Archives for August 2012

Too Cool For School Giveaway: Sept. 1-9

I’m so glad you stopped by the Too Cool For School Giveaway Hop hosted by BloggerPR!  When it’s time to send the kids back to school, parents scramble to replenish their school supplies collection and get all of the requirements on those supplies lists.  BloggerPR decided to host a giveaway hop to help everyone win some of those back to school necessities!  This event will run from September 1st through 9th, which gives you plenty of time to hop down the linky list below! Each blogger is giving away prizes valued $20 or more, so you don’t want to miss out! Good luck and have a great school year!

Our sponsor for this giveaway is Bag Blaze.  Read my review to find out which bag I got to try.  LOVE LOVE LOVE it and it’s perfect for TN Vols country!

Bag Blaze is purse heaven for those who want to carry a trendy bag and actually have money to keep in that bag.  Their daily deals are priced at $39.95 or below, and they have free shipping/returns.   I feel very confident in saying that there is something for everyone on their page.    A new bag is a great back-to-school item for any teen or college student.  Don’t forget to bookmark their page for your Christmas gifts!

Bag Blaze will send one lucky winner a bag (US readers only).  Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.

Better Late Than Never giveaway event: September 1-9

 Mom With a Dot Com is celebrating her one year blog anniversary, so a group of amazing bloggers got together to give you a chance to win some amazing prizes!  Don’t you love partie s like that?!  The Better Late Than Never event begins September 1st and ends September 9th.  Hop around, I hope you will find some prizes that you love – maybe you will even win one! Each giveaway will have a prize valued at $25 or more!

Savings in Seconds has two sponsors to celebrate today.

The first is NeoCell.  This is a new anti-aging product that smells really good and is very effective.  I’m 37 years old (eek!) and needed to start thinking about using anti-aging products.   You can read my review of these products to find out what I thought of them.  NeoCell is offering one reader a $65 SRP prize package.   The giveaway is open to US/CAN.

The second sponsor is Care4hire.  They offer a special service to those who need to find safe, caring babysitters and other home help service providers.   Care4hire connects you with an extensive online database to help you find the person who will best fit in with your family to serve your needs.  One winner will receive a gift certificate to Care4hire, which will allow the winner one month to login and contact caregivers. This giveaway is open to US/CAN.

Meanwhile, check out these suggestions for finding the right babysitter.  These tips were provided by Care4hire.

Determining what job tasks you want the babysitter to perform (just childcare? feeding? house cleaning? transporting? administering medications?)
Determining what traits and skills you will seek in a babysitter (based on the job tasks above)
Determining what you are willing to pay a babysitter (usually expressed in dollars per hour worked)
Determining what you are willing to do for your babysitter (transporting her to/from your house, allowing her to snack on items in your fridge, etc.)
Determining your preferred method of recruitment (word of mouth, advertising on a school campus, conducting an on-line search, etc.)
Determining your timeline (by what date do you wish or need to have a babysitter hired?)
Preparing a list of interview questions to ask prospective babysitters
Begin recruitment
Select the candidates that possess the traits and skills you seek . . . schedule those candidates for interviews, and send polite rejection letters to the non-selected candidates
Interview the selected candidates
Narrow the pool of candidates to two or three that are best qualified for the job
Schedule those two or three candidates for a second/final interview . . . plan to have your child present at that second interview to observe interaction between child and babysitter and, where age appropriate, allow the child input in the selection of his/her babysitter
Interview the selected candidates and get signed authorizations to perform background checks
Perform background checks and check references on the selected candidates
Narrow the pool of candidates to one candidate, offer the job to that candidate, and schedule a start date
Send polite rejection letters to the subsequently non-selected candidates
Orient the babysitter to the job by using the job description you’ve prepared
Train the babysitter to perform to your expectations
Observe the babysitter’s performance and provide praise and redirection as appropriate
Pay the babysitter as agreed at the time of hire
Have regular communication with the babysitter about the expectations that you have of each other, how those expectations are being met (or are not being met), what questions or feedback need to be addressed, etc.

By proceeding as indicated above, you can set the stage for successfully employing a babysitter that will love your child and attend to him/her according to your wishes.

Ready to enter?

Fall in Love with Handmade giveaway: September 1-14

Welcome to the Fall in Love with Handmade Giveaway Hop, hosted by Going Green with the Grizls , The Vagabond Studio, and Eight Days a Week! As part of this great event, a group of bloggers are offering prizes valued at $15 or more and everything is handmade! You’ll find the list of participating bloggers under the Rafflecopter form. Be sure to hop around and enter each of the giveaways. The more you enter, the more chances you’ll have to win the grand prize! The giveaway ends on September 15th, 2012 at 12:01 a.m. Good luck! [Read more…]

Girls and Dolls: #HeartsForHeartsGirls

Having a little girl is a true pleasure in life.  Being able to watch that little girl grow up into a young woman who makes a difference in the lives of others is something to be so proud of. We received a Hearts for Hearts doll for review and my daughter was in love.

When my daughter first saw the Hearts For Hearts Girls in our local Target, she kept saying how beautiful the dolls were.   We were purchasing a birthday gift for one of her friends and had to get one of the dolls after we read the incredible story on the side of the box.  The dolls are based on the lifestyles and experiences of girls around the world.  Best of all, when you purchase one of these dolls, it helps to improve the lives of real girls in that community through the program World Vision.   The dolls really are beautiful with such variations and enchanting features that you can’t help but picture your own daughter as one of them. You can click here to see what each doll looks like.  Each doll comes with accessories and a really cute outfit.   The Hearts for Hearts website also has activities and games for kids to interact with the dolls online.

We hosted a get-together so we could share Hearts For Hearts dolls with some of our friends.  Each girl received two bracelets (one to keep, one to share) and a cute little booklet.  My daughter received a doll for hosting the party and Hearts for Hearts provided one lucky guest with a doll of her own as well.  The moms took home a card with a coupon code to save $5 on a doll.  We were also sent several recipes that are common to the countries where the dolls are from, but we ended up just having pizza since we knew the girls would actually eat that!  

Here is the doll my daughter chose to keep. I think she is beautiful!!

Our guests enjoyed learning about the dolls.  They hadn’t heard of them before.  One of the moms even said that she would be buying Hearts for Hearts dolls from now on to support the effort that the company is making.   Hosting a MommyParty was a fun reason to get together and to give each child a chance to enjoy the Hearts for Hearts Girls.  It’s great when a toy company sends kids a positive message.  It’s even better when the company encourages those kids to be a positive message.  Hearts For Hearts has accomplished both!




Portion control made easy!!

I love to eat Chinese food out of those little paper box containers.  I just think it makes the noodles taste better when you’re holding that cute little takeout box!!  My husband thinks I’m crazy when I say that, but I’ll bet there’s more than one of you out there who knows exactly what I mean.  Having food in the right container just adds to its appeal.  Since I have only 20 minutes for lunch, eaten with a cafeteria full of 150 6th graders, I’ve got to be creative when it comes to packing light for lunch.   Portion control has never been my favorite concept, but it’s become mandatory now that middle age bulge is starting to show up.  So what’s a girl to do?  Make the best of those carrots and pack them in a cute container, of course!

The LunchBlox from Rubbermaid is the Chinese takeout container for lunch.   First of all, you have these adorable connecting containers that you can stack and layer.  The tiny containers are ideal for holding just the right amount of grapes, ranch dressing, or whatever else you need to add a little something to your lunch.  The larger containers are good for the main dish like a sandwich or some pasta salad.  The size is perfect for portion control.  No guesswork involved and the containers are shallow enough to fit into my regular lunchbox.  Also, the ice pack fits like a glove under or on top of the larger container. The lids and ice pack are grooved so that you fit the complementing pieces into the sections and they actually stay on it.  It makes everything so neatly organized that you can’t help but like your lunch!  Since they are BPA-free and can be used in the dishwater, they are completely a time-saver, too.

My daughter insists on taking a bologna sandwich for lunch, but she’ll only eat it if there is some mayo on the bread.  Yes, the girl has good taste, but what about keeping that mayo fresh?  Our old ice packs were about the size of a juice box and I’d try to balance the sandwich on the ice pack, knowing that it would slide off the second that the lunchbox was tilted.  Now that I can position the icepack under the sandwich, I can relax knowing that the mayo will stay cold.  The smaller containers are filled with some strawberry slices and a dab of Nutella, and we’re off to school!

Would you like to try Rubbermaid’s new LunchBlox?  You can grab yours at Rubbermaid’s website, Target, Kroger, and a host of other national stores.

Rubbermaid is giving 3 lucky Savings in Seconds winners a LunchBlox of their very own!   Enter using the Rafflecopter form below.  The giveaway is open to US/CAN and ends 9/10/12.  Good luck!

Look who won the LunchBlox giveaway at

(Note: I received the LunchBlox to review. No other compensation was provided. All opinions posted are my own.)

A box full of beautiful

I love to shop online for beauty products.  For one thing, it’s more convenient and often cheaper.  An added bonus is that most beauty stores give you samples with your order.  I love to try small sizes of new products so that I don’t spend a bundle buying the full-size product, in case I don’t like it.    When Beauty Box 5 contacted me about reviewing their monthly box, I was interested.  Getting a fun box of new pretties in the mail was right up my alley!   I got way more than I expected from this box, though!

Here’s what I received:


Each Beauty Box comes with 4-5 products.  The sizes were supposed to be sample size, but I thought they were more like deluxe sample or even trial size.  Very generous amounts of products, for sure!  I loved the little organza bag that the products came in.  My daughter asked if she could keep it.  So that was like a little extra something right there.  There was a helpful product postcard that explained the basics of each product.

The products were really amazing.  I have tried the pedi-scrub before but not in this scent.  I love it and use it daily to wake up my feet!  This size would be perfect to take along on a trip because it’s just enough uses for a week.  I have made mine stretch a little longer by putting a bit of body wash on it.  I also received a great primer to wear under foundation.  I have been out of my other brand for a while, so it was nice to try something new.  The serum is for getting your curls a little get-up-and-go.   My daughter likes for me to use it on her hair.  We don’t have to blow dry her hair when she uses it, we just blend a bit of this serum into her locks and off she goes.  It always leaves her hair with a nice set of waves without having the crunchy mousse look.  My FAVORITE product in this box was the Blinc mascara.   Oh my goodness.   To me, the quality of a products is always revealed when it gains repeat customers.  I will definitely be buying Blinc mascara!  It puts tiny little tubes on your lashes that don’t smudge or smear.  So no raccoon eyes!  And the tubes come off easily with a little warm water and cleanser.  They don’t even come off when you rub your eyes—you have to actually wash them off.  Since we swim almost every day after school, it’s nice to be able to jump in the pool and not have to worry about getting the mascara off beforehand.  Plus it’s fun to look at the tiny tubes.  They really do just wash right off.

The cost of a one-month subscription to Beauty Box 5 is $12.  That includes free shipping.  That would make the price of these products about $3 each.  I have seen the pediscrub at Ulta for $2.99.  It would be more than that after tax.  You can save more with Beauty Box 5 by subscribing for a longer term.  You can cancel at any time but keep in mind that there are no refunds if you cancel mid-month (or in between shipments).   If you’d like to see a list of the brands that were included in previous Beauty Boxes, click here.  I think that a Beauty Box 5 subscription would be a very thoughtful gift for that friend who likes to try new cosmetics but won’t always splurge on herself.   Get her something she’ll use!  And for $30 for a 3 month subscription, I think that it’s a steal.  I’d love to see gift subscriptions offered on the website.


(Update: I’d definitely say that the other items were worth at least $3 each.  I’m still using each of them for over a month!  )

Find Beauty Box 5 on Facebook and Twitter.  Their blog is pretty awesome, too!

On My Bookshelf: Mother of Pearl

Recently I had the opportunity to participate in the Mother of Pearl book tour.  Author Margaret McSweeney collected stories from women in a Chicken Soup for the Soul sort of way.  The thing is that many of the stories didn’t give me the warm fuzzies.  All of the stories, however, celebrate the strength and stamina of women across generations and situations.   Mother of Pearl inspired me to think about my relationship with women in my life, especially my mother and grandmother, and to redefine my role in my daughter’s life.    I want my daughter to see me as a strong career woman who cherishes her family and follows in Jesus’ footsteps.

When I look back on the gifts my mother gave me, the memories are not of tangible birthday presents or family heirlooms.  We had few and far between of those things.  Instead, I wax nostalgic on moments of laughter and love.  I remember hard times that required her to go without so that her children didn’t have to.  I remember a single mom who worked her fingers to the bone in a foreign country so that I could get and education and raise a family of my own.  Everything I am, have, and will become are because of my mother.  I pray that my daughter will one day realize the stock from which she comes and that she’ll be proud of her heritage.

Mother of Pearl is a collection of stories like these.  Some are warm and fuzzy, some are tough and gritty.  All of the stories honor women who impacted those generations who came after.  I enjoyed reading memory after memory, relating to some and imagining others.  I even looked up some of the authors so that I could read more of their works.  Mother of Pearl is a quick read and would be perfect for a women’s devotional group or as a gift.  It made me reflect on my own mother’s love and the mother I am to my children.  I pray that someday my children would have good memories to share about me.

Meet Margaret: 

Margaret McSweeney is a well-published author often writing online articles for Make It Better (the former North Shore Magazine) and freelance articles for the Daily Herald, the largest suburban Chicago newspaper. In addition, she has authored and compiled several books including A Mother’s Heart Knows; Go Back and Be Happy; Pearl Girls: Encountering Grit, Experiencing Grace, Mother of Pearl and Aftermath.  With a master’s degree from the University of South Carolina in international business, Margaret became a vice-president in the corporate finance division of a New York City bank and worked there 1986–93.  As founder of Pearl Girls, Margaret collaborates with other writers on projects to help fund a safe house for WINGS, an organization that helps women and their children who are victims of domestic violence, and to build wells for schoolchildren in Uganda through Hands of Hope. For the past 10 years she has served on the board of directors and leadership advisory board for WINGS. Margaret lives with her husband and 2 daughters in the Chicago suburbs.



Tricities Tuesday: Natural Tunnel State Park, VA

Our family loves to take little day trips.  One of our favorite spots is the Natural Tunnel State Park in Virginia.  It’s about 15-20 minute from Kingsport and the perfect place to spend a sunny day!  In the parking lot of the gift shop there’s a fun little train car that my kids enjoy playing on.  There is even a nice museum adjacent to the gift shop.  Take the time to roam around and learn about the history of the tunnel.  There are some really affordable goodies in the gift shop, so even if your kids only have a dime or two they can at least buy a piece of candy.

There is a parking booth at the gate to the park, but there has never been an attendant in it when we’ve been there.   We always take a few dollar bills with us so that we can ride down on the chair lift.  It costs $3 per person but they usually only charge us for the adults.  It’s so worth it….the ride down is very quiet and beautiful.  If you don’t want to ride (or if you only want to ride one way) the walk down is also fun.  We take the kids on a little bug-and-flower scavenger hunt when we walk down it.

At the base of the mountain there is the amazing Natural Tunnel.  It’s so beautiful down there!   There’s the amazing, romantic story of Lover’s Leap and the sound of rushing water.  You can’t stand around or walk on the train tracks, but you can cross them and stand on the platform.  My kids love to look over at the huge rocks and down at the water.  We usually take a few minutes to walk on the trail, too, because there are some fun things to discover like a bridge and a small cabin.   There are several places where you can easily walk to the water’s edge to skip rocks.

If you’ve got the rest of the day to spare, be sure to hit the pool.  Natural Tunnel has the cleanest public pool I’ve ever seen!  The bathrooms are always immaculate and even smell freshly cleaned.  The playgrounds are nearby and are a good spot to hit just before or after lunch, too.

If you’re ready to head home, be sure to stop for some ice cream!  The cute little red Stone Drive In is just off the beaten path as you head out of Natural Tunnel.  It’s not fast food—and they have a sign to make sure that you know that—but it’s tasty.  While you wait for your yumminess to arrive, take the time to talk with your kids about your fun day  at Natural Tunnel.

Free hand sanitizer deal still available!

Wow, I can’t believe that this deal is still available!   For about 13 more hours, you can grab a 2-oz pump bottle of hand sanitizer with free shipping and pay tax only!  Log in (or sign up) at Shop At Home and click on the Coupons tab at the top left.   Click the box hat looks like the picture above and add the product to your cart.  You will be charged for the product & tax at checkout, then your SAH  account will be credited with your purchase within 30 days.  Once your account reaches a $20 balance, you’ll receive a check in the mail.  So easy!!

If you don’t need this hand sanitizer for yourself or your kids, consider donating it.  Hospitals, schools, daycares, shelters, and lots of area businesses will be thankful for your thoughtfulness.


(This post contains my referral link.  If you sign up through it, it earns you $5 too.  Thank you!)



Free coffee at 7-11 on September 28

Alright all of you coffee junkies!  Mark your calendar for 9/28/12 for National Coffee Day.  Nationwide 7-Eleven stores will be serving up large cups of coffee, lattes, and cappuccinos!  The hours are from 6 AM to 10 AM, just in time for your morning commute.   Don’t worry, I’ll remind you.  🙂

(Info was in the latest issue of Good Housekeeping.  One good reason to read magazines! )