Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wishing You All A Very Happy Thanksgiving!

May God's blessings rain down upon you! Click the picture for a beautiful card!

Psalm 100

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Whew! November is flying by! It's almost Holiday time!

Hello everyone,

Just popping in to catch up here this month!

It's been a busy month!  My son is wrapping up his high school football season.  The Varsity football team lost in the game to reach the playoffs so their season is officially over.  They do have a Thanksgiving Eve game though, I think I'll be missing that one!  He also has one more Junior Varsity game so that's exciting! 

On the daughter front it's been a REAL challenge.  She's 10 and thinks she's the boss.  We're nipping that right in the bud, any tips for the challenging tween phase will be GREATLY appreciated.   My standard study verse is Colossians 3:21: Fathers, provoke not your children [to anger], lest they be discouraged. I do realize she's going through a lot of changes so I'm TRYING to be patient. 

On a good note, my daughter made the honor roll for the 9th straight marking period.  This was a challenge because adjusting to 5th grade was tough! She's in a very demanding class and has a lot more homework than last year.  My son is also doing well and is happy this is his last year of high school math!!  He's looking at colleges and preparing to take the SAT's.  And just today he got his permit (But don't tell his friends! LOL! )! Yaay!

As for the blog.  This week will be catch up week.  I have lots of offers to tell you about as well as some sponsored posts and giveaways!  Stay tuned and have a BLESSED week!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

CSN Giveway Winner

Well here it is!  The news you have all been waiting for!  The winner of the CSN giveaway!!


I meticulously counted the entries... then I recounted... then I recounted again just to be sure! So now I'm sure... do you want to know?  No, OK, see you tomorrow!  Be blessed!!!

OK, OK! Just kidding... not about the Be blessed, I really want you to be blessed... the winner is...


Erin M said: Following the Dress my Doll blog via GFC.

Congratulations Erin!! I will be contacting you shortly!

Love and Blessings,
Margaret

Long time no see! Need suggestions!

Hello everyone!

Nice to "see"  you all again!  I have to admit, I took a bit of a break because I was bummed that NO ONE entered my ending October 18 giveaways!  One of them was a FREE outfit from my store!  I don't get it!!  But the good news is that my CSN giveaway got LOTS of entries and I got a bunch of new followers!  Welcome!!

So here is what I need.  I bought some pants and I don't know what kind of top to wear with them.  They are brown pinstripe straight leg pants (which with my size means WIDE legged!!).  What color top should I get and should it be a tunic?  Here is a link to the pants.  The color is brown with true camel pinstripes.  Any help would be GREATLY appreciated.

My second dilemma is that I have about 3/4 lb of leftover pork roast, any ideas on how to stretch it to make a meal for 4 people?  Again any and all suggestion are appreciated!!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

P.S. CSN Winner will be posted this evening!!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Winners!!

Hello all,

Here are my winners from my 10/11 contests:

The Novica E-certificate winner was #3: Congratulations Karen!

The Start Here Book Winner was also #3: Congratulations Cosmopolitan Kids!

There were no Entries for Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze (too bad this was a GREAT book).  I'll be donating the book to my local library! 

Thanks to all who entered and congrats to the winners!  Look out for an email from me!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Working Moms - Kids Turn out OK

Not that I need an article to tell me that as I have two AWESOME children, but it's a breath of fresh air to see an article supporting working moms.  I didn't have a choice to stay home or go back. Even if I did, I'm not completely sure I would have stayed home.  I love that my job is flexible enough to be able to be there for my children, yet contribute to my household. Anyway, here is the article:

http://healthland.time.com/2010/10/18/working-moms-kids-turn-out-fine-50-years-of-research-says/?hpt=T2

What are your thoughts on this article?

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Book Review: Stolen by Jordan Gray

StolenStolen by Jordan Gray

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


About the book:
A cozy English seaside town built on secrets and smugglers, Blackpool is a haven for tourists and home to generations of locals who like their privacy. American Molly Graham and her British husband, Michael, are considered outsiders, but feel irresistibly drawn to this town…and its darker curiosities. Because Blackpool harbors dangerous mysteries.

And murder is just the beginning….

A shattering scream outside the old theater leads to the victim, a woman whose past in Blackpool is linked to a seventy-year-old train wreck, a lost child and a cache of valuable paintings smuggled out of London during World War II. After a number of frustrating missteps, can Molly and Michael discover the killer in their midst? In Blackpool they know secrets run deep. And some want them hidden forever—at any cost.


My Review:

Surprisingly, I enjoyed this book!  I say surprisingly because I saw it was a Harlequin and I gave up on romance novels a while ago! But this book made me rethink banning all Harlequin books.  I like this new direction.  It was an interesting twist as it combined a little romance, a little tech speak and a LOT of mystery. I thought it was interesting also, that Harlequin teamed up with Big Fish Games for this novel.  I'd be interested to see how that plays into the other books.

Overall, I thought the story was good.  I kept guessing on whodun'it and in the end I was very wrong! LOL! It kept me interested throughout the book and I loved the ending.  My only caveat is that I thought the character's could have been developed further.  I mean I like when they tell me the color of her hair or the shape of his eyes, you know stuff like that so you get to know the characters like friends.  But overall it was a good read, a great start to the series!


Disclamer: I was provided a copy of this book as a giveaway on Twitter Moms with the promise that I would review it.  All opinions expressed are my own and I received no other compensation!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret



View all my reviews

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

CLOSED - Winners, Renovations and CSN giveaway!

Hello everyone!

Thanks to all of you who entered my October 11 giveaways!  They have ended now and I will be announcing the winners in the next day or so.  I'm a bit MIA because I'm getting ready for a local vendor show on Friday afternoon (Yaay!).   It's been a while since I've done one so I'm excited!

At the same time, I've been making a "honey do list" for my hubby.  We're doing some renovations in our kitchen and the two bathrooms.  Just mainly painting and stuff.  But I had a really weird idea, tell me what you think.

My kids are not great about cleaning up after themselves when they eat. So I was trying to think of some ideas on what to do, and I think the best thing to do is have them eat in the kitchen. Now I don't have a big enough kitchen for an island, but I was wondering if any of you just keep bar stool or two on hand so they can eat at the kitchen counter.  Does anyone do this? I figured at least they would be right by the sink, LOL!!

So anyway, in my search for bar stools (and purses and beds and bedding) I came across CSN stores.  Man they have some really cool stuff there!  I'm really eyeing this platform bed!



But I digress!  I would like to spruce up my kitchen a bit and cut down on the mess in my dining room, so I was wondering about this bar stool.  They don't have a cushion but they are nice and curved for the bottom.  What do you think?



I really like this stool,  it's small enough to be portable but pretty enough to leave out in the kitchen.  HMM, I'll have to show it to hubby!

How would YOU like the opportunity to spruce up your place? 

CSN has generously offered me a chance to do a giveaway for a $35 gift card to their site.  You don't need furniture? No problem!  They have over 200 stores for you to choose from!  You can find pretty much anything you need from the bar stool like the one I linked above to beautiful purses and even toys!

Here's what you need to do:

Mandatory: Go to the CSN store of your choice and let me know what you would pick if you win the $35?

For extra entries, you can do any/all of the following:

1.  Follow this blog and/or my business blog Dress My Doll (1 entry each)
2. Blog about this giveaway (3 entries)

All entrants must be US or Canadian residents.
All entrants must be 18 or older.

Giveaway will end on 10/31.  Winners will be chosen using random.org

Good luck everyone!

Love and blessings!
Margaret

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Question For My Fellow Bloggers

Short and Sweet Question:

When you read blogs, do you prefer blogs that stick to one subject (niche bloggers) or do you like the ones that are a Mish Mash of different topics?

Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Book Review: Choices by Katrina L. Burchett

ChoicesChoices by Katrina L. Burchett

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I'm so glad I purchased this book, it had so much substance and situations that I could relate to having once been a teen myself (a LONG time ago). Before I get into my review, here is a summary of the book:



Choices is a thought-provoking story about five teenage girls in the city of York, Pennsylvania and how the issue of teen sex affects each of their lives..... Shauntice Johnston has faith in God but the world of domestic abuse she lives in has left her with very little faith in the male gender. And then comes Terry, and her obedience to God's Word (flee fornication) is tested. Angel Nichols doesn't know her earthly father, doesn't care about the heavenly Father and feels neglected by her workaholic mother. She has had numerous sex partners since she was thirteen, trying to fill the void inside of her. LaKeeta Wilson is a Christian, but instead of doing it God's way and waiting for marriage she purposely became pregnant out of wedlock. Bridgette Anderson practices abstinence in obedience to God, and, no matter what, she will not compromise her beliefs. But this saint still has her flaws. Hope Patterson is a plain dressing, soft-spoken timid Christian girl who lives a sheltered life because of her strict mother. The word 'sex' isn't in her vocabulary until she suffers a loss.



My Review:


I love that the author takes the time to develop each character so you get to know them.  I love that this is about Christian teens who are not afraid to share their faith and about those who are frightened about what having faith means.  I love that the author chose to share the characters' flaws and not make them perfect.  The story is well written, easy to follow and as the summary says, very emotional.  I think I read through this a few days but It was so well worth the read.  After I read it, I just wanted to shout from the rooftops to these young women having unprotected sex but moreso I wanted to fall to my knees and pray for these young women.  While this is a Christian book geared toward teens and young adults, anyone reading will not feel like it's preachy.  It has a good rhythm and really keeps you interested until the end.  I can't recommend this book enough! This is definitely a five reading glasses book!


Disclosure:  This is a book from my personal collection and the opinions expressed are my own!


Love and Blessings!

Margaret


View all my reviews

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Closed - Emily Rose at Home Giveaway!



OK guys, you are going to love this giveaway. I mentioned on my VERSATILE post that I have my own business that my daughter and I run together. Well we have decided that we want to give YOU a gift from our Emily Rose at Home store!!! Our doll clothes are designed to fit the Madame Alexander 18" dolls (you can see them in our store here), the American Girl dolls (we are not affiliated) and other similar sized dolls.  We also sell high quality furniture and accessories!

We have so many great products that even for us it's hard to choose what to order first. With Halloween coming up, I know our dress up items are going to be a BIG hit.

We have scrubs for the little doctor:


Or how about a Native American Princess?


Or maybe go back a ways have a medieval princess!

Or maybe your dolly just wants to be a Girl Scout just like Mommy!


Whatever your child's (or your) imagination is, we have the outfit for you!  All of these outfits and more are available in our store!  To see these outfits, check out this section.  But take a look around at our other sections too!

Ok, so what are we giving away!  Well we will be giving TWO winners a $10 Gift Certificate to our store!  That is an ENORMOUS discount and we have never given it to anyone!  You don't want to miss this!  Can you say HOLIDAY SHOPPING??? 

Ok so here is how you win!

1) Mandatory: Go to our store at http://www.emilyroseathome.com/margaretrogers and tell me which Fantasy outfit  you like best.  Leave a comment with your email. 1pt

2) Mandatory: Become a PUBLIC follower of this blog 1pt

3) Become a PUBLIC follower of our business blog: www.njemilyroseathome.blogspot.com 3 pts

4) Blog about this giveaway on your blog (Please link your post) 3pts

5) Tweet this giveaway (provide the link below) 3 pts

The main rules are:

Entrants must be 18
We can only ship in the US at this time
Contest will end on 10/18/10 at 11:59 pm EST

Look for another BIG giveaway later this week!!

Disclosure:  These are items from my personal store, I did not receive any compensation for posting this giveaway.

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Monday, October 4, 2010

CLOSED - Unexpected Break & Today's Giveaway!

Hello everyone! Well,  I was planning to do a giveaway a day last week but life just happened so I fell off the giveaway wagon!!  But I'm back!

My son is feeling 100% better so thank you all for your prayers!!   I was not happy that he had to play a football game in the rain today but I gave him a nice hearty dinner of some Grillin' Beans and hamburgers... YUM!!  Back to the football game, my baby got a sack and a tackle!! Go B Man!!!

On to today's giveaway!  If you've read my blog you will know that I LOVE books.  I mean I could easily sit and read for hours!!  My daughter is the exact same way.  She has been "sneaking" and reading in her room at night for up to an hour after her bed time!!  No wonder she hasn't been able to get up in the morning! LOL!

So today's giveaway is for the tween girls in your life. My goal this school year is to read some of the classics with my daughter and the little book club that we've formed.  The first on the list is Little Women by Louisa May Alcott.  While this is a pretty lengthy book, I think the girls will enjoy the antics and stories of the sisters.  We'll see if my advanced preteens can hang!  I haven't read it since I was in about sixth grade so I will enjoy reading it again.

Do  you think your preteen/tween would like to read this?  I hit the Scholastic Book Sale this summer and I picked up a copy.  I'd love for you to win it!  Just leave me a comment letting me know what your favorite classic is!

Here are the rules:

You must be 18 to enter the giveaway
You must be a follower of this blog.
At this time I'm only shipping to U.S. residents.
Giveaway will end on 10/18/2010.

Thanks for stopping by!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Not to BRAG but I'm VERSATILE!



Says Melysah from the Quintessential Housewife!  Thanks so much Melysah!  I do like to talk about different things so I guess that fits!! OK So the rule is I have to tell you 7 things about myself:

1. I love to read... I guess you might have figured that out by the number of book reviews that I do (when I'm not to lazy to post them!)

2. I collect dolls... and I play with them too!  I dress them for the seasons and do their hair real pretty! And I have a doll business to boot, check me out!

3. I've been married for 21 years!!  Yes I know you couldn't guess because of my youthful glow... but it's true!

4.  I have three beautiful children (two boys, one girl) and two grandchildren (one of each).  My daughter and granddaughter are both 10 as of today!!  Happy Birthday Gabby!

5. I tend to spoil my kids.  I know I shouldn't but I can't help it.. they are really good kids!!

6. When you first meet me, I'm VERY quiet, but once I get to know you, I don't shut up! LOL!

7.  I'm the only girl out of six children.  My Daddy did NOT spoil me no matter what my Mom tells you!  I'm in the middle and we are paired off.  The two oldest are in TX, me and my middle brother are her in NJ and my two youngest are in AZ.  Weird how that happened.

So that's some little known facts about me!  Now I'm supposed to pass on the award!

Now for the rules for winning this award

  • Thank and link back to the person who gave you the award.
  • Share 7 things about yourself.
  • Pass the award along to 15 other bloggers who you recently discovered and think are fabulous.
  • Contact the bloggers you chose and let them know about the award.

1. Keep Me Curly
2. Big Mama
3. Happily Ever After
4. Living Rich With Coupons
5. A Mom After God's Own Heart
6. Black Doll Collecting
7. Cherish My Daughter
8. For the Little Doll in Your Life
9. Praise and Coffee
10. Roxanne's Dolls
11. Squarepeg's Misc Musings
12. The Holistic Health Maven
13. Mother of Pearl it is
14. Air Force. Wife. Life.
15. American Girl Doll Hairstyles

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CLOSED - Don't You Love Me? And Day 3, Another book Giveaway!

Come on guys, Make me feel a little bit popular!!  Both of the giveaways I posted have VERY low entries, so do me a favor and tell your friends... PLEASE!

OK, enough of that.  I have another book for you today! It's called Forget Me Not by Vicky Hinze.  I reviewed this book here.  It was a really good read!!  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Same rules:
Must be 18.
Must be in the US.
Must be a follower of this blog.

Thank you!

Disclosure: Waterbrook Multnomah sent me a copy for my review and a copy to give away.  The opinions expressed are my own! 

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

CLOSED - Busy Day and today's giveaway!

Hello everyone!

Sorry for being so late today but my son was sick and ended up staying home from school!  I felt so bad for him!  Anyway, I had to work from here and run him to the dr. and then pick up his meds and then pick up my daughter and her friend that I watch and then we had the school district strategic meeting and... well you get the picture!  Time just got away from me!

If I can ask, please say a prayer of healing (sinus infection) for my baby boy!  Here's a picture so you know who you are praying for:


Handsome isn't he???  Speaking of my baby boy, he's a teen now, and as a Christian parent, I know he's going to face a lot of challenges over his lifetime. He's going to make some HARD choices some right, some not so much.  But even more importantly,  there is an opportunity to do the RIGHT thing, even when it's hard.

This year, I had the chance to review the book Start Here: Doing Hard Things, Right Where You Are by Alex & Brett Harris.  It's a very quick read (in other words short!).  This book gave solid examples of teens who took a stand and did what they knew was right, what needed to be done.  In fact, Alex and Brett were only 18 when they wrote the book!  I was FLOORED by some of the accomplishments of the teens in this book.

In the near future, I plan to read this with my son and my daughter!  I believe that the teens in this book are inspiring and it will help them realize that they can do just about anything they set their mind to.

I'm so happy to be able to offer one of you a copy of this book to share with your teen.  Just leave a comment below and I will do a drawing on 10/11!  Make sure to leave your email!

Just some quick rules:

You must be a U.S. resident
You must be 18
You must be a follower of this blog

Thanks so much for your participation in my giveaways!!

Disclosure:  This book was provided for my review by Waterbrook-Multnomah and I received an extra copy to give away.  The opinions expressed are mine alone!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Monday, September 27, 2010

CLOSED - Novica Review and Giveaway!

Since this is my birthday week, I'm doing a giveaway a day and I have some really special surprises for you!  First up is Novica!!  I was contacted a few months ago to do a review of their corporate gift section and I must say I was very impressed!

First let me tell you a little about the company, this is some information from their website.  Here is a portion of the mission statement:

" We want to give artists and artisans around the world a global platform to express their true artistic talents and to spur their creativity. And, we want to provide you with access to unique, hard-to-find items at great values that only the Internet infrastructure can allow.
At the deepest essence of our philosophy, we want to create a bridge between you and the many talented artisans across the globe.  We want you to know about who you're buying from. We want you to feel that attachment to the product and to the hands that created it."

Now I'm going to be real and let you know that to me Corporate gifts = $$$$$!  Boy was I surprised.  I found beautiful home decor items and jewelry for VERY REASONABLE prices.  For example, this beautiful Soapstone Jewelry Box  or this Ceramic vase are both outstanding pieces to give as gifts but they won't break the bank!  And what is also unique is that when you visit the page to find out more about the item, there is a bio of the artist!  You get to "meet" the person who crafted your item, I thought this was very cool!

It was a tough decision but I ordered the Purple Orchid earrings by the Thai artist Danai



These gorgeous earrings arrived in a BEAUTIFUL saa paper box with a decorative leaf insigna.  Inside was a little booklet with a note from the artist and a description of the earrings.  I LOVE the packaging and I wouldn't even need to wrap these to give as a gift!

The second item was also a pair of earrings from Thailand.  This time they were Amethyst floral earrings by Narareet.  The crafting is beautiful and I know whoever receives this as a gift will be thrilled.

Since I know your curiosity is peaked now, I would LOVE to give one of you a gift certificate to the Novica store!!  Novica has graciously provided me with a E-certificate in the amount of $37.50.  Here are the rules for the giveaway:

1)  Visit the Novica Corporate Gifts section and tell me which item you would love to gift to someone, and maybe you can share who you would gift it to!

2) Be a follower of this Blog

That's it!  That's all you have to do to be entered into the drawing for the E-certificate!!  But you must do both steps to receive an entry!

Edited to add:

Must be a US Resident
Must be 18 years or older

This giveaway will end 10/11.

Disclosure: I was provided with a gift certificate for $37.50 to purchase and review products from the Novica website.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's My Birthday!!!

Hey everyone,

I took a little bit of time off, but I had to come back and let you know it's my birthday tomorrow!! Woohoo!! I'm 39 for the sixth time!!! I just keep getting younger looking everyday! LOL! 




Anyway, even though it's MY birthday, the gifts are for YOU!!  Starting tomorrow, I will be doing a week's worth of giveaways!  I have some SWEET things to give away, I've been saving them up just for YOU!  So tell your friends, tell your neighbors and don't forget to stop by yourself!!

Note: Digital elements are from Scraps by Jenn Sugarplum Princess (Sunshine Studios)

Love & Blessings!
Margaret

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Book Review - I'm Down: a memoir

I'm Down: a memoirI'm Down: a memoir by Mishna Wolff

My rating: 2 of 5 stars


Summary of Book:



Mishna Wolff grew up in a poor black neighborhood with her single father, a white man who truly believed he was black. “He strutted around with a short perm, a Cosby-esqe sweater, gold chains and a Kangol—telling jokes like Redd Fox, and giving advice like Jesse Jackson. You couldn’t tell my father he was white. Believe me, I tried,” writes Wolff. And so from early childhood on, her father began his crusade to make his white daughter Down.


Unfortunately, Mishna didn’t quite fit in with the neighborhood kids: she couldn’t dance, she couldn’t sing, she couldn’t double dutch and she was the worst player on her all-black basketball team. She was shy, uncool and painfully white. And yet when she was suddenly sent to a rich white school, she found she was too “black” to fit in with her white classmates.


I’m Down is a hip, hysterical and at the same time beautiful memoir that will have you howling with laughter, recommending it to friends and questioning what it means to be black and white in America.


My Review:

It's hard to find the right words to describe this book. It seems to me that when the author was telling her "story," she picked out the worst things in her father to show how "black" he was. His womanizing and lack of work ethic were not funny. His attitude towards his daughters and how he let his women treat his daughters was not funny. Many of the things that black families are trying to overcome are hysterical to this author... they weren't to me. Now I do understand not fitting in with your community and being moved to different schools to be challenged and people's attitudes toward you when this happens.  So I did appreciate those portions of the book.  And some parts of the book were funny, like her stint with the basketball teams and some of her other antics trying to fit in. But overall, the book did not meet my expectations. Lucky it was a quick read!


Disclaimer: This was a book from my personal collection.


Love and Blessings!

Margaret



View all my reviews

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ten Tips for Saving Money During Back to School Season

Hello everyone! 

I'm so happy to be participating in another TwitterMoms blog event.  This one is sponsored by Staples and you can read more about it here.

Now on to the tips.  To be honest with you, I began my school supply shopping in October of LAST year.  So this year I had minimal shopping to do.  With all of the great coupons, I'm already stocking up for next year! 

Tip #1 Watch for all the after Back to School (BTS) sales in October and November to save even more money and to get a BIG jump start on next year.

My kids love to have new clothes to start the year.  My daughter the fashionista that she is and my son, the "cool guy," know that if it ain't on sale, Mommy ain't buying it!  So they are starting checking the mail for coupons and sale items!

Tip #2 Sign up for loyalty club's if your favorite store's have them.  My son likes athletic apparel so I signed up for Bob's and Dick's loyalty cards. When my daughter was wearing Children's Place clothing I joined the Perks club to save money and get extra coupons.

I've gotten so I hate going to the store to find bargains.  It's so much easier to do a search online!  So in order to make it worth my while, I shop through the shopping portals.  This way I'm getting good deals AND getting cash back in most cases.  My favorite portal is Ebates.  The cash back gets deposited right into my paypal account!

Tip #3 Shopping through portals can save you time and money.  I mostly shop through Ebates, but there are other portals like Big Crumbs, Shop at Home, Upromise (money goes towards college savings), and so many others.  Do a search and you'll find many!

Another way I save money is by doing surveys.  How can surveys save me money?  Why because I earn gift certificates in exchange for answering a few questions (well, some of them are long!).  But the gift certificates add up!  I recently cashed in enough points for a $50 Target gift certificate, several $5 Amazon certificates and a HUGE Walmart certificate! So it's worth the time to me!

Tip #4 Participate in surveys and save those gift certificates!!

I love CVS and Target for finding deals!  They have great sales!  But did you also know that Target has special deals where you can earn gift certificates?  I found this out on CouponMom.com!  I started looking at the circulars weekly and taking advantage on deals for stuff that I needed.  The same at CVS, while they don't give gift certificates, they do give Extra Care Bucks if you have their card!  Those babies add up! I've paid for whole orders using ECB's!  Make sure you know the store rules! 

Tip #5 Shop at stores that give "cash back" and/or gift certificates for future trips. In addition to Target and CVS, try Walgreen's, Rite Aid and even your local supermarket!

Along he same lines, Target issues it's own printable coupons that can be USED WITH MANUFACTURER COUPONS!!  This usually doubles the savings you would normally get.  You can check the target.com website and look for coupons.  There are food, clothing and personal care coupons that could really increase your saving!!  Match this up with one of the special deals for the week and you could end up with a "money-maker."  This means you are making money to buy the products!  This week I got two packages of pens for FREE by using this method of shopping combined with a sale!

Tip #6 Use coupons and check to see if the store has their own coupons that you can use to increase savings! Don't forget to check manufacturer's websites and/or email the maker of your favorite product to see if they will send you products or coupons.

Another of my favorite sites is Buy.com.  I've purchased electronics, books and other items from there.  Buy.com is a clearinghouse of sorts and you can save big bucks.  And yes they are available on Ebates (see Tip #3). 

Tip #7 Don't forget to check the clearinghouses like Buy.com and Overstock.com to save money on big ticket electronic items.  Shopping through a portal may net you more savings in the form of cash back!

I'm in a cleaning out mode right now.  I feel like my house is cluttered and I need space to breathe.  I do give some stuff away on Freecycle but I also sell stuff on Craigslist.com.  The money I make on the stuff I sell goes right into a "piggy" bank for unexpected needs throughout the school year! 

Tip #8 Sell what you don't need to make extra cash for the upcoming school year.  Encourage your kids to donate their old toys and tell them you will give them a certain amount towards a school outfit or supplies!

I'm not to proud to shop at thrift stores and/or gift shops.  Especially now since the fashionista is getting more particular about what she wears.  I have saved tons of money shopping this way and who knows, I may be saving clothes from the landfill! 

Tip #9 Shop Thrift stores, consignment shops and second hand stores for great deals on almost new clothes!

My final tip sums up all of the above!

Tip #10 Don't wait until the week before school to shop!!! (I know, I've been there, this way is SO much easier!!).  There are opportunities to save all year round.  Big box office supply stores like Staples offer great deals and rebates all year round!  Check the circulars and buy a little at a time.  Then you can relax while everyone else is running around or standing in LONG lines!

BONUS TIP Check to see if anything you have purchased is eligible for a rebate.  Rebates vary but you can end up getting your whole purchase price back with some! 

Well those are my 10 tips, hope they help!

Disclosure: “I wrote this blog post while participating in the TwitterMoms and Staples blogging program, making me eligible to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here.”

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Friday, August 6, 2010

Book review: Pleading Guilty by Scott Turow

Pleading Guilty (Glassbook)Pleading Guilty by Scott Turow


My rating: 2 of 5 stars


About the book:
Mack Malloy is a partner in one of Kindle County's top law firms. An ex-cop who joined the firm on a wave of enthusiasm and optimism, he now feels himself to be on the way down, and possibly out. Bert Kamin, gifted, erratic and combative, is one of the firm's star litigators and he has disappeared.

My Review
I love legal thrillers as a rule. I just find it all very interesting to follow a case through to the end. However, in this case, I didn't enjoy it all that much. The story starts by giving some background on Mack, who is a mixed up guy and kind of bumbles his way through this case.  In other words, he's not really supposed to solve it, but he does.  I was a little disappointed in some of his actions along the way, but I guess that was supposed to make the storyline exciting.  Even so, there are a few surprises but not that "I can't believe that just happened" kind of surprises.  I would have loved to see more twists and more exciting sub-plots.

While the characters were pretty well-developed, the storyline was all over the place. The writer made the characters believable, and they really fit my impressions of big corporate law firms (haha!).  The storylines however, did not seem cohesive.  There was way too much going on!  It was really very annoying.

The ending was a little unexpected (I really thought Mack would respond differently) but I guess that's where it was heading anyway. It took me a LONG time to read this book and that also frustrated me! LOL!

Overall, I just wasn't impressed. Would I read another book by this author... maybe, but it won't be a priority.

Disclaimer: This was a book from my personal collection, I did not receive the book or any form of compensation in exchange for my review.

Love and Blessings!
Margaret



View all my reviews >>

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

If Anything is Excellent

Have you ever read a Bible verse and said ahhh! I get that but then it turns out later that you didn't get it at all?  All month on my desktop calendar I have read Phillippians 4:8:

...whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

I thought I understood what it meant, and perhaps I did at the surface level.  But the TRUE meaning did not come to me until I read this blog by Julie @ Come Have A Peace.  Go read it, I'll wait!

You're back... cool!  This blog really touched my spirit because I have always though of myself as a positive person.  However when I think back over the more recent conversations I've had with my husband, my children, my friends, with others about my children and husband... I've realized that I have NOT been positive at all.  I've been harping on their so-called "failures" rather than focusing on what is excellent or praiseworthy.  Talk about a knock in the head!!!

Rather than saying, he works too much, he's never home... I should have been saying, I'm so thankful I have a hard working husband.  Rather than saying "arent' you upset you didn't play in that game" I should have been saying, "I'm so proud of the way you encouraged the players on the court.  That really showed true team spirit!" Think of what is praiseworthy, what is excellent. What a concept! I love the way the Message Bible puts it:

Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.

I just love the understanding that God has given me, through Julie's post and of course, through His Word!  Is there anything that you've read lately that has given you a "light bulb" moment? 

Dear Lord,

I thank You Lord for your understanding and patience with me. I have not been true to Your Word, to look at the best, not the worse, to look for things worthy of praise, not the negative, to promote the peace that is so evident in the Word that you have given me.  I humbly come before You, asking for forgiveness and praying that you will give me wisdom on these things going forward.  In the name of your precious Son, Jesus Amen!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Monday, July 19, 2010

Book Review: At her Majesty's Request: An African Princess In Victorian England

At Her Majesty's Request An African Princess in Victorian EnglandAt Her Majesty's Request An African Princess in Victorian England by Walter Dean Myers

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


About the book:

Sarah Forbes Bonetta was an African princess whose parents were murdered by enemy warriors. A British naval officer rescued her and brought her to England, where she became the protege of Queen Victoria herself.

My review:

This book reads almost like a real life fairy tale! A young girl is forced to watch her parents murdered and is then kidnapped for sacrifice by the enemy tribe. By fortune, a British Captain is there on the day of her scheduled demise and rescues her. She's whisked off to England where she becomes a prodigy, almost like a goddaughter to the Queen! The book follows Sarah from the time of her rescue to the time of her death.

I really enjoy biographies that are well written and this was no exception. It's written for Young Adults but even a middle school student will be able read this and understand. the beginning where her parents are murdered is the scariest part. I plan to have my 9 year old read it.

Overall, I really enjoyed the book and learning about this "adopted" princess.

This was a book from my personal collection.  I did not receive compensation for this review.  As always, the opinions expressed are entirely my own!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

View all my reviews >>

Monday, July 12, 2010

Happy 4th of July!!!

Oh darn, I'm late again aren't I???

Oh well, I still have to share with you what a wonderful Independence Day holiday it was for us!

The Friday before the 4th, our Girl Scout Leader emailed and said she was planning to attend the Independence Day celebration in front of our Borough Hall. It was at 8:30 am... yeah, well maybe we might see you there.. Uhm hmmm, sure! Well I had ever intention of "forgetting" and sleeping in. Well unfortunately fortunately my daughter's built in alarm clock went off and at 8 am she decided she wanted to go.  My response was BUT I'M SLEEPING!  But in the end, the educational experience won out.  So after a very quick shower and tossing on the clothes nearest to the bed neatly folded on my shelf, we made our way to the borough hall. 

The ceremony involves the Declaration of Independence being delivered to "Thomas Jefferson" aka Mr. Higgins (bet you didn't know that piece of history!).  Our "horse" was actually a HOG! LOL!  A member of the Blue Knights motorcycle club delivered the document to Mr. Jefferson.


Once Mr. Jefferson had the document in hand, he approached the podium and began reading the Declaration. 



One by one citizens from the community read a line.  My daughter was number 28.  She did a fantastic job, even on the "big" words!:


After the individual readers finished, the community read the final paragraph together:


Then the names of the signers were read by state, and the bell rung each time a new state was mentioned.  At the end of the ceremony, the bell rung thirteen times and a replica of the original flag was raised!







The whole ceremony was so moving and meaninful!  At one time, certain peoples were excluded from that Declaration.  What we experienced that day was the true meaning of the Declaration, everyone, treated equally and experiencing FREEDOM.   I was so glad that I dragged my behind out of bed to attend and I was so proud of my daughter for volunteering to read and doing such a wonderful job too!  And I was proud of my community for the awesome turn out!


To top it off, my daughter made the FRONT page of our local newspaper!!!  Now that was VERY exciting! 

I hope your Independence Day was as wonderful as ours!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rayovac Powers Your (and hopefully MY) Summer!

When you think about summer fun (it's officially summer! Yaay!), do you think about how you are going to POWER YOUR SUMMER??

Rayovac is running an awesome promotion right now where you can POWER YOUR SUMMER with one of their great prizes!! You can find all of the information here.
You'll answer an easy question and you'll be entered!!

Oh and I almost forgot!! For some LIVE fun, be sure to tune into the Twitter Party Next Wednesday!

Rayovac Powers Your Vacation Summer Promotion Twitter Event
Date: Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Time: 7:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. CST
Location: #rayovac
Follow: @Rayovac_Battery, @5minutesformom, @CirclePRMary

Disclosure: The first 99 bloggers to promote the Rayovac Powers Your Summer Twitter Event won a prize package from Rayovac.

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Monday, June 21, 2010

The Runner by Cynthia Voigt

The Runner (Tillerman Family, #4) The Runner by Cynthia Voigt


My rating: 2 of 5 stars
Wasn't crazy about this on, it took a long time to read.

The storyline was just OK. It showed how preconceived notions about things like race can really come back to bite you in the end! (pun intended!).

I found the main character descriptions were good but the storyline left a lot to be desired. It was told from the viewpoint of a headstrong teenager and his thoughts on his parents, his schoolmates and of course running. I just didn't find it very interesting at all.

This was a book from my personal collection. Nothing was received for this review.

View all my reviews >>

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Spell O B S T I N A T E

That's the word that did it...

She was almost there, #3 out of 41 4th grade kids. She had already spelled words like A L L E G E and F A N A T I C A L (thank God she didn't get infinitesimal, that knocked about 10 kids out!!) ( but she probably would have aced it!) (but I don't know how well Momma would have handled listening to each letter!)

I always told her that being OBSTINATE would not serve her well...

But I really didn't think it would get her THIS way!

What did the champion spell... A D V E R S I T Y

Quite appropriate don't you think?

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

P.S. Her BFF was the champion so it was all good!!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Email Overload!!

I had to do it, I had no choice...

I had OVER 9000 emails! Mostly from my Yahoo groups. I deleted them. I'm starting fresh! I had to be done... but I can't help wondering... what did I miss????

Have you ever had to do a mass delete of your emails?

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

BLOG Tour (late) - The Last Christian by David Gregory

Run, don't walk to the bookstore, library, wherever and get this book!!

The Last Christian: A Novel The Last Christian: A Novel by David Gregory


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Wow! I'm not a science fiction reader at all but this was EXCELLENT!

Synopsis of the book: In the future, it’s possible to live forever—but at what cost?

A.D. 2088.

Missionary daughter Abigail Caldwell emerges from the jungle for the first time in her thirty-four years, the sole survivor of a mysterious disease that killed her village. Abby goes to America, only to discover a nation where Christianity has completely died out. A curious message from her grandfather assigns her a surprising mission: re-introduce the Christian faith in America, no matter how insurmountable the odds.

But a larger threat looms. The world's leading artificial intelligence industrialist has perfected a technique for downloading the human brain into a silicon form. Brain transplants have begun, and with them comes the potential of eliminating physical death altogether—but at what expense?

As Abby navigates a society grown more addicted to stimulating the body than nurturing the soul, she and Creighton Daniels, a historian troubled by his father's unexpected death, become unwitting targets of powerful men who will stop at nothing to further their nefarious goals. Hanging in the balance—the spiritual future of all humanity.

In this futuristic thriller, startling near-future science collides with thought-provoking theology. The Last Christian is a provocative “what if?” novel from David Gregory, best-selling author of Dinner With a Perfect Stranger.

My Opinion:

When I agreed to review this book, I was not thrilled about it to be honest. I do not like science fiction, never have. But I have to say this book was amazing. They way the author tied together the past and the present was seamless. Abby Caldwell was the perfect leading lady and the flow of the story was excellent. From a Christian perspective, there are many lessons to be learned: Abby's bravery and steadfastness about confessing her faith, people making the ultimate sacrifice for others, the thought of what could happen if we remain cavalier about our Christian faith. I would highly recommend this book and I just may read it again myself!

This book was provided to me by Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of review. The opinons expressed are my own!

View all my reviews >>

I cannot say enough that this is a must read!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Conversations in the Car #3 That Song

You know the song... the one that hits you in the deepest parts of your soul... every time you hear it! One of the songs that really speaks to me is Better than a Hallelujah sung by Amy Grant. She heard this song and it touched her so deeply that she had to record it. I found her podcast explaining her feelings when she heard it.

 Anyway here is a Youtube video of the song:



There IS a point to me sharing this. I think children have a much more deeper understanding of spiritual things than we give them credit for. I had this conversation with my 9 year old daughter when she heard this song.

M: Momma?
Me: Yes?
M: Why are those things better than a Hallelujah? (She knows that in our faith, Hallelujah is the highest form of praise/worship when we speak to God)
Me: Well it means when we are sad and we cry out to God to help us, He likes that
M: OHHHHH! So you mean when I'm mad or sad I can ask God to help me be happy again!
Me: Exactly sweetie, that makes God happy because He knows that we know that He can fix anything that is wrong.
M: I really like this song!
Me: Me too!

Love & Blessings!
Margaret

Book Review: Seventh Heaven

I hope I don't bore you with my book reviews but reading is a big part of who I am!  I've always loved reading and I'm so glad my daughter picked this up too!  I'm always interested in your thoughts if you read the book I'm reviewing!

7th Heaven (Women's Murder Club, #7) 7th Heaven by James Patterson


My rating: 5 of 5 stars
From Goodreads: A terrible fire in a wealthy suburban home leaves a married couple dead and Detective Lindsay Boxer and her partner Rich Conklin searching for clues. And after California's golden boy, Michael Campion has been missing for a month, there finally seems to be a lead in his case--a very devastating lead.

As fire after fire consume couples in wealthy, comfortable homes, Lindsay and the Murder Club must race to find the arsonists responsible and get to the bottom of Michael Campion's disappearance. But suddenly the fires are raging too close to home.

Frightened for her life and torn between two men, Lindsay must find a way to solve the most daunting dilemmas she's ever faced--at work and at home.

My review: I'm really loving this series, each book is better than the last! At this point, I feel like I'm a part of the Women's Murder Club and Lindsay, Claire, Cindy and Yuki are my best friends!

What I like most is how there's usually several story lines, in the books in this series.   In this case Lindsay and Joe, Claire and the baby, Yuki and Jason, Pidge and Hawk, Rich and Lindsay and Kelly.  So many stories, yet they all tie together seamlessly! I have to admit, I fell for some of the twists they put in there, especially at the ending.  I thought I was wrong in what I supspected!! But it ended up being what I suspected all along.  I feel sorry for the relatives though, not knowing! I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

View all my reviews >>

This is a book from my personal collection that I won in a giveaway.  I was not compensated for this review.  All opinions are my own.

Love & Blessings!
Margaret

Friday, May 21, 2010

Book Review: The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold



My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To hear someone talk about the day they died is a little freaky! However, the author did such a great job of building the main character, it was completely believable! Then as she followed her family members through their lives, the one she would never have, it was interesting to see how she still managed to indirectly interact with them. Her father's pain, her sister's rebellion, her brother's hatred of his mother, the mother "finding" herself, the grandmother and her eccentricity. It all tied together and made sense.

When I read books like this, believability is a big factor for me. I found this book to be believable about what it would be like to look down from Heaven on your loved ones. It's sort of like the rich man who wanted Lazarus to warn his brothers.  I think the story was told in such a way that made you want to reach out and hug each member of the remaining family.  I think what was also important was the evolving (or dissolving) of the relationships between not only the family member, but the friends as well.

Overall, I thought this book had a well developed plot, had great characterizations and the ending was perfect (and it's not often I say that!).

This book is from my personal collection.  I received no compensation for writing this review.  The opinions expressed are my own.

Love and Blessings!
Margaret



View all my reviews >>

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Giveaway Reminder

Just a reminder I'm giving away Sugar Free Ring Pops here.  There are no entries so you have a great chance of winning!

Love and Blessings!

Margaret

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Five Fun Family Vacation Activities Your Kids Will Love

In an earlier post, I talked about 10 ways to save money on Vacation.  Now in this request,  Twittermoms is asking us to talk about vacation activiteis .  My family loves to travel.  In fact, I think my kids are a bit travel spoiled! LOL!  But with the economic times the way they are, we've had to make some changes like bring breakfast from home, or eating sandwiches in the room rather than buying lunch out.  Although it's difficult, my kids (and me!) have adjusted!  This means we are still able to take the vacations we love!  I'm going to list our favorites in reverse order:

5.  My kids love to go camping with Dad (unless it's an air conditioned cabin, Mom sits this one out!!).  My hubby takes the kids fishing and they eat what they catch.  They go crabbing as well.  They love to tell ghost stories and sleep in leaky tents! LOL!  But they important thing is they are building lots of great memories. 

4. We combine our vacations with my son's travelling for his AAU basketball team.  It's like we have a vacation every weekend!! This past weekend we were in the Baltimore Inner Harbor.  Me and my daughter took in the Baltimore Aquarium, while my son and the team took in an Orioles baseball game.  We had dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe which has great atmosphere but mediocre food! LOL!

3.  Sometimes we like to stay local.  We are fortunate to live about 15 minutes from our local Six Flags.  Once a year we will hit the Safari and the park.  It's funny because this is something my kids talk about more than the bigger trips we take!  At the safari, it's wide open and you drive through.  You get close-ups of animals in their "natural" habitat.  Last year the giraffes came right up to the car!  It was so cool!!! My daughter talks about this more than the amusement park.

2.  One thing that we like to do when we are in an area is take in a local carnival.  A few times when we were out of town, we came upon a carnival and stopped.  Now this is not usually inexpensive but it is usually lots of fun.  We have had so many laughs playing the games and riding the rides.  We love when the carnival comes to our town too.

1.  Our favorite destination will alway be our visits to the "Mouse".  This is the one hubby sits out but me and the children never have enough of it.  My son is 16 and still enjoys going.  Two years ago he was able to go twice in one year.  In addition to doing the amusement parks, we try to find some offsite activities as well.  Sometimes we'll take in a movie or just wander around a downtown area or a smaller park.  Last time for the first time we stayed offsite.  It was really a lot nice than I expected!  Overall though, no matter where we go, no one does it quites as well as the Disney Parks!

“I wrote this blog post while participating in the Williamsburg Tourism and TwitterMoms blogging program for a chance to get a $50 gift card. For more information on how you can participate click here. "

Whatever you do, enjoy some great family time this year!!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Thursday, May 13, 2010

If you shop at Children's Place

You may want to take a look at this recall that was just posted:

Denim Shorts

The Snap can fall off and become a choking hazard!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I don't normally do this...

But I want to share with you about Ebates. Ebates is a shopping portal that gives you cash back for making purchases through them. I've been a member for some time and I go through peaks and valleys with shopping online. But when I do I go through Ebates. I tried the other portals but Ebates seems to have more of the stores that I like.

Ebates has a promotion going on right now where I could win an IPAD or $500 if I get 50 referrals. I would LOVE to have either so if you think this is something that would interest you, I would appreciate you signing up through my link! It's free and you get $5 in your account after your first purchase (plus whatever money you earned for shopping).

If you are already a member, share this with your friends, so they can join and you could win the IPAD or some other cool prizes. I really think it's worth it!

Check it out, and let me know what you think!

Love and blessings!
Margaret

CLOSED! Sugar Free Ring Pop Review & Giveaway

Winner is mami2jcn! Congrats!!

Hello everyone,

I'm finally doing a giveaway! Yaay!

We were contacted and asked review the new  Sugar Free Ring Pops and do a review. I said YUM!  Actually I said, Sure, but can I try them first! LOL!



My daughter was at school when the Ring Pops arrived so I volunteered forced myself to try the candy first.  I tried the Blue Raspberry and it was actually pretty good!  I have always loved Ring Pops but the sticky sweetness would always make me gag.  The Sugar Free Ring Pop has a different taste but it was good.

Now I have Mommy taste buds, so I had to have the expert on Ring Pops test it.  So I handed it to her when she got home from school.  I just said here, have a Ring Pop.  Of course she was wondering why I was giving her candy since I usually limit it!  Then she read the package, OH I CAN HAVE THIS BECAUSE IT'S SUGAR FREE!  BUSTED!!  She chose the Strawberry one and guess what?  She LOVED it!!!  Yaay! Score one for Mom!!

The people at American Pop Digital had this to say about the Sugar Free Ring Pop:

Parents can now feel even better about giving Ring Pop to their kids because Sugar Free Ring Pop won’t cause cavities, has no fat, and has only 30 calories per great-tasting, long-lasting pop! Sugar Free Ring Pop is the perfect treat and comes in Blue Raspberry, Watermelon, Strawberry!

Look for Sugar Free Ring Pop at Wal-Mart stores nationwide. 


The almost perfect candy if you ask me!! 

So now, I have something for your!  American Pop Digital sent me the Sugar Free Ring Pops to try but they also sent me a pack to give away to you!  How about that!   I just have two simple rules!

1.  Leave a comment here to tell me which of the three flavors you think you would like best:

Blue Raspberrty (YUM!)
Watermelon
Strawberry 

2.  Tell your friends so they can come enter too!

The giveaway will end on May 23, 2010 and I will pick a random winner on May 24th!

As mentioned above, I was sent one package of Sugar Free Ring Pops to try so I could provide an honest review.

Love and Blessings,
Margaret

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

He's a Star!

I don't know if I mentioned this here but my sixteen year old son B attends a performing arts program at one of our district High Schools. B is a sophomore in the program and one of the activities he participates in is Chorus. The Chorus is made up of FPAC students (his program) and students from the mainstream who want to participate.

Last night was the Spring Chorus concert and boy were they GREAT!  They performed about 16 songs but it wasn't a long concert (admit it, you know how school concerts can be!!).  I loved the song choices and I was dancing in my seat the whole time!  What I didn't know is that my son had a little surprise for me!!  The Men's Ensemble sang "Kiss Him Goodbye" and my son had a SOLO!!!  Well OK, it wasn't really a solo... ok, not a solo at all.  But he did get to sing "Yeah" and "C'mon NOW!" during the song!  And he was DANCING TOO!!!  I tell you, look for his name in lights one day! This is the only video I can find and you can't see him because the chorus director is in front of him. But enjoy anyway (and listen for my son towards the end!)



Love and Blessings!
Margaret

My Top 10 Affordable Vacation Ideas

Summer is approaching and it's time for fun getaways!! Twitter Moms challenged us to share some Affordable vacation ideas with YOU our readers. You can see the Twitter Mom post here.

I love to travel and so does my family.  Money is a bit tight this year so here are some ways we are saving.

1.  My son plays traveling basketball.  A great way for us to save money is to make the tournament destination our vacation spot.  We get a group rate on rooms so we save there.  We pack a cooler with goodies so we also save on eating out!

2. Many times we will drive to our destination rather than flying. This extends our vacation time by a few days and we get to see new places. It's less costlier than flying and we can bring our own food and snacks.

3. My kids love to go camping. For an inexpensive "vacation," hubby will take them and camp out at our local campgrounds. They love sleeping in a tent and cooking over an outdoor fire or grill.

4. Instead of buying a new vacation wardrobe, repurpose what you have and/or hit the consignment stores. There are great bargains out there and it leaves you more money to spend on your trip.

5. Save your gift cards!! Places like Target give you gift cards for shopping special deals in their store. You can use these gift cards to shop or buy souvenirs once you get to your destination. Target and Walmart in tourist destinations carry many of the same souvenirs you will find in the amusement parks or other tourist locations. They are much less expensive and what kid would not love getting a gift card to buy souvenirs!!

6. Save money for you vacation by using coupons. You can make a deal to put any money saved into a "vacation account," and when you get enough saved you can start planning. Involve the whole family in looking for other ways to save as well.

7. Visit friends or family. Since I've been on the Internet, I've met people from all over the country. I also have relatives all over the country. What better way to connect then to spend your vacation with them! I love visiting my brothers and their families and I don't get to see them often. I also get free rooms! LOL!

8. Watch for discounts to the places you want to visit. We like to go to Disney World so I receive a newsletter called Mousesavers to help me find the cheapest rooms, tickets and airfare.

9. Visit local attractions. In the Garden State we are right next to NYC. There is so much to see between our state and NY. We plan to find discounted rooms and spend the night in the city, go see a show and do some window shopping. By going in the off-season because we are so close, we can save hundreds on rooms and Broadway shows.

10. Last but certainly not least, if you really cannot afford to travel, make your home a vacation spot! Ask the kids where they dream of going and convert a room of your house into a mock up of that place. We can't go to Disney this year but we have enough stuff to make our own Disney right here at home. It encourages creativity and imaginations too!

I hope my ideas are helpful to you!!

Disclaimer: I wrote this blog post while participating in the Toyota Sienna and TwitterMoms blogging program for a chance to get a $30 gift card. For more information on how you can participate, click here

 

Affordable Vacation Ideas
Toyota Sienna


Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Monday, May 10, 2010

BLOG TOUR: Indivisible by Kristen Heitzmann

Indivisible: A Novel Indivisible: A Novel by Kristen Heitzmann

About This Book

An inseparable bond.
An insatiable force.

Battling his own personal demons, Police Chief Jonah Westfall knows the dark side of life and has committed himself to eradicating it. When a pair of raccoons are found mutilated in Redford, Colorado, Jonah investigates the gruesome act, knowing the strange event could escalate and destroy the tranquility of his small mountain town. With a rising drug threat and never-ending conflict with Tia Manning, a formidable childhood friend with whom he has more than a passing history, Jonah fights for answers—and his fragile sobriety.

But he can’t penetrate every wound or secret—especially one fueled by a love and guilt teetering on madness.

From best-selling author Kristen Heitzmann comes a spellbinding tale of severed connections and the consequences of life lived alone.

You can read the first chapter here

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I really enjoyed this book.  There was just enough intrigue, just enough mystery to keep you guessing, just enough romance, and certainly just enough about Christian living (without sounding preachy).  I loved how the author described the characters in such a way that you knew them.  I love how she dramatized the relationships weaving God into the everyday living.  It's hard to describe everything I loved about this book.  The struggles the characters in this book face are real.  Alcoholism, selfishness, anger, unforgiveness.  The author did a wonderful job of sharing their situations but also sharing how they relied on God to bring them through.  This book definitely goes on my HIGHLY RECOMMEND list!

View all my reviews >>

Thank you to Waterbrook Multnomah for sending me this book for the purpose of review.  The opinions expressed are completely mine!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Blog Tour: Forget Me Not by Vicki Hinze

I'm a little late with this tour but I still wanted to share with you guys this wonderful book.  Also be on the lookout for a giveaway!

SUMMARY OF THE BOOK:
THEIR ELUSIVE ENEMIES TOOK EVERYTHING.  NOW THEY WANT MORE.

Crossroads Crisis Center owner Benjamin Brandt was a content man—in his faith, his work, and his family.  Then in a flash, everything he loved was snatched away.  His wife and son were murdered, and grief-stricken Ben lost faith.  Determination to find their killers keeps him going, but after three years of dead ends and torment, his hope is dying too.  Why had he survived?  He’d failed to protect his family.

Now, a mysterious woman appears at Crossroads seeking answers and help—a victim who eerily resembles Ben’s deceased wife, Susan.  A woman robbed of her identity, her life, of everything except her faith—and Susan’s necklace.

The connections between the two women mount, exceeding coincidence, and to keep the truth hidden, someone is willing to kill.  Finding out who and why turns Ben and the mystery woman’s situation from dangerous to deadly.  Their only hope for survival is to work together, trust each other, and face whatever they discover head on, no matter how painful. But will that be enough to save their lives and heal their tattered hearts?


About the Author: 

Vicki Hinze is an award-winning author of twenty-three novels, three nonfiction books, and hundreds of articles. Selected for Who’s Who in America in 2004 as a writer and educator, Hinze is active in Romance Writers of America and serves as a Vice President on the International Thriller Writers Board of Directors. Vicki lives in Florida with her artist husband, a retired Air Force Lieutenant Colonel. Visit www.vickihinze.com
to learn more about Vicki’s books, blogs, and writing programs.


Forget Me Not: A Novel (Crossroads Crisis Center) Forget Me Not: A Novel by Vicki Hinze



I really enjoyed this Christian thriller.  It's a new genre for me and I think I will be reading more!  The author does a fantastic job of building suspense, there are great twists in the plot and it really captivated me.  I thought the ending was great.  I have read so many books that were predictable in the last few months that this was a welcome change.  Highly recommended for readers who love Christian fiction/thrillers.  I would love to see this as a movie!


Thank you to WaterBrook Multnomah for providing this book for review!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

I haven't quit!!

I'm just coming out of my Winter Blues!  Ready to jump back on the bandwagon!  Over the next few days (weeks??) I will have a few book giveaways and catch up on some Conversations in the car.  I'm sure I'll have other info to share too.  Also check out my business blog Dress My Doll.  There's lots of exciting stuff going on over there too!  Hope you'll hang around!

Love and Blessings,
Margaret

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Black History Month is over...

Black History Month is officially over. But thankfully companies like Black Heritage Toys know that learning about Black History is a year long... no, life long experience. They are committed to provided quality educational toys to help children learn in a fun and relaxing setting. In fact, the whole family can learn together!!

 One such toy is the President Obama 1000 piece puzzle.  The puzzle comes in a beautiful box and has a wonderful picture that can easily be used as a guide when working on the puzzle.

The back of the box has great information about President Obama.


When I received the puzzle, I knew just the person to have test it out for me.  My granddaughter G, is a HUGE Obama (and Michael Jackson) fan.  She loves anything to do with either of them, and she LOVES puzzles.  While this puzzle is for children 12 and above, I decided to give it to my 9 year old granddaughter (on the right, my 9 yo daughter on the left!) because I knew she would enjoy the challenge.  I don't think she was very excited though (LOL!)


So far she has worked on getting the edges and center pieces separated. She said the puzzle is HUGE and she's loving it! Thank you Black Heritage toys for letting us try this out for you!!

While Black Heritage Toys, a division of GEEBEE Marketing, provided the puzzle to us for the purpose of review, the opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

Love and Blessings!
Margaret

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Blog Tour: Value Fiction "Grab Bag" Tour

I had the pleasure of reading two books that were sent to me by Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of review.

The first book, Yesterday's Promise, by Linda Lee Chaikin, is set in Great Britain and South Africa during the diamond and gold rush in South Africa. From the book's cover:



About This Book

He fought to seek his fortune.
Would he lose a greater treasure: the love he left behind?

As the son of the squire of Grimston Way, aristocrat Rogan Chantry has fought hard to win his independence from Sir Julien Bley and the British South Africa Company. Now, his pursuit of a mysterious deposit of gold, marked on a map willed to him by his murdered uncle, Henry Chantry, is challenged by a new complication: the impending British colonization of South Africa. Can Sir Rogan find the gold in the midst of escalating tensions among the native tribesmen, the missionaries sent to win them, and the new colonists?

Meanwhile, Evy Varley, the woman Rogan loves back in England, is headed for a brave yet dangerous confrontation with Henry’s killer–but at what price? With so much against Rogan and Evy, a reunion seems improbable, if not impossible. Can yesterday’s promise hold them faithful to the hope of future freedom and a victorious love?


Imagine you are in love and the person you love is continents away.  The challenges you face you have to face only with God.  You hear vicious rumors about the one you love as if everyone is trying to turn you against them or them against you.  You long to be with them but know that you cannot... 

While it took me a few chapters to get into this book, once I was drawn in to Yesterday's Promise but once I was drawn in, I had to finish reading to find out what happened.  I love that the author included a rich historical background to support the stories of the main characters.  This was important since I did not read the first book in the series.

The only thing that bothered me a bit is that this is Christian fiction but it seemed like faith was an afterthought.  It wasn't really apparent until later in the book that the characters were Christians.

Even so, I thought the book was well written and would recommend it to my friends.  I give this book three pairs of reading glasses! \oo\  \oo\  \oo\

The second book I read was Deep Harbor by Lisa Tawn Bergren. This is book two of the Northern Lights Series.  From the cover:



SOME TIES CAN NEVER BE BROKEN

As they build new lives in America, Tora, Elsa, Kaatje, and Karl each experience a personal tragedy that threatens to destroy everything they left Norway to find. Tora’s web of lies has cost her a successful future with the man she loves. When tragedy strikes, Elsa must draw upon her faith and the strength she can muster to discover who she is and the path she must follow. After her husband’s disappearance, Kaatje struggles to raise two young daughters and tend her farm, and Karl finds himself caught in a life of loneliness and emptiness. Only by placing their trust in God—and in each other—will they pass through these rough waters and find the safety of the harbor.

From the richly forested banks of the Washington Territory to the burgeoning city of Yokohama and across the turbulent, danger-filled waves of the open sea—experience the epic saga of perseverance, pain, faith, and calling in the Northern Lights series.  


From the beginning of Deep Harbor you are drawn in with excitement and expectation.  Even though I didn't know the story of how each character arrived at the starting points, it was easy to figure it out the more I read on.  The author did a good job of making this a freestanding book, meaning you didn't have to read the first book to enjoy it. 

I loved the characters in this story.  Through the author's writing I was able to connect with each one.  I felt sadness, hopelessness, hope and fear along with the characters.  I loved that from the beginning, the characters showed a strong faith and it was apparent throughout, woven in as part of their stories.  She did a wonderful job of weaving in challenges and demonstrating how God helped each of them overcome.  I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading more from this author. 

This book gets four pairs of reading glasses!  \oo\ \oo\ \oo\ \oo\

I hope you'll take some time to read these books!  They are both available at Waterbrook Multnomah.

While Waterbrook Multnoma provided the books for the purpose of review, the opinions expressed are completely my own!

Love and Blessings!
Margaret