Phantom of the Opera - Durham, North Carolina Through December 20th

The Durham Performing Arts Center is world-class! Really, in every way, this production of Phantom of the Opera takes you to Broadway! Actually, Phantom has brought Broadway to North Carolina!

Yes! It truly does take your breath away.

Mountain Man and I loved getting to see Phantom again. We saw it at the Dinner Theatre the Valentine's we were dating. So we were thrilled to see this Broadway tour here! And it is our favorite! The story is as endearing and moving as ever and done with world class performances.

Our seats were absolutely perfect - of course, close proximity will do that! It was great to have such wonderful seating. We loved taking in the Orchestra, the Sound effects, and staging. The entire production was outstanding. The set had some of the most amazing and effective special effects ever presented in Phantom of the Opera. We were amazed!

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, has arrived at DPAC, Durham Performing Arts Center, for 32 performance running through December 20th. Directed by Harold Prince. Excellent seating is still available here. Group rates benefit.

A few stats about Phantom: "On January 9, 2006, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA became the longest-running show in Broadway history surpassing Cats’ record-holding run of 7,485 performances. The show celebrated an unprecedented milestone on January 26, 2008 when it reached its twentieth anniversary on Broadway."

What To Expect Time Wise:

Act 1: 1 hour 17 minutes
Intermission: 20 minutes
Act 2: 55 minutes
Total: 2 hours 32 minutes

Then as an added bonus an unusual twist of fate, on the way home, I got to meet one of the lead actors, Raoul, played by Sean McLaughlin of Virginia. He was so friendly and willing to have his picture made with a Phantom Fan! His voice is triumphant!

*Thank you Durham Performing Arts Center for sponsoring Carolina Mama. The review is completely my own.


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His Compassions Fail Not - Blessed Sunday!

"Because of the LORD's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail." Lamentations 3:22


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Wild Animal Sanctuary and the Turkey Movie

The Wonders of Wildlife! This Thanksgiving, I wanted to pay it forward with a little post about the amazing The Wild Animal Sanctuary in Colorado! My Tigers' Colorado Auntie adopted a Pumpkin for them a couple of years ago and it has been a beautiful thing for all of us!

The Wild Animal Sanctuary is doing wonderful things for the animals. Go to their website and check out all the ways you can adopt, donate and spread the word about this awesome non-profit! You can receive their Newsletter and see wonderful things like this cute Turkey Movie!

Here is a video The Wild Animal Sanctuary sent us for Thanksgiving so we're passing it along! Ode to the Turkey...

You can read more about the Sanctuary in Colorado by visiting

Happy Thanksgiving! The Cranberry Sauce is made, the potatoes are cooking.... more preparation in store that a drawing a Turkey and off to Art Lessons! We're Thankful!


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Oh Progresso Soup & Some Winners!

First of all, we have a Winner!! Yes, the El Tacodor Dinner Kit Winner is.... (drum roll)

El Tacodor Winner: Carolyn Cardoza! Congratulations! you're going to love this dinner and games kit!

Now check out the lovely new line of Soups by Progresso! I was thrilled to be contacted and asked to host this Giveaway only after trying out this amazing new Soup!! It's so guilt free and tasty! You'll want to win!

There are lots of Progresso Soup choices that are very flavorful and rich in fiber and vegetables! It's a win-win meal choice!

Enter to Win:

1) Tell us what your favorite Soup Meal is.

2) Twitter your answer and this link! :)

3) Add it to a blog post!

Good luck! This is so tasty. We've been buying it ever sense. And the new soup mugs and soups are bonus!


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Let The Weak Say I Am Strong...

NC Zoo

"Give Thanks with a grateful heart. Let the weak say I am strong, let the poor say I am rich. Because of what the Lord has done for me! Oh, give Thanks!"


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Giveaway: 1 Year Supply of Weight Watchers Novelty Ice Cream

Hi Everyone! You know I get excited talking about Weight Watchers!Like here and here.

Tonight is a special night. I am on the way to Weight Watchers to have a Party with my Members! I am half way to my WW goal since I began this journey! Exciting I tell you. I have loved the friendship and resource of these meetings each week! It's like another sorority - you know, DDD and WW! Works for me!

Well, add ice cream to the mix and I'm over the moon!

You read it right! You have an awesome opportunity to Win a 1 Year Supply of Weight Watchers Novelty Ice Cream shipped to your door monthly!! It's all one really needs! I mean you, an island and WW Novelty Ice Creams!

Weight Watchers Ice Cream!

If you need convincing, look what WW Novelty Ice Cream sent to my doorstep yesterday!

Check out some of my choices:

Weight Watchers Candy Bar
Weight Watchers Cookies and Cream

Needless to say, the entire family is in ice cream bliss! Really these are so satisfying and so guilt free. According to the WW Point System, these ice creams are any where from 1, 2 or 3 points each. You have your choice.

Enter to Win!:

1) Comment if you are a WW! Or a WW Want to be; And your favorite Novelty Ice Cream by WW!
2) Twitter the link to this post - spread the word;
3) Post about this contest on your blog!

Each step is an extra entry for you in comments below. The contest is open until Thanksgiving Eve at 10pm EST!

Good Luck! And Thank You Weight Watchers Novelty Ice Cream for sponsoring this awesome Giveaway and supporting my readers in their weight loss efforts!


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Affordable Family Health Care - UnitedHealth Student Resources

Let's talk about Health Care. Yes? A resounding Yes! here. With all this talk about Health Care Reform, families are scurrying to make sense of it all: What will family health care look like in America when Washington is finished.

Washington aside. I was happy to be asked to research and review UnitedHealthCare. StudentResources., a division of UnitedHealthcare Insurance Company, who has been dedicated to student insurance programs for over 40 years. Though this is a sponsored post, I am thrilled to learn about this health care plan.

UnitedHealthcare StudentResources has earned client confidence and a national reputation by offering only the finest, HIPAA-compliant student health plans.

United Health Care Student Resource says: "Our stature as a market leader lets us offer your school, association or students comprehensive coverage at an affordable cost with many of the best health care providers in the nation.

Because UHCSR focuses on students, they have a better understanding of the unique needs of this age group (children 5-18 years old).."

Some of the key benefits of UnitedHealthcare StudentResources Include:
*The health plan offers protection/coverage for injury AND sickness, 24/7/365.
*UHCSR's program is only available through many participating school districts and participating private schools. Nationally available through schools that belong to the Association of Christian Schools International.
*The Health Plan is available to K12 students from ages 5 - 18 (ages 4-18 in Texas)
*Designed to be affordable at $588 per policy year or $98 every two months. Parents can enroll their student at any point in the school year.

They even outline Plans and Pricing here. You can see Enrollment information here.

Admittedly, I think these are some great selling points that reach out to young families who are seeking to insure their children themselves or outside of their business or corporations offerings.

This is a sponsored post. Though my thoughts and research personally regarding insurance is my own recap.

So what do you think of UnitedHealthCare StudentResources. It sounds like it has so much to offer as far as I am concerned. Let me know your thoughts or other options you are aware of right now.


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Oh What Joy - Raising Boys

Disclosure: This raising boys business is not for the faint of heart.

I'm a Boy Mom! Twin Boy Mom at that and what a joy to raise boys!

"Joy is not the absence of suffering, it is the presence of God."
– Unknown

It is a joy to raise these boys to become men. Men of God, men of integrity, men with character. it's a tall order. It can be a daunting task and yet God calls. Where He calls, He also equips!

There is a joy and yet it is not free of work, of training, of persistence, of toil and even tears.... Yet, it is complete with the active, fun, laughter and presence of God! Seen behind the eyes and smile of a young boy. I think that is one of my biggest joys as a mother of twin sons, is that it draws me daily - often throughout the day - into the presence of God with complete awareness like I did not know before raising my sons. With that presence of God comes a dependence upon God like I've never known.

Daily I realize with wonderment and awe, "God chose me to do this!" Sometimes I wonder if these two, my Tigers, are more than God, Mountain Man and I can handle! And then I realize the job God has for them to do may be larger than life, than Mountain Man and me, but God knows and may He lead.

My heart was truly blessed when one of the Pastors told us with a candid affinity, "Our children do not fly under the radar, and I'm okay with that! We really wouldn't want it any other way!"

It's a beautiful, busy and bold life! I'm thankful I get to live it, every minute!

Seriously, there are days when I wonder what God was thinking when He chose a little girl who loved to play in her two story doll house, cook in her EZ bake oven, loved Pink and playing Piano, to raise twin sons in the twenty-first century!

And then I remember the girl who loved camping down by the river banks where her Daddy would carry her to the river to rinse the sand off of her feet at night, loved to climb the big Oak tree, swing on the tire swing below and bike ride endlessly.

Raisin' Boys!

Fast forward to this day, married to my own Man of Character, Mountain Man, birth Twin Sons, establish a homeschool in the mix, I get to do this - all of this - all day every day!

Apparently God didn't want me getting any more distracted with lipstick, nail polish and good shopping than I do already, so He made it real clear - these boys, raise 'em right! Each day, we wake up anew, rededicate them to Him and aim to do just that!


My Mama always said she hoped I'd get one just like me one day. I did! I got two just like me on the same day! And wouldn't have that any other way either!

Are you raisin' boys?


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All Creatures of Our God and King

All Creatures of Our God and King... ohhh, praise Him! One of my favorite photos I got this week at the North Carolina Zoo on the boys' field trip. We had flawless weather and the creations... flawless. God Bless you this fine Sunday!

How perfect set to this great tune... may we praise Him!

All Creatures of Our God and Kind by David Crowder


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Thanksgiving Easy Mashed Potatoes

Pillsbury sent me this awesome magazine of their Holiday Recipes! And I'm just saying, I got to help chose the Magazine Cover! Isn't that cool! And yes, the one I voted for won!

Regardless, I have enjoyed perusing through it during my bubble bath time - fine menu planning I tell you! I was so excited to see this super easy Mashed Potatoes recipe for Thanksgiving. The only change is that the recipe magazine was for this version just in the Crock Pot! Good just got Better!

Because if I can do anything in the Crock Pot on Thanksgiving, you bet! So here's the recipe. I'll be using Land O Lake Canola Butter! So healthy and tasty. And I'll go for fat-free milk! So these are really guilt free! Of course, one portion at a time. Since this makes ten servings, they are only a couple points per serving. Nice!

Pillsbury Perfect Mashed Potatoes - Servings 10
Easy to Make

8 to 10 medium russet potatoes (about 3 lb.), peeled, cut into quarters
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons margarine or butter, if desired
Dash pepper
1/4 cup hot milk
1. Place potatoes in large saucepan; add enough water to cover. Add 3/4 teaspoon of the salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover loosely and boil gently for 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes break apart easily when pierced with fork. Drain well.
2. Return potatoes to saucepan; shake saucepan gently over low heat for 1 to 2 minutes to evaporate any excess moisture.
3. Mash potatoes with potato masher until no lumps remain. Add margarine, pepper and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; continue mashing, gradually adding enough milk to make potatoes smooth and creamy.

Let's start the Thanksgiving Menu conversation! What will you serve? Are you looking for recipes and short cuts like this one?


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El Tacodor Night and Giveaway

This past weekend we were at a Fall Family Night involving all kinds of fun games, bon fireS and smores and one of the games we played asked our family's favorite food! Guess what we answered?! The Tigers simultaneously said, "Taco Night!"

More on Carolina Mama's Favorite Food Finds... now look at what happened recently! We were asked to host El Tacodor Game Night by Old El Paso! It was an absolute blast!

Here's what things were looking like here while I was stirring up taco seasoning and onions and veggie ground meat [ode to the Weight Watchers points! Less fat and more protein! And no one knows especially on Tacos! Go ahead - try it!] Here was the early shot of our Old El Paso choices:

Yes, had to have the Tostados and Salsa rolling early. Love the Multi Grains! Then an eager reader and game player took on the Rules of El Tacodor is the only Family Taco Night Game !

Take a sneek peak at the fun:

Crunch Time: Name at least 10 animated movies within 1 minute

Meat-N-Greet: Name 5 things that you´d bring home from your favorite vacation place and let the table guess where you traveled

Lettuce Play: Act out different animals - no noises! Your partner must guess 3

Lime Light: Cheer, "We love tacos, yes we do! We love tacos, how `bout you?"

Say Cheese: Pronounce the name of everyone at the table backwards!

Oh it was a blast! And eventually plates looked like this!

El TacodorTM, the world´s only Family Taco Night Game, is a fun and easy way to keep your family laughing at the dinner table. Challenge family members to quick fire trivia, wordplay and pantomime, and share a laughter filled night at home.

Better yet, Old El Paso and my Blog SparkTM are providing Carolina Mama with this Giving Away! A Prize Package from Old El Paso will be awarded to one of my lucky readers so you too can host an El Tacodor Night! You will receive information and a link to the El Tacodor game, as well as (2) two coupons to purchase Old El Paso dinner kits and a $10 gift card to purchase any additional meal needs (i.e. meat, cheese, lettuce, etc).

Bonus: And if that wasn´t exciting enough - you can also enter the Old El Paso El Tacodor Sweepstakes for a chance to win $5,000 just for having fun with your family. Other prizes include monthly giveaways of $300 cash cards, and weekly giveaways of gift certificates for Old El Paso products for the next five months. When you visit El Tacodor you will also find a link to coupons, a calendar to schedule your next taco night, topping choice chart and more!

To Enter:

1) Twitter this Contest! Using this link:

2) Post about the Contest; (can be part of a post)

3) Leave a comment below;

4) Leave a comment for each step above that you took; and leave a way to reach you should you win!

Good luck! And check out Tasty Tuesday for more Food related goodness!


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"I Believe" The Saints Will Be In the Super Bowl 2010

New Orleans is my native land. And you can take the girl out of NOLA but you can't take NOLA out of the girl! The Saints are part of that package! Who Dat?!

My sister sent me this and I love it! Cowboy Mouth did a great job of personifying the Saints the the locals love of them! Here's to the Saints and taking the Super Bowl 2010!

Check it out and let me know in comments your NFL Team! I am sure it is the Saints! :)


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