Christmas Cheer in Camouflage!

Cuddletunes Bears were featured as a jasmere daily deal earlier this month. I knew about the bears and actually bought one for each of my grandchildren whose father (my oldest son) will be deployed soon. When jasmere posted the Cuddletunes deal, I made a comment about what a great gift these bears would be for children of deployed soldiers and said that I’d like to give away a bear. A fellow jasmere subscriber, Wayne Weisberg, liked the idea and agreed to donate towards the purchase of one of the vouchers. Jasmere helped us make the transfer of credits and the first Cuddletunes voucher was purchased.

The longer I thought about the giveaway, the more I realized I wanted to give away more than one bear. After all, there are thousands of soldiers with families who will be missing them this Christmas. So, I decided to purchase three bears with the help of my new friend Wayne.

Jasmere obviously got caught up in the holiday spirit and notified the president of Cuddletunes about the giveaway. He left a comment on my blog telling me that he liked the idea so much that he would donate three more bears! So, the giveaway of one bear turned into six! Thank you so much, Mike! (I’m reminded of how Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fishes to feed the thousands!)

A happy mom! Youngest son Dustin back from Afghanistan & oldest son Bo, a full-time National Guardsman

Over the next several days, I’ll be posting pictures and stories of the winners’ soldiers and their families. I have to confess that I have wiped away many tears today thinking about these families and reading their emails of thanks. You see, even though my oldest son has not yet deployed, my youngest son just returned from our family’s first deployment experience a few weeks ago. I know all too well how hard it is to have someone you love in harm’s way, so to say that I have a soft spot for the military is an understatement!

Please leave a comment below if you’d like to help me organize a means of  donating regularly to a project like this one. As a military mom, I know how hard it is to go for weeks without hearing your loved one’s voice. I can’t even imagine how hard it must be for a child! I’m sure there are many worthy organizations who would love to have these bears, but my interest is in seeing them donated to the children of deployed soldiers. If you’re interested, I’d love to hear from you!

As you celebrate this Christmas, please remember our soldiers who are far away from their loved ones. I wish we could celebrate them home!

Meet My Friend Arnold Elf!

When I was a kid, I wondered how Santa knew if I was good or bad all year long. I assumed that my parents must have told him (why would you rat out your kid?), but if I wasn’t able to talk to him all year, then how did they get a hotline to the North Pole?

Then, I grew up and developed my own connections to the Big Man himself. Now, I’ve welcomed a wee and mysterious friend into my own home this month compliments of Santa. He was kind enough to send an Elf over to my house to spend a few days so that I could consult with him in an attempt to discover Santa’s intelligence tactics.

My new Elf Friend, Arnold, like his Elf friends, is actually a spy. I’m told that we’re not allowed to touch him, but we can talk to him. Now, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. If you don’t think you can handle the truth, stop reading! Most importantly, make sure that any children who might be reading this post over your shoulder are not allowed to read further! Send them out of the room, minimize your screen or do whatever you have to do to keep them from seeing the rest of this post!

Are they gone? Are you ready to hear the truth?

Okay, here’s the secret . . . these little Elves need some help in making their antics happen. So, be warned that taking on an Elf requires a little commitment on your part if you’re going to make your little ones truly believe that The Elf on The Shelf is really telling Santa all the details about their naughtiness or niceness.

Even though the book strictly forbids touching the elf lest he lose his magic, there must be some human intervention. In short, the parents of the children help make the magic. They move the Elf and stage all sorts of fun things to make the Elf seem even more magical. And the possibilities are endless!

Just for this purpose, Elf parents must be willing to stretch the truth most of the time. You absolutely must be willing to expand on the illusion of Santa Claus, the North Pole, elves, reindeer, and all that ho-ho-holiday mystique! And since our little ones (children—not elves) are so savvy (when did they get so smart?), it’s important that you keep track of what you’ve said so that you don’t contradict yourself.

Before you take on the responsibility of an Elf, prepare yourself to answer questions like “How can he fly?” and “How did he make snow?”

The Elf on the Shelf and the accompanying storybook that describes him are sold as a set. Written by mother Carol Aebersold and her daughter Chanda Bell, the book tells the story of how Santa is able to keep track of which children are naughty and nice.

According to the book, during the Christmas season, Elves hang out in homes to which they’re invited. They may be perched on a shelf (thus the name The Elf on the Shelf) or hiding somewhere (remember, he’s undercover for Santa). From his undisclosed location, the Elf watches and listens for good deeds and mischief. Then at night, when everyone is sleeping, he flies to the North Pole, reports on the day’s activities to St. Nick and returns to the home, where he settles into a new spot.

The Elf even listens out for special Christmas wishes, but he never, ever says a single word—except to Santa, of course, and on rare occasions, he speaks to those whom Santa has granted special favor.  In this case, the favored one is me. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to tell you much about my newfound friend. It seems appropriate here that I say ‘thank you’ to Santa for allowing Arnold to share some of his magic and secrets with me.

Now, if you think you’re ready to hear more and possibly take on an Elf yourself, read on! I have some secrets to share that came straight from the Elves tiny little mouth.

W hen Arnold first arrived at my house, he was a little hesitant about divulging the North Pole’s covert methods in too much detail. But after a few chocolate chip cookies, a cup of hot cocoa, and a candy cane for the road, he relented.

It seems that Santa, at the request of a parent or one of Santa’s anticipated benefactors, dispatches an Elf to the home of a child (or children) during the weeks leading up to Christmas. While it’s a little difficult for a single Elf to watch over more than one child, it has been accomplished on occasion. In such situations, said Elf is compensated in the form of a post-holiday vacation to a warm, sunny climate.

Arnold told me that an Elf pretty much takes up residency in the home of his assigned child or children, whichever the case may be. To make sure that boys and girls are behaving all the time, and not just putting on a good front, the assigned Elf finds unique ways to catch his protégés off guard.

Now, I’m really glad that Arnold wasn’t here to check on my behavior because some of the things he told me about the antics of Santa’s impish little spies were downright outrageous! Why, an Elf just takes over the household and get into all sorts of mischief as he tries to disguise himself and keep his undercover work under wraps. And I’m not so sure that I would have behaved very well had I not known beforehand about some of the escapades of these little sprites.

Each Elf has a name. Some arrive with a note from Santa introducing them to their assigned family and others are named by the children they watch. Either way, all Elves seem to have a fascination for writing their names just about anywhere! Arnold admitted that he has been known to write his name on the bathroom mirror with toothpaste and he sheepishly recounted a time when he scrawled his signature across the kitchen table in flour.

The most experienced Elves adapt quickly to their new environments although they do like touches of home around them. If it doesn’t snow much where you live, beware! Elves will make their own snow! A favorite pastime of Elves is a snowball fight using cotton balls or marshmallows. If you decorate with Insta-Snow, your Elf will quickly make himself at home by spraying the stuff on every surface!

An Elf adjusts to household routines for the most part, and they do the same things that the children in their charge like to do. It’s not unusual to awaken to discover that an Elf has played video games most of the night or ridden a bicycle through the house.

Now, I don’t know if Elves have drivers’ licenses (at least not for a car), but Arnold told me that one of his best pals was once discovered sitting on a stack of pillows in the driver’s seat of the family car! To make matters worse, during the night the Elf had moved the car down the street! When his charges and their mom came out the next morning to go to school, Christmas songs were emanating from the car radio with the volume turned up full blast!

Lots of families have their own Elf on a Shelf during the holidays, so your Elf will find a way to make friends with the neighbors’ Elves to enhance the fun. Sometimes the neighborhood Elves get together and throw their own holiday bash for all the kids in the neighborhood.  And be sure your camera has plenty of memory and is fully charged—these little imps love to have their pictures taken! After all, it’s important to record all their antics so that you can share them with your children later and hopefully, for future generations.

I really enjoyed my time with Arnold because he obliged my need for peace and quiet by behaving himself and keeping the shenanigans to a minimum. But alas, his visit was short lived and he had to hurry back to the North Pole lest Santa call him out on a special assignment. I hope he tells Santa that I was a good girl. . . I’ve got my eye on a shiny piece of jewelry!

Enter to win your own Elf on the Shelf from Maddie and Ashley by clicking here.

GIVEAWAY & REVIEW: Maddie and Ashley

Ashley, the owner and brains behind Maddie and Ashley founded her business for much the same reasons I started blogging about shopping (only she was juggling the demands of a baby while I was juggling the demands of a job). As a brand new mother, Ashley found it hard to fit shopping for her precious little baby, Maddie, into her busy schedule. She soon realized the best time to shop was in the middle of the night when no stores were open, so she turned to online boutiques. She tirelessly shopped several stores, but she was never quite able to find all the favorite collections that she and her friends favored. So, Ashley being the inventive and mompreneur that she is, set about to build her own children’s boutique–open all day, every day, with all the things that moms look for in a children’s boutique. All in one convenient site!

Not only does Maddie and Ashley reflect the inspiration drawn from Ashley’s children, but the boutique is also filled with ideas she has gleaned from being a mom-in-waiting, an aunt to her nephew and a friend to other mommies. Ashley is very passionate about the items she features at Maddie and Ashley. She believes all little ones deserve the best in quality, style, and price. Maddie and Ashley’s signature style is fun, hip and trendy yet it also maintains the classic, timeless sweetness that we all want to see in children’s clothes.

As a shopper of this great little boutique, I can honestly say that you get the best–in style, quality and variety! I was a fan of Maddie and Ashley long before I became a blogger. After all, I’m a grandmother, and grandmothers need to know about these things. I have bought many a cute outfit from Maddie and Ashley and baby presents by the score!

Maddie and Ashley has a Louisiana State University Boutique reflecting Ashley’s passion for her alma mater. LSU is a tradition in her family, so Ashley has an unbelievable loyalty to the Tigers. You’ll find plenty of purple and gold in the Maddie and Ashley’s LSU Boutique. Most of the designs in the LSU Boutique are original and can’t be found anywhere else!

Molly & Millie Holidays Set~$35.99

Among the things I like about Maddie and Ashley, and it’s definitely one of the things you don’t find at most children’s boutiques, is their broad selection of brother/sister outfits. Not only does the boutique carry a great variety of some of your favorite designers–Baby Bunch, Cloud B, Elegant Baby, Mudpie, Sam & Sydney and more–they have plenty of complimentary outfits for boys and girls. Often, when I find complimentary outfits, the boys’ outfits are a little too babyish.

Wally & Willie Holidays Set~$35.99

You can certainly find that little baby look here, if that’s what you’re looking for. But as the mom of two boys and now the grandmother of a rough and tumble little fellow, I want my boys to look like little boys. At Maddie and Ashley, I can accomplish that look. It’s easy to find complimentary outfits without making your little boy look too prissy. Now that I’m the grandmother of a little girl AND a little boy, I want both of them look cute and gender appropriate, and I love the matching outfits! Aren’t these just precious?

Football Longall with Socks~$28

As a blogger, I often hear moms of little boys complain that they can’t find cute clothes for their boys. They often remark that all the cute things are for girls, but that’s certainly not the case at Maddie and Ashley. Just look at this adorable little outfit! It doesn’t get much cuter than this! Any dad will be proud to watch the big game with his little boy when he’s wearing this outfit!

Maddie and Ashley has great sales and if you’re new to the site, you’ll be thrilled with the deals . . . In fact, when you complete one of the entries (become a fan on Facebook, follow Maddie and Ashley on Twitter, or subscribe to her newsletter) for this contest, you’ll receive a coupon for 20% off your first order. And when you make a purchase of $200 or more, you get FREE shipping. Just enter voucher code SHIP200 at checkout (valid only in the continental United States).

GIVEAWAY: Maddie and Ashley is giving one lucky winner The Elf on the Shelf Gift Set ($29.95 value)! It’s a book! It’s a toy! It’s both in a box! But most of all, it’s a great Christmas tradition that you’ll want to start in your family.

This charming tradition began when author, Carol Aebersold, was answering her children’s (one of them is co-author Chandra Bell) questions as to how Santa knew who was really naughty or nice. Their answer came in the form of a small pixie-elf.

According to tradition, the Elf arrives at your home around the holidays, and the children officially adopt him by giving him a name. The Elf’s sole responsibility is to watch the children’s behavior and report to Santa each night. Each morning, when the children awake, they discover the Elf has returned from the North Pole (with a little parental encouragement) and is now resting in a different place. Unwittingly, the tradition provides an added benefit: it helps children control their behavior, knowing the Elf is watching.

The Elf on the Shelf Gift Set includes a 10 x 10 Hardbound Children’s Book richly illustrated by award-winning watercolor artist Coe Steinwart. The book includes a page to commemorate your family’s start of this memorable tradition. With the book is a vintage-style Pixie Elf that measures about 8″ tall. Of course, he’s wearing his trademark red suit with white collar.

The Gift Set comes in a keepsake storage box, and one of the features of this set is that you can register your Elf online! Remember, this Elf will become a part of your family, so you’ll want to name him after adoption. There’s a special section in the online registration that notifies Santa so that he can send your child a special note telling them all about his helper, the Elf.



REQUIRED ENTRY: Visit the Maddie and Ashley Boutique and leave a comment telling me about your favorite item (Trust me–you’ll have a hard time narrowing it down to just one).


  • 1 Entry: Like Maddie and Ashley on Facebook. We want to get that page up to 500 fans for a special giveaway and I’d love for one of my fans to be her 500th fan!
  • 1 Entry: Follow Maddie and Ashley on Twitter.
  • 1 Entry: Subscribe to the Maddie and Ashley newsletter by clicking here.
  • 1 Entry: Like Pennywise Panache on Facebook.
  • 1 Entry: Follow Pennywise Panache on Twitter.
  • 1 Entry: Update your Facebook status as follows: Elf On The Shelf Giveaway by Maddie and Ashley at Pennywise Panache
  • 1 Entry: Tweet about this giveaway as follows: Elf On The Shelf Giveaway by Maddie and Ashley at Pennywise Panache. Tweet daily to earn additional entries. Leave a comment indicating that you did so.
  • 1 Entry: Read my take on The Elf on the Shelf here and tell me something you’d do with your Elf to make him more magical to the children in your family. I had so much fun thinking up mischievous things that an Elf would do!

Contest ends at 11:59 PM on 12/24/10. Open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only.
CC has the winning entry and has been notified about her prize. Congratulations, CC!

If winner does not respond within 48 hours of notification, another winner will be chosen.


Beautiful Jewelry Shipped FREE from Eziba

Gold jewelry has been out of vogue for the past decade, but it’s back in a big way. I love these pieces on sale today at Eziba. Not only are they affordable, but shipping is FREE so you can start to replenish your gold stash. Take a look at some of my favorite pieces with prices ranging from $27.99 to $99.99.

Golden secrets are revealed in the dazzling shimmer of this GoldKist jewelry collection. Opulent 18-karat yellow gold over silver liberally layers each piece as it rests upon your finger, decorates your neck, or hangs from your lovely lobes. Traditional Italian craftsmanship ensures that GoldKist jewelry can be worn for years and years. Go ahead – smartly indulge.

Great Finds at The Foundary

While some folks may be dreaming of a white Christmas, I’m dreaming of warm weather. All that snow is pretty, but I was born and raised in the South, and I like my climate warm!

The short days of winter really mess with my sleep and I am much more productive when I sleep well. In fact, I just seem to sleep better on crisp, clean sheets–especially pretty ones. While the winter solstice my interfere with my sleep cycle, these 100% Supima cotton sheets and comforters are sure to help me get back on track. They’re 500 thread count and a King Sized Set is only $60.

Today’s Decked Out sale at The Foundary made me yearn for the spring when I can sit by our pond and feed the fish or lounge on the patio with a good book.

Summertime’s calling me and when it comes, guests, let alone hosts, shouldn’t have to go searching for a seat. Check out this selection of seating options, touching on everything from environmentally friendly to space-conscious design. There’s something for every space in your great outdoors. Prices start at just $49 (really pretty garden bench) and shipping is always just $5.95 at The Foundary.

Of course, you’ll want to enjoy your time in the great outdoors with man’s best friend. Dogs–and their owners–have needs, and the best pet products take both into account. The Furry Friends sale at The Foundary certainly does, and it’s evident in this assortment of designer food bowls, polyester dog beds, and accessory sets with matching t-shirts, collars, and leashes.

These are so cute and affordable–prices range from $11 to $25. I think I’ll treat my little Annabelle to a new dish! After all, she works hard–just like me–to keep my blog going.

Annabelle, my toy poodle, came to live with us almost 12 years ago, so she’s getting up in age (about 14 in people years). Despite her age, she’s still a big help to me. In fact, she’s sitting right by me as I type this post–snuggling against me to keep me warm. . .

What’s that, Annabelle? Sure, I’ll tell them!

From our home to yours, Merry Christmas! Annabelle and I appreciate our fans!

Love the Skin You’re In With TaDa

Just before I left what people would call my “real” job, I could afford to splurge on spa-quality skin care products. But even before I had a nice paycheck, I always took good care of my skin. And I don’t believe that all skin care products are created equally. Don’t get me wrong . . . you don’t have to buy the most expensive brand to get the best results, but I have seen remarkable changes in my skin with certain spa products. My skin tends to be red and blotchy, so I have to be careful what I put on my face lest I make the problem worse.

Now that I don’t have a “real” job (I don’t get a pay check regularly), I scrimp on some things, but skin care is not one of those. So, I’m thrilled with today’s TaDa deal–Get a $50 gift card to DermStore for $25. DermStore is the #1 place to shop online for skincare, and I found all the brands I’ve come to know and love over the years when I could afford to visit the spa.

Finding the perfect skincare product to satiate your skins changes with aging and the weather isn’t always easy. But if you’re like me, you keep trying. After all, your skin is one of your most valuable assets. You want to keep it looking gorgeous. TaDa would like to support your beauty endeavors with this $50 DermStore E-Gift Card for only $25. That’s 50% off an enormous selection of skincare and cosmetic products from around the world. And the selection is huge!

Get your skin squeaky clean with your favorite skincare lines: Kinerase, Dermalogica, Cellex-C, Phytomer, PerriconeMD, Pur Minerals, Elemis, Skin Medica…it’s all there. Shop the most coveted cosmetics from Stila to Cargo, Borghese to Lorac, gloMinerals to Colorescience, just to name a few. DermStore also offers free shipping on all orders all the time, plus free samples! Whether you’re looking for a spot treatment or a full beauty regimen, you can trust that DermStore will help you find exactly what you need to keep your skin looking young, fresh, and fabulous.

I only wish I could buy more than one card!

DKNY and More at Rue La La

Hand-picked jewelry makes a perfectly elegant gift. Watches for him and her. Rings, necklaces, earrings, and more. Check out Rue La La’s Most Wanted Jewelry & Watches sale! I love this Turquoise Watch By Badgley Mischka at $79. Prices start at $39 and go up into the tens of thousands. But you might find some bauble here that you can’t live without!

Classically chic outerwear from the iconic American designer for women and girls. Styles include peacoats, wool-blend trenches, puffers, and more. I love the girls’ coats and with prices starting at just $49 (for girls and women), you’re sure to find something to keep you and yours snug and warm.

Get $10 Credit At No More Rack

I discovered this awesome daily deal site last week, and it’s one of my new favorites! No More Rack introduces 8 new deals every weekday at noon ET. And let me tell you–they are incredible deals and they don’t hang around long!

Here are today’s deals:

  • Reebok Track Jacket ~ Reebok’s stylish track jacket adds a great look to your casual outfits or your workout wear. Regularly $69.99. No More Rack Price $19.99
  • Rock & Republic Berlin Skinny Leg Jean ~ I see these jeans in the sample sales all the time. This glamorous skinny jean from Rock & Republic is urban, stylish and easy to wear. Regularly $265. No More Rack Price $69.
  • NY & Co. Crushed Velvet Hobo Bag ~ This glamorous little handbag features a soft velvet surface with intricately sequined details. Regularly $35.99. No More Rack Price $10.
  • Stila Shine Lip Color ~ Stila’s perfectly formulated lip colors with an intense drop of shine. Regularly $24.
  • No More Rack Price $2.
  • State of Maine Pajama Sets ~ Elegant pajama sets from State of Maine featuring soft cotton and timeless plaid. Regularly $49.99. No More Rack Price $9.
  • Luxurious Bedding Ensembles ~ These gorgeous and complete bedding sets feature many graceful details and accents. Regularly $295. No More Rack Price $60.
  • DC Infinite Hero Figurines ~ These incredibly detailed action figures features several popular DC comics characters. Regularly $16.99 No More Rack Price $4.
  • Trivial Pursuit Steal Card Game ~ A fast paced card game that brings Trivial Pursuit’s game play to an exciting new place. Regularly $14.99 No More Rack Price $4.

No More Rack is able to offer unbelievable discounts because they have a team of dedicated buyers that search for the best deals possible. Some merchandise comes from cancelled orders, overrun/overstock product and manufacturer closeouts. All products are brand new and guaranteed authentic. Purchasing products from these sources allows No More Rack to buy at deep-discounts that are passed on to you.

Simply add the items you want to your shopping basket. Remember these deals are ONE day only or until they’re gone (sometimes in less than 24 hours)! When you’re ready to checkout, you’ll be asked to create a profile if you haven’t already done so. Then you go through the usual order placement details; name, address, email etc. to generate your personalized profile for your next shopping excursion – one less step for future shopping visits! And I know you’ll go back for more–not only because of the great deals but because their shipping is only $2 flat rate per item! Gotta love a deal when the shipping doesn’t negate your savings!

No More Rack will give NEW MEMBERS a $10 gift card to try the site. There’s a little trick to getting the credit–they want you to spend $20. Check my Facebook page (click here if you have problems. I’ll make sure you get your $10 credit.

Even if these items don’t strike your fancy, I’m sure that another daily deal will! My favorite daily deal site and the best deals on the web are at No More Rack

Save an Extra 10% on Today’s Plum Deals

Want to encourage the little explorer in your life’s interest in nature, animals, science, and cultures around the world? There’s only one name you need to think of: National Geographic.

Like its parent magazine, National Geographic Kids, for ages 6 and up, is packed with you-are-there storytelling and beautiful photos of wild animals, exotic places, and interesting phenomena from around the world. It engages kids with colorful graphics and fascinating bits of information; entertains them with special features such as “Amazing Animals,” “Weird But True,” “Cool Inventions,” “Sports Funnies,” and “Bet You Didn’t Know”; and puzzles them with clever games and riddles. Select issues also include bonus surprises like collectible animal cards and pullout posters.

With this Plum Deal, you get a year’s worth of National Geographic Kids magazines (10 issues), along with bonus animal world map and world beach ball, for only $15. Plus, your purchase supports educational programs such as the National Geographic Bee, a nationwide geography competition); The JASON Project, which develops science curricula for middle schoolers; National Geographic Student Expeditions; and others.

Grab this deal and send your child on the exploration of a lifetime! Enter code plumholiday at checkout and get 10% off purchase through December 24th. Look for a new deal on Friday!

Get $10 Instant Credit at No More Rack

Eight daily deals, every week day, at unbelievable bargains! When I first promoted No More Rack, there were some kinks in their system, but I’ve been assured they’re all worked out now. Initially, I could only offer $10 credits to 5 subscribers, but now, No More Rack says I can offer a $10 credit to EVERYONE!

And once you join No More Rack, you can invite friends, too. You’ll get a $5 credit just for sharing No More Rack’s great deals with your friends. But you only get the $10 credit when you join through this link!

Here are just two of today’s deals! You’ll want to hurry on over and put the items you want in your shopping cart because tomorrow at 11:59 AM ET, they will be gone (unless they sell out first, which is often the case). In fact, 3 of the daily deals are already sold out. But I didn’t want to promote this site again until I was sure I could deliver on what I promised!

Remember, shipping is a flat rate $2 per item, so you won’t break the bank paying to ship your fabulous finds!

  • Your favorite movies & TV shows are now a Scene It game! Compete with friends with tricky questions while reliving favorite scenes and moments from a range of popular programs & films in these hilarious and fun DVD games. A $49.95 value, get Scene It at No More Rack for just $5!
  • An amazing 3 mini bottle collection of LipFusion’s fabulous lip glosses using their revolutionary lip plumping formula! Their amazing breakthrough pulls in moisture to give the look of softer, plumper lips, while its non-sticky, shining gloss provides a gorgeous, glamorous shine. The 3 high-quality, thoughtfully matched colors are a perfect combo and make this an outstanding gift for friends & gloss fans! $10 for the set–a $26 value.

I’d love to share more, but time is running out and so are the deals! Even if you don’t get the deal you want today, sign up anyway so you’ll be ready for the new sales tomorrow at noon ET! Click here to register! If you have a problem receiving the $10 credit, enter code P1070 on the pop-up box that appears when you click on my referral link.

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