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I’m not sure how exactly it happened, but it seems we are already in the second week of December.  That would mean that Christmas is coming up in no time!  If I give it too much thought I’ll be in full panic mode.  I usually have pretty much all of my Christmas shopping done by now, but I’m sad to say this year it just didn’t happen.  Life just gets busy, you know?  Besides my usual holiday shopping, baking, etc., I also have a Bat Mitzvah to attend and will have 6 extra guests in my house for 10 days or so.

I’m still sorting out my lists and trying to come up with gift ideas for a few people, but if I don’t figure it out soon, I’m heading over to and taking care of them all in one swoop.  Did I mention that some of those gifts have to be mailed halfway across the country? I have friends and relatives in Oregon, Utah, Louisiana, and Alabama that I still need to buy for.  Fortunately, some of them are coming here to visit but the rest will have to be shipped. is a website where you can buy gift cards and send them directly to your family and friends. They carry both local (only in select markets, but will be expanding soon) and national brands to suit nearly anyone on your shopping list.  You can purchase either traditional plastic gift cards or an e-Gift Card that is sent directly to the recipient’s e-mail to be printed out.

If you still can’t decide what to get that special someone on your list, you can let them do the deciding for you by sending them a Snapcard.  Snapcards are e-mailed directly to the recipient, along with your own personal message, and can be redeemed for any of the 600+ gift cards on  It’s almost too easy!

So that I could try the entire purchasing process out, Snapgifts offered me a $25 gift card.  I redeemed my code tonight for a local restaurant that my family likes to eat at and it was so simple.  I just clicked on the card I wanted, selected the amount, and then filled in my information.  When I checked my e-mail, I already had notification that the gift card was purchased.

I’m anxious to see what other cities are added for local gift card purchases.  I never know for sure what stores are available when I buy gift cards for out of town friends and Snapgifts solves that problem.  I will definitely be using Snapgifts in the future!

If you still have gifts to buy, I highly recommend checking out Snapgifts.comFor the entire month of December, they are offering free shipping on all gift cards! Just enter the code “freeshipping” when you check out!

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CD Review – Michael Bublé

1_mb_crazy_coverIt’s time for yet another music review (this has been a fun week!)!  This time it’s Michael Bublé’s latest release, Crazy Love.  All about the crazy rollercoaster ride that is love, Crazy Love is filled with new originals like the fun single, “Haven’t Met You Yet,” as well as covers of classics like “Georgia On My Mind” and the title track “Crazy Love.”

To be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect when I cracked open this cd.  Despite his irresistible good looks, I somehow have not paid much attention to Michael Bublé.  I’ve heard his name thrown around a lot over the last few years bus still managed to somehow pass him by.

Thanks to the One2One Network, I finally got a chance to discover what Mr. Bublé is all about and let me tell you, I now understand the craze!  While I’m not a huge fan of jazz music, I found myself really enjoying his smooth voice.  He conveys so much emotion with his voice that you can almost hear him smiling through the lyrics at times.  I’ve actually found it to be a perfect cd to listen to at work over the last week. For some reason it seems just perfect for a cold winter day when all you want to do snuggle up in a warm sweater. I really enjoyed the cover songs, but I also found myself tapping along to his originals.  “Haven’t Met You Yet” has quickly become a new favorite.  If you haven’t heard it yet, check out the video below!

Crazy Love, released earlier than originally planned due to fan demand, is in stores now. For more information on Michael Buble, check out or become a fan on Facebook.

An advance copy of Crazy Love was provided by One2One Network for review purposes.

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CD Review: Brandi Carlile

givinguptheghostI’ve been a big fan of Brandi Carlile since I first heard her self-titled debut album way back in 2006.  I gave the album a listen based on a friend’s recommendation and her soulful voice pulled me in right away.  She’s one of those artists that you hear on the radio and you know exactly who is singing to you after only a few notes.  Since I was already a fan, I was thrilled to be given the chance to review an advance copy of Brandi Carlile’s new album from One2One.

Brandi’s new album, Give Up The Ghost, brings a matured sound with just a little bit of that country twang that I’ve come to love from her.  From the wistful “Dreams” to the heartbreaking “Before It Breaks” the album does not disappoint.  This album also brought with it opportunities for Brandi to collaborate with several amazing artists including Elton John, who sings with her on the upbeat “Caroline” (that I can’t seem to get out of my head).  If you haven’t heard it yet, I highly recommend that you get yourself over to iTunes or your music store of choice and pick up a copy.

Give up the Ghost was released on October 6th, 2009 and is in stores now.  For more information, check out or become a fan on Facebook.

An advance copy of Give Up The Ghost was provided by One2One Network for review purposes.

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CD Review: Five For Fighting

sliceIt’s not likely that you’ve missed hearing “Superman” or “100 Years” playing on the radio, but if you’ve never heard the voice of John Ondrasik, a.k.a Five For Fighting, now is the time to remedy that.  In his soon to be released album, Slice, John’s soothing voice tells a story of American life –  a slice, if you will, of experiences and sentiments.

Other than hearing a few tracks on the radio, I’ve never really listened to Five For Fighting. I do love listening to new music though, so when I was given a chance by One2One Network to review an advance copy of Slice, I jumped on it.

After giving the album a quick listen, I couldn’t believe that I had never paid more attention to Five For Fighting.  Between John’s smooth voice, the amazing melodies, and thoughtful lyrics, I was immediately hooked.  Slice has been on heavy rotation for the last several days and I expect it will be for quite some time.

John will also be hitting the road in October with An Acoustic Evening With Five For Fighting.  He’ll be at the Midland in Kansas City on November 20th (anyone want to buy me tickets?).  Other dates and locations are listed on his site,  In the meantime, you can check out the video for the  single “Chances” on YouTube.

You can pick up Slice on October 12th, or pre-order it now so you don’t forget!  For the latest updates, connect with John on Facebook or Twitter.

Disclosure: An electronic copy of the cd was provided by One2One Network for review purposes.

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I Wanna Rock!

roa_album-coverThe One2One Network recently offered up an opportunity to review the new Rock of Ages: Original Broadway Cast Recording and I jumped at the chance.  All it took was one look at the track list to know I would love this album.  I am a child of the 80’s after all!  The track list is truly amazing, including many of my favorite 80’s tracks like Heaven, Sister Christian, Every Rose Has It’s Thorn, and Can’t Fight This Feeling.  Oh, and if that isn’t enough, it also features a guy named Constantine Maroulis, who some of you might remember from a little show called American Idol.

Here’s a little bit about the show itself:

Rock of Ages is the new Broadway musical starring American Idol finalist Constantine Maroulis. Set in 1987 in a legendary Sunset Strip rock club, a small-town girl meets a big-city dreamer and they fall in love to the greatest metal songs of the 80’s. The musical is an arena-rock love story told through the mind-blowing, face-melting hits of Journey, Bon Jovi, Styx, Reo Speedwagon, Pat Benatar, Foreigner, Twisted Sister, Poison, Asia, Whitesnake and more.

While I really wish I could have a chance to see it on Broadway, the cd definitely does not disappoint.  As is stated in the making of the soundtrack video, it is like a perfect 80’s mix tape.  I’ve listened to it in my car and over and over again at work.  If you’re expecting a perfect replica of the original songs, you’ll have a few surprises.  But, if you keep in mind that the songs were recorded as part of a musical, you’ll love it.  There is quite a bit of dialogue included in the recording as well, which helps you picture a bit of the story as you move through the songs.  For me, the dialogue is a bit distracting, but I think it would help if I had seen the show and had all of the pieces of the story in my head.

I’ll definitely keep listening to the soundtrack and hope that someday I’ll get a chance to see Rock of Ages on stage!

Want to see the track list?  Of course you do!

Just Like Paradise / Nothin’ But A Good Time
Sister Christian
We Built This City / Too Much Time On My Hands
I Wanna Rock
We’re Not Gonna Take It
Heaven/More Than Words / To Be With You
Waiting For A Girl Like You
Wanted Dead Or Alive
I Want To Know What Love Is
Cum On Feel The Noize / We’re Not Gonna Take It (Reprise)
Harden My Heart / Shadows Of The Night
Here I Go Again
The Final Countdown
Any Way You Want It / I Wanna Rock (Reprise)
High Enough
I Hate Myself For Loving You / Heat Of The Moment
Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Can’t Fight This Feeling
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Oh Sherrie
The Search Is Over
Don’t Stop Believin

Seriously good songs, you guys. You can pick up your own copy of Rock Of Ages on Amazon and I highly recommend that you do.

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My Secret Circle – Review and Giveaway

secret_circleMy Secret Circle, a new social networking world for girls, was created with internet safety in mind. The only way to access this secret world is with a USB access key.  Once you have the access key, you can set up your profile and initiate a unique charm code to print out exchange with your friends.  With the charm code you give them and an access key of their own, your friends can communicate with you in your very own secret online world.

My Secret Circle is targeted to girls ages 8-12 who want to communicate with their real friends online but who may not have the judgement to stay away from many online dangers.  The access key contains an embedded code that brings up the private My Secret Circle browser without the need for credit cards, logins, or personal information.

Senario sent me a BFF pack of My Secret Circle, which includes two online access keys, to review.  After reading about this product I was really excited to try it out.  I wish I had an 8-year-old girl around to help me test it, but instead I just had to pretend (which really wasn’t so hard because I watch a LOT of Hannah Montana).

With all of my excitement to get started, I went to tear into the package – which of course was plastic and rather difficult to get into.  Once I cut through the first layer of plastic, there was another layer to cut through before I could get to my access key.  I finally got my access key out and plugged it into my USB port on my computer.  It started loading up right away, but then told me I needed to restart my computer and update my Flash player.  Once all of that was done, My Secret Circle was up and running.  I would definitely recommend parental supervision to get going the first time, but after that it was a snap.

When My Secret Circle starts up, it asks you to create a password and then prompts you to write it down on your instruction manual so you don’t lose it.  Then it takes you to the Options page where you can use the Diva Designer to create your avatar using different hair styles, props, clothing, etc.  You can also fill in your name and other information such as your favorite TV show, movie, and such.

From there, you can click to go to your journal, im, photos, games, or chat.  You can also go to your “All About Me” page by clicking in the upper left-hand corner to see your recent activity and your friends’ activity.  The chat section requires the use of the My Secret Circle voice-chat headset, but all of the other options were available.

One of the features I really liked was that when you save a journal entry it asks you if you would like that entry to be public or private.  I thought this was great because every tween girl has a few secrets she doesn’t want to share with even her closest friends.  The private feature allows them to have a place ot write down their secrets without anyone else having access to it.

My biggest disapointment was that I couldn’t get any photos to upload.  I tried several different photos, including different sizes, and could not get any of them to work.  Once photos are uploaded, you are supposed to be able to create albums and slideshows, add text and graphics, use them in your journal entries, and use them for some of the games.  I really hope that this was just a fluke because I think the photo features would make the whole thing a lot more fun.

Overall, I think this is a great product.  I think the BFF pack would be a perfect birthday present for a tween girl.  Aside from the problem with uploading photos, this seems like a really fun place for girls to hang out with their friends.  I like that it is a one-time purchase with no online subscription fees.  I think it a great way for kids to share photos and other information securely without the wrong person intercepting it.  I would feel very safe letting my kids communicate with their friends on My Secret Circle (when they’re a little bit older anyway).

Do you know any tween girls that would love to get online and hang out with their friends?  I hope so because the lovely people at Scenario are letting me give one My Secret Circle online access key (a $19.99 value) out to one of my lucky readers!  Enter to win by completing one or all of the steps below:

  1. Leave a comment on this post telling me who you would give the My Secret Circle access key to if you win.
  2. Tweet about the giveaway on Twitter and leave a link to that tweet in a comment on this post.
  3. Subscribe via e-mail or RSS feed and leave a comment on this post saying you did so.

You MUST leave a comment for each contest entry, otherwise it will be disqualified.  Any entries that do not meet the qualifications above will be deleted prior to choosing a winner.  Entries will close at 10:00 p.m. Central on Monday, July 20, 2009.  Winner will be chosen via based on the total number of entries and will be notified by e-mail.

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