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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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    Grandma's Back Room

    Saturday
    May042013

    Mom Moments: Win jewelry from Jared and share your tips for grandmas

    Jared

     Jared Mom MomentsMother's Day, the day set aside for celebrating mothers of all ages and stages, is May 12. Jared The Galleria of Jewelry is celebrating mothers of all ages and stages in a unique and exciting way with its Mom Moments sweepstakes.

    In the four weeks leading up to Mother's Day, Jared will feature on its Facebook page one blogger that epitomizes the stages of motherhood — moms-to-be and new moms; moms of young children; moms of older children; and... the mother of all motherhood positions... grandmothers! And I have the pleasure and privilege of representing the grandmother contingent in that feature, which means Grandma's Briefs will be the star of the Jared Facebook page May 6 through Mother's Day. And that means good things for all of us — when we share our tips for grandmothers.

    Grandmothers have been through it all — the good, bad, happy, sad, hard, hard, hard work of leading, guiding and protecting those babes in the bassinet as they grow up and head on out the door into adulthood. It's a bittersweet, often heartbreaking but always glorious job. And one reward for the efforts: grandchildren.

    As the ones with the most accumulated lessons learned on the job, we grandmas have a lot to share about Mom Moments. For Jared, though, we're asked to share our tips for grandmas, what we've learned — for better or worse — in these golden years of motherhood. Details on sharing your tips (and what you can win for doing so) are below. First, I'll share mine.

    Tips for grandmothers are woven throughout nearly every post I write for this blog. But when pressed, I'd narrow it down to these three top tips for grandmothers:

    1) Be there. Whether a local grandma or a long-distance grandma, be there, make it known you want to be a vital component in your grandchild's life. This takes extra work and intention on the part of long-distance grandmas — you're hearing it from one in the trenches! — but it's so very important, so very worth it. (One caveat: Boundaries are important, too, so don't "be there" more than works for you and your busy life.)

    2) "Grandma" is a supporting role. Your child is now the parent. Step back and support that, whether or not you fully agree with how it's being done.

    3) Don't let comparison steal your joy. As mothers, we're the one and only in a child's life; as grandmothers, we're one of — at least — two. It's hard not to compare our grandmother style and time with the grandchildren to what the other grandmother gets. Refrain, for the sake of your heart, your joy, your grandchild.

    Tips for grandmothers aren't all Jared The Galleria of Jewelry asked me to share with you. I was given the opportunity to peruse their elegant offerings and choose two I thought would make ideal gifts for grandmothers for Mother's Day. (I then had the good fortune to receive for free from Jared the two chosen as a thank you gift for sharing the sweepstakes info with you all.)

    The selection process was tough, as the Jared necklaces, rings and more are absolutely lovely. In the end, though, I chose these (click the link or photo for more details):

    WHITE GOLD HEART LOCKET

    heart locket

    I chose the White Gold Heart Locket because what grandmother wouldn't want an heirloom quality locket in which she can display — meaning, show off — her grandchildren and carry them with her at all times. I see this one as a treasure to be passed down through the generations.

    AQUAMARINE NECKLACE

    aquamarine necklace

    I chose the elegant white gold Aquamarine Necklace with diamond accent because grandmothers may no longer be all about the bling, but we love to wear classic, stylish jewelry that makes us feel — and look — extra special. This one would be equally lovely for formal events or relaxed gatherings with family and friends.

    Aren't they absolutely beautiful? Now it's your turn at a chance to win beautiful jewelry from Jared, by entering the Mom Moments sweepstakes — then be sure to get additional entries simply by sharing your tips for grandmothers. Here are the details:

    JARED'S MOM MOMENTS SWEEPSTAKES

    How to enter
    Enter to win elegant jewelry prizes by “liking” the Jared Facebook page and then registering to enter the sweepstakes by clicking on the “Mom Moments” sweepstakes icon. Prizes awarded each week of the sweepstakes are based on selections of the featured Mother's Day bloggers. You can receive additional sweepstakes entries by sharing your best “mom moments tips”  on the Facebook page and by inviting friends to enter, too.

    Grandmother Week!
    During week four of the contest (the week of May 6) the prizes awarded will be selected from one of the two necklaces above. Five winners will be selected to win either one (1) White Gold Heart Locket (ARV: $229.99 each) or one (1) Aquamarine Necklace (ARV: $279.99 each). As the "grandmother" week doesn't begin until Monday, you're encouraged to also enter for the prizes for the current week, too.

    Something extra for Twitter users
    Also, Twitter users who follow @ThatsJared and tweet using the hashtag #MomMoments will have a chance to win a separate weekly prize — a piece of jewelry they can personalize. One prize will be awarded each week.

    And the grand prize is...
    One lucky grand prize winner will receive a $2,000 Jared The Galleria Of Jewelry shopping spree (awarded as a gift card). The grand prize winner will be drawn on or around May 13, 2013, and notified later that month.

    One more thing...
    When you enter the sweepstakes, please let them know I sent you by entering "Grandma's Briefs" on the “Referred By” dropdown menu (click "blogger or social media source" then enter "Grandma's Briefs"). The blogger who refers the most entries to the sweepstakes will receive a special jewelry prize package at the end of the campaign as a thank you, and I'd be forever grateful to you for helping me win.

    Good luck! And Happy Mother's Day to one and all, no matter your stage of motherhood!

     

    Disclaimer: I received jewelry from Sterling Jewelers Inc. at no cost for participating in this blogger challenge.

    Friday
    May032013

    NOVICA review: Shop the world via global artisans gathered in one spot

    I'm not big on keeping tabs on a so-called bucket list, an itemized list — in my head, on paper or techy gadget — of things I want to accomplish before, well, kicking the bucket. That doesn't mean I don't have things I still hope to do, and one of the biggies is travel the world.

    The idea of visiting faraway places, experiencing the foods, the culture, the sites then returning home with a camera full of photos and souvenirs collected from local artisans would be a dream come true. I imagine collecting unique items from shops along cobbled paths and open-air markets, where I'd learn the stories of the artisans, shake the very hands of those crafting the goods that capture my eye, my heart, and a spot in my suitcase.

    The time will come, I'm sure, for that dream. For now, though, I can experience the next best thing, courtesy NOVICA, where their mission includes giving "artists and artisans around the world a global platform to express their true artistic talents and to spur their creativity."

    Associated with National Geographic, the NOVICA website offers the arts and crafts of artisans from across the globe, all in one spot. Visiting the site — filled with beautiful high-quality photos of beautiful high-quality handcrafts — is a treat and a journey in itself.

    I was offered the opportunity to experience NOVICA, courtesy a credit from the company to try out the site and make a purchase or two of my choosing. Because of the vast collection, it took me quite sometime to make a decision — despite the variety of ways in which choices can be narrowed down. Visitors to the virtual global marketplace can search by region, price point, category (home decor, etcetera) and more. For example, there's Jewelry Gifts, Spiritual Gifts, Jewelry Box Gifts and, my favorite, Gifts by Personality. Just a small sampling of ways to narrow down your choices.

    One especially interesting and different thing about the NOVICA experience — and it is indeed an experience (would you expect anything less from a National Geographic affiliate?) — was the opportunity to "curate" boards, kind of like Pinterest. On the Curation portion of the site, shoppers can become curators, creating galleries of goods in categories each creates, then share the gallery of curated goods with others via social networks. It provides a wishlist for shoppers and exposure for the artisans. Plus, it's just plain fun to peruse the fabulous collections curators have created.

    After strolling through categories and curated collections, I finally settled on the items I would purchase from NOVICA. First, the Violet Hummingbird iron wall sculpture, shaped by artist J. Blas of Mexico.

     

    I also chose the "Three Game Fun" box crafted of sheesham wood and adorned with brass inlays, by Suresh and Devender Garg.

     

    The ordering process was unexpectedly simple — with unbelievably low, as in $2.95, shipping rates. We're talking shipping from Mexico and India. I was quite impressed by that, as well as by the expediency of the delivery. Both items arrived within less than two weeks of ordering.

    Both pieces of artwork pleased me to no end. The hummingbird was sturdy and colorful and immediately hung outside (with hopes it'll attract real hummingbirds to my back deck). The delightful wood box of games was smooth and finely crafted, with lovely dominoes and dice made of the same wood and brass inlays. Beautiful stuff. If I hadn't found the goods to my liking, complete information on the simple return policy was included with each item.

    Aside from the high quality and impressive craftmanship of both items I ordered, I was thoroughly impressed with the extra attention and detail to the wrapping of the items and the information included with them. The Hummingbird Sculpture was wrapped as if a special gift directly from the artisan.

     

    Additional much-appreciated touches were the post card included with each, highlighting the region where the item was made, plus a gift "booklet" of sorts providing the name of the artisan and information on their work and the specific item.

    Such warm touches to the shopping experience made it seem almost as if I were right there, meeting the artists in the markets where they may pedal their art. The only thing missing was the handshake. Maybe one day.

    For more information, visit the NOVICA website, where "The world is your market," as well as on the NOVICA Facebook page and Twitter.

    Disclosure: I received a credit toward items on the website free for this review. Opinions and anecdotes or my own.

    Wednesday
    May012013

    Win Chicken Soup for the Soul: Parenthood

    As a parent, I always appreciate humorous and heartwarming stories from other parents on their journey along the same road I've taken. Chicken Soup for the Soul books are known for such tales, and they don't disappoint with their latest, Parenthood: 101 Heartwarming and Humorous Stories about the Joys of Raising Children of All Ages.

    As I'm now a grandma and all done with raising little kids (though I do so enjoy my little grandkids), I appreciated that this edition included not only stories on parents of young children, but stories about older kids, tales of moms and dads facing the empty-nest phase, too.

    The back cover of the book says, "Older parents will laugh a lot, tear up a little, and nod their heads in agreement as they recognize shared experiences shaping young lives." I did all of that and more.

    Titles of the chapters pretty much tell readers what's in store, what to brace for, whether tissues should be on hand while reading:

    • Becoming a Family
    • All in a Day's Work
    • Is There a Manual for This?
    • Parenting Faux Pas
    • Stop and Smell the Roses
    • Learning from Each Other
    • Treasured moments
    • From the Mouths of Babes
    • What Goes Around Comes Around
    • Love Conquers All
    • Saying Thank You
    • Giving Them Wings to Fly

    All the stories are well-written but one that immediately touched my heart with the soul-stirring imagery came from the "Giving Them Wings to Fly" chapter. (You surely knew I had to start with that chapter!) It's by Amy Giles and titled Swing with Me. For copyright reasons, I can't share the entire essay here, but this is how it begins:

    "Swing with me." The neglected swing set calls me. Gritty, squeaky, and booby-trapped — the girls don't play here anymore, and the spiders know it. They've claimed the play set's tree house as their own no-girls-allowed zone, planting their flag of gossamer threads across the threshold."

    It only gets better from there.

    In addition to tummy ticklers and tear jerkers from both moms and dads, Parenthood includes 14 cartoons to which all parents can relate, as well as relevant quotes at the beginning of each chapter, such as the one beginning the aforementioned Swing with Me essay: "Childhood is a short season." ~Helen Hayes

    Childhood is indeed a short season. That season can be hard on parents at times. Parenthood: 101 Heartwarming and Humorous Stories about the Joys of Raising Children of All Ages helps us all feel a little less alone in the journey.

    Parenthood: 101 Heartwarming and Humorous Stories about the Joys of Raising Children of All Ages, published March 2013, has a suggested price of $14.95 and can be found nearly any place books are sold, in hardcover and electronic versions.

    GIVEAWAY

    The publishers of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series have graciously offered to give two random winners a copy of Parenthood: 101 Heartwarming and Humorous Stories about the Joys of Raising Children of All Ages. Giveaway entries accepted via Rafflecopter (below), through midnight MDT May 14. The two winners will be drawn May 15 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.

    Wednesday
    May012013

    P&G "Most Loved" products

    It's hard to beat P&G when it comes to award-winning products. The number of brands and award-winning household, beauty and grooming products under the P&G banner boggles the brain... in a good way.

    P&G recently sent me a few of their "most loved" products to try first hand. My package included some of the best of the best for me (and my husband) to put to the test. Here's what I, er, we received:

    CoverGirl LashBlast Volume Mascara

     

    Febreze Car Vent Clip Air Freshener

     

    Gillette Hydrator Hydrating Body Wash for Men

     

    Swiffer Dusters Kit

     

    What did we think of these "most loved" products? We loved them. Seriously loved them.

    I'm big on scents, so the febreze car freshener was my favorite of the bunch. The linen & sky scent — which promises to last up to 30 days — not only added the fresh scent, but, just as it says on the package, eliminated the odors that naturally build up when the windows must remain up, due to the cold of late. (Yes, it's spring... but not really here in Colorado yet.)

    While I do love scents, when it comes to dusters, they often have too overpowering of a scent. Not so with the Swiffer dusters. They did the job they were intended to do: pick up dust from my dusty ol' house. I especially like how you can flip the dusters on the handle from one side to the other, to get the most out of each duster included in the package.

    The mascara? Well, I've been looking for a new mascara lately, as my lashes are getting more sparse. I hear my lash problem is typical as we age. The eyelash curler helped in the past, but I had seen ads for the LashBlast and wondered if it would eliminate the need for the dreaded curling device. I'm happy to report it did!

    Last but not least, the product my husband tried: the hydrating body wash. My husband isn't typically one to exclaim how soft a product makes his skin, but he did actually tell me he really liked the way this made his skin feel. It made him smell pretty good, too. (Like I said, I'm big on scents.)

    I love that P&G reached out to me to sample a few of their most-loved products. Their entire line of "Most Loved" brands include: CoverGirl®, Olay®, Pantene®, Venus®, Gillette®, Bounty®, Cascade®, Charmin®, Dawn®, Febreze®, Swiffer® and Tide®.

    Learn more about the P&G "Most Loved" brands on the P&G website: http://www.pgeveryday.com, Facebook http://apps.facebook.com/PGmostloved, and Twitter @PGeveryday.

    Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for SheSpeaks/P&G.

    Monday
    Apr292013

    Dioptics Solar Shield Shades: Inexpensive alternative to tinted prescription glasses

    Dioptics Solar ShadesAs I've gotten older, I find I depend more and more on my progressive lens glasses. I once wore them only when working at my desk, but because I regularly use my iPhone — with its itsy, bitsy print — indoors and out, I wear my glasses in the house, outside of the house, in the car and even at the park.

    Indoors, I'm okay. Outdoors, it's far too bright for my eyes, so I need sunglasses. My progressive lens glasses, though, aren't tinted. Which is why I was delighted to have the opportunity to try out Dioptics Solar Shield sunglasses. They promised to be stylish shades that can be worn directly over my progressive lens glasses.

    Now, I've tried wearing sunglasses over regular glasses in the past — and not only looked like an idiot while doing it, but they didn't stay on well and made it more difficult to see, not less.

    Solar Shield ShadesI chose to review the Shades by Solar Shield model from Dioptics Fits Over Sunglass collection. (They also offer clip-on shades.) The Solar Shield shades claims included:

    • Designed to fit over eyeglasses
    • Lightweight nylon frame
    • Polarized lenses reduce glare
    • Lenses block 100% UV rays
    • Sleek, fashionable frame shapes

    My Dioptics Solar Shield sunglasses came just before I left to visit my grandsons. It was perfect timing, considering the amount of time I spent outside with my grandsons.

    While outside with my ever-active grandsons, I took a lot of photos — with a camera that requires me to see the small print on the dials and such. Plus, I needed to be able to read any texts on my iPhone that came from my daughter checking in on us while we were out and about.

    Using my camera and phone in the bright desert sunshine is usually a silly juggling act, swapping shades with progressive lenses and back and forth again and again. This time while visiting my grandsons, though, there was no juggling required, no matter the hundreds of photos I took of them outdoors during my week with them.

    The Shades fit perfectly and comfortably over my progressive lens glasses. There was no funky coloring as I looked through them, unlike some other sunglasses I've worn in the past that make everything orange or green. They provided just the perfect amount of shade that kept me from squinting... yet allowed me to read the dials on my camera, ensure my photos were coming out okay, read texts that came from my daughter, see the little bugs and such my grandsons pointed out on our walks (not to mention, be able to see where to open the darn fruit snacks packages they were treated to now and again while at the park).

    The only thing I found funky about the lenses was the way my iPhone screen appeared when looking at it through the glasses. It's hard to explain, but there was a bit of an iridescence to the screen, surely related to the polarized lenses. Not a big deal, as the funkiness went away if I held my phone in a bit of an awkward position. Time on the phone while outdoors was short, so the polarization was more important than an easily viewed smartphone, for sure.

    One thing I worried about with wearing glasses large enough to fit over prescription glasses was that they'd be unwieldy as well as unfashionable. My daughter — one of the more fashion conscious of our family — let me know right away that the glasses were quite fashionable, in fact, and looked great.

    I always appreciate being fashionable. More important to me, though, is being economical. The Dioptics shades, at around $25, are far less expensive than tinted prescription glasses. They're easy to find, too, available at Walmart, Walgreens, CVS and other major retailers. They also can be purchased online at www.solarshield.com.

    Disclosure: I received a free sample of Dioptics Solar Shield sunglasses via Vibrant Nation's Vibrant Influencer Network. I was compensated for this post; opinions and anecdotes are my own.

    Monday
    Apr082013

    Never too old for dinosaurs: Three new dino discs from BBC

    dinosaur

    The fascination with dinosaurs never fades, as evidenced by the recent re-release of the fantastic-yet-fictional Jurassic Park, now in 3D.

    For those seeking equally fantastic yet factual information and more on all things dinosaur, come three new DVDs from BBC Home Entertainment on the amazing creatures, sure to captivate the hearts and minds of dinosaur lovers.

    Extreme DinosaursExtreme Dinosaurs (single disc, 100 minutes, $19.92 MSRP) includes two features that challenge long-held beliefs about Tyrannosaurus rex. The first, Extreme Dinosaurs narrated by Paul Brightwell, provides tremendous information and evidence to show that the six-ton Argentinosuarus just may be a more fierce predator than the T-Rex.The second, T-Rex: Warrior or Wimp? narrated by Jack Fortune, further challenges the idea that the T-Rex was the most fearsome dinosaur of all. Both features include numerous interviews with paleontologists, dinosaur hunters, and experts of all degrees. There's a fair amount of time spent on Pete Larson, who found "Sue", the most complete T-Rex fossil, which was then confiscated by the FBI.

    Predator DinosaursPredator Dinosaurs (single disc, 100 minutes, $19.92 MSRP) was my favorite disc of the trio. In this one, Bill Oddie presents facts on the most brutal dinosaurs of all (think T-Rex, Triceratops, Velociraptor, Anklysaurus) in a fascinating and fun manner, with many humorous asides. Techniques used to provide a more in-depth and interesting look at the dinosaurs include CGI, biomechanics, high-tech scans and more. A fun demonstration in which men reenact a possible tussle between a T-Rex and a Triceratops was one of the highlights for me. Well, that an a lengthy discourse on how an ostrich is seemingly a long-lost relative of the T-Rex.

    Prehistoric ParkPrehistoric Park (2-disc set, 288 minutes, $19.92 MSRP) is the most dramatic of the features, closely resembling Jurassic Park. The gist of it is that Nigel Marven, a zoologist and wildlife expert, travels 65 million years back in time to collect dinosaurs to populate his dinosaur park. It's a race against time, as he needs to nab at least one of each species before dinosaurs are rendered extinct thanks to a meteor hitting earth. Marven seemed much like a dinosaur-hunting version of Steve Irwin's crocodile hunter, and the CGI creatures he'd come across and curate made for a fun safari of sorts.

    What I loved about the trio of features: While Extreme Dinosaurs was jam-packed with interesting tales primarily of those who dig for and research dinosaurs, the CGI, re-enactments, and sometimes cheeky humor (deliberate or not) of the second two made them fun viewing even for folks who may not be diehard dinosaur lovers. As is the case with all things presented by BBC Home Entertainment, the graphics, photography, research and more that go into all three of the features is beyond compare.

    What I didn't love so much: Because dinosaurs hold such appeal for youngsters, I thought the features would be more accessible to young kids. The extensive research and interviewing, though, rendered these DVDs more likely to appeal to kids over, say, the age of 10, I think. That said, the first might be too dry and factual for all but adults.

    Extreme Dinosaurs, Predator Dinosaurs, and Prehistoric Park were released by BBC Home Entertainment March 12, 2013, and available for purchase on the BBC website.

    Disclosure: I received copies of the DVDs free for review. All opinions are my own.