Valentine’s Day with a View Contest at The Westin La Cantera Resort

As soon as I heard about The Westin La Cantera Resort‘s Valentine’s Day with a View contest I was VERY excited to enter.  I love to read wonderfully romantic stories (i.e. Chicken Soup for the Soul: True Love), watching unrealistic “chick flicks” on Netflix’s instant Romance queue, and reading romance novels (not of the graphic variety)…more like all of Kristin Billerbeck‘s fun, witty romance series.  (I couldn’t write this post in good conscience without including helpful links and fun facts.) 😉

Valentine's Day with a View Westin La Cantera Resort Contest

*Besides my blog post on Valentine’s Day deals, check out Buxr’s Valentine’s Day deals here.

<Perfect Valentine’s Day>

5 Critical Components

Although I’m low-key enough to enjoy ANYTHING, making whatever we did special, my homework assignment was to blog about the PERFECT experience…that would easily be achieved by including the following in our itinerary:

1 – Flowers Delivered in a Box (purchased w/ a coupon!!) – there’s something terribly romantic about getting flowers that you weren’t expecting that were delivered in a box.  (Think old-school Hollywood…)  Enough said.

2 – The Fray – my favorite group since they arrived on the music scene in 2005 with How to Save a Life I have loved their lyrics and melodies.  Part of perfection is knowing you’re with someone special who appreciates all your idiosyncrasies, including fanatical infatuations with bands other people (insanely?!) are less excited by.

3 – Lamb Chops – I never understand people who think of “eating away your money” in a negative context.  I truly enjoy great culinary experiences.  I savor each bite and literally experience a Pavlovian reaction whenever I read menus!  My ideal Valentine’s Day would include lingering over a 7 course prix fix meal and basking in scintillating conversation (see Critical Component #5).

4 – Darts – Well after we have dessert-ed and digested comfortably, and before Cinderella’s midnight deadline, throwing darts at a non-smoking, great music, empty bar with my favorite kind of electronic dartboards (which charges a quarter, not 75 cents a game…or unlimited…that’s good too.)  I <3 playing darts, I’m competitive, I play to win! 😉  {Bonus Points } Give me pink darts (tips and flights) as a V-Day gift!

5 – Wonderful Conversation – Above all else, this is most important to me.  Just enjoying each other verbally throughout the entire evening.  Recapping wonderful memories from the past year, discussing plans for new vacations and making more memories, and reminding each other that regardless of the tough stuff, the reasons it’s worked as well as it has is because of the non-negotiable characteristic each other possesses, reveling in that realization!

</Perfect Valentine’s Day>

Check out all entries and tweets by following the #VDayView hashtag.

Also, don’t forget to find out all the latest by following @WestinLaCantera on Twitter and becoming a fan on Facebook!

This post is part of The Westin La Cantera Resort’s Valentine’s Day with a View contest. Enter between Jan. 25 and Feb. 8 for your chance to win a one-night stay for two at The Westin La Cantera Resort on Saturday, February 13, which includes a romantic dinner for two at Francesca’s at Sunset and two rounds of golf to be played at either of our championship courses during your stay. Learn more at

2010 Super Bowl XLIV Party | Game Day Deals

Since I already made a couple of posts for Valentine’s Day sales and activities it would be discriminatory of me to exclude the 44th Super Bowl this Sunday, February 7th, 2010 at 8pm CST at Land Shark Stadium in Miami, Florida on CBS.

*May I also just wish Peyton Manning the best luck!  Cheers to a player who’s old-school, who plays each game with incredible enthusiasm and passion (and he still calls his own plays!)  I <3 Peyton! 😀  Go Colts!


Super Bowl Resources

  • Espn
  • @nfl follow the NFL tweets!
  • NFL Players on Twitter – check out this list of 259 NFL players, leagues, and sports writers and follow their tweets during the big game!
  • Sirius Satellite Radio lists tons of pre/post game stations
  • Martha Stewart offers a very nice Super Bowl 101 course for those less versed in football vernacular.  (My fantasy football team placed 2nd this year so I’m fluent. ;-D)

Restaurants & Food



  • Roaring Fork is offering buy one entree, get one free with happy hour prices at the bar all night long on game day!
  • Paloma Blanca is offering 20% off to-go, delivery, and off-site catering on Super Bowl Sunday!
  • Aldacos is oferring party sized Super Bowl savings.
  • Papa Johns is a proud official sponsor of the Super Bowl, sign up for their email specials!
  • Pizza Hut is offering all kinds of local deals!

Party Supplies

Invitations could only be done by Pingg!  Not to late to keep track of your invitations and setup a Super Bowl party with super classy online invitations.


  • NFL Shop is offering 20% off when you use NFLWIN20 at checkout!
  • Party City has all of your party supplies!

Super Sales

  • Newegg is offering super savings on HD TVs, speakers, and everything else electronically enhancing!
  • Pottery Barn has personalized gift options for the big Super Bowl fanatic in your life.

Colt McCoy Interview After 2010 BCS Championship

Check out this candid, touching interview from Colt McCoy when interviewed a couple weeks after the devastating hit that left him unable to finish the game in Pasadena California, at the 2010 National BCS Championship Game.

After his eloquent post-game interview, immediately following the end of the Championships, Colt’s faith in God brought tears to my eyes.  The following interview given to Max Lucado (co-pastor of Oak Hills Church in San Antonio) continues to demonstrate Colt’s faith that God will continue to provide for him and Colt knows they plans for him will continue to be incredible.

Max’s sermon cleverly intertwined Colt’s story of his seemingly devastating loss, the moment he spent his whole life working towards, only to have to stop playing minutes into the most important of his college career, maybe even his life.  Although Colt didn’t expect to be unable to play, he understood that his testament would be even more meaningful and have the potential to lead more to God’s love under such extreme circumstances.

***For more more sermons and moving interviews, please check out Oak Hills Church on Vimeo!

Colt McCoy’s Interview w/ Max Lucado:

Towards the end of the sermon Max made such a powerful, yet simple statement.  Like parents who know exactly what their children need and want, so does God for us…and He will provide our greatest wants and needs…maybe in ways we don’t understand at first, or at times when we’re are not ready.

Xtreme Kleen | Product Review

Let me say it’s a good thing I don’t get cable and am not tempted to be sucked into “As Seen On TV” commercials!

Even though there are signs all around my neighborhood, No Solicitors, my doorbell almost always rings for no other reason but someone peddling their goods.  Unfortunately I always listen to their spiel and get sucked in.  Normally I can be very good about saying no but in case you meet the same fate as I did against the incredible convincing and persistent Xtreme Kleen sales person (who cleaned the rim on my car, an oil stain in the driveway, a portion of my stove, the grout between some tile , a stain on the carpet, and ink on the wall…), here’s everything you’ll want t know about the product.


The official website is listed below.  I used that same address to track them down in the Better Business Bureau…to find out just how legit they were.  I breathed a HUGE sign of relief to find out they got a B, even after 14 complaints being filed in the past 36 months…they had all be resolved.  The website also gives you 3 days to return for a full-money back refund if you’re unsatisfied with your miracle product.  You can also buy some for yourself from the website (I definitely did NOT get this product for free or at a discounted rate so I have no emotional connection to it…)

You get a large gallon jug, a brush with iron bristles and a flip side with soft bristles, 2 steel wood type pads, and a spray bottle with lines for easy ratio measurements.  Basically ratios are some part Xtreme Cleen product and other part water…I bought 3 different colored spray bottles from Ikea and put different ratios in each.  That way I only use the measurement bottle for measurements and don’t need to worry about switching out concentration levels each time I move to another area of the house.

The website also lists the ratios in case you lose the brochure or forget what your options are.

If you have questions you can also contact the company.

Oh, and before I forget, here’s what it can’t do:

It is not recommended for use on silk, satin, suede, low grade latex wall paint or any other surface / fabric not designed to get wet.

I have included some pictures below but am so far impressed on the product’s ability to deliver…I was able to clean my oven and stove fairly quickly, get an ink mark off the wall by myself (not surprised when the sales person can do it…), and most impressively so far…the ability to clean OLD stains on my carpet!  I’m curious to find out others’ experiences, let me know and leave me a comment!

Active Ingredient: 2-Butoxyethanol a.k.a. Butyl Cellosolve is referenced in the website’s “Material Data Safety Sheet“:

organic solvent …colorless…main uses include solvent in paint and cleaning supplies…other uses include firefighting foam, oil spill dispersant, whiteboard cleaners, and herbicides…

Apparently it really does do it all!  Although my sales person said it was non-toxic (demonstrated by a quick taste test…) I don’t think I would chug it if I were you…but you don’t have to take my word for it.  🙂

Xtreme Kleen:
Xtreme Kleen: Simple to Klean

Xtreme Kleen:
Before: The Stove (not mine...)
Xtreme Kleen:
After: The Stove (simply sprayed and let soak for 5 minutes...rubbed off w/ abrasive sponge)
Xtreme Kleen:
Before: Not pretty when sauce bubbles over...
Xtreme Kleen:
After: Now it is! (Ratio was 10:1)
Xtreme Kleen:
Before: The Oven (rarely deep-cleaned for past 3 years)
Xtreme Kleen:
After: The Oven (sprayed w/ ratio 10:1, let sit for 15 minutes, warmed oven...)
Xtreme Kleen:
Before: Carpet w/ gum rubbed in, a year later...
Xtreme Kleen:
After: The carpet after letting ration 5:1 soak for 5 minutes and rubbing with a soft-bristle brush.

Xtreme Kleen:
Before: The carpet with a longtime soy sauce stain...
Xtreme Kleen:
During: Letting Xtreme Kleen soak for a couple minutes...
Xtreme Kleen:
After: No more soy sauce! After rubbing vigorously for a couple moments, gone!
Xtreme Kleen:
Before: The carpet with sticky residue from a red candy...
Xtreme Kleen:
During: Letting Xtreme Kleen soak and already red has disappeared.
Xtreme Kleen:
After: The carpet is red free! 😀 Rubbed with brush for good measure...

All in all, I’m happy I didn’t get ripped off and am pretty sure my supply will last me a good amount of time, letting me get my money’s worth. 😀

Fun, Educational Resources for 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics

If you’re looking for game schedules, freebies, athletes that tweet, and other details about this year’s Winter Games, check out my other blog post, 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.  As I was writing that post I ran into incredible education resources and fun stuff for kids…I wanted to keep it separate and figure out which was worth investigating.

This post is dedicated to the educational opportunities for teachers and kids being offered online!  I have found links to online games, printable worksheets and coloring pages, and also information that I definitely didn’t expect to find preschool aged children through the 12th grade!  Emotionally connect your family and students to the 21st Winter Olympics with these resources!

Meeting the 2010 Olympic Mascots

2010 Olympic Mascots
From left to right, meet snowboarding Miga, Quatchi who loves playing hockey, and Sumi.

***Find out when you can meet them LIVE!


Meaning Behind Choice

Quatchi the SasquatchQuatchi the Sasquatch The sea bear is inspired by the legends of the Pacific Northwest First Nations, tales of orca whales that transform into bears when they arrive on land.The Kermode bear is a rare white or cream-coloured sub-species of the black bear that is unique to the central West Coast of British Columbia.
Sumi the Animal SpiritSumi the Animal Spirit Transformation is a common theme in the art and legend of West Coast First Nations. Transformation represents the connection and kinship between the human, animal and spirit world.The bear often represents strength and friendship. And the thunderbird — which creates thunder by flapping its wings — is one of the most powerful of the supernatural creatures.
Miga the Young Sea BearMiga the young sea bear The sasquatch is a popular figure in local native legends of the Pacific West Coast.The sasquatch reminds us of the mystery and wonder that exist in the natural world, igniting our imagination about the possibility of undiscovered creatures in the great Canadian wilderness.

Online 2010 Olympic Games & Activities for Kids



Miga Moves Mascot Rockband, match the letters V/B/N/M in time to falling starfish!Difficulty:  MediumThis one takes some keyboard coordination…older kids (and adults) will really enjoy!
Soaring SumiVancouver winter Olympic online games: Soaring Sumi Keep Sumi flying across Canada by hitting the spacebar to move up!  Fly up or down to avoid obstacles and hit health points!Difficulty:  EasyEasier than most games, simple hit spacebar without worrying about other keys/mouse.
Shootout ShutoutVancouver winter Olympic online games: shootout shutout Face off against Miga and Sumi in some fast-paced one-on-one hockey!Difficulty:  HardThis game takes the MOST coordination, not only do you have to use LEFT and RIGHT arrow keys to move back and forth as the goalie, you also have to use the 1-3 number keys that correspond with colored pucks.  Definitely for older kids.
Operation RecycleVancouver winter Olympic online games: operation recycle Help Miga, Quatchi, and Sumi with their neighborhood recycling program!Difficulty:  Easy/MediumAlthough it does not require a lot of coordination it does require some thought.  Complete rounds by successfully finishing 5 levels.  Includes a little physics, test your trajectory skills by holding the mouse button down and dragging to aim towards target!

*My 6 year old daugher enjoyed this game the most!

Which Mascot Are You LikeVancouver winter Olympic online games: which mascot are you like Take this quiz to see which mascot you’re most like…your child’s first personality test…next stop Meyer-Briggs! 🙂

Other Fun Activities:

Send E-cardssend 2010 winter olympics ecards Select 1 of 4 mascot scenes, decorate VERY easily, add verbage, and send to family and friends!
Crafts and Color Printables2010 winter olympics crafts and color printables Download and print craft activities (make 3-d mascots!!) and get printable coloring sheets
Download Desktops & Wallpapersdownload 2010 winter olympics desktops and wallpapers Download (for Windows only…) an interactive desktop to decorate with stickers, information about the ceremony, add an Olympics countdown, and much more…Download static Wallpapers for those that desires less interactivity.  🙂

Paralympic Games

Sumi is officially the mascot of the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Game…check out this printable passport activity book to track his and your journeys!  After printing out those, print out this printable coloring sheet to color your own Sumi!

Featured Programs

Check out these fun facts about the Paralympic Winter Games (pdf).  Although Paralympic School Week in School has already passed officially (November 2-6, 2009) you can still support the Paralympic Games any time.  Resources for educators found on the official games website here.  Here’s the link to the “Guide for Educators” to celebrating in your skills with informative details, activities, and other helpful stuff.

Educational Resources

The Canadian Olympic School program seeks to inspire young students through Olympian stories, activities, projects, activities and more and offers:

  • Teacher Resources for educators with printable PDFs, videos, pictures, and more!
  • Student Lounge geared towards school aged kids
  • Playground for Younger Kids means you don’t have to be in school to catch the spirit with additional games, puzzles, and contests.
  • Library section to answer all your kids’ questions

School-Aged Kids: Additionally there are these printable Olympic Games Project Packs pdf.  Includes additional resources for teachers or your kids:

Passing the Torch Activities:



Math & Science Grades 4-7Discover the math and science behind the Olympic Torch and the Olympic Torch Relay Route.
Social Studies Grades K-3, 4-7, and 8-10Learn more about your community and Canadian heritage through Olympic Torch Relay themed lesson plans.
Language Arts Grades 1-7 and 8-10Explore how the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay will bring Canadians together in the spirit of peace, unity and friendship.
Physical Activity Grades 1-7 and 8-10Get your students active in the spirit of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay.

Make Your Own Peace

This is a wonderful opportunity to teach kids about practicing peaceful behaviors and making peace in their home and communities.  Starting on February 4, 2010, check out “Sharing the Dream” webcasts inspired by the Olympic Truce and led by children.

2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics

The 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics are here!

In celebration, I have posted everything you wanted to know about the 2010 Vancouver Winter games including information from the official website, the Olympic torch, freebies, schedules, athletes, and fan information!  I went through and found all of the links that I’d want to know about (but would NEVER have considered searching for on my own.)

The XXI Olympic Winter Games will be the 21st Winter Olympics, starting February 12th and continuing through the 28th in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  This blog post includes information about all of the “official” websites, video games, following the torch, travel information and other details and freebies the 2010 games are offering!

2010 vancouver winter olympics

There is projected to be over 80 nations represented during the 86 winter sports.  Ghana, Bahamas, Cayman Islands, Colombia, Peru, Montenegro, and Serbia will also make their winter Olympic debuts!

Official Website:

Official Broadcaster:  NBC Olympics

2010 Olympic Torch Relay:

Originating from Greek mythology, the Olympic Flame torch is a cherished symbol of the modern day games starting in the 1928 Summer games in Amsterdam.

The tradition starts several months before opening day, transports the flame from Greece to the center of the stadium and burns brightly throughout the duration of the games.

Starts Oct. 30, 2009
Days in Transit 106 day run
Number of Torchbearers 12,000
Follow Torch on Twitter @FollowTheFlame
Number of Stops over 1000
Length of Journey almost 30,000 miles
2010 Olympic Torch Relay Emblem

Olympic Torch Emblem flame torch relay
Entitled "A Path of Northern Lights"

Official Twitter & Facebook Accounts

Keep track of everything through the Olympics’ official social media channels…

2010 Vancouver Tweets Check out the list I made on Twitter of official Olympic teams, committees, the media, and athletes!  Includes over 130 (and growing!)

Includes @2010tweets, @followtheflame, @code2010, @nbcolympics,

Olympics on Facebook The official Facebook page of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter games!
Vancouver 2010 Cultural Olympiad on Facebook From Jan. 22 to Mar. 21, the best artists from Canada and around world will be playing in Vancouver and Whistler, BC.
dreambig Vancouver 2010 on Facebook Become a fan and show your support for Canada’s athletes! Get the latest updates on how our athletes are doing.

Olympic Sized Souvenirs:

2010 vancouver winter olympics journal

FREE Vancouver 2010 Journal: Worth $17.99, get yours FREE by signing up for your 160-page personalized journal to include photos, prompt Games memories, blank journal pages, and record your thoughts and experiences!

Mobile Freebies & Alerts

Mobile Text OLYMPICS to 51515 for latest news and much more!
Official Mobile Game Be the ultimate winner in this sports challenge with 5 different events, play alone or with friends!
NBC’s iPhone App & Blackberry App Coming soon!  Check back for your FREE download and you’ll be able to check Olympic news, results, videos, and more!
Alerts Sign up for alerts to your phone AND/OR email.
Mobile Video Highlights Watch, get highlights, and other features on your cell phone!

1. Select CV on your Phone’s main menu
2. Select Sports
3. Select NBC Sports
4. Select NBC Olympics

1. Select GET IT NOW from the main menu
2. Select Pictures & Videos
3. Select V CAST Videos
4. Select Sports
5. Select NBC Sports
6. Select NBC Olympics

1. Go to Entertainment
2. Select TV
3. Select Sprint TV
4. Select NBC Sports
5. Select NBC Olympics

Official Video Game of the 2010 Olympics:

Check out information by click on the link above OR pre-order the games on Amazon or at Game Stop!  Even if you’re not a world-class athlete you can train your mind to be… 🙂

Official xbox 360 Video Game of the 2010 Olympics Official ps3 Video Game of the 2010 Olympics
Amazon Game Stop

***Also check out Mario and Sonic on for Wii and Nintendo DS!

Olympic Travel Information:

  • Check out the official 2010 Olympics Spectator Guide which includes link to the different venues, ceremonies, transportation, accommodations, and other essential information.
  • The US Department of State Travel includes information about passport travelling, games fact sheet, country specific information, customs information, and the 2010 US Olympic team.
  • Not going by train or plane?  Check out this website for RV information:  Vancouver 2010 RV Park

Colt McCoy’s Post 2010 BCS Game Interview

I did a rough, quick transcription of Colt McCoy’s class-act game interview after the 2010 BCS National Championship – full of strength and faith!

I love this game, I have a passion for this game, I’ve done everything I can to contribute to my team and we made it this far and it’s unfortunate that I didn’t get to play.  I would have given everything I had to be out there with my team.  Congratulations to Alabama, I love the way our team fought…Garrett Gilbert played as well as he could play, he did a tremendous job.  I always give God the glory, I’d never question why things happen the way they do.  God is in control of my life and if nothing else I know I’m standing on The Rock.

…You know I really have no pain in my arm, I just can’t feel my arm.  It wasn’t a painful hit, I’ve taken that hit over and over again in my life…playing this game I know I’m going to get hit…like I said, I’m not in pain, my arm’s dead.  It feels like I slept on my arm, woke up and my arm’s dead.

I thought this was so great and I looked for it immediately after the game…here for anyone who’s been dealt a rough hand…may you handle it with the graciousness that he did.

2010 Citi BCS National Championship

Citi BCS National Championship on January 7th, 2010 is here!

Listen to BCS Championship LIVE here!

ESPN includes:

Texas Exes Fan:

  • Follow @Texasexes tweets
  • Become a Facebook Fan of their Texas Exes app


Mix 96.1’s Not So Silent Night 2009

UPDATED (12/15/2009):  Parking Information

The Institute of Texan Cultures suggested parking at the city lot on Durango which doesn’t close.  It’s Tower & ITC parking. Last they heard, $8.

Also, the Downtown Alliance San Antonio’s Twitter group @BeDowntown suggested the 2 parking lots near La Villita, 1 block away. Enter Park + Central Parking found on their handy map.

Finally my tweep, @RachelKeller (of renowned catering company @theRKgroup) saw event parking on the grass “Event Day Only” by Refugio Place apartments!


I am incredibly excited about attending Mix 96.1’s Not So Silent Night 2009 at Hemisphere Park!  Here is everything you need to know!

-Schedule of Performers-

Follow the bands through different social media channels!

Band Twitter Facebook

Christmas Countdown Freebies & Deals

With less than 25 days until Christmas, I wanted to post an advent calendar of deals and activities.  I wanted to post ways to save or kill time until the big day comes!  This post will include links to other sites offering daily freebies as the countdown continues, it also has activities for young and old to take advantage of!

In no particular order…Merry Christmas, Frohe Weihnachten, Mele Kalikimaka, and Joyeux Noel!

ABC’s Family 25

Days of Christmas

Offers special holiday programs from December 1st through December 25th.  Get into the spirit a little more every day.

Check out Disney Dreaming for the corresponding Christmas album and become a fan on Facebook!

Christmas Organization Some people start getting excited for Christmas 100 days out!

Check out 100 Days to Christmas for over 400 printable lists and planning tools, fun ideas, and a new blog post everyday to help inspire, sponsored by

FREE iPhone Apps courtesy of, every day until Christmas on Appvent Calendar 09.

Each game is only free for THAT day but you can already see what you’ve missed!  Check back until Dec 25.  Follow them on Twitter.

Daily deals until Christmas Some of these sites will only last until Christmas, some continue on through the years, all of these sites offer GREAT daily deals:

  • Overstock – 25 days, 25 deals until Christmas

Daily Deal, All Year Round

Christmas Cookies

Going to a Christmas cookie party?  Want to make a new cookie everyday for 25 days? offers 25 Days of Cookies.

If you’re not happy with that list there are websites dedicated to the top 25 Christmas cookies like this one or this one!  Not top 25, Food Network has 12 Days of Cookies.

Wants everyone to spend their Christmas countdown with Feed It Forward. You can give up to 30 of your friends a FREE $10 gift certificate that can be used at any’s restaurant.

Don’t feel like going to the website?  Use the Facebook app to give your friends something every day!


Scrapbook much?  There are a ton of blogs that are offering free and severely discounted deals on scrapbook templates, supplies, printables like ScrapArtist and this FREE download from Weeds and Wildflowers Design.



FREE desktop and iPhone screensavers from Little Dreamer Designs.

Readers Digest

Check out their offers for a free December/January edition in addition to 10 FREE electronic editions.  Come back every day to see what big prize you might have one!

Regardless of big wins, you’ll get FREE holiday Christmas music.  Their holiday section rocks with every article you’d ever want – including 25 things Santa won’t tell you!

Also download free printables, great recipes, and laugh at funny Christmas cartoons!

12Days of Whataburger

Sign up for the 12 Days of Whataburger offers a coupon for 1 FREE item from Whataburger a day until December 24!

I just got my first offer in the mail and it’s pretty tasty!

Wants you to tweet your Sephora Christmas wish every day until December 19th, anything from their store up to $150!

Watch your tweet wish float to the bottom of the screen.  They’re granting wishes and sometimes they do come true!

Macy’s Believe

Christmas website offers Santa stationary, gift giving guides, and an incredible opportunity to easily contribute to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

For every Dear Santa letter dropped off at your local Macy’s mailbox and they’ll donate a dollar, up to 1 million!  Vote for your favorite entry on why people “Believe”!

Check out their app on Facebook!

Buying Gift Cards? Get Rewards!

With great discounts, online shopping, and busy schedules, it’s hard to know what to get your friends and family for the holidays…and then make time to go find it.  Gift cards can still be an incredibly thoughtful gift without taking up too much space or time.  Since you’re going to be getting the gift cards anyways (or if you want to save additional money when you make purchases for yourself…) check out these great seasonal offers that will not only bring a smile a friend to the person receiving the gift, but also the one giving:

UPDATED 12/11/2009 with EVEN MORE offers found:

Store Offer Expires
Got Hair Salon $10 giftcard w/ $50 giftcard purchase
Victoria Secrets Create a Victoria Secrets wishlist to be entered to win $250 giftcard 12/21/2009
Carino’s Italian $5 reward w/ $25 giftcard purchase Limited, In-store
Macy’s Girls named Virginia get $10 giftcard; in-store ONLY 12/11
Shops at La Cantera $50 rewarded for every $150 spent; valid whereever American Express is accepted 9am-12; 12/12
San Francisco Marriot $50 shopping card per day 2/8/2010
Souper Salad $5 giftcard with every $20 giftcard purchase
New York & Company 10% off coupon w/ giftcard purchase 12/24/2009 Spend $125 on your Mastercard to receive $20 credit

UPDATED 12/4/2009 with MORE offers found:

Store Offer Expires
Denny’s $5 card with $25 gift card purchase 12/31/2009
Foot Locker $10 reward card w/ each $50 gift card purchase 12/20/2009
Fox and Hound $5 reward card with $20 gift card purchase 2/28/2010
Half Price Books $5 coupon for every $25 spent on gift cards 12/24/2009
Kids Foot Locker $10 reward card w/ each $50 gift card purchase 12/20/2009
Scenic Loop Café & Bar $5 gift card w/ $50 giftcard purchase, $10/$100 12/31/2009
Subway Free cookie with in-store $10 purchase 12/25/2009
The Palm $50 card with every $250 giftcard purchase 1/15/2009

Previously mentioned, STILL GOOD, gift card purchase rewards!

Store Offer Expires
Abercrombie & Fitch $25 gift card with every $100 purchase
Barnes and Noble Free $10 gift certificate for every $100 purchase 7-Dec
Cadillac Receive $50 AMEX Gift Card for Test Driving a Cadillac
California Pizza Kitchen $20 CPK Rewards Card with $100 in CPK Gift Cards purchase The Holidays
Coinstar Exchange $40 for a certificate and get extra $10 card for free 6-Dec
CVS Get $5 eGift Card for Every $25 eGift Card
DSW $10 Bonus Card with $50 Gift Card Purchase 24-Dec
Godiva Free $10 shopping card for every $50 purchase 24-Dec
IHOP $5 Coupon Off Next Visit with $25 Gift Card Purchase 3-Jan
L.L. Bean Free $10 Gift Certificate with $25 Purchase 1-Jan
Morton’s Steakhouse $100 Gift Card when you buy a $500 giftcard 31-Dec
Outback Steakhouse Free $20 Gift card & Free Music Download w/ Purchase of $100 31-Dec
P.F. Chang’s $10 Guest Card with Every Purchase of $50 in GiftCards 31-Dec
Romano’s Macaroni Grill Free $5 gift card with $25 purchase 31-Dec
Smash Burger Free $5 gift card with $25 purchase
The Limited Free $10 Rewards Card for every $50 Gift Card Purchase
Toys R Us Free $10 Gift Card with Purchase of Any 3 Cans of Enfamil Powder Formula 24-Dec

Black Friday Starts Now!

Although I originally wanted to blog about Black Friday ads, plan of attacks, great deals I personally was excited about I ran out of time as worked sucked the life out of me this month!  Just kidding boss…

Anyways, since I now have a second to breathe I am finding all kinds of exciting deals and information and thought I would share it with the class while there is still time.  I don’t mind if I’m the only one who uses this post because essentially it is my notes and random Black Friday finds that I want to keep track of somewhere.  Since I’m already listing everything in notepad I figured I might as well share it with the world!

Last year I used the most because of its consumer buying guides (suggestions, best deals, and great comparisons on Laptop, TV, camera, Top 10 Toy Deals, etc.) and extensive collection of ads.

Favorite Black Friday Website:

This year I’ve been tempted away by by their beautiful layout, inclusive information of the latest ads, hand-picked deals, and accessible blog.  When I’m reading their blog I feel like Brad Wilson (founder of both this site and is talking directly to me, telling me that I should take advantage of this site versus that.

Starting as a deal seeking college student, I feel like Brad and I relate…a lot!  I love deals, and his Black Friday blog.  Watch what he said CNBC about shopping this Friday and also read his Top 10 Best and Worst (weirdest) deals…both really good!  It also easily shows the store hours for each of the stores listed, great for planning reconnaissance!  He doesn’t just find the deals…he explains which store is best for which product…saving a lot of time and money for all!

Become a fan on Facebook and follow their tweets about sales.   Don’t forget to sign up for their email list.  Remember, you’re not just signing up for this year, you’re preparing for next year!

Black Friday Links I like

Retail Me Not’s Black Friday list is massive and encompassing.  I check this site for promo codes before I buy anything online, check it out for other Black Friday ads.

The following links are not necessarily the obvious Black Friday ads (check out the websites listed above for the big name stores and offers!)  These links are to stores and deals I don’t think people know about or thought to check.

Black Friday’s Already Begun – Shop Now!

Amazon:  They have specials throughout the week; check out their calendar of deals for movies, toys, and other awesome items!  As always they’re also continuing their Gold Box offers.

Charlotte Russe:  Online the entire store is 25% off NOW through Friday when the entire store is 25% off in-stores, and also get a free mini wallet for purchases $40 or more.  Free online shipping for orders over $60!

Dell:  Save money already on high performance machines, electronics, and accessories!

Entertainment:  If you haven’t already bought an 2010 Entertainment Book for your child’s fundraiser, get one this week (see my other blog post to see what’s so good about it!)  Now it’s 30% off AND free shipping!

Express:   Save 20% off for the next 2 days (Wednesday and Thursday) and save!  (Coupon code: 4389 was also listed in my email, might be a better savings then direct website.)

Leap Frog:  Another site that’s already started, buy some great education toys at great prices!  Starting now enjoy a savings of 25-75% off!  Free shipping for orders over $50!  Now through 11/30 you’ll also enjoy getting an additional $10 off orders over $100!

New York & Company: EVERYTHING is 50% off right now (offer starts in-stores on Friday!)  Enter promotion code 1609 on the shopping bag page at checkout and choose standard shipping.

Oriental Trading Company:  Save 20% off orders $49 or more, now through 11/28, just enter “WCX8719” at checkout.

Smart Home:  Check out their Black Friday shopping starts now and continues through Cyber Monday!  Have you ever wanted to automate your house?  Control the downstairs lights from your computer or cell phone?  Preheat your oven from your car?  Remote control thermostat?  Start here!  Don’t forget to become a fan on Facebook and follow their tweets!  Products up to 45% off!

Sears:  Another store that’s already started it’s savings offers, shop now for Black Friday savings today!

Sun & Ski Sports:  Has offers for Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday!  50% off clearance items, 60% off snow items, quantities are limited, shop fast!

Walgreens:  Coupon code BFRIDAY valid through November 28, 2009 to get $10 OFF your $50 online purchase!  Select Snuggies only $8, online Friday ONLY, limit 2 per person!

Black Friday Starts on Thanksgiving!

Academy Sports:  Although their doors open 5am and last to 11am on Friday, they’re also offering additional savings on Thanksgiving and through the weekend so they made it into this section.

Bass Pro Shop:  Opened on Thanksgiving at 8am!  Check out their 4 day sale starting on Turkey Day and continuing through 11/29.  Also check out their 5 hour sale on Friday from 6am to 11am.  Don’t forget to check out Santa’s Wonderland, now through 12/24, my daughter and I went and had an incredible time!

Big Lots: Check out their sales on Thanksgiving (cause they’re opened!!), Friday, and Saturday!  Doors open 7am on Thursday, 6am on Friday, and 8am on Saturday.  There is also a $10 off coupon that can be used ALL 3 days!  NOTE:  Join their Buzz Club for additional 20% savings, year round and other awesome offers!!

Starts Black Friday Friday!

*Actually starts on Friday, November 27th, 2009 unless otherwise noted!

HEB:  Starts at 5am on Friday and 6am on Saturday, check out what’s selling at HEB!

IKEA:  My favorite store in the entire world is also offering 1 day of extreme savings!  Click on the link to see offers for Friday and also Saturday and Sunday deals!  Also print out their coupon for free breakfast before 10:30am, Friday through Sunday.

P.F. Chang:  Do you get hungry while you’re saving tons of money?  Save more by mentioning the phrase “Lettuce Wrap Your Gifts” on Friday and Saturday between 10am and noon to get their lettuce wraps for FREE!

Tuesday Morning:  Starts at 8am although you can shop online here on Thanksgiving Day and get FREE shipping (through November 29th!)

University Co-op:  I would be remiss (and beaten by UT friends) if I didn’t include their in-store offers.  Doors open on Friday at 8am!

WoW: Online Gaming Gives Back

Website of the Week:

Games that Give is a website I recently found through UNICEF USA’s Facebook updates…it takes advantage of the money made from advertising online while people play games online and gives 70% of the revenues back to the 14 organizations it currently supports!

Hover over images to read a quick summary of each organization, click on the image for more information:

The website launched in August 2008 and also has a corresponding Facebook app!  The more you play online (and the better you do), the more you make for the charity of your choice!

All you have to do is sign up for a new user account, select your favorite charity, and start playing one of the currently 12 games available!  I love the interface, simple, sharp, and the game selection is ideal.  You’re going to be playing blackjack, solitaire, and some of the other popular games on your computer anyways – play AND give back to the community!

If you want to know more details check out their blog or their extensive FAQ section.  Learn more details about how they got started, who their most recent corporate sponsors are, and other questions you might have!

Once registered with the site, easily send out notifications to your email contacts, also encouraging them to play!  Right now my chosen charity is UNICEF USA and it tells me how many immunizations my online game time has bought for kids in need!

Finally, another fun feature of the gaming site, there’s even a “Click if the Boss is Coming” button that automatically pops up an image of a word document!  (Love those buttons!)  Play incognito to support the cause!

Fall Deals of the Week

In order of Halloween, Deals of the Week (DoWs) have a certain seasonal flair.  Discounts include photos, costumes, food, candy, and other fun tricks and treats.  A lot are for parties – not even Halloween related…stock up for office or classroom parties!’s selling Nestle, Mars, and Wonka Candy for a great discount!

Amazon’s Halloween Headquarters lets you save $10 on Select Costume Orders over $50 from

Breyer’ Yogurt – Get a coupon good for a FREE YoCrunch Yogurt when you mail any Halloween Candy wrapper to: Shaina Zalma / YoCrunch / 9507 Santa Monica Blvd., Ste. 300 / Beverly Hills, CA 90210.

Nestle Family save $1.00 Off Any Bag of Nestle Candy + $1.00 Off Wonka Candies when you register or sign in to print your 2 coupons for these candies.

Oriental Trading is offering 20%off any order now through Oct. 29, 2009 use coupon code SW1019778.  Ground shipping sent today (Oct. 20th will be delivered by Oct. 26!)

Party City is offering all kinds of $10 off on $30 or more, 50% off Halloween Supplies, KidsPatterned Tableware online w/ Coupon code: PCBARBIE10 and Coupon code: PCWELCOME50, respectively, exp. 12/31/09.  Don’t forget to follow @PartyCity and on Facebook.

Sears lets you take 40% off Halloween costumes w/ $5.00 OFF $25.00.  Coupon code: S5OFF25.

Spirit Halloween is offering all kinds of Halloween deals, don’t forget to follow them on Twitter @spiritonline and fan them on Facebook.  Use the following to save $5, $15, $30 on entire purchase w/ SAV5, SAV15, and SAV30 respectively.  Also take 20% off any single item, online with coupon code: SOCIETY, exp: 10/31/09, print here. is offering a free Gift Cookie Cutter Set with Purchase AND 25% OFF with Free Shipping!!  Coupon code: AFOCT and NEWS.

The Scholastic Store is offering 10% off all online AND free shipping for purchases over $25!  Use coupon code SSHLWN by Oct. 26th!

Walgreens is offering 20% off Halloween Costumes, Accessories & Décor w/ coupon code: PUMPKIN, Exp: 10/27/09.

Walgreens Photos is also offering 25 FREE when you purchase 25 using coupon code EXTRAFREE by Oct. 24th.  Walgreen’s mailing list frequently sends out good offers.

Yankee Candle – $10 Off a $25 Purchase (Online+ In-Store) exp. 11/14, coupon code: H4XFOP.

Halloween Tailgating Events

Haven’t caught the fall spirit yet this year?  Have to much stuff to do already?  Kids can’t stop talking about the big day?  This post includes all kinds of Halloween tailgating events to get you and your family psyched for the big day!  Fun things to do and entertain through the upcoming weeks!

This Halloween series of posts will include:

  • Halloween WoW – Holiday special, this website of the week is a real treat!
  • Halloween Tailgating – Tailgating events to get you psyched for game day!  Get Halloween to “go green” and find friend and family fun!
  • Trick or Treating – Check out my ideas to breathe new life into an age old tradition!  Great ideas for individuals, families, neighbors, and friends.

Go Green!!  …and not from candy…

Go green, win big!! ChicoBag and Green Halloween’s® 2nd ANNUAL TRICK-OR-TREAT BAG DESIGN CONTEST – “Children ages 1-13 are encouraged to enter the contest by submitting an original drawing best depicting the spirit of a Green Halloween.”

Who: Ghosts and Goblins ages 1-13

What: An original design depicting the “spirit” of a Green Halloween

When: Images due October 24, 2009 by 5:00 PM Pacific Time. (Winner will be notified no later than 11/5/09.)

Ghouly Girls and Bootiful Boys Boys can create the 2010 Green Halloween ChicoBag™ and win a bag of green goodies!

Monster Mashup – Oriental Trading Company came up with a great website to easily make mashup video with up to 5 of your closet friends with an awesome Halloween backdrop!  I made one with my daughter of her and her friends and she almost died laughing! Easily share with your friends through email, Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Check out the one I did of San Antonio Social Media super stars @ColleenPence, @Nanpalmero, @1337wine, @ashleypalmero, and @anaflores!

Bonus:  Upload your pictures or use existing pictures from Facebook!  Using FacebookConnect, you can select from your existing photo albums or use friends!  It was super simple to do!  Don’t forget you can also resize the area around the face to select – for optimal mashup potential!

Halloween Tailgating

There are a lot of fun events going on before Halloween even gets here!  Don’t wait until the end of the month; check your newspaper for local events!

1 – Bass Pro Shop! You heard me right!  I have been more and more impressed with the activities offered here!  Oct. 24/25 and Oct. 30/31, get there early and stay for different crafts and activities offered throughout the day and store!  Make a leather craft, rope a bronco, partake in kid costume parades, paint a craft pumpkin, roast marshmallows, and lots of other GREAT events!

2 – Lakeshore Learning Store! Enjoy making a different Halloween themed craft each Saturday during the month of October.  Crafts include silly scarecrows, countdown calendars, and other things to drive you batty while your child has a lot of fun!  All locations from 11am-3pm.

3 – Pumpkin Patches! This was one of my favorite October traditions!  Find a local pumpkin patch, maybe as cool as this oneSouth Texas Maize!  Right outside of San Antonio, TX…it even has a corn maze (one kid friendly and one more difficult!)  Help you kids select their own pumpkins, snack on fall snacks, take a hayride, and automatically have the picture backdrop for Halloween pictures.

I’ll also continue to update this post as I find more family friendly events as well!  Check back for that and my next post on alternatives to trick or treating or ways to spice it up!

Website of the Week | Trick or Treat for UNICEF

Create an unforgettable Halloween for the entire family!  I have scoured the internet to consolidate the best fun activities that not only encourage a good, safe time but help the community, environment, and result in much more than just cavities.

My Halloween Series includes:

  • Halloween WoW – Holiday special, this website of the week is a real treat!
  • Halloween Countdown – What to do while you’re waiting!  Get Halloween to “go green” and find friend and family fun!
  • Trick or Treating – Check out my ideas to breathe new life into an age old tradition!  Great ideas for individuals, families, neighbors, and friends!

I’ve always enjoyed Halloween – it’s a fun holiday regardless of your age.  This year though, instead of waiting for the true meaning of Christmas to roll around, use Halloween as an opportunity to show your kids that they shouldn’t just look forward to the sweet stuff at the end of the month but they can ALSO offer a lot of treats too!

Website of the Week (WoW): UNICEF (the United Nations Children’s Fund)

A global organization that saves kids’ lives in over 150 countries by providing clean water, nutrition, medicines, education and aid in emergencies.  They’re also offering awesome ways to raise awareness and contributions!

UNICEF’s Media Savvy

  • Follow @unicefusa’s tweets on Twitter.  (Not on Twitter yet?  Twitter 101 from basics to advanced users here!)
  • Become a Fan on Facebook!
  • Join their causeBy clicking on the “Join Cause” button, you can track how much money you’re raising, see how others are doing, and join the discussions online!

Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF

Encourage your child to help other kids, all over the world, survive and get the basic essentials they need to live better, fuller lives!  Bring around your orange box to collect money in while trick or treating.  Check out their PDF of FAQ here.

  • Practice What you Preach – Does your child get a little gun shy?  Don’t wait until opening night to find out what lines your kid’s going to deliver?  UNICEF even has an online game to help kids practice what they’re going to say.

***Parents check out these resources to help understand and explain the importance of giving back, now and throughout the year!

Available anytime between now and Halloween.  Don’t feel like waiting? Download the materials to make your own collection canister here.

***P&G will double HGTV TV viewers’s tax-deductible donations made online between October 18th and October 31st!

Halloween Party Toolkit

Includes EVERYTHING you need to throw a fun, successful, and informative fundraising party!

  • Invitations
  • “Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF” Door Sign
  • Stickers, Window Cling, and Door Hanger
  • Text-or-Treat Mobile Giving Cards – hand out during the party for your guests to contribute at their convience.
  • UNICEF DVD – Download the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF DVD, to show your guests how their contributions will be used.

Whether you’re throwing a party for a lot of people or just your family, take advantage of this awesome offer!

Create Your Own Website

Your child, their school, your organization, or just you can create your very own online fundraising Mecca!  In a few easy steps, save the lives a children across the world by:

  • Creating a monetary goal
  • Personalizing your website – easy to update and use!  (Can even create personalized URLs.)
  • Send out to friends and families…encourage everyone to participate!

UNICEF Download Center

Don’t have enough stuff yet?!  With enough activities to entertain you and your children for hours, take advantage of all the FREE resources available!  Download the fundraising kit, ultimate resource kit, or check out the entire sub-site dedicated for teachers!


TeachUNICEF is a resource for U.S. educators.  TeachUNICEF education materials have been designed to help educators bring a global understanding of the needs of children and families around the world into the classroom.

Delivering the Goods

UNICEF makes it easy to turn in donations by phone, online, mail, or even your local Coinstar center!  Turn in all the coins you collect instantly and send off your receipt.

And you don’t have to have kids for a lot of my suggestions – grab a group of your friends, your co-workers, and celebrate the end of harvest time with the season of sharing!