May – 2011 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

May 2011

Subscribe and Win – Bonus Entries!!

$100 Cash Giveaway

Have you entered our big Subscribe & Win Giveaway yet? If you haven’t, make sure you get your chance to win $100 Cash! If you have entered, I’m giving you the chance to receive up to THREE bonus entries into this great giveaway!

For today only, you will get one extra entry for each of the following: (make sure you have already done the mandatory entry)

1. Tweet about the giveaway using this tweet:
Subscribe & Win! Enter to #win $100 cash from @frugalnovice! http://bit.ly/kIPzK0 #giveaway

2. Post this giveaway to your Facebook FAN wall (not your personal page):
Subscribe & Win! Enter to win $100 cash from FrugalNovice http://bit.ly/kIPzK0 (you must tag my Facebook Fan page in that post)

3. Blog about this giveaway, linking back to the original giveaway post.

You can do one, or all of those extras! Please leave a comment for each one that you do on the original giveaway post, with the link to your tweet, Facebook post, or blog post. Write “1 Day Bonus Entry” somewhere in that comment.
Bonus entries are valid today, May 20 only. Deadline for these entries is 11:59 PM PST on May 20.

Friendly Friday May 20

Welcome to Friendly Friday!

Remember, YOU can host the link list on your blog, too! Just get the InLinkz code and copy it directly into your post. 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 to get even more traffic to your blog and make Friendly Friday more beneficial for everyone.

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):

Have you ever felt like the hum-drum of daily life could use to be prettied up now and again? That is exactly what Brittany at My Decoupaged Life manages to do with posts about her adorable 2-year-old, Mackenzie, and her creative and fun crafts and tutorials. As well as the step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow, Brittany’s personality comes through in each of her posts and you’ll soon find yourself eager to join her in making your own tutu, hooded towel, binky clip, felt game board and more.

A cloth-diapering mama to her wonderful little guy, Kat at Kat’s Adventure Book has a way of making you feel like you personally know her and her amazing family. Whether a post about their daily adventures, life as a librarian, reviews and giveaways, or her “crafty goodness,” you’ll find a little bit of everything… and cute pictures of Peanut to highlight them all.

Lesa at Dusty Up Diaries focuses on the funny side of life and, whether we know it or not, there is a lot more absurdity in the world that we think. Her blog celebrates just about anything that amazes her or that she comes across in her “adventurous doings and dabblings.” Come find out what nature, food, travel, garden, photography, family and more this Texas city girl is doing while living her dusty life in the wilds of Oklahoma.

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 get the InLinkz code

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!



The Company Store Review

One thing I love about shopping online is that I have products available I’d never be able to find in my town. The Company Store is one of those sites that I could have a field day with! From bedding, to bath items, to furniture, and more, they offer products with a great blend of traditional and modern. Here are a few of the things from their site that I’m in love with:

So great, right? I would looooove to make over our master bedroom and bath with a little shopping spree on The Company Store’s site.

I had the opportunity to review Green Earth Quick-Dry Bath Sheets from The Company Store, and was glad to get a chance first-hand to see what the quality of their products is like.

These towels are awesome. That may sound like overkill when talking about towels, but seriously, I wish right now there were a way to let you feel how incredibly soft they are.

When comparing these with our current towels, the difference was like night and day. I even checked other new towels when I was at a local store, and still the towels from The Company Store were much softer – like something you’d expect from a visit to the spa.

The bath sheets are a great size – when wrapped around me under my arms, the towel went all the way down to my knees. The absorbency was really impressive, too; the “quick-dry” in the name is accurate, because they seem to pull water much better than our old towels.

If you’re looking for a way to spruce up your home, whether it’s with furniture, (awesome) towels, or other home decor items, I’d highly recommend The Company Store!

Note: The Company Store provided me with the bath sheets for review. All opinions in this post are honest and are my own.

Swankini Swimsuits – Review & Giveaway

Summer is almost upon us, and ladies, you know what that means – it’s swimsuit season. For a lot of us, swimsuit shopping is something we avoid like the plague. I haven’t gone swimsuit shopping in years and had stuck faithfully to an unflattering suit because I just didn’t want to deal with trying to find a new one that would fit how I wanted it to, and hide what I wanted to hide!

Now, though? That old suit won’t see the light of day. I’ve discovered Swankini, and I’m really excited about my new swimsuit! ?Lois McCourt created the line of swimsuits after she wasn’t able to find a suit that fit and flattered her like she wanted. This swimwear all has a slimming lightweight lining, and is made from high quality fabrics. Swankini swimsuits are available in a wide range of colors and are made in the USA.

I received the LaRuche style in Onyx, with the yoga-style bottoms to review. The yoga bottoms are great, with a waistband that can be folded over or up depending on your preference. The band flattens the stomach, which is something I think most women are looking for.

The top is SO great. There’s a really snug-fitting lining that smooths , and then the outer layer of the suit skims over the bottom layer. The ruching helps camouflage, too – and the neckline with the halter top is very flattering too. I love this suit and will get a lot of use out of it! I would recommend this to anyone who wants a slimming, high quality swimsuit.

Swankini also has other styles available, in a variety of colors. Here are the other style options:

There are three options for bottoms – the yoga bottom I previously mentioned, traditional, or skirted.

One of you lucky readers will get a Swankini swimsuit of your choice (ARV $125)! This contest is open to all US residents. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight CST) Tuesday, May 31.

Mandatory Entry: “Like” Just Alyse on Facebook, then comment here letting me know you’ve done so.

(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 2 entries, for example, comment 2 times.

  • Sign up to receive my newsletter {1 extra entry}
  • Sign up to get my updates in your e-mail {1 extra entry}
  • Subscribe to my RSS feed {1 extra entry}
  • Follow me on Twitter {1 extra entry}
  • Follow me through Google Friend Connect (over in the sidebar) {1 extra entry}
  • Click the Facebook “Share” button below this post to share it on your FB wall {1 extra entriy}
  • Click the “Tweet” button below this post to share it on your Twitter feed –  can do up to two times per day {1 extra entry per tweet}
  • Blog about this giveaway and link it back here; comment with the URL to your post {2 extra entries}
  • “Like” Frugal Novice on Facebook {1 extra entry}
  • Unlimited Extra Entry Option: Leave a NEW comment on as many other posts as you like and get one entry for each comment (entering another giveaway counts too). Be sure to let me know which posts you commented on below.

Note: Swankini provided a swimsuit for review, and is providing the swimsuit (top & bottom) for the giveaway. I was not compensated monetarily for this post. Any opinions are honest and my own.

Menu Plan Monday May 16-21

Menu Plan Monday

If you saw my post from a couple of days ago, you know C was sick. By Friday night he seemed back to normal, and we had a blissful few hours Saturday morning where the boys both felt great and had a lot of fun playing together.

In case it isn’t obvious, you’re looking at two bona fide superheroes in the photo above. J has on Toy Story Socks, Lightning McQueen jammies, a cape, a bucket, and some freebie sunglasses I brought home from a conference. C decided he wanted to be a superhero too, so he’s got on a smushed cowboy hat, Lightning McQueen shades, his favorite blankie/cape, and an M&M fan/”light saber.” Love my little superheroes!

So, after a few hours of playing… J got sick. He’s still running a fever now and is just as pitiful as C was. I hate seeing my kids sick! They are really missing playing together, too. Hopefully he’ll feel better tomorrow! We were really thankful for Netflix today – he was stuck in our bed but at least he enjoyed a steady stream of entertainment!

Our menu plan has changed now that J’s still sick – Brian and I were supposed to have a date night tomorrow night, but that’ll be postponed to another night.

Monday: Breakfast in a biscuit – one of our favorite modes of breakfast! Cook scrambled eggs and sausage or bacon in separate pans, leaving the eggs slightly runny since they’ll cook more in the oven.Take biscuit dough and press one biscuit into each section of a greased muffin tin, spreading it thin and up around the sides. Pile crumbled sausage or bacon about 1/3 of the way in the biscuit, then top with scrambled eggs. Bake following directions from the biscuit packaging, and about 5 minutes before the timer goes off, top with shredded cheese.  If you want to dress them up a little, sprinkle some chopped parsley on top before serving.

Tuesday: I’m trying a new recipe for chicken tenders from Betty Crocker & Bisquick, and potato wedges from allrecipes.com, along with my favorite cooked carrot recipe.

Wednesday: I’m trying two of the Pioneer Woman’s recipes – White Enchiladas and Mexican Rice. We’ve loved every recipe of hers we’ve tried, and these sound SO good… hoping they are!

Thursday: Leftovers!

Friday: I think pizza is always the perfect choice for a Friday, don’t you? :)

Speaking of food, my Burger King gift card giveaway ends tonight – and there are FOUR winners!

Have a happy & healthy week, everyone!

Brad’s Deals – Review

I love finding a bargain. I guess that’s why I’m one of those out at 3am the day after Thanksgiving, and why I love thrift stores and garage sales. There’s a kind of thrill to the hunt for finding the best deal on an item.

I used to have more time on my hands, back when we were newly married. Now I’m always busy with the boys, or, y’know, blogging, so going out on hunting expeditions for deals doesn’t happen very often.

That’s part of why I love the internet, though. I can sit from the comfort of my couch and, with a few clicks, take care of a large chunk of shopping. Finding deals on the internet, though? That can take some time.

That’s where Brad’s Deals comes in. This is a site that consolidates deals like no other I’ve seen before – the people at this site are on top of things, posting all the time to keep readers constantly up to date on what’s available. Taking a glance right now, I see a deal posted just 29 minutes ago. On a Sunday.


If you don’t see a discount that works for you in the most recent posts, you can also browse by category or by store, making it easy to find exactly what you’re looking for. There are online coupons and printable coupons, which broadens the range of finding something that works for your needs.

Another feature I really like about the site is that you can sign up for alerts on certain stores or categories. Looking for a deal at Target? Just sign up, and Brad’s Deals will send you an e-mail when Target deals or coupons are posted.

They also have a blog that provides tips on saving money along with occasional opportunities to win prizes – right now there’s a chance to win Photoshop CS5, valued at $699!

I got the chance to review Brad’s Deals, so I was bargain hunting with a purpose. I wanted to find an item I really wanted at a huge discount – because it’s no good saving money if you’re spending on things you don’t really need or want, right? There were a lot of deals that appealed to me, but then I saw it:

I’ve loved Boden for a long time, but their pricing has always been out of my comfort zone, so I don’t make a habit out of checking their site.

I’d been looking for a good brown purse for a while, so after being alerted to their sale from Brad’s Deals, I decided to check out their purse selection, and I found a great deal on the perfect purse for me:

Leather, nice enough to carry to work but still casual… and I have a thing for satchels. I never would’ve bought it for $148.00, but at 40% off it was a much better deal. Plus, see that little note at the top of the screen? I also got an additional 10% off, plus free shipping. My total for the purse was $79.20, more than 45% off. This is a high-quality leather purse that I’ll carry for years (I’m loyal to my purses like that), so it was amazing to find it at such a deep discount.

What deals are you looking for? Go check out BradsDeals.com and get started finding discounts and coupons that can help you save!

Note: I received a gift card to facilitate a purchase of one of the deals listed on the site, so that I could review the process. All opinions in this post are honest and are my own.

NOVICA Review

Having never traveled outside of the United States, I don’t have a collection of treasures collected from around the world. NOVICA helps me bridge the gap between my Texas town and the rest of the world – it puts products made by artisans in other countries right at my fingertips. From their site:

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.

I got the chance to review products from NOVICA. I had a really hard time deciding what to pick because there was just so much to pick from! They have a wide variety of sterling silver jewelry that is just gorgeous, and I loved a lot of the home decor items too. I finally ended up choosing two things. The first is a leather wrap bracelet from Bali. It came beautifully wrapped:

and had two cards with it – one explaining the product, and another handwritten by the artisan:

Here’s the bracelet – I love the design, and it’s really well-made!

I also reviewed a bag from Thailand. Its packaging was just as pretty:

And it came with the two cards as well:

The bag has vibrant colors, and the design was created using a batik technique.

I love that I got to read about each of the artisans that created my items, as opposed to something mass-produced. On NOVICA’s mission page you can read about some of the artisan’s lives that have been changed by selling their items through the site.

NOVICA has a new program where people can host at-home parties that both support artisans and allow them to earn credits toward products. The site for the program, NOVICA Live, also shares information on how to become a consultant and go around showcasing handcrafted products.

I’d highly recommend shopping at NOVICA – you’ll find unique gifts for friends and family, and you’ll be supporting an artisan around the world at the same time. You can “like” NOVICA on Facebook and follow them on Twitter to keep up with their latest news.

Sick House

Well, really just C is sick – we’re hoping the rest of us don’t catch it too! He woke up in the middle of the night Wednesday night/Thursday morning crying, but I figured he just had a bad dream so I brought him to bed with us. Thursday morning when we woke up he felt really warm, so I took his temp and it was running around 100.6. Then…

he threw up. If you know me from childhood you know I have a big gag reflex. Like, HUGE. If anyone in the vicinity even seemed like they were about to get sick, I was outta there, because I knew if I heard it I’d be throwing up too.

It’s so funny how parenthood changes you. C threw up, and my first impulse was to stick out my hand and catch it so it didn’t go all over him. He threw up many more times yesterday, and each time worry for him wiped out any other reaction to it.

We learned a lesson with all of this, too… stomach bug + red Gatorade = bad idea. We were worried about him getting dehydrated and Gatorade seemed like a good idea… not so much! Let’s just say a lot of laundry got done yesterday.

Last night was a rough night – he wasn’t throwing up, but he woke up a ton during the night, so neither of us got much sleep. He is on the mend now, though. Crackers, some of his favorite PBS shows, and blue Gatorade are making him a happy little guy.

I guess this is just the time of year where everyone gets sick – notes have been sent out at the boys’ day care about different things going around. Has your family managed to avoid getting sick so far this year?

Friendly Friday – May 13

Welcome to Friendly Friday!

Remember, YOU can host the link list on your blog, too! Just get the InLinkz code and copy it directly into your post. 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 to get even more traffic to your blog and make Friendly Friday more beneficial for everyone.

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):

Have you ever felt like the hum-drum of daily life could use to be prettied up now and again? That is exactly what Brittany at My Decoupaged Life manages to do with posts about her adorable 2-year-old, Mackenzie, and her creative and fun crafts and tutorials. As well as the step-by-step instructions that are easy to follow, Brittany’s personality comes through in each of her posts and you’ll soon find yourself eager to join her in making your own tutu, hooded towel, binky clip, felt game board and more.

A cloth-diapering mama to her wonderful little guy, Kat at Kat’s Adventure Book has a way of making you feel like you personally know her and her amazing family. Whether a post about their daily adventures, life as a librarian, reviews and giveaways, or her “crafty goodness,” you’ll find a little bit of everything… and cute pictures of Peanut to highlight them all.

Lesa at Dusty Up Diaries focuses on the funny side of life and, whether we know it or not, there is a lot more absurdity in the world that we think. Her blog celebrates just about anything that amazes her or that she comes across in her “adventurous doings and dabblings.” Come find out what nature, food, travel, garden, photography, family and more this Texas city girl is doing while living her dusty life in the wilds of Oklahoma.

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 get the InLinkz code here

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!



Let Lysol Help You Fight Allergies – Giveaway

Helping to protect your family from allergens could be easier than you might think! Learn about tips for reducing allergens in the home from our friends at Lysol. Join head Lysol® Microbiologist Joe Rubino and nationally-renowned Pediatrician Dr. Laura Jana on an interactive tour of a real home as they show you some of the most important places where you can take action to reduce allergens in your home.

I have a ton of allergy issues in the springtime – the west Texas winds just carry everything right to us, I guess! We already use (and love) Lysol Disinfecting Wipes around the house quite a bit, but I never thought about the fact that they can reduce allergens too! There’s actually a lot about allergens I didn’t know before heading over to the Lysol community – there are a ton of resources there, including a downloadable PDF guide to help you allergen-proof your home and a tracker to see what allergen levels are like in your area, among other tips and tools.

Lysol is going to help one of my readers get a head start on reducing allergens with a great Prize Pack! The winner will receive:

  • 1 container of LYSOL® Disinfecting Wipes
  • 1 container of LYSOL® Disinfecting Wipes: Dual Action
  • 2 Allergy Defense Pillow Protectors
  • Dust Pan and Brush

This contest is open to all US residents. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight CST) Thursday, May 26.

Mandatory Entry: Watch the video above, and comment letting me know a fact you learned from it!

(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 2 entries, for example, comment 2 times.

Note: Lysol is providing the prize pack for giveaway. I did not receive a product or any other form of compensation for this post. Any opinions provided are honest and are my own.