Thursday, December 27, 2012

Healthy Choice Baked Entrees

I was put on a mission through Crowdtap to test and share some excellent coupons for the new Healthy Choice Baked Entrees.  I think the favorite in my family was the Lasagna.  I shared a frozen meal with a relative who is pretty sick.  He enjoyed having a fresh and healthy meal that didn't require a lot of preparation.  I think Healthy Choice frozen meals are perfect not only for someone who is looking for a quick meal while at work, but also for those that are elderly or sick and can't cook healthy meals easily.

Healthy Choice Baked Entree - LASAGNA!!!
I have some great coupons for the new Healthy Choice Baked Entrees to share!  Get yours HERE before they are gone.  This is for a limited time since the coupons are such a high value.  Enjoy!!

There are several varieties of these new entrees to try:  Chicken and Rice Cheddar Bake, Fettuccine Alfredo Bake, Four Cheese Ziti Marinara, Italian Sausage Pasta Bake, Roasted Chicken and Potatoes, and of course Lasagna with Meat.Sauce.

I am an active member on Crowdtap where I receive compensation for my participation.  I did receive coupons and minimal compensation for my activity with the new Healthy Choice Baked Entrees, but my opinions are all my own.  If you haven't had a chance to try out Crowdtap, here is a link to get you started!  Crowdtap Invitation

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wet Ones Sticky Situations Facebook Contest

I don't know about you, but Wet Ones remind me of my childhood.  It seems my mom always had a tub of them available to wipe down my hands and face whenever I made a mess of myself.  I naturally use Wet Ones with my own family.  When preparing for camping season every year, a tub of Wet Ones is purchased.  I buy them to keep in the camper to clean messy hands after digging for bugs in the dirt and clean-up after eating s'mores.  They do an amazing job of removing things like tree sap and dirt, not to mention GERMS!

I buy the single-use wipes to keep in my car.  I can't resist getting ice cream for my kids on hot summer days, but eating ice cream cones in the car creates sticky fingers.  My Wet Ones supply has come in handy on many occasions during our family outings.  Unlike basic wipes, Wet Ones kill 99.99% of germs so hands can be cleaned with comfort, knowing germs will not remain.  

Wet Ones is having a contest through the end of the month.  They are looking for your sticky situations. I had a lot of fun remembering all of our sticky situations, and narrowed down the best one to enter in this contest.  It is easy to enter, just click: Wet Ones Sticky Situations Contest

One of my favorite sticky situations happened when I had a few minutes of peace.  You know those times when you get busy doing something and then realize that you haven't heard anything from your normally loud toddler for a while?  You immediately know she is up to no good.  My little girl didn't fail on this occasion.

Yes - what you are seeing here is my mascara, my adorable little girl, and her once clean baby-doll.  Lucky for me she didn't attempt to put the mascara directly on her eyelashes, and apparently she couldn't quite get the mascara on her doll correctly either.  A Wet One did a great job of cleaning her up, and luckily it worked on her doll too!  

Wet Ones has launched a Sticky Situations Facebook contest asking Moms to share their best helpful and creative tips on how to get out of a ‘sticky situation.'  I entered this picture in the contest, and I am sure you have a favorite picture to enter in the contest as well!  Simply log on and share your story and tips, and you can be entered to win an iPad Mini or Six Flags Tickets!   Here is the link:  Wet Ones Sticky Situations Contest

I think I enjoyed going through photos looking for the best one to submit for this contest.  It was super easy to enter once I chose which sticky situation I was going to use.  Go enter and good luck! 

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Wet Ones. I received a promotional item to thank me for participating.  Please visit Mom Central for more information.

Monday, December 3, 2012

My Dog and Eukanuba


I am in my new town and my new home.  It is time to get to blogging again.  I have missed it and every day that goes by I think how I need to get back to this site again.  I am far behind on sharing my love for the products I get to test.  This is one I just couldn't let go by!

I received dog food from Eukanuba as a Bzz Agent.  They sent me a coupon for a free mid-size bag and $5.00 off a full size.  I cashed in both coupons and am prepared to tell you what I think.  In fact, I am super excited about this task!  First a little background.

When I got married 16 years ago, my hubby and I adopted a dog.  He came from the local pound and he was with us through moves, children, and all the changes that come with life.  We lost him only 2 weeks ago. I have such good memories of him.  There are also many things I learned.  He had terrible teeth and starting at the age of 10, we had to get his teeth cleaned by the vet on a yearly basis.  That was a $300 bill per year that we had to pay because we didn't take care of his teeth.

A few years ago we brought home a companion for our old-timer.  This new spry pup is a great addition to our family.  I plan on doing things different with him.  For one, we are feeding him higher-quality food.  Secondly, I want to make sure his teeth are well taken care of.  Because of this, I am totally excited to see what he thinks of the Eukanuba food with 3-D Dental Defense.  It encompasses both goals in one nutrition powerhouse.

Eukanuba is not only perfect nutrition for my dog, but it provides something that we have not seen before - a formula that protects teeth.  So far, he loves the taste, and I am excited to report I can already see a  difference in his mouth.  Since he is young, he has little dental issues, but I intend to keep it that way!  For that reason, I think Eukanuba food could be a great fit for our family.  I will keep you posted.  I also look forward to sharing this with friends and family of dogs that are a bit older.  I think it could save some vet bills!  Check out this handsome guy!

Monday, June 4, 2012


In celebration of the release of Madagascar 3, I hosted a party!  We had 11 kids show up along with our own kids for a fun celebration.  To start off the party, the kids created masks - but not the kind you wear.  These masks were made with pizza dough.  The kids were able to decorate their individual sized mask-pizzas with all of the fixings.  We then popped the pizzas in the oven for a fun dinner treat.

There were lots of crazy games- dodge-ball under the big tent and just acting like a bunch of wild animals were favorites.  I had some fun nail kits that the girls used to decorate their nails.  They were able to choose from zebra print, giraffe print, or they could make up their own designs.  This was a big hit, and their nails turned out great!

We finished off with some ice cream, and the boys were able to have a sleepover.  They watched the first two Madagascar movies before fading into the sunset of course!  Thanks to Crowdtap for this fun party idea.  We look forward to seeing Madagascar 3 in theaters this weekend.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Love Affair with Greek Yogurt and Granola

I have been using Greek Yogurt in place of regular yogurt in my household for about the last 6 months.  I love the creamy texture, the rich taste, and the health benefits.  Greek Yogurt is higher in protein than regular yogurt and is fat-free which is hard to believe with its creamy consistency.  This variety of yogurt is more expensive than its plain yogurt counterpart, but it is well worth it!  I have started buying it in bulk at Costco with their Kirkland Signature brand which reduces the cost quite a bit.

I have used Greek Yogurt in place of sour cream in many recipes.  I love to serve it to my toddler mixed with some honey.  It is one of her favorite treats.  I enjoy it for breakfast with granola mixed in.  I was recently sent several sample bags of granola from Love Grown Foods.  You can tell from my picture that I have already been snacking on this wonderful granola.  It is disappearing quickly, so you are lucky that I snapped a picture of what I have left before it is gone altogether!  As an add-in for my Greek Yogurt, I enjoy the Simply Oats variety which is flavored with honey and agave.  The cinnamon and crunch make my morning yogurt sublime!

When I am craving an afternoon sweet snack, I grab the Cocoa Goodness from Love Grown Foods.  This variety is also sweetened with honey and agave, but there is also cocoa powder and dark chocolate mixed in.  It is super good and when I mix it with Greek Yogurt, I am able to indulge my sweet craving and get some protein mixed in.  I think it is better than ice cream!

I haven't tried the Sweet Cranberry Pecan variety yet, but I look forward to the dried cranberries, coconut, and pecans that are in this bag.  I appreciate what is not in these bags of granola from Love Grown Foods - No High Fructose Corn Syrup, No Hydrogenated Oils, Free of Preservatives, and Free of GMO Ingredients.  For those that are on a gluten-free diet, these are a great choice too.

You can learn more about the Love Grown Foods and see the other flavors they offer by visiting their website: Love Grown Foods

As a note of disclaimer - I received the Love Grown Foods granola as a prize from a Twitter Party.  I was not asked to post a review, but I have chosen to share the love of Love Grown Foods with my blog readers.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Dr. Scholl's for Her

OK, a little about me.  I am 5'9 inches and I have never wanted to make myself look taller.  High heels are not something I have ever worn.  Some day though, I hope to slip on a pair to see what the hype is about.  I just have to work on getting my calf muscles a little more toned first!

Oddly, Bzz Agent thought I would be a good fit for their newest campaign - Dr. Scholl's for Her.

Ultra-soft FabuSTEP® Gel Arch shifts pressure off ball of foot 
Immediate and long lasting comfort guaranteed, or your money back
Practically invisible, even in strappy heels 2" and up
Slim design won’t make shoes feel tight

I received my BzzKit the other day, and discovered what these insoles are all about.  They are designed to be worn inside of high heels, offering extra support and cushioning to these notoriously painful types of footwear.  The insoles themselves feel really neat.  They are a gel-like material - not something that would flatten with use. They have an adhesive on the back so that they will stay in place with wear.  With heels, this can be very important, otherwise you will be messing with your insoles constantly.  Plus, those little insoles could peek out of your shoes giving away your need for help.

You may ask, what do I plan to do with them since I do not own any shoes with any sense of a heel?  My oldest daughter has been having heel pain when she runs.  For a while now, I have been wanting to buy her insoles to see if they may help.  With it being summertime, she will be wearing her Keen shoes on a daily basis. I have put these insoles in her Keens and I am excited to see if they resolve her problems.  I think the arch support from these insoles will be helpful.  I have several $4.00 off coupons for these insoles so let me know if you want me to mail you one!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Homemade Play-Dough

The BEST Play-Dough Recipe

Here is my recipe for really good homemade play-dough.  It is super fun to make with your kids 
and I like it better than the stuff you can get at the store.  If you have never used Cream of Tarter before,
you can buy it with the seasonings at most grocery stores.  I use it to make Snickerdoodles, and it is also
necessary for this play-dough recipe.

Ingredients: 1 C Flour
1 C Water - warmed on the cooktop or micorwave
1/4 C Salt
1 TBSP Vegetable Oil
2 tsp Cream of Tarter
Food Coloring - there are other alternatives such as kool-aid too
Sparkles - if you want to add a little fun
Sauce Pan and Wooden Spoon 

Put all of your ingredients (except coloring) into a big sauce pan 
and put the heat on low.

You don't want clumps, so keep it going

Once it forms a nice clump, remove it from the pan and separate it
so that you can add a little color. 

Choose a few colors for your dough and knead the color into each 
section until the color is distributed.  Your dough just needs some
time to cool and then it is ready for fun!  Make sure you store your
dough in a sealed container.  I have also used double ziploc bags to 
keep it moist.  The dough will be good for multiple play times for
up to 6 months.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Style United

As a member of SheSpeaks, I was asked to evaluate a new website designed my Proctor and Gamble called Style United.  I have been playing around on this site for a couple of days now, and thought that I would share my take on the site with you.

StyleUnited is brought to you by brands including Olay, Frederic Fekkai, DDF Skincare and Cover Girl. Providing access to exclusive editorial content and personalized recommendations, StyleUnited connects women to their full style potential using these unique tools:

  • Style 360 - a fully personalized diagnostic quiz that has been designed to understand your individual needs in skin care, hair care, cosmetics and fashion.
  • Customized Beauty and Fashion Content - hundreds of curated articles, blogs and how-to videos from industry experts created to answer your every question while keeping you up on the latest trend news.

While I found the site a bit slow to use, I did enjoy the tips and information that came with the quizzes that were offered in the various areas.  I also found the recommended products to be nice complete with links of where to purchase the products online.  There are videos for those that learn by watching, and lots of advice in the form of articles and pictures on how to achieve today's looks.  You have to create a profile in order to use the site, but this also allows you to save information and come back at a later time to continue where you left off.

Overall, I think this site could be helpful for those that are looking for a change.  It is good to have a resource that can offer help in several different areas of fashion and personal care.  As a member of Style United, you get a subscription to the magazine "Rouge."  The magazine provides the latest product news, coupons, plus beauty and fashion trends.  I think this could be a useful tool for some and since it is free to join, it is worth checking out!  You can link to the site by clicking on the picture below.


For a short time, as a member of StyleUnited, you're eligible to win one of two $500 shopping sprees at Macy's or Nordstrom!  As a member of SheSpeaks, I am eligible to receive either $15 of  products or a free product from Proctor and Gamble for giving them my opinion of Style United.  A review of the site was not required for this promotion, but I thought this site deserved a shout-out for women that could benefit.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Neutrogena Cosmetics

First off, I would like to thank Bzz Agent for sending me this awesome group of products from Neutrogena to test out.  When I signed up for this campaign, I didn't realize the wonderful selection of products that would be sent to me to try.  I have a picture of what was sent to me below.

For the last week, I have been trying the different Neutrogena lip balms that were in my kit.  These lip balms are tinted and best of all, they have SPF of 20, so they are an all-in-one product for me.  I was surprised when I opened them at the amount of color they have.  From the looks of the lip balms, I expected them to feel like lipstick when I put them on.  I was pleasantly surprised at how nourishing the balms were, and the color was not as intense as my lipsticks.  They are great for everyday wear and a fresh natural look as well.

The first lip balm color is called Sunny Berry.  This balm is a little darker than my picture shows.  It gives the lips noticeable color without being overdone.  The middle balm is called Petal Glow and is my favorite for everyday wear.  There is a hint of color, just enough to make your lips stand out.  The color on the right is Healthy Blush.  It is the brightest of the three.   It is not my favorite color, but for those that like light pink on their lips, it is a good choice.
I was blessed with full lips, and wearing Neutrogena Nourishing Lip Balms is an easy and fun way to provide sun protection and nourishment to my lips.  I will be using them throughout the summer.  I still have two more products to cover for this campaign, and will be doing that soon through my blog.

As a note of disclaimer, I received these products as a member of Bzz Agent.  I did not pay for these products, nor will my review earn me compensation.  I was asked to give my honest opinion of the products, good or bad.  The products were received without cost from Bzz Agent, but the review is all my own.

Thanks for reading!  

Friday, May 4, 2012

Cravebox Lottery - Are you in???

Cravebox is holding a drawing on Wednesday for those who wish to get in on their monthly subscriptions.  I wrote about my first Cravebox that I received in February, and I received a second box in March.  I pay $10 a month for the service, but the products are worth so much more!  I have decided to do $10 worth of surveys through Opinion Outpost every month to pay for my goodie box.  Opinion Outpost puts the $10 in my PayPal account, and Cravebox will take that $10 every month.  It is a little gift I give myself!

Cravebox was in Beta for several months and the subscriptions were so popular that they sold out quickly.  I was able to beg and plead my way to get a subscription.  They are opening up 500 more slots for the May Cravebox, and the slots will be filled by lottery.  Each entry has an equal opportunity to win a subscription.  I am including a picture of the March Cravebox below that I copied off of the Cravebox Facebook page.  There is a picture of my own Cravebox from February in a previous post.

Click on the link below to go to the Cravebox blog.  You have to sign up for an account first, and then put your name in for the lottery draw.  If your name is drawn, you will be on the Cravebox mailing list until you decide to cancel.  I recommend it if you like little gifts arriving in your mailbox for a small amount of fun money!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Knorr Homestyle Stock Review

I got my first item from Smiley360.  Inside was the new Knorr Homestyle stock along with recipes, coupons to share, and a fun ladle.

I have tested the stock out in a couple of recipes and have enjoyed it!  I think the flavor boost from one of the containers is noticeable.  The package came with 4 individual containers filled with concentrated stock.  I simply added the container to a creation, and enjoyed the yummy benefit.  The stock is thick and comes out of its container in a gel-like form.  It dissolves easily, and can be used like chicken stock if you add water.  This option is a lot easier to store than the cans of chicken broth, and it is just as easy to use!

I used the broth in homemade Red Beans and Rice.  This is a simple recipe I make for my family when we want something hardy.

1/2 package of dried red beans, soaked overnight
1 cup dried wild rice 
1 16 oz package of Jimmy Dean Natural Sausage
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 Tbl dried italian seasonings
1 container of Knorr Homestyle Stock

Drain soaked red beans, add 4 cups water and simmer beans until soft (about 2 hours).  Add rice to beans along with an additional 1 cup water and simmer 45 minutes.  In a separate pan, saute the sausage with the peppers, onion and italian seasonings.  Add the concentrated stock packet to the beans and stir until dissolved.  Add the cooked sausage mixture to the bean and rice mixture.  Serve in bowls with hot sauce.  

I received the Knorr Homestyle Stock as a member of Smiley360.  I did not pay for the product, but was given it to test and give my opinion on.  The opinions of this product are my own, and I will not receive additional benefit for my review.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Toddler's Choice Spinach Bake

In honor of my little girl turning two today, I thought I would post a recipe of her favorite side dish.  You might be surprised to learn that the main ingredient is spinach.  However, cheese takes a close second which is the "not so secret" special ingredient.  Our entire family loves this recipe so much that I double it.  You will need a casserole dish.  Preheat oven at 350 degrees.

Toddler's Choice Spinach Bake
1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
3/4 cup Milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 pkg (10 oz) fresh organic spinach, stems removed, chopped
2 cups grated medium cheddar cheese

1. Place butter in casserole dish and set in warm oven for 2 minutes or until the butter is melted.  Set aside.
2. In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs, add milk and stir.  Mix together flour, baking powder, and nutmeg and then add to egg and milk mixture.  Beat until smooth.  Add chopped spinach and cheese.
3. Place in prepared casserole and bake for 30 to 35 minutes.

Spinach Cheese Bake Recipe

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Review: The New Palmolive Fresh Sponge

Here is the box I received from Influenster.  Included was a full size bottle of the new Palmolive Fresh Sponge, a new sponge, an instruction guide, and several coupons to share.   I was given the task to try this product for 2 weeks, look (or smell) for any changes with the sponge, and then give my honest feedback.  Two weeks have come and gone, and I am ready to share my views!

I first noticed the wonderful scent from this product.  I have tried Gain dish soap in the past and found that the overpowering scents would give me a headache.  The scent of the Palmolive Fresh Sponge is light and nice.  It is now flowery nor is it overpowering.  It filled my kitchen with just enough of a clean smell to be noticeable, but not annoying.

I put this detergent through the test.  I cooked a huge turkey dinner and then used the Palmolive Fresh Sponge to see how it cleaned up.  Like all Palmolive products, it did a great job of cutting through the grease and washing away clean without stripping my hands of moisture.  Check out what I had to clean!

The soap lathered up nicely and I found it didn't take a lot to get the results I wanted.  I just bought new cookware from Cuisinart, so my pots and pans clean up easily.  The lids however require more work.  Palmolive was able to clean the glass without leaving spots.

Finally, my dishes were done!  I have continued to use the Palmolive Fresh Sponge and found that it really left my sponge smelling fresh and clean even when I left it wet in the sink.  I still need to microwave the sponge every couple of days to kill the bacteria.  A couple of tips for its use:  After finishing dishes for the night, put a drop of Palmolive Fresh Sponge on the sponge, lather and rinse it well, and at the next use you wont have any stinky sponge problems.  I also filled a bowl with soapy water and used it to clean my glass cooktop.  It works great!

As a note of disclaimer, I received the Ultra Palmolive Fresh Sponge as a complimentary product in return for my review.  I received a full size of the product along with a sponge and Palmolive coupons from Influenster.  Opinions about the use of this product are all my own, and no other compensation is given in return for my honest review.  Go to for more information.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Claritin and Madagascar III

Madagascar 3: Europe's Most Wanted is coming to theaters June 8!
The dynamic group,  Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, and Melman the Girafee, and Gloria the Hippo, is still fighting to get home to their beloved Big Apple. Their journey takes them through Europe where they find the perfect cover: a travelling circus, which they reinvent – Madagascar-style.

Circus performers need to be at their best. Being in an allergy fog or taking an allergy medication that may make them drowsy is simply not an option. NO Drowsiness Allowed!

But for 40 million children who do suffer from allergies, symptoms can interfere with their everyday activities, including school work, and extracurricular activities – whether it be a music lesson or having fun with the family, like going to the movies or the circus.

Children’s Claritin Grape Syrup is one way to help ensure they won’t be held back by allergies so they can achieve full potential at school, on the playing field or doing any of the things they love. 

Get Your Own Big Top Fun 
Get your kid excited for the release of Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted by downloading FREE Madagascar 3 -Inspired Circus Activity Guides available on the Claritin Facebook page.

I have been testing Claritin for allergies on my kiddos.  My whole family gets horrible summer allergies.  While I need prescription strength relief, I look for over-the-counter allergy medicines for my children.  I have tried Benedryl, but the side effects are too great.  Even when I give them the medicine at night, they are still groggy the whole next day.  We also tried Alavert, but it had little effect on their allergies.  We have tried Claritin in the past with a little luck.  What works best for us is the Zyrtec.  In fact, my doctor told me to take it along with the other allergy medicines that she prescribed me.  Zyrtec can be purchased in a strength appropriate for children, and I like that there are generic alternatives available.

Does Claritin work?  Yes, but I honestly think it works better for some and not at all for others.  My advice to parents is to get small amounts of each of the allergy medications available, try them for a week each, and choose the one that works best for your child.  In the meantime, enjoy a little theater time with Madagascar III.  I think it would be a treat for kids to go see when they are freed from school!

I received Claritin as a complementary product in exchange for my honest review from  The product was provided at no charge, but the review is all my own!

Friday, April 20, 2012

What is the 529 Plan Anyway?

If you ask a financial adviser to explain what a 529 plan is, arm yourself with a full cup of coffee first.  I think there are a lot of complicated facets to these plans, but they do work well for a lot of people.  As I shared in my last post, I personally prefer the Coverdell Education Savings Account, but I know that 529 plans are a lot more popular.

I think the simple explanation as to why they are more popular is there is a $60,000 limit on the yearly amount that can be invested in these plans per year.  Other rules apply, but this higher yearly limit allows the savings account to better fund the costs of college for some lucky little squirt.

What I find strange about these accounts is how you choose them.  States have sponsored 529 plans through some investment company.  When you choose an investment firm, you choose a state plan to invest in.  Your investment choices are then chosen by this plan.  There is little flexibility.  For example, American Century has a 529 plan sponsored by the state of Kansas.  Tax benefits follow if you are actually a resident of Kansas.  You have no other choice with American Century- it is Kansas or nothing.

I could advise you now to refill that coffee cup, or cut it short with this simple understanding; 529 plans are great if you (or grandma and grandpa) have a good amount of cash to invest on a yearly basis for college expenses.    You can invest in plans that aren't for your state, but you get more benefits if your state matches that of your investment plan.  I have searched both the plan offered by my state as well as what investment firms belong to which states.  This is the point where I tell you to check with your own financial adviser.  At least you have the knowledge that such a plan exists.

Most importantly, I think we should save for our kids.  If all you can do is put $25 a month into an account, DO IT!  It will truly make a difference.  A lot of mutual fund companies have low initial investment amounts as long as you set up automatic recurring deposits.

Thanks for reading, and have a good weekend!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

College and Coverdell

Many parents here the words "Saving for College" and shudder at the thought.  We wonder how we could possibly afford the expense when the time comes.  I envied the trust fund kids that attended college while I was there.  They had enough money to buy all of their textbooks new and still have enough left over to buy pizza.  My kids wont be so lucky.

I expect my kids to finance some of their college when the time comes.  I believe that by investing some of their own funds into their education, they will take it more seriously.  I don't want them to do it on their own though, and so we have been putting money aside since they entered the world specifically for their education.

There are lots of options out there of where to put college savings.  529 plans are popular, but I don't like the lack of flexibility these funds provide.  I prefer to pick the mutual funds that my kids invest their money in.  Instead, I have chosen the much less popular option of a Coverdell or Education IRA account.

The Coverdell account works a lot like the IRA - you put after-tax money in, and the money that grows in the fund can be withdrawn tax-free later.  With a Coverdell account, the funds must be used for educational expenses.  These expenses can be used for grade school on up and are not specific for college.  There is a limit of $2000 that can be invested in these accounts per year which is one reason they are not so popular.  If a Coverdell account is opened for a child that does not use the funds for educational expenses, the money can be passed on to a sibling or other relative, still tax-free.  I like the freedom to pick the fund that money is invested into.

Of course there is other fine print related to the Coverdell account, including income restrictions and possible withdrawal penalties, but that is for you to investigate should you want further information on the accounts.  We currently have it set up for a monthly automatic deposit of $100 into each of our kids' Coverdell accounts.  These small amounts can grow pretty big over time.  They are easy to set up, and require little effort afterward.  I recommend the Coverdell along with state-sponsored plans to best save for college.  State plans vary, so it is best to talk to your own accountant to decide what is best.

Several mutual fund companies offer the Coverdell accounts, so simply asking for information from your own mutual fund company is a great way to get started.  Tomorrow, I plan on covering the 529 plans and how they differ.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

When a Sponge Marries a Dishcloth

My husband and I discussed a lot of things before we got married.  We covered the areas of children, finances, and religion.  One area we failed to cover though was that of doing dishes.  You see I grew up in a family that used sponges for cleanup in the kitchen.  His family used dishcloths. Unfortunately, neither of these choices was ideal, so we were in a constant argument of which cleaning item was better.

The dishcloth doesn't scrub dishes as well as a sponge, and turns a terrible shade of brown after just a few uses.  The upside to the dishcloth though is that it can be laundered.  The washing machine could only do so much good though, and I found using the dishcloth ineffective and ugly.

The sponge sadly had its faults as well.  While it did clean dishes well, it had the tendency to smell like old gym socks after a few days of sitting wet in my sink.  I used this same sponge to wipe down spills, therefore spreading the horrible smell to all surfaces in my kitchen.  I can just imagine the bacteria that I had been spreading.  I did stick the sponge in the dishwasher whenever it ran, but the smell always returned.

Imagine my sheer excitement when my box of Palmolive Fresh Sponge Dish soap showed up at my door.  I do believe we might have found a happy ending to the Sponge and Dishcloth dilemma after all. I have used it for all of one day, so I can't tell you if it will really keep my sponge happy and not stinky.  I can tell you that using it fills my kitchen with a lovely scent.  I hope the days of my sponge and kitchen smelling like dirty gym socks are over.

Where to Buy
The suggested retail price of Palmolive Fresh SpongeTM is $3.29 for a 25oz. bottle. It is available in most grocery stores, and mass retailers like Walmart and Target.  
Palmolive Fresh SpongeTM dishwashing liquid can also be purchased online at

I will update this post in a couple of weeks to let you know how my little test turned out.  Raise those sponges high ladies, I think Palmolive Fresh Sponge could be a mom's favorite product of the year!

As a note of disclaimer, I received the Ultra Palmolive Fresh Sponge as a complimentary product in return for my review.  I received a full size of the product along with a sponge and Palmolive coupons from Influenster.  Opinions about the use of this product are all my own, and no other compensation is given in return for my honest review.  Go to for more information.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Rubber Bracelets and Silly Bandz

I grew up in the 80's.  It was a great decade of hair, music, and leg warmers.  My kids actually choose the 80's channel on our Sirius Radio to listen to, but I don't expect my daughters to attempt to replicate my super high bangs.

Back in those days, Madonna was on the tape deck at my friends' houses.  We would create dance routines by the hour to her songs.  Her style also had an impact.  While I wasn't excited about wearing bras with pointy tips on them, I was in awe over her jewelry.  She would load bracelets up her arms.  Soon the girls at my school were showing up with 50 rubber bracelets on their arms.  They were cool, and I wanted to be cool too.

I blew all of my birthday money that year on rubber bracelets.  I wore them with pride for about a month before they became "uncool."  All of a sudden my fascination with Madonna's style was gone and my money went with it.  That was a good lesson for me on buying fad items.

Fast forward 25 years and you will see my kids having the same fascination with Silly Bandz.  If you are not familiar with them, here is a quick description.  They are basically rubber bands that kids wear on their wrists as bracelets.  When the kids take them off, they form shapes - cartoon characters, flowers, baseball bats, or whatever the company came up with.  My kids used their allowance money to buy these things up so they could wear and trade them at school.  It was just like what I went through as a kid.

I chose to let them learn the same lesson as I did.  I shared my bracelet story to them, but it was not what they wanted to hear.  I find those silly bands under their beds and tend to suck them up in the vacuum from time to time.  They no longer decorate my kids' arms, and have gone back into the fad vault.  They learned the lesson I hoped for, and now they tend to save for items that they know they will enjoy for a longer time.  I wonder what the fad will look like once their kids are ready for the lesson.  Time will tell.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Allowance - My Way

I am a firm believer in teaching kids how to handle money from a young age.  Figuring out how to do allowance with my kids was something that I worked on for years until I found something that worked well for all of us. Through my process of learning what worked, I tried two strategies.  The first was to give the kids a set amount every week along with a list of expectations.  They ended up expecting the money, but did not keep up with their end of the bargain.

My second strategy was to pay them for each of their chores each time they did them.  This backfired on me.  They wanted to be paid for everything I asked them to do.  If something was needing to be done, they wanted a dollar amount attached to it for them to follow through.  Bad plan, so I found another strategy to try.

My final strategy is the one that we use now and works like a charm.  It follows the second strategy I tried with a bit of a twist.  I have a list of chores for each of my children to accomplish along with set amounts for each time they accomplish the task.  I have this list printed out in a way that they can write in when they accomplished a task and how much they earned.

Sounds familiar - right?  There is a twist to this new allowance sheet.  My kids have to take the initiative to be paid for their chores.  The minute mom or dad assigns them to do a chore, they lose the benefit of being paid for it.  However, they are still expected to follow through with it.  I feel a bit excited when I announce family chore time because while the kids may moan about helping out, they made the choice to wait to do their chores for free.

It is an easy concept, but one that works well.  Tomorrow I hope to expand on my allowance concept.  It includes learning the art of biting your tongue and allowing mistakes to be made.  See you then!

Monday, April 2, 2012

A little background

So here is a little background about me.  I graduated college with a business degree concentrating in both accounting and finance.  I am a numbers nerd, and I love it!  I then got a great job working for a Department of Defense contractor.  I really enjoyed being part of something so important.  I was encouraged to work on my Masters degree while working there, so I signed up for graduate school and started night classes.

During this time, I brought my youngest daughter into the world.  Suddenly my strong desire to conquer the world disappeared as my new desire of being a mom overtook.  I finished my master's degree with a concentration in finance, but left my wonderful job.  That was 12 years ago.  Now two more kids later, I am still loving my life as a stay-at-home mom.  I do miss the work environment and the challenges that came with success.  I wouldn't trade the time I have spent with my children though.

Because I realize that there are a lot of moms out there that are not so nerdy with numbers, I hope to publish several financial articles in this month's blog posts.  My goal is not to bore you with details, but to explain things I do to mange my household's finances in this crazy world we live in.  A few topics I am thinking of are paying allowance, saving for college, responsible spending, and how to determine personal financial goals.  Let me know of any other ideas you may have as I would love to get feedback!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Venus & Olay Razor

In my Influenster LoveVoxBox I received a razor that you can't even buy yet made by Gillette Venus.  This product was given to me complimentary for my review, and my review is all my own!  First a description of this new razor.

Venus & Olay Razor

For the first time ever, Gillette Venus, a global leader in female shaving, and Olay, a global leader in skincare, are coming together to deliver a gold standard in shaving with the new Gillette Venus & Olay razor. Venus’ best shaving technology works with Olay Moisture Bars, offering women best-of-both-worlds shaving and skin expertise. Olay Moisture Bars help lock-in moisture to your skin for less dryness, and with every smoothing stroke, Venus’ five blades shave you close.

Product Details
  • Venus’ five-bladed razors shave you close and adjust to women’s curves for a smooth and comfortable shave, even over tricky shaving areas like knees and ankles.
  • Olay Moisture Bars contain skin-enhancing elements found in Olay products: Petrolatum helps lock in skin’s moisture for less dryness and Glycerin helps offer that goddess glow! Just wet the razor to release a light lather – no separate shave cream required.
  • As with most Venus razors, new Venus & Olay also features a rounded, pivoting head designed for women’s curves, and a soft-grip ergonomic handle for confident control, even in wet and soapy environment

Where to Buy
A refillable Venus & Olay with one replacement cartridge sells for approximately $8.99-$10.99. Packages of three replacement cartridges are available for about $14.99 - $19.49.
Venus & Olay will be available starting March 15, 2012 at food, drug, convenience and mass merchandise stores throughout the United States.  

I was really excited to try this razor.  It has 5 blades for a perfect shave.  Since there are Olay moisturizers built right into the razor itself, it only needs water to work well.  I found that it was great to use around problem spots like around the knees and ankles.  No nicks or cuts from this razor, and a smooth finish every time!  I am excited to buy replacement cartridges for this razor.  I hope they come out with some great coupons - I will be looking!

Information on the razor can be found at

Thanks for reading!  Until next time...

Monday, March 19, 2012

Smarterer and BzzAgent

My current Smarterer Score as a BzzAgent is 411.  This score is considered "familiar" or another way of putting it is "not very smart about BzzAgent."  Yup, I tend to agree.  What is this Smarterer Score you may ask?  It is a score of how knowledgeable you are about a subject.  The funny thing is, I have taken these tests before on BzzAgent and got my score up to an impressive 703 which would make me a master at BzzAgent.  I would strongly disagree with this statement - I believe I was just lucky with the questions!

You can take lots of different tests through Smarterer.  It is a fun thing to play around with.  The questions are written by the users, so you can get the same questions asked in different ways.  When you answer right, your score goes up, and down when you answer wrong.

Since this is my only activity relating to BzzAgent, I can't really talk much about BzzAgent itself, but I hope to get more opportunities now that I have passed this Smarterer campaign.  We'll just have to see!  In the mean time, Smarterer is a fun way to test your knowledge on different subjects and give you bragging rights with a good score.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Kiss Nail Dress Review

Kiss Nail Dress
Ok - so how completely fun do these look?  I received a kit of the Kiss Nail Dress through the Influenster LoveVoxBox.  They sent it to me free for my honest review of the product.  The design I received is the leopard print as shown as option #3 above.  While I do find they are a bit too wild to have on my fingernails, I love them on my toenails!  They work really well.  Application is easy.  It is a really fun way to dress up nails.  I hope to try them in a different pattern with my 12-year old daughter.  I think it would be a fun mother-daughter afternoon activity.

Kiss Nail Dress

Fashion That Sticks
Introducing Kiss Nail Dress, ultimate nail fashion for tips and toes! Just peel, apply, and shape for a manicure that lasts up to 10 days. On in minutes, off in seconds without remover. Nail Dress is available in 18 different styles, many of them featuring 3-dimensional jeweled designs. Check out Peplum, a deep black with multi-colored gems for a pop of color, or Babydoll, for a golden and glamorous jeweled look. Skip the topcoat, Nail Dress has it built in.

With 28 strips in each package, you can cut up your extras to create designs that can be used on top of polished or artificial nails. Nail Dress doesn’t dry out the way other polish strips can, so you can save them to use on your next DIY mani. A nail design booklet is included in each package, just in case you need a little inspiration.

And don’t forget about your feet! Nail Dress looks awesome on toes, too – just use the square side of the sticker for a perfect fit.

Where to Buy
Nail Dress’ suggested retail is $6.99 and is available in all major drug chains and mass retailers like WalMart, CVS and Walgreens.

Visit to learn more!