Category Archives: Gifts

Toms Shoes: A Review and a Give-away

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By now you should know that I won’t do a review on Morningside Mom unless there is something about that product that truly impresses me. Well, I have another one for you. Toms Shoes approached me and asked that I review a pair of shoes for them. But these aren’t just a pair of shoes. In case you don’t know about Toms Shoes, I am going to tell you what makes this specific shoe company so very special.

shoe4The Toms Shoes company was started by Blake Mycoskie after he visited Argentina and noticed how many children did not have any shoes. His dream for this company was to create a shoe that he could sell and give away. Let me explain further. He wanted his company to make it possible to donate one pair of shoes to a child in need with every one purchased. That’s right. And he did. After one year, he and his family and friends were ready to donate over 10,000 shoes to children in Argentina. Next stop was South Africa where he and his crew dropped off 50,000 shoes. And in 2008 it was planned that they donate over 200,000 shoes worldwide.

Ok, now watch this.

Pretty amazing, right?

Ok, so lets get down to the shoes themselves. What did I think?

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Well, in terms of style, I was a liiiittle nervous. I’ll admit, I was worried they’d be kind of like grandma shoes. I am just being honest here. I wasn’t sure they’d really be my style. So I looked through all the various patterns available online and went for a fun “Element” shoe style. At least I knew these shoes wouldn’t look anything like what Grandma would wear.

shoes2But here’s the thing. When I got them, they actually looked a lot cooler than I expected. I was pleasantly surprised. And my favorite part about the shoes? When I slipped them on, I didn’t want to take them off. Because, my friend, they’re like butta. So dang comfy. Granted, they don’t have a ton of support – these are flat shoes made of canvas. But they are well made and I really, truly never want to take them off. (Maybe I should get Grandma a pair, I think she wouldn’t take them off either.)

Now down to the fun part.

It’s giveaway time!

I have the DVD of their award winning documentary about their first shoe drop in Argentina and a coupon code worth $50 in Tom’s Shoes to give away to a Morningside Mom reader.

How do you enter? Leave a comment below about a time you’ve given back to your community or something you would like to do for your community. Real answers please, don’t just respond with some general Ms. America “I want to save the world” comment. Think about it for the sake of making change happen – like Toms Shoes has.

I will pick a winner at random on Monday March 16th.

Thanks and good luck!

**UPDATE: WE HAVE A WINNER!!**

Ilinap from Dirt and Noise was picked at random and has won the Toms Shoes giveaway! Congrats Ilinap!

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10 Comments

Filed under Africa, Causes, Children, Contests, Gifts, Philanthropy, Raising Awareness, Reccomendations, Reviews

Win Your Own Bit of Fabulous: a Vivienne Tam HP Wireless Mouse

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As I’ve mentioned before, my entire NYC Vivienne Tam experience with HP allowed this uber practical, coupon clipping, “never splurges on self” mommy to enjoy the luxury of a few beautiful things. It wasn’t something for my children or my family – it was just for me. Honestly folks, it’s unheard of around the parts. I am still so appreciative.

And now I want to share a small part of this experience with you. HP has graciously given me three Vivienne Tam HP Wireless mice to giveaway here on Morningside Mom. (Did you know they aren’t even available for purchase in the U.S.?) I am thrilled to be able to share a little bit of beautiful with you all.

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How do you enter? Simply leave a comment below explaining how everyday working, parenting, budgeting women can take care of themselves when they so often forget to. I will pick three inspiring comments and announce the winners on Friday, March 6th.

And one last bit of trivia about Vivienne Tam before I sign off. The enter key on the VT HP mini has a chinese symbol on it. Do you know what it means? It means “Double Happiness”. And now doesn’t that just make so much sense? I hope this giveaway brings a small bit of happiness to three of you.

Good luck!

**UPDATE – WE HAVE THREE WINNERS!**

Congrats to our three winners: Cami, Chandra and Carol! They wrote inspiring comments and I encourage you all to read them. In fact, I would encourage you to take a moment to read every comment here – what fantastic advice for women to follow. Thank you to everyone who participated, it means so much that you took the time to share this wisdom.

26 Comments

Filed under Blog love, Contests, Gifts, HP, Mothers, Parenting, Stuff I have, Techie Stuff, Women, Working moms

Vivienne Tam: Giving Thanks and Feeling Worthy

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Do you know that feeling when you watch reality shows like “Extreme Home Makeover” and you see amazing things happen for people and you say out loud “that sort of stuff never happens to me”? Or how about the reality show “What Not to Wear”. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to wear really nice clothes instead of jelly smeared jeans? I know these sorts of shows well. I watch, I smile and I think “not in a million years”.

Well, during my time in NYC, I kind of had an “Extreme Home Makeover / What Not to wear” moment. A real one. I think it would have made a great reality show actually. And it all has to do with Vivienne Tam.

As you know by now, I spent 4 amazing days in New York City for fashion week thanks to the folks at Buzz Corps, HP and Vivienne Tam. The entire experience in itself was “reality show” worthy in that this sort of stuff *SO* does not happen to me. I spent every day thanking everyone around me. I thanked drivers (oh wait I hugged him too), door holders, hotel folks, waiters, even random people I passed on the streets for slightly stepping out of my way. I was so damn grateful to be there. Every crack and crevice I happened upon heard my gratitude, loud and clear.

But then something even more amazing happened to all the bloggers on this trip. “What? MORE?!” I hear you mumble. Yes, more. We were given a gift.

We started out mid morning in our shuttle not exactly knowing where we were headed. When we pulled up to Vivienne Tam’s boutique, it was familiar to us after having been there the night before for her show. So we stepped out of the bus and walked in, curious. The entire space had changed into a “store” with racks of her dresses lined up, mannequins dressed, shoes and bags on display. We all wandered around, happy to see the goods in daylight for better pictures and also excited to see more of her line. We snapped pics, picked out favorites, held them up to each other, laughed at the possibilities and moved along.

And then Alan Wang, the Vivienne Tam boutique manager and all around very nice man, got our attention. He stood at the front of the store and thanked us for being here this week. He told us how much Vivienne Tam truly appreciates our support and that she recognizes the important work we do. And as a symbol of her gratitude, she would like to give us a gift. Each of us were welcome to pick out one dress. To keep.

Blank stares. It dawns on us. Mouths drop. Rushed whispering. Quiet squeals. And then me, “Can I hug you right now?”

I am not sure what he said next (although I remember that he diplomatically ignored my invitation for a hug, smart man), but it had begun to sink in. Kind of. We could pick a dress in that room to take home. To wear. To have. To feel fabulous in.

And we were off. Some spending time carefully considering. Others leaping on the handbags and shoes (understandably). And then there was me who grabbed one dress and dashed for the dressing room. What if they changed their minds? Quick. Let me get this on and out the door before they decide this isn’t such a great idea.

I wound up with the second dress I tried on. I truly felt amazing in it. I ran around the store in it. I teared up. Three times. Shamelessly. My friend Moosh in Indy saw my Hanes her Way and that’s cool by me. This was serious business. I got an amazing dress. A Vivienne Tam dress. Glamorous pieces of clothing like this just don’t exist in my life. But now one does. (And it is laughing at everything else in my closet as I write this.)

So what happened next? Just wait. Yes, there’s more.

That night we were welcome to attend another event back at the Vivienne Tam boutique. This was the official launch of the Vivienne Tam Hp Mini. Another night on the town? What better excuse to don our fab dresses. And that we did.

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I also brought my VT HP Mini with me. I just figured it would be good to have it since that evening was all about it.

And so what happens? Vivienne Tam arrives, speaks to her guests and then offers to sign anyone’s computers. So now, under my right hand in the bottom corner of my Mini, is Vivienne Tam’s signature. She signed it for me and you know what she said to me? She said I was so beautiful in her dress.

Wow. This mom with jelly smeared jeans and a leaking sippy cup in her purse could be beautiful.

It was a moment. To be sure.

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And that’s what the dress and the computer have come to represent. Women running around managing the insanity of their lives, elbow deep in dirty boy socks and sticky pots of mac and cheese DO deserve nice things. A dress like this, a computer like this – well, they are simply special things. Little bits of fabulous that remind you that you are actually “worthy” – socks and mac n cheese aside.

So I had that “What not to Wear” moment. And staying true to the thanking theme of my week, I thanked Vivienne Tam that night. I thanked her for making me feel more beautiful and special than I had in years.

My gratitude is endless, my heart is full and my sense of beautiful is in check.

For that (just one more time) I say: Thank you.

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For more information about the HP products I review, please visit my HP Update page.

12 Comments

Filed under Blog love, Bloggers, Gifts, Giving respect, HP, Identity crisis, Mothers, One of those moments, Parenting, Shopping, Stuff I have, Techie Stuff, Women

Happy Holidays from the Cutest Two Year Old on Earth

Holiday giggles and yuletide glee have taken over my home. We’re baking sugar cookies, tracking Santa on Norad and wrapping presents madly.

(Sidebar: My dilemma. My 5 year old’s “Santa” presents are being wrapped in same paper as everyone other’s presents. Will he notice? Will he pick out my handwriting, already? The stress of making sure he believes has even surfaced in my dreams: last night I dreamt I forgot to put out all the presents and T. woke up to find that Santa NEVER came…)

But back to the fun. We’ve got cookies and loaves of bread to make for family and Christmas lights to scout tonight and “Twas the Night before Christmas” to recite. It’s really such a wonderful time.

So as my gift to you, I am sharing with you something quite precious: the cutest two year old in the world singing his favorite Christmas carols.

To all of my readers, whatever your holiday, may you have a wonderful celebration filled with family, tradition and joy.

8 Comments

Filed under Boys, Family, Gifts, Holidays, Parenting, Traditions

Blogger Cheer: Giveaway Winners and Posts to Share

Two winners have been chosen at random.org for my Muvee Reveal Blogger Cheer Giveaway! And they are (drumroll, please)….

1) Heather from East Coast Transplant

2) Shellie from Creating with Shellie

CONGRATULATIONS!

I would also like to list the posts that entrants submitted too. It’s just one more way to spread some blogger cheer. If you have some time, check these out! Maybe you’ll discover a great new blog.

Over the Hill and Through the Woods at Chickens in the Road

Bizzie Princess and her Christmas Concert by Bizzie Mommy

Christmas Clutter at Dirt and Noise

Santa May Sue by Lipzip

The Greatest Dog Story in the World – Be a Part of It by ThreeDogBlog

Top Holiday Gifts – Noisy Toys for Nieces and Nephews by Dad’s House

This Playroom Thing at Finding Yourself, Despite Yourself

A Silent Night by Dress up and Diaper Changes

First Wild card Blog Tour by Laura William’s Musings

Thoughts from the Mrs.

Humor Du Jour by Three {Ps} in a Pod

(And I just wanted to note: MomBabe, I couldn’t read your link! If you try it again, I will add it to the list!)

Keep reading blogs, folks! It’s what makes the blogosphere go ’round.

Congrats again to the readers and have a wonderful weekend!

2 Comments

Filed under Blog love, Bloggers, Contests, Gifts, Techie Stuff

Muvee Reveal Blogger Cheer Giveaway

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This weekend I had the opporitunity to try out a very fun new kind of movie making software called Muvee Reveal. Lucky me, I was approached last week and asked if I would like to do a review of the product. Considering I have a lovely new Canon HD video camera and the overwhelming project to create a “Best of my kids’ Christmases” DVD as a gift for my family… well, this review could not have come at a better time.

A newly updated version from the muvee autoproducer family, Muvee Reveal was explained to me as a very easy to use software that will create professional movies in a matter of four simple steps. I could not wait to try it out.

Sure enough. As soon as I downloaded the software, I added one hour of film I happened to have on my computer already. Then, clicked the transition I wanted, added a couple songs and pressed play. VOILA. Muvee Reveal took my film and transitioned through different scenes to the length of the songs I chose. While it did pull scenes randomly and flipped thorugh them fairly quickly, if I added more songs, it would lengthen the “show” and it really did a great job of picking nice scenes. I’m not sure how it does that. However, after doing some reading, apparently this software has a mind of its own and has been designed to focus on faces and sync them to the beat of the music. Um, how cool is that?

Now, if you want more control over the scenes, the transitions, the music, etc. – you can have that too. You can label scenes, do voice overs, add titles and credits and control which scenes you want in there. And then the software will help you share your movie just about anywhere such as the web, HD TV, a DVD or even your PSP.

So, do you want to play around with this software too? Well, guess what? The folks at Muvee were kind enough to offer TWO sets of software – valued at $79.95 – for a giveaway here on Morningside Mom. What a fun gift for someone (maybe even yourself) this holiday season, right? Read on for more details…

Muvee Reveal Blogger Cheer Giveaway

Well, if you know me, I like to do as much paying it forward as possible around these parts. And with this giveaway, I’d like to pay it forward to other bloggers. You see, I haven’t been reading in my google reader enough. I haven’t been spreading Blogger Karma NEARLY as much as I like to. So, maybe this contest can help with that. Especially with it being the holidays – lots of bloggers have ads on their sites and more hits could bring them a few more pennies from heaven. Lets help up some of their traffic!

Giveaway Rules

1) Go find your favorite blog, read one of their posts.

2) Comment. Tell them they wrote a great post and tell them you are going to post it here for this blogger cheer contest.

3) Come back here and paste their post link here.

4) You can enter as many blog sites as you would like. Each will count as an entry. I would encourage you to read some of the links others have posted too and comment on those!

5) I will pick two winners at random on Friday, December 19th.

That’s it! Now go love your fellow blogger and come back and tell me about it. I can’t wait to read some good posts and do some more giving this month. Good luck!

The best way to spread holiday cheer,

is reading blogs far and near!

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Filed under Blog love, Bloggers, Gifts, Holidays, Karma, Movies, Techie Stuff

Keeping it Green this Holiday Season

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While getting caught up in the fun of the holidays, it is very easy to throw your usual rules aside and go all out – hoping to ensure the perfect holiday gathering for your family. We go on endless shopping sprees, the budget is long forgotten and so are some of our better “green” habits – all in the name of holiday cheer. The holidays don’t have a reputation of excess for nothing. However, here are some ways to try and keep your cool and stay green without having to forget the fun of the season too.

Decorating

Some of us will be buying Christmas trees this year to decorate. If you do decorate a tree, consider buying a potted tree and planting it after the season has passed. If that isn’t possible, be sure to contact your local Waste Management Program to find out how to recycle your Christmas tree. Also check Earth 911 for local Christmas tree recycling options.

When it’s time to string up the lights in my home, my inner Clark Griswold comes shining through. However, this year, if you happen to need new lights anyway, consider buying LED holiday lights to save energy. Or if you don’t have to buy new lights, be sure to keep your current lights on a timer so they are off during the day and when you go to sleep.

If you are looking for new ornaments this year, All Free Crafts suggests making ornaments out of recycled Christmas cards. I love to make salt dough ornaments with my children and those treasures will stay on my tree for years to come. Don’t forget about the extra things around the house that might spruce up your tree too like left over ribbon, restrung beads and buttons and even stringing good old fashioned popcorn garland for your tree.

Holiday Cards

It has never been easier to send e-cards or virtual greetings. I use Hallmark Smilebox to send festive slideshows, greetings and even movie clips. If you still prefer sending mailed cards, consider buying cards made on recycled paper this year. Some options are Cards Direct, Cards for Causes and Green Field Paper.

Cooking

Part of the holidays always includes cooking traditional meals for friends and relatives. Plan ahead and try to be a green chef this year. For example, try to buy organic foods when possible, think about some vegetarian meals and buy free range poultry and eggs. Another fun tip is to track down a local farm and buy your fruits and vegetables locally – they taste better and are usually more affordable.

Green Gifts

Gift giving is on everyone’s minds right now. Think carefully about what you are giving and why your are giving it. Grabbing as much “stuff” as possible just to wrap and stick under the tree isn’t a smart idea. Rather, buy one or two quality items, than a bunch of less well made, more likely to break items. Also, think about buying things that are personal, make some gifts and put your heart into the giving process. A hand knit scarf is always more valued than another boring tie.

Another inexpensive way to buy green gifts is to hop onto Craig’s list or shop in consignment stores. Recycling and saving a dollar never came so easy.

Finally, here are some links to articles or websites with green gift ideas: EDF.org, NRDC.org, Ecomall.com, and Treehugger.com. One of my favorites? Consider buying your loved one some poopoopaper. A fun gift and it’s certainly, er, been recycled.

Gift Wrapping

When I was a child, it was inevitable that as we opened our gifts a relative would shout out “I forgot one!” And they would run off and return with a gift wrapped in a towel or pillow case. We used to laugh about it then but now it really isn’t such a bad idea after all! If possible, try to make your own wrapping paper this year by using beautifully decorated paper bags, magazines, old posters, old maps and even the tried and true funny pages. And make my family proud, an old piece of cloth might even look beautiful with the right ribbon and sprucing up.

Another thought? Wrap presents that go together in one package. Also, try to avoid buying gifts that are too large that would take extra wrapping – they probably have too much packaging in them anyway.

If you do need to wrap some gifts in paper, track down some recycled gift wrapping.

Shipping

I know I still have to get my gift boxes sent off. When you do, try to find old boxes to mail your gifts, be sure to avoid the plastic peanuts and use old newspaper and other pieces from your recycle bin to pack your items. Sometimes I save my sons used ziplock bags and then blow them up for cushion in the boxes.

Finally, you should know that the USPS is actually doing an excellent job of being green about their shipping. They have eco-friendly packaging and even soy based inks and non toxic adhesives. To learn more, go check out their site.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

5 Comments

Filed under Getting green, Gifts, Holidays, Raising Awareness, Reccomendations, Recycling, Shopping, Thinking outside the box, Traditions, Unnecessary stuff

Morningside Mom Announces Her HP Giveaway Winner!

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Congratulations to Laura, the President and Founder of the Moms Without Moms organization!

(Cue the confetti, parade, acrobats and cheering crowds!)

Why this organization? Here is a portion of her submission:

“Moms Without Moms was formed in April of 2006.  The mission of the organization is to provide a caring, comfortable, and nurturing environment of support to females who have lost their mothers, by indiscriminately encouraging positive and personal growth through companionship, leadership, and education. 
 
Moms Without Moms opened a maternity group home, the Laura Walker Project (named after my mother), which serves the needs of teenagers who are either pregnant or parenting.  A teenager living at the Laura Walker Project home receives an array of support and guidance:  emotional, educational, life skills, parenting, job skills, etc.  It is the desire of the Laura Walker Project to ensure that the girls are in a position to effectively care for themselves and their baby when they leave.  We are working with them to break the dependence on the public welfare system.”

If you visit their site, you will learn more about this amazing cause started by a woman with an incredible vision. I can already imagine the computers being used by new mothers looking for jobs, the touchscreen being used for classroom or educational use and the printer printing out pictures of the brand new babies. It feels like a perfect match for all of this hardware that needs to be put to good use (rather than just sitting in boxes, crowding up my hallway).

Regarding this competition, choosing a winner was extraordinarily difficult. I received over 300 submissions, each listing amazing charities and organizations  which would benefit greatly from these computers. There were also endless stories about families who have nothing right now, who are suffering during a very difficult time in our country and are hoping desperately for a little holiday magic to come their way. And there were many entries from abroad – entrants discussed the endless benefits these computers could bring to an orphanage or village who had dated PCs, if any at all.

How could I pick? How can little ol’ me decide whose entry was more worthwhile? It was an impossible task. When I finally cut down entries to a “short list”, even that hardly seemed short. No entry was more worthy than another. But I had to make one choice and go with it. And this was my choice. A wonderful one indeed.

Again congratulations Laura! We’ll be following up with her in the near future. I can’t wait to see how her organization and project benefits from these computers.

Now, to those of you who did not win. Please keep a look out. I will be listing many of the sites and causes you submitted in a future post. I am hoping that perhaps someone reading my blog will consider donating to your causes. I know it’s not a bunch of computers, but its the best I can offer you. Also, do not forget: the other HP bloggers are running their contests through this month. Try and enter at any of their sites too!

Thanks again to every entrant, I was truly inspired by the charity in your hearts. Blessings for a wonderful Holiday Season.

For more information about the HP products I review, please visit my HP Update page.

11 Comments

Filed under Bloggers, Causes, Contests, Gifts, Holidays, HP, Inspiring people, Mothers, Philanthropy, Women, Working moms

The Morningside Mom HP Giveaway Has Ended

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Thank you to everyone who has entered. Over the past week, I received over 300 entries. I was deeply moved by each one, there is a great deal of need in the world and every entrant suggested so many worthy causes for this giveaway. Unfortunately, I will no longer be considering any further entries. If you would like to enter in one of the other blogger’s competitions, please go to The HP Blogger Magic website. My competition was one of the first; there will be many more opportunities to enter at the other blog sites this month. Thank you again!

***PLEASE STAND BY. I PLAN TO ANNOUNCE THE WINNER TODAY!***

4 Comments

Filed under Bloggers, Contests, Gifts, Holidays, HP, Philanthropy

The Morningside Mom Magical HP Giveaway Contest Has Begun

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Hello world! My Magical HP Giveaway contest has officially begun! It will run starting Saturday November 29 and a winner will be chosen on December 5th.

Before leading you to the official rules of the contest, I want to remind my entrants of one important fact. When you give, good will come to you. My regular readers know that I believe in karma and the power that one individual’s decency can have on society as a whole. I hope that entrants have the best intentions and truly expect to affect positive change somewhere in their world with this contest. Gather the magic of this holiday season around you, and let’s do something good.

Please click HERE (scroll to the bottom) to find out my rules and expectations.

And good luck to everyone!

***UPDATE: The contest winner will be announced on December 5th. Contest entires must be submitted by email (morningsidemomgiveaway@gmail.com) no later than 6:00pm today, EST. Those entered after that time will not be considered.***

For more information about the HP products I review, please visit my HP Update page.

28 Comments

Filed under Bloggers, Contests, Gifts, Holidays, HP, Philanthropy, Techie Stuff, Thinking outside the box