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Friday, August 23, 2013

Why should you join me in Shopkick?

Oh, how I love my Shopkick! What is it? Its a rewards program on my smart phone that allows me to earn points, known as Kicks, for simple things like walking into a store or scanning items from the shelf. I don't have to buy anything! I can use my kicks to later redeem gift cards to a variety of stores. My favorite would be Target of course. I get anywhere from 35-200 kicks just for walking through their doors. Then I can get another 200-400 in scanning barcodes of certain items around the store while I shop.
You can also earn points for referring friends (which gives them bonus points as well) or for purchasing items using a linked credit or debit card. However, once you link your card, only qualifying purchases made by using "credit" (debit purchases don't count) will award you points.
Shopkick is entirely free to use. Everything is done through the app so yes, you must have a smart phone for it to work. Or perhaps an iPad.
So what happens? You download the app to your phone and get signed up. Enter basic profile information. Then they will ask what kind of reward you wish to set as your goal. You can change this reward at any time. Then begin collecting your kicks!
Ways to earn and how:
  • Daily kicks are earned by opening the app once every day. This will give you 1 kick automatically. Not much, so I suggest doing other things if you want that gift card faster....
  • Walking into stores - make sure you open the app before entering the doors. Let's say you are heading into Target (my favorite of the stores). Open the app and step inside. Typically I stand near the front doors, say Dollar Spot for instance, and wait for it to pop up with a blue bubble telling me I got my kicks. You are allowed to do this once a day per store. I have to warn you, after doing it so many times or earning so many points for that store in walk-ins, it will tell you that you met your limit. Give it a few days and usually it lets you start back up again. Some smaller stores that are in malls even allow you to get the kicks by just walking by them. You don't have to "walk in".
  • Look-books are these wonderful ways to earn 1-2 kicks just by scrolling through the deals and items stores have to offer. Occasionally after going through a new look-book, the amount of kicks you can get in a walk-in go up. So you can go from 35 up to 50+ next time you walk into your favorite store. The look-books also allow you to save your favorite items so you can check them out at a later date.
  • Scans are great to do while you are already walking through the store. Certain items offer kicks for scanning the barcode on them.
  • If you Link your Card, you get kicks when you pay with credit on that card.
  • Referrals of friends can pay off for you both. Refer them and you both get bonus kicks when they sign up.
After you have so many kicks saved up, you can redeem gift cards and prizes. Just click on the number at the top of the screen to pick or change your reward.
Once redeemed, it goes to the Rewards section. When you are ready to use it, click on it and let the cashier know you are using it so he/she can scan it.
There are also Target coupons in the Big Deal look-book. Definitely worth your while to check out. So if you decide you want to join me on the Shopkick side ;-) Just go here and get some bonus points while you are at.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Reading Eggs promotion via US Family Guide

Its time to teach my boys to read. I've heard of various ways and seen things that work with some and don't work with others. Being a member of the US Family Guide, I've been extended the offer to share and try a two week trial offer with Reading Eggs for free.
It requires no credit card to try. You can check them out here.
Here is what US Family Guide Bloggers Have Been Saying About Reading Eggs:
"My daughter Emma has struggled in reading and in just a few days working with Reading Eggs she went up an entire level!"  Jennifer Billy
"My son is 4 and learned to read by age 3 using Reading Eggs. He now reads on a 3rd grade level!" Jennifer Hay
See for yourself how Reading Eggs will help your child!
I plan to write another post when I see just how it works. Let me know if you try it out too.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

BuildASign.com business cards review

I just received 250 business cards as a review promotion from BuildASign.com.
I created a personalized design using the easy to understand tools they provide. I didn't have to download anything. It took less than 10 minutes to create the cards for my husbands Lego business. They have designs you can use as well with imagery and preset boxes where you add your own texts. The cards are on durable card stock. They look so professional. My husband is thrilled.
As a blogger looking to expand my audience and my husband who is looking to take his Lego selling from a hobby to an actual home based business, business cards are a welcome way of advertising. Especially since they are far more portable and less pricey than other ways. BuildASign.com has other advertising options as well such as banners, various magnets, signs, bumper stickers, license plates, decals, stakes and frames, and more! Some of these are even shipped free. I did the math for the business cards. 250 cards for $13.99 = .05 each! Not bad when you consider the return you'd get for your business being promoted.
I great recommend you checking them out. I even have a nifty button on the side of my blog so if you want to get to them quick and don't want to search for this post, just check the right side there! Let me know what you think about them. I love hearing from my readers.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Buckle your seatbelts, kids! It's gonna be a bumpy ride...

A little over six years ago, I was single. I worked part time, went out with friends fairly regularly, and always had something in the savings account. Now, I'm married and have three little ones running around yelling, "MOM!" every so often. I wipe noses and rear ends far more than I'd like. When someone is hungry, I'm the person they come to. While I don't have an immaculately clean looks-like-a-museum apartment, I do keep an orderly home.
Looking over where my path in life has taken me, it certainly wasn't what I expected. I was in college, career choice made, no interest in dating. But it all changed. Funny, isn't it? How things can go so differently than what you have planned in such a short time?
My conversations these days tend to be less about a new CD or movie and more about where I can get the best deal on groceries and diapers. Instead of a purse, I carry a backpack filled with diapers, changes of clothes, wipes, Excedrin Extra Strength (for those days when my head wants to explode), and snacks to keep the bottomless pits somewhat satisfied. I no longer get dressed up "just because", but rather spend my days in my pajamas for as long as possible. On any given morning, you could knock on my door about 7 AM and I'll be awake already. I probably look like a bride of Frankenstein meets zombie, but I really am awake.
 I traded in my Kawasaki Ninja for a mini van... then I eventually moved on to what my siblings refer to as the "Old Lady Car" Buick (at least it gets me where I need to be and has really great AC!).
I do have days where I'm depressed about not finishing my degree, not getting to hang out with friends, not having a motorcycle... But I look at the flip side - I still look great (nope, no shame in admitting it when you kept your figure... mostly!), I've got the three most beautiful children this world will ever know (at least I think so), and I've gained a world of knowledge and experience that can't be learned in schools. Do I have regrets? To be honest, yes. There are plenty of things I'd change if I could get the time machine working. But then I might not be who I am now. I might not have met the new friends I have, worked the jobs I have, and most certainly would not know as much about so much that I do. I won't promise to be overjoyed with my life every day for the rest of my life, but I do know I will try my hardest to always look for the positive things. Because I know, there are at least 3 that I will cherish no matter what may come. Snot, tears, and all.

Fellowes products review via Shoplet.com

Shoplet.com has once again sent products to review. These are office supplies by Fellowes, designed to add comfort and ease to your office experience.
One of the products I received was the Laptop Riser. As you may know, typing daily is something most people do as technology has taken over most homes. However, typing with your wrist laying flat has given way to concerns of developing carpal tunnel. One suggestion is to raise the wrist at an angle. This lift helps you do so comfortably by tilting the laptop forward.
The angle is a little steep for me. I do like that it is a light weight plastic. It has grips in the front that keep the laptop from sliding off the lift. Make sure if you do use it that you hold the laptop with one hand as you lift it open with the other. I find one-handed use doesn't work well as it pulls the laptop off the stand (as a mom, I had to try, you know).
I like that it keeps the laptop cool by keeping it up. The fan won't be blocked by anything and can circulate the air as needed. It also has grips on the bottom to keep it from sliding around.
The other product I received was the Document lift with dry erase surface. This is a multi-function office item that I absolutely LOVE!
First, it can be used as a dry erase board. It's portable and strong, but still light.
It also wipes off easy without leaving a stained appearance behind.
Add the clip to the top, and it instantly transforms into a clipboard.
Add the stand at the bottom and you have a document holder that allows you to work/type while checking your document at the perfect level. All hands-free! It comes with the three pieces that are easily assembled as well as disassembled.
The stand is heavy enough to keep it stable. It has grips on the bottom to keep it from sliding around. This is great for in the office. As I type, I can have my page clipped and ready for me to glance at as needed.
I really love that I can take it apart and on the go easily. It has three uses that I need often. I use the dry erase board for leaving messages and for teaching my boys at home. My husband uses the document stand for pulling orders or adding to his inventory without having to look down at the paper all the time. And I can run through my lists while on the go with the clipboard function.
I hope you find this useful! Be sure and check out the other items provided by Fellowes that are available at Shoplet.com. 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Easy Canvas Prints review and giveaway!

I was recently offered the chance to review some canvas prints from Easy Canvas Prints. I ordered three: 2 8x10" and 1 16x20" canvases.
Creating and preparing them for my order was so simple. There are multiple options to choose from. Uploading my photos was quick and didn't require downloading anything.
Shipping was done through UPS Ground so I could check my UPS account and see when and where they were. They came pretty quickly too.
 I did upload a photo for the 16x20" canvas that wasn't optimal for the size. The Art Team emailed me to let me know and give me the option to either approve of it anyway, or to substitute another picture that would be better.
 They were absolutely beautiful! Each canvas is wrapped around a sturdy wooden frame. They add a simple elegance around our home. There is also no worry of breaking glass should my children knock them off the wall (which we have had before). No worries of moisture seeking between glass and picture as I've also had with a very special picture of mine.
There are quite a few specials going on as well, so definitely check in on them. As an extra bonus, they have agreed to host a giveaway just for you guys! So get your entries in and good luck. It will run from August 15-29th and only open to those in North America.
***I'M NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE GIVEAWAY. That is completely being handled by Easy Print Canvas. THEY will be the ones collecting your information.***
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, August 12, 2013

DNA information and discount for a kit through the US Family Guide

When every second counts, a Genetic Fingerprint can potentially save the life of your child. The Ultimate Child Protection Kit is designed to capture all your child's important information so that it is readily available for law enforcement in case of an emergency. The kit comes complete with everything you need including a fingerprinting kit, a DNA profile collection kit, and a place to store all your vital information.
ChildProtect by DNA is the only kit that offers your child's unique DNA. Here's what Fox News Dr. Manny Alvarez has to say about DNA Fingerprinting http://fxn.ws/19CkqWs 

DNA Diagnostics Center (DDC) uses our state-of-the-art, accredited laboratory to construct the DNA profile. Once completed, a certificate of results is created and signed by one of our PhD's. The certificate provides key genetic markers that police use for investigations. - Save $50, ACT NOW. Use Code FAMILY50.
I consider this a growing importance in today's society. I'm having each of my 3 children done so that I'm ready for whatever may come.

Original Spout review and discount

Recently I tried a new shampoo. Its a name brand that I'm pretty sure everyone knows. Unfortunately, it didn't agree with my scalp and I ended up itchy-headed with dryness around my ears and edges of my hairline. It got me to thinking. This isn't the first time I've met a brand that wasn't good for me. The only reason I tried it to begin with was because I had a coupon for a free bottle. But its not natural, not organic... They say the healthier stuff is better right? Well, I'm on the lookout for more healthier living and shampoo is on the list too. That's when I came across Original Sprout.
They are 100% vegan, organic and natural. There is no testing on animals. The products are also made here in the United States. Original Sprout wishes to stimulate the economy, create new jobs while reducing the carbon footprints and ensuring non contamination of ingredients. Their products are also biodegradable. This is a truly Eco friendly company. They support Trees for the Future to globally replant forests as well. The founder of Original Sprout is Inga Tritt. She is a Master Stylist out in California who wanted to create professional styling products that were safe for families. You can read more about her and the company she started here.

Another reason I'm drawn to Original Sprout was because they are free of insect attracting honey. As a woman, I want to smell good all the time. But I don't like smelling so good that the bugs follow me around. Especially here in the south!

Now about the products I tried... The Natural Shampoo and Deep Conditioner are so light and airy. It has a gentle feel to it. Its lightly scented with organic rosemary. My hair feels softer as soon as I start rinsing. I noticed immediately that after using this only once, I had no tangles! I could run my fingers through my hair (which is normal thick and coarse) and feel the softer tangle-free way it had become. As soon as I started brushing after my shower, still no tangles! The softness lasted all day. Some brands of shampoos irritate my scalp as I mentioned above. These didn't.

The Scrumptious Baby Cream is also light feeling and doesn't leave an oily residue feeling. It kept my hands soft even after washing and using antibacterial sanitizer. Don't let the names fool you either, they aren't just products for babies. They are good for the whole family. Its good for all types of skin, including sensitive skin.
The last product I received to try was the Hair & Body Babywash. It's an extra moisturizing cleanser that gently washes away dryness, cradle cap, eczema, psoriasis, baby acne, heat rash, diaper rash and skin irritations. It doesn't matter how old you are, if you have skin issues I suggest trying it. I have dry skin and it worked wonderfully on me. It also keeps my baby girl's skin smooth and soft.

I decided to experiment this morning... After having used the Original Sprout the past several times of washing my hair, I used a name brand I was previously using. Big mistake! My head is itching like crazy. There is definitely a difference between the natural and the chemical types.

Original Sprout provides a number of organic products for your hygienic needs. Such as: shampoo, conditioner, Tahitian hair oil, face and body sunscreen, natural styling balm, natural curl calmer, baby cream, hair and body wash, detangler, leave-in conditioner, and natural hair gel. I haven't come across a single thing about these products that I didn't like! Even the price is right considering what other "healthy" hair care goes for these days. Definitely check them out and tell me what your thoughts on the products are. I love hearing from you all!
ALSO - They have given me a code that gives you 10% off your first order! Just enter TEN_PERCENT_OFF at checkout.

Friday, August 9, 2013

National Night Out in St. Augustine - 2013

How many of you have families? I’m pretty sure a lot of you are saying, “Yep, I do!” And I’ll bet if you are like my family, you like to go out. But it gets expensive and it’s hard to take the different age groups to the same events.

Well, a couple nights back, we took our family out for National Night Out. It’s run by our Public Service departments. In a nutshell: Police, Sheriff, Fire, and other organizations designed to protect the community come together to host a huge “block party” type event. They serve free food, had live music here, and plenty of booths set up to check out the who’s what. They hand out promotional freebies, had some fun activities like rock wall climbing at the National Guard booth, and educate the general public about keeping safe in your community. The police department handed out bicycle helmets that they fitted for your child while you watched. The National Guard had a pull up bar set up. Everyone who completed a few pull ups got some free swag like a shirt or a football. The police had their helicopter parked there too. Kids (and some adults) got to sit in the pilot seat while asking questions. They go a whopping 140 mph.
I have decided that I liked the armored truck they had. They got it surplus from the army. And according to the lady talking to us about it - you could probably get one for as low as $2,000.00! Its bulletproof! Drives like a tank. And the roomy back is perfect for carrying a large crew with storage in the middle. What more could a mom want?! Only downside might be the amount of gas it takes....
Another table my kiddos loved were checking out tactical gear. Guns, masks and air tanks. My son just wanted to talk about and hold the "big gun".
I stopped by one booth where they educated my children on what happens when you throw garbage on the ground. Animals eat it and die. Did you know that birds don't have taste buds or a sense of smell? Thus they will eat anything and everything (like a tiger shark) that they find. So when their stomach is full of this junk, they don't eat and eventually starve to death. They even had pictures of this type of thing. Really drives home the "don't litter" message I've been trying to get through to them.
The food this year was excellent. They had a local restaurant come grill hamburgers, hot dogs and fat sausages on hoagie rolls. Target is a National Night Out sponsor who provided the drinks this year. They also had some of the local team members volunteering to hand out stickers and flashing bike lights.
It was done at the Pier Pavilion so the family could even go to the beach afterwards. Or take the kiddos to the mini water park next to the Pier to cool off since it got pretty hot. Parking was tough. It was a maze and a lot of waiting. We were fortunate to pull in just as some people were leaving.
My family had an absolute blast! Every year, we will be looking for the when and where of NNO. They are held nationwide on the same night (except maybe Texas since they are the exception). And since hundreds of cities across the United States sign up for this, I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s in your area as well!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Avery product reviews via Shoplet.com

Shoplet.com recently sent me some Avery office products to try and write a review about.
First up, is the Flexi-View Presentation Binder. I love the title page pocket in the cover that allows me to put a page or picture in the front. That way I know what the binder contains. There is also a sleeve in the back cover to hold a few extra pages. So if you were using this for a presentation, you could put a title page in the front, your presentation inside, and pages to hand out in the back. There are even slots in the back sleeve to hold your business card so your binder can be recognized as yours. Its also a flexible binder. Rigid binders can have a tendency of bending/breaking in the middle if something heavy gets placed on top. With a flexible binder, however, no worries of that happening. It makes it a little more compact too for carrying on the go. Personally, I think this binder is great for keeping recipes in. Wipe off the cover if it gets messy, separate the types of recipes... Sounds like a winners plan to me!
In addition to the binder, were Ready Index Durable Table of Contents Dividers. I'm all about being organized, and these definitely keep me organized. They are "3 ways stronger": stronger, heavier paper, stronger tab reinforcement, and double-sided hole reinforcement. The more durable the paper - the less likely it will be to weaken and rip during use. The tabs are reinforced to keep them from falling off over time and through wear. And my favorite? Double-sided hole reinforments on the tabbed dividers. Why? How many times have my pages fallen out over time because the holes got ripped?? Its a pet peeve of mine. So I love having them reinforced. These have 8 tabs per pack. Dividers are also made of 30% post-consumer recycled paper. Let's remember to recycle and reuse right? One more benefit to these; they can be used in portrait or landscape orientation. For those who don't understand geek speak - straight up and down, or laying on the side. You can create the table of contents at: avery.com/library.
My next favorite product in the group would have to be the Printable Tags with Strings. There are 96 tags on 12 sheets with 100 strings. Oh the possibilities... For small businesses, you could print price tags to label your merchandise with. You can get the free templates and designs to help you prepare your tags at avery.com that do not require software downloads. They have templates that match the product number. These tags print to the edge creating a premium professional look. These are perforated keeping them professional and easy to separate. They are also double-sided cardstock to optimize the richness in colors. The tags come with quick-latch fasteners that make it easy to assemble them.
They can come quite handy. You can tag gifts, label products you are selling, or as I did - make labels for traveling. In case my luggage gets misplaced or lost, there is a name and number to contact.
And I can edit each individual tag for various people instead of all of them being the exact same.
Next up are Print-to-the-Edge Round Labels. They come on 10 Glossy White pages that carry 120 labels. Each one is 2" in diameter. Again, templates are available through the Avery website.
I also love the fact that Avery is an Official Box Tops for Education Brand. They have box tops on their products that you can use to support your school. And the packaging is recyclable on these!
I used these to make stickers to promote my blog. Absolutely LOVE how they came out!
And finally we come to the Tri-Fold Brochure with tear-away cards. My husband and I used these to create coupons for those who had ordered several times from his online Lego selling hobby/business.
It was fast and easy (well, minus the time we debated on what to say and how to present them). The template on the Avery website made everything so simple.
I hope you enjoyed this review and got some ideas of your own on things you might have a use for from these wonderful Avery products. Remember to check out Shoplet.com and see what else they have to offer for your small business, home organization, or office needs! Leave me a comment on what you think.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Lysol® Power & Free™ spray and wipes review

I'm a BzzAgent, in case you didn't know. They allow people who love to try new things and talk about them, test out products or services in exchange for sharing the knowledge with anyone and everyone! The latest product I was given to try was the new Lysol Power and Free spray and wipes cleaners.

I love Lysol. I don't know when the first time was that I came in contact with it... but I know I'm a consumer for life. I also love bleach. Bleach kills and destroys ANY germ in my opinion. Did you know bleach can actually "tamper" traces of some evidence. (Don't get any ideas.) But the smell of bleach is dangerous. You need to have it diluted OR have the windows and doors open to clean with it. Now, Lysol does have a cleaner with bleach. And I have that... but my husband and kids complain about the smell. (Whereas, I'm basking in the fresh scent of CLEAN!) So, I was pretty excited when I heard about this one. I really do love the scent. Its light and refreshing. And it has Hydrogen Peroxide. Ever get a cut or scrape and have your parents clean it with hydrogen peroxide? Watching those millions of bubbles get to work pushing out the contaminants in the wound to prevent infections was my favorite! I know... I'm a weirdo. But this is the same idea. Spray your surface, it bubbles up, wipe it off. Voila! Clean surface.
No need for cleaning gear: masks, gloves, eye wear. There will be no tears. Your fingers won't get raw and chapped - or bleed. And breathing this in won't have you gasping for oxygen. And best of all - it carries the well known Lysol promise of killing 99.9% of germs.
And for the wipes, they are soft but strong still. I wiped up a very messy stovetop with only one wipe. (And my husband in the background telling me how much he prefers the smell to my normal bleach routine.) Overall, I see a great product that I look forward to using around my family.
Here's to healthier living! And happier if you are like my boys and husband who don't like the side effects of bleach 8-P.