Category Archives: Uncategorized

GIVEAWAY: Who Inspires You?

As we go through life, we are almost certain to meet those people who will come to take special positions in our hearts.  They may be close family members, people in your community, coworkers, or strangers who become friends.  It’s a fact that you can find inspiration in places where you least expect it.

So, who inspires me?

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MY MOM

That’s my mom at the far left with all of her girls.  Though she had us at a young age, she always worked hard to provide for us and made sure we were taken care of before herself.  As I’ve grown and had my own children, I can now appreciate what she must have gone through and the sacrifices she made raising us.  We are all extremely close to her and rely on her every day.

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MY HUSBAND

From the moment I met this man over 11 years ago, I knew he would be the one.  My husband was diagnosed with scoliosis at age 7 and has endured several painful back surgeries.  Though he still has trouble from time to time, he never lets anything stop him and never sees himself as having a disability.  He is such an amazing father and thoughtful husband and I’m proud to say next year will be our tenth anniversary.

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MY BOYS

I always knew that I wanted to be a “boy mom” and God blessed me with two fantastic ones.  My big boy is nearly 8 and is so passionate about so many things, not the least of all being his 6 month old baby brother.  I love seeing the world through their eyes and getting a sense of wonder and imagination every day.

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I’m hosting a giveaway, and you can win a $25 Target gift card!

If you haven’t yet seen the heart-wrenching and feel-good series BORN THIS WAY on A&E Network yet, you are missing out!  BORN THIS WAY chronicles the lives of a group of young adults born with Down syndrome as they pursue their passions while defying society’s expectations. The series also follows their parents who share their own journey of joy, sacrifice, and unconditional love.

Season 2 premieres on A&E on Tuesday, July 26. Check out this trailer for a peek at the show.

Leave a comment below letting me know who inspires YOU for a chance to win a Target gift card.  Giveaway Ends August 5. US ONLY PLEASE!

Getting Your Kids in the Kitchen

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Cooking alone can be therapeutic, but sometimes it just feels lonely. Wouldn’t it be awesome if your kids would get in the kitchen with you? By starting now and training them well, there may come a day when they can actually feed themselves. Or better yet, feed the whole family.

What’s the best way to get children interested in cooking? Kids love to have fun, love to play games, and love to organize things. Your best bet for success will be a program that takes these traits into consideration. By working with their natural inclinations, instead of against them, you’ll all have more fun.

Try these ideas to engage your youngsters and help them enjoy cooking as much as you do.

1. Allow Kids to Make Choices

Children love to feel like they have a little bit of control in their lives. So often, parents make all of the choices, but by letting little ones choose what to eat, they feel empowered. Limit the options to two or three, and make sure they are healthy. Once your child has decided, let him or her help you prepare the food. Spreading butter, putting fruit on a plate, and setting the table are all realistic jobs for young kids.

2. Sink Time

From toddlerhood through the preschool years, kiddos love to play in the kitchen sink. Warm water, bubbles, and plastic dishes are perfect for keeping little ones entertained while you are at the stove. Set a sturdy stool in front of the sink, fill it a few inches deep, and let your children wash unbreakable dishes while waiting for dinner to be done. They’ll love the feeling of responsibility, and you’ll love the freedom to cook.

3. Mix it Up

Stirring and mixing are fun actions for kids of all ages. Whether you need a salad tossed or a batter stirred, give your young helpers a set of spoons and let them go for it. Take a moment to show them the right way to do it, without making a mess, so that precious ingredients don’t go to waste. Once they graduate from simple stirring, show them how to whip up a batch of salad dressing using eggless mayo from hamptoncreek. Once they’ve mastered that, let them make a cake from a mix.

4. Chopping is for Big Kids

If your children are older and are trustworthy, show them how to safely use knives in the kitchen. Start with soft food, such as bananas, that can be cut with a butter knife. Move on to slicing an avocado with a paring knife, then show them how to chop hard foods such as carrots. By teaching good knife skills to responsible teens, you can be assured they will enjoy helping you make dinner regularly. However, if you or your teen ever feel unsure about using knives, shelve the idea for a year or so.

5. Flying Solo

Eventually, a child who has been trained in the kitchen will want to make a meal alone. Start simply, by allowing pre-teens to open a can of soup or bake a potato in the microwave. Later, show them how to boil water and cook pasta. Making a grilled cheese sandwich can be a thrill, plus it’s delicious to eat. Eventually, show your teenager how to make a full dinner for the family. Teach them what seasonings go together, how to choose side dishes, and how to make an attractive presentation on the table. Boys and girls can both benefit from knowing how to feed themselves and others.

6. Cleanup Time

Every good cook needs to know how to clean up a mess. Better yet, teach them to cook without making a mess at all. If the kitchen stays clean while the food is cooking, all they need to do after eating is put their dishes in the dishwasher and wipe down the countertops. Older children can be shown how to fill the dishwasher, and younger kids can learn how to empty it. Have a broom and dustpan handy for sweeping up crumbs, and teach your kids how to use them.

The benefits of getting your kids in the kitchen range from having company while cooking, to having help while preparing a meal, to having teens who can meet their own needs and those of others. Teaching kids how to cook and clean up may seem like more trouble than it’s worth, but the quality time spent together and the yummy food you share will make it all worthwhile.

Three British Autobiographies to Add to Your Summer Reading List

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Summer is a great time to dive into a few new books. For summer reading, you want something that will engage you. It should be light, but still interesting and educational. That is why autobiographies are the best pick for your warm weather reading list. Whether you are lounging by the pool or sitting on your front porch enjoying the warm summer sun, an autobiography provides the perfect balance of entertainment and education. This summer, consider delving into a few autobiographies from British authors. The Brits have a great sense of humor, which is both self-deprecating and deliciously witty. Their ability to make the morbid light makes for great summer reading! Here are three British autobiographies that you will love reading this summer.

Tales from the Dance Floor

Craig Revel Horwood is an Australian-Brit who is most well known as a judge on the popular BBC competition show Strictly Come Dancing. His 2013 memoir Tales from the Dance Floor is a funny behind the scenes look at his life in front of the camera. This autobiography follows his time on the show as well as Strictly Come Dancing associated tours and cruises with fellow show stars. It is an honest, revealing, and hilarious follow-up to his fist memoir released in 2008.For fans of this read, you can also check out the Craig Revel Horwood Twitter account for more laughs and behind the scenes moments.

I Am Ozzy

As you might have guessed from the title, I Am Ozzy is the much-acclaimed memoir of British heavy metal legend Ozzy Osbourne. This book, which debuted at number two on the New York Time’s bestseller list and won the Literary Achievement Award at the 2010 Guys Choice Awards, chronicles Osbourne’s life from childhood through his years of substance abuse, fame, and fortune. Told in delicious detail, I Am Ozzy both dispels and confirms rumors about his life for a shockingly delightful read.

Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to Be a Pop Star

Bedsit Disco Queen: How I Grew Up and Tried to Be a Pop Star is the memoir of English singer and songwriter Tracey Thorn. With over 30 years in the music industry, Thorn writes about her life from the time she bought her first electric guitar through all of her mega hits and megaflops. She has seen both success and failure and shares it all in this frank, no-holds-barred autobiography, which is sure to both move and amuse.

3 Ways to Save Money on Your Family’s Monthly Budget

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When you’re managing your household, you know how essential it is to keep the monthly budget under control. This task seems to be more difficult every day in the post-Recession economy, with a tough job market and rising food costs. However, with a little planning and a solid financial strategy, you can make sure your family’s financial situation is as stable and comfortable as possible. Here are three ways to save money on your family’s budget.

1. Re-evaluate Your Entertainment Expenses
With all the different options available now for TV and video services, it’s worthwhile to look at all the options and decide which ones are best for your family. By carefully choosing the services that will meet your needs for the lowest cost, you can significantly cut your entertainment expenses without reducing your quality of life. There are even some companies that have formed partnerships to offer discounts on multiple services.

For example, some wireless carriers offer discounted rates with some streaming services.
Cable TV is a great place to start looking for other options. There are countless choices for streaming services that vary greatly in cost (some are even free), and by choosing the right combination it’s possible to get access to all the channels you want for a lower price than your monthly cable bill. Most people only watch a fraction of the channels that are included in cable TV service, so it often makes much more sense to find other options that let you access only the channels you want to watch.

2. Make a Realistic Meal Plan
One of the most common pieces of advice for cutting the budget is to stop buying takeout and convenience foods and cook from scratch instead. While this is good advice in many cases, there are some things that are exceptions. This is especially true for items that require specialized ingredients. Take the time to decide if the homemade version is worth the time and cost of special ingredients, or if it makes more sense for you to buy it instead.
It’s also unrealistic for most people to entirely stop eating at a restaurant or getting takeout. Making such a strict rule usually backfires. Instead, consider setting part of the budget aside for restaurants or delivery. If setting a dollar amount doesn’t work well for your family, you could also choose a specific day of the week. For example, set aside Friday night for pizza or Chinese delivery. When you schedule take out into your budget and meal planning, it’s easier to stick to a set amount.

3. Look for Local Providers
Another place to look for savings is in your monthly insurance costs. Sometimes switching to a new provider or bundling your car and homeowners insurance with the same provider can save you a significant amount every month. It’s also worth calling a local insurance agent. Working with an agent who lives in your area means better customer service, and sometimes lower rates as well. For example, when you are looking for auto insurance in Jackson, MS, try calling a local agent first for a quote. You may save some money, and you can feel good about supporting a local business.
Keeping the monthly budget under control can be a challenge. However, there are several ways to save money if you spend the time to study the options and make a plan that will work for your family’s lifestyle.

BOOK TOUR REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Hair in All the Wrong Places by Andrew Buckley

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Hair in All the Wrong Places

by Andrew Buckley

Middle Grade Paranormal

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Book Description

What has he done?

What’s happening to him?

And what on Earth is that smell?

For Colin Strauss, puberty stinks. Blackouts, hallucinations, and lapses in memory are the perils of growing up werewolf.

Worse than that, Colin worries he might have had something to do with the recent attacks on the townspeople. He may have eaten a person. It doesn’t matter that it’s someone he doesn’t particularly like. What kind of boy goes around eating people?

Foolishly, all Colin can think about is how Becca Emerson finally kissed him for the first time. Yep, hormones are afoot. Yikes!

But girls will have to wait. Collin better get himself under control before someone else ends up hurt or worse . . . dead.

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MY THOUGHTS:

4 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS

A quick, humorous read that fans of series like Percy Jackson and Goosebumps will love!

Colin Strauss doesn’t fit in anywhere–least of all the town he’s been living in for the past year. A town where he’s had to endure the mean, blind grandma he lives with as well as bullying from cruel older kids at his school. He never gets a break. Until one day, by chance, he collides with a werewolf.

Colin is suddenly bigger, stronger, and well, hairier. He feels a strange power surging within him. He wants to eat EVERYTHING including his classmates! Colin must find out all about his freaky new shapeshifting ability all while trying to solve a murder he may have committed.

I immediately liked Colin and felt for him. Who hasn’t been bullied or felt out of place? But when he decided he was going to do something about it, his life was changed forever. It was both funny and heartwarming to watch him deal with the wolf inside. If there was ever a kid who needed a jolt like becoming a werewolf, it was Colin Strauss.

As the book went on, the action never slowed down and I didn’t once find myself losing interest. I finished it rather quickly once I learned all the secrets of the town. I am kind of hoping this is the beginning of a series so I can learn more about the intriguing townspeople living in Elkwood.

I did guess who the killer was early on, but the final showdown was worth it and still a fast paced part to read. I also didn’t understand why Colin’s grandmother had to be so mean to him all the time–it seemed unnecessary.

A little bit scary and gory, plenty hilarious, and with a little bit of romance, I think this book will be a hit with boys and girls from about 5th grade on.

 

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About the Author

Andrew Buckley attended the Vancouver Film School’s Writing for Film and Television program. After pitching and developing several screenplay projects for film and television, he worked in marketing and public relations, before becoming a professional copy and content writer. During this time Andrew began writing his first adult novel, DEATH, THE DEVIL AND THE GOLDFISH, followed closely by his second novel, STILTSKIN. He works as an editor for Curiosity Quills Press.

Andrew also co-hosts a geek movie podcast, is working on his next novel, and has a stunning amount of other ideas. He now lives happily in the Okanagan Valley, BC with three kids, one cat, one needy dog, one beautiful wife, and a multitude of characters that live comfortably inside of his mind.

Andrew is represented by Mark Gottlieb at the Trident Media Group.
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Purchase Links:

Google Play | BAM | Chapters | Indies | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | TBD | iBooks

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⦁ One (1) winner will receive a scrabble tile book cover charm (US ONLY)
⦁ Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Hair in the Wrong Places by Andrew Buckley (INT)

Contest ends June 24, 2016

CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

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REVIEW: all Fresh Clean Essentials Laundry Detergent

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I live in a house where there is a 7 year old and a 4 month old, both boys.  Of course there are gonna be stains on their clothes!  But I, like most moms, don’t have the time or the inclination to separate out laundry and wash the baby’s in some special detergent.  I need one detergent that’s not only gentle, but tough on all kinds of stains.

I’m happy to say I’ve found it in NEW all Fresh Clean Essentials!  This detergent is made with no harsh sulfates or dyes–but still packs the powerful punch from all that you need to knock out even super tough stains!

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The detergent is liquid and safe for HE machines.  It comes in both Fresh Scent and Fragrance Free varieties.

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As you can see, the detergent is completely free of any unnatural blue or green dyes as you would see in most others.  I used this on laundry with everything from dirt and grass stains, to ground in sweet peas, to blood and my clothes came out clean every time!

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all Fresh Clean Essentials is only available for purchase online–you can get it on Amazon.  Check out the all website for answers to all your questions and more information about the power of Fresh Clean Essentials.

Follow all Laundry on Facebook and Twitter as well!

DISCLAIMER: I was provided with product for reviewing purposes.  My opinions are my own and were not affected by this fact.

Learning Math is Fun with Kids Academy

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Kids Academy Releases #1 Math Games: Singapore Math App for Android and Updates iOS Version of Math Games App for Kids in Preschool & Kindergarten!

Kids Academy is a well-known mobile app developer working in the sphere of children’s early education. The team combines all the expertise, creativity and truly remarkable skills to develop a wide range of best educational games and fun worksheets for kids.

The great news is that the team just released the long-awaited update #1 Math Games: Singapore Maths App for Kids in Preschool & Kindergarten – iOS version of the app.

itunes kidsThis best math app for kids in preschool and kindergarten offers a great variety of fun educational games for kids. Children will get a fantastic chance to:

• train their brains
• enhance their attention and concentration
• improve their cognitive skills
• learn to follow instructions

While playing the fun math games, little mathematicians will grasp their numbers, addition and subtraction facts in a fun and enjoyable way. Kids will trace numbers, master their geometric shapes, practice skip counting and acquire other useful skills too. The cool math games by Kids Academy are based on the famous Singapore Math method. They help children visualize math problems and solve them in a simple way.

You can find a number of best educational apps for children by Kids Academy featured in the Family section of the Android store in the USA, Australia and Canada. This featuring is a reliable indicator of high quality and value of the fun educational games created by this team.

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Get all of the Kids Academy favorites on Android!

NEWLY RELEASED

We have more terrific news from Kids Academy. Available mid-May 2016 is the long-awaited Android version of their cool #1 Math Games: Singapore Maths App.

OUR EXPERIENCE:

My child is a great reader but always has a little trouble with math. With this app, I love that we can play addition and subtraction games on the go. It’s just perfect for his grade level, though I can see he will need something more advanced soon. He’s learning while having fun and that’s perfect!

This app has it all! It boasts hundreds of new cool math games, videos and interactive surprises. Your kid is sure to love the new innovative system of motivation and rewards, lively music, colorful graphics and amusing animation. Parents will be happy too – while kids play the new fun math games, they will not need any assistance from grown-up.

FREE PRINTABLE WORKSHEETS

But that’s not all. You can also try out the impressive collection of free printable worksheets and educational games on Kids Academy website. View a great variety of pre-school and kindergarten worksheets by topic and choose the perfect printables for your little learners. Download and print out the fun worksheets and give your kid a wonderful head start on math, writing, reading and other useful skills.

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Click here to check out the Free cute worksheets for learning kids.

Taking Care of Your Furniture before a Move

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Many of the belongings in your current home will likely follow you to your new home. After a couple weeks of deep cleaning and throwing away things that don’t ever get used, you may finally be prepared to pack all of your stuff up and prepare for the big move into one of the Seattle lofts you picked out for you and your family.

Unfortunately, furniture is a little bit different. While you can just throw pieces of furniture away, it seems like a wasteful way to dispose of something that is in usable condition.

Storage Units

If you’re not ready to get rid of the furniture but don’t want to take it with you, consider putting it into a storage unit. Whether you’re going to use it eventually or not, at least it will be in a safe location until you figure out what it is you want to do with it. Some people get caught up with other things and forget about their storage units, so be sure to give yourself a time limit on how long you will be renting the unit. This will help you decide what to do with your old furniture in a timely manner.

Donate the Items

Throwing away good furniture should never be an option for anyone. If you don’t want to spend the money storing it, contact your local thrift store or donation centers. Many of these facilities not only accept used furniture as a donation, but most of them are willing to pick up the item, depending on your vicinity to the store. You can also call around other donation drop-offs if you would rather the item be given to someone who needs it instead of being sold for profit.

Moving into a new home often results in many new things, including furniture, so be sure to have a plan of action for your old furniture.

BOOK REVIEW: Will You Won’t You Want Me by Nora Zelevansky

Will You Won’t You Want Me 

by Nora Zelevansky

Women’s Fiction/Contemporary

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Book Description

Marjorie Plum never meant to peak in high school. She was Queen Bee. Now, 10 years later, she’s lost her sparkle. At her bleakest moment, she’s surprised by renewed interest from a questionable childhood crush, and the bickering with her cranky boss—at a potentially game-changing new job—grows increasingly like flirtatious banter. Suddenly, she’s faced with a choice between the life she always dreamed of and one she never thought to imagine. With the help of a precocious 11-year-old tutee, who unknowingly becomes the Ghost of Marjorie Past, and a musician roommate, who looks like a pixie and talks like the Dalai Lama, Marjorie struggles with the ultimate question: Who does she want to be?

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MY THOUGHTS: 2 out of 5 FLEURS DE LIS


Will You Won’t You Want Me?
by Nora Zelevansky
I went into this book hoping for a story about an endearing relationship between an almost thirtysomething and a precocious preteen, but that is most assuredly not what I got. Instead, we get to watch Marjorie Plum stumble through a lot of bad decisions and have a lack or spine when confronted with any obstacle.

I’ll start off by saying that the author’s writing style takes some getting used to. There are often random facts and asides thrown in. We learn background information about characters that really have no bearing on the story at all. If you can get past that (I almost didn’t), then there is an alright story here.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a couple of funny moments. But many things that I guess were supposed to be funny, just didn’t rub me the right way. Marjorie, posing as her roommate, tells her young tutee at their FIRST meeting that the girl needs to read He’s Just Not that into You. WHAT. And for reasons I can’t fathom, the girl, Belinda, immediately aspires to be like Marjorie. This was after they’d known each other for all of ten minutes.

There’s a sort-of love triangle, and I say sort-of because I didn’t really feel much passion coming from any of the players involved. When Marjorie finally does decide to break up with the boyfriend she’s been leading on, it’s for a really ridiculous reason. With that being said, I’m not sure the guy she ends up with is all that much better than her.

Marjorie for sure does have some bad luck, but also has the ability to make terrible choices. In the end, she does cut some toxic people from her life. Things fall into place for her very suddenly and her life begins to look on the up and up. This book just left me feeling very flat and kind of meh. Empowered chick lit, this is not.

View all my reviews

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About the Author

NORA ZELEVANSKY is the author of Will You Won’t You Want Me? and Semi-Charmed Life. Her writing has appeared in ELLE, T Magazine (The New York Times), Town & Country, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair, among others. She lives with her husband and daughter in Brooklyn, New York.

Introducing Purex plus Clorox 2 Detergent

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When you’re a mom to two boys, you’ve got to be ready to tackle any and every stain.  Just this past week, I’ve dealt with laundry stains like grass, blood, chili, and spit up.  I need a detergent that can fully clean my clothes, and if I don’t have to do any extra steps that is a huge bonus!  That’s why I’m happy I discovered NEW Purex plus Clorox 2 detergent.

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Purex plus Clorox 2 combines the everyday clean of Purex with the amazing stain fighting power of Clorox.  And since it’s Clorox 2, it’s safe on colors.  It does not contain chlorine bleach but still works on over 100 stains.

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This detergent worked totally on all of the above stains I mentioned.  I did pretreat some pieces, but others I did not.  Either way the Purex removed the stain!

For more information about Purex plus Clorox 2, check out the website or Facebook page.  Be sure to scroll down the page a bit to find the $100 gift card giveaway!

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