Tuesday, November 20, 2012

My Memories Suite Review and Giveaway

I was recently given the chance to use and review some incredible scrapbooking software from My Memories Suite which so far I have only scratched the surface of all the possibilities. I had only used online photo editing before and this - is so much easier!  I didn't have enough time to get as creative as this program will allow but I will tell you what I love about it so far.

With each page created, you can crop or resize the picture right in the frame on the page which made it easier to see exactly what the page will look like.  I am a casual scrapbooker in that I have quite a few kits and stamps that are in a closet gathering dust at the moment because digging out pictures, pages and templates is time consuming.  This scrapbook software puts everything in one place for you without having to open the closet again, saving time and a mess to clean up when you're done.  Double bonus if you ask me.

Here is the first template I used:

The free templates included in the program are all user friendly and for someone like me who has a hard time coming up with my own templates, they all worked perfectly and gave me ideas for making originals.  

It also uses all the fonts you have available on your computer in the software. All pictures in the templates can be adjusted to size if need be and there is so much flexibility to create your own template for things such as facebook covers, printable crafts, banners, headers and so much more! 

Check out some other creations I came up with using their great templates - I'm a digital scrapbooking believer, soon to be expert.  (Yeah maybe not expert, I will leave that to the actual experts)


I may need help picking out a Christmas card this year!

As you can see, it's easy to do (if I can do it...) I think all of these took a little over an hour or so to put together and no clean up. If you are a scrapbooker looking for an easier way, this is it!

A special offer is being given to you today - My Memories Suite is offering one lucky reader a copy of their digital software for FREE!  If that's not enough, or you can't wait a week for the giveaway to end, I also have a special code that will get you 10% off your order.  (See the banner below the giveaway for details.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My code is: STMMMS48009

Note: I was given a free copy of software to review and giveaway.  All opinions are my own and no compensation was obtained.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Girls Crochet Headbands Review and #Giveaway

A highlight of my daughter's week was getting a big package addressed just to her that contained some fabulous items from Girls Crochet Headbands.  GCH offers so many fabulous items aside from the handmade headbands including gorgeous bows and flower clips, bloomers, hats, legwarmers and tutus among the other accessories.  Think ruffle butts and all the girly fun only at a great price! I almost didn't believe my eyes when I first perused the site being that I would be paying twice as much in the store for most items. I was nostalgic with my daughter's excitement knowing what was in store and impressed the quality of the products that were sent. 

The hair accessories are all interchangeable in that each bow or flower has a clip that can be connected to a loop on any headband it might match. They can also be warn individually in a child's hair which comes in handy for those oopsy haircuts that we are currently growing out. These headbands and accessories came packaged cute and complete for an easy gift for that special little girl in your life..

When I was contacted, I admitted that my eight year old daughter is not easy on hair things by any means, being somewhat of a tomboy at heart, it's not easy to do much with her hair on a regular basis just because she's not into it (yet, she's 8 so I know it's coming). If I'm lucky enough to get something in her hair in the morning, it is outa there by lunchtime or lost by the time she gets off the bus. 

The excitement when she took the package out of the mailbox matched that of Ralphie's Dad and his frageeilay award, the anticipation conversation went pretty similar. As soon as the package was opened, the fashion show began and my little tomboy became the girly girl I knew was in there. Here are some of the items that were featured in the fashion show:

White and Hot Pink Zebra Loopsy Loo Hair Bow
Double Knot Christmas Bow

Zebra Cotton Legwarmers with Ruffle
Tutus for Girls

Silver 1.5" Crochet Headband 
Ivory U-Shaped Headband
Blue Zoe Flower Hair Clip (not pictured)

She spent a good while taking various flowers and bows and putting them on different headbands each time running to the mirror to see how she looked.  She has been wearing a headband or a clip by itself every day since. It's been almost a week; nothing has been lost and is more often still in her hair at the end of the day.  She is also planning to design an outfit that includes the legwarmers and the tutu so she can wear it to school.

I love that they are offering you a chance to win $30 worth of these Girls Crochet Headbands for that little girl on your list this year. The best part?  In case you enter and don't win or if your patience won't let you wait until the giveaway is over, I also have a code for you that's good until Dec 13th - It's coffee20 (case sensitive) and good for 20% off your entire order!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Girls Crochet Headbands can be found online here:

Pinterest: pinterest.com/gcheadbands

*I was graciously sent an array of items from Girls Crochet Headbands for review offering a giveaway to my readers.  The opinions stated are my own and those of an actual daughter who is bringing home her hair accessories most times still in her hair. This giveaway ends 11/20/12 at 12:01 EST.  Winner will be contacted by email.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Hand Stamped Twitter Handle Necklace #Giveaway

There are many things that give me joy in my week - this week one of them came in the mail from Lauren Nicole Gifts that completely brightened my day! Denise who owns the company named after her niece, specializes in personalized jewelry and handmade monogrammed gifts for every age and occasion. She recently launched a line of social media tag necklaces. Here is a sneak peek at her sterling silver twitter handle necklace.  

This is what I call winning! Who wouldn't love to sport their very own twitter handle on one of these hand stamped beauties?  Each piece is customized to your specifics and can be stamped either in ALL CAPS AWESOME like mine pictured below or lower case letters.  Mine came accompanied by a pearl but there is also an array of gemstones including all birthstones to personalize it even more, some of which which can also be personally stamped or dated.

The necklace is delivered in its own cute little gift box complete with instructions of care and jewelry cleaning cloth to shine up the sterling silver when needed. It would make a great gift for those like my daughter who have a not so common name and are definitely heirloom quality. I couldn't wait to wear mine when it came and have worn it every day since. The chain is very sturdy despite its delicate appearance; the pendant is thicker than I expected making it habitual to play with while it's around my neck which by the way is a great way to show it off!

There are various other styles of jewelry to choose from including rings, bracelets and earrings but I gotta say I love the necklaces the most. Here are just a few of my favorites - it was hard to narrow it down to these...

  1. Sterling Silver Heart of Gold Name Charm Necklace
  2. Hand Stamped Mini HOPE Necklace
  3. Footprint and Handprint Double Sided Necklace
  4. "I Love you to the Moon and back" Pendant Necklace

The best part? They are hand stamped right here in the USA in my home state of Indiana to be exact.  Extra added bonus? There's something in it for you because a $75 gift certificate for your very own hand stamped necklace of your choice is being generously offered to one lucky reader! Enter to win below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck to all who enter!

You can find Denise on Facebook at Lauren Nicole Gifts 
and on Twitter at @LaurenNicoleLLC

*I was offered a personalized necklace to review and at the same time give you a chance to win one. Opinions are my own and this is my first rafflecopter giveaway so I hope it goes without a hitch. Please be gentle and enter often! This contest will end at 12am EST on 11/13/12

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Big Debate

While usually, you can find me talking about coffee and family - which are never topics for debate in my case, they just come with the package - I'm branching outside my comfort box here today to talk to you about the Big Debate. No, I'm not talking about the presidential debates - you can sigh relief here - we are discussing more serious issues than middle class taxes, immigration and gas prices, this is about the future of our country and our children people!

I'm speaking today on the topic I debate about the most over at 

The Sarcasm Goddess!
Leave my insides out of it!

Come visit me over there and see who really won the debate!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Resilience in Children - Parenting 101

You can help kids by simply presenting them with opportunities and allowing them to help themselves.  Teaching children these real life skills can start at an early age, probably earlier than you might even think possible.  It's been proven time and time again by my friend and featured guest today.

"Resilience grows each time we give our kids a new skill."
~Deborah Gilboa, MD

Self Esteem and Children

Child psychology tells us that building self esteem in children will aid Early Childhood Development but if it's just being handed over to them, being continually pumped by parents, what is that really Teaching Children? Think about it, have you learned more by someone telling you something repeatedly or by actually going through it yourself? Why not help your children learn the same way?  Have them build their own self esteem by teaching kids skills, presenting them with the opportunities and situations to become proud of themselves.  You are probably already doing it in one way or another, you may just have to tweak it a little.

Resilience in children 

Many Parenting Books give you too much information and not necessarily the specific information you may need for your particular child. 

Present: Doctor G's 1st book in the Three R's of Parenting Series

Teach Resilience: Raising Kids Who Can Launch! 


A straightforward, purse size read that can be referred to often (and easily in the carpool line) that offers you 50 opportunities that can easily and immediately be pulled off in real life situations navigated by age group. Teaching children resilience isn't nearly as hard as it sounds.

Here's a little taste by age:
2 - 4
Trying a New Food
Handling Boredom
5 - 7
What's for Dinner?
Clean a Bathroom
8 - 10
Field Trip Forms
Setting an Alarm Clock

Not only does this book give you ideas on how to build self esteem in children, DocG also extends the book by providing helpful links and videos that can be instantly viewed on your phone through QR codes. She even gets into those hard to reach tween and teen years as well going up to the ripe age of 17.

After reading this book, my son later came to me with a Nintendo DS problem that required calling an 800#.  I had him call the number and navigate the automated system until he got to a live person.  I only had to give an okay, then handed the phone back to him so he could follow directions from the representative.  Guess what?  The problem was solved by him, not by mommy coming to the rescue.  The pride was apparent in him, so much that he wanted to call back later to get his game online.  

Give your kids the Early Education they need in life to be successful and resilient rather than dependent on you.  Make it easier on yourself now. 
They will thank you for it later!

Doctor G (Deborah Gilboa, MD) is a board certified Family Physician, mom of four kids and founder of AskDoctorG.com, a resource for parents and educators who are working to raise great kids. She gives parenting workshops around the country and offers great free tools for raising kids who are Respectful, Responsible and Resilient! (Hello - the Three R's)

She can be found:

On twitter: @AskDocG 
Facebook: AskDoctorG 

*Disclosure: I was given a book for review and was in no way paid for this post.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Twofer Tuesday: Rites of Passage Edition

This past week has proved to be interesting, a week with scenes that my son will have etched in his mind like a brain burn that is likely to last well into adulthood.  It's one of those good parenting skills weeks where as a parent you wonder if maybe you have ruined a childhood, or at least broken it a little more.  I still wonder what goes on inside that head of his and when you hear the children's rites of passage he achieved this week, you probably will too...

It started early last week when he lost a tooth which he not only extracted but also lost so we were a couple days late as it was.  At ten, he's now losing molars, I'm not sure exactly what they even go for these days.

I went into his room at the ungodly tooth fairy hour assuming he was asleep -  of course that was my first mistake.  I slipped the numerous quarters under his blanket which was now next to him, his pillow being on the floor probably from some sleeping frenzy of sorts.  I was proud not having made a sound with the coins, thinking I had another successful mom moment under my belt I walked toward the door.  That's when I heard a small whisper from across the room:

"You know the tooth isn't there right?"

My heart instantly hit the floor, I could feel my cheeks and chest burning in the darkness. Could I be busted? He is 10 after all.

"What are you talking about?" I asked in hopes that somehow he was sleep talking and wouldn't remember a thing about this late night encounter.

"The tooth isn't there, I still couldn't find it."

Wanting to just tell him to go to sleep and run like hell, I found myself walking back to the bed, searching for something to say without having to give myself up. 

"Mom, is the tooth fairy real?" he asked in an innocently yet in a tone that said he already knew the real answer.

I decided answer a question with a question.
"Did you just bust me?' I said leaning in to kiss him.
He asked again, "Is the tooth fairy real?"

"Did you just bust me?"
"I guess I did" he said smiling in the dark.
"Don't. tell. anybody."

*     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *     *

Fast forward now to a couple days later while I'm cleaning the kitchen counters and find this artistic little gem colored by my daughter:

I pass it off for her to put away in her room.

"Who did this?" she asked in a disgusted tone, "someone drew a Y on the top of her shirt mom, look."

She's got cleavage!
I immediately turn to my son who naturally denies the whole thing.
Mu husband walks into the room and I hand him the paper to which he has the same reply questioning the boy.

"Who did this?"

"I don't know."

"Are you telling me your dad did this?" I ask, "I know I didn't do it."

We all sit down at the kitchen table as my mind is being blown while at the same time, my husband shoots me an enormous smile of pride from the other side as soon as he sees nobody else is looking.

"I swear mom, I didn't do it, why would I do that?"

"I don't know - why WOULD you do that?  People just don't go around putting Y's on girls chests for no reason do they?"

"I wouldn't do that," he said with the same look I saw that fateful tooth fairy night.  
We both knew he did it.

It was obvious.  
My sweet little boy is starting to grow up, growing out of the innocence all at once.
Nobody told me it would happen all in the same week.

What rites of passage have your kids survived?

*this post is linked up with @SarcasmGoddess on her Procrastinators Year in Review link up

Monday, October 8, 2012

Join Me for #CoffeeChat

Over the last couple weeks, I've decided that Mondays get a better response both in comments on facebook and responses on twitter so get used to #CoffeeChat on Mondays. Exciting announcement: I will also be starting a chat on twitter using the hashtag starting next Monday the 15th starting at 8:30am CST.  Please join in on the chat if you are around, or plan to be there if you usually aren't.  Hilarity may ensue, or I may be talking to myself, who knows...either way, I'm going to have a good time!

Today let's visit Beaune, France and a little place by the market square to have our chat..

I think since working at a coffee shop in the early 90's, I have always had a pipe dream that I would one day own my own shop..

Your coffee question today: 
Tell me - who introduced you to coffee?

I know coffee is a learned experience or at least something you acquired over the years and I want to know your story. Everybody has a story. To find out mine, please see one of my early posts about how far back coffee and I go.  You will find I was pretty young when my addiction was set into place and maybe you share that in common with me.

I can't wait to see you next week on the twitter chat - don't worry, you know I will remind you before then!  Let me know in the comments if you will be interested in joining (or lurking around) the chat.  Hoping this will be a regular weekly thing!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

10 Things Taken From #BloggyCon

As I've mentioned, I'm slowly becoming a conference junkie as it's becoming a goal of mine to meet people I've never known - does that even sound sane? There are people I know I was destined to meet this past weekend, never knowing them before this conference, that I know I will definitely see again in the future.  This happened at Bloggy Boot Camp as well but with this Bloggy Conference, it was three fold.  People were very open and genuine whether they were speakers or newbies, everyone seemed to be on the same level when it came to standing in line for a head shot, or taking notes from fellow speakers probably because we were all there for the same cause - Growing with our Blogs.  Even though the growth was not the same for all, everyone got something out of it, leaving inspired with great ideas on how to move forward.  

There's bacon in those olives!
I am still wrapping my head around Bloggy Con I think, because it was the first multi-day experience I've had which takes it to a completely different level than the others I've gone to. Not to mention the nights in between with burgers, great ice cream and jaw dropping bacon filled olives in martinis! 

Tiffany and Sherry do an awesome job in selecting the speakers and sponsors chosen. Everything was professional, yet easy to digest - especially the coffee break - and the candy filled dishes on the tables were a perfect touch. Connections made were meaningful. 

It was encouraging to watch people meeting each other with hugs whether it was for the first time in an elevator or after knowing each other before meeting in person.  It was hard to tell the difference. Everybody was gracious, open and able to learn from one another. I never felt out of place sharing my own ideas in any session or conversation.

I have a few posts in the works that I would like to share based on the sessions I went to and the people I met, but let's just start with my top 10 take aways...

1. Blog more often, like nobody is reading.
2. Give yourself grace.
3. Over the top is funnier than real life.
4. Be concise.
5. Have a call to action. 
6. There is no magic formula.
7. A Brakini  TM does actually exist.
8. Deliver the punch line first.
9. I need to talk more.
10. Life is about friends.

If you haven't been to a conference, I would definitely recommend Bloggy Con as a perfect place to start.  It's a great opportunity to find like minded people whether you are a newbie or an experienced blogger. I really have @AskDocG to thank for this (and the picture above) as she was the first to put a bee in my bonnet about this conference and was generous enough to help me get there. Without her, I would be in a different place.  

Life is about friends!

Have you been to any blogging type conferences?  

What was your experience?

P.S. I think I left my shoes in Cincinnati.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Do You Drink Alone?

While I'm on location in Cincinnati for Bloggy Con this fine Friday, I offer you a spectacular view of the Mosel River in Germany for our Coffee Chat today.  I hope you enjoy!

Wouldn't that just be an ideal place to have coffee?  I think so!

Feel free to pin these coffee pictures today or what have you because they are a bit fun!

Your coffee question today:
Who do you drink coffee with?

I usually drink with my husband that's if he happens to be home that particular morning.  There are days when I drink alone and I'm fine with that as well.  In that case, more for me right?

So what about you?  Do you drink alone?

Monday, September 24, 2012

Monday Blues

First Monday of Fall giving you the blues?  With the Autumn weather upon us in the first days of Fall, the temperature has dropped here significantly in the last week including lows in the 30s so I decided we would go somewhere warm today...

Our Coffee Chat today is brought to you by the beautiful Fountains Resort in Orlando Florida which I would like to do a full write up on being that it was such an incredible place to stay.  This wasn't even the pool we hung out at when we stayed there.  The one we swam at came complete with cabanas (and the boys to go with them) and water slides. Let's just say the kids would have been happy there all day instead of going to the parks.  I really should have planned a day just at the hotel besides just the day we arrived there. Now that you're nice and warm, here's your coffee fix.  See which one applies to you most this morning...

The coffee question of the day:  Are there certain times of the day you drink coffee or do you have a steady flow all day long?

For me this really depends on the day.  There are some days that it's on all day long and then there's others that it's only made in the morning.  Most days, there's one pot in the morning and one after dinner because that's how I roll.  How do you roll?

Enjoy your week!!