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    Friday
    Sep272013

    Strawberry Shortcake: A new DVD and a printable coloring page

    I have only grandsons, no granddaughters (yet). I do know, though, there's a gaggle of grandmothers and others out there who have little girls in their circle of influence, little girls who just might be interested in some printable fun and a recently released DVD, both featuring Strawberry Shortcake.

    Berry Bitty Mysteries

    First the printable. Click the graphic below for a printable coloring page* (PDF format) celebrating the recent release of Strawberry Shortcake Berry Bitty Mysteries:

    Strawberry Shortcake coloring page

    And now, the trailer for the sweet tale, Strawberry Shortcake Berry Bitty Mysteries, released Sept. 24, 2013 on DVD and Digital Copy:

    *Of course, little boys just might enjoy the coloring page (and DVD), too, so be sure to print enough pages to share!

    Friday
    Sep272013

    Estroven offers natural relief, education for Menopause Awareness Month

    This is a sponsored post on behalf of Estroven, in recognition of Menopause Awareness Month.

    The older I get, the more I appreciate about mid-life. I embrace the fearlessness this chapter of my life provides, and I’m happy to report I’m happier in my skin than ever before.

    It’s too bad that ever-so-comfy skin is being stretched to its limits because of the weight gain that accompanies all the far-better aspects of being at a menopausal stage – peri, in my case. I now officially weigh more than I did at my heaviest during any of my three pregnancies three or so decades ago. I feel safe in saying my weight gain can be mostly attributed to menopause, not because I’m a lazy, junk-food-munching slug. For the most part.

    September is Menopause Awareness Month, making it the perfect time for me to try out Estroven Weight Management in hopes of combating the creeping pounds. Only Estroven has a full line of products that safely and effectively provides multi-symptom menopause relief so you can feel like you again. Each product contains naturally-sourced ingredients that go beyond reducing hot flashes and night sweats to relieve your most bothersome menopause symptoms.

    I received from Estroven some of their most popular products for relief of menopause symptoms:

    • Estroven Weight Management
    • Estroven Mood & Memory
    • Estroven Energy
    • Estroven Nighttime

    Because my biggest concern with menopause at this point is the weight gain, that’s the product I decided to try first. I’m only partially through the first month of capsules – you take two per day – but I look forward to the difference the Estroven makers suggest I’ll see in 8 to 10 weeks.

    I like that the weight management formula contains naturally-sourced ingredients that support healthy weight management and contribute to a healthy lifestyle. I’m not alone in hoping for a natural solution; in fact, according to Estroven, 64 percent of perimenopausal and menopausal women say they’d choose a natural solution vs. medication, even if the results were not as effective.

    Specifically, Estroven Weight Management’s proprietary Synetrim CQ balances serotonin to help safely manage weight. In addition, the clinically proven soy isoflavones plus black cohosh help reduce hot flashes and night sweats.

    Fortunately I’ve had limited hot flashes and night sweats. But when I did, I assure you they were no fun. I hope that with the Estroven, I can nip the flashes and sweats in the bud.

    Despite my limited experience with the hot flashes and night sweats – so far – they seem to be the most common complaints associated with menopause, so I appreciate that Estroven offers relief for both in each of their other products. Here, the “power claims” for each of the formulas, in addition to the Weight Management one, that I received free for review from Estroven:
    Estroven Nighttime – Helps reduce hot flashes and night sweats, plus occasional sleeplessness.
    Estroven Energy – Helps reduce hot flashes and night sweats, plus helps manage fatigue.
    Estroven Mood & Memory – Reduces hot flashes and night sweats, plus helps improve mood and support memory.

    There’s also another product, one that I didn’t receive for review but just may pick up myself:
    Maximum Strength – Reduces hot flashes and night sweats, plus helps manage irritability.

    According to Estroven, one out of three women in the U.S. suffer from perimenopause and menopause symptoms, yet no two women experience menopause the same way. I like that, with its variety of products, Estroven allows women to choose which product best addresses the symptoms they experience.

    An astonishing 60 percent of women with menopausal symptoms don’t seek treatment because they are unaware of the solutions available to them. Estroven is dedicated to educating women about menopause – all that accompanies it as well as how to relieve the symptoms.

    September is Menopause Awareness Month. To help prepare for menopause, check out Estroven's website to browse their product suite as well as tips and tricks for managing the good, the bad, and the sweaty!

    This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Estroven. The opinions and text are all mine.

    Thursday
    Sep262013

    ENTERTAINMENT Coupon Book: Now with mobile, web, print offers (review)

    When I was in high school, many of my friends were avid skiers. Though I didn't ski, it came as no surprise that the majority of folks I knew did, given that we lived in Colorado and the slopes were mere hours away. What was surprising to me, though, was the number of friends who used coupons to help cut the cost of lift tickets, ski rentals and more. Coupons weren't as common back in the day, so it was interesting to witness the swapping and coveting of the (then-named) Gold C coupons.

    Though that was decades ago, I still live in Colorado, I still don't ski, and I'm still thoroughly impressed by the sheer number and value of the ski coupons in that iconic coupon book, now named ENTERTAINMENT Coupon Book, the 2014 offering being its 52nd edition.

    Entertainment Coupon Book

    The 2014 ENTERTAINMENT Coupon Book — which I recently received free for review in celebration of National Coupon Month — is one case where the phrase "the more things change, the more they stay the same" rings loud, clear and true.

    So what's changed? For starters, the 2014 ENTERTAINMENT Coupon Book comes with a membership card that, once activated, allows members to not only tear out coupons from the book but to go mobile for their savings, too. The free ENTERTAINMENT Membership Coupon App provides mobile coupons, maps of merchants, a membership directory to browse all the discounts near you, and merchant info that includes location, phone number and available offers. Pull up an offer and flash your phone when asked by the retailer to cash in on the savings. New digital coupons are added daily.

    Savings are also available online, as registered members can print coupons from the ENTERTAINMENT Coupon Book website. On the site, there's the option to choose local coupons, web coupons, travel coupons and more. All searches can be filtered by category or merchant in order to quickly find exactly the offer you're looking for.

    Entertainment logoOffering savings in three ways — print, mobile, online — is the big changes to the Entertainment Coupon Book. What's stayed the same is the incredible amount of savings in the book. Like in years (and years and years and years) past, there are offers for dining out, fast food & carryout, entertainment & sports, a "ski index" (at least in the Colorado one; other editions may offer something equally valuable), travel, and retail & services.

    It's tons of offers equaling huge savings. In fact, the ENTERTAINMENT Coupon Book website notes there are more than 120,000 offers, and the average member saves $125 a year. I can attest to how quickly the savings add up, as the very day I received the book, my husband and I used one of the Buy One-Get One Free offers for a local eatery for dinner, saving us nearly half the cost of the $35 book right off the bat.

    That was my savings in the first day, using the first coupon. As soon as I go grocery shopping (a chore I hate, so it may be a while), I'll save $5 off my bill, with another $5 coupon available for the second half of the period the 2014 ENTERTAINMENT Coupon Book coupons are valid (which is through December 2014).

    Another great offering: My husband and I are huge movie fans, so we look forward to using the discounts for movies showing at Regal Entertainment Group Theaters. You can purchase tickets online in advance and save 40 percent, or you can use the several coupons in the book for savings on admission or concessions.

    I have no doubt I'll use those and plenty of other coupons in the book. The skiing ones, though? Well, like I said, I don't ski. But my daughters do. And my friends do. So I'm positive those from the ski index of the book will be used, too — and appreciated. (Perhaps I'll even get daring this year and use one of the coupons for free ski lessons. Never say never.)

    The 2014 ENTERTAINMENT Coupon Book is available for 141 local editions across the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico. Coupons are redeemable in more than 10,000 cities, and most are good through December 2014 (some even longer).

    For more information and to order a 2014 ENTERTAINMENT Coupon Book for your location, where you might be traveling, or as a gift for friends and family, visit Entertainment.com. Find additional information and offers by following on Facebook and Twitter.

    Disclosure: I received a 2014 ENTERTAINMENT Coupon Book free for review. Opinions and anecdotes are mine.

    Tuesday
    Sep242013

    'I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love' a joyful look at children acting like animals

    When I see young animals in nature, I can't help but consider my grandsons. Whether it's baby ducks waddling behind their mama, a fawn nursing from a mother deer, lone calves frolicking in the field, or any other number of wild and often wacky little ones, they remind me of my two favorite wee ones.

    Seems author Nancy Tillman thinks of wee ones when looking at animals, too. More accurately, she sees children as animals — in the most loving of ways. At least that's the case with I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love, the latest picture book from the award-winning author and illustrator, which I recently had the good fortune of receiving free for review.

    I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love

    Children across the globe delight in pretending to be animals, and in I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love, the mother of an imaginative child vows to know her child anywhere, regardless of what animal he chooses to be.

    In delightful illustrations and magical prose from the mother's point of view, Tillman celebrates a mother's love as her child becomes everything from a rhino to a racoon, a white snowy owl to a blue-footed bobby. She'd know the wild spotted pony by the sound of his feet, she says, the bear cub by his nose, the giraffe by his whiskers.

    The sweet story filled with affirmations encourages children to dream big and loud and to have confidence that no matter what they dream, not matter what they become, their mother will always recognize them, always love them.

    I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love was inspired by Tillman's own children who, like most children, enjoyed pretending to be various animals when they were young. Here Tillman shares more about how her joyful picture book came to be:

    Q & A with Nancy Tillman, courtesy MacMillan Children's Publishing Group

    What was the inspiration behind the story of I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love?

    I wanted to give children the joy of becoming another creature with the comfort of knowing their parent would always recognize them. And I always love to create interactive pages that allow children to “be” the animal either in action or in sound.

    The child in I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love pretends to be many different animals. Why do you think children enjoy pretending to be different people, animals, or things?

    It comes naturally to them, probably because pretending is so developmentally helpful. By trying on different personalities, children learn social differences and empathy for others, among many other things. Plus, it’s FUN!

    Millions of families across the nation have grown to love your books dearly. What is it about your stories that you think creates such a special connection with your readers — children and parents alike?

    I try to give parents words to say what they already feel for their children. Most parents really deeply feel those words, and their children can tell. In their early years, children are little sponges. I love knowing parents are getting those messages of love into their children before many of the world’s other messages make their way in, or before barriers go up.

    Your books are heartwarming and very comforting but always close with the phrase “You are loved.” Why?

    Quite simply, it’s a message no one gets enough of. It’s the bottom line take-away of all my books, so I always want to end with it.

    I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love written and illustrated by Nancy Tillman is available in hardcover, ebook and audio book formats from MacMillan Children's Publishing Group.

    Disclosure: I received a copy of the book free for review. Opinions and anecdotes are my own.

    Tuesday
    Sep242013

    Overcoming the fear of dating over 50 (sponsored content)

    Dear readers: Whether due to divorce, death or other circumstances, many grandparents are single. Which is why I thought this sponsored content might be appreciated by those getting back to the dating scene. All content and photos provided by the sponsor. —Lisa

    holding handshttp://www.flickr.com/photos/rbh/9580659802/

    Dating after the age of 50 feels different than dating at a younger age, however it’s no less of a challenge and just as much fun. If you’re feeling apprehensive, how do you go about combating the fear of dating if you’ve been off the market for a long while?

    Believe you can
    Plenty of people date in their 50s and there are lots of ways to meet people with the same set of experiences as you. If you’ve been in a long-term relationship, it might feel strange to consider dating again. However, it can also be an exciting experience. There are lots of people waiting to meet you, so start believing it’s possible.

    Accept it will be different
    It’s not just our appearances that change as we get older. We accumulate a wealth of life experiences that have to be taken into account as we enter new relationships. This can be good or bad but it’s certainly interesting. Don’t be too closed-off to meeting someone different.

    Get online
    silhouette couplehttp://www.flickr.com/photos/rbh/9580659802/Nowadays, Internet dating is a great way to meet someone new. On websites like eHarmony (www.eharmony.com.au), you can easily set up a personal profile and search for people who are the same age as you in your local area. It’s also a good way to ease yourself into dating again if you’re feeling scared.

    Get out and about
    The same truths still apply to dating in your fifties as in your twenties — meeting new people through friends or by joining a club or class still works. In fact, your long-term married friends may well relish the challenge of finding you someone new. Let them know you’re looking and then let them do all the work!

    Spend time alone
    Dating can take lots of energy and you might experience a few knock-backs and duff dates on the way. Be kind to yourself and take a break whenever you feel like it. Spending time alone is very important in conducting a meaningful search for love.

    Share experiences

    If you have any friends who are also dating at an older age (click here to find out more), get together and share your experiences. It will help you to feel that you’re not alone, and there’s nothing like a bad date story shared between friends.

    If you don’t have any single friends, try to expand your social circle with a few new commitments every now and then. After all, dating is as much about making new acquaintances as finding romance — today’s bad date could be tomorrow’s friend.

    Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I received compensation for publishing it.

    Monday
    Sep232013

    September is National Manners Month: Fun, games, tips for teaching etiquette

    When I was a kid, one rule my six siblings and I were required to follow at the dinner table was to request seconds of anything by asking, "May I have more <whatever> please?" Those words were the golden ticket to more potatoes or milk or whatever it was our heart so chose — if there was more to be had.

    Seems rather Dickensian now. Not too much fun to learn, either.

    Many might think learning manners and proper etiquette isn't meant to be fun. Those thinking that have more than manners to learn, though, as two products I recently received for review from Patch Products teach kids manners in fun new ways.

    Read on for my reviews, followed by helpful tips for grandparents who want to encourage good manners in their grandchildren.

    blunders game

    First up is the game Blunders, an entertaining board game for ages 5 and up, to be played by 2 to 4 players or in teams. Blunders is an award-winning game that support national curriculum on character development, and it's created by Aimee Symington, a children's etiquette expert and parent.

    Here Aimee explains the Blunders game, featuring Billy, Brenda, Bobby and Becky Blunder and their parents:

    The 300 questions on the 150 cards are divided into three categories — Dine, Home, Play — and include up-to-date dilemmas related to technology. Examples:

    From the Dine category —
    Q: Billy was eating dinner with his grandfather and he burped so loudly his grandfather's false teeth fell out!
    Consequences: Say the tongue twister "Bad Burgers Burping" seven time without messing up and then move back four spaces.

    From the Home category —
    Q: Bobby had a friend over to play and instead of playing with his friend, he played computer games and ignored his friend!
    Consequences: Say th tongue twister below five times without messing up then move back three spaces. "Computer crazed crazy kids."

    From the Play category —
    Q: Becky was playing hide-and-seek whena girl in a wheelchair asked if she could play too. What should Becky have done:
    A.) Ask her why she's in a wheelchair.
    B.) Say no because it would be too hard to have her play.
    C.) Say, "Sure, come and play."
    A: C.) Say, "Sure, come and play."

    The object of Blunders is to be the first player to reach the FINISH space on the board and be invited to the Mannerlys' (neighbors of the Blunders) Annual Pool Party Extraganza. Game play takes approximately 20 minutes.

    The Blunders Game retails for $24.99 and can be purchased from Patch Products and select Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft stores.

    manner mats

    Another Blunder product designed to reduce etiquette blunders of all sorts is the Manner Mats for ages 6 and up. The package of 38 tear-off placemats are designed to encourage fun, games, learning and conversing while dining.

    Each of the Manner Mats features puzzles, games, questions and trivia to be shared with the family during dinner. Think crossword puzzles, multiple choice and Did You Know questions to entertain (and edify), and a specific conversation starter.

    Though Manner Mats are intented for youngsters, my oldest youngster — now 31 years old — was visiting when I opened my review package and was quite impressed with the Conversation Starters on each placemat. "That alone would make them worthwhile to me," she said, "considering how important it is to dine with family and have interesting conversation during meals." Smart kiddo I have, if I say so myself.

    Questions that impressed my daughter include:

    • "If you could be another person for one week who would you be and why?"
    • "What is your earliest childhood memory?"
    • "What is the best thing that happened to you today"

    Dinnertime was one of our favorite family times when my daughters were young, and I can see how Manner Mats would have made a perfect addition to those meals. Heck, I just might surprise my local daughters with a mat at their place the next time they visit for dinner. I'll definitely pack them into my Grandma Bag to share with my grandsons when I next visit them.

    Manner Mats retail for $9.99 and can also be purchased from Patch Products and select Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft stores.

    Disclosure: I received free samples of the products for review. Opinions and anecdotes are my own.

    Tips for grandparents from Aimee Symington

    Grandparents Teach Their Grandchildren Social Skills

    According to a recent Harris Interactive study, grandparents spend more quality time with their grandchildren than previous generations. In fact, the study found that 98 percent of grandchildren learn social skills from their grandparents.

    Being such an influencer on grandchildren is a blessing, but it can also be hard to know what manners to teach these children of the digital age, and how to relate to the younger generation to teach these essential social skills which include table manners, electronic etiquette, introduction skills, and how to make a good first impression.

    Listed below are some tips for helping you teach your grandchildren manners and social skills.

    Writing Thank You Notes

    • It’s not old-fashioned!  While most kids, and their parents, might think that hand-writing a thank you note is “old fashioned,” it isn’t! In fact, because not many people take the time to write a note to send via “snail mail,” when a person actually does receive a hand-written note, they are extremely impressed! Yes, saying “thanks” in an email or by phone is nice, but when you take the time to put pen to paper, address an envelope and put it in the mailbox, you will make a positive, lasting impression!
    • Teaching Tip. If your grandchild is 6 or older, you can purchase (or even make) some stationary with envelops for your grandchild, give him/her a book of stamps, and then teach them how to address an envelope and write a proper thank you note.

    Table Manners at Home

    • Help out. Encourage your grandchildren to help prepare the food and/or set the table for dinner. This is also a good time to talk and bond with them and teach them the proper way to set a table.
    • Wait for everyone. Kids should sit properly in their seat and then wait for everyone else to be seated before they begin to eat. During the meal, there is no reason to leave the table unless it’s to go to the bathroom.
    • Teach basics. Encourage your grandchildren to hold their fork properly (like a pencil), put their napkin and the hand they’re not eating with in their lap, keep their elbows/arms off the table, and keep their mouth closed when chewing.
    • Magic words. Say “please” and “thank you” and pass the food to the right.
    • Give thanks. At the end of the meal ask to be excused and then say, “Thank you for dinner.”
    • Teaching Tip. Role model the behaviors you want to see, have patience, and be consistent. Play games that make learning the manners more fun; for example, if someone if caught putting their elbows on the table during dinner they have to sing the “Birthday Song”. Another helpful tool is to purchase the Blunders® Manner Mats® and use those at the table to teach polite manners and encourage polite conversation at the dinner table.

    Restaurant Etiquette for Kids

    • Remind your grandchildren ahead of time what behavior is expected of them. For example: no running around and no talking loudly.
    • Bring something into the restaurant to entertain them if needed. This can be an activity book or something quiet for them to play with while waiting for their food.
    • Remind kids what silverware to use with which course. It is also a good time to review other basic dining etiquette such as elbows off the table, napkin and hand in lap, etc.
    • Don’t pick things up. If they drop something on the floor they should not ever go onto the floor to pick it up. If something like your napkin or fork drops just politely ask the waiter for a new one.

    Cell Phone Etiquette at Home

    • Make a house rule that no one is allowed to use their cell phone at the table. This includes not leaving the table during a meal to answer the phone.
    • People come first. Remind your grandchildren that whenever they are talking to someone in person and their cell phone rings or they get a text, it is not okay for them to answer the phone or text immediately and interrupt the person they are with. Instead, quickly turn the ringer off and continue the conversation to show that person respect.
    • Be Nice! If your grandchildren use their phone (or iPad, or other electronic device) to go online and to social media sites, they should always remember that they should never write or post a picture of something that they wouldn’t want blasted on the TV news or printed on the front page of their local newspaper. The Golden Rule can be applied here: “Treat others online the way you want to be treated.”
    • Teaching Tip. Be firm about the times you expect that they will put the phone away, such as when a meal is served and when company is over and you would like them to socialize with the family. You might even have a basket in the kitchen that has a white sign with black stripes (to look like a jail cell) with the words “Cell Cell.” 

    Telephone Etiquette at Home

    • Inform the caller. Each family may decide what they feel comfortable with, but if your grandchild answers the phone at your house, you may want them to say something like “Hello, this is the Smith residence. May I ask who’s calling please?” At their home, they might say “Hello, this is Luke Smith. May I ask who’s calling please?”
    • Take a message. If the person the caller is looking for is not home, ask your grandchild to take a message with the person’s name and phone number. Having paper and pen by the phone is helpful.
    • Talk nicely. Remind your grandchildren to not mumble into the phone, talk too quietly or loudly, or yell for someone to pick up the phone.
    • Teaching Tip: Get 2 phones and practice, practice, practice, with your grandchild about what they should say when they answer the phone, and how they should say it, until they get it right. Then, be with your grandchild when he answers the phone the next time and praise them when they do it right!

    Polite Greeting, Introductions and Small Talk

    • Polite Body Language. Teach your grandchildren what “polite body language” means – direct eye contact, nice smile, and a firm handshake! If your grandchild can do all of that when meeting someone for the first time, they will make a great first impression with your friends, their teachers, new kids, etc.
    • It’s nice to meet you. Remind your grandchildren what they need to say after they have been introduced to someone. Proper things are to say “It’s nice to meet you”, and then to use their last name and add “Mr. Smith.” Children should always call an adult by their last name unless the person asks them to call them something else.
    • Then what? After the introduction, kids need to remember to make small talk, which means to answer questions fully and then to ask a question of the adult. For example, they might say “I’m fine, thank you. How are you today?” Or, “I live in Charlotte, NC. Where do you live?” Making good conversation is like a volleyball game and the ball is like a conversation going back and forth over the net between two people.
    • Teaching Tip. Practice, practice, practice. Teach your grandchildren what to do and then have them practice meeting someone, looking them in the eyes, smiling, giving a firm handshake and then making polite conversation.

    Best Advice? Make learning manners and social skills fun for your grandkids! You want this to be an opportunity for you to bond and for you to make a positive, lasting impression on them.