Thursday, February 25, 2010

TV on DVD: Back to the Beginning

One of the really cool things having TV shows on DVD is the ability to go back to the beginning. However, in cases in which I'm rewatching some of my favorite shows, the experience is even richer, one is able to enjoy the beginning with the full knowledge of the end.

Dare I admit it? Can I? Is this a safe zone? There's a show that I've gone back to the beginning on, starring one of my favorite actors. Yes, yes, thanks to Netflix, I watched the first disc of the first season of

Doogie Howser, M.D.

And in case you were wondering, let me tell you that early 90's TV is as bad as you think it might be. Early 90's sitcoms about hormone-crazed sixteen-year-old boys is even worse, even if one of them is a genius.

I'm glad that Neil Patrick Harris was able to overcome his teen actor roots, but it's fun seeing glimpses of him -- the same person, but so young -- on the small screen.

I had watched it wondering if Amanda and I might be able to watch it together, but since it's pretty sex-crazed, I think that I'll spare her, mild as the allusions might be. But I might keep watching, because -- well, why not? It can only better, right? And honestly, it may get less stereotypically hormonal as the season progresses, and maybe she can watch some of the other episodes with me.

Brothers and Sisters

This show has really drawn me in. So, while I'm still trying to keep up with Season 4 (online mostly), I've also bought seasons 1 and 2. These characters are so richly developed, and I actually started watching because of Rob Lowe (see below), who I might love almost as much as Neil Patrick Harris.

West Wing

The show of shows. I've mentioned a time or fourteen that I have enjoyed this. Terry and I are about to start watching the final season on DVD after a long break, and I've actually enjoyed season 1 again, as well as watching on Bravo in the mornings on occasion. And for those of you who haven't been watching, Season 1 just started yesterday, so you can get in on the whole series if you hurry!

This show, more than many, presented this full cast of fully developed characters, even from the beginning. It stands up.

Gilmore Girls

Gilmore Girls just started over on ABC Family as well. This is a show that I've also watched over and over and OVER, mostly just catching it when it's on ABC Family. I don't even like all the characters, and I don't get what they do what they do, but I love the show.

It stands up to the test of going back to the beginning as well. But especially with Rory going through adolescence, the writers were not afraid to let her out of her stereotypical box, and I love that. In fact, I loved Rory even more when she made bad choices, because don't we all?

Beverly Hills 90210

As I mentioned, I received season 1 of this series from the Love Your Veggies folks at Hidden Valley Ranch, and I watched the first few episodes. It's okay. Like the Gilmore Girls, the kids at 90210 grew up, and I'm not sure that watching 90's high schoolers is going to hold my interest. But we'll see.

See above about early 90's TV being pretty bad.
Raising the Bar

After TNT sent me an episode about posting kids' photos online of Raising the Bar, I was hooked on that legal drama. I added Season 1 to my Netflix queue, and was happy to watch more of the same, but I was really disappointed. The episodes in the first season seemed to be pushing the bar, not raising it. I am assuming that season 3 of this summer-drama will return in May or June. Wait -- breaking news! As I was searching to find out, I found out that Raising the Bar has been canceled and there will be no season 3. Bummer, but I'll live. I'm not that invested.


And even though I can't go "back to the beginning," I think I'm going to jump on the Glee bandwagon when the season finishes out in April. They do have the first have of Season 1 of Glee on DVD right now, but I think I'll hold off on purchasing it until I know if I like it, especially because it's not even the whole first season, but it's amazing how quickly they can move on something like that, to cash in on the success and love that people have for this series.

We are also looking forward to The Celebrity Apprentice. Actually, I could do without the celebrity part, but that's the way they roll now. Last season was pretty good, actually. Terry and I enjoy scheming and yelling at the characters. It is what it is.

We're still watching American Idol, but honestly 2 hours for 12 songs?? I might pull out my hair (or it might drive me to buy a DVR).

And I've been really enjoying the Olympics. I don't always care, but I think I'll miss it when it's over.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Enjoying a Snow Day: Thank You Netflix

Yesterday was a snow day. I know that snow talk is passe after all that Pennsylvania and the DC area have endured, in addition to the highly unexpected snows in the Southern states, but we here in Connecticut are still having our regular winter. Nothing dramatic, mind you, but enough for a snow day yesterday (we may have another -- dare I say our last one? on Thursday or Friday).

Thanks to Netflix's Instant Access* Amanda was able to stave off the I'm booooored's for a couple of hours as she checked out a new release. I do love the ability to watch now, and the selection is pretty good (I thought I might try LOST that way, but I can't convince my husband, and I think I want to drag him with me on the ride). The only thing that I don't like is actually watching it on my computer. I know that using web enabled PS3 and XBOX, you can do it, but we don't have those. I did notice that the new line of HD VIZIO TVs come enabled with the web-access, which is cool. We aren't necessarily in the market for a new TV, but it's something to consider, because I would use the Instant Access a lot more if I could watch it full screen on the TV.

But Amanda and Kyle didn't mind laying on the Nuddle and watching together. And no, they aren't eating popcorn at 8:00am in their pajamas. They are eating popcorn at about noon in their pajamas.

Isn't one of the beauties of a snow day lounging around in your pajamas?? I joined in that luxury, reading for a bit in the morning, and writing up some reviews a bit later, still in my pajamas.

It was noon before I knew it, but I got some great work done in the afternoon -- cleaning and purging in Kyle's room mostly.

Today it's back to business as usual, and you?

*No, I wasn't paid or asked or given anything in return to mention this service (not that I'm averse to that -- bring it on Netflix)

**I was again not told or asked to write about this Vizio TV service, but gosh, I'd blog about it every week if I was. . . .

(Disclosure mocking done with tongue firmly in cheek)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

My Nightstand -- February

Even though February is a short month, it seems like ages since we had a Nightstand carnival at 5 Minutes for Books. Why is that??

I did publish some reviews of books that I had On My Nightstand last month that interested several of you, so I invite you to check out my reviews of Elizbeth Gilbert's Committed, An Irish Country Girl, Wench (with giveaway still open), and Healing Hearts. I also just posted a review yesterday (with giveaway) of I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced.

There are two books I must carry over from last month:

As for what's next?? I don't really know. I'm not feeling any compulsion to read one thing over another.

So maybe I'll let you pick which book I'll read for sure (in addition to the two above). In your comment, tell me which one or two sound really interesting to you and I'll be sure to get to them this month.

I actually have a lot of middle grade and Young Adult novels waiting for me --

I don't have as many novels sitting here right now, but a couple are on the top of the pile, and I have been on a novel kick:

I especially need your encouragement in the Non-fiction department. I have 3 books that look great, but I'm just not reaching for them:

Another fun thing that I'm doing this year with my reading notebook is trying to track the number of books and pages that I read each month. January totals: I read 4 novels, 3 memoirs and 4 young adult books, and started or finished 3 more, for a total of 2548 pages read.

Check out more participants' Nightstand lists at 5 Minutes for Books the 4th Tuesday of every month, and don't forget to weigh in with your opinion about books you'd like to see me complete before the next Nightstand carnival!

Friday, February 19, 2010

I Still Love my Veggies

Last year I attended my very favorite event, the Hidden Valley Ranch Love Your Veggies retreat* -- enthusiasm aided in part to enjoying a few days at the Four Seasons Hotel in Chicago. No, seriously, beyond the lure of the Four Seasons hotel, family nutrition was the focus of the event, and it's a topic that I always love to hear more about.

On March 11, I'll be able to hang out with the Love Your Veggies crew again in New York City's Grand Central Station. I got a fun promotional preview pack introducing Jennie Garth as a new celebrity spokesperson -- from 90210 to 10036.

I love Jennie Garth. I think she's beautiful and in spite of her glamorous Kelly Taylor roots, has always seemed down to earth to me. Her work with Love Your Veggies is in that same vein -- as a health-conscious vegetable lover and mom. You can watch some fun informative videos at the Garden Party on ivillage.

The new Farmhouse dressings are available soon, so be on the lookout on your store shelves. The hickory bacon is absolutely delicious. I used my bottle up quickly. The roasted onion parmesan is good if you don't like a strong ranch flavor.

*Disclosure: They covered my travel and retreat costs on that retreat, and I was sent some promotional bottles of the new dressings to try out. Hidden Valley Ranch did not require me to blog anything. My opinions are my own.

May I Recommend?

Do you think about Black History month at all? In general once Martin Luther King day comes around at the end of January, I give it a passing thought for a few weeks, but this year, I've been highly aware of the African American struggle and triumph.

I've been reading through Black History month (linked to my On Reading post at 5 Minutes for Books that tells more about my focus).

Specifically, here is some of what I've been reading, linked to my reviews:

Wench -- giveaway currently open through 2/23.

D is for Drinking Gourd, a fantastic look at African American history from the creative publishers Sleeping Bear Press.

You should also read African American author Zetta Elliott's perspective about being Whitewashed in her guest column at 5 Minutes for Books. I'm in the midst of her young adult novel A Wish After Midnight I'm enjoying right now -- really enjoying.

Other reviews recently posted:

Healing Hearts -- another current tie-in with February also being heart month. This is the memoir of a female heart surgeon. Interesting and informative.

Another guest review you fans of Percy Jackson might want to see. Heather at Age 30 Books (and Kiddo) reviewed The Lightning Thief movie for us. Have you seen it? We haven't, but a certain 11-year-old is begging to.

There was also a full hour show on NPR's On Pointe this week with the author, Rick Riordan, about that series and new ones to come. I only heard a bit, but hope to download the rest.

And I posted my full review of The Frog Scientist, this year's Middle Grade/YA Nonfiction Cybils awards winner, which I helped select. If you are looking for book recommendations for kids of any age, from preschool on up to teens, check out all the finalists.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Disney World rides and attractions that we loved (and ones we didn't)

Rides and attractions that we all liked (Amanda, 11; Kyle, 5; and the grown-ups):

  1. Toy Story Mania --

    This is the best ride ever. The cast member's costumes are great, the decoration of Andy's room is excellent, and it's interactive. You ride through and get to shoot at targets on different screens. It's worth all the fuss. At the Disney Social Media Moms* conference, we were able to go there one night after closing, so we rode it twice back to back. The next day was our Hollywood Studios park day, and it was Extra Magic Hours, so we rode it twice more that morning, and then once more that afternoon.

    I saw many teenagers and grown men riding this and competing. It's not just for Toy Story fans.

  2. Big Thunder Mountain Railroad --

    This was another one that we rode multiple times -- twice the first day we went to Magic Kingdom and twice the second day. It's thrilling and fun, but not too scary.

  3. Soarin' --

    We rode this one twice as well -- once each day that we spent at Epcot. It's on everyone's "favorites" lists when you ask them what they love about Disney World, and my kids (especially Amanda) really loved it, but I don't know that it lived up to the hype. It was cool, but is it worth waiting for 2 hours as some people were at the end of the day when they are out of Fast Passes? I would say not. You can see some equally beautiful video at the movies that play in the Canada and France sections of Epcot.

  4. Mission Space --

    The guidebook that we used, The Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World 2010 (very thorough!), had pages on this ride and the fact that the Orange was intense -- very intense-- and that you should avoid even the green if you don't like dark enclosed spaces (there are two levels -- a green milder experience and an intense orange). As you wait and they go through the procedures, the cast members on video repeatedly warn you of this as well. We did the green one, and it was still pretty intense, but we all loved it. Very cool ride at Epcot.

  5. Test Track --

    Another great ride at Epcot (Epcot was one of the two parks that we spent more than one day visiting). The line is interesting as well, as you can see vehicles and read about what was done to them. Even though we had a Fast Pass for this ride, we had to wait 15 or 20 minutes, but Disney World makes even the lines an interesting experience. Plus, it's a nice break from the heat (or in our case, the cold since the February temperatures were unusually low, ranging from 30 to 60 degrees during our stay).

Rides we were divided on:

  1. Space Mountain --

    Kyle, 5, did not like this ride at all. I think that the combination of being in the dark and the fact that you ride single-file freaked him out. They rode it the first time while I was at the conference. Amanda loved this (it's probably her very favorite), and so she rode alone the next time. When we returned to Magic Kingdom, Amanda rode it two more times, once each with Terry and me. I also could do without this ride. It doesn't bother me, but it's not my favorite.

  2. Star Tours --

    Kyle and Amanda loved this ride (another fun one at Hollywood Studios), but for some reason it set off the motion-sickness effect in both Terry and me. It's fun, and definitely for all Star Wars fans, but the grown-ups did not want to give this one a second go.

  3. Rockin' Roller Coaster --

    Hollywood Studios again. This is the fastest roller coaster at Disney World. I made Amanda ride it with me (amidst tears), and she sort of liked it, and was sort of freaked out. She said, "I think I want to ride it again. I don't know." The plan was for her to ride it with Terry later. She freaked herself out again, begging not to ride it, but we mean parents made her. After they rode it, she apologized to Terry for all the drama and said it wasn't that bad. But I think that the jury is still out in her mind on this one.

    If I was the kind of parent to pay $30 for one of those roller coaster shots, I would have bought mine and hers. My eyes were closed and I had a huge grin on my face, and Amanda had a look of sheer terror on hers.

  4. It's a Small World --

    We couldn't go to the Magic Kingdom without subjecting our children to this ride!! The tween predictably thought that it was dumb, but Kyle loved it and proclaimed it a favorite! Go figure.

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*Disclosure: I attended the Disney Social Media Moms conference, for which I paid I fee, but received a great family trip to Walt Disney World that far exceeded what I paid out. Disney did not tell me what to say, nor require anything from me in exchange for the benefit I received.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

You're Never Too Old for Disney Magic

This was my kids' first trip to Walt Disney World. I've been keenly aware of the time ticking by, and I didn't want them to miss out on the magic of the Magic Kingdom.

My husband We did firmly believe that they should be old enough to really remember it, since we knew that a trip to Disney was not going to be a yearly vacation for us.

Amanda's 11, but she still wasn't too old to enjoy hugging a few characters . . . .

Or to delight in a Mickey-shaped treat. . . .

And believe it or not, SHE is the one who begged us to wait thirty minutes to ride Dumbo:

She loved Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Space Mountain, which were not too heart-pounding for her (Do you like my attempt to get one of those cool roller coaster reaction photos from the car in front of them?).

And of course, there are plenty of tween and teen oriented activities, including the American Idol experience, which was a lot of fun.

More than once she told us, "I want to come to Disney every year for our vacation." I'm pretty sure that's not going to happen unless I get invited to attend another Disney Social Media Moms event* to which families are invited (in which case we'd go again next month).

In spite of thinking that it might be a "once in a lifetime experience," I'm pretty sure that we'll be back sometime. I don't think that the magic is going to fade anytime soon.

Don't we look like we enjoyed every minute of it?

I invite you to subscribe to my feed, or follow me @jenndon on twitter.

*Disclosure: I attended the Disney Social Media Moms conference, for which I paid I fee, but received a great family trip to Walt Disney World that far exceeded what I paid out. Disney did not tell me what to say, nor require anything from me in exchange for the benefit I received.

The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness Series

Yes, yes, we made it to Disneyworld and had a wonderful wonderful time. We've been home less than 24 hours, but I do plan to post more about our trip soon.

But today I will participate in 5 Minutes for Books' Kids' Picks as I dip my toe back into the bloggy waters after a much-appreciated vacation break. Can you believe that I didn't even take my laptop?? I was at a blogging conference and didn't take my laptop! It was wonderful to be disconnected for almost a week.

Generally on the 3rd Monday night of the month (or before I rush her out the door on the 3rd Tuesday morning of the month), I am either verifying what I think her favorite read for the month was, or reviewing all the books I remember her reading and asking her to pick the one she liked.

In the weeks since our last Kids' Picks carnival, Amanda has read books 3 - 5 in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series. As she was reading them, she said, "I love this series. It's awesome! I'm choosing this for sure for my pick this month."

Wolf Brother is the first book in the series and was a Nutmeg selection last year (our state's book award,which children select by popular vote). She read it some time ago, but only realized it was a series recently as some of her friends were reading it. The deeper in she got, the more she has loved it.

If your kids enjoy the Warriors series, this might be one they'd like. Conversely, as Amanda finished book 5 in the series, she tried to read book one in that series, but it didn't draw her in quickly enough. Apparently the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness are very exciting, which is key in this 11-year-old reader's book.

Good news for Amanda and other Chronicles of Ancient Darkness fans -- Chronicles of Ancient Darkness #6: Ghost Hunter comes out in June!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Florida Bound??????

My family and I are supposed to be going to Florida to attend the Disney Social Media Moms Conference this week. I loved being invited on the first Mommy Bloggers Disney trip back in April 2008. So I knew that they would do it up right.

We went back and forth, because taking a 6th grader out of school for two days isn't easy (they already had two of the days off). But the value of the trip, and the fact that we've never been and been meaning to go, and the fact that I knew that Maria Bailey and BSM Media would definitely give us the time of our lives won out, and we booked it.

Our flight was supposed to leave on Wednesday at 10:20am from New York. There's a big storm a'coming -- either overnight Tuesday or Wednesday morning, so we changed our flight to the 7:00am flight, thinking that it might, just might, get out.

We've been praying for wisdom to know what to do. We thought we'd stay at an airport hotel tonight so we'd be there.

Early this morning we were alerted that the 7:00am flight was canceled, and they put us on a flight leaving at noon. There is NO way that a flight is going to take off at noon on Wednesday. Well, a small chance, but the forecast is for 9 - 12 inches of snow at the airports and once it starts it won't stop until midnight Wednesday!

My husband is on the phone with Delta airlines right now, and it looks like we may be able to get to Atlanta on a 7:00pm flight tonight (done--it's done!). We'd stay overnight in Atlanta, and then arrive in Orlando around 1pm, about the same time as before.

I know that others are faced with the same problem -- those who are trying to get out from the areas that were blasted with snow over the weekend, as well as those trying to get out on Wednesday.

I seriously felt like I was going to throw up this morning when everything was uncertain. Now that we have a plan, I'm thrilled to be on my way to the "happiest place on earth." And I do thank God for wisdom to know what to do, and the ability to do it. I think everything is going to be okay.

My friends have given my advice and suggestions, but go ahead and chime in right here:
What rides/events/attractions should we make sure we don't miss? Our evening meals and entertainment are mostly taken care of, but I'd love to know which rides or shows at the parks that you love.

Monday, February 08, 2010


Last week I started a new audiobook* Let the Great World Spin, and I'm enjoying the storytelling so very much. It's captivating.

Within the first few pages/minutes, the "thrum of the subway" was mentioned.

"What a perfect word," I thought. "I should use that word when I'm describing a hum of activity -- either literal or figurative."

Then I heard the word again in the book, and while it was still a wonderfully descriptive word that has a perfect sense of onomatopoeia when said aloud -- it lost some of its "pop."

When I heard it a third time halfway through the book, I was totally over it.

It reminded me that I need to be careful with certain words. I already know that I overuse certain words (as simple as "so") in my writing, but it also reminded me to look for and search out those "power words," yet to be extremely careful not to overuse them.


Melissa at Breath of Life is hosting a new "The Week in Words" carnival each Monday. Here's how she introduced it:

"Although I'm not a wordsmith, I love words. Love them. (Just ask anyone who knows me. I've always got plenty to share.) One of the things I enjoy most is seeing how other people put them together. Think about it. A few carefully crafted words can make you laugh, cry, or dream. They can completely change your perspective and your life.

And I want you to share the words you've found. So I'm creating the "Week in Words" carnival. Playing along is simple, just write a post of the quote(s) that spoke to you during the week (attributed, of course) and link back here. They can be from any written source, i.e. magazine, newspaper, blog, book. The only requirement is that they be words you read."

*from Jennifer -- looks like I'm breaking the rules the first go round, since it was an audiobook I didn't technically "read" it, but even though I listened to it, it really is the written word in my mind. I also know that The Week in Words doesn't really have to be about a word, but rather a quote. This is just what I wanted to share.

It's my blog and I'll do what I want to.

I invite you to subscribe to my feed, or follow me @jenndon on twitter.

Friday, February 05, 2010

The Miracle Worker on Broadway

I have really enjoyed my association with a PR firm that represents some shows on Broadway.* They recently contacted me and asked if I was interested in helping them promote The Miracle Worker on Broadway, at the Circle in the Square Theater. I said yes in a heartbeat, because I was fascinated by Helen Keller when I was younger. Then I checked out the information about the play, and I see that it's performed in the round, which I think will be interesting and intimate. And it's an absolutely star-studded and talented cast. We enjoy seeing people we "know" from TV and movies in shows, but I always chide myself for caring that it's a familiar face. All the actors we've seen on Broadway have been fabulous, and honestly "stars" often bring in the non-typical playgoer, and they clap and whoop and holler when they see that person on stage, which is distracting -- but I digress.

Amanda will be seeing The Miracle Worker with me in a couple of weeks, and it's especially meaningful because when I was her age or a bit younger, I was fascinated by Helen Keller. I read biographies of her (which led to reading a whole string of novels featuring blind girls, including Light a Single Candle, about a girl who went to get her seeing eye dog, which still stands out in my mind). I also learned the alphabet in sign language from the back of one of my books.

Tickets are now on sale through August 1, so if you are planning a trip to New York this spring or summer, you might want to consider this show. I will be posting a full review later this month.

In the meantime, I'm revisiting my childhood obsession by reading her biography Helen Keller: The Story of My Life (which is selling new for $2 from Dover Thrift editions -- thrifty indeed!).

Were you obsessed with a certain real-life or fictitious figure who you met through books when you were younger that led you to dig even deeper?


*All the Broadway shows that I've seen, linked to my thoughts.

I invite you to subscribe to my feed, or follow me @jenndon on twitter.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Housekeeping Checklist

If you think that I'm going to share some kind of meticulous and systematic checklist here that details how often I scrub the floors and clean behind the refrigerator, you are reading the wrong blog.

However, when I do want to buckle down and do some heavy-duty housekeeping (most likely organizing and purging), there are some things that I need to have. In the spirit of one of my favorite picture book heroes, Scaredy Squirrel --

From my favorite of his adventures, Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend

A few items Jennifer needs to insure a successful housekeeping session:
  • A clear schedule -- Nothing impedes my already-shaky motivation like having to take a kid somewhere or get a few items at the store. A block of time bids me to fill it and use it so that I have something to show for it later.
  • Comfy clothes -- This isn't that different from any other at-home day, but ideally the clear schedule (see above) extends throughout the evening so that I don't feel compelled to undergo any beauty rituals at all.
  • My ipod, and a great podcast or audiobook -- This turns my chores into an almost-enjoyable activity. I can spend a couple of hours tackling a particularly brutal cabinet mess (one of the goals for today) or an unhinged closet if I have good entertainment. I added "Listening" to my sidebar on the right and will keep it updated with my current podcast series or audiobook. I bought a bunch of audiobooks from at the members-only sale, and I am excited to have many many hours of wonderful entertainment. I'm really enjoying the one I started this week, Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann.
  • Pockets -- In order to most effectively use my ipod, there are two hoodie sweatshirts with the hand-pocket in front that are perfect to hold the ipod. The most effective is this cheap oversized fleece pullover (bought in San Francisco one "summer" when we were all freezing!) that has two large side pockets.
  • Trash bags -- The key to making a big housekeeping/organizing session effective for the long-term is to get rid of the stuff that is causing the problem. I always keep one bag handy for trash and another for Goodwill, and I'm always amazed at just how much stuff I get rid of.
  • Blinders and earmuffs -- In order to overcome by biggest obstacle of distractedness, I need to wear those figurative blinders to shield me from other projects I could jump to, leaving the first unfinished, or the computer, which beacons me to just "send that email that I remembered I need to send," or the TV that begs me to veg out and take a break. The earmuffs protect me from incoming chatty phone calls that will cause me to jump off track.
What are the things that help you tackle big chores and projects effectively (if it's a natural inborn desire for cleanliness and order, I just don't want to hear about it, okay)?

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Don't Buy This at Home

Okay--first a confession. Just like all of you, I've made fun of the Snuggie. The commercials are just too stupid for words. The guy playing backgammon looks like a total dork, and I'm embarrassed for him. Anyway, someone contacted me offering me a chance to try out the Nuddle*, the "blanket to the stars." Since I do love a good blankie, I said yes, and now I am a big convert. Armholes, feet pockets or no -- this would be a great blanket any way it was fashioned. You can enter to win one of your own over at 5 Minutes for Books right now.

It got me to thinking of other "As Seen on TV" kind of products.

A winter or two ago, I bought into the claims of the twin draft guard. Please do not buy this. Yes, it may have stopped drafts (which we needed, and still need!), but it doesn't slip on to the door as the commercial shows, thus every time I opened the door, I had to sort of reposition it. Very ineffective. I will say that I am still using and enjoying the "buy now and get free" over the door hooks.

My children are convinced that we should get the Perfect Brownie Pan Set, however making brownies and cutting them with a knife hasn't really been an insurmountable obstacle for me. Plus, they talk about the edge pieces, and I love the middle, so it's really a no-win situation.

So, 'fess up. Have you bought something from TV or an informercial? Did you like it, or was it a bust? I have to admit that the In Styler looks so tempting. . . . And wow -- it's buy one and get one free if I "buy now!" Only $14.99. How can I resist?

Though I'm not participating in the theme, WFMW is about blog tips today. If you'd like more, or other non-themed tips on making life easier, check it out at We Are THAT Family.

I invite you to subscribe to my feed, or follow me @jenndon on twitter.

*Disclosure: I was sent a Nuddle for review purposes.

I Read It!

5 Minutes for Books has moved the I Read It! carnival from a once-quarterly fifth Tuesday to the first Tuesday of the month. It's basically a review round-up of sorts, where bloggers are invited to post reviews (or links back to their reviews from that month) of a book or book that another blogger recommended -- us over at 5 Minutes for Books or elsewhere.

This month, my report is all about Carrie's recommendations (from both Reading to Know and 5 Minutes for Books). One of the reviews that still gets a lot of search engine traffic at 5 Minutes for Books is her look at the Mr. Men and Little Miss books (linked to her review).

Whenever we visit my in-laws, there are always treasures from her own children's growing-up years waiting to be discovered. She'll bring up age-appropriate toys and books from the basement for the kids to enjoy (including such things in the past as the original My Little Pony's from my young sister-in-law and even Weebles!). One of the books that Kyle really enjoyed this Christmas was Mr. Quiet (Mr. Men and Little Miss). In fact, he enjoyed it so much that when Terry and I went away together in January, and I wanted to bring the kids a little something, they both got books, and I browsed the cute little rack of Mr. Men and Little Miss books (at less than $4 each!), and brought him home Mr. Happy (Mr. Men and Little Miss).

I do love these cute little books. There is quite a story packed into the pages that gives a little one (or a big one) a bit to chew on. They make you think about your quirks, falling short of saying one way is good and one is bad, but they do make you appreciate the other side.

For example, Mr. Quiet lives in Loudtown. Everyone is loud (I can also relate to that scenario -- not the quiet, but the loud). Poor Mr. Quiet can't even order his meat at the butcher, because they can't even hear him. So just as he's about to starve to death, he meets Mr. Happy, who takes him to live in Happytown, where he fits in quite happily as the town librarian.

The other recommendation from Carrie that I read this month is Anne of Avonlea (linked to my review). Recommendation is too light a word for the way that Carrie feels about the works of Lucy Maude Montgomery, but I'm glad that I've found her, too.

And though I was familiar with the Mysterious Benedict Society books before Carrie began reviewing them (I'm pretty sure Amanda had read it) it was her continual banging of the drum, "Read it, read it, read it," as well as Amanda's urging for me to read it aloud to her, that we finally did. It took us an embarrassingly long time to get through the 500+ pages, but we finally finished it this month. Read my thoughts on sharing the Mysterious Benedict Society with my daughter right there at that link. I'm happy to report that we are already 90 pages into the second book.

I do hope that you'll join us this month, or in the future, reporting books that another blogger finally makes you report, "I Read It!" on the first Tuesday of each month at 5 Minutes for Books.