HGTV’s Santa HQ at Freehold Raceway Mall #SantaHQ and #loveHGTV

santa visit

It is that magical time of year again, where malls across the country are packed with shoppers, including kids and parents of all ages.  One of the main draws of shopping at the mall, beyond the shopping, is to see the big man himself Santa.  This year HG TV brings you a very special Santa’s HQ, where visitors travel to the North Pole and explore the big man’s abode.  The visit starts interestingly enough, with an app download. There really is an app for everything. The app is called Elf-Ray vision, and should be downloaded before you get to the mall.

app for santa

This app gives the user a special insight into the working of the elves.  Point your phone at the walls, and see what the elves have been up to.  Once activated, the gears show elves working hard behind the scenes or getting ready for the big day.  These scenes are dispersed at various places all along your trek, so keep an eye out.  The first step is the “Elfie Selfie” in Santa‘s workshop where, after snapping your pic as an elf, you star in your own holiday video (that also features some HGTV favorite stars) that you can share with with your loved one as well- just email it to yourself on the tablet.

visit santa

Next up is the Naughty or Nice O’Meter.  Users input their name, then they are measured on whether  they have been naughty or nice.  My son was just barely nice, according to the meter, but he made the cut… far. Then off to the observatory where your Elf Ray vision really kicks in, and you can see an incredible display with twinkling snow and presents.  The end of your visit culminates in a family photo, and then a meeting with the big guy himself, Santa. Make sure your kids bring him a list- then you can avoid those post office lines  😉

mall santa

Guests of the mall are invited start to making reservations by visiting  Guests also can enter to win $10,000 in cash online at or in mall at the Concierge Desk beginning November 14th.

Enjoy your visit!

Fantastic Winter Books For Kids

Looking for a few great books to tide your little ones over for the winter season?  Check out these adorable picks, including some fun craft ideas and fun fluffy friends.


Wax on Crafts Holiday Projects

reate bright and cheerful designs for the holidays, using a box of crayons and a few simple tools! With step-by-step instructions and over 400 images, you can turn inexpensive and everyday items into family treasures. Start with the basics using simple shapes, free-hand designs, leaves, and flowers. Decorate tile magnets, ornaments, and other mediums. Find out how to use wax with paper, wood, glass, metals, boxes, eggs, and felt. Discover twice-melted wax and add color to your designs. Learn the methods to use color washes, base coating, and floating color to create a stunning, eye-catching project. From colorful Christmas ornaments, jewelry, and snowflakes to Easter eggs, necklaces, and pumpkins, Miriam Joy will show you how to add a little color to a basket sitting in the corner, make a wonderful Christmas heirloom out of an antique sled, and turn that old saw into a harvest piece to set above the fireplace.  By Miriam Joy, available at


Santa Claws: The Christmas Crab

Travel beneath the Chesapeake Bay, where Spud, a feisty young blue crab, hates to nap. Waking his underwater friends, Spud launches a rollicking Christmas Eve party that is interrupted by an unexpected traveler in need of Spud’s help. Can Spud help bring Christmas to the Bay.  Preschool to grade 2.  By Priscilla Cummings, available at


The Visit: The Origin of “The Night Before Christmas”

By Mark Kimball Moulton , Illustrated by Susan Winget.  In 1822, Clement Clarke Moore created the classic Christmas poem, “The Night Before Christmas,” for his daughter. Here, in verse and accompanied by over 50 richly detailed illustrations, is the story of the writing of this classic. It is based on the history of the poem as passed down through the generations of the Moore family and told to the author by Dinghy Sharp, the great-great-granddaughter of Clement Moore. Not only does the story of the beautiful and enduring poem’s creation unfold in this tale, but many of the terms and actions of the characters in “The Night Before Christmas” are explained, including why stockings were hung, why windows were shuttered, what coursers were, and what exactly sugarplums that danced through children’s heads really were. Perhaps most moving, is Moore’s motivation and inspiration for the creation of the poem. This lovely edition is a natural companion to “The Night Before Christmas,” which is included in Moore’s own handwriting at the tale’s conclusion. This story is sure to become an equally valued part of the holiday tradition.  Available at



Abe is the cutest abominable snowman you will ever meet. The main character from Have an Abominably Good Day, Abe is the perfect sidekick for a snowy Christmas Eve adventure. Like his new friend Hannah, Abe can help you discover the importance of friendship, decisions, and the love of family and friends. Ages 3 and up. Available at


The Lollipop Monster’s Christmas

Larry’s favorite time of the year has arrived. He races around his home trying to make everything perfect before his friends arrive for Christmas morning. During the celebration, he discovers a lonely monster named Walter, who is very sad. Larry asks him why he is sad and Walter explains that Christmas is a difficult time of the year because he is always alone and has no family. Larry invites him to spend the holiday with him and his friends. Walter shyly accepts the invitation and follows Larry back to his home. Walter is welcomed by Larry’s friends and ends up having the most merry Christmas ever! By Eric T. Krackow, Available at

Win $100 Kohl’s gift card with Elf On The Shelf !

My son loves his elf.  He looks forward to coming down in the morning and seeing where his elf is, and what he has been up to.  I like that he elf watches what he is up to, and reports back to Santa.  Nothing better then a straight line to the big man himself.

Elf on the Shelf

So much to choose from!

My son named his new elf Tom, and since we like to travel, Tom does as well. Tom has proven to be a hardy fellow, handling suitcases, backpacks, car rides, and even plane travel with relative ease.   I suppose when you are used to flying around to and from the North Pole, Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico aren’t that big of a deal.

Elf on the Shelf

Tinsel, Tom, and Amy take a trip with us to Great Wolf Lodge. Bob the Reindeer stayed home to guard the house.

Once Tom came to our house, it was time to get him ready for Christmas.  Thankfully, we have a Kohl’s nearby, and they have everything an elf could want for the holiday season. Have you seen the new Claus Couture Collection?  Perhaps your elf wants to doll up on occasion, not just wear his or her same old red elf outfit day in and day out.  There are quite a few outfits to choose from. Perhaps your elf wants a friend, a reindeer to fly back to the North Pole at night with.  (The new pet reindeer come with their own charm and cute story book as well.)  Maybe your child and elf want a friend in common- an elf friend that can snuggle up at night, that doesn’t need to fly back to the North Pole at all, but stays at home with you.  So many options to choose from!

Elf on the Shelf

Tinsel and Tom, dressed in holiday finery, waiting in the tree in our hotel room after flying back to Santa one night.

Then there are pajamas for your child (perfect for Christmas and the whole winter season), and flatware, take along cups, games, and more.  There is so much to choose from, and all to help you get your “Elf on the Shelf” on.

Elf on the Shelf toys

Some of the “extras” my son chose- a pet reindeer, an outfit for him, and a snuggly Elf on the Shelf he named Amy.

My son has really enjoyed the new items and his new elf.  He had a great time choosing new items, new friends, and reading all about them.  His favorite thing, however, has been all the adventures they have taken together.

Elf on the Shelf book

It’s Elf on the Shelf time! Getting his new elf and reindeer out of the boxes and asking mommy to read the books.

As Christmas Eve approaches, he knows his new buddies will soon be going home until next year. (Well, except Amy- she gets to stay and help make “Welcome Back!” cookies when they arrive.)  While he will be sad to see them go, he can send them letters and get updates from them throughout the year, and we can’t wait to see them again when they return.

elf pets

Bob the Reindeer and his book that explains all about him and his travels.

If you haven’t gotten your Elf On The Shelf yet, there is still time!  If you have your elf, you can grab these fun “extras” as well, just head to Kohl’s – let your child help choose, it really thrills them.

Happy Holidays from me and mine to you and yours.

One of you can win a $100 Kohl’s Gift Card.  Feel free to enter by using the RC form below.  Good luck!  Ends Dec. 31, 2015.
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Getting Dressed Up for the Holidays #ExpectationsExceeded

The holidays are rapidly approaching, as you can tell by so many stores already “decking their halls” and whatnot.  Lest we forget, Thanksgiving comes first!  I’ve got the perfect outfit for my little man- he looks handsome, respectable- and it’s great for church as well as Thanksgiving dinner with everyone. And, since we know kids are kids, it will even be OK to head outside afterward for some fun and games.


We shopped at Gymboree and Gap for his outfit (which is going to fall into his regular wardrobe afterwards, as it’s easy to care for and functional), and are happy to say that his clothes are made with Nanotex®.  Never heard of it?  You’ll want to.

If you are stressing out about what to dress your kids, husband, or partner in this upcoming holiday season, or just want a nice family photo for the holiday card , don’t.  Try selecting clothing made with Nanotex®, which uses nanotechnology to transform the molecular structure of fibers, creates fabrics with remarkable performance and comfort. Nanotex is dominating the apparel fabric market with its stain, soil and odor resistance, while preserving the natural breathability, comfort, hand and durability of apparel textiles. Nanotex clothing is available at more than 100 leading brands including  Macy’s, JC Penney’s, Target, GAP, Gymboree, Land’s End, Kohl’s, Adidasm and more.


Check out the Nanotex Holiday 2015 Pinterest board at

Learn more about Nanotex at You can also follow on social media:


Twitter:  and use the hashtag #ExpectationsExceeded


These clothes are cute, comfortable, and easy to care for, long lasting- and they also look good.  Not much else a mom could ask for. Why spend a ton of money on something uncomfortable that you can’t clean or wear often?  That doesn’t make much sense.  Head to your favorite store and see what they have to offer in Nanotex® for your holiday festivities.

Kmart Filling Carts for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital

We were invited to participate in a wonderful and fun charity initiative at Kmart, to benefit the patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

We went on our very own version of a “toy run” along with Marlo Thomas, a St. Jude patient, and Kmart’s K-Club bloggers, filling our #KmartCarts with as many toys as we could. The toys were then donated by Kmart to be given as gifts to current patients at St. Jude.

pic4Since we were all savvy toy-buying moms, our expert shopping spree resulted in more than $10,000 worth of toys that will be distributed at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis!  Along with Kmart’s K-Club bloggers, Marlo and a St. Jude patient will stock the #KmartCarts with the hottest toys of the season to donate to families who will spend their holidays at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
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Fun Holiday Toys and Gifts

With holiday shopping days winding to a close, you might be really stressed out trying to figure out the best toys to give the kids in your life.  Don’t worry, that’s what we are here for.  Check out some of these toys, sure to please any child.  These are easy to give, won’t break the bank, and are pretty much guaranteed to make kids light up like the Christmas tree or Menorah.

pic4Legos- you really can’t go wrong.  Got a little builder in your life?  These sets are awesome, and inexpensive (especially as LEGO sets go.  No matter if you have a boy or a girl (or want to give a gift for everyone to enjoy), either of these sets will be a hit.  The CREATOR Furry Creatures playset is adorable- everyone here had a good time building it. It comes with all the pieces you need to build a cat and a mouse, even a little piece of cheese.  You can also build this three-in-one set into a puppy dog or a rabbit, or try making them all and see what you like best.  $20 at

Got fans of the Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, or perhaps you yourself are and want to introduce it to your children.  The LEGO The Hobbit Attack on Lake-town is pretty neat, and offers a lot for the price of $30 (larger sets available).  Defend your land from those awful Orcs with Tauriel and her Elven warriors.  Includes 5 minifigures with assorted weapons: Bain son of Bard, Bard the Bowman™, Tauriel and 2 Hunter Orcs. If your kids are anything like mine, it is all about the minifigs, so having this many in one set, for this price, is pretty good (especially when you consider they are about $5 each out of the set).

pic5Jay At Play is making some pretty awesome stuff right now, and great for any kid.  Easy gift giving- and again, the kids will love the gifts!    First, look at the new Tummy Stuffers Wild Ones!  They come in several sizes, and right now you can get a large one with a free small sized Tummy Stuffer for only $20 at  You really, really can’t beat that. You can choose from 6 styles of animal, all in funky, wild colors that the kids will enjoy.  Not to mention, that this is not only a toy, but it encourages kids to clean up- and they really like doing it!  They will put all their toys into that Tummy Stuffer, you wait and see how fast they clean up.  I kid you not- I would not lead you wrong.  They stuff their toys into the mouth of the animal until it is full, which takes longer then you might think.
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Adventure To Santa at the Cherry Hill Mall

“Tis the season for all things Holly and Jolly, and that usually includes a visit to see Santa. This year, if you are in the area, why not shake things up and visit Santa AND Shrek at the same time?

20141129_135551Best part?  You get a whole experiance, not just a quickie Santa’s lap visit and photo.   Wait, no, the best part is that you don’t’ have to wait on a zillion hour line.  You RSVP online for a time slot, show up, and go right in.  We got there just on time, checked in, and waited maybe 5-10 minutes to get inside.  Maybe the best part is that the kids were REALLY excited about all the stuff they got to do while on the tour.  Or that the price for the tour and photos are not any higher then they were for a typical Santa photo (The cost for a single photo with Santa at Radio City Music Hall is $25.  At our local mall, it’s $20.  Here, you get a 3 photos of your choice, in a variety of sizes, for $30.)  There are a lot of “Best Parts”….It’s hard to choose the best-best part.
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The Perfect Christmas Cocktail

Looking for the perfect drink to try this holiday season?  You and your guests will love the flavored vodkas by Van Gogh -they add that little something special that makes the drink over-the-top good.

Dessert Fizz

Christmas drinks

1-1/2 oz. Van Gogh Dutch Chocolate Vodka
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