Friday, November 21, 2014

Universal Studios Photo Connect

Last week I talked about how much we loved the PhotoPass package that Disney offered, and when we heard that Universal Studios had their own photo pass package, Universal Photo Connect, we decided to buy one of those too. We bought the 3 day unlimited download pass, which ran $60. We thought if it was anything like Disney, we were getting a great deal. Sadly, where Disney beyond excels at what they offer, the Photo Connect completely lacks.

We were used to V.I.P. treatment at Disney, finding photographers all throughout the park to take our photo. Universal had no photographers to take photos throughout the park, with the exception of one that we found near Hogwarts. What you do get is photos on each of the rides (only those that have cameras to take your photo while you are on the ride) and a few special opps that you can only get when you buy the package, like E.T. and The Simpsons.


 Universal Studios Photo Connect

Universal Studios Photo Connect

Universal Studios Photo Connect

Universal Studios Photo Connect

Universal Studios Photo Connect
I am clearly not enjoying myself as much as the rest of my family on this ride ;)

Universal Studios Photo Connect
While Jason doesn't look thrilled here, this is our most favorite ride at Universal Studios.

Honestly, we don't care much about ride photos, but since my daughter loves Harry Potter, we were happy that we were able to get a family photo and a ride photo of the new Escape From Gringotts ride.

Escape from Gringotts

Escape from Gringotts

The photos that we did get, we loved. But I paid $60 for roughly 40 photos over a 2 day Universal Studios trip. I paid $150 for a Disney PhotoPass and got over 600 Disney photos over a 3 day period. At Disney you scan your magic band and your photos automatically load to your account. With the Universal Photo Connect, you have to have your photo ticket scanned, then you have to hunt down a kiosk to edit and load your photos to your account, which was very time consuming, and not every kiosk employee was knowledgeable on how to load or edit the photos, so we would have to hunt down another kiosk to find someone who knew what they were doing.

If the price were cut in half, at $30 or so, I would recommend Universal's Photo Connect. However, if we return to Universal Studios, we won't be shelling out another $60 for the Photo Connect package. To us, the limited photos, lack of photographers, and time wasted did not make it worth the cost.


Have you tried Photo Connect? Did you have a better experience than we did?



Bring a Touch of Warmth to Your Home with Old Factory Candles #oldfactory

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 


When the temperatures drop, the wind is whipping, and daylight fades sooner, I love to add a touch of warmth and light to my home by lighting candles. There's just something soothing about the glow of a candle, and comforting scents always calm and relax me. I am always on the hunt for premium candles that give off a hearty scent and burn for long periods of time, so when I came across Old Factory Candles, I knew they had exactly what I was looking for.

Old Factory Candle

Old Factory Candles are made with natural soy wax, which I prefer over regular wax candles because they burn clean, even, and don't emit a ton of smoke into the home. The self-trimming cotton wick lights quickly, and since it is self-trimming, I don't have to hunt down clippers each time I light them.

The candles come in a set of 3 2 ounce jars, which burn for 20 hours! You'll get 3 different scents in each set, which are all matched perfectly to compliment each other. There were many options to choose from, but even with snow on the ground now, I am still longing for the crisp scents of fall, so I chose Fall Harvest.

Old Factory Candle

The Fall Harvest set comes with delicious scents of Pumpkin Spice, Cranberry, and Autumn Leaves. As soon as I took the lids off the jars, the scents just poured out. I do have an open concept home, so the candles do not give as much scent as I would like, but it is recommended to burn 2 of the candles in open concept spaces to get desired fragrance through those areas. I do need to burn 2 in my living room, however, when I light them in my bedroom and bathroom, the scent is amazing with just 1.

In addition to the Fall Harvest, they have an incredible lineup of other yummy scents:

Fresh & Clean               Man Cave
• Lemongrass                  • Straight Razor
• Olive Blossom              • Leather
• Fresh Linen                   • Mahogany         

 Coffee Shop                  New Born Baby
• Coffee Bean                  • Baby Powder
• Hazelnut                        • Baby Shampoo
• Chai Tea                        • First Blanket

High As A Kite               Winter Wonderland
• Cannabis                        • Hot Cocoa
• Incense                           • Roasted Chestnut
• Bag O' Cookies              • First Snow

Happy Holidays               Vacation
• Christmas Tree               • Sea Breeze
• Candy Cane                    • Hawaiian Lei
• Gingerbread                    • Awapuhi

Spa Day                            50 Shades           
• Cucumber                       • Leather
• Lemongrass                    • Jasmine Bubbles
• Green Tean                     • Vanilla Sex

                       Romance
                       • Rose Petals
                       • Champagne
                       • Dark Chocolate

Each candle is hand poured, and what I really like is that they are a USA made product. The jars are modern, and can go with any room decor. Customer service is fabulous too, with a 100% no-hassle refund if you are not fully satisfied with your purchase!

As much as I like to receive candles as gifts, I like to give them too, and Old Factory Candle sets make the perfect holiday gift. You can purchase a set for gifting, or pick up one for yourself through Amazon.

Old Factory Candles


Win It!

One lucky Theresa's Mixed Nuts reader is going to win a set of Old Factory Candles! Giveaway is open to residents of the US, 18+. NO PO Boxes will be accepted. The giveaway will run through 12/5/2014. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to winning email or a new winner will be selected.

**All entries are verified. Please make sure you are following all task guidelines you claim entries for. Failure to do so will result in your entries being removed from the form.

Staying Organized With a Busy Mystery Shopping Schedule

Being organized can impact your mystery shopping in several positive ways. Imagine being able to perform more shops, write higher quality reports, and submit them early with a sense of confidence and calm. With a small investment of time and money, this can be your experience. Here are some tips to help you organize mystery shopping tasks:

Develop a scheduling system. Find a calendar, planner, and/or to-do list that will help you organize site visits and report deadlines. Also, you might use different colored pens to color code shops and deadlines.

Read the directions thoroughly. Using your new system, schedule time to read through the assignment carefully before the site visit. Take notes of key details necessary to perform the shop, and write them on your calendar. While some shops are straightforward, others require a background story. Use this time to create that story so you aren't making it up on the fly. Review the instructions again shortly before the visit to make sure you complete the shop accurately.

Plan your shops close to each other. If possible, group site visits in the same area on the same day. This is especially true if the shops are a long distance from your home. Not only is this more time-efficient, it also helps to prevent excessive wear and tear on your vehicle. If you can’t group them in the same general location, an alternative is to select shops along a route from your starting point to the shop that is farthest away.

Include downtime and travel time. Account for travel time. Go a step further and pad the expected travel time to buffer against unexpected delays. Don't create such a tight schedule that a five minute delay snowballs into a disastrous domino effect. Plan for some downtime to refresh yourself and review the assignments.

Fill out the report ASAP. This tip is related to the previous one, but it deserves its own mention. As soon as you can get to a secure location, take detailed notes on the shop you just completed. Better yet, fill out the report if possible. If you are completing multiple shops on the same day, make every effort to complete your report before going to the next. This will help you avoid mixing up details.

Complete tasks as early as possible. Kids get sick, you get sick, the internet goes down – life happens. Unforeseen events can derail even the best laid plans. To increase the chances of your plans staying on track, complete your shops and reports as early as possible. This provides some “wiggle room” that you and your mystery shopping coordinator will appreciate.

Don’t get discouraged if it takes longer than usual to complete your mystery shopping responsibilities because you are working on your system. These steps will require an investment of time and possibly a little money at the beginning. This small investment, however, has the potential to pay off handsomely in terms of increased pay, a higher shopper rating, and more peace. As you continue using it and making adjustments, it will become second nature. Just be patient and persistent, and the payoff will come.

Image credit: Wikimedia

This contribution comes from Sentry Marketing Group. SMG manages mystery shopping programs for restaurants, hospitality industries, and even automotive companies as well.


A special thank you to Sentry Marketing Group for today's post.
Have you ever tried mystery shopping?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday - Spongebob 12 Years Later



12 years later. The kid aged, but Spongebob hasn't. I wonder if he's had work done ;)

The Three Dogateers DVD Giveaway #TheThreeDogateers

*Disclosure- I received no compensation for this post. All opinions are my own.

I am delighted to bring you an adorable DVD giveaway today for The Three Dogateers! Honestly, this is the first I have heard about the movie, but anything that involves dogs, Christmas and is family friendly gets my seal of approval. I know this is a movie that my daughter is going to love, and I am sure she is going to want to watch it time and time again!


                         

Three pampered pooches left to guard the house on Christmas Eve become fearless DOGATEERS when thieves break in and steal every present, every ornament—even the yuletide tree! Vowing to save Christmas, the three canines set out in search of Santa, the only one who can help them on their quest.                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

#TheThreeDogateers
The Three Dogateers is Dove “Family-Approved”!

 

WIN IT!

                          
One lucky Theresa's Mixed Nuts reader is going to win a DVD copy of The Three Dogateers. The giveaway is open to residents of the US, 18+, (No PO Boxes will be accepted), and will run through 11/28. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to winning email before a new winner is selected. *All entries are verified, so please make sure you are properly entering for the entries you claim.

*Entrants are only eligible to win (1) The Three Dogateers DVD across all blog giveaways. If you have won from another blog, you are ineligible to win again.


Entry-Form


Do you like holiday movies with animals? If so, which one is your favorite?


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Apple Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

Last month, in the height of pumpkin flavored everything, I was craving some pumpkin muffins. I wanted something with a little extra oomph though, and since apples were on sale, I decided to combine the two and bake up these Apple Pumpkin Walnut Muffins. When they came out, I immediately thought "These taste like Thanksgiving!" So, instead of traditional dinner rolls, we will be serving up these muffins at our Thanksgiving dinner this year. They are so moist, delicious, and make the house smell amazing while they are baking. They are definitely my new favorite muffin!

Apple Pumpkin Walnut Muffins

Ingredients:

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 cup pumpkin puree (not whole pumpkin/pumpkin pie filling)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup peeled, cored chopped apple (any sweet apple will do)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Directions:

• Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease muffin cups or line muffin pan with greased muffin liners.

• In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cinnamon, salt, baking powder, baking soda, ginger and cloves. 

• In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, eggs, oil apple, walnuts and vanilla.

• Add the wet ingredients to the dry, stirring to combine until just moistened. Pour the filling into the muffin cups until they are 3/4 full.

• Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted through the center comes out clean.

• Cool for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve.

Apple Pumpkin Walnut Muffins


What is your favorite kind of muffin? Do you serve muffins or dinner rolls for Thanksgiving?


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