Monday, November 28, 2011

Ebay = Christmas!

Whew! It was a crazy and fun weekend. Sadly I ended up with a bad cold, so moving slowly today. I did manage to list a bunch of ebay auctions last week, and they close today through Wednesday, so hopefully that will be a little extra Christmas cash! Plus, hopefully others will get some good deals on Christmas gifts or clothing for their little ones!

More to come later this week when I'm back up to speed!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone has a blessed and beautiful Thanksgiving. I'll be at the in-laws tomorrow, then out shopping Friday!

This year will be a breeze as I have very little to purchase. Still, I'm one of those crazy ones who love to be out in the excitement. My husband and I head out with a couple of friends and we cross everyone off our list. Then, Saturday we wrap everything, hide it in the basement and I am done with shopping and wrapping for the rest of the month. It is always a crazy (but fun) couple of days, but SUCH a relief to be able to enjoy the Christmas season without the stress of holiday shopping

I'll be back next week with some tips on how to schedule your holiday season, and some thoughts on fun Christmas activities!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Amazon's Black Friday List

Want to pass on the craziness of the stores (or going out in the middle of the night or even on Thanksgiving this year!!). Then check out Amazon's Black Friday deals - your gifts can be shipped right to your home and you can shop in your jammies!

Shop Amazon's Black Friday Week

Friday, November 18, 2011

Starbucks B1G1

Don't forget that through the 20th, you can get a free Holiday drink at Starbucks when you buy one between 2:00 EST and 5:00 EST.

This is a great deal - I stopped by yesterday and picked up two. I put one in the fridge with a little note for my hubby - I knew he wouldn't see it until this morning so it would be a nice surprise.

As a FYI, these drinks heat up beautifully!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Happy Day Project - Recap

What a fun and inspiring project to be a part of. I am so grateful I read about it and decided to participate. Although it was sometimes crazy to try to "fit in" each act, I was very glad after that I had done so.

Of course the many darling printables made it so easy - and what terrific ideas from everyone else who participated.

My favorite was taking the gift to my neighbor - that definitely had the most personal connection for me. Plus, it is so easy to do!!!

My kids loved selecting a gift from the Compassion Christmas Catalog. My daughter has decided that next year she wants to give a cow - because you know they always have milk!

I definitely felt grateful for the many wonderful blessings I have in my life - my children, my health, my ability to do these small things for others.

Thanks to this project, I've been inspired to try to keep going. I plan on making a monthly goal to do one small act of service each week. For the next few weeks it will be easy - there are so many opportunities around the holidays. But, after that it gets harder. So, my plan is to come up with a list of things I can do and just put them on my calendar in 2012. Hopefully that will help me keep on track - and I hope it can become something I look forward to each week!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Happy Day Project: Day 7

Another great idea by Life Rearranged! Put together bags to keep in your car to hand out to those in need. Things we take for granted like toothpaste, snacks, a warm hat, gloves, socks, etc. would be so appreciated by someone who doesn't have any of that.

My kids are I are going to work on this one together. My plan is to put together a few kits for each car and keep them between the front seats - that way, if I see a homeless person on the side of road, I can just hand it over - along with a giftcard.

I hope it blesses someone!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Happy Day Project: Day 6

Today is all about blessing those who serve. There are all sorts of people out there - firemen, mailmen, crossing guard, etc. who help our lives go smoother.

I decided to bless my daughter's teacher. She has made a transition to a new school much easier for my daughter and is truly one of those teachers who LOVE their kids.

So, I ran a Chai Latte over to her during her prep hour - I knew this was her favorite drink. It definitely made her smile.

Visit Life Rearranged for more ideas!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Happy Day Project: Day 5

A bit behind on posting these, but I'm still participating (although I did take a break over the weekend!).

Friday the project was all about water. We take water for granted - it's easily accessible for all of us.

However . . .

For many people, it is not so easy to get clean, fresh water. So, take a look at the following link and consider donating just $10 to Charity Water will give someone clean water for TEN years. The main page for the campaign is at this link: Charity Water. That's just a few bottles of water if you still buy bottled water. Wow. So, get out your reusable water bottle and use it for the next few weeks (or forever if you can make it a habit) and put that $10 you would have spent on bottled water to better use.

Locally, give out water to someone who looks like they could use some - the crossing guard at my child's school is the one I'm sharing with. I know this goes against what I just said about not buying bottled water, but this is a gift, so I'll make an exception. Or, give them a reusable bottle full of fresh cold water - that way maybe they will start using the bottle over and over too! Check out the post at Life Rearranged for her ideas and the super cute printable by Living Locurto to use!

Go share water today!!!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Day Project: Day 4

Books, books, books - we have them in EVERY room in our house.

I love books, I love to read and I love that my kids both love it as much as I do. My husband . . . that's a different story. I often say I wonder how I ended up married to someone who doesn't like to read - craziness!!!

This day's project
touched my heart. Please go look at the post to learn more about it. There are two parts - one to give a book to a friend, and the second to donate a book to The Joyful Life Library. I was very excited to see one of my local hospitals on the list, so that was an easy donation - Mike Mulligan went out to them. I remember reading it with my brother as a kid and loving it, and my son loves it as much as I did. Hopefully my little donation will help other kids get as much enjoyment out of story time with this book as our family has.

The Joyful Life Library has made it so easy to stock the PICU of various hospitals - they have links to wish lists on Amazon, so it's just pick a book, pay and it will end up right where it is needed.

I have to say, midway through I am really enjoying this project. It is a great way to practice gratefulness and giving. Also a terrific example for our children. I think this is something that would be a good weekly goal - pick a project each week and donate/ share/ etc. I'll be thinking more on that!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy Day Project: Day 3

Following along on the Happy Day Project from Life Rearranged . . .

Yesterday was the day to give a gift card to a homeless person. I think this is a great idea. I've always been hesitant to give money to homeless people, but since I've had kids, I have a snack bag in the car and I'll sometimes hand out a granola bar or piece of fruit. The thought of keeping a few $5 gift cards to McDonald's or someplace similar never occurred to me.

Since I don't see homeless people often, I couldn't actually pass out a card. What I could (and did) do however was purchase a few to keep in the car.

The other suggestion for the day was to shop the Compassion Christmas Catalog. I love this and I'm going to participate, but I'm going to have my kids help me select what to buy - so this part will happen tonight instead of yesterday.

Please check this out - what an easy way to spread hope without even leaving your home. And at least think about the gift cards - imagine how good you feel when you receive a gift card from a friend. Now, imagine how you would feel if it meant you'd get a warm meal and you hadn't had one in quite some time . . .

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Happy Day Project: Day 2

This was a fun and super easy project!

Thanks to Life Rearranged and Hope Ink, I printed out these cute little cards and sent them off in the mail. One went to my nephew who is away at college and the other to the family mentioned in Life Rearranged's post. My heart just goes out to them - to be battling Stage 4 cancer with three little ones . . . wow.

I hope the family was blessed by everyone participating in this project. Can't wait to do Day 3!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Day 1: The Happy Day Project

I'm following Life Rearranged's Happy Day Project - join in!

Yesterday's project was treats to a neighbor. My next door neighbor recently had an accident and has been home recovering for a few weeks. It was a very rainy and dreary day, so I made up some Mexican Coffee Mix, printed out the tag from Mique of 30 Handmade Days, wrote the instructions on the back and ran it over.

She loved getting the little surprise and was deep into a book I had loaned her a few weeks ago. I told her to make up a cup of coffee and settle back into the couch.

What an easy and fun little project - I'm inspired to do something like this every month.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Goals for the Week

Last week I didn't set goals or use my daily to do list, and I suffered. I found myself spending too much time aimlessly browsing the internet, rushing to figure out dinner and not getting much actual work done. It was also very hard to get myself motivated.

I did get some things done - I ran every morning (which was GREAT), I made some meals for the freezer (something I've been wanting to do for a while) and I had some fun times with the kids. So, it was still overall a good week, just not a GREAT week.

So, back in the swing:

This week:

Super clean both bathrooms
Buy CD's to start backing up photos on my computer
Make photo book for Grandma's for Christmas
Participate in The Happy Day Project
B-day party Sunday for my little guy!
Clean up work emails
Post ebay items for the month
Organize paper piles in office
Menu plan for the week

Doable I think, and enough to get me feeling on top of things! Notice I didn't post my exercise or yoga? I think I can (fingers crossed) consider those habits - I've been very consistent for a few months now. If I fall off the wagon, they'll go back on the list as a to do item.

We'll see if this helps me feel more accomplished come next Monday!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chocolate??? Oh Yes!!!

Love chocolate? Me too! And amazingly enough, this post isn't about Halloween - what to do with that candy is a whole other post!

We just got back from a fun weekend getaway in Hershey, PA. So, yes, we had plenty of chocolate. I thought I'd give a quick rundown on the fun things to do as well as ways to save money at this location (and really any others as well).

The town of Hershey is all about chocolate - Hershey chocolate that is. Even the light posts are Hershey kisses! That being said, there is a lot to do, but a lot of it is pretty expensive!

Before the trip, I did a bit of research online - this definitely helped us save some money. I went to the Hershey World website and clicked on the coupons page. I was able to print off some very valuable coupons! I also checked my Entertainment membership (the online version of the Entertainment book) and found some additional B1G1 free coupons.

We stayed at the Bluegreen timeshare (courtesy of one of my ebay timeshare purchases).

The first day we were there, we visited the Hershey Museum - this was very pricey, but we were able to save $10 by using Foursquare on our phones - we each could take $5 off admission. There was an exhibit called the Chocolate Lab where we made our own candy bars - the kids loved this. After a day at the museum, we hit the grocery store to stock up on breakfast and sandwich fixings for our condo. Our evening entertainment was a swim in the condo pool and a movie and popcorn in the comfort of our living room (with a fireplace!!!).

The next day we decided to head to Easton, PA to visit the Crayola factory. I am so glad we did as it was my favorite part of the weekend. Although it isn't much of a factory tour, there were so many fun crafts and activities, we spent two hours just playing and creating. Very fun!!! When we arrived I asked if they had a AAA discount. They did, but they had a better "walk up" deal which was $2 off per admission. So, scored another $8 in savings! We ate lunch at McDonald's - not fancy but the kids loved it, and sandwiches in the room for dinner.

That night we went to Hershey Park in the Dark - the kids got to ride the rides, trick or treat and just have a blast! Once again, tickets were expensive, but before we left the condo I called the park and asked if there were any discounts (AAA or other). They didn't have an AAA discount, but the lady I spoke to told me that if we bought our tickets ahead of time at Giant grocery we could save $4 per adult ticket and $3 per kid. So, a quick 5 minute stop at Giant and we saved another $14 (plus didn't have to wait in line to buy tickets at the park).

We woke up Saturday to SNOW - lots of it!!! After a hearty breakfast in the room, we headed over to Chocolate World. Once again, a very pricey day, but my research at home paid off here. We used B1G1 free coupons for the Chocolate Tasting ($20 saved) and would have used my B1G1 free Trick or Treat Trolley coupons except it was canceled due to the weather - oh well, next time! I also had printed out a coupon for 20% off at the Dessert creations. They had a cute cake pop creation for only $3 - really a great deal - it included two cake pops, a bowl of chocolate syrup for dipping and a topping. Plenty for the kids. I used the coupon (saved $.60) and then I had another 20% off coupon so we passed that on to a family heading upstairs.

After all that chocolate, we moved on to the outlet mall for a bit of shopping - first stopping at the management center to show them my AAA card. That scored us a coupon book. We didn't spend much, but did save at least 20% on everything we did purchase thanks to the booklet. Once we were done, we gave the leftover coupons to another family - hopefully they were able to use some of them too!

So, we had a great time, did a lot of fun things, and also saved a little money in the process. I estimated I spent less than an hour researching savings, making phone calls, asking questions and printing off coupons and we saved $52.60 not counting our outlet mall savings - pretty good return on investment!