Call for Blogtoberfest Entries!

I always welcome guest posts at The Jump, but I take the collection thereof more seriously from October 1 to All Hallows Eve. The results have been varied and awesome, ranging in topic from witches to zombies to Neil Diamond.

Over the years, Blogtoberfest Guest Post submissions evolved into a full-on contest, with winners, prizes, and the bestowing of appropriate amounts of online glory.

Winners will be decided by readers via an online poll at the end of the month. There’s no length requirement or limit, and posts need not be spooky. October is also the month of harvest, baseball, and Breast Cancer Awareness. It may be that you or your organization has an annual event this month that deserves a little publicity. Whatever the topic – if it says October to you is fair game!

Prizes will be announced soon, and posts are accepted throughout the month, so get writing and send your entries to writerjax -at-!

Hilltown Families Handmade Valentine Swap 

Behold, the spoils of the Hilltown Families Handmade Valentine Swap!

I signed up for this annual community tradition for the second time this year, and for the first time as a mom. This time around, the whole process was even more fun, and the entire family got involved.

Created by Hilltown Families, the handmade valentine swap charges participants with creating and mailing handmade valentines to ten assigned addresses, receiving handmade valentines from other families in return.

After signing up, we received a list of addresses of families across Western Mass., and set to work getting our craft on. We started with art supplies in ‘Valentine colors,’ including red finger paint, and several sheets of card stock …

…some of the paint made it onto the paper, along with crayon scribbles and stickers.

Those were set aside to dry, and after bedtime, I added some scrapbook embellishments.

I also threw a few stickers into each of the envelopes — Ben’s job was to create equal piles of stickers for each child — before addressing them and sending them off.

In a few days, we started receiving handmade valentines from other families in return. Some people save them to open all at once on Valentine’s Day, others open them as they come in and display them like Christmas cards. We chose the latter this year, opening them together before bedtime and decorating the mantel. They’re all so creative… we received a heart ornament made out of pipe cleaners and Cheerios, thumb-print love birds, a hand-print fish, a heart made of tiny feet, and two handmade paper hearts in the coolest colors. I definitely noticed a purple trend.


From start to finish, the swap is so much fun! Can’t wait to do it again next year.

Go Speed Blogger, GO!

Today I embark on an exciting blogging adventure, as a ‘Guest Driver’ for Haddad Toyota! I’ll be testing out the 2014 Toyota Corolla for a week and sharing my adventures here and via my social networks Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Vine.

This is a special promotion I’ve just entered into with the dealership to use the power of social media to spread the word about a new product…I’m doubly excited, though, because Haddad did their homework with me. Not only am I a complete and total social media nerd and obvious blog enthusiast, I’ve also driven Toyota-manufactured cars for more than 15 years. I had a Toyota Tercel for 11 years until I finally traded it in — as JaxDad says, by that time, I essentially owed the car money.

After bidding farewell to the Tercel, I bought a new Scion, which will be paid off in a matter of weeks (squeal). What can I say; they’re good cars. They last. They’re good on gas. It’ll be interesting to see what Toyota has in store for 2014, and car manufacturers in general, for that matter.

I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a great excuse to get out and see some great stuff as fall commences, documenting along the way! This blogtastic project also coincides with Blogtoberfest, my annual blog celebration of all things October, so I’ll be dragging some of my compadres along on my mini road-trips to keep things interesting and get some other people’s opinions about the ride. Let me know if there are any specific Berkshire destinations you’d like us to zoom over to, and we’ll do our best! Leave suggestions in the comments.

A couple of housekeeping notes: This a straight test-drive in exchange for blogging and social media coverage – the dealership is providing the car for an extended test drive (7 days) and a gas card for fuel. There’s no other compensation involved. No, I won’t text and drive, I promise. The same goes for vining, tweeting, facebooking, pinning, and instagramming. This is a Haddad Dealerships/WriterJax endeavor. Read the  FTC Blogger Guidelines here.