Friday, August 31, 2012

Hearts for Hearts Girls Dolls by Playmates Toys

I was very fortunate to be picked by MommyParties to host a gathering with my 6 year old daughter and a bunch of her playmates and tell them about the Hearts for Hearts Girls Dolls by Playmates Toys. As the host, I was gifted with a doll to review (note: disclaimer) and received a doll to giveaway at out gathering and bracelets/doll passports/discount codes to give away to all the girls. And I have a discount code to share with my readers below!!!

This is my daughter and the doll she picked of the two we received in the package, Consuelo. She had such a hard time choosing between this doll and the one we eventually gave away, whose name is Dell. Consuelo is from Mexico and Dell is from the U.S. This line of dolls also includes Najhi from India, Lilian from Belarus, Tipi from Laos, Rahel from Ethiopia. Zelia from Brazil, and Lauryce from New Orleans. Each doll also comes with a bracelet and it's own mini storybook about her life.

I thought the doll was very well constructed and with flexible joints that move fluidly, what I mean by that is that they are not stiff which makes it easier to change their clothes. My daughter really loves her doll. She had a hard time deciding between the two and it took her nearly a half a day to decide. She has really enjoyed playing with her doll and I am considering purchasing one now to give her as a Christmas present (I do plan out my presents early). When we found out we were getting the opportunity to have this party she was really hoping to get Lauryce since she looks most like her. 

 What if you could change the world just by buying a doll? You can, with Hearts For Hearts Girlsdolls!

Hearts For Hearts Girls is a charitable doll line and fashion collection from Playmates Toys that seeks to empower girls to become agents of change in their communities, their countries and around the world. The line features eight dolls inspired by real girls from real places all over the world. Each authentically dressed and lifelike doll has her own story to share and is working to change her community in ways unique to her home country. You can learn more about Hearts For Hearts Girls by visiting

There are so many positive messages related to Hearts For Hearts Girls, helping to unite girls internationally through the dolls and to learn about the lives of girls in other nations. Most importantly, it teaches young girls about the concept of giving back. A portion of each doll sale is donated to a non-profit organization that helps children from that doll's country. Playmates Toys is working with non-profit partner World Vision to make this possible. 

 I introduced the dolls to my daughter's playgroup at our annual Fire Safety orientation and tour where we had a total of 43 parents and children present. I knew this was the best opportunity to share this wonderful product because we always have such a nice showing of families. I only wish I had 16 (since that is how many girls were there) dolls to give to everyone as so many were so excited at the chance to win her. I did let everyone know about the discount code to purchase them online and handed out postcards. I also let them know that I have seen them for sale at our local Target (which my daughter was very excited to see her doll there.) There is also additional clothes that can be bought for these dolls on the Playmates Toys website.

Pictured here is the winner the Heart for Hearts Girls Doll named Dell. If you would like to purchase your own doll for a special girl in your life (or maybe you are thinking ahead for the upcoming holiday season as a Toys for Tots donation, then it's like a double donation) I have a special code for $5 off: H4HAUG12 Just enter this code at: Hearts for Hearts Girls

Remember, that every HFHG doll purchased results in a donation for needy girls in other countries. Thanks for helping change the world one heart at a time!

Just another couple glimpses at our annual fire safety orientation and tour. One of the highlights of this gathering is that the kids each get to take turns turning on/off the fire hose. They also got to site inside & outside of the fire trucks. Below is a picture of my two kids.

No Kid Hungry - Fight Childhood Hunger in the Classroom

No Kid Hungry Share our Strength logo


Help Share our Strength Fight Childhood Hunger in the Classroom

Share Our Strength has released its' 2012 survey of America’s teachers reporting on their experiences with hunger in the classroom.

About the Teachers Report
The annual teachers report is a survey of public school teachers from around the nation about the hunger they see in their classrooms as well as their thoughts on solutions. Just a few of the findings:
-- A majority of teachers say “most” or “a lot” of their students rely on school meals as their primary source of nutrition.

-- More than 75% of teachers say that the U.S. should make childhood hunger a “top” or “high” priority
-- A majority of teachers say they have kids in their classes who regularly come to school hungry. 80% of those who see hungry kids say these children are coming to school hungry at least once a week.
-- More than 8 in 10 teachers say breakfast helps students concentrate, contributes to better academic performance and leads to healthier students with fewer headaches and fewer stomach aches.

Bottom Line: Teachers say kids are hungry and breakfast works.
When kids are hungry, they can’t concentrate in school. For facts on how hunger impacts education, visit

About Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign
Share Our Strength is a non-profit dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America through its No Kid Hungry campaign. The campaign raises awareness about the issue, increases access to food by connecting kids with nutrition programs, and educates families about how to shop and prepare delicious, healthy meals on their tight budgets.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: Earn Amazon Gift Cards from Swagbucks

Put your online searches to use for you and earn gift cards and prizes. There are several of these search engines available that allow you to earn gift cards and prizes, but I prefer Swagbucks. Yes, that link is a referral link (which I honestly do not know what I get if you sign up through my referral link - I presume some extra point) but it does not affect your sign up.

Anyways, I have been using Swagbucks for about 2 years now and in those 2 years I have earned 25 $5 giftcards to Amazon that I use to help pay for whatever (there is a ton of different things I buy on Amazon).

I do have the toolbar installed, which automatically gives me a swagbuck once a day when I open my browser. And the only other way I earn swagbucks is through whatever searches I am doing (not unnecessary searches, just normal searches for stuff). So, I earned $125 just for doing what I would do.

Now, there are MANY other ways you can earn swagbucks but some of those can eat up time (like taking a daily poll or printing off coupons to use in your grocery store - which that can be win-win.) So, I keep it at earning by doing what I normally do - I don't have time to make more work for myself.

So, check it out. You can earn free gift cards just by doing your searches through their pages.

GIVEAWAY & Review: American Bible Challenge Game Show

"If You Don't Know Your Bible, You Don't Have a Prayer" is the slogan of the American Bible Game Show. To help me learn more about he show I had access to view the video "Making of the American Bible Challenge", which helped me to learn a lot about the program.

You can also view this video here: 

My thoughts:
* It's a family friendly game show in a generation when more and more shows, reality tv and more may not be family friendly in content, speech or dress.
* The producers were all hand-picked with a passionate interest in the bible.
* Found it very interesting to learn that Jeff Foxworthy hosts a men's bible study group weekly at a homeless shelter and has also been meeting with a group of male friends for a bible study on Thursday mornings for 15 years.
* It is interesting to learn who the people are playing for (to win the prize money for.)
* The original preview shown on the GSN illustrates more obvious questions than are used in show on a regular basis.
* Learning about the bible is presented in an appealing and fun way.

About The American Bible Challenge

Comedian and author, Jeff Foxworthy hosts this studio-based game in which contestants compete based on their knowledge of the Bible.  Utilizing current as well as historical references, questions will be drawn from the rich, dense narrative found in the world's best-selling book.  The contestants will share their compelling back-stories and each team will be playing for a charitable organization. The American Bible Challenge is produced by RelativityREAL for GSN, with RelativityREAL’s Tom Forman (“Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”) and Embassy Row’s Michael Davies ("The Newlywed Game," "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire") serving as Executive Producers on the project.  Nick Stuart and Maura Dunbar of Odyssey Networks are Consulting Producers.

About Host: Jeff Foxworthy
Comedian Jeff Foxworthy is the largest selling comedy-recording artist in history, a multiple Grammy® Award nominee and the best-selling author of 11 books. Widely known for his redneck jokes, his act goes beyond that to explore the humor in everyday family interactions and human nature. 

Twitter: #TheAmericanBibleChallenge and @GSN

ONE LUCKY READER will get a chance to win a The American Bible Challenge T-Shirt AND a Zondervan Quest Bible.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. 
I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Try It Tuesday: Make a Standing Skateboard Swing

We wanted something different that just another swing (which we already have one of) on the kids new clubhouse. WAIT! You are wondering  "What clubhouse?" Then you need to read my latest post on Northern Cheapskate titled "Getting It Done: Build A Clubhouse" and read about the awesome clubhouse that my husband built for our kids.

Anyways, I saw a Stand-n-Swing accessory, but I didn't want to spend another $30 plus shipping & handling for another accessory. Frankly, the clubhouse went out of our intended budget & I didn't want to make it go out further.
Then along comes a skateboard in a free box. Actually, it was just the board as someone probably swapped out this board for a newer one, but all we needed was the board and a trip to Fleet Farm to buy some thick rope (just one length) and some U-bolts.

We actually thought it would be safer to thread the rope through 2 holes we drilled in the 2x4 rather than having individual attachments & 2 separate pieces of rope. And then 4 holes (2 on each side were) drilled in the skateboard and the rope was thread thru them and a U-bolt tightened in to place to secure the rope closed.)

I say it was a simple project basically because I only had to try it out when it was done. It is only a couple inches off the ground, but you can swing your legs up pretty high. It has been a big hit with our kids, their friends and the neighborhood kids.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Make It Monday: Easy Refrigerator Pickles

These refrigerator pickles are super simple to make! All you need is cucumbers & you choice of vinegar(s) and any optional spices, chilies or garlic that you want to add. And they are ready to eat in 24 hours. And what's even more fantastic is that when you eat the pickles, you can just keep adding more cucumbers to your brine and make more pickles. Just add more vinegar if it is getting low and you have non-stop pickles!

Easy Refrigerator Pickles

Simply slice cucumbers in rounds or spears and put into to a dish. Add in the optional herbs/seasonings/chilies/garlic. Pour vinegar over everything until it is submerged. Cover & refrigerate for 24 hours. The tanginess will increase the longer they are in the brine. Add fresh cucumbers when there is room and additional vinegar to make sure it is covered each time.

* I seasoned mine with dill fronds (from my garden) and garlic because they are the most appealing to my family over time.

** Since I have a variety of vinegars, I chose to make a blend of white, red, balsamic & rice wine vinegars for half of the container and fill ed the other half with plain white vinegar. I wanted to add some extra flavors that those other vinegars offer.

Make It Monday: Tomato & Zucchini Salsa

This is my mom's recipe and I often tell people about it when they are looking for either a thick recipe, another way to use up zucchini, or they just want something different to try. The recipe below is the one she gave me, but you cans always make it spicier if you choose.

Tomato & Zucchini Salsa
Yields: 13 pints

8 C shredded zucchini
4 C chopped onions
2-3 hot peppers
1 C green peppers
5 T salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 T cumin
1 1/2 T corn starch
2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 C vinegar
1 T cayenne
4 dashed hot sauce
1-2 T crushed red pepper
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp black pepper
2 (16oz) cans of tomato paste
10 C peeled tomatoes
1/2 C brown sugar (I have left this out before and it's still very good, if you do not want any sugar)

Combine all in a large slow cooker for several hours. Put in jars and process.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Go Back to School with Crayola, General Mills and Target

This back-to-school season will be as easy as 1-2-3 with a little help from General Mills, Crayola, and Target, the one-stop-shop for all your back-to-school needs! Head to the front of the class and check out where you’ll find even more coupons for back-to-school, recipes, and a special 2012 “Grocery Savvy Crayola® Back To School” Sweepstakes! Be sure to enter the sweepstakes for your chance to win one of the 700 Crayola® 8-count Washable Dry Erase Crayons or one of 20 Crayola® Dry-Erase Activity Centers Zany Play Edition.

I received the above (pictured) box of Cheerios from General Mills, Dry Erase Crayons from Crayola and $20 gift card from Target (to buy more cereal and school supplies) in hopes that I would mention them on my blog. (note: disclaimer) And they are so awesome that they are giving


So, why not head back to school courtesy of General Mills, Target & Crayola. And with all the back to school sales going on at Target right now, that $20 might just be all you need to buy all the school supplies you need. Well, until they get older and need those special calculators.

Available exclusively at Target Stores during the month of August:
  • Purchase specially marked Nature Valley® Crunchy Granola Bars, Pillsbury® Toaster Strudel® Pastries, and Big G Cereal packages and you could save up to $5 on Crayola products
  • Participating Big G cereal boxes will feature a fun Crayola coloring activity on pack
  • Save on General Mills products when you purchase specially marked Crayola 64-CT Crayons

I am going to try a new way to do a giveaway by using Google Docs rather than Rafflecopter. I will use to choose the # of entry. Each person has an equal opportunity to win. Leave me a comment on this post on your thoughts about using this way of entry vs. Rafflecopter.

WINNER MUST BE A FOLLOWER VIA GFC, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, GOOGLE+, OR EMAIL TO WIN. You don't have to follow all of those ways, but you can! :) You just need to follow one of those ways.

Disclosure: The product, gift pack, information, and additional sample have been provided by Crayola, Target, and General Mills through MyBlogSpark.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Head Back to School with Tiny Prints

Allergy Alert Cards

 Kids are heading back to school before you know it. My daughter will be heading back to school the Tuesday after Labor Day, but we have friends who head back to school next week and some other friends who are already back in school THIS WEEK! Where did our summer go?

Well, in case you are not quite as prepared as you had hoped, you can still place an order through Tiny Prints to create customized products that include Allergy Alert Cards, Paper Notebooks, Mom Contact Cards, Lunch Box Notes, Custom Stickers and Labels, Teacher's Stationary and many more items.

I have already ordered some custom labels to out on my daughters notebooks, folders, crayon box, marker box and inside her pencil box. I love that I was able to pick out the design that she liked the most, well, I actually bought 2 sets for her because the designs were so cute and it was even hard to narrow it down to 2 choices.
Personalized Paper Notebook
Personalized Labels

For writing this blog post about heading back to school with Tiny Prints, I was provided with a gift certificate in order to sample more products from them. (note, this is my disclaimer!)

I am really think about getting a notebook made for my daughter with pictures of our family on it. I think she would treasure that.

Lunch Box Notes
Teacher's Stationary

I am also very intrigued by the Lunch Box Notes. It might be fun to have those to put in her lunch box once a week as a surprise, or even in my husband's lunch box. I am sure he would love to have a little note from me.

Also, I was thinking ahead at teacher gift for Christmas and Teacher Appreciation Week and I am thinking the Teacher's Stationary might just fit the bill.

Thrifty Thursday: Re-use Pie Tins

Don't throw away (well, recycle if you aren't going to do this tip) the pie tins you have leftover after buying a store/restaurant made pie. Keep them, wash and re-use them. You can use them as your own personal pie tins, but they also make a great container to leave at a potluck or a to bring someone a gift of a pie.

Save the small tins you get with pot pies too! Those make wonderful mini pies. I always seem to have extra filling when I make a pumpkin pie and this is perfect. The mini pie tins also make wonderful items for a child's play kitchen.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Okaman Elk Farm

(& playground, & train ride & farmer's market & historical site & art/craft gallery)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Try-It Tuesday: Easy Turtle Craft

Here is the finished project. It is simple and easy to do with minimal preparation. Works well for toddlers, preschoolers and early elementary grades.

Gather your supplies - I used a paper plate (body), some craft foam (legs, head & tail), googly eyes, glue and tissue paper squares.

My daughter didn't want to make a two-tone turtle, so she just used the green tissue paper. We re-used tissue paper that had come in presents from a her spring birthday.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Make It Monday: Fresh Black Bean Salsa Recipe

Fresh Salsa Recipe
3 large tomatoes, chopped
1 med red onion, chopped
1-2 hot peppers, diced (you choose the amount & kind based on how spicy you would like it)
2 grilled corn on the cob (corn sliced off)
1 can black beans (rinsed and drained)
fresh cilantro (I used about 1/4 of a bunch)

Combine all ingredients and stir. You can serve immediately or allow to sit for a while so the flavors start to blend together.

**Often I like to add a small-medium chopped zucchini or yellow squash to the salsa. It adds a pleasant surprise and additional light flavor.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Get a Green Kids Crafts Box for only 1 penny! (+shipping)

Looking for a convenient way to engage with your kids once school starts? We are offering an amazing deal on our fun, creative, and earth friendly craft subscriptions: the first 100 people to subscribe with a monthly subscription get their first month for only 1¢!! (+ shipping)
Visit and enter the code 1CENTMBR at checkout to secure your September Discovery Box today!

Review: Rubbermaid Lunch Blox

I was so excited when I was asked to review the Rubbermaid LunchBlox set. Since I send lunch to school with my daughter or to work with my husband more than 50% of the time, this was perfect. Click here to see the full line of LunchBlox products including the Salad and Entrée kit, great for taking salads and leftovers on the go.

I really like this product (remember, this is my own opinion, I did not have to give a positive review, but I am.) I really like the size are perfect for what I usually pack in our lunches. I love that they are re-usable. I love that they snap together making for more efficient use of space. And I really like that the ice block is flat and snaps into place, which is very helpful for space and keeping specific items cold.

I love that it was clearly written and illustrated on the packing that these are BPA Free and are safe for the microwave, freezer, and dishwasher. When it is hard to find this information, a person can become easily frustrated. These are all things I would look for when purchasing new containers for lunches.

Some benefits of the LunchBlox set:

 Modular containers snap together in to save space in your lunch bag
 Kit includes specially designed Blue Ice™ pack that works with LunchBlox containers to keep lunches chilled on the go
 Containers are perfectly portioned for lunch foods commonly carried away from home
 Microwave-, dishwasher- and freezer-safe and BPA-free
 The Sandwich Kit includes a sandwich container sized for regular and specialty breads, two snack containers (perfect for yogurt or nuts) and a snack container (perfect for fruits, vegetables and

Here you can see what the containers look like when they are laid flat across (the blue ice pack is underneath the sandwich container) and how much room they take up in a flatter lunch box.

In a taller lunch box, you can stack them together and can snap all the pieces together. The smaller containers which are a 1/2-cup size (perfect serving size for fruits & veggies) snap in to the small spaces on top of all the other pieces.

I also love the the sandwich container (which is over 2.5-cups) is large. I placed a peanut butter & jelly sandwich in it in these pictures, but when I make a sandwich for myself it is usually packed with veggies, meat & cheese and becomes too thick for a sandwich bag, but there is ample room in this container for a very thick sandwich.

The value of the LunchBlox Sandwich Kit as $12.99. This is the suggested retail price. However, prices at retail may vary and are controlled by the retailer. The LunchBlox Sandwich Kit is currently available for purchase at, Target, Kmart, Kroger, Safeway, Bi-Lo, Winn-Dixie, HEB, other grocery stores and select Wal-Mart stores. There is a coupon on their website (as of the date of this post) for $1.50 off this set.

I was given the above LunchBlox set from Rubbermaid for the purpose of review. All thoughts, opinions and pictures above are my own. No compensation was received for this post.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Thrifty Thursday: My Coke Rewards

Recognize these? If you drink Coke products you might. These are rewards codes (already entered) that their packages carry that you can enter on to Each 12 pack has codes worth 10 points, where as a 20 oz. bottle has codes worth 3 points. By saving these and entering them, you can earn free things. For 40 points they will mail me a coupon for a free 20-oz bottle, or for 250 points I can get a coupon for a free 12-pack.

Now, I know that sounds like a lot of points, but check their site on a Wednesday and they will have a weekly deal. I have gotten a coupon for a 12-pack for as low as 75 points or a 50 free (photo) prints from a partner for 25 points.