July – 2012 – Frugal Novice
Monthly Archives

July 2012

5 Fantastic Sleep Tips for Pregnant Women

It’s a, well, uncomfortable fact that most women have trouble sleeping during their pregnancy. Studies show that nearly 78 percent of pregnant women suffer from insomnia. Frequent trips to the bathroom, leg cramps, baby kicks, discomfort and heartburn can all lead to restless nights and exhausted mornings.

In addition to physical discomfort, many women are anxious or excited about becoming a mother, which can also make it difficult to relax and fall asleep.

The good news is that there are five easy changes that any woman can make to improve their sleep quantity and quality during pregnancy.

Go to bed around the same time every night

Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is one of the most important things that women can do to sleep well during pregnancy. Women should try to go to bed and get up around the same time every day. This allows the body to become accustomed to a regular bedtime.


Regular exercise can make it easier for a pregnant woman to fall asleep. Exercise helps improve circulation and prevent nighttime leg cramps. However, women should avoid exercising late in the day. Late evening exercise can make it more difficult for a woman to fall asleep. Of course, it’s important to discuss this with your doctor to see what level of activity is healthy for you and your baby.

Be cautious about your diet

Foods that are very high in sugar and caffeine have a tendency to induce insomnia. The consumption of these types of foods should be limited. Women should make sure that they are eating a nutritious diet because that not only helps promote restful sleep, but it also provides nourishment for the growing baby. Oats, bananas, yogurt and fortified cereals are examples of foods that can help a woman sleep better.

Reduce stress

Stress can make it difficult for anyone to fall asleep; however, stress can have more serious effects on a pregnancy. Studies show that very high levels of stress may contribute to an increased risk of premature delivery or low birth weight in babies. More studies suggest that overly high stress levels can increase your heart rate, blood pressure and produce chronic anxiety. None of these side effects are good for your baby. That’s why pregnant women need to make sure that they keep their stress level in check. Physical activity, meditation, yoga or simply talking to a friend family member or counselor are all great ways to reduce stress.

Create a Relaxing Sleep Environment

Anyone who has been pregnant can tell you how uncomfortable it can be. If the environment you are trying to sleep in is also uncomfortable, this can lead to serious problems falling asleep. Make sure your bedroom feels like a place of sanctuary where you can focus on getting rest for you and your baby. Be sure that your bedding and mattress is comfortable and conducive to a restful night’s sleep. Try online shopping networks like ShopNBC to find a huge selection of quality bedding and mattresses, such as the world renowned Serta mattress.

Getting a full night’s sleep is important for anyone, especially for those about to bring new life into the world. Rest is essential for a healthy and happy pregnancy. If you follow these simple suggestions, you will be on your way to a great night’s sleep.

This is a guest post contributed by Leslie Silver, a frequent women’s health writer and proponent of a great night’s sleep!

SwimWays Spring Float {Giveaway!}

SwimWays Spring Float

Is it as hot where you live as it is here? With temperatures hitting triple digits on a regular basis, everyone I know is looking for ways to cool off – and of course, hitting the pool is one of the best options!

SwimWays has all sorts of fun accessories that make swimming & relaxing in the pool an even better experience – and their popular Spring Float is one that is versatile and easy to use.

  • With it’s patented spring technology, the Spring Float opens and closes instantly, allowing for quick set-up and easy folding for storage and transport in the included mesh carry bag.


  • A Jet Valve allows for easy inflation/deflation.
  • Soothing mesh cradles body contours in total comfort.
  • 66″ x 40″ lounge is the perfect size for everyone.
  • Available in a variety of styles and colors.

The Spring Float is available in a variety of styles and colors, including blue/aqua, white/aqua, pink/blue and aqua/blue so that you can choose which combination fits you best! The float retails for $29.95.

To see more about the Spring Float, check out this video:

One lucky winner will get their own SwimWays Spring Float!  This contest is open to all U.S. residents aged 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Monday, August 13. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Who, Why, What, Where, When to Learning English

Most of you that read my blog probably speak English as your first language. There are quite a few readers that come from different parts of the world and might not be native English speakers. I know I went to graduate school with several people from other countries, including a good friend from China and one from India. I hope information in this guest post will be helpful for those who do need to learn English!

Who takes the PTE Academic test?
The Pearson Test of English Academic (also known as the PTE Academic exam) is a computer-based, advanced English language proficiency exam. Administered by Pearson Language Tests, it is most widely used as an admissions test for English-language higher education programs. The exam is, at its core, designed to evaluate and certify the ability of non-native English speakers to participate in an English language courses at the university level. As a result, the exam is primarily taken by non-native English language students who are about to enter an English-speaking academic program.

Why should you take the PTE Academic exam?
The PTE Academic test was created with higher education institutions and their non-native students in mind. As the exam is calibrated to such a high standard, it is also aligned to the Common European Framework of Reference (or CEFR) and can certify candidates with English speaking abilities ranging from B1 to C2. As a result, in addition to being widely accepted as an approved certification of English proficiency by colleges and universities around the world, it is used by the UK Border Agency for Tier 4 (student visa) applications and considered the preferred test of the Graduate Management Admissions Council.

Importantly, as a computer based-exam, candidates can take the test with as little as 24-48 hours of advance notice. Also, because it is a computer-based exam, applicants can take the exam at one of the many Pearson Language Test certified testing centers around the world.

What exactly is the PTE Academic test like and what can I expect to see on it?
The PTE Academic is a computer-based test comprised of 20 different question types over four sections. Which four distinct sections are listed below, tasks often measure two skills at the same time. For example, a question may involve both listening and reading or reading and speaking rather than each part individually. Moreover, although the length of each section can vary, the PTE Academic exam is always 3 hours long. Because the timing for each section can vary, when the time is up on one section, the test automatically proceed to the next section. One preliminary section, provided as a warm-up exercise, is always included. This untimed personal introduction section is recorded but not graded.

The remainder of the tasks are divided into 3 general sections:

  • Speaking and writing, which can last from 77 to 93 minutes;
  • Reading comprehension, which can last from 32 to 41 minutes; and
  • Listening, which can last 45 – 57 minutes.

Throughout the exam, the PTE Academic uses real-life, academic-oriented situations. For example, Reading passages may include excerpts from textbooks or other aspects of student life. Likewise, listening passages may be reproductions of lectures or even recordings of actual speech samples collected from working university classrooms.

As a computer-based exam, results are available by e-mail in as little as five days. Scores are provided on a scale from 10-90, with scores below 43 considered insufficient to certify English proficiency for an academic setting and score above 84 considered exceptional. Scores between 43 and 84 are recognized the UK Border Agency and also correspond to the following CEFR scores:

PTE Academic Score         CEFR Score
43-58                                           B1
59-75                                           B2
76-84                                           C1

Where and When can you take the PTE Academic exam?
The PTE Academic test is available at many of the Pearson test centers operated around the world. Registration for the test is available online up to 48 hours in advance but up to 24 hours in advance by phone (and all phone inquiries should be made to the Pearson directly). Times and dates vary by location.

Fruit-Tea Smoothies Recipe

We’re big tea drinkers in our house. Pure Leaf Tea is a bottled tea with a fresh brewed taste – it’s great on its own but also provides a base for adding to it and making your own fun summer drinks to have for guests.

We decided to try out the tea on its own first to see what we thought – it really does taste fresh and is delicious over ice. Brian liked the unsweetened kind best, and my favorite (of course) was the sweet tea.

If you’re looking for a great summer drink to have when guests come over, be sure and check out the Pure Leaf Facebook page for tons of great recipe ideas! We decided to try mixing juice with unsweet tea, which added some fruitiness and sweetness to it and was very fresh and light – perfect for summer!

Here’s a recipe I think sounds SOOOO good, created by Gail Simmons (judge on one of our favorite shows, Top Chef):


Servings: 4

Prep Time: 10 minutes

  • 16 ounces Pure Leaf Iced Tea with Lemon or Pure Leaf Unsweetened Iced Tea, chilled
  • 2 cups frozen strawberries
  • 1 cup fat free vanilla ice cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

In blender, process all ingredients until smooth. Serve immediately in tall glasses and garnish, if desired, with fresh strawberries.

What kind of drink would you like to make with Pure Leaf Tea? I’d love to hear your favorite recipe – it’s HOT here in Texas and we can always use another way to stay cool & refreshed!

Note: I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Lipton Pure Leaf. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

Maternity Dresses for the Modern Mother-to-Be

When you are expecting a baby, most of your thoughts will be focused on preparing for and welcoming the newest member of your family. In the meantime, life must go on as usual. You will be invited to weddings and other formal occasions where your average maternity clothes just won’t fit the event. You may just want to slip into a beautiful maternity dresses so that you can enjoy the night out with your partner or friends. Including a few trendy tummy maternity dresses in your wardrobe will ensure that are ready to dress up in style and feel elegant throughout your pregnancy.

When it comes to modern maternity dresses, you will find that there are many different styles to choose from. Whether it’s cold or warm out, you’ll be able to find the dresses that you need. Plan ahead so that you are prepared for colder or warmer weather. There are both short sleeve and long sleeve dresses available in a variety of colors, styles and lengths.

To complete your maternity wardrobe, you may want to keep a few casual dresses and formal dresses on hand. Will you be attending a wedding while you are pregnant? Choose from among the many maternity wedding dresses available these days. For less formal occasions, opt for shorter dresses that can be worn over and over again throughout your pregnancy. Whichever style you choose Trendy Tummy Maternity
has you covered.

Keep in mind that you will be able to use the dresses that are already in your wardrobe during your first trimester. Dresses purchased for your second trimester can be used again after you have your baby and are getting back to your pre-pregnancy weight. Dresses for your third trimester will have to allow a greater amount of room, especially around the belly area.

To get the most use out of your maternity dresses, make sure that they hit the knee or below when you first purchase them. As your belly grows, the front hem of the dress will pull up, so leaving a bit of growing room will allow you to wear your dress for an extended period of time. At the same time, you don’t need to settle for tent-like maternity dresses that are not in the least bit flattering. Look for dresses that are made
from high-quality fabrics that stretch, so that they offer a flattering look that is also very comfortable. There’s no reason why you can’t have both comfort and style when it comes to today’s maternity dresses!

Skeeter Nut-Free Cookies Provide Allergy-Friendly Dessert Option

We’ve been thankful that neither of the boys have food allergies, but I know many families deal with this issue and it can be very scary for both parents and kids! Over the past fifteen years, the number of children with nut allergies has more than tripled, making it important—now more than ever—to consider snacks that are nut-free and nut-safe for everyone.

Skeeter Snacks are a line of nut-free cookies that anyone can safely enjoy.-

  • Created by two dads with nut-allergic children, Skeeter Snacks are produced using the highest safety standards in facilities that do not process any products containing tree nuts or peanuts.
  • The company is committed to the ongoing education of parents, educators, and others about the dangers of nut allergies. In fact, a portion of Skeeter Snacks’ profits supports the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network.
  • The snacks come in three tasty flavors, including Chocolate Chunk, Golden Oatmeal, and Skeeterdoodle. They’re available online and at major retailers.


The boys tried the Golden Oatmeal and Skeeterdoodle (snickerdoodle) the other day for a treat, and they were a hit! When you’re looking for a convenient dessert option, Skeeter Snacks are a great option that provides peace of mind and delicious cookies that kids and parents alike will enjoy.

Note: We received Skeeter Snacks cookies to facilitate our review. We were not compensated monetarily for this post. All opinions are honest and are our own.

What Would You Do if You Lost Your Cell Phone?


I know what I’d do – FREAK OUT! My phone is my hub of organization. It houses my work & home calendars, my contacts, photos and more. I think now with all that phones are capable of, it’s very common for people to rely heavily on their phones. What would you do if you lost or damaged your phone?

The complete Asurion protection package, available through most wireless companies, empowers you with protection, whether you need technology to secure your data privacy against growing mobile threats, need a device expert who’s just a call or click away, or coverage to replace your phone as quickly as the next day.

My husband (back when he was just my boyfriend) was apparently trying to multitask one day and somehow dropped his phone in the toilet. Ruined, instantly! I have a friend who wrote on Facebook just the other day about trying to take a photo by the pool when her son accidentally bumped her arm and, well, her phone went for a swim.

Needless to say, it’s very easy for something to happen to your phone, and Asurion provides protection for when something goes wrong.

Asurion has generously offered to let me host a giveaway – and the winner gets to PICK between a $40 Amazon gift card or a $40 iTunes gift card. Nice, right This contest is open to all U.S. residents aged 18+. Entries will be accepted until the end of the day (midnight Central) Sunday, August 19. By entering this giveaway you agree to the Official Rules.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Note: I received a gift card and one is being provided for the giveaway. All opinions in this post are honest and are my own.

What’s Your Dream Nursery?

When J was born, we had an adorable nursery set up for him with the CoCalo Alphabet Soup collection, pictured below (a retail pic, not our nursery). When C was born, we added a toddler bed for J and had everything blend together. The walls are colorful (light blue on two walls, green on two walls) and really make for a fun space.

For this baby, we haven’t set up a nursery yet. Right now our third bedroom is a playroom, and we’re wanting to sell our house, so we weren’t sure if it’d be worth all the time and effort to set something up just to have to move it. Plus, our babies room in with us in a bassinet for the first several months after they’re born, so it’s not a huge rush. Still, the nesting pregnant person in me has spent more than a little time looking at nursery ideas on Pinterest!

When I was first looking online for ideas, I found a nursery that’s more extravagant than my entire house put together:

Created by Little Crown Interiors and shared on ProjectNursery.com

Check out the fabric-draped ceiling and the custom dresser! To really get an idea of how custom and extravagant this room is be sure and check it out on ProjectNursery.com. I’m not a big silk and crystals kind of girl, but that changing table alone is AMAZING – the storage solutions will knock your socks off!

I don’t think rooms have to be extravagant to be beautiful, though – you shouldn’t have to invest with the US Money Reserve to line the walls with gold or anything. For us, we tend to like modern, clean lines, and those furniture pieces can be a little pricier, but I think you can also make a really big impact with the paint on the walls and vinyl wall graphics (or by painting a mural yourself with the help of a projector)! I also like the idea of shopping antique stores for unique items to make your baby’s nursery special.

What would your dream nursery include?

Wordless Wednesday: Swagger Wagon

We held off on getting a full-fledged minivan, buying a Mazda 5 in 2010 as a compromise. But now that we’ll soon have 3 kiddos, it was pretty much inevitable we’d need something bigger. Well, I felt that way, and Brian either agreed or got tired of hearing me talk about it. :) Regardless, we traded in the Mazda for a Toyota Sienna on Saturday. And, well, I kinda love it. I think Brian might, too.

Winners Galore :)

Well, I think this is the largest number of giveaways I’ve announced at once – it’s a lot of fun seeing this big list of people that have all won a great prize! :)

Yarnaholics Winner

“Teach My Baby” Kit Winner

Ritmo Audio Belt Winner

Ritmo Advanced System Winner

Signazon Custom Canvas Winner

Universal Organizers Winner

Jason’s Deli T-Shirt Winners

Jason’s Deli $25 Gift Card Winner

Exederm Moisturizer Winner

Cold Stone Gift Card Winner

Cozy Coo Sway Seat Winner

BEABA Prize Pack Winner

The Children’s Place $25 Gift Card Winner

Balboa Baby Shopping Cart Cover Winner

Join me for the Pulled Pork Twitter Party!

I love to write about food and recipes, so I’m especially excited to announce that I am co-hosting a Twitter party with the National Pork Board and The Motherhood!  We’ll be talking about recipe ideas for pulled pork – a tasty and versatile summer staple for potlucks, picnics and group gatherings – and giving away great prizes!

When: Thursday, July 19, 7-8 p.m. ET

Where: The party will take place on Twitter, using the #PlatesofPork hashtag.

Who: The National Pork Board (@AllAboutPork) and The Motherhood (@theMotherhood) will be hosting. You must follow both Twitter handles to be eligible to win prizes.

Prizes: Five prize packs will be given away throughout the hour, based on responses to trivia questions.  Each prize pack will contain a $20 Walmart gift card, slow cooker, cutting board, three-piece BBQ tool set and sauce bucket/brush (total ARV $116).  Official Rules are here.

RSVP: Let us know if you’ll be there! Click this link and press the orange “count me in” button on the right-hand side.

I hope you’ll join us! It’ll be a lot of fun, and you might just win one of the great prize packs!

Note: Thank you to The National Pork Board and The Motherhood  for this opportunity.  I am being compensated for my time as a co-host.  All opinions stated in this post are honest and my own. 

Fun Shutterfly Contest – Win a Trip to the Bahamas!

I’m a big Shutterfly fan to begin with (have you seen all their photo products? Their photo books are my favorite – and I’m a BIG fan of vacations, so it only seemed fitting to share this contest with y’all.

Long Live Summer Facebook Photo Contest Details: July 9 – August 12  – Multi-week summer themed photo sweepstakes with instant win prizes!

Win a trip for four to The Bahamas and a professional photo shoot so you’ll remember your vacation forever.  All you need to do is upload your favorite photo and caption based on the theme of the week.  Get a gift from Shutterfly just for entering! You can enter at any point during the 5-week sweepstakes period.


•       Week 1(7/9): Americana

•       Week 2 (7/16): Great Outdoors

•       Week 3 (7/23): Water Fun

•       Week 4 (7/30): Sports & Activities

•       Week 5 (8/6): Parties & Celebrations


•       Instant win prizes just for submitting a photo!

•       Weekly prizes (contestants can enter one time/week)

•       Weekly featured photos: up to 5 weekly entries will be selected from the gallery and featured on the Facebook fan page and awarded a $500 gift card on Shutterfly and a copy of the new Lonely Planet travel photography book.

•       Grand prize: trip for 4 to Bahamas, 4 nights, family photo shoot

Shutterfly Sweepstakes – Official Rules

Note: I am receiving a promotional item to thank me for this post.