Functional & Fun Back To School Giveaway!

Hard to believe but some of our friends had their first day of school today!  Lucky for us, it isn’t my kids’ first day back yet, but the Chandler schools went back today.  Happy new school year to them!  My daughter starts back on August 7th and my son resumes his studies at ASU on August 17th.  Both will be sophomores, one high school 10th grader and one in college.  Time just flies!

So to kick-off the new school year season, we are doing a cool back to school fun and functional giveaway today!This cool kit has school supplies and a few fun anti-stress items thrown in the box, too!  Our winner will receive 5 folders in pretty bright colors for class/subject organization, a college ruled notebook, a fun giant over-sized pencil, a numbers necklace (this makes a nice teacher gift) and several fun classic toys from the unique and awesome A Great Life website, which offers fun and educational toys like the Speed Cube.  The Speed Cube is like the next generation of the Rubik’s Cube.  

We also want to thank the always wonderful, Teresa’s Creative Gifts for providing the over-sized real working pencil and the pretty sterling silver pewter overlay numbers necklace.  Be sure to check her online gift boutique when looking for presents this school and holiday season. She always has the good stuff!

Want to win this cool back to school box of goodies for your kid….or maybe you are a teacher and can use these supplies?  It is simple! Simply, email your name, address (so we know where to send prize) and email address to [email protected]  All entries must be received by this Thursday, July 27th by 8pm Phoenix time.  Winner will be drawn through and posted on this blog Friday morning.  Good luck!

And happy back-to-school season now, soon or in September. It all gets here so fast!

Living 15 Again…There’s Something Special About 15

Here we go again.  My second born is at that age, 15 1/2 and everything is changing so quickly now.  I remember this time with my son. Getting a driver’s permit and actually enjoying  the time spent teaching him to drive (except for a few white knuckle moments) and knowing that on his 16th birthday, we would see a lot less of him.

Turning 16 with his keys to freedom, a car!

What I didn’t know is just how fast it would go from there.  Dating, first job, SATs, graduation, leaving for college!  A whirlwind.

Exciting.  Scary.  Wonderful.  Bittersweet.  All these words fit this extraordinary time in both a teenager’s life and in the parent’s life, too.

And now it’s happening again…slow down time.

Please.  Pretty please.

But time does not and the only time that time seemed to stand still was when I delivered these babies.  During the hospital stay, I checked out of the outside world, stopped listening to the ticking clock (except to time feedings) and was completely tuned in to time with my infant.  I was utterly consumed with my new little life.  I was instantly head over heels in love.

Driving, dating, SATS and all of that seemed galaxies away….hundreds of years in the future.

I am back in the passenger seat again.

But those days….yet again…my final teenage Mama ride is here again.  My girl is moving through these last few months of 15 so quickly now.

Just like that.  A magic trick.  Now you see a little baby.  Now you don’t.  Now you see a kid.  Now you don’t.

Now I see a cutie pie teenage girl before me daily.

Lunch with my girl. She drove me there. Cherished time.

Soon I won’t.  I know how fast it goes from here.

15 is pivotal.  So pivotal.  So good.  So hard.

So all of the above.

And this particular time for Mamas of almost 16-year-olds is a special and scary time.  A lot comes with that photo card that makes the kid an official legal driver.  Daily questions.

Can I go here? Can I go there?  What time is my curfew?  Can I pick up such and such?  Can I have some gas money?  Don’t worry, Mom and Dad….I know I am running late, but I won’t speed.  Can I have a later curfew than last week?

When I wrote about my son getting his license four years ago, the paragraph above wasn’t in my article. Because I hadn’t experienced those questions before.  I hadn’t yet experienced the joy and pride of watching him drive off.

And the fear.

Ugh.  Again so bittersweet.

Life gets easier for Mama when they drive.  But if you think you will now get caught up on lost sleep from all those years before….well…think again.

Now you get to worry from the comfort of your own bed when you wake up at the exact moment the clock turns to their curfew time.  And if they are late, you don’t want to text or call them while they are driving.  That is always a tough decision to figure out how long to wait before you call.

And then it is no fun punishing them for being late on a curfew.  But consequences matter.  And consequences still stand.  And now Mama has a big currency.  Taking away the car.  Hopefully when this happens they learn quickly to follow the rules of this new road to keep them safe.  And Mama sane.

But I don’t have to go there yet.  Soon, but not yet.

So yeah, there is something about 15.  It isn’t the start of the teen years with 13 or the official driving age of 16 or becoming a legal adult at 18.  15 isn’t a celebrated number, but it is a rite of passage time.  I didn’t get that the first time around when my son was 15.

It was all about him soon turning 16.  The countdown.

This time I am not counting down.  I am completely and 100% in the present.  I am all about 15 this time around.

15 is special.  15 is sweet.  Your 15-year-old is still with you a lot, learning how to drive and moving one big toe to the edge of the nest.  15 turns to 18 so fast that it will make your head spin.

Oh 15…you are the sweet one.  Sweet 16 for them, but 15 is sweet for the parents.  The last of that phase.  16 signals much more independence.  And it is right.  And it is good.

But I will greatly miss 15.

I am cherishing these days with my girl behind wheel WITH me BESIDE her.  So much will change this fall when she turns 16.

Here we go again and this time I have the pain of knowing how fast it goes from here.

So parents reading this piece.  My tidbits of advice.

It is a little unsettling at first, but cherish teaching them to drive.  Turn off the radio and listen to them, their driving questions and other topics that come up.  The more drive time put in, the more relaxed and experienced that teen of yours becomes.  And you, too.  Then casual conversation takes place.  They start to really talk to you at times, to open up.

Cherish that time.  Enroll them in professional driving lessons.  Then let them drive you all over town.  I do this when the pro driving teacher gives me a good report and tells me that they are freeway ready.

Cherish 15.  I know it is hard on some days.   VERY hard, I know.  I have raised both a boy and am nearing the teen years finish line with a girl.  I know it is hard on some days.  I repeat.  Very hard.  Tearfully hard.  Fights.  Hurt feelings.  Harsh words exchanged.  All normal. Hard but a part of them pulling away as they assert their independence.

To navigate the roads without you in the car. 

To navigate the roads ahead that life will take them without you right beside them most of the time.

And don’t you just want to jump in front of that moving car called life and point them in the right direction?!  I do! I do!  I do!

But 15 is the beginning of the end of being able to always do that.  15 is a big beginning for them and a beginning of really letting go for you.

Not easy.  Not for the faint of heart.

Parenthood is not for sissies.  Especially when they leave 15.

When my son proudly passed his road test with a 100% score in 2013, we celebrated.

And then he surprised me.

He asked me to please take him home so he could then drive off without me.  Ouch.  But I understood.  And I remembered doing the exact same thing to my mama in 1985.

I also remember thinking in 2013 that I had four years left before I had to go down this road again.  I had no idea that those 4 years would feel like 4 minutes.

Taylor Swift nails it with her 15 song.  It is a pivotal year.  Everyone thinks 13 or 16 or 18.  All big years.

But there is something about 15.  A time that sports a kid that is a combo of sweet, salty and spicy.  Hormones. Teenagers.  Change.  A lot for a teen to take in all at once.  A lot for the parents, too.

Deal with the salty.  Understand the spicy.  Cherish the sweet.

Communicate with your kid.  Listen to that soon-to-be 16 year old.

Oh 15…can you hang around a little longer with my girl?  Oh time, can you please slow down?

Time is telling me no again.  No way.  Not happening.  Sorry Mom.

My daughter is very thankful that I don’t have the power to slow down time!


I think I will go ask my daughter if she wants to take me on a drive now….me and my heart.

Bittersweet 15.

Freebie Friday Winner!







So, who is today’s Freebie Friday winner??  What did our winner win? Keep on reading!!  And remember if you are a subscriber, then you are automatically entered in our weekly drawing for great prizes that include beauty items, cookware,  jewelry and more!  Lots of cool stuff!

Now, let’s announce this week’s lucky winner….

This week’s Freebie Friday winner is:

Gail Tabb from Mesa, AZ!!!

(winner drawn through

Congrats to Gail! Gail wins a yummy snack box from the awesome vegan, gluten free and super tasty Nana Joes Granola line!  I love Nana Joe’s and I blogged about all the different ways the scrumptious granola can enhance a recipe or be a meal in the morning, too.  Great and good stuff! I am pretty impressed with the wholesome and real food ingredients.  Plus, I adore that this stuff is handmade in San Francisco! So Gail gets her own box to try Nana Joe’s for herself!  She also wins a pretty bling bracelet that is sold at Teresa’s Creative Gifts  Be sure to check out Teresa Creative Gifts on Facebook to see the many unique items and gifts that are available.   

Congrats to Gail for winning!  And thank you so much to subscribing to this blog.

We appreciate it!

And we will have more great prizes next week, so stay tuned for that and become a subscriber to be automatically entered in the weekly drawing that we do through!


If you are not a subscriber, subscribe now at  Simply subscribe to the website by filling out the area in the right-hand column that says “subscribe to”  Being a subscriber means that you simply get a notification email each time we run a recipe, article, beauty tip, coupon and more.  We don’t share your email address with anyone and you are automatically entered in the weekly Freebie Friday drawing for your chance to win a cool prizes.  Join our free email subscriber list to stay up to date on healthy family friendly recipes, beauty news, travel tips, parenting talk and more.



A huge thank you to Nana Joe’s Granola and to Teresa’s Creative Gifts for providing such nice prizes for our winner today! 


Teen Driver-To-Be? Institute for Drivers Safety A Must

Do you have a teen driver-to-be?  I do.  Again.  Already.  It is my second time around to teach one of my babies how to drive as child #2 edges even closer to the edge of the nest.  There is my girl behind the wheel.  Here we go again and boy, she can’t wait to go, that is for sure. So, as we did before with my son, we hired the first-rate, highly recommended Institute For Drivers Safety to take my girl on driving lesson drives.  She had her first one today and we are just as impressed as we were four years ago with this organization.  AND THE BIG GREAT NEWS….and a big bonus…now the institute offers the actual driver’s license test again so the pesky DMV can be avoided for the road test!  I’ll drive to that!

The Institute had previously offered this, but the state took the option away…but they have brought it back again.  Just in time for my girl to get her license in a few short months.  Yay!  And if you look below at the comments made about this article, Kimberly Bodine’s comment is right on when she says, “My daughter used them also and it was worth every penny and the pressure of not having to take the driving test at DMV was great for her anxiety.”  I am so excited that my daughter can take her test with the Institute for Driver’s Safety in a few months instead of having to endure the long wait at the DMV!

Today my daughter went with instructor, Joe Navarro and he was terrific.

There she goes on her first drive lesson with the pros!

He had her drive him on four freeways and in downtown Phoenix, too.  When they came back home after the 3-hour drive, he met with us and gave us a report on how she did and which areas she needs to work on to get her ready for the big day that she takes the road test for her license.  This is helpful to all of us and is smart!  Plus I feel more confident having her drive me to further distances now that she is taking these professional lessons.  She does the driving and the professionals do the teaching!  So read on to see how the Institute for Drivers Safety works, who goes behind the wheel with your kid and how to sign up.  More links and information are below in the article.  This is the one I wrote about my son and all is still current…

Oh and one cool item that is not in the article below is that my son scored 100% on the driver license road test (and that was at the DMV at that time) and he credits that to Institute for Drivers Safety.  Yep, this organization is a must for teen drivers.  Here is the scoop from the last time we did it in 2013…

Manic:  My mind as I realize that in 2 1/2 weeks my first born will get his driver’s license and drive off, without me next to him, for the first time.  Yay and yikes all in one!

Managed:  Enrolling him in a local top notch driving school has improved his driving skills and lowered my stress level. Many of you have asked me to share the driving school information, so read on to find out how to enroll and how it works. Yesterday our boy earned this Behind the Wheel Certificate of Graduation certificate that I have pictured, along with his driving report cards…. drivingWe are very happy to receive this completion certificate, not only as peace of mind that a professional driving teacher agrees that our boy is ready to drive by himself, but this nice piece of paper will also give us an insurance discount (as will his straight A report card), so we are celebrating that bonus.

The Institute for Drivers Safety is a terrific organization that I highly recommend.  The instructors are all trained police officers and all have had car control, collision avoidance, and accident scene reporting training at the police academy.

From start to finish, the process was easy and very beneficial.  To enroll your child (make sure they have their state issued drivers permit first), simply call 480-921-8834 or visit The Institute for Drivers Safety to schedule a drive.  You can also purchase a package of three drives and classroom instruction.  Call for different pricing information.  I paid $175 for his first driving lesson that we did back in May (right after he got his permit and before I let him drive me on any freeways) and we just paid $175 again for his last lesson that took place yesterday.

For that price, you get a qualified instructor who comes to your home (or even to your child’s high school) to pick them up. They leave in an instructional car that has a brake pedal on the instructor’s side (a perk that we parents don’t get when we are doing the teaching).  Your kid does the driving the entire three hours.  I especially like that the teacher had our son drive him through the airport, down different freeways, one way streets in downtown Phoenix and they did some parallel parking practice, too.

When they return, we parents are given a report card, which is pictured above.  It is quite thorough and it really gives the teenager some areas of improvement to consider.  I don’t know about your kid, but when a teacher or coach reinforces a lesson, sometimes it means more than if we say it to our child.  It packs a positive punch into their selective memory bank.  It does take a village and I like the support!

When our son returned home yesterday (and it was nice that the Institute for Drivers Safety was available on a Sunday morning from 7:30am to 10:30am), the instructor told us, and him, that he graded strictly because that is what the DMV instructor will do when the big day arrives.  With that, he told us that he believes that our teen is ready to take the road on his own (that is reassuring to us), but he shared with us that several areas need improvement.  More attention needs to be paid to always using his turn signals and he actually didn’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign. Really?!  And with the driver instructor with him?!  That is why they are called teenagers and not young adults!  The teacher also told us that our kiddo handles the car well and has good driving skills.  So with that, we’ve got two weeks left to hone his skills with us in attendance in the vehicle.

After that, we give him our blessing, say our prayers and let him loose behind the wheel, with rules of course.  Please son, do not text and drive!  He will have a curfew to follow and he will check in with us on arrival and before departures.  We will follow the law and limit his passenger load.  If he abuses his newfound privilege, he will be riding the schoolbus, we told him.  He didn’t like that idea!  So as we enter yet another parenting chapter, that is both thrilling and terrifying, I can tell you that hiring The Institute for Drivers Safety was worth the money and peace of mind that we have done all that we can to prepare our teen boy to take the wheel.at_the_wheel

But first, he has to endure 2 1/2 more weeks of his annoying parents back seat driving. Here we go!

Fab 4 Red, White & Blue Giveaway for You Winner!!

Thanks to all of you that entered our Fab 4th of July Red, White & Blue Giveaway for You drawing!  Our winner is sure to enjoy the cool prizes that are great for entertaining and for mess free meal time.  Plus the Great Plate lets users multi-task with a drink holder smack in the middle of the clever plate leaving the other hand free.  We love smart inventions!  So who is today’s winner???

We put all the names in a drawing through and the name drawn is….drumroll please….


Jodie Reeder from Phoenix, AZ!!!!!

Congrats to Jodie and thank you so much for entering the drawing and following!


Our regular Freebie Friday will return next week!  That is our weekly drawing for all kinds of prizes and all of our subscribers are automatically entered, so if you haven’t subscribed to this blog, do so now!

Happy Friday!

This Week’s 3TV Segment: Hot Walgreens Beauty Buys for Less!

Too hot to drive all the way to the mall for your beauty products?  Go no further than your local drugstore because Walgreens just added a bunch of hot beauty products with prices that are cool.  Many of these items can replace the more expensive drug store brands.  We found some splurge vs steal stuff in the beauty aisle.  I got the scoop from Walgreen’s beauty consultant, Bianca, who is also a part of my blog’s team.  Look at what we found to keep you and your beauty budget looking good all summer long.

What’s Trending in Summer Beauty

Every time I research a beauty segment with Bianca, I learn about beauty trends.  And to be able to buy them for less at the drugstore is a bonus.  As you read about each product in this article, you will see the following trends:

*Metallics – read on below to see what the metallic trend is and how one drugstore beauty line is comparable to three department store lines that cost significantly more for similar products (in our opinion).

*Lush lashes – long lovely lashes continue to trend so read on to see which new mascara we like for summer.

*Unicorn – read on to see how the rainbow glow is one of the beauty stars of the summer show.

*Pure Pigments – this trend is made of concealer shades with colors that do different things when it comes to concealing redness, dark circles and more.  More later in the article.

*Clay Cleansing – different clay properties for your facial cleansing routine.  We cover that in this report, too.

*Brows – groomed and defined brows continue to rage on in the summer months, too.

*Multi-purpose beauty products – because time and money are both saved.  One of our faves for the summer is listed in a bit.

*Unique at home spa stuff picks – spa treatments continue to trend, but since we can’t always afford to visit the spa, read on to see our pick for a truly unique at-home two week facial spa treatment.


L’Oréal Infallible Paints & Metallics

Just like the more expensive Urban Decay line, L’Oréal brings this splurge vs steal to the drugstore.  Like the Urban Decay, Jeffree Star and Kylie lines, but for a lot less, L’Oréal offers Infallible Paint Metallics.

The L’Oréal Matte lip colors are very like the Kylie Jenner Lip Kit line in Kylie Cosmetics, but hers sell for $29 for both a lip color and lip liner versus Walgreen’s steal price of $7.99 (with a $2 off coupon offered through July 29th as regular price is $9.99).  Choose between matte or the L’Oréal Metallics, which gives a metallic shiny pigment look that lasts all day long.  Strikingly like the Kylie Metal lipsticks, but at more than half the price since L’Oréal sells for only $7.99 compared to the Kylie stick at $18.00.  Our testers tell us that the L’Oréal line stays on all day and looks brilliant, making this a successful dupe on the Kylie line.

L’Oréal also offers a metallic eye shadow that brightens the eye and give a nice full pigment of color with a great price of only $7.99 (with $1 off coupon now at Walgreens through July 29th).


Lush Lash Trend – Lash Paradise Mascara

One of Bianca’s top picks of the summer is L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise Mascara.  Extremely like the much more expensive Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara that sells for $23, the L’Oréal Voluminous Lash Paradise at Walgreens costs only $9.99 (or even better get 2 for $15 through July 9th).

Photo from Maybelline website showing Unicorn makeup applied

Unicorn Beauty Trend

A beauty trend that I had not heard of is unicorn beauty.  I had seen the Starbucks unicorn drink and apparently the unicorn rage has hit the beauty shelves, too. Maybelline’s Master Fairy Highlight by FaceStudio Illuminating Powder gives a rainbow glow to the cheeks and other desired facial highlighting areas.  Up until now, the unicorn beauty products weren’t available at Walgreens, but the drugstore just added this to beauty shelves this month.  Get your trendy unicorn palette for $7.99.

Pure Pigments Trend

This trend speaks to me because I have long battled under eye circles and puffiness, so the Maybelline pure pigment Master Camo Color Correcting Pen line works great for all different skin types.  We are big fans of the crayon corrector applicator that applies the product just right.  The dark circles concealer works best under foundation and provides intense coverage, so a little goes a long way.  These sell for $7.99 each.

Spa Like Facial Clay Cleanser

We are loving L’Oréal’s new clay to mousse cleansing trio options that are free of parabens and silicones.  Each one contains a different clay element and they all remove everyday impurities like dirt, oil and pollution.   Pick the one that is right for you with three types to choose from.  The first product is the L’Oréal Pure-Clay Cleanser Detox & Brighten that is a detox-brightener made with the popular charcoal that is nature sourced.   The second option in the collection is the Pure-Clay Cleanser Exfoliate-Refine that exfoliates and refines skin with the red algae ingredient and the other one in this cool trio is the Pure-Clay Cleanser Purify-Mattify with eucalyptus.  This one felts so soothing on my skin.  Not sure which one to choose?  Check out L’Oréal’s website with a thorough explanation of each and recommendations based on skin type.

Still Trending: Brows!

Beautiful brows continue to be the beauty rage so be sure to check out Maybelline’s Browdrama Shaping Chalk Powder that has a cool applicator that sports both a wide side and a narrow side.  The wide side is for the inner brow and the narrow side is for the tail of the brow.  This is my personal favorite as it fills in brows easily for a full and natural look.  This sells for $7.99.

Our Fave Multi-Purpose Beauty Product

Summertime means constant shaving, so we are loving the super cool Soap & Glory line that offers The Righteous Butter Creamy Body Wash.  This 3-in-1 product is perfect for cleansing, shaving and moisturizing.  Contains shea butter, cocoa, grapeseed, sweet almond and macadamia nut oils. No wonder we love this stuff! Sells for $14 at Walgreens.  Plus, the Soap & Glory line has a $2 off coupon through December at Walgreens.  We will take that!

Truly Unique At Home Spa Treatment 2 Week Facial Treatment

No7 Youthful Vitamin C Fresh Radiance Essence is our pick to get brighter and more radiant looking skin.  This unique formula contains 5% Vitamin C powder that you release yourself into the bottle for a two-week treatment.  After two weeks, the Vitamin C loses its potency, so the treatment is not meant to go longer than that, although the box says that any leftover can be used for one month.  Very cool that the drugstore sells this and it costs $24.99.

There are so many more hot drugstore products that I could show, but I am out of time.  Just visit your local Walgreens and ask the store’s beauty consultant to show you more.

Happy Summer beauty shopping and thanks to Walgreens for offering so many items that are trending, compare well to more expensive department store brands and do the job while keeping us on our beauty budget.  More money left over to travel with and escape our desert heat!












Fab 4th of July Red, White & Blue Drawing for You!

Happy Fab 4th of July!  Wishing everyone a safe and happy one!  To celebrate we are doing a red, white and blue giveaway for your summer eating and entertaining fun.  Check out these cool red, white and blue stackable plates that has a place for a cup and food that can all be held in one hand.  And we threw in a couple of baby/toddler plates from Re-Play for the little ones, too.  We love the Re-Play line because the items are made from recycled FDA approved polypropylene.  To top it off, a fun red, white and blue sparkly feather pen is also included in today’s giveaway!

If you haven’t heard about the Great Plate collection, they are super cool.  With a cup hole in the middle, your family and guests can carry food and drink all in one hand freeing up the other one to add food items to the plate and move about.  I love clever inventions and this is one of them for sure! 

To enter in our Fab 4th giveaway drawing, simply email to [email protected] your name, email address and address where  you want the prize sent if your name is drawn.  Enter by 5pm (Arizona time) this Thursday, July 6th and we will announce and post the winner this Friday on this blog.  Your family and guests will love these smart plates that are perfect for entertaining and for for a less mess family meal time.  Winner will be drawn through, so good luck!

Happy 4th and happy summer!

Classy Cabins AZ: A Cool Getaway Destination

Looking to get out of the heat now or to pre-book the perfect Fall Break getaway?  Look no further than the lovely Flagstaff/Williams/Grand Canyon area where the beautifully furnished Classy Cabins AZ are available to rent for a terrific family vacation!  These gorgeous cabins also are great for a romantic trip for just the two of you.  I spoke with the Classy Cabins AZ owners to get the story on how they took their classy cabin business dream idea and turned it into the perfect getaway for all.  It is a great story and makes me even more excited to stay there when I see all the love, attention and care that went into creating Classy Cabins AZ!  Classy Cabins AZ owners, Steve and Amy Sorenson shared their story with me on how their stunning, comfy and welcoming cabin idea rentals came to life.

Steve says:

It was the heat!  A keen desire to find a place to cool off during the summer, and lifelong dreams for both Amy and me to have a cabin in the woods, drove us to explore in Northern Arizona.  This is our story of how wanting to get away became a passion for creating perfect settings for families and groups to create lasting memories.  So we put the kids in the car seats and set out to explore!

We found the perfect place.  While we didn’t find that perfect cabin, we did find the perfect place in Sherwood Forest Estates – a small subdivision of 1 acre lots in the tall pines, between Flagstaff and Williams.  Amy pointed out that we had better buy it, as it was perfect.  Shortly, we had our place to go to cool off.  At first, we camped…and with two small boys and our infant daughter!  Fun! Next came a pop-up camper.

When we were ready, we designed a cabin, called Moose Manor, and got it built in a bit over a year.  Sweat equity, lots of it, helped get the job done, and in the fall of 2004, Moose Manor was completed.  The name is more than just a name…it’s all about the theme.  Amy decorates like a pro.  Many families have had a wonderful time trying to count the number of moose in the cabin!

The demands of work and life mean that we can’t be there all the time.  It was a tough decision, but we decided to put Moose Manor on the vacation rental market to share the experience with others, and help pay the bills.  The popularity of Moose Manor led to the creation of Classy Cabins AZ –  the start of a passion designing and building from scratch to share the Classy Cabin experience with other families.

So we built our second property, and this time the kids were old enough to help more.  And, so it has gone.  Classy Cabins AZ has just finished it’s fifth build.

Our mission has become to create the finest vacation rental properties, and the best vacation experiences for their guests.  Classy Cabins AZ is all about the feeling you get staying at one of their properties.

If you were wondering whether the other cabins are themed as well, they are!  Cabin number two is Raccoon RanchIt’s nearly the same as Moose Manor.  The next one is Bearly-A-Cabin, Bear themed of course.  Then came Buck N’ Ham Palace – themed around pigs and bucks of course!  Yes, guests from Britain find it “quite amusing.”

And almost just finished is The Owl’s Nest.  These modern structures look and feel like log cabins, but have all the comforts of home.  The forested setting really makes you feel like you’ve gotten away from it all.  We even put up decorated Christmas trees in all the cabins.

Of course, that means these aren’t just for Summer getaways. The cabins are positively enchanting in the wintertime.

Thank you for sharing your story of how Classy Cabins AZ was born, Steve!  This managed mom is intrigued and can’t wait to book a cabin stay!

Oh and doesn’t that picture below look so nice right about now during our 120 temps?!  So book in the winter for sure!  And definitely go now to escape our crazy desert heat!  For more information and to reserve one of these amazing cabins for your getaway, visit Classy Cabins AZ.  You won’t regret it!


Thank you, Steve and Amy!  My family hasn’t stayed at one of their deluxe cabins yet, but we plan to soon!  This is one cabin rental company that won’t give you cabin fever, but will instead cool you down and give you an amazing vacay getaway!



A big thank you to Classy Cabins AZ for sponsoring this post.  My opinion about how excited I am about Classy Cabins AZ is 100% my own! 

AZ Local: 10 Reasons Why VYT Wizard of Oz Is Must See

Photo Credit: Cliff Cesar

Looking for a family friendly and entertaining activity to get out of the heat?  Look no further than downtown Phoenix and visit the beautiful Herberger Theater Center to see the toe tapping, high energy, moving and infectious production of Valley Youth Theatre’s Wizard of Oz!  This show will have you exclaiming, “oh my” in no time! The theatre critics also agree with two rave reviews that you can see here!  Here are the top 10 reasons why this show is not to be missed!

#10 – High flying fun!  With a flying witch on a broomstick (that happens to be my daughter playing the Wicked Witch…great fun), high flying monkeys, dancers gracing the stage sky and more! Watch the impressive results of the hard-working behind-the-scenes tech crew that hoist the actors up to fly in the famous tornado scene.  See dancing in the sky with the jitterbugs.  Witness Dorothy being swept away by the evil flying monkey character.  And much more flying fun that is hugely entertaining!

Photo Credit: Cliff Cesar

Singing Over The Rainbow….just beautiful!                      Photo Credit: Cliff Cesar

#9 – The live music!  The beautiful singing!  The glorious dance numbers!  Especially enjoyable is the live orchestra and the singing and the dancing that accompany Dorothy and everyone’s favorite characters.  They belt out those Wizard of Oz melodies that we all love.  Some result in a toe tapping audience that claps together at times, too.  One group of singers even made me tear up. More than once.  Brilliant dancing scenes from Choreographer Nathalie Velasquez are extremely entertaining to witness.  The big high energy dance numbers.  So colorful and so well executed.  From the eye catching Jitterbug dance to the Ozians moves to the Munchkins performance and the cool in-step Winkies, the dancing is fun and include some stunts and gymnastics, too.  You will want to get up and dance with the performers.

Photo credit: Cliff Cesar

Photo Credit: Cliff Cesar

#8 – Toto!  Toto played by the adorable Rickie Marie is the perfect Toto.  She seems to be enjoying her trips to Oz and the many fans who fall in love with Toto right away!

#7 – The set!  Gorgeous!  Stunning!  Magical!  All of the above!

Photo Credit: Cliff Cesar

It is no wonder that this is the same exact set that Mickey Rooney and Eartha Kitt performed the Broadway version of Wizard of Oz on years ago.  This incredible set has a personality of its own and does magical tricks throughout the entire play.  The beautiful elements arrived via two semi truckloads straight from New York City’s Madison Square Garden to Phoenix for us locals to enjoy!

#6 – Family friendly fun and kids get to meet the actors in costume for pictures afterwards!  Professional theatre critic, Gil Benbrook wrote that it is done just right so that it isn’t too scary for small children.  This is truly a production that the entire family will enjoy together from start to finish.  

#5 – The beautiful Herberger experience!  An afternoon out with family or a night out on the town, the downtown Herberger Theater Center does not disappoint with attractive and comfortable balcony seating options, a refreshments bar complete with beer, wine and catchy show themed cocktails like the Flying Monkey martini, food and more.  And as mentioned, the young actors come to the lobby in full costume and makeup afterwards to meet fans and pose for pictures.  Children love this part!

#4- The costumes!  VYT’s award-winning resident costume designer, Karol Cooper worked endless hours along with many parent volunteers bringing brilliant costume creations to life.  Every stunning piece is eye candy to audience members of all ages. Vibrant, functional, imaginative, sparkly, uniquely uniformed to the characters…Karol’s costumes wow audiences and take them even deeper into the theatrical journey.  Every detail, every outfit, every piece does not grace the stage until Karol says go…just look at Dorothy’s incredible ruby red slippers! Karol spent countless hours personally securing approximately 5000 stunning Swarovski crystals!

Photo by Cliff Cesar

#3 – The Munchkins!  Bright, fun, highly infectious dancing and singing.  It is that good and your arrival to Oz is spectacular with the warm embracing welcome of the colorful and uber talented Munchkin group!

Photo Credit: Cliff Cesar

#2 – The Director…the same one Emma Stone thanked live at the Academy Awards a few months ago when she won her Oscar!  Producing Artistic Director for VYT and director of this show, Bobb Cooper casts and directs a group of youth that are super talented and also happen to be nice kids and teens after the show as well.  As film and theatre critic, Dave Appleford recently wrote in his Wizard of Oz Valley Screen & Stage review, “…director Cooper’s eye for good casting…”, Bobb Cooper expertly selects his cast and then, as they are instructed, helps them to “dig deep” to dive into all aspects of the character they strive to play.  This is done so well that the actors truly take the audience on a magical journey to Oz.

The divine director, Bobb Cooper with Glinda, the Good Witch, played by Tiana Marks.


Photo Credit: Cliff Cesar

#1 – The actors and special effects! It is great fun to watch the many awe inspiring special effects and surprises, too….I won’t give it all away!  The actors!  All good!  All dedicated!  Many playing multiple parts!  The leads are right on task and each character took me back to the original movie more than once.  I could picture Judy Garland, could hear the original Lion’s funny deep laugh, imagine the Tin Man with his oil can and the way the Scarecrow moves on stage…it is like he doesn’t have bones.  Beautiful Glinda, the good witch is spot on.  And yes, I am a little bias about the Wicked Witch…so come see it for yourself and tell me how you think she does.  So far, the critics have given her great praise and some constructive feedback as well.  And the Wizard rocks it as well.  All great.  Every single actor in this extraordinary 56 member cast scores a homerun that leaves the audience entertained humming Wizard of Oz tunes all the way home. My lucky daughter gets to play with fire in this wickedly fun stunt pictured above that the fire Marshall had to approve.  Now that is cool!

Photo Credit: Cliff Cesar

So get out of the heat!  Join the fun!  Bring the family!  Don’t miss this classic that is brought to life for all ages.  The high energy, bright, vibrant fun will entertain you, get your feet tapping and touch your soul. Plus supporting the arts and youth theatre is a bonus!  And this hard working cast and crew also do several charitable shows for the Phoenix Hope Kids and at risk youth, too.  A wildly entertaining, uber talented bunch that also give back.

Yeah, you don’t want to miss this one!  Get your tickets here and enjoy the show!



Freebie Friday Winner!








So, who is today’s Freebie Friday winner??  What did our winner win? Keep on reading!!  And remember if you are a subscriber, then you are automatically entered in our weekly drawing for great prizes that include beauty items, cookware,  jewelry and more!  Lots of cool stuff!

Now, let’s announce this week’s lucky winner….

This week’s Freebie Friday winner is:

Rebecca Haas from Phoenix, AZ!!!

(winner drawn through

Congrats to Rebecca! She wins two fun items for traveling and a little bling, too! First she gets the handy travel package kit that is neatly tucked into a cute clear travel bag!  She also wins a pretty white bling bracelet that is sold at Teresa’s Creative Gifts  Be sure to check out Teresa Creative Gifts on Facebook to see the many unique items and gifts that are available.   

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A huge thank you to Teresa’s Creative Gifts for providing today’s awesome bling bracelet!!