2010 – Frugal Novice
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2010

Friendly Friday 12/31

Welcome to Friendly Friday! (And happy last day of 2010!!)

Remember, YOU can host the link list on your blog too! Just click “Get the code here…” at the bottom of the list. The code is different every week, so be sure to get the new code when hosting Friendly Friday on your blog. Hosting the list is a great way for everyone to get even more traffic to their blog.

Thanks for joining the Friendly Friday celebration hosted by Christi at Frugal Novice, Xenia at Thanks, Mail Carrier and Charla at Healthy Home Blog! We invite you to join us every Friday to make more friends in blogville, get more blog followers and follow other great blogs out there.

To join in the Friendly Friday celebration, include your family-friendly link in our list, follow the hostesses in the first 3 spots and then start blog hopping! Visit other blogs on the list and comment to give them some blog love. Then take a minute to follow them through Google Friend Connect – this is a good way to keep up with other blogs, but also lets us show support to each other! Please DO NOT list your giveaways here, links must be to either your homepage or your Friday posting with your blog title. All others will be deleted.

When people comment on your blog and let you know they’re a part of Friendly Friday, return the favor and follow them back. This way everyone gets traffic and followers out of participating, and it’s a win-win situation. We would love for you to also grab our Friendly Friday button and post it on your blog and/or in a post – the more bloggers that find out about Friendly Friday and participate, the better!

Spotlight on Friendly Friday Followers! We love your participation and want to show it! In addition to gaining followers, each week we’ll select three blogs at random and will feature links and a write-up for those blogs in the content of next week’s Friendly Friday post. There are so many seriously wonderful blogs out there, and this will be a great way to highlight some of those each week. Say hello to the lucky chosen 3 for this week (and feel free to stop by and give them a little extra love):

Colleen at Shibley Smiles and her husband have three adorable kids, and she says that “Her life, her love, her laughter is her family!” In her “Kids Say the Cutest Things,” she tells her daughter that maybe she got her coal for a gift. Hubby says that the daughter doesn’t know what coal is, to which their daughter replies, “Yes I do, it’s a store! Kohl’s!” Colleen also features giveaways & reviews, health & fitness posts, memes, and much more.

Tina at Family Literacy and You focuses on close family relationships through faith, reading and activities. She’s an Educational Consultant with Usborne Books and More, and Tina gives reviews on different books, learning packs, and reading activities. Book fairs, grants, and conferences for parents on “Raising Kids to Do Hard Things” are also some of the things you can read about on Family Literacy and You.

Tami at Little Moments Like This has been married to her childhood sweetheart for nine years, and they’re thrilled to be expecting their first child this next summer. They live and love the military life and currently live in Africa. Tami writes about their everyday life, blessings, adventures, and her interests include being an animal lover, educator and avid reader.

Now that you know about these 3 wonderful blogs, it’s time for you to join in! Add your family-friendly link below and we’ll see you back here every Friday! And don’t forget, you can grab the code to share the link list on your blog too.

All three hostesses appreciate followers through GFC and Twitter, and we’ll follow you back – be sure to leave a comment with your URL and/or Twitter username.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Oatmeal Spice Raisin Cookies Recipe, & a Frugal Christmas Gift

I love my coworkers, and wanted to have a little Christmas gift for everyone. With about 25 people to give to, that makes it a difficult task to do something affordable. I decided pretty quickly to make cookies, but I wanted to package them in a way that made them a little special.

I decided to make one of my favorite oatmeal raisin cookie recipes – it just seemed like it would be a good fit for Christmas (I’ll list the recipe below if you’d like to try them too). I made enough cookies for everyone to have four, and then stacked the cookies in cellophane bags tied with grosgrain ribbon (I’m kind of addicted to using this ribbon, by the way – especially for gifts). My favorite part of the gift, though, was making a special tag to go on the cookies. Here’s what I came up with:

And here’s what the final product looked like:

On the back of the cards I printed a watermarked pattern of a Christmas tree, so that it wasn’t just a plain white back. I thought this was a fun way to present something simple as a gift – and it was really affordable!

Oh, I almost forgot! Here’s the recipe, in case you don’t want to squint to read it on the card above. :)

Oatmeal Spice Raisin Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter flavored shortening
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1  1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup raisins

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, butter flavored shortening, brown sugar, white sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth and well blended.
  3. Combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt, and stir into the sugar mixture.
  4. Stir in the oats and raisins. Drop by about 1/2 tablespoon of dough onto parchment paper on cookie sheets.
  5. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until light and golden. After a few minutes out of the oven the cookies will flatten. Enjoy!

Christi

Holiday Gift Guide: OtterBox iPad Case Review

The Skinny: This case incorporates three layers of protection plus some advanced features. Stowing your iPad away for the night or for your commute? Simply remove the back polycarbonate cover and snap it over the face for touch screen protection.

There is a built-in stand, and when using your iPad on a flat surface, the silicone grip pads on the bottom will hold your device securely in place. This case was also designed to accommodate the optional iPad dock accessory! Take your iPad everywhere you go knowing that it is safe from the occasional drop, bump and/or scratch.

Our Opinion: We have used the OtterBox iPhone 4 Defender Series case and loved the protection it provides. This same great level of protection is provided for the iPad, which is very important to us since a) the iPad isn’t cheap and b) it’s got a relatively large screen that has the potential to be damaged.

The OtterBox iPad case has a black flexible sleeve augmented with sturdy white framing. It looks sleek and feels secure without being bulky.

There’s an easy-to-remove cover that allows access to the dock port for charging:

The polycarbonate cover can snap on the back of the iPad, letting you use the rubber feet for secure footing, or it can snap to the front to protect the screen when the device is not in use:

The case also has a built-in stand making it easy to use the iPad for viewing media, playing games, or browsing the internet.

The screen protector is almost unnoticeable once it’s in place, which is a big pro since I have had problems with other screen protectors and air bubbles before. It’s a little bit of a challenge getting it in place, but there are instructions and videos on otterbox.com to give tips or answer any questions you might have.

This case is a little pricey – $89.95 for the Defender Series. In my opinion, though, this is a good value for your money. Also, when you’re making a big purchase like the iPad, investing in something to keep it as safe as possible makes sense. We’ve already gone through one less expensive case that has fallen apart, but this case feels like it will last the long haul (and my experience with the iPhone case lends to that feeling too). It’s also stylish – we especially love the white/black combo we reviewed.

Buy it For: Any iPad owner. I think parents will especially appreciate the protection – I know Brian mentioned right off the bat that now we won’t have to worry when the boys want to play with the iPad. This case comes in five different color combination options, and there is also a Commuter Series case in black that’s available for $64.95.

Right now OtterBox is offering FREE overnight domestic shipping, with your case guaranteed to arrive by December 24. Order now and you can still have your gift ready for Christmas.

Note: I received an iPad case from OtterBox for review. All opinions in this post are honest and are my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this review.

Christi

Friendly Friday 12/17

Welcome to Friendly Friday!

Remember, YOU can host the link list on your blog too! Just click “Get the code here…” at the bottom of the list. The code is different every week, so be sure to get the new code when hosting Friendly Friday on your blog. Hosting the list is a great way for everyone to get even more traffic to their blog.

We will NOT have Friendly Friday next week for 12/24. Have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends! Friendly Friday will resume 12/31.

Thanks for joining the Friendly Friday celebration hosted by Christi at Frugal Novice, Xenia at Thanks, Mail Carrier and Charla at Healthy Home Blog! We invite you to join us every Friday to make more friends in blogville, get more blog followers and follow other great blogs out there.

To join in the Friendly Friday celebration, include your family-friendly link in our list, follow the hostesses in the first 3 spots and then start blog hopping! Visit other blogs on the list and comment to give them some blog love. Then take a minute to follow them through Google Friend Connect – this is a good way to keep up with other blogs, but also lets us show support to each other! Please DO NOT list your giveaways here, links must be to either your homepage or your Friday posting with your blog title. All others will be deleted.

When people comment on your blog and let you know they’re a part of Friendly Friday, return the favor and follow them back. This way everyone gets traffic and followers out of participating, and it’s a win-win situation. We would love for you to also grab our Friendly Friday button and post it on your blog and/or in a post – the more bloggers that find out about Friendly Friday and participate, the better!

Spotlight on Friendly Friday Followers! We love your participation and want to show it! In addition to gaining followers, each week we’ll select three blogs at random and will feature links and a write-up for those blogs in the content of next week’s Friendly Friday post. There are so many seriously wonderful blogs out there, and this will be a great way to highlight some of those each week. Say hello to the lucky chosen 3 for this week (and feel free to stop by and give them a little extra love):

Alessandra @ The Adventures of a Greek Italian Girl writes about Italian/Greek heritage/culture, vintage, animals, fashion, food, books, movie & beauty reviews, & more. If you need a smile, be sure to check out her post highlighting baby animal videos. You’ll find movie and television show reviews, posts about fashion, and as of late, recipes too. This blog has a little bit of everything!

Amanda @ Blogger Broadcast says her blog is a “blog for broadcasting consumer wise choices, such as products, services, businesses and blogging tips.” She shares tips on making money online and many links to blog events and hops. You’ll also find information on how to do things like create a signature to put at the end of posts. This blog focuses a lot on helping other bloggers become even better!

Kim @ Momma of 5 is, well, a mom of five. :) She has dealt with many struggles from early on in her life but has chosen to grow and learn from them, and depends a lot on her faith to get through everything. Her writing shares her family with readers, from everything to updates on her children to tougher issues like her father dealing with cancer. You really feel like you get to know her through reading her blog.

Now that you know about these 3 wonderful blogs, it’s time for you to join in! Add your family-friendly link below and we’ll see you back here every Friday! And don’t forget, you can grab the code to share the link list on your blog too.

All three hostesses appreciate followers through GFC and Twitter, and we’ll follow you back – be sure to leave a comment with your URL and/or Twitter username.  Hope everyone has a great weekend! Remember: We will NOT have Friendly Friday next week for 12/24. Have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends! Friendly Friday will resume 12/31.

Holiday Gift Guide- Powermat

The Skinny: The Powermat Wireless Charging System provides a simple, fast and efficient way to keep all of your favorite personal electronic devices charged. Enabling your devices with Powermat Receivers allows you to Drop and Charge them on any Powermat to experience wireless charging.

A magnetic attraction between every Receiver and each access point on every Mat assures that alignment is precise and the most efficient charging will occur.

Communication between the Mat and the Receiver allows the mat to deliver an exact amount of power for the proper length of time so that the transfer of power is safe and efficient and no energy is ever wasted.

Our Opinion: We love the Powermat system. For people like us who have multiple devices to charge, it makes it really simple (and less cluttered). I especially love that the Powermat monitors the charge of each device, providing just the amount of power it needs. This reduces energy waste and also strengthens the battery life of devices.

The receiver cases seem sturdy – the iPhone 3G case protected the phone well and was sleek looking, so I didn’t mind carrying that around with me. I keep the Powermat on my nightstand, and it is really easy to just set the phone down at night without even thinking about it.

At the time we received our Powermat, they did not have a case for the iPhone 4 (they do now) but I could still charge Brian’s phone by using the universal Power Cube receiver – it came with seven tips that charge a wide variety of devices.

The Powermat is reasonably priced, in my opinion. It is not an inexpensive device, but the convenience and features it provides make it worth the money.

Buy it For: Friends or family with lots of gadgets, or someone who’s on the go a lot.

Win It

One very lucky reader will win a Home & Office Powermat plus three receivers of their choice – that’s a value of up to $220! This giveaway is open to all U.S. & Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST on Thursday, December 16.

How To Enter

Mandatory Entry: Subscribe to my RSS feed and comment here telling me you’ve done so. If you’re already a subscriber, just let me know! :)

Bonus Entries

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

Note: Powermat provided me with a mat and receivers for review. All opinions remain honest and my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

Christi

Winners for EZ Sox, Mertado, Oompa Giveaways

More of the giveaways ended last night, so I got the fun task of finding out who won. As always, I used random.org to select the winners. And they are…..

Congratulations, Abby!

*******************************

Congratulations, Cheryl!!

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Oompa.com $25 Gift Card

Congratulations, Jennifer!!

Thanks so much to everyone who entered the giveaways. More to come later today!

Holiday Gift Guide: Bubble Talk board game

The Skinny: Bubble Talk is a new fast-paced family board game that asks players to match hilarious captions with funny pictures. A game that is as much fun if you are 8 or 80, the game begins when each player draws seven random caption cards. The judge for that round draws a picture card and players must quickly try to match the funniest caption they have to the picture. The player who makes the judge laugh the most wins that round. Each round provides comical, clever and creative results, guaranteed to keep everyone in the group laughing. Perfect for a small group of three or as many as eight players, each game includes 150 picture cards (4”x 6”) and 300 hilarious caption cards that allow for hours of game play.

Our Opinion: This is a fun party game to add to your collection. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned before just HOW much we love board games, but we really do. This game encourages creativity and is a lot of fun, I think especially with a large group of people.

Buy it For: Game-loving friends or family.

Win It

One lucky reader will win their own copy of Bubble Talk! Add this to your game collection or use it for a gift. This giveaway is open to all U.S. & Canadian residents. Entries will be accepted until midnight CST on Monday, December 13.

How To Enter

Mandatory Entry: Subscribe to my RSS feed and comment here telling me you’ve done so. If you’re already a subscriber, just let me know! :)

Bonus Entries

(Only valid after the required entry has been completed)

Please leave a comment for each extra entry – if you blog about this giveaway and get 3 entries, for example, comment 3 times.

Note: Techno Source provided me with a copy of the game for review. However, all opinions provided in this post are honest and are my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

Christi

Holiday Gift Guide: Threadless.com

The Skinny: Threadless combines an online art community with a highly successful e-commerce business model. They invite anyone in the world with an idea for a t-shirt design to submit artwork, which is voted on through our community of over 1 million registered users. Each week the company prints and sells the highest-scoring t-shirt designs and rewards community members thousands of dollars for their designs, slogans and reprinted favorites.

There are shirts for men and women, hoodies, and even onesies and shirts for infants, toddlers, and kids.

Our Opinion: Well, first let’s talk about the shirt we received to review – Space Race. J thought it was really cool with all the “rocket ships & Star Wars looking things.” The shirt was great quality, printed on an American Apparel tee, and the fabric was really soft.

Now, on to Threadless in general – I have to say, we are HUGE fans. Brian discovered Threadless years ago and has amassed a collection of around 50 shirts. Which he has organized by color in our closet. I kid you not. Threadless has a great program – if users submit photos of themselves wearing their shirts, they earn credits that can then be used to buy more shirts. Here’s just one of Brian’s photos from the site, for a shirt called Gaming Revolution:

When J was about 18 months old we bought him his first set of Threadless shirts – at only $5 each. Threadless often runs sales (and are running one right now, actually) that make shirts really affordable. I always got compliments when he would wear his shirts. They’re different than what you find in the big stores locally, and they have a playfulness to them that’s perfect for kids and grown-ups alike. Here’s one of J’s first Threadless shirts, called Boynado:

At the time I was pregnant with C, and we went ahead and bought him his first shirt too, called – appropriately – Hey, Let’s Go Do Fun Stuff:

I even have several Threadless shirts myself! I can’t recommend Threadless enough, honestly. Their selection of shirts is vast, their staff is amazingly nice (both online and in their Chicago store that we got to visit once), we love that the community is involved in both designing and voting on shirts, and the prices are affordable (especially with the ability to earn credits by posting photos).

Buy It For: Infants, toddlers, kids, and any young adults on your list. We’ve gotten my college-aged brother several shirts and he loves them – and you can do gift cards, too. If you’re looking for a bigger gift, Threadless also has the 12 Club (which I’ve gotten for Brian before a couple of years ago), where the recipient gets a new shirt every month for, well, 12 months.

Note: I received a shirt from Threadless for review, but all opinions in this post remain honest and my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.

Christi

Friendly Friday December 3

Welcome to Friendly Friday!

Remember, YOU can host the link list on your blog too! Just click “Get the code here…” at the bottom of the list. The code is different every week, so be sure to get the new code when hosting Friendly Friday on your blog. Hosting the list is a great way for everyone to get even more traffic to their blog.

Thanks for joining the Friendly Friday celebration hosted by Christi at Frugal Novice, Xenia at Thanks, Mail Carrier and Charla at Healthy Home Blog! We invite you to join us every Friday to make more friends in blogville, get more blog followers and follow other great blogs out there.

To join in the Friendly Friday celebration, include your family-friendly link in our list, follow the hostesses in the first 3 spots and then start blog hopping! Visit other blogs on the list and comment to give them some blog love. Then take a minute to follow them through Google Friend Connect – this is a good way to keep up with other blogs, but also lets us show support to each other! Please DO NOT list your giveaways here, links must be to either your homepage or your Friday posting with your blog title. All others will be deleted.

When people comment on your blog and let you know they’re a part of Friendly Friday, return the favor and follow them back. This way everyone gets traffic and followers out of participating, and it’s a win-win situation. We would love for you to also grab our Friendly Friday button and post it on your blog and/or in a post – the more bloggers that find out about Friendly Friday and participate, the better!

Spotlight on Friendly Friday Followers! We love your participation and want to show it! In addition to gaining followers, each week we’ll select three blogs at random and will feature links and a write-up for those blogs in the content of next week’s Friendly Friday post. There are so many seriously wonderful blogs out there, and this will be a great way to highlight some of those each week. Say hello to the lucky chosen 3 for this week (and feel free to stop by and give them a little extra love):

Jodi at A Mom Having Fun is a SAHM & WAHM, and she and her husband have three children. The youngest two are twins, a boy and a girl!  She loves blogging and enjoys doing reviews and giveaways. Jodi also does some website programming from home and has a “go green” business that she runs from home as well.  She’s a very busy lady!

Karen @ Tots and Me is a SAHM who started college intending to major in Early Education but ended up staying home with their son.  She stays busy homeschooling their three youngest children and doing what she loves, teaching!  Karen has a lot of great homeschooling ideas on her blog as well as information for those wishing to homeschool their children.

Nancy @ Finding Blessings in Everyday Life is a wife and mom who works full time at a non-profit agency and also finds time to look for the best deals on things she buys.  She then spends the money she saves on their three kids.  Nancy shares about her many savings, great deals, and her blessings on her blog. She’s another very busy lady!

Now that you know about these 3 wonderful blogs, it’s time for you to join in! Add your family-friendly link below and we’ll see you back here every Friday! And don’t forget, you can grab the code to share the link list on your blog too.

All three hostesses appreciate followers through GFC and Twitter, and we’ll follow you back – be sure to leave a comment with your URL and/or Twitter username.  Hope everyone has a great weekend!

Holiday Gift Guide: Me & Goji Custom Artisanal Cereal

So here’s something you’ve probably never thought of getting for a Christmas gift: cereal. That’s probably because you’re thinking of the boxed varieties lining the grocery store aisles – Me & Goji takes cereal to a whole new level.

The Skinny: This site allows you to create your own custom blend of ingredients or choose from some of their recipes. The ingredients are all high-quality and many of them meet special dietary needs. They are the first custom cereal & granola company where you can design your own cereal from 60+ all-natural ingredients, name your creation, and upload a picture right to the label!  Cereal then arrives in a Cereal Capsule, designed for portability and keeping your mix fresh.

Our Opinion: My opinion wavered back and forth prior to receiving our cereal to try. First, I love the concept. Anything custom immediately appeals to me, because I know it’ll be JUST what I like. When I went to the site, I was initially put off a little by the pricing. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill cereal, and the prices do reflect the quality of ingredients provided. I wondered if the value of the product would be worth the cost. In designing my cereal blend, I became really excited to receive it – I got to add pistachios, pecans, cashews, dried strawberries, dried apples, dried pineapple, and more.

When we received the cereal I was completely surprised with how big the canister is. The site says that the canister holds almost twice as many servings as the typical cereal box, but I really felt like it would be even more than that.

We were really impressed with the quality and freshness of the ingredients. With everything included, I really felt like this could serve as a trail mix of sorts – in fact, I plan to order another container of cereal with that in mind. I’d love to grab a bag of it to snack on at work – I don’t think you even need milk to enjoy this. So, overall impression is this: the pricing is a little high, but the value is definitely there for your money. This is a company that seems to take pride in every aspect of the product, and it really shows.

Buy it For: Mom & Dad, any foodies you know, or anyone with special dietary needs. This could be a really fun gift especially with the customization options for packaging.

DISCOUNT CODE: Enter FRUGALNOVICE at checkout to receive a 10% discount. This discount is good through December 10.

Note: Me & Goji provided me with cereal to review, but all opinions provided in this post are honest and my own. I was not compensated monetarily for this post.