Friday, December 28, 2012

The Friday Five

1. My willpower is nonexistent.

      I caved and ordered the Julep New Year's Mystery Box last week. I saw somewhere online that it would ship immediately so I had it shipped to my mom's house. For $19.99, the box was promised to contain between $100 and $500 in products, including a mystery glitter nail color. One customer's box will include an iPad Mini (Spoiler alert: not mine). I had been disenchanted with some of Julep's mystery boxes, but I hoped it had been a long enough time that I wouldn't get any duplicate colors and that I would get some of the products I've been hoping to use or ones that I've used up and would love to have a new bottle. I was pleased although I did receive some duplicates.I will post later and let you know what came inside. If you are interested in trying out Julep for yourself and becoming a Maven, click HERE and use the code COLOR2012 or PENNY to get your introductory box for just a penny. The current intro boxes feature either two nail colors and cuticle oil or three nail colors. 

2. My little artist

        Owen has been big on painting lately and I love hanging his little works of art on the fridge. He will find his paints in a drawer in his room and will bring the box to me asking, "Paint? paint?" The only downside is that as messy as painting can be, the activity rarely keeps him entertained for more than five minutes (but nothing does recently). So I have to do all that preparation and clean-up for five minutes of free time to do dishes or fold a load of laundry.  Plus, he always tries to sneak and eat some of the paint. Tim snapped this picture the other day when after Owen had a taste of the paint and the evidence was left on his face. Apparently, it didn't taste too bad.  

3. New Year's resolutions 

      I am not one to make New Year's resolutions normally because I am terrible at keeping them. But this year I have two. One will be reading through the Bible in a year with our Sunday School class. Yay for accountability! And the other will be getting our finances in check with Tim. That way we can work together and encourage one another when we want to quit. Our Friday night meetings have been going well and it's so awesome being able to sit down and get on the same page with each other about everything. At our first Friday meeting we sat down and planned out our budget for January. We used a free budget worksheet from Dave Ramsey's website. You can find the budget we are using for free HERE. Its labeled "Monthly Cash Flow Plan." There is also a Quick Start Budget which has fewer categories. 

4. Eat healthy in the New Year

       I haven't been cooking since we've been visiting family and I am excited about getting back into my kitchen soon (and using my new dutch oven!). And of course after all the Christmas goodies and rich cooking, we need to eat a little healthier to make up for all the splurging. So I will be turning to my trusty source for recipes both tasty and healthy: Skinny Taste. She has been putting up tons of holiday recipes lately, but squeezed in there in the middle I found this recipe. Slow cooker chicken black bean tacos. She had me at "slow cooker" and "tacos." 

5. Unassigned reading list

      After the holidays, I want to get back to reading more. I haven't read anything for a couple weeks and I think relaxing with a book before bed might help me with my recent insomnia. I did a little research online to look for some books and here are some of the ones on my radar right now:
  • "Reached" by Ally Condie - This is the third book in a trilogy that also features "Matched" and "Crossed." The series is set in a dystopian society similar to The Hunger Games and the Divergent/Insurgent series. It's not my favorite of these types of books, but I feel like I need to see the series through anyway. Basically the series is a story about a smart teenage girl who trusts her government and its system of selecting spouses for its citizens until she falls in love with the wrong boy. 
  • "The End of Your Life Book Club" by Will Schwalbe - This nonfiction book is about the author and his mother, who share a book club of sorts between the two of them as she succumbs to pancreatic cancer. I am curious to see which books were the ones they chose to read. How would your reading choices change or not change if you had only two years left to live?

Is there anything else I should add to my "must read" list?

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas cookies

       We recently made Christmas cookies with Owen and had a really fun time together. Owen did a great job of helping us press down the cookie cutters, but he was not so great at putting frosting on the cookies after they baked. He was much better at putting cookies in his mouth. We used a bag mix for sugar cookies from Betty Crocker and they were really tasty. I think we polished them off within a few days. 
Christmas cookie night!
Getting a little help from Daddy. 
Pushing down the cookie cutters was pretty fun. 
Here Owen, decorate a cookie...
And... in the mouth it goes!
Om nom nom. 
Two seconds after this photo was taken, he asked, "More cookie?"
Candy canes are also pretty exciting!
Don't judge our cookie-decorating skills. We never claimed to be professionals.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Friday Five

1. I am a winner! 
      While checking my Facebook account early on Wednesday I noticed that Amazon Video Games was having a giveaway for people with Xbox 360s at noon. I mentally filed it away to check back at noon if I had the opportunity. So after I made Owen a PB&J and sat him down with that and some pear slices for lunch, I realized it was 11:58 a.m. So I got on my computer, called up the Amazon Video Games Facebook page, and refreshed my page until the sweepstakes was announced. You had to send them an e-mail with a certain subject line and be either the 100th or 200th e-mail they received. And I was the 100th! It was so exciting and I was totally surprised to have won. We will be getting Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Need For Speed Most Wanted, and Darksiders II. I have no idea what most of those games are, but I am pretty sure I am one of the most awesome wives around! 

2. Every woman's ideal job... a.k.a. get paid to shop
      I received my first check from Ebates this week. It wasn't for the entire amount that I'm due, but I'm not sure how or when they send checks for your purchases. Either way, it was so exciting getting a check in the mail just for shopping online. And I know the concept of Ebates sounds like a hoax or scam, but getting that check in the mail showed me that this site is for real about what they do. If you're interested in signing up for Ebates and getting paid back a portion of what you spend online, here's the info:
      - Register (for free) with an e-mail address and click on one of the 1,500 retailers listed on the site to shop. If you buy something, you will get an e-rebate on your total purchase (for instance, 6 percent cash back at Macy's.) 
       - There are no fees or forms to mail in - they just send you a check in the mail! Now is a great time to sign up because many stores are doubling and even tripling the amount of cashback you can earn while holiday shopping. 
       - Free $10 giftcard of your choice when you sign up. (I chose Target).
       - I have already earned more than $35 since I joined. You can join HERE

3. January Julep reveal

       Julep revealed their five boxes for January yesterday and I may need sunglasses when I open my box next month because they are bright! For January, Julep is combining one neon color and one neutral color in each box. The featured product of the month is a hand and cuticle stick with shea butter and peptides. 
  •         The American Beauty box features Mindy (porcelain pink sheer), Bethany (electric neon orange-pink cream), and the hand and cuticle stick.
  •         The Boho Glam box features Teresa (opaque pink pearl frost), Fiona (electric neon green cream), and the hand and cuticle stick. 
  •         The Bombshell box features Ava (ballet slipper pink frost), Bette (electric neon purple cream), and the hand and cuticle stick.
  •          The Classic with a Twist box features Madison (electric neon hot pink cream), Grace (classic light pink sheer), and the hand and cuticle stick. 
  •          The It Girl box features Nina (electric neon orangesicle cream), Nikki (neon highlighter cream), and Amelia (light champagne frost). 
       Which box do you like best? If you are interested in trying out Julep for yourself and becoming a Maven, click HERE and use the code COLOR2012 or PENNY to get your introductory box for just a penny. The current intro boxes feature either two nail colors and cuticle oil or three nail colors. 

4. Time to potty!

     We received a $15 coupon for the website in our Citrus Lane box and after much thought and some debate, we decided to use it to buy something practical: a Baby Bjorn potty chair! Haha! I am actually pretty excited about introducing Owen to potty training because I would prefer not to have him wear diapers for forever and seriously, this thing is so cute, it might even make dealing with the results not as difficult. Ecomom is a really great website and their shipping is super reasonable - less than $3 for standard shipping. I got this $29.95 potty training seat for just $17.94 after using my $15 voucher. Any tips for beginning potty training?

5. Santa came early

     Because we are going to visit family for Christmas, Tim let me open some of my Christmas presents earlier this week. And one of them is something I was particularly excited about because I've been wanting one for more than a year: a cast iron dutch oven. I cannot wait to use it to make some delicious suppers. Pioneer Woman is constantly cooking in them and I can't wait to try some of her recipes that I've always avoided because I didn't have a dutch oven. The one that Tim got for me is the cranberry colored one. It's really pretty and almost a red wine color. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

So What! Wednesday

This week I'm saying So What! to:

  • I am more excited about Christmas coming because I bought some people the perfect gifts this year and I can't wait to see them open them. 
  • I want to buy more presents just so I can wrap some more. 
  • Tim and I had a budget meeting last week and to cut some spending, we canceled our Netflix. Yes, that's only $8.47 a month, but it's something. 
  • I am weirdly excited about Owen getting a potty training seat soon.
  • Our schedule for our week with family this Christmas is completely packed already and it kind-of stresses me out.
  • We sent out 45 Christmas cards and have only received eight. 
  • I used the wrinkle release setting on my dryer for one load of laundry three times before I finally remembered to fold it. 
  • I am so sick of Facebook quotes like this: "I'm a teacher and after Friday's events I realize that I would sacrifice myself for my students...blah blah blah." It's NOT about you!
  • I think the idea of the world ending on Friday is hilarious. Did you see the episode of Raising Hope last week where they had planned for the end of the world apocalypse? Hulu it. You won't regret it. 
  • I still haven't figured out how to use the blog button for Life After I Dew, where this post originates from. So I will link to it HERE.
What are you saying So What! to this week?

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Citrus Lane review (December box)

    My December Citrus Lane box arrived yesterday and I wanted to share all the exciting and fun products we received in this month's "A Few Of Our Favorite Things" box. Owen is 20 months old so we received the oldest range box of their age ranges this month. From what I've seen online, there are two other age groups this month and therefore two other boxes that went out. The newborn box in particular seemed packed! Our box has a retail value of $53.73.
    Here is the description for this month's box from the insert included in the box: "We can't believe it's December already! It's been an amazing, exciting and fun year here at  Citrus Lane, and we owe it all to our inspiring community of Citrus Lane families. Without your feedback, ideas, and encouragement, doing what we do just wouldn't be possible. To celebrate, we've put together a really special box full of some of your past favorites as well as new items we know you'll absolutely love. Thanks again, for all you do. And here's to another year filled with love, learning, and laughter."
    Owen easily recognizes the Citrus Lane box now and comes running whenever I bring it in from the mailbox. This month's box was extra big though and didn't fit into the mailbox. I don't know if all the boxes this month were larger or if ours was the only one with an item so big that it wouldn't fit in the normal boxes. 
    Owen also loves opening the box and pulling out all the items himself. I like to see which items seem to intrigue him immediately. Generally, it's the food item. Haha! 

 And here's what we got in our box this month (I include the description of each item from the insert included in the box along with my feelings about each item in italics):

  • Green Toys Airplane: The eco-friendly materials (made in the USA from 100 percent recycled milk jugs, free of BPA, phthalates, PVC, or other coatings) are one reason we adore this classically-styled toy. It also feels and looks "big kid" but is lightweight and sized so that it's easy for little pilots to grasp and carry. It's no secret that I love Green Toys, a company we were introduced to by Citrus Lane back in July with the Green Toys racecar. I love that the toys are affordable despite being "green" and feel extremely sturdy and well-made. You would never know that it used to be a milk jug! Owen is getting the Green Toys dump truck and tugboat for Christmas and this adds perfectly to his collection. I really like that Citrus Lane included this brand again this month, but made sure that the products they sent are the more recently released airplane and submarine so the chances of us already owning them was lower. I wrapped this up yesterday and took it to a Christmas party last night where each parent was supposed to bring a present for their child. And I can tell you that in addition to Owen, several children from his age up to ten years old played with it, both boys and girls alike. Retails for $14.99.

  • Renee & Jeremy "It's a Big World" CD: We gave this CD a listen this morning and Owen bobbed up and down to the guitar strumming and I really liked it to. This CD isn't for energetic bouncing around the room craziness, but more for calm background music while playing and some of the lullabies would be perfect right before bedtime. I loved the singers' voices and can picture Tim and I learning the songs and singing harmony together. I think my favorite songs so far are: "Miracle," "It's a Big World," and "Powder Blue Solo." I also love the cover of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds." I can't wait to listen to this CD more when we drive to our family's houses this Christmas. Retails for $12.00. 

  • Pearhead Brag Book: Babies and toddlers love to look at themselves. (Can you blame them? They're seriously cute.) Fill this kid-sized book with photos of baby, grandparents, and other family members, or use it to make a personalized storybook. It will be one of baby's favorite items - and one that you may want to borrow! Make another one for grandparents, it makes a great gift! This album is really cute and we have previously purchased photo albums from Pearhead before. My favorite thing was their suggestion of making it a book of family photos for your child. I hadn't thought to do that, but it is a really great idea. I know that Owen loves to pull out our wedding scrapbook and flip through it talking about Mommy and Daddy. I know he would love having his own baby-sized photo book. Retails for $8.95.

  • Ecomom $15 offer: We must have been really good this year! How else to explain this amazing gift from The go-to site for busy moms, or anyone looking for the best eco-friendly toys, baby gear, home items and more, they're offering $15 towrds anything on their site. I have browsed Ecomom before and they have a really great selection of some of my favorite toy brands. I can't wait to check it out and pick out something for Owen. After seeing the other Citrus Lane boxes this month, I am tempted to buy the Green Toys submarine bath toy. 

  • Madecasse 75% Cocoa Mini Chocolate Bar: When Madecasse founders went to Madagascar as Peace Corps volunteers, they had no idea they'd start a company there. But now they're making rich, decadent chocolate and boosting the local economy by sourcing and producing the chocolate on the island. We're sure you'll be as crazy for this chocolate as we are. But don't keep it to yourself - stuff it in a stocking or pick it up as a last-minute gift. I really love the story behind this chocolate and find it really interesting that the company not only sources their cocoa from Madacascar, but also further impacts the community by producing the chocolate bars there too. The bar that I received is described as "bold dark chocolate with hints of dried cherry." The flavor was a little darker than I would normally choose, but the cherry flavor was delicious. This was the mom-treat for this month. Retails for $1.50.  

  • GoGo Squeez Fruit Pouch: GoGo Squeez is changing the way we think about pouches which is why it's always in our diaper bags, in our cars, and stocked in our pantries. This perfect snack for toddlers is a simple mix of fresh fruit and more fresh fruit is the same as it has been since they first invented fruit in a pouch in Europe years ago. It's a delicious "real food" snack that let's us say yes to treats. Which let's face it, is a treat in itself. Owen already loves GoGo Squeez applesauce. We typically buy the cinnamon applesauce flavor, so apple mango will be a treat. I plan to put it in his stocking so that he has a food treat in there that isn't candy. This company is really interesting. They product grow their apples in France and while they aren't organic, France has higher standards for growing produce than the United States and typically don't use all the pesticides and chemicals that American farmers use. 

     If you don't already subscribe to Citrus Lane and you'd like to try it out for yourself, there are some coupon codes that can help you get a discount on your subscription. I'd be so happy if you would use my referral link to make your purchase. Click HERE and you will automatically receive $10 off your order just for using my referral. You can also try using the code TAKEHALF to receive your first box at 50 percent off - just $12.50. These two codes offers may not both work at the same time, but you can try. This code is valid through January 16, so act fast. If you are unhappy with your subscription after your first box, all you have to do is call Citrus Lane or e-mail them to cancel before the first of the next month to avoid being charged for your second box. But I highly doubt you will want to cancel! 
      If you would like to check out my previous reviews of Citrus Lane, check them out here: June, July, September, October, and November. And big news! Citrus Lane is now offering boxes for children up to age 5! The four and five year old boxes will begin shipping in February.
      I really love Citrus Lane and find it to be one of the best subscription boxes available. I also love how you get rewarded for referring your friends to sign up and they constantly offering discounts on subscriptions. By keeping an eye out for discounts like the TAKEHALF one, I've been able to get boxes for way less than subscriptions to similar companies like Stork Stack. 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Deals of the Week

       So Christmas is in just eight days and today will be my last Deals of the Week for now. I may post good deals I find off an on, but this is your last chance before the holidays to get something on sale for your friends and family. 

     Again, I recommend signing up for Ebates if you plan on doing any online shopping. You basically get paid to shop online. Here's the low-down.  
  • Register (for free) with an e-mail address and click on one of the 1,500 retailers listed on the site to shop. If you buy something, you will get an e-rebate on your total purchase (for instance, 6 percent cash back at Macy's.) 
  • There are no fees or forms to mail in - they just send you a check in the mail! Now is a great time to sign up because many stores are doubling and even tripling the amount of cashback you can earn while holiday shopping. 
  • I have already earned more than $35 in two weeks since I joined last week by shopping through Ebates at Clinique, The Disney Store, and Old Navy. Join HERE
  • Today only, get free shipping at many of the sites featured on Ebates.
  • Free $10 giftcard of your choice when you sign up. (I chose Target).

1. Up to 80 percent off KitchenAid and Cuisinart

Gilt is currently offering up to 80 percent off on select KitchenAid and Cuisinart products. They are also guaranteeing to have them at your door by Christmas Eve. If you sign up for Gilt using my referral link, you will receive a $25 credit after you place your first order with the company. This sale ends in two days. Some of the deals are as low as $15. A 17-piece kitchen gadget set is just $29. A $342 set of pans and bakeware is down to $119. A $200 cutlery set is down to $79. Check it out.  

2. New Year's Mystery Box from Julep for $19.99

     Julep is offering a New Year's Mystery Box for $19.99. Each box will contain between $100 and $500 in products including a brand new mystery glitter. One winner will also receive an iPad mini. This looks like it would be a really fun mystery box. Just click on the link to be taken to their website and this deal is advertised right on their main page. This deal is only available for the next few days. 

2. Self-inking address stamp for $19.50 at GroopDealz

GroopDealz has an awesome deal today - a personalized self-inking address stamp available in 10 styles on sale for $19.50, down from $49.95. There are some other great delas on GroopDealz today as well, including: a pave gold chain link bracelet for $24.99, down from $59.99; button down lace leg warmers for $12.99, down from $39.99; a magnetic chore chart for $54, down from $104; a boys aviator hat for $12.50, down from $24.99; and more. 

3. Starbucks Thermos and free coffee every day in January for $30

This deal as part of the 12 Days of Gifting has been extended. You buy the Free Brewed Coffee Tumbler for $30 and you can receive free coffee every day in January. This would be a great gift for a diehard Starbucks fan. Imagine the money you could save if you bought this instead of a cup of coffee from Starbucks every time you went in January. You can get this deal in store and online. If you chose to shop online, remember to sign up for Ebates (above) and shop through your Ebates account to receive 3.5 percent cash back. If you are a first-time shopper on the Starbucks website, use the code STNPWEKD to receive 10 percent off your order. Order by 1 p.m. (CT) to receive free ground shipping on orders over $50 and receive them in time for Christmas. 

4. Amazon 25 Days of Free Christmas Music

Head over to Amazon to download five free Chrismas songs as part of Amazon's 25 Days of Free Christmas Music. The songs for today include: "This I Have Done for My True Love" by Chanticleer, "O Holy Night" by Rick Springfield, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" by Sister Hazel, "Angels We Have Heard on High" by Brian McKnight, and "Deck the Halls" by Twisted Sister. Just go HERE to download the songs for free. 

5. $12 for $25 credit at

Plum District is offering a deal for the next two days where you can spend $12 to receive a $25 credit at to buy children's books. I love and have had a really good experience with the company. If you buy this deal, you must redeem your credit on a purchase before December 31. If you aren't a Plum District member, click HERE. Plum District is one of my favorite deal sites. They have awesome deals for moms and kids. Though non-moms may like the jewelry and accessory deals and some others, plus this deal would be great to use when buying books for gifts. Some other deals on Plum District right now are: select children's magazine subscriptions starting at $4, Sweet Pink Zebra hair ties set for $6, Ily Couture infinity scarf for $12 ($25 normally), and more. 

6. 50 percent off ornaments at Pottery Barn + Free Ship Day

Pottery Barn's Deal of the Day today is 50 percent off their ornaments, plus free shipping. This makes some of their ornaments as low as $3. It is also free shipping day sitewide on everything except furniture and rugs. Use the promo code FREESHIP. The free shipping works on their entire family of stores: Williams Sonoma, Pottery Barn Kids, PB Teen, and West Elm.

7. Free shipping day at Ebates

Some online stores are offering free shipping along with cash back through Ebates today. If you have some last minute purchases you need to make for Christmas and you need them quick, some stores are offering free one day shipping!  Some of the stores offering free shipping are: Bed, Bath, and Beyond, Best Buy, Kohl's, Land's End, Kmart, GAP, and Walmart. If you haven't joined yet, you can read more about Ebates at the top of this post.

8. 20 percent off at Bath and Bodyworks

Use the code RMNHOLIDAY to receive 20 percent off your purchase at Bath and Bodyworks. Currently, three-wick candles are 2 for $20, antibacterial soaps are 4 for $15 or 6 for $20, signature collection lotions and sprays are buy 3, get 3 free. Sign up with Ebates (above) and shop through their website to receive 2 percent cashback. 

9. 40 percent off at Ann Taylor Loft

For a limited time, order from Ann Taylor Loft's website and receive 50 percent off using the code COLOR. This makes most of their shirts and sweaters between $20 and $30, scarves are $20, and some jewelry as low as $8. If you want to get your purchases in time for Christmas using standard shipping, you must order by December 19. I want to order most everything. Sign up with Ebates (above) and shop through their site to earn 3 percent cash back. 

10. 3 months of Citrus Lane for $65 or get your first box for $12.50

Use the code GIFT10 to receive $10 off a three month subscription to Citrus Lane. That makes the price for three months of surprise products for babies and toddlers just $65. This offer is available through December 24. Click on the link above to go to their site to learn more about the company. This would make a great gift. If you are interested in joining for yourself, you can receive half off your first month using the code TAKEHALF by December 18. 

Let me know if you snag any of these deals!