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

Bloggy Giveaways Carnival Winners!

>> Saturday, January 31, 2009

Wow, what an amazing week of giveaways! So much fun to give goodies away (and to hope I win something!)

First up, the adorable Janine King Wristlet. BUT, before I announce the winner I just want to let everyone know that Janine has so many of her bags on sale. Including the great new Fronce Tote! So everybody wins! Treat yourself to an amazing bag for Valentine's Day!

And the winner is:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

50 

Timestamp: 2009-01-31 19:56:40 UTC

Carolyn said...

I loved the chocolate paisley and would use it as an everyday purse.

thanks for sharing

ceashark@XXXXXXX

Next... The Satin Set from my Mary Kay Consultant Kelly.
The winner is:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

38 

Timestamp: 2009-01-31 20:05:11 UTC


Shel said...

I'd love to try Journey Parfum

shel704@XXXXXXXX

Next... Two personalized videos from Kideo.
The winner is:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

27 

Timestamp: 2009-01-31 20:10:02 UTC


Kara said...

My daughter would love to be in a video with the carebears or Dora!
millkara@XXXXXXXX

And, finally, the winners of the three books:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

25 70 18 

Timestamp: 2009-01-31 20:15:49 UTC

#25 is:
janetfaye said...

Subscribed.

janetfaye@XXXXXXXXX ... In her previous comment she listed her preference as
Dewey - Your first choice
Outliers
The Host

#70 is:
Nicole said...

I REALLY want to win Host. 2nd choice is Outliers and 3rd is Dewey
Host- your first choice

And #18:
Marigold said...

What a great selection! I would rank the books as follows:

1. Outliers (Gladwell writes science for english majors)- your first choice!
2. Dewey (I am a recovering librarian and unabashed cat owner)
3. The Host (You can't go wrong with aliens)

Thank you!

boldnessbe@XXXXXXXXX


Thanks so much to everyone for entering my contests!And congratulations to the winners!

PS Look just below this post for one more contest!

Read more...

Color Me Company: A Review & Giveaway

>> Friday, January 30, 2009

I am late adding this to the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival because I didn't know until last night that we wouldn't be able to use it!

I was contacted by the Color Me Company a few weeks ago and asked to take a look at their site and, if I liked what I saw, would I be interested in trying a product?



Well, I spent a long time on their website. Because not only is their idea a good one but their principal of "giving is good" kept me reading.

This simple idea (yet another "Why didn't I think of that?" moment!) began like this:

..ColorMe™ Company founder, Paul Marciano, gave his goddaughter a Christmas card. It was a nice card, except that it did not hold much meaning for a young girl. So she decorated it with crayons and proudly showed him the personal touch she added. Paul realized right then and there that signing a store-bought card with sentiments written by a stranger paled in comparison with creating a unique greeting card. Thus, the idea for Coloring Card Company was born: Giving and receiving greeting cards should be a fun, creative, and a meaningful experience for both children and adults. (read more here...)

Beginning with cards and growing into t-shirts, pillowcases and Christmas stockings Color Me products make wonderful gifts or keepsakes.

You may be wondering where the drawings come from... Well, they are submitted by children, age 13 and younger who click the link on the ColorMe website and submit their art. The only exception to this is a Madeline pillowcase- the company's CCO (Chief Coloring Officer)'s maternal grandfather was Ludwig Bemelmans- the creator of Madeline.

As for their "giving is good" philosophy...
Ten percent of our gross proceeds are donated to children’s charities through our unique Charity Choice Program. As products are placed into the Shopping Cart, consumers select from a menu of charitable categories. The funds are then distributed on a quarterly basis to national organizations within those categories. For some products, the 10% donation is automatically assigned to a carefully chosen charity. For example, 10% of the purchase price of all Hero Heart Cards is automatically donated to the Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Fund.


I love that I can choose whom my purchase benefits. And I love companies who make charitable giving an upfront part of their program. Please visit ColorMe Company. Their products promote creativity and giving; a great combination.

And right now you can save 20% with code colormelovesmoms


The Giveaway

I received a 20-card pack of the "Bee Mine" valentines (shown at left with coloring suggestion) with 4 crayons. The cards are on heavy cardstock and are in black and white. The front side is as shown, the back has "to" and "from" lines and another tiny bee.

I was very excited for Brenna to color these for her Valentine's Day party at school... Until I realized that we will be out of state and she won't be at her Valentine's party.

So our loss is your gain as I don't want these wonderful cards to sit, forgotten, when Valentine's Day rolls around next year.

To qualify visit ColorMe Company and look around. Leave a comment telling me what you liked.

For an extra entry subscribe to Iowa Geek via email (you can do this near the top of the page in the right column) or add my button to your blog. Leave another comment telling me you did so.

For a third entry either blog or twitter this contest. Leave another comment with the blog link or your twitter id so I can confirm this entry.

International entries ok!

Only three entries per person, please. Make sure I can easily find an email to contact you; I will not search for one. Contest ends February 3 at 11:59 pm. I will draw the winner February 4. The winner will be contacted via email and will have 2 days to respond. If I do not hear back from the winner within that time another winner will be drawn.

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So, I've Got a Flatter Belly

>> Thursday, January 29, 2009

My final Flat Belly Diet post...

Check it out...

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Books, Books, Books!

>> Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This Contest is Closed

Sadly this is my last entry (on this site) for the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival. *sniff, sniff* But it's a good one because I will have three, yes three, winners!

I've been so very lucky to have built a relationship with Hachette Book Group over the past couple months. They send me books to read, I do a review and (more often than not) give away the book. Reading is one of my greatest pleasures (one that I don't get to indulge in as much as I would like) and I love that I get to share amazing authors with all of you who stop by to read my thoughts. I'm humbled. Not only by the generosity shown to me by a company that I didn't know about until recently but also by the fact that so many of you continue to visit my little slice of the web.

Whew, ok, tissue break. I get so emotional sometimes...

A while back I gave away a book and asked for feedback on which books from Hachette's "most viewed" list you all would like to read. I got great response from that and the books requested were:

The Host (from the author of the Twilight series)
Outliers (the story of success)
Dewey the Small Town Library Cat Who Touched the World (this one is special to me as it is a true Iowa story)

The bad news: Now, I've read none of these; I have no reviews to offer. But they all sound great.

The good news: I have one of each book to give away! To qualify visit the provided link for each book. Then, in the comments, tell me which book is your first choice, which is your second and which is your third. (I can't guarantee you will get your first choice.)

For an extra entry subscribe to Iowa Geek via email (you can do this near the top of the page in the right column) or add my button to your blog. Leave another comment telling me you did so.

For a third entry either blog or twitter this contest. Leave another comment with the blog link or your twitter id so I can confirm this entry.

US and Canadian entries only, please.

Only three entries per person, please. Make sure I can easily find an email to contact you; I will not search for one. Contest ends January 30 at 11:59pm. I will draw the winner Saturday, January 31. The winner will be contacted via email and will have 3 days to respond. If I do not hear back from the winner within that time another winner will be drawn.




Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

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It's Not Grey

>> Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Brenna and I were running errands today and had one of the best conversations yet.

Brenna: So, Mom, what are your plans for today?
Hello, do all 4-year-olds talk like this?

Me: Well, we have to take cans to the recycling center, clothes to the dry cleaner and then we can stop for a snack. Tonight I'm going to get my hair done.

Brenna: I want to go with you to get your hair done tonight.

Me: No, I'll be there a long time, I'm getting my hair cut and colored.

Brenna: What color? Will it still be brown? Why do you need it colored?

Me: I need it colored to cover the grey.

Brenna: It's not grey, it's decay. I learned that on Sid the Science Kid.

Me: Thank you, Brenna.

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Make Your Child a Star! Kideo Review & Giveaway

I don't know about your kids but mine LOVE to be the center of attention. They are stars in their own minds so when I got the chance to make them stars of their own animated adventures I knew they would love it!

Kideo will take a photo of your child and add it to a video featuring their favorite characters... In fact, you can try it out yourself on their website right now. Just click the "your photo here" image and give it a try.

We received 6 videos; three for each of my girls. Do I need to tell you that they were a BIG hit? The first one we watched was Favorite Nursery Rhymes featuring Caelan. When she saw herself and heard her name on the TV she squealed with delight! It was great fun for the girls to watch and wait for her to appear again.

They both received Whose Birthday is It with Dora and each got a different Care Bears movie. Brenna's favorite, however, is "I am Spiderman". Yep, my sweet girl loves being Spiderman!

These videos have quickly become favorites in our home; each night brings a request for "Caelan Dora" or "Brenna Spiderman". These are great gifts for young kids and will be treasured favorites for years!

And right now you can get free shipping with your order just by using code BGKIDEO19.

This Contest is Closed

As for the giveaway...

I have a two of these videos to give to one lucky reader. To qualify visit Kideo and look at the characters your child can star with. Leave a comment telling me which character your child would most love to be in a video with.

For an extra entry subscribe to Iowa Geek (you can do this near the top of the page in the right column) or add my button to your blog. Leave another comment telling me you did so.

For a third entry either blog or twitter this contest. Leave another comment with the blog link or your twitter id so I can confirm this entry.

US and Canadian entries only. (This is due to licensing. For information on Kideo's International products click here.)

Only three entries per person, please. Make sure I can easily find an email to contact you; I will not search for one. Contest ends January 30 at 11:59pm. I will draw the winner Saturday, January 31. The winner will be contacted via email and will have 3 days to respond. If I do not hear back from the winner within that time another winner will be drawn.


This contest is part of the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival. For more great giveaways click the button below!

Bloggy Giveaways Quarterly Carnival Button

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Here I Am!

Yesterday was the first day of the Bloggy Giveaway Carnival. And I spent most of the day in bed with a nasty, nasty cold!

So I am behind on both my contest listings (I still have half a dozen to list!) and my contest enterings (there are some really good ones out there!). There are currently 1105 entries! And more are added daily! It's huge!

Right now, though, I have to get my bills paid. Then I'll get more of my listings up.

Until then go see what I've got offered on my other sites, Fab Food Friday & Have Kid Will Travel- 'cuz I know you've already entered here, right?

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Janine King Wristlet Giveaway

>> Sunday, January 25, 2009


I absolutely adore Janine King bags. I had one of everything she made...

Until she came out with this new design- the Fronce Tote.

Isn't it gorgeous in the Asian Cherry Blossom fabric? Of course it comes in other fabrics- you can definitely find one to fit your style.

My favorite feature of this bag- besides it's great design- is the adjustable strap. You can wear it over the shoulder or across the body.

It's large enough to carry a 15" laptop- plus all those other purse items. It could be the most stylish diaper bag you even own.

And it is made for you when you order it with Janine King's impeccable care. I can personally speak of the sturdiness and quality of a Janine King bag.

And, right now, the Fronce Tote is on sale from $49.99 to $54.99, depending on the fabric. It's a great price for a well made, stylish bag.

This Contest is Closed

Now, for the part you've been waiting for... as part of the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival I have a wristlet from Janine King in the Tres Chic design.

Fancy, yes?

This padded bag is great to tuck into your purse or carry by itself. The padding protects your cell phone, camera, iPod or other device. It's also large enough for a check book or small wallet. Two interior pockets help keep things neat. The approximate side is 5" x 10".

To qualify for this prize visit Janine King's etsy shop and check out the new Fronce Tote. Leave a comment telling me which print you would choose and what you would use this tote for.

For an extra entry subscribe to Iowa Geek via email (you can do this near the top of the page in the right column) or add my button (directly below the subscribe box) to your blog. Leave another comment telling me you did so.

For a third entry either blog or twitter this contest. Leave another comment with the blog link or your twitter id so I can confirm this entry.

International entries ok!

Only three entries per person, please. Make sure I can easily find an email to contact you; I will not search for one. Contest ends January 30 at 11:59pm. I will draw the winner Saturday, January 31. The winner will be contacted via email and will have 3 days to respond. If I do not hear back from the winner within that time another winner will be drawn.

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Not Again

I'm not sure when I initially woke but when I finally gave in and got out of bed the clock read 2:42. AM.

Ugh.

The worst part is that I am fighting a cold & really need my sleep. Sadly the early to bed part of the previous evening is working against me.

So I am going to take advantage of this "quiet time"and maybe get something done. Or watch episodes of Psych that I've missed. I haven't really decided yet.

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Big Friday Night Plans

>> Friday, January 23, 2009

Doug has been in Boston all week for work. I didn't mention it on the blog before now because, hey, you never know what kind of crazies may be lurking... But he'll be here soon and we'll be so happy to have him home!

It's amazing just how much I rely on him in the evening. Being a full time mommy is hard work. Being a full time mommy alone is much more difficult. I NEVER want to be a single mom.

Until he gets home I'm going to curl up with the new book Miriam from Hachette Book Group sent me:




Expect to see a review soon... But this one is staying with me.

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Little Miss Independent

Usually Brenna has Lunch Bunch on Fridays between gymnastics class and preschool. Today, however, no one else came so the activity was canceled. It was heartbreaking to see her cry on Miss Kristen, the teacher; she really looks forward to Lunch Bunch every Friday.

Caelan and I had planned (OK, I had planned, Caelan has no choice but to tag along) a stop at Target on the way home so we just made a little adjustment and did our shopping then had our own Lunch Bunch in Snack Avenue (I think it's something like that...) at Target.

As we were taking Brenna back to school she announced, "Mom, you don't need to take me into school. I can do it myself; I've got it all under control."

She's 4. And she's got it "all under control".

Heaven help me.

So I called the school to make sure that would be ok. They know us well and said it would be fine.

We pulled up in front of the school, I let her out of the car, gave her a kiss and sent her on her way. As she ran to the door she turned to wave, the smile on her face spread from ear to ear. She was so proud of herself.

As I watched she pulled open the heavy doors and entered. She did, indeed, have it "all under control".

And my heart broke just a tiny bit.

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He is, After All, Only a Man

>> Thursday, January 22, 2009

The day before Barack Obama was sworn in as our 44th president an artist's lifesize likeness of him rode through downtown Des Moines on a donkey surrounded by black SUV's and "secret service". (as reported by KCCI but the video is nowhere to be found on their website now)

The unveiling of his likeness at Madam Tussard's in London is "melting people's hearts" according to this video.

"I'll do whatever he says to do," actress Halle Berry said to the Philadelphia Daily News. "I'll collect paper cups off the ground to make his pathway clear."

While I understand the excitement that surrounds this president the elation and the worship confuse me. Obviously the likeness of him riding a donkey through the streets is meant to be symbolic of Jesus - the only thing missing was the waving of palm branches.

""No one saw him coming, and Christians believe God comes at us from strange angles and places we don't expect, like Jesus being born in a manger." --Lawrence Carter

"Many even see in Obama a messiah-like figure, a great soul, and some affectionately call him Mahatma Obama." -- Dinesh Sharma

"He communicates God-like energy..." -- Steve Davis (Charleston, SC)

"Obama's finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don't even really inspire. They elevate. . . . He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh . . . Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves." -- Ezra Klein

"We're here to evolve to a higher plane . . . he is an evolved leader . . . [he] has an ear for eloquence and a Tongue dipped in the Unvarnished Truth." -- Oprah Winfrey
Really, I truly understand the significance of this man becoming the President of the United States. I hope this can help to put the issue of race and power to rest. And I pray every night that he is the greatest leader since Lincoln. While I didn't vote for him, he is my President. (I won't be getting a bumper sticker that says otherwise.) Though I may not agree with him I won't be calling him ignorant or poking fun at his speaking abilities without a teleprompter.

The office of President deserves respect, thus the person who holds that office receives it. Because, ultimately, that person holds my very life in his hands. It is through his actions that my children's ultimate safety lies. It is through his appointments that our future prosperity and power is determined. It is through his direction that our country follows.

So, yes, he is powerful. But he is not God. And as I read the quotes and see the coverage that seems to elevate him to that status I wonder just how long it will last. I truly believe that campaign promises cannot always be kept and that idealism is always more golden than the reality that follows.

The office that Mr. Obama now holds has more facets than any one individual can imagine (hence the enormous staff); each portion's brilliance dependent upon the others to keep our country shining as brightly as it has for over 200 years.

But... He's going to do things that even his most passionate supporters won't like. He's going to pass policies that keep us in the Middle East. He's going to raise taxes on those he promised not to - or (gasp!) he may even leave the Bush tax cuts in place. He may "close" Guantanamo - but is moving those detainees into the US really any different?

I guess what I'm really trying to get to is that old adage, "The bigger they are the harder they fall". I don't believe that Barack Obama has elevated himself to the level of celebrity/adulation/god-like stature that he seems to be at. None-the-less, he has been placed on a pretty high pedestal. One that I am doubtful he can remain on. No one could. He is, after all, only a man.

At Boudicca's Voice: Notice to America

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And Another Day Gone

>> Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I woke at 3:47 this morning so it's no wonder 7:40 feels much later. At least I got on the treadmill (for the first time in weeks).

Thanks to everyone who dropped little notes of encouragement yesterday- today was much, much better. No car troubles!

I have much I would like to do online but I'm going to do laundry and watch Definitely, Maybe instead. Next week will be busy... It's Bloggy Giveaway Carnival time and I've got some great sponsors and wonderful stuff to give away!

Read more...

Thank God Today is Over

>> Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Honestly, I don't know that my day could have been more frustrating.

Doug's week is insane; we aren't really seeing him. Which puts more stress on me. Which makes me tense.

I actually went to bed at 9pm last night with every intention to be awake at 6am today. Nope. I was so exhausted, slept through my alarm and woke to the girls coming downstairs at 7.

After getting breakfast for the girls, making my breakfast, having them decide that my breakfast looked better and remaking my breakfast... I took a shower.

Out the door about 9:30am to take Caelan to school. Brenna & I drop her off, come out, get in the car and

Click, click, click...

What the?

I try again...

Click, click, click...

Seriously?!?

And again...

Click, click, click...

Crap. Crappity, crappity, crap.

I call the auto shop and tell them I can't get my car to start. Of course while I am on hold it starts. So I take it directly to the shop. Where Brenna & I spend the entire time Caelan is at school and I spend $185 to have the battery replaced. Apparently they have to practically remove the front end of my car to replace the battery. Great.

I also got a call back from the nurse at the pediatric clinic; the Dr. wanted to see Brenna as she's had a nasty rash/boil/pimple issue on her tukkis. They wanted her there at 1:30pm. It was 11:45am. Bah! Not enough time to get back home, make lunch and get to the Dr. So I took the girls to lunch at IHOP (nuthin' like pancakes to make you feel better).

And then to the Dr. Where I learned that Brenna has some sort of bacterial infection that is common but requires both a topical and oral antibiotic - to the tune of $75 that I pay in cash as it's a new year and I have a new deductible to meet.

After 5+ hours away from home and accomplishing nothing I had planned to do I sent the girls to separate rooms for quiet time and hid in my office. Where I saw that a credit card that we no longer use but still have a balance on has doubled our interest rate.

Grrr... After a tedious phone call to them I got our old interest rate back as long as I promised not to use the card again (wierd... Wouldn't they make more money from me in the long run if I pay less interest and continue to use the card?) which isn't a problem as we haven't used it since last summer.

Blah. I could go on about my day. But, seriously, if you made it to here I should give you chocolate or something.

So I'll share a happy moment... I've lost 4" from my waist. (Which I'm sure I just destroyed by eating a plate of nachos)

Ugh. Good night. May tomorrow be better.

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Tip: Actually Using Coupons Helps Save Money

>> Monday, January 19, 2009

I've always considered myself organized and prepared. But when it came to using the coupons I clipped I was forgetting to use them before they expired or I would let them pile up and become overwhelmed.

About a month ago I entered a contest at One House Schoolroom to win a Couponizer. I figured it couldn't hurt...

Well, I won.
This nifty little kit included everything I needed to keep my coupons organized.

I admit to being skeptical at first, but I gave it a try. Each page in the Couponizer is a pocket. This is really handy. I now have a pocket for coupons to be used during my shopping trip and coupons that expire this month (so I don't forget about them). There is even a handy spot to hold my store savings cards.

The coupon sections are divided into categories so they are easy to find: baby, baking, canned goods, pasta, household, cleaning, etc. (Much more organized than my 5 sections) There are also pockets for those coupons I always forgot: fast food & restaurants, services, retail shops... And a refund/rebate pocket.

Until I got the Couponizer I didn't track my savings. Now I do using the handy CoupTracker that's included.

My only problem with the Couponizer? The shopping list is too small to fit all my purchases onto one list. ( Easily remedied by scanning two of the sheets and printing them on a single piece of paper.) Other than that the only other issue I have is (again) Why didn't I think of this?

If you're trying to use coupons and save money this is a great way to get started. Or, if you're like me and just want to be more organized, I can honestly say that this is a helpful tool. The Couponizer sells for $19.95 (which is less than I saved using coupons during one shopping trip).





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Apparently She Was Tired

>> Friday, January 16, 2009

One day my girls are going to really hate the fact that I have a camera with me all times...

Today is Friday. Our mornings begin early on Fridays with gymnastics at 9am. Then Brenna remains at school for two fun filled hours of Lunch Bunch followed by her regular Friday preschool class. Caelan runs errands with me and then we come home so I can get some work done.

Lately Caelan has been refusing naps. So when the sleepiness overtakes her she'll just lay down wherever she is. Today she was "working" on the computer when I noticed she got very quiet. When I asked what she was doing she replied, "Hiding". Which then turned into napping.



I, personally, would have found a more comfortable spot.

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My First Blog Conference

get-your-bliss-on Badges


I'm so very excited to be able to go to Blissdom this year. Though I've been blogging since before Brenna was born it's only relatively recently that I've thought about making my blogs work for me; up until a year ago they were really just a hobby. So I'm thrilled to go to this intimate conference that is featuring some women that I truly admire and hope to learn more from. My bloggy friend (who lives right close by tho I never get to see her) Paula from Boogers & Burps is going with me. In fact, we're rooming together. Man, I hope I don't talk in my sleep ('cuz I've been known to do that).

In preparation for Blissdom I've "upgraded" my wonderful Moo mini cards that have only my travel site info (and are super sweet in their mini size and amazing quality) to...






Drumroll please...



these amazing two sided full size business cards. I absolutely love that I can have photos that represent all aspects of my websites on the front. And look at all that info on the back! I used every bit of room (and could have added more!). I absolutely love the way they turned out. I used the classic cardstock and the cards are so heavy and glossy; great Moo quality. (Psst: if you need new business cards - or anything else Moo makes - new customers can save 20% by just using this code: A4ERRB by January 31, 2009)

I also got a little something else to make my travels a little easier. Now, let me see if I can find it... I know I put it in here somewhere...

There it is... the black thing by my wallet and super sweet Moleskine planner I made...

Believe it or not, that small thing in there is my new laptop!

All 9.8" and 2.8 lbs of it.

It's pretty sweet. First and foremost, it's pink. I"ve become quite girly since I had my daughters and have developed a fondness for pink. So I adore the color.

BUT... Pink wasn't my first choice. I actually searched for the golden brown for a few weeks online. And while I was able to find

it with smaller memory and 3 cell battery I really wanted the larger hard disk drive and 6 cell battery (well worth the extra $50). I sent a couple of emails off to Acer and didn't receive a response. So, after two weeks of waiting I called the company.

And Acer almost lost a customer. The customer service out of their home office is horrible. I was transferred multiple times before I was handed to someone who "could help" me. When I explained to the gentleman I was transferred to (Steve, I believe he said) exactly what I wanted he told me that I was being picky and if that's what I wanted I would have to wait, "probably a very long time". I explained that I wasn't requesting anything special, only what they advertised on their website and, again, I

was treated rudely and basically dismissed with an item number on a website for a computer that wasn't what I was asking for.

But, whatever Acer may be lacking in customer service they completely make up in computer quality and price. Trust me, I made Doug join my search for a laptop with the same specs and no others came close. So Acer got my business. And I'm very pleased with this little computer. It has enough room to hold the software I need and the 8.9" widescreen is crisp and clear. It's light and doesn't require it's own bag. The only drawbacks: it only holds 1GB RAM so you can't run too many programs at one time and it has no CD/DVD drive (not really a problem, more of a "heads up" if you are thinking about getting one).

As for the ugly little case it came in... That issue is being fixed by the wonderful Janine King who will be creating a laptop tote like this:

for me using this fabric:

No boring black for me! Janine designs bags, clutches, laptop cases, totes & more (I'm addicted to her bags!). She just released a new design: the Fronce Tote. Isn't it great? It's on my wish list...



She's got dozens of fabric choices- you must check her out. (FYI: I'll have a few Janine King bags to give away during the Bloggy Giveaways Carnival at the end of the month!)

So those preparations, along with my attempts to lose weight, a new pair of shoes and a new top or two and I am ready for Blissdom.

Three weeks to go...

Read more...

Join the Qlubb

>> Thursday, January 15, 2009

If you've been around here any time at all you know that I look forward to my monthly "girls night" at the local Archiver's. It's 5 hours of scrapbooking, girl talk and fun.

It began as just my sister, my sister-in-laws and I but it has grown to include friends and even friends -of - friends. I actually don't know who all to send emails out to any more when we schedule a date.

So I began a Qlubb. In under 5 minutes I was able to set up my qlubb (monthly scrap), add members, make a little detail info and add useful items- like the phone number to book reservations.

Now when a date has been set one simple email to the group lets everyone know when we are scrappin'.

If you're a crazed organizer like me you'll want to check out Qlubb. Did I mention that it's free?

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It's Official

The adjuster called with the "good" news yesterday: the truck is, officially, totaled. It was bittersweet, really, to go and take the license plates off it and get the few things we had left in it. Doug bought that truck about the time we got married so we've had it 5 years. And, despite my complaints about it, it really was a good vehicle.

I've been driving the car this past week and I have to say, I miss my SUV. It just feels safer when I have the girls with me.

So, what's next? We aren't really sure. Doug's assignment for work is changing and he will be commuting farther, on a daily basis, but won't need his own vehicle during that time. Which is both a blessing (it gives us more time to look for a new vehicle and find a great cash bargain) and a curse (he'll be gone more).

On our radar now? A Land Rover Discovery. Used, of course. We really liked the one we drove in Ireland. Or a Saturn Relay. We rented one in Texas a few years ago and liked it, too.

Another blessing; there are tons of used cars in the market right now. We have the time to be choosy and bargain shop. And, hey, if the best deal is in Florida maybe we can get away and find some warm weather, too!

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Busy, Busy, Busy

>> Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I feel like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. I feel like I have so much going on and absolutely nothing is getting done.

We are still waiting for an adjuster to call us about the truck. I had to call my insurance agent yesterday to let him know that no one had called us yet. It's funny to hear them say "We'll get it repaired" when I know there is no repairing that vehicle for under the loan payoff cost. Whatever... They'll catch up to where I am sooner or later.

Doug is hitching rides with my family this week. He is out of the house before the girls are awake which throws them off. I hear "I want daddy" all day. Hopefully we can get over it soon because the next 2 months Doug is on a project that will have him away from home more than he's here. Not looking forward to that. Being "Mommy" all day is tougher than so many people think (and I see all you mommies nodding) and I really rely on Doug in the evening. It's going to be difficult having him gone until late and out the door before the sun. I'll be a single parent... But not.

Through all the difficulties this past week I did manage to lose another pound. It's not much, but I'm amazed I didn't gain any.

OK, back to work. Man, do I feel scattered. Why won't my kid go lay down and watch her movie? Seriously, I NEED THE QUIET TIME TOO!!!

Oh, when I was thinking coherently I was quoted for a bail out article. Check it out here.

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I Wish I Were Sleeping

>> Tuesday, January 13, 2009

And, come morning, I'm going to wish I drank something stronger than tea!

Caelan woke at 2:30 am needing a diaper change. Oh, yes, she is ready to be potty trained. I need to just buckle down and do it. She holds for 24+ hours at a time and then the next 12 hours are filled with heavy, wet diapers and nasty poo. And it's waking her in the middle of the night when she needs to go.

Brenna, who usually sleeps like the dead, trailed down a few minutes later. It seems Caelan isn't the quietest mouse in this house and woke Brenna with her fussing.

After changing one and having both wanting to "cuddle" with me, I managed to get them both tucked into their beds. I, of course, had to stay to "cuddle" or risk fussing that would wake the rest of the house (Doug) fully.

By the time I made it back to bed I was awake. Grrr...

And my mind began to work. Grrr...

So, here I am, taking care of things that need done this morning. Though not this early...

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Do the Olympics Inspire Your Kids?

>> Monday, January 12, 2009

I don’t think there is anything that inspires people to be active more than the Olympics. Especially for kids. I know that here in the Des Moines area (and probably all of Iowa) gymnastics schools saw huge jumps in enrollment after our own Shawn Johnson went to Bejing. I think everyone has had Olympic dreams at one time or another…

Which is why I thing the offer from SOGO Active is so amazing.

SOGO Active is a community organization sponsored by Coca~Cola Canada that is beginning in Nova Scotia. To really give this new organization a push- and big excitement- Coca~Cola will award over 1000 torchbearer spots in the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Torch Relay to teens who join the program and demonstrate a commitment to an active lifestyle. Twenty of these teens will be from the Halifax-based organization.

I spent some time clicking through the SOGO Active site and I am really impressed with the “outside the box” thinking and the options available to the kids. There is something called “Oozeball” that I am sure will be a big hit.

The whole point is to get our kids active and have them enjoy it. I think it’s a great idea and the incentive of the Olympic Torch Relay is such an amazing opportunity. You can get more info at SOGO Active.com.


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One Vehicle is Not So Easy

The weekend passed, quite quickly actually. Saturday's accident threw off my rhythm quite a bit and we ate out twice and had ice cream at Marble Slab.

This morning I got Doug into the Chiropractor for an after-crash check up, then drove him to work. Which was a great joy as the snow is falling steadily and the car really doesn't appreciate roads that aren't dry. Luckily we made it home without incident- though others we saw weren't so lucky.

I haven't hear from our insurance agent yet. Doug left him a message on Saturday to call me as I had questions... Like checking the driver side airbag and seeing if that $650 I just put into the truck can be reimbursed.

Soon it will be time to load the girls into the car again- this time to take Brenna to school. Then out again to pick her up, grab a prescription, pick up the babysitter from school and send out books from last week's contests.

Thankfully I don't have to collect Doug from work- my sister is doing that. As well as taking him in the rest of the week.

Did I mention the blizzard warning that we will be under this evening? Oh, yes, I miss my 4-wheel-drive truck right now. I felt so much safer in it...

Maybe I can win a Disney Vacation and get away from the snow for a while...

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Love and Other Natural Disasters: Winner!

>> Sunday, January 11, 2009




Congratulations:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

11 

Timestamp: 2009-01-12 00:39:10 UTC


Jackie B who said: I am a subscriber. (See, it pays to subscribe!)

I have emailed Jackie and she has 3 days to respond. If I don;t hear from her I will choose another winner.

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OK, Now I REALLY Need a New Vehicle

Yes, I know I said that a week and a half ago when it cost me $650 to do a bunch of work to the Explorer. But now I really have to get a new vehicle. Truly. Look what happened to it yesterday:


It's done for good, this time. Yes, I know I thought that 3 years ago when the deer attacked us, but this time we are within just a few months of paying it off so the cost to fix will be more than the payoff for the insurance company.

Before I go any farther with the story let me assure you all that Doug is OK. Which is amazing since his airbag didn't deploy. You can bet I'm going to ask some questions (like whether or not it was even replaced). When I asked him why he didn't get hurt he said, "I went limp, like I was doing an air drop." Ahhh, the Army taught him so many useful things!



So, here's how it happened... We had been clearing our old documents from our file cabinets and doing some basic cleaning. There were lots of shredded papers and cardboard boxes so Doug decided that he would take it all to the recycling center. (We may be evil conservatives but we do believe in doing what we can to not make more of a mess). His initial plan included taking Brenna along. Thankfully she was resting on the couch and opted to stay home.

Doug had dropped off the recycling and was on his way home. The night before we had some sleet that got covered in snow and the roads were a bit slick and not all had been cleared. Doug had come over a hill and at the bottom of the hill a truck was turning. Doug began to slow down. Well, he tried to slow down (he wasn't going very fast to begin with). Unfortunately the road hadn't been cleared very well and he just slid. All the way down the hill.





Instead of hitting the truck that was turning and having a 2 car accident, Doug aimed for a snow bank at the side of the road. It was a big snow bank, too. About 4 feet high, maybe a bit more. I guess it was a pretty firm snow bank because Doug hit it and "bounced" off it and into the pole.

The pole won. Doug called me to come get him. I arranged for family to come watch the girls (the car seats were in the truck) and I headed out. The roads were still bad; a car in front of me lost control and almost took me out. (That would have been what you call ironic.) As we were waiting for the tow truck a big sander came by a couple of times. People were still sliding around trying to avoid the police car and the tow truck.

We made all the necessary calls and went to the bank to stop the payment that is supposed to withdraw on Monday. No point in paying for a totaled car, you know.

Then we came home, Doug called Ford credit to tell them we stopped the payment, and then I put him in a hot bath. Just in case his muscles decided to hurt.

As for what we are going to do... Luckily Doug can hitch a ride with my siblings this coming week. And on the day he can't I am sure I can borrow a vehicle from my brother since he & his wife carpool. The following week Doug will be out of town (that a whole nother story). Hopefully the issue will be resolved by the time he returns.

How We're "Livin' Dave"

Before taking Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University we probably would have gone out and gotten a new vehicle... With a new loan. Not so now. Our plan is to celebrate the loan being gone by buying the cheapest car we can find (that is drive-able) for Doug to drive to work. No more car loans for us! (This is our silver lining)

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Be Strong & Curvaceous : WINNER!

>> Friday, January 09, 2009



The winner is:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

14 

Timestamp: 2009-01-09 20:22:01 UTC

Christin who said: Who Made You a Princess sounds great! thanks!

I have emailed Christin. She has 3 days to respond to my email. I she does not respond I will choose another winner.






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Moleskine Hack for Scrappers

>> Thursday, January 08, 2009

OK... A couple days ago I was getting my daily dose of Jessica (if you want to become a great social marketer you should read her) and saw her Moleskine Hack for Moms post.

While I may be a tech geek I prefer to keep my schedule, notes and ideas on paper. I still love "back to school" time because stores are filled with paper, pens, pencils and great organizational items. And since I've not found a planner that I am completely happy with (though my FC planner has been wonderful) I thought I would give her hack a try.

So Monday night we headed out to the bookstore (yeah, a big hardship for my book-loving family) because I was too impatient to order online. I got a large Moleskine Squared Notebook. And I followed Jessica's plan... and implemented ideas from AK's Research Blog.

But I am also a scrapbooker and, well, when I was looking at the front of my plain black book I thought it could use a little something. Since I had some sticky vinyl left over from the bathroom decorating and the Power Wheels restoration I dug out my trusty Wishblade and made these cut-outs for the cover (clicking on any photo will take you to a larger image):
Moleskine Hack 001

Nice, huh? Directly inside is a 2009 calendar (printed on pretty paper) from Time & Date.com. I'm not one to waste things, so the 2009 that was cut from the vinyl is stuck in here.

Moleskine Hack 002

As I turn the page the scrapper in me becomes evident. I had gotten an 8x8 scrap pack a few months ago at Archivers for $1.99 and hadn't used it yet. It had great tags and die cuts so, instead of just writing in dull black I decided to "pretty it up" a bit. Everything is attached with scrapping adhesive- no visible tape for me. This is where I lost control and the scrapper in me came out in full force...

Here we go...

As I turn the page to my "Mission Statement" page I also added my true loves and inspiration: my family in Ireland. Along with an inspirational statement that I thought was relevant.

Moleskine Hack 003


Wait... The scrapper comes out more... Look back at that photo. See the top right corner? Those are my separators, making it easier to find my calendar, task list, brainstorming and contacts pages.

Here's the "entry" to my calendar. On the left you see my weekly schedule. I try to stick to it as closely as I can... I fail quite often but it (mostly) all gets done. See my pretty flower page corner? It's not so big as to cause a problem and I can find sections easily.

Moleskine Hack 004


Next come my calendar pages, themselves. I added a little inspiration to these as well. The far left column will be my current projects and deadlines. I am going to put my accomplishments along the bottom in a nice, bright color.

Moleskine Hack for Scrappers Collage


After my calendar comes my task list, clearly marked by that flower page corner, which is headed by "A Will Finds A Way". The preceding page shows Polnabrone Dolmon in the Burren with another inspirational quote below it.

Moleskine Hack 017


I'm using a big purple paperclip to direct me to the first non-completed task. It's easy to move and it matches (I already had it from a previous visit to Staples).

The next group of pages, marked by yet another flower page corner, is "my vision": brainstorming, ideas, notes... Opposite you see a photo we took at the Rock of Cashel. Get it... Vision?

Moleskine Hack 018


Another purple paperclip to mark the next open spot for easy jotting.

And, at the end of my book, are important contacts. I prefer them at the end; no particular reason.

Moleskine Hack 019


My notebook also has a pocket in the back. I'm not sure what, exactly, I will use it for, but I'm sure it will serve as a collection point for something.

So there you have my personalized Moleskine hack. Now I have to do transfers and fill it all out.

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I'm Tired... Maybe That's Why I'm Looking at Beds Online

It’s going to be a long day. For some reason the girls were both awake at 5 am (!!) and climbed in bed with us. Let me just tell you that a king size bed doesn’t hold 4 people very well when two of them are toddlers who move about a lot while they sleep!

So I was up at 5 while the girls both snuggled back down and slept in my bed. Until almost 9am! Little turkeys.

So I left my very comfy bed and got online to attempt a bit of catching up. Instead I was drawn to look at beds online- probably because I was missing mine. Or maybe because I wondered if a fun bed would keep the girls in theirs and out of ours…

Anyway, I found some absolutely amazing kids beds in shapes of Cinderella’s carriage, “diggers”, pink Jeeps, racecars and more. And then I found the amazingly carved fairy, princess and pirate beds (available with dresser, armoire and under bed storage options) and fell completely in love. Forget the kids, I want the fairy bed for myself.

There are lots of adult beds in great styles, too. But, really, they just don’t have the same fantasy aspect!

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WINNER! The Magician's Book




The winner is:

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:

23

Timestamp: 2009-01-08 17:56:39 UTC

Renee G who said: I'd like to read Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell.

Congratulations Renee!

I have emailed Renee and she has 3 days to respond. If I do not hear from her a new winner will be drawn on Sunday.

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Completely Customized Moleskine

>> Tuesday, January 06, 2009

OK, so I'm not even close to done...

Because I have a scrapbooking tote directly next to my desk. And if I'm gonna make a book I'm gonna make it pretty... It could be a bigger project than I anticipated...

I got the basic idea from JessicaKnows... I'm holding her responsible...

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Have I Crossed the Line from Frugal to Just Plain Disgusting?

Warning! This post involves poo. Do not read while eating!

I'm not really pushing the whole potty training issue with Caelan. I have no interest in trying during the winter and I'm not going to frustrate myself by trying before she is ready. I made that mistake once and I'm not going to repeat it.

That said, Caelan is actually doing quite well at "training herself". She has the whole control thing down. In fact, she has been known to "hold it" for over 24 hours because she doesn't want to soil her diaper but she doesn't want to use the toilet. She has even told us, a couple of times, "I need to potty". Of course this is followed by toilet time that produces nothing, but it's a step forward.

Well, this morning, after not p'ing for over 16 hours, she wet completely through her diaper and down her leg; thoroughly soaking her clothing and socks. I changed her and wiped her down and she went happily on her way. A short while later she calls to me, quite happily, "Mommy, I'm poopy!" And she was. But she wasn't wet. And the poo was quite solid.

So, I removed the poo to the toilet, wiped her tukkis and the diaper as best I could and put it back on her.

Have I crossed the line with frugality? Because, seriously, the diaper is still good... Isn't it?

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If I Don't Get to Ireland This Year I'm Taking the Family to Branson

This Christmas I presented my mother with a customized calendar as a gift. I used photos from our Ireland vacation and filled in all the important dates. And I added a little something else…

Every other month I put in a post-it note with an activity and suggested date. This month’s “featured outing” is a visit to a tea room- girls only. As we go through the year we have day trips and even (hopefully) another jaunt overseas.

But, if that doesn’t pan out, I’m considering a long weekend in Branson. Since I’ve begun telling you all about how “new” and, dare I say,” hip” Branson has become it has really made me want to visit.

Because, while we’ve been through Missouri and even owned land in the Ozarks for a time, Branson just hasn’t been one of our stops in well over 5 years (since before Doug & I married).

Now, if we end up in Branson that means I don’t get to go to Ireland this year. So I would want to take in what little bit of Irish I can find- namely Spirit of the Dance and Daniel O’Donnell. If my sister-in-law Amanda joins us she won’t miss Liverpool Legends, the Ultimate Beatles Experience. And you can’t skip the show that started it all- the Baldknobbers.

As for where to stay… Well, that’s a given. I want a spacious room and relaxation. And both the Hilton Promenade at Branson Landing and the Hilton Branson Convention Center Hotel provide fine accommodation and amenities I need. (Hello? Internet access!) Both have suites and condos; it just depends on if I want a view of the lake.

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Both hotels run packages, which is truly helpful when traveling on a budget. If you’ve decided that you must go now (I’ve almost hit that point!) you’ll want to look into the Winter Escape Package, available at both hotels. If you go soon you can catch all the fun of the 2nd anniversary of the Hilton Promenade. (Don’t forget to sign up for HHonors, the Hilton rewards program!)

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It's Shaping Up to Be An Exciting Day

Oh, yes indeedy it is! I just started what is the first of many loads of laundry. And have mapped out ideas for my Moleskine hack. The first of many toy-pick-up projects have been begun as more toys are brought out. And I have managed to avert no fewer than three major crisis...

OK, that may not be exciting for you. How about this:

I have secured some wonderful items for Bloggy Giveaway Carnival! I've got bags, books, videos and travel items so far, with more sponsors on board (I'm just waiting for the info on what they'll be donating)! I can't wait for the end of January!

And don't forget, I've got three book giveaways going on right now!

The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia

Be Strong and Curvaceous

Love and Other Natural Disasters

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And the "New Year" Has Officially Begun

>> Monday, January 05, 2009

And I'm still trying to get organized! I am actually an organized person so the craziness of my house right now makes me a teeny bit crazy.

My computer has been residing in my kitchen so my desk has piles and piles of paperwork that needs organized and filed. (Yet another reason I want that ultra portable Acer Aspire One. No more lugging my laptop up and down stairs!)

So I'm thinking about how unorganized I feel and Jessica has to go and write about her Moleskine hack, which looks super cool to me. Yeah, yeah, I got a Franklin Covey planner 6 months ago but it isn't "perfect". I really like the thought of creating my own. (Besides it's a pen & paper project... I love pens and paper. Back to school was my favorite time of year. Crisp new notebooks, the smell of freshly sharpened pencils...)

So, while I make my way through all the stuff on my desk I'm just gonna send ya'll over to my Flat Belly Diet blog to read about my progress- actually I should call it lack of regress- which I'll be happy with right now.

Oh, and in case you're wondering how I'm doing with my one-and-only resolution... I haven't missed a day yet. It's pretty interesting to read the Bible from the beginning.

And don't forget about my giveaways!
Books...
Books...
Books...

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Love and Other Natural Disasters: A Review & Giveaway

>> Sunday, January 04, 2009

When I read the summary of Love & Other Natural Disasters it intrigued me. Mostly because I know exactly what it's like to me the mommy who feels disconnected from her husband because of a) kids, b) household, c) headache after listening to screams all day, d) blech or e) all of the above.

It's difficult enough to be a busy couple without something like this happening:

Eve is eight months pregnant and in the middle of a Thanksgiving celebration when she discovers that her husband Jonathan has developed an intimate relationship with a woman over the past year. Jonathon asserts his innocence (an affair involves physical intimacy, and he didn't have any), while Eve feels deeply betrayed by the emotional connection he shared with someone else. What Jon has done seems so terrifyingly out of character that Eve finds herself questioning her entire reality. Did she ever really know Jon at all? Was their happiness together a lie? Is emotional intimacy more forgivable than sexual intimacy? And can their marriage survive?


While I enjoyed the book overall I have to admit that I really didn't "like" the main character. She seemed to have issues above and beyond her husband's emotional affair that she didn't acknowledge; everything was his fault. I did, however, really enjoy the supporting characters. The side bit about Eve's brother adds a really fun character that you just don't expect.

This book makes you think... "which is worse?" and leaves you to find the answer. It will definitely make you think about your marriage- which we all should probably do just a little bit more of.



I want to thank Miriam at Hachette Book Group for letting me review this book. Thanks to her generosity I am passing on my book to one lucky reader. It's like new- I have a crazy respect for books.

To qualify visit Hachett's New Releases page and let me know which book interests you most. Leave your response in the comments.

For an extra entry subscribe to Iowa Geek (you can do this near the top of the page in the left column) or take my button. Leave another comment telling me which you chose.

For a third entry either blog or or retweet this contest (if RT copy & paste this: RT@iatraveler Win Love & Other Natural Disasters from Iowa Geek http://bit.ly/15wjy ) Leave another comment with the blog link or your twitter id so I can confirm this entry. And be sure to follow me on Twitter for contest info & giveaways!

International entries welcome!

Only three entries per person, please. Make sure I can easily find an email to contact you; I will not search for one. Contest ends Sunday, January 11 at 1pm. I will draw the winner shortly after that time. The winner will be contacted via email and will have 3 days to respond. If I do not hear back from the winner within that time another winner will be drawn.

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Be Strong & Curvaceous : A Review & Giveaway

>> Friday, January 02, 2009

I'm trying to remember what kind of books I read when I was a tween. I think Sweet Valley High was a pretty popular series in the early 80s. But what else? Anyone...? Anyone....? Yeah, it was too long ago.

What I do know is that I never found a series like the All About Us novels by Shelley Adina. I got to read the third book in the series, Be Strong and Curvaceous, and I can only say that I wish this has been around when I was in my teens and struggling to fit in.

Granted, I was never in a place like the elite "Spencer Academy" but I can completely understand the longing to fit in, trying to hide just how poor we were and crushing on a seemingly unreachable guy. I also really appreciate the powerful but subtle way the author brings faith to the forefront of the characters' lives.

Though this is a tween/teen novel I found myself engrossed in the story and read it in one evening (I was up way past my bedtime). I really wanted to find out how it ended...

Here's the overview from the back of the book:

After spending spring break in Mexico with her grandparents, Carly Aragon can't wait to get back to school at Spencer Academy in San Francisco. With Lissa Mansfield and Gillian Chang by her side, she's ready for anything . . . except a new roommate.
Lady Lindsay MacPhail, flamboyant daughter of the Earl of Strathcairn, quickly becomes Carly's worst nightmare. "Mac" not only swoops in and steals Carly's privacy, she's also dating Brett Loyola--Carly's biggest crush!
But when Mac starts receiving strange, threatening e-mails, she and Carly must come together to figure out who's behind them and why. In the end, the fate of one girl will lie in the other's hands. Will the two learn to trust one another and trust God?
Although I haven't read the first two books (I'll have to see if my local library has them) I'm going to say this is a great series for tween/teen girls. Shelley Adina's tag words on her website are "Friendship. Fashion. Faith." I tended to think of the book as more "Trust. Trust in yourself, your friends and God". But, however you look at it, it's a fun read with values.



I want to thank Miriam at Hachette Book Group for letting me review this book. Thanks to her generosity I am passing on my book to one lucky reader. It's like new- I have a crazy respect for books.

To qualify visit Shelley Adina's bibliography and tell me which of the other All About Us novels you would want your tween/teen/granddaughter (or yourself!) to read. Leave your response in the comments.

For an extra entry subscribe to Iowa Geek (you can do this near the top of the page in the left column) or take my button. Leave another comment telling me which you chose.

For a third entry either blog or or retweet this contest (if RT copy & paste this: RT@ iatraveler Win a copy of Be Strong & Curvaceous at Iowa Geek! http://bit.ly/pne1 ) Leave another comment with the blog link or your twitter id so I can confirm this entry. And be sure to follow me on Twitter for contest info & giveaways!

International entries welcome!

Only three entries per person, please. Make sure I can easily find an email to contact you; I will not search for one. Contest ends Friday, January 9 at 10am. I will draw the winner shortly after that time. The winner will be contacted via email and will have 3 days to respond. If I do not hear back from the winner within that time another winner will be drawn.

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The Magician's Book - A Review and Giveaway

>> Thursday, January 01, 2009

I can remember reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis sometime in elementary school. It was the only C. S. Lewis book in the small school library so I missed out on the rest of the Chronicles of Narnia until many years later.

By the time I read the rest of the Chronicles I fully understood Lewis' Christian allegory within the stories. Not being brought up in a religious household this didn't bother me in the least. In fact, the entire idea of Aslan was comforting to me.

Laura Miller, on the other hand, felt almost betrayed when she realized the connection between Narnia and Christianity. Her book, The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia takes you through her life and the life of C.S. Lewis. It is a fascinating read but not so quick as I had initially thought it would be. By the end of the book you will feel like you spent a week with your most intelligent friend in deep discussion.

You can access an excerpt of The Magician's Book here.


I want to thank Miriam at Hachette Book Group for letting me review this book. Thanks to her generosity I am passing on my book to one lucky reader. It's like new- I have a crazy respect for books.

To qualify visit Hachette Book Group and take a look at the most viewed books on their site. In the comments section tell me which of those books interests you the most.

For an extra entry subscribe to Iowa Geek (you can do this near the top of the page in the left column) or take my button. Leave another comment telling me which you chose.

For a third entry either blog or or retweet this contest (if RT copy & paste this: RT @iatraveler Win a copy of The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Adventures in Narnia at Iowa Geek. http://bit.ly/tr0S ) Leave another comment with the blog link or your twitter id so I can confirm this entry. And be sure to follow me on Twitter for contest info & giveaways!

International entries welcome!

Only three entries per person, please. Make sure I can easily find an email to contact you; I will not search for one. Contest ends Thursday, January 8 at 10am. I will draw the winner shortly after that time. The winner will be contacted via email and will have 3 days to respond. If I do not hear back from the winner within that time another winner will be drawn.

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It's 2009... What Are You Gonna Do About It?

After staying up well past my bedtime last night... Along with Brenna who made to see the New Year roll in... And Caelan who woke up slightly after it arrived... I forgot to turn off the alarm on my phone. So, after 5 hours of sleep, I am awake. I foresee a nap in my future.

I am not a fan of New Year's resolutions as I never keep them. In fact, I very quickly forget I even made them. So, no resolutions this year. I do, however, have a goal. I am going to read my Bible this year. The. Whole. Thing.

Last year I picked up The Bare Bones Bible® Handbook: 10 Minutes to Understanding Each Book of the Bible when it was a doorbuster at Family Christian Store. I'm kind of in awe of people who can pull Bible passages from their head. Maybe this will get me one step closer...

I liked this book first for the easy to understand overviews of each book of the Bible. As I was perusing it and saw the study guide in the back I decided to wait and begin it on the New Year.


I'm pretty excited about this goal. I just have to fit it into my schedule... Somewhere... Surely God can help me find 15 minutes a day...

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A Promise You Can Keep

There is a new community on Facebook that I would like to share with you. It's called "A Mother's Promise". It could easily be called "A Parent's Promise" or "A Promise to Your Child". The name really doesn't matter, the mission, however, does.

This community, supported by Evenflo, is focused on the safety of children while they are in the car. With fewer flights and the high cost of air travel more and more people are making the decision to travel farther distances by car. Let's do all we can to keep our babies (toddlers, elementary age children...) safe.



It only takes a moment to join the Facebook group. What's your promise?

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