Friday, May 29, 2009

Review: The Double Daring Book for Girls

In 2007, I had the pleasure of reviewing The Daring Book for Girls by Andrea J. Buchanan and Miriam Peskowitz. I enjoyed it so much, and gave it as gifts to so many young girls, that I was thrilled when I learned they wrote a sequel! The Double-Daring Book for Girls is just as fun as the first, and jam-packed with new activities and interesting tidbits of information.

There are 275 pages to give young girls (and boys, too, although they may not want to admit to reading it - both my boys took time going through it) ideas of things to make, to learn, and to play. I had forgotten about all the recesses I played "What Time is it Mr. Wolf?" until I came across the rules in this book.

For fun, I'd like to throw out a double dare to my readers! On pages 49 & 50 of the book, the authors share information about how to make a decoupage bowl. (Did you know decoupage became popular in Venice in the 1750's? I didn't until I read it in this book!) I'll give you a brief rundown of the steps, and then I double dare you to make your own decoupage bowl!

  • A bowl (any size)
  • Plastic wrap
  • Tape
  • Paintbrush
  • Tissue paper
  • Glue or varnish (like Mod Podge )
  1. Cover your bowl with plastic wrap and tape if necessary. The bowl is a mold, and the plastic wrap will protect it.
  2. Cut strips of tissue paper and lay across the bottom of the bowl (the bowl should be upside down.)
  3. Cover liberally with glue / varnish. Whatever layer you put on first will be the bottom of your bowl.
  4. Let dry, then repeat as many times as desired.
  5. When complete, remove decoupage bowl from mold and varnish inside.
I would absolutely love to see what kind of bowls you create! So, I've decided to give away an Amazon gift certificate to a random reader that creates their own decoupage bowl between now and June 19, 2009.

Make your bowl, write a post on your blog sharing the picture and linking back to this post, and email me to let me know you are playing along. If you don't blog, feel free to email me a picture of your bowl!

On June 20, I'll post links to all the bowls (or the pictures), and make a random drawing for a winner. (And I'll share pictures of the bowls we've made, too!)

**Update! Due to repeated requests, I'm extending the deadline for this double dare! You have until Friday, July 10 to post about your bowls or send me pictures. I'll post the links / pictures on July 11 and draw a winner that same day!**

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Tell Me Thursday - Disguised

This picture is of my middle child, who has desires to be a spy and/or detective. This is how he dressed up for his id badge picture -- note the Indiana Jones hat, spy sunglasses (they have mirrors built into the lenses), and a rosary around his neck for good measure. (And, he's irritated at me right now that I haven't yet printed this picture out to put his id badge together.)

Tell Me Thursday
is a fun way to tell about the pictures posted for Wordless Wednesday! Click the link to play along.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Wordless Wednesday - Disguised

Play along at Wordless Wednesday

It's been SIX years!

Today marks six years since I started this blog! I've written 876 posts! Back then, I was reading blogs and felt funny that I was reading about people's lives but wasn't sharing about my own. I felt funny commenting without a blog to refer them back to, so I started this one. I still don't comment much, but I love to read blogs.

Some of the blogs I read back then have disappeared, others have dropped from my interest, but here I still am blogging away! My focus has changed - back then I wrote about more personal things but I was always afraid my family or IRL friends would find it and be upset. (I deleted most of those posts.) Today, I avoid writing about any issues in my extended family and while I still share personal stories, I try to avoid sharing drama. I used to post silly quizzes and memes regularly - but now those all go on facebook. (aren't you glad?!)

I have been lucky enough to review tons of neat products that have been great for my family. I first worked with MotherTalk, and then with MomCentral -- and those two have merged into one these days. I also work with some great PR firms directly, and am always looking for fun, interesting and useful products to share with my readers. And, then, there are reviews of things I just love and nobody gave them to me to try out.

This is still foremost, a look into my life. I've blogged about my boys growing up (they were just 1 and 2 when I started), my thoughts of having no more children, and then my pregnancy and the birth of my baby girl. I've blogged about job worries, and opportunities, a few setbacks, and our daily life. I've met some amazing women while blogging, and been an outside onlooker for so many more amazing women.

I'm not a big mommy blogger like some, but I like my little space on the web. I wonder what the next 6 years might bring, but I hope that I'm still able to share my life with others. It's definitely not glamorous, but it's most definitely real!

Is there anything you want to know about me?? Now is the time to ask! I open the comments to any and all questions you have and will answer them over the next few days.

Need some incentive? I have a few prizes to award to random comments to this post, so ask away!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Review: Mamapedia

Mamapedia is a website full of advice given by moms, for moms. Mom Central asked if I'd check it out and let my readers know about the site, and after I took a quick, initial look, I agreed.

I like the fact that it is free! The site has over a million questions and answers about pretty much everything and anything you could think of -- for kids from infants all the way through adults (because we all know being a mom doesn't end when our kids turn 18!)

The search function works well, and I was able to search for answers about dentists, reading levels and stuttering in just a few minutes. I did find that it worked better if I enclosed multi-word searches with quotations. When I searched for reading levels, I had results about reading, but also about hcG levels and protein levels. When I added quotation marks around multiple words, the search returned entries with all words included.

If you can't find an answer to your question, you can ask your question and wait for the answers from other moms.

It's an interesting resource that I've added to my bookmarks. Check it out!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Money Saving Monday #11

I know it's been a while since I posted a "Money Saving Monday" tip. It's not that I've stopped looking for ways to save money, but it's more that I was so consumed with the necessity of saving money tha that I was a bit overwhelmed.

I liked having a plan for Mondays, though -- so I'm going to start posting again.

When we had our home built in 2001, we felt that we made a wonderful choice. C was a few months old when we started the process, and we never imagined we'd have more children. We chose to build a smaller 4 bedroom home on a larger lot, and it seemed more than big enough for our family for a long time!

When we first moved in, one bedroom was for C, one was a guest room, one an office, and the master bedroom was ours. Then, a few weeks after closing on our house, we found out we were expecting N. Well . . . there went the guest room!

For a while when the boys were preschoolers and older, they shared a room and the other room was a playroom. That worked well, and then as they grew and sleep became an issue, we put them each in their own bedroom.

And, then, along came L. She's been in our bedroom since she was born and her toys are scattered throughout our home. We talked about an addition - but we had put in a pool before we knew she was coming, and couldn't pull any more equity out of the house. We talked about moving, but one thing or another came up and we ended up staying put . . . and then the economy nose-dived.

(Don't worry -- I'm getting to my money saving tips!)

My husband is a very resourceful and handy person. He decided that he could close in our back patio and we could move our office there and give L the bedroom we've used as an office. He started the project last summer, but we ran out of funds and we have had the room framed and stucco'ed outside for almost a year.

In the last couple months, though, we've started working on it again. At a contractor's overage store, he found a great deal on insulation. We purchased drywall from Lowe's. And he realized he had NO idea on how to texture the drywall to prepare for paint -- and the equipment would be pricey!

SO . . . we placed an ad on Craigslist. At the last moment, he said to me - "Put that we'll pay cash or barter hvac work," so I did. Within an hour, we had over 10 responses and one was interested in bartering hvac work.

DH has done hvac work his entire life, so it's something he definitely knows. This wonderful guy came over the next day and worked for the next 3 days texturing our walls in the back room. DH went to his house and got his a/c running again. Everyone was happy -- and bartering meant that we were each out very little cash. It was a great money - saving tactic.

This guy also needs to replace an air conditioner, so is willing to help us tile the room in exchange for DH installing their new a/c.

After my long story -- my money saving tip for the day is to consider bartering your skills for things you need! You never know what may work out, and I have found that posting a free ad on Craigslist is a great way to find someone to barter with.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Laptop Lunches Book Giveaway!

Lori, over at The Book Lady Online, recently bought bento boxes for her family to use. These boxes are great because they reduce waste from plastic bags, and are cute to boot! She encouraged me to look at the way I pack lunches and find ways to reduce our waste.

Lori's giving away multiple copies of the book -- The Laptop Lunches User's Guide -- over at her blog right now. Enter to win one of the copies before Tuesday!

I've known Lori for many years online, and love reading about her life through her blog. After you enter her contest, stay a bit and read about her latest adventures :)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Time to Vote in Kellogg's Plant a Seed Program

Around the Super Bowl, I blogged about Kellogg's Plant A Seed program, which was looking for nominations of play areas around the country to repair and renovate. Well, the nominees are chosen and it's time to vote!

Please visit their Plant A Seed site and vote on the 100 play areas that were chosen. You have until May 31 to vote! At the site, you can look at the 100 nominated fields, read about why they were nominated and vote for the one you'd like to see renovated. You can even search by city, state or sport!

Don't forget to vote before May 31 to be counted! Kids need safe places to play outdoors, and I think it's great that Kellogg's created this program!

Thanks to Mom Central for letting me know about this program, and encouraging me to blog about the voting process!

Friday, May 15, 2009

Zenni Optical, Again

I've done a few reviews of Zenni Optical on my blog. In the last 2 months, I ordered 5 more pairs of glasses from them -- and while I am still happy with the quality and the cost -- I wanted to post an update that their shipping times have increased dramatically.

My son's glasses took just over 3 weeks to arrive, and my glasses took a month to arrive. For myself, I ordered extra pairs, so I wasn't having problem seeing -- but poor C's vision had changed over a degree in each eye, so he had blurry vision for an extra couple weeks.

The first few orders arrived within 2 weeks. While I will continue to order from them, I just wanted to note that the shipping isn't as quick as it used to be.

(My first review, my second review)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

lunch plans

My sweetie called this afternoon and asked if I wanted to meet for lunch, as he had some free time between calls. I said sure, and he asked what I wanted. I replied "To be with you!" There was a slight pause, and then he said "Ok, but what do you feel like?" And I replied "I feel like spending time with you."

We ended up meeting at Paradise Bakery.

While our conversation may sound a bit cheesy, it's also true. This summer will mark 14 years since we first met, and he still makes me ache some days just wanting to be close to him.

Like any couple, we have had our ups and downs. But, at the end of the day - every day - I want him by my side forevermore.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

The picture to the left was one of my Mother's Day gifts this year. I don't know why, but I just love these old-timey style portraits! We tend to do one every couple years, and the last one was in August '07 -- so I thought it was time for a new one.

I love the looks on my boys' faces, and how L is holding that pistol like a pro. I wouldn't have to worry about cattle rustlers with these 3 helping me! LOL!

I also got some very sweet handmade gifts from the boys -- including a card from Nate that said "My mom is nise to me. My mom is meen sumtims. My mom is luvin. My mom is special because she lets me ride in the frunt seet. Love Nate" How precious is that?

They also got me 2 new rosemary plants, which I'm hoping I can keep alive. Rosemary is easy to grow here . . . but I don't have very good luck with it. I love the scent, and I love the look . . . I just tend to kill it off. I'm hoping this new variety and I will get along better.

My parents also sent me a plant, which is beautiful and my sweet sister gave me an angel-shaped cookbook holder. I was showered with gifts!

We had a yummy steak dinner w/corn on the cob and green beans with watermelon for dessert.

AND, my DH bartered some hvac work for some drywall work and our back room is a few steps closer to being finished! There's still plenty to be done, but considering that we hadn't done much to it for almost a year, I'm thrilled. I think we will be able to move our office and move L into her own room before the end of the summer!

I hope everyone enjoyed a wonderful Mother's Day!

Respect Bracelet Winner!

Thanks to, I have a winner of the Respect! bracelet!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2009-05-11 06:40:44 UTC

Comment #1 was left by Geri, of I Am Boymom! Congrats, Geri and thanks to all that read and left a comment.

Macy's is still selling these bracelets for only $5, so please support this important cause. If we can increase the amount of respect shown others, we can decrease the incidence of domestic violence.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Me? A New Refrigerator? I'm a Test Drive Mom!

See that refrigerator over there to the left? It's going to be installed in my very own kitchen later this month, thanks to Frigidaire and Mom Central.

I can't tell you how EXCITED I am to be an official "Test Drive Mom" for Frigidaire and their new line of appliances designed to help families save time doing boring household chores.

I will be blogging regularly throughout the summer about my new refrigerator and how it works in our home.

Frigidaire is introducing a new line of appliances today to help moms save time. In fact, they are rolling out a new line of 250 kitchen & laundry appliances - - just in time for Mother's Day!

They recently conducted a survey to learn more about how moms spend their time - and found that moms spend most of their waking hours doing tasks we don't enjoy (200 hours each month!) and the majority of us say that we "rarely" or "never" catch up to household tasks.

So, they designed a line of products to help us save time and spend less time on household chores. They created new features - such as a 6-minute preheat time on their ovens, a dishwashing cycle that takes half as long as previous cycles, larger dryers and washers & dryers that have equal cycle times.

Frigidaire has so much confidence in these products that they're offering a "More Me-Time" Guarantee! Moms will reduce the amount of time spent on housework by at least 8 hours per month (using at least 3 Frigidaire appliances), or they can return the appliances for a full refund within 30 days.

They want to know what you would do with an extra hour in your day? Head over to Frigidaire's website and let them know 5 things you would do wih an extra hour. ALL participants will be entered into a drawing for an entire suite of NEW Frigidaire appliances - plus other prizes! Imagine your kitchen with brand-spanking new stainless steel appliances!

I can't wait for my new refrigerator to arrive. If you're in the market for new appliances, check out the Frigidaire line -- and enter their contest to maybe win your own set!

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Dole Make Me A Chef Contest - Ends May 8!!

Dole asked me to share with my readers about this awesome contest they are sponsoring (but I started this post, and then saved it, and then completely forgot to come back and publish. I apologize that this information is getting out so late! But you still have time!! So, hurry! Follow the links and write an essay before the end of the day on May 8!)

Ben Ford, an amazing chef, teamed up with Dole and created some fabulous recipes using Dole products. You have the chance to win a trip for 4 to Los Angeles and the opportunity to cook with Ben in his restaurant if you hurry and write an essay (only 200 words!) about how Dole canned fruit is part of your pantry.

There are more prizes as well! Don't delay - head over to the Dole Make Me A Chef site right now!

If you write an essay, submit it, and also leave it in the comments section below -- I have $25 worth of Dole products to award to a lucky commenter. You can also visit the site and let me know which of the posted recipes you're going to make in the month of May (so 2 possible entries!) Comments will be accepted until midnight, May 8, 2009.

This is a great contest, and I would love if one of my readers would win. Good Luck!!

**Comments are closed! Winner has been chosen by and notified! Thanks!!**

Giveaway! RESPECT bracelet

Macy's has teamed up with the Family Violence Prevention Fund and are selling these bracelets with the word RESPECT stamped in them.

Half of the proceeds for these $5 bracelets will benefit the RESPECT! campaign, a Family Violence Prevention Fund initiative sponsored by Macy's to raise funds and awareness to end violence against women & children.

What better time than Mother's Day to think about how our mothers taught us to respect others, and how we as mothers teach our children to respect others? Wouldn't this bracelet make a wonderful gift and reminder?

Visit to learn more about their initiative, and also to send free e-cards to those you respect.

I have one bracelet to give away to one of my readers! Please leave a comment sharing how you teach respect to your children, or what it means to you to receive respect. I will draw a winner late on Mother's Day!

I'll also be giving away a bracelet over at, so you can receive 2 chances to win if you leave a comment on both posts.

*** Comments are closed. A winner has been chosen & notified! Thanks for reading! ***

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Review: American Heart Association CPR Kit

After C was born, DH & I both took an infant/child CPR course so that we would be better prepared. During the 9 years since his birth, we have used the skills we learned a small handful of times on choking children. I am grateful for the class, and always recommend it to new parents.

We have a backyard pool, and I was recently talking to my husband about taking a refresher course. We're both so busy, and I was struggling to find the time to take a class, find childcare, and get our schedules synced. When MomCentral emailed and asked if I'd like to review The American Heart Association's CPR Anytime Kit, I eagerly looked forward to receiving the box.

The box contains a 22 minute dvd and a small, inflatable practice model. DH & I watched the dvd and practiced on the small model. It's nice that some things came back easily, but I'm thrilled for the brush-up! I also shared the dvd and model with 2 other families so that they could also brush up on their skills. And, then I showed it to my boys so they had knowledge and familiarity with CPR.

The first week of June is National CPR & AED Awareness Week. If you order your kits soon, you can host a CPR training in your own home and share the knowledge!

Their website shares some facts, but the first one really jumped out at me.
# About 80 percent of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in private residential settings, so being trained to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can mean the difference between life and death for a loved one.

Visit the American Heart Association website for information about local classes, as well as links to purchase the At Home Kit.

If you've never taken a CPR class, don't wait any longer! If it's been more than a few years since you took a class, take a refresher, or bring the At Home Kit into your home! You never know when you'll need that knowledge.

And she's 2!

A week ago, we celebrated L's 2nd birthday! It's hard to believe that she's 2 years old already - so much of the last 2 years seems a blur to me.

She is our little angel baby! She is the most gregarious of my 3 children, with plenty of spunk and independence. She is extremely verbal, with more words than I can count. At her recent well child visit, the doctor said "Well, 2yo's usually have about 50 words by this time, but I think she's said more than 50 in the 5 minutes I've been in here - so no worries there!"

For a few months, she called both C & N a name that sounded like C's name. And then she started calling them both N's name. In the last week, she has finally started calling them each by their own name, which thrills them. Her big brothers dote on her, and do a wonderful job of playing with her and helping her learn.

She knows most of her body parts, recognizes at least a dozen animals, and wants someone to name every letter she sees. She loves books, and is always asking someone to read to her.

I love watching her learn and process new things. It's such an exciting time in a child's life and I am grateful for the chance to experience it again. She is generous with hugs and kisses and expects plenty in return.

My parents were in town for her birthday, so we were able to have a nice family celebration where she received some princess stuff, a stuffed horse (her latest animal obsession), some Barbies (yes, I know she's young - we made sure there were no choking hazards) and her favorite -- the Rose Petal Cottage. She absolutely adores this cottage (which is much larger than DH anticipated . . . but it's worth it!) She also received the Rose Petal Birthday Celebration set and has had a great time serving us cake throughout the day.

All of her favorites were covered this year - she also received Elmo Live and a new Princess Mix & Match book

I think she had a lovely birthday, and I know I enjoyed celebrating it with her :) Oh - and she had a princess cake -- which I think you can see how happy she was with that!

Monday, May 04, 2009

Happy Birthday Alexa!!

Birthday Clipart

It's Alexa's birthday today!! Happy Birthday, Alexa!! Hope you have a wonderful day & found lots of great bargains on your way home!!

Review: New Healthy Choice Meals

Between homeschooling, preparing healthy meals for my family, working, taking care of the house -- it's pretty common that I find myself scrounging for lunch and eating peanut butter from a spoon or snacking on unhealthy choices when I'm too hungry to make good choices. When Mom Central asked if I wanted to learn more about Healthy Choices new meals, I was definitely interested! A couple years ago, I was able to watch my weight by eating frozen meals for lunch on a regular basis. I admit, though, that I got tired of the same old meals and the cost started inching up.

While I would hope that I could make better meals from scratch, the truth of the matter is that I just don't have the time right now. Healthy Choice has introduced 6 new All Natural meals that look great. (Well, 4 new meals that look great to me. I don't eat mushrooms & 2 of the new meals are based around portabella mushrooms.) At the store this weekend, I picked up a couple of the new meals and just finished the Pumpkin Squash Ravioli. Let's just say "YUM!"

This yummy meal of pumpkin ravioli, asparagus (which I was afraid would get slimy after being frozen and microwaved - but was just fine!), squash and apples was filling and delicious. It contained 6g of fiber and 300 calories. If you're following Weight Watchers, it counts as 6 points.

Tomorrow I'm going to enjoy Sweet Asian Potstickers! I like the fact that the options I like are vegetarian, as I am trying to cut down on the amount of meat I eat. They're also low in calories, have a good amount of fiber, and are well balanced and filling. I will definitely enjoy more of these meals in the future!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

And Life Changes Again . . .

I wrote not that long ago about the job my husband accepted in Boston. We hoped it would be a good financial move for us, and I spent plenty of time planning out life at home without his daily help. He was in Boston for 2+ weeks and while it was challenging, we did pretty darn good.

He came home to celebrate our oldest's First Communion and our youngest's 2nd birthday and realized that he did not want to return. Just as we carefully discussed the decision that he take this job, we also carefully discussed his decision to bow out. It was hard because he felt that he was letting people down, but we realized that it was going to be difficult to be so far apart. (And, to be honest, it didn't appear that the money was there, either. More time may have shown a different outcome, but . . . )

While L didn't seem that bothered while he was gone, she won't let him out of her sight now. Even if we go down different aisles in a store, she calls out loudly "DADDY!!! ARE YOU???" (She doesn't say 'where' yet) And, when he walks out the front door without her, many tears are shed. I'm glad that this won't even be a memory for her, and she'll be used to her dad coming and going regularly.

The boys are absolutely thrilled that their dad is staying home. They were wonderful during his absence, but they adore their father and the time they spend together.

Thankfully, DH has a new job and has already started. Hopefully, it will be a good move and we'll find ourselves in a better financial position by the fall. We're taking another leap of faith, and trusting that all will be well sooner or later.

I'm just glad my husband is home. With me and the kids. Because that's where he belongs.

*The picture is of a stuffed elephant our 6yo sewed for DH a while ago. He took it with him to Boston and sent back pictures of the elephant's adventures.*

Friday, May 01, 2009

Pepsi Package Winner!

Thanks to, I have a winner for my big Pepsi giveaway!!

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:


Timestamp: 2009-05-01 15:22:56 UTC

And comment #6 was Rachel from Our Gaggle of Girls who said:

oooh, awesome! What a brilliant idea from Pepsi!

Coke makes some products without corn syrup around Passover, but I've never seen anything like this!

My littlest was allergic to corn for a while, and that was the worst. I wanted a soda that had caffeine but no corn syrup! feh!
Congrats to Rachel & many thanks to Pepsi and their PR people! Don't forget to check out their Throwback website!

If you didn't win this time, keep checking back! I've got more giveaways to do in the next few weeks!
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