Friday, May 31, 2013

Freebies on Friday - May 31, 2013

Today I found quite a few free e-books and samples. There is a summer recipe cookbook and one full of cheap and filling recipes. Another e-book teaches you to play the guitar in 20 lessons. Perfect for adults or older children. The next e-book helps parents raise children with good life skills. It is even broken down into short weekly lessons. Finally there is a helpful speed cleaning book because who doesn't want to be done cleaning faster. LOL!

There are also a bunch of free samples that I was able to find this week.

Hope you enjoy them! Have a wonderful weekend and see you on Monday!

E-Books

50 Super Summer Recipes: Summer Dishes You Can't Live Without


Cheap and Filling!


ACOUSTIC GUITAR IN 20 WEEKS: Basic Acoustic Guitar Guide with 20 Lessons


SUPERKID POWER GUIDEBOOK Empower Children to Build Inner Strengths


The Art Of Speed Cleaning And Organizing: How To Organize, Clean, And Keep Your House Spotless


Samples
Nescafe Taster's Choice  - Request an assortment of Taster's Choice in new single-serve pkgs.
Bag of Cracker Jack'd - You've heard of Cracker Jacks? Now there are 3 new flavors. They are giving away 1,000 a day till July 1st.
Maxwell House Single Cups from Walmart.com
Morton Salt - Water Test Strip - Do you have hard water? Use a water softener? Get this free test strip to check your water.
Heel Balm by Flexitol - hydrate dry and cracked heals and feet.

* Please note the ebook links are affiliate links but at the time of this publication all the books were listed as free on Amazon.com. All the remaining links are not-affiliate links and I am not compensated for sending people to any of them.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Totally Random Stuff

Today is a miscellany type day. I've included a couple interesting sites I've found over the past couple days. Totally random stuff. Enjoy!



MapOfPlay.Kaboom.org/
This really awesome site tells you were all the local playgrounds are. It uses GPS or you can enter a zip code. My area even includes schools and some community playgrounds too.



I think this is a really neat site. You upload a photo and it will tell you what colors of paint you would need to match the photo. The photo above is one I took of my daughter's room and the colors that the site said would match. This site makes a nice tool for any home improvement or craft project.



World's Biggest Lego Set
My little guy still loves his Legos and when we saw this online I had to share. It's huge! With the announcement that they will be making more Star Wars movies I guess Lego went all out and made a life size (or bigger) model.  Have fun visiting the link and searching through all their Lego Star Wars creations.



Roof Top Storage that Doubles as a Boat
This looked really cool and handy if you are a prepper. It's a roof-top storage container that doubles as a dingy. It's really pricey at $1500 or so, but helpful if you live in flood prone areas. Just a neat idea. Great invention.

So those were my random picks for today. Have a great day and see you tomorrow!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I'm Gonna Lose It!

Back in 2010 I managed to lose 50+ lbs using Weight Watchers Online. I felt great! I got down to 143 lb. Wore a size 8 and felt amazing. I had tons of energy. Could wear almost anything I wanted. I could even shop in any store I wanted.

Well, I got down to the last 5 lbs to lose and Weight Watchers switched programs. I'm not blaming Weight Watchers or anything. I just lost motivation. I only had 5 lbs left to lose and didn't want to start back from the beginning learning a whole new system. I figured I could lose the rest and then maintain. WRONG!

It's been almost 2 1/2 years and I've gained it all back and then some. I'm turning 40 within a week and I feel like poop most days confidence-wise because I can't find clothes I like in my size. My knees are starting to ache and my back needs to crack on a daily basis. I know it's all because of my weight. This is NOT how I want the rest of my life to be.

Then something amazing happened. I was contacted by Weight Watchers to try again. They offered me a 3 month trial in exchange for posting once a month. Needless to say I say "Heck yeah!!!" I've never had any company approach me before to try their products and I feel truly blessed for that. I also want to make it crystal clear that everything I write will be my own opinion and real life experiences. No rose colored glasses here.

I started this morning and plan to post once a week for now with updates. I'd love for you to follow along on my journey. I know it will take more than 3 months to lose all I want to lose, but it's a great start. This time I hope to stay with it until I reach the maintenance phase, so I can learn how to do just that - maintain my ideal weight.

Sorry, I'm too embarrassed to put all my stats out there for everyone in the world to see, but let me tell you I'm 5'4" and wear a size 16/18.


Let me also say, as a wife and mom I've always wanted to be healthy so I can care for my family and enjoy my life. Be able to play and do things with my family - not just watch. My goal is to start my 40th year off with a bang and to make it my best yet.

I hope you will follow along and maybe be inspired to get fit as well.

* This post is sponsored by Weight Watchers.com, but ALL opinions are completely mine and 100% honest. These are my actual experiences and feelings about following Weight Watchers 360° online program.

**  People following the Weight Watchers plan can expect to lose 1-2 pounds per week.
 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Homeschooling for Moms

Homeschooling isn't just for kids.  There are plenty of ways for moms and dads to learn from home as well.  Show your kids that learning is a life long activity.

Here is a selection of sites that offers courses online.

Course - Free
http://oedb.org/open/  Offering 10,000 free online classes. They offer audio lectures, video lectures and full courses from the top schools in the US including MIT, Stafford, and Duke University.

GCFLearnFree.org  This sites courses cover more basic, everyday life subjects such as computer and math basics along with computer software courses.

http://www.openculture.com This website offers 700 free courses from top universities in a variety of subjects. They also offer a nice selection of courses that provide a certificate of completion when finished.

Courses - Paid/Fee
Ed2Go.com  This site works in conjunction with local colleges or on it's own. There is a fee for courses and set course dates. Variety of courses from Accounting, Law, Health Care and Teaching in addition to College Readiness and Personal Enrichment courses.


Whether you want to brush up on skills already learned long ago or learn something new. Never stop learning!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Memorial Day!

Sorry for the late post. I was crazy busy working this weekend. Lots of home improvement projects.  Cleaning our yard, planting, weeding, etc.

I truly hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day as much as I have! 

More importantly, I want to wholeheartedly thank all the military men and women who worked and still work to keep the US safe.

See you all tomorrow.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Freebies on Friday - May 24, 2013

This week I found a couple interesting e-books. The first one is called "The Oprah Effect". I used to watch Oprah every summer (running around with the kids during the school year).  The next e-book is a cookbook that I thought would be perfect for this long holiday weekend. Finally a book with hints on organizing your home.

I also found a couple free samples. I try to find samples that don't require you to have a facebook account.

Just a little tip:  Have a junk email account that you use when signing up for anything such as samples, surveys, etc. Then keep a separate email account for friends and family. That way you don't have to search through all the junk mail to find an important one.


E-books

The Oprah Effect



100 Easy Camping Recipes



Quick Guide To Home Organization: Declutter, Clean And Organize Your Home

Samples
Sandy Wipes - extra strength multipurpose surface wipes
John Frieda Luxurious Volume  - sample available via Target.com
Loreal Paris Advanced Haircare - get a sample from their Advanced Haircare Line

* Please note the ebook links are affiliate links but at the time of this publication all the books were listed as free on Amazon.com. All the remaining links are not-affiliate links and I am not compensated for sending people to any of them.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Reading Log Printable

Here's a brand new printable I made this week. After searching for a reading log to use for my post on Summer Vacation Planning - Part 1 and for my kids to use, I just couldn't find one I really liked.

Feel free to use this with your kids or students. Enjoy!


Feel free to print this for your own personal use and share it, however no permission is given to sell any printables on this site. All rights reserved. 

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Fun with Flat Stanley


My niece in first grade is doing a project based on the book, Flat Stanley. Luckily, she choose to send us Flat Stanley to visit for a week or so.

In case you aren't familiar here's the brief description. Flat Stanley is a character in a book who gets squished flat and now gets to have all sorts of adventures because he can be mailed.

So like I said he came to visit us. He got to hang out with my youngest while she was doing crafts.

He also got to met our kitten, Gizmo. I don't think he had such a fun time with him. He got a couple bite marks on his little hand. He'll be okay though. The kitten liked to cuddle with him during one of his many naps.


Flat Stanley even got to go with us to our area's Family Fun Day at a local park. He did lots of crafts, rode ponies, saw farm animals and even got to see a state police helicopter close up. Maybe a little too close.

If you want to do this fun project with your kids. Visit FlatStanley.com for free printables under their Resources link.

* I was not compensated in any way for this blog post or for referring you to the link contained in the post.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Summer Vacation Planner - Part 2

In the last post I included the basics of how I start to plan out my kids' summer vacation. This post will go into more detail about what I actually put on the planner.

"I'm Bored!" How often have you heard that? I've heard my fair share, so each summer I try to plan some activities to keep their summer fun.

I also try to make sure they don't forget everything they just spent 9 months learning in school and I want them to stay physically active too.

Basically I try to plan out my kids' day just like the teachers do. I want to include Reading, Phys. Ed, Math, Science, Music and some social time too. However, I don't want my kids to feel like they are back in school, so I sneak all these subjects in their daily activities.

Here are some ways to incorporate learning into everyday life.

Reading
I'm a firm believer and lover of reading. I find kids enjoy reading when they like the story. You just need to find a book your child is interested in. Ex. trains, fairies, wizards, dogs, robots, Legos, Star Wars, etc.

Phys. Ed.
This one is easy. Running around a playground, jumping on a trampoline, swimming, playing catch are all great ways to exercise.

Math
A simple trip to the store is an easy lesson in math. Figuring tax and calculating change. Another way to sneak in a math lesson is cooking which involves measuring ingredients. There are also lots and lots of worksheets and games online.

Science
My kids love science and find any science project to be fun. There are tons of experiments on the sites listed below.

National Geographic.com
Scholastic.com
ScienceKids.co.nz

Music
This is easy too. Have the radio playing in the background. Try listening to a variety of music. Let the kids make their own music and record it (most phones have record notes features).

I also schedule regular play dates (get togethers) with their friends. The get togethers aren't fancy - just kids getting together and playing with their toys or video games, swimming, or playing outside.

Let me be clear. When I say I plan out stuff to do each day. I don't schedule/plan out every minute of the day.  I like to let my kids be kids and use their imagination.

My kids play a lot throughout the day. I usually do a project or something fun with them either right after breakfast or after lunch. A variety of music is on throughout the day while I'm working around the house and math is sprinkled in too. I do spend 15-20 minutes each day helping my youngest with her math, and at bedtime my kids are allowed to read before falling asleep.

I normally plan a trip to the library, a playground or some other outing once a week. Just to get out of the house. I find this helps cut down on the bickering and Mom like to be around other adults too. :)

So that is how I keep my kids busy over summer vacation. Feel free to share your family's summer plans.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Summer Vacation Planner - Part 1


My kiddos only have a couple weeks of school before they are released for summer vacation. Then I will have them for 10 weeks straight. All day - Every day!

Just like most kids they get bored easily, so I need to plan out some activities to keep their summer fun.


I start off printing out a calendar. I always use these adorable calendars created by HelloCuteness.com.    I think they are adorable and the kids like them too, but you can use any blank calendar.

First I add any appointments to the calendars to avoid scheduling conflicts. Then I add in any trips that have already been planned.

It's time to fill in the rest. Now you need to figure out what you want your kids to do all summer. Visit a day camp? Go to the local swimming pool or beach? Hang out with their friends? Trips to the library?

One thing we try to do each year is go to the movies. Each movie company holds their own summer promotion. The one near me offers their Cinemark's Summer Movie Clubhouse. It only costs $1 per kid per movie and is offered twice a week at 10 a.m. Some places such as Muvico, offer free movies to kids. Be sure to check your local movie theaters for summer deals.

Also check places like roller rinks, bowling alleys, amusement parks for deals. Many place will offer free or discounted items for children who received "A"s on their report card. It really can't hurt to ask if the company has any specials going on for the summer.

My kids love to read so that is added on our calendar. They read a book every week or two.  Their schools usually encourage reading over the summer with a contest. The kids who read over the summer and turn in a reading log get a ice cream party or small prize when they return in the fall. Here is a reading log we've used in the past from CountryClipart.com if the school doesn't provide one. Plus here's one I made.

If you need help thinking of some ideas to add to your calendar here is an article that helped me this year. It's 100 Summer Fun Ideas for Kids and Parents from About.com.

This summer will be different for us because we've always been able to visit parks, playgrounds, family, friends and of course the library. Now we need to find activities that can be done at home. It's a bit trickier with older kids who get bored easily.

I'm hopeful that it will all work out wonderfully. Feel free to share how you plan your children's summer vacation.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Freebies on Friday - May 17, 2013

This week I've included two ebooks that I thought would be beneficial. It seems so many kids lately have peanut allergies and there aren't a lot of cookbooks specifically for those people. I've also included a book about activities for kids - something I will be talking about in up coming blog posts.




The Food Allergy Mama's Baking Book: Great Dairy-, Egg-, and Nut-Free Treats for the Whole Family


Quirk Books Entertains Your Kids


It's getting a little harder to find quality free samples, but I'm determined to keep looking. Here are 3 I found this week.


Have a wonderful weekend and see you on Monday! Enjoy!

* Please note the ebook links are affiliate links but at the time of this publication all the books were listed as free on Amazon.com. All the remaining links are not-affiliate links and I am not compensated for sending people to any of them.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Crazy About Bacon

My family goes bonkers over bacon. We don't have it very often, but when we do I need to make a lot of it. They seem to inhale it.

Recently there has been a trend in bacon-related items, so I thought I'd share a few of my favorites just for fun. Enjoy!


Bacon Duct

Bacon Adhesive Bandages for your boo-boos. :-)


Bacon Lip Balm - Yummy!!!


Bring home the bacon in your Bacon Wallet. LOL!


My daughter would love these Bacon knee high socks.


Every bacon lover needs a window sticker for their vehicle.

These are just a few of the tons of bacon related products out there. Just to name a few of the really interesting ones: bacon flavored toothpaste,  bacon scented soap,  bacon flavored massage oil, t-shirts,  lollipops, and lots, lots more.

* These products are linked to an affiliate website.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Wal-Mart Vs. Dollar Tree


We're all for saving money on this site, and when I saw a article about Wal-Mart vs. Dollar Stores on MSN today it got me thinking. Which one is better for deals?

In my area, we have an abundance of both stores. I have 2 Wal-Mart stores within 20 minutes drive and way more Dollar Trees within the same distance. To determine which one is better all comes down to what you are looking to buy.

Price
On items that were sold at both stores, Dollar Store usually wins. Some items such as paper plates, plastic utensils, small snacks, sodas, and greeting cards are on average cheaper. Take sodas for example. A name brand cola in Wal-Mart's refrigerated cooler is $1.49 plus tax, but only $1.00 plus tax at Dollar Tree for the same size. Another example is greeting cards - Dollar Tree with their $.50- $1 cards beats Wal-Mart's  $.99 and up any day.

Quality
Wal-Mart usually wins in the quality category. While you can get laundry detergent from both stores - Wal-Mart's products are higher quality.  The same is true for toys. The old saying is true "You get what you pay for."


Convenience
Both stores are convenient in their own way. Walmart is convenient if you are trying to get all your shopping done in one trip. You can get your groceries, clothes for the kids and a new set of tires all in one trip.  Dollar Tree, however, is better when you only need a few items. You can be in or out much quicker because the store is physically smaller.

So which one is better for deals?  The answer is both. I love shopping in both stores for different reasons and I manage to find great deals in each one.

Which store do you think has better deals? Which one do you prefer to shop?

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Teacher Appreciation Day or End of Year Gift

If you have kids in elementary school than you've probably heard of Teacher Appreciation Day. My question is why celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day with a gift in May only to give another gift to thank them at the end of the school year?

Now don't get me wrong I really like my kids' teachers. Actually they've had some of the coolest ones ever, seriously! I truly appreciate all their hard work, but I seem to be buying gifts for them around every turn. If I said yes to every request I'd spend a fortune.

I've worked with teachers for a couple years and have been friends with a fair number over the years.  Many I've spoken with would love nothing more than a sincere thank you note from a parent every once in a while. They'd also really like the parent to volunteer and help out in the classroom every once in a while. See what the teacher experiences day in day out - then you will really appreciate them.

I'm sure most parents want to help your child's teacher improve their classroom, but can't always donate time or money. One teacher, who taught all three of my kids, put up a poster board with sticky notes for all to see during conference time. The poster board was full of sticky notes with anything she wants or needs for her classroom. That way if any parent wants to donate or help out at any time during the school year, they knew what she wants or needs. Everything from stickers, popsicle sticks, dry erase markers, even a camera for the classroom. Much of it was stuff many of us have laying around the house being unused.

The question though is why give a gift for both? Some parents/schools go overboard, in my opinion, asking parents to donate toward a teacher gift a couple times a year. While I don't give in to peer pressure, I do sometimes question which holiday to follow.

Do some parents actually give a gift to their child/children's teacher 2-3 times a year (Teacher Appreciation Day, End of the Year not to mention Christmas)?!! That's becomes a bit costly especially if you have more than one kid.


So I decided this school year that I wouldn't celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week and give an End of the Year Gift. I give a donation to a class gift for one and a hand written note from my child and I for the other day.

Feel free to share how you show appreciation for your child's teacher.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Delicious Macaroni Salad Recipe


With warm weather arriving in parts of the US more and more people will be having cook outs. Memorial Day is right around the corner. 

One of the staples at our family cook outs is this delicious macaroni salad recipe. This came from my wonderful Aunt Patty (hubby's aunt actually). Just be warned it makes a lot of macaroni salad.

2 tomatoes
4 small cucumbers or 2 large
8 radishes
1/2 small onion

1 lb box of macaroni
vegetable oil
Mayonnaise
Salt and Pepper

Peel and cut up all vegetables. Mix together in a bowl.

Cook Macaroni
In a large pan boil water for macaroni on high heat. Add a couple dashes of salt once water reaches a rolling boil.  Add the box of macaroni and 1 tablespoon of vegetable cooking oil.  Once the noodles are tender, drain and put in large bowl.

Cover macaroni with salt and pepper.
Add 3 BIG spoonfuls of mayonnaise
Stir well
Add veggie mix to the macaroni and mix well
Add another spoonful of mayonnaise, if necessary
Stir well
Refrigerate

Enjoy!