Day of the Dead and Free Tacos in Manassas!

Don’t let the name fool you—Day of the Dead is not a morbid holiday, explains Miguel Pires, owner of Zandra’s Taqueria in Old Town Manassas. Rather, the holiday is a festive celebration honoring loved ones that are no longer with us. Family and friends come together for feasts, dancing and to make offerings to the deceased, such as sugar skulls and service in the form of cleaning and decorating grave sites. Pires says that it is in this celebratory spirit that he invites the community to gather at his taqueria and bar for a Day of the Dead charity event.

From 5 to 8 p.m. on Nov. 2, Zandra’s will be collecting food and raising money for SERVE, a program of Northern Virginia Family Service (NVFS), the largest private, nonprofit human service organization in Northern Virginia. NVFS addresses the challenges of systemic poverty on the community.

Each patron who donates nonperishable food items that evening will receive a voucher for a free taco, and the restaurant will also donate $1 from every margarita sale to SERVE. Additionally, the musical guest, Purpose, is donating its performance proceeds to SERVE.  

“The Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that focuses on gatherings of family and friends who have died. We thought that a charity event that brings people together to help local families get back on their feet honors that tradition, and creates a strong sense of community,” said Pires.  “We are excited to team up with Friends of SERVE and Purpose to support the important work of SERVE.”  

Zandra’s Taqueria is located at 9114 Center Street in Manassas. For directions and menu items, visit www.zandrastacos.com or call 571-359-6767.


Review: CrossTimber

CrossTimber makes customized products with the name of your choice.  I sent one of their Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse to my friend Heidi.  She works in a local church and the walls in her office have room :) I wanted to send it as a surprise, but somehow the shipping information came through with my name on the address label going to her work address, which I decided would confuse the heck out of the church secretary, so I let her know that a package was coming for me to her work.  It was still a surprise- just a little before the box arrived!

Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews
Heidi means "Honored, blessed, one who exalts God" and the verse it gave her was Psalm 104- "Bless the Lord, O my soul.  O Lord my God, thou art very great; thou art clothed with honor and majesty. " I thought that definition was perfect for her.  When her package arrived, she sent me the following (she knew I was doing a review):
"Initial thoughts: Beautiful story/testimony about the business.  Nice quality.  Love the words/scriptures! I just find the graphics/layout/fonts somewhat dated."

Now, being fair, Heidi is a graphics person, so she's something of an expert on making things pretty, but I actually had similar feelings when I looked through the website trying to select a background for her. The background choices are pleasant, but a little dated.  They do have lots of options to select from, though, and I especially appreciated that they had a Boy Scout section- I think these could be great for an Eagle Scout.  They also offer music boxes, coffee mugs, name cards, scripture gifts, book marks, names of God gifts, and multi-name plaques. I like the background for this one for someone having a baby, and I think that it would be a great gift- I know that when I was in the baby stage of my life I was obsessed with my children's names while I chose them and I really loved personalized items for them.

I really liked what the owner, John, says about the significance of a custom name gift-
"Your Name communicates so much more than simply a tag or label of what to call you. Your name becomes the representation of who you are; who you are to your family, to your boss, to your friends, to your children, to the businessman in the office or the waitress at your table. Your name establishes the beginning of a reputation, and the whole of that reputation is recalled by the thought or speaking of your name."

If you're thinking about a name gift from CrossTimber for Christmas- you should note that while their shipping and handling is normally very quick turnaround, November and December are their busiest months, so it's a good idea to hop on it now!

Through Dec 4th, CrossTimber is sponsoring a Name Gift Giveaway.  

Grand Prize: The winner may choose between a: Personalized Mug OR a Name Plaque or 8x10 Plaque! --> Plus 9 more prizes: $10 Gift Certificates

Giveaway ends on Dec 4th, at this url: www.Meaning.Name/giveaway.html or you can use the rafflecopter below. 
a Rafflecopter giveaway Personalized Framed Plaque with Name Meaning and Bible Verse {CrossTimber} Reviews
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Review: Disney on Ice Presents Follow Your Heart

We were fortunate to be able to attend opening night of Disney on Ice presents Follow Your Heart at EagleBank Arena (formerly the Patriot Center) on the Fairfax Campus of George Mason University.  I think I've told you guys before that EagleBank/Patriot is my favorite venue- the parking is free, the lot is easy in/easy out, and the campus is pedestrian friendly.  It's much nicer than going into DC!

If you've never been to a Disney on Ice Show, here's a little of what to expect:

If you haven't been yet, tickets are available for the following shows:
Oct 20, 2016 07:00PM
Oct 21, 2016 10:30AM , 07:30PM
Oct 22, 2016 10:30AM , 02:30PM , 06:30PM
Oct 23, 2016 12:30PM , 04:30PM

Want to know what to expect? That's why I took this crew:
Now two of these cuties are Disney on Ice veterans, but one of them hadn't been before (at least not at an age where she remembered or even stayed awake for it!) so I got some great varied opinions.

The show starts off with "Inside Out" characters trying to cheer Riley on through a difficult practice.  My daughter played hockey for a season, so obviously this was very meaningful to her as a "girl hockey player" who could commiserate with the struggle ;) The emotions each think a different type of memory will help inspire her.  Anger picks the Beast from Beauty and the Beast hulking out, for example.  Right before intermission, we see Riley's big game, and all of your favorite princesses come out, including Tiana, who I don't think I've seen in an ice show before!

The girls REALLY liked the arial work that the skaters do.  I (as someone who used to figure skate) was a little like "Seriously? Spinning around 3 times in the air before landing on a 1/4 inch blade isn't enough for you people?? Seriously?" but the girls loved it.  Both Ariel and Rapunzel get up, up, up off the ice and fly around- and it is pretty darn impressive!

Now that might have been the girls' favorite, but mine was DORY! Ever since my brain surgery I forget things sometimes, which makes me really sad, but to try and take the edge off feeling dumb, I started saying "I Dory-ed it" so she's kind of my spirit animal. I'm trying to remember EVERYONE you'll see- Inside Out, Beauty and the Beast, Finding Dory, Toy Story, Princesses, Snow White, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, there's a bit of Fantasia,
After intermission, it's Frozen time!!

Of course everyone loves Anna and Elsa, and OLAF! The mom behind me was singing so loud and so off key- but she was so happy, so it's all good! The girls loved the giant ice castle set that expands and makes the whole ice seem like part of Elsa's magical kingdom.
Then there's a big finale where all the characters come out and skate together, which the girls loved because it's like Disney Overload and you get to see all of your favorites at once!

If you're going to go, here are some things you should know:
1) There are some pyrotechnics in the show.  I didn't notice any of the very small children around me freaking out because of them, and my 8-9 year old girls loved them.
2) There are some moments of darkness during the show, but they are very brief, and again, I didn't notice any of the small children around me freaking out.
3) There is a definite "best side" to this show.  Usually I feel like Disney on Ice Shows don't have best seats, but this show, because it uses a lot of background on a screen, has a very specific side that is best.  Now, that doesn't mean you won't enjoy the show (we were on a non-best side and still loved it!) but if you're going to buy tickets, my suggestion would be to get them for sections 108/109 or VIP 108/109.  That's going to give you a clear view of both the skating and the screen display.  However, again, we were in section 101 and still had a great view of the skating!

We hope that you get a chance to enjoy Disney on Ice presents Follow Your Heart! I know we did!

Disclaimer: I was provided with tickets to this show free of charge, however all opinions are my own and I was not required to write a positive review.


Halloween and Fall Events at Prince William Public Libraries

Halloween and Fall Events at Prince William Public Libraries

Calling creative high-schoolers! PWPLS is celebrating its 65th birthday with a commemorative library card, and we’re looking for students in grades 9 through 12 to design it. Entries accepted until October 15, and online voting for the best design runs October 16 through November 1.

Central Community Library
All ages
October 1 – October 23
It’s pumpkin-carving time! Email librarycommunications@pwcgov.org or deliver a picture of your carved pumpkin to Central Library’s information desk by Sunday, October 23 to enter the contest. Include your name, age, and phone number with all entries. We’ll display the pictures in Central Library and you’ll be able to come in and vote between Monday, October 24 and Sunday, October 30. The winner gets a special prize!

Wednesday, October 5, 6:30 p.m.
Teens in grades 6-12, celebrate the new release of Magnus Chase and the Hammer of Thor with a night of Viking and Norse activities. You might even win a copy of the book and other goodies! Register here beginning September 21.

Saturday, October 8, 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. (rain date: October 9)
Welcome back to R&B/blues/soul trio Whiskey Pull as we try again for music on Montclair’s terrace. You bring a blanket or lawn chair, and Whiskey Pull will bring new tunes.

Haymarket Gainesville Community Library
All ages
Tuesday, October 11, 5:00 - 6:30 p.m.
We’ll provide the pumpkins and the carving tools, and you provide the creativity! Bring the whole family and carve a pumpkin to be entered in our contest.  Entries will be displayed in the library all week, and the winners will be announced at the Haymarket Gainesville Library Birthday Celebration on Saturday, October 15! Limit 15 families, registration required by calling 703-792-8700.

Saturday, October 15, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Join us for a lively 1st birthday festival! The event kicks off at 11:00 a.m. with a ceremony. Then the fun and games begin at 12:00 p.m. with a balloon artist, storyteller, live music, face painting, games on the lawn, and refreshments.

Saturday, October 22, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Bring the whole family to celebrate in style! We'll have a petting zoo, face painting, live music, food, vendors, storytime with Ronald McDonald and games and crafts for kids of all ages. Be sure to wish the Friends of the Library a happy birthday by shopping their used book sale and bidding in the silent auction. Your support funds the library's many free events.

Potomac Community Library
All ages with caregiver
Sunday, October 23, 1:00 p.m.
Enjoy a pre-Halloween treat of magical tales, some fun and some (slightly) frightening! Drop in; no registration.

Nokesville Neighborhood Library
For children with a caregiver
Monday, October 31, 10:30 a.m.
Come dressed in your Halloween attire and enjoy some stories and crafts.

Parade of Costumes
Chinn Park Regional Library
For children with a caregiver
Monday, October 31, 10:30 a.m. or at 2:00 p.m.
Come in costume for Halloween stories, songs, and a parade through the library.

Central Community Library
For children with a caregiver
Monday, October 31, 10:30 a.m.

Let’s celebrate Halloween together! Come in costume for a few spooky stories, a treat, and join us in a parade of costumes through Central Community Library! You might even catch some library staff all decked out for the holiday! No registration necessary.


Coming Soon: Mall-O-Ween at Fair Oaks Mall!

Trick-or-Treaters to Haunt Fair Oaks Mall this Weekend during 29th Annual Mall-O-Ween
Over 20,000 expected to attend one of the largest indoor Halloween events

FAIRFAX, Va., Oct. 24, 2016 –Fair Oaks Mall is celebrating its 29th annual Mall-O-Ween, one of the largest indoor Halloween events of its kind in the Washington D.C. area. As part of the festivities, kids can visit Spooktacular experiments in our Grand Court sponsored by Children’s Science Center Lab, visit our multiple candy stations throughout the center and get your face painted as your favorite character. Guests can stop by the Customer Service desk for additional sweet treats and special discounts toward this year’s Santa’s Flight Academy. The public is welcome to attend this free, family-friendly event and costumes are encouraged. For more information visit www.shopfairoaksmall.com/events.

WHAT:            Trick-or-treating at more than 50 stores; photo opportunities throughout the center with five Halloween characters -- several performing on stilts -- plus an appearance by a very special guest

WHEN:            Monday, October 31, 2015; 5:30-8:30 p.m.

WHERE:         Fair Oaks Mall
                        11750 Fair Oaks Mall, Fairfax, VA 22033

WHO:              The public is welcome to attend this free, family-friendly event and costumes are encouraged. Recommended for kids ages 12 and under.

About Fair Oaks Mall

Fair Oaks Mall is one of the region’s largest premier shopping destinations in Fairfax, Va., less than 18 miles from Washington, D.C. With more than 16 million annual shopper visits, Fair Oaks features a collection of 200 shops, services and dining options including Macy’s I and II, Lord & Taylor, Sears and JCPenney. Also featuring Apple, BCBGMaxAzria, Coach, H&M, MAC, Michael Kors, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Sephora and Williams-Sonoma, plus The Cheesecake Factory, On the Border, Texas de Brazil Churrascaria and Kona Grill. Fair Oaks is located off I-66 and Route 50 (Lee Jackson Memorial Hwy.) with more than 8,000 easily accessed free parking spaces. For more information, call 703-359-8300 or visit www.shopfairoaksmall.com or www.facebook.com/fairoaksmall.

Review: MyFreezEasy Meal Planning

Our schedule is crazy, and I know yours is, too.  For me, one way that I make sure I don't spend a million dollars on fast food dinners is by preparing ahead of time- so the premium annual membership for MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership was definitely something that I was excited to use!

MyFreezEasy's basic membership will give you access to 5 different meal plans, a traditional plan, a gluten free plan (I know some of you will love this!), a slow cooker plan (my fave!), a clean eats plan (perfect for those of you who like to keep it healthy), and a 20 meals plan (basically, you cook once and have dinners for the month!).  The Premium Membership, which is what I used, also allows you to have access to more recipes and to make a custom meal plan that is perfect for your family.  What I actually did was to use the custom meal plan maker for what I got on sale! For example, I got a great deal on ground beef, so I was able to use the custom meal plan maker to select ground beef only meals, (you can also select only chicken or only pork chops) and then I prepped everything:
 And I was able to make several tasty freezer meals all in one night! I liked that I was able to change the number of servings (with my hubby's meal plan he needs 8 ounces of protein with dinner, so I picked a larger number of servings than a family of 4 or 5 would normally need).  Once you download your meal plan, you get the EASIEST set of directions ever.  The recipes, shopping list, and how to assemble your meals in the most efficient way are printed out.  You can opt to assemble by recipe (so you'll make one dish from start to finish) or by ingredient (so you'll chop all the bell peppers you need for every recipe you've selected, brown all the beef you need for every recipe you've selected, etc.) I opted to prepare by ingredient, and I thought that it worked really well! I had my kids helping me in the kitchen this day, and I think that it would have gotten really confusing if each of the 4 of us had been trying to finish a recipe from start to finish while getting in each other's way, whereas assigning each kid an ingredient to deal with helped us to work together as a team.
MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
Your FreezEasy kit also has labels for your finished recipes so that when you put them in the freezer, you'll know what they are! Typically, I have a full sized freezer in my garage, but after 12 years in my house (and it was a "hand me down" from my uncle!) it kicked the bucket shortly after I made all these new freezer meals, so I called my mom, who, thankfully, has an extra freezer in her basement, and I was able to save my freezer meals AND my homemade jelly. 
No matter what your family likes to eat, you can enjoy the meal plans on MyFreezEasy.  I happen to really like the option to take advantage of grocery store sale prices on meat and decide what to make from there, but the choice is really up to you!! If you need a bunch of ready-to-go crock pot meals, then go with that! Or, go for the premium membership and really mix and match to meet your needs. If you're ready to join, check it out here!! (Note, this is an affiliate link, so it does give me credit)
MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}

MyFreezEasy.com Freezer Meal Plan Membership {MyFreezEasy}
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Review: Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers from Everyday Education

My son, Riley, is an above-average writer.  In 7th grade, he's already had the opportunity to have several pieces published.  He loves creative writing and he enjoys the freedom that comes with that, but he's also working on becoming skilled in more standard formats, which is why the Excellence in Literature Handbook for Writers from Everyday Education, LLC is perfect for him as he transitions from writing for fun and pleasure to writing for high school and even college.  

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}
We were lucky to hit on grammar and writing structure and style programs that I loved from the start, and Riley has benefitted from all of them tremendously.  He can diagram a sentence and pop in a strong verb or stylistic device at the drop of a hat- but that doesn't mean that he couldn't use reminders every now and then.  Even I sometimes need a little help remembering grammatical rules, formatting, and ESPECIALLY how to cite sources.  Does the period go inside the parenthesis or outside? When I'm quoting someone, do I use a comma or a period? Style devices that aren't frequently utilized can be a brain scratcher, sometimes, and having a book with them all conveniently spelled out is definitely helpful! 

As far as format, the first portion of the handbook is dedicated to helping your child learn how to write various types of papers.  I especially appreciated that the book dedicated time to not just how to write a persuasive essay, but why you may wish to do so, and how to pick a topic that will resonate with your audience.  I know that when I was in high school a research paper was required for graduation, and being able to research your point and present the facts persuasively was a must! The second portion of the handbook is really where all the grammar rules, references, and basic formats are found.  
Riley, as a 7th grader, found some of the initial chapters a little verbose- but I very much enjoyed the writing style.  We struggled for him with the online version that we were given and ended up printing it out- it was much easier for him to work with as a hard copy, rather than a PDF, so if I were going to order the book, I would go ahead and opt for the print-only version, however if you have multiple children who are going to be working through high school and college-level writing courses, the digital version may be your best bet! The ebook and print is $49 and the hard copy only is $39.  Definitely a worthwhile investment when you figure that your child will write for 8 years of high school and college and will probably need more than a few tips, tricks, and reminders on their way through! 

Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}
To learn more about this book, or any of the other books reviewed by the other TOS Crew members, please use the links below. 
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/janicecampbell/
FB: https://www.facebook.com/janicepcampbell
FB page: https://www.facebook.com/excellenceinlit/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/janicepcampbell
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JaniceCampbell
Twitter: https://twitter.com/everydayedu
Beautiful Handwriting, Literature and Poetry {Everyday Education, LLC}
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