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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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    Disney's Planes: Activities and more to enjoy before the show opens this Friday

    Disney's Planes 

    Last night I had the pleasure of seeing Disney's Planes before it hits theaters on Friday. The 3D adventure, from the makers of Cars, was a delight — for the kids as well as the adults in the crowd.

    DustyThe star of the show

    The official synopsis from Disney goes like this:

    Disney’s Planes is an action-packed 3D animated comedy adventure featuring Dusty (voice of Dane Cook), a plane with dreams of competing as a high-flying air racer. But Dusty’s not exactly built for racing — and he happens to be afraid of heights. So he turns to a seasoned naval aviator who helps Dusty qualify to take on the defending champ of the race circuit. Dusty’s courage is put to the ultimate test as he aims to reach heights he never dreamed possible, giving a spellbound world the inspiration to soar. 

    Disney's Planes

    My take on the flick is that it's far more fun — and far more funny — than I thought it might be. Some of what tickled my fancy was related to the witty word play throughout, much of which surely flew right over the heads of the little ones but made the adults in the theater laugh out loud again and again. My favorite part, though, had to be El Chupacabra (voice of Carlos Alazraqui) serenading Rochelle (voice of Julia Louis-Dreyfus) with a "low and slow" version of "Love Machine."

    Watch the official trailer, then click on the links below for some plane fun for the kids to enjoy before — and after — the show:


    PLANES paper airplanes — Click HERE for a 14-page PDF file (you'll need Adobe Acrobat) featuring printouts for kids to fold into fun paper airplanes of all the PLANES characters. Print them all or pick and choose your favorites.

    PLANES coloring pages — Click HERE for a 4-page PDF file (you'll need Adobe Acrobat) of fun pages for little ones to color and connect the dots.

    Disney’s PLANES takes off in theaters on August 9, 2013. For more information, check out, like PLANES on Facebook: and follow PLANES on Twitter:

    Disney Pictures

    Disclosure: I was invited to attend a free screening of Disney's PLANES. Graphics and activities provided by Disney; my opinion provided by me.


    Cookbook giveaway: Taste of Home Recipes Across America

    Recipes Across AmericaAs I’ve mentioned here many times, one of my favorite sources for tasty home-style recipes is Taste of Home. I recently had the pleasure of trying out for free yet another super Taste of Home cookbook, this one called Taste of Home Recipes Across America. It's 735 of the best recipes from coast to coast.

    The hardcover Taste of Home Recipes Across America (512 pages and published by Reader’s Digest) highlights regional recipes from across the country. Divided into five regions (Northeast, South, Midwest, Southwest, and West), it's the best of the best specialties enjoyed by locals, plus ethnic specialties passed down through generations that became hometown favorites — all shared by real family cooks, not fancy-schmancy celebrity chefs.

    A sampling of what you’ll find from each region:

    Northeast — Philly Cheese Steak, Yankee Pot Roast, New Haven Clam Pizza, Authentic Boston Brown Bread, Buffalo Chicken Wings, Amish Sugar Cookies and Brooklyn Blackout Cake

    South — Shrimp Po-Boys, South Carolina-Style Ribs, Bacon Collard Green, Cheese 'n' Grits Casserole, Georgia Peanut Salsa, Sweet Potato Fries, Banana Pudding and Hummingbird Cake

    Midwest — Church Supper Hot Dish, Onion Loose Meat Sandwiches, Cherry Wild Rice Salad, German Potato Salad, Chocolate-Covered Buckeyes, Golden Apple Snack Cake and State Fair Cream Puffs

    Southwest — Arizona Chicken, Barbecued Beef Brisket, Chicken-Fried Steaks, Sizzling Tex-Mex Fajitas, Armadillo Eggs, Texas Caviar, Dr Pepper Barbecue Sauce, Classic Fruit Kolaches, German Chocolate Cake and Tres Leches Cake

    West — Buffalo Steak Salad, Chicken Long Rice, Pacific Rim Salmon, California Sushi Rolls, Green Goddess Salad Dressing, Romaine Caesar Salad, Utah Buttermilk Scones, Caramel-Frosted Potato Cake, Oregon's Best Marionberry Pie and Lemon Tart with Almond Crust

    Being a Colorado resident, I was interested to peruse the culinary favorites featured in the Southwest category. Most turned out to be the flavors I know, love, and make. What I found most surprising about Recipes Across America, though, was how much the recipes of the Midwest — where I was born (in Minnesota) — felt like home. Several were foods I hadn’t thought about in years, but am now determined to cook up at my home here in the Rockies.

    Recipes Across America isn’t just a cookbook, it’s a journey across the country in ways that relate to food. In sidebars throught the book you'll find food facts, folklore, recipe histories plus photos of food festivals and landmarks.

    Of course, the recipes are the reason for the book being, and Taste of Home offered me one to share with you here:

    Louisiana Red Beans and Rice
    Excerpted from Taste of Home Recipes Across America: 735 of the Best Recipes from Across the Nation
    By Taste of Home

    red beans and rice

    Smoked turkey sausage and red pepper flakes punch up the flavor of this saucy, slow-cooked version of the New Orleans classic. For extra heat, add red pepper sauce at the table.
    -- Julia Bushree, Georgetown, Texas

    Prep: 20 min.
    Cook: 8 hours
    Makes: 9 servings

    4 cans (16 ounces each) kidney beans, rinsed and drained

    1 can (14½ ounces) diced tomatoes, undrained

    1 package (14 ounces) smoked turkey sausage, sliced

    1 cup chicken broth

    3 celery ribs, chopped

    1 large onion, chopped

    1 medium green pepper, chopped

    1 small sweet red pepper, chopped

    6 garlic cloves, minced

    1 bay leaf

    ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

    2 green onions, chopped

    Hot cooked rice

    1. In a 4-qt. slow cooker, combine the first 11 ingredients. Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours or until vegetables are tender. Stir before serving. Discard bay leaf.

    2. Sprinkle each serving with onions. Serve with rice.

    From now until September, Recipes Across America ($24.99) is available for purchase only at Come September 12, it will be available where books are sold.


    Taste of Home has generously offered to award one winner a copy of Recipes Across America ($24.99 value). Enter to win via Rafflecopter below through midnight August 12; US residents only, please. Winners will be notified via email and have 48 hours to provide shipping information; prize to be shipped by brand representative.

     a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: I received a free review copy of the book plus the offer of one for this giveaway. Anecdotes and opinions are my own.


    Disney's 'Frozen' coming to theaters Thanksgiving 2013

    Disney's Frozen

    Walt Disney Animation Studios, the studio behind Tangled and Wreck-It Ralph, presents Frozen, a stunning big-screen comedy adventure.

    Disney's Frozen

    Fearless optimist Anna (voice of Kristen Bell) sets off on an epic journey — teaming up with rugged mountain man Kristoff (voice of Jonathan Groff) and his loyal reindeer Sven — to find her sister Elsa (voice of Idina Menzel), whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom of Arendelle in eternal winter.

    Disney's Frozen

    Encountering Everest-like conditions, mystical trolls and a hilarious snowman named Olaf, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom.

    Disney's Frozen

    An official teaser:


    The film is directed by Chris Buck (Tarzan, Surf’s Up) and Jennifer Lee (screenwriter, Wreck-It Ralph), and produced by Peter Del Vecho (Winnie the Pooh, The Princess and the Frog). Featuring music from Tony® winner Robert Lopez (The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (In Transit), Frozen is in theaters in 3D on November 27, 2013.

    For more information, check out, like us on Facebook: and follow us on Twitter:


    Disclosure: I was provided this information for free from Disney with no obligation.


    Allstate Foundation's Drive It Home Show: A fun look at a serious subject


    Last week I attended the Drive It Home Show in Colorado Springs with a couple family members and a few good friends. The Drive It Home Show, presented by the National Safety Council and Allstate Foundation, helps parents (and grandparents) understand the real hazards teens face on the road and provides tips for better coaching teen drivers. All presented with a generous serving of silly.

    Colorado Springs Drive It Home Show

    The vital information provided during the Drive It Home Show not only informs parents and grandparents currently teaching their beloved teens to drive, it keeps all drivers and passengers on the road safer. According to the National Safety Council, there are two million or so teens under the age of 18 in their first year of driving on U.S. roads. Considering inexperience is the No. 1 cause of teen crashes — and those inexperienced young drivers are behind the wheels of vehicles around us — teen driving is a serious subject we all should learn more about.

    One of the most dangerous years in a person's life is the first 12 months after getting a driver's license. In Colorado alone, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, from 2009 to 2011, there were 146 fatalities in crashes involving at least one 15- to 19-year-old driver. A total of 51 teen drivers (15-19), 29 teen passengers (15-19), 16 other age passengers in the teens' vehicles, plus 50 others were killed in those crashes.

    Clearly it's a deadly serious subject, yet the Drive It Home Show performers — of the famed Second City — didn't beat audience members over the head with sobering stats. No, they made us laugh.

    Colorado Springs Drive It Home Show

    With silly skits and hilarious dance numbers, the cast members drove home the message that adults teaching teens how to drive must understand that inexperience is the leading cause of teen crashes — not risk-taking, as 74 percent of parents inaccurately believe. And those teaching teens to drive must improve the way they're doing the teaching.

    Top recommendations given at the Drive It Home Show for better teaching teens driving skills include:

    • Practice scanning the road ahead to recognize and respond to hazards.
    • Practice speed control based on conditions (road, weather, traffic).
    • Practice judging gap perception — when to make a move depending on the speed of oncoming traffic.
    • Log at least 10 hours of night driving in all circumstances, including heavy traffic and bad weather.
    • Ban cell phone use while at the wheel.
    • Drive at least 30 minutes each week with a newly licensed teen to reinforce safe driving.

    Lastly, because parents and other important adults in a child's life have been teaching that child how to drive since she was around two years old — about the age children start noticing and modeling their behavior after others — there is this for us all to consider:

    For more lifesaving recommendations and resources, visit

    I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective, and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.


    What's mine is mine: We're talking kidecals

    I have six siblings. I also have three daughters.

    Because of those two facts, I fully understand the importance of labeling one's stuff.

    I have two grandsons. They like to label their stuff. Toys, trikes, fancy-schmancy water bottles they don't want their brother to steal sip out of.

    I recently received labels for my grandsons to try out. They're called kidecals, and they're the kind of label designed for kids to mark their gear for summer camp, school supplies and more.

    My grandsons like to mark what is theirs.

    Now, the boys are actually pretty good at sharing their belongings. They do prefer to know who is the rightful owner of things, though, so the Mini Sets of kidecals I received for free for each one to review, were ideal for marking what belongs to whom.

    Now, because I don't use the real names of my grandsons here on Grandma's Briefs, I can't really show you close-ups of their personalized decals. Instead, I'll share the graphic from the kidecals website for each of the mini-sets I got the boys.

    Bubby received this:


    Mac received this:


    With their real names on them, first and last.

    Once Gramma handed out the appropriately personalized decals, the kids went to town.

    They claimed their bikes...


    Their outdoor toys...


    Their indoor toys...


    Even the shared easel (claiming sides, of course)...


    And their games — which they would technically share, if only Mac were old enough to play...


    My grandsons appreciated the opportunity to say mine! ... mine! ... mine! without getting in trouble by Mom for not sharing with one another.

    The decal sets — an everyday set which included 12 two-inch labels and 24 one-inch labels for Bubby's set and a mini set of 66 one-inch labels for Mac's (there's also a mega set option) — were more than enough for the boys to mark their territory.

    There are many positive points about kidecals, including the fact there is always free shipping to anywhere in the U.S. (though there is state tax, so keep that in mind). The decals are durable and intended to withstand all kinds of washings — they're waterproof and stand up to dishwashers and laundry machines. They also arrived lickety-split.

    Those are some of the positive aspects of my kidecals experience.

    There were a few minor negative aspects, too, such as the letters used for the personalization are not what young kids are used to seeing. That may not really matter all that much unless the recipient is learning to read or write, as Bubby is. Some of the letters are in cursive and/or in fonts that don't look like the fonts early readers used to. The letters E and A, in particular, kind of tripped him up. Of course, the kid does know his name regardless of how it looks on a decal, but it's something manufacturers of kid products should keep in mind.

    Another thing that proved challenging for me was finding a design that complemented my grandsons' personalities because the options for graphics were limited, then the options for personalizing (adding or removing elements) was even more limited.

    Overall, though, the kidecals were a hit with the kids. And in the end, isn't that really all that matters — in addition to knowing what belongs to whom, of course.

    For more information, visit the kidecals website, like them on Facebook, or follow them on Twitter.

    Disclosure: I received this product free for review (though I did pay that sales tax!). Opinions are my own.


    Court Yard Hounds lift spirits, get toes tapping with 'Amelita'

    Emily Robison and Martie Maguire, aka Court Yard Hounds, prove with Amelita, released July 16, that they've moved beyond The Dixie Chicks and are deserving of more than ex-Dixie Chicks descriptions. Amelita is the second strong showing from the sisters — after 2010's self-titled Court Yard Hounds — and will surely lift the spirits and get the toes tapping of even the most jaded listeners.

    A few years away from the Dixie Chicks, Emily Robison couldn't be more clear about the game plan for the Court Yard Hounds, the group she and sister Martie Maguire head up. "We're a band, not a side project. We like our sound, and we're going to continue to do this, and share something new this time around."

    That something new is relatable lyrics — some upbeat, some earnest, all hopeful, attributed to lessons learned and perspectives gained after Robison's divorce — supported by uplifting harmonies and strong instrumentals.

    All the songs on the album resonate for different reasons, but the one that instantly became an earworm (and mantra) for me was "Aimless Upward." A few lyrics:

    Part of me is a climbing vine
    A ball of nerves like a ball of twine
    Laws of love and gravity
    We are seeds with promises to keep

    My eyes are wide, aimless upward I will climb
    And I’ll be fine to take my time

    Amelita track listing:

    1. Sunshine
    2. Amelita
    3. The World Smiles
    4. Aimless Upward
    5. Guy Like You
    6. Rock All Night
    7. Phoebe
    8. Divided
    9. Gets You Down
    10. Watch Your Step
    11. The Road You Take

    Amelita by Court Yard Hounds can be purchased on Amazon and iTunes.

    Also, be sure to follow Court Yard Hounds on Twitter and Facebook.

     Disclosure: I received a free copy of the album for review for a campaign for One2One Network. This review makes me eligible for incentives. Opinions are honest and my own.