The Duke rides again! Movies and money mark the INSP Duke Days of Summer!

The Duke rides again! Movies and money mark the INSP Duke Days of Summer!

This post is in partnership with the INSP Network.

When I was a kid, John Wayne film reruns were a staple of early Sunday morning television. It was on those Sunday screenings (via what would now be considered a super small screen) that I came to adore the Duke. Whether starring in a western or war flick, Wayne proved every bit …

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Summer reading giveaway: 'Masters of Mischief' (The Misadventures of Max Crumbly #3)

Summer reading giveaway: 'Masters of Mischief' (The Misadventures of Max Crumbly #3)

Simon & Schuster is partnering with me for a giveaway!

Grandparents typically rank among the top supporters of their grandchildren’s educational efforts, spending hours helping with homework, attending activities and events, volunteering in the classroom and more.

But how can grandparents help out in the same manner during the kids’ summer break? One way is to slow down the “summer slide” of reading and comprehension skills by encouraging grandkids to make reading a regular part —an enjoyable part — of their long summer days. It can be as simple as…

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Delightful display: Custom canvas print from Canvas Factory (review and giveaway)

Delightful display: Custom canvas print from Canvas Factory (review and giveaway)

I'm one of those grandmas who displays lots and lots of photos of my loved ones. All around my house. For this post, I began counting the number of pictures I have placed here and there. And stopped thirty six. With the remainder of the main level plus the family room to go, I've chosen to just guesstimate here. I'm guessing there are fifty or so scattered about. On walls, bookcases, mantels, and more.

I delight in seeing my sweeties, old and young, in pictures. But with that many pictures to adore—and dust—I clearly don't need anymore.

Yet an offer to review—and give away! (more on that below)—a custom canvas print from Canvas Factory…

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Grand giveaway: Grandparent journals and Logitech webcam make connecting with grandchildren simple

Grand giveaway: Grandparent journals and Logitech webcam make connecting with grandchildren simple

Win a perfect prize for connecting with grandchildren now... and later

Both of my grandmothers lived far away from me when I was a child. My maternal grandmother—the one the longest distance from me but closest to my heart—got in the habit as I got older of writing letters a few times a year, filling me in on the simple day-to-day of her senior years.

Gramma was always intentional in staying in touch with me, up until her arthritic hands could no longer write and my return letters—typed in large, bold-face font for easier reading—were no longer easy to read at all as her vision had failed. Had webcams been around prior to her passing, I'm pretty sure Gramma would have been keen on connecting via the high-tech wonder.

Those handwritten letters from my grandmother are among my most cherished possessions. I still have every one. And though I loved reading of her ordinary everyday doings, I now long for more. I wish she would have shared her family story, her personal longings, her dreams and wishes and deeper thoughts on the virtues and values she held close and hoped to instill in her progeny.

My desire for something tangible showcasing such sentiments from my grandma is what makes me so excited to share this giveaway.

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GameDay Scoreboards scores with ballers (Review & giveaway)

 gameday scoreboardsBubby, left, and Bud review GameDay Scoreboards

Nothing beats playing games to get to know a new acquaintance. Basketball was the game of choice when my oldest grandson, Bubby, recently met Bud, the son of my oldest daughter's boyfriend (and possibly Bubby's step-cousin... one day).

The game play was made all the more enjoyable for the fast friends, thanks to the GameDay Scoreboards I received free for review not long before the two boys...

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Munch! Win a cozy bedtime story package for little ones

Munch!

Matthew Van Fleet — author of New York Times bestsellers Alphabet, Heads, Tails, and Moo — has once again created a coveted interactive tale for toddlers. This one is called Munch! and it hits stores August 27.

Munch! features four clever pull tabs and seven tickleable textures. The clever board book puts toddlers nose to nose with captivating critters as they demonstrate all different kinds of mouths and the amazing things they can do. Along the way, sounds, colors, and actions are introduced in a fun and interactive way. The sturdy and silly book is intended for ages 2-6, but can be enjoyed by all members of the family.

Munch! is another in a long line of unique books from Van Fleet, whose innovative books have been introducing children to basic concepts for almost twenty years. His unique formats invite toddlers to touch, press, pull, lift, and even sniff as they explore colors, shapes, numbers, letters, opposites, and more. Here's a glimpse into his creative process:

For more information on Munch!, visit the Official Book Site and Van Fleet Books.

Munch! prize packageBetter yet, enter via Rafflecopter below to win a cozy prize package to share with your favorite toddler, courtesy of the publisher.

One winner will receive a bedtime story package: 

  • Copies of MUNCH!, SNIFF!, LICK! MOO, CAT and ALPHABET by Matthew Van Fleet

Entries accepted through midnight August 27. Winner will be randomly drawn and notified August 28. Prize and shipping is responsibility of brand representatives, not Grandma's Briefs.

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Disclosure: I received a free copy of Munch! for review before sharing this giveaway.

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 http://www.recipesacrossamerica.com. Come September 12, it will be available where books are sold.


GIVEAWAY

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.

Veggie Tales' Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too: A review and giveaway

I have two grandsons, ages four and one. They're brothers. Which means the youngest is forever wanting to get involved in what the oldest is doing. It can be frustrating for both boys at times, and the idea that little ones can do big things, too, is the underlying theme of many conversations in their household.

That's also the theme of the most recent VeggieTales release, titled appropriately, Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too. The DVD is a collection of stories—so far easier for little ones to follow than one full-length movie—about the big things performed by little ones. Most of the stories are biblical retellings, VeggieTale style, but the collection also includes a lesson in listening to your parents that's based on Pinocchio, only instead of Pinocchio and Gepetto, Pistachio and Gelatto are the stars. (See? VeggieTale style!)

Here's a peek at the fun—and important messages—featured in VeggieTales' Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too:

 

What I loved most about Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too: VeggieTales stories never fail to make me chuckle, thanks to the sprinkle of irreverency and subtle humor meant for adults in the midst of the fun and messages directed at children. I was happy to see the pea characters having a larger role than usual in each story (they are indeed such sweet peas), often reminding me of the chorus in Greek tragedies and tales.

My favorite part of every VeggieTales DVD is the interviews with the Veggie Kids, as I love their nasally, rambling musings on important matters. This DVD took that feature one step further, courtesy a Behind the Scenes extra that shows the real kids as they answer the questions that were then made part of the animated feature. So cute. I always wondered if they were real kids, and that they are.

VeggieTales' Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too is available for $12.99 from the VeggieTales website as well as other retailers, online and off.

But wait...you can win your very own DVD of VeggieTales' Little Ones Can Do Big Things Too. Here are the details:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this DVD for review, as well as an offer of one as a giveaway prize. All opinions are my own.