I've had the fabulous opportunity to work with Monroe and Main as a "Fit For You" blogger! Make sure you check out my short-waisted shape solution apparel review, and enter my giveaway for a $50 Monroe and Main Gift Certificate. Then, make sure to join Monroe & Main as well as some of the other "Fit For You" bloggers during the Twitter party tonight (10/24) from 8pm to 9pm CST. There will also be prizes given away during the hour!
This post brought to you by Kmart. All opinions are 100% mine.
I have to admit that I haven't even started my Christmas shopping, but with KMart's layaway program, and their awesome sweepstakes I might just have to start picking out those holiday gifts! The older the kids get the more expensive the items they want become. We're talking video games, gaming consoles, cameras, bikes, scooters, clothes and so much more. Kmart's layaway makes it SO much easier to afford all of these things over an 8 week or 12 week period of time instead of worrying how you're going to get it all at once. Let's face it. It's rare these days to have several hundred dollars available at one time just for presents.
Right now Kmart is advertising free layaway with NO service fee (normally $5). One of the awesome benefits is that you can even set up layaway online if you can't get into the store. Then, just make a payment every 2 weeks. Your down payment will be $15 or 10% (which ever is greater) for an 8 week period. You can make payments on your layaway items online or at any Kmart register with cash, check or debit/credit card. That makes it a LOT easier!
Want to WIN your layaway items?! Then make sure you're eligible for Kmart's Big Layaway Giveaway. Each week KMart is chosing one person from each store (12,350 total) to receive an up to $500 credit to their layaway balance. If the balance was paid off before the winner was selected, they'll receive a Kmart gift card up to $500. Giveaway is open to legal residents of the USA who are 18+. Sweepstakes runs 9/9/12 through 11/17/12.
That title is actually quite an understatement. Four years ago my husband and I bought our house. Our old, slightly dilapidated, way-too-much-to fix up house. Basically any structural renovations are pretty much going to cause the house to be torn down and rebuilt. But, cosmetic changes, while really only patches to fix up a crumbling house, do make things look much better.
See this? That is my bedroom. It's pretty horrid looking, and that window with Duck Tape on it? Yeah, my daughter put her head through that. She has managed to tear down two sets of shades too. The third window never had a shade on it. Our windows do not open. (Some jerkface painted them shut.) We have no curtains, and the color on the wall, while I like it, has run its course and I'm over it. Basically what it comes down to is that WE NEED HELP getting this room looking less drab and ramshackled.
Recently I've been getting some ideas. Since replacing our windows isn't a cost we can afford right now, I'm thinking maybe using a type of Window Wallpaper. I figure it would give us the privacy we'd really like, while still letting light in, but most importantly covering up all of the grossness that has made its way behind the panes of glass we cannot open. I've really been liking this design. --->
Do you see that gorgeous dark blue/teal type color in there near the center-bottom? I want to paint my room THAT color. I know it's dark, which usually isn't best for a small room, but I love the intimate feel this color would create. And talk about a fantastic contrast to the Window Wallpaper. I love bringing out small accent colors found in other decorations. The trim I think would have to be one of the tan colors - perhaps the tan in the upper right.
Now the curtains... while not necessary I think I would like in that really pretty dark red/salmon color on the left of the photo, or one of the greens - possibly the lightest green down at the bottom.
Then I need to figure out a bedding to bring it all together. I really like the oranges and yellows even though I would never consider those a favorite color. Hmmm... that one I need to think on a bit.
I've started pinning my ideas - and you can following along [HERE].
What do you think? Any suggestions? :D
Never in a million years would I have thought that some day I would have a Product Review & Shopping blog. I always wondered how people were given products in exchange for their opinions. And, coming up on my 1 year blogaversary (I hate that word), I can't believe how much I have learned in the past year. So, this question, while easy to answer, is also multifaceted.
1. I like being a blogger because first and foremost it gives me something to do during my days home with the kiddos. I become really stir-crazy when I don't have anything to focus on that is stimulating and ever-changing.
2. I like being a blogger because this allows me to help my family out financially, even if it's through reviewing a product that I won't have to pay for out of my husband's salary.
3. I like being a blogger because I OWN something. This is MY space. I'm in control. I make my own hours, and decide on the content.
4. I like being a blogger because I learn something new every single day. I've learned more about PR, Marketing, SEO, Google, Analytics, Twitter, Facebook, "Official Rules", Terms of Service, how to locate emails, and other necessary information, how to fine tune my pitch letters, and being a better writer than I think I would have even learned in my first year of college. Experience is AMAZING! And the best part, is that this knowledge isn't going to waste, and there is always more to absorb.
5. I like being a blogger because I have the privilege of working with some really fantastic people. I've made some great blogging buddies, but have also worked with great PR representatives, and just all around super brands.
6. I like being a blogger because people want my opinion. I have a lot of opinions, and I love having a place that I can share them.
7. I like being a blogger because I get to try new products and brands that I have never heard of before. It's so much fun finding a new company and getting to try something I never would have if I wasn't a blogger.
8. This goes back to reason #2. I like being a blogger because I can provide "fun" things for my family at no extra cost to us. We're usually pretty darn broke, never go on vacation, and always buy the CHEAPEST thing possible for whatever we need. Being a blogger allows me to spoil my kids every once in awhile.
9. I like being a blogger because I love to write and I enjoy photography. Being a blogger allows me to do both, and exercise some of my skills and qualities in a "job" I enjoy doing.
10. This goes back to reason #5. I like being a blogger because I love the interaction and feedback I get during the day - whether it's just as simple as responding to an email, or having a full blown conversation with other great blogs.
What can I say? I love what I do!
Describing my fears may be a little hard, because most of the fears I have are rather silly. In the 30 Day Writer's Blog Challenge Day 1 post I mentioned that I'm scared of the ocean and zombies, so let me explain those two first.
1. The Ocean - There are a few reasons why I'm frightened of the ocean, but let me make it clear that these fears do not stop me from going swimming in the ocean, they just make me more hesitant. My fears of the ocean aren't something that accumulated all at once. But, are more of a combination of different experiences growing up.
When I was little I wanted to learn how to surf, so I read every book I could about surfing. I probably shouldn't have, because that's when I realized that there are sharks who could easily chew off a limb and then some. Before I even began reading those books I watched The Blue Lagoon at a young age (think age 6 or 7) thanks to my grandmother who apparently didn't see anything wrong with this movie. In the movie someone stepped on this nasty looking Lion Fish (I think that's what the foot was). So, not only does the ocean have things that can eat my face off, it also has things that will poison me if I get too close. Once on Long Island we went to a beach (I was about 10 at the time), and these teenagers were scooping up these dark red jelly fish and putting them in the trash. That grossed me out more than scared me, but there was no way in hell I was going into the ocean at Long Island after that. I also wanted to be a marine biologist as a kid, and would grab book after book from the library so I could read up on marine biology. Have you read any of those books? The ocean has some scary looking creatures down in the depths.
Scary creatures aside, I also think the ocean is not as respected as it should be. It is a MASSIVE body of water, with tides, currents, the power to destroy entire towns, and sink giant ships never to be seen again. There are two experiences I draw on when it comes to respecting the ocean. Maine doesn't have HUGE waves. We just don't. I think it's because most of our beaches are rocky. However, there are certain beaches with good 4-10ft waves. Let me just tell you, if you've never been knocked over by a wave, and the kept down by another wave, it is effin' terrifying. You can't keep your bearings, you're getting flipped around, you can't breathe, and all you can figure out is that you're in the water and hopefully it'll release it's grip on you before your run out of oxygen.
I took my family to Acadia National Park one Summer so we could get out, enjoy family time, and just enjoy the scenery. My husband took his daughter down onto the rocks near "Thunder Hole". He took an 8 year old...without a life vest... down onto the edge of the rocks where waves are notorious for being extremely strong. One came crashing in, and thankfully only her flip flop was washed away, but she almost was too. And people HAVE been knocked off of those rocks because they're too darn stupid to realize the ocean can and will kick their butts if given the opportunity.
2. Zombies - I know this one is a bit silly, but zombies scare the f*ck out of me. This fear doesn't keep me from watching great zombie movies (Zombieland is my favorite), but it does make me nervous when I go to bed after seeing one. I always picture a zombie running up to one of the windows near my bed and breaking in. So, I lie awake for awhile staring out the window, praying something doesn't eat me.
Why do zombies scare me? Because, out of all of the horrific things people make movies about, I think zombies are probably one of the most likely things that could happen. There could be some weird disease, mutant genetics, animal testing gone wrong. Heck, that person on bath salts was pretty much a zombie.
If zombies ever turned out to be real no one knows exactly how they would be. Are they going to be the fast destructive zombies who just go after everyone and everything until they die out because they consumed the human race too quickly? Or, are they going to be the slow mostly-dead zombies raising out of the graves? (Honestly, I highly doubt it would be the latter.) Either way, I'd rather not have my face eaten off to feed the living-dead.
3. My Family Dying - I feel like this fear is a given. However, this particular fear stems from a recurring dream I used to have between the ages of 4 and 6. In the dream my family is taken away from me and held hostage with guns pointed at their heads. I'm given an ultimatum; save myself and sacrifice my family, or act the martyr and save my family. Can you just imagine how hard that choice is for a child? The thought process isn't even as simple as, "I want to live." All I could think was that I didn't want my family to be sad if I died. I didn't want them to feel guilty. I didn't want them to have wished that I would have saved myself. But, I also didn't want to be selfish, and I didn't want them to lose their lives because of me. It wasn't a fun dream, and I still remember it quite well.
30 Day Writer's Blog Challenge - Day 1: 10 Random Facts About Me
I've realized recently that many of you don't know much about me, except for what I tell you in my reviews. So, I've decided to take on the 30 Day Writer's Blog Challenge so you can get to know me a little bit better. Today's writing challenge is for me to tell you 10 random facts about myself. Let's see how this goes. :P
1. The ocean evokes more fear in me than bungee jumping (which I have done), or sky diving (on my bucket list).
2. My favorite comfort foods are homemade macaroni and cheese, and a good broccoli cheddar soup.
3. I'm a neat person at heart, but messy in reality.
4. I was adopted at 2 days old.
5. I do not like anything about Winter, except for snow on Christmas Eve/Day.
6. There is nothing I want to do more than travel.
7. I would much prefer volunteering my time than be overpaid to do something I hate.
8. I am a horrible SAHM. I don't cook. I hate cleaning. And to be honest my kids drive me up a wall most days.
9. When someone tells me I've done something wrong, or that I cannot do something, I get angry and get it done, and done right.
10. There are very few foods that I don't like, but you can rank brussell sprouts at the top of that list.
Wow - that 10 went by fast. Here's 2 more for good measure.
11. I love Halloween
12. I'm terrified of zombies even though I know they're not real. But, I do love a good zombie movie!
This post brought to you by Regis Family of Brands. All opinions are 100% mine.
It's back to school time. I've heard some lucky parents have already sent their kids of for their first days this past week! One of the best parts of going back to school is getting a brand new hair cut. It's so much fun getting to show off your new do, and new duds the first few days, but we all know that haircuts at around $15+ a pop can get expensive.
Right now, through September 30th, take advantage of the Haircut Coupon-a-thon at your closest participating salon. Kids (and adults) can get haircuts for only $7.99. Some select participants are asking $9.99, but hey - that still beats full price! Let your kid get all spiffy for school and you can get pampered too.
Participating salons include: Best Cuts BoRics Cool Cuts 4 Kids (participating salons only), Famous Hair Fiesta Salons, First Choice Haircutters (U.S. participating salons only), Head Start Salons, HairMasters, Holiday Hair Island Haircutting Co., MasterCuts, Saturday's, SmartStyle (located inside Walmart Supercenters), and Style America TGF Hair Salon.
I actually just went to a SmartStyle a few weeks ago before doing my Walmart errands, and I was really pleased with how fast they were, and they did a great job too! I'll definitely be going back in when it's time for another haircut!
All participating salons are full service and offer additional options that include coloring, waxing, perms, highlights, and more. Plus, they all carry some of the best hair care brands that we're familiar with, including Biolage, Redkin, and Paul Michell.
Getting your coupon is easy too! Just select your preferred salon in the widget below, and then print your coupon.
On a mobile device? To redeem your coupon: Touch and hold to save coupon image. Show coupon to your stylist.
Trouble printing coupon? Email email@example.com with the salon brand you’d like to visit and they'll send you a coupon.
This post brought to you by Famous Footwear. All opinions are 100% mine.
It's that time again. Yup - time for back to school shopping, and we all know those little feet need shoes. Right now, between August 2nd and August 18th, Famous Footwear is offering a fabulous deal on shoes! Get 15% off (20% off if the customer is a Rewards member or signs up to become a Rewards member), plus BOGO 1/2 OFF! That's a HUGE savings! Print the coupon here: BOGO + 15% off Famous Footwear Coupon
With hundreds of brand name shoes including Adidas, K-Swiss, Nike, Puma, and Reebok, and thousands of styles, you're sure to find something you and your kids will love at an affordable price! Plus, it's super easy to shop with Famous Footwear. If you can't find what you're looking for in the store, they'll order it for you and you can pick it up for FREE at your local Famous Footwear.
Famous Footwear prides themselves on making sure their customers have a great experience. They make sure the shopping doesn't take forever, which is a huge added bonus when shopping with fidgety children.
If you're familiar with Famous Footwear, or shop there often, make sure you Join their FREE Rewards Program. Check out the perks of being a member:
• Earn 1 point for every $1 you spend in-store or online
• Accumulate points to earn certificates up to $100 a year
• Discount offer just for signing up
• Other special inside discounts and perk
Combine the 15% discount, the BOGO 1/2 off deal, and the Rewards Program and you're saving a whole lotta dough!
I love making crafts, however I'm not all that great at it. However, if it's sparkly - I'M IN! Yesterday I got bored (shocking I know with all of these awesome deals out there), and my daughter was bored too. So, I thought it'd be fun to do a craft with her. Note to self: 2 year olds do not do crafts.
Anyway I have a TON of supplies stashed around my house for those inspired moments, so I dug around and came up with craft glue, boxes my review items came in, glitter, glitter glue, ribbon and chopsticks. (We like our Chinese food.) Kiddo also had the chopsticks out pretending she was Ang the Avatar. The craft itself isn't all that expensive, especially if you have a lot of the stuff around the house already. Plus, you can make multiples out of these supplies.
I think next time I make this, I might splurge and get some poster board, but the cardboard was bendy enough and sturdy enough to do the job on this first attempt. Trust me, this is super simple! And, not including drying time, it only took a matter of minutes to put together. The great thing about this little craft, is that you can really do it any way you want. This is just how I figured out how to do it.
1. Create your star shape. I free handed mine, but you can certainly get a stencil online.
2. Cut your ribbon pieces to your desired length. We went with a thinner purple and pink ribbon, and cut the pieces about 24-30 inches. Lucky me that's the time my daughter figured out how to use the scissors.
3. Place your craft glue on both sides. A LOT of glue on the chop stick seems to have worked well. Center your chopstick, and place your ribbon on the glued pieces around it.
Next time I make one, I think I might wrap the chopstick with another piece of ribbon.
4. Place the two shapes together and SMUSH. I used a clamp to make sure everything was going to stay together. This needs to be laid flat to dry or the ribbon will work itself out from between the pieces. Feel free to put a piece of paper over it and put something heavy on top to make sure it glues together.
5. Paint the star shapes and add the glitter while the paint is wet. (Or add glue after the paint dries and then glitter.) You'll probably have to wait in between for each side to dry before doing the other.
6. I used the purple glitter glue to cover the sides, and try to hide the imperfections. If your sides aren't having issues, just paint and glitter.
7. You can do this before or after, but if you want your ribbon to last longer, make sure you burn the edges. You can do this with a match or lighter. Don't put the flame directly on the ribbon, but next to it so it melts a bit. This will keep the ribbon from fraying.
That is IT! That is all there is to it. Simple and inexpensive - just the way I like my crafts! My daughter loves it. She had a fit when I wouldn't let her take it to bed, and this morning she thinks it belongs in her brother's dump truck.
I'm a bit of a novice yard sale shopper. I like to go whenever I can find the time or have a little extra spending cash, and admittedly that isn't very often. However, I get the biggest thrill when I happen upon a great find. I was the type of child who dreamed of maps marked with a big X, buried treasure, and the idea of "what if" I had a metal detector. Just a few weeks ago we found a huge pile of rocks in our yard and I couldn't keep myself from trying to find out what was under it. Needless to say I broke the shovel and haven't been able to get back out there to keep digging - but the anticipation of what I might find was awesome!
My favorite thing to search for at yard sales are antiques, children's toys/clothes, and furniture. We're a relatively young couple so our home is a huge mish-mash of random furniture pieces that we could afford at the time of purchase. We honestly only have 1 kitchen chair because the "deal" we found turned out to be a bunch of garbage. Now, I'm by no means a hardcore yard sale shopper. If I think something is a fair price and the people hosting the yard sale are nice, I'm not going to haggle too much... if even at all. So, I make sure to go with a budget in mind, and search first for the things I want most or need. If the price is good, I may even pick up something that I know I can "fix", and even if it turns out that I can't, I'm only out a couple of bucks. Anyway, it didn't take long to learn a couple of tips and tricks for the novice yard seller, so here they are in no real particular order:
1. For the love of god make sure you know where you are going. There is nothing worse than heading out and not being able to find the correct street/address. Have a map, a GPS, printed directions - just something that will help you successfully get there without wasting too much gas. Starting early is best, but if the people hosting the sale are not interested in cherry pickers, don't show up that early. It's rude. If you think you might get a better deal on an item that will hopefully still be there later in the day, then you can always wait it out. I also enjoy driving by houses that I know just had a yard sale, and see if they've left the rest of the items on the curb for free.
2. I know some people like to plan their route. You can easily do this by keeping track of which yard sales you want to visit that weekend and then map it out ahead of time. I tend to be more of a willy nilly yard sale shopper and pick one or two I KNOW I want to go to, and then find others on my way home. In fact, yesterday I had no plans on taking a side street into the next town over, but I'm glad I did! I happened to find a pretty decent yard sale, and managed to snag a 10' by 8' braided rug in perfect condition for $15! (This rug brand new would have sold for well over $600.)
3. Obviously you don't want junk. Make sure you check over EVERYTHING before purchasing it. Does it work? Does it need batteries - and are the batteries corroded? Check IN the boxes before purchasing. What's in it may not be what you think. If you're looking at glassware make sure there are no cracks or chips. Make sure you carefully run your fingers over it because you may feel a flaw that you didn't see. It's even OK to ask to plug an electronic in to check it out before purchasing.
4. Personally, I'm a pretty big cheapskate. I think people are more likely to get better money selling on Craigslist, Uncle Henry's, or through other classified ads. When you're selling something in a yard sale, you're not really there to get rich quick, and as a buyer you need to set some price standards for anything that isn't particularly valuable. I won't pay more than a dollar or two for a pair of children's shoes, and I certainly am not going to drop and arm and a leg on a children's book that was originally $16. You get a buck, or less. But, there are some people who really try to inflate the prices of their items thinking they'll sucker in someone, or at least get haggled down to the price they originally wanted. Be firm, but not an @ss. If it's something you really want, feel free to leave a number so they can call if they couldn't sell it at the price they were originally asking.
5. Now, when it comes to finding antiques I'm not an appraiser, so I really couldn't tell you what something is worth. That doesn't mean I can't tell you when something is too expensive. I happened across a nice yard sale yesterday where the owners either a. Knew exactly what they had and priced it accordingly (which was way out of my budget), or b. Had no idea what they had and figured they'd try to sucker people into buying it. My guess is that they knew what they had. Bummer for me. This is where my childlike desire for treasure hunting comes in. I'm looking for those people who need to sell things quick, or really just have no idea what they are in possession of. While a nice Carnival Glass bowl may be selling on ebay for $25-$35, there is no way in heck I'm going to buy it, even at a yard sale. Too expensive. If I were to find it for $5 or $10 I'd be snatching it up. In the end it may not be super valuable, but I could definitely sell it for way more than I purchased it for, and that is exactly why I love to frequent yard sales.
6. If you're not concerned about the end value of an item, and you just want it for a project, I suggest buying it. If it's slightly damaged but would have otherwise brought in decent money, definitely haggle the price down. Last summer I went to a yard sale specifically for the antique high back chairs they told me they were going to have. Someone got there first and purchased all of the ones that were still without any major structural defects. (This is one downfall of dragging your entire family with you.) By the time I got there, there was only 1 chair left. Part of the back's decorative woodwork had come unglued. However, it didn't detract from the solidness of the chair. A little wood glue fixed it up right away. Guess how much I paid for it? $3.00! I actually finally finished upholstering it yesterday with fabric, foam, and batting I already had in my craft trunk. It's not perfect, but it'll do for my home, and I like that I added something new to something so old. I can't decide if it should be painted though. I kind of like the distressed look. Either way, it was well worth the $3 and I have a great chair to compliment an antique secretary desk I picked up this week too!
7. Sometimes dragging kids along is the worst. idea. ever. and sometimes it's great. People always seem to welcome well behaved children and may even give some freebies are knock off a few bucks on something your child just HAS to have. When you bring your children along you can have them try on clothing before purchasing it. And, speaking of clothing, make sure there are no holes, missing buttons, broken zippers, etc.
8. You don't have to get out of the car. Pull up to the sidewalk and just quickly browse. You can usually tell pretty easily if everything is going to be junk or has already been picked over and that way you can move on quickly without wasting what could be precious time on getting to the next sale.
9. I don't like to rush while shopping yard sales, especially if I'm at a really great one. If you don't have plans to head off to another one, or you really just don't care about speed shopping, take your time. Browse over everything thoroughly, pick up things you may or may not want to purchase and carrying them around until you make your final decision. If you buy multiple things at one sale, ask for a discount.
10. Small bills and change are your friend. It's easier to haggle and say, "I only have $4 on me, would you take that instead of the $6 you're asking?" Then you can easily pull out the $4 instead of requesting that they break the $10 you really shouldn't be showing them that you have.
Anyway, that's my newbie take on frequenting yard sales. We can just call me the Treasure Hunting Hobbiest from now on. Some day you'll see me out with a metal detector making millions on my finds! (I can dream, right?)