Thursday, May 31, 2007

New Article: The Benefits of Line Drying Your Clothes

We have a new article up! Please visit my new article on the benefits of line drying your clothing. There are some helpful pointers for how to hang your laundry and the reason why this will save your family so much money.

Please be sure to check out this article and let me know what you think! Do you have any of your own tips that have saved you time or money when doing this?

Sound off: Do you dry your clothing on a line? Outside, inside, or both? Please share!

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The Dollar Stretcher Tips 05.31.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

"Uniform" Solution

I save a ton of money, time and energy at my office job by creating a work uniform for myself. I purchased five black slacks (the heavy-duty kind for construction workers as they stay pressed-looking after days of wear in an office) and ten polo shirts of different colors. I simply wash and wear. Before this, I used to get up early and try to coordinate slacks, blouses, belts and shoes. Lately, I realized that I just need to be clean, pressed and presentable. Every piece in my new work outfit is always perfectly interchangeable, and with the differently colored polo shirts, I never get bored with what I'm wearing. Now if I spend time or money on clothes, it's to wear for a night on the town where it really counts to look my best!
MM


Holey Half

When opening up a new box of cleaning powder (Ajax, etc.), leave half of the holes covered with the opening sticky paper. This way, you only use half the amount of powder to clean. I have found this to be enough to get the job done.
M.


Destination Savings

We were planing a trip to Orlando to go to Disney World. One of the biggest savers on our trip was getting on a national entertainment book website and ordering an Orlando coupon book. Most people only order these for their own hometowns.

By ordering one for the place you plan to visit, you will find all kinds of "buy one get one free" coupons for places to eat and things to do, as well as places to visit. Because these are "hometown" places, you can go where the locals eat instead of the tourist places that you would normally go to. You'll pay so much less, and by using your coupons, you'll save even more!

The book saved us a lot of money and we had a great time going to "off the beaten path" places instead of the crowed places most tourists attend!
Karen M. in Fairhope, AL


Party Planning

Two years ago when my high school son graduated, I bought all the party supplies that I needed. I hadn't planned ahead and bought at full price. What was I thinking??? I spent a small fortune. Do you have someone graduating next year? Be smart, buy the party items, plates, napkins, cups, picture frames and other fun stuff this year. Watch for clearance items at the end of this month. Just don't buy anything with the year on it. Party supply stores have lots of choices, and lots of items. No need to pay full price. For the stuff with the year on it, just wait until right after next New Year's!
Tammy A.


Better Bows

I have found a cheap and fun way to wrap gifts without buying expensive bows. After wrapping the gift in colorful wrapping paper and using thin curling ribbon to tie the gift in the traditional crisscross manner I use a bag of candy such as skittles or M&M's at the bow by the taking thin ribbon and tying the candy in the middle and curling the excess ribbon. The bag candy tied in the middle had the shape of a bow tie and the ribbon curls around it make it look festive. Kids are much happier with this than a bow they throw out and it is much cheaper.
Linda C.


Picnic Corn-on-the-Cob

One of my favorite picnic food items is corn on the cob, but it is such a hassle to spread butter on it. We've found that if you heat up water in a large metal can (old coffee can or large pork and beans can) and then melt butter in it, the butter stays on the top. When your corn is done, all you have to do is dip it in the butter/water and pull it out. It comes out nicely buttered with no mess or hassle.
Cindy M. in North Pole, Alaska


Reservations

My family recently decided to go on vacation. I found that if I looked up the rates from the hotels directly, I saved about $10 per room per night. But that is not my tip. My tip is to call your chosen hotels 1-800 number to make the reservation. Of the three I called, all three of them offered me freebies to book with them. The one I chose sent me $40 off for gas! And my children got to stay for free!
Devery J. in Houston, TX


Flea Market Garden

While weeding my garden from unwanted plants, I wondered if someone else would like some of my surplus plants. I had extra spearmint, garlic and chives. I put them in some peat pots, took them to a flea market, and sold them for $1.00 each. The money came in handy, and the buyers found plants that were less expensive plants than they could buy elsewhere.
Wilma


Basket Storage

Everyone has Easter baskets or other baskets to store. Instead of stacking bulky baskets and taking up a lot of space in a closet for storage, I hang mine from cup hooks inserted into a closet ceiling. This keeps them out of the way until I need them, and uses a usually unusable space.
Kris W.


Moving Kitchen Heat Outdoors

We live in Florida and try to avoid heating the kitchen in the summer. Cooking on a grill can sure help. Our children love grilled teriyaki salmon, BBQ chicken breasts and drumsticks, turkey legs, and London Broil (great for a crowd), corn in the husks, and foil packet dinners.

We often use a wood plank (cedar/alder), which keeps the meat moist, adds flavor and helps keep your meat from getting overdone while you're busy playing with the kids or puttering about the backyard.

Foil packets are great for vegetables (carrots, potatoes, peppers, onions) and fruits (pineapple, mango, apples) with your meat. Everything turns out tender and steamed to perfection. Again, like the plank cooking, you don't have to worry as much about flare-ups and burning your grilled items.
Michelle

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Amy's Notebook 05.31.2007


I had hoped to have more time to put this together, but I had the opportunity to host a birthday dinner for my father-in-law so time ended up being limited today. I did manage to make a big tray of baked ziti, homemade bread, and a chocolate birthday cake in honor of his special day.

Regardless, I did want to share a few of my favorite reads for the week! Enjoy!

Stop the Ride! has a great entry on how to keep track of all of those library books. I love Stephanie's suggestion for book limits.

Happy Hearts at Home share a homemade version of insecticidal soap.

Simply Thrifty shares about a free donut day at Krispy Kreme. Yummy!

Jeri's Organizing Tips shares the importance of finding your colors to help you weed through your clothing and to help you when doing shopping in the future.

I'm An Organizing Junkie offers up a great idea for an inexpensive organizer for your wall. I am going to have to look for these when doing my thrift shopping.

The Frugal Duchess has a great listing of freebies you can score at your local hardware store.

INNside Innkeeping has a great entry on ways you can go green that will save you the most money.

My Home Redux shares some great ways you can decorate with garage sale finds.

Scribbit has a great tutorial on how to make your own dollhouse.

Home-Ec 101 has a yummy sloppy joe recipe posted.

Apartment Therapy has a fabulous entry on how to photograph your children chock full of great resources to help capture all of those precious moments.

Simply Recipes has a recipe for making juice popsicles. Be sure to read the comments as the readers seem to have lots of other great ideas for this summer treat.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Overcoming My Fears: Cutting Hair


I think I should just start a series on all of the things that I am learning to do that I was afraid to do. I certainly have enough entries on here to create a series: fear of working with dough, fear of gardening, fear of mowing, and now fear of cutting hair.

I hate to pay for hair cuts and had invested in buying a pair of clippers to do our son's hair and my husband's. I tried doing it once and just was too nervous and scared that I would mess their hair up to have done a good job. After attempting this a few times, I usually ended up taking our son over to a Super Cuts to correct my tedious and bad hair cuts. Just taking him over there instead of messing with it at home seemed to save me the time and hassle of attempting it myself.

We had been having my sister-in-law come over to help cut the boys hair and I would make dinner for her. It was a nice arrangement, but she is such a busy person that I felt a little guilty taking advantage of her free time. I still will have her do it, when she is available, but I wanted to learn how to do it myself so we could be more self-sufficient. I could also take advantage of the times when my son was in a good mood or when we had somewhere to go (pictures, family get togethers, etc..) where I wanted him to look his best.

I checked out a book entitled, "Cutting Your Family's Hair" and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is trying to learn how to do their own haircuts. The book offered a picture (not a drawing!) tutorial on step-by-step instructions for hair cutting. It also offered a listing of basic tools you would need to get the job done.

The tools that were suggested in the book were a good quality pair of scissors (purchased from your local beauty supply store), a comb, a cape & towel (the cape can be purchased at your beauty supply store), a spray bottle of water, & a pair of clippers. My personal addition to this list is a booster seat to get your child at the right height needed to cut their hair well.

For a basic clipper cut the instructions were:

1. Set clippers at a low setting. Begin at back, cutting hair short. (For my husband and son, I used a number three, to make sure it wasn't too close or too long- it worked well).

2. Use a comb to pull up the hair and move the clippers across the comb to cut the hair.

3. Continue up the back. Stop 3-4" from the crown.

4. Move to the sides, using the clippers to trim the hair above the ears.

5. Continue clipping up the sides 2-3". Leave the top hair to be cut with the scissors. Move around to the back, being sure all the clipped hair is the same length.

6. Cut hair at top back, pulling out hair with your fingers and cutting it to a one-finger length.

7. At sides just above clipper cut area, use a comb to pull out hair and cut (A one finger length is too long at the sides).

8. Cut the top guide line to the desired length, beginning at the crown. Here, it's cut to a one-finger length. Cut all hair then to this length.

9. Blend the hair that was cut with the clippers with the top hair, using scissors and a comb.

10. Comb front hair forward and trim.

11. Trim across the bottom of the back with clippers.

12. Use clippers to trim sideburns.

13. Hold ears forward and use clippers to tidy up behind the ears.

Although it is hard to go by the written instructions alone, it does give you a better idea of how the pros do it. I found the pictures to also be a great reference for me and it helped make me feel more comfortable doing it.

I did both Ryan & Ethan's haircuts this weekend and they turned out really well. I "practiced" first on my husband because I felt like I could really take my time and figure everything out. This is something I couldn't do with an energetic four year old who kept saying during his haircut, "Are we done yet? Are we done now? How about now? And now?" I took my time with Ryan and made sure I felt comfortable with everything and then did our son's hair after that. I must say, both of their haircuts turned out really well and I am really proud of myself for attempting something that is definitely outside of my box.

While I wouldn't be up to cutting my own hair, I did pick a low-maintenance style that allows me to go less frequently and I do color my hair at home to save myself quite a bit of money for the family. I also try to do weekly pedicures as a special beauty treat for myself. These savings alone are probably in the fifty-sixty dollar range monthly.

Do you do any of your own beauty treatments at home? How do you save your family money in this category of your spending?

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Freebie Friday: May 25, 2007


I have your listing of great freebies for the week and I am hoping you guys might be able to help me out with something.

I am looking for really good outdoor recipes (grilling, pasta salads, picnic foods, etc..) for the next menu planner I am working on for the Aldi Queen blog. I am going to attempt doing an outdoor edition to give you guys some great summer recipes to try. If you have a tried and true recipe (or two!) to send my way, I would really appreciate it! Think summer foods! Think of old family favorites! Think of all the help you can offer me! Please email your recipes to amy@momadvice.com. Thanks a bunch!

Let's move on to what you are REALLY here for- those freebies. Enjoy, my friends!

Health & Beauty:

Print out this coupon for a free pair of Jockey Ultimates Panty on the Spot from your local Macy’s department store. No purchase is necessary and the offer is valid from 05/31 to 06/06. This offer is good in store only. This freebie is valued at $9.50.

Get a free 7-day supply of Clinique’s 3-Step Skin Care, available at selected Macy’s department stores. This offer is good one to a customer and only good while supplies last through June 2007.

Looking for free trial gym memberships? Visit GymTicket.com to find gyms in your area and receive their free trial passes.

Try a free sample of Mary Kay’s Private Spa Collection Satin Hands Pampering Set.

Get a free DKNY Be Delicious Gift exclusively from Sephora Cosmetics.

Join an elite group of DevOtees who we turn to for opinions on things that matter most. As a DevOtee, you will also get the inside scoop first, and have the chance to win great new products, samples and gifts as well as receive invitations to special O events. Please complete the following brief registration survey to ensure we have your current information. Survey participation is always 100% voluntary, and all information provided will remain confidential. As a thank you, all panelists who complete the survey will be entered into a sweepstakes for a chance to win one of three $100 American Express Gift Cards.Home & Garden:

Sign up to receive a free 10-pack of HP All-In-One Printing Paper.

Yahoo is trying to get their readers to go green. If you complete three of their listed activities, you can get a free CFL bulb. And for every additional 500 credits you earn, they will send you another CFL.

Click on the link to enter the sweepstakes and receive a free sample of Reynolds Wrap Release Non-Stick Foil.

Mr. Cheap Stuff has a great post on a site that you can use to send free faxes.

Entertainment:

Print out this Chuck E Cheese coupon for 12 free tokens (a $3 value). This offer expires on 06/10/2007 and you can only use one coupon per family.

Claim a complimentary one-year subscription to Horse Illustrated Magazine. Please allow six to eight weeks for delivery.

Don’t forget about all of those free movies offered through select AMC Theatres for the kids during the summer! Check out their website for more details.

United Airlines is offering 10,000 Mileage Bonus Points to recent college graduates. Be sure to pass this offer along to any of the graduates you know! From their website: “We will help you celebrate your college graduation with 10,000 Mileage Plus bonus miles. Just send the following to the address below, and your bonus will be posted to your account within 4--6 weeks of receipt:

A copy of your final transcript showing that you did indeed graduate as a full-time student from a U.S. college or university.*

Your United College Plus/Mileage Plus account number.**
Your e-mail address.
Mileage Plus, Inc.
P.O. Box 40
Rapid City, SD 57709
Attn: College Plus Graduation”

We just signed our son up for our free library summer reading program and received his coupons and first prize for his reading. If you have kids doing a reading program this summer, the Barnes & Noble reading program would be great to do in conjunction with that. Have your children read eight books (does NOT have to be purchased from Barnes & Noble) and have them journal (or journal for them) their favorite part in each book. Bring the journal entries in between May 29th & Sept 2nd and they will give you a coupon for a free book. Visit their website for more details!

Register to receive a free State Farm Common Cents kit. The kit has a DVD that includes games for grades K-12 and The Johnny “Gullible” Story for grades 9-12.

Download free kid’s music for the child in your life!

Food:

Try a free sample of Carmel Macchiato Senseo Barista Blends coffee pods.

Sign up to receive a free bake sale planning kit, provided by Splenda.

Pet Care:

Sign up to receive a free sample of Iams Healthy & Natural Digestive Care food. There are only samples available to dog owners. Please limit one sample per household and allow up to four weeks for delivery.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Check it Out: Women & Money


I just finished reading the book, "Women & Money" by Suze Orman. Reading it is really an understatement...I actually devoured it in one sitting.

I don't know why I have never been that keen on Suze Orman. I seem to be more drawn to Mary Hunt & Dave Ramsey's writings, but I saw this book and figured it might be worth my time to read it.

It was definitely worth my time, as we have been contemplating writing a will for some time, but just have not had the financial means to tackle this. I would really like to have all of this in place, in the event that something should happen to us, but paying a lawyer is just not in the equation for us right now.

Suze Orman recognizes that many people can't afford to have this paperwork in order and offers her own will planning software, available on her website for a mere $13.50! The software (according to her website) includes:

  • An easy-to-answer questionnaire that will automatically
    select the correct must-have documents for you
  • Audio and visual explanations taking you paragraph by
    paragraph through the four must-have documents
  • 10 electronic guidebooks, that cover all aspects of your financial life
  • Free automatic updates, so your documents will always be current (Internet access required)

It’s like having your own financial planner and personal trust attorney at your fingertips!

  • Personalize – Fill in the questionnaire, and the program will automatically select and populate all the essential documents to fit your unique situation.
  • Print – Listen to or read a step-by-step explanation of what you need to know. Then print out the relevant documents.
  • Protect – To complete the process, follow the instructions that print out with your documents. (In some cases, forms will need to be witnessed and notarized.) Then store them in a safe place.
I am planning to try out this software for our family and get these documents taken care of. There is nothing more frightening than knowing that our financial documents are not in order and this could jeopardize the financial future for our children.

We are in our late twenties and pray that nothing ever happens to us. Unfortunately, life is uncertain and it is important to do this for our children and for our own peace of mind.

Other than that, much of the advice given was to teach women how to understand money and all of the financial terminology and accounts that should go with it. She encourages women to start taking action and has a five month plan to get your finances back in order. Some of it I skimmed over, as it related more to a woman who is in the work force, but a lot of it applied to me.

Her encouragement to save money was taken a step further because she partnered with Ameritrade to get women to open an account and start a nest egg for their future. You will need to actually purchase the book to get the code needed to activate this offer, but with the book cost being under twenty dollars, it would be worth it to make the investment.

If you set up an account between now and 03/31/2008 and automatically deposit a minimum of $50 each month into the account, after twelve months the Ameritrade company will deposit a $100 into the account to reward you for your saving.

I have yet to establish a nest egg for myself, another worrying factor for me. I am not working so I do not have the benefit of a 401K or a paycheck coming to me. I am not sure how long I will be staying home, but I would like to be proactive about my finances and get something established for myself sooner rather than later.

I am wondering how many of you have a nest egg for yourself? How many of you have a will in place for your family? Are these financial matters taken care of or are you sitting around worrying about them too?

I hope you will check out this book. It is a great read for all women and has a great plan for getting your financial life back in order!

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The Dollar Stretcher Tips 05.24.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!


Lost!

My son and daughter-in-law are traveling to Rome in a few weeks and are allowed only one suitcase each. They are packing half of her clothes and half of his clothes in each of the suitcases just in case one is sent to some other airport. They are also carrying a backpack for passports, a change of underwear, their medications, and the rest of their pockets' regular contents.
Hope O. in Charleston, SC

Easy to Spot

I hang dh's clothes on dark plastic hangers (blue, black, green) and my clothes on light plastic hangers (white, pink, yellow), so that when I go to hang them in our closet, they are easy to separate. Also, I can see at a glance if something was hung up on the wrong side of the closet.
Beverly G.
Marion Jct, AL


Used Cell Phones

I don't think anyone needs to take out cell phone insurance especially if you're like me with used cell phones you've not disposed of. Here's why. My son's cell phone was run over by a car and smashed to pieces. He had one month to go on his cell phone contract and would be eligible for a discounted upgrade in 30 days. What to do? He borrowed a friend's old, used cell phone (from the same provider), called the company and they transferred my son's service to the used phone. I learned from this to keep at least one of my old cell phones.
C.


Clothing Stain Cover

If you have a stain you just can't get out, try disguising it with fabric paint. My son had a very nice kelly green t-shirt that I just couldn't get the stain out of so with the help of a stencil and some fabric paint I turned it into a lizard on a rock. Turned out really cute and it's still nice enough to wear to town. Give it a try, what's the worst that can happen...
Iris S.


If That Happened...

Last summer, I used some "STP Son Of a Gun Tire Cleaner" on my tires. It dripped onto our driveway. The spots where it dripped still repel water to this day. That got me thinking. Why not try this stuff on my faded vinyl shutters? So I tried it, and I am pleased with the results. It cleans grime and it does a very good job of bringing the color back out on vinyl shutters. Just spray on and wipe with a paper towel.
Brent R.


Travel Time

When my girls were little, I used to package up little puzzles, games, etc., and as we were traveling, one package would be given out every hour. This made the trip easier for the girls. They had something new to look forward to while traveling long miles.
Tasha S. in Abbotsford BC


No Trash Here

In my hometown in N.C., the local solid waste service has a great thing! It is called the "Swap Shop." The Swap Shop is for residents to bring/take useable items. When we have a yard sale, we drop off the items that have not sold, and we have gotten things in return, like a RCA TV, Vicks humidifier (new in the box), toaster, and a bunch of books for my kids!

I have checked and a lot of local solid waste services have this program too! The purpose of the swap is to encourage waste reduction through the practice of reuse. The goal is to divert good, useable items away from the waste stream and conserve valuable landfill space.
Arlene in Raleigh, NC


The Mother of Invention

As a mother of five, there isn't a lot of extra money. A repair bill would be an unexpected expense. Our icemaker quit working so I decided to remove the cover and look inside to see if I could tell what was wrong. I figured I couldn't make it any worse! First, I disconnected the electricity. It was easy to see the problem. I removed the broken piece, took it to the parts store, got the replacement and put it back together being careful to not over tighten the screws. It works wonderful and I saved a lot of money!
Janice


Dumping Big Box

I found that I am saving money (and stress) in a surprisingly easy way. I'm staying away from the "Big Box" superstores. While the super store's prices are usually lower on many grocery items, I find myself browsing around for clothes, CDs, craft items and other items that I don't really need. I can resist anything but temptation! I recently became very frustrated with our local superstore never having enough cashiers, making for seemingly endless wait times in the checkout line. I realize less help translates to lower prices, but my time spent in line also has a value that I am no longer willing to waste.
Michelle D.


Kitchen Lighting

In remodeling our kitchen, my husband came up with a great idea to provide ample lighting, while keeping the cost down. He put in canned recessed lights in four sets of three lights. One set is over the sink, one set is over the kitchen island where food prep occurs, one set is over the counters and stove, and one set is over the breakfast nook. We can have all the lights on when we feel like we need bright lighting in the kitchen (like when I'm preparing a meal), or we can have fewer lights on when we are just eating or doing the dishes. It's nice having the ability to light the kitchen brightly to read recipes and see the texture of food cooking on the stove. It's also a big money-savings to not have to have all the lights on when they are not needed. You can easily swap out the incandescent light bulbs for the more energy-efficient fluorescent light bulbs in each of these recessed lights.
Jill in Santa Cruz, CA

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Amy's Notebook 05.24.2007

Be Mom of the Year:

Parent Hacks has a great tip for a cheap bubble blower for the kids.

Frugal Upstate has a great tutorial on making the perfect Barbie cake for the princess in your life!

Scribbit has a great idea for keeping your kids busy this summer. You should also read her great piece on teaching your kids about money!

Be Cheap:

When I was a little girl, my mom made these hobo hamburgers for us all the time. Don't forget to put some ketchup on the side for dipping! Thanks, Cheap Cooking!

Visit the Festival of Frugality over at Get Rich Slowly- our wedding gift post was included and we even got a gold star! Go me!

Thrifty Mommy shares a great tip on getting your diapers REALLY, REALLY cheap this week. Don't miss it!

The Simple Dollar shares why he chose Sam's Club over a Costco membership. It is a great read (as always from one of my favorite bloggers!)

Have a Martha Moment:
Crafty Pod shows you how you can make foil edged gift tags- very beautiful & thrifty to boot!


Craft Magazine shares some photos of great looking craft rooms. You could definitely have a Martha moment in one of these spaces.

Get Inspired:

Like Merchant Ships shares a quick and easy way to get your grout looking like brand new again. You won't believe the results!

Workshak has a great post on how to manage working from home during the summer. Now that the kids are on break, this is a definite read for any work-at-home mommas out there!

Apartment Therapy ran a great entry on common cooking mistakes.

Home Ec 101 shares a recipe for yummy sticky buns.

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

What's In Your Emergency Kit?

One of the entries on Lifehacker this week, featured this Momergency Kit that is full of items a mom might need in an emergency situation. We all know that emergencies come up when we least expect them, so it is definitely a great idea and something that every mom can use. Check out their list for some ideas of things you could be carrying around.

We have a lot of emergencies that happen throughout our week. Some of my “emergencies” include an extra long wait time at the doctor’s office, a dinner out where the waitress has decided to take her break while we are waiting to order, the time where I was stuck with my kid’s at that family member’s house who doesn’t like kids and has nothing childproof in their home…those are the types of emergencies that seem to come with regularity in my day.

I have a little bag of tricks that I like to keep in my car so that we have something to do when these emergencies arise. Some of the things in my emergency kit include:

Flash cards
Coloring Books & Crayons
Snacks- Cheerios, granola bars, fruit snacks
Small toys for the baby
Empty Sippy Cup (because we are always somewhere where we need one and there are none to be found)

Do you have anything that you like to have in your bag for these little emergencies? Please help the moms out there looking for new ideas for their own bag of tricks!

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Monday, May 21, 2007

The Fashion Savvy Shopper


While I have been rarely catching Oprah these days, I always read the description on my TiVo of each episode and then usually delete anything that doesn't catch my eye. When it comes to episodes on saving or making money, I am always a sucker for those, I try to never miss anything on these topics.

I was not disappointed with this past Friday's episode where a new line of clothing from Sarah Jessica Parker is set to come out on June 7th. If you still have it taped, it is worth it to watch! Her tag line is,"Fashion is Not a Luxury" and she has embraced that with a line of clothing from Steve & Barry's that she is calling Bitten. These clothes are never over twenty dollars and include shoes, bags, suits, jackets, blazers & other fashionable gear, many never ever at the twenty dollar mark (even in the discount stores).

I can't say whether or not the clothing is of good quality, but she is raving about it, so we will have to take her word on that one! The clothing line looks like it has tons of great basics, that will pair well with each other and as separates. While some critics have said the line is boring, I love a good basic line that will go with everything.

Among other honorable mentions in the episode were the line of basketball shoes (priced at $14.99 or less) & Target's new line of Isaac Mizrahi wedding dresses under $100.

I love to shop for clothing at Goodwill and like to keep up on the latest trends and lines of clothing that are in fashion. Meredith, over at Like Merchant Ships, has a great post with a bunch of library recommendations for a thrift shopper that wants to score the big names in fashion.

My favorite online resources for fashion advice are The Frugal Fashionista & The Space Between My Peers. Add these ladies to your blog reading list- I promise you won't be disappointed!

Do you have a brand of inexpensive clothing you could recommend or do you have a store that is your go-to for clothing? What is the best deal you have ever gotten on a piece of clothing?

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Friday, May 18, 2007

The HP TouchSmart Computer: The Best Family Organizer Ever



















I have been in absolute heaven this past week, literally floating on air, since we received the HP TouchSmart PC to review. It is the ultimate mommy organizer and has everything that a mom could ever want included on it. I am not technical and I have a hard time figuring out things like this, but this computer was the easiest gadget I have ever used, as everything is clearly labeled and easy to use.


Here are some features that I would like to highlight:

Touchable Screen- The computer comes with a remote, a stylus pen, & a mouse (all wireless) that you can use to make your selections, but the ultimate tool is using just your finger to select anything on the screen. This makes it user-friendly for the little ones in the house, who aren’t able to master a mouse yet, but want to feel like a big kid using the computer themselves. They can use their finger to draw pictures or pick the music that they would like to listen to. This makes it a great selling feature for families of small children.


Family Calendar- The family calendar is very user-friendly and you can organize the calendar for the entire family or by each family member. On your calendar, there is a feature where you can leave post-it notes to each other, which can be written using your finger, the pen, or typed into the computer. The kids can draw a picture for daddy or you can just leave your hubby a sweet note like, “Put the trash out TODAY or else!” You can record notes to each other, as well, which can be a great feature when you don’t have time to write out a note.


Music Library-
The music library was the biggest selling point for me. Our family has a huge music collection and you can find discs scattered and scratched up all over our house. When I thought I had money, I was buying music for myself all of the time so we have over three hundred discs missing their cases, tossed in the car, or stuck in random players all over the house. I can never find the music I am looking for and I can’t remember the names of the any of the songs. The TouchSmart Computer allows you to quickly copy the disc onto the drive and then stores it in a library for you. You can scroll through the covers of all of your discs and pick the one you would like to listen to. You can cue the disc to go along with family photos or utilize the visualization feature on the computer. You can make playlists for entertaining or make fabulous dinner music. The screen is beautiful to watch and makes it a great feature for having the best parties in town. It is flat screen and high definition, what could be better than that?


Don’t like your music collection? The PC comes with the wires needed to listen to the radio too. The sound is clear and tuning is easy.


Television/DVD Player-
We did not want to pay for another satellite box or for cable in our kitchen, but an HDTV antennae (for approximately $30) is a great way to utilize this feature and be able to enjoy watching live television. It has built in DVR, so you can tape and watch all of your favorite shows just like your DVR or TiVo box. You can play all of your movies through it, although I wouldn’t recommend doing this at the dinner table, which can be fun for a mom who likes to watch chick flicks by herself while she is making the family dinner.


Family Photos-
Your family photos can be quickly organized, edited, and printed all in one place. The touch screen feature makes it feel like you are at a kiosk at your grocery store and you can do this all from your home. Unfortunately, the printer is not included with the PC, but needs to be purchased separately.

My only complaint about the product is that the touch screen can be difficult to maneuver, as you need your finger is just the perfect spot in order for it to do what you need it to do. At times, using the mouse or stylus pen is easier than utilizing the touch feature.


The design is sleek, and the keyboard fits neatly underneath the monitor in a little stowaway spot. The printer, can be set in the back where it is not even visible, making this very streamlined and elegant looking. It looks more like a television than a computer, but you have all the function of a computer.


I can’t rave about this product enough! The price tag is $1,849.99, so it is not the most affordable option for most families. If you needed a new television, a new computer, a DVD player, and a stereo, this would be a good bang for your buck and keep the clutter in your home under control. No more stacks of discs, no need to have fourteen appliances, and no more missing your appointments.


The best price listed online is currently through Amazon.


We thank HP for giving us the opportunity to share about their product and allowing us to express our opinions on it. It is a fabulous piece of equipment that would make a wonderful addition in any home!

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Freebie Friday: May 18, 2007

Here are your freebies for the week- enjoy!


Health & Beauty:

Sign up to receive a free sample of Airborne Seasonal. Please limit one per household and good only while supplies last! Please allow four to six weeks for delivery.

To receive your free sample of Gas-X Thin Strips TM and a coupon off your next purchase, complete the form.

Call in for your free spa kit. 1-800-206-6400 –automated. This kit includes a hand mirror, hairbrush, loofah, nail brush and a toe brush conveniently packaged inside a waterproof pouch -From Mirena Birth Control.

Home & Garden:

Complete the information to receive your free sample of Post-it® Flags and Notes.

Sign up to receive free Breast Self Exam Reminders to be emailed to you.

Sign up to receive a free sample of Tide Coldwater Detergent.

It appears that the free Senseo Coffee Maker is now available again. For those of you who missed this freebie last time, you should try taking the survey and see if you can get this freebie. This coffee maker retails for around sixty bucks. It is not a scam, I actually received one last year and gave it to my dad as a Christmas gift. He LOVES it! They will email you if you have been chosen for the survey- good luck!

Entertainment:

For the next seven days, Madonna’s new single, “Hey You!” is available on iTunes for free download.

Claim a complimentary subscription to Cruise Travel Magazine. Just answer, “No, thank you!” to the offers and allow six to eight weeks for delivery of your first issue.

Sign up for a free subscription to Today’s Diet & Nutrition. Enter promotional code: FREETDN to receive this freebie. Please allow six weeks for delivery of your first issue.

Claim a complimentary subscription to Spin Magazine. Just answer, “No, thank you!” to the offers and allow six to eight weeks for delivery of your first issue.

Sign up to receive a free book entitled, “Living Beyond the Limits: A Life in Sync with God.” God wants you to experience life to its fullest…but rather than experiencing peace, joy, and excitement, maybe hints of emptiness, boredom, and frustration nag at you. Maybe you find yourself asking, “Is this all that life has to offer?” In Living Beyond the Limits, Franklin Graham focuses on God’s principles and promises essential to a full life. He relates real-life examples of men and women who have put God’s Word in to practice under some of the most challenging circumstances imaginable. You’ll be amazed by their stories. You’ll also be stirred and challenged as never before. Limit one per household. Book shown is hardback, but shipped copy will be paperback.
Sign up to receive a free subscription to Marriage Today Magazine. This is available only to US residents.

Get 30 free photo prints from CVS Pharmacy, you can upload your photos and pick them up in-store. You need to sign up for a CVS Extra Care card to get your free photos. No coupon code is needed, while supplies last.

Sign up for a free subscription to SpiritLed Woman Magazine. SpiritLed Woman is a unique and insightful new magazine for Christian women who long for a deeper walk in the Spirit. Each issue brings you dynamic teaching and practical insights in a convenient bimonthly digest size. If you long for a deeper walk with God in the midst of your many roles, SpiritLed Woman is for you!

Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Antiques Magazine. This is one of my favorite magazine freebies because it is so pretty to look at and looks so elegant on your coffee table.

Another awesome book for your coffee table and great for any true art lover! Enjoy a free subscription to Art in America Magazine.

You guys are going to love, love, love this freebie! Two weeks FREE of XM Radio using promo code FREE2AIR2W. No credit card is required, making this a true freebie! Enjoy, people!

Get a free copy of Peace with God by Billy Graham. Originally written in 1953, Peace with God has become a Christian classic. Revised and expanded in 1984, the book points the way, the only way, to authentic personal peace in a world in crisis. Since its original publication, millions of readers around the world have followed its clear, simple steps and discovered for themselves the revolutionary new life offered by a once unknown Galilean. Please allow six to eight weeks for delivery.

Sign up for a complimentary subscription to Electronic Games Monthly Magazine.

Get a complimentary subscription to Global Finance Magazine.

Food:

No immediate freebies, but a site just launched called Coupon Cuisine. Coupon Cuisine is attracting people and restaurants across the United States using a multimedia “voting” process. The results will help establish which cities are involved with our restaurant coupon service. We provide valuable dining experience certificates and coupons that attract guests to new restaurants, while also giving them the opportunity to enjoy their old favorites more often. Join their company today- results will be tallied on May 25th.

This one isn’t a freebie, but it is an article that shares about a secret size of Starbuck’s coffee that you can order for much less! Starbucks junkies (on a budget!) should appreciate this!

Request a Free Vegan Starter Pack. The pack includes information on how animals suffer for meat, dairy, eggs and seafood, how meat eating affects the environment, the myth of free-range, what's wrong with leather and wool, vegan recipes and even some free stickers. You may also request a free copy of Meet Your Meat. We only ship Vegan Starter Packs to the United States, Australia, and Canada. (NOTE: These are the opinions of the website and not necessarily the opinions of myself!)

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Dollar Stretcher Tips 05.17.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!


Handy Touch Up


After painting a room in my home, I always pour some extra paint of each color into a resealable box/container and put them with my other household items like nails, screws, and tools.

That way, whenever I need to touch up, it is a breeze! I don't have to worry about opening and lugging around a one-gallon can of paint or pouring into a paint tray. I simply dip into my resealable box with a brush, and the paint in my home stays fresh and clean looking. If you're concerned about the bag leaking, you can put it inside of a mayonnaise or spaghetti sauce jar.
Tanya W.


Comfortable Inn

I always provide my guests with a bathrobe to use while staying with me. This gives them the comfort of being able to move around the house without needing to get dressed in case they haven't brought or don't usually wear pajamas. I also leave out instant coffee, tea bags, mugs, spoons, and a kettle. If someone can't sleep due to jet lag or unfamiliar surroundings or if they are an early riser, they can make themselves a cup of coffee or tea without having to wait for me to get up.
Evelyn S.


What to Say

When my daughter was in Girl Scouts, there were a lot of mothers that "had big money," but their quote was "we're on a budget." This taught me a lot. I no longer say that I can't afford something. Instead, I say that I am on a budget.
M.


Instant Baby Wipes

I raised four kids and didn't buy baby wipes for home or travel. A roll of toilet paper or box of generic facial tissue and a bottle of dollar store baby oil is grand! All you do is take a few squares of toilet paper or a couple tissues and put a squirt of baby oil on it and wipe. This is warmer than sometimes chilly baby wipes and I believe does a much better job of cleaning the little ones tender tushies. A pediatrician who grew up in a poor area of NYC actually gave me this tip many years ago.
Kay T. in Wyandotte, MI


Having a Birthday

Join the Birthday Club, VIP club or email club of restaurants via their websites, and many of them will email you a certificate to print out for a freebie on your birthday! You can also sign your children and spouses up for the club and get free meals or appetizers for them too.

We got free kids' meals for my twins for their birthday this year and coupons for a free appetizer at several places just for signing up for their email club. They usually have a short expiration date, two to three weeks, so make sure you use them before they expire. Many of these places also have specials and coupons they will email to you throughout the year.
Heather in Coon Rapids, MN


Unexpected Savings

Do you go though a lot of milk? I am amazed how much it costs at the grocery store. You can find milk much cheaper at gas stations. I save about 50 cents to a dollar per gallon! They have it in bags or in the regular cartons. Both are much cheaper than what you find at the grocery stores. It tastes great and is often fresher than what is in the grocery store because they are selling so much of it! Some gas stations even give you a punch card that lets you earn free milk. You're stopping to get gas anyway. Why not run inside and grab some milk? You can save money and save time.

Some gas stations also have very affordable bread, eggs and even fruits and vegetables. They have these staple items priced cheaply hoping that you will buy other things when you are in their store. If you don't buy other things, you come out ahead. I figured I saved about $120 last year. That's a lot of gas!
Julie G.


Carpet Stains

A professional carpet cleaner gave me this advice. The absolute best stain remover for carpet is Dawn liquid soap diluted in the hottest water you can handle. I've also found that Dawn is excellent for getting out stains on clothing, including hard-to-remove grease stains. Don't waste your money on separate stain removers for each item in your house!
Carla A. in Elkton, SD


Garden Water Savers

This spring I have been collecting plastic water bottles. I poke a small hole in the bottom (for slow drainage) and plant them in my garden, just deep enough that I can fill them with water. This way I am recycling and I use less water in the garden. The bottles allow the water to get to the deeper, more vital roots of my vegetables. It works great!
Katy W.


That's Enough!

Sometimes I find myself going back for one more helping of a particularly good meal, even when I am no longer hungry. Now, when I know I have eaten enough, I put a single strong flavored mint in my mouth, such as Altoids. This changes the taste in my mouth and I no longer crave the taste for the meal. I save the terrific meal for tomorrow's lunch. This saves on the cost of food and the size of my waist.
Carol C. in Jersey City, NJ


Neat Extension Cords

I save small quantities of leftover paint in baby food jars. When I have a few empty toilet tissue rolls, I paint them with the leftover paint and then use them to wrap up the cords on my electronics and appliances. The tubes keep the cords neat, the paint gives the tubes added strength, and they look pretty!
Judy T.


Doggie Treats

I use a decorative cookie jar for my dog's treats. No one coming into the kitchen can tell the jar is for him and not for the family.
K. H. in Lubbock, Texas

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Amy's Notebook 05.17.2007

Today's notebook entry is going to be a quick one. I am down and out with some kind of head cold thing, so I am not really up to doing my usual thing today. I hope you will enjoy some of these fun reads in the meantime though!

Baby Cheapskate tells us how to find playgroups in your local area.

INNside Innkeeping offers some insight on making muffins and a special recipe for applesauce spice muffins.

The Frugal Duchess offers thrifty bookshelf tips.

DIY Maven shares pictures of her finished craft room- I am green with jealousy!

Sew Green has a step-by-step tutorial on making your own laundry soap.

River Band Ranch shows how you can decorate Ikea storage units with vintage wallpaper. Very shabby chic!

The Buzz Queen shares an update on keeping her children motivated to do their chores.

Crafty Pod shares her recipe for spaghetti carbonara.

Simply Recipes has some ideas for kid-friendly wraps.

Happy Hearts at Home shares her master mix recipe for muffins.

Not Made of Money shares tips for frugal scrapbooking. This is a must read for those of you who do scrapbooking for a hobby!

Shakhammer shares a link to free floor plans.

Parent Dish is running a great series called, "Retro Mom." This one is on how her mom managed to keep the house clean & it is full of great tips.

The Thrifty Blogger has a great recipe for chocolate cake- yum!

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Mommy Bloggers Creating the Buzz Around Town

The Wall Street Journal just did a great piece on how bloggers are now becoming the target for PR firms, as bloggers have the ability to create the buzz for new products by just showering bloggers with free stuff. They even highlight mommy bloggers as being a great resource to hype up their products, television shows, & movies.

"Who says you can't buy love? Trying to tap into the burgeoning power of blogs as promotional tools and fed up with the jaded attitudes of professional critics and TV feature writers, studios and networks are flooding bloggers with free stuff in hopes the flattered recipients will reward them with positive coverage. Flowing into the trough is everything from fancy gym bags and toasters to video iPods and free trips. Some networks -- in the spotlight this week as they unveil their fall schedules to advertisers -- have even borrowed a term from the technology industry to describe the strategy: blogola." WSJ

As a mommy blogger, I have had the opportunity to review tons of great products out on the market. Being on the mailing list of these public relations companies has been a dream come true for my family. Who wouldn't want to try products before they come out? Who wouldn't want to be able to give their opinions (good or bad) on things that they receive and provide feedback to companies on what moms really want?

We get probably four to six requests daily to review products and of those requests I may pick one or two. I try to pick products that fit well with my audience and the ones that I think you all would enjoy hearing about. Some of them are affordable and some are not, but I like to also highlight ways that moms can organize or run their homes more efficiently. I try to do my best to pick work-at-home moms and support what they do, as so many people have supported me in getting our site to this point. I try to share without compromising my integrity and always disclose to the companies that it will be a very honest review, which may/may not be very flattering.

Do you guys enjoy seeing products featured here? Do you take the opinion of mommy bloggers into account? Are moms selling out by featuring products on their blogs? If the tables were turned around, how would you respond to an outpouring of free stuff?

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Disappointing News

I love our bread outlet and go every other week to get all of our bread, bagels, muffins, & the occasional package of donuts. The ladies that work there know me by name and they love to get the updates on our family. They adore our Emily and give Ethan special treats when we come. I have loved going there and the great deals that I get.

When I walked in today, I noticed that they had changed all of their signs and increased their prices on every single item in the store. My whole grain bread that I was getting for a dollar was now doubled in price, as was just about everything in the store. The new prices were decent, but could be got at Aldi for the same/less or picked up on sale at other stores.

I paid for the items and expressed my disappointment over the price increase. I asked if the other outlets in the area had increased their prices as well, and they said all of the prices had increased in all of the stores in our area (we live in the Michiana area). The lady knocked a dollar off of the total, but it still ended up being more than I would like to spend on bread.

With gas at a whopping $3.39, I don't feel inclined to make the effort to go there now.

So, do you have any tried and true bread machine recipes that you would like to share with me? Do you freeze the dough? Do you bake in the bread machine or do you use your oven to bake the bread? I am looking for any insight you guys can give on this, as I need to decrease our spending in this area now.

Please help me!

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Adobe Photoshop & Premiere Elements


I got the opportunity to try out the Adobe Photoshop & Premiere Elements software package that Adobe offers. Since I am a mom and I love to take pictures and video footage of my children, they knew that they had the right person to send it to.

These award winning photo and video-editing products are great for any mom who is looking to get there photos edited and organized in a way that you can actually find the picture you are looking for. Photoshop Elements and Premiere Elements are very user-friendly and help organize, edit and share your most valued pictures and home movies. Not only that, but you can also use their software to create photo albums, scrapbooks, flash online photo galleries, making invitations and DVDs.

I haven't gotten to toy around with this software as much as I would like. The user manuals for each of these products is over two hundred pages long, which tells me that the software offers a lot that I have yet to figure out.

I did some photo editing with the software and was impressed with all that you can do to edit the photos. The options are numerous and the process can be as complex or as simple as you would like to make it. For someone who enjoys editing her own photos, it is a fabulous software package to use.
In my opinion, one of the best features is that you can remove red eye with one click of the button. No need to zoom in on each eye or make sure your mouse is in the right place, just one simple click.

This product has received stellar reviews, and is definitely worth checking out! Learning the programs is time consuming, but worth the effort if you are interested in taking professional looking photos and capturing your memories in a fun way.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

Gardening Update & Fun Summer Reads


Well, I haven't killed my plants yet so I guess my first gardening endeavor is going good...so far. Of course, you guys might get a good laugh at my expense because I actually thought I had squash already sprouting from the seeds I had planted. Just after I patted myself on the back, I realized that these were just little green pieces of nothing that fell off of a tree. I didn't kill anything though, that was the point in sharing this!

I also have overcome another fear that I have...mowing! Yup, I am terrified of the mower! I told you guys that I am a total girly-girl. I think it was a discussion with my dad, who was trying to teach me how to mow, where he told me that rocks could get thrown at me if I wasn't careful. He also redid all that I had mowed because I didn't mow "the right way" and so I ended up crying and going inside. That is just the kind of fun sport I am!

I managed to mow without any injuries thankyouverymuch. I also made my husband's day because he hates to mow the lawn. Unfortunately for him, this is probably not going to be happening with regular occurrence, but I did help him this week! I offered to switch roles and he could cook while I mowed the lawn, but he wouldn't take me up on it. It makes me think I am getting the short end of the stick here.

Thanks for the fabulous gardening tips that you emailed and shared with me though! I appreciate all the help I can get OBVIOUSLY since I think I am growing imaginary plants.

Here are some old blog entries & articles that I thought you might enjoy. Now RUN outside and enjoy all that nice weather!

Solving the Sand Between Your Toes Blues

Cleaning Up Yo Grill

Busy Day Activities for Warm Weather

Frugal Teacher Gifts

Getting Ready for Summer

Gearing Up for Summer

Summer Survival

Organized Travel

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Blogger Spotlight: Home Ec 101


Inspired by my recent interview with the folks over at Shakadoo, I thought it would be great fun to feature some of my very favorite bloggers. If you don't get an email from me and really want to be featured here, please email me at amy@momadvice.com and I will send you some questions.


I was so excited when my favorite blogging gal, Miss Ivy, emailed me to request an interview. She is one of my absolute favorite bloggers. I love her tongue in cheek humor and fun writing style that she offers to her readers. Until I did this interview, I actually didn't realize that I had been reading all of her blogs and never realized that they all were written by her. What talent! I don't know how in the heck she does it, as I struggle to keep up with my little corner over here.

In this interview, Ivy shares the scoop on Home Ec 101. If you haven't visited this blog, go TODAY! Run over there! It is an awesome blog and I love the fifties feel to it. It shares all the tips you wish your momma taught you (or she did teach you and you just didn't listen!)

Tell me a little bit about your blog and how you came to the decision to begin blogging?

I originally started blogging on LiveJournal on the auspicious date of April 22, 2003. I just started blogging on LJ because all my friends were, and I wanted to be one of the cool kids. I started reading NashvilleIsTalking.com in May of 2005 and started up my blog at blogspot shortly thereafter. After fits and starts, I got really involved during the time of Katrina, and have been blogging my tushie off both personally and professionally ever since.

I'm currently blogging in 5 different places- my personal blog, the badbadivy experience; the mommy blog, Love Shak, Baby; the gardening blog, ShakYard; the home improvement/DIY blog, Curbly; and the crowning glory of my personal achievement, Home-Ec 101.
Home-Ec 101 is an advice-style blog that takes a sassy look at the ins and outs of housework. My partner Heather and I cover cooking, cleaning, pet problems, and any other random question that comes our way.

I see you work with another blogger on this blog? Do you live close to each other or are just cyber buddies that decided to pool your talents?

Heather and I are women of many talents, but it's just the two of us blogging at Home-Ec 101. Heather and I met on an AOL message board while we were both pregnant with our three year olds. I was talking to a mutual friend in an IM about how I thought one of the women posting on the message board was totally faking her pregnancy, and the mutual friend told me I needed to meet Heather, because she thought the same thing. I IMed Heather the next time I saw her online and we've been best pals ever since.Heather lives in South Carolina and I live in Tennessee. Heather and I are each other's Motel 6 when we're in each other's area.(Heather says like Motel 6, but without the bugs) Who needs room service when you have friends to crash with?

Do your friends and family know about your blog or are you living a double life?

Most of my friends are bloggers, so they know all about my blogging activities. My family knows about my blogging, but they don't tend to read, which is great- I can talk about them as badly as I would like. Of course, when I do start talking badly about them is the instant they get a wild hair and decide to read my blog, so it's a double-edged sword.

What are your favorite things to do when you are not blogging?

I enjoy reading about blogging, reading other bloggers, hanging out with bloggers, planning blogger parties and playing video games. Sadly, there aren't any video games about blogging.

Since you ladies give out so many tips, what is your favorite tip that you have shared and what makes it your favorite?

I love the post I wrote about doing things imperfectly. It's really easy to get caught up in the vast details of life and end up doing nothing because we want to get things right.

What do you want people to come away with when they read your blog?

If people read our blog and come away with some tiny piece of information they didn't know before, we're happy. If people do that *and* are entertained at the same time, we're deliriously happy.

Who are your idols?

This is going to sound random, but Oprah Winfrey and Willie Nelson are my heroes. Oprah because she is a strong woman who has overcome many odds to come out on top, and Willie Nelson because he makes absolutely no apologies for being who he is. Plus, I love his music, and I'm not a big fan of country music.

How do you separate your blogging life from your real life?

I really don't. Nashville has a really cohesive blogging community, so most of my local friends bloggers. This makes my life tend to revolve around blogging. Honestly, I wouldn't have it any other way!

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Friday, May 11, 2007

Freebie Friday: May 11, 2007


I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Please enjoy all those freebies and keep coming back to our site!!


Health & Beauty:

Sign up to receive a free sample of Sunsilk shampoo or conditioner. Limited quantities available so hurry!

Sign up for a free sample of Superstay Silky Foundation from Maybelline. Please limit one sample per household.

Fill out the form to receive a free sample of Nivea for Men Energizing Hydro Gel. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery and limit one freebie per household.

Fill out this form to receive a free sample of Tampax Pearl Plastic Tampons. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery and limit one freebie per household.

Sign up to receive a free sample of Kotex Ultra Thin Ultra-Compact Pads. Please allow six to eight weeks for delivery.

Fill out the form to receive a free sample of John Frieda shampoo & condtioner. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery and limit one sample per household.

Home & Garden:

Sign up and you will receive ten two-cent DYMO stamps by mail for free, while supplies last. You can use these when the rates change on the stamps. Please allow four to six weeks for shipment.

Sign up to receive a free sample of Cascade ActionPacs. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery and limit one sample per household. (Note: Earlier I was getting an error message, so hopefully this freebie will work for you- good luck!)

Entertainment:

Claim a complimentary subscription to Old House Magazine. Answer, "No, thank you" to all of the offers and allow six to eight weeks for delivery of your first issue.

Sign up to receive a free, "Gas sucks, ride a bike" sticker by sending a self-addressed (no. 10) envelope to the address provided or by setting up an online account here.

Get a free Audio Book download from Hormel. You can use any of the following UPC Codes to cash in on this freebie: 3760033067, 3760049330, 3760026135. There are some great titles listed from Nora Roberts, Kristin Hannah, & Fern Michaels. I had no trouble getting this to work so good luck to each of you!

Claim a complimentary subscription to Timber Home Living Magazine. Just answer, "No, thank you" to the offers and allow six to eight weeks for delivery.

Food:
Sign up to receive a free sample of Kashi GoLean Bars. This sample is exclusive to Sam's Club members. You will need a membership number in order to receive this freebie.

The 7-Up kits that were featured last week are gone, but you can still sign up to receive a free printable coupon for a two liter of 7-up soda, if you missed it!

Complete the short quiz to receive a free sample of Nestle Juicy Juice Harvest Surprise and coupons for their product. When you have completed the survey, click on the, "Find out Your Child's Personality" and then the link to the freebie will appear.

Try a free sample of Quaker Granola Bites. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery and limit one freebie per household.
Sign up for coupons and a free 8-oz shake from Ensure.

Try Glucerna Cereal, a cereal made especially for people with diabetes, for free. Enter promotional code JOURNAL to access this freebie. This freebie is for a coupon for a full-size box of cereal (free up to $5). Please limit one submission per household.

On May 15th from 4-8 PM, you can try a free scoop of Haagen-Dazs two new flavors- Cinnamon Dulce De Leche or Sticky Toffee Pudding. Visit their website for more details.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sneak Peek- HP Touchsmart PC

Guess what I am going to be reviewing? An HP Touchsmart PC! I can hardly believe it!

The HP company contacted us to see if we would be willing to give it a test drive in our house, and of course we said yes! You can imagine how much my husband (the computer guy) is geeking out about this right now. He keeps trying to explain how awesome it is going to be for me, but I am anxious to try it to see for myself.

If you would like to try this out and are in the Las Vegas area, the HP Touchsmart is currently on display at the 2007 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show. Please visit the link for more information about this show!

Here is some of the information about the product, courtesy of HP...

The Internet Home Alliance Research Council (IHARC), which includes Hewlett-Packard (HP), recently conducted a survey to determine what new products/services homeowners would like to add to their future kitchens. Study results were used to create a prototype of an ideal digital kitchen, which is currently on display at the 2007 Kitchen/Bath Industry Show in Las Vegas. Conveniently installed in the kitchen is the HP TouchSmart PC – this placement supports findings for consumer interest in a digital calendar and access to weather updates in the kitchen. Why the kitchen? Well, as you’re probably aware, it’s one of the busiest and most social rooms in the house.

The HP TouchSmart PC helps simplify family life by providing one-touch access to entertainment, communication and information. It also comes equipped with programs that allow busy families to keep track of schedules/appointments, view real-time weather updates, watch live/recorded TV and/or leave digital post-it notes or voice recordings for family members — all possible by the PC’s unique touch-enabled screen

We are looking forward to sharing our product experience with you all! Stay tuned for an in-depth look at what the HP Touchsmart system offers!

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Repurposed: The Sandbox

I might be among the minority here, but I detest sandboxes. I love for my kids to get to play with them at other people's houses, but cleaning up the mess afterwards is no fun at all.
When our son was little though, our son's therapist had recommended using one of these because our son had a true aversion to anything that felt funny to him. He would really freak out about sand, grass, or anything that would stick to him. The sandbox provided great therapy to help him get over these issues and now he is as dirty and sticky as any other child on earth.

Now that he had grown out of this issue, I was not looking forward to cleaning up sand around our house. We also had not bought any sand yet this year and I was trying to think of a new purpose for the sandbox. That is when I got the brilliant (probably not as brilliant as I think, but it was brilliant to me!) idea to repurpose this into a small baby wading pool.


Our daughter is seventeen months old and still not walking. She wants to be part of the sprinkler fun, but this requires me running through them with her and some days I just want to park myself in a chair while they play. Creating a space for her to play in water would be great, but I did not want to deal with those kiddy pools again this year (1. they are a pain in the rear 2. they get nasty quickly 3. they are a pain in the rear). I thought our sandbox would be a great substitute because it is not too deep, but deep enough for a toddler to enjoy a little splashing. It is also not deep enough that it requires a family of four to use all of their strength to tip the thing over and cause permanent grass damage from resting on our lawn.

Lucky for us, it is also deep enough for mommy & daddy to pop their toes in when the kids are in bed and enjoy a drink & chat.

What is something that you have repurposed in your home that has been a roaring success?

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The Dollar Stretcher Tips 05.10.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Custom Recipe Book

I love to use recipes I find in magazines or online, but I was tired of trying to find what I needed in a stack of papers and old magazines. And buying cookbooks gets expensive and takes up a lot of space. Here is a great solution! I bought a 1 1/2" three-ring binder and a package of page protectors. Now, whenever I find a great recipe, I either tear it out or print it out and slide it in my notebook (that I decorated for the fun of it). It is now filled with recipes I know work for my family. When I need a recipe, I know where to find it. As an added bonus, I was able to get rid of clutter. Cindy in Lebanon, ME

On Campus Pot of Gold

Now that college graduation time is near, my daughter taught me a great money saver. College grads, and even some under-grads, often leave behind many of their school and dorm stuff. We have gotten sheets, towels, a printer, a computer, clothing and more books than we can handle. Others tell us of microwaves, toasters, coffeemakers and other small appliances. One lady even got an entire bedroom full of furniture just because she asked. Some colleges have "free" rooms at the end of the year where kids can put the stuff they want to give away, and Princeton actually has a warehouse that is open to the public for a limited number of hours weekly. It is full of furniture and other items that the school is disposing of. So if you live near a college or university, you may just have a real "pot of gold" in your neighborhood! L. Kent

Cleaning Up

I frequently find that I am asked to volunteer at various events. I find that if I am on the "clean-up shift," which frequently means staying back after everyone has gone, I will get offered the leftovers because they do not want to carry it or store it. Recently at a community business function, I left with a beautiful flower arrangement. I am offered cakes, decorations, and even prizes that they have forgotten to give out. They just want to get rid of these things, and it is better they come home to me than go to waste. Anise in Australia

Pretty Bag Storage

A cookie jar makes a wonderful keeper for plastic bags. I used to fold mine and put them in a rack under the sink, but it was a hassle. Now I just put them in the jar, and it holds so many! Pam L. in Keasbey, NJ

No Purchase Required

Even if you don't drink, be sure to pass through the wine and beer section at your grocery store to look for coupons and special offers. This week, I found coupons for $10 off the purchase of ham or meat compliments of a beer company. Wineries offered $2 off produce and $6 off flowers. All with no purchase required! Kim in Montross, Virginia

What's the Craving?

I love eating sushi, but it's a very expensive. However, I had an important realization today. It is actually the three condiments that always accompany sushi that I like best, which include pickled ginger, wasabi and soy sauce. Those three items can be purchased at any grocery store for next to nothing. The next time I get a craving for sushi, I am going to ask myself if it's the sushi that I want or just the wonderful flavors of the condiments. I can eat the ginger, wasabi and soy sauce at home for pennies (along with another form of protein) and suffice my cravings while saving money too. JR in Houston

Cold Pool?

We are asking our neighbors if we can borrow their hoses to help us fill our pool. We are hoping to have 10 to 15 of them in total. Our pool is located just behind our house. One hose would reach. But, as the water comes from the tap it is freezing. So, we run the water through multiple hoses. As the sun beats down on the hoses, it warms the water. We started the summer last year with 87 degree water! Laurabeth G.

To Go...Again

I have accumulated several plastic containers by saving the ones I get from Chinese food take out. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes with tight fitting lids, and they are usually very heavy duty. Once I've enjoyed my food, I wash and store the containers and use them to carry my lunch to work, etc. They make great containers for leftovers at home. Linda I. In Houston, TX

Handy Address Book

I tend to lose my address book and have always struggled with loose scraps of paper to keep addresses. I came up with another plan. Many people use email services that have a built in address book. Now, I simply add addresses under the email associated with each person. It's always there. I never need to dig through the cupboard or in a box downstairs. And if I ever need to go to mail something and I forget to address it prior to leaving the house, the library is always nearby. I can just get into my email at the computer there to get the address instead of going all the way back to the house. Laura

Pancakes!

Maple syrup is very expensive. Try putting melted butter on pancakes and topping with sprinkled brown sugar. It tastes better than syrup. Susan in Ohio

Culture...for Free!

The universities where I live all have multiple lecture series, films, music programs, etc., which are open to the public and, in most cases, free. We can see everything from almost first-run films to historically important cinema just for the cost of driving out there and paying to park. There are also lecture series catering to various professional groups and senior citizens. Judith D.

Better Coffee "Creamer"

Before adding that "cheap" coffee creamer to your coffee, read the ingredients! There's nothing there worth putting into your body. When I ran out of creamer recently, I grabbed the box of instant nonfat milk I keep in the pantry and used it, thinking it would be sufficient until I could get more creamer. It was not only good, but I realized I was getting no artificial ingredients or fat. Instead, I was getting just good, wholesome milk and calcium. It's a great way to get a whole serving of milk if you drink several cups of coffee in the morning. Pat

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Amy's Notebook 05.10.2007


Be Mom of the Year:

No Credit Needed has a great list of ways they plan to help teach their children about money.

Be Cheap:

Thrifty Mommy shares some frugal ways you can show your child’s teacher how much you appreciate them. There are some great ideas in this post- don’t miss it!

DIY Maven shares her tips for making inexpensive and simple curtains. These are so cute!
Simply Good Tips have some great ideas for spring cleaning that is dirt cheap.


Have a Martha Moment:

Fish Creek House shares what might have happened in the kitchen that would have caused you to have a less-than-perfect cake. Read their great tutorial on how to achieve a cake of perfection.

Notes from a Cottage Industry has a cute craft for making the neatest place card settings for your dinner table.

Get Inspired:

Stephanie over at Stop the Ride has a great post on all of the things you can be composting that you might not have thought of. I love her tips and the link she refers to.

Rocks in My Dryer has some great tips for organizing your digital photos. Don’t forget to visit those other Works-For-Me Wednesday participants!

The Simple Dollar has a great reading list of the best & worst personal finance books. Make sure to add some of these to your library reading list!

Jeri’s Organizing & Decluttering News has a great resource list for owners of broken iPods.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Frugal Summer Treat: Frozen Banana Popsicles

I had never had a frozen banana before so I had no idea what we had been missing out on. I had seen frozen banana pops on an old episode of Rachael Ray's 30 Minute Meals and thought that looked like a really weird snack. What could possibly taste good about frozen bananas? Boy, was I wrong!

When frozen, bananas actually taste like ice cream. They are cold and creamy and have none of the texture that they have when they are in their normal state. Rolled in chocolate and sprinkles, they make heavenly treats that are pretty figure friendly versus the ice cream variety.

Best of all, these treats are easy on the pockets and are a great way to use up some of the bananas that are sitting on your counter. They are quick to make and a fun treat to eat.

My husband ended up working late yesterday and I was having a hard day with the kids. I told them that we were going on a picnic and at the end of our picnic dinner, we would all get a fun treat to eat. I packed up summer sausage, cheese, crackers, pasta salad, and grapes. While I made the pasta salad, I put together our banana treats and popped them in the freezer to harden.

There was a lot of grumbling from my son about not wanting to go on a picnic, but I finally got him convinced. He was pretty surprised when the picnic was in our yard and not at the playground. I threw out a blanket on the lawn and we ate our dinner out there. It made for a quick clean up and it was a nice surprise when Ryan got home from work.

The kids played on the swing set while I cleaned up from our dinner and then I brought out the snack. My son, who is a huge banana fan, thought it was the coolest thing ever and he ended up eating two of them. After he finished, he was covered in chocolate so I let him take the hose and rinse himself off. He was soaked, but had a huge grin on his face. That is what summer is all about!

We are approaching his fifth birthday so I have started thinking about themes for his day recently. I noticed that Martha Stewart's new line over at Michael's has a really cute monkey birthday party set. Wouldn't these be a cute treat to serve along with other fun monkey snacks (monkey bread & banana pancakes)? I am thinking of using this idea for Ethan's birthday this July. Having the kids help make these with you for the party would be a fun way to involve them in the party process. Not only that, but what a cheap party snack they will make!

I highly recommend adding these sweet treats to your snack rotation. You can also make them a healthy breakfast snack, by incorporating other ingredients into them. Here are a few recipes to try. Feel free to share some of your own favorite banana popsicle ideas!

Chocolate Covered Bananas

6 ripe bananas
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Peel bananas and cut in half crosswise. Insert a wooden stick into the flat end of each banana half. Lay bananas on a shallow pan (I used a small cookie sheet) and freeze for approximately three hours. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave or over hot water. With a spatula, quickly spread melted chocolate over banana, coating well. Then roll in sprinkles, crushed nuts, or rice cereal. Wrap each banana in foil and store in your freezer.

Breakfast Banana Pops

4 large bananas
2 cups fruit-flavored yogurt, Nutella or peanut butter (For easiest spreading, dilute nut butters with enough vanilla or plain yogurt so it’s the consistency of thick cake batter)
1 cup combination of chopped dried fruit, granola, crushed cereal, crushed cookies or crushed candy

Peel the bananas, cut in half crosswise, and dip them in the yogurt. Roll them in the toppings to coat. Freeze until firm. Serve when firm.


Crispy Banana Pops


2 medium bananas
1/4 cup crisp rice cereal

1/4 cup miniature chocolate chips
2 tablespoons finely chopped peanuts
1 tablespoon light corn syrup

Cut bananas in half and insert a wooden popsicle stick into the cut end of each half. Freeze until firm (about ten minutes). Combine cereal, chocolate chips and peanuts in a shallow bowl, mix well. Uncover frozen bananas and brush with corn syrup. Roll bananas in cereal mixture to cat. Loosely wrap each coated banana with plastic wrap. Store in freezer for about ten minutes or until serving time. Serve frozen.

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Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Overcoming My Fears: Gardening




Remember when I made that confession about being scared to work with dough? Well, here is another one of those kind of confessions. I really stink at gardening and I mean STINK! I swear that when the flowers see me coming, they start to wither and hold each other. The violets really do shrink into a ball and the tulips sag their heads. Despite working in a nursery every summer of my high school and college career, I just never was that great with plants. I thought it might be genetic because my mom is the same way, but my grandmother maintains a beautiful garden and the flowers seem to all stand to attention for her.

I also don't like being outdoors. Or being too hot. Or being dirty. Or working too hard. Basically, I am your average girly-girl, who was just made to sit in the shade and sip iced tea.

Fortunately, this girly-girl is extremely frugal, and my dismay with produce prices really got the best of me. I thought to myself, "Why not have a garden for myself?" I immediately pictured myself bringing baskets of beautiful produce to our friends and family to share the bounty of my hard work. Wouldn't it be wonderful to be the neighbor that people can't wait to see knock on their door with loads of yummy treats?

So...I did it! I overcame my fear of planting (and getting dirty) and planted myself a little vegetable garden. I managed to plant parsley, rosemary, sweet basil, cherry tomatoes, regular tomatoes and green peppers.

Don't worry, I was not wearing these shoes....

But I was wearing this highly fashionable John Deere shirt. Why not get into the spirit, I say?


Above is our finished product and I couldn't be more proud! I greeted my hubby at the door with the biggest smile he had ever seen. He gave me the strangest look and said, rather scared, "You have dirt on your face."

So, avid gardening readers, share with me your BEST gardening tips! Tell me everything you know! How do you keep those pesky varmints away from the greens? What is your tip for the best produce imaginable? What is the one thing you wish you would have known when you began dabbling in gardening? Does it run in your family? Please share!

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Interview with Shakadoo


Kristen over at one of my favorite blogs, Shakadoo, asked to do an interview with me about our website. I hope that you will be able to check it out since it was such a fun interview to do. Many thanks to Kristen & Shakadoo for giving us this opportunity to share with them about our site!


I love the idea of doing interviews with bloggers and would love to feature some of my favorite blogs here. If you are interested in sharing about your blog with MomAdvice, please shoot an email over to me at amy@momadvice.com. Of course, we MUST feature Shakadoo now!

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Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Gift Closet Part Three: Frugal Wedding Gifts

This is the third installment in the gift closet series. In the first section I talked about the presentation of your gifts, in the second part I discussed inexpensive graduate gifts, and today I would like to talk about frugal wedding gifts.

I love to stock up for weddings because it is something that you can do throughout the year with very little expense. Many of the wedding gifts that I am going to list will make great housewarming gifts too or can be a great way to welcome a new neighbor. Try to keep some of these ideas in the back of your mind when doing thrift sale shopping or hitting the end-of-season clearance sales.

Here are a few of my ideas for wedding gifts:

1. Get the couple's board game collection started and get them some new games. You can ask the couple what type of board games they like and get them one or two of these.

2. Christmas decorations make great gifts for a newly married couple. You can purchase these at the after Christmas sales and get tons of stuff for very little money. It is nice to get an ornament with the year of their wedding on it to include within the gift, to remember their wedding date by.

3. Pool your money with several other couples and get them a folding table & chairs set. Some of our family did this for us and we actually used it as our kitchen dining set for several months before we were able to save up enough to purchase a kitchen table. Broke newlyweds will really appreciate this gift.

4. Fill a wine rack for the couple. I often see small wine racks, made to accommodate two or three bottles, at thrift sales. I try and buy these and fill them with a couple of bottles of wine. One of our favorite inexpensive brands is the Barefoot wines, which can be purchased for $5-6 a bottle. This wine has received great reviews and awards, and it is easy on the wallet.

5. Give the couple a picnic set. I try to stock up on these during the summer clearance sales. Pair a picnic set with an outdoor blanket and you have a beautiful gift for the couple. These will often be marked down fifty or seventy-five percent off at the end of the summer. Stock up!

6. I love to buy couples a welcome mat or a wreath for their front door. You could also get an inexpensive sign that has their names on it. I try to make the wreaths myself and utilize those great Michael's forty percent off coupons. Thrift stores will often have donated wreaths that you can use and just pull all of the previous owner's greenery off of it to make a new one.

7. A stationary set can be a beautiful gift for a new bride. Fill a basket with stationary and plenty of thank you notes and a book of stamps. This is a thoughtful gift that she can really use to thank everyone who has given them gifts.

What are some gifts that you like to give as wedding gifts? Better yet, what was the best gift that you received?

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Saturday, May 05, 2007

For the Mom Who Has Everything: Exclusive iPod Gift Set


What could be better than a brand spanking new iPod? How about an iPod and some chocolates to go with it? Best Buy is offering an exclusive gift set for Mother’s Day that will be available starting May 6th and will only be available for a limited time with limited quantities available.

The gift set includes the following:

- A pink or silver 4GB Apple iPod nano, slim enough to fit in mom's pocket, purse or palm

- A variety of pink-foiled milk chocolate meltaways

- It is packaged in a mod polka-dot-patterned box inspired by the prism of iPod nano colors and this spring's hottest accessory: dots!

I got the opportunity to review this lovely gift set and all I can say is that if your sweetheart gets you this gift, he will be the man of the year! The iPod makes such a fabulous present and the chocolates are a great bonus to satisfy any mom’s sweet tooth.

This iPod has 4GB versus the 2GB that were previously available in the first generation of iPods. The battery is twice the size of the original and Apple boasts that it can go play twenty-four hours of music or five hours of photo slideshows before needing a charge. It has an aluminum exterior, which makes it resistant to scratches, and comes in a fun hot pink color or a striking silver shade.

I have never owned an iPod before so this is my first experience with the Apple Company. Since I have never had one of these, I really had no expectations going into it. I was really surprised though how much I love this gadget, as the sound on it is absolutely incredible and is far superior to other mp3 players out on the market.

The iPod also includes lots of other fun little gadgets like games, a calendar, a stopwatch, and a small screen to view your pictures.

The difference between the iPod & other mp3 players is that iPods do not have a radio available on it and all of the music needs to be converted into iTunes before it is playable in this player. Fortunately, iTunes is easy to install and the process is not tedious, but just an extra step towards having a player with incredible sound. The radio feature can be added by purchasing additional accessories, but it is not a necessary item for most people who would just like to listen to the music of their own choice.

The retail cost for this gift set is $214.99 and is available at your local Best Buy store. Feel free to point your husband and children towards this review to really give them a hint of what you want this year! I am wishing you all whatever you are dreaming of for your special day and hope you all have a fabulous Mother’s Day!

Many thanks to the Best Buy company for giving me the opportunity to review this product!

While I am on the subject of iPods & mp3 players, here is my question for today...Who is currently on your playlist? I am sure we can all use some ideas for new artists and give me some of your good old favorites. I am always looking for a little creative inspiration!

On Amy's Playlist:

Norah Jones
Jack Johnson
Coldplay
Amy Winehouse
Paolo Nutini
Regina Spektor
The Killers
The Fray
The Shins
Matt Kearney
Justin Timberlake (no comments please!)

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Friday, May 04, 2007

Check It Out: The Dangerous Book for Boys


A cross between a Boy Scout’s trusty guide and a throwback to the old days of really cool encyclopedias, “The Dangerous Book for Boys” by Conn & Hal Iggulden is a wonderful book for any boy in your life. The book is meant to be a handbook for boys, guiding them on all the cool things every boy should know about. With sections devoted towards making paper airplanes, how to skip stones, how to tie knots, and answers on questions about the world, this book offers a wealth of knowledge for every little boy.

My favorite part about this guide to a boy’s life is just the feeling of nostalgia that one gets from reading it. The pictures and design of the book give it such timeless beauty and the photographs and diagrams for making things create a great reference book for little boys.

There was a time where fathers taught their sons how to do many of the things listed in this book, but it seems the digital world and the fast pace times have changed things a lot. It is now considered dangerous to give our sons a pocket knife, in these troubled times, and the Dangerous Book for Boys brings you back to the days where your father went fishing & hunting with you, taught you all about the world around you, and bonded with their child in that good old-fashioned way.

The book contains a guide book on the different types of trees and bugs, with a picture guide that explains about each of these living things. There are great guides on building things too on things such as tree houses, batteries, & periscopes.

Upon your son completing each stage in the book, he can pick up his free printable badges at their website.

You can also read an interview with the author and read more about the idea for the book here.

I wonder what good old-fashioned things your husbands do with your sons. Do they camp together? Fish? Hunt for critters? Share what fun father & son activities go around in your home!

Once again, many thanks to Harper Collins for giving us the opportunity to review such a great book! It is a wonderful addition to our son’s book collection and one that I think he will enjoy for years and years to come!

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Freebie Friday: May 4, 2007

There are lots of goodies this week! Please share them with your friends & family! Unfortunately, I did not do a menu planner for this week due to our family schedule, but you can check out all of the previous menu planners here. Just click on the individual entry and it will give you access to the files. I will be back to planning meals next week!

Health & Beauty:

Not sure if smartfiberstixx is right for you? How about a FREE sample! No obligation, no shipping costs and absolutely no risk! Simply send us an email with your mailing address (US customers only) and we'll drop a few stixx in the mail to you today. Also, if you do not mind telling us how you heard about us, we would appreciate. For more information about this product, visit their website.

Complete a short survey and receive a free sample of shampoo & conditioner from Marie Claire magazine. It does not list the brand that you will receive.

This freebie is for diabetics. You can sign up to download a printable coupon for a free Breeze 2 Blood Glucose Monitoring System.

Clairol is opening up a club to become a Color Source VIP. You will receive tons of great perks like free samples, offers, sweepstakes eligibility and more! This offer is only open to a limited amount of people so sign up today. You will see the offer at the bottom of the page.

OB Tampon is offering a free OB Tampon trial pack.

Share your thoughts on the new BuyBeauty.com and they will send you a free Lancome gift. The Lancome gifts will vary. Please allow ten to fourteen business days for shipping. They reserve the right to substitute the free gift based on availability.

Try the new Maybelline New York Longwear Silky Foundation for free. Please limit one freebie per household and allow up to four weeks for delivery.

Enjoy a complimentary wellness service at any Origins Retail Store 4/25 – 5/6 and get your choice of one of our 5 famous full-size cleansers absolutely FREE.* We’ll treat you to a soothing mini facial and introduce you to the products perfect for your skin. What are you waiting for? Space is limited so call or visit one of our stores to make an appointment. To find the store nearest you click here or call 1-800-ORIGINS and select option 5.

Home & Garden:

DoubleTree Two Free Tree Seedlings *First 10,000* by joining the Doubletree Pledge to Plant Challenge. Doubletree is challenging people across North America to be part of what could become a 50,000 tree planting pledge across America in just one month! Its easy and free, just visit the website by May 31, fill out the simple form and you will receive two live seedling trees suitable to plant in your area. For every "double-tree" Pledge to Plant Promise, Doubletree will match your pledge by planting an additional two live seedling trees in a U.S. forest in need, through reforestation projects currently underway by The National Arbor Day Foundation. Doubletree Hotels are planting the seeds of knowledge with a new generation of kids at grade schools and youth organizations in 150 cities across the U.S. and Canada as part of its award winning Teaching Kids to CARE community outreach program. Thousands of students from late April through early May will learn about why trees are one of the earth’s most precious resources and will receive 10,000 seedling trees to re-green their neighborhoods. How can YOU be part of the celebration? It’s as easy as planting two trees of your own, compliments of Doubletree and The National Arbor Day Foundation. To commemorate one of the oldest environmental holidays, Doubletree is challenging people across North America to be part of what could become a 50,000 tree planting pledge across America in just one month! No purchase is necessary. Simply fill out the Pledge to Plant Promise Form by May 31, 2007. As a result, you will receive two live seedling trees, with our compliments, suitable to plant in your own community.

Click on the Free Sample button to give Cascade 2in1 ActionPacs a try on your next load. Please limit one sample per customer and allow up to four weeks for delivery.

Sign up for a free sample of Ultra Downy from Wal-Mart. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery.

Complete the information to receive your free sample of Post-it® Flags and Notes. You can also sign up to receive great offers from Post-it® Perks by clicking the box below. If you are already a Post-it® Perks member, you do not need to check the box. Limit one sample(s) per household. Sample(s) available through June 30th, 2007 or while supplies last.

Sign up to receive a free sample of Clorox Disinfecting Wipes. Please allow up to four weeks for delivery and limit one per household.

We're excited to offer the first 10,000 people who join Clean Home Journal™ through this offer a Ziploc® Gift Pack that includes: 3 Free Ziploc® Brand Bag samples and valuable coupons.

Entertainment:

TransWorld SURF Magazine covers the new generation of surfers whose technical and progressive styles have taken surfing to another level. Each monthly issue features today's hottest groms, the sickest waves, and in-depth interviews with your favorite pros. Note: You will receive 3 issues of TransWorld SURF Magazine only with no commitment or obligation whatsoever. You will not be sent any additional magazines and you do NOT have to cancel a subscription after you have received your free 3 issues. We will not be accepting feedback on this sample.This subscription to TransWorld SURF magazine has been purchased on your behalf by MetooSoftware.com.

Join Regal Crown Club and earn rewards for going to the movies. Free movies, popcorn, soft drinks and more!

Visit this About Freebies page to learn how you can get a free Xbox Live Diamond Card. The Xbox Live Diamond card is available in the US only to Xbox Live Gold subscribers.

Sign up to receive a free magazine subscription to the Family Tree Maker Magazine.

This one is not a “true” freebie, but is great if you already buy Nutrogena products. Buy a Nutrogena product and receive a free movie pass to the list of participating movie theatres. Check the list first before signing up, as the choices are limited. Hope someone can cash in on this one!

Food:

We've reinvented Diet 7UP with more natural lemon lime flavor. It is even more refreshing, and guess what! There's even less diet aftertaste! We're letting you make the call on the New Diet 7UP. While supplies last, we're giving away Diet 7UP Taste Challenge kits. Each kit contains the New Diet 7UP and two other competing diet lemon lime soft drinks. Try each of the soft drinks, and let your taste buds tell you which is best. We're confident you'll love the New Diet 7UP. Register for your Diet 7UP Taste Challenge kit today! Once you fill out the survey, you will get the following message: We have received your request for a Diet 7UP Taste Challenge kit. In the case that demand for the Taste Challenge kits exceed our supply, we will send you a coupon so that you can enjoy the great new taste of Diet 7UP – now with more natural lemon lime flavor than ever.

Please fill out this short form to receive your free pot of Mr. Coffee! Please allow six to eight weeks for delivery of this freebie.

May 4th-6th McDonald’s is giving away free iced coffee samples from 11am-6pm. Contact your local McDonald’s to see if they are participating. Michiana residents- I contacted the Granger restaurant and they don’t have iced coffees in their restaurant yet and won’t be receiving these until June.

Try a free sample of the new Knorr Sides Plus Veggies. Please limit one freebie per household and allow four weeks for delivery.

Pet Needs:

This freebie is a repeat, but just wanted to make sure everyone got this one! As a gesture of the Iams promise and dedication to keeping your pets healthy and happy, we would like to invite the first 250,000 pet owners who register here to receive a free 4-lb. bag of either our dry dog or dry cat food or equivalent value (up to $6.50 for dog and $10.00 for cat) off a larger-sized bag. This will exceed over 1 million pounds of free food.

Baby:

Sign up to receive a free subscription to American Baby Magazine.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Amy's Notebook 05.03.2007


Be Mom of the Year:

Scribbit shares a great way to decorate your child’s room (with their current obsessions!) and not blow a bunch of money on achieving the look.

Design Mom (guest blogger Amy M) shares some really cool ways you can share photos of your children.

Be Cheap:


Simply Thrifty shares a list of resources for the frugal crafter in you. You don’t necessarily have to pay for a pattern when you use one of these free listed resources.

Thrifty Mommy shares a link to a great article on mothers who are worn out and why time management is a thrifty choice for mothers.
Lifehacker shares how you can make a DIY string tripod, for those of us too cheap to purchase the real deal.

Have a Martha Moment:

Parent Dish has a great retro mom recipe for how to make the world’s best chocolate cake. The best part about this is that it is made with a boxed cake mix- whoohoo!

Oh Happy Day shares how you can truly have a Martha Moment…you can buy her products at Michael’s now.

My Longest Year shares a pattern and tutorial for creating a reversible half apron.
How about orange has a great template for making your own envelopes out of beautiful paper.

Get Inspired:

Personal Finance Advice shares with their readers ten important items you should keep in your purse or wallet.

Zen Habits encourages you to streamline your day better and come up with systems for doing everyday chores. Are you doing things the simple way or the complicated way?

Shakyard has a great piece on how to achieve a perfect lawn.

Not Made of Money shares tips for the homeowner who is trying to sell their house themselves.
It is a great read if you are trying to bypass hiring a real estate agent.

Shakhammer has a great entry on how to install a clothesline to dry your clothes. It is full of simple & straightforward directions on adding this to your home.

Young & Broke shares tips on how to become a good saver of your money. There is lots of great information in here!

News You Can Use:

Parent Dish shares the scoop on a product recall on Payless shoes. Be sure to read this if you have purchased those Airwalk Clog shoes for your child.

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The Dollar Stretcher Tips 05.03.2007

For a sample copy of The Dollar Stretcher newsletter, send $2 to: Dollar Stretcher Sample, 6695 Cortez Road W., Bradenton FL 34210. Copyright 2007 Dollar Stretcher, Inc. Visit The Dollar Stretcher for even more tips & ideas!

Emergency Lights

Power went out in my parents' home and my mom went outside and got one of her solar lights that outline the front yard. It was the best light she used. It stayed lit the entire night until the power came back on. Plus she was able to walk around the house with it and it lit up everything. Lori

Garage Storage

Use inexpensive rain gutters to create convenient storage for molding, lightweight lumber, pipes, and other long, thin items. To install the vinyl or aluminum gutters, cut the lengths you want and use screws to fasten the mounting brackets to studs. Then snap the gutters into place. Use the brackets alone as hooks for garden hoses, extension cords, and wire coils. Kyra M.

Test Drive Your New Home

If you're thinking of moving up to a bigger apartment or home and anticipate a larger monthly payment, here's a way to see if the increased monthly payment will fit in your budget. For 9 to 12 months save the difference between your current rent or mortgage and the anticipated amount of your new rent or mortgage. For instance, if your rent is $500 and you want to get into a house and you think the payments will be $800, then put $300 per month in the bank. If you have to miss a month of depositing the $300, you'll know that the new rent or mortgage is more than your budget can provide for, as you'd have missed your payment for that month. Also, you'll be growing your savings for the year. April G. in Cordova, TN

Personalized Thank You Notes

Instead of sending regular "thank you" notes after my children's birthday parties, I get double prints of my child with each guest and write a note on the back of one and send it to the guest. This way, each child has a nice reminder that is much more personal than a "form letter" thank you! Carrie W.

Breastfeeding and Insurance

One place that people forget to look for savings in regards to breastfeeding is their own health insurance! My pediatrician referred me to a lactation consultant due to breastfeeding problems, and I only had to pay my $10 co-pay for each visit. In addition, my pediatrician "prescribed" a breast pump for me. Under the terms of my health insurance contract, I only had to pay $5/month for "medical equipment rental." I did buy the tubing/bottles from the hospital new ($50). However, you can now buy them off of eBay for a little bit cheaper. Andrea B.

Expert Self-Defense Advice

A friend of mine has a second-degree black belt in karate. He often does self-defense talks for women. He always encourages women to try to run, as that's your best defense. If you can't run, go for the eyes, throat or knees. If you try to inflict pain, like going for the groin, you are risking the possibility that this person could be on drugs, which will mask their pain response. If you go for the eyes, they won't be able to see you. If you go for the throat, they won't be able to breathe. If you go for the knees, they won't be able to run. Donna in Raleigh

Fresh Frozen Fish

If you catch or buy more fish than you can eat right away and want to freeze the excess, just place the fish in a quart-size or sandwich-size freezer bag, fill with plain tap water to about an inch below the top, squeeze the air out, and seal. This leaves room for the bag to accommodate expansion of the water when it freezes. Freeze them and enjoy later! I've kept fish (freshwater and saltwater) this way for up to three years, and they were as fresh and good as the day caught. Thawing does take about twice as long. Michael C. in Kennewick, WA

Expensive 'Melts'

I just got back from my local mega-center where I purchased cough syrup for my daughter. Some cough medicines now come in tablets or "melts." While the prices are the same, the liquid contains almost twice the medicine that the tablets do. My daughter needs 1 tsp. of syrup (5 ml), and from a 118-ml bottle, she gets almost 23 doses. The "melts" box only contained 12 doses for the same cost. That's a significant difference, especially if you're dosing more than one child. Teresa in MO

Cookie Cutter

When making cookies, instead of rolling dough and cutting into shapes or dropping dough by spoon-full, I pat dough onto a jelly roll pan or pizza pan and bake. Then I cut the warm dough with a pizza cutter as soon as I remove it from oven. This makes baking cookies so much faster. They taste good, and it saves time in kitchen. Barbara

Military Care Packages

My son, who is in the Marines, is deployed to Iraq. I like to send him care packages frequently and also to other soldiers who aren't getting any mail. Whenever I get fast food, I ask for condiments. I collect those, the free mints given out after dinner, and any other freebies I can find to help fill up the care packages. This may not seem like a big deal, but anything that will spice up the MREs (Meals Ready to Eat) is a good thing. I also collect little lotions, soaps, etc. that I get in motels and send those along. And you know those salsa bags that come with the Mexican dinner kits (get them when they're buy one get one)? Those are good too. You can save them up and look up a local organization that sends care packages. For almost nothing, you have something to contribute. And remember, a letter to a service person is the cheapest form of cheer!

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Real Simple Magazine Tips for May


Here are this month's tips for your reading enjoyment courtesy of our friends over at Real Simple Magazine. Be sure to pick up their issue to get more tips on how to make your life a little easier!

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Vegas, Baby!

We just returned this evening from our trip to Las Vegas and all I can say is...WOW! Our trip was incredible and there are no words to describe the experience that we had or all that we saw while we were there. It was truly like a Disney World for adults and we were in awe of everything, particularly the architecture of the buildings there. You can tell that we were in awe as we took over two hundred pictures while we were there, going in and out of every building that we could.

I don't want to brag so I will keep this entry short. We are thankful to be home safe & sound and to be back with the kids. It was a great trip for the two of us and a much needed excursion away from the real world. To have all of our expenses cared for made the trip a hundred times more enjoyable because I didn't find myself questioning whether or not we could do things while we were there. We stayed within our budget and have only twenty dollars to spare, but thanks to our winnings we have amazing memories and no bills to go along with it! Our hotel (pictured to the left) was phenomenal and we could not have asked for more!

I will be back to my regular blogging routine tomorrow. Thank you for all your well wishes and prayers for our safety- we have felt truly blessed!

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