Fall Fun at Enchanted Acres

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Fall Fun at Enchanted Acres

Fall Fun at Enchanted Acres #NorthIowa #Iowa #midwest #Fall #northIowaBloggers donnahup #review

I am so excited that Fall is here! Growing up in south Florida we didn’t really have seasons. Okay, we had summer and hurricane season. We also bundled up when it hit 70 degrees.  Things have definitely changed for this girl.  I love that I get real seasons! Fall and Winter are my favorites.

Fall Fun at Enchanted Acres #NorthIowa #Iowa #midwest #Fall #northIowaBloggers donnahup #review

I love the smells of Fall and seeing the beautiful colors.  I was trying to explain to my 7 yr old nephew (who lives in FL) last year that the tree really did have red leaves. I sent him a picture and he could still hardly believe it. I also love the activities that come with this time of year. Last week the other North Iowa bloggers made a trip to Enchanted Acres.

Fall Fun at Enchanted Acres #NorthIowa #Iowa #midwest #Fall #northIowaBloggers donnahup #review

Where do I begin? There is so much to do! It’s a great place for families and there is something for everyone. I love the grounds. There is a beautiful red barn and so many picture opportunities, which I made sure to take advantage of. I want to give a thank you to Jeni from Jeni Eats. She was kind enough to take my picture all day. If it’s a picture of me, Jeni probably took it.

Fall Fun at Enchanted Acres #NorthIowa #Iowa #midwest #Fall #northIowaBloggers donnahup #review

There was a playground with huge tractor tires, a fire pit with benches to sit around it, and animals!

Fall Fun at Enchanted Acres #NorthIowa #Iowa #midwest #Fall #northIowaBloggers donnahup #review

They had goats and chickens. I got to pet the goats and even hold a baby chicken!  The baby chickens from Hoover’s Hatchery were adorable!

Fall Fun at Enchanted Acres #NorthIowa #Iowa #midwest #Fall #northIowaBloggers donnahup #review

Inside, Shannon explained to us the difference between types of pumpkins. I had no idea certain ones were better for baking!  She has a huge pumpkin patch too! I can’t wait to go back in a few weeks and get some.

Fall Fun at Enchanted Acres #NorthIowa #Iowa #midwest #Fall #northIowaBloggers donnahup #review

We had so much fun making Pumpkin Pie in a bag. It was surprisingly easy. Katy from Learning as I Go and Sara from All in an Iowa Mom’s Day are working on the filling here. I’m not sure if it’s a midwest thing, but I have never made it.  I also loved that everyone could take part. Val from Corn, Beans, Pigs, and Kids brought her two little ones and they were able to participate also.

Fall Fun at Enchanted Acres #NorthIowa #Iowa #midwest #Fall #northIowaBloggers donnahup #review

 

Amy from Modern Rural Living and I had a modified version (no crust) so we got extra whip cream. My favorite part was trying our creation. Our pumpkin pie in a cup was delicious! This is something I would totally do with my nephews and nieces!

Fall Fun at Enchanted Acres #NorthIowa #Iowa #midwest #Fall #northIowaBloggers donnahup #review

We also got to participate in arts & crafts! We used duck tape and modge podge to decorate pumpkins! It was so much fun.  Make sure to check out their Calendar of Events for the different projects and story times.

Fall Fun at Enchanted Acres #NorthIowa #Iowa #midwest #Fall #northIowaBloggers donnahup #review

We all made a few and mine are sitting on my dining room table now.  It was such a great day. I can’t wait to go back! I highly recommend it for a day of fall fun!

Fall Fun at Enchanted Acres #NorthIowa #Iowa #midwest #Fall #northIowaBloggers donnahup #review

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Signature Donna Fall Fun at Enchanted Acres #NorthIowa #Iowa #midwest #Fall #northIowaBloggers donnahup #review

Have fun staying organized with Erin Condren Designs

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*I received a gift card to use at ErinCondren.com to facilitate my review. All thoughts are 100% honest and my own.  

Have fun staying organized with Erin Condren Designs

Have fun staying organized with Erin Condren Designs #Review donnahup

I love calendars and tools to stay organized. While I have all sorts of apps with calendars on my smart phone there’s something that I really love about my calendar. I like that I can open it and see it and write it down. Erin Condren makes organization fun!

The covers themselves and the look are so much fun, but they don’t stop there. They also include stickers and colored markers.

Have fun staying organized with Erin Condren Designs #Review donnahup

It makes it fun and easy for me to stay organized.  They carry quality items and my planner from 2014 is holding up like a champ still.

They carry all sorts of products and they’re all unique.

When I started this personalized stationery business from my home years ago, there really wasn’t anything online that thrilled me. Everything online seemed so static and I tend to think outside the box! I always loved creating my own unique Christmas cards, birthday invitations, thank you notes and more. After several home shopping parties, I decided it was time to offer my collection to the world.

I created a website that could showcase custom paper products that would include photo cards, address labels, gift labels, custom business cards, and even a personalized growth chart. As time went on and my company grew, I merged with a fine art printing company that opened the door to so many customizable possibilities…I truly felt like a kid in a candy store with all the digital printing equipment and fine art giclee printing capabilities. We were able to add wrapping paper, canvas enlargements with personalized borders, and soon we will be offering custom wallpaper and more! I am proud to say we design and print all products in house, with the exception of our custom iPhone cases.

Have fun staying organized with Erin Condren Designs #Review donnahup

 

I love all the “extras” that you are able to get like the tab dividers and stickers with quotes.  You can shop by color or collection. For me, choosing the pattern is the most difficult! There’s so many different ones to choose from.

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Signature Donna Have fun staying organized with Erin Condren Designs #Review donnahup

donnahup.com receives free products for review purposes, and may sometimes be compensated for posts. All opinions expressed are solely from donnahup.com. See donnahup.com’s Disclosure Policy for complete details. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. 

Fresh. Easy. Beautiful. The Bouqs Company: Bouquets, Simplified

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*I received a Bouquet of Flowers to facilitate my review. All thoughts are 100% honest and my own.  

Fresh. Easy. Beautiful. The Bouqs Company: Bouquets, Simplified

Fresh. Easy. Beautiful. The Bouqs Company: Bouquets, Simplified #review donnahup

There is something so wonderful about receiving fresh flowers. I love the fragrance they give off as well as how beautiful they are to look at. I love having a vase of fresh flowers on my dining room table. I live in Northern Iowa (right on the Minnesota border) so it’s not always easy to get fresh flowers. Even ordering them to be shipped can be interesting with below freezing temperatures. I had the opportunity to try out a bouquet from Bouqs.

Fresh. Easy. Beautiful. The Bouqs Company: Bouquets, Simplified #review donnahup

 Our flowers never sit in a corner store or a dingy warehouse (where they send you the oldest, most-dead flowers they have in the fridge), and they never show up in a van with a 1-800 number on the side. We ship straight from an active volcano or from the sunny surf of California, seriously – we’re putting a little romance back in the Bouq.

Fresh. Easy. Beautiful. The Bouqs Company: Bouquets, Simplified #review donnahup

I think one of the coolest things is that they are grown on an actual volcano in South America!  Their selection is gorgeous! I also love that they are a sustainable and eco-friendly. They source only from eco-friendly, sustainable farms that respect the environment and their workers.

Fresh. Easy. Beautiful. The Bouqs Company: Bouquets, Simplified #review donnahup

My flowers lasted about 3 and a half weeks! That’s unheard of, especially because I *might* forget to change the water as often as I should. They looked good at 3 weeks too. The picture below shows the flower then.

Fresh. Easy. Beautiful. The Bouqs Company: Bouquets, Simplified #review donnahup

So what’s the difference? What makes Bouqs better?

The first big difference is that they only cut what they sell. There is no wasting like some supply chains.  Across hundreds of thousands of bouquets a year, that’s a lot of wasted land, resources, labor and fuel. They only cut when you order, so they avoid the waste.

They also save energy through their direct-from-the-farm supply chain. The standard supply chain must keep stems cold for up to 2 weeks, meaning hundreds of hours of refrigeration and the associated energy use. They use cold storage for only 4 days from the Volcano, and not at all from California, resulting in a lot of energy savings.

Finally, their farms provide living wages, childcare, healthcare and adult education. And their growing business supports farm communities, so you can feel good about shopping The Bouqs Company’s flowers.

Another great feature I like about them is that you can add in birthdays and anniversaries to your account and they’ll auto ship flowers to them! You can also order a monthly service so you always have fresh flowers.

Shop beautiful volcanic flowers from The Bouqs Co. Click here!

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Signature Donna

 

donnahup.com receives free products for review purposes, and may sometimes be compensated for posts. All opinions expressed are solely from donnahup.com. See donnahup.com’s Disclosure Policy for complete details. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. 

Your Family + Rollors = Making Memories

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*I received a Rollors Game to facilitate my review. All thoughts are 100% honest and my own.  

Making Memories with Rollors

Making Memories with Rollors #Review #Family donnahup

Some of my favorite memories from growing up are playing outside with my 3 sisters.  We often rode our bikes, played a game, or even played make believe.  We were always outside from morning to evening and only came in for meals. Although we ate plenty of them outside too. I don’t know about you, but I feel like there are so many distractions to keep myself and the munchkins inside.  I just have so much to do that I often forget about going outside or push it off. I will say that spending time together as a family is always a great thing and will always be my best memories.

Making Memories with Rollors #Review #Family donnahup

Who wouldn’t want to make memories with these faces?! We were able to try out Rollors. It’s like bowling + bocce ball + horseshoes all in one and a lot of fun.

Making Memories with Rollors #Review #Family donnahup

ROLLORS® can be played wherever a flat ground surface can be found. ROLLORS® is a game of skill that requires a modest level of physical activity. The components of the lawn game, rolling disks, (e.g. ROLLORS®) are basic in design and construction keeping the cost down. The difficulty of play of the lawn game using ROLLORS® can be quickly varied depending on the age and skill level of the players, the degree of challenge desired or other factors as decided by the players. When broken down, ROLLORS® is compact in dimension so that it can be toted and stored with ease.

Making Memories with Rollors #Review #Family donnahup

I know summer is over for a lot of us, but I highly encourage you to spend some time with your kids outside. Rollors is a great game to start with!

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Signature Donna

donnahup.com receives free products for review purposes, and may sometimes be compensated for posts. All opinions expressed are solely from donnahup.com. See donnahup.com’s Disclosure Policy for complete details. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. 

Sunset The Great Outdoors Cookbook: Adventures in Cooking Under the Open Sky

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*I received a copy of  Sunset Magazine’s BBQ Cookbook – The Great Outdoors Cookbook to facilitate my review. All thoughts are 100% honest and my own. 

Sunset The Great Outdoors Cookbook: Adventures in Cooking Under the Open Sky – Grilled Chicken with Whisky BBQ, Chili Lime Corn on the Cob and Spicy Slaw Recipe

Sunset The Great Outdoors Cookbook: Adventures in Cooking Under the Open Sky - Grilled Chicken with Whisky BBQ, Chili Lime Corn on the Cob and Spicy Slaw #Recipe donnahup

There is something about food – not only is it delicious and comforting, but it seems to bring families and friends together.  I love finding new and delicious recipes.  I’m beyond excited to be attending the Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast Food & Wine Festival in CA next month!  They even have a cookbook out.  Sunset The Great Outdoors Cookbook: Adventures in Cooking Under the Open Sky is a fantastic edition to any chef’s library.

Sunset The Great Outdoors Cookbook: Adventures in Cooking Under the Open Sky - Grilled Chicken with Whisky BBQ, Chili Lime Corn on the Cob and Spicy Slaw #Recipe donnahup

The book itself is beautiful to look at and the pictures are just as fabulous.  It may seem silly but I love good pictures in a cookbook. I am much more likely to cook with a book that has delicious pictures.  In fact I made the most fantastic dinner today and the best corn on the cob I’ve ever had!

The Chili Lime Corn on the Cob can be found on page 75 and the Grilled Chicken with Whiskey BBQ and slaw can be found on page 50.  This would be an amazing meal for the grill, but it was raining all day so I had to improvise.

Sunset The Great Outdoors Cookbook: Adventures in Cooking Under the Open Sky - Grilled Chicken with Whisky BBQ, Chili Lime Corn on the Cob and Spicy Slaw #Recipe donnahup

I started with the Whiskey BBQ sauce. I mixed together ketchup, tobasco, molasses, Dijon mustard, whiskey, worcestershire  sauce, cider vinegar, and garlic.  I heated it up and let it simmer for 45 minutes.

Sunset The Great Outdoors Cookbook: Adventures in Cooking Under the Open Sky - Grilled Chicken with Whisky BBQ, Chili Lime Corn on the Cob and Spicy Slaw #Recipe donnahup

It thickened up and smelled so good. When that was done I applied it to my chicken. I used chicken breast cutlets and just baked them.

Sunset The Great Outdoors Cookbook: Adventures in Cooking Under the Open Sky - Grilled Chicken with Whisky BBQ, Chili Lime Corn on the Cob and Spicy Slaw #Recipe donnahup

For the corn on the cob I started by preheating the oven to 35o degrees.  I made a butter and lime mixture with butter, lime zest, chili powder, salt, pepper, and granulated garlic.

Sunset The Great Outdoors Cookbook: Adventures in Cooking Under the Open Sky - Grilled Chicken with Whisky BBQ, Chili Lime Corn on the Cob and Spicy Slaw #Recipe donnahup

Then I coated the corn cobs with the butter mixture and cooked it for 30 minutes.  I turned it a few times while baking.

Sunset The Great Outdoors Cookbook: Adventures in Cooking Under the Open Sky - Grilled Chicken with Whisky BBQ, Chili Lime Corn on the Cob and Spicy Slaw #Recipe donnahup

While everything was baking I worked on the slaw. I’ll admit, I’ve never been much of a fan of coleslaw and this is nothing like coleslaw! It has cabbage, red peppers, red onions, and cilantro. I tossed it with a homemade dressing.

Sunset The Great Outdoors Cookbook: Adventures in Cooking Under the Open Sky - Grilled Chicken with Whisky BBQ, Chili Lime Corn on the Cob and Spicy Slaw #Recipe donnahup

Serve it up and enjoy!! Yum!

There are so many other great recipes and they even give instructions for cooking on camping trips. This is the perfect cookbook for all outdoor (and indoor) occasions.

Two of the co-authors of the Great Outdoors Cookbook, Sunset food editors Margo True and Elaine Johnson, will be demoing recipes from the book at Sunset SAVOR the Central Coast! Here is the info:
Saturday, Sept. 27 & Sunday Sept. 28 @ 11:30 am

 

5.0 from 4 reviews
Grilled Chicken with Whiskey BBQ Sauce
 
Ingredients
  • Chicken
  • 1 and ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 tsp tabasco
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 2 tbsp dijon
  • 2 tbsp whiskey
  • 2 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
Instructions
  1. Make sauce: Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cover and simmer 45 minutes to blend flavors, stirring occasionally with a long spoon (sauce splatters). Add a little water if sauce gets too thick to pour.
  2. Coat chicken and cook.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Slaw
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb cabbage, cut into shreds
  • ¼ red onion, cut into long slivers
  • ½ red bell pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • ½ tsp red chile flakes
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
Instructions
  1. Make Slaw: Toss vegetables in a large bowl to blend. Put remaining ingredients in a small container then pour over vegetables and toss.

5.0 from 4 reviews
Chili Lime Corn on the Cob
 
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • ¼ tsp granulated garlic
  • 6 ears corn in husks
Instructions
  1. Combine butter, lime zest, chili powder, ½ tsp salt, the pepper, and garlic. You can chill until ready to use then bring to room temperature.
  2. Pull back husk from each ear of corn without detaching from the bottom of the cob. Remove as much silk as possible. Spread evenly with butter mixture. Fold husks back over ears and tie in place with kitchen string or strips torn from outer husks.
  3. Grill (I cooked for 30 min at 350 degrees).

donnahup.com receives free products for review purposes, and may sometimes be compensated for posts. All opinions expressed are solely from donnahup.com. See donnahup.com’s Disclosure Policy for complete details. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Have a Blast with Beach Bocce Ball

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*I received a Beach Bocce Ball Set to facilitate my review. All thoughts are 100% honest and my own.   

Beach Bocce Ball #review donnahup

I grew up in south Florida and spent a lot of time at the beach. We were always playing in the ocean jumping waves are soaking up the sun.  I specifically remember a group trip to the beach where my friend, Paula, said she brought Bocce Ball. I told her I was not interested because it was an “old person’s game.”  I was about 16 and had confused Bocce Ball with shuffleboard.  Don’t ask how, just remember I was 16.  I thought I knew more than I did and didn’t have a clue. After playing for the first time I was hooked.

fountain lake beach Beach Bocce Ball #review donnahup

 

Now I live on the Iowa/Minnesota border. Our beach is a small patch of sand on the lake. Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely beautiful but it’s not the same as the ocean. Also, during the winter it turns into snow and ice and we have ice fishing tents on the lake.  I completely forgot about Bocce Ball until I found SeaTurtle Sports.

Our top-quality set of Beach Bocce balls is designed for fun and durability on sand and grass alike. These bright, beach colored balls are made from durable rust-, crack- and shatter-resistant synthetic polymers, injection-molded for a lifetime of bragging rights.  They deliver the best of bocce in the portable Petanque size (the French version of bocce, for you sport historians), 74 mm., or 3 in., in diameter so kids and adults of any shape, size or skill can play.  Hit the beach or park with a set of Beach Bocce balls and you’ll never have to worry about getting bored.

You don’t need to have a beach to play Bocce Ball (despite the name). It works great in the grass by the cornfield.  We have had so much fun playing it over the summer.  I love that the kit comes in a zipper carrying case so that you can easily bring it with you.  We keep ours in our trunk so we can play at the park or whenever we have some free time.

Features include:

    • Eight (8) balls in bright beach colors, made of tough synthetic polymers and injection-molded. Durable and shock resistant—won’t crack, chip or rust. Balls are Petanque size (the French version of Bocce), which is 74 mm., or 3 in., in diameter.
    • One (1) Jack (target ball) made from the same impact-resistant material.
    • One (1) string for measuring those ball placements too close to measure with the naked eye.
    • One (1) durable canvas carrying case designed with the great outdoors in mind. (We want your Beach Bocce set to last a lifetime.)

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Signature Donna Hup Beach Bocce Ball #review donnahup

donnahup.com receives free products for review purposes, and may sometimes be compensated for posts. All opinions expressed are solely from donnahup.com. See donnahup.com’s Disclosure Policy for complete details. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Everglades Holiday Park – Home of the Gator Boys!

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*I received complimentary passes to  Everglades Holiday Park (Home of the Gator Boys!) to facilitate my review. All thoughts are 100% honest and my own.  

Everglades Holiday Park - Home of the Gator Boys #Review #Travel donnahup

With exciting airboat rides, educational airboat tours and adrenalin-charged alligator shows, we’re Everglades Holiday Park- home of the Gator Boys!

Everglades Holiday Park - Home of the Gator Boys #Review #Travel donnahup

We had such an amazing time at Holiday Springs Park, home of the Gator Boys! First we got to take an airboat tour/ride. I must admit I wasn’t as excited as my husband and children were for this, because I am afraid of gators and the swamp is, well…the swamp!

Everglades Holiday Park - Home of the Gator Boys #Review #Travel donnahup

Well I would like to be the first to say that the Everglades isn’t at all what I had dreamed it up to be, in fact it was just the opposite, it was beautiful! I am so glad I had the opportunity to see such beauty in our own backyard!

Everglades Holiday Park - Home of the Gator Boys #Review #Travel donnahup

If you ask the kids, they LOVED the airboat ride, especially when we went super-fast and even sideways! We saw many alligators, vultures, native birds and beautiful plant life. We saw a nest with baby birds and were even able to feed the bird out of our hands!

Everglades Holiday Park - Home of the Gator Boys #Review #Travel donnahup

We also learned a bunch about the wildlife and their habitat, the airboat guide was full of knowledge and showed us a fabulous time! It lasted about an hour…so worth it!

Everglades Holiday Park - Home of the Gator Boys #Review #Travel donnahup

After our airboat tour we got to see the Gator Boys gator show. We love the Gator Boys and watch the show so we were pumped to see them in person. And while Jimmy and Paul were not there, Chris put on a killer show!

Everglades Holiday Park - Home of the Gator Boys #Review #Travel donnahup  Everglades Holiday Park - Home of the Gator Boys #Review #Travel donnahup

He picked up the gators like babies and held a gator’s mouth open with his chin. We would gladly come to see them again and highly encourage you to get your family out there to check them out too!  You won’t be disappointed. I know we weren’t.

Here are the kids thoughts on our visit:

Jayden Everglades Holiday Park - Home of the Gator Boys #Review #Travel donnahup

Jayden (age 11)

I really like how they made it fun when they were alligator wrestling. It was a really good experience and good family time.

Logan Everglades Holiday Park - Home of the Gator Boys #Review #Travel donnahup

Logan (age 7)

I saw alligators!  The airboat went sooooo fast. My favorite part was seeing alligators. I think parents should bring their kids because you can see and learn about alligators in their environment.

Lily Everglades Holiday Park - Home of the Gator Boys #Review #Travel donnahup

Lily (age 5)

We went fast. I liked the speed.  I saw at least 10 alligators. The airboat was my favorite. My second favorite was feeding the bird. You should bring your kids because it’s fun!

These guys know and love what they do and it shows – they aren’t even paid to do what they do at the park, they volunteer their time to helping and rehabilitating the gators. Right now you can grab this coupon and save $4 off an adult airboat ride!

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donnahup.com receives free products for review purposes, and may sometimes be compensated for posts. All opinions expressed are solely from donnahup.com. See donnahup.com’s Disclosure Policy for complete details. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Discover the Mystery of Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA

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*I received a complimentary pass to tour the Winchester Mystery House to facilitate my review. All thoughts are 100% honest and my own. 

Discover the Mystery of Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA

Discover the Mystery of Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA #travel #review donnahup

Image Copyright: Winchester Mystery House®

Winchester Mystery House™ is an extravagant maze of Victorian craftsmanship – marvelous, baffling, and eerily eccentric, to say the least. Tour guides must warn people not to stray from the group or they could be lost for hours! Countless questions come to mind as you wander through the mansion – such as, what was Mrs. Winchester thinking when she had a staircase built that descends seven steps and then rises eleven? 

Just a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to San Jose, CA.  I met two of my wonderful blogging buddies, Tina from BabyCostcutters and Michelle from Powered by Mom.  We were sharing a hotel together and going to attend a blogging conference but wanted to check out the sites in San Jose before so we arrived a day early.  We had the opportunity to check out the Winchester Mystery House.

Discover the Mystery of Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA #travel #review donnahup

I’ll be honest, I had no clue what this house was or who Sarah Winchester (the owner) was before we arrived.  I had mentioned we were going to a few friends and on Facebook and there was quite a bit of positive response along with many of my friends letting me know they wanted to go too.  Needless to say, my interest had been piqued.

Discover the Mystery of Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA #travel #review donnahup

Image Copyright: Winchester Mystery House®

The first thing that fascinated me was the story behind the house.  Sarah Winchester married into the Winchester family, the Winchester Rifle family.  While that may have been common knowledge I had no clue.  She lost her infant daughter due to illness and 15 years later her husband passed away.  It was said she was highly distressed (I can not imagine the grief!) so she sought out help from a medium.

This “spiritual medium” told her that the spirits of American Indians, Civil War soldiers, and others killed by Winchester rifles were haunting her and had caused the death of both her daughter and husband.  She also warned Mrs Winchester that she would be the next victim unless she appeased these spirits by building them a great house.  As long as construction of the house never ceased, Mrs. Winchester could rest assured that her life was not in danger. Building such a house was even supposed to bring her eternal life. On a more practical note, maybe a change of scenery and a never-ending hobby were just what Mrs. Winchester needed to distract her from her grief.

WMH AERIAL Discover the Mystery of Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA #travel #review donnahup

Image Copyright: Winchester Mystery House®

The house itself is massive and absolutely beautiful! It’s what’s inside the house that gives it the name “mystery house”.

grand ballroom Discover the Mystery of Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA #travel #review donnahup

Image Copyright: Winchester Mystery House®

Looking at the outside and even the grand ballroom above you might think it’s just a gorgeous Victorian mansion.  That, my friend, would be an inaccurate assumption.  Let me list for you a few of the houses features:
• Door onto the wall in Carriage Entrance Hall (yes, behind the door is a wall)
• Staircase to the ceiling before the 25K Storeroom
• Room with no floor or ceiling between Mrs. Winchester’s bedroom & Séance Room
• Window in floor in South Conservatory
• Window onto elevator shaft next to the Most Expensive Window
• Door to wall before Crystal Bedroom
• Door to wall in Daisy Bedroom
• Chimney which stops a foot from the ceiling on the fourth floor
• Stairs to nowhere in Hall of Fires
• Stairs to nowhere on third floor
• Door to eight foot drop in Séance Room
• Door to fifteen foot drop at the front of the house
• Door to drop on third floor
• Room with no door behind North Conservatory
• Cupboard with one-half inch of storage space
• Cupboard to nothing on first floor
Door to Nowhere Discover the Mystery of Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA #travel #review donnahup

Image Copyright: Winchester Mystery House®

The list is truly as bizarre as it sounds.  The picture above is of the “Door to Nowhere” on the second floor.  She also had an obsession with the #13.
• 13 blue and amber stones in the spider web window designed by Mrs. Winchester
• 13 bathrooms
• 13 windows in the 13th bathroom
• 13 easy risers into the 13th bathroom
• 13 hooks in the Séance Room
• 13 overflow drain holes in the Italian sink in the Hall of Fires
• 13 balusters in the railing by the window in the floor in the South Conservatory
• 2 sets of 13 easy risers going up to the 4th floor
• 13 ceiling panels in the Guest Reception Hall
• 13 ceiling panels in the Entrance Hallway
• 13 sub-panels in the Grand Ballroom ceiling panels
• 13 glass cupolas in the Greenhouse
• 13 holes in the post-1906 kitchen sink drain hole cover
• 13 gas jets on the Ballroom chandelier
• 13 panes of glass in the windows at the end of the Carriage Entrance Hall
• 13 parts to Sarah Winchester’s will (with her signature appearing 13 times)
• 13 stones in the Oriental Bedroom windows
• 13 bricks (going down) on the fireplace in the Unfinished Twin Dining Room
• 13 sections of wood in the repeating chevron pattern around Ballroom floor
Discover the Mystery of Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA #travel #review donnahup

Image Copyright: Winchester Mystery House®

Construction began on the house in 1884 and went on 24 hours a day for 38 years until 1922.  In 1922, Mrs Winchester passed away and only then did construction cease.
Discover the Mystery of Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA #travel #review donnahup

Image Copyright: Winchester Mystery House®

There are different theories as to why she created such a house. My personal opinion is she was so sad and distressed. If she truly believed spirits took the lives of her child and spouse and were now coming for her she was probably terrified.  One theory said she built doors into walls and windows in the floor to confuse and trap the spirits that were haunting her. In her fragile condition I find that very believable.
Discover the Mystery of Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA #travel #review donnahup

Michelle, Tina, and I in front of the Winchester Mystery House

There are so many more stories that they share with you on the tour and really you MUST see the house in person.  The tour was excellent and our guide was very knowledgeable. If you are in the San Jose, CA area, I would highly suggest spending at least a few hours at the house.  In fact until 9/30/14 you can save $3 off each Mansion or Grand Estate tour purchased on line! Just use the code “DONNAHUP” upon check out! Purchase must be made at least 24 hours prior to arrival. You can purchase tickets online here.

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Signature Donna Hup Discover the Mystery of Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA #travel #review donnahup

donnahup.com receives free products for review purposes, and may sometimes be compensated for posts. All opinions expressed are solely from donnahup.com. See donnahup.com’s Disclosure Policy for complete details. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. 

Simply 7 Snacks are Simply Delicious

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*I received Simply 7 Snacks to facilitate my review. All thoughts are 100% honest and my own.

Simply 7 Snacks Review

simply7 Simply 7 Snacks #review donnahup

At Simply 7 Snacks, they’re passionate about making great-tasting, wholesome snacks for every lifestyle! They take all natural ingredients and bake their nutrients into a bite-sized snack unlike anything you have experienced before. Add something simply delicious to your shopping list today!

Simply 7 Snacks #Review donnahupI love their 7 standards:

  • 0 Grams Trans Fat
  • No Artificial Colors or Flavors
  • No Preservatives or MSG
  • Gluten Free Ingredients
  • All Natural (no GMO’s)
  • Simple Ingredients
  • Simply Delicious

It’s so hard to find snacks that the munchkins will enjoy that is still good for them. I am really impressed with Simply 7. They have 3 different types of chips (Lentil, Hummus, and Pomegranate) with several flavors.  The munchkins loved all of them and so did I. I was really impressed with the Pomegranate Chips. They have a hint of salt like a chip but the after taste is fruity. It sounds weird, but they’re delicious!

p-bruschetta Simply 7 Snacks #Review donnahup

 

My absolute favorite flavor was the Cheddar Lentil Chips. They are all so yummy that you don’t need anything to dip them in.  I love that the munchkins enjoy them and they’re a healthy alternative to other snacks.

Simply 7 Logan Simply 7 Snacks #review personalized bag donnahup

 

They have another cool option where you can personalize a chip bag (for display, there are no edible chips in the bag).  We made these for Logan (age 7).  We called them SuperCharged and we even put a picture of him on his skateboard.  It a huge hit!

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donnahup.com receives free products for review purposes, and may sometimes be compensated for posts. All opinions expressed are solely from donnahup.com. See donnahup.com’s Disclosure Policy for complete details. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Hugs, Smiles, and Giggles with FuzzyHeads

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Meet the FuzzyHeads

fuzzy heads pro FuzzyHeads #Review donnahup

 

FuzzyHead Characters can be used as nap buddies and travel pillows. Each of the different FuzzyHead Characters have  their own light hearted bio which kids love.  Logan and Lily were so excited to get a FuzzyHead.

fuzzy buddies 2 FuzzyHeads #Review donnahup Logan

 

Logan’s FuzzyHead is Red Randy.
Red Randy from Mesquite comes from a long line of rodeo legends. When he was a little FuzzyHead, Red Randy would sit on a bale of hay and pretend he was riding a bull. One year, his grandpa took him to the Texas State Fair where he got to ride a mechanical bull. His grandpa who had been a rodeo legend in his day knew that Red Randy had the potential to become one of the top young bull riders. “I really enjoy going to the stockyards in Ft. Worth.” My Dream: Become a veterinarian.
fuzzy buddies 4 FuzzyHeads #Review donnahup Logan
Here is what Logan (age 7) thought of Red Randy:
My favorite thing is that he goes to the rodeo.  I really like his story and I like using him in the car. I also like that he is really soft.  Moms should buy these for their kids since they’re really soft and kids will like them.
fuzzy buddies FuzzyHeads #Review donnahup Lily
Lily got Pink Penny.
As a young FuzzyHead, Pink Penny from Pensacola had an eye for fashion. She got to travel with her family a lot and was able to attend various fashion shows. “My mom taught me how to sew and I learned how to make clothes for my dolls. I enjoy spending time with my mom sewing and talking about fashion.” My Dream: Become a fashion designer and create a line of clothes for girls.
fuzzy buddies 3 FuzzyHeads #Review donnahup Lily
Here is what Lily (age 5) thought of Pink Penny.
I like how when I play with her hair she looks funny.  She is so soft and comfortable to sleep on.  I think Moms should buy these for their kids because they are soft.
They both love their FuzzyHeads and Lily’s gets daily use. She loves napping in the car :)
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Signature Donna FuzzyHeads #Review donnahup donna hup

Help Your Toddlers Achieve Sound Sleep With Foam Cots

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Help Your Toddlers Achieve Sound Sleep With Foam Cots

A nursery is incomplete without a comfy, sturdy cot or bed to help the toddler drift off to sleep. The child’s bed is the gateway to dreamland, and mental health experts acknowledge that slumber is particularly important for emotional and physical health. Developing a good sleep routine can also free up considerable time for parents, who – let’s face it – have enough on their plate as it is.
 
New mattresses are best
 
The NCT, UK’s largest charity targeting parents, recommends that every child have their own mattress, and that it be new. Foam cots are very popular among parents because of the comfort and safety that they deliver. While foam mattresses are not absolutely essential to promoting good sleeping patterns and habits, the NCT recommends firm bedding, with mattresses at least 10cm thick.
 
Foam is anything but fluff
 
Gone are the days when children were made to sleep on spring mattresses whose coils delved into their soft skin and bones and gave them backache and muscle pain throughout the day. Whoever invented foam mattresses did parents around the world an enormous favour. Not only are they easier to move, replace, clean, dispose of and even cut to size, but they also come in any degree of thickness and firmness.
 
Mattress versus recliner
 
Before buying a cradle, wedge, recliner or bed for your bundle of joy, think about the space it will take up, its utility, the toddler’s particular needs and bed-time routine. Foam sleep positioners with side bumpers are ideal for infants with reflux, especially if they are slightly elevated. As babies grow, foam recliners and wedges can keep infants and toddlers snug and safe while you go on with your daily business. Further on, a firm foam mattress to match the cot is perfect for your toddler’s naps and snoozes.
 
Believers and non-believers
 
As with most child products, the foam mattress has had its share of ups and downs. A theory linking SIDS to a fungus which dwells in PVC mattresses was released in 1994, but was quickly contradicted by the Turner Report, which was based on a series of experiments conducted in the UK, according to SIDS Network. The theory resurfaced in 2002 and was covered by mass-media, but quickly dwindled again. Likewise, foam sleep positioners and foam recliners were at one point recalled from large nursery retail stores due to a few reported incidents of infant asphyxiation caused by rolling on the abdomen or becoming stuck in between sleepers and bed rails – which were accidents that could have been avoided.
 
Safety first
 
All bedding products must comply with certain safety standards which can be found on many established health websites. Whether or not they comply with safety standards, it is best to keep in mind the fact that children, toddlers and infants should always be supervised by adults. Appropriate measures must be taken by the parents to ensure that the children’s position and bedding are safe. As such, you can rely on foam bedding to help your child doze off, but you should always be vigilant and take care that you take appropriate safety measures before tucking the child into bed.
 
A good night’s sleep is a prerequisite for a bright, eventful day. Children, above all, need to recharge their batteries by night to be able to delight and amuse us by day, and we should never underestimate the effect sleep has on their spirits and performance. So roll out the foam mattress, sit back and enjoy their prancing and skipping, because you can rest assured that you’ve done everything in your power to start their day right.

Let your stroller work for you, not against you-with GB Ellum

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*I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Mom Central for GB. I received a gift card to purchase a GB stroller to both facilitate my review as well as thank me for my participation.

GB Ellum Stroller #Review donnahup

I have 4 kids…sometimes it’s kind of like herding cats, so I need good products that can actually make my life easier. With so many kids and working in a baby retail store, I have not only tried out lots of strollers but I have owned 5-10 at and have done research and asked all my friends to find out what stroller will work best for me.

With 4 kids, I must have a double stroller when going on some outings but I also like to have a single stroller as well. I need a lightweight stroller that can fit in the back of my car, but have some room below so I can carry things, and be durable enough to handle our busy life. Like in the picture above, we went fishing the other and and my second son got a little tired so I pulled up the stroller, and let him sit in the shade while waiting for that prize fish!

GB Ellum Stroller #Review donnahup

Walking through the aisles of Babies R US can be daunting, especially the stroller aisle just because their are so many choices so it’s good to do your research ahead of time to know what you want in a stroller. I spotted the GB  line of strollers quickly and liked having both options of the ZuZu and Ellum in stock. The GB products are sold exclusively at Babies “R” Us stores and BabiesRUs.com so make sure you check out your local store to see what they have in stock.
GB Ellum Stroller #Review donnahup

This stroller has been a great addition to our family, helping me wrangle all 4 kids and keeping my yongest sunshine happy. The cargo space below is bigger than I expected and it has an opening in the front AND back so when we went to the beach the other day I was able to store my long umbrella under the seat, where most strollers would have been able to fit it.

On the top and backside of the stroller there are vents so you can see your baby and they can get fresh air if needed. The Ellum accepts the following select Graco® and Chicco® infant car seats: Graco® Snugride® Click Connect™ 30, Graco® Snugride® Click Connect™ 35, Graco® Snugride® Click Connect™ 40 Chicco® Keyfit®, Chicco® Keyfit® 30.

I also thought the process to open and close the stroller was super easy! There is a button in the back you flip up and a handle right on the seat where the baby sits to fold it up. The GB Ellum has the Kick n’ Lift fold system that makes the folding of this stroller so easy.

GB Ellum Stroller #Review donnahup

Now I normally wouldn’t post a picture of my dirty car, but this time it was filled to the brim for a good reason. We were headed to my mom’s house for the week and I had lots of items we needed to donate to the food pantry. My car was full but I had to pack my stroller. This was the first time I needed to fold it down so I was wondering how it would pack….it packs so nicely and is so light. It was able to fit right behind my seat. It was light enough where I could put it on some items and not worry about breaking anything.

GB Ellum Stroller #Review donnahup

I decided to put this stroller to the test and take it on a little hike. From my experience, strollers with plastic wheels are sometimes not as good on gravel or unpaved roads as bigger strollers with rubber wheels. My parent’s have a beautiful view of Pike’s Peak on their property and it’s a short hike to get to it, so I took the stroller.

GB Ellum Stroller #Review donnahup

We made it up effortlessly! One tip with moving through rough terrain is to turn the stroller and pull it. When I was going down the mountain, that really helped when going over a few bumps and grass.

GB Ellum Stroller #Review donnahup

One feature that I am in love with is the adjustable foot rest. I was looking at my friends stroller that had this nice little foot rest so her little one’s feet weren’t dangling everywhere and I looked down and noticed the GB Ellum had one too!! I popped it right up and it worked great for my little one!

GB Ellum Stroller #Review donnahup

Whether I am taking the kids to soccer practice, hiking up a mountain or laying out at the beach, the GB Ellum helps me get to where we need to go and that gives this tired momma peace of mind.

 

GB Ellum Stroller #Review donnahup callie sweetpotatopie

Let the Gama Sonic Weston Series Lamp Light your Path

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*I received a Gama Sonic Western Series Lamp to facilitate my review. All thoughts are 100% honest and my own. 

gama sonic logo Gama Sonic Weston Series Lamp #review donnahup

GAMA SONIC is the world leader in solar lighting products for homes and businesses with over thousands of products installed worldwide.

Western Lamp Gama Sonic Weston Series Lamp #review donnahup

I love the small town I live in. We’re a farming community and it’s very quiet around here. Sometimes it’s almost too quiet like when I come home real late.  There are no street lights and it’s hard to find the lock when it’s dark outside.  I had been wanting to install a light and really didn’t know where to start.

We chose the Weston Series from the Gama Sonic website and I love it!

The Weston series post light fitter is the perfect way to accent your garden, while bringing in illumination at night.  

Features:

  • Elegant and Energy Efficient way to light your way
  • Motion Sensor for added security
  • 6 Super-Bright LED Bulbs are Powered by the Built-In, Solar-Powered Batteries
  • Automatically turns on and off, however, there is also a manual on/off switch for your convenience
  • Solar lamp lights have a durable, rust-resistant frame can be bolted down (bolts included)

western lamp 3 Gama Sonic Weston Series Lamp #review donnahup Myles Hup

My sweet hubby installed it for me, but don’t let the tool box fool you. I think he just likes being able to take it out.  It was very easy to install and took him less than 10 minutes.

western lamp 2 Gama Sonic Weston Series Lamp #review donnahup

I just love the way that it looks with the house.  It is solar charged and comes on automatically when the sun goes down.  It’s great that I don’t need to remember to turn it on (or off).

western lamp 6 Gama Sonic Weston Series Lamp #review donnahup

It gives off quite a bit of light which is really great for when I get home after sunset. It makes it much easier to find my keys and get the door unlocked.

western lamp 4 Gama Sonic Weston Series Lamp #review donnahup

Gama Sonic has several lamps and light posts to choose from.  I highly suggest checking them out!

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Signature Donna

 

donnahup.com receives free products for review purposes, and may sometimes be compensated for posts. All opinions expressed are solely from donnahup.com. See donnahup.com’s Disclosure Policy for complete details. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. 

The Benefits of Aqua Aerobics

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water aerobics equipment The Benefits of Aqua Aerobics

The Benefits of Aqua Aerobics 

How does aqua aerobics lead to a healthier lifestyle? In more ways than you can imagine. From swimming to aqua jogging to water-based calisthenics, aerobic exercise in the water is an enjoyable, low-impact, yet effective form of exercise for the body and mind, and for young and old alike.

When some people think of aqua aerobics, a large pool filled with senior citizens in bathing caps comes to mind, and in one regard, this is accurate. But aqua aerobics isn’t just for the older set; elite athletes, including professional athletes, use various forms of water-based exercise to not only cross-train, but also recover or recuperate after injury or illness, thanks to water’s resistance properties and the cushion of buoyancy it provides for sore or weakened joints.

So just how does aqua aerobics lead improve health and wellness? Read on for a breakdown of all the benefits.

First: Do No Harm

Let’s face it: exercising on land has many benefits, like increased muscle tone and weight loss, but so does aqua aerobics—without the wear and tear to joints! In 2006, a study published in the Journal of Sports Medicine and Physical Fitness stated that 40 minutes of aqua aerobics per day, four days per week, resulted in the same amount of weight and body fat loss for participants as those who land-walked for the same amount of time and frequency. Water and land-based participants shed an average of 12 pounds and nearly 3.5% of their total body fat! At the end of the day, aqua aerobics is a safe, effective and best of all, low-impact way to burn fat, build muscle and do no harm to aging or recuperating joints. For people with chronic joint pain, and illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome, and arthritis, aqua aerobics is a soothing alternative to land-based activity.

The Power of Resistance

The beauty of aqua aerobics is that a simple routine of basic calisthenics and even yoga poses, when combined with water’s natural resistance, and/or some ankle and wrist weights, becomes a challenging workout for both your heart and muscles by simply adding the necessary equipment. Add an inexpensive buoyancy belt to the equation and the deep end of the pool becomes a perfect place to train for land-running competitions due to the fact that running form is easy to retain in the water.

Burn, Baby, Burn

While you may not notice a drastic increase in lean body mass, due to water protecting the body from the effects of gravity, water aerobics results in a slow and steady burning of calories. Combined with sensible eating habits (including both what and how much you consume) water aerobics combined with water weights can result in a 155-pound person burning about 150 calories in one 30-minute water aerobics session.

For the Neck Up!

By now, most people understand that aerobic exercise—on land or in water—contributes to lower levels of anxiety and stress, which leads to an improved overall mood and more sound sleep. That’s right: exercise is a stress buster that makes us feel good both during and after. Better yet, studies show that exercising outdoors has even greater mood-lifting benefits. When we are in nature and surround by the beauty of the great outdoors, our minds tend to notice our environment more than worrisome thoughts that try to creep in about what we are supposed to do at work tomorrow or should have done the day before. Factor in the rhythmic nature of swimming, or the calming (and cooling!) feeling of being submerged in water and moving one’s limbs against the gentle resistance that water provides, and the mental health benefits really begin to add up!

Try it for yourself and see how your body and mind can benefit from aqua aerobics!

Kaitlin Gardner started AnApplePerDay.com to further her passion for a family friendly, green living lifestyle. She is married to her college sweetheart and lives in Pennsylvania. She and her husband enjoy going for long hikes, to get out and enjoy nature. She is working on her first book about ways to live an eco-friendly, healthy, natural life.

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Firmoo.com Online Optical Store

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*I received a pair of prescription glasses from Firmoo.com to facilitate my review. All thoughts are 100% honest and my own.

Firmoo.com Online Optical Store Review

Firmoo.com Online Optical Store #review donnahup

Firmoo.com is the world’s most popular online eyeglasses store. Years of expertise in optical industry enable Firmoo.com to offer varieties of prescription eyewear to the consuming public in high quality yet at extremely affordable prices.

I have to wear glasses or I can’t see. At all.  Glasses can really be expensive so I was excited to find Firmoo.com Online Optical Store.  They had fantastic prices on the frames!  You could even find frames under $20!

I chose these fun frames.

Firmoo.com Online Optical Store #review donnahup

I love the bright colors and they fit perfectly.  You can even upload a headshot of yourself to try on the glasses.

Firmoo.com Online Optical Store #review donnahup

The frames are high quality and they even came in a hard case (bonus!)  The only downside is it took a few weeks to get them in.  For the price and quality it was well worth the wait.

Firmoo.com Online Optical Store #review donnahup

Here’s my selfie wearing my fabulous frames!

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Signature Donna Firmoo.com Online Optical Store #review donnahup

 

donnahup.com receives free products for review purposes, and may sometimes be compensated for posts. All opinions expressed are solely from donnahup.com. See donnahup.com’s Disclosure Policy for complete details. My opinions are my own and were not influenced by any form of compensation. This disclosure is done in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission 10 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.