Tuesday, November 30, 2010

My 5 Helpful Tips For Holiday Tech Shopping

I am a member of twittermoms and they have teamed up with Staples and asked me to post my top 5 helpful tips for holiday tech shopping. You may read more about that request here.

I have a family who seems to live for technology. We all like to use the telephone, television, computer, wii, itouch, dvd player, etc. Let's face it, how would we be able to pass a day with out using some sort of technology? Technology is everywhere so we might as well embrace it!

It seems that eveyone on my holiday shopping list has some sort of techno-gadget that they are wishing for. My daughter wants the new XBox 360 with Kinect, my husband wants a new cell phone and my son has a new lap top on his wish list. So, What's a mom to do? Shop, of course!

To help me with my holiday techno-gadget shopping, I have come up with a list of 5 helpful tips for holiday tech shopping. I would like to share those with you if you are interested.

1. Know the exact name and model of the techno-gadget that your recipient would like. This is very important. There are so many different versions of the ithis and psthat. You would hate to disappoint the gift receiver by getting the model wrong.

2. Comparison shop. When shopping for techno-gadgets, it is very important to shop around for the best price. When you stay with in your budget, you will be happy and you can still please the gift recipient at the same time. I like to shop online when I am comparison shopping. I may make my final purchase at a brick and mortar store, but I like to do a price research online. This saves me time and gas, plus miles on my car.

3. Warranty: Check to see if your new technology item will come with a warranty. Sometimes you can even buy an extended warranty for the higher priced items. I like to ensure that my gift will keep on giving for a long time. Especially when I invest several dollars into it. No one wants the disappointment of a broken techno-gadget just days after they received it.

4. Gift Receipt: Be sure and get a gift receipt when buying electronic technology products. The gift recipient will be able to return the item to the store with out any hassle as long as they have a receipt. A gift receipt is sort of an insurance, just in case the recipient no longer wants the item or in case they receive two of the same. A gift receipt also lets you keep the amount that you paid for the item secret.

5. Put your wishes on your wish list too! While you are out shopping for others, be sure and put your wants on your list too. You might just be surprised and find something that you would like on sale.

Did you know that Staples is a great place to shop for your favorite techno-gadget gifts this holiday season? Staples even carries the Kindle in-store. They even have a cool interactive display where you can try it out and see if you like it before you buy it!

My last tip is to remember the reason for the season. Enjoy your friends and family during this special time of the year. Technology may make this world go around but love will keep us together.

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Staples blogging program, making me eligible for a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cardstore.com Review and Giveaway CLOSED

Have you ordered your Holiday Cards yet? If not, then you have come to the right place! Cardstore.com has a wide assortment of Holiday Cards and Photo Cards for this wonderful season.

For my review, I chose the Dual Blue Photo Holiday Photo Card. This is a
5.25" x 3.75" flat photo card that you may customize with your own words and picture. Once you choose the picture that you would like on your card, you input the quantity that you wish to purchase. The next step is to click personalize and upload your picture. Here you may choose to have your photo in black and white or sepia. You may also crop your picture or zoom in. Once your picture is exactly how you want it, you click on apply. This is where you personalize your cards wording. This step is really easy, you simply click on the words that you wish to replace and write your own message. Click next and then approve your design.

I love that cardstore.com gives you so many shipping options. You can choose to have your cards mailed to you in a package, they will print your return address on the envelopes and mail them to you, or they will even mail them directly to the recipient if you wish. The choice is yours.

My order from cardstore.com was shipped quickly and the cards are just how I wanted them. I ordered 15 flat cards and I was able to use the $25 gift card allowed for this review. I didn't go over my budgeted amount. I chose a picture of my daughter's first grade class and this will be her Christmas card to the other students. I love that photo cards document memories and you can share them with those that you cherish.



I am happy to share a cardstore.com coupon code with you. You may receive 20% off your first Cardstore.com purchase by using the coupon code: CSHOLIDAY20

Giveaway time!

Cardstore.com has offered to provide one of my readers with either a set of personalized gift tags or a personalized notebook. I will let you decide which item you would like to win.

Mandatory Entry:
Follow my blog publicly with google friends connect by clicking on follow on the right side bar button. Please leave a comment below and include your email address in the comment so that I may contact you if you are the lucky winner.

Extra Entries:
1 extra entry: Tell me if you would choose the personalized gift tags or a personalized notebook if you won.
1 extra entry: Follow me on twitter and comment below with your twitter name.
1 extra entry: Subscribe to my rss feed and comment below. Current subscriptions count too!
3 extra entries each: Tweet this giveaway. This may be done daily. Please leave a link to your tweet in your 3 comments below. It's easy to tweet this post by using the little buttons below this post.
3 extra entries: Subscribe to my email. Current email subscriptions count too! Please leave your 3 comments below.
3 extra entries: Follow me on network blogs. Please leave your 3 comments below if you follow me.
5 extra entries: Post my giveaway on your blog or in a mclinky and leave a link to your post in your 5 additional comments below.

Thank you for visiting my blog! This giveaway will end on December 12, 2010 at 11:59 pm central time. I will choose a winner shortly after that and notify them by email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the winning email notification. If they fail to claim the prize in that time frame then I will choose another winner.

Disclosure: I have received a $25 gift card to cardstore.com so that I may complete an honest review of their product. The opinions here are my own.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

GiveBack & Give Thanks During The Holidays

I am a OnetoOne Network member and they have teamed up with GiveBack this holiday season. GiveBack is a new way to "give back" to those in need during the holidays and all year-round. GiveBack is a site where you can create your own personal giving foundation. You can either donate money to your own foundation and get an immediate tax deduction or you can fund your account by shopping at any of GiveBack's hundreds of retailers through your GiveBack link. A percentage of your purchase, up to 15%, will go directly into your GiveBack account. Utlimately you get the satisfaction of donating your GiveBack funds to any charity registered in the U.S. It may be a large national charity or a local organization in your community. You choose!



Disclosure: I am a OnetoOne Network member and I have posted this information in the hopes of winning a gift card.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Softlips Promotion


Do you enjoy Softlips products? If so, you might be interested to know that starting 11/26 through 12/10 they will have FREE SHIPPING on all orders placed in the online Softlips store.

Are you on facebook? Do you want to drop a hint for somebody to buy you some Softlips this holiday season? If so, starting 11/26 you can visit the Softlips Facebook page and click on the “WISH LIST” tab and share your list with your Facebook friends! Your wish just might come true!

Disclosure: I am not receiving anything for this post. I am simply sharing information with my readers for free.

Road Trip!

Discount Tire and TwitterMoms have teamed up together and asked me to share my special memories from my favorite road trip and any exclusive Family Road Trip Tips that I have as well. I think that this will be a fun writing challenge and I am up for the task. Are you ready for a Road Trip?

Lets see, my husband and I have been together for 15 years. We had 5 years together before we decided to have children. We also traveled alot during those 5 years. We liked to take trips to casinos and being that we live in Texas that meant spending many many many hours together in the car. Traveling.

This one particular road trip took place comming back from Vicksburg, Mississippi. We were a little, okay, quite a bit tired and had spent the whole night gambling. We were on our way to Shreveport, Louisiana for yet another stop on our gambling weekend. To pass the time I started singing Old Mac Donald had a farm and my husband joined in. I would say the "Old Mac Donald had a cow" and he would do the noises. He had me laughing and rolling so hard that I peed my pants! His animal noises are so true and genuine, I even think he enjoyed making them. See, my husband grew up on a farm and I really think he invested time in perfecting his animal noises. Anyways, that was a road trip that I will never forget. It was a bonding moment between us. I even get the giggles just thinking about it now.

Now that we are married and have 2 children our road trips are pretty much the same. We still have fun and games and we have 2 more players. I find that being in a car traveling, you are confined for quiet a length of time. You can make the most of it and make good memories during this time together.

I have a few tips for families who are planning road trips this holiday season. I would like to share them with you:

1. Potty break! Make sure that everyone, driver included, goes to the restroom and washes their hands before getting in the car. This is very important and will save you a lot of time and sanity on your trip.

2. Nap time! When traveling with younger children, I like to travel during their nap time. This will help pass the time for them and it will give you a chance to talk to your spouse or to take a nap yourself.

3. Snacks! I like to pack snacks for road trips. You can choose the items that you snack on and you will save both time and money. You will be less likely to stop for unexpected snacks along the way. Plus you may choose healthy snacks such as nuts, fruit, cheese and fruit juice or bottled water.

4. GPS.. Be sure to pack your GPS and use it! This will keep you from getting lost and hopefully save arguments over directions. No one likes to be late because they got lost.

5. Games: Have a list of fun games to play along the way. We like to play spelling and math games when we are traveling with the kids. We also enjoy eye spy for both objects and letters. Just for old times sake, we may even sing "Old Mac Donald". This always gets the kids in a good mood and brings back good memories for me and the husband.

Are you planning a holiday road trip? If so, I hope that my tips will help you pass your time while you drive. My number one traveling tip is to be safe, buckle up and always tell your loved ones how much they mean to you.

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Discount Tire blogging program, making me eligible to receive a $50 gift card and be entered for a chance to win a prize valued at $1,000. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

5 Tips For Editing and Creating Beautiful Digital Photo Projects

I am a member of twittermoms and they have teamed up with Adobe Photoshop Elements this holiday season for this unique blogging opportunity. I love to give and receive photo gifts and I always try to make them as beautiful as possible. I have been using digital photo tools for a few years now and I have come up with some helpful tips that I would like to share with you.

My top 5 tips for editing and creating beautiful digital photo projects would be:

1. Take your time. A photo project is done the best when you are alone, quiet and have plenty of time to get the picture just right. A picture is worth 1000 words so choose your photo and edit it carefully.

2. Red eye! Make sure that the people in the picture don't have red eyes. There is a simple digital photo editing tool that takes the red out automatically. A picture is not completely ruined just because of a little red. It is very easy to take care of.

3. Crop Crop Crop! I love to crop my pictures. I use this tool especially when I have a group photo and I only want a few people in it for my picture project. Cropping also works great if the surroundings in the picture aren't just picture perfect. You can show a clean and clipped background with the cropping tool!

4. Zoom Zoom Zoom!! I like to use the zoom feature when I edit my digital photos. This will ensure that you get a close up of the person or thing that you want to showcase on your project. I like to zoom in so that my picture doesn't have a lot of wasted background space.

5. Organization: I like to organize my digital photos by the dates that they were taken. This will help me later when I use them for making my scrapbooks or other projects. I like to arrange my photo albums by date order so this makes that step super quick!



I am giving my mom the photo project above as a Christmas gift this year. I used my top 5 tips for editing and creating this beautiful digital photo project. I took my time to create this picture project. I made sure to take the red out of our eyes. I even cropped the background and zoomed in on the people in the photo. I think that this digital photo project will be enjoyed for many years to come. Pictures are worth 1000 words and they help preserve memories too. A little photo editing sure does help it along the way!

I like making digital picture projects and enjoy finding new ways to edit my pictures. Do you have any editing and creating tips for me? I would love to hear them!

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Adobe blogging program, making me eligible to receive a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Shutterfly’s 2010 Holiday Cards

It is that time of year again! Time to start thinking about holiday cards, pictures for those cards and people to send them too! My pictures have been taken as of this past weekend and my holiday card recipient list has been made too. Now it is time for the fun part! Holiday card shopping!

I am happy to say that I am a part of Shutterfly’s 2010 Holiday Card promotion! That means that I will receive 50 free cards for sharing their holiday collection with you. If you have never shopped at Shutterfly then this will be an eye opening experience for you. They have Christmas Cards,Christmas photo cards, desk calendars, photo mugs, birthday cards, holiday invitations, and even Cards & Stationery.

Shutterfly has so many great products. It will be hard to choose 1 favorite. My favorite Christmas Card and Christmas photo card is the Merry Blossoms Christmas Card. On this lovely card, festive flowers blossom on a cranberry red ribbon frame and you can add your favorite family photo to it.

You can even brighten your desk with a desk calendar from Shutterfly. My favorite is the Modern Floral design. A photo mug may look nice on your desk also. My favorite is the 15 ounce white mug.

Do you know anyone with a birthday comming up? If so, Shutterfly can take care of the card for you! The Banner Balloons Pink Birthday 5x7 folded card is my fave birthday card! This card would be perfect for my daughter who will be 7 in a few months.

Smiling Snowman Christmas Invitation is my number one choice for a holiday invitation. This whimsical, playful Christmas invitation is full of cheer! How can anyone turn down this invitation?

Last but not least, Shutterfly even has Cards & Stationery to choose from. They are easy to design and fun to create. My favorite here would be the Family Wall Red Christmas Card. This cranberry red and forest green card holds a framed collection of six favorite photos and your family's monogrammed initial. There is even room for everyone's names next to a your greeting.

Disclosure: I will receive 50 free cards from Shutterfly for sharing my honest opinion on their 2010 Holiday Card selection with you.

Protect-A-Bed Luxury Pillow System Review and Giveaway (2 Winners) CLOSED


Protect-A-Bed has provided me with a complimentary Luxury Pillow System for trial and they have provided me with 2 Protect-A-Bed products for a giveaway! Yay! That means that 2 of my readers will win their very own Protect-A-Bed Luxury Pillow System! How cool is that!

Protect-A-Bed(r) is a leading supplier of bedding protection products and they have added a new product to its line up, the Luxury Pillow System.

You may be asking yourself, "What is a Luxury Pillow System?" I can sum that up by saying, it is a new super Luxury Pillow that has a waterproof pillow protector. The Luxury Pillow features microfiber filling and it has the same comfort and feel of down. This pillow has a unique zipper closure that allows you to adjust the amount of filling so that you can achieve exactly the right balance of height and firmness or softness to suit your individual comfort level.

The outside pillow protector has a soft and silky feel. It is hypoallergenic,
waterproof, antibacterial and features Protect-A-Bed's Miracle
Membrane(r), which ensures breathability and dust mite protection. The
pillow protector also features the patent-pending Breathe-A-Vent(tm), a
unique flap-covered vent that allows the pillow to breathe.

The Luxury Pillow System is ideal for sensitive skin and healthy sleep environments. Valued at $99.99 it is the ultimate in pillow comfort. I can vouch for that! I love that the Protect-A-Bed Luxury Pillow System keeps me safe from allergens and it gives me a good nights sleep as well. Not only do I feel well rested but I also feel healthier. All of the aspects of the Luxury Pillow ensure me a good nights sleep! I also love that The Luxury Pillow System comes with a 5 year stain proof warranty for their USA customers.

To learn more about this product and other mattress and pillow protection products for the hospitality industry, visit www.protectabed.com or call 1-866-297-8836.



Now it is giveaway time! 2 of my lucky USA readers will win their very own Protect-A-Bed Luxury Pillow System.

Mandatory Entry:
Follow my blog publicly with google friends connect by clicking on follow on the right side bar button. Please leave a comment below and include your email address in the comment so that I may contact you if you are the lucky winner.

Extra Entries:
1 extra entry: Follow Protect-A-Bed on twitter.
1 extra entry: Like Protect-A-Bed on facebook.
1 extra entry: Follow me on twitter and comment below with your twitter name.
1 extra entry: Subscribe to my rss feed and comment below. Current subscriptions count too!
3 extra entries each: Tweet this giveaway. This may be done daily. Please leave a link to your tweet in your 3 comments below. It's easy to tweet this post by using the little buttons below this post.
3 extra entries: Subscribe to my email. Current email subscriptions count too! Please leave your 3 comments below.
3 extra entries: Follow me on network blogs. Please leave your 3 comments below if you follow me.
5 extra entries: Post my giveaway on your blog or in a mclinky and leave a link to your post in your 5 additional comments below.

Thank you for visiting my blog! This giveaway will end on December 12, 2010 at 11:59 pm central time. I will choose a winner shortly after that and notify them by email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the winning email notification. If they fail to claim the prize in that time frame then I will choose another winner.

Disclosure: Protect-A-Bed has provided me with a complimentary Luxury Pillow System for trial and provided 2 Protect-A-Bed products for this giveaway.

2 Giveaway Winner Announcements

Thank you to everyone who took the time out to enter the Giant Fancy Fortune Cookie Giveaway. Randomizer.org was used to choose our winner and it was # 208. They have responded to their email and claimed their prize.




I also would like to announce the winner of the Progresso Lemon Pepper Panko Prize Package Giveaway. Randomizer.org has choosen # 54 for this winner. They have been emailed and have 48 hours to respond to claim their prize. I will update this post once they have claimed their prize.



Thank you to the sponsors for allowing me to host these great giveaways. Thank you to my readers for entering these giveaways.

I have 2 giveaways up right now. Please be sure to stop by and enter them if the prize is something that you or your family would enjoy.

Old El Paso Family Taco Night Giveaway ends 12/5/10
Feeding America, Show Your Helping Hand Giveaway ends 12/5/10

Friday, November 19, 2010

Fracture Review

I am a member of twittermoms and they have teamed up with Fracture for this review opportunity. You may be thinking "What is a Fracture?" Well, a Fracture is the new picture frame. It is a one piece picture and frame that is made from printed glass. The Fracture mounts to your walls, quickly and easily. There are no sharp edges and the Fracture is more shatter proof than original glass.

A Fracture is an economical way to display a new family photo. You have your picture, frame and mounting supplies all in one package. The Fracture is easy to create online so there is no driving to the store either.

To create a Fracture you follow these simple steps:

1. Upload your favorite photo at the Fracture website: www.fractureme.com
2. Customize your photo and choose your frame design
3. Receive and hang your Fracture

I love that a Fracture doesn't fade over time. The print is on the back of the glass so your picture won't scratch either. The best part about the Fracture is that there is even a Money back life-time guarantee against fading or breaking.

I would like to share my Fracture with you:



I will be giving my Fracture to my mom for Christmas! This way she will have a great souvenir from our "Girls Day!"

You may order your Fracture before December 10th to guarantee delivery before Christmas.

Disclosure: I received a free Fracture frame for review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in this post are my own.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

My 10 tips for being trendy on a day-to-day basis

Sears Kenmore has teamed up with TwitterMoms and asked me to share my top 10 tips for weaving the seasons latest runway trends into my original day-to-day style. Whew that is a mouth full and that is a challenge that I am willing to take on!

I like to think that I am thrify and yet still trendy at the same time. I like to dress in day-to-day comfort but I also like to look trendy while doing so. I have found a few ways to be trendy and yet remain thrifty at the same time. I will share some of those tips with you.

My 10 tips for being trendy on a day-to-day basis are below:

1. Know what's hot! To see what the latest trends are, I like to browse fashion magazines. I like to see what colors are in and I like to know what type of jeans are in style for the upcomming season.

2. Know what's not hot! This is a must! You definately need to know what not to wear. Enough said about that one!

3. Trendy outwear makes a statement: I like to buy a nice and trendy jacket that I will wear all season long. I feel that a trendy jacket makes a statement about who I am. I also feel that a jacket is an investment that will pay for itself. It is something that can be worn daily and it doesn't need a lot of laundering. This is an item that I will choose after looking at fashion magazines. I will pick a style and color that is trendy and flattering for me and then I will seek it out while shopping.

4. Trendy shoes will take you far! I like to invest in a nice pair of in style shoes. Shoes are another item that you will get a lot of miles out of. I don't mind paying a price for an item that I will use and enjoy all season long. Depending on trends, I like to choose a solid color like brown or black for shoes. They will match most of my day-to-day outfits nicely.

5. Shop in my own closet: Once I have seen what trends and colors are in, I will take a peek into my own closet and see what I have there. If I find something that is a good color and a good style then I will pull it to the front of my closet. If it's not something that I will wear day-to-day then I will leave it at the back of the closet for weekend clothes.

6. Purses Purses Purses! This topic says it all. A nice and trendy purse is a must have for any girl! A good purse will look good and last you a long time too. Purses are worth updating! You use it on a daily basis and you want it to look good.

7. Shop sales: I like to shop sales racks. I find that a lot of items will be trendy for a few years in a row. You can almost always find nice pants on clearnace and you can rock them out with your trendy shoes, jacket and purse!

8. Comfort: I like to dress comfortably. I try on all of my new purchases before I leave the store with them. I want my clothes to fit good and to look trendy at the same time. How can I smile if I don't feel good because my clothes are too tight?

9. Mix and match: I like to mix and match some of my older clothes with new purchases. I find that this is a fun way to be trendy, comfortable and thrifty at the same time.

10. Own your look: If you feel good, then you will look good. If you are comfortable with your style and you own your look, it will show on the outside.

Sears Kenmore has teamed up with TwitterMoms and asked me to bring this post to my readers.

You may enter the Kenmore Runway to Washer Sweepstakes if you would like. Sears Kenmore is celebrating the Kenmore Elite Top-Load High Efficiency Washer/Dryer which custom-blends six different wash motions to ensure the right cleaning and care for your favorite clothes. The grand prize includes a Kenmore washer and dryer, a year’s supply of Tide®, and a trip for two to NYC with seats at Thakoon’s show where you’ll meet the designer, and receive items from his collection.


Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Kenmore blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Comfort and Joy

I am a member of Twittermoms and they have joined with Kleenex and asked me to write a post about what brings comfort and joy to my life and how I share that with others. I have accepted this task and I would love to tell you a little bit about me.

I am a stay at home mom of 2 school aged children. My son is 10 and my daughter is 6. I enjoy seeing that they are taken care of not only physically but emotionally also. I receive comfort by knowing that they are comfortable. I enjoy seeing them grow and learn. I also enjoy learing from them daily. Kids are a true blessing and I am so fortunate that I am able to enjoy mine.

I am an active member of our school's pto program. I am the boxtop coordinator for our entire elementary and intermediate school. Just last Friday I single handedly cut 3450 box tops for our school. It took me 8 hours to cut, count and sort the box tops but I was able to help our school earn $345.00 with my time. I take comfort in knowing that my services help to provide a fun environment for our students. I am fortunate that I am able to help with our school picture day, accelerated reading stores, pictures with Santa and the box top program. It is comforting to me, to know that my small efforts can effect so many children positively. I am the mom who can be there to help support the class room parties and field trips. I am the mom who the kids all know as "Mrs. Allen or Jesse and Marissa's mom". That is comforting to me!

I also like to think that I am a caring individual. I enjoy listening to others and seeing them through their daily dilemas. I try to make time for my friends and family because they always do the same for me. Wether it's a phone call or an unexpected visit, I try to sit down and really listen to them. Just today, my friend Denise came over and I helped her with choosing her medical benefits for this upcomming year. I did ask her to read my blog post about this same topic before she visited me though! It felt good to be able to give her my opinion on the most affordable and usable plan for her and her family.

Last but not least: I take comfort in writing. I started this blog for giveaways and freebies but it has become so much more than that. I enjoy taking the time out for writing about topics that hit home with me. It is comforting to know that my written words may help or inspire someone else.

If you would like to send a free pack of Kleenex tissue to someone special you may do so at the Softness Worth Sharing web site.

Disclosure: “I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Kleenex blogging program, making me eligible to get a $40 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

My tips for a fresh and festive holiday season

I am a member of twittermoms and they have teamed up with Snuggle fabric softener. They have asked that I share my top 14 tips for having a fresh and festive holiday season. I am a decorator by heart so I gladly accepted this writing challenge!

My top 14 tips for a fresh and festive holiday season are below:

1. Get creative with your thinking! I like to start thinking about the holidays as the stores start showing their holiday displays. I like to go window shopping to see what the new holiday color trends are. I usually don't buy anything on this venture out but I do take notes!

2. Brain Storm: After my window shopping trip, I go home and revisualize all that I saw while I was out. I write down the colors and scents that I remember the most. If they leave a lasting impression on me, then they will leave the same impression on my guest also.

3. Take inventory: Once my ideas of my holiday decorating wants are in place, then I take inventory of all of the goodies that I have from holidays past. I like to reuse what I have. At this time, I will also disgard some items that didn't store too well.

4. Something old, Something new! I like to mix my treasured holiday items with a few new items. This is a great way to add a little something to your collection. Your home will still look festive and not cost you a lot of money.

5. Go natural! I love to go for walks with my kids. On our walks we look for items that we can reuse at home. Our neighborhood has a great pine tree that is loaded with pine cones every year. We know the neighbor and they love for us to pick them up.

6. Pine branches may a lovely greenery. I enjoy the smell of pine and the branches off of a tree look nice and smell good at the same time. Plus they are FREE! You can't beat that!

7. I like to decorate from the inside out. I start decorating on the inside of our home. Once I have it just right then we will start on the outside. Visitors are pleased that our holiday spirit is carried out on the inside as well as the outside.

8. Christmas music is a must! I love the sounds of Christmas music. I have a few fun cds that we play regularly. I especially love to play Christmas tunes as we decorate our tree. This small effort puts the whole family in the mood for Santa!

9. The scent of Christmas: I love to use scented candles and plug-ins. My favorite holiday scents are candy cane and cinnamon. I have a scentsy plug in in the guest bathroom and I make sure to burn it all the time durig the holiday. You never know when you will have unexpected guest and I want my home smelling its best for them.

10. Holiday baking! Baking always gets me in the mood for the holidays. It's fun to try new recipes. I love to share them with my friends and family. Besides, I don't need all of those calories to myself!

11. Spruce up an old Christmas wreath! I like to add a few touch ups to our Christmas wreath every year. I try to replace a few bows or ornaments each year so that it matches the rest of our decorations. Your wreath says alot about your holiday spirit. It's the one thing that your visitors will see close up.

12. Holiday kitchen items: I like to use holiday hand mitts, pot holders, and towels during the Christmas season. I find that these little touches lift my mood and helps to keep me in the holiday spirit.

13. Holiday cards: I enjoy sending out holiday cards to my friends and family. The card that you sends is a gentle reminder of the love that you have for the recipient. Choose a card that shows your true personality.

14. Last but not least: Enjoy your friends and family during this time of year. Remember the reason for this wonderful season and keep your heart happy.

Now that I have shared my top tips for a fresh and festive holiday season, I would love for you to share your tips with me. How do you have a fresh and festive holiday season?

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Snuggle blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Feeding America, Show Your Helping Hand Giveaway CLOSED

I am a member of myblogspark and they have teamed up with Hamburger Helper to bring you this giveaway. I have received a prize pack that includes a box of Hamburger Helper skillet meals, a Hamburger Helper foam “Helping Hand” and a copy of Tim McGraw’s “Southern Voice” CD. In addition, Hamburger Helper has made a $10 donation to the Show Your Helping Hand™ campaign on my behalf. They are also providing an additional prize pack to give away to one of my readers. Yay!

Hamburger Helper is partnering with GRAMMY Award-winning singer, songwriter and actor Tim McGraw to help raise awareness about the national issue of hunger. This partnership will help Feeding America deliver millions of meals to local food banks through the Show Your Helping Hand campaign. Tim McGraw will lend his voice to the campaign through a Public Service Announcement which will be distributed nationwide.

You can help support their campaign by submitting codes from specially marked boxes of Hamburger Helper to www.showyourhelpinghand.com or by logging on to make a donation if you wish. Hamburger Helper has already donated more than half a million dollars and will contribute up to an additional $100,000 to Feeding America through this program. Hamburger Helper is donating 17 cents per code. That is enough for Feeding America to deliver one meal to a local food bank.

Now it's GIVEAWAY TIME! If you would like a chance to win the same gift pack that I received then please follow the entry rules below:

Mandatory Entry:
Follow my blog publicly and leave a comment below. Please include your email address in the comment so that I may contact you if you are the lucky winner.

Extra Entries:
1 extra entry: Please comment on how you will encourage others to submit codes and join the Hamburger Helper/Feeding America fight against hunger.
1 extra entry: Follow me on twitter and comment below with your twitter name.
1 extra entry: Subscribe to my rss feed and comment below. Current subscriptions count too!
3 extra entries each: Tweet this giveaway. This may be done daily. Please leave a link to your tweet in your 3 comments below. It's easy to tweet this post by using the little buttons below this post. Please be sure to add #myblogspark to your tweets.
3 extra entries: Subscribe to my email (top right hand corner of my blog). Current email subscriptions count too! Please leave your 3 comments below.
3 extra entries: Follow me on network blogs. Please leave your 3 comments below if you follow me.
5 extra entries: Post my giveaway on your blog or in a mclinky and leave a link to your post in your 5 additional comments below.

Thank you for visiting my blog! This giveaway will end on December 5, 2010 at 11:59 pm central time. I will choose a winner shortly after that and notify them by email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the winning email notification. If they fail to claim the prize in that time frame then I will choose another winner.

Disclosure: The prize packs and information were all given to me from Hamburger Helper through MyBlogSpark.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

10 tips for stylish layering techniques for all occasions

I am a member of twittermoms and they have teamed up with Cuddl Duds and asked me to write about my top 10 tips for stylish layering techniques for all occasions. I do like to dress in layers and thought that this would be a fun topic to blog about.

The seasons are changing and it is time to start thinking about warmer clothes. The shorts and tanks have been put up and the long pants and long sleeves have been brought out. I am pretty thrifty and I like to make the most out of my wardrobe. I tend to reuse items that I have accumulated over the years and I will buy a new piece or two each season. I like to combine the new pieces with older pieces to create a nice look. I accomplish this by layering!

My top 10 tips for stylish layering techniques for all occasions are:

1. Choose a lightweight material for the under layer. This layer needs to be lightweight and thin so that it doesn't warm you too much.

2. Choose color! It's fun to layer with colors. I like to add a little surprise color with my under layer just in case someone accidently sees it!

3. Lace edges! I love to wear a lace edged camisole under my sweaters or V neck shirts. It adds a little bit of mystery and romance to my outfit.

4. Dress it up! It's fun to dress up your outer layer with a nice jacket. I usually do buy a new jacket during the fall and I use it all season long.

5. Make sure all of your layers look good alone. You never know when you may get too hot and want to start removing the layers one by one. You don't want your next to the top layer to have a stain on it. That could be embarrassing.

6. Carry and extra layer with you. You never know when the weather may turn a little bit chilly and you wished you had an extra layer. Plus, even if you don't need the extra layer a friend may wished they had one and you could loan it to them.

7. Leggings! You might want to add a pair of leggings under your pants. It does get super cold and these will keep you nice and toasty. Plus a pair of slacks look better with leggings underneath. They help keep everything nice and smooth and in place!

8. Your under layer needs to be able to breathe. You want something that will allow air to circulate and to not be trapped against your skin.

9. Have fun with your layers! Layers allow us to add character to our outfit. They can help us to appear more professional or even more flirty. The choice is yours!

10. Own your style! This part is up to you. If you feel good, then you will look good. A persons outlook and expressions truly do make an outfit work.

Check out Cuddl Duds if you are in need of any layering clothing. Cuddl Duds designs and manufactures high quality intimate apparel. They are the leading warm underwear maker in America. Cuddl Duds has become synonymous with comfort and “feeling good.” Cuddl Duds is a wholly owned subsidiary of Komar.

Do you have any tips for stylish layering techniques for all occasions? If so, I would love to hear them. I am always up for some fashion advice!

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Cuddl Duds blogging program, making me eligible to get a $40 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

ten smart holiday shopping and gifting tips

I am a member of twittermoms and they have teamed up with Office Depot and asked me to write about my top ten smart holiday shopping and gifting tips. I like to think that I am a smart and thoughtful gifter so I was quick to step up and take this challenge.

I am a person of method. I like to have a plan and a method so that I may succeed regardless of the task at hand. I always look at the holidays as a challenge. I am challenged to stay on budget and I need to please others at the same time.

Over the years I have come up with a holiday shopping and gifting method that I am pleased to be able to share with you.

My top 10 smart holiday shopping and gifting tips are:

1. Create a budget. You must know how much you can afford to spend on gifts. This is a big picture, fianancial budget. This is numbers only and no names. During the holidays we must be honest with ourselves and not over spend. I like to create my big picture budget with out names being attached. This makes it a business only and not personal decision.

2. Who's been nice and deserves a gift? This is the list that you can put names on. Be sure to include teachers and co workers. You don't want to leave anyone off of this list. Even if you just think you might need to get a gift for someone then put them on the list.

3. Break it down now! This is the list that you can match names with dollars. You can take your total dollar amount from your budget and split it equally amoung the names or you can divide it up any way that you wish. You may spend under the amount that you have listed for each person but be sure not to go over your limit. If you go over your limit then you need to deduct that amount from someone elses total and that's not fun!

4. Brain storm for gift ideas: By the persons name and dollar amount, you may wish to add a few items that you think that the person may like. These items can be specific or just a general idea of what you think they would want.

5. When you call or email someone to invite them over the holiday, ask them what would they like this year. It's always nice to get something that you can use and enjoy. The worst gift is a gift that sits unused, even if it was a great buy!

6. Look at sale adds: Once you have your names, dollars and gift ideas then it's time to hit the sales! The Sunday newspaper will have tons of adds and you should be able to find them online also.

7. Be creative! Home made gifts and baked goods make a nice and personal gift. I love baking and it's nice to share them with others. Plus who doesn't love getting a nice homemade goodie to snack on?

8. Shop early! Don't wait until the last minute to run out and get your gifts. I have done that before and by the end of December, the selection isn't so good and the crowds get worse too.

9. Take a break. While you are out shopping, remember to stop and take a coffee break. It's too easy to get caught up in the moment and you will wear out before the task has been completed. During your break you might relook at your shopping list and mark off what you have bought already. This will give your feet a chance to rest and your brain can think a little also.

10. Enjoy your time. Remember the real reason for the season! Take time to enjoy your friends and family. Make memories that will last a lifetime. Those memories will last a lot longer than the gifts exchanged.

Did you know that Office Depot is a one-stop shop that can help cover all of your holiday shopping and gifting needs? Did you also know that you can get gifts for everyone from toddlers to grandparents in one easy stop at Office Depot? Office Depot even carries all your gift wrapping essentials too. How cool is that!

Do you have any smart holiday shopping and gifting tips that you would like to share with me? I would love to hear them.

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Office Depot blogging program, making me eligible to get a $40 Office Depot gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Holidays Are Near!

This summer we moved into an older but larger home. With this move we gained a lot of much needed space and were told that we would be hosting the holidays here this year... Get that? We were told, not asked... So ok, I accept that. I can host Christmas Day here this year. I am fine with that. That means that I won't be having to tote all of our lovely gifts to my mom's house AND I won't have to tote all of our lovely gifts received back here either. Yay!

So, I have been thinking about Christmas. It's only a month and a half away and I have been trying to get creative with this. I have our menu planned already. I have our budget made out and even gift ideas going. The problem that I am having is seating during the meal. Our kitchen table has 5 chairs and we don't have room for more. I am thinking of getting an extra barstool or two and letting the kids eat at the bar and the adults eat at the table. What do you think?



I am now an official CSNStores.com Preferred Blogger (yay!) and I just may use my next review to solve this seating dilema. I can get a set of 2 barstools like the ones that I have now for $59.99. Now that's a bargain in my book!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

10 Holiday Survival Tips

Can you believe it? It is already November and the Holidays are upon us! They will be here before you know it. For me that means a lot of shopping and listing making oh my! How will I ever survive? To help me survive the holidays I have a plan that I will try to stick to. I will share it with you.

1. Budget! Above all else, you need to find out how much can you afford to spend on the holidays. This number needs to include food, traveling expense, gifts and any extras. This is the big, overall dollar amount that you can really let go of.

2. Break it down: Once you have your total dollar budget figured out from the first tip, you need to break it down into specifics. This stage includes an amount designated specifically for food, travel and people who you buy for.

3. Gift ideas: On your budget sheet you need to write down gift ideas for each person that you buy for. You might ask them what would they like the next time that you talk to or email them. It helps to have gift ideas. This will save you shopping time and it keeps them from getting something that they don't want or need.

4. Spare gifts! Be sure and plan for a few unexpected gifts to be needed. I like to buy an extra Bath and Body Works gift set, mixed nut set, box of chocolates, or even a nice kitchen hand towel set to have on hand. You never know when you may need a thoughtful yet spare moment gift.

5. Holiday cards: Plan a nice fall day to get together with your family and have a little fun and snap a few pictures. Not only will you be making memories but you will also hopefully get a nice picture for your holiday cards. You can even let Tiny Prints Christmas cards help you make personal cards that will be cherished long after the holidays are gone.

6. Ask for help! It's ok to ask another family member or your children to help you with the holiday preparations. I always ask my husband to help when I am short handed and my children normally beg to help me.

7. Menus: Plan your holiday menu NOW! You have plenty of time to think and shop and you aren't under any pressure. If I put off menu planning too long, then I am sure to forget something. You might also want to plan for a few extra snacks and frozen appetizers to have on hand for the times that unexpected holiday guest arrive.

8. Shop Sales!! This is a key tip to staying on budget. I always shop sale adds when it comes to both food and gifts. I try not to play full price for anything.

9. Make your wish list: Even though you are an adult, you still deserve a little holiday treat also. Treating yourself to something special during the holidays is A-OK! You deserve it!

10. Relax and Enjoy the festivities! Above all else, enjoy this wonderful season with your friends and family. Life is short. Try to live each moment to it's fullest.

Feel free to add any of your holiday survial tips to my comments if you would like. I would love to hear them.

Tiny Prints and TwitterMoms have teamed up again and asked me to share 10 holiday survival tips with you. You may read more about that request here.

Tiny Prints provides stylish, modern and unique stationery from photo cards to personalized greeting cards to thank you cards and business cards. Offering exclusive designs from the nation’s top designers, easy card personalization, a powerful preview engine and top-notch customer service and paper quality, their designs have been lauded by numerous television networks, publications and celebrities. With Tiny Prints by your side the Holidays will be a cinch! They offer adorable Thanksgiving Cards, Christmas Cards, Hanukkah Cards, and even New Years Cards. All fully customizable and personalizable.

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Tiny Prints blogging program, making me eligible to get a $75 Tiny Prints gift certificate! For more information on how you can participate, click here.

10 Tips to Make Life Easier

I am a twittermom and they have teamed up with Oral-B Glide and asked me to write about 10 tips that help make life easier.

I am an at home mom of 2 school aged children. Life can be a little hectic at times and I do what can to make it a little easier on all of us.

My top 10 tips for making life easier are:

1. Slow down. Enjoy the small stuff. Try not to stress every minute of the day.

2. Plan ahead. I like to plan ahead so that I am prepared for the next step.

3. Get a routine. Our family runs well when we are on a time schedule. I find that if everyone knows what the day will bring then they tend to accept it more.

4. Plan a meal menu a week in advance. I like to plan our meals a week in advance. I try to do this when it's quiet and I can really think about nutrition, cost and cooking time. I make sure that my families needs are taken care of.

5. Make a grocery shopping list. I like to keep a list on the fridge and when I run out of something I jot it down on the list. I also make out my grocery list after I have made out our weekly menu. This saves me time at the store and I usually don't forget anything.

6. Use a calendar. Write down your important dates and appointments on your calendar. I keep my calendar by my desk so that it is always handy and I know where I put it.

7. Stay organized. My life is easier when I can find things that I need. I have a spot for mail, a spot for shoes and coats and an important spot for my keys. This is important so that bills get paid on time and so that we can all be out the door quickly in the morning.

8. Easy lunch planning. I make sure to cook enough food at night so that my husband and 2 children can have leftovers the next day. This makes packing a lunch a no brainer and it saves money at the same time.

9. Schedule your household chores. Chores are a part of life and they must be done. To help make my life easier, I have set aside a day of the week for laundry, a day for floors and a day for bathrooms.

10. My last tip is to help your children learn how to help themself. Your life will be a lot easier once your children get into a routine of helping you. I have put a laundry basket in each of my children's room and this helps them to remember where to put their dirty clothes and it helps me by not having to pick up after them constantly.

This post is being prompted by Oral-B. Oral-B is kicking off their “Glide Into the Holidays” program which benefits Operation Smile. Operation Smile is an international children's charity that provides free surgeries for children with cleft lips and cleft palates. Oral-B will donate $1 for everyone who uses the hashtag #Switch2Glide by tweeting or posting on Oral-B’s Facebook wall to support Operation Smile's mission to heal children's smiles and make the world a better place. Did you know that every three minutes, a child is born with a cleft? Many of these children can not eat properly, speak, or smile. Let's do our part by tweeting with #Switch2Glide and posting on Oral-B's Facebook wall. Every $1 donated helps.

Disclosure: I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Oral-B blogging contest, making me eligible to get full-sized Oral-B Glide products and a $30 Target gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.

Old El Paso Family Taco Night Giveaway CLOSED



I am a member of myblogspark and they have teamed up with Old El Paso for this giveaway. For review purposes, I have received an Old El Paso "Family Taco Night" prize package that contains: a packet of original Old El Paso Taco Seasoning, a Cactus Chip & Dip Serving dish, a set of 3 Fiesta Chili Pepper serving dishes and a $10 visa gift card that was used to purchase my family taco night fixings. Old El Paso and myblogspark have also provided me with an additional prize pack to give away to one of my readers. Yay!

As we all know, life is busy and we don't always have time to sit down to a nice dinner with the entire family. When we all happen to be home at the same time and it's meal time I try to plan a fun "Family Taco Night." I choose this theme at least twice a month because it is quick and the whole family enjoys mexican food. I like to use Old El Paso seasonings, sides, sauces, and meal kits for this event. These items are a simple solution for cooking and we can spend the rest of the night catching up with each other.

To satisfy our Mexican style cravings, the Old El Paso line of products include: chilies, dinner kits, dips and sides. Their line also includes enchilada sauce, refried beans, seasoning mixes, shells, taco sauce and salsa. The Old El Paso taco seasoning mix selection has flavors like Burrito, Cheesy Taco, Chili, Fajita, Taco, Mild Taco and even a seasoning with 40% less sodium. There are so many different flavors and options to choose from. For a fun twist on Taco Night you might even like to try one of these delicious recipes: Double Layer Tacos or Chicken Ranch Tacos. You can visit Old El Paso for news, tips, recipes and more.

You can also download a printable coupon for $0.60 off any two Old El Paso products today!



Now that we are all hungry, it's GIVEAWAY TIME! If you would like a chance to win the same gift pack that I received then please follow the entry rules below:

Mandatory Entry:

Follow my blog publicly and leave a comment below. Please include your email address in the comment so that I may contact you if you are the lucky winner.

Extra Entries:

1 extra entry: Please tell me what your favorite aspect of coming together for Family Taco Night would be.

1 extra entry: Follow me on twitter and comment below with your twitter name.

1 extra entry: Subscribe to my rss feed and comment below. Current subscriptions count too!

3 extra entries each: Tweet this giveaway. This may be done daily. Please leave a link to your tweet in your 3 comments below. It's easy to tweet this post by using the little buttons below this post. Please be sure to add #myblogspark to your tweets.

3 extra entries: Subscribe to my email (top left hand corner of my blog). Current email subscriptions count too! Please leave your 3 comments below.

3 extra entries: Follow me on network blogs. Please leave your 3 comments below if you follow me.

5 extra entries: Post my giveaway on your blog or in a mclinky and leave a link to your post in your 5 additional comments below.

Thank you for visiting my blog! This giveaway will end on December 5, 2010 at 11:59 pm central time. I will choose a winner shortly after that and notify them by email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the winning email notification. If they fail to claim the prize in that time frame then I will choose another winner.

Disclosure: The printable coupon, information, and prize package for this giveaway were all provided by Old El Paso through MyBlogSpark.

HOT FREEBIE: FREE $20 Gilt Groupe Gift Credit



You can get a FREE $20 Gilt Groupe Gift Credit when you first register with them. Shipping is $7.95 so anything $12 and under will be FREE!! They run different offers and sales each day. Registration is simple. It only requires an email address and your chosen password. It may take a few minutes for your credit to show up in your account. The you should be able to find your credit under “Account Credits”. Good Luck and Happy Shopping!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Giveaway: Progresso Lemon Pepper Panko CLOSED




I was sent a gift pack from Progresso and myblogspark that includes one package of Progresso Lemon Pepper Panko and an autographed copy of chef Chiarello’s new cookbook: Michael Chiarello’s Bottega. I was also provided with an additional gift pack of the same items to give away to one of my readers. Yay!

If you haven't had a chance to try Panko yet, let me tell you a little bit about it. Panko adds a flavorful crunch to create simple yet savory recipes. It can be used when frying, baking or broiling. Panko is made from the soft and tender centers of the bread. The bread pieces are large and flaky. They have a coarser texture than traditional bread crumbs that delivers a lighter, crunchier coating or topping. Progresso Lemon Pepper Panko combines the perfect crunch with effortless flavor that gives any dish that extra punch that it needs to please a crowd.

Chef Michael Chiarello uses panko as his go-to bread crumb for a crunch that won’t quit. He is an Emmy-award winning TV chef and cookbook author. Chef Chiarello is the tastemaker behind Bottega Napa Valley Restaurant, NapaStyle and Chiarello Family Vineyards. He also appears on The Cooking Channel and Top Chef Masters only on Bravo.

Chef Chiarello is helping cooks everywhere use Progresso’s panko to make flavorful, flawless recipes. Here are just a few of the recipes that he has put together: Crispy Seafood Salad, Mama Chiarello's Stuffed Eggplant and Turkey Scallopini and Squash Ravioli with Cranberry Brown Butter.

Feel free to check out any of these links if you would like more recipes and tips for cooking with Progresso panko, video and a coupon for $1 off any panko flavor.

Be sure to check out Progresso's Wine & Dine with Chef Michael Chiarello Sweepstakes. Now through December 31st, participants can enter for the chance to win a trip for two to Napa Valley to attend the Spring Bud Break Party. It is an annual dinner and wine tasting event that takes place on May 7, 2011. In addition to two tickets to the party, the grand prize also includes roundtrip airfare and hotel accommodations. Please visit www.progressobroth.com for the sweepstakes rules and entry form.



If you would like a chance to win the same gift pack that I received then please follow the entry rules below:

Mandatory Entry:

Follow my blog publicly and leave a comment below. Please include your email address in the comment so that I may contact you if you are the lucky winner.

Extra Entries:

1 extra entry: Please tell me what type of dish would you create with Progresso Lemon Pepper Panko if you are the lucky winner.

1 extra entry: Follow me on twitter and comment below with your twitter name.

1 extra entry: Subscribe to my rss feed and comment below. Current subscriptions count too!

3 extra entries each: Tweet this giveaway. This may be done daily. Please leave a link to your tweet in your 3 comments below. It's easy to tweet this post by using the little buttons below this post. Please be sure to add #myblogspark to your tweets.

3 extra entries: Subscribe to my email (top left hand corner of my blog). Current email subscriptions count too! Please leave your 3 comments below.

3 extra entries: Follow me on network blogs. Please leave your 3 comments below if you follow me.

5 extra entries: Post my giveaway on your blog or in a mclinky and leave a link to your post in your 5 additional comments below.

Thank you for visiting my blog! This giveaway will end on November 21, 2010 at 11:59 pm central time. I will choose a winner shortly after that and notify them by email. The winner will have 48 hours to respond to the winning email notification. If they fail to claim the prize in that time frame then I will choose another winner.



Disclosure: The information and giveaway were all given to me from General Mills through MyBlogSpark.