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Idina Menzel Holiday Album #Holiday Wishes

Since we are officially into November and just a short time away from Thanksgiving, the throes of the Christmas and holiday season will be converging upon us. If you are like me Thanksgiving day is the catalyst to start listening to holiday favorites and Christmas classics to really get in the spirit and mood of the season.

idina menzel, frozen, holiday wishesWhen I began listening to Idina Menzel‘s Holiday Wishes (available on iTunes and Amazon) album my daughter immediately recognized her enchanting voice and ran from the other room. Bright eyed she asked, “Mom, is that Elsa singing Christmas songs?”

This year every little girl’s favorite artist will be singing our Christmas classics and then some on her new holiday album titled Holiday Wishes. Imagine “Let It Go” as “Let It Snow” as Idina Menzel passionately sings some of our favorite Christmas melodies.

Holiday Wishes, a Christmas album recorded by Tony Award-winning singer/actor Idina Menzel, is out now on Warner Bros. Records.

The album was produced by Grammy Award-winner Walter Afanasieff (Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Mariah Carey) and features such classic favorites as “All I Want For Christmas Is You” and “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” as well as Joni Mitchell’s Christmas-themed “River,” one of Menzel’s favorites.

Another highlight is a duet with international superstar Michael Bublé on “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” An exclusive Target edition of Holiday Wishes features two bonus tracks, including “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!”.

Idina’s career has traversed stage, film, television, and music. She was most recently heard as Elsa in Disney’s global box-office smash Frozen, in which she sings the film’s Oscar-winning song “Let It Go.” After her performance of the multi-platinum song at the 86th annual Academy Awards, she made history as the first person with both a Billboard Top 10 hit and a Tony Award for acting.

Idina currently stars as Elizabeth in the original Broadway production of If/Then.

Holiday Wishes Track Listing

Do You Hear What I Hear
The Christmas Song
Baby It’s Cold Outside (Duet with Michael Buble)
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
All I Want For Christmas
What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?
December Prayer
When You Wish Upon A Star
Silent Night
River
Holly Jolly Christmas
White Christmas

Bonus Tracks on Target Exclusive

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow
Mothers Spiritual

While Thanksgiving has not yet arrived I cannot help but to play this album all the time. I am more than excited for the holidays. Thanksgiving and Christmas are by far my favorite holidays to share with my family. Of all the songs at Christmas on this album, Silent Night is an all time favorite and I really enjoyed the original tracks of River and December Prayer. The melodies have a seasonal tone, yet they don’t quite fall all the way into the Christmas music genre which I completely appreciate.

This album is available for download on Amazon and iTunes if you are ready to share in the holiday season and festivities. You can check out more of Idina and her entrancing voice on YouTube.

  I participated in the Idina Menzel Holiday Wishes album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.

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Nerf N-Strike Elite Precision Target Set

Test your accuracy with the Precision Target Set! The set includes everything you need for target practice: a Firestrike blaster, a target, and 10 Suction Darts in 2 different colors. Just stand up the target or hang it from a door, and take aim with the light beam when it’s your turn. Your Suction Darts stick to the target, so you can see your accuracy improve with each shot! Sharpen your dart-blasting skills alone or take on a friend in a suction-dart showdown. Either way, you’ll become a sharpshooter with the Precision Target Set!
Nerf and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.
Includes Firestrike blaster, target, 10 Suction Darts (2 colors), and instructions.
FEATURES:
• The Precision Target Set has everything you need for target practice or a competition.
• Target can stand up or be hung on a door.
• Blaster’s Light Beam Trigger activates the precision Light Beam, which works on targets up to 15 feet away.
• 10 Suction Darts work with most front-loading N-Strike blasters (sold separately).
• Darts come in 2 colors so you can tell whose shot is whose.

• Ages 8 and up
• CAUTION: Do not aim at eyes or face.
• TO AVOID INJURY: Use only darts designed for this product. Do not modify darts or dart blaster.
• Requires 2 “AAA” batteries (not included).
• Suction Darts only work with front-loading blasters.
© 2014 Hasbro. All Rights Reserved.

May contain affiliate links or sponsored posts. We may or may not receive a small fee for posts and images on this website

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Sweet Potato Cake

In just one week we will all be stuffing ourselves silly. Just before the gorge I will be preparing desserts galore,which happen to be my favorite part of the holiday, the sweets. This year I want to embrace a dinner favorite, yet give it a new spin of life. Pies are timeless, expected. What about a an old favorite like cake, married with an old favorite like sweet potatoes? Intrigued?

Sweet potato cake, pound cake

Photo courtesy of Taste of Home.

Not everyone is a fan of sweet potatoes smothered in brown sugar and marshmallows, while tempting, the dish can be dull, overused. The sweet potato cake melds together the sweet taste of the potato casserole, the spicy flavors of an amazing fall pie, and the spongy, crumbly taste of cake.

Here’s what you need to get started:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (yams)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 ½ cups of coconut oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups Pamela’s GF flour (or any GF flour or flour of choice)
  • ½ c chopped pecans or walnuts
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 ½ tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • ½ tsp cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 TBSP Confectioners sugar

Peel and quarter sweet potatoes and boil in medium saucepan or stockpot. Simmer until tender or for about 20 minutes. Drain water and mash. Set aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 325* and spray bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray and dust with flour, set aside.
Combine, eggs, sugar and coconut oil and begin to cream together until well blended. Sift together all dry ingredients while wet ingredients are mixing. Slowly add in the sweet potato mash and vanilla, beating on medium until the mixture is blended. Fold in the dry ingredients, including the nuts, until well blended. Pour cake mixture into pan and bake for 75-80 minutes or until the cake bounces back when lightly touched on top. Let cool for 20 minutes. While cake is still hot, dust with confectioners sugar to give a light glaze.

Serve for breakfast with coffee. Serve as dessert. Eat it whenever.

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Cayenne Pressure Cooker Giveaway

The Five Fish, Gift guide, The Five Fish gift guideTaking care of my family is a number one priority. One of the ways I care for them is by creating amazing meals. I love to cook those amazing meals and I take great pride in the time I put into them, but the time can take a toll. Three kids all involved in some activity, weekends with friends, serving with church, and a husband who travels creates a very hectic schedule. With all of that I am not one to skimp on meals and or breakdown and get fast food or takeout. Slow cookers are great if I planned ahead, but sometimes I just forgot to pre-plan resulting in last minute scrambling for meal prep. My life saver has been the Fagor Cayenne Pressure cooker, this awesome kitchen tool cuts cooking time for hours into mere minutes.

fagor cayenne, fagor pressure cooker 6qtThe Cayenne pressure cooker spices up my kitchen in the gorgeous red. Made of durable stainless steel, equipped with a veggie steamer basket and convenient cook book to get you started on your culinary adventures. Pot roast will never be the same again as you slave and wait hours for the roast to cook; in less than an hour your entire meal is complete and table ready.

Pressure cookers are great, old fashioned green technology. Good old stainless steel, no coatings or plastics. Energy is saved as pressure cookers are able cook an entire meal, dessert, whatever you wish, in a fraction of the time.

fagor cayenne pressure cooker, fagor pressure cooker 6qtFagor’s mission is to use resources efficiently and preserve the environment by developing quality products that consume less energy and water. Fagor is a notable partner in the Energy Star program. Fagor has manufacturing systems established to minimize environmental impact on soil, water, and air during the production process. There is also proper waste management and recycling procedures in place after manufacturing process is completed.

The 6-quart pressure cooker has a 10-inch diameter base for better browning and searing, a max fill line to notify you when you have reached capacity, two pressure settings: 2 for 15 psi and 1 for 8 psi of cooking pressure, a self-locking mechanism safely secures the pressure cooker, and an easy, automatic pressure release setting.

One of my favorite recipes and one you might not believe or think to make in a pressure cooker is cheesecake. Yes, you read that correctly, cheesecake!

Simply wrap foil in the basket and sprinkle with bread or cookie crumbs.(1 TBSP butter and 4 TBSP cookie or bread crumbs)

Blend together the following ingredients:

cheesecake, pressure cooker cheesecake2 – 8 ounce packages of cream cheese
3/4 c. of sugar
1/4 c heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
2 tsp grated lemon zest (or 1/4 tsp lemon juice)
2 TBSP flour
6 TBSP sour cream
2 eggs and 2 egg yolks
2 c. water

Pour water into the cooker. Pour the mixed ingredients into the basket and lower into the cooker. Close the lid, bring to pressure and cook; then let the pressure lower naturally. (Cook for 30 minutes on High pressure or 56 minutes on Low pressure.) Once the pressure is lowered, remove the lid and take out the cheese cake, loosen the foil, cool and then chill overnight. Serve with fresh fruit or preserves.

Now you can gift this amazing appliance and piece of cookware to chef in your life. Here are the details:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Transformers Rescue Bots Optimus Primal

The Five Fish, Gift guide, The Five Fish gift guideTransformers. Who knew the come back of an 80s favorite would be so viral!? The movie was a catalyst for a whole family of toys for kids of all ages. Of course the most beloved character is the fearless and noble leader, Optimus Prime.

Optimus takes his nobility and rescuing ability to new heights and levels. Optimus Prime robot goes primal! With one simple twist of the torso, everyone’s favorite Autobot hero will convert from bot to Tyrannosaurus Rex! The Playskool Heroes Transformers Rescue Bots Optimus Primal Figure features over 20 phrases and dino sound effects and will even let out a loud ‘rPlayskool optimus primal, hasbro optimus prime rescue botsoar’ in dino mode. Little adventurers wont be ale to resist the awesome special effects, like the blue Energize Hide activation panel, dino chomping action, and working rescue drill.

Your kids will be leading awesome rescue missions with their beloved Autobot leader. Optimus taps into the king of primal powers as T-Rex. After discovering a long-lost colony of dinos, the Autobots learn to convert to dinosaur mode. No enemy or terrain is too tough for this prehistoric hero. Even the transformation part is simplistic for your kids smaller hands. Long gone are days of complex bends, twists and rubiks cube style turns. One twist conversions allow the small hands to take hold of the large imagination as they save the day with Optimus.

Playskool Optimus Primal, hasbro optimus prime rescue botI love the new single twist conversion and my youngest son (age 6) appreciates the ease as well. His other transformers were so difficult to convert and generally required some form of parental interference or a call to customer service in order to gain assistance in transforming these mechanical heroes.

But don’t stop there! Look to get the whole family of Rescue Dinobots for hours of non-stop rescue adventure. You can find them on HasbroToyShop.com or Amazon.

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The Good Christian

I attend church each Saturday evening. I ingratiate myself each morning in His word. I pray regularly and even keep a prayer journal. Tithing? Done, at my 10%. I believe that Jesus Christ is my Lord and savior and he died for my sins and for that belief I have sought salvation.

For some, this basic attestation would be the epitome of a good Christian. Believing in His word, carrying on in our godliness, acting upon some righteousness. But truth be told this is just bullshit. Being a good Christian and acting like a good Christian are two entirely different state of affairs.

For the last 18 months I have found a great deal of insight into the truth of Christianity. At the forefront and the most humbling of qualities for a true, “good” Christian is the admittance that we are broken. Our core of humanity is our faults, our errs, our inability for perfection and that we are truly sinners. I have watched so many glorify their existence as a follower of Christ only to contradict their very faith and being. Going to church, believing, praying, tithing are not the only determinants for “good” Christian values.

love all, gandhiAs I bounced between loving and understanding Jewish faith, Islamic faith, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity and even Agnosticism, the experiences brought me an insurmountable amount of respect and love for people, no matter their faith. The acceptance and understanding we are one. This path of enlightenment and higher learning led me back to Him. While my beliefs did not mean I was not worthy, nor did they deem me ineligible for salvation, but they were a road map to what Christians should represent, we are all human beings. Being one with each other. Review the historical lineage to understand that each of us has been given a divine plan in our depreciation:

Christ was born unto a teenage girl (teen mom, nothing lavish or righteous here. Divine plan) and was poor; the family was not wealthy monetarily nor was he extravagant or boasting. If we date back farther into Christ’s past we see Rahab. Rahab who was a prostitute, while she played an intricate role with Joshua in the battle of Jericho (Again, nothing lavish, nothing to brag about. Divine plan), ultimately she was a sinner, broken, and imperfect. Her imperfection is within the lineage of Christ.

So I struggle with “Christians” who bark about living a godly life and attest that we should all be “good” by their standards, detesting others for their imperfection; when really the only standards we should be living to are in some sense biblical. Let me clarify that when I say we live to biblical standards, we are not literally living to the exact verbiage, with some exception. In my path of learning I have found a great deal of interpretation with the Bible. If we lived to biblical terms we would be burning and offering our children, sheep, to the Lord and living much more humbly if we were literal. Living by the ten commandments however should be literal, they are basic and set an amazing foundation.

I found that at the core, of any belief, we are to love and respect our God. The Father of life, he has given us wonderful blessings and abilities, magical, supernatural and sometimes indescribable moments of beauty. Through the horrors and pain is the simple beauty of hope. Hope is the magical essence of all humanity. To the end we always have hope. Good Christians should represent hope. Jesus had a whole lot of love and hope for people. He had hope for the Pharisees, the Philistines, the tax collectors, the Romans. His hope was his goodness and love for all man, which led to his priceless sacrifice.

Sacrifice, or denying oneself should be a “good” Christian trait that many do not posses. Recently I attended a 24/7 prayer event with my church. Truly moving. I was not certain what to expect other than I enrolled for two hours of prayer, one hour on two separate days; happily denying myself two hours in the week.  During this time I wanted to become better at my prayer to honor my Father, to have a stronger bond and deepen my faith. My first day for my first hour was the most powerful. I was to pray for those who have wronged me in my life.

WOW.

I was also to make a list.

Double wow.

luke 9:23, theres more to life than meI sat back and thought long and hard of who I was to put on the list. Surprisingly my list was shorter than expected, maybe a handful of people. So I began to pray for them. I prayed for myself in this prayer as well to ask for my forgiveness that had I hand in the maltreatment I would be granted forgiveness and wisdom. Tears burned through my eyes, my jaw clenched as I tried to fight back the tears and I felt a tremendous weight upon my chest. In my quiet I wailed, I exposed my heart and my pain and the brokenness of all of us. My hour brought such understanding to how we as people as a whole should love one another, to accept one another with our faults, our pain, our hurt.

“Getting good with people means getting good with God” (Cal Jernigan). Something truly powerful exists in the acceptance of all people, we don’t have to understand them and in most cases we won’t; but basic acceptance and love for people in their brokenness can bring about peace. Albeit an inner peace, maybe a small step towards peace at large, and above all hope.

no boasting, scripture on not boasting, proverbs 25:14Moreover my sacrifice to deny myself was an acknowledgment that this was NOT about me, life is not about me. Life is about loving God and doing his will. I think Christians lose sight of this fact, they become so engrossed that it is about them and what they are doing, how they will be rewarded. They lose perspective that their movement is about what God is doing through you and with you that should be the focus.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Phil 4:8)

God is not hellfire and brimstone, God is a father, a disciplinarian, a lover, a teacher, guiding us in equality, righteousness and love.

Being a good Christian is truly a holistic action. We are broken, always broken, always sinners. By taking that first step to admit this fact and then following in behind the word of God we can work towards our salvation. By loving all people we can make strides towards being a good Christian. Making sacrifices by denying ourselves for the Kingdom is a true Christian. Acts of kindness, love, selflessness, never abasing others or boasting of our works.

Admittedly I am not a good Christian to the societal standards. I am broken, a sinner. I live a humble life. I am benevolent to the point where my philanthropic heart is richer than my coin purse. I do not pretend to be perfect or righteous and I pray each day for guidance and wisdom. I pray one day that the stigma of being a Christian is eliminated from our world. One day may we end acting like good Christians and starting being Christian, being like Christ, denying ourselves and picking up our cross to follow him. If we could admit its okay to err, our life is okay to be in need of spiritual growth and healing despite “finding God” only in our desperation. If we could admit that its okay to be who we are, no matter our color, race, creed, religion, beliefs, without retribution or vengeance that maybe we all could embrace a bit of the ideal of a true good Christian, a fundamental basis of God and all people in the state of human being.

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Nerf Rebelle Agent

The world is no longer a man’s world…or boy’s world for that matter when it comes to Nerf. I am in love with the fact that as the brand expanded and continues to grow they have captured the hearts and minds of girls who may not want to play with dolls.

nerf bow, nerf rebelle agent bow, nerf for girlsA tomboy myself, I love nothing more than a solid game of tag and urban warfare with my kids and my husband, Nerf dart style. This summer we spent soaking each other with the Nerf Super Soakers and my daughter had her own Nerf Rebelle Super Soaker Mini that packed a huge punch. More so now that we are out of the warm weather, my daughter can get in on the action with the Nerf Rebelle Agent bow in our Nerf wars.

Call it inspiration from The Hunger Games for every girl to be like The Five Fish, Gift guide, The Five Fish gift guideKatniss or just the fact that girls aren’t all pink, bows, and dolls. Even though the Nerf Rebelle does come stocked in a stylish pink and purple ensemble, the bow is one tough firing machine when in competition with a herd of boys.

No man, woman, boy, or fuzzy puppy is safe from this spongy weapon of choice for girls. The Nerf Rebelle Agent bow comes stock with three foam arrows, carrying secret messages that can be read with the decoder. But don’t let the foam deceive you as the arrows can soar up to 85 feet upon pull and release of the bow string, which means my daughter can camp out in her favorite nooks and take out each one of her brothers with a spare. For added precision, the Agent bow features an electronic glowing dot that provides increased aiming accuracy with every shot.

I might even have to borrow this from her. With three arrows, I can peg every one of my kids from the kitchen when they need to complete their chores.

So if you have a daughter or girl, ages eight and up in your family, that wants to keep up with the boys and have a competitive edge, the Nerf Rebelle is sure to fit the bill. You can find this new line of Nerf (for girls) at major retailers across the country or you can shop online at Amazon.com or the Hasbro Toy shop.

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