Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Petcakes Review and Giveaway

My children absolutely love stuffed animals. My little girls especially love stuffed animals and they are usually carrying one around with them throughout the day. Their room is full of stuffed animals, and many of them end up all over the house. They sleep with them, play with them, lay with them, and even take favorite ones to the store when we go out. When I saw the cute little stuffed animals from Pet Cakes®, I knew my little girls would love them. So, I was thrilled when Pet Cakes® agreed to sponsor a review and giveaway on my blog.

A little bit about the company: Pet Cakes® are manufactured by the Well Made Toy Manufacturing Corporation, which was founded by Fred Catapano. What started out as one man’s passion for creating soft toys has exploded into a booming business with the release of some of the most well-known and most-loved stuffed toys in the world. Catapano continues to use his creativity to add insights into the development of new toys, and his company has become a success with branches located across the globe. Matt Nuccio, who is the co-owner and creative director of Design Edge Inc., has partnered with the Well Mady Toy Manufacturing Corporation on the Pet Cakes® brand.  Pet Cakes® were created in 2010 and feature a soft, cuddly plush animal combined with a creative design. Each little stuffed animal sits snugly inside a cupcake wrapper, and resembles a real cupcake. Children are delighted with the fun design and cuddly little animals with sweet faces.  They are perfect for giving as gifts, party favors, stocking stuffers, or anytime throughout the year. 

My Review:  We received two Pet Cakes® from the series 2 Forest Animal Collection. The little guys we received are Roco Coco, a raccoon, and Bamboo Berry, a panda. As soon as I opened the package, my little girls were excited to play with them. They soon became the new favorite amongst the sea of stuffed animals, and were taken to bed with the girls and played with for hours. 

I thought that they were incredibly unique and very cute. I love the concept of Pet Cakes®, which is that they resemble real cupcakes. The toy comes in two pieces, a stuffed animal with a little attached hat that looks like frosting and a place for the animal to sit, which resembles a cupcake wrapper. When you tuck the stuffed animal into the bottom piece, it truly does look like a little cupcake.

I found the stuffed animals to be well-made with quality materials. My children definitely give their toys a work out, especially stuffed animals that are carried and dragged around throughout the day. These little guys have stood up to the challenge of being played with over and over by four children, and they still look and feel as soft and cuddly as when they arrived.
All of my children liked the Pet Cakes®, but I think they have both found a special place in the heart of each of my little girls. They are now sitting in their new place of honor, with my children's other loved stuffed animals, where they are snuggled and played with on a regular basis. 

Buy It: You can buy Pet Cakes® at www.petcakesetc.com They are currently having a special. If you buy four or more Pet Cakes® Collectible toys, you will also receive a free four pack of Collectible Minis. You only pay an additional $1.99 for shipping and handling. 

Win It: Pet Cakes® has generously offered my readers the chance to win one Pet Cake® from the series 2 Forest Animal Collection (the company will choose the animal). 

Enter: Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. 

Good luck!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Enter to Win a Two Night Stay at Estes Park for a Family-Friendly Vacation

Have you been dreaming of a vacation with your family? Maybe to a place that was full of beautiful scenery with as much excitement or relaxation as you wanted? If so, this is the giveaway for you! This event is being hosted by Two Little Cavaliers and has been provided by our sponsor Estes Park Central.

Win a two night stay in Estes Park Central
The winner will be able to enjoy a two night stay in gorgeous Estes Park, Colorado. The family-friendly vacation can be planned for anytime between April 8th to April 22nd, which means it is just in time for Spring Break. The winner will receive accommodations for up to six people (over a $550 value!).

 Estes Park View 
Imagine snuggling by the fire while glancing out the window and seeing this picturesque view of the Rocky Mountains. While staying at a Estes Park Vacation Rental, this can be a dream come true. 

While staying at this Premier Vacation Rental, guests are immediately immersed in all of the comforts and surroundings of home, plus so much more. Excellent customer service and luxury are of utmost importance to Estes Park Central, so guests can enjoy a personalized vacation with luxurious accommodations. Estes Park offers ultimate vacation rentals that will meet your individual needs, whether you want to experience excitement and plenty of activities or simply sit back and relax.

Each vacation rental offers the following amenities:
  • TV and DVD
  • comfortable living areas
  • fully equipped kitchens
  • luxurious bedding (twin, queen, or king-sized beds)
  • fireplaces
  • free wireless Internet

. Estes Park Central Condo

About the Condo 

This newly constructed luxury condo features two bedrooms and two bathrooms, as well as a Jacuzzi bathtub, queen-sized sofa bed, washer and dryer, gas fireplace, DVD and TV with cable, gourmet kitchen, and queen-size and king-size beds. You can experience ultimate relaxation while sitting on the deck in a private hot tub as you view the beautiful mountains.

The condo is located just three miles from Rocky Mountain National Park. Directly on the property is the historic Marys Lake Lodge. At the lodge you can choose to dine in either of the lovely restaurants. In the Grandmaison's Chalet Room you will find an exception dining experience in an elegant atmosphere, with superb cuisine that features a European flair. At the Tavern, you can find a  casual dinging experience with delicious meals and live music every night during the summer. Throughout the rest of the year, live music continues Wednesday through Sunday evenings at the Tavern.

For a bit of rejuvenation and relaxation, step inside the Escape Spa and Salon. Here you will find an ultimate salon experience. 

(Just a note that this condo is not pet-friendly, but they do offer other condos and vacations homes that are.)

Things to Do

While this vacation spot is perfect for simply relaxing and taking in the scenery, there are also plenty of activities for those who want a more adventurous vacation. You can take in the sights of Rocky Mountain National Park while hiking, bicycling around the lake, or viewing wild-life in the area. There are also plenty of chances for shopping, cross-country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, and downhill skiing just 45 minutes away at Eldora Mountain Resort. In the town, you can go horse-back riding, boating, fishing, or indoor/outdoor rock climbing.

Giveaway: Winner will receive accommodations for six people for a two night vacation to be used between April 8th and April 22nd.

Rules: This giveaway is open worldwide, but the winner must provide their own transportation.

Enter: Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, but the thoughts and opinions expressed are always my own. Sometimes, this blog receives items for free for the purpose of writing a review and/or hosting a giveaway. Some posts may be paid sponsored posts. These factors to not determine the type of review posted, and the reviews are always factual and based on my own opinions.Please visit my Disclosure Policy for more information.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Worrying When You're a Mom

Last week I went to the bus stop to pick up my son, and he got in the car (without a coat on). After trying to convince him it was cold out and he should be wearing a coat, I tried asking him how his day was. I received the usual response, which is usually something as descriptive as "OK" or "Fine."  Some days I am told "Leave me alone." or "Stop asking me all these questions."

My son has had some trouble recently, which he won't really discuss with me. I found out from another parent that he was being teased on the bus, which is apparently how all of the older children treat the younger ones. Apparently he had the audacity to try and sit near the back, which is only a privilege for the older kids that have been deemed "cool." Yes, I went to school once. Yes, I know a lot of older, "cool" kids sit in the back. Yet, I do not think that just because my son wanted to sit in the back one day that he should be continuously teased and told he isn't allowed to sit with anyone (apparently he tried to sit with another child after this and no one would sit him). This is unacceptable to me, and not just because he is my son. I went through some pretty intense bullying as a child, and I never want to hear that my children are experiencing the same type of bullying or teasing. I was almost ready to pull him off the bus, because I think it is ridiculous for that type of behavior to continue and I don't want him upset over it either.

He has started sitting with another boy around his age, and things have seemed OK. I still wanted to check, because I worry, as parents usually do. This is how the conversation unfolded:

Me: "How was the bus ride?"
Son: "Fine."
Me" "Was anyone bothering you on the bus today?"
Son: "No."
Me: "You can tell me if someone was bothering you."
Son: "I said it was fine! Why do you keep asking me all these questions?"
Me: "Honey, I am just worried about you and want to make sure no one is bothering you or teasing you."
Son: "Well, the only thing actually bothering me right now is YOU, and all your questions."

OK, point taken on that one. I decided to drop the conversation after that.

Yet, all I can do is worry about him and the effect this has on him. My son is unique and special, he has several behavioral/emotional issues that I will discuss more in the future.  He can be incredibly sweet, but also incredibly sad and even very angry, which usually results in destruction and violence. He uses up all of his strength just to make it through each day at school. He tries to please people, which is actually kind of manipulative (he lies often). Yet, he still tries to do his best in school, as much as he can. He really holds himself together, which has amazed me this year. So, once he comes home, he is finally able to really be himself and kind of let loose all those tensions and things that bothered him that day. This usually results in a very chaotic house after he comes home, but I know he is trying so hard to "keep it together" all day.

He is not open about what happens at school, but I can see the way he acts at home and know when something happened that bothered him. I know I will not let my son have to deal with bullying every day, and if it results in me removing him from the bus, then that is what I have to do.

Have you ever dealt with your child being bullied? Did your child talk to you about it? What did you do (call the school, call the parents, remove your child from the situation, talk to your child about bullying and standing up for himself or herself)?

Friday, February 24, 2012

New Coupons Available

Here are some new coupons available to print. 

Simply click on the link and you will be taken to the page where you can print them!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, but the thoughts and opinions expressed are always my own. Sometimes, this blog receives items for free for the purpose of writing a review and/or hosting a giveaway. Some posts may be paid sponsored posts. These factors to not determine the type of review posted, and the reviews are always factual and based on my own opinions. Please visit my Disclosure Policy for more information.

Awesome Deal on Canvas Photo Prints

Canvas People offers you the opportunity to add any picture to a canvas. You could choose family pictures, wedding photos, or any special picture that you would like transformed into a canvas.

Check out these great deals, simply click on the picture to be taken to the website. Canvas People is offering a free 8 X 10 canvas or $35 off a larger size! They are also offering discounts on select sizes of canvases or free shipping. With these savings, you could get the larger size you want for a cheaper price or purchase two instead of one.

Disclaimer: the post above contains affiliate links, but the thoughts and opinions expressed are always my own.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Calling All Bloggers: Free Events to Join

If you want to gain new followers and receive more entries in giveaways, participating in a group giveaway hop is great exposure for your blog and your giveaway. More entries into your giveaways is also great for the sponsors, so I definitely recommend joining in on a group event when you can. It is always nice to follow the linkys and find some giveaways to enter, as well! Who doesn't like to have the chance to win some awesome prizes and support other bloggers?

Here are a few awesome events coming up.

The first one I want to mention is a free giveaway event, and you don't even need to supply the prize!

Win a 2 Night Stay in Estes Park Central

Hosted by
Two Little Cavaliers, this giveaway gives readers the chance to win a two night stay at Este Park in Colorado. The winner will be able to stay in a luxury condo that is fully equipped with a Jacuzzi bathtub, gourmet kitchen, cable, and plenty more. The area is beautiful with picturesque scenery and plenty of chances for outdoor activities, including skiing, fishing, horseback riding, and more.

Dates: The giveaway will run from 2/27 to 3/6.

Details: Bloggers will be given a link to the Rafflecopter form and further details to include in the post. Each blogger will receive a link to their Facebook fan page on the Rafflecopter form.

Cost: Signs ups are free! You just need to blog about the event and help promote the giveaway.

Read more about this event and sign up!

Crazy Dog T-Shirts Review and Giveaway

My husband and I usually dress pretty casual, which really means we never dress up. We both live in jeans and t-shirts. Sometimes, I spend most of my day in sweats and a tank top or t-shirt. It's not that I don't like to dress up, but I just find it easier to dress simpler and stay comfortable. Since T-shirts are one of our go to every day pieces of clothing, I was thrilled when Crazy Dog T-shirts agreed to do a review and giveaway on my blog.

A Little About the Company: Crazy Dog T-Shirts is a New York based company that offers quality T-shirts at affordable prices. With submissions from customers and the use of their own imaginations, they are able to create unique and funny T-shirts that are appealing to men and women. They say that the foundation of their company is built on their customers, who continuously provide them with new ideas and inspiration for T-shirt designs. They take pride in their customer service, so they offer fast service with high-quality silk screen printing done quickly and efficiently. Their shirts truly bring out the kid in everyone, with funny designs and humorous quotes. From shirts that keep you prepared for the zombie apocalypse to ones that are inspired by some of the most well-known 80's movies, they offer a large selection of tees.

They offer a great selection of items for men, women, and even children!

Look at this cute onesie for babies.

Check out the cool St. Patrick's Day tees.

 Fan of all things retro? the 80's? movies? They have plenty of vintage styles to choose from. 


My Review: I browsed through the website for a few days (really a few days, I am so indecisive) before I decided which shirt to choose. They offer so many unique styles, with everything from funny T-shirts to ones inspired by 80's movies. I finally selected the Irish Girls Drinking T-Shirt, which can be found in the Girls T-shirt section of the website. We were lucky enough to be able to select two T-shirts (one from Crazy Dog T-shirts and one from their sister site Nacho Mama Tees), so I had my husband choose one he liked. He has to deal with me spending quite a bit of time on the computer, so I figured it would be great for him to pick out something he liked, as well. He selected the Scuba Steve Scuba Squad T-Shirt, which can be found in the Movie section of the website.

The T-shirts are soft and comfortable. I really like that the shirt is a bit longer and doesn't ride up. The stretch of the shirt gives it a nice fit, which makes it fit well without being too loose or too tight.  I like to have shirts that feature a flattering fit, and this shirt will definitely be one of my new favorites. I love the color of my T-shirt, and it is perfect for me to wear on St. Patrick's day. I did not previously own a fun St. Patrick's day shirt, so I thought this one was something that would be funny and reflect my sense of humor. My husband also likes his shirt. My husband is a big fan of Adam Sandler and the T-shirt instantly reminds me of the movie Big Daddy.

But It: You can purchase T-shirts from Crazy Dog T-shirts on their website. There are plenty of different styles to choose from, and some only cost $6.99! They also have a sister site, Nacho Mama Tees, where they offer affordable and funny t-shirts, as well.

Win it: Crazy Dog T-Shirts is offering my readers the chance to win a gift card to be used at www.crazydogtshirts.com.

Prize: $15 gift card to Crazy Dog T-Shirts

Rules: Open to US residents 18 and older who have not received a promotional item from Crazy Dog T-Shirts within the last 90 days. Those who enter cannot own a review/giveaway blog of their own.

Enter: Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

New Fisher Price Toy and Baby Coupons

Some awesome new Fisher Price coupons have just been released. If you think you or someone you know may use them, make sure to print them as soon as possible. Simply click on each coupon and you will be taken to the page where you can print them!

$5.00 off Fisher-Price Sing and Giggle Mickey
$20.00 off any Fisher-Price babygear swing
$10.00 off any Fisher-Price babygear
$5.00 off Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Puppy's
$5.00 off Fisher-Price Kick & Play Piano Gym
$5.00 off Laugh & Learn Love to Play Puppy
$5.00 off any Little People toy
$10.00 off Fisher-Price Musical Table
$5.00 off any Imaginext toy purchase of $24.99 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links, but the thoughts and opinions expressed are always my own.

Do you ever just stop and take in the moment?

I was reading a post on another blog today about appreciating every moment and taking time to actually realize everything you have. I was then on Facebook when I came across a picture with a story attached, which I immediately searched to see if it was based in truth. The story told the tale of Joshua Bell, a famous musician, who played violin incognito at a Washington subway station. Many passersby simply kept walking. While some did stop and drop money in the bucket, they usually never even stopped to really listen to the music he was playing. Many children were fascinated by the music, but they were ushered ahead by their parents. After researching this story, I discovered that it is true.

 "Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he's really bad? What if he's really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn't you? What's the moral mathematics of the moment"

Gene Weingarten, a writer for the Washington Post, enlisted the help of Joshua Bell as part of a social experiment. The goal was to see if people believed that something was better simply because of the way it was presented. In this case, it came down to the venue--the difference between a street musician playing at the subway and a famous musician playing in a concert hall. Joshua Bell had just played a concert that had sold out, with seats that cost $100. Now, he was playing the violin in a busy subway station during morning rush hour. They wanted to see if people would stop and see the beauty of the music, even though it was an inconvenient time when people were rushing to work.

While a few people did stop and listen, a crowd never formed and most never stayed for very long. Over 1,000 people simply passed by, without a glance, like he was invisible. Only one person recognized him. Weingarten said, "In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run -- for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look." When he stopped playing, there was no applause or acknowledgement.

This experiment is intriguing, as it helps show that many people simply do not stop and take a moment to enjoy the simple things in life. Everyone is always so busy--rushing from work to school to finish errands to return home. Days are filled with schedules, meetings, assignments, errands to run, etc. One part of the story really got to me. Weingarten said, "Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away."

Every time a child stopped, the parent rushed the child forward. One woman who spoke about it afterwards said that she was rushed for time, which is most likely what many of those who passed by would have said afterwards. Yet, it really made me think. We, as adults and parents, are incredibly busy and our children are part of what keeps us busy. We have to keep up with our priorities and schedules, but we also have to keep up with theirs. Yet, children do not ask for these busy schedules. Sure, they may enjoy participating in events or team activities, and those things are good for the child, but do we ever let our children stop and take a moment to enjoy something beautiful? Do we ever stop and let ourselves appreciate beauty in the world? Of course, this experiment does not account for everyone, it was only one subway station in one city, but I would expect that the results would be similar in most areas throughout the country.

In the article, one passerby reported that a homeless person died in that subway station, and no one even looked up--as if that person was invisible too. It makes me sad that we are no longer able to see things that are plainly in front of us, whether it be something that is sad or beautiful. As Weingarten put it, "Let's accept that we can't look at what happened on January 12 and make any judgment whatever about people's sophistication or their ability to appreciate beauty. But what about their ability to appreciate life?"

"If we can't take the time out of our lives to stay a moment and listen to one of the best musicians on Earth play some of the best music ever written; if the surge of modern life so overpowers us that we are deaf and blind to something like that -- then what else are we missing?

I think we are missing quite a bit. Many people talk about the stories of passersby ignoring the sad or unfortunate things in our world, and now it appears that we are so busy that we also ignore the beautiful things, as well. I think that it is time that many of us stopped ignoring the things in this world. There is sadness, but there is also beauty.

There are beautiful moments that escape us far too quickly, and we never even realize that they are gone, because we never even stopped to notice in the first place.


Weingarten, Gene. "Pearls Before Breakfast." Washington Post [Washington DC] 8 Apr 2007, n. pag. Web. 21 Feb. 2012. < http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/04/AR2007040401721.html >.

 Snopes: http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/bell.asp

Tuesday Twitter Hop

Welcome to the Tuesday Twitter-pated hop hosted by myself and Learning to Limit!

We don't really have any rules, but we do ask that you follows both hosts, which are listed in the number one and two spots in the linky. We will follow you back. I suggest following a few people (or everyone) and if someone follows you, consider following him or her back. Please feel free to grab our button to share the hop on your blog. If more people link up, then that means more followers for everyone! 

Thank you for visiting!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Day 2 Day Printing Giveaway

As a freelance writer and blogger, I understand the importance of being able to promote the services you offer. No matter which type of business you run, getting your name out there with the right promotional tools is one key to helping your business grow. Having professional business cards makes it easy to advertise your business anywhere you go. When you decide to start advertising your business, the products you use give potential clients a first impression of your business. While you can type up your own business cards and print them out, you will most likely get a better response if you have professional business cards that feature an eye-catching design. At Day 2 Day Printing, you can find everything from business card printing to flyers to event programs.

Day 2 Day Printing is an online printing company that specializes in creating attractive and professional promotional tools that make advertising your business easy. Founded by two of Los Angeles's premiere printing companies, Day 2 Day Printing is a one place stop for all of your promotional and advertising needs. You can choose from business cards, calendars, bookmarks, flyers, postcards, greeting cards, and more. With attention to detail and the use of high-quality materials, you will receive products that are attractive and affordable, and will help make your business stand out from the rest.

Day 2 Day Printing is offering two lucky readers the chance to win 1,000 business cards. With that amount of business cards, there are endless possibilities for how to use the cards as an effective promotional tool. You could distribute business cards to each of your clients, so they can easily refer your services to others if they are pleased with your work. You could also pin the cards to advertisement boards in local coffee shops, banks, community centers, or libraries.

Business cards are ideal for all types of individuals including: 
  • freelance writers
  • graphic designers
  • bloggers
  • photographers
  • accountants
  • home improvement businesses
  • small business owners
  • daycare providers or babysitters
  • and everyone else who would like to promote their business!  

To stay up to date with all of the current services and offers from Day 2 Day Printing, you can follow them on their blog, Facebook page, or Twitter.

Prize: 2 winners will receive a set of 1,000 standard size full color business cards

Enter: Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. The first entry is to leave a blog post comment letting me know what you would use the business cards for.

Rules: Open to US residents that are 18 or older.

Disclosure: I was compensated for this post, but all thoughts and opinions expressed are always my own.

Art Activities for Children

My little ones love art projects, especially my little princess. She can sit at the table and color or cut shapes out of paper for hours. She always has new ideas for crafts and art projects on her own, but I sometimes try to find new ideas for projects, as well. My oldest son has never been a fan of crafts or art projects, but I have noticed that he is becoming a bit more interested in doing some things. (Of course, he usually likes to draw zombies, but at least he likes to draw something now.) My two littlest ones do try to join in, so I figured they all may like to do a fun art project. I decided to look at Pinterest for some new ideas, and I found some really neat art projects for children.


What are your favorite art activities to do with your children? I like the finger paint ideas, and I think the crayon project is very interesting. The mess free painting from the top picture looks very neat and I may give that a try. We have not done a ton of art projects lately, so I think we may try one of these soon.


Celebration Giveaway

9k fan celebration

Couponing in PA has reached 9,000 Facebook fans and she is having a giveaway to celebrate! I have teamed up with her and several other bloggers to bring you this awesome giveaway. I enjoy giving back to my readers and I think cash prizes or Amazon gift codes are always a great item to win! I also enjoy supporting fellow bloggers and I am excited to be part of this event to celebrate Couponing in PA's success.

Prize: Winner's Choice of $50.00 PayPal Cash or Amazon Gift Code

Dates: 12:01 AM (EST) on 2/20 to 12:01 AM (EST) on 2/27

Please see the terms and conditions page at Couponing in PA for more details. The only change to these details is that it is open worldwide (if not in US or UK then the prize by default will be Paypal).

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Doing Reviews and Giveaways on Your Blog

Since I started blogging a few months ago, I discovered that one of the biggest ways to drive traffic to your site is by doing giveaways. While it would be nice to have more readers, I am not only using this blog as a way to receive an income. I know that I may never achieve what other bloggers have, and I am OK with that. I have a place where I can express my thoughts and opinions, without being asked to revise what I said or write something differently, which often happens when you are a freelance writer.

Yet, I still find the whole prospect of reviewing items and offering giveaways fun and exciting. I love trying new products, and I always have an opinion that I am willing to share. I also enjoy being able to give back to my readers through giveaways, whether I sponsor the giveaway myself or a company sponsors the giveaway.

Find Sponsors

Business 2 Blogger: Since I started blogging, I have found a few websites that are designed to bring businesses and bloggers together. I first posted about Business 2 Blogger, which I still think is an interesting site. I like their site and I have checked the job board a few times. I have not made any connections through that site, but I still think it may be worth looking into for other bloggers.

Bloggerdise: The newest site I found is Bloggerdise. I admit, at first I was afraid to contact companies about doing reviews or giveaways. My blog was still fairly new, so I didn't think anyone would be interested in sponsoring a review and/or giveaway on my blog. When I finally started contacting companies, I shared information about my stats, knowing that my rank was not as high as other top mommy blogs. Yet, I do think my numbers are steadily growing and I have noticed an increase in traffic to my site. I was pleasantly surprised to find that some companies were willing to sponsor reviews and giveaways on my blog. I currently have a review and giveaway in the works right now that came from Bloggerdise. I definitely recommend this site, whether you are a new blogger or have been blogging for years.

Etsy: Another site I recommend is Etsy. There are many talented and creative people who have shops on Etsy, and some of them are very willing to sponsor reviews and/or giveaways. Some shop owners want to know your stats and the number of visitors to your site, while others are more concerned that you at least have some amount of traffic. If you visit the teams section on Etsy, you can find groups that are designated to bringing shop owners and bloggers together. I have had some success with Etsy. I have both been contacted by shop owners and contacted some myself. I truly appreciate the interest that they have shown in my blog, and some have even given me compliments and asked to work with me because they like my blog, which means a lot to me.

A special note about Etsy, make sure to contact shop owners outside of the conversions system on Etsy. I was not aware of the policies at Etsy when I first started browsing the site, but I have learned that you are not supposed to use the message system to ask owners about doing reviews/giveaways. So, the best thing to do is to look up the company online through a Google search and try to find an email address or other contact information.

Find Products You Like: Are there products that you really like using? Are there items you have seen advertised that you would like to try? Don't be afraid to send the company a message. Look on the company's website and find PR contact information (if there is no marketing email address, you can try using the contact form on the site). Write a nice pitch letter that explains why you want to review their products and what you can offer (How will it benefit the company? What are your stats? How will you promote the review and/or giveaway?). Some companies may not be interested, but you may be surprised to discover that many will be willing to work with you.

Participate in Group Giveaways and Network With Other Bloggers

The best advice I can give is to join in on group blog giveaways. There are plenty of wonderful bloggers who love getting a large group of bloggers together to offer their readers a chance to win something big. Browse through some of the blogs you read and check out their events or giveaways section, and I am sure you will find a few giveaways that you can participate in. While this option does require you to pay some money out of your own pocket, you will get the chance to have your blog shared on numerous other sites that have a lot of traffic, which will increase the amount of followers you have.

There are also many wonderful groups on Facebook for bloggers where people share information about writing pitch letters and potential companies to contact. They also give each other encouragement and support. You will also be able to find information about blog events, blog hops, and just have a place to chat with other bloggers.

I also recommend networking with other bloggers through sites like Mom Central, Mom Blog Society (MBS), and Mom Bloggers Club (MBC). With MBS, you can read through the forum and find other great blogs to follow and possibly an event to participate in. You can also join the Blogger Opportunities group and apply to review products and do giveaways. (I have since learned that Mom Blog Society now charges a monthly $5 fee to be a member of the Opportunities Program. Each blogger will have to decide if that fee is worth it to them. Personally, I think it is better to do your own research and pitch companies yourself, rather than paying the fee.)  At MBC, you can also read through the forums, meet other bloggers, and join their Bloggers Program group.

Join Social Networking Sites

Once you gain a few followers, make sure to keep posting content, so your new followers will become readers. Don't forget to sign up for all of the social networking sites, such as Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter. Sponsors like to know your numbers, and they want to know that it will benefit them to have you do a review and/or giveaway. If you have multiple accounts with social networking sites, you can let sponsors know how many people you will be able to reach.

Determine Your Fee's

One other point to consider is whether to charge or not. I know some bloggers charge to do reviews, while others do reviews for free. Some also do it for free if the sponsor hosts both a review and giveaway. Another approach is to say you will do a review if the sponsor pays for one month (or more) of advertising on your blog.

As a newer blogger, I do not charge for reviews. It is a bit odd for a freelance writer to not charge for what I write, but I am more interested in making connections and finding great products to review at this point. I also love doing giveaways, so my readers have the chance to win something nice. I currently offer sponsors one month of free advertising if they host a review and giveaway on my blog.

I do charge for giveaway only posts, and treat those as sponsored posts. When I am reviewing an item myself, I am able to receive a free product which I consider payment for my time. If I only do a giveaway, I do charge a fee. It takes time to create a well-written blog post, run and promote the giveaway, and monitor the entries. As a blogger, whether you or new or not, you should be compensated in some way for your time. You are helping the business gain exposure with a post on your site, so you should decide what will make it worthwhile for you to do the reviews and/or giveaways on your site.

Decide What Type of Items You Will Accept

You also need to determine what products you are willing to review and what prizes you will accept for giveaways. If you are not a fan of a certain product and a sponsor wants you to do a giveaway, don't be afraid to turn down the offer. You should stick with products that are things you would actually use in your daily life. Readers want to know you are endorsing a product honestly and truthfully, so make sure to complete a fair review on all products you review.

For giveaway prizes, some bloggers will only accept items that are worth $20 or more. For my blog giveaways, I am not as concerned about the total amount the prize is worth, but if it is something worthwhile that I think my readers would like, and something that I would endorse. Some people who find something wrong with a product will contact the sponsor and let them know before posting the review. In these cases, the sponsor will most likely ask for the review to not be posted or they may offer to send another product. You should let sponsors know your terms up front, and let them know that your reviews will be honest and accurate.

Have a Disclosure Policy

The final point I want to mention is to make sure you have a disclosure policy on your blog. By law, you must have a disclosure policy on your blog, and you must also disclose in every review that you post that you received an item for free or were paid to complete the review. You can create a free disclosure policy at http://disclosurepolicy.org/.

Do you do reviews and giveaways on your blog? What tips would you offer bloggers who are new to doing reviews and giveaways?

Friday, February 10, 2012

$50 PayPal Cash Giveaway

Uncreative Mommy, Unorganized Mommy of 3, and Nifty Mom have teamed up with a bunch of other bloggers to bring our readers a $50 PayPal Cash Giveaway! I enjoy giving back to my readers, and I think cash is an awesome prize!

To enter the giveaway, simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below. While there are plenty of entries on this giveaway form, make sure to try and show each blog that signed up some appreciation by trying to do as many entries as you can.

Thank you for visiting! Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Calling All Bloggers: Signup for a PayPal Cash Giveaway!

Are you interested in gaining more followers? Joining in on a group giveaway is a fantastic way to help gain new followers for your blog, increase your traffic, and give back to your readers. You can sign up to co-host the PayPal cash giveaway from Uncreative Mommy and Unorganized Mommy of 3 today!


To join this giveaway, fill out this form.

Sign up to co-host by 2/7/2012


Sign up with your Facebook and Twitter URL's for just $2.50
Add up to three additional links at only $1.00 each

Send payments to lena.blair@yahoo.com by 2/10/2012

Giveaway Dates: 

 2/10/2012 to 2/17/2012


The total amount of the prize will be calculated once all of the signups are complete. The cash prize will be sent via PayPal.


All participants must post about the signups and giveaways once it has started.

Extended Breastfeeding--How Long is Too Long?

I was reading an article the other day about extended breastfeeding, where the mother decided she wanted her body back and had decided it was time to wean. I can partially understand the feelings, but I do support child-led weaning and would not try to force a child to wean if he or she was not ready. However, I do applaud her for breastfeeding for three years, as that is something many women do not achieve today. While I cannot say I completely agree with her on this topic, I can say that she did what is recommended--breastfeed for as long as both mother and baby are happy.

Her post stirred up quote a controversy on a popular site for mothers, with women on both sides of the extended breastfeeding issue. I was quite taken aback at some of the comments. There were people who said everything from disgusting to stating how wrong it is to breastfeed that long. There was one comment in particular that I noticed, where the mother stated weaning earlier was better for the child's independence. She even tried to claim that by weaning earlier (as early as 8 months of age), the child will be more self-reliant and not depend on assistance from others. I also read comments that stated women who breastfeed for longer periods of time are horrible parents, because it is wrong to give your child everything they ask for. A few other comment's stated that we should not breastfeed longer than a year, because that is only something that should be done in third world countries.

I am honestly appalled that women feel the need to attack others and make comments that are so hurtful and just plain wrong. While the woman who wrote the post did ask for opinions, I do not think that entitles anyone to belittle another person or pass judgement on others. There are ways to get your point across without degrading others and being disrespectful of another person's choices.

I try not to engage in debates in public forums, because as I have said before, it does little to change the other person's mind. Yet, I have my blog and it is the perfect place for me to write and get out my feelings over something like this. I also hope that maybe some people will read my blog and learn something, or take away some knowledge that they may not have had before. Perhaps, someone out there can look at extended breastfeeding in a different way than he or she did before, after learning more about it.

There is no set time when breast milk suddenly loses its nutritional value. 

I hear or read many comments from people that state breast milk is no longer nutritional after six months, one year, etc. In reality, breast milk changes as the baby grows. The milk will continuously change to meet the need's of that baby, whether the child is six months old or two years old. To state that only women in third world countries should breastfeed for extended periods of time is wrong, as there are a wealth of nutritional benefits if the baby is allowed to continue nursing past one year, regardless of what country a person resides in.
Breast milk continues to provide substantial amounts of key nutrients well beyond the first year of life, especially protein, fat, and most vitamins.(Dewey)
 Human milk expressed by mothers who have been lactating for >1 year has significantly increased fat and energy contents, compared with milk expressed by women who have been lactating for shorter periods. During prolonged lactation, the fat energy contribution of breast milk to the infant diet might be significant. (Mandal, et al.)
 Breastmilk is, after all, milk. Even after six months, it still contains protein, fat, and other nutritionally important and appropriate elements which babies and children need. Breastmilk still contains immunologic factors that help protect the child even if he is 2 or older. In fact, some immune factors in breastmilk that protect the baby against infection are present in greater amounts in the second year of life than in the first.
 We must point out that, at the present time, the official policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics is not to put any limit on the duration of lactation. Moreover, a recent review of biological versus cultural aspects of weaning suggested that, from an anthropologic standpoint based on primates studies, “breastfeeding a child for 2.5 to 7 years is normal for our species.” (Newman)
 From head to toe, babies who breastfeed for extended periods of time are healthier overall.(Sears)

Extended breastfeeding will not make a child less independent.

While many try to claim that breastfeeding for an extended period of time will make the child less independent, that is simply untrue. Children receive nutritional benefits from breast milk, but they also use it as a source of comfort and security. Some studies even suggest that extended breastfeeding helps the child become better adjusted socially. Like one of the commenters mentioned, they want their child to be self-reliant at a young age. To this I say, why? While it is important to teach a child to be independent, why is everyone in such a rush to make their children so independent? Just because children turn one or two does not mean that they still do not need comfort and care when they are upset. Children need to be supported through difficult times, and if breastfeeding provides them with comfort, then how is that a bad thing? When newborns cry at night, most parents would run to their side to offer comfort and reassurance. Children learn that they can depend on their parent's to be there for them and to come when they need them. When the child decides they are done breastfeeding, then they have made a choice that will help further their independence.

As Jack Newman put it, "And when a child makes that step himself, he knows he has achieved something, he knows he has moved ahead. It is a milestone in his life of which he is proud....Often we push children to become ‘independent” too quickly. To sleep alone too soon, to wean from the breast too soon, to do without their parents too soon, to do everything too soon. Don’t push and the child will become independent soon enough." 

It is also worth noting that many children who are extended breastfed are very independent and self-reliant. The child is having his or her needs met, which benefits the child. Maybe children that get hurt will cry to their mother and ask to breastfeed, but wouldn't a child also come to the mother and cry for a hug if he or she got hurt? Breastfeeding is simply like giving a hug--it is providing comfort. The child is reassured and comforted, then can move on. Breastfeeding will not harm a child's independence and make the child become more reliant on his or parents, it is simply a way to continue providing nourishment and comfort, while also helping the child gain independence, knowing his or her needs are being met.

Extended breastfeeding will not make children think they can get everything they ask for. 

In regards to giving the child anything he or she asks for, breast milk does not fall into that category. Would parents deprive their child of food or water, because if they give in and give it to their child, then the child will think they can always get what they want? Of course not, so what is the difference when it comes to breast milk? Breast milk is for baby humans, and cow's milk is for baby cows. While many people do drink cow's milk, breast milk is created for the child. It provides nutrients and immunities that no other milk can compare too. When it comes to teaching children that they can't have anything they want, just because they demand it, that should be left to things like movies, toys or junk food, not something that provides nourishment and comfort.

Women who breastfeed for an extended period of time are not doing it to be perverted.

One of the meanest comments I have read stated that women who let their child breastfeed for longer than one year are sick and twisted, and obviously they must be seeking some sexual perversion out of it. Breastfeeding a child has little to do with anything sexual, and is all about nourishing and comforting a child.

There are still benefits for both the mother and child. 

I have written before about the benefits of breast milk, and there are still benefits for both the mother child from extended breastfeeding.  (Bonyata and WHO)

These are just a few of the benefits, to read more visit KellymomKathy's Commentaries, or the World Health Organization.

For the child: 
Less chance of stomach upset and diarrhea
Receives antibodies and immunities that protect the child
Decreased risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and type-2 diabetes as an adult

For the mother:
Decreased risk of ovarian, uterine, and endometrial, and breast cancer
Weight loss is usually easier
Reduced risk pf rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis
In some cases, fertility is delayed

It is recommended. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers breastfed for at least one year, and then continue to do so until the mother and baby are ready to wean. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for two years or more.The La Leche League recommends breastfeeding for as long as both mother and baby want to continue.

Extended breastfeeding should be the norm. 

In the article "A Natural Age of Weaning" by Katherine Dettwyler PhD, she found that there really is no average weaning age because it varies so greatly among different nations. Based on the research she compiled,the natural weaning age for humans should be between 2.5 and 7 years of age.

I think in our era of industrialized nations and mainstream lifestyle it is often overlooked that extended breastfeeding should be the norm. In some countries, children are breastfed until between the ages of four to seven. In others, some mothers never even try to breastfeed or they wean within the first month. Of course, in countries where there the water is not clean and food supplies are low, it is critical that the mothers be able to offer their children something nutritional that is is safe to consume. However, it is also important that mothers in more developed nations offer their children breast milk, as well. Our culture has become obsessed with sex, and breasts have been objectified as sexual objects. It has become so prevalent that many people look at a breastfeeding mother with disgust, thinking it is perverse and gross (especially if the child she is nursing looks older than a year). No one can accept that extended breastfeeding should be the norm, as they only see breasts as sexual objects.

One study found that many health professionals who felt negative feelings about extended breastfeeding changed their minds after they were educated about it, which is what we should continue trying to do. (Cockerham-Colas, et al) It is unfortunate that even people who are health professionals do not agree with extended breastfeeding, when there are an immense amount of benefits for the baby and the mother.  If more people could learn to accept breastfeeding, then more women could find support and would not give up breastfeeding so quickly. Many women lack the support they need to continue breastfeeding, and others are simply afraid to nurse in public and feel confined to their homes, for fear of being judged or ridiculed.  Some women are even afraid to let anyone know that they are still breastfeeding a toddler or preschool-age child.

As a society, we need to look past the modern way of thinking, that breasts equals sex, and realize that extended breastfeeding is beneficial, natural, and normal. Women should be supported, not ridiculed or made to feel badly for the choice to breastfeed.

Have you extended breastfed? How long did you breastfeed for?


Bonyata, Kelly. "Breastfeeding Past Infancy Fact Sheet." Kellymom. N.p., 27 Jun 2011. Web. 7 Feb 2012. <html>. 

Dettwyler, Katherine. "A Natural Age of Weaning." Kathy's Commentaries. Prairienet, 15 Apr. 1999. Web. 7 Feb 2012. <http://www.kathydettwyler.org/detwean.html>.

Dewey, KG. "Nutrition, Growth, and Complementary Feeding of The Brestfed Infant." Pediatric clinics of North America. 48.1 (2001): 87-104. Web. 7 Feb. 2012. <http://www.pediatric.theclinics.com/article/S0031-3955(05)70287-X/abstract>. 

Lauren Cockerham-Colas, Laura Geer, Karen Benker, and Michael A. Joseph. Breastfeeding Medicine. -Not available-, ahead of print. doi:10.1089/bfm.2011.0027.<http://online.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/bfm.2011.0027>

 Mandal, Dror, , et al. "Fat and Energy Contents of Expressed Human Breast Milk in Prolonged Lactation." Pediatrics. 116.3 (2005): 432-435. Web. 7 Feb. 2012. <http://www.pediatricsdigest.mobi/content/116/3/e432.full>.

Newman, Jack. "Breastfeed a Toddler-Why on Earth?." Breastfeeding Inc. N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Feb 2012. <http://www.breastfeedinginc.ca/content.php?pagename=doc-BT>. 

 Sears, William. "Ask Dr. Sears Extended Breastfeed--Handling the Criticism." Parenting. Parenting, n.d. Web. 7 Feb 2012. <http://www.parenting.com/article/ask-dr-sears-extended-breastfeeding----handling-the-criticism>.

"10 Facts on Breastfeeding." WHO. WHO, Jul 2011. Web. 7 Feb 2012. <http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/breastfeeding/en/>. 

More information about breastfeeding a toddler. 

Tuesday Twitter Hop

Welcome to the Tuesday Twitter-pated hop hosted by myself and Learning to Limit! It is so exciting to see more people linking up every week, and I hope to see our hop continue to gain more participants!

We don't really have any rules, but we do ask that you follows both hosts, which are listed in the number one and two spots in the linky. We will follow you back. I suggest following a few people (or everyone) and if someone follows you, consider following him or her back. Please feel free to grab our button to share the hop on your blog. If more people link up, then that means more followers for everyone! 

Thank you for visiting!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Cash Cow Event: Win $235 Cash

I am excited to be part of this awesome giveaway! I have teamed up with a wonderful group of bloggers to bring you a giveaway for $235.00 cash.

Prize: $235.00 Cash sent via PayPal
How to Enter: Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below.

Good luck!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Feature Post: Devi Crafts Review and Giveaway


I have two little girls that absolutely love crafts, jewelry, and accessories. When I was contacted by Devi Crafts about doing a review, I quickly looked on the Etsy shop to see what types of products they offered. While browsing through the site, my oldest daughter came in the room and saw the screen. She immediately fell in love with a set of beautiful pink flower hair clips and begged me to buy them for her birthday. I told Deidre from Devi crafts that she definitely had products we would enjoy reviewing, and she offered to send me a few items. I did have a difficult time choosing, because there were so many pretty items in the shop.

Pretty Green Bow Charm Earrings
Felt Flowers

Fabric Flowers
A Little Bit About Devi Crafts: Deidre came to Etsy in March of 2011 as a new business owner. She did not have huge expectations for her business, as she simply wanted "a bit of recognition and a few sales." She found that her friends and family members began purchasing items from her, and she also gained new customers. As she continued her business journey and began working with different materials and mediums, she realized that she had too many craft supplies and not nearly enough time to use them all, so she decided to de-stash by opening Devi Crafts. Her plan was to sell her extra craft items, until she discovered felt. Deidre said, " It quickly became my latest craft obsession and after finally creating flowers I was proud of, I decided to include handmade supplies." After this, she closed her jewelry store and combined that shop with her new one--Devi Crafts.

Lavender Flower Victorian Style Necklace
When it comes to the inspiration behind her designs, Deidre says, "My inspiration comes from nature, the material itself, vintage clothing, and my talented husband. I usually get my best ideas right as I'm laying down at night to sleep, it's annoying but I try my best to remember them." Although Deidre says she still feels new to this and clueless at times, she has found something that she truly enjoys. In addition to creating items for Devi Crafts, she also writes at The Kindall Krew blog and runs a shop with her husband, called LDk2, where they sell unique, artistic, and eye-catching jewelry.

My Review: Deidre may say that she feels new to this, but her work is exceptional and her designs are quite lovely. I am very impressed with her work, and really had a difficult time selecting which items to review, as there are so many beautiful things in her shop. I think that all of the products they offer are lovely, and Deidre and her family are very talented. We received a headband, two pink flower hair clips, and a DIY cotton canvas flower kit.

My daughters loved the hair accessories. Although my oldest fell in love with the pink hair clips, she decided to share those with her younger sister. She did claim the headband for herself, and apparently it has the power to turn her into a ballerina. As soon as she put the headband on, she began dancing and twirling around the kitchen. To say she likes it would be an understatement. My younger daughter also loved the hair accessories, and she was thrilled to put a pink flower in her hair. She enjoyed wearing it so much that she didn't even want to take it off at bedtime.

I found the products to be well-made and overall, very pretty. They are definitely cute enough for younger girls, but the headband is something a teen or woman would want to wear, as well. It is is elegant and not overly cute, where it would seem like it is only for little girls. I would probably try it on and take a picture, if my daughter would let me. For now, pictures of two little girls will have to do, and they model them better than I would anyway (they are cute too!).

I loved looking at all of the products that Devi Crafts offers, there are gorgeous felt flowers and the DIY kits are fun and an easy way to start making your own flowers if you have never done it before. They also offer hair accessories and jewelry that is stunning.

But It: Devi Crafts sells jewelry, hair accessories, craft supplies, and felt flowers. The prices of each item vary greatly, and there is sure to be something you find that is affordable and beautiful. To buy an item from Devi Crafts, you can visit the Etsy shop.

You can also stay up to date on everything new with Devi Crafts by visiting the Facebook page or the blog.

Win It: Devi Crafts is offering my readers a $15 credit for using at their shop. With the prices of their items, you are sure to find something wonderful. Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form below to be entered. Good luck!

Disclosure: I received free items to complete this review, but all of the thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.

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