"Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both." ~ Benjamin Franklin

Giveaway FYI

>> Saturday, November 29, 2008

I'm going to have about, hmmm, 6 giveaways or so going on this week throughout all of my websites. So if you haven't subscribed via RSS or email you just might want to get that done.

Good stuff...

In fact, one giveaway is already going on over at Fab Food Friday...

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People Helping People- The Way It Should Be

This past week marked a pretty low point in our nation’s history. The people that we elected into office and trusted to do what is best for our country have now promised bailouts in the amount of $8.4 trillion. These bailouts will go to large corporations, banks, certain small companies and even to people who have gotten themselves into trouble with credit cards. In essence, the government has decided that no one is allowed to fail. Which, in my mind, makes us all losers. Those who take the money are losers and the rest of us who have to pay so all those others can take the money lose even more.

This sad state of facts is what made the Rebuilding of America investment stand out to me. It’s a small investment that can actually bring about change you can see. And change you can see is change you can really believe in.

I wasn’t too sure about the entire process until I read the letter written by Jim Jameson who founded Rebuilding of America. What he proposes is a privately held (investor owned) program that will not only create jobs but it will also boost local economies. And we all know that privately managed projects are always completed more quickly and less expensively than government managed ones.

Now this is something I can back. If you really want to make a difference I strongly urge you to check out the Rebuilding of America website and Jim Jameson’s letter. See if it makes sense to you. (And try not to wonder why individuals seem so much smarter than our elected officials.)

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Whirlwind

We're home. Lots of fun stuff to share... Later.

Right now I have to organize photos, upload them and place an order with Shutterfly, otherwise I lose 150 free 4x6 prints. Can't have that!

Family portraits later today.

And lots of reviews for giveaways to get written! I'll have stuff on all my blogs next week! Really, really great stuff...

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What Would You Do With $100?

That's what Deal Seeking Mom wants to know...

She's got a $100 gift card for WalMart giveaway going on right now. Just tell her how you would use it.

Why are you still here? Go on and enter!

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FYI

>> Thursday, November 27, 2008

When packing for a trip one should always make sure children do not distract from the packing. Otherwise one could forget one's overnight bag. Which has in it contact case & solution, glasses, cleansers, moisturizers, toothbrush & toothpaste, deodorant and other daily use items.

And one should really not forget such an item on Thanksgiving day when not even a Walgreens is open nearby to where one is staying.

I'm just saying...

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Happy Thanksgiving!

We wish all our bloggy friends a Happy Thanksgiving filled with family, friends and love! We are truly thankful for every one of you!

And I humbly ask you to read the post below and consider making a donation to our "Heroes at Home" and adding the button to your website as well.

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Help Sears Support Our Heroes at Home

As we are preparing to enjoy holidays with family and friends it is quite easy to forget that across our country there are families who will be struggling through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays with an emptiness that few of us can understand. These families have given a sacrifice, a sacrifice that they had no choice in but have accepted with strength and courage.

These families have a soldier overseas. I have spent the last hour or so reading the stories sent in by the soldiers that are gone and reading their Christmas wishes for their families. I may cry too easily these days; the tears that have welled in my eyes for every story make me wish I could personally help every family out there.

Unfortunately I can’t, but Sears has created the Sears Heroes at Home Wish Registry, a gift registry for the families of our soldiers.

Let me tell you about the items on their gift lists: kid’s shoes, coats, pajamas, clothing… Car seats, bedding, cooking utensils and housewares… Educational games, rocking horses and dolls… Of course there are a few who wish for Wii, but I know those are on a lot of lists…

We all have much to be thankful for and our military plays a big part in that. A part that we often forget. A small donation to the Sears Heroes at Home Wish Registry will go a long way. All donations are tallied and given equally as Sears gift cards to registered military families.

I have a button on my sidebar to make it easy for you to donate. I encourage you to get one from the Sears website and help spread the word.

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Let Me Recommend: The Christmas Sweater by Glenn Beck

I saw this book called "simple" in reviews, and they didn't mean it in a good way but as an insult. The thing is, the very best things in life are simple. The love of a child, a soft spring rain, the excitement of Christmas...

So when I say this book is simple I mean it as a compliment. This is a story you can share with your children. This is a story about life and something in it will touch you- or even remind you of yourself.

If you've ever heard Glenn Beck talk about the last Christmas he spent with his mother parts of this story will seem familiar. The story introduces us to Eddie and the life he leads after the death of his father. It's a life of trial. Parts of it will make you laugh and there were plenty of times I cried. If you were ever a rebellious teenager you will see yourself in this story and cringe when you remember how awful you were.

Beyond being a story about redemption it is also a story about facing your life head on and continuing forward through the storms that lie ahead, no matter how scary they look.

This is not a large book, about 300 pages but the print is relatively large so it reads quickly. I read it in one sitting in under 3 hours. It's incredibly relevant right now, with all the uncertainty many of us are facing. I highly recommend it.

You can buy The Christmas Sweater at Target & WalMart if you're out shopping this weekend, any book store or at Amazon.com by using the link below.


If you want a wonderful copy to gift (or gift yourself- I did!) order an autographed copy in a gorgeous leather box from Premier Collectibles.

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Save On Charter Bundles and Get a Gift Card

If you live in a Charter Communications area they have some great bundle deals going on right now. You can get savings plus a gift card up to $250 and a chance to win an XBOX 360.

The terrific black fridayand Cyber Monday deals include:

The Charter Communications Ultimate Service Bundle for $165.97 includes:

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High Speed Internet: 10 Mbps High Speed (great for gaming)
TV: Digital Home, Charter HD, Sports View, Digital View, HBO or Cinemax, Starz or Encore, Showtime or The Movie Channel
And unlimited phone calls.
With this bundle you also get a $250 Gift card of your choice (dozens of choices including Barnes & Noble, Applebees, Best Buy and Old Navy to name just a few)
AND a chance to win an X-Box 360 game console (they are giving away 45!)

There are other great bundles, too, with the best available prices for next year.

Like the cable, internet and phone bundle for $99.97 per month + a $150 gift card. Or the digital home and internet package for $74.98 per month + $75 gift card.

Visit the Charter Website for all the details. You’ll want to hurry because the gift card offer ends December 5.
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Shopping Advice Before Black Friday

Did you see my post about how we save money at Christmas? It included these tips:

* We don't go overboard on gifts. Our girls each get three (hey, Jesus got three. If it was good enough for Him it is good enough for them) one from Mommy & Daddy, one from each other & one from Santa.
* We don't buy for extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews).
* We don't buy big things for each other ($50 limit).
* And, instead of gifting between siblings this year we all decided to go out to dinner and to see Spamalot. The tickets came from our entertainment fund and have already been paid for and my mom is giving us cash for dinner and babysitting as her gift to us.

So the $300 we alotted for gifts has gone a long way- including filling shoeboxes for Operation Chirstmas Child.

For the girls' teachers we are making truffles and we'll bake cookies for the others that help us throughout the year (chiropractor, mechanics, IZEA...)

I have another one to add...

I do my Christmas and gift shopping online through UPromise. I can see prices and store lists. Then I search coupon codes for free shipping or savings. Not only do I save money on what I want I also save a bit for college for my girls!

If you have a holiday saving tip to share head over to Skimbaco and enter her contest to win a $500 Walmart gift card!

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Have You Explored Have Kid Will Travel?

I know that many of you have been over to the Have Kid Will Travel blog. And I thank you. But I wonder... ow many of you have explored the rest of the site? Let me take you on a tour... Who knows, you could win a trip...

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Wicker or Teak?

>> Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Last weekend Doug and I barely beat the snow (which is now gone) and succeeded in bringing into the garage and storing all the outdoor items like the grill, patio furniture, hoses and lights. In fact it began to snow as we finished hauling things in. Luckily we had a small heater in the garage and managed to get it cleaned and organized while we were out there. (No small feat.)

We brought in the wicker furniture that we’ve had for years and are currently having the debate on whether we try to make it last one more year or if we give up on it and invest in new Outdoor Furniture.

It’s a difficult call. I’ve been looking at BuyOutdoorFurnitureOnline.com practically all summer because they have some amazing pieces. And I’ve found some that I truly love. The wicker Catalina Collection is truly gorgeous but I’ve got my heart set on teak which is more expensive but practically weather resistant.

With everything on sale and free shipping the choice becomes even more difficult. Do we wait another year and hope no one falls through the seat of the chairs? (I honestly thought it would happen this year) Or do we take advantage of the great offers that are going on now?

Decisions, decisions… Pretty, comfy furniture or the ratty, often spray painted stuff...

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Some Dave Advice for Christmas

In all honesty our Christmas isn't going to be "lean" even though we are dumping debt left and right.

* We don't go overboard on gifts. Our girls each get three (hey, Jesus got three. If it was good enough for Him it is good enough for them) one from Mommy & Daddy, one from each other & one from Santa.
* We don't buy for extended family (aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces and nephews).
* We don't buy big things for each other ($50 limit).
* And, instead of gifting between siblings this year we all decided to go out to dinner and to see Spamalot. The tickets came from our entertainment fund and have already been paid for and my mom is giving us cash for dinner and babysitting as her gift to us.

So the $300 we alotted for gifts has gone a long way- including filling shoeboxes for Operation Chirstmas Child.

For the girls' teachers we are making truffles and we'll bake cookies for the others that help us throughout the year (chiropractor, mechanics, IZEA...)

That's our plan. Do you have one? I'd love to hear about it?

Are you panicked because you just don't know where to begin? Head over and read Dave Ramsey's most recent newsletter. Don't skip the part where he talks about the "dread B word"- BUDGET. It may be uncomfortable to make one and you may have to do some soul searching on what you can and can't live without. But once you have one, trust me on this, life begins to flow just a bit smoother. Here are Dave's budgeting tools to help you get started.

Are you new to Dave? Go buy Total Money Makeover. It's the book that got us started. It's easy to read, easy to follow and it works! And right now it's only $10! This book will change the way to handle money. (Too bad our politicians won't read it! Maybe we should send all of them a copy!)

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Smaller House in the Future

I like our house a lot, don’t get me wrong. And I love hosting events and having room for everyone. And I love having room to be away from my kids (like this afternoon- they are making me crazy!)

But I kind of wish we had a cozy little house on a big plot of land so we could be more self-sustaining that we currently are. I know that if things got really tough we could buy some land from my grandparents and build a small house on some fertile soil in south west Iowa. I even found the small house plans on RDSHomePlans.com. It’s number 9916.


Granted, they call it a retirement home or a retreat but we could live in it and spend much less on heating! We'd call it our heat retreat!

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I Made a Difference to Someone

>> Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Yesterday was Make a Difference Day in central Iowa. The idea behind it is a random act of kindness. While I always try to be kind and helpful to people yesterday I went the extra step- twice.

The first time was right after I dropped Brenna off at school. It was shortly after noon and I went through the Wendy's drive thru for a baked potato and chrispy chicken (both on the dollar menu) planning to pay for the person behind me (and hoping it wasn't a full car). When the car pulled up behind me it was just a single guy. So I paid for his meal (I think he ordered from the dollar menu as well!) and went on my way.

I left the little card for him and hoped it made his day a bit brighter.

After picking Brenna up from school the three of us made a run through Starbucks drive thru. I got the girls a tall strawberry and cream frappuccino (in two cups) and a grande caramel apple cider for myself. And I paid for the car behind me (and tipped the nice girl who seemed a bit perplexed that I was paying for someone else).

I pulled away from the drive thru and went a block or so away before pulling over and getting the girls drinks situated to give to them. As I turned back around I noticed a car beside mine. It was the lady I had bought the coffee for. She was almost in tears, she was so grateful. It seems she had spent much of the day at the courthouse with her son (who is in some kind of trouble) and had gone to Starbucks to get herself a coffe to cheer her a bit. The fact that someone would pay for her coffee on such a day was such a joy to her.

And it was a joy to me to do so. Even the smallest things make a difference. And there is no greater feeling than helping. Even when you don't get thanked. Is it selfish to want to do more because the feeling is so wonderful?

Did you make a difference to someone yesterday?

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I Probably Shouldn't Tell Her to Scoot!

>> Monday, November 24, 2008

Doug’s grandmother was here for a few hours this weekend. She was talking about needing to move because the apartment complex where she lives isn’t well maintained and the elevator was out for over two days. This was an issue because she isn’t able to go up and down stairs. So now she’s looking for a single story senior living area so she doesn’t have that issue. However most single story places cover a lot of ground; I suppose she’ll be checking into scooters next. I’m sure her doctor would sign her up so insurance could cover it.

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Make A Difference Day

Today our pastor preached on 1 Timothy chapter 6. I thought verses 7-10 were probably some of the strongest I have heard ...

7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

Hearing those verses made me stop and re-evaluate my life. I can remember when I let greed and things be the focus of my life. "If I only had a convertible I would be happy." If I only had a house I would be happy." But I wanted more and more things and none of them ever made me happy. Because things don't bring happiness.

Verse 10 says the "love of money is the root of all evil". It's not money that is evil by the love of it, the desire for it above all else.

Since Doug and I have been more focused on the joys of life and have been getting rid of "stuff" I have realized just how true the above verses are. I have enjoyed giving far more than receiving.

To that end I want to share with you that here in central Iowa tomorrow (Monday, November 24) is "Make a Difference" day.

I'll be going through a couple of drive thrus tomorrow and leaving the card below with the cashier as I pay for the car behind me. Maybe you'll be behind me. Or maybe you'll copy the card and do your own giving.


For another opportunity to make a difference visit my Fill In The Blankie giveaway and make your nomination.

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Why Wait for Black Friday?

I think I may be in the minority when I say that I really, really dislike Black Friday shopping. I figure I must be in the minority because one of the malls in my area opens at 12:01am the day after Thanksgiving for shopping.

No. Thank. You.

I prefer to do my shopping at home, online. If you’re like me and are looking for some great deals let me turn you on to Kmart. They have some amazing online-only deals that I found today:

~Attention Women's Kimono Wrap Sweater Extra 10% off online only (search ID# 70198911) This looks like a really handy sweater to have around since we have our thermostat turned down this winter.

~Abbey Hill bedding Medallion Dream bedding collection – Extra 30% online only (search ID# 96096112) So pretty; I love the colors.

~1/4ct tw Diamond 5-Stone Journey Pendant and Earrings Set in 10K Yellow Gold with Extra 10% off online only (search ID# 89270115) Affordable diamonds.

These online specials are only good through November 26, so you’ll want to hurry. You’ll see the discount applied in your shopping cart.

If you are waiting to do your shopping you’ll be glad to hear that through December Kmart.com will also be offering an additional 10% (online only) in the following categories:
~ womens plus sleepwear
~ womens attention brand
~ girls tops
~ all juniors clothing
~ boys tops
~ mens shirts and bottoms
~ big mens shirts and bottoms
~ infant and toddler bedding

And be sure to check Kmart.com for hidden ornaments that provide a coupon code with even more savings!

Click Here

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Goodie Bag Winners

>> Saturday, November 22, 2008

I'm thinking my giveaways listed under the header aren't getting noticed as much as I had hoped as I only had 7 people sign up for Philly cream cheese coupons, free music & recipes.

Oh, well... Here are the winners of my Post HouseParty Goodie Bags:

Heather
Sally
Storm
Melody

Thanks to everyone who entered!

Don't forget about my Fill In The Blankie giveaway. You have until December 1 to nominate a recepient!

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Let Me Introduce You To: Laine's Babies

>> Friday, November 21, 2008

The other day I had some wonderful goodies hand delivered from Elaine at Laine's Babies. Elaine is a SAHM mom to two little kids- one boy, one girl. She's talented with her sewing machine and makes adorable kids items.

Caelan absolutely adores the Tinkerbell Travel Pillow she received. Elaine calls it a travel pillow because it's perfect for cushioning little noggins during long car or plane rides but it's a "goes everywhere" pillow for Caelan. She hasn't put it down since she got it.


She loves that it has Tinkerbell on it (so it matches her bedding), it's stuffed nice and full but still has a great "squishy-ness" that makes it easy to cuddle and the back is "soft and fuzzy" (in Caelan's own words). I love the bright, cheery colors.

The stitching is sturdy and will stand up to the love that I know this pillow will receive. And, perhaps best of all, this is an affordable little gift for any Tink fan in your life, costing only $9.

Laine's Babies has other great items too... Nursing covers, baby blankets (go check these out) and children's aprons and chef's hats (to be reviewed on Fab Food Friday very soon). Don't forget to check out her fabric selection to make your item "just right".

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If You Own a Dog or Cat Check Out Petwave

Toby is getting old. Wait, let me rephrase that, he is old. He will be 11 next spring. That’s old for a large breed (he’s a St Bernard/Great Pyrenees mix. Definitely not tiny…) He’s been a wonderful dog, especially with the girls. He’s been gentle and loving, hasn’t shown any jealousy or tendency to snap ever. And he’s so protective of us all.

With his advancing age we’ve noticed some issues. Mainly bowel incontinence at night. Luckily it’s not piles, but instead hard “nuggets” that seem like he isn’t really aware of them as he moves around. It’s not something I want to bother my vet with but something I wanted to look into a bit, so I turned to a new pet care information site I found. Petwave.com has a comprehensive pet health library and is very easy to use and navigate.

You can also create profiles for your pets and even keep track of vet records online. It’s a great resource if you have a dog or cat.

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Crayola Ads Support St Jude

I was reading Family Circle early this morning (about 3am) and I almost passed by a big Crayola ad. The only reason I didn't is because it was a 5 page ad.

On the last page of the ad is a green banner that says "Help Crayola support St. Jude Children's Research Hospital". Under that it says "It's a snap". What you do is take a photo of the tag on the left and text the photo to the phone number listed. By doing that Crayola will donate $1 to St. Jude's.

St. Jude is my charity of choice. Every month an automatic donation is taken from my bank account. It may not be a lot, but it's what I can offer to a hospital that makes such a difference in the lives of so many.

So keep your eyes open for this ad. It only takes a moment to do.

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A Floral Centerpiece Makes a Great Hostess Gift

The past couple of years my sister in law has begun hosting Thanksgiving. She does this because if she were to go out of town her sister would have no family to spend the holiday with. So she makes the plans, cooks the turkey and mashes the potatoes and leaves the side dishes and desserts to everyone else who is coming. It seems to work out well as my family is quite large and there is always more than enough food. An afternoon of games and fun follows and leftovers are usually dug out of the refrigerator in the early evening before everyone leaves.

This year we will be out of town for Thanksgiving but I want to give her a little something to let her know that we appreciate her efforts even though we aren’t there. I am thinking about choosing one of the lovely Thanksgiving centerpieces from 1-800-Flowers. The fresh flower cornucopia is absolutely stunning. Roses and sunflowers mixed with poms, preserved fall leaves and realistic looking mini pumpkins… Really, it’s stunning.

I just have to remember to order before November 23 if I want to save $10 on my Thanksgiving order (by using code CNTR2 at checkout). I may want to send a little something but I don’t want to spend more than I have to!

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Early to Bed

And very early to rise. Ugh. Damn insomnia.

I went to bed shortly before 9 due to a headache and fell quickly, and blissfully, to sleep.

Caelan woke shortly after 1am and since the bedroom light didn't get shut off before the girls fell asleep she didn't roll over and go back to sleep but instead yelled. So I went up to tuck her back in.

That's when I noticed that Doug wasn't in bed yet. So I told him what time it was.

And now that everyone else is asleep I am wide awake. I can't wake at all without my mind
turning on" immediately. And now I'm trying to figure out how to get on a plane during the busiest flying holiday of the year for cheap. It's not going well...

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More on McCain's Election Problems

>> Thursday, November 20, 2008

This is probably the most succinct treatise on the weaknesses McCain brings to a presidential campaign. The first, of course, being that McCain holds many more liberal positions than President Bush. As readers of this blog already know, McCain wasn't even my fourth choice for the Republican nomination. Until Sarah joined the campaign there wasn't a reason for me to get involved.

Here is my list of reasons that McCain couldn't get support from the middle:



I ended up doing work for the McCain/Palin campaign and voting for the ticket. The reason is the Supreme Court. Of all things that President Obama can and will do, any slots he fills in the Supreme Court will last for a generation. Any legislation, any regulatory changes, anything short of World War V (yes 5), can be undone.

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Clothes Shopping = No Fun

I went shopping yesterday. For clothes. For me. I’ll just say that it wasn’t fun.

I used to love clothes shopping. Now, well, not so much. The first issue seems to be that clothes in styles I like are not really meant for a 38 year old woman to wear. And often they are cheaply made and I want my clothes to last; I buy quality not quantity. I seem to be somewhere between “young adult” and “old lady” and I’m not happy with what I find.

The second issue, which should honestly be the first issue, is that I am just not happy with my body. I’ve gained weight and my body seems to be quite happy where it is. I, however, am not. So I have signed up to try the Flat Belly Diet It’s a plan from the editors of Prevention magazine, so I think I can trust it to not be fad but fact.

Right now the Flat Belly Diet is looking for testers, so I signed up. It’s a nutrition program with expert advice. And, hey, it includes dark chocolate… I figure it’s worth a shot.

Fbd


If you want to give it a try follow the Flat Belly Diet link and sign up.

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Tweet Tweet

I've succumbed. I have given in to the power of Twitter... Mainly for marketing and such, I'm in hopes that I can start to bring in more money and make more of an impact on our debt.

So... If you Twitter and would be so kind as to follow me, well, I'd be thrilled.

Thanks.

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OK, We're Going Somewhere... At Least Finding a Place to Stay Will Be Easy

>> Wednesday, November 19, 2008

For the past hour or so Doug and I have been looking for cheap airline tickets from our “international” airport which, as far as I can tell by looking at the direct flights map, is not really “international”.

Why are we looking for flights? Well, I have gotten a lot of requests for reviews of some really great travel products… And quite a few of them require an airplane for me to review them. And since you can’t just walk on to an airplane without a ticket we need to go somewhere.

I gotta say, though, that I am constantly amazed that I can fly from the Midwest to Dublin, Ireland for less than I can fly from the Midwest to San Antonio, Texas. Why is that?

Because the weather is so cold we are actually considering Florida, maybe with a whirl through Disney. I went so far as to look at Kissimmee vacation homes. Less money for food and lodging as compared to staying on the resort.

Another option that popped up, also in Florida, were beachy Siesta Key beach vacation rentals. There were some nice rates into St. Petersburg. And though I’m not a “beachy” person the cold and wind are making me rethink that.

On the other end of the spectrum was Colorado and maybe a stay in the lovely Breckenridge condos with a view. Oh, wait, the lodging just made that option not-so-cheap.

All right, back to square one… Cheap flights first, lodging second.

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Here's the Box. And Here's Me Thinking Outside It

Last Friday I went shopping for the ingredients to make this wonderful Coconut Croissant Bread Pudding (yes, you should click the link, it's a fabulous recipe). As the name of the recipe implies I needed croissants.

There were no croissants in the bakery! What to do?

I checked the bread aisle... Nuthin'.

I checked the frozen food aisle... A 4 pack cost $4 and they were small and I wasn't about to spend $8 on frozen croissants.

I had resigned myself to driving across town and entering every store until I found big, flaky croissants.

Sighing about the wasted time I made my way back to the dairy section, passing the deli meats. Where they make sandwiches... Some on croissants...

So I asked the guy at the meat counter if he could sell me 6 croissants. Which he did- for 50 cents each.

If I may illustrate... Badly as I am not a good artist with pen and paper and even less of one with paint...

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Super Saturday Sale at Sears

Have you been waiting for sales to begin your Christmas shopping? Are you anxious for that thick Thanksgiving Day newspaper to come out so you can browse through all the ads to plan your shopping attack? Why wait for Black Friday to shop when Sears is having a Doorbuster Sale this Saturday from 7am til noon?

It’s Sears Super Saturday Sale with sale prices throughout the store.

Check these out:
Need a new vacuum? The Kenmore Progressive vacuum will be at the lowest price of the season! Sale price $229.99, save $70.

Maybe you need to get new winter coats or warm sweaters? Save 60% off outerwear & sweaters for the family.

Or do you have a Mr. Fix It in your house who could really use a Craftsman C3 19.2-volt 3-pc combo tool kit? It’s on sale for $89.99, you save $50.

From digital picture frames to big screen TVs, cameras to DVD players there are amazing deals to be had.

You don’t want to procrastinate on this, though. The Sears Super Saturday Sale is one day only, this Saturday, November 22 from 7am until noon and quantities are limited. So if you’re after the Wii (on sale for $249) you’ll want to get yourself there early.


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Let Me Introduce You To: MobiStories

>> Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I don't know about your kids, but mine are technology geniuses. Seriously... at 2 and 4 they can operate my cell phone better than I can and they are pretty handy with a keyboard and mouse.

With all the technology we have I am thankful that my girls still love to read books and hear stories. But sometimes it isn't convenient to carry a bag full of books with us and other times they want me to read a story when I'm elbow deep in laundry or dishes (which I would love to ignore but then we'd have no clean clothes or dishes to eat from).

Thankfully MomSelect told me about MobiStories, virtual books that can be downloaded to a computer, some game consoles and iPods. It's a storybook that tells the story... But without the book.

To get an idea of what I mean check out the sample book, Spring. It's really quite neat. The virtual pages turn, a friendly voice reads the book and there is musical accompaniment.

If you would like to try out MobiStories with no risk use this code: BSM165A and download up to $15 in MobiStory books for free. Just follow the "Redeem Coupon" instructions on the left side of the page.

Enjoy your free books! And let me know how you like it!

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What Should I Be When I Grow Up?

With the uncertain economy and job market are you considering a career change or advancing your learning?

Do you have a senior who hasn’t narrowed down their college search?

Or are you just curious about what kind of courses you could find online that interest you?

Doug and I often talk about the possibility of me going back to school so I like to poke around and find ideas and tools online. And because of my schedule an online degree is almost a better option than heading off to a campus.

I was playing around on DegreeHound.com today- just to see what schools it would match me to. The first thing that caught my eye as I searched their home page was an article titled “Careers for a Troubled Economy”. It had some really good ideas about how to find out what businesses are growing in your area- like calling the local chamber of commerce. I never would have though of that… An advanced degree can open more opportunities for you and increase your salary. Or it could open a whole new path and help you fulfill a dream.

Anyway, it’s easy to find a school. Just hit the big red arrow on the homepage. The next page asks you questions like what you want to study, if you want online or campus schools, how soon you plan to start, if you have any previous college experience, when you graduated high school and your zip code (if you wanted a campus school). Then you are told how many school matches you have. All you have to do is enter your mailing info and school information will be sent to you.

Now… What exactly would I do? Culinary arts? Journalism? Hmmm… Culinary journalism?

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Where Has My Day Gone?

Honestly, I feel like I just got up and it's almost 4:30. I don't know that I've accomplished much at all.

Caelan went to school; Brenna & I bought goodies for Operation Christmas Child while she was there. We got enough to pack 5 boxes! In fact my mom's group was supposed to meet tonight to do this little project but everyone else is sick (and we don't want it) so the girls and I will do it tomorrow evening while Doug is out schmoozing and hoping to land a new contract.

My dad called me today and invited us over for dinner and since my mom's group got canceled I accepted, so at least I don't have to make dinner. We'll have the tenderloins and potatoes on Friday.

I've been trying for about a week to get the review of the Minnesota Children's Museum up at the travel site. It's still not there. I can't write when I'm distracted and the girls have been, well, distracting all day. No quiet time to speak of. Which makes my day absolutely awful. I need that time more than they do!

Right now they are laying on the floor being "artists" with Caelan's Target goodies from last night. Maybe I can get photos edited...

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What are Your "Get Out of Debt" Options?

I’m pretty sure many people are looking at their Christmas lists right about now and trying to figure out just how they are going to buy all those presents that their kids “just have to have” or that the rest of the family “expects”.

Or maybe you’re wondering just what you’re going to do when all those January credit card statements begin to show up in your mailbox.

I know exactly how you feel… I’ve been there. The first thing you have to do- and I know this is difficult- is stop spending money. You must set a budget and you must stick to it. Period. If that means less expensive gifts, homemade gifts or no gifts at all for some people, you must make those changes.

Next, figure out what your “must have” expenses are. Food, shelter, basic clothing (not those shoes you think you need… Basics like pants, shirts, underwear, winter outerwear), heat & electricity, gas… Trust me, you can live without cable, eating out and trips to the mall.

After you’ve cut all those non essentials figure how much you have going out on unsecured debt like credit cards and signature loans. Is it more than you have left after necessities? What is the best way to handle the month left at the end of your money?

Though many disagree with Debt Consolidation it can truly be a life saver if you make sure of two things.
1) You can not accrue any additional debt
2) The interest rate is lower than the debt you are consolidating.

Bills.com has a nice Debt Consolidation info page filled with a glossary of terms (very handy), articles and advice. If you work it right Debt Consolidation can lower your payments, save your credit score, keep you out of bankruptcy court and help you get out of debt.

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With All of Target At Their Disposal

>> Monday, November 17, 2008

Brenna and Caelan both received $20 for their birthdays from Doug's grandmother. Coupled with the $5 they received from my cousin they were both able to have a little shopping spree.

Brenna got something she saw as we were checking out on Saturday:

Yep, it a Disney Princess game for the Wii. She's playing it right now with Daddy. We only have one nunchuck... I predict a few more controllers will be coming into our home sometime in the future.

And Caelan... With the entire toy aisle in front of her... She chose...


Really big coloring books. Granted, the Princess one (do you see a theme?) has sparkly paint. and very dull scissors. I predict many artistic endeavors to be added to my doors and walls.

The girls paid for their purchases themselves and took their change They were so proud.

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25,000 Gift Ideas Under $25

I’m being very frugal with my spending this year so I’m shopping in stores that haven’t stepped into in years. One of those stores is Kmart.

When I was growing up we were quite poor and as I got older the stores we shopped in when I was a child developed a stigma and I tended to avoid them as I began to shop for myself.

But now, with a tight budget and a few gifts left to buy, I can see why my mom turned to Kmart when I was a child.

Since I know many of you are also very conscience of what you are spending this Christmas I wanted to let you that Kmart has 25,000 gifts under $25.

Here are a few of my great finds:
Playskool Busy Ball Popper: this is for ages 9 months & up but, honestly, my 4 year old still plays with it. Great fun.
Leatherman Micra Multi-Tool: a great stocking stuffer for any guy in your life.
Nerf N-Strike Recon CS-6: my nephews (and their dad) could spend all afternoon in the yard with this!
Disney Cars Traffic Light: great for my other nephew who loves everything Cars!
Disney Hannah Montana Bath Set: How many girls love Hannah Montana?
Lots & lots of pajama sets!
Just Kidz Truck & Trailer Set with Diecast Cars: It’s like a dozen gifts in one!
Massaging Pig Slippers: I would so wear these!
HoMedics Bubble Bliss Luxury Foot Bubbler With Heat FB-30: Mmmm… Just the name relaxes me!

Honestly, the list of gift ideas is huge, and there is some really great stuff. And don’t forget to sign up for the email news letter for updates, in store deals and exclusive online sales.
Click Here
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Fun From the Houseparty + Goodie Bags!

It's not even funny how much stuff I need to do. With the HouseParty on Saturday I spent the day in the kitchen and doing last minute cleaning. Sunday we spent helping Doug's grandmother move and celebrating birthdays. So I have lots to catch up on...

But I do want to show you a bit of fun from the HouseParty. There was lots of food, really great music and prizes.

I made so much great food, in fact, that I will have one recipe per day over at Fab Food Friday this week. You might want some for Thanksgiving!

My HouseParty was sponsored by a few great companies:

Philadelphia Cream Cheese (a product that needs no intorduction)
AeroBed (probably the most comfortable inflatable mattresses you can buy)
Tara Leigh Music Party (a selection of the top selling music available at great prices)

I know you'll want to go and check them all out- so I linked them.

I have 4 goodie bags left from Saturday:


Each bundle includes:
Music sampler and catalog for Tara Leigh Music Party
AeroBed fliers and savings card
Philadelphia Cream Cheese recipes
and 2 - $1 coupons for Philly Cream Cheese

Leave me a comment to be entered to win. I'll choose the winners on Saturday.

And don't forget to check out HouseParty's website. Get on their mailing list and sign up to host your own HouseParty!

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Do Any of Your Honey Do Lists Involve Furniture?

Doug and I have long term plans for our home. We plan to be here until Caelan leaves for college… So we have another 16 years here.

The largest plan we have is to build a four season porch where our deck currently is (it has a drop to a cement patio that freaks me out) and build our deck off the porch in some “dead space” around the corner of the house (where it will be safer for everyone). Under the new porch will be an extension of our office- a craft room/office for me!

Of course both of those rooms will require new Home Furniture so I’m keeping my eyes open for websites that carry styles I like and have prices I’m willing to pay. It never hurts to plan ahead.

A smaller project involves our half bath. It was supposed to be re-done as an anniversary gift to ourselves but when we found out it would have to have some flooring done it exceeded our budget and had to be put on the back burner. So now I have time to change my mind and continue looking at fancy Bathroom Vanities.

And, after our party this weekend, I thought about how nice it would be to have “real”Dining Room Furniture, not the old table we used to have in our kitchen.

And then there’s the spare bedroom that will need to be moved to my workout room when Brenna is 10 or so… And the redo of the master bath… And the carpets that need replaced with wood floors.

Honestly, it’s a good thing we’ll be here so long! It will take 16 years to complete all these projects!

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Woman's Day Giveaway

Project Domestic Bliss is giving away a one year subscription to Woman's Day magazine. This is a magazine I really love because it has so many tips and recipes. Check it out.

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Picture This!

You can win a Canon Powershot over at Cowgirl Critiques. You know you could use a new camera for all those family gatherings & Christmas morning! Head on over to enter.

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R U Cookin'?

Then you will definitely want to check out MyWoodenSpoon's great giveaway!

Pick your prize! A choice of a Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer, a Cuisinart Food Processor or an Immersion Mixer from Kitchen Aid. Hurry and enter!

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Got Traditions?

I love hearing about people's Christmas traditions. I am especially intrigued by those who get the matching PJs for Christmas morning.

That's why I entered this contest to outfit my family in matching PJs. You can enter, too. ChicShopperChic tells you how...

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Lawaway Available at Sears for Christmas

>> Sunday, November 16, 2008

As we work our way out of the debt we managed to bury ourselves in we have cut back on a lot of impulsive buys. And no time of the year is more impulsive than the holidays. With so many gifts to buy and the budget tight I have to be careful in what I select, frugal in it’s price and very observant of the quality of the product.

I also have to make sure I have the cash to pay for it. This can be tough, especially when I have specific gifts in mind that are just out of my cash allowance but can be saved for.

But I really want to make sure these gifts are available when I can pay for them…

Happily, Sears has just announced its Christmas layaway program. Beginning November 14 and running through December 23 you can put down $15 or 20% (whichever is greater) and have those perfect gifts on “hold”; to be sure they are in stock.

You’ll want to check the Sears Layaway rules for all the info but the fees seem reasonable to me ($5 layaway fee).

None of the items I have picked out for my family are all that expensive on their own, but to buy them at the same time would take more cash than I have now. With layaway I could buy Doug the Craftsman Clean & Carry Wet/Dry Vac (handy for indoors and out!), Brenna a new winter coat (complete with mittens and scarf!) and Caelan (since the poor girl gets hand-me-downs and garage sale clothing) a new outfit with her (current) favorite character: Dora!

Layaway is making a come-back and is a great option for cash-spending families like mine!


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Can One Blankie Make a Difference?


I think so! I have this beautiful Fill in the Blankie to give away.

Whose life and spirits could be lifted by this little gift?

Please nominate recipients at this post. Let's make a memorable Christmas for someone.

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Dig Out From Under That Debt

Before you grab that credit card to pay for Christmas items you really can’t afford I want you to ask yourself something: “Why am I buying this?”

More than likely you by stuff for the same reasons we did:
1) We thought we “needed” it
2) We waned to “impress” someone with what we could “afford”
3) Money spent = love
4) Just because we could

That is how we ended up with a debt load of, well, let just say it’s over $75K. Not including our house. Let’s not go there.

Doug and I began to get serious about our debt last summer and it’s meant a lot of changes to our lifestyle. But every time I see another item get paid off I celebrate. It’s going to be a long road, but I’m gonna tell you that paying off debt feels a whole lot better than racking it up.

I do a lot of reading and web browsing on Debt Relief options. And there are many out there. I was perusing FreedomDebtRelief.com the other day. They utilize a debt reduction program wherein they figure your total debt load (unsecured debt like credit cards, medical bills and signature loans) and then determine a dollar amount that you can pay towards these debts. You then save the money and FDR then negotiates with your debtors on your behalf.

You want to do your homework to see if this is the best option (read the FAQs on their debt reduction page and make sure you ask lots of questions) for you and if this company is licensed in your state before you begin negotiations. FDR also lists other options on their website (such as credit counseling and debt consolidation) for you to research.

I know that figuring out your debt load is scary (ok, it’s actually terrifying) and seems overwhelming. It’s ok to ask for help.

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My Day Needs to End

>> Friday, November 14, 2008

But I still have so much left to do. The final cake has baked but it needs to cool before I can refrigerate it. Lots of things left still to do.... I need to figure out goodie bags, fun little games for prizes, how much food still to make, a kitchen floor yet to clean.

I did get the tiny bit of decorating done that I planned to do. Really, it's not much.

I think I may be brain dead... I was going to write something... Something that I can't remember now. It's gone. I suppose that means I should stop now...

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Buy Christmas Cards and Support a Company That Supports Our Troops

So… Have you purchased your Christmas Cards yet? I haven’t… But I fully intend to on November 30. Yes, on the 30th. It’s already planned.

I will be holding off ordering my Christmas cards until the 30th because we are having family portraits taken on the 29th. These will be only our second professional photos as a family since Caelan was born. I’ve got the girls’ dresses- they will be adorable- now I just have to figure out what Doug & I are going to wear. Not so easy.

Luckily figuring out where to order my cards from is much easier… I’m using ChristmasCardsDirect.com. They have lovely photo card borders, affordable prices and quick turn around. Which is all great. (If you’re not wanting to send your photo to everyone you know they also have beautiful Christmas cards for business and personal use. You can have these personalized, as well.)

But the reason I am placing my order with ChristmasCardsDirect.com this year is because they have partnered with Operation Christmas Tree and Home Depot to send 5000 Christmas trees and Christmas cards to US troops serving overseas. Let’s face it, I would love to be able to send Christmas cheer to even 500 of our brave soldiers but time and money constraints make that impossible. The least I can do is support a company that can.

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What's That You Say About a Free Society?

Australia now has a mandatory web filter

Sure, in the scheme of the web 10,000 sites really isn't that much. But do you really want the government telling you what it's ok to see?

Granted, their plan right now is to cut off access to child porn. But that doesn't stop the problem, does it?

But if this works... What else can they block that no one will ever know about? It's just a bad idea all around. Kind of like North Korea...

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I'm Exercising... Surely That's a Good Start

I’ve been doing quite well at waking in the morning by 6 am (this morning I was awake at 5:41 am, before my alarm) and exercising. I’ve only missed one day this week. (Yea me!) And I still haven’t had a soda. I’ve actually lost track of how long it’s been, but I know it’s been over a month. I’m feeling really good and I seem to have enough energy to keep me going during the day.

Unfortunately I’m not seeing the weight come off as fast as I would like. Wait, let me change that… I’m not seeing it drop at all. It’s not that I am looking to Lose Weight Fast but I would like to see the numbers on the scale at least begin to change.

I was over at Weight Loss HQ, just poking around, when I saw their “7 Foods to Help You Lose Weight” article. Hmmm, eat & lose weight. I’m all for that. Here’s what I picked up:

Use cinnamon instead of sugar to sweeten beverages or cereal. Nice tip but I drink my tea black and I don’t add anything to my oatmeal but hot water.

Levels of insulin drop up to 32% after a spicy meal. The theory is that chili peppers have an ingredient that helps remove sugar from your blood stream. Interesting.

Drink more water and cut out the soda. Already on that…

Flax seed may stabilize sugar levels. Actually I think any high fiber may do that…

Eat a fiber rich breakfast. Heck, just eat breakfast…

Salmon for calcium and vitamin D. Ugh. I hate salmon.

Walnuts for Omega 3. Or a nice fish oil capsule…

Hmmm, not really anything new there for me. But the site itself has lots of info and I like that the articles are set up in an interactive conversational way. Definitely a nice place to begin searching for your weight loss solution.

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I'm Only Here Because It's Lunchtime

Because you know I have way too much stuff to day today to get ready for tomorrow's HouseParty. Cleaning to complete, shopping to do, lots of baking and cooking... Last minute planning like goodie bags, party favors and such...

I'm not worried, it will all get done. I work best under pressure. Really...

OK, shopping list time... Thankfully it includes champagne...

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Consider Kmart

Every year the holidays roll around and I begin cooking – more than usual. We usually host at least one large family event – and often host one party for friends. Whenever I am cooking for more than half a dozen people I find myself wanting new cookware. What I have is old, mismatched and not really handy for cooking for large groups.

Of course I don’t have the cash to just go out and buy the cookware I want. Or the roaster that would free up oven space. Or even the décor that my house is sorely lacking.

I can save for all these things, of course, but the money always seems to find another use. So I have begun considering the Kmart Layaway option. It’s like a forced savings plan that I can’t get at.

Kmart has been doing a lot to revive it’s reputation. With Martha Stewart adding her name to it’s line of housewares, great brands like Hamilton Beach, Anchor Hocking and Farberware the selection of brands speaks of quality. And the new “Mr. Blue Light” is pretty hip, too. Besides, who doesn’t want to save money right now?

From housewares to electronics to decorations for the holidays you can find it all at Kmart. Give Mr. Bluelight a try- he may just become your favorite holiday character this year!

Click Here

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Let Me Introduce You To: Fill In The Blankie

>> Thursday, November 13, 2008


Remember when your guidance counselor told you "find one thing to do and do it well"? Fill In The Blankie has done just that. They have taken the art of personalization and created beautiful, usable, affordable, cuddle-able baby blankets.

Oh, sure, you can get a monogrammed blanket at almost any mall but their quality and selection pale in comparison to what you'll find at Fill In The Blankie. But what makes this blanket so unique, so special, is that you can choose up to 200 characters (50 per side) to embroider along all 4 satin edges. You choose the blankie, you choose the thread color, you choose the font. You create a keepsake. The embroidery costs are "built in" to the cost of the blankie; no "per letter" fees that you find so many places.

I want to share with you the blankie I received:

It arrived so beautifully folded and wrapped in satin ribbon. The care tag is held on by a very large diaper pin- which is thoughtfully around the ribbon and not through it.

This blankie is the amazingly soft Stefan's Chenille. It's machine washable 100% cotton chenille. It was all I could do not to wrap it around myself- it's so snuggly! And the satin is so smooth, I loved rubbing it in my fingers. Since we all know how sensitive babies skin is I can honestly tell you that any baby would love to be snuggled in this blankie.



When I saw the embroidery on the edges I sighed- what a wonderful Christmas gift!

"Twas the night before Christmas when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring not even a mouse
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there"
Accented with tiny Christmas trees... it's darling.

Blankies are easy to order. You choose your blankie -use the Blanket Gallery for great close up photos and to help with thread color selection- and then provide the message. Can't think of what to say? Don't worry! There is a handy occasion inspiration tab to help you along! You then choose your font and thread color (including GLOW IN THE DARK thread- how cool is that?). If you want an illustration (like my tiny Christmas tree) you'll add that next. And you'll finish by deciding if you want to include a "pig in the blankie".

This is such a personal gift it's sure to make the recipient's mommy cry (don't worry, they'll be good tears!) and everyone else ooh and ahh. Blankies begin at $39 and go up to $109. Don't forget, that includes the embroidery! And they ship within 3 to 7 business days.

I know you have gift ideas swirling in your head right now- I do too. Go over and explore the website. It's great fun!

As for the blankie I received...

As you all know, I have two little girls. Both of whom want this blankie. Because they don't share well I am going to have a little give away. But it's going to work a bit differently than previous contests I've hosted. Let's help make a difference in someone's Christmas...

I want you to tell me who deserves this blankie and why. New baby? Adoption finalized? First Christmas? Tell me your story.

On Monday, December 1, I will choose the top 3 entries and those will be voted on by my readers. Votes will be counted on Friday, December 5. I will send the blankie directly to the recepient either anonymously or with a note about the entry I received (depending on how the winner wants it to go).

(PS Would you please give this contest a little linky love? I truly appreciate it!)

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Pajama Day!

(dancing about)

I don't have to leave the house today! Whatever shall I do?

Hmmm...

(Updated at 1pm in red)
(updated at 2:30 in green)
(Updated at 3:45 in blue
(Updated at 6:50 in purple)

Bake Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins (how do I not have the recipe on Fab Food Friday? Must remedy that!)

Do approximately ten loads of laundry (2 down...)

Clean the basement

Post recipes to Fab Food Friday

Review a great product I received

Clean the kitchen floor

Organize my desk

Contact our old accountant because the state apparently didn't receive our 2003 taxes and she hasn't returned my phone call yet (she called me back...)

Add a couple withdrawals to Quicken in preparation for payday tomorrow

I really need to get a couple email addresses added to my Outlook folder- I keep forgetting to check them! Definitely NOT good for business...

And I should probably pay attention to my kids. Luckily they enjoy "helping" when I let them. It's quiet time!
Quiet time is over!

Bath time!

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Christmas in Branson

One of these days I fully plan to begin traveling for Christmas- because if you have plans to be away from home than no one is offended if you aren’t at their house on Christmas.

I have plenty of places I would love to visit during Christmas- wonderlands of frivolity, towns that look like a Currier and Ives painting, certain islands that have only horse-drawn carriages for winter transport. Idyllic locations.

A town that only recently entered my mind as a holiday getaway is Branson, Missouri. It’s been a while since I’ve been to Branson and it’s changed a lot; it’s become more glamorous and less cheap. It’s become less of an “older person’s” escape and become a family destination.

At the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing they celebrate with Santa including deluxe accommodations, gifts for registered children, breakfast for four, portrait with Santa, and cookies and milk.

Spend days wandering through historic downtown Branson, take in a show (it’s not just country music anymore!) or view the thousand of Christmas lights in the evenings and sleep in fine style at night.

The Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel has the “It’s a Wonderful Life” package which includes breakfast at Liberty Tavern Restaurant to start your day, a Branson Landing passport with discounts at dozens of shops and restaurants and a relaxation service in their Aspire Medical Spa.

Hiltonsocial-ad-300x400


The more I see what Branson has to offer a family the more I think we’ll be going there soon. Dare I say this? Branson looks cool.
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Today is Done...

>> Wednesday, November 12, 2008

OK, so it's shortly after 7:30pm and there are, literally, hundreds of things I should do. But I'm drained. When Caelan doesn't nap I end up tired, too.

The girls and I did make some yummy truffles this afternoon...

They were very good helpers. First they unwrapped the chocolate to melt...

Making Truffles Collage 1


And after I mixed the melted chocolate and cream cheese they handled clean up...

Truffles Collage 2

Yes, I made my 4-year-old wear a bib. It didn't stay clean...

After waiting for the mixture to chill it was time to roll the chocolaty goodness into balls...

Truffles Collage 3

A few required some re-shaping...

And after I melted more chocolate it was time to dip & decorate...

Truffles Collage 4


Voilà! Beautiful truffles, ready for Saturday...

Truffles


I let the girls each save one for after dinner and I fully planned to take a photo of them enjoying the fruits of their labors. But the truffles seemed to disappear before I could get the camera focused. I guess they were good...

And now I am going to disappear for the night. I'm going to remake my bed and put on my electric mattress cover (warm... so warm...) and then I'm going to watch a movie and go to bed. I'm beat.

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Public or Private?

As I was driving home from picking Brenna up from pre-school I heard ABC News at the top of the hour.

Apparently the Obamas have decided that their girls will continue to attend private schools when they move to the White House.

The girls currently attend the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a private school costing up to $20,000 per year. The choices in DC have higher costs- ranging from $27,000 to $29,000.

Can anyone answer this for me: why would anyone who made so many school reform promises not put his kids in public schools? (He also opposes private school vouchers.)

I thought this article at the MoJoBlog was well written and well thought out. And yet the author takes a lot of criticism in her comments. The most often stated is the "logistical nightmare"- yet the Carter's sent Amy through the public schools. I especially love this comment:

Suggesting that he compromise his children's education in order to send out a PC message is insulting. Do you really think that a president would want his children attending public school in one of the roughest areas of the country?


Of course President Elect Obama and his wife don't want to endanger their children. But then, neither do any of the other parents who can't afford the $29K for a private school. And how sad is it that our nation's capital is where the worst schools in the nation are located?

Other commentors pointed out that both the kids come from "genius parents" and would be "light years" ahead of public schools. A very valid argument. But then wouldn't that be a "school reform" that was promised?

I guess maybe I'm "out of touch" with the American people... Because I think that if you are going to lead you should at least try to lead by example. Foolish of me, I know.

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How did we get here

This is a long read, well written, and explains how we got to the financial mess we've gotten ourselves into.

It's being made worse by government NOT allowing these companies to fail as they should.

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Countdown to Saturday

The upstairs is clean and Doug got a new bulb for our projector so Christmas movies will be BIG.

This afternoon the girls and I will be making chocolate truffles, a layered pumpkin loaf, coconut snowballs and a pumpkin clove pound cake.

Lots of great new recipes for Fab Food Friday! Of course we'll have to sample the coconut snowballs and the truffles. Thankfully I've been dragging my tush out of bed and exercising every morning!

Updated: Yippee! My mom called and asked what she could make for Saturday. I've assigned her two relatively easy and inexpensive things: Cream Cheese Swirled Pumpkin Pie and Black Bean Dip.

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Stop With the Bailouts!

It's becoming painfully obvious to everyone but Congress that these bailouts they keep handing out like Monopoly money aren't working. The stock market hasn't had a miraculous rebound and AIG just needed another shot in the arm (to the tune of another $40 billion dollars).

The American auto makers are lining up for their bail out when a simple restructuring plan would suffice. Do you think the fact that their workers make an average of $78 per hour to Toyota's $34 per hour has something to do with their money woes? The unions that work so hard for the employees have priced them out of work. Think I'm wrong? Toyota is not a UAW plant. Is it any wonder Toyota makes more affordable vehicles and are now the #1 brand in America?

Large corporations need to be treated as small businesses. Small businesses fail all the time. The owners pick themselves up and begin again. These large corporations have enough working parts that someone with the money will buy their pieces if the government would just step back and let capitalism work like it is supposed to. Sure, it could be painful for a while, but these government bailouts are only prolonging the inevitable.

Already other nations are talking about a "one world currency" and a global government. And have been for more than 2 years. I don't know if you remember your history lessons, maybe it's time for all of us to revisit the American Revolution and our Constitution.

I just bought the 5000 Year Leap, The Real George Washington, The Real Thomas Jefferson, The Real Benjamin Franklin and a copy of the Constitution from the National Center for Constitutional Studies.

If nothing else go over and see how much you don't know with the USIQ game. Then, after you see how little you actually know, order the books. Because the only one who is going to teach these things to your kids is you. Really. Take a look at a high school American History book when you have a chance. I saw my cousin's the other day. It is NOT what you learned.

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It's Lush... It's Green... It's... Fake?

>> Tuesday, November 11, 2008

I gotta be honest… Living in the midwest we are spoiled by nature. Yes, I can even say that as it is cold outside, but not cold enough for the rain that is falling to turn to snow. Ice cold rain is worse than snow…

But then I think of when I have visited friends on the west coast and have seen how dry and arid some areas are. Because while we may worry about not getting enough rain here for crops I have never had to worry once about not having enough water for my lawn.

Earlier today I was mindlessly clicking through the web while I was waiting for something when I saw that Los Angeles Artificial Turf sales are on the rise. Apparently it’s less expensive to lay out the cash for EasyTurf, the same stuff that NFL and professional baseball teams play on, than it is to keep a lawn green.

I’m amused by that. When I looked at the San Diego Artificial Turf landscaping photos I couldn’t tell it wasn’t real grass. It’s a deep green, looks lush and freshly mown.

It’s gorgeous. After using the handy Landscape Expense Calculator (just for fun and because my download was taking an exceptionally long time to load) I saw that it is really affordable, especially if you have a smaller yard. It’s no wonder the Orange County Artificial Turf installers are in such high demand…

Amazing…

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Let the Cleaning Begin!

Today begins the massive house cleaning before my HouseParty. This afternoon the girls and I will tackle their bedroom, the spare room and the upstairs bath.

Those are actually the least intimidating rooms in the house. The only people who usually see them are us and other kids. And kids don't care about the mess. In fact if the room is already a mess I'm pretty sure they think it is more fun!

Then I'm gonna look through the recipes and see what can be made ahead of time and I'll buy the fixin's for those tonight or tomorrow.

Speaking of my HouseParty... Lookie at the swag I got.
One person is gonna win that fancy-schmancy Philadelphia Cream Cheese tin full of recipes. I also have smaller packets of recipes for everyone else and $1 off coupons. Tara Leigh Music Party sent sampler CDs and a few CDs for me to give away. AeroBed sent savings cards and sleep masks.

Looks fun, yes? Now I just have to make my house presentable...

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Save 20% at One True Media

A couple weeks ago I had the honor of giving away a subscription to One True Media over at Have Kid Will Travel.

Your friends and family will be
amazed and impressed when they see the “Wish You Were Here” vacation
video montage you created using One True Media. Just upload the photos
and video you want to incorporate into your montage; the site walks you
through the process, with options to be as creative as you'd like,
including a wide variety of music (or you can use your own), themes,
fonts, special effects and more. One True Media handles the production,
and you'll get the credit from your family for making them look so
good. You can e-mail your montage, post it to YouTube or other social
networking sites, or turn into a gift-worthy DVD (for as little as
$9.99 each, including a customized case).

With the holidays around the corner there are so many ways you can use the product One True Media offers. Make a vacation montage, a family year in review or a family history filled with photos and memories.

Until December 1, 2008 One True Media is offering my readers 20% off DVDs created with them.

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