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Welcome to Grandma's Back Room

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

So go ahead: Enter the giveaways, read the reviews, peruse the sponsored posts. And be sure to take a moment to visit the websites of the kind folks who have provided the goodies of which I write about, give away or plug.

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    Make it a Hallmark Valentine's Day with this huggable giveaway

    Despite all the high-tech ways of staying in touch with others, sometimes the best way of saying "I love you" is by something tangible, physical, that can be held in the hands rather than viewed in pixels. Hallmark knows this and offers up some great ideas for sharing the love on Valentine's Day—and they shared a few things with me to share with you and to giveaway, too (giveaway details follow).

    First up are the adorable Until We Hug Again plush stuffed bunny and bear. These aren't any ol' stuffed animals, though. The Until We Hug Again animals allow Grandma—or anyone who wants to share a bear or bunny hug—to record and share a personal message for the little ones they're missing.

    Unlike some cards and such that allow you to record a greeting but require you to be a speed-talker of some sort to get your message in before recording time is up, the message length in these Hallmark animals is rather lengthy. And recorded messages can be saved with the flip of a switch on the battery box tucked inside the animal body. Or you could do like I have and record a special sweetness for your grandchild, let him or her hear it, then show the child how to do the same. I'm pretty sure my oldest grandson will be sharing lots of heartfelt messages with his little brother, Mommy, Daddy—and probably even Roxy, his dog.

    The Until We Hug Again bear and bunny retail for $29.95 each.


    Cards are, of course, the hallmark of the Valentine's Day holiday, and Hallmark does it best. New twists on the typical valentine this year include the new Special Delivery Card Presenters for Kids. The sturdy cloth critters and characters (my review card was Snoopy) have a valentine inside but can be used long after Valentine's Day for storing other special notes, photos, and more. The Special Delivery Card Presenters retail for $6.99.



    Hallmark has something for the older kids, too: Justin Bieber Valentine's Day Greetings. Regardless of what we older folk think of the singer, youngsters are clearly bonkers for Bieber. Hallmark provides several options featuring the Biebs, sure to make your own superstar swoon. One option is a cardboard cut-out of the teeny bopper that stands on a base, which pre-teen girls would surely love to keep on their dresser year round. Another option is a card that also serves as a photo frame. Justin Bieber Valentine's Day Greetings range in price, from $2.99 to $6.99.

    Hallmark would like to share the Valentine's Day love with you! One Grandma's Briefs winner will receive a Hallmark Until We Hug Again and Greetings gift pack featuring an Until We Hug Again bear or bunny plus a selection of Special Delivery Card Presenters for Kids and Justin Bieber Valentine's Day Greetings. Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below through January 31. The winner will be drawn by February 1, just in time for Valentine's Day.

    Disclosure: I received free products for review as well as the offer to conduct a giveaway for the same. Opinions and anecdotes are my own.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway


    Get to know Gombby, enter to win a $50 Amazon gift card

    Gombby’s Green Island, a colorful CGI animation television series appealing to kids ages three to five, daily entertains kids in Portugal and Spain, and is soon set to launch for the Arab-speaking world as well. Now, thanks to a new app for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, Gombby and his friends from Green Island can entertain and educate English-speaking children as well.

    The Gombby's Green Island series, created and developed by Big Storm Studios and 100% made in Portugal, aims to help children develop their personal and social skills while stimulating their creativity and resourcefulness. The ever-cheerful baker boy named Gombby and his buddies—including his best friend Celeste, Stawy the Scarecrow, Gadget Man, the wise Professor and many more—introduce basic educational building blocks that support their general knowledge and help them be more aware and appreciative of the world around them.

    Kids will appreciate the fun and parents will appreciate the lessons passed along—after being fully reviewed by an experienced team of child psychologists.

    The new Gombby Channel application, free and available on iTunes, offers three full episodes that you can download to watch anytime, anywhere, even when no connectivity is available. Additional Gombby’s Green Island episodes are available for purchase at $1.99 for 5 or $2.99 for 10.

    Features of the Gombby Channel app:
    • Watch the adventures of Gombby’s Green Island on your iPhone/iPad
    • Engaging and educational adventures children will love
    • Fully available in three different languages – English, Spanish and Portuguese
    • Download and store your favorite episodes to watch on the go
    • Additional episodes available through in-App purchase
    • All the stories are family friendly and are reviewed by a professional team

    It took several minutes for me to download the app and episode (on my iPhone 3GS). Once loaded, I had the pleasure of watching the first of the three free episodes, titled "Why's that?". After viewing the colorful and engaging at 13-minute episode in which Gombby seeks the answer to why apples fall from trees but the moon doesn't fall from the sky, I have no doubt Bubby and Mac will be excited to get to know Gombby, Celeste, their musical birds Re and Mi, and all the interesting (and educational) characters inhabiting Green Island. It's a sweet series with serious value that I'll be delighted to share with my grandsons.

    Get to know Gombby yourself by visiting the following sites:



    Better yet, check out the sites while entering the Gombby giveaway, which results in one lucky Grandma's Briefs reader winning a $50 gift card. And in the spirit of Gombby, this giveaway is open to all entrants worldwide. Entries accepted through Jan. 30, with the winner being drawn by Jan. 31.

    Good luck, and enjoy Gombby!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was compensated for publishing this review and giveaway. Opinions are my own.


    The Money Code: A book review plus book and Visa gift card giveaway

    My finances have been pretty much in the toilet the last few years. I blame it on being laid off from my well-paying job in December of 2008. Seems though, at least according to a book I recently received for review, the layoff and other economic woes of the past few years aren't entirely to blame for my dismal financial picture. No, my "personal history and perspective" plays a large hand in my lack of financial freedom and peace of mind, just as much as—maybe even more than—my unfortunate employment circumstances.

    In The Money Code: Improve Your Entire Financial Life Right Now by Joe John Duran, the author states the following in the introduction:

    In order to experience financial success, we must distinguish our emotional motivation from our logical, or "brain," motivation.

    My "emotional motivation" is that I'm pretty darn scared of not being able to pay the bills. I think it's hard to argue with that. I'm not alone, though, Duran notes further along in the intro:

    When it comes to your finances, accepting your reality and feelings—warts and all—is the first step toward creating real change. And be assured that if you've ever found yourself confused, fearful, frozen in indecision, in conflict with those you love, or feeling any combination of the preceding, you're in good company."

    My reality and my feelings have a lot of warts, I do admit, especially when it comes to money, finances, financial freedom. So it seems The Money Code might be a big help for me.

    The Money Code posits that there are "5 Money Secrets" that, when accepted and understood, enable folks to have control over their money:

    1. Your life will be filled with tough choices.

    2. Your entire life is determined by how you make decisions.

    3. Your biases will affect every decision you make.

    4. You will be distracted by things that really don't matter.

    5. You must have a good process to make good decisions.

    Duran uses a fictional character named Jack to show how those five secrets work and how the "Money Code" plays a key role in improving (or not) one's financial life.

    As I'm taking my time to read the book and try to incorporate the financial road map it provides, I've not yet finished the book. Which means I can't tell you whether it's led to financial success for me. But I'm hoping I'll learn all the things Duran sets out to teach in The Money Code, including how to:

    • Prevent bad decisions about money
    • Identify your Money Mind—Fear, Happiness, or Commitment—and how it affects every financial decision you make
    • Use a custom checklist to improve your entire financial life
    • Clearly discuss decisions about money with the ones you love
    • Finally take complete control of your financial life

    Complete control sounds pretty awesome to me. Of course, I'll have to share a wee bit of that with my husband, I suppose (which is why the "clearly discuss..." bullet point will be so important to learn).

    What I like about the book: Every single chapter is filled to the brim with info boxes, bullet points, guides, review questions, and more, all based on financial concepts and tools to assist in grabbing the reins and learning to control one's finances. I like that bullet points and concepts that especially resonates with me and my circumstances are easy to find, not hidden away in blocks of text.

    What I don't like so much: I don't care much for the fictional character aspect, the John character to whom all those concepts and guides I appreciate so much are directed. I know some readers prefer fiction books over non-fiction, so perhaps that's the angle here, to assist even those who typically wouldn't read non-fiction. For me personally, though, if I'm going to read a book that has the sole intention of spurring change in one's life, I'd rather not have to follow a fake person on his fake path then relate his imagined journey to my real life.

    About the author: Joe John Duran is CEO and founding partner of United Capital, which consistently ranks as one of the nation’s fastest growing wealth counseling firms. He’s fueled by his passion to change the industry and improve lives by empowering people to make better, more informed financial decisions. From CNBC to CNN, Joe frequently provides commentary on TV. He has been profiled in numerous publications, including the New York Times and Smart Money.

    The Money Code is Joe’s third book. His two previous titles are Start It, Sell It, and Make A Mint (Wiley and Sons, 2004) and The First Time Investor’s Workbook (McGraw Hill, 2001). Joe holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and earned MBA degrees from Columbia University and UC Berkeley. He lives in Laguna Beach, California, with his wife, Jennifer, and their three precious daughters.

    The Money Code: Improve Your Entire Financial Life Right Now by Joe John Duran, CFA, is $14.95 and can be found at major booksellers including online stores such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Google Books. For more information, visit the official Money Code website, like The Money Code on Facebook and follow on Twitter.


    Start 2013 right – find your money mind with The Money Code!

    One Grandma's Briefs reader will win a $25 VISA gift card and a copy of The Money Code. 

    Giveaway entries accepted through January 25. Winner will be drawn via and notified by email January 26. US and Canada residents only, please.

     a Rafflecopter giveaway

    Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book for review and the opportunity for a giveaway as noted. All opinions are my own.


    Not your mother's books... Two new anthologies for women and former stupid kids

    Seems anthologies have been hot ever since the Chicken Soup for the Soul franchise took the publishing world by storm. Readers want snippets of stories that pack heartwarming or giggle-inducing tidbits into a small space, tales that take minimal time to read yet resonate to the max.

    Enter two new anthologies sure to make you smile, wipe a tear or two, or blush in admission that you, too, were equally...well...stupid.

    Let me start first with the first in the Not Your Mother's Book (NYAMB) series. It's called Not Your Mother's Book...On Being a Woman. Subtitled, "A Collection of Stories from People Like You," this "New Anthology for a New Century" was created by Dahlynn McKowen and Ken McKowen. The collection of stories from women from one end of the age spectrum to the other (plus one brave male!) offers an equally vast array of anecdotal tales on what it really means to be female. The real life stories of the real-life women are broken into eight chapters that anyone who's ever worn a bra, dealt with menstruation, or checked out their own butt in the mirror will certainly relate to:

    • Keeping Up Appearances
    • Worth Our Weight in Gold
    • They're Called Boobs!
    • Hear Me Roar
    • Just Saying
    • Stand Up!
    • Never Again!
    • Sense and Sensibility

    From such chapter titles, it's not too difficult to get an idea of what the stories in each are about.

    It's also not difficult at all to figure out the angle of the stories in Not Your Mother's Book...On Being a Stupid Kid (created by Dahlynn McKowen, Ken McKowen and Laurel McHargue). These are tales of derring do and double-dog dares contributed by adults willing to fess up about their youthful idiocy. Some of the stories make the reader marvel that the writer lived to see adulthood. Most of the stories will make you so glad they did...and that they shared their stories of youthful adventures.

    Chapters in the Stupid book include:

    • Double-Dog Dare
    • Smart Kids—Stupid Stuff
    • They'll Never Know
    • ABCs and 123s
    • Sibling Shenanigans
    • Hodge Podge
    • You Did WHAT?
    • More Smart Kids—Stupid Stuff

    Both books were a delightful—and quick—read, but the one story that most touched my heart was one in the "Stupid" collection, contributed by Ireta Black. Ms. Black, who turns 90 years old this month, shares the story of her desire to wear ankle socks—like all the cool girls did in 1933—against her mother's wishes. The story, titled Scandalous, reveals the scandal and shame that followed when 10-year-old Ireta goes against her mother's wishes and reveals just how far our society has come (or gone downhill) in relation to acceptable behavior. Though the book cover says there are "no sad, sappy or death and dying stories" in the collection, this one did indeed seem sad to me as I considered little Ireta Black feeling guilty about her harmless flouting of Mother's rules.

    The Not Your Mother's Books ($16.95 softcover) are published by Publishing Syndicate LLC and available wherever books are sold. Several additional collections are in the works, including titles on teachers, on dogs, on parenting, on grandparenting, and more.

    Disclosure: I received a copy of each book for review. All opinions are my own.


    Overcoming fear, VeggieTales style: The League of Incredible Vegetables

    The world can be a scary place, and not just for grown ups. Unfortunately that applies more than ever to little ones, too, considering the inexplicable tragedies of 2012 and the virtually unavoidable 24/7 news on those events.

    Teaching kids how to keep their fears—real or imagined—in check can be tough, but there's a new tool parents, grandparents and other caregivers may want to consider. It's one of the latest DVDs from VeggieTales, called The League of Incredible Vegetables: A Lesson in Handling Fear. In the wacky ways typical of all VeggieTales tales that came before, Larry, Bob, and the rest of the gang address important issues with understanding, empathy, and, most importantly, humor.

    Super heroes are super cool with kids, and this is the fourth title in a series of DVD releases starring the popular “LarryBoy” super hero. This time around though, when the dastardly Dr. Flurry plans to freeze an entire city with fear, LarryBoy must call for backup. He turns to league of incredible vegetables, four new super heroes with super silly powers: Bob the Tomato, Petunia Rhubarb, Junior Asparagus and Mr. Lunt. Their tagline: "They came. They thawed. They conquered."

    Take a look:


    In addition to the fun—tinged with comforting and helpful lessons on handling fear—are several bonus features, as is always the case with the VeggieTales DVDs. There's a requisite silly song (always my favorite part of VeggieTales shows!) called "Supper Hero" by LarryBoy, a League of Incredible Vegetables music video and singalong, behind-the-scenes features and more. Plus, The League of Incredible Vegetables features the new theme song and music video from Newsboys.

    VeggieTales The League of Incredible Vegetables: A Lesson in Handling Fear DVD is available at all major retail outlets for SRP $14.97. Visit the VeggieTales website for more fun and products. And be sure to submit your own incredible story of an everyday hero in your life on the VeggieTales - Incredible Heroes Facebook page.

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


    Start 2013 on a positive note with 'Reader's Digest Treasury of Joy and Inspiration: Our Most Moving Stories Ever'

    Considering all the negativity and sadness related to natural disasters and unthinkable tragedies that defined 2012, perusing the latest from Reader's Digest is a perfect way to kick off the new year on a positive note.

    In celebration of its ninety years of publishing, the editors of Reader's Digest read through their vast archives—all the way back to 1922—and compiled their very best "reads of lasting interest," according to Editor-in-Chief Liz Vaccariello, for the Reader's Digest Treasury of Joy and Inspiration: Our Most Moving Stories Ever.

    The 318-page hardcover compendium features thought-provoking and sometimes tear-inducing articles and essays from many famous and a few not-so-famous writers, speakers, heart-shakers. Names you'll know, like Alex Haley, Helen Keller, Billy Crystal, Gary Paulsen and many more, plus other names you'll meet for the very first time in the pages of this moving book. All selections gleaned from newspapers, magazines, books, radio broadcasts, and television specials throughout the past ninety years.

    As noted in the literature accompanying my offer to review the book for free (and give one away, too; see below), readers will be treated to:

    • Find out how a mysterious gift forever changed author James Michener's life in The Christmas Present.
    • Experience a truly powerful life-changing moment in Christopher Reeve's Decision.
    • Let actor George Burns make you feel like you're dancing on air in Shall We Dance?
    • Find encouragement and hope in Dwight Eisenhower's essay: An Open Letter to America's Students.
    • Go looking for true peace and happiness as Barbara Walters takes you In Search of Heaven.
    • Get ready to see the whole world anew as Helen Keller imagines what it'd be like to only have Three Days to See.
    • Marvel at the healing power of laughter in Billy Crystal's amazing true story: My Father and Me.

    What I loved about the book: Treasury of Joy and Inspiration is divided into seven themes—Joy, Miracles, Gratitude, Giving, Holidays, Healing, Heroes—with each theme featuring five or six related essays. That makes it easy to choose, when not reading front to back, which essays fills a need in your heart at the time. Of course, the Holiday theme was a biggie for me as I received the book for review just before Christmas. My favorite essay of all, though, came from the Joy category: "Gilligan's Aisle" by columnist Jeanne Marie Laskas.

    Another thing I loved about the book was the snippets of some of my favorite features from Reader's Digest, used to fill out pages here and there. Things such as Laughter, the Best Medicine, Humor in Uniform, and other anecdotes that make readers smile.

    The Reader's Digest Treasury of Joy and Inspiration: Our Most Moving Stories Ever, hardcover, is $19.99 and available exclusively from Reader's Digest. For more information, visit and follow Reader's Digest on Facebook and Twitter.


    Enter to win a free copy of Reader's Digest Treasury of Joy and Inspiration: Our Most Moving Stories Ever, a $19.99 value that makes a super gift for yourself and a loved one who needs a dose of joy and inspiration to kick of 2013. Entries accepted through Saturday, January 5 and the winner will be drawn via and notified via email January 6.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway  

    Disclosure: I received a free book for review as well as the offer of a free book for giveaway to be shipped by the sponsor.