A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Funeral

My last living uncle died last week. He was my Uncle Arthur, my father’s brother and we were very close. He was a big joker and his favorite thing to do when I was a kid was to pretend he was stretching my arm by pulling down on my wrist and pushing my shirt sleeve up. I was sort of transformed into a real life Stretch Armstrong doll.

My parents along with My Uncle Arthur and Aunt Ruth purchased second homes on the same lake in Upstate New York. Our houses were 2 houses apart and so needless to say, our families were very close. After my parents died, we grew even closer, especially when I had my fourth and fifth child who never had a chance to know their grandparents. My uncle and aunt happily took on the role of surrogate grandparents to them.

My uncle was 91 and a half, he lived a long, full life, but still it was sad to let him go. It was comforting when I learned from my cousin, that my uncle called my father’s name as if he were in the room, a few days before he passed. I imagine my dad was there to lead his younger brother home. We take great comfort that we have such loving angels watching over us.

My uncle’s wake was not a somber one. His son and two grandchildren printed out several, tiny heads of my uncle and placed them strategically on the photo boards lining the room. Then, my cousin encouraged everyone to find the “Little Arthur” heads. My uncle has forever said, he did not want anyone to be sad at his funeral. In fact, he said, he wanted a mechanical coffin that would open and raise him to a sitting position as his arm would swing out with a drink in his hand and his voice would invite everyone to toast to his life.

I should explain that humor and laughter are a big part of our Italian family. My uncle’s only son, claimed the photos were a way to put the fun in funerals just as his father would have wanted. When the Elks Club came to perform a tribute to honor my uncle’s lifetime of service, we actually joked that this was when the mechanical coffin would open. My uncle would have liked that we were laughing and joking, because he would not want us to be sad. As I said, he was always telling jokes. That is why I know what happened the next day, had to be orchestrated by my humorous uncle.

As we left the church the next day to head to the cemetery, my sister and I, who were driving together, asked how far the cemetery was. My one cousin said it was nearby, while another said it was not so close. Not really knowing which was the right answer, we hurried out of the bitter cold into the car and figured we would just follow along in the procession.

We were at least 5 or 6 cars behind the black hearse as we pulled out of the church parking lot. We had to get on to the highway, right after we did, a lane that was merging on caused a few cars to dart in front of us. As this happened, there was a bit of congestion on the road and we started to get nervous that we were going to get lost. I looked ahead and saw the hearse. “We are okay, the hearse is a few cars ahead of us.”, I said.

I did wonder how we got so close to the hearse and thought for a moment that maybe the other cars just went on ahead. We joked for a second about how bad it would be if we were behind the wrong hearse. I reassuringly stated, how unlikely it would be for the same black, Cadillac hearse, to be on the exact same stretch of road, at the exact same time. That seemed to make good sense, and we stayed where we were, following a Chevy Tahoe in the procession.

As we entered the Catholic cemetery, the cars came to a stop. The funeral director got out of the hearse and entered a building on the premises. We wondered why we were stopping, but after a few minutes, the funeral director emerged with someone else who drove ahead to lead the way to the correct plot.

As we started toward the gravesite, I turned to my sister and said,”How did we get so close to the hearse? Where are all the other cars that were in front of us? Where is our cousin Bruce and Aunt Ruth? They should be behind the hearse!”

She looked at me a bit puzzled. As we came to a stop behind the hearse, someone directed some of the cars to come right along side of our car and park. This meant we were completely blocked in. As the people started to get out of their cars, we did not recognize anyone. “Oh wait, isn’t that the lady that was sitting near us in the church?” My sister asked. Before I could answer, she said, “Oh no, that woman is much younger.”

What really shocked me is that no one was waiting for my cousin or aunt before going on to the gravesite and standing around the coffin. My sister and I were concerned,  I turned to look toward the last car. It looked like my cousin’s car, phew! “How did he end up all the way back there?” I asked. Then I turned and looked toward the coffin. The white flower spray looked like the one that had been on top of my uncle’s casket in the funeral home, but the casket itself…looked different! “Wasn’t Uncle Arthur’s coffin darker?” I asked my sister, hoping it was just the bright sun making it look so much lighter.

“Oh my gosh, you’re right! His coffin was much darker! That is not Uncle Arthur!”

We both looked frantically at each other and then pondered what we should do. We were completely blocked in. We could not say anything, that would be disrespectful. We quickly texted our oldest brother who is terrible at checking texts in a timely fashion.

When he did not answer, we called our other brother who answered his phone and asked where we were. We explained the situation, and he told us that my uncle’s service at the cemetery was already over and they were en-route to the restaurant. Then he asked if we had seen our aunt’s brother, because he was at the wrong funeral too. That made us feel a little better.

We started thinking about if the people around the casket were looking at us and wondering why we were still in the car talking and texting on our phones. Did they think we did not want to brave the cold, February wind or that we were too busy updating our Facebook statuses to join everyone else gathered around the grave? As we sat in disbelief wondering how this could happen, the graveside service ended, and the people started to walk toward their cars.

As the cars in front of us started to pull away, we could not help but laugh, because we knew that our uncle was pulling one of his best jokes on us from Heaven. We could hear him laughing and imagined he was telling everyone how his nieces, brother-in-law and later as we found out, our other 2 cousins, ended up at the wrong funeral.

Over the course of the next several hours at the restaurant, we laughed again and again at what had happened. It truly was straight out of a sitcom or movie script. I guess we know Uncle Arthur had the last laugh that day and that filled us with a great feeling.

As I write this, looking out on the lake I live on, the same lake my uncle’s and parents’ houses are on, I hear the Cardinals singing. I smile as I  know that Heaven is not so far away and angels are all around us. In our case, we have angels with a sense of humor along with great love. Love you Uncle Arthur, never lose your sense of humor!


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Have a Family Movie Night With “Let’s Go PJ Masks!” Now On DVD

It has been a sad and stressful week in our house. My uncle, my father’s brother, passed away. He was my last living uncle and the only “grandfather” my youngest children knew, since my father had passed away before they were born. I was very close with my uncle, especially after my dad died, 10 and a half years ago. Even though he lived a long life, it was still sad to lose such a beloved man.

After this week we are definitely in need of some time to enjoy some much-needed family time. That is why I was so happy to recently receive Let’s Go PJ Masks on DVD as an Official PJ Masks Blogger. This DVD has six action-packed episodes, plus a super new music video and a bonus set of stickers! Tonight we will pop some popcorn, grab some candy and drinks and settle in for a family movie night in front of the TV.

Our kids are excited to see Catboy, the real parade leader save the day from Night Ninja, even though he does not think he can lead the Ninjalinos without his drum. They can’t wait to see what happens when Luna Girl turns a sleeps-walking Cameron into her very own human puppet and it is up to the PJ Masks to save the day…but Gekko needs to stop messing around first.

So I am off to get things ready for tonight. How do you celebrate Family Movie Night at your house? I would love to hear all about it in the comments. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway below for your chance to win this DVD.

Giveaway:

Let’s Go PJ Masks DVD Giveaway on Mommy Ramblings Rules:

Please enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget below.  Good Luck!!!

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“When We Last Spoke”- A Heartwarming Tale of Family, Friendships & Forgiveness #WhenWeLastSpoke #FlyBy

If you are looking to make the last days of winter go by a little faster with a great read, pick up a copy of ,When We Last Spoke by Marci Henna. On the pages of this book you will find humor, heartbreak and triumph served up with lots of whipped cream and a sprinkling on local nuts. This heartwarming tale of family, friendship and forgiveness takes place in Fireside, Texas.

Sisters Juliet and Evangeline are dropped off by their mother on the doorstep of their paternal grandparents, Ruby and Walt. With their father off  in Vietnam, their mother abandons the girls in order to pursue her dream of being a Broadway star.

Walt, a tender-hearted rancher and Ruby, a blue-ribbon fiddler, amazing cook and expert in the art of making family feel loved, step up to the plate in every way to take care of Juliet and Evangeline. The girls lives are shattered even more when they learn their father was killed in the Vietnam War and at the ages of 7 and 9 the girls face the realization their father is never coming home.

The story drifts between the past and the present as Juliet, now a local Fireside radio personality and store owner awaits the arrival of her sister Evangeline, a fruit tree geneticist from Oregon. Evangeline is coming to Texas to help her sister choose headstones to honor their grandparents. The homecoming is strained due to a secret that older sister Juliet kept to spare Evangeline hurt.

Taking off in Ruby’s prized Thunderbird, Juliet hopes that healing memories will smooth the rough road between her and her sister. Can the tremendous love that Walt and Ruby shared have the power to renew the bond of sisterhood between Juliet and Evangeline?

This is a delightful read and is written in a way that is as comforting as a big platter of southern, pan-fried chicken and fresh-baked, buttermilk biscuits. Family comes in many forms and when the conventional mother and father are ripped from the lives of these 2 sisters, the love, guidance and security their grandparents provides is a Godsend. A cast of quirky characters, like the girls great-grandmother pepper the pages to make the story even more fun and interesting. This book was a perfect read for me under a cozy throw in front of a roaring fire. A story of loss, love and enduring family ties, this was a great read for me. I hope it will be for you too. We have a giveaway below where you can enter to win your own copy of this great book.

You can watch the video trailer for the book HERE! The book can be purchased in softcopy or for Kindle readers. Author Marci Henna will be giving away a free Kindle version from February 20th-24th on Amazon.

About the Author:

 

Marci Henna was born in Austin, Texas and lived as a child in Kenya, East Africa with the Wakamba tribe where her parents managed a medical research station. She later moved to the Hill Country ranch which has been in the family since the 1800’s and currently lives in Austin.

Giveaway:

 

When We Last Spoke Book Giveaway on Mommy Ramblings Rules:

Please enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget below.  Good Luck!!!

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10 of My Favorite Picture Books for Children

I love sharing books with my kids. When I think of some of my favorite picture books for kids, some are ones that I enjoyed as a child while others I discovered with my own children. Here are 10 of my absolute favorites.

The Giving Tree

Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk…and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave.

This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another’s capacity to love in return.

Go Dog Go

One of my absolute favorites as a child! Reading goes to the dogs in this timeless Beginner Book edited by Dr. Seuss. From big dogs and little dogs to red, green, and blue dogs, dogs going up and dogs going fast . . . who knew dogs were so busy?

Repeated laughter will ensue at the repeated question “Do you like my hat?” Like P. D. Eastman’s classic Are You My Mother? Go, Dog. Go! has been a go-to favorite for over fifty years, leaving audiences of all breeds wagging their tails with delight.

Goodnight Moon

In a great green room, tucked away in bed, is a little bunny. “Goodnight room, goodnight moon.” And to all the familiar things in the softly lit room—to the picture of the three little bears sitting on chairs, to the clocks and his socks, to the mittens and the kittens, to everything one by one—the little bunny says goodnight.

In this classic of children’s literature, beloved by generations of readers and listeners, the quiet poetry of the words and the gentle, lulling illustrations combine to make a perfect book for the end of the day.

Harry The Dirty Dog

Another I loved as a child and my children do too!

There’s never been another dog as delightful–or dirty–as Harry.

This lovable white dog with black spots (or black dog with white spots) has charmed children for over fifty years. This childhood favorite is perfect for reading aloud before going to bed or avoiding a bath.

Where The Wild Things Are

In the forty years since Max first cried “Let the wild rumpus start,” Maurice Sendak’s classic picture book has become one of the most highly acclaimed and best-loved children’s books of all time.

Lemonade In Winter

This is one of our favorites of newer books, we read this over and over and it is a favorite bedtime story for the coldest winter nights.

A lemonade stand in winter? Yes, that’s exactly what Pauline and John-John intend to have, selling lemonade and limeade–and also lemon-limeade. With a catchy refrain (Lemon lemon LIME, Lemon LIMEADE! Lemon lemon LIME, Lemon LEMONADE!), plus simple math concepts throughout, here is a read-aloud that’s great for storytime and classroom use, and is sure to be a hit among the legions of Jenkins and Karas fans.

 Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

On a train ride in 1966, the title phrase Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See? popped into Bill Martin Jr.’s head. Later, he spotted an illustration of a red lobster in a magazine and contacted the creator, Eric Carle, to ask if he would illustrate his poem.

So began Eric Carle’s career as a children’s book illustrator–along with a life-long collaborative friendship with Bill Martin Jr. Since then, Brown Bear and the three companion titles, Polar Bear, Panda Bear, and Baby Bear, have gone on to sell millions of copies worldwide.

The Bear books are a cultural landmark and a key milestone in many children’s reading lives. And many adults today remember reading the Bear books themselves as well as the experience of reading them for the first time to their own children. Whether in a picture book or a reader, and now in eBook and audio, the same bold graphics and repetitive, rhythmic text have truly stood the test of time.

 I Wish You More

Our youngest actually has the personalized version of this book from I SEE ME! Some books are about a single wish. Some books are about three wishes. The infallible team of Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld have combined their extraordinary talents to create this exuberant book of endless good wishes.

Wishes for curiosity and wonder, for friendship and strength, laughter and peace. Whether celebrating life’s joyous milestones, sharing words of encouragement, or observing the wonder of everyday moments, this sweet and uplifting book is perfect for wishers of every age.

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich

By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich.
But you may not know how it happened.
So let me tell you.
It all started with the bear . . .

So begins Julia Sarcone-Roach’s delicious tale of a bear, lost in the city, who happens upon an unattended sandwich in the park. The bear’s journey from forest to city and back home again is full of happy accidents, funny encounters, and sensory delights. The story is so engrossing, it’s not until the very end that we begin to suspect this is a TALL tale.

The wonderfully told story, spectacular illustrations, and surprise ending make this Julia Sarcone-Roach’s best book to date. You’ll want to share it with your friends (and keep a close eye on your lunch).

10. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

He could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. He went to sleep with gum in his mouth and woke up with gum in his hair. When he got out of bed, he tripped over his skateboard and by mistake dropped his sweater in the sink while the water was running. He could tell it was going to be a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

It was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Nothing at all was right. Everything went wrong, right down to lima beans for supper and kissing on TV.
What do you do on a day like that? Well, you may think about going to Australia. You may also be glad to find that some days are like that for other people too.

 

So there you have 10 of my top Children’s Picture Books. What are some of your favorites? Please let me know in the comments.


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Faith is Rising Up Like Ivy in #TheGarden #FlyBy #Giveaway

As we brace for another snow storm, the longing for spring is hitting me hard. That darn groundhog says there will be 6 more weeks of winter. I guess it is to be expected after the extremely mild winter we had last year.  I cannot wait for the trees to start budding and the days to get longer and warmer.

The seasons of the year can be a lot like life. Sometimes we are going through tough times that seem to not want to let up. Those times can feel similar to the most harsh winter we feel will never end. Then, through the snow-covered ground, a tiny crocus appears to give us hope for spring and the rebirth it brings.

Worship leader Kari Jobe feels that even when our souls grow weary and dark in the thick of winter that God is always at work. The slow and unexpected green breaking through the frozen ground signaling the first signs of spring show us that. Kari Jobe who just released her fourth album, The Garden, invites listeners to drink of the wellspring of hope she’s found in the midst of unimaginable tragedy.

This new album is rooted in a series of personal transition and remarkable grief for the singer and her family. Over the course of the last two years, Jobe got married, moved from her hometown of Dallas, Texas to Nashville where they bought their first home and had a baby.

Jobe was a four months pregnant when her sister, Kris gave birth to a stillborn daughter, James Ivy. Jobe says the loss shattered her heart and wrecked her. She tried to walk in peace when she did not feel peaceful. Aching for her sister, Jobe was also anxious about the safety of her unborn baby. She welcomed her son Canyon Carnes last February.

While she celebrated the birth of her son, her sister’s loss weighed heavy on her heart. As Jobe held her son, she looked out her kitchen window to see the first signs of spring. Taking a walk in the garden she noticed what only God could produce: thick, green ivy lacing its way overhead that quickly reminded her of her niece’s namesake.

“Ivy is the most resilient plant there is. It can grow in the harshest of climates; it can grow in the harshest of situations,” Jobe explains, adding, “I’m standing in this garden. There’s ivy growing, and I just started to realize, ‘God, You’re moving in a way that is different than what I asked for, but You are moving.’ He’s at work and doing things we can’t see.”

The experience yielded the title track for Jobe’s new album and fresh healing for her soul. “Those seeds were planted years ago for it to be the way that it was that day for me, because it wasn’t just last year that they planted all this beautiful ivy. That took years,” she observes. “Something in my spirit started to rustle. Life was coming back. What felt dead in my heart was starting to wake up. It was like I’d been in this place of being numb in my walk with the Lord, but something just started blooming in my heart.”

Her unanswered questions began to grow into songs. As Jobe declared God’s goodness over her own circumstances, He began to transform her heart. “These raw things were coming out of my mouth, so I just started writing,” she shares. “I Will Sing,” written while she was still pregnant, became the first song she penned for this album. Jobe spent the next several months pouring out her emotions one track at a time.  She and her husband wrote together frequently, and Cody adds vocals on numerous tracks.

In addition, Jobe co-wrote with acclaimed songwriters, including Jacob and Amanda Cook of Bethel Music, Brooke Fraser Ligertwood, Ben Fielding, Jason Ingram, Mia Fieldes, Martin Smith and Josh Silverburg, among others.

“The garden is true intimacy with the Father, and it’s a place where He intended for us as humankind to be surrounded with His creation. There’s life in things that He’s created,” she offers. “I want to lead people into intimacy with the Father. It’s something that’s so important as we walk through stuff in our lives.”

Today, Jobe and her family continue to discover restoration through glimpses of God’s goodness. “The healing that He’s been bringing to my family and the way that He’s met us in our pain, it’s made me realize how many people are going through really intense pain and disappointments and trials,” Jobe offers. “There’s a lot of people who have lost babies or family members out of traumatic experiences. My eyes have been opened to that in a whole new way.”

“Everyone who’s seen something grow out of the dust realizes God was up to something in the midst of pain and questions. He never promised that it would be easy or that it would be pain-free, but that He would never leave us or forsake us,” Jobe offers, adding, “I’m more aware of His presence than I think I’ve ever been.

This is a beautiful album that will remind you even through the dark times, that God is there working, even if you cannot see what that is yet. I think everyone will take something from this album and the beautiful music and songs are calming and give hope to our lives.

Would you like a chance to win a copy of this CD? If so, enter the giveaway below. You can purchase it HERE.

Giveaway

The Garden CD Giveaway on Mommy Ramblings Rules:

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller /FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days on the same blog, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again.  Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Please enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget below.  Good Luck!!!

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Enter The Folgers Jingle Contest and You Could Win $25,000! #FolgersJingle #IC

“This post was sponsored by Folgers as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) guidelines concerning the use of endorsement and testimonials in advertising. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review.”

For as long as I can remember, the heartwarming Folgers® Coffee Commercials featuring the iconic Folgers® Jingle-“The best part of wakin’ up, is Folgers in your cup” have been a favorite of mine. I am sure many of you reading are nodding your head in agreement right now. That simple jingle is one that has generations of Americans singing along.

Now Folgers® is celebrating the rich tradition of American Music by inviting musicians of all kinds to embrace their well-know jingle and make it their own!

Did you know that Folgers® has a long-standing tradition of inspiring musicians to follow their dreams? They certainly do, and this year, they’ve teamed up with country music singer-songwriter Chris Young to encourage aspiring musicians to get their creative juices flowing and come up with their own version of the iconic Best Part of Wakin’ Up™ Jingle in the Folgers® Jingle Contest.

How Do You Enter?

  • Submit a video of your best version of the jingle on the website from January 30th through February 27th. Your version of the Jingle must include the complete melody and complete lyrics of “The Best Part of Wakin’ Up is Folgers in Your Cup.”
  • From February 27th to March 19th, Folgers® will choose 5 semi-finalists who will each have a mentor session with Chris Young before the online vote.
  • From March 27th to April 24th, fans around the country will get the chance to vote daily for their favorite jingle. Every vote automatically enters you to win prizes up to $10,000.
  • Finally, in May, one winner will be selected to win the grand prize of $25,000!

So if you have always wanted to create a brand jingle, here is your chance! Check out the contest website HERE. You can stay in the loop with Folgers® on their website, Facebook and Twitter. So get some Folgers® in your cup and start composing! 


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Have You Seen The Amazing Book of Disney Princess?

Do you have a Disney Princess fan in your house? If you do, they will love The Amazing Book of Disney Princess. Inside the book, there is so much to discover. This is reference book perfect for young readers with fold-out paper flaps and fold. The large pictures and short, simple sentences bring the characters to life for children aged 5 and up.

Favorite Disney Princess characters and their kingdoms are explored in a fun way, including Belle, Jasmine, Merida, Tiana, Mulan, Ariel and Rapunzel. The Amazing Book of Disney Princess also comes with a giant pull-out poster.

Would you like a chance to win this book? If so, enter the giveaway below.

Giveaway

DK Publishing is sponsoring a giveaway on Mommy Ramblings!  One lucky blog reader will win their own copy of  The Amazing Book of Disney Princess. Thank you to DK Publishing for the review book and  for the review product and for sponsoring this fantastic giveaway on Mommy Ramblings!!!  Open to US residents.

The Amazing Book of Disney Princess Giveaway on Mommy Ramblings Rules:

Please enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter widget below.  Good Luck!!!

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Disney’s Pinocchio Arrives on Blu-ray and DVD Today!

Today is a great day because Disney’s timeless tale Pinocchio, winner of two Academy Awards, joins the Walt Disney Signature Collection! This classic film is ready to delight a whole new generation of dreamers with its masterful animation, unforgettable characters and award-winning music. The movie which inspired the world to wish upon a star,is available TODAY on Blu-ray and DVD with hours of new and classic bonus features.

We received this recently and I could not wait to share it with my youngest children who had never seen it. How fun to watch through their eyes as they discovered this classic movie for the first time! You can view the trailer HERE.

 

 

The Walt Disney Signature Collection release includes hours of classic bonus material and exclusive features including a reinvented rendition of “When You Wish Upon a Star” created and performed by music influencers from Disney’s Maker Studios; never-before-seen artwork from the film’s Pleasure Island sequence; archival recordings of Walt himself during “Pinocchio” production; and a recently restored and scored 1927 short featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.

“Pinocchio” tells the tale of wood-carver Geppetto’s beloved puppet who embarks on a thrilling quest – with faithful friend Jiminy Cricket – that tests his bravery, loyalty and honesty, all virtues he must learn to fulfill his heart’s desire: to become a real boy.

Bonus Features:

BLU-RAY, DIGITAL HD* & DISNEY MOVIES ANYWHERE:

  • Walt’s Story Meetings: Pleasure Island – The Pleasure Island scene in “Pinocchio” had much more development than what is seen in the film. Join Pixar’s Pete Docter and Disney historian and author J.B. Kaufman as they explore artwork recently discovered in Disney’s animation research library revealing some of the attractions, gags and games, which Disney animators created for this iconic location of the film, that never made it on screen.
  • In Walt’s Words – “Pinocchio” – Hear Walt himself discuss the making of “Pinocchio” through archival recordings and interviews.
  • The Pinocchio Project: “When You Wish Upon a Star” – Music influencers Alex G, Tanner Patrick and JR Aquino from Disney’s Maker Studios, a global leader in short-form videos, gather in a creative workspace to create their rendition of the film’s signature song, “When You Wish Upon a Star,” and produce a fresh new music video.
  • Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in “Poor Papa” – This recently restored and scored 1927 short features Oswald the Lucky Rabbit who gets multiple visits from the stork and is forced to attempt various methods to help stop the onslaught of baby deliveries.
  • Classic Bonus Features – These offerings from prior home entertainment releases include hours of bonus material, such as the making of “Pinocchio,” deleted scenes, sing-alongs, storyboards and theatrical trailers.

*Bonus features may vary by retailer

Feature Run Time:                         Approximately 88 minutes

Rating:                                                G in U.S. and Canada

 

I received this film on Blu-ray in order to facilitate my post. My words and views are 100% my own. 

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My Top 11 Kitchen Essentials

I am in the middle of a huge home renovation including a new kitchen, 2 bathrooms, flooring throughout and more. It is a bit chaotic to say the least but I am trying to focus on the end result. I was thinking about what I would consider my top 11 kitchen essentials. I have a lot more than that, believe me, but let’s start with 11.

KitchenAid Mixer

My first would be my KitchenAid Mixer, it is actually my second one. My first was a classic and is still great but when we redid our kitchen almost 10 years ago, my husband bought me a bigger, badder one that matched our stainless steel appliances. I have the KitchenAid Professional 600 Series Bowl Lift Mixer in liquid graphite.

I never use anything else to mix up dough, cookie batters, cakes, frosting and so much more. It is definitely at top of my kitchen essentials list. 

Number 2 would be a good set of knives. I have a Wusthof Knife Set with Knife Block. However, in our new kitchen we have a knife block that is built into a cabinet and a drawer with knife storage so we will be storing our knives there. With or without the block they are a great set of knives and tools.

 VitaMix Blender

Number 3 is my VitaMix Blender. I did a lot of research before getting this blender and I have not regretted the purchase once. I have both the wet and dry container and just love it. I used to have to keep it on my island as it was so tall with the container, but in the new kitchen design we created a special area for it. The cabinets will be raised up so that my VitaMix can fit underneath the counter even with the tall 64 oz container on. Imagine designing our kitchen around our VitaMix! That is how much we love it!

I use it to make all kinds of smoothies, soups, frozen treats and more. It works so well and I love the retro look. If you are considering one, just go for it, you will not regret it. I just found out they now make a low profile VitaMix with a wider 64 oz container that fits under most cabinets. I am still confident I did the right thing because these blenders are workhorses that last forever. I also like the retro appearance of mine better that the low profile models.

Cast Iron Cookware

Number 4 is our cast iron pans. I no long like to cook in non-stick cookware due to the potential health effects. We have our stainless steel pots and pans but also invested in several pieces of cast iron cookware. I really like that it releases iron into the food which is important to women like myself, who need to supplement their iron.

 Emile Henry Bread Pans (Number 5,6 & 7)

Another favorite is my Emile Henry Bread Loaf Baker, Bread Cloche and Baguette Baker. I never knew I could make bread like this constantly from the first time. I adore these and would not dream of baking bread any other way.

 Emile Henry Butter Jar

With fresh bread you need to have butter and that brings us to number 8 in the top kitchen essentials list, the Emile Henry Butter Jar. I love how I never need to deal with hard butter and have spreadable butter all the time.

 Vita Clay Smart Organic Multicooker

Next up, my Smart Organic Multicooker by Vita Clay. With all the news about crock pots leaching lead into food, I love this healthier option to slow cook my food. Not only that, this is a rice cooker and yogurt maker. Best of all no lead leaching in our food.

 Keurig 2.0

The strangest thing happened, I used to be a major coffee drinker but my friend told me about bullet proof coffee, you know that coffee you make with grass-fed butter and coconut oil or MCT oil. I hated it, but drank it to see if it would give me the crazy energy it promised.
It did not, I am high energy anyway and it did nothing to boost that. I will tell you what it did do, it made me hate coffee! Coffee was something I used to savor and look forward to. The short time that I was drinking the bullet proof coffee, it totally killed my taste for coffee. Even when I went back to drinking it like I wanted, I could barely finish a cup. Anyway, I totally cannot drink it now and drink only tea.
My husband on the other hand is a coffee addict and so my next kitchen essential is our Keurig 2.0. We have been Keurig users since 2010 and have 2 larger Keurigs and one mini. However he has full use of it now that I am not drinking coffee.
 

 Electric Tea Kettle

My Electric Tea Kettle as a tea drinker is my best friend. I can bring it almost anywhere like in my office and have my tea without any hassle. There are all kinds of electric kettles, my daughter loves her Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp Stainless Steel Cordless Electric Kettle and has it at her desk at work. She says it is the best and can have her tea at the perfect temperature any time.

Well, that is my top 11. It was hard to pick and I could go on for at least another 11 that I feel are essential to the well performing kitchen. I will do that another time.

In the meantime, tell me what some of your top kitchen essentials are? I would love for you to share your answers in the comments.

 


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Find Out How a TOTO Washlet can Make You Feel Shiny and New Every Day of the New Year

Happy New Year everyone! I hope it is off to a great start for you. You have probably heard people use the adjectives shiny and new to describe the new year. Feeling shiny and new is exactly what I want to share with you today. I bet you don’t know where this is going. We are going to take this into the bathroom. I don’t want to talk about spring cleaning but do want to tell you about another kind of cleaning. Let’s call it personal cleaning.

I am not talking about a bidet. Quite frankly, I think bidets scare a lot of Americans who do not know what they are or how to use them. Not to mention, they take up a good footprint of space in your bathroom. So is there a better way to get that shiny and new feeling that is easier and faster than taking a shower every time you use the bathroom?

There is, it is called a Washlet. The Washlet was introduced in Japan by TOTO back in 1980 and has become one of their signature products. The first Washlet had 3 functions: rear cleansing, dryer and a heated seat. 10 years and numerous innovations later the Washlet came to America. In 2016 a milestone was reached when 40 million Washlets were sold worldwide.

So what is a Washlet and what’s in it for you? A Washlet is a bidet seat and you will be amazed at everything it can do for you. Do you get upset if the male members of your household do not close the lid after using the toilet? That is one of the first ways a Washlet will help you. The Washlet lid opens and closes automatically, so no more unpleasant surprises. If you worry about chilly seats, the Washlet has that covered too with a cozy, heated seat.

I love that it has an eWater+ system, that uses electrolyzed water, a proven, chemical free disinfectant to mist the bowl after every use. No need for harsh chemicals which are already banned in my home.

The wand of the Washlet is automatically cleaned before and after each use.
Eliminating waste effectively is easier when you are not starting with a dry bowl surface, the premist feature uses the incoming water supply to mist the surface which is 80% more efficient.

 

Next, let’s talk about rear cleansing, I know you are chuckling but also intrigued. The rear spray is designed to provide your derriere with a targeted, pleasant yet strong water stream to get you squeaky clean. The front wash feature provides cleaning in the way of large, soft drops for a comfortable wash that leaves you feeling clean as a daisy.

TOTO is not going to make you drip dry, they have thought of everything! The warm air dryer will make sure you are nice and dry before you go on your way.

Finally, there is an effective deodorizer that cleans the air around the toilet using powerful filters. Air is drawn in, passing through a catalytic deodorizer to eliminate unpleasant odors.

If you want a Washlet with all those features, the S350E is the way to go. It is available in round or elongated and comes in cotton white or Sedona beige. If you would like to see videos of all the features, visit TOTO on YouTube.

We are putting one of these awesome Washlets on our Guinevere Toilet. I will show you more on both as we are further along in the renovation of our bathroom. You have to love constructions delays. In the meantime, if you want to see more about the toilet we chose or some things to consider when choosing a toilet, you can check it out on our post HERE.

To learn more about Washlets and all their fabulous features click HERE. Do you have one of these in your home? Have you been thinking about getting one? Is this the first time you have heard of it? Let me know what you think or about your experience.

Special thanks to TOTO for all their help and for providing us with a Washlet S350e for our project. As always all my words and opinions are 100% my own.

 


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