Friday, November 30, 2012

Wine Trends Down Under (Guest Post)

Wine Trends Down Under

One of the great ironies of the Australianwine industry must be that the country has, in fact, no native grapes whatsoever. Wine growing in Australia was only established in the late 18th and early 19th century by imaginative growers introducing Vitis vinifera varieties (the common grape vine native to parts of Europe, Asia and North Africa) to domestic vineyards.

Approximately 130 different types of grape are used by commercial vineyards in Australia, all with their different flavours, textures and drinkers. Wine production is still dominated by South Australia of course, with its world-famous Barossa region still formidable, with Tasmania a developing producer of high-quality wines also.

A look at domestic sales of wine in Australia shows that consumers here are both discerning as well as often quite traditional in their tastes. Another trend is that we have become more varied in our wine tastes over the last 30 years.

In 1987/88, Australians quaffed 333,543,000 litres of wine. Of this, a massive 61.8% was white wine – an understandable statistic when you consider our hot summers and general outdoor lifestyle, as well as the fine quality of homegrown white wines. Just 15.6% of the total was red wine, with sparkling wine at 9.9%. Dessert wine was next with 5.9%, with sherry, hardly a staple of Australian drinking, at 4.7%. ‘Other’ wines make up the final 2.1%.

By 2008/09 however, Australian drinkers’ tastes had changes notably. Firstly, over this time 429,900,000 litres were consumed. The proportion of white wine imbibed was reduced markedly – down to 47.5%. Red wine drinking has surged to 37% - more than double what it was 20 years before. This change shows both more sophisticated taste on the part of the Australian wine drinker as well as a greater concentration on producing good red wine on the part of wine producers.

Sparkling wine was slightly down to 8.5%, with fortified wines at 3.8%. Other wines made up the final 2.8%. Since 2008/9, figures show that sales of ‘other’ wines are on the rise: these include vermouth, carbonated wines, flavoured wines and low or no alcohol wines.

Another interesting statistic is that, over 2010/11, Australia-produced wine accounted for 87.4% of total sales, as opposed to 12.6% for import wines. This was down from 92.9% in 2006/7. Of the overseas countries selling wine on the Australian market, New Zealand is easily the most popular, followed by France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Chile, South Africa and Portugal.


Music: Before Deciding on an Instructor (Guest Post)

Music: Before Deciding on an Instructor
There is perhaps nothing more satisfying in life than learning how to play a musical instrument. Indeed, music is one of the most enriching, relaxing hobbies that one can take on in their life, and learning how to play an instrument can help to support a more active, creative mind. One of the most important things to take into consideration when learning how to play music, however, is who you take lessons from.

Music lessons can either make or break a budding musician; a poor teacher will do nothing but hold you back from achieving your full potential. Indeed, the importance of finding an experienced professional to teach you how to play cannot be overemphasized. There are plenty of ways to go about finding an instructor that will be beneficial to learn from, with the following being just a few examples.

Determine What You'd Like to Learn

Even if you're simply picking up a new instrument, it's incredibly important for you to have a solid understanding of what it is that you'd like to learn by taking lessons. A lot of people don't give this enough thought, and often end up taking lessons that they simply don't benefit from as a result. Think about your interests, and how they relate to what you're trying to learn from playing music. Are you trying to figure out how to play fast rock licks? Perhaps you'd rather take a jazz-oriented approach. The more you can nail down early on, the faster you'll move.

Check References

One way to decide whether or not a music instructor is worth their salt is to check references. Most music instructors will be more than willing to provide at least a few references when you're deciding who to take lessons from. A lot of instructors even have reviews online about their teaching styles, which can make it even easier for modern individuals to learn as much as possible about the teachers in their area. You can read reviews here, for example, to determine who might suit your needs as a teacher.

Take Lessons at a School

While there are certainly plenty of individuals who teach privately, others often work out of a school setting. Those who teach at a school usually have the experience and know-how to lead students in the right direction with their music careers, which means your chances of coming upon the wrong fit will be less than they might be if you were to simply go with a private instructor. For example, you can learn about TakeLessons and other related schools, that are excellent choices for anyone who is unsure as to what they're looking to learn about music, yet simply wishes to dive right in.

Learning how to play music can be an extremely rewarding experience. If you don't have the right person teaching you, however, it can be equally stressful as it is enjoyable. So long as you have the perfect teacher to work with, you'll be on the right path with your career as a musician and will pick things up quickly.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Grow Your Own Mushroom Garden (Holiday Guide 2012)

I love cooking and when you have fresh ingredients, it makes the cooking and the eating process a more enjoyable one. I love cooking from scratch, using all fresh ingredients from my local Farmers Market, then when I serve that fresh homemade food, I find joy in knowing that my family is eating fresh food. I think the way to get even more fresh is to get the ingredients straight from my own garden. Now that we have moved into a house, we will be taking advantage of our backyard for a little garden of our own. Well to get us started on growing our own produce, I was sent the Grow Your Own Mushroom Garden from Back to the Roots to review for this years holiday guide. I know that when I was little, my parents had their own garden and going out and tending to the garden then harvesting our fruits and vegetables, made eating our harvest even more enjoyable than buying the same produce from the store. I have been wanting to share that experience with my own kids, to see them get that satisfaction and appreciation from the foods that they grew and helped prepare themselves. That is the same idea that Back to the Roots has. They want to help more homes and families grow and consume their own fresh produce, by being able to grow a garden right on their kitchen counter. With the mushroom garden kit that I was sent, they made it very easy to grow my own mushrooms that can then be eaten after they grow, then can be harvested again for 2-3 times. I love that the garden is grown straight from the box that is made from recycled coffee grounds, and that once we are done with our mushroom garden, we can then plant the box to grow another garden with sweet onions, tomatoes and basil from the seeds that are embedded in the box! I also love, that even though the weather may be cold outside, I am able to grow a garden inside and enjoy it now with my kids! This year, if you are looking for a really great gift to give anyone that they can enjoy over and over again, whether they live in a house or an apartment, get them the Grow Your Own Mushroom Garden from Back to the Roots!!!
Also, after you’ve bought and grown your kit, you can post a photo of your kit to and they will donate a mushroom garden and sustainability curriculum to a classroom of your choice so more people can join the urban farming family!

This was not a paid post and honest/original opinions were used and they are my own. Thank you to the company and/or pr agency who supplied the product for review.

Carmex Lip Conditioner

With the cold weather upon us, we get the season of chapped lips. My entire family suffers from chapped lips and this time of the year the lips are more chapped than others. Now with me, I have a collection of chap sticks stashed around the house so when someone comes to me with chapped lips, there is a thing of chap stick close by, lol. I know with the kids, they are outside playing a whole lot no matter what the temperature is. When it is cold out, they just bundle up and go outside, so in order to keep their lips from getting too bad while playing in the cold, I like to keep some Carmex close by. Recently I was sent some of the new Carmex Lip Conditioner to review. I love that this lip conditioner is not greasy and that it leaves your lips feeling soft and smooth, which my kids also love. We also love how creamy it is and how it absorbs quickly, so they can apply some of the lip conditioner then go right back to playing! So this year when you are battling the season of chapped lips, stock up on the new Carmex Lip Conditioner!!

This was not a paid post and honest/original opinions were used and they are my own. Thank you to the company and/or pr agency who supplied the product for review.


Getting Thinner! (Guest Post)

Getting Thinner!
Technological innovations have changed the way we live life on a daily basis. These advancements allow us to enjoy spectacular benefits. Nowadays we can find electronic devices and apps that can help us in unique ways. Various ‘thin trends’ have evolved in all types of markets. It seems everything is getting smaller, thinner, and at the same time, the items offer more features.
In essence, we can do more with these advanced products and take up less space in the process. Even the most sophisticated devices are now available in small packages. Great examples of this can be found in telephones and computers. We’ve gone from using phones attached to the wall with large handsets to mobile devices that can easily fit into the palm of our hands.
The first computers were large bulky pieces of equipment that were extremely expensive and that required substantial space. Fast forward to today and we have compact computers that can do more, cost less, and that can fit into a handbag.
A Growing Trend of Going Thin
Cameras are another product line that has seen many advances. Gone are the days when we have to buy film and wait to have pictures developed. In this modern era we can immediately enjoy taking pictures with our cell phones. Digital cameras make it possible for nearly anyone to instantly become an amateur photographer. It’s as simple as, point, shoot, and enjoy the images.
Fitness and good health are always in the spotlight and the ‘thin trend’ has been put to work there too. There is now a focus on ways to get multiple health and fitness benefits from one product or effort. For instance, we can now find supplements and vitamins that promote health in multiple ways. This eliminates the need for taking several different substances and it can simplify the process of ensuring good health.
From Fitness to Fashion, Makeup, and Beyond
Rather than needing a complete gym fitness products are available that not only offer a good workout, but they are small enough to be considered portable. In fact, some fold-up for storage and others are small enough to take along when traveling. The trend for getting thin can also be seen in modern camping and outdoor equipment. There are now cigarette lighters that have a built-in flashlight. Special water hoses are available that expand while being used and shrink back to a very small size when not in use.
Movements toward ‘getting thinner’ have not gone unnoticed in the world of fashion and makeup either. Many people prefer a Leather BigSkinny Wallet over older styles that are bulky and cumbersome. When it comes to makeup it’s a no-brainer to choose dual-purpose products. Options include tinted moisturizers and mineral makeup that helps improve overall skin tone and complexion.
The reality is, all industries are working to provide products that offer more than one benefit. In most cases this results in the convenience of saving space and other advantages. Clearly, good things really do come in small packages.


Purex plus Oxi #Giveaway 3 Winners! CLOSED!

We all have it, that pile of dirty laundry. Like many other mothers out there, I have laundry that seems to pile up daily. It never fails, I can have, what I might think to be, my last load done, folded and put away to go back to the laundry basket to find that it has magically grown again as if someone has poured miracle grow on it. But that is not the only issue I run into when it comes to doing my families laundry, it seems that when you have kids, and I have learned that more so with boys, that dirt is attracted to them like magnets. It can take mere seconds after I dress my son in fresh and clean clothes, that he comes back to me covered in dirt, looking like I never bathe him, lol. So when it comes to doing my laundry, I look for the heavy duty laundry detergent so that I can attempt to completely get his clothes clean. Recently I was sent a bottle of the Purex Plus Oxi to try out. I found that when I am doing laundry with the Purex plus Oxi, and I am facing the challenge of getting those grass and dirt stains out of my sons clothes on top of lord knows what other kind of stains might be there, rubbing in some of the Purex plus Oxi before washing, really helps get those stains out, and once the clothes are done, it makes the colors look brighter and the stains are gone! Another plus that I love about the Purex plus Oxi is that it is safe to use in my HE washer machine. So if you are like me and you have a mystery elf who puts miracle grow on your laundry when you are not looking and you also have a child who is a magnet for dirt and stains, then you are going to want to give Purex plus Oxi a try! Well, the wonderful people from Purex would like to give three of my readers the chance to try their Purex plus Oxi by giving them each a coupon for one free bottle of the Purex plus Oxi!!

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Tell me what was the worst stain you have had to face when doing laundry! Please leave me your email with this entry!

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This giveaway is open to US residents. This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on December 9,2012. Winner will be chosen at and will be given 48 hours before another winner will be chosen. All products for reviews and giveaways are given as a sample from the companies. All opinions in reviews I conduct are my own. I was not paid to say anything or review any products.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Personal Creations (Holiday Guide 2012)

I love preparing for the holidays, and even though when we do our holiday shopping, we shop for others, I still like to get myself something nice as well. I love hanging up pictures of my family and I love finding picture frames that stand out and will look nice on my walls. Well recently I was given the chance to do a holiday review for When I went through their products, I knew that I wanted to get a picture frame since I have quite a few new pictures of Wyatt to hang up. As I was going through the selection of personalized picture frames, I found one that really caught my eye. I found myself really liking, and seeing the Live Love Laugh Butterfly Frame going great on the wall in our new home.
I love the butterflies on the frame and I also love the saying that is on it which says, "Dance as though no one is watching, Love as though you have never loved before, Sing as though no one can hear you, Live as though heaven is on earth". Another thing that I really loved was the fact that I could personalize this frame with our last name on it, which makes it very special and for me, makes it a great holiday gift for myself!
I really enjoy shopping over at not only for personalized picture frames, but also for other really great personalized items that I can get for myself, for my home or as a gift for someone else. So this holiday season when you are doing your shopping and you are looking for a great gift to give that is personalized, then head on over to!

This was not a paid post and honest/original opinions were used and they are my own. Thank you to the company and/or pr agency who supplied the product for review.

Top Must Have Toys from Fisher-Price Part 2 (Holiday Guide 2012)

Aside from shopping the amazing Fisher-Price products for baby, you also have a great selection of products available for older children as well. One of the brands from Fisher-Price that Robert loves is Imaginext. Last year he had the Imaginext Dinosaurs on the top of his list, and he collected all of the ones that we could find for him. Well this year, Imaginext is back on the top of his list and this year he has his eyes on the Imaginext Eagle Talon Castle and other figures that can be collected along with it! To get this years Imaginext collection started off, we were sent the Imaginext Eagle Talon Castle, which once I had a good look at it, is amazing! I love how much play time Robert will be able to have with this castle. From the awesome defense modes that are ready for battle, to the Talons that lock the gate, this castle has it all! I love the shutters and the characters that are included who are ready to defend their castle from outsiders! I know that Robert is going to love the eagle head that is ready to fire at the enemy and he will also love the other characters that we purchased for him this year that go along with his castle. This year, when you are looking for a great gift to give your little knight, then get him the Imaginext Eagle Talon Castle and the other characters like the dragon and the ogre that make playtime with his castle even more fun!!
On top of Robert really wanting the castle from Imaginext, he and his friends also love their super heroes. With Robert still being a preschooler, I find that getting toys from the Fisher-Price line to be ideal for him. He loves the selection that is available and when it comes to the super heroes like Batman, Superman and The Green Lantern, and Fisher-Price has him covered. They not only have their favorite super heroes that are perfect for little boys, but they even have the super villains who are ready to be chased down and taught a lesson! For my son this year, he will be getting a great collection of the Fisher-Price Hero World Super Heroes which include Batman, Robin, The Joker, Superman and The Green Lantern, all of which my son and his friends love to role play and I know will all love to play with this holiday season and with the Voice Comm characters they really bring the action to life with their interactive speech, lights and sound!! So this year, when you are looking for some super hero action figures for the preschooler in your life, then check out the Hero World Superfriends Voice Comm toys and playsets!!
When I get to thinking of all of the characters that Robert likes, I can come up with quite a list, but one that he has loved since he was a toddler is Mickey Mouse. Over the years he has collected the different dancing Mickey Mouse dolls that have come out and just like previous years, Robert has asked to continue to add to his Mickey Mouse collection by asking for the Master Moves Mickey this year. I love Mickey Mouse as well and with the Master Moves Mickey, Robert will be able to move and groove like never before. This Mickey Mouse has it all, he has the beats and the moves to rock the house and I love how Mickey encourages your little ones to dance along with him and get down! The Master Moves Mickey has over fifteen different dance moves which he incorporates into his own original dance combos! This Mickey can even do a handstand then go right into a 360! The Master Moves Mickey plays his own funky beats and tracks when you press his nose, then it is time to break out the Mouska Moves which include "The Handstand", "The Windmill", "The Spin Cycle" and more!!! So this holiday season, when you are looking for a great toy to get the kids that will get them up and dancing, then get them the must have Master Moves Mickey from Fisher-Price!!!!
Last but not least, I was also sent a great gift to get the little girl in your life this holiday season from Fisher-Price! I was sent the amazing Loving Family Dream Dollhouse to review. When it comes to the products from Fisher-Price, they not only have babies and boys covered, but they also have a great collection of girls products, and one that my daughter has liked since she was a toddler has been the Fisher-Price Loving Family collection! I loved being able to collect the different room and family sets to go with the Fisher-Price Loving Family, and this year if you are looking to start your little girl off with a great gift from the Loving Family collection, then you are going to want to start by giving her the Fisher-Price Loving Family Dream Dollhouse! This dollhouse is one that can be stored away easily since it is easy to fold, then when your little girl is ready to play with her dollhouse, she can unfold it then let her imagination go with the four floors and nine rooms that are in the Fisher-Price Loving Family Dream Dollhouse. This dollhouse comes with the family that includes mom, dad, toddler, and baby. The Dream Dollhouse also comes with some amazing extras which includes a sparkling lights chandelier and bathroom light, fun songs and realistic sounds, as well as an amazing winding staircase and a secret room that is in the center tower, which is perfect for a extra playroom or tea room! On top of what comes with the Fisher-Price Loving Family Dream Dollhouse, you and your little girl can collect all of the different furniture sets, other family members and extras that are all part of the Fisher-Price Loving Family collection!!!! So this year, when you are shopping for your little girl, get her the Fisher-Price Loving Family Dream Dollhouse!

This was not a paid post and honest/original opinions were used and they are my own. Thank you to the company and/or pr agency who supplied the product for review.


Top Toys For Baby from Fisher Price (Holiday Guide 2012)

I love this time of year, and with this being Wyatt's first Christmas, I find it even more exciting. Even though my little Wyatt is a infant, I still want to make this Christmas a special one for him, and when I shop for baby over the holidays, I find more and more toys that I see to be a must have for him! One brand that I have adored since having my daughter when it comes to shopping for toys is Fisher-Price. I love how they reach your children in their developmental stages, from birth up through the preschool years. This year I was sent some amazing products from Fisher-Price that are perfect for baby and which will make babies first Christmas a very special one! I know from experience with my other two children, that starting from the time they are born, music is something that they love. Music soothes a fussy baby, it also entertains and fascinates them from birth on up. So to get Wyatt started on his love for music that we have in our home, we will be giving him the Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Puppy's Piano. With this adorable musical piano, Wyatt can enjoy playing music, learning about animals and singing along to the music! I love the little carry handle, which is perfect for little hands to grasp and the beads on it just make this piano for babies even more fun. With the light up keys and nose, Wyatt will enjoy playing and interacting with the three different modes of play! For such a simple looking toy, the Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Puppy's Piano can teach baby so much like counting, colors, animal sounds, greetings, Spanish and more! This piano will make for a great gift to give my Wyatt and any other baby this holiday season!
Another great toy for baby this holiday season from Fisher-Price is the Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Puppy's Playhouse! Like all of the other great products from the Laugh and Learn line of products, the Laugh and Learn Puppy's Playhouse offers tons of fun to be had for baby! I love that while baby is playing with the adorable puppy and the puppy house, baby is learning. With Puppy, baby can shake and rattle Puppy's soft body, which in hand teaches baby cause and effect. Baby can then go on to press the bone above the door, where baby can learn numbers, some counting and opposites as well! Baby can also ring the door bell, and spin the wheel on the top where baby can learn about the weather, colors or animal sounds with every spin!! The adorable Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Puppy's Playhouse is going to make for a great gift to give Wyatt this year and is on my list for must have gifts to give baby this holiday season!
One of the things that I think every little one should have is a train, the thing is, when it comes to baby, finding a train that is meant for them can be hard, but that is another reason why Fisher-Price is so great. They know that trains are great, and that having one that is made for baby is a must have. So when I was sent the Disney Baby Amazing Animals Sing-Along-Choo-Choo to review for this years holiday guide, I knew that it was a perfect gift for my little Wyatt. Not only is it a train for baby, but it also has the adorable baby Disney characters that we all love riding along and ready to play with baby! I love the adorable sing along songs that this train plays for baby to help with babies language skills. I also love that when baby presses on the smoke stack, it lights up and plays music which in hand, teaches baby cause and effect. When baby puts Simba on his swing, or plays with the beads, baby can strengthen their fine motor skills with the hands on play! This adorable choo-choo train is easy to roll around so baby can push it along as they crawl and play. The Disney Baby Amazing Animals Sing-Along-Choo-Choo is a must have for Wyatt this year and is a toy that I think should be a must have on any list for baby!
Finally, the cream of the crop, the ultimate must have toy this year from Fisher-Price for baby is the Fisher-Price Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza!! When they say ballapalooza, they mean it, baby and babies friends are all sure to enjoy hours of fun, cruising, grooving, and moving with this amazing activity center that baby can enjoy from sitting to standing stages! Your sitting baby can drop those color balls and watch them race down the ramps and out the shoots. When your baby is crawling they can continue to have fun by chasing the balls, and crawling through the gate. Then when your baby is standing and walking around, baby can find even more places that are higher up to drop the balls and watch them go! Baby and his friends can have a ball, dancing to the music and watching the colorful lights that keep baby interested in continuing to play! I love that the Ballapalooza is strong enough to hold baby so that baby can pull themselves up once they get to that stage! I also love that there are 8 colorful balls that are perfect for baby to grasp and play with, which in hand helps baby with their hand and eye coordination and also gives baby a great workout!! With the Fisher-Price Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza, your baby is sure to have fun dancing and stimulating their senses! This year when you are shopping for baby, you are going to want to check out all of the great toys from Fisher-Price, and add them to your babies must have list!!

This was not a paid post and honest/original opinions were used and they are my own. Thank you to the company and/or pr agency who supplied the product for review.

Kahlua Gingerbread Share the Warmth this Holiday Season! (Holiday Guide 2012)

During these cold months and with the holidays upon us, I love to warm up at night after the kids have gone off to bed with a good movie and a glass of delicious Kahlua to warm me up. I find it a great way to end a cold day and relax. Recently I was sent a bottle of the new Kahlua Gingerbread to try which is part of the limited edition holiday line of Kahlua products which also includes Kahlua Peppermint Mocha. Not only is the Kahlua Gingerbread delicious all on its own with its 100% Arabica coffee beans and the amazing holiday flavors, but you can make this drink even better by making it a Kahlua Cookie Martini by following this recipe:

KahlĂșa Cookie Martini
½ part KahlĂșa Gingerbread
1 ½ parts Absolut® Vodka
Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick and enjoy.

This year, to help keep others warm, Kahlua has teamed up with One Warm Coat by supporting the coat drive across the U.S. For everyone who clicks on the Share the Warmth app on the Kahlua Facebook page, Kahlua will donate $1 to One Warm Coat, in hopes of reaching their goal of $100,000! You can help by going to

This was not a paid post and honest/original opinions were used and they are my own. Thank you to the company and/or pr agency who supplied the product for review.
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