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Grandma's Back Room is where you'll find all kinds of fun stuff, including GIVEAWAYS, REVIEWS, SPONSORED POSTS and more!

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    Grandma's Briefs, Grilled Grandma and all content unless otherwise noted Copyright © 2009-2015, Lisa Carpenter. All rights reserved.
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    Speedeebee and Spot it Jr.! Animals: Two super fun, super quick family games

    My family and friends are big on playing games together. As a kid, playing games as a family just wasn't in the cards. As a mother and grandmother, though, I regularly seek out new games we can enjoy together.

    Two new ones recently came my way for review, courtesy of Blue Orange Games.

    speedeebee gameThe first is Speedeebee, a fast-paced word game for 2-6 players, ages 8 and up.

    When the game I received free for review first arrived at my door, I shared with my husband during dinner that two new games had been delivered. Once we were through eating, I pulled out the games to show him — and Speedeebee looked like so much fun, we decided to try a quick game right then and there, before even clearing the table.

    Quick is the operative word — as in we quickly decided we loved the game and it would be one of the games played with two of our daughters and their boyfriends after Easter dinner .

    The game comes in a round tin and has 150 word challenges on 50 game cards. One or more of the four included dice are rolled in accordance with the card play, for challenges such as, "Name something shorter than one inch, starting with one of these letters (throw all 4 dice)" and "Name something that smells bad (to you), containing this letter (throw the die of your choice)."

    Even with just two of us playing, the word play was fun... and fast. We decided to go through the entire stack of cards instead of just 20, as recommended in the illustrated rules for play. Still, the game was completed in about 20 minutes. (For the record, I won!).

    Here's a look at the game play, courtesy Blue Orange Games:


    Speedeebee has won a variety of toy industry awards and recognitions, including The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval. The game can be found where games are sold, online and off, with a suggested price of $14.99.

    Speedeebee is the game recently offered for review by the Blue Orange Games representative. When I told her I'd be happy to try it out, she took a look at my blog and — because Speedeebee is made for ages far above the age of my grandsons — she graciously offered a second game to go along, one more appropriate for my grandsons.

    spot it gameThe game she sent along was Spot it Jr.! Animals. This one is similar to Speedeebee in that it comes in a tin and features round playing cards. It's intended for 2-6 players, ages 4 to adult. According to the Blue Orange website, the skills tweaked for kids playing include visual perception, reaction time and focus.

    I look forward to sharing it with my grandsons when I visit in a couple weeks, but my husband and I couldn't resist playing it, once we opened the tin. Spot it Jr.! Animals may be primarily a kid game, but I must admit that my husband and I both got quite the brain workout as we tried to beat one another in matching the animals on our cards to the card in play. (Okay, I admit it: My husband won this one.)

    Take a look:

    Spot it Jr.! Animals has won awards, too, including being named a "Dr. Toy 10 Best Games." The game has a suggested price of $9.99 and can be found most places games are sold.

    Considering the fun they provide as well as their small size (making them perfect to tuck into Easter baskets!), both Speedeebee and Spot it Jr.! Animals would make super gifts for spring-time holidays,  school graduations... or just for the sheer fun of it.

    For more information on both games, as well as plenty of other fun-looking family game options, visit Blue Orange Games.

    Disclosure: I received the games free for review. All anecdotes and opinions are my own.


    Chicken Soup for the Soul honors Billy Graham, and you can win a copy

    Billy Graham and Me 

    Regardless of one's spiritual beliefs, political leanings or age, it's hard to deny the impressive influence and appeal of Billy Graham, world-renowned author, preacher and evangelist. Presidents past and present have requested his prayers and presence during times of crisis. Celebrities as well as the not-so-celebrated find comfort in his humble message and unpretentious manner.

    At a time when cultural heroes, athletes, politicians — even Elmo — continually let us down, Billy Graham continues to lift us up and serves as a true American icon.

    The publishers of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series appreciate the unprecedented impact Billy Graham has had on people of all faiths, races, genders, age and politics. For the first time in the brand's twenty-year history, it has published a Chicken Soup for the Soul book focusing on one individual — Billy Graham.

    Billy Graham & Me: 101 Inspiring Personal Stories from Presidents, Pastors, Performers, and Other People Who Know Him Well, edited by Steve Posner and Amy Newmark, celebrates and honors the calm yet courageous man known as "God's Ambassador." The sheer diversity of the contributors attests to the wide appeal of the man who regularly preaches to others to not be judgmental and to model love.

    As Steve Posner mentions in the book's introduction, "The personal stories in this book show us why so many individuals from differing faiths, nationalities, and political beliefs regard Billy Graham as a touchstone of goodness." Posner points out that although there have been numerous books and articles written on Billy Graham since he was first catapulted to fame in 1949, the stories in this collection "give us an inside glimpse of the ways in which the everyday Billy Graham has lived as a loving father, brother, grandfather, uncle, mentor, pastor, statesman, and friend."

    Contributors to Billy Graham & Me include Tony Blair, Dan Rather, Barack Obama, Wynonna Judd, Ricky Skaggs, Philip Yancy, George H. W. Bush, George W. Bush, Jimmy Carter, Roseanne Cash and many, many more (101 total, in fact). Plus, there are more than 40 historic photos of Billy Graham with family and friends — including Ronald Reagan, Charlie Daniels, Pope John Paul II and hip-hop artist tobyMac — and an evocative afterward by Billy Graham.

    What I loved about the book: Billy Graham seems to have always been a part of our culture as long as I remember, yet I was never incredibly familiar with his extensive work and influence across the globe, in large ways and small. I was touched by the deeply personal accounts and recollections of Graham shared by the public figures who have had the privilege of meeting him, working with him, or just plain counting on his message to give them strength during tough times. 

    Plus, the photo section made me think of my father. Not in the figurative sense, the father with a capital F, but my father, my dad, whom I've always thought looked strikingly similar to Billy Graham, especially in both their younger years. Even more so, one of my uncles — who, interestingly enough, was once a pastor — looks even more like Billy Graham, back in the day as well as now.

    Mostly, though, I loved the way the stories moved me and made it clear there really are American heroes who surely won't fall from their pedestals. At a time when I've been questioning many so-called heroes of our culture, the words about and from Billy Graham came through for me in unexpected ways.

    Billy Graham & Me: 101 Inspiring Personal Stories from Presidents, Pastors, Performers, and Other People Who Know Him Well, published February 2013, has a suggested price of $24.95 (hardcover) and can be found nearly any place books are sold, in hardcover and electronic versions.


    The publishers of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series have graciously offered to give two random winners a hardcover copy of Billy Graham & Me: 101 Inspiring Personal Stories from Presidents, Pastors, Performers, and Other People Who Know Him Well. Giveaway entries accepted via Rafflecopter (below), through midnight MST April 3. The two winners will be drawn April 4 and contacted by email for shipping information.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book for review, as well as the offer of two copies for giveaway, to be shipped by the brand.


    Vista Ridge Rehabilitation: A new option in Colorado Springs

     broken leg

    Colorado Springs residents seeking orthopedic rehabilitation now have a new option:



    at Aspen Living Center

    1795 Monterey Road

    Colorado Springs, CO 80910


    Fred Feinsod, MD — Medical Director

    Richard Meinig, MD — Associate Medical Director


    Call today to schedule a visit:


    Terrylea Entsminger, NHA

     broken foot

    Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. Information was provided and I received compensation.


    Count down the days until Easter with the latest from Countdown Cal

    While living in the moment may be admirable, there's oh-so-much enjoyment in counting down the days until a special event or holiday — especially when the countdown includes chocolate.

    The folks at Countdown Cal, makers of the popular Halloween Countdown Calendar, have hit gold of a chocolatey sort again with their Easter Countdown Calendar Game.

    This Easter version works much the same as the Halloween version, wherein kids get to open one flap a day for the fifteen days preceding Easter, beginning on March 16. Behind each flap is a crispy chocolate Easter treat made by the RM Palmer Company.

    My grandsons loved the Halloween Countdown Calendar, and I look forward to sharing with them the Easter Countdown Calendars, one for each, thanks to free ones the Countdown Cal folks sent me. Opening the flap for each day before Halloween was a big thrill for both, and I'm sure the Easter version will be just as much fun.

    Not only is there the candy treat for each day, there's an Easter mini picture on each flap for kids to find the matching picture in the garden scene printed on the back of the box.

    Also on the back of the box is the "Countdown Pal" calendar for the kids to mark off each day they've opened a flap, ending on Easter Sunday.

    The Easter Countdown Calendar has two educational components — counting down the days and spotting the objects from the flaps with those on the back — and make for a fun and tasty activity for kids anxiously awaiting Easter.

    In addition, the Countdown Cal company offers various fundraising options for schools and charities.

    For more information on Countdown Cal and to order the Easter Countdown Calendar ($10 each), visit You can also like Countdown Cal on Facebook.

    Disclosure: I received free samples of the product. Opinions and anecdotes are my own.


    Minute┬« Ready to Serve Rice: Sixty seconds to simple meals

    minute rice

    Working from home has its advantages. One biggie is that I don't have to worry about packing a lunch or storing snacks in my desk drawer. That said, lunches and snacks can become quite boring when leftovers are often the easiest, most accessible option.

    Which is why I jumped at the opportunity to try out the new Minute® Ready to Serve Rice options. The individual cups — two cups per package, each cup one serving — take only sixty seconds in the microwave to prepare a hot and healthy side for a solo lunch.

    Minute Ready to Serve Rice

    I do love rice, any time, anywhere. Adding a few stir-ins made for a full meal in a bowl. One especially cold day, I heated things up by adding extra spicy picante sauce and black beans to my rice, topping it off with a slice of cheese and a sprinkling of cilantro. Super quick. Super easy. Super spicy. Super good. In sixty seconds.

    Minute Ready to Serve Rice

    As I mentioned, I tend to fall back on leftovers for my lunches, especially when I have a deadline to meet and I'm toiling away on the computer. Heating up a serving of Minute® Ready to Serve Rice to include with my leftover egg rolls made for a perfect lunch to enjoy while working.

    rice and eggrolls 

    Minute® Ready to Serve Rice comes in a variety of flavors. The long grain white rice was delicious (and perfect) alone, as well as once I added the beans and picante sauce. I think I'll try adding some pesto next time. Another thing I considered — and will do in the future — is add some vanilla pudding to make a dessert of it. My daughters used to love rice pudding for breakfast, and I hadn't really thought of making it in years, until I considered how simple it would be with the portion-controlled, one-serving  (4.4 ounce) cups of Minute® Ready to Serve Rice. Other stir-in ideas and recipes can be found at

    In addition to long-grain white rice, there are plenty of other healthy Minute® Ready to Serve Rice flavors:

    •Whole Grain Brown Rice
    •Brown & Wild Rice
    •Multi-Grain Medley
    •Chicken Rice Mix
    •Italian Rice Mix
    •Spanish Rice Mix
    •Yellow Rice Mix
    •Pilaf Rice Mix
    •Jasmine Rice

    Considering that my husband and I have very different tastes, all those varieties of Minute® Ready to Serve Rice will come in handy for dinners with him, too, not just lunches on my own. In just seconds, he can have the kind he prefers, while I enjoy whichever one I've chosen for the evening.

    Minute® Ready to Serve Rice is an ideal portable solution for lunch or breakfast because you can eat it on the go, straight from the cup. In just 60 seconds, you have fully cooked rice for any meal or snack. You’ll never get bored with your lunch since there are 10 flavorful and wholesome varieties. If you’re looking for a healthy option, Minute® Ready to Serve Rice provides easy portion control since it’s conveniently packaged in two individual single-serve cups.

    Visit for recipes, including Minute® Ready to Serve Stir it Up recipe ideas and more information about the Minute® Rice family of products.

    This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Minute® Ready to Serve Rice.


    Security for seniors living alone: Vtech's Careline Home Safety Telephone System

    My mother-in-law was always a strong, independent woman, even into her late seventies. She lived alone and no one could tell her what to do nor when to do it. She accepted help and assistance reluctantly, if at all. Unfortunately, her determination to manage on her own left her fully dependent on the staff of an assisted living center, unable to care for herself.

    One night a few years ago, after a medical scare that sent her to the hospital, my mother-in-law was determined to return home, determined to change the tank of her required oxygen on her own. Sometime in the wee morning hours — the family isn't sure, as she was alone and can no longer remember herself what happened — my mother-in-law got up to change her oxygen tank, had a stroke with violent seizures in which she hit her head on the wall with tremendous force. No one is sure exactly how long she was unconscious nor on the floor as she was discovered only when my sister-in-law arrived to check on her hours later.

    There's certainly no guarantee that if my mother-in-law were equipped with a device such as the Careline telephone system that she would be back to her old self again, but she surely would have fared better. With such a system, calling for help would have been as easy as pushing a button. Unfortunately, the what ifs are many yet of little consequence as there's no way to turn back time to change the outcome.

    There is a way, though, to avoid a similar circumstance with my own mother, who also lives alone. One of my sisters currently stays with her occasionally, as she's in the midst of a residence change. But on most days and nights, my mom is by herself.

    My mom suffered a stroke several years ago, so the fact she lives on her own is of huge concern not only to her but to her adult children. She worries about what may happen if she falls during the day, has medical issues during the night. My siblings and I worry about the same. That said, she's a young senior — in her early 70s — and wants to live on her own, have her own home. Being relatively healthy and of sound mind, there's no reason for her not to, as long as a few precautions are in place.

    Enter the CarelineTM Home Safety Telephone System. I was offered the opportunity to try out the Careline system from Vtech and knew immediately my mom would be the perfect one to try out the product.

    Together we followed the quick installation guide and had the Careline up and running in no time. The answering system was easy to set up, as was programming speed dial for four folks my mom can call by pressing one button (with a spot for a photo for each of those buttons, for easily remembering which number belongs to whom). We set one button as 911, another is her dear friend and neighbor, who would come running if called.

    The display on the base, handset and pendant are easy to see, easy to figure out their function. "They're big numbers, big letters, big words," Mom said. "I won't have any problem being able to see."

    She also won't have trouble paying a monthly fee for the system as there is no monthly fee. It simply connects to the phone jack, like any other land-line phone.

    The pendant, which she can wear around her neck or clipped onto her waistband or pocket, features two buttons that correspond to those programmed as first and second speed-dial numbers on the base. The pendant can be controlled by voice, but no matter how we tried saying "What is the time?" or such, the recorded woman's response was that she couldn't understand us.

    Also frustrating was that the clasp easily comes undone and needs to be reinforced with SuperGlue or tape. Overall, though, I'm pleased my mom won't be headed out to work in the yard without the pendant, and that if any unfortunate slips, stumbles or worse were to take place, with the touch of one button she'd have a neighbor at her side.

    Between the base and its plentiful and helpful functions, the handset and the pendant, my mom and I are more confident about her safety while alone, day or night.

    "This makes me feel secure and modern," Mom says. "It'll help stop a lot of worries of going to sleep at night alone."

    It'll help stop her kids from worrying about the exact same thing.

    Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in a campaign by on behalf VTech Communications, Inc. and received payment for my participation. All opinions stated within are
    my own.