Starbucks Spring Blend Review @Starbucks @ModernMom #starbucks

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I recently received the above gift package from Starbucks to review. As I sat down to write this blog post, I started thinking about spring, and what it means to me. To me, it means fresh new beginnings. The feeling of sunshine, the smell of flowers, and the anticipation of fun summer plans. The past few mornings have been wonderful here in Michigan. After a long cold, snowy winter – it feels great to sit near a window and feel the sun come through while I catch up on some work.

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Of course the goodies from Starbucks definitely add some deliciousness to this experience!

Starbucks Spring Blend 2014 is one of our favorites around here. The aroma is heaven as it brews. Not as bitter or dark as other blended options, the juicy notes and medium body are a great pick me up as the day begins. A fresh beginning, just like spring.

I’ve had one family member say she enjoys this blend so much, she wishes it was available year round. But, it’s not, so just like the fun summer plans that we make each year, it gives us something to look forward to.

FTC Disclosure: Free products were received for the purpose of this blog post. All opinions and photos used are honest and my own. I was not asked or influenced to write favorable review. This blog post contains no affiliate links.

Now onto figuring out this game

Since receiving a gift of an antique Maj Jongg game from a friend (See prior blog post “A Most Unexpected Gem” ) I’ve decided that it might be a good idea to actually learn how to play Maj Jongg. The only version that I’ve ever played is the one online where you are timed to uncover matching tiles. I would soon learn that this is nothing like any real Mah Jongg game.

I decided to go to our local senior center where they have a weekly group of ladies that play Maj Jongg. The write-up indicated that they welcome anyone from beginners to experts, but that they appreciated it if you would commit to at least three weeks to learn.

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I was soon to find out that the version these ladies play is the modern American one which was created in 1937. The object of the game is to discard all of your tiles based on various combinations from a printed card showing all possible legitimate variations. This card is called the “Official Standard Hands & Rules” and is available to dues paying members of the National Mah Jongg League, Inc. (see www.nationalmahjonggleague.org for further details). This card is updated on a yearly basis.

I sat out the first game while observing how the game progressed. It’s been said that if you are familiar with gin rummy, that you have a basic understanding of the game of Mah Jongg. I guess on a very basic level that is true, but I found it very daunting. They encouraged me to play the second game, but I declined, wanting to continue to just sit back and watch. They actually made me join the third game, though, telling me the more that I sat out the harder it would be to learn. I am not sure about that, lol!

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There are more than 40 known variants of American and a dozen Chinese varieties of Mah Jongg. The modern American version that we were playing happens to be the hardest to learn of them all, lucky me. Only the American versions use a card to determine allowable hands, all the others are freehand.

The ladies kept remarking how they felt that I was getting the hang of the game by the questions I was asking. I really was, but when I started to actually play I was very bothered by the lady who had given up her place for me to play. Instead of sitting back and letting me learn by playing and arranging the tiles on my own, she stood over my shoulder and kept pointing out what I should or shouldn’t be doing. This only made me more flustered and really didn’t allow me to sink or swim on my own.

I’ve decided that I will attend at least the next two sessions with those ladies, but I will try to be tactful and ask that I be able to play my own hand, but have them available if I have any questions. In the meantime I went to the library and picked up the book, “A Beginner’s Guide to American Mah Jongg How to Play the Game & Win” by Elaine Sandberg.

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It’s been very helpful thus far, actually clearing up some questions that I had written down to ask the ladies at our next session. There are also several exercises that I have found to be very informative, getting me more familiar with the card with it’s variations on it. I’ll keep you posted in my next blog how I am progressing.

Planes: Fire & Rescue Free Activity Sheets

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When world-famous air racer Dusty learns that his engine is damaged and he may never race again, he must shift gears and is launched into the world of aerial firefighting. Dusty joins forces with veteran fire and rescue helicopter Blade Ranger and his team, a bunch of all-terrain vehicles known as The Smokejumpers. Together, the fearless team battles a massive wildfire, and Dusty learns what it takes to become a true hero.

In celebration of the upcoming release of PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE I have some fun free activities for you and your family to enjoy!

Download Print & Play Activities

PLANES: FIRE & RESCUE opens in theaters on July 18, 2014!

Like PLANES on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyPlanes

Follow PLANES on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DisneyPictures

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 Family Discussion Guide & Prize Pack Giveaway #Spiderman

We’ve always known that Spider-Man’s most important battle has been within himself: the struggle between the ordinary obligations of Peter Parker and the extraordinary responsibilities of Spider-Man. But in The Amazing Spider-Man 2™, Peter Parker finds that a greater conflict lies ahead.

I have been a Spider-man fan for as long as I can remember. I even dressed as Spider-man for Halloween, two years in a row. Wearing that costume, while running through our backyard and jumping out of our tree is still one of my favorite childhood memories.

Knowing that even the best of movies can bring up important issues, I have the below family discussion guide to share with my readers. Just click on the image to down the .pdf file.

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Family Discussion Guide
The discussion guide for The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a great resource for families to discuss a range of important themes that include the relationship between personal choices and destiny, living a life that counts, sacrificing yourself in service to others, and the nature of power. This guide will help parents start (or continue) conversations with their children that will inspire them to think outside themselves and challenge them to live lives that matter. The conversations that will result from using this guide will reveal that even the most explosive summer blockbuster can leave lasting, positive impacts on its young viewers.

We downloaded the guide and had a great in-depth discussion with our girls. One I’m glad we had. It’s nice to know that your family is all on the same page when it comes to important issues.

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Enter to win a The Amazing Spider-man 2 Prize Pack!
Prize pack includes: t-shirt, paper mask and phone case.

Enter to win by using the widget below. If you have any issue with the widget or would prefer to enter by email, please contact me at shakingit@gmail.com. One winner will be chosen at random and contacted by email on May 2, 2014. Must have a valid email address to enter. Must be 18+ and live within the U.S or Canada to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): Many thanks to Propeller, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

New Blu-ray & DVD Movie Coupons

Just in time for last minute Easter gifts.

$2.00 off Lalaloopsy Ponies: The Big Show $2.00 off Tickety Toc: Spring Chicks Time dvd

$3.00 off any Peppa Pig: My Birthday Party dvd $3.00 off One DVD Birds of Paradise

and a couple for the grown ups!

$5.00 off any Nurse Jackie DVD or Blu-Ray $3.00 off FLOWERS IN THE ATTIC dvd

Bunnyville & Door to Door Organics @ The Detroit Zoo #Bunnyville #joydelivered #Detroit

An “egg-stravaganza” of family fun is planned for the Detroit Zoo’s 23rdannual Bunnyville celebration. This year, the Zoo will have two days of bunny fun on Friday and Saturday, April 18 and 19, 2014, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bunnyville features a golden egg hunt with great prizes, the Jelly Bean Jamboree, Funny Bunny Games, springtime crafts, whisker painting and photo opportunities with the Easter Bunny (available for purchase) along with treats, live entertainment, animal enrichment activities, zookeeper talks and much more.

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Bunnyville visitors are encouraged to bring a canned or other non-perishable food item to be donated to Gleaners Community Food Bank. Each guest with a food donation will receive a reduced admission price of $8, parking not included. Admission for Detroit Zoological Society Members is free, but Members are encouraged to bring food donations.

Have you heard? The Detroit Zoo has partnered with Door to Door Organics!

Did you know you can dye eggs naturally with fruits and veggies? DIY dyes that are kid-friendly and eco-friendly. Click the below infographic for instructions courtesy of Door to Door Organics.

Go Eco When Easter Egg Dyeing Infographic

Don’t miss Bunnyville at the Detroit Zoo:
When: Friday, April 18th and Saturday, April 19th
Time: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

FTC Disclosure: This information is being shared as part of an on going relationship with the Detroit Zoo in which free event passes or products are received. All opinions expressed remain my own and honest. This post contains no affiliate links.