Sunday, February 27, 2011

Hallmark Recordable Storybook and Giveaway!

**I recently received a recordable storybook from Hallmark to review and keep. I was not paid for this review, nor do I represent Hallmark, Inc. As always, these are my genuine thoughts on the subject...

I LOVE me some illustrated children's books. Big time. I can remember my favorite storybooks as a child, and what is most memorable is the voice who read them to me. I can still remember my Meemaw reading a story about a cat...who always got into trouble...and I'd find the cat hiding somewhere on the page. I loved the sound of her voice. She passed away very suddenly when I was 5. It's amazing how much little minds can remember...

Someone once told me that parents should add new books to their children's collection as often as they get new clothes. It's completely true when you think about it. Their little spongy minds are constantly ready for new adventures and stories. And they love hearing you read.

I recently had the opportunity to talk with some sweet, friendly people who represented Hallmark at Blissdom conference 2011. One of the things that stuck out in my mind about their company is that they sent us a recordable storybook in the mail about a week before we left to attend the conference. The premise was that we would record the storybook and leave it behind for our kiddos while we were away. *Tears*

Needless to say, Titus loved his storybook and hearing my voice before bedtime. He told the book (my voice) "I love you". It meant so much to him and especially to me, that Hallmark actually did care enough to "send the very best"... ;)

Well, Hallmark has recently expanded their recordable storybook titles to include some amazing classics. They recently sent me the newest, Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. What a perfect addition. Good job, Hallmark. Other titles include Guess How Much I Love You and Counting Kisses.

The storybook is super simple to record. You actually record each page separately, and when you're satisfied with the whole recorded book, you flip a switch within the battery compartment to save the recording....even when you have to change the batteries down the road, your recording will be intact. There is also a video demo here. When you're ready to "read" the book, simply turn each page and listen to the recording. It operates by light sensors. There is a series of small holes near the spine of each page, which triggers the recording. We have noticed that it has to be pretty bright in the room for the sensor to work, so we keep the dimmer on high during the bedtime story for this book.

I can think of a million ways to give one of these as a gift, and my plan for our new book is to have my mom record the story for our boys as a keepsake. Priceless.

Well, Hallmark thought you might want to have a recordable copy of Goodnight Moon for YOUR collection! I will be giving away one copy to a lucky blog reader, which I will choose at random on Friday, March 4th.

Here is how you can have 4 chances to win: (leave a separate comment for each opportunity you choose below, and make sure I have your email address to contact you if you win)

1. Comment here with your favorite children's book title and who you would have record it (living or deceased)

2. Become a Creative Juices of Ariel blog follower and let me know you are!
3. Update your facebook status to say "I would love to WIN a Hallmark Recordable Storybook at The Creative Juices of Ariel blog! "

4. Follow me on Twitter @CreativeAriel and Tweet the following: " I would LOVE to win a Recordable Storybook from @CreativeAriel and @HallmarkPR "

Monday, February 21, 2011

Baby Shower Sweets

I'm just getting to this post, but I didn't want you to miss the pictures from the baby shower that Mandy and I hosted for our friend, Jamie. She's due with a boy next month, so we enjoyed covering every surface in my house with aqua and yellow :) Here's how we celebrated her new bundle of Sweet...

printable bunting banner found here.
Mandy and Jamie with our sweet friend, Krissy
Tissue poms that Martha Stewart makes to look easy...but they weren't. I ripped them several times. I couldn't hold back my monster arm strength. Mandy will agree., y'all know how I love pinwheels...
All the food ideas came from miss Mandy. She even designed labels for the edible treats, drinks, and thank you gifts. Parties rock when you have your own personal graphic designer friend ;)
Cheesecake pops...'nough said.

Yummy. Here's where Mandy found the idea.

Adorable paper straws from Hey Yo Yo.
Thank-you lip balms from Invites by Bubbles.
Pickle soaps (you have to have pickles with your ice cream lip balm) from AJ Sweet Soap.

And, because Mandy loves my readers too, she is sharing her label designs here
to print:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A Glimpse at 'Nest Pretty Things'

Nest Pretty Things...

I have recently fallen in love with Nest Pretty Things on etsy...keep reading and you'll see why. It isn't easy to decide on only one favorite design from Designer and Owner, Tamar Schechner's repertoire.

Several years ago, Tamar left the big city life and moved with her husband and 3 teen sons to the country in Vermont. With a background in Design Editing, Photo Styling, and acting as Creative Director for women's magazines, Tamar's fresh and pretty style has made for a successful business designing modern accessories with a vintage touch.

Tamar has recently launched her children's line, Nest Pretty Things Kids...

Make sure to peek at her blog, where she journals her adventures in design. You can also find her on Twitter, and if you 'like' Nest Pretty Things on Facebook today, there is still time to comment on her necklace giveaway!
Now, which one of her designs should I request from the hubs for my birthday?? :)
***Are you wondering who won the $20 giveaway from Dayspring??
Congratulations, Meg! Look for an email from me soon with your gift code :)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Photography Fun with Photoshop Actions

Sometimes I can be really slow about noticing some awesome trends in technology...I think that's part of being a stay-at-homer. I've really got to dig deep to keep up with what's new. That's one of the reasons I love all you bloggies out there. You teach me so much!
Check this out... Have you played around with Photoshop actions?
Here's the BEFORE.
Here's the AFTER.

You really need to check these two blogs out...

First, Mandy made me peek at Pioneer Woman. She is a hoot to read. Ree cracks my stuff up. I'm not going to lie...there's burpin' going on over at that blog...I don't know how she manages to completely dialogue with her readers, but it's an awesome, informative read. Ree is very informative and step-by-step. Check her out.

Second, I heard about Paint the Moon from a friend on facebook. Annie has several free downloads and then some even more awesome action sets for purchase. I love all the drippingly sweet retro camera affects she has made so simple...once you download her actions, you just click a button and voila...instant picture overhaul. LOVE it.

Friday, February 11, 2011

I'm Bananas for You and a FREE Printable

Have I told you lately that I'm bananas for you? Thanks for reading my blog and for sticking it out while I've been away, focusing on being "mommy" to my sweet boys for the last few months. Here's how T is celebrating Valentine's Day with his little buddies at preschool...

And a little printable for you and your little "monkeys".
(click on the graphic below for the pdf file)
*fold in half and staple to the top of a cellophane baggie. Monkey favors pictured above were found at my local JoAnn Fabric store.
Don't forget to comment here for a chance to win $20 to spend at

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dayspring Giveaway

One of my favorite companies to meet at Blissdom was Dayspring. If you're familiar with their line of quality greeting cards at your local Christian bookstore, you're going to love their collection of (in)spired gifts and decor items. Simply a stunning way to decorate your home and give gifts with meaning. I walked into the Dayspring suite at Blissdom and was in "pretties" heaven with all the beautiful ways they have used scripture to give meaning to everyday objects.

I was thrilled when Dayspring asked me to try out one of their products and share my experience. *Again, I did not receive any monetary reward for this review. These are my genuine thoughts on the subject. I do get to keep the necklace I am reviewing. AND there's a giveaway, so read on!

For the last 3 days, I've been wearing the God's Heart for You necklace from the (in)spired line. Let me first say that it goes with EVERYTHING. I wear a lot of silver jewelry, so I popped in some simple earrings and wore this necklace with lots of colors. It comes in rhodim-plated and sterling.
The necklace is 4-sided and shows the words: Celebrated, Created, Cherished, Chosen
My favorite part is the tiny dangle at the clasp that says, Psalm 139:14.
It arrived in a cream velvet envelope, with an enclosure card that says:
In God's heart, you are...
I praise you because
I am fearfully and
wonderfully made.
Psalm 139:14
The LORD has chosen
you to be His treasured possession.
Deuteronomy 14:2
He will take great delight
in you...He will rejoice over
you with singing.
Zephaniah 3:17
I have loved you with
an everlasting love;
I have drawn you with loving-kindness
Jeremiah 31:3
Beautiful. Want one too? Well, I have a $20 gift code for ONE lucky winner. Will it be YOU?
Here are THREE chances to enter:
-Leave a comment about your favorite valentine's gift (given or received)
-Tweet the following phrase: I wanna win some Valentine love from @CreativeAriel and @Dayspringcards leave a comment here that you did.
-Facebook status the following phrase: I wanna win some Valentine love from The Creative Juices of Ariel and Dayspring Cards
and leave a comment here that you did.
*I will pick a winner at random on Tuesday 2/15. Make sure I have an email address to contact you. The winner will receive a $20 gift code to use in the store. Shipping charges do apply. BEST OF LUCK!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Juniper Jellyshoes.

That's what I'm calling her. Juniper Jellyshoes.

She's a little miffed, don't you think? Maybe that's my face right now too. :)

A little stinker-y, all the while, sporting some jellies.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Samsung, Double-Fisted

I recently "double-fisted" two Verizon Wireless devices to review during my trip to Blissdom (see THIS post). I did not receive payment for this review, nor do I get to keep the devices. As always, these are my genuine thoughts on the subject. Why the review? Cause the folks at Verizon are just super nice and it was REALLY fun having a phone in each hand ;)

This is the Samsung Galaxy Tab. I would compare it to the size of a Kindle. It operates just as a smart phone, only a nice BIG screen. Bluetooth capable, rear and forward cameras, it's kind of an all-in-one...and quite the eye-catcher. I lost count how many folks asked what we were using when out to eat, etc. Quite a few conversations started by this device.
As you can see above, there are MANY apps to choose from in the Android 'store'. You already know my love for the "Retro Camera" app, which I used to take the above photos. My only hope is that the Android apps will catch up to this technology and resize their picture to fill the Tab's large screen. Some of the more popular apps have already caught on, so I played Angry Birds in full-size :)
Here's the Tab, using the Amazon Kindle app (it's free!). The screen is backlit and very easy to read. You can also adjust the screen tone in this app to reduce glare, etc. While the screen on the Tab is glossy, it didn't seem to make a difference while I read. I also used this device to tether my netbook at the conference when I didn't want to hop on the hotel's public wifi. While I didn't carry this one quite as much as the next device I want to show you, it does appeal to the e-reader wannabe in me, who wants a Kindle-type device that can do more than just display books.
Here is the Samsung Fascinate. I'm going to be completely honest here and say this is my favorite of the devices I have reviewed to-date with Verizon. You may recall my post about the Droid X. I'm liking the Fascinate even more. Here's why. The size is sleek and it is easier to get my girly hand around to hang on to. I can warm up to the price of this one more. This device does pretty much everything the Droid and Tab can do, but it's pocket-sized. The camera is a smaller pixel quality than the Droid X, but the lens is better and it takes remarkably GOOD photos, which is a biggie for me. It has 7 (count that...SEVEN!) screens to store your favorite apps, load social network updates, and run your blog feeds. I carried this phone everywhere at Blissdom and used it as my main camera. It didn't disappoint. It holds a good charge. I used it very often (blogging, camera, twitter, etc.) for about a day and a half between charges. I'm going to miss this little fella ;)

Did you hear? Verizon is getting the iPhone. I'd be interested in trying it out and seeing if the Fascinate can still hold the torch for my fav phone.

Here are a few of my favorite photos to leave you with, as I say farewell to these devices and pack them back up...

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Blissdom 2011

I've been home from the Blissdom 2011 bloggers' conference for over a week, and I hadn't been out of the house until Friday evening (that's a total of 5 days couped up, folks!) You'd think I'd be better at blogging some posts up, right?
Here we go. It was a whirlwind adventure to Nashville, TN with one of my favorite gals, Cherie, from the Queen of Free. We networked with other lady bloggers, some really great companies, and squeezed in some extra fun stuff too. We saw Mat Kearney in concert (a first for me...he's super talented and very down-to-earth-funny), walked the red carpet, drank purple punch, and saw Dave Ramsey in-person. We even witnessed a flash mob of dancers. Very exciting.
This is my Blissdom experience in wireless phone pictures, all thanks to Verizon, who sent me with a couple sweet devices that I'll review for you in my next post.
the Gaylord Opryland Hotel in Nashville...BEAUTIFUL.
Dave Ramsey, LIVE in his studio at Financial Peace Plaza

"Sharing my Breakfast" at the Kellogg's booth (photo courtesy of Kellogg's) p.s...go HERE to learn more about this great cause

A little Nashville stars love. I *heart* Minnie Pearl.

Remember the Dukes of Hazard?? So great.
Daisy Duke's jeep was parked inside.
The trip was awesome. I learned quite a bit about how to improve my blog. I had a chance to pet live catfish...which I declined. xo, Ariel

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Angry Birds Get all Artsy

So, after I realized how addicting this little game was, I wondered just how many cutie-pie handmade items are available featuring those crazy little birds. Look what I found...

Little felt Desk Buddies by Myook Plushies

Crochet patterns by The Itsy Bitsy Spider

Cupcake toppers by Scrapbooking Stuff

...and beanie hats by Pink Homicide