Sunday, September 19, 2010

Learning As I Go On 'Blogger'

About 9 months ago, I discovered the world of Giveaways, Reviews and Social Networking.  I already had a blog that I did just for fun among friends and family and so when I found out how you can integrate a blog, Twitter, Facebook, Stumble, Technorati, Digg and any number of the blogging communities into one great social engine, I was definitely hooked.  I do believe it changed my life trajectory somewhat!
The thing is, I really didn't use a blog mentor or a coach. I just started from scratch and learned and am learning as I go, probably making horrible, glaring, stupid mistakes, but loving it nonetheless.  A couple of things I learned JUST this week are:
  • Blogger has Stats that you can look at to see how your blog is doing!. You can get where traffic is coming from, how many page views per hour, day, week, month, etc., what kinds of searches are being done to land someone on your page, etc.  That is so cool.  I knew that you could go to outside sources to get that info but it's so much easier to get it from your own blog source. I'm not sure if I just didn't notice this before or if it's a new feature.  But I like!  Just click on Stats and you will see everything I did!
    • I just learned how to disable comments on a certain post.  Say, if I'm done with a giveaway, I can disable more comments from coming in.  (Not sure if I'll use it for that purpose, but very useful to know because you never know when you might need that feature!)  Just go to EDIT POST, click POST OPTIONS, click DON'T ALLOW, SHOW EXISTING! Easy!
    • I learned about a great tool for bloggers called screen capture software!  It allows you to capture anything you see on your screen window including windows, menus, full screen, rectangular regions, web pages and even shots of moving images!  Maybe now I can actually capture that tricky window to show winners of my giveaways!
    So another week is upon me and there are surely more things to learn as I make my way through this blog realm, which is surely every bit as captivating and interesting as anything Alice found in Wonderland!  One of these days I will look up how to create my own siggy!  Until then!


    Tuesday, September 14, 2010

    $10 Target Gift Card Giveaway!

    Congratulations to #36, Heart and Soul Cooking, who said:   
     "I commented on #5 Novica - Friend of Beauty And Creativity."
      Thanks to everyone who participated and stay tuned for another Target Giveaway soon!

    I know that you love giveaways and I love to host them! But there is something I love even more!  I love comments on my non-giveaway posts!  I do a number of reviews for companies that aren't associated with giveaways.  I only do reviews on companies that I think are worthwhile and have something to offer.  I would love it if you would comment on whether or not you agree with my assessments!  But, I know, we don't all have a lot of time to spend reading reviews when there are so many other things on our plates.  So every once in awhile, I like to encourage extra motivation by giving some incentive in the form of a gift card. This giveaway is open for those who are passing through my blog and are interested!  Hey, every bit helps and I know Target is a great place to shop!
    Here is what I need you to do to win this $10 Target Gift Card, which I've already picked out.  It's the  Target Dog!

    MANDY:  Choose one or all of the following reviews and comment on one or all of them.  Come back and let me know which ones you commented on in separate comments for each review done.  You need to do at least one of these for anything else to count:
    #1 Scrubs--Some Do's And Don'ts
    #2 Brookstone--A 45 Year Success Story
    #3 Grateful For Grateful Body  
     #4 Myrtle Beach Memories
    #5 Novica - Friend of Beauty And Creativity

    -Follow me on Google Friend or let me know if you do already!
    -Tweet about this giveaway for one entry daily, leave me the tweet status!
    -Vote for me here on Top Mommy Blogs! (Also can do daily)
    -Subscribe to my e-mail updates (on right sidebar)
    -Enter my Grateful Body Giveaway! (click on right side bar)
    -Enter my Tropical Traditions Giveaway! (on right side bar)

    This giveaway is open to US and Canada and will run through September 30th and the winner will be chosen with and contacted with e-mail! The $10 gift card will be sent via certified US Mail as soon as I can get my act together and get it sent! My goal is to have it to you by October 9th!  This giveaway card is my own personal card that I choose to give away!

    Novica - Friend Of Creativity And Beauty

    I just found out about this great company called Novica, associated with National Geographic! I guess I'm just not with it, because if I were, I'd have known about Novica having been named one of the Hot 100 websites in Dec 2008, carrying right over to now, 2010! Do you love authentic regional artwork?  (Me!) Do you love quality textiles, fabrics, stones and metals made into art from other countries?  (Count me in!) Do you travel just to find wonderful souvenirs and treasures at bargain prices?  (No, but would love to!) Do you love to help others who are struggling to make ends meet?  (Of course!) If the answer is yes to any of these questions, you will love Novica!
    As I browsed the site, I found beautiful quality, hand made creations like hammocks to relax in, beautiful leather and suede bags, sweaters made from the finest alpaca wool, truly authentic and beautiful jewelry and more! All of these were made by artisans from places like the Andes, Bali and Java, Brazil, Central America, India, Thailand, Mexico and India. 
    Personally, I think Novica makes the world much smaller in terms of bringing the work of small time artisans as well as more prominent international artisans to my doorstep! Beautiful creations from around the world can make me smile, in the comfort of my home, not to mention the great deals!

    Some more questions to ponder - Are you the discerning shopper who loves to give great, one-of-a-kind gifts?  Are you part of a corporation who wants to make an impression with the gifts it presents?  Novica has a great corporate gifts section as well as a green gifts category, with items that are eco-friendly, and kind to the planet!
    Novica expresses it this way:
    We want to give artists and artisans around the world a global platform to express their true artistic talents and to spur their creativity. And, we want to provide you with access to unique, hard-to-find items at great values that only the Internet infrastructure can allow.
    At the deepest essence of our philosophy, we want to create a bridge between you and the many talented artisans across the globe.
    We want you to know about who you're buying from. We want you to feel that attachment to the product and to the hands that created it.
    In the spirit of the Internet, let us bring you together.
    NOVICA. The World is Your Market.
    Artisans such as César Gonzáles are so grateful for Novica and their artisan loan program, where they give eligible artisans loans with 0% interest!

    César Gonzáles
    gemstone artisan, Peru
    "I give thanks to Novica for the significant change it has made in my life. Before, we were living with a mattress on the floor, and now we have a comfortable and pleasant new home. I'm very happy to have been able to pay for the schooling of my three children and the comfort of my family. Previously, I sold my work on the street. Now, my income has increased three times. I am doing the job I always dreamed of doing, and I love it."

    My opinion of Novica is very high!  I love the fact that they give talented artisans around the world a place to express their artistic talents and provide access to the world market!  I consider use of this site a must!

    If you  are a first-time purchaser from Novica, you will  receive $10 off your purchase!  Just add this code when you check out!  NOVICA243

    Grateful Body Face Trio Giveaway!

    Congratulations!  The Winner of The Face Trio is #78, Just Coupons, who said, I Follow Grateful Body on Twitter @Just_Coupons  Thanks all who participated!
    As promised, may I present my Grateful Body Giveaway!  First of all, let me say that Grateful Body is 100% Natural and Chemical Free!  That is so important to me and why I feel that if you are serious about taking care of your skin, you NEED to have a product like this!

    Grateful Body has been in operation since 1998 and was among the front runners of the natural ingredients movement, making their products so popular today. They promise to bring you the safest, most effective and luxurious products available.

    The list of ingredients in each product is very impressive.  For example, in the Normal Skin Moisturizer, you will find:

    Pomegranate Extract - this supercritical extract is a renowned antioxidant that promotes skin regeneration, stimulates skin self-repair mechanisms, improves skin elasticity and reduces wrinkles.  Pomegranate offers powerful protection against skin aging, also providing calming and healing properties for skin tissues.

    Neroli Hydrosol
    - Neroli Hydrosol - a dynamic and beneficial extract from organic orange blossoms. Neroli has enchanted humanity through the centuries with its uplifting and calming scent, providing a mysterious sense of well-being. It also has valuable anti-bacterial and astringent qualities. Orange Peel - due to its high flavonoid content and significant antioxidant compounds, the extract from the citrus peel boasts incredible free-radical scavenging activity, protects the skin's cells from damage and helps re-form connective collagen tissue.  Well known in traditional chinese medicine and ayurvedic medicine, the peel is particularly rich in vitamin C and the powerful constituent d-limonene, which helps clear waste material from skin tissues, thereby supporting a healthier complexion.

    And those are just 3 of the some 22+ other natural ingredients in this one product! 
    Here is a testimonial from one of the many loyal Grateful Body customers:
    Hi from another grateful body! I just wanted you to know that just a few days after I started using your products for the face, my skin felt noticeably softer and smoother. I was unconsciously touching my face, and suddenly, there was, Wow! My skin feels different! Its so soft! And to think this is only the beginning!! Thanks all for your hard work and dedication to the "natural way." I wish you all the best luck in the world.   -Ann, Berkeley, CA
    To purchase these great products, visit Grateful Body and get free shipping on any order over $100.00!

    To enter the Giveaway and WIN your choice of cleanser, toner and moisturizer (Retail Value $77.85), leave me a comment letting me know that you are subscribed to my blog with e-mail (right side bar), along with your choice of cleanser, toner and moisturizer from Grateful Body!
    Extra Entries (Do as many as you'd like and leave a comment for each extra entry):
    -Sign up to get Grateful Body's newsletter!
    -Follow Grateful Body on Twitter!
    -Follow moi on Twitter!
    -Read and leave a comment on my Grateful Body Review and let me know here that you did!
    -Blog this and leave a link to this post and to Grateful Body!  Leave me the link where you did this!
    -Tweet this!  You can copy and paste this~#Win a Grateful Body Basics Trio ($77) @GratefulBodysc 100% wonderful for your skin!  9/30/10!  (Leave the Tweet status in a comment and you can do this daily for one entry per day.)
    -Grab my button and post it on your blog!
    -Subscribe to the Grateful Body Blog RSS Feed!
    -Be my Google Friend Follower (right side bar)!

    Many thanks to the great people at Grateful Body for this great giveaway!  This giveaway will close at 11:59 MST on September 30th and winner will be selected with and notified with e-mail. Please respond within 48 hours!  I was provided with product to provide an honest review and product will be supplied by Grateful Body to the winner of this giveaway!

    Saturday, September 11, 2010

    The Day The World Stopped

    I have gone through my day and my thoughts have been on the thing that happened 9 years ago, that thing that somehow no one really wants to mention by name.  Too painful still.  I remember that my husband and I were together that day, and we watched in dismay and disbelief.  I remember my husband's tears, because he doesn't cry often.  I remember that we knelt in prayer for our country, for the people that were in pain, for the families of the victims, and for our own grief.  It seemed so incomprehensible that a city as great as New York, New York could be infiltrated in any way and such an act of terror performed.  It hurt so bad!  It still hurts.  And now, instead of peace and honor to the victims, we are still arguing about whether or not a mosque should go up near there.  It may not have been an issue if something else had been put up.  Just a simple memorial, nothing fancy, would have been great.  We understand, not a lot of money left after such a catastrophe.  I would have been OK with something simple.  The people would have made it amazing.  Now we need to suck it up and allow the towers to be replaced by what some feel is the very excuse the terrorists used to destroy two American iconic symbols and the lives who lived and worked within.  I don't know what is right.  But I pray that we will have courage to be and do what our founding fathers envisioned for this country.  God Bless America!

    Myrtle Beach Memories

    I've been to Myrtle Beach a couple of times, thanks to my ex-boyfriend's family vacations.  They would invite me along on their annual Myrtle Beach getaways. We packed up the cars and left beautiful Floyd, Virginia in the morning and arrived at Myrtle Beach in the afternoon, ready to spend a fun-filled couple of days relaxing on the beach and enjoying the sights and sounds of Myrtle Beach.   Wow!  That place is really hopping and I loved it!
    Now I live in Utah and those days are long gone.  I love my life here in Utah and wouldn't trade it for anything, but those memories linger in the "backroads of my memory, flowing ever gentle on my mind".  -Glen Campbell
    I recently found out that Myrtle Beach is an amazing golf area.  I was so busy with the fun on the beach that golfing totally escaped me.  But, yeah, there are at least 84 golf courses in and around the Myrtle Beach Grand Strands area!  So if you like to golf, that is the place to do it! 
    There are so many different scenarios to choose from--like the course right by the beach or the inland course full of trees and quaint bridges!
    And don't forget disc golf! Socastee Rec Park has a beautiful 18 hole course with with holes ranging in length from 137 to 760 ft.
     Next time I go to Myrtle Beach, I will take advantage of some of these awesome golf courses, along with the awesome beach experience.

    Friday, September 10, 2010

    Grateful For Grateful Body Products (Review)

     Have you seen or done a Thankful List?  I've done a Thankful list of 10 and I've seen lists go as high as 100 things that a person is thankful for!  (Try it sometime, it's very therapeutic and cathartic) If I were to do a list of  just 25 things, Grateful Body Products would make that list!  I'm so glad that I found this company! When I use a product from Grateful Body, I feel as if my body is so appreciative of the wonderful ingredients that are soaking into my skin, cleansing, moisturizing and healing.. My nose thanks me for the beautiful smells that surround me as I cleanse my face, my pores drink in the vital and pure botanical ingredients found in the ocean and far reaches of the world, my eyes can see the difference in my skin and my hands can tell how soft and smooth my skin is, thanks to regular use of Grateful Body products.

    Grateful Body was founded in 1998 by a family who was and is aware of the fact that the skin extracts nourishment from "food", just as our bodies extract nourishment from the same.  "If you use conventional make-up on a daily basis, you can absorb almost 5 pounds of chemicals into your body each year -- and that's without adding in body lotion, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner and other personal care products!"  I don't think that is the kind of food we are talking about when we want to take care of our skin!  

    I have been lucky enough to use their cleanser twice and their moisturizer and the sea cell serum for awhile now.  I am absolutely in love with these products.  My philosophy has always been to use naturally based cleansers and skin care products.  But I believe these products go above and beyond because of the specialized formulations, the quality of their ingredients and the absolute integrity of the finished products!  Wow is all I can say!  

    If I were forced to pick a favorite product, it would have to be the cleanser! I've never had a cleanser that will actually do several things besides clean my face.  The Grateful Body Cleanser first of all is an aromatherapy session all on its own.  When I use the cleanser, I am transported to a garden of exotic plants and flowers and I feel very calm and peaceful when using it.  The ingredients are designed to nourish your face even as you cleanse.  So when I cleanse, I massage the cleanser into my face for a minute or so, letting the beautiful ingredients soak into my skin. The skin seems to just drink it up, yet my face is so clean after I'm through!  There is no tight feeling afterwords, like some cleansers leave with dry skinned women like me.  So now, a routine that I often disliked has now become one of my favorite times!

     Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love the  Moisturizer and the restorative Sea Cell Serum! I feel so bad because it's like my skin is literally starving for this stuff as it drinks it up so quickly and leaves no oily residue behind.  I thought I was doing really great things for my skin, but I see now that I could have been doing a lot more!
    You want to try these products and so let me give you some great news!  They have their Skin Basic Sets for 25% off for a limited time.  The Basics set includes a Cleanser, Toner and Moisturizer in your choice of normal, dry, sensitive or oily! It's a great deal!
    If you want even more say in what goes into your products, Grateful Body has a perfect option for you.  You can design your own product!  For instance you can choose the cleanser for dry skin and customize it even more.  You start with the Basic Cleanser and choose up to two Booster's for it! I chose to add Skin Fitness with a great blend of greens, berries, sea veggies and sea salts!  So good!
    And one other great deal!  Use the code CUSTOM20 and get 20% off on all custom designer products!  Last, but not least, I am excited to let you know that I will be hosting a very special giveaway from Grateful Body!  Please check back next week for the details!  You won't want to miss this one!  Grateful Body - I think it's a very fitting name for a wonderful line of products!

    I was provided product for an honest review!  All opinions are mine!

    Sunday, September 5, 2010

    Scrubs - Some Do's And Don't's

     Scrubs are a common thing to wear and not just in hospitals! And for good reason--they are comfortable, breathable, loose-fitting and can be fairly aesthetically appealing, with little effort! I like the look with clogs.  It looks really cute, in a casual, working sort of way! 

    I, personally, am not in the medical field, but who wouldn't love wearing scrubs?  They are so comfortable!  They aren't form fitting and they are breathable, made almost always with cotton. And with all those gorgeous colors, I wouldn't mind wearing scrub pants as a change from sweats or yoga pants!

    What is NOT seen is potentially harmful bacteria lurking in the material of unwashed scrubs.  So, I am making an appeal to any health care workers.  Please, please change your scrubs often!  It's easy to do when you have a place where you can buy cheap scrubs, like at Blue Sky Scrubs!  
    One thing I do don't want to wear scrubs that you wear in the hospital as casual attire.    That gets pretty messy. ALWAYS change into clean scrubs when you go to work and don't wear them home or out after you've been working in them.  That's why it is good to have multiple sets of scrubs so that you'll always have a clean pair.  It's not something we like to think about, but when medical personnel wear the same uniforms to work day after day without washing them, they are carrying lots of unsavory germs around. As a potential patient in a hospital and as someone who doesn't want hospital germs at my restaurant table where someone with unlaundered scrubs may have been sitting, I ask all health care scrub wearers to please wear clean scrubs! And may I suggest Blue Sky Scrubs as your vendor for scrub clothing!

    Thursday, August 26, 2010

    Brookstone - A 45 Year Success Story!

     Hi ya'll!  I just discovered a great company that has not only survived, but has become better and better over 45 years in the retail business.  That kind of longevity makes me perk up my ears and pay attention!  I especially pay attention when they offer me a Coupon Code (found at end of this review) for $10 off!
    "Brookstone is a nationwide specialty retailer offering an assortment of consumer products that are functional in purpose, distinctive in quality and design and not widely available from other retailers. Brookstone first introduced itself to the world in a small classified ad selling "hard-to-find tools" in Popular Mechanics Magazine. The year was 1965.

    Originally a catalog company, Brookstone today operates a multifaceted Direct-Marketing business that includes catalogs, e-mail and affiliate marketing, and an online site offering hundreds more products than are available in our retail and airport stores."
     As I perused their website, I was really impressed with all of the unique and useful items!  For instance, I think it's important to protect your 'toys of summer' when the weather no longer permits you to play with them.  (Note: I'm not saying that summer is anywhere NEAR done yet, oh no! There is too much left to do!) That way, you'll have those nice patio chairs, bicycles and grills in great shape and ready to use once again!  Why leave your stuff out in the weather unprotected?  Brookstone has a great selection of Outdoor Furniture Covers, rivaled by none!  I give it my 'Need' rating!

    Not quite in the 'Need' category but nonetheless very smart to pay close attention to because, if acted upon, may just reap huge dividends, is the Gifts For Dad section.  These include really really great gifts for your Dad or husband that are truly unique!  What man wouldn't love the WeatherCast 5 Day Wireless Weather Forecaster?  Out of 346 customer reviews, I loved what one customer said about it:
    I bought this for my elderly father 4 years ago. He had no experience with computers etc and thought this was the best gift he had EVER received..just couldn't get over the technology. He kept it near to him until he passed away. NOW my mother has it with her in an assisted living facility and she keeps it right where she can see it at all times. I think it is like a link to the outside world. She ALWAYS knows the weather and somehow that comforts her. I would buy this AGAIN and AGAIN. No problems with batteries, reception, anything! Best [$] I ever spent!!! 
    Isn't that sweet?  I love that there are a ton of customer reviews on the products I looked at, so obviously people are buying, using and then interacting with the site!  Features on the site include:
    • Store locator with Google Maps integration on specific devices
    • Product videos with YouTube integration
    • Reviews and expandable product descriptions
    • Guest checkout with multiple shipping addresses
    • Enhanced search
    • Order tracking
    • Email sign up
    • Careers section
    • Catalog request
    Brookstone CEO Ron Boire said it best: “It’s just one more way Brookstone is everywhere our customers want us to be.”
    Check out Brookstone and see what is there for your needs that you never knew were needs until now! To help you out, Brookstone will take $10 off any online purchase of $70 or more.  Just use this Coupon Code at checkout:  22SAVE

    Monday, August 23, 2010

    Dividing The Family Pie

    We are influenced by news that we hear and read about.  National and World events are happening at an ever-increasing rate of speed!  Often I count on my husband to update me on major happenings in the world.  I want to make sure I am getting the right story and the right take.  For me, the best way to understand an event is to recount my understanding of what happened.
    So, how concerned are you about property or money settlement issues within your extended family?  I know it can be a sore spot.  When a parent or relative gives out holdings in an unfair way or in a way that people don't agree with, tensions within families can mount.  But is it worth killing your own family over?  C'mon, that is going waaaaay over the line in terms of my own understanding.  I say, just let them have the heirloom china and wish them good luck with it.  You can't take it with you anyway!

    But that is exactly what happened over the weekend in Louisa, VA.  A man shot and killed his own son and nephew in an ongoing dispute over a piece of property, not to mention the 4 others that were wounded in the fray.  Then police shot and killed him after he fired on two deputies and released his pit bull on them. Apparently, this 1.5 acres was a real hot commodity among family members. Police were called on multiple occasions to settle disputes amongst the clan.  But it never got violent until yesterday.  Well, sir, I hope you are happy.  You're dead, your son is dead, your nephew is dead and that ought to be a fun little party on the other side!  And who gets the 1.5 acres?  I guess whoever was left alive!  I hope the remaining relatives will be a little more wise.  Wow!  I used to live in VA.  I'd have to say you might be a redneck if... you bring out the .22 caliber when your limited vocabulary of "Thisheer is ma land, ain't no one else's!" fails to bring about a unanimous agreement!
    May I suggest a few ways to insure a peaceful estate settlement when the time arrives?

    1.  Only involve the individuals who are named in the will or trust.  The fewer outsiders and outside opinions, the better! Spouses and children who are not directly a part of the settlement don't need to be involved.

    2.  Start the conversation!  Many times it is awkward to even mention that someone won't be around forever.  Many times people are afraid that they will sound greedy when talking about estate affairs.  A possible good start to this conversation might be:  "Mom, Dad, I know you love us. You have taught us how to be thoughtful, caring people, by example. I am reasonably certain that you want us to care for you in your old age and for each other when you are gone. You could do a lot to keep the spirit of our family alive and healthy after you are gone by talking to us now. You could make it immensely easier on all of us by giving us some information about your wishes and plans. This is not about money. It is about relationships and trust and responsibility.”

    3.  Establish trust between family members - Family history and child rearing methods of prior generations can foster distrust between siblings. Competition among siblings is common. Although it might not be the easiest time, it is a crucial time to build trust among family members.  Do so with open dialogue and transparency of intent.  Now is not the time to have hidden agendas.  

    4.  Learn as much as possible - Usually there is one primary executor but if the work is shared, not only is it easier on the executor, the beneficiaries will also have a better understanding of what is involved and have a greater stake in the best resolution for the whole family.

    5.  Create unity by assuming the positive intent of others, not the negative, being open-minded and knowing that everyone doesn't see things in exactly the same way, not allowing bullying, keeping things confidential between those involved, stay involved in the decision-making even though it may make you uncomfortable, have a sense of humor and stay connected in between official meetings.

    6.  Have regularly appointed meetings to keep everyone abreast of developments and decisions.  It can be done in person, with conference calls or whatever way is best suited to your situation.

    7.  Have fun in the process!  Make mundane things like moving the folks into the board and care home an adventure.  Have events where everyone can have fun interaction.  Great memories make great relationships that last beyond the first generation!

    Hopefully this will be a guide so that when you have to divide up the assets from the sale of the family home, you'll know exactly what to do!