Tag Archives: giveaway

Step Right Up! CIRCUS 1903 Is Coming to Town! #Giveaway

I love a good old-fashioned circus. All those acrobatics and feats of strength and daring, high-wire acts and juggling and everything! Fortunately, a really cool circus is coming to Boston (and other cities) in a few weeks: CIRCUS 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus.

The producers of the world’s biggest magic show, The Illusionists have teamed up with the award winning puppeteers from War Horse to present a thrilling turn of the century circus spectacular…

…Sensational puppetry puts Elephants back in the ring as never seen before by introducing the largest-ever performing African elephant and her baby [NOT REAL — the elephants are puppets!], along with a huge cast of the most unique, amazing and dangerous circus acts from all four corners of the world, from strong men to contortionists, acrobats to musicians, knife throwers, high wire and much more!

Yeah, just doing a split on an ironing board held by 2 guys biking on a tightrope…what r u up to? (Photo credit Mark Turner)

The award-winning team of puppeteers and model makers who created the National Theatre’s War Horse will design, build and bring to life two stunningly beautiful elephants for CIRCUS 1903 –The Golden Age of Circus. Featuring groundbreaking advances in design and expression, the puppets appear throughout the show as the mother teaches her calf the tricks of the trade.

I cannot wait to see this live! (Photo credit: Mark Turner

Giveaway: I’m giving away 4 tickets to the show! Wednesday, March 8 at 7:00 p.m., BOCH CENTER WANG THEATRE in Boston. If you can make that show, jump into the giveaway! If you can’t, see below to get a 25% discount on tickets!

To win tickets: I’m doing this via Rafflecopter. It’s very easy, and you have several options to choose from.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Discount Code: Save 25% on tickets to see CIRCUS 1903 – The Golden Age of Circus  at the Boch Wang Theatre!  Visit  http://www.bochcenter.org/buy/show-listing/circus-1903  and enter code MOMS to buy your discounted tickets.  Discount applies to all performances, while supplies last. Valid on all levels, excluding Orchestra Pit.

Tickets: In any case, tickets are on sale at the Boch Center box office, through www.bochcenter.org or by calling (866) 348-9738.

Social Media: Follow CIRCUS 1903 –The Golden Age of Circus on Twitter: @Circus1903, Facebook and Instagram: @Circus1903.

 

Boston Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” Review and Giveaway

It’s December, which means downtowns are getting decked out with wreaths, lights, and bows. Christmas music becomes unavoidable. Also, it’s the season for The Nutcracker.

[UPDATE: Thank you all so much for reading and entering. I loved your entries and wish I had tickets to give each and every one of you. I randomly selected a winner, Rica, and if she doesn’t respond by noon on Wednesday, I will pick another winner. Wishing you all the best holiday season and New Year!! —OH, and here’s another giveaway for Nutcracker tickets on my friend Gilda’s blog! http://evan-and-lauren-a.blogspot.com/2014/12/12714-boston-ballets-nutcracker-and.html ]

We brought the boys to see a performance of it last year, put on by their cousin’s dance school. They were enthralled.

This year, we were offered the chance to see the Boston Ballet perform The Nutcracker at the Boston Opera House. In a word: Fantastic.

Photo credit: Boston Ballet

Photo credit: Boston Ballet

First, though, we went to one of the many Story Hours, hosted by Boston Ballet in and around Boston. Our story hour took place at the Boston Ballet School itself.

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A young dancer told the children the story of The Nutcracker. She showed us a pancake tutu and explained how it sticks out and stays flat. She explained about pointe shoes (they’re so hard at first that dancers must beat them on the floor, pound them with a hammer, and pour hot water on them to make them malleable enough to wear!). We got to touch tiaras and pointe shoes, and then she got the children up to practice some ballet moves.

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For more information about the story hours and where/when to find them, click here.

And then, after lunch, we were off to the Opera House! We opted to walk the mile from the studio to the Opera House, which got us there in the very nick of time. We didn’t get to see the orchestra warming up. Don’t be us. Get there early.

 

Photo credit: Boston Ballet

Photo credit: Boston Ballet

Here are some fun facts about The Nutcracker that intrigued me before we even got to the show:

Nutcracker Facts:

–        More than 300 dancers will perform in the new production.

–        Each performance has approximately 150 dancers involved.

–        There are 250 children in the performance, making up three or four casts (classical ballet students from the Boston, Newton and North Shore studios)

Sets and Costumes:

–        All of the sets and costumes are new, by award winning designer Robert Perdziola

–        The inspiration for the costumes in the production references the early 19th century Regency style also identified with the “Jane Austen period”.

–        Over 2,000 yards of net and tulle were used for the costumes

–        Over 200,000 jewels were used in the costumes, from 3mm diameter to 18mm long

  • Sugar Plums and Dew Drops have over 3,600 jewels on their tutus and bodices
  • Approximately 1/3 of the jewels are hand sewn

–        The Christmas tree is 42 feet 6 inches tall and there are 766 fiber optic points embedded in the big Christmas tree and there are 600 ornaments.–        The set changes include a series of reveals where scenes appear to iris out of one another.

–        To make three pieces of scenery move at once, the ballet’s technical staff built rigging and tracking systems on monstrous steel cages (in the show these systems are manipulated by one stagehand pulling a rope). [HOW COOL IS THAT??]

–        All of the sets were painted by hand and domestically made.

The sets were unbelievable—so ornate, so beautiful (and moved by one person, pulling a rope—I still can’t get over that part). So were the costumes. And of course, the dancers themselves were perfect, strong and skilled. The boys watched, totally mesmerized. Remember, they are four and six years old and not into ballet. We were all surprised when intermission came and we realized so much time had passed.

 

Photo credit: Boston Ballet

Photo credit: Boston Ballet

After intermission is less story, more pure dancing. Even if you, like me, are not a big fan of ballet itself, there’s the Arabian dance, Mother Ginger (with all her little polichinelles [which basically means “open secrets”]), and (our favorite) the Russian dance, performed by three very acrobatic men.

 

Photo credit: Boston Ballet

Photo credit: Boston Ballet

My boys’ favorites were (of course!) the battle scene between the Mouse King and the Nutcracker and his soldiers, though we somehow all missed the flinging of the slipper. I also was transfixed by the lovely snow scene. The boys also greatly liked the Nutcracker Prince’s soloing in the second act, as well as the acrobatic dancers in the Russian dance.

Photo credit: Boston Ballet

Photo credit: Boston Ballet

For a quick video of some of our favorite scenes, click here: Nutcracker Highlights.

This morning my little one wore his paper Nutcracker crown into school and proudly showed all his teachers and friends.

The Boston Opera House is gorgeous.

The Boston Opera House is gorgeous.

And Now, The Giveaway! 

I’m giving away four tickets to The Nutcracker at the Boston Opera House. Tickets are valid for winner’s choice of the following performances:

  • Wed, Dec 10 @ 7:30pm
  • Tue, Dec 16 @ 7:30pm
  • Wed, Dec 17 @ 7:30pm
  • Thu, Dec 18 @ 1pm
  • Thu, Dec  18 @ 7:30pm

To enter, simply leave a comment telling me why you want to see to see The Nutcracker. Make sure I have your email address!! LIMITED TO ONE ENTRY PER PERSON.

Note: This is a quick-turnaround giveaway! Winner will be RANDOMLY selected at noon EST Tuesday, December 9, using random.org. Winner will be notified by email. If winner does not respond within 24 hours to claim prize, another winner will be selected. 

UPDATE: Thank you all so much for reading and entering. I loved your entries and wished I had tickets to give each and every one of you. I randomly selected a winner, Rica, and if she doesn’t respond by noon on Wednesday, I will pick another winner. Wishing you all the best holiday season and New Year!! 

More Information about Boston Ballet’s The Nutcracker:

         About Boston Ballet’s Nutcracker: http://bit.ly/1v9TMQn

–        Runs November 28 –December 31, 2014

–        All performances are at the Boston Opera House

–        Tickets start at $29

–        Tickets can be purchased online at www.bostonballet.org or over the phone at 617.695.6955

–        There are 44 performances

–        Show times: Tuesday-Saturday at 7:30pm, Sunday at 5:30pm, all matinees are at 1:00pm

[Disclosure: I was provided with complimentary tickets and lunch. All opinions are my own.]

Cooking With Kids: ChopChop and The Big Picnic #giveaway

Cooking with kids is not new around here. Max has been my trusty kitchen helper for as long as I can remember. I think it’s important to cook with kids because free help, right? it’s important that kids learn cooking skills and learn where food comes from and how to prepare it.

I’ve been dragging Max to our weekly vegetable CSA pickup since I was pregnant with him. Once, he nearly fell out of the sling into the bin of zucchini (headfirst, might I add…I caught him just in time). He has a pretty good sense of where food comes from, which foods are good for you, and why it’s important to have a healthy diet. He knows we don’t eat food with bad chemicals in it. We don’t eat processed food. He doesn’t like boxed mac-and-cheese (even Annie’s!) or, in general, stuff with fake flavoring.

So now that we’ve established that I’ve basically won some kind of parenting award in Food Smugness or something, let’s talk about cooking with kids.

1. It’s not always easy.

2. It can be fun and really rewarding.

Eggwash on our homemade challah

Brushing egg wash on our homemade challah. Photo from my post Challah-back Girl.

3. It can be terribly messy.

4. It can be tough if you are impatient.

5. It can be very frustrating if you’re in a hurry and the kids are clamoring to help and you know that the right thing to do is to let them help you, even though you could get dinner on the table in five minutes, start to finish, if only they’d leave the room and keep quiet. (That particular day, fortunately, I was following some recipe from the Six O’Clock Scramble and I was actually able to give both kids easy jobs: Max made the pasta and cut up the artichokes, Ben cut up fresh mozzarella and smashed sliced the tomatoes. It was awesome.)

Ben was not into cooking for a long time. Really, he just couldn’t be bothered, and he always had something better to do. Except one time when I talked him into helping me cut up some broccoli (Max’s first real kitchen job around here, after baking projects).

This is Max, the first time I let him cut up broccoli:

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Max usually prefers to work in an apron and toque. Photo from my post Making Dinner.

Ben, on the other hand…in true Ben style, he did not earnestly cut up the broccoli head and put the pieces into a nearby bowl, occasionally turning to smile at me. No, Ben dropped the whole mess of broccoli onto the floor…after he dropped his fireman rain boots onto the floor, of course.  One brother cooks in an apron and toque, the other in fireman rain boots that he flings off partway through the food prep.

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So if all the stuff is on the floor, what IS he doing up on the chair?

When I picked up the broccoli, rinsed it, and handed it back to him, he put it back into the container, put the container on the floor, and poured chocolate milk over the broccoli. Then he dragged his chair over to the kitchen sink and washed the broccoli.   IMG_20130406_172042_355

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Really, there’s no one right way to prepare broccoli, right? Let’s think outside the box!

I appreciated the rinsing. But despite some occasional egg-cracking and pizza-cutting, Ben hasn’t been quite as keen on cooking until very recently. Now he’s a little more into it. Cooking with my kids is not always easy or quick (they’re ages 3 and 5, so there’s some fighting over who gets to do what), but they’re earnest helpers.

And guess what! Max now cooks our breakfast! I have to get the pot down for him, but he gets the canister of rolled oats from the cabinet, pulls a chair to the counter, scoops oats into the pot, pours in water from the Brita pitcher, and turns on the stove. He’s happy and proud to do this, and I’m happy to have a helper. I know he can do a lot more than this, but by late afternoon, when it’s time to cook dinner, he is tired and needs to relax after a long day of kindergarten and, some days, swimming lessons. I get it. I’m not going to force it. Cooking should be fun!

podium

ChopChop magazine agrees with me. Though we’ve had a few copies, here and there, of ChopChop — a cooking magazine for kids — we now have a subscription. The last issue piqued Max’s interest in a few recipes and techniques. It’s a great magazine, very kid-friendly, with good recipes that kids can handle easily and beautiful photos of real kids in action. ChopChop recently came out with a cookbook, too.

ChopChopCookbook

Some facts about ChopChop (in their words):

  • ChopChop’s mission is to inspire and teach kids to cook and eat real food with their families. Currently, 1 out of 400 children under 18 in the U.S. has diabetes, and nearly 1 in 3 is obese. ChopChop’s goal is to reverse this trend by teaching kids and their parents how to create healthy, delicious meals that are easy to prepare and use fresh, nutritious ingredients. ChopChop doesn’t demonize particular foods or use scare tactics. They just offer simple, healthy, and affordable recipes for children and parents to make together.
  • ChopChop is a non-profit and relies on the support of sponsors and subscribers.
  • ChopChop Magazine is distributed quarterly via subscription and newsstand sales, as well as through pediatricians’ offices, hospitals, schools, public health departments, and youth groups. Each issue is available in English and Spanish.
  • ChopChop supporters include the American Academy of Pediatrics, The White House’s “Let’s Move” campaign, the New Balance Foundation, Partnership for a Healthier America, and authors Mark Bittman, Michael Pollan, and Mollie Katzen.
  • ChopChop was named 2013 Publication of the Year by the James Beard Foundation + winner of the 2013 Parents’ Choice Magazine Award (gold).

[Does it get any better? You can see why I’m into this magazine, right?]

So…why am I writing about this now? Well, September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and on September 22, ChopChop and some partners (including, you know, the White House!) are hosting The Big Picnic, “a one-of-a-kind, virtual community picnic in which families across the country will cook and eat together at their own picnics.” They promise that the picnic will be fun, with the very serious goal of preventing childhood obesity.

BigPicnicShareBadge

In their words:

  • Why a picnic? Picnics are a great way to remind us that cooking and eating healthy food together is lots of fun—a time to share and enjoy. Picnics are about good food and good company; have yours wherever you like: spread out a blanket or grab a picnic table – outside or indoors. Feel free to invite your friends, family, and neighbors. It can be as simple or as elaborate as you want it to be.
  • Join The Big Picnic by sharing photos and videos (using #bigpicnic) to help spread the joy of cooking and share our hope for healthy kids everywhere.
  • ChopChop will virtually hand out prizes on September 22, including subscriptions to the magazine, copies of the ChopChop cookbook, and other prizes. Join the conversation via #bigpicnic.

Oh, and guess what?? One lucky reader here (could be YOU!!) will win both a one-year subscription to ChopChop magazine as well as a copy of the ChopChop cookbook! How awesome is that? Enter via Rafflecopter below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I’m sharing this post as part of a program with The Mission List. I received a ChopChop cookbook + magazine subscription for culinary inspiration; all opinions are my own.

 

Get Back-to-School Ready with P&G (Giveaway)

Ready for back-to-school!

Ready for back-to-school!

School starts, for us, in a few weeks. I thought I’d messed up Max’s kindergarten registration (and it didn’t help that the registration office always seemed to be closed, so I couldn’t confirm), but I can happily say that he’s in. All paperwork has been filled out and filed. My firstborn is about to begin his school years.

We’re excited, and neither I nor Max is nervous about it. He is looking forward to kindergarten and school and learning and new friends, and I am looking forward to all of that for him. He’s so ready.

And Ben is starting a new preschool, a place he’s really excited about and that I think will be a great place for him to grow and play and learn.

However, I know that shifting from the long, slow, spontaneous, relaxed days of August to a new school year (when we all have to be up and out the door by a certain time, lunches in hand, backpacks holding whatever is supposed to be in them) is going to be tough.

Some of my favorite local bloggers, getting ready for back-to-school!

Some of my favorite local bloggers, getting ready for back-to-school!

Ironically, Thursday I was headed into Boston to meet with some fellow bloggers, including Audrey McClelland of Mom Generations, to talk about back-to-school stuff with Proctor and Gamble. I’d be dropping the kids off with the sitter at 8:30 before heading out for the day. Naturally, Ben ended up sleeping way too late (I hate to wake a sleeping toddler whom I know is tired). I scrambled to pack their lunches, only to find out we were out of bread and pretzels and, you know, everything except apples.

Audrey McClelland giving us some back-to-school tips.

Audrey McClelland giving us some back-to-school tips.

So that was a fun morning, and I got to MiniLuxe just in the nick of time. See, the conversation was taking place at this great nail salon in Boston, where Proctor and Gamble had invited us to get pedicures, enjoy pastries, and chat about getting back into the school routine. Well, it turned out that we — at least I — didn’t talk about back-to-school stuff. We chatted and relaxed and caught up and laughed. A lot.

backtoschool_prep

So much fun, and so relaxing!

Which is fine, since the point of it all, really, was for parents to be sure to take time for themselves and relax a little before climbing the mountain of tasks known as Getting Ready for Back-to-School: buying school supplies, making sure all your paperwork is in, finding out classroom assignments, buying new clothes and backpacks and lunch boxes and shoes. But oh, there’s so much more!

Fact: Bloggers are always working, even when they are supposedly at rest.

Fact: Bloggers are always working, even when they are supposedly at rest.

For more tips on getting back-to-school ready, check out P&G’s Back-to-School Checklist on P&G Everyday. I learned a few things from the site, things I wouldn’t have considered. I knew some obvious ones: start working on an earlier bedtime a week or so before school starts; get clothes and lunches ready the night before; and….um….hey, we’re just starting school for the first time! Give me a break!

But the checklist has other things I hadn’t considered. Cleaning out closets? De-cluttering your home before the new school year starts? Deep cleaning rooms? It all makes sense, but I hadn’t thought of it!

For many more tips, check out their full checklist.PG_products

To help ease your transition back to school, one lucky reader will win a $50 electronic gift card to the Proctor and Gamble eStore!! You may or may not know that they own several great brands, such as Cover Girl, Olay, Tide (those useful stain pens!), Cascade, Pampers, Duracell, Gillette, Venus, and more. So many back-to-school lists ask parents to bring in tissues, hand sanitizer, wipes. What better way to buy them than on the P&G eStore? With this gift card, you can get everything you need for back-to-school and every day.

Enter via the Rafflecopter widget below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

All prizes to be delivered by sponsor.

Disclaimer: All opinions are my own. While this is not a sponsored post, I did receive a (fabulous) pedicure, gift bag, and gift card from Proctor and Gamble. Many, many thanks to P&G, Flour, and MiniLuxe for a great morning and excellent pedicure!

Vicks Behind Ear Thermometer: Review, Charity Click, and Giveaway!

Did you hear? It’s flu season!

Just kidding. How could you not hear about it? It’s a trending news and social media topic, not to mention a subject of hot discussion at the water cooler, in the cafe, on Facebook, and a few cities have declared states of health emergencies due to hospital overflow….and everyone seems to know someone who’s entire family has had the flu or otherwise been sick, even if the whole family received the flu shot (and that’s all I’m gonna say about that, because there are some hot opinions on that topic!).

Vicks has come up with a Cold & Flu Survival Guide from pediatrician and American Academy of Pediatrics fellow Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg. For every email, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest “Share” of Dr. Jen’s Survival Guide, Vicks will donate a Behind Ear Thermometer and Vicks Starry Night Humidifier to Baby Buggy, a non-profit founded by Jessica Sienfeld and dedicated to providing U.S. families in need with essential items for their children. Go to the Cold & Flu Survival Guide to share their message so more families can get the items they need this flu season!

My family got the flu, all except for me. Yay, me! Someone had to be upright to take temperatures, dole out medication to miserable children, clean up vomit, sooth sick children, provide drinks and popsicles and heat soup and put on videos and read books and comfort the sick for those long five days…

It wasn’t fun, but we were lucky: C was well enough to get out to work (he had a pretty light version), and he was able to pick up supplies (ginger ale, juice, bendy straws, saltines, soup) on his way home.

The kids felt cruddy with strong fevers for several days, plus one day of vomiting. I knew enough to keep them hydrated any way I could (popsicles for breakfast? Sure!!), and I was also doling out ibuprofen and acetaminophen to help keep them from being totally miserable.

To monitor their temperatures, I had a choice of:

  • standard digital thermometer (neither likes to sit still while I hold it in his armpit);
  • temporal artery thermometer (a.k.a. forehead scanner), which they both hate, so I’d often get readings of 97;
  • in-the-ear thermometer (accurate when I COULD get it into an ear, which was….hahahahahaha! You think a sick toddler will let me stick something in his year and hold still while I do it?) and
  • Vicks Behind Ear thermometer (place it behind ear, press button).

The Vicks Behind Ear thermometer wins. Besides showing the temperature almost immediately, the backlight is either green, yellow, or red, depending on the temperature. So if you’re half asleep and the thing is green, awesome, Yellow, give a second look. Red, turn on the light and prepare yourself to deal with a high fever.

The only thing I don’t love about that Vicks thermometer is that it doesn’t shine a small light. I mean, if it can do green/yellow/red, surely it can light up like the face of a cell phone so you can see where you’re aiming it, right? Sometimes (often!) I had to turn on the bedroom light or wear a headlamp to make sure I was getting it in the right place, which made the whole green/yellow/red thing slightly moot.

But otherwise, I was comparing temperatures, sometimes, from forehead scanner/ear thermometer/behind-the-ear thermometer. Every single time–two boys, one week, many fevers–the Vicks Behind Ear thermometer was the easiest to use, least objectionable for the child, and most accurate.

One lucky reader here can win either the Vicks Behind Ear thermometer or a Vicks Starry Night humidifier (winner’s choice). Can you imagine getting through cold/flu season without either?

Screen shot 2013-01-15 at 1.18.52 PM Screen shot 2013-01-15 at 1.18.12 PM

 

Easy entries! For each item that you do, please leave me a comment saying that you have done so.

Giveaway ends (and winners will be chosen) January 25. Winners will have 24 hours after notification to respond and claim prize. Thanks!

  1. Leave a comment with your email address, letting me know which item you’d prefer to win!
  2. Follow me on Twitter and leave a comment telling me you’ve done so (and what your Twitter handle is!).
  3. “Like” the Its Not Like a Cat page on Facebook and leave a comment telling me you’ve done so..
  4. Go the the Vicks Cold & Flu Survival Guide and share their message so they donate to BabyBuggy (and leave me a comment telling me whether you did it by Facebook or Twitter or Pinterest or…).
  5. Extra entry if you go to the Vicks Cold & Flu Survival Guide and share again by a different method.

All winners should be in the U.S. for shipping purposes. I was not compensated in any way for this review. Vicks is providing and shipping the giveaway prize. I did receive a Vicks Behind Ear Thermometer at an informational presentation about a year ago. All opinions are my own.

 

Heart of Haiti: Support a Good Cause (and Giveaway!)

Did you know that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere? And that they weren’t exactly a well-off country before the most recent terrible earthquake?

But hope runs strong there. Willa Shalit, an artist and social entrepreneur, founded Heart of Haiti, a “Trade, Not Aid” initiative, along with Macy’s and The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund. According to Macy’s,

The Heart of Haiti initiative provides artists with an opportunity to make a living feed their families and pay their children’s school fees. Already, The Heart of Haiti collection has led to employment of 750 artists in Haiti providing financial benefits for an estimated 8,000 people in the country.

I was sent a beautiful handcrafted horn bracelet from the Heart of Haiti collection to review. When my older son saw it, he gasped in delight and said, “Wow, it’s like a zebra!” It’s lovely, stylish, and comfortable. I’m not used to wearing bracelets, since I’m constantly carrying small children around, so I was surprised that this bracelet is really comfortable to wear and seems very durable. I don’t see it on the site right now, but there’s a lot of other jewelry that catches my eye!

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Horn Bracelet from Heart of Haiti

The collection also includes housewares and home decor items such as picture frames, bowls, trays, and stunning candle holders. It also features quilts, metalwork, papier-mâché items, and paintings. Most of the items are made from recycled and sustainable items “such as old cement bags, cardboard, oil drums & local gommier wood.” Heart of Haiti products are available exclusively at 25 Macy’s stores around the country and on www.Macys.com/Haiti.

One lucky winner here will receive a Heart of Haiti songbird picture frame (ever wish you could win your own giveaway? I do!).

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Winner must live in the U.S. Enter via Rafflecopter below to for your chance to win!Winners will be announced December 30 by 8 p.m.

Disclosure: I was given a Heart of Haiti bone bracelet to review. I was not otherwise compensated for this review. All opinions are my own.

a Rafflecopter giveaway