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*These words are mine and so is the amazing artwork. I am of a scientific mind, but I am NO scientist. I have an open and curious mind.

"The U.S. National Ocean Service stated in 2012 that no evidence of mermaids has ever been found." {"Mermaid", Wikipedia}

I'm writing this post out of a sense of anger.  This morning I watched the TV show "Mermaids: The Body Found" on the Animal Planet network.  For those who have not seen the program, it is a "docufiction" showing evidence that mermaids really exist.  If you present a show in a documentary style there should be a serious disclaimer up front letting people know the show is FAKE. As a writer, I must post a visible upfront disclaimer{per FTC regulations} to precede my writing, but Animal Plant can flash a tiny disclaimer at the end of a seemingly real documentary-style film. Bull. They pull you in and trick you. No one likes to feel tricked and I do. If they were only upfront at the beginning of the show people could enjoy it for what the show is: a docufiction. Shame on you Animal Planet. I hope your amazing ratings were worth the price of your souls.

Network shame aside - I found the whole "fantasy world" film fascinating and was unaware of the widely unaccepted aquatic-ape theory{AAT}. Essentially, the AAT theory talks about an aquatic side to our evolution{not talking mermaids here}. I began to ponder and do some quality Google research. Look at your hand and spread your fingers wide. You have small webbing in between your fingers. Why do we need or have this? I could find no clear answer. I am simply open to the possibility of the AAT and I am not saying that I believe in it. I do not. What I am saying is most of the research in this area appears limited and what little information there is has seemingly been done by individuals that possess no real scholarly credentials in the field of anthropology. Anthropologists would probably say, "hogwash" to the whole thing.

I could find no REAL research regarding AAT, but it is truly fascinating to think about. What do you believe? Any theories? Fish Stories?

Viewer beware
Animal Planet and Discovery Channel are owned by the same company Discovery Communications, LLC. The Discovery Channel is responsible for another docufiction Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives . You have been warned. Keep your eyes peeled for more fictitious gobly-goop.

Wikipedia provided information on "Mermaids: The Body Found" courtesy of Animal Planet.
Smithsonian has a decent article on AAT. This is the only professional article I could find on the subject.
*I received a Free Month of membership at UFC Gym in exchange for this post. They have gained a new}
VISIT UFC Gym in Herndon, VA<<>>UFC Gym on FACEBOOK

Want to burn 800 to 1,000 calories in an hour? Join the UFC Gym.

UFC Gym is formerly known as LA Boxing. UFC Gym offers a unique work-out experience to include kick-boxing, boxing, and even a mixed-martial arts class{MMA}! Always the skeptic, I thought it would be weenie-ville central. BOY...was I wrong. Most of the classes are a full hour of 100% calorie-burning intensity. I do highly recommend some thorough stretching before and after each class:} You sweat, you feel-the-burn, and it is downright challenging. You receive a full body work out from each and every class! I love the UFC Gym atmosphere. It is rocking with loud music that keeps you moving! The variety of classes keep you engaged and just like any membership-based gym they have hours to fit all schedules.

My favorite class has been the MMA{Jiu-Jitsu} based class. It is rough and tumble. I am working on the basics, but I got the satisfaction of learning the highly acclaimed arm bar and rear naked choke. The UFC Gym is fitness based, but you will still learn mixed-martial arts techniques. They have a few treadmills, lots of punching bags, a boxing ring, a nice-looking weight set, and knowledgeable instructors. Basically, everything you need to get into peak physical shape.

UFC Gym Perks

Regular and Late Hours. They were open Christmas Eve until 2 PM. Closed Christmas. Open the day after. It is typical to have a final class around 7:45 PM most days of the week. That means if you work until 5 PM you still have time to get to the UFC Gym for a nice workout.

Women are the norm. Do not think this is a "Gents Only" establishment. The women tend to outnumber the men.

Kids are welcome.  They offer children's classes ages 6 to 12.

Convenience. There are multiple UFC Gym Locations in Northern Virginia. You can use them all. This is perfect for folks that work in one location and live in another. After work, you can skip over to the UFC Gym near your place of employment and wait for that rush hour traffic to die down. On the weekends, you can use the UFC Gym closest to your humble abode. Your membership is valid at any of these Northern Virginia UFC Gym locations: Herndon, Chantilly, Fairfax, Tysons, Arlington, Alexandria, and Woodbridge.

* I received an Ecozoo backpack from EcoGear for both of my boys in exchange for this post. Words are mine.
SHOP Eco Gear Products<<>>Like'm on Facebook <<>>Follow on Instagram

Eco Gear is a refreshing and modern twist on Eco-friendly bags! The new children's line is adorably named Ecozoo. These kids backpacks are as adorable as it gets featuring domestic and international animals alike. My boys received the puppy and the panda Ecozoo backpacks from EcoGear. They are totally in love and have been dragging the packs around since they were bribed with candy canes for a photo session yesterday:} The Ecozoo packs are made of natural cotton, sustainable wood{the toggle clasp}, and recycled plastic components. All children need backpacks for school. It feels good to buy from a company that keeps the environment close to heart and mind.

As you probably saw from the YouTube video, my boys love their Ecozoo backpacks. They are adorable, sturdy, and lots of room inside! Did you know these packs are water-resistant too? They appear to be dirt resistant as well. My boys have been dragging them all over the floor today and they still appear like new. Right now Ecozoo kids backpacks are on SALE for less than $30! If you are looking for a new backpack for your kiddos you have found it! They also have travel Ecozoo suitcases that are equally adorable!

Are you ready for an Earth-Saving, back packing, adventurous giveaway of Epic Holiday proportions? Well are you?!

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ONE Use what you got? What does that mean? Well, you already have a Facebook page right? Great. Now look at it. Do not just create a page for the sake of creating it and then not do anything with it. Be a artist with your page. Pay attention to all the little details. Add a profile picture{a nice one} and fill out all the information. That goes for all your social media sites!

TWO Branch out? Learn new things. The minute you stop learning and improving your SEO will fizzle up with you. Do you have a Google+ account and Instagram for your business? If not stop reading this and go get them now! You are missing vital opportunities to reach out to new customers. Instagram has a new feature called Instagram direct. Check out more below in the Vimeo video.

THREE Write about what you know and do it well. Good photos. Useful information such as recipes, DIY projects, and tutorials. I do not want to hear about Mr. stop.

FOUR Use Hashtags both generic and humorous. Just a handful will suffice. Use them in Instagram, Twitter, Google+, even Facebook. My posts from Facebook automatically get posted to twitter so I use them. Google+ hashtags are really important, because they help your content get found!

FIVE If you write about Chatam Tanning{for example} tag him. In Facebook posts, Twitter, and Instagram. You never know he may throw you a bone and a crazy life changing shout out to his 5 million followers. Take a chance.

SIX Check back to your social media pages to see if new features were implemented that might help you. While you are there update every detail of your profile. Keep yourself looking professional and on top of it. Nothing looking more shady than a profile with one sentence stating, "Come visit me". Gross...stalker much?

SEVEN Pinterest. Use it. Love it. Those boards send a direct link straight back to you. Do clean and change your boards out frequently. That being said, if a pin got pinned a hundred times DO keep that one. I found two new things: You can send a YouTube video to Pinterest. Just share to Pinterest from your YouTube video. Check out my video Pin here. You can also create a Pinterest board specific widget. This may be helpful if you are a niche blogger. For example, I do primarily giveaways OR for a foodie blogger to display their pinned recipes. Drive traffic to Pinterest and then back to your blog. Genius Social Media on full display.

EIGHT Host a giveaway! Check out my giveaway hosting tips for more information.

NINE Interact with your audience. Talk to them and they will talk back as well as inviting all their friends.

TEN Make it easy for folks to share! Test it out and use it yourself. If it is not super easy to share people WILL NOT share! Install a hovering Pinterest button. Here is a great hoovering Pinterest button tutorial to check out!

Have fun and take vital breaks. Increasing your traffic takes hard work, a spot of luck, and a bit of ingenuity. Good Luck my friends. XO

The week before Christmas is the perfect time to address the question of Santa Claus. We adults have our opinion and children have theirs. My favorite conservative blogger Matt Walsh posted about Jolly St. Nick to his audience recently here, asking parents how they explain Christmas to their children and sharing his beliefs. Honestly, I have been thinking about this question for nearly a month now and I have come to a real conclusion. Let them believe. 

When I say let them believe I say it loosely. I do not blatantly fill my children's heads full of Santa propaganda. I have society to thank for that. My "To believe or Not to believe" revelation came as the boys and I were watching the Polar Express. The movie is pure magic for all ages and it is by far my favorite Christmas movie to date. What may I ask is wrong with believing in a little Christmas magic? Santa Claus represents love, joy,  and peace. The spirit of Christmas celebrates that giving is far better than receiving. There are truly worse things for my child to believe in then Santa Claus.

My favorite magical story comes from my mother who swears she came into contact with an angel as a child. Maybe she did.
My mother was sent to the grocery store to pick up some essentials for her mother. On her way back home she became lost. She began to cry. A strange woman came up behind her and asked what was wrong. My mother told her she could not find her way home. The women responded with, "You are not lost" and "You live right up there". She pointed my mom in the direction of home. My mom said when she swung her head around to thank the woman she was gone. She said their was no alley to duck down or store to jump into....she seemingly vanished. She said, "God sent me an angel to find my way home".
Angels and Santa Claus fall into a similar category. Things you cannot see or touch that some people believe in anyway{mostly children}. Santa technically is a mythical being, but I will gladly keep his spirit in my heart. Santa these are positive influences that I will gladly share with my children. We are Buddhist-Christians in our home. The most important part of Santa is that our children feel free to dream and use their blossoming imaginations. Our boys know what Christmas is really about: The birth of Jesus, giving, and family. Santa Claus is something they believe in and you know what? I believe in him a little too:}

Merry Christmas everyone and cheers to a Happy New Year
Jello can be a very under appreciated dish. Have an upset stomach? Problems chewing? Jello can taste pretty darn good during these moments in life. A well balanced and flavorful jello is a rarity, but yesterday I whipped up a pretty good batch of homemade jello for my toddler. My poor little man needed plastic surgery stitches on his front lip and is now on a soft diet for the next couple days. Pudding, custard, homemade apple soft, and jello will be his main food sources. Although, this morning I will make him some pancakes, which I think he will handle just fine.

Homemade Jello Recipe{Cranberry*Ginger Ale*Orange}

1 Cup Gingerale
1 Cup Cranberry Juice
1 Packet of Knox unflavored gelatin
Dash of Organic orange flavor oil

Pour the packet of Knox unflavored gelatin in a small bowl and pour the Ginger Ale over top to soften the gelatin. Meanwhile, in a small sauce pan bring the cranberry juice to a simmer over medium heat. Pour over your gelatin and Ginger Ale. Mix until gelatin is completely dissolved. Add a dash of Organic orange flavor oil. Pour into shallow bowl or ramekins of choice. Will take 4 to 6 hours to set in the refrigerator.

TIPs: Whipped cream is always a welcome addition:}
 This recipe was modified from here
Fluster Buster
SHOP I am...gigantic knits<<<<>>>INSTAGRAM<<<>>>TWITTER<<>>

What is the very first thing you think of when someone says, "knitwear"? The sweater grandma knit for you when your were four maybe? I am...gigantic knits is a knitwear company that is literally going to take all your preconceived notions about knitwear and toss them in the garbage. This is fashionista knitwear, glam knitwear, and hot mama knitwear. Shana is the proud Los Angeles owner who makes it known that her luxurious and gigantic knitwear is for every season. I understand what she means, because my husband and I used to live in Tuscon, AZ. During the day it could be blazing hot, but when the sun goes down you certainly need a sweater. Right now, of course, for us East Coasters it is snowing like hell.  Perfect "I am...gigantic knits" weather:}

Check out the regal purple neck cowl in action via the YouTube video above! I am...gigantic knits has more than just scarves, neck cowls, and shawls. They have a heavily coveted item of mine: a cozy gigantic knit pink blanket!! Take a peek here.

Who would like a Giant, Gigantic, Gi-normous "I am...gigantic knits" giveaway, hmmmmm?
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*I received the "We Built This City" ring in exchange for this review. All words are mine.
SHOP Kemi Designs<<<<<>>>>>Like'm on FACEBOOK<<<>>>INSTAGRAM

How you doing? Welcome to the Brooklyn boho artisan jewelry of Kemi Designs. Kemi Gadalet's hand forged jewelry tugs at the imagination and represents the city of New York through an artistic lens. I am sure you already noted the ring I am wearing boasts the iconic NYC skyline. I have never seen anything quite like this ring. Any New Yorker born and raised would quickly embrace the "We Built This City" ring as their favorite piece of jewelry at Kemi Designs.

I consider myself more of a bath and body person than a jewelry person. The jewelry has to be remarkably unique and high quality for me to be remotely interested. I am not a New Yorker, Pennsylvania born and raised, but I love the "We Built This City" ring! Kemi Designs has jewelry for every type of person. She has feminine pieces such as the arrow ring and strong masculine pieces such as the back alley ring. She also shows her cultural boho with her "Mor-rockin" necklaces and earrings.

 The "We Built This City" ring is comfortable, unique, and shouts New York City pride:}
Get outta here and enter the Kemi Designs "We Built This City" ring giveaway!
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*I was sent three pair of MagnifiCuffs to compose this post. Words as always are mine.
SHOP MagnifiCuffs<<<>>>MagnifiCuffs The BLOG<<<>>>Like'm on FACEBOOK

Do you know about MagnifiCuffs? They are coming out and they want the world to know about jewelry with magnetism! MagnifiCuffs are jewelry with magnets for easy attachment anywhere your heart desires. These jewels are limited only by your imagination. MagnifiCuffs bring creativity and versatility back into your jewelry box! They allow you to easily transform your outfit or decorate your clothing at the attraction of a magnet:}

MagnifiCuffs have a magnificent owner named Marcia Darlene. I in the world did she come up with such a marvelous idea? I found out Marcia wanted to get the most out of her clothing and was in search of a way to utilize her pants as capris too{a two for one type of thing}. Some needle, thread, frustration{I am adding this one}, tinkering, and the rest is magnetic history! Let me show you how I wear my MagnifiCuffs!:}

Who is ready for a Magnificent MagnifiCuffs Giveaway?

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Celebrating Christmas with a rustic touch is becoming quite the specialty of mine. Refer to last year's post here. I have an 180+ year old abode. I love rustic and natural elements from the outdoors, especially when the weather gets freezy. This year I decided to use rustic cord, pipe cleaners, sticks, pine branches, and yarn as my primary decor ingredients. The outcome? A splendidly rustic Christmas ambiance. Welcome to the Rustic Christmas Cafe!

Today, I will brave Home Depot or the craft store in search of battery-powered Christmas lights. I will string those with my candy cane garland. My inspiration is an outdoor cafe at night. The candy cane garland is so easy! First, take red and white pipe cleaners and twist them together to make your candy canes. Next, buy some rustic cord and nails to tack up the lines as you please. Set the completed candy canes on your rustic lines and there you have it: Rustic Candy Cane Garland. You can be a Christmas decorating genius in no time my friends!

The next natural element is painted sticks coated with glitter. These turned out amazing. The glittered sticks are both light and eye-catching! The perfect shimmer and shine for your rustic Christmas! This is a beautiful centerpiece that requires no day to day attention, which is perfect for the bustling holiday season.

Happy Holidays from my family to yours!
My life is so different now in comparison to my youth. The family from my side gets together for the holidays, but never really has a conversation. Topics that are too hard to talk about are simply ignored. They sit in front of the television. Eat. Then sit in front of the television some more. Talk is at a minimum and usually surrounds generic topics such as the weather. I love them and they are family, but it is depressing. Since meeting my husband nearly 10 years ago my conception of "family" has changed dramatically.

Family is now something to look forward too. I truly enjoy walking the blustery streets of DC on an unconventional Thanksgiving Day. The light shining through the streets is spectacular and I indeed feel like the luckiest person that ever lived. We go to a French restaurant called Bistro Du Coin on Connecticut Avenue. I do not typically care for mussels or curry, but the curry mussels they serve taste of absolute perfection! The family talked, ate, drank, and when our bellies were full we walked around the Museum of Natural History. It is truly heaven.

I count my blessings for my friends and family, but I find myself with new blessing's everyday: The Blogging Community. These folks are so warm and generous with one another even though most interactions are separated by a computer screen and thousands of odd miles. Throughout the past week, I have reached out to several Baltimore area bloggers in an effort to help promote my sister-in-law's local Baltimore area giveaway. These bloggers went out of their way to help me. I am grateful to them.

I hope that you are counting your blessing's today and everyday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Special Thanks to these amazing Baltimore bloggers for their support. I cannot thank you enough. Strangers with Style, Pink and Professional, Nerd Trips, The Adventures of Z & K, Chicken Nuggets of Wisdom.
 *I was given an initial treatment by Brit Freet{licensed acupuncturist} in exchange for this review. Opinions are mine.
VISIT Wellness Point Acupuncture<<<<>>>> BOOK an appointment at Respite with Brit Freet

I do Bikram yoga regularly and I have never achieved the same level of relaxation from an hour and a half of hot yoga as I did from 15 minutes of acupuncture ~ Me :) 

*The treatment rooms at Respite are so cozy. The Ball Jars are filled with herbs that give you an amazing sensory experience!

Acupuncture has been both a skepticism and fascination of mine for quite some time. Moths flying from my wallet has been another reason I had yet to explore the eastern medical wonder known as acupuncture. This week my sister-in-law{whom is a licensed acupuncturist} invited me down to try a spot of acupuncture at Respite, which is conveniently located in the downtown Baltimore area.

*I do look a bit scared, but I promise I am not:) The needles do not hurt a bit.

After playing cards with the Grim Reaper in bumper to bumper rush hour Baltimore traffic on my way to Respite, I was more than ready to put acupuncture to the test. Note to acupuncture newbie's: The needle that goes into the middle of your forehead feels amazing!!! You could take an entire bottle of Motrin{PLEASE do not do this...ever} and never equal the relief that one forehead needle provides. I know next to nothing about acupuncture other than after 15 minutes of needles in my extremities and forehead I felt like a new lady!

Take it from this former skeptic and open your mind to the world of acupuncture. Brit can help bring your body "back to balance" both physically and mentally. It is a "total person" experience. I am so glad I tried acupuncture and the only problem now is I am addicted. I am currently saving up my pennies for my next appointment:) Check out the Respite LIVE action YouTube video for a chat with Brit Freet your local licensed acupuncturist in the Baltimore area!

You Must Be a Follower of Spunky Real Deals GFC or Bloglovin' to Enter
Who is ready for a prickly giveaway with Wellness Point Acupuncture at Respite?

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Wellness Point Acupuncture Locations 

2000 Girard Ave
Baltimore, Maryland, 21211

La Bella Medispa
1304 South Main Street
Mount Airy, Maryland 21771

Sometimes it is fun to sit around and decorate your cake down to the last detail......and sometimes you have two toddlers biting at your ankles trying to get at the icing bowl:) If you are down on time, but still want to decorate your cake I have a solution. All you need is food coloring{s} of your choice and the point of a utensil. I was working feverishly fast, but if precision is what you want just be precise;) Blend well and your dots will look amazing!

Polka dots are a classic, but hearts would also be adorable in February for Valentine's Day. Another plus is this technique requires little to no artistic talent, which bodes well for me as I am no Picasso. Check out my YouTube instructional below to see this technique in LIVE action! Sorry in advance for my shotty camera work and the half eaten birthday cake. It was delicious and get the picture.

Organized 31
*I was sent The Seaweed Scrub from Zoet Bathlatier in exchange for this post. All opinions are mine.
SHOP Zoet Bathlatier<<<<<<<Like'm on FACEBOOK<<<<<<<Follow on INSTAGRAM
Zoet (which sounds like zoot and rhymes with boot), is the Dutch word meaning: sweet, soft, gentle and fresh. Bathlatier™ (bath•la•tier) is a maker or seller of lux home goods, bath and body concoctions.
Zoet Bathlatier{defined above} is a creator of luxury bath, body, and home goods. Amazingly fresh, natural, yet with a creative twist that begs you to TRY ME! This is not my first love affair with Zoet Bathlatier. Read here about their delectable Rose Berry Lip Tint. If you are looking for extra stocking stuffers I would highly recommend you snatch those up! Ilka is the fine owner of Zoet Bathlatier and she sent me a new item to share with you! Behold The 100% natural Seaweed Scrub! Mmmmm....divine.

When it comes to sugar vs. salt scrubs I prefer salt. Salt is an age old beauty and medicinal ingredient for a reason. It draws out all the nasty impurities from our body and is a wonderful exfoliate too!  Zoet Bathlatier has given "natural" birth to an intoxicating Seaweed{salt-based} Scrub. The Seaweed Scrub combines a boat-load of exfoliating Pacific Salt, moisturizing butter/oils,  and a variety of essential oils that leave a lemongrass-y scent emanating from your post-bath trails. Make sure the Seaweed Scrub ends up on Santa's list. Personally, I have been realllllly good this year!;-)

Ready for a 100% natural, aquatic-hippie's dream, Zoet Bathlatier Seaweed Scrub giveaway? a Rafflecopter giveaway
*AT&T sent me the LG Optimus G Pro smartphone for review. I have to give it back. Words are mine.
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Look up! Spunky Real Deals looks good on the AT&T LG Optimus G Pro, eh? Let me start by saying I have no experience with smart phones...zilch.

Here is the vintage Samsung I am currently using. Some snarky tweeners have actually asked me, "What's that?". Ugh...I know. On a modern note, AT&T is sporting a stunning NEW Smartphone: The LG Optimus G Pro{sounds like a transformer, right?}. It is impressive.

Not a "read-the-manual" person? Then the AT&T LG Optimus G Pro smartphone is for you. They don't call it a smart phone for nothing...It is truly intuitive. I was up and running with all my social media apps in ten minutes flat. Even Instagram was easy to find and install with the large apps button towards the bottom of the screen. The typing buttons are a nice size and bounce up to a larger size as you type. All the main settings can be pulled from the top with a swoosh of a fingertip. Turn on/off WiFi, quickly turn phone to vibrate{nice}, and numerous other convenient settings . The only thing I can remotely complain about is the screen went to sleep in a blink, but I was able to quickly adjust that setting:}

Any smartphone purchase plans this holiday season? I have to wait, but when I am ready to get a smartphone you bet I am going to check out AT&T. Great coverage, no dropped calls, and a very fast internet connection. The LG Optimus G Pro smartphone is a keeper. Trade in your vintage Samsung or if you are already "up with the times" then maybe it is time for an upgrade.

Do you live in the NoVa area? Please join me at the Fair Oaks Mall on Thursday, November 21st from 6:00 to 9:00 pm. There is so much happening for the entire family! Come eat, drink, play, finish{or start} your Christmas shopping, and get your photo taken with Santa!

A very big Thank-you to AT&T for affording me the pleasurable opportunity to work with them and a very happy holiday season to every one of you!

Content and/or other value provided by our partner, Target. I received a $50 target gift card to compose this post. Words are my own.
SHOP Target<<<<<Like'm on FACEBOOK<<<<<Christmas TOY Catalog
Our family holiday traditions combine traditional and new-school thinking. My husband spent part of his childhood in Germany. There his family adopted the celebration of St. Nick's Day. On the eve of December 6th you leave out your shoes for St. Nick and by dawn's early light you will find goodies brimming out of your shoes{only if you were good, of course}! I am going to share a secret with you courtesy of Santa's little helper: Target. Great prices and selection. They also happen to carry my son's favorite toys: Transformers, which they love to pieces{literally}!

Top Target Boys Gifts

Playskool Heroes Transformers Rescue Bots Energize Electronic Optimus Prime figure

Kid Trax Honda TRX700xx ATV 6V Ride On

Top Target Gals Gifts 

Barbie Dream House{yes, please!}

If I could be transformed back to my youth, I know I would want the Minnie Plane Ride-On Toy!

One last thing...maybe an iPod Nano for Mommy's shoes?:) Happy Holidays everyone! Shop happy and save money at Target. I am going to go to to buy some transformers for my little guys right now!

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