things in every room of the gorgeous three story home, my head was spinning with awe and the times I said, “That is so cool!” were countless. Please just go and see it for yourself because it was impossible to cover everything in this post so I will highlight some of my favorites.

1. Wemo Smart Wi-Fi Enabled Slow Cooker

It’s on Prime mamas, might as well just buy it now.

I didn’t know such a dreamy slow cooker even existed! With three heat settings you can control with your smart phone from wherever you are, you can adjust the temperatures or settings and never risk overcooking a dish again.

Here is fabulous flood blogger Whitney Bond demo-ing the cooker, powered by Gigablast.

Whitney’s tagline is “Traditional Recipes with a Bond Girl Twist.” Check her out, I adore her site. In fact, I am making her One Pot Italian Sausage Shells and Cheese dish tonight. YUM.

wifislowcooker

2. Amazon Echo and Philips Hue Smart Bulb

Echo is a hands-free speaker that connects to the Alexa Voice Service and can control things from playing music, reading books, looking up the weather, and even turn on thermostats and lights with compatible devices.  All you have to do is ask her. Do you guys have one yet? It’s on my birthday list. Honey, are you reading this? Honey?

For example, “Alexa, play me Justin Timberlake!” Done. “Alexa, turn on the light in the kid’s room.” Done. Feels very George Jetson, doesn’t it?

Just another device making our lives easier, powered by Gigablast.

AmazonEcho

3. Virtual Reality Gaming

Welcome to the future of gaming – virtual reality –  where you are not only playing a video game, you are immersed in it. Moms everywhere will be thrilled to learn this technology can also be educational, in a highly entertaining way.

At the Cox Smart Home, I got to meet two young men from Labcoat Studios, an app development company behind virtual reality games and experiences.  They were showcasing one of their virtual reality typing games to help develop keyboard skills.

It was so cool I was squealing with delight as I tried to burst the words with my mad typing skills. See the word “rain” on the screen? That word was coming towards me and I had to type it as fast as I could. SO fun.

VR

4. House Calls of the Future

How many times have you sat there looking at your sick child and wondered if you should take them in to the doctor but dreaded the idea of getting them there?

The telehealth program at CHOC Children’s Hospital has a system that uses modern, digital, communication technologies changing the way patients are able to access care, remotely, 24 hours a day. With the use of the InTouch mobile robot, the technology enables secure, real-time connections between providers and patients.

The telemedicine field is rapidly growing so one day we will be able to see our doctor from the comfort of home, on your device, without leaving the house. Again, powered by Gigablast.

The doctor will see you now…

telehealth

5. Distance Learning

With Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts, etc. there are so many opportunities to have face-to-face instruction by experts around the globe and the opportunities for education are endless.

At the event, I had the privilege to see the legendary violinist, Jason Yang (who has toured with Madonna!), demonstrating with the use of technology, how he can teach students and stream live seminars in high-definition to his students and fans internationally.

Just think of all the opportunities we will have for children to take music classes from amazing instructors anywhere without the need to chauffeur them. Once again, at speeds powered by Gigiblast.

jasonyang

You guys, please go and check out the Cox Smart Home this weekend with your families.  It will be such a fun outing and you will be in awe of all the amazing things available to residents when you have Gigablast internet service.

Some other amazing features you will get to see are a Wi-Fi BBQ smoker, Wi-Fi vacuum, Wi-Fi pet and pet feeder, Wi-Fi weighing scale, Wi-Fi drawing robot, Cox’s new, Voice Remote Contour TV system and more. (And you might even get the chance to WIN one!!) Go, just go!

About Esencia

Encompassing nearly 23,000 acres, Rancho Mission Viejo (The Ranch) is planned to provide multiple villages which could consist of up to 14,000 homes as well as sites for parks, playgrounds, trails, clubhouses, farms, schools, shopping and entertainment and more in beautiful South Orange County.

The community of Rancho Mission Viejo currently includes villages of Sendero (sold out homes) and Esencia (homes now available for purchase.)

The hillside village of Esencia is the second village on The Ranch and is planned to inlcude 2,810 residential units. For more information visit www.ranchomissionviejo.com.

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Odysseo Debuts in Irvine

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Disclosure: Media tickets provided to facilitate this review. 

logo-odysseo

If any of you drive along the 405 and 133 intersection, you can’t miss the Big White Top under construction for the last month.

Every time we drive by, my boys are fascinated with “what they are building?!” When signs went up, we were thrilled to see it was Odysseo by Cavalia! For those of you not familiar, this show is known as the world’s largest traveling production with a cast of 65 horses, trainers, musicians and acrobats that produce one TRULY magical experience.

It is the work of Artistic Director, Normand Latourelle, a pioneer with Cirque du Soleil, and an incredible team of set designers, musicians, choreographers and costume designers.  Click here for more info on Odysseo Orange County.

dualriders

Photo credit: Odysseo

I simply love horses.  Their grace, power, strength and pure beauty are really inspiring to me.  When I heard I had the chance to see this show with my family I was ecstatic.

I went in thinking the show would be, of course, a horse show (and it is!) but also SO much more. The performers interact with the horses in various acts that run the gamut. Some are exciting and fast, doing simply unbelievable acrobatics, and then some acts were beautiful and soft.

It was breathtaking to watch one trainer lead nine horses in choreographed formations around the arena with no leads or bridles.  Just gentle commands and a lot of praise.  Their connection to these horses (which have to train as long as SIX years to be in this production!) is seriously awe-inspiring and their true gratitude and love for these majestic animals really shines through.

Click here for some direct links to actual footage of the show for a preview of the magic…

horseacro

Photo credit: Odysseo

We took my son and a friend, who are both 6, and they REALLY loved it.  There was a mix of equestrian, aerial artists in rings and silks (my son’s favorite part of the show), acrobats and more. We were mesmerized for the entire show.

The run time start to finish was about 2 1/2 hours, which included a 30 minute intermission. The Big White top is surprisingly comfortable and climate-controlled – we were told it costs $10,000 to cool or heat the tent for each production.  Parking was super easy and organized and they have plenty of food, snacks (hello Dipping Dots?!) , beer and wine for sale inside the tent.

Here are the boys practicing their horse acrobatic skills…future performers maybe?!  This cracks me up 🙂

acrobat boys

Odysseo Orange County was able to extend their run of the show due to an overwhelming response in ticket sales. Shows run Tuesday through Sundays now  through. March 13th. Click here to find the calendar of show dates  and to purchase tickets.

  odysseo collage

Has anyone else been able to see this amazing show? Please comment below! Thank you Odysseo for a truly memorable experience.

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