FolkHeart Press Giveaway

*Just* in case you missed it somehow–I’m a little bit of a bookworm, Ok, ok–a BIG bookworm! I recently just gave my friend two huge loads of books and magazines because with the move we have to keep our weight down and I figured our 3 huge, completely full bookcases are already probably pushing it. Plus I love to pass along books to friends!

And that’s why I’m super excited to be bringing you this great giveaway from FolkHeart Press! Just look at all the wonderful things included!

FolkHeart Press is celebrated its 5th Anniversary as an independent, boutique book publisher in August.

The Package:
3 2012 Paperback Releases:
Black Pepper Visions: Original Folktales & Stories You Can Eat
Three Months: A Caregiving Journey from Heartbreak to Hope
Moose Mash and Other Stories

2 E-Books:
Turn Your Treasured Memories into Folklore
Spanish Cuisine One Region At A Time: Catalonia

Travel Journal
& More!

FolkHeart Press produces folklore-related and personal narrative books that can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and at the FolkHeart Press bookstore

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Back to Memories

All across the US school is back in session and Fall is creeping upon us! While summer’s vacations and playdates are over the new school year brings plenty of great times and special memories of it’s own.

I love to digitally scrapbook our lives to help keep these memories for my kids! This year our back to school is a little different as we’re in the middle of a huge change in our lives–Bob is getting out of the military and we’re moving to Texas! This means Amber’s back to school is getting bumped a wee bit back. I’m so grateful that she’s just 4 and in preschool, and also that we’re homeschooling, as this is giving me a lot less stress and a lot more flexibility in our schedule right now and I can just focus in on the move and less on preschool for her!

I print out all my pages and make photo books through Shutterfly–they even have the option to make affordable yearbooksthrough their super user friendly software–I have about 10 photo books now and I can highly recommend them (and I do all the time!)
So whether you’re apple picking, celebrating a first back to school season, or moving across the country be sure you’re taking lots of pictures along the way to document this season in your life!

Keep in touch with Shutterfly through all their social media channels to keep up to date on all the latest deals and specials–I recently got 101 pictures for free just because I was paying attention to their Facebook Page! You can also find them here: Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram: Shutterfly, Google +, and their Blog. This post is brought to you by them-but all gushing and love of them is my own-I really do use them all the time!

Happy Families Use Schedules

As a busy work from home mom I really couldn’t make due without our daily schedules and routines! Having the kids go to bed at a specific (early) time each day, and having Tyler nap at the same time each day means that I have built in and consistent times when I can do my work every day.

This year I’ve taken it a step further and broken it down into day by day plans for each week day. Though these moment by moment plans have been chucked out the window when life gets crazy they’ve been perfect for the normal weeks in our life.

You don’t have to be a work from home mom to benefit from a structured schedule and routine, however.

According to the Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning,

Studies have documented that schedules and routines influence children’s emotional, cognitive, and social development. Predictable and consistent schedules in preschool classrooms help children feel secure and comfortable. Also, schedules and routines help children understand the expectations of the environment and reduce the frequency of behavior problems, such as tantrums and acts of aggression.

I’ve found that this applies in and out of the classroom-and for everyone from infants to preschoolers! With our many moves and crazy lifes keeping the same day to day routines where ever we are helps to keep a little bit of comfort and normalcy in my kids worlds!

 Planners and calendars help keep schedules and routines on track. This isn’t the first time I’ve gushed over their merits or talked about how much I enjoy physically checking off my to do list–and it probably won’t be the last either! They really are my brain and I couldn’t live without them!

Personally I like to have a big wall calendar somewhere that can hold all the families activities and that Bob can feel free to add to–like the House of Doolittle Two-Color Monthly Desk Pad Calendar w/ Large Notes Section.

For my own daily use I love to have a planner that contains both a monthly page and then daily pages-that way I can write down important daily events and see what’s going on that month at a glance, then put my to-do lists down and cross them off each day. The House of Doolittle Wirebound Weekly/ Monthly Planner hits all my must-haves and I’m excited to use it in 2013!

Do you use schedules and routines in your family? Why or why not?

I was provided with the planners by Shoplet your stop for Office Supplies and more! All opinions, tips, and mad good planner pics are my own.

A Vacation Destination Right for Everyone

When most people think of the Gulf of Mexico they think of Florida, which is a great vacation destination; however there is also the Mississippi Gulf Coast to consider for great Gulf coast vacations. The Mississippi Gulf Coast sits in between Mobile, Alabama and New Orleans, Louisiana. This spectacular vacation destination sits on 62 miles of shoreline with 26 of those 62 miles being white sandy beaches. However, the Mississippi Gulf Coast is more than just a beach, you will find the best in food, nightlife, outdoor activities and southern charm when you visit this gem. 
While there is something for everyone, the Mississippi Gulf Coast offers some of the best casino resorts. Mississippi casinos have everything you would want and need in a casino, you will almost think you are in Las Vegas. These resorts offer the best in luxury yet have that laid back coastal feel.
If you are not much of gambler, no problem, as this vacation destination has a number of historical sites and countless outdoor activities. You can tour some fun yet educational museums, or rent a jet ski and go deep sea fishing. All of which can be fun for the whole family.
If it is food you seek you will not be disappointed, since the Mississippi Gulf Coast has some of the best southern cooking the south has to offer. You can enjoy some of the best seafood, including gulf shrimp, all of which has that unique Mississippi flare you cannot find anywhere else. Additionally, whatever type of dining you seek from luxury to local dives you will be able to find it and enjoy the food you find there. 
Finally, the Mississippi Gulf Coast offers a great deal of festivals and events to all its visitors. Including music festivals, car cruises, food festivals and much more. 

Written by Monique


Picking Baby Names

When I was in high school I was picking out baby names. I always knew that I wanted to get married young and raise a family–it’s always been my dream job!

I’m the type of gal who’s always liked to plan ahead and lay everything out well in advance. (I think that just goes to show God likes to push us out of our comfort zones since that’s my personality type and I ended up marrying Bob and been living on last minute, life altering moves and decisions ever since but that’s a story for another day).

Bob and I hadn’t been dating for very long before I ran my favorite names past him-after all I needed to see what he thought if he was going to be around awhile! Luckily he liked the names Amber and Tyler just as much as I do–and here we are, ten years later with a girl and a boy who have the names I choose back in high school.  My parents chose a different boy and girl name for each child they had (if I would have been a boy I would have been named Doug–thank goodness I was a girl!!!) I’ve always known I wanted an Amber and a Tyler though-they’ve been the only two names I’ve ever really liked, and the only ones we’ve ever agreed on.

Now that we have our Amber and Tyler we’re not sure if we’ll be having any more babies. While I had always wanted four kids life has a funny way of getting crazy and throwing curve balls at you. We’re not discounting more kids in the future, but we’re also waiting to see what the next few years will hold. Now that we’ve used up the names we agree on if and when we have another baby it will be the first time we really have to do some name hunting–it should be an interesting experience!

Did you pick out baby names when you were young? Did you stick with them or change your mind once you actually had babies?

Soft Scrub ~ Make Your Bathroom Sparkling Clean

Growing up my favorite chore was cleaning the bathtub. We had this great old fashioned soaking claw tub that I adored. I’d grab some Soft Scrub and scrub away–usually while blasting music in my bedroom next to the bathroom.

Soft Scrub Complete

While I mentioned I’m more into green cleaners these days the bathroom is the one spot that I always feel I truly need the “real thing” for! 
I love the new spray/foam option that Soft Scrub comes in these days–it really does even work upside down! Our amazing garden tub here is really tricky to keep white but the soft scrub with bleach really did the trick and I loved the Bath and Bowl for the toilet! Just a simple squirt, swish and it was all sparkling clean! 

 Mom Tip: Use your kiddos bathtime to your advantage! While they’re splashing away use the time to clean up the rest of the bathroom, and once they’re out and in jammies give the tub a quick squirt and rub down-it will keep your bathroom shining and you’ll barely notice the effort!

Soft Scrub Complete

Having a little fun and pretending to be a Soft Scrub Model when I was dolled up to go pick up hubby from a month long trip away 😉 bet you never knew household cleaning supplies could be this cute, right? (just teasing!)

Be sure to join in the Soft Scrub Tough & Gentle Sweepstakes! There is a $1,000 grand prize and fifty 2nd place winners will each receive $40 in gift cards-hard to beat that!!

Three of my readers will win too–any free Soft Scrub product of your choice!

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Little Cleaning Box – Finding Green Cleaners that Work

It’s no secret that I love the subscription boxes that are all the rage now! I’ve always loved samples of anything and the idea of getting samples of a specific type that you’re interested in is brilliant! The Little Cleaning Box is a totally green, totally clean membership box.

I’ve also mentioned before that ever since having kids I’ve been slowly switching over to green cleaners and detergents for the sake of my kiddos. The only problem is trying to find green cleaners that work as well as their non-green counterparts do! I’m one who is not willing to sacrifice effectiveness for “green-ness”. Being able to try a bunch of different samples means that I can give everything the “real life test” for myself before spending a bunch of money on a green cleaner that I might not like-and if I find one I love I’ll know what to stock up on!

As you can see my little box came chock full of great sample to try out! The samples were Modern Mermaid All Purpose and Glass Cleaner, Mrs. Meyers Dish Soap, Grab Green Laundry Detergent, and Skoy Cloth.

I’d seen a lot about Mrs. Meyer’s lately and was excited to try it out for myself-I love that they included a sample of each kind!

My favorite product so far has been the Grab Green Laundry Detergent. Since I have to be especially careful and green with our detergent because of the kid’s eczema this product was perfect for us and did a great job!

Would you like your own little box of green goodness every 90 days? You can get it for just $10 a box! Sign up on the Little Cleaning Box Website and be sure to follow along on Facebook as well!

King Richard’s Faire

 For Labor Day we headed down to King Richard’s Faire in Carver, MA. We had never been before, so I was looking forward to it but not sure what quite to expect. It was about an hour and a half drive from where we are in Peabody, but easy enough to get to which is always nice. There are huge fields with plenty of parking (which is free–which is great, especially since little else is!)

It was a little after lunch time when we arrived (Faire house are 10:30 AM to 6:00 PM) so our first stop was for food! No outside food or drink is allowed inside, so we hit up the food ticket booths after withdrawing money from the ATM.

Eating was a great experience as we had live entertainment and music (bagpipes to the feel of Drop Kick Murphy’s)

And we got to eat amongst people in everything from period costumes to shorts like us-which is always fun!

The food itself was indeed tasty, but to the price of $20 for a SINGLE turkey wrap and drink (ouch)–I’d *highly* recommend hitting up the nearby fast food joints or eating a lunch in the parking lot *before* you go in–and save the pricey $$ for the treats that are all around.

There were many pretty girls in corset bound dresses selling every color of rose imaginable. Bob warmed my heart by buying this gorgeous purpley pink rose for me!

Much to our surprise Amber made a friend of the moving goblin gremlin statue variety

It was so much fun taking in the sights and sounds everywhere–like this guy who spent the whole day with his mug on his head!

Amber got to choose one special thing to do that cost money–no surprise that it was the pony ride!!!

Throughout the fair there are 8 different stages–all of which seemed to have a different show going on practically all day long. After the “bad guy” from this show came up and talked to us before he went on stage (he was quite hilarious) we decided to sit down and see how our new friend the evil Duke fared.

As always Tyler was happiest when we let him down out of the stroller and he could dig around in the dirt and find acorns. One important thing to note is that the paths are all dirt–so be smart and wear sensible shoes or you’ll be like me and have aching feet and be needing to wash your favorite strappy wedges once the day is over!

A highlight of the faire was getting to see this beyond adorable brand new Tiger! Just made me go aaawww!!! Out loud!

Amber spotted this giant purple guy when we first went in the Faire and spent the rest of the day trying to spot him. Tyler gave him a high five–and remember–my hubby is 6’7″ so this guy was HUGE!

Hubbies not one for going out and about to things like this–but he seriously loved King Richard’s Faire! We both loved how it was set up in the middle of a forest, and all the amazing shops and decorations!

Do we look a little too happy to be in the cage?

There were several carnival style games and rides that you could try your hand at (for a price) Bob decided to give the cannon ball one a whirl with Amber.

We capped off our day with watching the last show that featured all the big cats and several kinds of rare Tigers–I loved seeing the White Tiger (always loved them) as well as the Liger (“A Liger is pretty much my favorite animal” ~ Napoleon Dynamite anyone??!!)

We spent 5 hours at the Faire and everyone was highly entertained the entire time. I’d highly recommend it as long as you plan out in advance how much your budget for the day will be and stick to it!

You can get King Richard’s Faire Tickets on the website and be sure to like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter as well!

Two Lucky Readers will win a pair of adult tickets to King Richard’s Faire! They are valid September 15, 16, 22, or 23 of this year!

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Kinoko AHCC – Boost Your Immune System!

For those of you who have been around awhile you know that I did a giveaway of AHCC a little over a year ago. Since then I’ve been able to use the product for myself–so I wanted to give an update on what I thought since we’re heading into that back to school and back to germs and colds and coughs season!

First off let me say that  when it comes to “all natural” supplements usually I’m a little skeptical, and this was no different. I’ve heard good things from different people about immune supplments, however, so figured that I would give this a try. I normally get a few small colds, and one really, really nasty cold right around Christmas each year. I started taking this right after we got back to Boston last fall (in November) since my immune system got knocked out from being so sick in the spring and had never really recover. All I can say is wow! I didn’t have a single cold or flu bug the entire season even though the kids and Bob all did. Once I’d used up the bottle and went a few weeks, I caught my first bug of the year-but it was a very mild one.

Through my own experience I’m now a believer, I haven’t taken it as much over the summer but plan on starting up again this fall!

Don’t just take my word for it–there are five 5 Star reviews on Amazon that you can go read for yourself.

Here is some additional information that I included with my original post as well:
Kinoko AHCC ReviewWhether you’re having play dates or the kids are back to school, you’re constantly exposed to viruses. While you make sure the kids eat well, take their vitamins and get plenty of sleep so their little immune systems are strong for the cold/flu season, what are you doing to ready your own body? Well, Kinoko AHCC, a natural immune booster derived from Japanese medicinal mushrooms, is a great addition to your cold/flu season arsenal.  

During last year’s flu season, Active Hexose Correlated Compound (AHCC) became Japan ’s #1 selling immune supplement and the news about this unique compound is finally reaching our shores. And, there’s a new clinical study out of Michigan State University showing that AHCC enhances the effectiveness of the seasonal flu shot. How? Patients taking AHCC showed increased production of “T-cells” and natural killer (NK) cells — those are the two types of white blood cells that help destroy virus-infected cells and fight off infections. 
KinokoAHCC also has a 20-year history of safety. It’s the world’s most researched natural immune supplement, supported by more than 50 human studies and 25 studies published in NIH-recognized peer-reviewed journals.  

Boutique Bows Made Inexpensive & Easy

Make to Match Botique Bows

When I was pregnant with Amber I knew that I wanted a girl. I just couldn’t wait to have a little girl to buy frilly and fun and pink things for!

Bob is not so much into the frills, or the bows, however. So it took a little while to convince him that the over sized bows that are all the rage these days are seriously sooooooo cute!

I eventually won the discussion (we discuss, not argue 😉 ) and now Amber wears an adorable bow, flower, or corker in her hair daily. The only problem is, these gorgeous bits of ribbon are *super* pricey!!! Plus since most of them are customized to match specific outfits–you need about 30 of them in order to go with a wardrobe that ranges in everything from brown and stripes to pink and lacy.

Make to Match Bows

Eden Grimm is a mom who had this very problem and she decided to do something about it–why not make bows that can be switched and changed around according to the outfit, or how “blingy” you want to get that day? The result was her ingenious Make to Match Bows line–full of interchangeable layers and types that take about 90 seconds to snap together! It’s so easy that an 8 year old can do it (or a mom like me, haha). You can choose from stretchy headbands, woven headbands, or clips so you’re sure to find a base that works for your little darling!

Make to Match Bows

I absolutely love the different items we were sent–the combo of white and pink made into this super darling piece for Amber that would be so cute for church!

Make to Match Bows

We decided to take out Make to Match bows out for some real world testing and took them to the Boston Children’s Museum, I loved how perfectly they matched Amber’s swirly shirt and that I could do a pink and green combo for the day to go along with it!

Make to Match Bows

I’m sure by now you want some for your own little princess! Be sure to follow Make to Match on Facebook and don’t forget to go enter to win your own bow set-along with other great back to school products in the current Mompact promotion!