Friday, August 22, 2014

The 4-Crow'sALS #IceBucketChallenge #ALSIceBucketChallenge #StrikeOutALS


Obviously the power of social media has shown its face over the past month. I applaud this challenge of awareness and raising funds for research of any disease. This particular awareness began in the sports world, has spread to celebrities, former presidents and people like my family. 

What exactly is the Ice Bucket Challenge? You are publicly challenged via video by someone you know to either douse yourself with a "bucket" of ice water or make a donation to ALS or an ALS charity of choice. One that we are looking at donating to is ALS Guardian Angels, they actually take every dollar donated and spend it helping ALS patients, family members, and caregivers. The suggested donation if you do not do the challenge is $100. It is also suggested that if you do the challenge to donate at least $10. I mean come on, why wouldn't you?

ALS is one of the most common neuromuscular diseases worldwide, and people of all races and ethnic backgrounds are affected. Men are affected more than women, and the signs are often overlooked.

After all challenges were given and accepted, all FOUR of us ended up getting soaked. Here are our videos. 

Here is mine. I was challenged by Heather Davis aka Minivan Momma as part of the Oklahoma Women Bloggers. I called out my cousin Shelly (who gets some time on this because I just found out she is very SICK) and my friend and Happy First owner Debbie Vinyard. 

Braden was challenged by his friend Peyton. He called out Miss K, Evan, and his friends Oriana and Haley.


Miss K was challenged by her big brother. She gladly called out her Daddy.


Jason was challenged my Miss K. He gladly accepted, and learned the real meaning of a cold shower. LOL! He challenged both of our mothers, Belinda and Betty. I cannot wait for those challenges to be accepted.


Did you do the #IceBucketChallenge? I want to see it. Leave me your link in the comments. 


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to School Teacher Gift with Printable

It's Meet the Teacher day at my daughter's school. We are so excited about her teacher this year. Actually, the entire second grade team at her school is awesome so we would have been happy with any of the teachers. I seem pretty stuck this year on chalkboards, having a ball in class, and cake balls so I messaged her teacher on FB to be sure that there were no allergies or hating on chocolate.

As I suspected, chocolate is one of her faves. So of course, I etched a glass container with ABC & a ♥- oh how I love me some contact paper, my Cricut and some Armor Etch. I then filled the container with chocolate cake balls, added some bakers twine, and the printable below.



I made the printable in PicMonkey. I even included the blank copy above so that you can download and add your child's name and year. I saved mine to my iPhone and sent to Walgreens to print off as a 4x6 picture. If you do this, be sure to hit crop and look at your aspect ratio in 4x6 to be sure you don't cut anything off.






This will also be a great Teacher Appreciation Gift, so get it pinned now. Have a wonderful 2014-15 school year. Don't forget to volunteer and join your local PTA chapter (of course I had to get that plug in).
 
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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Back to School 2014

Where has Summer 2014 gone? Seriously. School starts for my kids in four days. FOUR days.

Unbelievable.

Keeping up the tradition, we took our annual back to school photos this weekend. Because I am sentimental like that. Thankfully my kids cooperated. Out of over 50 shots, I managed to get a handful of good ones. The sun was to high and they squinted, a lot.

As always, I planned ahead. I found a #hashtag printable at Tatertots and Jello. Love their blog. And you all know how #hashtag crazy I am if you follow me on any of my sites. I also wanted to get away from my house and our classic desk this year. We decided to take our fun to their schools. I debated on whether or not to actually show the names of their schools in my pictures for safety reasons. If I lived in a smaller town, it would be a given WHERE they go to school, but the photo quality helped me with my decision. My son's turned out very well. And since he IS in his last year of middle school I decided it would be okay to show his school. I can't believe I am going to have a high schooler next year! I can't believe my baby girl is a second grader this year!

Okay, the moment you have all been waiting for....








Have a great 2014-15 school year everyone! 


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Friday, August 8, 2014

Cozy Wall Art: Canvas Art Project & Review


It has been a crazy, busy summer. But, I don't think any of you need me to tell you that. Cozy Wall Art contacted me before school was out in May to review their wall art. I picked two wall decals one for my son's room and a Ballet Shoes Wall Decal for my daughter's. They did a special cut for me for my son's- he had to have a basketball, their Teen and Tween Wall Decals are amazing. Cozy Wall Art is a Texas based company, they were awesome to work with and offer FREE shipping on all orders.

My intentions were to change their beds around this summer. It is time to move B to Miss K's full size bed. He is over six foot tall now. With that move comes paint and major re dos right? Well, then in June we called in a realtor. Needless to say we still haven't put the house on the market and no beds have been moved around. Since my walls are already a neutral color we know better than to paint them, and if we do move within the next year, I don't want to lose these awesome wall displays. So I went to Pinterest and began looking at ways to save the vinyl. I ran across a few pins on putting vinyl on canvas. Seemed easy enough. I even contacted a friend who paints for a living, she says she does this all the time and said she would do it for me. I was up for the challenge.

The canvas sizes I needed were $29.99. I needed two. I lost my primary income when school let out. Time to save and use those 40% off coupons at Hobby Lobby. Thankfully I already had my daughters background paint on hand- a quart of SEXY PINK from Glidden that I had received free from a promotion. Then my son decided on a background of BOO SKY which is a Disney color by Glidden.

Our project finally began this week. The kids painted their canvases using a foam roller brush. Two coats and we let them dry over night. They had a lot of fun. Believe me its a great bonding experience to give your children a paint brush and challenge them to not make a mess on your uncovered kitchen table.



The next day, Miss K and I set out to transfer the decals. This took a measuring tape, some masking tape, the card that Cozy Art sent, my Sam's Card (because two cards are better than one), mod podge, and then I had to run to Dollar General to get some spray adhesive for Braden's. His needed help sticking. I can't answer the why on that one. Maybe because it was such a huge graphic, it also seemed to have a different backing on it than Miss K's. Her's was blue.

 

To apply, we just measured and centered, we used the halve method to pull the backing paper/transfer method off. They were huge transfers, and we didn't want them to slip. Then we used the cards to rub on the decals. With the canvas there isn't a hard surface under it, so I used a stack of copy paper. Worked perfectly. After application I went over with a coat of mod podge to seal.


On B's, in order to get the transfer paper off, I had to lightly spray the canvas with the spray adhesive. His does have a few bubbles in it, where I messed it up before getting the adhesive- could kick myself. He loves it though.




 So, what do you think? I want to try some wall quotes on canvas next. Can't wait.

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Special thanks to CozyWallArt.com  for providing the products free of charge for my honest review in this post. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Got Glasses? I Do. From Firmoo.com, Review & Giveaway: 5 Winners


Many, many things are changing as I approach the big 4-0, including my eyesight. I am ashamed to admit it, but my current glasses are 11 years old. See below. A little outdated. We went as a family last October to get our eyes checked and ALL of us were sent home with a new prescription. This meant four new pair of glasses and also contacts for my teen. We took care of everyone but yours truly. I was in denial. And the pocketbook was protesting big time.

11 year old glasses. Wire frames. Wore for driving, reading, computer work. 
I was contacted on July 24, 2014 (this timeline is very important), by Firmoo to review their glasses, service, and website. In exchange they would send me a pair of high quality and fashionable glasses or sunglasses "Firmoo.com is the world's most popular online eyeglasses store. Years of expertise in optical industry enable Firmoo.com to offer varieties of prescription eye wear to the consuming public in high quality yet at extremely affordable prices."

Remember above when I said someone was left out of getting her new glasses? Well, what did I have to lose? I went to their website, was able to log on with my Facebook account. Then I began to browse. I had never ordered glasses online before. Frankly, I don't even have a clue what anything on my glasses prescription means. The site walks you through. Easy. You can upload a picture of yourself (it's really supposed to be straight) and you can use their "try-on view". 

Here is mine:


On July 25, I placed my order for #CP6082. It wasn't hard to order. I did have to take my prescription to my eye doctor to get my PD (pupillary distance). I didn't want any mistakes on my own measurements. My glasses were ordered with the standard 1.5 index and anti-scratch. The company was supposed to upgrade the glasses per blog arrangement to 1.57, anti-radiation, and UV filters. I honestly don't know if this was done or not. It wasn't reflected in the invoice. My glasses arrived via mail on August 4, 2014. The package was sent internationally and was a little beat up. The glasses inside the hard case were perfect. My husband and kids absolutely love my selection. 

What do you think?


This experience was way easier than I imagined. I was leery at first. So far, I am very satisfied. 

Firmoo offers a First Pair Free Program. This program provides free glasses for new customers to try their products & service. Their free offer is open to almost all countries in the world, such as U.S., Canada, Australia, etc. Every new customer qualifies for free glasses. 

In addition FIVE of my readers are going to receive a $30 voucher towards Firmoo's Classic Series Glasses, shipping is excluded. How fun is that? All you have to do is visit the site and tell me which frames you would choose. 

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Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): Many thanks to Firmoo.com for providing the vouchers for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. This giveaway is open to U.S. only.

Powered By Firmoo
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Saturday, July 26, 2014

Chocolate Chocolate Banana Muffins Recipe


I like bananas. I don't like buying bananas at 54¢ per pound. I try to competitive ad shop them as much as possible if I can't get to Aldi- the cheapest place I have found to buy bananas. I bought these bananas on Wednesday at 44¢ per pound. 


They were green. Because that is the way I eat them. Firm. Now don't get me wrong. I have tried everything I can to preserve bananas. Separate them. Aluminum foil/Saran Wrap. And I even freeze. But today, I was just sick of it. I decided I needed to bake. BAKE? In the middle of Summer. Oh yes I did. Banana bread? Maybe. But I wanted something a little different.Something with chocolate.  Something that maybe I could make with school coming up, something that the kids could grab as a quick breakfast in place of a Poptart. So I went to Pinterest. There are lots of recipes. So I looked at a few and came up with this one. Modified from a bread recipe. I wasn't quite sure how it would turn out or how many it would make. I was happy with my results. 




Of course I let the kids lick the beaters. My Moma always let me....


Take a look at the inside of this muffin. Yummy. The kids loved them. Let's see if the Honey does when he gets home from work. Let me know if you try them. 


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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Enough: 10 Things We Should Be Telling Teenage Girls Book Giveaway


I think know it is so very cool when a fellow blogger becomes a published author. In 2012, I actually did read the blog post by Kate Conner- Ten Things I Want to Tell Teenage Girls, a post that received over 2 million hits in two weeks. A post that has now resulted in a book. A book that tells teenage girls that: 

You are beautiful. You are valuable. You are enough.

I don't even have a teenage daughter yet, but I do have a teenage niece and my son does like teenage girls. Two years ago when God called me in to work with HIS children in HIS church, I began to see what an influence I can/do have in the lives of HIS children. Kate identified in this book 10 things that these girls need to hear today from someone who loves her. This book is so easy to read. Kate is funny, relational, and honestly I had many been there done that moments throughout the book. Shocking. I know.

I texted the following pictures of the book to my cousin and BFF:




I absolutely LOVE this passage. We can't shelter our daughters/teens from everything. Teach them with "a filter". The Aristotle quote will adorn my cousin's high school English classroom this Fall.

Kate is a former youth-worker, wife to a college minister, and a young mom in her twenties, Conner stands squarely in generational gap, the perfect place from which to bridge it. Conner offers herself as a translator, helping you to speak your teenager’s language and equipping you with a fresh perspective from which to engage your teenage girl—one that may enable her to truly hear your heart (and your wisdom) for the first time since puberty.

One of my readers is going to get their very own copy of this book. All you have to do is tell me you in the easy Rafflecopter entry form who you will share the wisdom of this book with. Bonus entries are available. 

Here’s the official website for the book: http://www.bhpublishinggroup.com/products/enough/

Check out all of Kate’s social media sites here:
FB: https://www.facebook.com/KateElizabethConner
Twitter: https://twitter.com/kateeconner
Instagram: http://instagram.com/kateelizabethconner
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/kateconner/

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"Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification. This Giveaway is open to U.S. & Canada only.a Rafflecopter giveaway

First Things First/Moon Pie Family Giveaway




Summer is all about family and spending quality time with the ones you love. And the more skills you develop the more time you invest in your family and your relationships. First Things First (FTF) is an award winning not-for-profit organization dedicated to strengthening families. The website and online resources are AMAZING!

I was asked by one of my blog partners Partners Hub to watch 5 FTF videos and to pick my favorite to share with my readers. First off, I just want to say I loved them all. Each one spoke to me. My absolute favorite though was this one: 



There is nothing like a Daddy/Daughter relationship. I was just watching some home videos earlier this week of my husband and daughter. So sweet, and almost anytime I go to photograph the two she always wants to kiss his cheek. She loves him. He loves her. WE need more dates! She needs to see her parents date more and she needs a few Daddy/Daughter dates.


What do you think about the video? Tell me on the easy Rafflecopter form below and you will be entered to win a

MoonPie / First Things First Family Prize Pack, which includes: -His and Hers MoonPie T-shirts (2 Large T-shirts) and 2 Boxes of MoonPies.

I'm thinking an RC Cola and a Moon Pie would make an excellent date! 

About First Things First
First Things First (FTF) is an award winning not-for-profit organization dedicated to strengthening families in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

FTF is a resource that collaborates with and is supported by a broad cross-section of community organizations, groups and individuals.

FTF accomplishes it mission through meaningful media messaging and skill building classes.

Did you know:
• 24 million children are growing up in homes without their biological fathers.
• Only 30% of divorces are due to infidelity, addiction or abuse, 70% of divorces are due to couples feeling disconnected.
• Couples who manage to devote time specifically to one another at least once a week are markedly more likely to enjoy high-quality relationships and lower divorce rates, compared to couples who do not devote as much couple time to one another.
• Fathers provide unique benefits to their daughters through their active and positive presence from the time of birth all the way through adulthood.

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Disclosure: Many thanks to PartnersHub & FTF for providing the prize for this giveaway. Each household is only eligible to win One (1) First Things First Moon Pie Prize Pack via blog reviews and giveaways. Only one entrant per mailing address per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you will not be eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.
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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Ranch Style Pretzels Recipe

Today I walked into my kitchen and found this.


A split down the middle, opened bag of broken pretzels. Further down in my snack bucket I found some of its cousins in a ziploc bag- poor forgotten pretzel sticks.

For the love of snacks. For the love of my grocery bill this summer. Can we please quit wasting food? I mentioned in a post earlier this week that one of my favorite things to pack when we go to ball games is pretzels. So I decided to go ahead and prepare a fun twist on this snack for this weekend's games. 

Ranch Style Pretzels.

I bet they don't last past today, it's rainy.  It just takes 4 simple ingredients. 



I didn't have a full bag of pretzels, so I added popcorn to mine after I baked. Also, I ALWAYS mess up and grab the wrong Ranch mix. This one tastes just fine. Enjoy!

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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Ideas for Fundraising and Surviving Extracurricular Activities


Extracurricular activities can be expensive. Not only the cost of the activities, but the cost of going to the games, concessions, and other expenses that may arise.

My son has been involved in sports since he was in 1st grade. My daughter has been in ballet since she was three. He is now 13, she is 7. To be honest, the cost of these activities are very hard on our budget. Especially lately. My son this year decided to narrow his sports down to only one and focus on basketball. He was asked to play on a summer tournament team. The estimated cost is around $1000. The cost includes practice gyms, uniforms, coaching fees, tournament fees, and insurance. Hello, I lost my major source of income the minute school was out. The teacher I sit for does not bring her baby for me to watch during the summer months. Imagine that.

So rather than sell my kidneys, plasma and my children’s vital organs in order for him to live out his team’s aspiring dreams of NBA stardom. I get creative.

I created a board on Pinterest called Fundraising of course and started my research. I needed something that he and possibly even his team could get involved in. After all, if these boys want to play I think they are old enough to work along with us parents to reach that goal.

Here are a few ideas that I passed along to the team mom for possible use now and in the future.

1. Sonic Community Cards- sell for $5 each 100% profit. Each card has a minimum value of $17. 
Who needs a card or ten? These make great teacher gifts! I can mail. 

4. Restaurant nights. Below is a list, certainly not all inclusive. Most of these you don't have to be present for, you just make sure the word is out that your team/organization is holding the fundraiser and either send a flyer or have them mention your organization to get a percentage of the before tax ticket value. You will of course need to organize and consult with your local restaurant manager beforehand for arrangements.
Applebee’s
Arby’s
Cheesecake Factory
Chili’s
Chipotle
Fuddruckers
Outback Steakhouse
Panda Express
Panera
Red Robin
Subway
T.G.I.Friday’s
On the Border
Papa John’s

5. Banner- Sponsor banners. Get 10 logos for the banner at $100 each... Bam $1000. Get the banner company to in kind donate with their logo then you are not out of pocket any money..

6. Big item donation/raffle. ex: iPad, vehicle, Playstation, etc.

7. Host a tournament

8. Carwash

There are a lot of fantastic ideas on my Pinterest board, but probably our best resource was right under my nose. In addition to #1 above, I already crafted Spirit Flip Flops for proud sports moms and girls who play sports. So, I used my Facebook and Instagram to get the word out and my fingers got busy. See my FlipFlop board or my Facebook album for more of my work.  So far my son has raised about $200 on just FlipFlops alone. (I keep $5 of every $15 pair to reimburse myself for expenses)  Let me know if I can make you a pair or three! 


How do I keep actual game attendance costs at a minimum? Obviously, there are a few expenses that are beyond control like spectator tournament entry fees. So far these have been up to $7 per person per day- two to three day tournaments. Ouch. I can control expenses such as concessions and food. I am a sports bag Moma. Snacks and drinks are ready to go. Some of my favorite snacks to pack are pretzels, crackers, grapes, string cheese and bottled water. 



Another thing that I am preparing for are the out of town tournaments. Offers.com has excellent go to savings and rebates on hotels. I will definitely be utilizing these savings. What about gasoline? Do you have a local supermarket that partners with a fuel center to save at the pump? I do. I earn 3 points for every $50 I spend in groceries in a single or multiple transaction before tax at my local Reasors grocery store. This is a 3 cent savings per gallon at the pump, with no limit as to how much I can accumulate. The points expire after 60 days though.

These are only a few of my fundraising and money saving ideas as a sports mom. Maybe some of these ideas can help your team, club or organization out.  I would love to hear other frugal suggestions and ideas that you have tried.


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Disclosure: I am not being compensated by Offers.com, Reasors or any of the restaurants mentioned in this this post. Portions of this post may appear as a guest post on the Offers.com blog at a future date.