Walking With Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular roars into San Jose

Some families travel to grandma's house over the holidays. Some travel to Disneyland. Some travel to Hawaii to surf, or to the mountains to ski.  Some travel abroad.  It's not a competition, but if it were, we'd be the total winners, because we traveled millions of years back in time!  

On Christmas Day, we watched the Bay Area's debut performance of Walking With Dinosaurs" The Arena Spectacular.  This show is unlike any you've ever seen!  When I first heard of it, I thought it was like an exhibit that you could roam around in, looking at dinosaur models moving their legs and roaring.  I couldn't be more wrong.  It's actually a stage show, with life-sized animatronic dinosaurs walking around!

Walking With Dinosaurs; The Arena Spectacular is the live stage version of the BBC documentary series Walking With Dinosaurs. As such, it's doesn't have a plot or story line like most stage shows; it's more like a documentary that traces the history of the dinosaurs from the Triassic period, through the Jurassic Period and the Cretaceous period, to the point where dinosaurs became extinct via a meteor collision (that's the theory, anyway).  The show emcee is constantly narrating the history of the plants and animals that were alive during the period, and makes the show really interesting by sharing lots of facts and trivia about the dinos on stage. The show features some of the most popular dinosaurs, including stegasaurus, velociraptor, brachiosaurus, and of course, the mighty Tyrannosaurus Rex.

The animatronic dinosaurs are amazing!  Each one is life sized, and the amount of detail on each dinosaur is impressive, down to the wrinkles and folds and bumps on their skin.  The smallest baby dinos are remote controlled creatures, the "smaller" (that is, human-sized) dinos are actually men in suits, while the larger dinos are animatronic "cars" -- the dinos are on a stand and connected to a small "car" disguised as a rock (you can see the "rocks"/"cars" right underneath the dinos in the photo below).

We really enjoyed the show. It's very educational and the production is really impressive.  A friend of mine took her son a few years ago (he must have been 4 or 5) and said that he was a bit scared of the dinosaurs, so bear that in mind when you are taking young children.  The dinosaurs don't get too close to the audience (although you really, really want them to!), but the roar of the T-Rex can be startling.

Walking With Dinosaurs: The Arena Spectacular is showing at the SAP Center in San Jose this weekend only, and continues its West Coast run in Sacramento and Salt Lake City through early January (check the website for show schedules).  But after that it's traveling to Australia, so don't wait for this show to be extinct! Buy your tickets now, because it could be another 65 million years before the dinosaurs come back!

Disclosure: I received press tickets to view the show. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Holiday Card Trends for 2014 featuring Minted

This holiday season I noticed a few "trends" in the holiday cards that we received from family and friends:

Holiday photo cards are more popular than ever 
About 75% of all the cards we received had photos on them!  I'm so happy this continues to be the case because I love looking at photos.

Lots of cards were from Minted
I always look at the backs of the cards to see the up and coming companies. I was pleasantly surprised to see so many people used Minted cards!  We used Minted cards this year, and ours turned out spectacular!  I've already received many compliments on our cards.

More and more people are including newsletters
Again, I love this trend because the majority of my family and friends don't live near me, so I don't get to catch up as often as I want, so I always enjoy reading end-of-year summaries and finding out what people are up to. Many people print out their newsletters on separate sheets of paper, but I prefer shorter summaries printed out on the card itself.  One of the reasons I like Minted so much is that you can customize your card and add so many different kinds of text and photo layouts.

People are sending cards later and later
We received quite a few cards on December 26!  I can't complain, because I sent out my cards quite late, and I'm sure a few of mine will arrive between Christmas and New Year.  The holiday season is already so busy, I don't hold it against anyone for taking more time to get holiday cards out.  Besides, there's always Happy New Year cards!  Or Chinese New Year cards!  Are you planning on sending New Years cards?  Today's Mama is having a giveaway for $50 towards personalized holiday cards at Minted!

Disclosure: I received a gift card from Minted so I could review their 2014 holiday card line. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Celebrate the holidays (and every day) with Marley Coffee

Marley Coffee holiday party

The best part about the holidays is getting together with family and friends!  In the midst of all the madness -- the shopping, the parties, the decorating -- it's important to take some time and relax in the company of the people you love.  I was so grateful to be able to connect with my blogging friends this holiday season over a good cup of coffee!  Marley Coffee invited me to a holiday party featuring their wonderful coffee and some fun crafts.

Marley Coffee holiday party

The party was held at my friend Cam's lovely home, which was brimming with holiday decorations, the smell of good coffee, and good cheer.
Marley Coffee holiday party

Cam and her co-host Nicole organized a fun holiday craft -- making hot cocoa test tubes!  It's so easy -- all you need is three plastic test tubes, hot cocoa mix, and hot cocoa embellishments like mini marshmallows, crushed peppermint candy and white chocolate chips.
Marley Coffee holiday party

Simply fill the first test tube with hot cocoa, then fill the other tubes with the yummy stuff that makes your hot cocoa special. I filled my second tube with mini marshmallows, then filled the third tube with alternating layers of white chocolate chips and crushed peppermint candy.  Once the tubes are full, tie them together with a red ribbon, and voila, you have a totally adorable and delicious stocking stuffer!
Marley Coffee holiday party

As we crafted and connected, we were treated to mugfuls of yummy Marley coffee. This artisan roasted coffee is sustainably grown and ethically farmed.  It's sold in single serve K-cups,  whole bean bags, and ground bean bags.
Marley Coffee holiday party

If you love coffee, Marley Coffee is heaven in a cup.  I'm not a regular coffee drinker but Marley Coffee could change my mind!  I loved my cup of Lively Up! espresso with peppermint flavored cream and a white chocolate peppermint swizzle stick!
Marley Coffee holiday party

Note to self -- next holiday season, stock up on white chocolate peppermint swizzle sticks, and learn how to knit so you can knit your friends adorable sweater mugs as presents!
Marley Coffee holiday party

Marley Coffee sent us home with some coffee samples and my newest favorite fashion accessory -- a new infinity scarf.
Marley Coffee holiday party

Thank you Cam, Nicole, and Marley Coffee for a fun, relaxing morning with food and friends!
Marley Coffee holiday party

Disclosure: I was invited to a blogger party by Marley Coffee and provided with samples, a goody bag and a gift card. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Bonggamom's Friday Finds: list your giveaways here

Bonggamoms Friday Finds

Welcome to Bonggamom's Friday Finds! I'm glad so many of you are finding this to be a useful way to get more traffic to your giveaways. And as a person who loves entering giveaways, I have to admit it's a great, easy way to find out where all the best giveaways are.

So feel free to leave links to your giveaways, everyone. And don't forget to get cracking and enter everyone else's, too!

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Get a Paddington Travel Tag at Chuck E Cheese (plus 3 free tokens every time you flash your travel tag!)

Do you like to travel?  Make sure your first stop is Chuck E Cheese! They're giving away Paddington travel tags to kids who purchase a meal combo!  The tags are inspired by everyone's favorite bear, Paddington, and the new Paddington movie that's coming out in January of next year.

I first discovered Paddington over 30 years ago, when I traveled to England for the first time. Paddington and I had a lot in common -- 2 newbies from the tropics, visiting cold, rainy London -- and I felt an instant affinity.  I made sure my kids discovered Paddington a lot sooner than I did.  Are you planning to watch the new Paddington movie?  We sure are!

Back to the travel tags -- not only is it a cool movie memento and a great way to find your luggage when you travel, it can also get you free tokens at Chuck E Cheese!  Just bring your Paddington travel tag with you every time you visit Chuck E Cheese over the holidays, and when you show it to y our server, you get three free Chuck E Cheese tokens! That's right, three free tokens that your child can use to play games, ride rides, have their photo taken, and earn tickets to redeem for prizes.

Chuck E Cheese will be handing out 3 free tokens to kids who flash their Paddington travel tags until January 16, 2015 (the movie's release date) -- so you have the whole winter break to take advantage and enjoy!

Disclosure: I received a gift card so my kids and I could visit Chuck E Cheese. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Holiday Giveaway: Pick Your Prize! Two Winners!


Everyone is so excited, because Christmas is almost here!   I've already received my present -- a new iPad!  We bought it over Thanksgiving... but I'm still hoping my husband adds a tiny surprise for Christmas morning -- even a candy bar will do!  I love presents and I love surprised and I'll bet I'm not alone.

Are you hoping for something special under your tree? I've teamed up with some great bloggers to offer TWO lucky readers the ultimate holiday present for 2014!  If you win, you get to pick from the following:

iPad mini
KitchenAid mixer
Nespresso coffee maker
Nikon DSLR
$400 PayPal cash

Hurry and enter, this giveaway ends on December 26!

Here's a partial list of participating bloggers. The full list is on the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!
 The Coconut Head's Survival Guide, What Rose Knows, Stretching a Buck, Red Head Can Decorate, Cloudy With A Chance of Wine, An Allie Event, She Saved, Monica's Rants, Raves and Reviews, Tastes of Lizzy T's, BargainBriana, Bonggamom Finds, Stylist Diva, Tips From A Typical Mom, Design Dazzle, Bear Haven Boutique, Sweet & Chic Party Paper,
Pick Your Prize Holiday Giveaway! 2 Winners!
December 19, 2014 at 12 a.m. EST to December 26, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. EST

Open Worldwide

Prize: 2 winners will choose the prize of their choice. Winners will choose from a Nikon Digital Camera, iPad Mini, Nespresso Coffee and Espresso Maker, Kitchenaid Mixer or $400 PayPal cash.

Eligibility and Rules: NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE DOES NOT IMPROVE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. This giveaway is open to individuals 18 and older. The winner will be chosen randomly through the Rafflecopter form. It is the sole responsibility of the winner to adhere to all laws, which includes payments to any governing tax body.

Winner Selection: The winner of the giveaway will be selected in a random drawing through Rafflecopter from among all eligible entries received throughout the promotion period. The random drawing will be conducted within 48 hours of the closing of the giveaway by Pretty My Party or its designated representatives, whose decisions are final. Odds of winning will vary depending on the number of eligible entries received. Winner will be notified by email at hello@prettymyparty.com. Potential winner must accept the prizes by email as directed by Pretty My Party within 48 hours of notification. Any winner notification not responded to or returned as deliverable may result in prize forfeiture. The potential prize winner may be required to sign and return an affidavit of eligibility and release of liability, and a Publicity Release (collectively “the Prize Claim Documents”).

Rafflecopter Disclaimer: This promotion is powered by Rafflecopter. Metric Feat, LLC (“Rafflecopter”) does not sponsor, administer or endorse this promotion. By entering this giveaway, participants agree to Rafflecopter’s Privacy Policy.

Social Media Disclaimer: Entrants should understand that they are providing their information to the sponsors of the giveaway and not to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram or Google+. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with any of these social media sites.

Disclaimer: This giveaway is blog sponsored and is in no way associated with any of the brands and/or products listed above, including PayPal. If there are any questions, please email hello@prettymyparty.com.
The more entries you complete on the Rafflecopter form, the higher your chances are of winning. If you don’t have time to fill out all of the entries you may come back and complete any entries that you may have missed. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Meeting Joe Staley (and a P&G Giveaway for you!)

I partnered with P&G via Blue Chip communications on this post.  I received a prize pack for myself and one to give away.

It's not every day that you get to meet a real-life NFL player.  Last week, SF Forty-Niners player Joe Staley was at select Lucky Supermarkets in the Bay Area to promote Procter & Gamble's new promotion with Lucky -- buy $25 in P&G products in Lucky Stores, and receive a FREE San Francisco 49ers beanie hat! Joe autographed some photos and talked to fans. Isn't he nice?

Win a Lucky-P&G Prize Pack

One lucky Bonggamom Finds reader will receive a prize pack courtesy of Lucky Supermarkets and Procter & Gamble, containing the following:
  • $25 gift card to Lucky Supermarket
  • Bounty Single Roll paper towel
  • Secret Deodorant
  • Old Spice Deodorant
  • Tide To Go Instant Stain Remover Pens

Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.  Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I am receiving a prize pack from Lucky and P&G, via Blue Chip Communications,  as a thank-you for posting this information. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Bonggamom's Friday Finds: list your giveaways here

Bonggamoms Friday Finds

Welcome to Bonggamom's Friday Finds! I'm glad so many of you are finding this to be a useful way to get more traffic to your giveaways. And as a person who loves entering giveaways, I have to admit it's a great, easy way to find out where all the best giveaways are.

So feel free to leave links to your giveaways, everyone. And don't forget to get cracking and enter everyone else's, too!

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Walk with Dinosaurs in a spectacular new show

When I was a kid, one of my favorite programs was Land of the Lost.  I know humans never walked with dinosaurs, but it was fun to pretend!  This holiday season, Bay Area families will have their dino dreams come true when Walking With Dinosaurs -- The Arena Spectacular arrives in the Bay Area. They'll be at San Jose's SAP Center, and my family and I going to see them on Christmas Day!

Here's more information about the show:
Experience when dinosaurs once again roamed the earth when the spectacular production, Walking With Dinosaurs – The Arena Spectacular, based on the award-winning BBC Television Series, returns to SAP Center at San Jose for a limited nine performance engagement from December 25 to December 28. You will be able to take a journey through prehistoric times at this amazing family show that includes 20 life-size dinosaurs! From the ripple of their skin to the glint in their eye, you will know the dinosaurs really are back! Don’t miss your chance to see the best-selling family show of all time!

A friend of mine has watched the show with her son a few years ago, and she said it was amazing.  The dinosaurs are life sized (there are 20 dinosaurs and 10 separate species represented in the show) and they move just like they're real.  Her son was younger then, and she said he was a bit intimidated by the dinosaurs, so if you do have young children, keep that in mind.  I think 10 will be the perfect age because they won't be scared, and they'll appreciate the spectacle!  This is another reason for us to be excited for Christmas day!  Stay tuned for a show report!

Go to the Walking With Dinosaurs page to find the location nearest you and to purchase tickets.

Disclosure: I will be receiving press tickets to review the show with my family. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Watch your holiday wish list get printed onto Santa's Canon PIXMA printer!

Just 8 days till Christmas!  Have you made your Christmas wish list yet?  Here's a fun way to do it -- the Canon North Pole PIXMA app!  Just head to Canon's Facebook page and click on the North Pole PIXMA tab (or go to https://www.northpolepixma.com/)  You can create your child's wish list (or yours!) by typing out wish list items, drawing the items, or adding photos of the items.

Once you have your list ready, click on the Print arrow and get ready for some magic!

Your wish list will be sent to the North Pole via the cloud, and printed on a Canon PIXMA printer! We have a Canon PIXMA wireless printer and we love it, so I'm not surprised that Santa has one too.

What a fun way to spread the holiday magic!

Disclosure:I received a gift pack from Canon as a thank-you for posting this information. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

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Proactiv+ Review

I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Proacitv+. I received samples of Proactiv+ to facilitate my review and a thank you item for participating.

The Pea, at age 13, is just starting to experience the "joys" of acne breakouts.  I can commiserate, because I'm getting breakouts right alongside her!  I suffer from adult acne, and I always end up scarring because I hate the acne so much, I end up picking it (I know, I know, it's a really bad habit but I can't stand the thought of all that pus inside me, better out than in!).  A lot of the acne medicine, including natural tea tree oil, dries my skin up so much.   Acne never really goes away, all you can do is manage and control breakouts, so sometimes it does feel like an endless cycle of acne and scars, acne and scars.

I've wanted to try Proactiv ever since I saw the first ad, ages ago.  I've always wondered if it was just too good to be true -- all those celebrities singing Proactiv's praises, all those testimonies from regular people. I was so happy to be selected by Influence Central to try out Proactiv+ , a 3-step skincare system that helps clear acne while keeping skin soft and smooth.

More about Proactiv+
• With Proactiv+, every enhanced acne-fighting benefit comes with an equally powerful
skin-care benefit.
• The Proactiv+ system provides enhanced hydration, skin smoothing and mark reduction
as well as an overall improvement in texture, tone, pore appearance and brightness in
one elegant system.
• Proactiv+ helps fight breakouts and makes your skin look and feel healthier through a
range of skincare ingredients. There are three steps in the core system:
     o Step 1- Skin Smoothing Exfoliator
     o Step 2- Pore Targeting Treatment
     o Step 3- Complexion perfecting Hydrator
• The “plus” in Proactiv+ means “more” with more advanced skin care benefits built in to
give you a more luminous complexion.

This is what the Proactiv+ kit looks like, It contains the 3 products you will need:

1) Cleanser:  Use the Skin Smoothing Exfoliator to remove dirt and oil. Apply and rinse off, and use it twice a day.

2) Pore treatment: Use the Pore Targeting Treatment to kill acne bacteria in your face. Apply twice a day, using 2 pumpfuls at a time.

3) Moisturize: Use the Complexion Perfecting Hydrator to sooth irritation and keep skin soft and smooth. Rub a coin-sized amount into the face, twice a day.

You have to use all 3 products twice a day, morning and evening, in the order specified above. Probably the most difficult part for me was getting into twice-a-day habit.  It definitely takes more time... but it's worth it!  After 4 weeks of using Proactiv+, I do feel like my skin is smoother, and I've lost the big, red acne bumps that I had on my chin when I first started using Proactiv+.  One of the best things about Proactiv+ is that I don't feel like my skin is tight and flaky, the way it does.  It did feel somewhat itchy the first few days, but that subsided.

Another thing you need to remember is that this is actually a 4-step system, at least during the daytime -- after applying the 3 products in the morning, you need to apply sunscreen with a factor of at least SPF 15 (this wasn't a problem for me since I do that every morning anyway).  But like I said, it's worth it.  No wonder those celebrities rave about Proactiv+ !

Has anyone else tried Proactiv+?  Did it work for you?

You can purchase Proactiv+ online at http://www.proactiv.com/on/demandware.store/Sites-ProactivPlusSite/default/Default-Start.

Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation Program on behalf of Influence-Central for Proacitv+. I received samples of Proactiv+ to facilitate my review and a thank you item for participating. The views and opinions expressed here are my own. #MC #Sponsored

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