August 30, 2010

Monday Winners!

What a great way to start off the week...picking winners!

Congratulations to my newest winners:

Macaroni Grill Frozen Meal Prize Pack
#141 - TiffsPixieDust

Ciao Bella Gelato & Sorbet Giveaway
#73 - allisonsbj3

Both winners have been contacted and have 48 hours to respond to the email or I will have to choose another winner.  Thanks to everyone for entering!
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August 29, 2010

Tropical Traditions Coconut Peanut Butter {REVIEW & GIVEAWAY}

Peanut butter is like gold in my household.  When I was trying to decide which product to choose from Tropical Traditions to review for you and giveaway, my husband urged me to choose the coconut peanut butter.  I agreed because what could be better than peanut butter with a little added coconut oil?  Well, we both agreed that the coconut peanut butter was definitely going to end up in our home!

I've written about Tropical Traditions before (you can check out my past reviews here and here) and what an amazing job they do at creating products using coconut.  Go check out more about Tropical Traditions and the multitude of different products they make.  I'm sure it won't be difficult to find something that you need there!

Tropical Traditions Organic Coconut Peanut Butter is made from organic peanuts and organic coconut. Two ingredients: nothing else! No fillers, no binders, no sweeteners, and no preservatives. The peanuts are 100% organic Valencia peanuts grown organically by family farmers in New Mexico and Texas. Grown in the dry climate of the southwestern United States, these peanuts are certified organic and free from aflatoxins. The dried coconut is certified organic coconut meat from the Philippines from coconuts that are grown with no fertilizers or pesticides. This premium dried coconut contains no additives or preservatives, and is not sweetened. Unlike most dried coconut on the market, our dried coconut products are not treated with sulfites to keep them white. Together, these premium organic roasted peanuts and the premium organic dried coconut are ground together to make a delicious and nutritious spread!

When we received this coconut peanut butter in the mail, my husband couldn't wait to try a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  I have to admit that it was very tasty!  In fact, I've had a few more since then.  I would have liked to make something else with the coconut peanut butter but the jar had so much oil in it that it never really had any body to the peanut butter.  Once my husband poured off some of the oil on top and stirred it thickened up nicely.  It also didn't help that it's been very warm and we don't have air conditioning in our apartment.

One of my readers has the chance to win a 16 oz jar of the coconut peanut butter, too!

Mandatory Entry

You must subscribe to the Tropical Traditions sales newsletter.  Please let me know that you have done this for your mandatory entry in a comment below. (Please make sure that I have an email address to contact you if you are the winner either in the comment itself or on your profile.)

Additional Entries (Make sure you leave separate comments for each entry.  For example, if you post my button on your blog, leave three separate comments letting me know you did.)

3 entries - Become a public follower through Google Friend Connect of Giveaways and More or let me know if you already follow this blog.
3 entries - Grab my button and post it on your blog. Don't forget to include your blog address so I can go see it! (You can find my button in the column on the right)
3 entries - Blog about this giveaway linking back to this post and the Tropical Traditions website. Leave the link to your blog post in your comment.
1 entry - Become a Giveaways and More! email subscriber. Check your email and make to sure verify your address to gain this entry!
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1 entry - Follow Tropical Traditions on Twitter.
1 entry - Follow me on Twitter.
1 entry - Enter another active giveaway on Giveaways and More! (1 entry per giveaway entered)
1 entry (1x daily) - Tweet this giveaway. Make sure to include the link to your tweet in your comment.  Feel free to use this tweet:  

Win a 16 oz jar of Tropical Traditions Coconut Peanut Butter! @troptraditions http://goo.gl/fb/OPLYP Ends 9/12 #giveaway RT @curlyq776

This giveaway will close on September 12th at 11:59 pm PDT. This giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only. The winner will be chosen via random.org, announced on this blog and notified by email. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen and notified.

Thanks to Tropical Traditions for sponsoring this giveaway! 

Disclaimer: Tropical Traditions provided me with a free sample of this product to review, and I was under no obligation to review it if I so chose.  Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review or sponsor a product giveaway in return for the free product.

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August 27, 2010

Bump 2 Baby Event!

Since I got my new job and there are health benefits and maternity leave, I'm hoping to start working on expanding our family in the near future!  That's why I'm so excited about the Bump 2 Baby Event at J. leigh designz and Minnesota Mama Must Haves!  Head over to get some bonus entries here and take a look at some of the prizes that will be available!  Hurry!  It begins on September 1st!

I would love to win this crib!  Isn't it beautiful?

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August 26, 2010

All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins {REVIEW}

I am an avid reader of romance novels because I love to just escape from everyday life once in awhile and read about a love story.  Romance novels usually end very happily and there are times in life when I just need to read about a happy ending, you know what I mean?  Luckily, I was offered the opportunity to read a wonderful romance novel called All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins.  Here is the description from the back of the novel to give you an idea of what the book's all about:
All I Ever Wanted
By Kristan Higgins
Published by HQN Books
August 2010;$7.99US/$9.99CAN; 978-0-373-77458-6


One Happily-Ever-After Rocking Chair . . . 
And no sign of any forthcoming babies to rock in ol' Georgebury, Vermont. For Callie Grey, turning thirty means coming to grips with the fact that her boss (and five-week fling) is way overdue in his marriage proposal. And way off track, because Mark has suddenly announced his engagement to the company's new Miss Perfect. If that isn't bad enough, her mom decides to throw her a three-oh birthday bash in the family funeral home.

Bad goes to worse when she stirs up a crazy relationship with the town's not so warm and fuzzy veterinarian, Ian McFarland, in order to flag Mark's attention. So Ian is more comfortable with animals. . . . So he's formal, orderly and just a bit tense. The ever-friendly, fun-loving and spontaneous Callie decides it's time for Ian to get a personality makeover. But, dang, if he doesn't shock the heck out of her, she might actually fall for Vermont's unlikeliest eligible bachelor. . . .
--------
This was a very fun novel to read!  I think we've all been caught in a situation like Callie's where the person we had a crush on finds someone else.  It can be so devastating and the way that Callie deals with this heartbreaking news is loaded with humor as well as heartbreak.  The characters have a lot of charisma and just jump off the page!  Occasionally, I have a difficult time trying to picture the characters and situations in books if the author is not descriptive enough but this one was very easy for me to recreate in my mind.  Kristan Higgins writes very well with humor as well as tenderness.  I would definitely buy another one of her novels and have already added her to my list of favorite authors.
Check out this excerpt and head over to Amazon or Barnes & Noble to purchase this book for yourself!

Chapter One
by Kristan Higgins,
Author of All I Ever Wanted

As the man I loved approached my office, the image of a deer being hit by a truck came to mind. I was the deer, metaphorically speaking, and Mark Rousseau was the pickup truck of doom.

But here's the thing. The deer always freezes, as we all know, hence the expression like a deer caught in the headlights. The deer and I (Callie Grey, age thirty as of 9:34 this very morning) are well aware that the pickup truck is going to hit us. But we just stand there, waiting for the inevitable, whether it's a pickup truck (in the deer's case) or a man walking athletically toward me (in mine), perpetual smile in place, his brown hair carelessly curling, those gorgeous, dancing dark eyes. I waited, doe-eyed. It was all really too bad, because outside of Mark's influence, I was not at all a deer about to be run down. I was much more of an adorable, perky hedgehog or something.

"Hey." Mark grinned.

Bam! We have impact. The sunlight streamed through the windows of the old brick office building in which Mark and I worked, illuminating him so that he looked like something painted by Michelangelo. To make him even more appealing, he was wearing an old sweater vest his mom knitted for him years ago, shapeless and faded but something he just couldn't part with. A good son and a sex god.

It was as if there were two Callies . . . the smarter, more sensible self (I pictured her as Michelle Obama), and the dopey, in love part . . . Betty Boop. Would that Michelle could give Betty Boop a brisk slap, followed by some vigorous shaking. Alas, Betty just sat there, enthralled, as the First Lady snorted in disgust.

"Hi," I said, feeling my face warm. You'd think that four years of seeing him almost daily would have built up some tolerance in me, but no. My chest prickled with longing and love, my throat turned Saharan, my feet and fingers tingled. Though I was trying hard for Intelligent Coworker, my expression was probably somewhere around Pathetic Adoration.

Mark leaned against my desk, which meant his crotch was, oh, let's see, about a foot and a half from my face, since I was seated. Not that I noticed, of course. "Happy birthday," he said, making it sound like the most intimate, most suggestive phrase in the world.

Face: nuclear. Heart: racing. Callie: half inch from orgasm. "Thanks."

"I got you a present, of course," he murmured in that voice . . . God, that voice. Low and soft and velvety . . . the same voice he used in the bedroom, as I well knew. Yes, Mark and I had been together. For five weeks. Five wonderful weeks. Almost five and a half, if you really analyzed it. Which I had.

From his back pocket, he withdrew a small, rectangular package. My heart flopped as my brain raced with contradictory thoughts. Jewelry? Betty squealed. That means something. That's romantic. So romantic! Oh! My! God! On the other hand, Michelle advised caution. Calm down, Callie. Let's just see how this plays out.

"Oh, Mark! Thank you! You didn't have to," I said, my voice breathy.

On the other side of the glass-bricked wall that separated our offices, Fleur Eames slammed a drawer. The wall only went up ten feet; the ceilings were twelve, perfect for eavesdropping, and I guessed she was trying to snap me out of my daze. Fleur, a copywriter here at the firm, knew about my crush. Everyone did.

Clearing my throat, I reached for the package in Mark's hand. He held onto it for a minute, grinning before he let go. It was wrapped in cheerful yellow paper. Yellow is my favorite color. Did I tell him that once? Had he filed away that little fact the same way I filed away everything he ever told me? I mean, really, it could hardly be coincidence, right? He smiled down at me, and my racing heart stuttered, stalled, then revved into overdrive. Oh, God. Could it be? Did he finally want to get back together?

I'd worked at Mark's firm for the past four years. We were the only advertising and public relations agency in northeastern Vermont. Our staff was small -- just Mark and me; Fleur; the office manager, Karen; and the two pale computer geeks in the art department, Pete and Leila. Oh, and Damien, Mark's personal assistant/receptionist/willing slave.

I loved my job. Excelled at my job, as proven by the large poster on my wall, which had very nearly won a Clio, the Oscar of advertising. Said Clio ceremony took place eleven months ago out in Santa Fe. And in that beautiful, romantic city, Mark and I had finally hooked up. But the timing wasn't right for a serious relationship. Well, at least that's what Mark had said. Honestly, has a woman ever said that? Not a lot of twenty-nine-year-old women truly have timing issues when it comes to being with the man they love. No. It had been Mark's timing that wasn't right.

But now . . . now a gift. Could it finally be that the time was right? Maybe now, on the very day that my thirties began and I entered into that decade where a woman is more likely to be mauled by a grizzly bear than get married . . . maybe today really was the start of a new age.

"Open it, Callie," he said, and I obeyed, hoping he didn't notice my shaking fingers. Inside was a black velvet box. Squee! I bit my lip and glanced up at Mark, who shrugged and gave me that heart-stopping smile once more. "It's not every day my best girl turns thirty," he added.

"Oh, gack," sniped Damien appearing in the doorway. Mark glanced at him briefly, then turned his eyes back to me.

"Hi, Damien," I said.

"Hi." He stretched the word into three syllables of contempt . . . Damien had once again broken up with his boyfriend and currently hated love in all its forms. "Boss, Muriel's on line two."

Something flickered across Mark's face. Irritation, maybe. Muriel was the daughter of our newest client, Charles deVeers, the owner and founder of Bags to Riches. The company made outdoorwear from a combination of plastic grocery bags and natural fiber. It was our biggest account yet, a huge deal for Green Mountain, most of whose clients were in New England. I'd only met Muriel once, and then only briefly, but Mark had been flying back and forth to San Diego, where Bags to Riches was based. As part of the package, Charles had asked Muriel to come to Vermont and work as the account exec, so he could have someone close to him keeping tabs on things. And, since Charles was paying us gobs of money, Mark had said yes.

Mark didn't answer Damien, who was quivering with the joy of running Mark's day. "Boss?" Damien said, a bit more sharply. "Muriel? Remember her? She's waiting."

"So let her wait some more," Mark answered, tossing me a wink. "This is important. Open the damn box, Callie." Damien sighed with the heavy drama that only a gay man can pull off and hustled down the hall.

Cheeks burning, I opened the velvet box. It was a bracelet, delicate silver strands that twisted and turned like ivy. "Oh, Mark, I love it," I whispered, running my finger over the intricate lines. I bit my lip, my eyes already misting with happy tears. "Thank you."

His expression was soft. "You're welcome. You mean a lot to me. You know that, Callie." He bent down and kissed my cheek, and every detail was immediately seared into my brain -- his smooth, warm lips, the smell of his Hugo Boss cologne, the heat of his skin.

Hope, which had been lying in ashes for the past ten months, twitched hard.

"Think you'll make it to my party later on?" I asked, striving for perky and fun, not lustful and ruttish. My parents were throwing me a little bash at Elements, the nicest restaurant around, and I'd invited all my coworkers. No use pretending: I was turning thirty; might as well get some presents.

Mark straightened, then moved a pile of papers from the small couch in my office and sat down. "Um . . . Listen, I need to tell you something. You met Muriel, right?"

"Well, just that once. She seems . . . very . . . " Hmm. She'd worn a killer black suit, had great shoes . . . kind of intense. "Very focused."

"Yeah. She is. Callie . . . " Mark hesitated. "Muriel and I are seeing each other."

It took a few seconds for that to register. Once again, I was that stupid deer, watching mutely as the pickup truck hurtled down the road. My heart slammed to a halt. For a second, I couldn't breathe. Michelle Obama stood by, shaking her head sadly, her fabulous arms crossed in regret. I realized my mouth was open. Closed it. "Oh," I heard myself say.

Mark looked at the floor. "I hope that doesn't cause you any . . . discomfort. Given our past involvement."

There was a white, rushing sound, like a river engorged with snowmelt and hidden debris. He was seeing someone? How could that be? If the timing was okay for Muriel . . . why not . . . Oh, crap.

"Callie?" he said.

Here's the thing about being hit by a truck. Sometimes those deer keep running. They just bound into the woods, sort of like they're saying, Whoo-hoo! That was close! Good thing I'm okay. Um . . . I am okay, right? Actually, you know what? I'm feeling a little strange. Think I'll lie down for a bit. And then they wake up dead.

Mark's voice lowered. "The last thing I want to do is hurt you."

Say something, the First Lady commanded. "No, no!" I chirruped. "It's . . . just . . . no worries, Mark. Don't worry." I seemed to be smiling. Smiling and nodding. Yes. I was nodding. "So how long have you been . . . together?"

"A couple of months," Mark answered. "It's . . . it's fairly serious." He reached out and took the bracelet out of the box, then put it on my wrist, his fingers brushing the sensitive skin there, making me want to jerk away.

In the many years I'd known Mark, he'd never dated anyone for a couple of months. A couple of weeks, sure. I thought five was a record, quite honestly.

Ah. My body was catching on to the fact that I'd just been slammed. My throat tightened, my joints buzzed with the flight response to danger, and a sharp pain lanced through my chest. "Right. Well. You know what? I have to get my license renewed! I almost forgot! You know . . . birthday. License. Renewal." Breathe, Callie. "Okay if I zip out for lunch a little early?" My voice cracked, and I cleared my throat again, studiously avoiding Mark's dark and now sorrowful eyes.

"Sure, Callie. Take all the time you need."

The kindness in his voice made me feel abruptly murderous. "I won't be long," I chirped. "Thanks for the bracelet! See you in a bit!"

With that, I grabbed my oversize pink hobo bag and stood up, excruciatingly careful not to brush against Mark, who still sat on my couch, staring straight in front of him. "Callie, I'm sorry," he said.

"No! Nothing to apologize for!" I sang. "Gotta run. They close at noon today. See ya later!"

Thirty minutes later, I stood in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles, and the effects of being emotionally run down by the man I loved -- and now hated -- but still loved -- were catching up with me. Michelle Obama had abandoned me, regretfully acknowledging that I was beyond help, and Betty Boop was clamping her lips together and blinking back tears. Trying to keep the choo-choo train of despair at bay, I glanced around. Gray, grimy tile floors. Dingy white walls. I stood in the middle of a line of about ten people, all of us listless and lifeless and loveless . . . or so it seemed.

The whole scene was like something out of some French existentialist play . . . Hell is not other people. Hell is the DMV. Robotic clerks shuffled behind the counter, clearly hating their lot in life and contemplating the easiest form of hari-kari or embezzlement so they could leave this grim place. The clock on the wall seemed to taunt me. Time's a'wastin', kid. Your life is passing you by. Happy fucking birthday.

My breathing started to quicken, my knees felt like a hive of angry bees. Tears burned in my eyes, and on my wrist, my stupid birthday present tickled. I should just rip it off. Melt it down into a bullet and kill Mark. Or myself. Or just swallow the bracelet whole and let it get tangled in my intestines and require emergency surgery and then have Mark come to the hospital and realize just how much he really loved me after all. Not that I would have him now. (Yeah, sure, Callie, said Mrs. Obama, making a reappearance. You'd eat a baby if it meant having him.)

Well. Maybe not a baby. But the idea that Mark was with someone . . . for a couple of months, fairly serious . . . ah, shit! Panic loomed like the jaws of a great white shark, terrifying and unexpected. Stupid Muriel with her black hair and white skin, like some vampire in fabulous shoes . . . when the hell had they started dating? When, dammit?

Oh, crap. Should I go? No. I had to get my license renewed. Today was the last day I could do it without incurring a fine. I'd picked out this wicked cute outfit, too -- red-and-white printed blouse, short red skirt, big gold hoops, and my hair was perfect today, all shiny and swingy . . . Besides, what could I do? Sit in my car and wail? Kick a tree? Strangle a moose? I really wasn't the type. The only idea that held any appeal was that of sitting in my rocking chair and eating cake batter.

A dry sob raked my throat. Shit. Shit on a shingle. Shit on rye.

"Next," called one of the DMV drones, and we all shuffled forward six inches. The man behind me heaved an audible sigh.

Without another thought, I fumbled in my purse for my cell phone. Where was it? Where was it, dammit? Tampon . . . no. Book on CD . . . no. Picture of Josephine and Bronte, my nieces . . . even their beautiful faces failed to cheer me. Where was the phone? Ah. Here. I scrolled down to Annie Doyle. Damn! I got her voice mail. Somehow, it felt like a personal insult. How could my best friend be unavailable in my time of need? Didn't she love me anymore?

Clearly the choo-choo was chugging faster now, so I scrolled down for backup. My mom? God, no . . . this would just be confirmation that the Y chromosome should be erased from humanity. My sister? Not much better. Still, it was someone. Mercifully, Hester answered, even though I knew she was at work.

"Hester? Got a minute?"

"Hey, birthday girl! What's up?" My sister's voice, always on the loud side, boomed out of my phone, and I held it away from my ear.

"Hester," I bleated, "he's seeing someone! He gave me a beautiful bracelet and kissed me and then he told me he's seeing someone! For a couple of months and it's fairly serious, but I still love him!"

The above is an excerpt from the book All I Ever Wanted by Kristan Higgins. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2010 Kristan Higgins, author of All I Ever Wanted

Author Bio

Kristan Higgins, author of All I Ever Wanted, combines real life, true love and lots of laughs in her stories. Her books have received praise and accolades from readers and reviewers alike. Kristan won a Romance Writers of America's RITA® Award in 2008 for Catch of the Day, and received a 2010 nomination for Too Good To Be True. Called "one of the most honest and creative voices in contemporary romance," Kristan is hard at work on her next book. She lives in a small Connecticut town with her heroic firefighter husband, two lovely children, one devoted dog and a regal cat. Kristan loves to hear from readers! Visit her Website at www.KristanHiggins.com.

Follow the author on Facebook.

Disclosure:  I received this book for free in exchange for my honest opinion of the book.  I was not required to post a positive review.  All thoughts are my own except for the excerpts.
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Giveaways ending!

Don't forget to enter my two current giveaways for awesome food products!  They both end this weekend so click on the links to the right and get entering!  I promise you won't be sorry if you win these products.

Ciao Bella Gelato & Cookbook - Ends 8/29
Macaroni Grill Frozen Meal Prize Pack - Ends 8/28

I'm also working on a few more reviews and giveaways so stay tuned in the next week because there will be some more food items, health & beauty items and reading material!
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Winners!

Sorry that it took me so long to pick these winners but the first week at work is always an all-consuming experience.  I'm really enjoying my coworkers and learning a new career but it's just tiring!

Anyway, here are my two winners of the I Hate To Cook Book.


#64 - Malinda
#111 - jennjp0518

I've sent an email to the winners who have 48 hours to respond or I will have to choose another winner.  Thanks for entering and being patient while I figure out my new schedule.  A new job is fun but hectic!
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August 24, 2010

Back in the saddle...

We're back home and I started my new job yesterday!  I really think I'm going to enjoy this one.  My coworkers are a lot of fun (mostly around my age) and it was busy the whole day.  For the past year and a half I've pretty much worked alone so having other people around will be

Sorry for the lull in posts but I'm hoping to get back into the swing of things once the craziness of a new job wears off.  I have a few great reviews and giveaways to get posted for you so make sure that you check in over the next week or so for those.

Happy Tuesday!
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Have you heard about SafeSocial?

AOL is launching a new product today called SafeSocial that helps you keep your kids safe online.  Have you ever wondered what your kids and their friends talk about online?  Would you like to know who your kids are friends with online?  SafeSocial can help you answer these questions and, even if you aren't all that computer savvy, you can get the information you need about what your kids are doing when they are online.

Below is an article by Regina Lewis, AOL Consumer Advisor with more information about how you can make technology work for you.

These days, your teens’ “friends” aren’t just the kids hanging out in your kitchen and family room, they’re hundreds of contacts on their “friend” and “buddy” lists. More than 50 million teens (ages 13 to 17) are online worldwide and the average number of “friends” is 130. For many teens, these numbers are even higher. It’s not unusual to have more than 500 “friends” and more than 1,000 profile photos.

So, how can you realistically keep up with your child’s vast circle of “friends” and ongoing status and photo updates?

1. Become a “Friend”
For starters, you can become your child’s online. They’ll need to accept your friend request. This can be easier said than done. In some cases, you may get push back. It’s your call how strongly you press.
There are more private alternatives. A new product called SafeSocial lets you privately see everything you would as a “friend” and even more. Many kids prefer this route. Remember, you’re not “spying” on them; you’re simply doing your job as an informed and involved parent.

2. Curb the Comments
If your child is reluctant to accept you publicly as a “friend,” be sure not to push your luck by excessively commenting on their page once you are granted access. Grandparents can be over-commenting culprits, too. Often teens find this “embarrassing” and it may even lead to having them “un-friend” you. It happens all the time.

3. Get a Report Card
The new parenting tool SafeSocial offers a time-efficient and thorough way to keep tabs on your children’s social networking without being too intrusive. It delivers an easy-to-read report card providing a 360 degree view of their overall social networking— what they’re saying and doing and who their friends are.
This answers one of the biggest issues facing parents all over the country—feeling like you need to spend hours each week monitoring your child’s online activity and still not really being sure if you’re seeing everything (they can filter your view) or what you might be missing (what’s happening on their friends’ pages).

4. Watch the Friends
All friends are not created equal. Some your children may know well, some they may barely know at all. You can get a good feel for their entire list via SafeSocial’s Friend Engine, which takes an extensive look at your kids’ friends and checks them against more than 50 databases to see if they may not be who they say they are. You’ll be alerted when an adult becomes a friend of your child, when someone looks suspicious or has no or few other mutual friends with your child.

5. Loaded Language and Photos
Specific words that may come up in strings of conversation— sex, drugs, alcohol, suicide and so on and suggestive or violent language will be flagged, so you can hone in on the suspect dialog versus reading every post. This helps prevent missing something inadvertently.

You can even opt to be immediately notified via an email alert. This piece could prove priceless in protecting your children’s safety and managing their reputations.

While every conversation and image is archived, you can adjust the settings to simply view those that are called out. This lets you give kids more privacy as they mature. You will also see all photos, including those other people post of your child. Young people tend to push the envelope with photos and videos, so checking out this section of the report card is critical.

Overall, social networking is an integral part of many teenage lives and an opportunity for your kids to learn to express themselves in a creative and responsible fashion. It’s too big a trend to ignore. You can embrace it with these new tools on your side. For more information, visit www.safesocial.com,  www.safety.aol.com and www.reginalewis.com.

AOL Consumer Advisor Regina Lewis (www.reginalewis.com) is a national TV and radio contributor and Internet trend expert. She knows the tips, tricks, secrets and shortcuts for making technology work for you.

You can also watch this video on YouTube about this product.  It will give you a better idea of how SafeSocial works and how easy it is.




If you are at all worried about your teenagers or preteens online activities, at least take a look at SafeSocial.  It could be the best thing you do for your family.  Click here to access a free 30-day trial version of the software.  Try it out!

Disclosure:  I'm writing this post for Global Influence and SafeSocial.  There was no monetary compensation but I am trying to win a $25 gift card.  All opinions are my own.
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August 19, 2010

On Vacation!

Sorry  I haven't posted for a couple days but my husband and I are visiting my parents and sister in my hometown.  Seattle is such a beautiful city, especially in August (at least it was when we got here on Tuesday)!  Here are a few pics from this morning's activities.

The Space Needle holds a special place in my heart because it's where I got engaged.  I took this picture from our table at breakfast at Citizen which is a little hole in the wall place on Queen Anne that specializes in crepes. Wanna see what I had?
This was so good!  It's called the Citizen Crepe and it had spinach, bacon, asparagus, goat cheese and caramelized onions in the crepe then drizzled with a savory creme fraiche.  It was awesome!
Can't forget the coffee.  We are in Seattle, after all!
Next up was a Seattle icon, Pike Place Market.  It's one of my favorite places in this city.  Of course we had to stop at the original Starbucks.
Then we headed off for some shopping.  I got too engrossed in the booths to take anymore pictures so this is where the tour stops.

It's so much fun to explore the city that you grew up in from an adult perspective!  I'll try to post again before we head home on Sunday but I'm not sure if I'll be able to.  Hope you are having a great week!
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August 16, 2010

Admirer Monday Blog Hop

It's been a few weeks since I participated in Admirer Monday so I thought I'd get back into it this week.  If you are not familiar with Admirer Monday, it's a great blog hop hosted by Heavenly Savings and Giveaway Blogdom where a new question is asked every week.  It's a great way to get to know other bloggers while putting some information about you out there in the blogosphere.

This week's question is: What is your favorite item you have kept since childhood?

I have a pillow that was made for me by my cousin when I was about 10 and I have kept it ever since.  It reminds me of the wonderful bond that we share.  She is about 6 months older than me and an only child so we spent as much time together as possible being that we lived over 3000 miles apart but we are as close as sisters.

Do you have a favorite item from childhood?
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August 15, 2010

The last of the birthday event winners...

Thanks so much to everyone that participated in my Happy Birthday To Us Event!  

Here are the last of the winners.

That's Caring Eco-Friendly Gift Basket winners are:

#105 - shala_darkstone

#52 - Donetta

#166 - marinewifey

Absolutely Audrey Gia Show Clips winner is:
#12 - Janelle


The winners have all been notified by email and have 48 hours to respond or I will have to chose another winner.

This was a wonderful event and I'm so happy with the response from you all.  Please continue to visit my blog because there are some great reviews and giveaways that I'm working on right now!

Thanks again!
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Ciao Bella Gelato & Sorbet {REVIEW & GIVEAWAY}

Who likes ice cream?  Anybody?  Well, I can tell you that ice cream is one of the 5 major food groups in my house.  In fact, when my husband and I vacationed in Europe a couple years ago, we made an effort to try as much gelato (italian ice cream) as possible.  It's some of the most delicious tasting dessert I've ever had.  Imagine my delight when I was introduced to Ciao Bella Gelato!  They make a large variety of flavors of not only gelato but sorbet which I like because it is made with real fruit and has less calories than the gelato.  In fact, the Ciao Bella Blood Orange Sorbet was featured on Oprah!  It doesn't get much better than that!

Ciao Bella was so generous and sent me not only the famous Blood Orange Sorbet but also sent Wild Strawberry Sorbet, Key Lime Graham Cracker Swirl Gelato, Honey Toasted Pecan Gelato and Matcha Green Tea Gelato.  They were all very good but I think my favorite was the Key Lime Graham Cracker Swirl.  It was a little bit tart and a little bit sweet.  I also really enjoyed the Wild Strawberry Sorbet!  While I respect Oprah and her favorite things, the Blood Orange Sorbet was not a flavor that I would buy.  I tried it just for the experience but I'm not a fan of orange flavored foods.  My husband really enjoyed the Matcha Green Tea Gelato.  He loves green tea ice cream and couldn't say enough good things about the flavor of this one.  I'm not a tea drinker so I would also pass on this one.  We also thought the Honey Toasted Pecan was a winner!

Would you like to try some of Ciao Bella's flavors for free?  I'll bet you would!  Ciao Bella has agreed to give one of my lucky readers the chance to not only taste 3 flavors of gelato or sorbet but also win their brand new book all about gelato, The Ciao Bella Book of Gelato and Sorbetto (written by Ciao Bella founder F. W. Pearce and Executive Chef Danilo Zecchin).

Mandatory Entry

Tell me what kind of gelato or sorbet you would make if you could.  Be creative with the flavor combinations and include a name!  Who knows, maybe they will bring that flavor to fruition! (Please make sure that I have an email address to contact you if you are the winner either in the comment itself or on your profile.)

Additional Entries (Make sure you leave separate comments for each entry.  For example, if you post my button on your blog, leave three separate comments letting me know you did.)

3 entries - Become a public follower through Google Friend Connect of Giveaways and More or let me know if you already follow this blog.
3 entries - Grab my button and post it on your blog. Don't forget to include your blog address so I can go see it! (You can find my button in the column on the right)
3 entries - Blog about this giveaway linking back to this post and Ciao Bella. Leave the link to your blog post in your comment.
1 entry - Become a Giveaways and More email subscriber. Check your email and make to sure verify your address to gain this entry!
1 entry - Subscribe to my RSS feed.
1 entry - "Like" Giveaways and More on Facebook.
1 entry - "Like" Ciao Bella on Facebook.
1 entry - Fav Giveaways and More on Technorati.
1 entry - Follow me on Twitter.
1 entry - Follow Ciao Bella on Twitter.
1 entry (1x daily) - Tweet this giveaway. Make sure to include the link to your tweet in your comment. Feel free to use this tweet:

Like ice cream? Win some gelato and a cookbook from @CiaoBella! http://goo.gl/fb/alHIx Ends 8/29 #giveaway RT @curlyq776

This giveaway will close on August 29th at 11:59 pm PDT. This giveaway is open to US residents only. The winner will be chosen via random.org, announced on this blog and notified by email. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen and notified.

Thanks to Ciao Bella for sponsoring this giveaway!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free product for review and I was under no obligation to use it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review. All opinions are my own honest opinions.
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August 14, 2010

Macaroni Grill Frozen Meals {REVIEW & GIVEAWAY}

When I lived in a large metropolitan area, my husband and I loved to go to dinner at Romano's Macaroni Grill.  Not only is the food excellent (got to love that focaccia bread!) but the portions are perfect for sharing!  Since moving to the small town that we live in over 5 years ago, I crave Romano's Macaroni Grill practically daily.  This is why I'm so excited about the newest frozen meals from Romano's Macaroni Grill!  I can get those same great flavors in my own in the fraction of the time it would take to make a full meal from scratch.  There's even a recipe for that awesome focaccia on the internet!

I had the privilege (thanks to My Blog Spark and Macaroni Grill) of trying the Grilled Chicken Florentine.  It was so easy to make this dinner.  Just add the contents of the package to a pan along with some milk, heat and enjoy!  I also added a little extra Parmesan cheese to the top (it is Italian food, after all). I'm not usually a fan of frozen meals with chicken because it never quite tastes like it should to me but this meal was pretty tasty.  I would have really liked it if there was more spinach in the meal but the overall flavor of this meal was delicious.

You don't have to choose the Grilled Chicken Florentine, though.  There are three other varieties including Spicy Italian Sausage Pomodoro, Roasted Garlic Shrimp Scampi and Basil Parmesan Chicken.  All of those sound great to me!  How would like to try the Grilled Chicken Florentine for free?  My Blog Spark is sponsoring a giveaway for one of my readers to receive exactly what I received which is the frozen Grilled Chicken Florentine, the white bowl you see in this photo as well as a pair of nonstick telescoping tongs.

Mandatory Entry

Visit Romano's Macaroni Grill website and tell me which meal you would most like to try. (Please make sure that I have an email address to contact you if you are the winner either in the comment itself or on your profile.)

Additional Entries (Make sure you leave separate comments for each entry.  For example, if you post my button on your blog, leave three separate comments letting me know you did.)

3 entries - Become a public follower through Google Friend Connect of Giveaways and More or let me know if you already follow this blog.
3 entries - Grab my button and post it on your blog. Don't forget to include your blog address so I can go see it! (You can find my button in the column on the right)
3 entries - Blog about this giveaway linking back to this post and Romano's Macaroni Grill. Leave the link to your blog post in your comment.
1 entry - Become a Giveaways and More email subscriber. Check your email and make to sure verify your address to gain this entry!
1 entry - Subscribe to my RSS feed.
1 entry - "Like" Giveaways and More on Facebook.
1 entry - "Like" Romano's Macaroni Grill on Facebook.
1 entry - Fav Giveaways and More on Technorati.
1 entry - Follow me on Twitter.
1 entry - Follow Macaroni Grill on Twitter.
1 entry (1x daily) - Tweet this giveaway. Make sure to include the link to your tweet in your comment. Feel free to use this tweet:

Romano's Macaroni Grill now offers frozen meals! Win a prize pack! http://goo.gl/fb/bgG8o Ends 8/28 #giveaway #myblogspark RT @curlyq776

This giveaway will close on August 28th at 11:59 pm PDT. This giveaway is open to US residents only. The winner will be chosen via random.org, announced on this blog and notified by email. If the winner does not respond within 48 hours, another winner will be chosen and notified.

Thanks to Macaroni Grill and My Blog Spark for sponsoring this giveaway!

Disclaimer: I was provided with a free product for review and I was under no obligation to use it if I so chose. Nor was I under any obligation to write a positive review. All opinions are my own honest opinions.

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August 12, 2010

Lots of winners!

Congratulations to all my newest winners!

Winner of the CSN Stores $60 Shopping Spree is
#359 - A Bookish Mom

Winner of the Glee Gum Make Your Own Candy Kit is
#90 - Amanda

Winners of the 191 Unlimited Men's Shirt are
#20 - Megan
#42 - BrendaLea, the Prpldy
#37 - Chacoy

Winner of Baby Body Signs book is
#11 - Jennifer




All these winners have been contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond.  Thanks for entering!

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August 11, 2010

Can I ask a favor?

I'm sure you've all heard about the Pepsi Refresh Project where you can vote for your favorite projects or ideas to receive $50,000 in funding.  Well, my adorable nephew and niece were both born with a rare metabolic condition called Phenylketonuria (PKU) which you can read all about here.  It's a disorder that is managed through a special diet including very pricey formula and foods. 

I have added a widget to my blog over there on the top to the right and would love it if you could vote for money to research and hopefully cure this condition.  Right now, it's sitting at #15 and we need to get it all the way up to #1!

Here is the description from the website:


"Fund Research and Find A Cure for PKU" will provide funds for research in effort to find a cure for PKU, and improve the quality of life for all children and adults living with PKU. The grant will go to The National PKU Alliance (NPKUA), a non-profit organization. NPKUA is devoted to advance research in an effort to find a treatment or hopefully a cure. It supports local PKU organizations, educates others on the issues PKU patients and families face, and advocates for individuals living with PKU. The month of May is National PKU Awareness month, but why stop at one month. What better way to support PKU all year round by voting for this project!

We would all be eternally grateful if you would take a couple of minutes out of your day to vote!  The voting ends on August 31st.  That's a great day, too, because it is my niece's 1st birthday.  What an amazing gift it would be if the $50,000 went to help fund research on PKU!  Please vote!  You can vote for 10 different causes everyday so take a look around the site and see if there are any projects that are close to your heart.  Thank you!
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August 10, 2010

Good thoughts & blog hops!

I wanted to thank everyone for the good thoughts about the job.  I got it!  The even better part is that I got it at the pay I wanted which is awesome!  I start in a couple of weeks and my husband and I plan to take a little road trip to see my family before then.  It'll be nice to get away and I'm going to have to supplement my wardrobe to get ready for the banking world!  Your kind words and prayers were so helpful to me and made me realize that blogging is a wonderful way to make friends even if it's not the most conventional way to do it.  Thank you so much!

Since it's Tuesday, I'm going to doing some hopping around the blogosphere to celebrate!  Check out the below blog hops for some new and fabulous blogs.  Click on the pictures to take you to the websites where you can sign up!


Photobucket


Tuesday Tag-Along

Familylicious Reviews
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August 9, 2010

Winners of the Brugo Mug & Blue Platypus T-shirt Giveaways!

Congratulations to my newest winners!

Winner of the Brugo Travel Coffee Mug
is #116 - Kim D.!


The Winner of the Blue Platypus T-shirt
is #51 - Megan!


I have emailed the winners who have 48 hours to respond.  Don't forget to check here tomorrow when I announce the winners for the next few giveaways!  Thanks for entering!
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August 6, 2010

I have winners to announce!

Two giveaways ended recently and I've got some winners!

The winner of the Powermat giveaway is
#62 - Kimbuckjr

The winner of the Aroma Home Hot Hug giveaway is
#43 - Megan

Congratulations to these two winners!  They have been sent emails and have 48 hours to respond.

I've still got some great giveaways going on so enter!  Happy Friday!

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TGIF! Let's make some new friends!

I have the day off today so I'm doing some blog hopping!  If you're new to my blog, take a look around and enter one of my many giveaways!  The list is over on the right hand side.  I'm giving away some great stuff to celebrate July which is my birthday month.  I give you lots of entries so good luck!

This week I'm starting with Simply Stacie and My Wee View who host Fun Follow Friday!

My Wee View

It's a Social Parade is in full force over at Smart and Trendy Moms!

Smart and Trendy Moms

Next, check out toddler awesome... for Friendly Friday Follow!



This week I've even found some news link ups like Where's The Love Friday at Only The Curious!

Only-The-Curious

Here's another one that I just found!  Boost My Blog Friday at Design It Chic!




BoostMyBlogFriday


And Follow Me, Chickadee Fridays at The Adventures of Goober Grap & Monkey Man!






Of course I can't forget some of my favorites like Blog Hop Friday hosted by My New Life As Mom, Chubby Cheeks Thinks, Take A Mom's Word For It, Bree Bee's, This Adventure Our Life and Belly Charms!






And Friday Follow Me!

friday-follow

New Friend Fridays hosted by The Girl Creative and Trendy Treehouse!




New Friend Fridays


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