Goodbye 2009

I for one can't say I'm sorry to be seeing the end of the year.  Like everyone we've had our ups and downs this year, but overall there were a lot more downs than we usually face in a 365 day time period.

Here's to a better, brighter year in 2010 with more of the good for all of us.
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Wordless Wednesday - The Proposal

Casey aka the mini-diva aka little me is engaged. Derek proposed on Christmas night and she said yes. :D

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Merry Christmas! Tracking Santa

Happy Holidays from our family to yours-  Merry Christmas everyone!

 If your kids are as antsy as mine always were-  Norad tracks the Jolly Old Elf so you can see where Santa is and how much longer it will be til he gets to your town. 

And, our favorite Christmas Carol- yeah, we're a little bit loony. ;-)
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Yummy Dough review

We were recently allowed to review Yummy Dough which we also received from Plasmart and it was fun! First, let me just say... play dough Ian can eat? Yes! Less messy then letting him yogurt-paint, and while you can make your own, this was easier and a much smoother consistency then anything I've made. And tastier. I have to admit, we can't say how it bakes... Ian played to the point no one else wanted to eat it, smashing and munching... then he ate most of it. And fed the rest to his "best friend" Dude. Who happily gobbled... boy am I glad its non-toxic! It was easy to make up, fun, and surprisingly non messy... it definitely gets my mom seal of approval. I would have liked if there was a white one to color ourselves, but that's probably just because I have a few pounds worth of funky food colors.

We received the product to review but no additional compensation.  In no way was our review influenced, it is our true and honest opinion(s).

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Plasma car review

We received  a Plasma Car from Plasmart for review, and it is the best "airplane" ever! We gave it to Ian for his birthday and it was a huuuge hit! It takes a little bit to get used to it, Devii is the best at driving it, and Ian mostly scoots or sits in our laps for it. He also likes to push us from behind, we glide like its nothing so that's fun. It is sturdy, and can hold up to 220 pounds on a smooth, flat surface (120 on a rough surface).

The web site is useful, and they have tutorial videos and such to help you figure it out.

Things I love as a mom; It is completely boy-powered. No batteries, no pushing, no plugs... he makes it go. This is exercise and energy expending, and I love that! I hate refilling batteries, Ian hates waiting for things to charge... and frankly, its just better to let him go on his own once in a while. Its not as fast or, well, wobbly as a bike, so I don't have to worry about him getting hurt so much, either. As of yet we have not had a plasma car incident, knock on wood. I would like to point out-- I have no doubt someone will get hurt on it, if only to trip on it, eventually. That's just us. The fact that we haven't is proof that this is a rather safe toy.

I think the only "complaint" I could see, this could be frustrating to figure out if he was a little older and cared about doing it right. If your kid is easily frustrated, perhaps show them the video first. Once you "get" it, its fairly easy, but, well... I still go backwards.
It's fun anyways...
Seeing where I've been and all...
Yeah, I'm not coordinated. But that's, eh... user error.

We received a product to review but no additional compensation for our true and honest opinion(s) which were in no way influenced but are our actual thoughts.
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Twitter's been hacked! by the IRANIAN CYBER ARMY

Eek! Twitters been hacked by "IRANIAN CYBER ARMY"

Oh no!

When the Twitter Homepage finally loaded here's what comes up

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Craptacular week- sorry, we'll catch up soon.

I owe my sponsors and readers a very large apology- this week has been craptacular any way you look at it and we are just not in a place to do justice to the reviews we have planned or the giveaways. I promise we'll get things back to normal around here, we had so much planned but life knocked us upside the head and we have to deal with some things before we can get back to our scheduled posts and dropping entrecards and visiting other blogs or anything.For now I apologize- we will get the winners drawn within a day or two and the rest up when we can. Although things including my mom's car wreck and some sneaky underhandedness regarding custody have been going on they are absolutely nothing compared to fellow blogger Shellie's (Military_Mom on Twitter) terrible loss when her 2 year old son Bryson Ross fell in the pool and could not be saved. They need your prayers, we just need a little understanding and forgiveness for being a bit behind.
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Baking day - what are your favorite Christmas cookies?

Things are hectic and crazy - tomorrow  will be a baking day.  We're making more fudge (yeah, we've made some batches already it keeps disappearing ;-) ), sugar cookies, choco chip/m&m cookies, white chocolate cranberry cookies, snowballs and???

This time of year we sure give Paula Deen a run for her money as far as using butter goes-  I think the only thing we make that doesn't use butter- and lots of it- is our peppermint clouds.  Everything's better with buddah, baby!

So- how are your holiday plans coming?  Are you super-organized or like us and winging it as you go along according to schedules and motivation?  Is there any recipe I "have" to add to our list this year?  What are your favorite Christmas cookies?  Inquiring minds want to know. 
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Geeky Mommy is an elf!

When I was little, I was a teeny tiny thing, and my face was a bit... misproportioned. Namely, my ears. They were big, and came to a fairly impressive point. After much teasing, I decided the reason behind my "elf ears" was because I must BE an elf. Santa must have sent me to keep an eye and help with his naughty/nice list.
It wasn't until a year ago I found out something interesting.
My older sister and cousin had convinced Devii I really was an elf. AND! That I wasn't really her sister. Mom just adopted me and pretended to help Santa! And she believed it!

So there you have it, you all better be good, you never know when your own sister might be a secret agent elf =P
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Trident Layers Review & Giveaway

We are gum chewers.   Not rude or obnoxious about it, but we go through a LOT of gum.

Someone once asked what do you guys go through like a pack a week.  Umm.  Yeah, sure, multiplied many times over.  A great day is when they're running the buy one get one specials or I can find a coupon.

For the record, 90% of the gum we buy and chew is mint flavored, but once every week or so we like to mix it up with something fruity-  for me it is when I am in the mood for something sweet.

You might think what save a few cents or a buck.  Again- there are 5 of us who chew gum here, and of course we'd never be rude so we have to carry enough to share.

We were really excited when Trident sent us a couple of packs of their new gum to try out to review.  (Yes, Trident is a brand we are very familiar with- our gum must be sugar-free- we also pay the dental bills.) ;-)

Trident Layers are little mini-stacks with two flavors layered together like sandwiches.  In fact they call it a gumwich™  The flavors we received were Wild Strawberry & Tangy Citrus and Green Apple & Golden Pineapple.

There is a nice fruity smell upon opening the pack and they are pretty cute.  One thing we noticed- the gum is a little harder than normal when you first start chewing- in our totally unscientific and random way we pondered and figured it must have something to do with the layers.  It totally softens up after a minute or two, unlike some gums that start out hard and stay that way or get even harder.

Like a lot of things, we're pretty divided.  We liked both but some of us (like me) preferred the Strawberry Citrus while the others (like Dawn) had a strong preference for the Apple Pineapple.  Trident calls them Threelicious™, we just call them delicious.

Just for fun you can head on over to Trident for a little piece of happy and play around with the cute videos & such.  It'll bring a smile to your day.

Would you like to try some?  You can go here to get a 75 cents off coupon.

Trident has also graciously offered two of our readers a pack of each flavor.

THE GIVEAWAY: 2 lucky readers will each win 2 packs (1 of each flavor reviewed) of Trident Layers gum.  Open to US residents 13+ ends 12/20 at 11:59pm CST.

Main entry: this one is easy- tell me your favorite flavor of gum.  Mine is Trident White Wintergreen, although Trident Minty Sweet Twist runs a close second.

Want more?  The main entry is all you need for a chance to win, but you can find out how to get additional entries into our giveaways here.

We received two packs of gum from Trident so that we could do the review- the opinions expressed are ours and were in no way swayed because we received a sample.
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Menu for week of 12/7 - 12/13

We do a lot of baking and fudge making and whatnot so simple dinners probably right on through the holidays.  Here's what our week looks like at the moment, in no particular order.

Slow cooker corned beef w/veggies, bread or rolls

Turkey tacos with all the fixings

Homemade vegetable soup

Breakfast for dinner- poached eggs and  bagels; fruit cups

Stir fry veggies and rice

Homemade pizza- probably on English muffins but we'll see

Hot dogs, mac & cheese, green beans, applesauce (Ian's pick) 

What's on your menu this week?

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Daddy got coal for Christmas!

One year, when I was just a tiny thing, my daddy got coal for Christmas.

I didn't see the events that lead to it, but my big sister did. Dad had been working Christmas Eve, and Dawn, mom and I had already hung stockings, left cookies, fudge and milk, carrots for the reindeer and our notes for Santa, and we were supposed to be asleep. Dawn heard noises in the kitchen, and sneak, sneak, sneak... Thats not Santa!

"No!!! Daddy, those are for Santa! Don't eat Santa's fudge!"

Dad had eaten Santa's snacks. All of them. Every last cookie, every piece of fudge, it was gone! Dawnie woke mommy up and she made a fresh batch of each, just for Santa.  Good thing too, we got really good presents that year.

And daddy? He got a small stocking full of coal.
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Aloha Friday- what's your favorite holiday memory?

From An Island Life:In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day that we take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So I thought that on Fridays I would take it easy on posting, too. Therefore, I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer. Nothing that requires a lengthy response.

If you’d like to participate, just post your own question on your blog and leave your link over at An Island Life. Don’t forget to visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

My question-  What is your favorite holiday memory?

Mine is the year Gamer Girlie got me my little Shih-tzu Groucho.  He's a gamer too. ;-)  Sorry the pic isn't very clear, he moved as soon as he saw we got the pic to capture the adorableness.

Another favorite memory, this one humorous,  that happened when I was little is the ex-lax incident, which I blogged about here. 
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Ian and his best friend dude- cute pic

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Hellmann's Real Holiday Helpings - win a $25 AmEx GC

I know I've mentioned it before but we are loyal Hellmann's Mayo users, so we are delighted to have been chosen to spread the word about the Hellmann's Real Holiday Helpings site.

I know, who ever would have guessed our little blog would be teaming up with Iron Chef Bobby Flay?  Hehe.  It's probably the only time this will ever happen so I'll milk it for all I can. ;-)  He's such a cutie and definitely one of my fave chefs. 

Now I have to say this-  his recipes are awesome, but I still think I can take him with my amazing lasagna-  it weighs about a million gazillion pounds with my all day sauce and so many different cheeses.  I'm ready for a throwdown!  *grin*

All kidding aside, Hellmann's and Bobby Flay have an amazing site where we can go to find out what to do with all those leftovers-  and quite frankly I think I need to buy an extra turkey or two just so I can make up some of them-  there are so many different variations that you won't get bored or feel like you are eating the same thing over and over.  Everything from Caeser Salad Crostini to Turkey Fajitas with Creamy Avacado Sauce to Sweet Potato Green Onion Fritters with Cranberry Cinnamon Dipping Sauce-  heck, there are even some cake recipes.  I have had the Super Moist Chocolate Mayo Cake and can attest to how moist an delicious it is.

Leftovers are not all you will find, there are also recipes that will help you out on those busy days when if you are anything like me you're tempted all too often to get fast food because the thought of cooking can be daunting with all of the other things you have going on.  How much better does Succulent Chicken Parmesan sound than greasy fried food that you will regret eating later when your belly pays for it? 

For those of us who like visuals (yes, when Ian and Ken aren't hogging the TV I do have Food Network on) there are even some videos of Bobby preparing some of the recipes.

I love how Hellmann's Real Holiday Helpings and Bobby Flay show you how easily you can make wonderful food out of the simplest of ingredients- as I've always told the girls, when you use quality ingredients you don't have to do a lot of fussing to get fantastic results.

In addition to the recipes, videos and tips you can also print off a coupon for $1 off your next Hellmann's purchase, enter to win free groceries for a year, play a matching game for a chance to win a gift card instantly and check out the facebook page for more exclusives and even become a fan to find out the latest.

Thanks to my affiliation with MomSelect I will receive a $25 American Express GC for helping to spread the word and *drumroll please* Hellmann's Real Holiday Helpings is also giving one of our readers a $25 American Express GC!  I knew you'd like that.

THE GIVEAWAY:  1 lucky reader will win a $25 American Express Gift Card.  Open to residents of the US 18+ ends 12/17 at 11:59pm CST.

Main entry- without this all others will be deleted.  Head on over to Hellmann's Real Holiday Helpings and tell me a recipe you'd like to try other than the recipes I mentioned in this post.

Want more?  The main entry is all you need for a chance to win, but you can find out how to get additional entries into our giveaways here.

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The Boy's Store review and giveaway

We recently received some of the MOST adorable boys clothes I have ever seen to review! It was from a charming shop called The Boy's Store, one of the few places where I can look at cute kids clothes without running into a barrage of pink! The site is easy to navigate, you can shop by size or item and everything is easy to find.

On to the clothes, all of it is cute! The most difficult part is picking what to order! The shirt was a cute long sleeve with a dragon by Mulberribush. It is lightweight, breathable and durable. The pants... the pants I am in love with. I WANT these pants in my size! They are super-cozy khakis with fun pockets and zippers, a slider hook closure so little fingers don't have to push buttons, and the awesomeness which is an adjustable waist band. For those of you who don't know what I'm talking about, it's when there is a strip-usually white- laced in the waistband of the pants with button holes, and a button on either side of the zipper, so you can make the pants tighter of looser without messing with belts.

One of the first things I noticed, these are both high quality pieces. No loose strings, tight hems, sturdy fabric. This is the kinds of clothing that gets passed from kid to kid because no one is going to wear through it! Eventually you might pass it to a distant cousin if your just tired of looking at it five years in a row, but it has a basic, timeless enough look that it's not to likely to happen.

Service was fast, the clothes got here shortly after ordering, and again everything was simple to navigate and it is all very fairly priced, especially for the quality.

*Ian was just coming down with a bug and not really in the mood to model but we did the best we could-  he's such a little goofball.*

THE GIVEAWAY:  1 lucky reader will win a $25 GC to The Boy's Store so they can pick out whatever they like.  Open to residents of the US 18+ ends 12/15 at 11:59pm CST

Main entry: without this all other entries will be deleted.  Head on over to The Boy's Store and tell me something you might get if you are chosen as the winner.

Extra entries:  become a fan of The Boy's Store on Facebook, follow The Boy's Store on Twitter, sign up for The Boy's Store newsletter (by doing that you will also be entered into a monthly drawing for a $25 GC.

Want more?  The main entry is all you need for a chance to win, but you can find out how to get additional entries into our giveaways here.
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Hey sissy- remember the ex-lax incident? Funny Christmas memory

I'm telling here, but that's okay- Toods, you gotta luffs me anyways!!! and send Coach accessories.

***Remember as you are reading this- she's 3 years younger and was just a little girl when this happened.***

So I was entering a giveaway (it's what I do) and you had to comment with a favorite holiday memory. Here's one of mine.  I was a kid and my *job* was to help mama wrap presents, including my own that weren't marked as to content- mom would put our initials in the corner of the box so I would know who to make the tag out to. I never once peeked, to me that ruins the whole thing. (My little sissy did peek, she was the nosiest thing, she NEVER got that job.)

Anyways we were up late since we had gone shopping til the stores closed then came home to wrap. We used to spread out on the dining room floor to have plenty of room. It used to take forever, I had to make them just right with nary a wrinkle or crinkle and perfect seams. I used to annoy the heck out of my brother and sister too because I would make them put the tinsel on one. strand. at. a. time. and do-over when they were too close.

(Boy have times changed, now mama helps me when she's here because she is wicked fast and I am not such a perfectionist- 4 kids and an illness will that to you.) ;-)

So, hours past bedtime and someone keeps going in and out of the bathroom- enough that mom went to investigate.

T had really bad diarrhea and mom thought she was really sick.Sometime in the wee hours I guess she had had enough and thought mommy could fix it because she confessed to eating the box of chocolate flavored ex-lax in the medicine cabinet.

She really loved her sweets and I guess it was just too tempting and didn't taste too horrible.

God that poor kid, I didn't know anyone had that much poop in them and this was before all the soothing tp's or tissues, although we did have the beloved, bespectacled Mr. Whipple pleading with us to "Please, don't squeeze the Charmin".

I'm sure she had the sorest hiney from wiping and wiping. We felt soooooo bad for her but now, it is the funniest dang memory... and I really hope the memory mellowed enough for her to be able to laugh about it because I really do need a new purse. :PLOVE YOU SISSY O' MINE!!!!!

What is your favorite holiday memory, funny or not?
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What are your favorite holiday movies and shows? Ours are...

We love Christmas movies and shows-  and starting with my very favorite on Thanksgiving Day we try to watch at least one a a day-  this year is a little rough since no one has the same schedule so sometimes we catch them in shifts- since Ian and I are mostly here, we watch some of them more than once.  Without DVD's and DVR this wouldn't be possible- thank you God, for modern technology!

When I was growing up waaaaaaay back in the day, you were at the mercy of the 3 main channels and you planned your activities around when the specials were on.  It was a very. big. deal. to watch Rudolph or Frosty or of course that lovable blockhead Charlie Brown. 

It's simply impossible nowadays to watch every single movie or special but there are some that we have to watch no. matter. what. starting with my very favorite- the original Miracle On 34th Street (preferably in b&w) all the way through whatever Santa leaves us on Christmas Eve.

Our must sees are:

Miracle on 34th Street- the acting is phenomenal and it just doesn't get any warmer & fuzzier than this.  When the judge (and the state of New York) declares him to be the one and only real Santa, well, by golly, THAT is Christmas.  None of the remakes come close.

A Christmas Carol-  fave version is Patrick Stewart but there are many good ones we enjoy.

Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer-  Why am I such a misfit?  I am not just a nitwit.  We're on the Island of unwanted toys.  The best thing about bumbles is-  bumbles bounce!  'Nuff said.

The Polar Express- pure magic.

Frosty the Snowman- when the magician must get busy, busy, busy writing so Santa will come visit him-  awww.  When that was made there was a very big fear of having to write a million billion gazillion times I will not *insert whatever naughty thing you did here* so it might not mean as much to some of you.

The Santa Claus-  Tim Allen is wonderful in this, just perfect as he transforms from disillusioned and hardened exec to the jolly man himself.

The Year Without A Santa Claus- Santa is going to cancel Christmas because no-one believes in him any more so his elves set out to prove him wrong.  Don't try to compare it to what is done using today's technology, just enjoy it for what it is.  We particularly enjoy the Heat Miser and Snow Miser.  Don't fool with Mother Nature. ;-)

Nester, the Long-eared Christmas Donkey- if this doesn't make you want to bawl like a baby you have a stone where your heart should be- or like the Grinch in How The Grinch Stole Christmas (cartoon version), yet another favorite, your heart is two sizes too small.  We <3 Max and Cindy-Lou Who.

A Charlie Brown Christmas- from Linus telling the story to Charlie Brown screwing up *again* getting the wrong tree, what's not to love as the gang learns the real meaning of the holiday.

It's A Wonderful Life- it's really touching to see how someone living simple, ordinary life doing the right thing and thinking you are the most boring person on the planet gets a chance to see how much of a difference he really has made in the world, and just what that world would be like had he never been born.

There are gazillions of others, and we watch a lot of them, but these we have to watch every year, without fail.  I know for a lot of you this list will be incomplete simply because we didn't include A Christmas Story, but for some reason none of us can stand that movie.  Maybe it's a diva thing???  We've tried numerous times, we get the humor, but something about it is very unappealing.

How about you?  What are your must-see holiday movies and specials?

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Wordless Wednesday - Unsure of Santa

Last year Ian was very hesitant and unsure of Santa-  we're anxious to see how he does this year.

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Win a Cook's Ham for the Holidays

We are so excited to be partnering with Cook's Ham for our next giveaway.

A lot of families make Ham for their Christmas Dinner- and I could lie and tell you that we do as well, but to be quite frank since my beloved Grinch eats Rare Who Roast Beast, we do too!  What can I say, we're suckers for the green guy.

We do, however have one with our Christmas Eve brunch.  We go to Ken's moms (along with the WHOLE CREW- trust me when I tell you there are tons of us-  a minimum of 40, max???) early Christmas Eve so no-one has to choose sides for who to spend the holiday with-  isn't that the greatest idea?  I thought so too.  We all wish each other merry, have a lovely brunch with everyone bringing their specialties and then exchange gifts and still have time for last minute shopping before getting on with our own celebrations.

Ken used to get a ham from work as his Christmas bonus so we'd take that up- here's our recipe- and even when they stopped with the bonuses everyone counted on us to bring the ham as one of our offerings.

I'll be honest with you-  I was given a coupon for the Cook's Ham of my choice and I was going to cook and  review it along with the giveaway, but they are so big and lovely that I am going to save it to show off share with the extended family before doing the review-  you will get a lot more opinions that way, too.  So really, I'm doing it as a service to our readers and not for selfish reasons at all.  I'm altruistic like that.  ;-)

Being the generous folks that they are, we also received a coupon to give to one of our readers for any Cook's Ham, up to a $30. value.

By the way, this is my personal opinion-  we used to just get whatever ham was on sale thinking they were all the same- boy, was that thinking off.  Nowadays, I wait for a good sale, manager's special or near end-date markdown to buy a quality ham such as Cook's.  *** Check after the holiday to stock up as they will often be sold for a really great price if the market overbought.***  It really does make all the difference, and while you can tell it in everything, if  you make beans or soups with the bone you can REALLY taste the difference.  I don't particularly care for most bean dishes but if we use the bone from a really good ham I love them.

THE GIVEAWAY: One lucky reader will win a coupon for a Cook's Ham of their choice, up to $30, which will really help with the grocery budget-  they are so large that unless you are feeding an army you will be able to get several meals worth of leftovers -  a few that come to mind are:  easy cheesy scalloped potatoes with ham & broccoli, red beans and rice (aka heart-attack on a plate), 15 bean soup, ham and cheese quiche... you get the idea.  US only, 18+ ends 12/15 at 11:59pm CST so I can get the coupon off in time for your holiday meal.

Main Entry:
Head on over to Cook's Ham and tell me which recipe you might like to try if you win.  One main entry per person.

Bonus Entries:

Post in the comments (or on your blog and leave a link) your favorite recipe(s) that use ham.  Unlimited entries.

Tell me about your worst holiday cooking disaster-  did you leave the gross stuff in the turkey when you cooked it? *raises hand*  Did you drop the roast and wipe it off and serve it to guests anyways?  *whistles innocently*  Did the idiot dog grab the meat for your bbq and run off and you had to beg, borrow and steal and send someone to the store so you could feed your family?  Inquiring minds want to know that we aren't the only screw-ups in the kitchen.  It can't be worse than blondie blowing up the oven, so spill already.  Oh, and then head over here for video tips on making the perfect holiday ham.  One entry.

Want more?  The main entry is all you need for a chance to win, but you can find out how to get additional entries into our giveaways here.
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And the winners are...

With 77 entries into the WholesaleKeychain giveaway the 3 winners are:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
31 44 61 
Timestamp: 2009-12-01 14:46:47 UTC

With 77 entries into the Wholesale Keychain giveaway the 3 winners are:

suebabe070428.11.09 I like the TAO Digital Photo Keychain - Polished Silver. Thanks!

Entered Macy's GC giveaway. Had no idea they did all that stuff.

I'm also following you on Networked Blogs user Lisa Garner.

Congratulations- we'll be emailing you shortly for your info so we can get it to our fabulous sponsor.

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