Our Holiday Traditions With Coke®

This post has been sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

There's a moment you know it's the holiday season. Here's our favorite holiday traditions. Plus, enter to win a trip to LA #sweepstakes #ad #CocaColaHoliday

My mom and I always say that there’s an exact moment the holiday season hits you, right in the heart.

Maybe you’re snuggled up with your five-year-old watching a holiday movie. Maybe you’re on your town’s version of the Santa Train, and the conductor is belting out “Jingle Bells.” Perhaps it’s the first time you’re seeing Santa Claus for the season, or the first time your child is. Maybe it’s a snowflake on your tongue, a just-right gingerbread cookie, or the sound of sleigh bells ringing. Whatever it is, it heavily involves your five senses. For me, it’s always smell. The smell of baking!

Believe it or not, the holidays are SO CLOSE! This is our time for family togetherness – where we honor traditions and food and drinks. Every year I look forward to Christmas Eve, where we bake cookies for Santa (and for loved ones, of course) and we stay up late watching movies and making a mess too! These are some of the memories I want my kids to remember forever. While they never stay up as late as we do, some of the best times are just us adults. My dad takes out a bunch of drinks and snacks and we get to work – talking, laughing, baking, and cleaning. It’s always a bit magical. A LOT magical.

Want to know the best part? Not only can you share your own holiday traditions, but you can win a trip to LA to see a private screening of The Greatest Showman! Do you shop at Sam’s Club too? Awesome. This holiday season, include Coca-Cola® as part of your tradition. Pick up Sprite® 4 pack 2 Liter, Diet Coke® 4 Pack 2 Liter, Coca-Cola® 35 pack cans, or Coca-Cola® 30 pack Mini Cans beverages from Sam’s Club, then upload your receipt for a chance to WIN a trip for two to Los Angeles featuring:

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2 – Round trip air transportation for two
3 – Two 20th Century Fox goodie bags
4 – Three nights’ luxury accommodations in a Hollywood hotel
5 – VIP backstage tour of Fox Studios, with lunch at the on-site restaurant
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Find out more here: http://www.samsclub.com/coca-cola/

There's a moment you know it's the holiday season. Here's our favorite holiday traditions. Plus, enter to win a trip to LA #sweepstakes #ad #CocaColaHoliday

What are you waiting for? Get to Sam’s Club for your chance to win these amazing prizes! As a kid, we’d always go to a movie on Christmas Day. These days it’s harder because we have Christmas at my parent’s horse farm and they have seven grandkids, with two on the way. The kids range from newborn to age eight. There’s not an easy way for ALL of us to go to the movies, but that used to be our tradition. Who knows? Maybe we’ll start it as a new tradition! It’s always such a special time together.

These days there are so many parts to the wonder and magic of the holiday. There’s Christmas Eve with making all the magic for the kids. Then there’s that time where we’re all together but the kids are in bed. That’s when we kick back more.

We make a mess, and my parents put out the best snacks and drinks, with special straws while we get to work. I always joke that I could have just eaten a five-course meal, but the second I walk into my parent’s house, I’m looking through their fridge within the first five minutes! They never disappoint year-round, but there’s something about the holidays.

They always have a ton of snacks and Coca-Cola®!

There's a moment you know it's the holiday season. Here's our favorite holiday traditions. Plus, enter to win a trip to LA #sweepstakes #ad #CocaColaHoliday

And that’s one of the many things that makes the holiday season so special. It’s tradition and family. It’s special occasion food and drinks. And it’s making the magic with the kids, and then having our own little party after they go to bed!

So get to Sam’s Club and get your Coca-Cola® products for your opportunity to win this chance of a lifetime grand prize! And tell me – what are your holiday traditions? Are they anything like mine? I love how ours change every year, but some things always stay the same.

So, what are your best holiday traditions?

“Coca-Cola” is a registered trademark of The Coca-Cola Company.

There's a moment you know it's the holiday season. Here's our favorite holiday traditions. Plus, enter to win a trip to LA #sweepstakes #ad #CocaColaHoliday

#MyTownProud: The Small Town Artist That Inspired Me the Most

This content is sponsored by the Monsanto Fund’s America’s Farmers Community Outreach programs, but views and thoughts are my own.

What makes you #MyTownProud? Before I moved to New England and found my small town, I got inspiration from where I'm from, and how it has helped my art. #ad

I admit that there was a period of time in my early 20’s in which I thought I wanted to live in NYC.

Now, I can’t believe I ever sought that life because I’m a country girl through and through, and I’ve been that way probably my whole life. It’s true that I lived in San Francisco for a short spell in the mid-2000’s, but that was a chance of a lifetime and an experiment. It didn’t last long, and soon I gave up living in a MIDDLE apartment in Golden Gate Park – sandwiched between, below, and above some loud neighbors – and traded it in for a New England town without its own stoplight.

This is where I find peace, and this is where my words and my art are the most inspired. It’s no surprise to me that I wound up living in a clearing in the woods on four acres, because I get it all from my mom! As a kid, we lived on top of a mountain and surrounded by cornfields. I always thought we had the best of everything. We had the dimension and the beauty of the elevation, but we were also on a place filled with crops and wildlife. My mom’s dream was always to own horses, and once she reached that dream, her dream was to own her own horse FARM, and she fulfilled that dream when I was an adult.

I’ve loved seeing it unfold.

My mom is an artist/art teacher, and her father was an artist too. As a writer and a photographer, I certainly relate to so many parts of her – her humor and quirks, the way she translates her hopes and dreams into visual creations, and the way she is at one with nature. We are both small town women, probably more so than anyone else in our family. I’m proud to be from a small town, and to have been inspired to be an artist – like my mom and my grandfather. Their art is in galleries.

Before I was born, my mom was an art teacher in the public schools. After she gave birth to my sister and then me, she had the foresight and inspiration to start an art school right out of her home. When we moved in with my dad and new siblings after she got re-married, my dad helped her create an even bigger art school in our new house. The business was and still is called Art Magic, and its existence is the only life I’ve ever known. When we moved to Blairstown, NJ about 15 years ago, my parents set down their small town roots and let them spread. They own a horse farm, and my mom is a curator/exhibitor at the town’s local art gallery on Main Street. You can’t go for a walk down Main Street without seeing a familiar face.

I used to joke that it was straight out of a movie, or a western. I’m #MyTownProud to be a part of this life.

My mom makes dioramas/dreamscapes. They involve a lengthy process that begins with her original pen and ink drawings. Then, her drawings are photographically reproduced and reduced in size. She takes the new drawings and dry mounts them to boards. Then she cuts them out and layers on colors with translucent films. The final product is a three-dimensional box – a juxtaposition of cultures, worlds, and images – intended to portray time as the past, present, and future as one event.

What I love is how receptive the town is to her art. She’s found a niche in a wonderful community.

Not long after we moved to Blairstown, the small town had an Arts & Local Business Night. All of the local businesses opened their doors and served food and drinks. It was warm and welcoming, and VERY country. I loved seeing residents ride horses down the street and then “park them” to go out to dinner. That’s when I knew we had found “home.” A forever home.

And THESE are the people you’ll find in small towns – full of love, warmth, inspiration, and complexity. Their stories have layers, and it’s so rewarding to find out how they came to do what they do, and how they came to live where they live.

What makes you #MyTownProud? Before I moved to New England and found my small town, I got inspiration from where I'm from, and how it has helped my art. #ad

I’m so proud to be from a small town, and to live in this rural setting I enjoy every day now. What I love is that The Monsanto Fund celebrates these amazing communities, and helps to make them even more vibrant for future generations through America’s Farmers Community Outreach. These America’s Farmers programs, sponsored by The Monsanto Fund, help put the farmer in the center of the story. In America’s rural communities, farmers not only provide food and fuel, but they are pivotal characters in their communities. They often serve as the backbone of the areas in which they live – like here. Through the Grow Communities, Grow Rural Education and Grow Ag Leaders programs, The Monsanto Fund celebrates the accomplishments throughout communities with grants to help them continue to grow and thrive. A new campaign sponsored by the programs called My Town will continue this celebration of the people, places and stories that make small towns great.

They do this with the help of local farmers.

Why are you #MyTownProud? Share your own why on social media with the #MyTownProud hashtag! Connect with America’s Farmers on their website, and on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and share your stories in those places!

Are you an artist? Can you think of a particular artist you love in your town?