Celebrate the Holidays at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

When it comes to the holidays, Cracker Barrel Old Country Store always does it up right! Every year around August/September (yes that early). The Cracker Barrel Old Country Store starts its transformation to the holidays both Halloween and Christmas. I just love this time of the year and I am never let down by Cracker Barrel’s product. Thanks to the wonderful people at Cracker Barrel, we are able to cover two of their hottest new items for this holiday season.

The first we have is the “4′ Light-Up Lamp Post”. This is plain and simple a gorgeous holiday decoration. Just beautiful. We have this on the outside of our house on the corner by the front door on a timer and it is just beautiful to look at as we pull up at night and I hope that it brings the joy of the holidays to our neighbors as well. In fact, I went out and bought a second one for my parents as well because they simply feel in love with ours. This is a must own for holiday decorating and at a very reasonable price.

“”4′ Light-Up Lamp Post“: Decorate your entryway, porch or patio in classic Christmas style with our Light Up Lamp Post, a Cracker Barrel Exclusive! This 4′ tall decorative lamp post gives your holiday a pop of bright red and green color in the day time, and the soft, welcoming glow of clear mini lights shining through pretty star shapes at night. No matter where you display it, this easy-to-assemble novelty lamppost is just right for bright holiday cheer!

The second item that we received to feature is the “Musical Light-Up Santa’s Workshop”. This product is just fantastic. The lights…the music…the craftsmanship. Just superb. This item is a beautiful piece for the middle of a table or desk to really catch peoples eye and show your true spirit of the holidays. My daughter is four and she loves watching the Workshop move and sparkle as it plays the holiday tunes. This product is also very reasonable priced to get for the quality. So I would recommend you heading to your local Cracker Barrel and check out their Old Country Store or you can also shop online.

Musical Light-Up Santa’s Workshop“: Whether you’re just starting a collection of miniature decorative houses or already have a charming village to display at the holidays, our Musical Light Up Santa’s Workshop will steal the show! This Cracker Barrel Exclusive is designed to delight down to the tiniest detail, from the animated Santa and elves to the color-changing lights. You’ll love this wonderful musical decoration for many holiday seasons to come!

Product Feature: Halloween at Cracker Barrel Old Country Store

When the holiday seasons roll around I just can’t wait to go into my local Cracker Barrel Old Country Store. You walk in their store and you are immediately whammed with some of the most creative and fun decorations for any upcoming holiday. I am the kind of person that would loop the Fall/Holiday season over and over if possible, so when you walk into the store in August and see Halloween already decked out ready I melt! And if the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store knows how to do one thing it is Halloween! They setup one of the coolest displays for their merchandise. My daughter usually b-lines to it to check out all the amazing new items.

This year, I had the chance to review seven of the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store’s latest new products and like usual, all fantastic as usual. The first was my four year old’s choice, “Animated Halloween Puppy“. This trick-or-treating doggy aka Candy Bandit is literally one of the cutest animated toys, I have ever seen! And if it wasn’t cute enough it runs around the floors or table and plays “The Addams Family” theme! SOLD!

Next up is a “Light-Up Witch Wreath“, this is a cute door wreath for the Halloween season. There is something I love about this wreath on my first door, it is not scary-scary but it is fun and maybe a little silly and I just know that if anyone is coming to my door it is impossible not to realize and smile at for sure!

Animated Eyeball Doorbell” is one item that was NOT my four year old’s favorite due to being “too scary” but honestly that is a score for daddy cause that means that it is effective. This went right outside our door as well and I know that it has already given a few fun jumps to our friends and family, which makes me love it even more!

Who doesn’t love Peanuts and their wonderful characters? Cracker Barrel Old Country Store always has the cutest Peanuts animated figures. The latest is an “Animated Glow-in-the-Dark Snoopy“, which you immediately fall in love with! I have gotten a Snoopy animated character from Cracker Barrel Old Country Store for the last three years now and each of them are better than the next. It has music, it dances (or should I say wiggles) and the glowing in the dark is just a bonus! A must have for any Peanuts fans out there!

Having a young child and being a big Halloween fan sometimes might be difficult because you have to balance the scary factor and can’t get something that will terrify for kids. The “Metal Witch Leg Yard Stake” from Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is a great product that fits right in for that balance. It is extremely fun and honestly just cracks me up everything time I walk outside (as it does my daughter). Plus it doesn’t take up a lot of outdoor space and is extremely easy to stake in the ground.

If you are looking for a little decor around the house for the subtle Halloween touch, look no further than the “Light-Up Witches Brew Potion Jar“. This light up jar is a cute way to dress up your house in addition to light it up. It gives off a nice amount of light and adds a nice Halloween accent to our counter.

Last item of the season that we had the chance to feature is also one of my favorites, the “‘Welcome My Pretties’ Wall Decor“. Since we have our front door occupied with the Light-Up Witch Wreath, our pantry door is covered with this fun decor. This piece just screams “Welcome Halloween” for me! It is fun and we have it placed in a great spot in our house and every time I see it I definitely just smile and it makes it laugh. I like to always image that a witch literally flew into our door…SMOOSH! It is reasonably priced, in fact that bring up a great point about Cracker Barrel Old Country Store that their prices are very competitive. You go to Target or Wal-Mart and sure they might have “cheap” Halloween decoration but you are getting that exactly CHEAP in quality. Everything sold at the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store seems like it is much higher than the plain ole garage you will find at those stores.

That is also one of the things that I loved about the Cracker Barrel Old Country Store is that they don’t recycle all of last years crap that didn’t sell, I always feel like they have a wide variety of new products each season as well and as a consumer that makes me very satisfied. So you may not think of Cracker Barrel Old Country Store as your first stop to check out the latest holiday products but honestly it should be because this store has it all and you will have a hard time leaving without a purchase once you walk in! We should have our Christmas coverage up first week in November covering all the great new Cracker Barrel Old Country Store products as well, so stay tuned!

Cory Stolberg discussing saving My Happy Place Comic Book Store

Cory Stolberg and Bill Hoeks are dreamers. As the managers of the My Happy Place Comic Book Store in Crystal Lake, Illinois, they’ve set out to give customers the same great experience they had when they were younger. In store giveaways, special guest appearances and the thrill that comes when you first open a new comic.

They recently started a Go Fund Me Page in hopes of raising enough money to turn My Happy Place into one of the premiere comic book stores in the Midwest. I recently chatted with Cory about his younger years, his passion and the dream he and Bill hope will come true.

Mike Smith: Can you give us some background on the store?
Cory Stolberg: We opened the store in January of this year and it is my first time running a comic book store. The current owner opened the store as a tribute to her youngest son, who was only 19 when he passed away three years ago from an unknown heart condition. He was a huge “Captain America” fan and had always told his mom, who had previously owned a used book store, that one day he was going to take it over and turn it into a comic book store. Bill and I have been helping and assisting since day one of this project. We’re involved in everything from planning and remodeling the location to moving inventory around. We also handle setting up the current floor plan and the ordering of merchandise. We try to host an event a month by having artists, writers and publishers in the store for free meet and greets. We hosted Free Comic Book Day back in May and just had another one on Halloween.

MS: Is it hard work?
CS: We have worked hard every single step of the way We have laid the ground work for where we want to see this store go and the owner has pretty much given us free range to do it and we have made it a success thus far. But the time frame to purchase the store was moved up, which is why we set up the Go Fund Me page. The people that have donated thus far are regulars at the store and they understand and see the big picture of what we want to accomplish. It is their passion and commitment to us that keeps our heads up.

MS: Give a little information about your Go Fund Me efforts.
CS: I started the Go Fund Me Page in late August and it has had a slow start. Since then, we have fielded quite a few questions. Everything from is the store closing to “what about my orders!” Our store is different from every other I have ever been in. Now granted I don’t get to travel the country and visit other stores, but compared to the many I have been to in Illinois, none of them have the energy we have, none of them greet the customers walking in the door by name, few are willing to go above and beyond to locate books for customers if they are not found in the store or on the Diamond Distributors page. We receive so many compliments from customers who quickly become friends. Because of our efforts they often become loyal to our shop with just one visit.

Our goal is $75,000, of which part will be used for updating and remodeling as discussed on the Go Fund Me Page. More inventory, some gaming, some updating, new racks and displays and a nest egg to help us for a bit. Any and all funds raised will go directly into the store. If we do not hit our goal, then ever dollar is returned to the donors. However, we believe that we can and will make this work, it is just a matter of keeping our heads up and staying the course.

MS: Why do you want to run a comic book store?
CS: For us this is dream. I have been reading and collecting comics on and off for almost 40 years. I dropped out in the 90’s, like many others, after the whole “Death of Superman” experience and the introduction of Spawn and Image Comics to the world. Over the years the writing has gotten better, the artwork is incredible and many of the story lines are just amazing. I personally prefer to read the independent books or smaller publishers, as I have outgrown the whole Super Hero thing. Plus, its near on impossible to go back and try to collect the back issues if you aren’t wealthy. For Bill and I this has been the most fun we have had working, ever. The customers are awesome, most of them are now friends and we get new ones weekly. Even though we know we will never get rich at this, this has been the most satisfying experience thus far in our lives. We are continuing to make friends with people in the industry who truly understand our dream and are helping where they can. We had artists at the New York Comic Con this weekend helping to promote our fundraising page and spreading the word about our dream. Everyone has to start somewhere. It took us many years to get our dream going but there is no letting up on it now.

MS: What is the big difference between your store and others?
CS: Bill and I have both been in positions over our work histories where we ended up working for some terrible employers and bosses. And we remember this every day as a way not to treat others. Customer service is a huge part of this business. You get one chance to make a first impression and you better make the most of it, because the customer can make you or break you in an instant. If you are having a bad day, the customer had better never know it. If the customer is having a bad day, you better do everything in your power to make it better for them. My Grandmother helped raise me and she instilled in me at a very young age that every single person you meet and have contact with each and every day, make them smile, no matter what, you have no idea what is going on in their lives at that moment and that one simple gesture, like a simple smile, could change their lives. Does that make us qualified to own a store? Who knows? But the customers love it and if they are happy, we are happy. As we say “Come find your Happy Place at My Happy Place Comics!”

To make a donation or to find out more information about the Go Fund Me campaign, click here https://www.gofundme.com/myhappyplace

“Care Bears Advent Calender” Hits iTunes App Store!

Come along with the Care Bears for a very magical countdown to Christmas in The Care Bears Advent calendar app from American Greetings. Packed with all of the fun sights and sounds of the holiday season children can start the countdown by ‘unlocking’ 25 activities like holiday-themed puzzles, videos, coloring pages and more, returning each day to unlock another activity. Children can design hundreds of snowflakes and create their own white Christmas with the Care-a-Lot Snowflake maker, decorate the Care Bears Christmas tree with special ornaments, and enjoy other wintry fun activities. On Christmas Day, a full-length Care Bears video episode is unlocked.

Available now for iPads for $2.99 on the App Store. A PC and MAC desktop app can be downloaded at https://www.americangreetings.com/care-bears-advent-calendar

Disney’s “Wreck-It Ralph” Prize Pack & Disney Store Bonus Shop Card Giveaway [ENDED]

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED AND WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL. PLEASE CHECK BACK EACH WEEK FOR NEW GIVEAWAYS!

©2012 Disney Enterprises, Inc.

To celebrate the release of Disney’s “WRECK-IT RALPH”, we are excited to giveaway a $25 Disney Store bonus shop card, as well as some t-shirts and other movie goodies.  If you would like to win one of these great prizes, please leave us a comment below or send us an email and let us know your favorite video game character. This giveaway will be open until November 11th at Noon, Eastern Time and is only open to residents of the United States. Only one entry per person, per household; all other entries will be considered invalid. Once the giveaway ends, Media Mikes will randomly pick out winners and alert the winners via email.

Visit your local Disney Store or DisneyStore.com to live the adventure of WRECK-IT RALPH.

Official Website: Disney.com/WreckItRalph
Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/WreckItRalph
Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/disneyanimation

Voice Cast: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch
Director: Rich Moore
Producer: Clark Spencer

From Walt Disney Animation Studios and Emmy®-winning director Rich Moore comes “Wreck-It Ralph,” a hilarious, arcade-game-hopping adventure. For decades, Ralph (voice of John C. Reilly) has been overshadowed by Fix-It Felix, Jr. (voice of Jack McBrayer), the good-guy star of their game who always gets to save the day. Tired of playing the role of a bad guy, Ralph takes matters into his own massive hands and sets off on a journey across the arcade through multiple generations of video games to prove he’s got what it takes to be a hero.

On his quest, Ralph meets tough-as-nails Sergeant Calhoun (voice of Jane Lynch) from the first-person action game Hero’s Duty, and feisty misfit Vanellope von Schweetz (voice of Sarah Silverman) from the candy-coated cart racing game, Sugar Rush, who may just be his first real friend. But everything changes when a deadly enemy is unleashed, threatening the entire arcade and Vanellope herself. Ralph finally gets his chance to save the day—but can he do it in time? “Wreck-It Ralph” is now playing in theatres in 3D.

Blu-ray Review “The Little Shop of Horrors (1960)”

Directed by: Roger Corman
Starring: Dick Miller, Jack Nicholson, Jonathan Haze, Mel Welles
Distributed by: Legend Films
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Release Date: March 6, 2012
Running Time: 70 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2 out of 5 stars

Legend Films is known for colorizing classic films and they did a very notable job with 1960’s “The Little Shop of Horrors”. The color is very subtle and feels like it was beautiful hand panted on each scene. I have seen this film many times and I am big fan of Roger Corman and this film still works well for me. This is the first time that this film has been released on Blu-ray and Legend films really did a great job restoring it in both color and black-and-white.

Everyone knows the classic story of “The Little Shop of Horrors”. This 1960 film was also one of Jack Nicholson’s first roles. Seymour grows an exotic plant that has an insatiable appetite for blood and people. As the plant grows larger and larger and hungrier and hungrier, things start to get out of the control for the local flower shop and their bloodthirsty plant.

The video resolutions looks really sharp in its 1080p transfer. The only main concern is that the aspect ratio on the Blu-ray is 1.33:1 compared to the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. Nothing major missed though. The audio is nothing special but includes a DTS-HD Master Audio Mono track.

The special features only included a commentary track by MST3K’s Mike Nelson, which definitely delivers some great laughs. Lastly if you prefer the classic black and white version of the film, as with all Legend releases they included the original black and white version as well, so everyone is happy.

Have a Pet or Be a Pet: “The Sims 3 Pets” Is Available on Store Shelves Today

Have a Pet or Be a Pet: The Sims 3 Pets Is Available on Store Shelves Today

Fetch a Copy of the Latest Standalone Release for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS and Expansion Pack on the PC/Mac

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. –(BUSINESS WIRE)– Let the fur fly! Will you have a pet or be a pet? Now you can play both ways as pets are Sims too! Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ:ERTS) today announced The Sims™ 3 Pets is now available in North America on PlayStation® 3 computer entertainment system, Xbox 360® video game and entertainment system, Nintendo 3DS™ and as an Expansion Pack on the PC/ Mac*. Developed by the award-winning team at The Sims Studio, The Sims 3 Pets gives players the ability to play as a pet for the first time in franchise history and see The Sims world through their eyes.

Across all platforms, players will be able to use the robust Create a Pet tool to customize dozens of breeds of cats and dogs. On the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC/Mac, players are able to design their pet from their coats, colors and body shapes, and even down to their snouts and age. Players can also choose from a variety of unique personality traits such as friendly, hyper, clueless and piggy, offering limitless opportunities for fans to create the pets of their dreams or nightmares.

“Pets have always been the top requested theme from our players, and we are delivering a deep, rich experience in The Sims 3 Pets for our fans to enjoy,” said Scott Evans , General Manager of The Sims Studio. “From the moment a player starts the game, they’ll revel in the opportunities to recreate their childhood pet, train their dog to be the most desirable or despicable animal in the neighborhood, share their favorite pet on The Sims 3 Exchange or witness the special lasting relationships their Sims build with their pets. The Sims 3 Pets is about the moments that are unique to the player who lives them.”

The Sims 3 Pets also features gameplay experiences specific to each platform. Exclusive to the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360, players will explore all new venues and embark on mysteries in the New England -style town of Sugar Maple Coast . Karma Powers return to the console games and give players the ability to bestow wealth on their Sim or completely uproot their lives. New Karma Powers include: Transmogrify that allows a Sim, cat or dog to turn into a different species; Meteor Strike that drops space rocks from the sky; Feral Possession which turns players’ pets into furry terrors; and more. Exclusive to the Xbox 360, players who are Kinect-enabled can use voice commands to quickly jump between areas of Create a Sim and live mode to change outfits, fulfill the needs of both their Sims and pets and more.

In The Sims 3 Pets PC/Mac Expansion Pack, players are able to create and adopt dogs, cats and, another first for the franchise, horses. Fans are able to take their Sims and their pets on wild adventures while exploring the new world with animal-specific venues and environments such as the dog park, cat jungle or horse stables. Another exclusive to the PC/Mac version, players will be able to search through their world for the elusive unicorn. The magical unicorn can be added to a player’s household after they’ve built up the relationship enough. Unicorns offer fun opportunities to play with life by being able to bless other Sims, teleport around the world and even spark fires. Other minor pets that Sims can own and interact with, but are not fully controllable, include birds, rodents, lizards, turtles and snakes.

Unique to the Nintendo 3DS version of The Sims 3 Pets, players can now create, customize and control a household full of pets without any human Sims. In addition, players will be able to save up to three separate games, each with its own household of three playable Sims. Through gameplay, players can add a fourth member to their household. The Sims 3 Pets on Nintendo 3DS lets fans use Play Coins collected from the Nintendo’s 3DS pedometer feature to spend as Karma Power points. Additionally, players will be able to use Nintendo’s StreetPass function to share their Sims and pets with other Nintendo 3DS users in near vicinity.

The Sims 3 Pets is rated “T” for Teen, with an MSRP of $49.99 on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and $39.99 on Nintendo 3DS and PC/Mac.

The Sims 3 Plus Pets is also available on PC/Mac and bundles The Sims 3 base game and The Sims 3 Pets Expansion Pack with an MSRP of $49.99 .

For more information, visit http://www.thesims3.com/content/en_US/promo/pets/pets.htm, like the game on Facebook or follow us on Twitter. For more information on The Sims 3, visit http://www.thesims3.com/.

*Requires The Sims 3 for PC/Mac to play.

About The Sims

The Sims™ franchise, the groundbreaking game series that allows players to create and live a virtual, simulated life on a computer, celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2010 and has sold more than 140 million units since its launch in February 2000 . Now translated into 20 different languages and available in 60 different countries, The Sims series has quickly become a universal gaming and cultural phenomenon. Since its June 2009 launch, The Sims 3 has sold more than 10 million copies worldwide across multiple platforms and was the #1 best-selling PC title for 2009 in North America and Europe . Fan intensity is evidenced through nearly 250 million downloads of player-created content including: The Sims characters, houses, stories and more. The Sims 3 community site, www.thesims3.com, welcomes up to seven million unique visitors monthly, handles more than 240 content downloads every minute and more than 3.5 million uploads to date, including 11 movies each hour. The Sims 3 YouTube Channel is within the top 10 most-viewed sponsored channels of all time, with more than 45 million video views. Visit The Sims 3 official website to see what the players are creating at www.TheSims3.com or the official YouTube Channel for The Sims at http://www.youtube.com/user/TheSims. The Sims 3 is available for PC, Mac, iPhone®, iPod touch®, mobile devices, PlayStation®3 computer entertainment system, Xbox 360® videogame and entertainment system, Nintendo DS™, Wii™ and Nintendo 3DS™. Join The Sims 3 Facebook or Twitter communities at www.facebook.com/thesims3 and www.twitter.com/thesims3. In August, 2011, The Sims Social browser-based game launched on Facebook and within one month garnered an impressive 50M monthly active users and secured the #2 position on Appdata’s chart of top Facebook games. To play The Sims Social, visit www.facebook.com/TheSimsSocial.

About Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ:ERTS) is a global leader in digital interactive entertainment. The Company’s game franchises are offered as both packaged goods products and online services delivered through Internet-connected consoles, personal computers, mobile phones and tablets. EA has more than 100 million registered players and operates in 75 countries.

In fiscal 2011, EA posted GAAP net revenue of $3.6 billion . Headquartered in Redwood City, California , EA is recognized for critically acclaimed, high-quality blockbuster franchises such as The Sims™, Madden NFL, FIFA Soccer, Need for Speed™, Battlefield, and Mass Effect™. More information about EA is available at http://info.ea.com.

The Sims and Need for Speed are trademarks of Electronic Arts Inc. Mass Effect is a trademark of EA International (Studio and Publishing) Ltd. John Madden, NFL and FIFA are the property of their respective owners and used with permission.