Keep Your Kids' Artwork Organized

Dec 29, 2009


I sent this idea out (via email) to all of my Mommy friends about a year ago and I decided it’s worthy of a blog post. I don’t come up with a whole lot of good ideas, but I think this is one of them (excuse me as I pat myself on the back).

And, I figured now is the perfect time to post it – the new year is almost upon us. Many of us (if not most) will feel the need to organize our homes and clean out the clutter.

If you're like me, you have a LOT of artwork from your kids that you don't know what to do with. It took me 6+ years of trial and error, but I finally have a system that is working really well (and not taking up a lot of room!)

So, I thought I'd share it - because I would have LOVED advice on this 6 or so years ago.

I went to the craft store, Michaels, and bought 3 matching decorative accordion file boxes, in 3 different colors. (They cost $19.99 but I went three separate times with three 40% off coupons – you know, the ones that always come in the mail or are in the Sunday paper) so they came to $12 each plus tax. I’ve noticed that Hobby Lobby has similar accordion files and they often have a coupon on their website for 40% a single item in their store. You can find their weekly coupon by clicking here.

I also bought decorative letter stickers so that I could "write" each kid’s name on each folder.

Then, using my computer, I made labels for the inside sections - you know, for each grade. (I did not attach the grade stickers on in advance - just in case 2nd grade takes up less room than, let's say, 3rd grade.) I just printed out a sheet of all the grades, stuck on what we needed thus far, and put the rest of the sheet in a back section.

As Jordan or Bennett (and ultimately, Maclain) bring home their "art", I decide what is "keep worthy" and stick it in the current "slot" in the accordion file. The file is larger than 8 1/2 x 11 so it holds pretty big projects. I also save report cards, certificates, notes from teachers, photos that come home from events and things like that in there.


Then, I bought a different kind of accordion file for me and my husband. I divided it into 3 sections -one for each kid. In those slots go the things the kids make for us - you know, birthday cards, notes they write us, pictures they draw of our family, etc. AND, I always save, for myself, handprint and footprint artwork.

This way, when my kids are "old and gone" I can give each of them their folder - to have as a nice memory of their school years - and I have my own folder of special memories and "gifts" from the kids.

Hope this gives you all some good ideas! I bet many of you already have good systems, but since it took me so long to come up with one, I wanted to share it!

One more update to this post:  If the project is really big (like a posterboard or a 3D model) then what I do is take a photo of the child with the project and put the photo in the appropriate grade "slot" and toss the project.  I don't have room to keep all the "big" things -but photos will suffice!


Save Money by Shopping After-Christmas Sales

Dec 26, 2009

I don’t usually do blog posts on the weekends, but this has been an unusual week (with Christmas at the end of it.) And, I wanted to make sure to “discuss” with you the great deals you can get now that Christmas is over!


Starting today, stores will begin having their “After-Christmas sales.” Let me preface this by saying, I am not encouraging you to go out and buy a bunch of crap you don’t need just because it comes with a good price tag! But, I am gently nudging you to go shopping (if you can afford it) and stock up on things for next Christmas!

I plan on hitting a few stores today (and more later in the week). My goal is this: I want to be able to buy discounted Christmas paraphernalia for next year. For example, I make peppermint bark for everyone I know so I’d like to stock up on the little bags I put it in for each friend. I might stock up on wrapping paper or gift bags. Tape is sometimes on sale, too. I need more of those label stickers – for both my Christmas cards and to go on the top of the presents.

My best friend, Renee, gave me a great idea this past week (which I’m going to keep in mind when I shop over the next few days.) I had been complaining about how hard it is, now that my oldest child is seven, to make sure that “Santa” and “Mommy and Daddy” have different wrapping paper when all the presents get wrapped. Plus, there is always the issue of my handwriting on the “Santa” packages and whether it looks like they came from me. Renee suggested that I not only buy special “Santa” paper, but I buy a different “Santa” paper for each of my 3 kids. That way, it’s clear just by the paper that a.) The gift is from Santa and b.) Which child it belongs to (no labels necessary!). What a great idea! So, I’ll be looking for special (discounted) Santa paper, too.

I also always have a list on my computer of who I buy Christmas presents for each year. I plan on bringing that list for me when I shop this week and seeing if there might be anything I can get them for next year! For example, I am the person who fills my mother-in-law’s stocking, so maybe I can find all her stocking stuffers for next year 12 months early!

Last year, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post, I was able to find a ton of girl gifts – make-up sets, jewelry-making kits, etc. – for just a few dollars a piece. They were all in the Christmas section (though, none of them had Christmas decorations on them.) So, I was able to stock up on gifts for Jordan’s friends last December and give them out whenever she attended a birthday party all year long. My stash is beginning to run low, though, so I’ll be looking to refill it.

My kids really wanted lights on our trees this year. Usually, we just put up a few of those big balloon decorations (which, by the way, I got a few days after Christmas during past years. I was able to get a $100 rotating snow globe for 25 bucks once!) but we have never really done the “light thing.” The kids, though, begged my husband so much that he eventually gave in and went and bought some LCD lights for our trees. He spent $40 on 4 strands and they only covered one little tree! (Our yard was a tad bit pitiful this year.) I’m encouraging him, though, when he goes to Lowes or Home Depot tomorrow, to see if he can purchase what we need for the rest of our yard on clearance this year!

We also bought our Christmas tree on Clearance one year.  If you've been thinking about moving into the pre-lit tree phase of your life, now is the time to buy it!

Remember, the stores will have good sales tomorrow, but the prices on the Christmas stuff will keep going down all week. Chances are, most stores tomorrow will be at about 50% off, but as the week progresses, they’ll go down to 90%. It may be “slim pickings” by then, but on occasion, you may just hit the jackpot and really get some great deals!

Happy shopping!

Old Navy Jeans - Sale TODAY!

Old Navy Jeans are on sale today!

Adults are $15.  Kids are $10!

I love their jeans because they come in LONG!

FREE Taco Bell Fresco Taco

Taco Bell is giving out FREE Fresco Tacos.

Click here for your coupon.  Coupon is valid for 7 days after you download the coupon (or until they have given out a million coupons!)

$9.99 Brand-Name Shoes at Amazon

Amazon is having a great sale right now on brand-name shoes, such as Adidas, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Crocs and New Balance.  The shoes that are on sale are only $9.99!

Most are kids' sizes.  They have sneakers, Mary Janes, flip flops, etc.  A complete list of the shoes can be found by clicking here!

(And remember, Amazon gives FREE shipping on orders over $25.)

$4 Credit for Amazon's Video on Demand

Dec 23, 2009

I must admit, I didn't realize before today that you could rent movies on Amazon.  Most new releases are $2.99, but older movies are only 99 cents!  And, you can watch them right on Amazon - you don't need to download any weird software!

They are offering a $4 credit right now (good until January 3).    Click here for how to redeem.

AND, as it turns out, they have FREE movies you can watch - and they change weekly.  Right now, it's March of the Wooden Soldiers, Scrooge and Plan 9 From Outer Space.  Click here for the FREEBIES!

Enjoy!

40% Off Your ENTIRE Purchase at Ann Taylor

Here's a great deal for last minute gifts (or maybe gifts for yourself!)

Ann Taylor is offering 40% off your ENTIRE purchase - in store or on line.

Click here to redeem.

20% Off Your Entire Purchase At Sally Beauty Supply

Click here to get a coupon for 20% off your entire purchase at Sally Beauty Supply.  Coupon expires on 12/31/09. 

10% Off Barnes and Noble Coupon - In Store

Click here for a 10% off Barnes and Noble in-store coupon.

FREE Pint of International Delight

This is a deal for Facebook members.

If you become a fan of International Delight by clicking here and then, click on their Holiday Giveaway tab at the top, you can register to get a coupon for a FREE pint of International Delight.

I don't about you, but coffee just doesn't taste right to me without a little flavored creamer!

Your coupon should come in the mail 4 weeks.  Only the first 100,000 get a coupon, so hurry!

Test Soft Scrub Products

Have you ever had an interest in testing products before the hit the shelves?  Well, this may be your chance!

Soft Scrub is looking for 200 "Captains" to test their new products.

Click here to apply.

And, let me know if you get the job!

Day 12 of FREE Whataburger - LAST DAY!






Get a FREE Whataburger tomorrow, Christmas Eve, at Whataburger, with this coupon.

Enjoy!

FREE Norton Online Family Monitor Subscription

Dec 21, 2009

Norton is offering a FREE subscription to their online family monitor system. 

Register for it and it will show you what you kids are doing online.  You can set age-approriate rules for each child and manage things like where they go online and how long they can stay online.  It also gives you tools to manage who they talk to and what information they share online.

GREAT way to help keep our kids safe!

Click here for it.

FREE Starbucks Music Sampler

Once again, this is a Facebook deal.

Become a fan of Itunes by clicking here and then download a Starbucks Music Sampler of 20 songs.

FREE ESPN Poster with your Kid's Photo

Click here to make an adorable ESPN poster with your child's photo on it!

New York and Company - 50% off Everything

Today is the last day to get 50% off EVERYTHING at New York and Company.

I just got a great pair of jeans - I ordered 2 pairs.  One didn't fit, so I returned them to the store (no return shipping charges that way!)

Click here to shop.

$5 Magazine Subscriptions

Amazon has some magazines for $5 (a few are $10) for a year subscription.

Click here to shop.

Gap - 20% Off Sale Items Online

Today only:  Get 20% off sale items online by using the code D7LCGRYFHJGY.

Click here to shop.

Oatmeal Coupon = CHEAP Oatmeal

Dec 18, 2009

Click here to sign up to get a coupon for 75 cents of a box of Mom's Best Oatmeal. 

Then, once you get it, go to CVS or Walgreens to redeem it.  They sell these boxes for $1 each!

Thus, 25 cents for a whole box!

Yeah!

Barnes and Noble Coupon - 15% off




Use the code M8W4D7R to get 15% off one item at the Barnes and Noble website. 

They also have free holiday shipping for 3 more days (on orders of $25 or more or $10 for their members). 

FREE Justaburger at Whataburger Coupon - TODAY ONLY!

Click here for Day 9's coupon for a FREE Justaburger. 

Good only between 4 and 8 PM.

Dollar General Coupon

Okay, this is a deal for those of you on Facebook.  Become a fan of Dollar General and receive some sort of coupon for their store on December 18 (today!)  So, act fast!  (I don't know what the deal is, but you can always 'unfan' them if it stinks!) :-)

This is what they say about it on their fan page:

We have an early Christmas present for all of our Facebook Fans. A link to an internet coupon for savings across the store on Saturday 12/19 will be placed on the MyDollarGeneral Fan Page on Friday 12/18. Be sure to spread the word to all your friends and share the savings.

This is a great store to get stocking stuffers!

Walgreens - 15% off Entire Purchase

How To Find and Use Coupon Codes: Don't pay full price, get discounts using coupon codes
Okay, here's another Facebook deal.

Become a fan of Walgreens and you'll be able to get a coupon for 15% off you ENTIRE purchase at Walgreens!

And, the coupon gives you 20% off of Walgreen brand items!

Coupon expires today, so hurry!

FREE Scoth Fur Fighter



Okay, I'll say it right up front.  We don't have any furry pets, nor do we want any.

I am, also,  always the first parent to say "No" when asked if we can bring home the 2nd grade class guinea pig.

But, if you have a pet, this FREEBIE will interest you.

Click here to get a FREE Scotch Fur Fighter Tool and 2 refill sheets.  (Plus, a coupon to buy more sheets in the store.)

FREE Movie Ticket

Dec 17, 2009

I'm a little late on my blog post today because I had an early morning dentist appointment. But, it turned out to still be a productive morning, because as I was reading my People Magazine in his office, I saw an ad for how to get a FREE movie ticket.

If you purchase any product from Caffeine Free Diet Coke or Nescafe Taster's Choice and mail in the receipt, they will send you  one FREE movie ticket (which can be used for the movie of your choice at participating theaters - APR $10).  You  must mail the orignial receipt with the item circled and include your mailing address.

Items must be purchased between 12/11/10 and 1/15/10 and postmarked by 1/15/10. Limit one ticket per household. It may take 4-8 weeks for delivery.

Mail your receipt to:
People Previews
PO Box 5477
New  York, NY 10185

Good Deal on Lunchables

Dec 16, 2009


Making lunch for my kids is a drag!!! Day after day after day. It's like I'm living the movie Groundhog Day sometimes!

But, I have found a way to make it easier on me (and a little cheaper).

If you click here, you can get a coupon for 55 cents off a Lunchable (the kind without the drink). The coupon is to be used at a Walmart Supercenter. (When I looked, it was the first coupon on the first page.)

The regular price is $1.25. With the coupon, that makes the lunchable 70 cents.

I can afford that - and my kids will be happy to have something different than the usual lunch I give them!

Enjoy!

Free Taquito at Whataburger - ONLY until 11 AM


Okay, you only have until 11 AM TODAY to take advantage of Whataburger's Free deal today.

It's a FREE Taquito (that's a breakfast taco, I learned). They're actually very yummy.

The hassle is, Whataburge has decided, since maybe Day 3 of their giveaway, that you can't use the coupon in the drive-through. (A big deal if you have to lug kids in the restaurant with you!) But still, it's worth a free breakfast for my family.

Click here for the coupon - and HURRY!

FREE Nivea Bottle at CVS


If you click here, you can find a coupon for $2 off 1 bottle of Nivea.

Next week, beginning 12/20, CVS is going to have Nivea for $5.99 a bottle BUT you get $5 in extra care bucks when you buy it.

So, you actually pay $3.99 (with the coupon) for the bottle and then get $5 back in Extra Care bucks (which is store credit).

Thus, it's technically FREE with a little extra store credit.

Print this coupon now, though, in case it isn't availabe next week. (In order to find it easily, click on the left side link that says "Personal Care" and it was the first coupon I saw.)

Remember, you need to get an Extra Care Card at CVS to get this deal!

$5 Subscription to 'O': The Oprah Magazine

Dec 15, 2009

Amazon is offering a one-year subscription to 'O' for just $5! This is their "Magazine Steal of the Week" and expires on Saturday night at 11:59 PM.

What a great gift idea! (Or, a great gift for you!) I have a subscription to 'O' and I love it - though I'm not sure how I got it! (If you bought it for me, thank you!)

Here's the deal: O, The Oprah Magazine (1-year)

$5 Off $10 Purchase at Claire's

I KNOW there is a lot of "stuff" my 7-year-old daughter would enjoy from Claire's - so, here's a great deal to help me out.

If you join Claire's "circle" - which I imagine is their mailing list - you get a coupon for $5 off a $10 purchase.

Click here for the deal.

FREE Veggie Tales DVD

I don't know about you, but my kids have always loved the Veggie Tales DVDs.

So, when I saw this deal, I had to post it. Veggie Tales is offering you a FREE DVD of your choice (6 to choose from). They do charge you the $2.99 shipping, but still - that's a GREAT deal! (You need to sign-up for their newsletter to get the deal.)

I'm going to make sure I order mine right away! What a great Christmas present (or post Christmas present - if it doesn't get here on time!) Especially because I'm having a hard time coming up with gifts for our 18 month old! (You know, he's the 3rd child - gets all the hand-me-downs. He doesn't really NEED anything!)

Click here for the deal.

BOGO Special K Box


I don't usually post food coupons, but I thought this was a pretty good one. Register with Special K and get a coupon for Buy One Box, Get One Free (up to a $4.49 value.)


Coupon Expires 1/31/10


Click here for the deal.


Free Disposable Camera at Target

Dec 14, 2009

UPDATE: It seems Target has removed this coupon from their site. Maybe they realized they'd have a rush on disposable cameras?

Target has a $5 off any Kodak Camera coupon on their webstite. Click here to get it - I think it's on page 7. You can use it towards the Kodak Funsave Disposable camera - which is about $4. Thus, FREE!!!

I know that disposable cameras are so, well, antiquated. However, I have any idea how you might use one.

When I was pregnant with my first baby, I had a car accident. It wasn't a big one. I wasn't hurt. The other driver wasn't hurt. In fact, the cars looked fine, too. It was my fault. I 'tapped' the car in front of me at a light.

Anyway, we exchanged insurance information and, wouldn't you know it, that woman tried to claim damage to her car a week later!!!

It was all eventually straightened out, but it was a HUGE hassle with the insurance companies.

When I told my friend, Renae, at work about it, she went out and bought me a disposable camera and told me to keep in in my glove compartment. That way, if this ever happened again, I had a camera there and could take a photo of the "undamaged" car - on the spot.

So, that's what I do! I've never had to use the camera, but I'm glad to know I have it!

Days 9, 10, 11, 12, 13 Amazon's Free Music

I'm a little behind on Amazon's Free Music downloads.

So, here they are:

Day 9: This Christmas Girl by James Pants

Day 10: Silent Night by House of Heroes

Day 11: Oh, Holy Night by Richie McDonald

Day 12: All Wrapped Up in Christmas by Tracy Lawrence

Day 13: Mr. Heatmiser by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

Click here to download them.

FREE Holiday Sampler from ITunes

ITunes is offering a FREE holiday sampler of 20 songs.

Some of them are Angels We Have Heard on High by Aretha Franklin and Oh, Come All Ye Faithful by Amy Grant.

Click here to check it out.

Snapfish Deal: BOGO Free Calendar Plus FREE Flip Book

Still need a gift idea?

Snapfish is offering a good one!

Buy One, Get One Free on Photo Calendars and then, you get a free 4x6 photo book!

It's their "As Seen On Rachel Ray" deal.

Click here to take advantage of it!

Toys R Us Coupon; BOGO 50% Off Little Tikes - Today Only!

Click here to get a Buy One Get One 50% off on all Little Tikes Infant and Preschool toys.

Coupon is good for today (12/14) only!

Zhu Zhu Pets at Toys R Us

Okay, if you STILL have not gotten a Zhu Zhu pet and all their "toys," Toys R Us says they will have a truck delivery every day from now on. One pet per family. I believe my local store is on holiday hours and opens at 7 AM, but call your store to see what time they open.

Last week, I went on "delivery day" at 8 AM - they said they'd have the Zhu Zhus at 7 AM, but I had no problem getting one even an hour later. I guess everyone else was at work!

Good luck!

Click here for their deals this week.

40% off One Item at Ann Taylor

Dec 12, 2009

Get 40% off one item at Ann Taylor (good until tomorrow, Sunday, the 13th). Use the code HOLIDAY during checkout.

Free shipping on orders $150 or more.

For the coupon to use in the store, click here.

Zhu Zhu Pets Available Online - For a Reasonable Price

Dec 11, 2009


Do you still need a Zhu Zhu pet or one of his toys?

Well, last I checked (thanks to my friend, Joanna) you can go to Shopko's website and purchase them for $11.99 (plus shipping, I imagine). They also have a ton of funhouse stuff and toys for the hamsters.

Hurry before they're no longer in stock! It beats standing in an enormous line of people at 7 AM - TRUST ME!

$10 Off Toys and Games at Barnes and Noble

Use the code Y8V3U7F at Barnes and Noble's website and you can get $10 off your toy or game purchase of $19.95 or more.

CATCH: You MUST use a Mastercard when you pay!

I'm not sure when the offer expires. It just says, "For a limited time" starting today.

The Names On My Christmas Card List

All week long, I have been working on completing our Christmas cards and yearly family letter, with the hope of getting them in the mail sooner than later. Over the years, I have developed a system which works pretty well. The key component to my strategy is that I have all my card recipients’ addresses stored in a Word document that is ready to print on the labels. This way, each year, there is no need to go searching for the addresses and writing them out by hand. I just open the file, stick my labels in the printer, and hit PRINT.

Of course, this system is not foolproof. Because we were an Army family for so long (and honestly, still think of ourselves in that way), many of our friends are military. Thus, that means each year many of the addresses have changed. And then, of course, people get married, they get divorced, they get remarried, names change – and then, a year later, they change again . . . I try to keep up with the changes all year long, as the friends email us their new locations and marital status and, of course, military rank. However, to be on the safe side, today, I scanned through all of the names and addresses and found a bunch of mistakes.

The Gash family and their five kids? Oops. No longer at Ft Leavenworth . . . need to get their new address in Korea.

COL. and Mrs. Watson? Didn’t he become a General this year? (Just kidding, Bryan! I know you were promoted!)

My friend, Renae? Did I change her last name when she got married this past summer? Did I add her new husband?

You get the idea. It’s a lot of checking and rechecking to make sure I have it right.

As I carefully scanned the list of familiar names, and smiled as I thought of people, I was also filled with a deep sense of sadness. For, over the past 15 months, three of my very close friends had passed away and all of them were still on my list. I paused at each name, my fingers poised over the keyboard and yet, I couldn’t bring myself to delete any of them.

Instead, memories filled my mind.

It wasn’t all that long ago that I met Marilynn for lunch to tell her I was pregnant with my third baby. And then, exactly one year to the day of that meal, I was speaking at her funeral.

Frances was an elderly woman I befriended. (Okay, who am I kidding? She befriended me, convinced we were just meant to be the best of friends.) On her 80th birthday, I took her out to a movie and then we came home to my house, where I threw her a surprise birthday party. She told me it was the only “real” surprise party she ever had in her life. I had no idea, that day, how few birthdays she would have left. She passed away last year on Christmas Day.

And then there was Jason – Major Jason George. I felt my eyes fill with tears as I saw his name. It was just a year ago, as I prepared my Christmas cards, that I emailed him to make sure it was still the correct address and he replied that it was, but not for long. He had just gotten orders for Iraq.

What a difference a year can make.

For, with not one of those three people did I realize when our last moment together would be. It had never occurred to me that someday, my lunches and phone calls and New Year’s Eves with Marilynn would end. The last time Frances and I saw each other and we said, “I love you” as we parted, I had no idea it would be the last time I ever heard her say those words. And, as for Jason, I got so used to him popping up to “chat” on Facebook’s instant messenger, I didn’t realize that one day soon, I’d log on and he wouldn’t be there to make me smile.

When Marilynn died, I had the sad honor of planning the funeral, along with her sister, Michele. When it was time to place the obituary, we were both surprised (and a little horrified), to be told it would cost around $800. We had no idea obituaries were so expensive!

Later that day, as I was telling my husband about the atrocious fee, he said to me, “When I die, I want you to pay that and put an obituary in the paper for me.”

“You do?” I asked, startled. After all, this was the man who has always told me to bury him in the cheapest pine box I can find. And yet, here he was, telling me to spend nearly a thousand dollars on a column in the local paper.

“Yes,” he said. “Because, honestly, that’s all your life comes down to in the end, isn’t it? What other people can say about you.”

And, as I thought about it, I realized he was right. When everything is said and done, the only thing left, of any significance, will be what the people in your life – the people on that Christmas card list – have to say about who you were . . . what you did . . . how you made them feel.

As I read through the names on my list again, I began to wonder what these people would have to say about me. I mean, if this were it . . . if this were the last time I ever had contact with some (or any) of them, what would their memories be of our time together?

Would they say I’d been a good friend . . . that I loved much and laughed often? That I made them laugh just as much? I’d hope they’d say I was there for them when they went through difficult times and celebrated with them in moments of joy. I’d like to think that, though I may have somehow hurt them at some point in our relationship, I’d done my best to make it right, even if it took what seemed like a lifetime. And, if forgiveness was asked of me, I’d like to believe they knew I’d give it.

Because, the truth is, none of us know how much time we have left . . . or how much time remains with the ones we love. Life is short. I pray that every single person on my Christmas card list is still around to receive a card from me next year. But, more importantly, I pray that I have a thousand more moments with each of them. A thousand more moments to laugh together until we cry. But, if by chance that doesn’t happen - and, in all honesty, the likelihood of it being so isn’t very good. Distance and time and real life often get in the way of one’s best laid plans - I want to begin this new year with the hope, and the intention, of making sure each and every one of them know, till the very end, how much they’ve meant to me.

Because, I am certain I never want to receive that dreaded phone call, about someone I love, and think, “There was so much more I meant to say.”

I hope those people know that they are so much more to me than names on a Christmas card list.

I pray they know that they’re a part of me . . . perhaps, the most important part.

Is Your Name Virginia?

Dec 10, 2009

If your name (first or last) is Virginia (and you live near a Macy's) then tomorrow (12/11/09) is your lucky day!

Macy's is giving away at $10 gift card to everyone who comes in their store who's name is Virginia (in promotion for their new Yes, Virginia movie which is coming out.)

Click here for details!

Ann Taylor Sale - 30% OFF - Tonight Only

Ann Taylor has a special sale going on - tonight only.

Stop by your participating Ann Taylor store, click here for stores and times, and get 30% off you entire purchase.

Barnes and Noble Coupon - 25% Off


Click here to get a 25% off Barnes and Noble coupon - good "in store" only.


Entertainment Books - $19.99

First of all, let me say that I don't think this is a fabulous deal, but . . . it's okay.

I LOVE the Entertainment Book and buy one every year (it is loaded with buy-one-get-one free coupons for your local area). Anyway, for years I have purchased the Austin one for about $20.

And, last year, I waited a little while and got it on sale for $15 with free shipping.

But this year, they REALLY jumped in price. They were asking $35 for them! WAY too much, in my opinion.

They have finally started to come down, though, and for this week, they are all $19.99 - and shipping is FREE.

Click here if you're interested in getting one.

Sea World San Antonio Deal

You may remember that I was fortunate enough to spend the night at Sea World a few weeks ago. Well, thanks to the great people I met at Sea World and the Motherhood.com, I am able to offer my readers a great admission deal on Sea World San Antonio.

Print out the this coupon and take it to Sea World San Antonio to get up to 6 adult admissions for the price of a child's admission - and then another day for FREE!

Offer only good until January 3. It's a great way to see the Christmas festivities and shows Sea World has to offer this time of the year. I too my daughter last year in December and we had a fabulous day!

Enjoy!

Denny's Coupon - FREE Peppermint Pancake Puppies

If your going to Denny's this week (until tomorrow, the 11th) take this coupon with you for an order of Peppermint Pancake Puppies (FREE with any purchase).

I don't know what they are, or how they taste - so let me know if you try them out!

Play Victoria's Secret Pink Instant Winner Game

If you are a member of Victoria's Secret Pink (or are willing to become a member), you can play their instant winner game.

If you win, you get a $10 coupon towards ANY in-store Victoria's Secret purchase.

You can play (and win) more than once.

I've been playing for about 10 minutes now, though, and haven't won yet. But, I'm feeling lucky!

Click here to play.

Good luck!

FREE Michael Angelo's Meal


This is for people on Twitter: Follow Michael Angelo's on Twitter (@ Michael_Angelos and then send them a tweet letting them know what is your favorite family tradition for the holidays.

They will then send you a Direct Message that will include a link for a coupon that gives you a FREE frozen meal.
(I'm new to Twitter, so I did it, but I'm not sure I did it correctly! I'll let you know!)

And, while you're on Twitter, follow Savvy Moxie there, too!

FREE Bag of Stacy's Pita Chips

Dec 9, 2009

Once again, this is a Facebook deal.

If you are on Facebook, become a Fan of Stacy's Pita Chips. Once you do, click on the FREE Stacy's tab.

Register on that link and they will mail you a coupon for a FREE bag of their pita chips (up to a $3.99 value.)

Only one coupon per mailing address.

HURRY, though, because only the first 65,000 fans get it and last I looked, they were up to 46,000!

Old Navy - 60 items under $6

Old Navy is running a great sale. They have 60 different items for under $6. There is everything from slippers and hats to men's shirts and little girl outfits.

Click here to check it out.

FREE shipping for orders over $50. You could shop for the whole family.

Day 8: Amazon's Free Music

Dec 8, 2009

Today's FREE download from Amazon is:

Hark the Herald Angels Sing by Carola

Click here to download it.

Save Money by Making Your Own Peppermint Bark

Williams Sonoma has a GREAT peppermint bark. I love walking in the store and sampling it. But, do you know how much it costs? $26.50 for a ONE pound tin! Yikes!

I discovered, last year, that Costco sells Peppermint bark, too - and it's very good - and, of course, costs about half the cost. But, I also discovered that they don't always carry it and if I wanted to give it to people, I couldn't count on them to have it in the store when I needed it.

And then, I was watching the Today show last December and saw a woman on the show MAKING the peppermint bark. It looked easy, so I decided to try it out for myself - and it really WAS easy. And, most importantly, YUMMY! And, of course, it cost about a quarter of what Williams Sonoma charges and about half of the Costco kind.

What I did last year was make it in batches and then break it up, wrapping it in small Christmas gift bags (you can get them inexpensively at Michaels - especially if you have a 40% off coupon). After Christmas last year, I stocked up on those bags when they went on Clearance, so I'm all set for this year. In addition, at the end of the holidays last year, I stocked up on the leftover white bark and it's been in my deep freezer all year. I got it for less than 1/2 the price that way.

So, I'm going to share the recipe with all of you. Last year, I made it for all my co-workers, neighbors and all of Rob's co-workers. This year, I'll probably do the same. I bet the people in your life will enjoy it as much as we all did!

INGREDIENTS

• 12 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate wafers or chips (I just used Nestle chips)
• 9 ounces white chocolate wafers or chocolate (I used white bark)
• 1/2 teaspoon canola oil
• 1/2 cup peppermint candy, crushed (I used candy canes)
.
DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with parchment paper, letting it hang over the sides.
2. Pour the semi or bittersweet chocolate chips in an even layer on the foil. Place in oven for 5 minutes or until almost melted.
3. Immediately remove chocolate from oven, even if it appears to still be holding its shape (it will most likely be ready to spread smooth). Using an offset spatula, rubber spatula or knife, spread chocolate evenly in the pan bottom. Place in refrigerator until cold and firm, about 20 minutes.
4. While the dark chocolate is cooling, melt white chocolate chips in a double boiler or in a metal bowl over simmering water (don’t let bottom of bowl touch water), until chocolate is almost melted.
5. Remove bowl from water and stir until completely melted, stirring in canola oil. Let cool a little bit so it doesn’t melt the chocolate layer when you pour it on top.
6. Pour white chocolate over the dark chocolate layer, and, working quickly, spread to cover. The dark chocolate may melt a little but don’t worry.
7. Immediately after spreading the white chocolate over the dark, sprinkle crushed candy canes over the entire surface. Cool in the refrigerator for an hour or overnight. Break pieces into “bark” and enjoy!

Kathleen Daelemans is the author of “Cooking Thin with Chef Kathleen, 200 Easy Recipes for Healthy Weight Loss.”

Days 5, 6 and 7 - FREE Amazon Downloads

Dec 7, 2009


Here's the new FREE music Amazon has put up the past 3 days.

Day 5: God Rest Ye Merry Yentlemen by Jars of Clay

Day 6: Christmas Tree by Lady Gaga

Day 7: No Room by Todd Agnew

Click here to download them all for FREE!

Send a Postcard to Overseas Troops for FREE


As you probably know, my husband was deployed to Iraq a few years ago. While he was gone, I organized numerous "Adopt a Soldier" programs so that he, and the soldiers in his unit, would get lots of mail from the states.

And now, I've learned that Xerox has made sending a card to the troops easy for everyone!

If you click here, you can select a postcard design, personalize it, and then, once you hit "send," they will send the card to overseas soldiers for you!

What an easy (and FREE) way to make a soldier's day a little bit better!

$5 Off $5 or More Hallmark Purchase


Click here to get a coupon for $5 off a $5 or more purchase from Hallmark.

Day 4 of Amazon's FREE Music

Dec 4, 2009

It's now Day 4 of Amazon's 25 Days of FREE Music.

Yesterday's song was The Coventry Carol by Mediaeval Baebes and today's is Slower Than Christmas by the Boxmasters.

Don't forget to download both of them by clicking here.

Care Versus Clutter

Remember when you were a kid and watched cartoons where the main character had an angel and a devil sitting on his shoulder? Both "shoulder sitters" would whisper things into the character’s ear - the angel encouraging the positive, or the good thing, he should be doing and, naturally, the devil was whispering the bad.

That's how I feel every day of my life since I had children.

Only, the battle isn't over any huge moral dilemma. No. My battle – the one that keeps me up nights with worry and stress - is between keeping my house clean and raising my children.

When I was in college, and majoring in educational fields, I would read that poem, it seemed in every classroom I entered, about how it’s more important to raise your kids than keep your house tidy. Do you not know the poem? Well, in case you’ve never read it, here it is:

Excuse This House

Some houses try to hide the fact
That children shelter there.
Ours boasts of it quite openly,
The signs are everywhere.

For smears are on the windows,
Little smudges on the doors;
I should apologize I guess
For toys strewn on the floor.

But I sat down with the children
And we played and laughed and read,
And if the doorbell doesn't shine,
Their eyes will shine instead.

For when at times I'm forced to choose
The one job or the other,
I want to be a housewife...
But first I'll be a mother.

It’s sweet, isn’t it? Sentimental. When I was an idealistic college student, I thought, “Of course it’s more important for moms to spend time with their kids than clean the house. Why would anyone think otherwise?”

And then I became a mother . . . and I realized, it’s not just as simple as ignoring a few toys on the floor and a dirty doorbell. No, those are the least of my problems.

Because, as I write this post, I am sitting outside my 3-yr-old son’s door with my laptop (my legs and rear end numb from the hard floor) trying to get him to go to bed (our nightly struggle). I know it’s important that I sit here. I know that he needs to feel my presence to relax. I know that I’m giving him a sense of security. I believe all these things, deep in my heart. Truly, I do.

But, in my head. . . well, all I can think about is the dishwasher that needs to be emptied so that the stack of dishes in the sink can be placed in there. I’m thinking about the enormous pile of laundry, not just the one in the laundry room that needs to be cleaned, but the one on the family room couch that needs to be folded, sorted and put away. I’m thinking about the load in the dryer that needs to come out and the one in the washer that needs to be put in the dryer. I’m thinking about the pile of paperwork on the dining room table that needs to be organized and filed. I’m wondering when I’ll get around to putting away the Christmas presents I bought today, somewhere that the kids can’t find them, before they discover them in the bags by the front door. I’m stressing out over the fact that my mother-in-law is coming to spend the night tomorrow and I have no clean sheets for her bed. I’m wondering if I’ll ever get around to sorting through the clutter of pill bottles, old Halloween candy and Sharpie markers that are on top of the refrigerator – the only place high enough for my kids to not reach in this house. I want to just cry when I think about the condition of the interior of my car – the toys, socks, papers, popcorn, sippy cups, coupons . . . all strewn about.

And, that’s what I mean about that little devil on my shoulder. He’s sitting here right now, whispering to me, “Have you seen your house? How can you function in such clutter? Aren’t you embarrassed to even have the babysitter come over?”

“Yes!” I want to scream, because frankly, I am.

But then, just as quickly as that little devil speaks, I also have that angel. She’s saying to me, “Calm down! Look at your kids. They’re happy. They’re well-taken care of and well fed. Isn’t your daughter doing well in school? Didn’t you get all her homework done with her tonight? Didn’t you all have a fun time at the park?”

And then, without missing a beat, I hear, “Have you seen all the crap on the floor of your bedroom? How do you sleep in that room?”

“Didn’t you get the kids to their doctor’s appointments this week? Didn’t you
have their lunch ready for school each day?”

“When are you ever going to sort through that pile of old kids’ clothes that need to be sold or donated? They are taking up a lot of space!”

“Aren’t people always telling you how well-behaved your kids are? Didn’t you
get your daughter to Girl Scouts and piano and Spanish this week?”

“Do you think you’ll ever get around to putting away the tables and folding chairs you used for Thanksgiving dinner? “

“You made cupcakes for your daughter’s class last week and cookies for Girl
Scouts!”

“Have you actually seen what your desk looks like? How do you find anything in that mess? And, I’m even not going to mention the stacks of junk in the garage.”

“Isn’t it more important to write down stories, about your kid’s lives, so
they have a record of their childhood and how much you loved them.”

“Don’t get me started on your closet . . .”

And so it goes . . . on . . . and on . . . and on . . a never-ending dialogue in my head. Good versus evil. Care versus cleaning.

I am almost embarrassed to admit it, but I sometimes find myself daydreaming about the day when the kids are grown and out of the house. I long for a time when I can find my keys or my cell phone or my shoes without having to search under the couch or behind the piano for them. I won’t feel that every step I make towards a cleaner house is being thwarted by three little rascals, constantly following me around, making me feel as if for every step of progress I make, I’m being dragged back five more.

And then, I want to cry at the thought because, though I imagine the house will someday be cleaner, it’ll also be a lot emptier . . . a lot lonelier.

So, I keep sitting here by my son’s door. I know the laundry won’t be completely finished by tomorrow because my sons and I have plans. I can’t clean my room tonight because my daughter is sleeping in it while her daddy is away overnight – a special treat for her. (And, quite honestly, for me, too.)

I cannot promise that the dirt and the clutter will no longer embarrass or bother me. It will. But, I’m doing my best to listen to that angel a little bit more often than not.

For, if I’m forced to choose my kids or my clutter, I’m doing my best to make sure those precious babes win most every time.

(Now, having said that, please keep all of this in mind when you enter my home and have to step over the unpacked suitcase, still at the front door, from last weekend’s trip to the beach.)

Free Monthly Music Downloads from John Tesh

Dec 3, 2009

Do any of you listen to the John Tesh radio show?

In Austin, it's on in the evenings on 102.3 The River, and it's my favorite radio program. In fact, it's my kids' favorite program, too. And, now that I think of it, it's my husband's radio program of choice, too, which is quite shocking because Rob and I rarely have anything in common - from music to hobbies. But, we both agree that we love John Tesh and his "intelligence for your life" commentaries.

Anyway . . . the reason I'm talking about John Tesh is because, just tonight, as I drove home from work and listened to him, I heard him say that on his website (click here) he has a monthly FREE downloadable song. So, I just went and checked it out - and he's right! He does! :-)

This month's song is "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" from his "The Best of Christmas CD." And, if you have never heard John Tesh play the piano - you are missing out. He is incredible!

Enjoy the music!

Day 2 of Amazon's FREE Christmas Song

Dec 2, 2009

Today's FREE Christmas song on Amazon is Snow Angel by Tori Amos.

Click here to download it!

(Yesterday's was Joy to the World by Casting Crowns, in case you missed it.)

FREE 8x10 Canvas Portrait


This is a great deal - though, it's not totally FREE, because you do have to pay shipping and handling (that comes to about $15.) But, it's still fabulous!

If you go to Canvas People, they are offering a FREE canvas portrait - of a photo of your choice. (Or, $55 off any other size portrait.) A canvas portrait is a photo on a real artist's canvas, stretched over the wooden supports.

I also heard that if you go to the site Shop at Home, and purchase the canvas through their link to the Canvas People site, you'll get a $7 credit for ordering the portrait (and a $5 bonus if you're a first time user on their site.)

Enjoy!

FREE Photos with Santa at Walmart

If you go to Walmart THIS weekend - December 5 and 6 - between 10 AM and 2 PM, you can have your child's (or maybe your own) photo taken with Santa - and get the photo for FREE!

Details are here.

Check with your local Walmart ahead of this to verify that Santa will be showing up in your town.

Two FREE Audiobooks Downloads

I have a confession to make. I don't read.

Okay, let me clarify that. I know how to read . . . I just don't have time to do it anymore. If I'm sitting still, I'm folding laundry, or writing this blog, or writing for my "real" job. So, reading is not a luxery I can partake in these days.

But, that doesn't mean that I want to miss out on all the great books out there!

So, instead of "reading" them, I "listen" to them!

I am an audiobook-aholic.

Thus, if you're like me, and love to listen to "books-on-tape" - or on CD - or have them downloaded, then this is the deal for you.

If you click here and go to Audible.com, you can download TWO audiobooks for FREE. They are compatible with any Apple IPod, in addition to 500 other devices.

IMPORTANT: Signing up for these downloads activates your FREE 14 day membershop to their program. If you do not want them to charge you the $22.95 a month fee at the end of this trial period, you need to cancel before your 14 days are up! Don't forget!!!

Free Redbox Movie Rentals

I think you may have to order your Redbox movie online by clicking here and then go pick up the movie in order to use the code.

I'm not sure. Let me know if you try it out. The code for today's FREE rental is SPNSV9

It is only good for today.

I also heard that the following codes also work for FREE rentals at Redbox. I apologize if you have any problems with them. I'm not sure when they expire.

DVDATWAG (works only at Walgreens locations)
DVDONME
BREAKROOM

Also, if you click here and sign up with Redbox, they will text you a code on the first Monday of every month for a FREE rental. (I'm waiting on a response from them on whether you can get the code via email instead.) Do it soon, because next Monday is the first one of the month.

Happy movie watching!

FREE MP3 Songs at Amazon

Dec 1, 2009

Did you know that Amazon.com has a section where you can download FREE music?

They have over 1,300 songs they will let you download for FREE.

Click here for the choices.

Starting today, Amazon is offering one FREE Christmas song download a day - each day is a new song. Click here to see what today's song is.

Also, you can download a Classical Christmas sampler album from Amazon for FREE, too. Click here to download that.

In addition, you can get a another holiday album (for FREE) called Sampler Claus by clicking here.

Happy Listening!

(Thanks, Lynda, for making me aware of these freebies!)

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