Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Children's Book Exchange

To do it or not? That is the question!
If you haven't encountered it before, it goes something like this:

" Dear XXXX,

This is a book exchange.  Please join us!  It's a fun and inexpensive way to stock your child's library with books. Send one book to the child listed as #1 below.  Then send a copy of this 6 friends.  Move my child's name to the #1 spot and list your child as #2 on your letter.  Be sure to include your child's age next to their name and address.

If you can't do this in approximately one week, please let me know.  It isn't fair to the children who have participated and are waiting for their own special books to arrive.  A manila envelope will mail the new book nicely. Another idea is to order a new book direction from a website like Amazon and have it shipped directly to the person you are giving your book to. 

Seldom does anyone drop out, because this is such a great deal -your child will receive 36 new books!
  Your child should receive their new books in about 2 weeks - that is, if you get your letters out right away.  Please don't be responsible for spoiling the fun and stopping the flow of book for children - please join us!

Also, please be sure to include a blank copy of this letter to each of your friends so they don't have to retype it.  (12 copies, on filled out by you, and a blank one for all six people.)"

This is actually the second time I received one of these letters. The first time was when my daughter was young, and I honestly did forget about responding to the person who sent it to me. But this second time, the person asked me in person, which makes me feel slightly more obligated. I do trust the person who asked me too.

So, should I or shouldn't I?!?
And if I do, anyone out there interested too?!?

Monday, October 29, 2012


Our Monday morning was typical for us: after getting breakfast digested, we head to the gym and to the library. But as I listen to the radio, this Monday and probably many days after will not be typical for others. The name seems to bring up sounds and images of the Beach Boys, but in this present case, Sandy is definitely not so. I've seen pictures of flooding beginning and crews out in the abundant sea foam. And I've been so amazed by the growing waves, as seen from The Statute of Liberty's torch at

While out with a friend a few days ago, she mentioned how this was being called a super-storm, as I had not tuned into much of the news. It so mind-blowing how three fronts could come together to bring so much natural force and affect so many people. We do offer many thoughts and prayers for safety,

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Victor Habbick's image at

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Costume Discounters Classic Aurora Costume Review

Disney princesses are big in this house (and probably any house with young girls present), and we're looking forward to dressing up for Halloween in this new costume next week -- actually we gave this costume a try while attending a special Disney performance last week!

Though this is a Classic Aurora (aka. Sleeping Beauty) Costume (and if you're not on the up-and-up with princesses, you can read all about those princesses!), this design is a fresh for 2012 from Costume Discounters. I am extremely pleased with this costume. It's well-constructed, with the wide-brimmed, collar and sheer sleeves; the quality of this costume is much better than another princess costume we own. I believe this costume really stands out (as I saw many young Disney princesses at the event) with the sharp pink color and those sparkles! There are lots of golden sparkles and and shimmer to make this a fun costume, perfect for any girl! As a pendant, there's a sweet portrait of Disney's Aurora. And I love how the versatility will allow us to enjoy a regal Halloween but allow my daughter to enter Disney's fairy tale world whenever she wishes! For good or bad, there are only two sizes: Small (4-6X) and Medium (7-8), so the fit was not exact for us, and I placed a pink long-sleeved shirt under it.

If you've procrastinated and still need a costume, be sure to check out Costume Discounters. I know our neighbors still are without for their son's costume! Check out their 25% savings and bring home that dream costume! 

***I was given the costume for a review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.***

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Christmas Cards Tips and Ideas

As I've been thinking about Christmas cards, I remembered a few other tips, to personalize Christmas cards, that I blogged about last year. Most of these can be both print and digital, with an exception -- you'll see!
How do you personalize?

1. Include photos taken all year long.
I usually tend to pick out those that show our best sides and ones that definitely are worth sharing, and it doesn't matter if they aren't professionally done but simply capture who we are! =)

2. Incorporate a short letter or update.
Unfortunately I only keep in contact with some people through Christmas cards -- perhaps this should be a New Year's Resolution, to be a better friend! But I do like to get everyone up-to-date with our family.

3. Print you own.
Often I can find excellent deals online. But I've also printed my own on both photo paper and also plain paper. I've used Microsoft templates before, but I've also cut and pasted to make my own!

4. Use digital services.
In years past, I've used Snapfish, Shutterfly, and Purple Trail and others; I believe you can also utilize services at Walgreens, Sams, and other retails stores too. But those are always fun, and you're sure to get a good product.

5. Write a short note to the recipient and sign the card.
Even with pre-printed cards, notes, or newsletters, I like to add that last bit of personalization by hand writing the recipient's name, adding a short postscript, and then signing my name. Just a small way to let them know that I took some time to reconnect and do send BEST wishes.

6. Create your own stamps!
I found a great deal last year and put a picture of our little one on the stamp! Needless to say, that was a HUGE hit with the family -- some even cut the stamp off to display too!

7. Make the background one of your child's artwork
You could scan one of your child's artwork and incorporate that into the background (or front and center) of your design.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like...

The stores want us to think Christmas! This past weekend, we had moderate temperatures, so most families had the same idea to head out to the park in their new sweaters with their DSLR cameras, ready to get some fall colors and warm smiles for Christmas card pictures! Ours are never complicated or coordinated; just point and shoot and hope for the best! My simple method hasn't failed us horribly as we've had fun photo cards in the past. While I do secretly covet the nicer cameras which capture sharper details, my handy point and shoot will have to do. So how can you take a good Christmas card photograph?

1. Hire a photographer
This obviously is a sure-fire way to get that great shot!

2. Ask a friend who is a photographer
I have a dear friend who often steps in to capture moments I try, but cannot seem to as well as she does. And she graciously takes those photos for us!

3. Do it yourself!
Yes, I know probably most of us are already doing this. But one little tip on getting everything framed correctly: a tripod. Growing it, the tripod was a never-leave-home-for-vacation-without-it item, but I've found that most families do not have that same appreciation for it. Several years ago, we found one on sale, and it's been quite handy to leave in the car. Whenever we have the need for a family picture, I can place my simple camera on it, position it the way I want it framed, get the timer on, and --- Walah -- family photo. I only wish I had a tip on getting every family member to smile nicely in coordination with that timer. . .

Monday, October 15, 2012

5 Ways to Save on College Textbooks

Wrong season, right?!?
As students were getting out of school on summer vacation, I was going back but this time completely online. The timing was right, with a summer break in a program I'm heavily involved in. We had a little more than enough to cover tuition, but the books. . .
Since I signed up for classes two days before the start of the courses, I had to hurry, and I found that textbooks were a lot pricier than I remembered! These are 5 ways to save money on college textbooks, if you're thinking about going back:

1. Borrow the textbooks!
I used Facebook to ask friends if they owned textbooks so I could borrow them for the duration of the course. I also tried to borrow textbooks from libraries; the local library can help you locate books from other libraries around the state, and if you already have access to the college library, search there for the textbook and again they might also locate that textbook at another college library.

2. Rent the textbooks!
Not as cheap as borrowing, yet not as expensive as purchasing! You can see how I'd save with renting textbooks!

3. Purchase textbooks of Amazon using Swagbucks. While exchanging those Swagbucks for Amazon gift cards to use on a piece of technology or a Christmas present is much more fun, I used some for my textbooks! Don't forget to try to resell again!

4. Purchase used textbooks from eBay or I've had no experience here, but it's worth a look-see.

5. Last resort, buy new and definitely resell!

An unaccounted textbook expense I was previously unaware of was purchasing online access for certain classes. If you can save some money on the actually textbook, your savings can be spent on purchasing the online access; check the pricing directly from the website before buying at the college bookstore!

Photo Credit:

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Campus Book Rentals

As a college student, I remember being shocked by the prices of new textbooks at the college bookstore. After that first quarter, I looked around for better options because I just wasn't going to read Culture and Values: A Survey of the Humanities, Comprehensive Edition after dinner every again. I was an on-campus student and found various real and virtual bulletin boards for cheap books and rentals, but when I decided to take some courses this summer online, I was stuck paying full price. I would have been able to save some cash with Campus Book Rentals, as you can see: a difference of about $50!

If your path finds you back in college classes, check out Campus Book Rentals to save 40-90% off bookstore prices. They offer free shipping both ways with flexible renting periods. Even though it's a rental program, you CAN highlight the textbooks.


Also know that with every textbook rental, Campus Book Rentals donates to Operation Smile, which provides life-changing cleft lip surgeries on children whose families would not be able to afford it otherwise. As you help yourself with your education, you can also help others!

***All thoughts and opinions are completely mine. I am being offered a credit to my next textbook rental in return for an honest review.***

Friday, October 5, 2012

Shell's Spin to Save

Wow... during the hour at the grocery store, gas went up $.20! Thankfully, I can use my fuel rewards card (as I've already used my Kroger rewards) at Shell stations. I'm a bit of a gas snob (wow, that sounds really weird), but we use Shell gas about 99% of the time because it gets us better gas mileage than competitor's gas. If you haven't seen the Shell fuel rewards card, you can Spin to Save $.05 to $.25 a gallon now, and find ways to keep on saving! How much will you be saving this week?!?