Thursday, October 27, 2011

Updated Posts

When I wrote the post about Woogie, I didn't get a chance to put in the pictures that are mentioned.  Here is the updated post.

Also, when I wrote about how to get a refund for a bad app, I didn't get a chance to tell about my refund experience.  Click here for the updated post.

We were on vacation for a few days and I was busy getting ready for that.  We had a great time -- more about that later.
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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

How to Get a Refund for a Bad App

My husband works in a noisy environment.  He is a machinist that makes medical parts.  No, not artificial limbs (which is what everybody thinks and my Grandpa likes to wrongfully brag about.  He has always had a problem with the iPhone not being as loud as it should be, especially for his needs.  Sometimes he doesn't hear it ring or misses text messages; often, he has trouble hearing people on the phone inside the shop and has to go to a quieter place.  I, too, have similar problems with my phone.  I usually can't use it while in the car, especially on the interstate, but since I figured out how to connect it to my car via Bluetooth, that's not so much a problem.

My husband went searching for an app that would help boost the sound of the phone.  SoundBooster claims to help in this area.  He didn't read any reviews (BAD reviews) or he wouldn't have bought it.  He now says he'll never download an app (at least a paid app) without reading the reviews.  We tried it out, and it didn't work at all.  Can you say "False Advertising," Boys and Girls?  My husband was Not Happy.  He wanted me to go to the Apple store today and see about getting a refund.  I didn't know that they would be able to help, so instead, I did some googling and came up with an online solution.

I found two options:
1)  Apple iTunes Support Contact Page
  • Follow the prompts and select the appropriate options.
  • You will need your Order Number which you can get from iTunes (see below, follow the first five steps to find it)

2) Follow these Steps:

  • Open up iTunes
  • In the Menu, Click on Store
  • Click on View My Account
  • Sign in with your iTunes Account
  • By Purchase History, select View All
  • Click on the Report a Problem button
  • On the same line as the problem app, cilck on the link (which is NOT underlined as it should be) that says Report a Problem.
I wound up doing both because I couldn't figure out the second option (I didn't realize that there were clickable links).  I may or may not get two responses.  I'll let y'all know if we successfully get a refund.

UPDATE:  I received an email within 24 hours (I don't remember exactly when) saying that I'd be getting a refund within 5-7 business days.  I didn't even have to wait that long:  I received another email the next day saying that a refund was being applied!
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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cheddar Bay Biscuits

This is a "copy cat" recipe that I got online a number of years ago.  It wasn't until recently that I tried it.  They are very good!

2 cups Bisquick baking mix
2/3 cups milk
1/2 cup shredded mild cheddar cheese (or any other variety)
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
parsley flakes as needed

Combine Bisquick, milk, and cheese with a wooden spoon and beat for about 30 seconds.  Spoon onto a lightly greased cookie sheet.

Bake in 450 degree F oven for 8-10 minutes.

Combine melted butter and garlic powder.  Drizzle over hot biscuits.  Sprinkle parsley on top.
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Monday, October 24, 2011

Product Review: Woogie

"What is a Woogie?" you ask? A Woogie is a huggable, lovable stuffed animal thing that encases an iPhone or iPod Touch so that your child can play with it safely.

As I've mentioned before in my blog, Gracie has "lost" her iPhone (which is my older iPhone minus the phone), and they have shown up in really strange places (in a bowl in my pantry, for example).  It is very frustrating to have to look for the iPhone when she misplaces it.  Since she's not old enough to be very verbal, I can't simply ask her, "Where did you last have it?"

I considered getting a Key Finder (electronic device attached to keys or other prone-to-be-lost items that squeals when a button is pressed on its companion that you somehow keep from losing) and attaching it to the iPhone, but I didn't know how toddler-friendly that would be.  We tried using the "Find iPhone" app, but that doesn't work if the iDevice is out of juice.

I had seen another product that looked great for babies:  Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Apptivity Case, but I wasn't sure Gracie would go for it.  Besides that, it hides the home key which Gracie can already use quite well.  It's not much bigger than the iPhone and I think it would still be somewhat difficult to locate.

However, when I saw the Woogie (and the companions Woogie 2), I knew that would be the answer to my problem.  (I originally wanted to get the pink Woogie 2, but the website was giving me problems with the order, so I ordered the original Woogie from Amazon.)

I ordered it on a Friday, received an email saying it had been shipped on Tuesday, and it arrived on my doorstep the very next day!  I was very happy with the shipping!  I opened it up, with just a little bit of difficulty, popped in the iPhone, and gave it to Gracie.  She loves it!   Here are some pictures from when she first saw it:

It has a headphone jack to plug into so that you can listen to the iPhone with the Woogie's internal speaker.  I think it's not as loud as the iPhone (but I barely tried it out).  The cover is closed using velcro, so it'll be easy for Gracie to pull out the iPhone if she wants to, but so far that hasn't been a problem.

Another advantage is that it will keep the iPhone from getting sticky!  (Of course, Woogie will get sticky and I don't think it's machine-washable.....)
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Friday, October 21, 2011

Old Enough to Know Better

Sometimes I wonder how I'm going to come up with new ideas for posts on my blogs.  I shouldn't worry.  Everyday life usually provides some fodder. And today is no exception.

I did something rather stupid today (Thursday).  My toilets needed cleaning, badly.  I usually use the Clorox drop-ins to help with automatic cleaning, and they had evidently long been dissolved.  I put it off (I know, gross, right?) until this morning, I decided to finally "eat the frog" (which is a productivity tactic of doing what you dread the most first to get it out of the way).

I dug under the main bathroom sink to find the toilet cleaner, something called The Works which my husband had bought some time before.  I had thrown away my toilet scrubber and had not replaced it (but will be soon!).  I decided to just use a washcloth.

So I squirted the stuff in there and went to work -- without gloves.  I wanted it done quickly, you see, and never even THOUGHT about there being any danger.  I noticed that my hands started itching, so after I cleaned the first toilet, I washed with soap and water.  I moved on to my bathroom and, same thing, itchy hands.  I washed my hands, then decided to look on the back of the bottle. Hazardous!  Use Gloves!  If it gets on skin, call Poison Control!   Whaaaaat?  So I ran cold water over my hands for about 5 minutes, and then called Poison Control for the first time in my life.  Fortunately, I already had the number in my phone.

Here it is for you:  1-800-222-1222  Put it in your phone.  You never know when you might need it!  (And, by the way, they also have a free app!)

The lady was very helpful.  She told me to run my hands under running water for another five minutes and to treat like any other burn, putting cold compresses on it throughout the day.  She asked me how old I was.  I told her, "39 - old enough to know better."  She kinda laughed and said it happens to all of us.

My hands were still red and I could imagine blisters forming.  I debated on calling my doctor and making my appointment.  I like my doctor, but I do NOT like the long wait time, especially with a cranky toddler.  This is my regular primary physician, not my OB-GYN.  My OB-GYN can do no wrong (after all, she delivered my baby).

Reading on the back of The Works bottle, I found out that the stuff is 20% hydrogen chloride, some derivative of hydrochoric acid, big bad stuff in the chemical department.  I started off as a chemistry major, switched to science education with a chemistry minor.  Don't be too impressed: I've forgotten 95% of anything I ever learned.  Except that HCl is some bad stuff.  I remember making the Lab TA get it for me because I was scared of the stuff!  This is the same reason why I do not clean my oven.  That is my husband's job, and before that, my mom's job.  Nope, not kidding, not touching it.

I remembered that the home remedy for getting jalapeno juice on your hands is to putting your hands in milk.  So I poured some milk in an oval, french white baking dish, and dipped my hands in.  COLD!  But it did the trick!  The redness went away.  I have it sitting on the counter to dip in every so often.

Now I think I will be on the lookout for some nonhazardous cleaning supplies.  I already tossed The Works in the trash.  Not going through that again!  I may just use some shampoo I don't like; after all, FlyLady says "soap is soap."
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Thursday, October 20, 2011

Movie Review: The Shunning

The Shunning is based on the book by Beverly Lewis. This is the first book I ever read by this now-famous author.  In my opinion, she is the top writer of Amish fiction, rivaled only at this time by Cindy Woodsmall.  (Granted, I haven't read every author, but that's out of the ones I have read.)

It's been a long time since I read the book (or the rest of the series), but as far as I can tell, the movie followed the book very well.  The acting was very good.  It's definitely worth watching.

Katie is a young Amish girl who is engaged to be married to an Amish bishop.  She struggles with separation from the world in the area of music.  A former beau (who she thinks died a few years ago) gave her a guitar with which to make music.  An Englisch lady comes around looking for the baby girl she gave up for adoption 20 years ago.  Katie turns out to be that daughter.  Her parents never told her and didn't want to tell her even when they found out the other lady was searching for her.

At the end, both Robert and I had the same reaction, "What?  You've got to be kidding me? That's ALL?"  We were expecting more to the story, but I'm guessing that perhaps we'll have to wait for the movie sequel!
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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

REVISED Book Review: The Chocolate Diaries by Karen Linamen

I am revising this review based on Karen Linamen writing a comment on my previous review, clarifying a misunderstanding.

The Chocolate Diaries by Karen Linamen starts off with an engaging introduction to the book which contains stories about people who have turned their “truffles of life” into rich, satisfying gourmet meals.

Sprinkled throughout the book are yummy recipes that will thrill chocolate lovers!  This was probably the best part of this book for me.

Overall the book was ok.  The author, Karen Linaman, relates a number of anecdotes from her own life as well as her friends and associates.  The stories are interesting and help to support her ideas.

Chapter 4, entitled Sweet Pick-Me-Ups, offers both fun and practical ways to help you get a little boost for the day.  Chapter 10, Who’s Your Daddy?, was the best chapter.  It talks about how you can become a daughter of the King.  I was glad to see this as I think that most Christian books are incomplete without a clear presentation of the Gospel.  I do not think it was a very clear presentation of the Gospel, but was an admirable effort.

One thing that bothered me was a story concerning her dog who sneaked away with her birth control device.  The author tells us that she is divorced and is dating.  The Bible makes it very clear that fornication is a sin.  This is not model behavior for a Christian and is an inappropriate detail for a Christian book.

Although I would not necessarily have personally bought this book for myself or as a gift for anyone else, it was not a bad read.  The chocolate recipes definitely make the book.

UPDATE:  Ms. Linamen wrote a very kind and gracious comment on my previous review, saying this, "And thank you for pointing out the missing detail in the dog/birth control story... my apologies to you (and to my other readers!) for not including the time-frame of that story! That story did not happen recently at all, but took place when I was married. Please forgive me for any confusion! (I'll see if my publisher can fix that on our next printing!)"

I am so glad that she clarified this.  I'm a little embarrassed that I automatically thought negatively of the situation.  It's so easy to misunderstand when one doesn't have all the facts.

Thank you, Karen, for being so very kind in your comments and for clarifying the misunderstanding!

I also updated my reviews on Amazon and Blogging for Books.  I upgraded both reviews to 4 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Multnomah Press book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Recipe Review: Sweet and Sour Meatball Skewers

I used to get Kraft Foods Magazine and I've gotten a lot of good recipes from them, including these Sweet and Sour Meatball Skewers.

First, the recipe as written:

Prep:  10 minutes    Total:  20 minutes   Makes: 4 servings, 2 kabobs each

What You Need:
32 frozen fully-cooked 1-inch meatballs (1 lb.), thawed
1 red pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1 green pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1/4 cup apricot jam
1/4 cup Kraft Original Barbecue Sauce

Make it:
1.  Heat grill to medium-high heat.  Thread meatballs and peppers alternately onto 8 skewers.
2.  Microwave jam in small microwaveable bowl on HIGH 15 seconds.  Stir in barbecue sauce; brush half onto kabobs.
3.  Grill 8 to 10 minutes, or until meatballs are heated through, turning occasionally and brushing with remaining jam mixture the last 2 minutes.

Serving Suggestion:  Serve with corn on the cob and a side salad.

What I Did

My ingredients:
32 frozen full-cooked 1-inch meatballs (1 lb.), thawed (I used Great Value Italian style meatballs which were FABULOUS.  Will be using for other things like spaghetti and BBQ Meatballs)
1 red pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1 green pepper, cut into 1-inch squares
1/4 cup apricot jam (Smucker's No Sugar)
1/3 cup Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ Sauce

brown rice + water

How I made it:
Earlier in the day, I counted out 32 meatballs and put them in a bowl in the fridge to thaw.
1.  Start the brown rice cooking.  Soak six skewers in water (in the 9x13 baking dish I used to cook the kabobs).
2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
3.  Cut up the bell peppers.  Here's a tip:  I turn them over upside down and cut along the lines, then pull the sections apart from the top which has all the seeds.  It makes it easier to clean up the bell pepper.
4.  Thread the meatballs and peppers on the skewers.  Lay them crosswise on the 9x13 baking dish.  (This is my idea for how to cook all meatballs that need to be baked.  This prevents the crusty flat sides from appearing on the meatballs.)
3.  Mix up the sauce.  I put both the jam and BBQ sauce in the bowl and microwaved them together.  Brush them on the kabobs, turning the kabobs as you go.
4.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  Serve with the rice.

Robert loved it and called it a "keeper."  I whole-hearted agreed!!  Gracie was more interested in playing with her "bome" (spoon and fork) than eating.  If she would've tried it, she would've liked it, though.

There was one kabob left over with some rice.  Not enough for a full lunch, but Robert said it's enough for an appetizer, and he said, "I'll figure out something" -- already laying claim to it!  LOL!  We have a rule in our house:  You Snooze, You Lose!  So whoever gets to it first gets it.

Here are a few pictures:

Soaking the skewers.

Preparing the bell peppers.

All threaded up.

Sauced up.

All done!

My plate.

Robert's plate.

Gracie's plate.
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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Back to the Basics: Cooking Rice

 I've always been a little timid about cooking rice, unless it's mixed in with a recipe.  I was afraid  that I wouldn't cook it enough and it would be hard and cruncy, or that I would cook it too much and it would be sticky.  My fears were laid to rest when I joined the Cooking Club of America a few months ago.  They sent me a book called Cooking Essentials ($11.99) which is full of information about different types of food and how to prepare them.

Here is the fool-proof way to cook rice (serving four people), with a few of my comments along the way.

1.  Using a measuring cup to ensure exact quantities, pour 1 cup of rice into a medium pot.  Measure 2 cups of water in the same measuring cup.  Add the water to the rice, and add 1 teaspoon of salt.

2.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir once, then lower the heat to a gentle simmer.

3.  Cover the pot with a lid and cook gently for the times listed below.  Keep covered while it is cooking.

white long grain rice = 12-15 minutes
brown rice = 20-30 minutes
basmati rice = 10-15 minutes

4.  Lift the lid and check to see if the top of the rice is dry.  Tilt the pot to see if all the water has been absorbed.  If not, cook for a little longer.  When all of the water is gone, the rice will be ready.

5.  Remove the pot from heat.  Let stand, covered, for 5 minutes.  Fluff the rice with a fork.

This method worked beautifully for me, with one exception.  It said to cook brown rice for 20-30 minutes.  At the end of 30 minutes, the rice was not done.  I had to cook it for about 45 minutes before it was done.  I do not know why.  It turned out very well, though, and I was quite happy that I'd finally mastered cooking rice!  Silly, I know, since it should be a basic skill, but sometimes the easiest of things trip me up.
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Monday, October 17, 2011

Blog Post Roundup (10/16/11)

Irritable Mom Syndrome, Part 2

Are Your Photos Really Safe? -- get a free ebook

Spiritual Weapons for Wayward Kids

Life's Little Lessons

When Good Ideas Get in Your Way

The Holocaust and Abortion  (180 Project) -- This video is about 33 minutes long

Teaching Our Daughters to Do Their Husbands Good NOW

3 Reasons to Get Good Advice (I think I tend to put most, if not all, of Bro. Cary Schmidt's posts in my Blog Post Roundup.  Go ahead and subscribe!)

Habits of Fruitful Soulwinners (same with Pastor Paul Chappell's posts; go ahead and subscribe!)

Celebrate Their Differences -- Article about loving your children as individuals

15 Ways to Affirm Your Kids

The Other Side of Me -- Walking Through the Dark
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Friday, October 14, 2011

Launch Party Giveaway WINNERS!


Day 1:  Fill a House with Love and It Becomes a Home -- Valerie Basham of The Bishop's Wife

Day 2:  Be Still and Know That I Am God -- No winner due to no entries.

Day 3:  iTunes Gift Card -- No winner due to no entries.

Day 4:  Toddler Busy Bag:  Noodles on a Rope (2) -- No winner due to no entries.

Day 5:  Set of Three Toddler Busy Bags -- Kristy Jo of Making Sweet Memories

Day 6:  Coke Collectibiles -- No winners due to no entries.

Day 7:  My Memories Suite Scrapbook Software -- Valerie Basham of The Bishop's Wife

Thank you so much for participating!
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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Book Review: Saving Grace by Annie Jones

Saving Grace was an ok book, not great (but with some good features) and not terrible.  I liked the lessons portrayed in the book.  Saving Grace is both about Grace (unmerited favor) and about one of the secondary characters named Grace.

Four women living in East Tennessee (Naomi, Rose, Gayle, and Lucy) are friends who have drifted apart after becoming close when they were in the same prayer group.  Naomi, an adventurous schemer at heart, concocts a plan to help them join back together in a common cause: helping the elderly and eccentric Grace Grayson-Wiley who is a recluse rumored to be crazy as a bat.

During the course of the story, Naomi faces exciting yet somewhat worrisome circumstances, Rose puts off the man who is courting her, Gayle's marriage reaches a crisis point, and Lucy finally finds love but can't seem to accept it.

In general, I liked the story.  I liked the ending the best and not only because I was glad to get through it.  The characters were somewhat funny -- stereotypical and almost satirical.  I felt like the book was a mixture of Steel Magnolias and The Waltons.  One of the negative points of the book is that the writing was just not my style to enjoy.  The metaphors and similes missed the mark.  In some places there was too much description. It felt like I was stuck in the mud spinning my tires to get out.

It wasn't until I finished the book that I found out this is actually the sequel to another book by the same author.  I had felt this might be the case while reading, but I couldn't confirm it until I reached the end.  I read an e-book version on my computer and couldn't "flip to the back of the book" to find out.  Although the book was moderately good, it wasn't good enough to make me want to read the previous book.

Reviews on Blogging for Books can be reviewed and ranked by others.  I would love it if you would visit my review on the Blogging for Books site and rank my review.  Upon ranking my review, you will be entered in a drawing to win your own copy of this book!  Don't worry, you won't hurt my feelings if you give me a bad review.  I'd rather have an honest bad review than a dishonest good review.  "Faithful are the wounds of a friend: but the kisses of an enemy deceitful." (Proverbs 27:6)

FTC Disclaimer:  I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.”  I was not required to provide a positive review.  All opinions expressed are my own.
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Launch Party Giveaway Ends Tonight!

The Giveaways end tonight at midnight, and I'll use the Rafflecopter Widget to select the winners tomorrow morning.

Be sure to spread the word!  Thanks for reading!

Click here to enter all SEVEN Giveaways!
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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Repost: Accidental Keeper Recipe

Saturday night, I invented a recipe on the fly that made Robert say, "Wow, this is GREAT! What recipe book did you get this out of?" and "This is a keeper for sure!"

I didn't really set out to make up a recipe. I was hungry, so I started to make cheese toast using pepperjack cheese (very yummy!). There were three pieces of cheese so I asked Robert if he wanted some. (Fortunately for me, he wasn't as hungry as I was and he only wanted one cheese toast.) Then I decided it would be nice to have tomato soup. I have several cans of tomato soup on hand. I opened one up, poured it into the pot, and opened up the fridge to get the milk (I like it with milk, not water). While in the fridge, I noticed an open can of hot dog chili (Walmart Great Value kind) and thought, "Well, that needs to be used up, so I'll put it in with the soup. Maybe it'll taste alright." Robert absolutely loved it! I didn't mind it myself. It's funny because I don't like Great Value brand of hot dog chili at all. I think it ruins a perfectly good hot dog. It was the only one I saw, though, and I needed it for another recipe from Thursday. So I guess now, I will pick up a couple cans of that hot dog chili and that will be a quick and easy backup supper. Cheap, too.

This is a repost from my personal blog, Kinsey Family Blog.
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Monday, October 10, 2011

Launch Party Giveaway Ends Thursday Night!

All SEVEN Giveaways are now available to win! I'm sorry that I didn't realize that the Rafflecopter Widgets were not working until now. (Hmmm, maybe that's why nobody entered!) Everything should be working just fine now. If not, be sure to let me know by emailing me.

This page gives links to all seven giveaways. Be sure to enter and tell your friends!

Winners will be announced on Friday, October 14th!
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Launch Party Giveaway, Day 7: My Memories Suite Scrapbook Software

A couple of weeks ago, I was contacted by Liz Gardner of My Memories Suite scrapbook software offering to sponsor a giveaway on my blog.  I was really excited about the opportunity to give away a nice (free) product to my readers.

The My Memories website has a wealth of information and products to use.  I really like how they have “Short & Suite” tutorials for using the software on their blog. There is also a forum available for people to ask questions and share their work.

The website also has an online photobook creator which doesn’t require any software at all.  For a long time, I’ve wanted to do a photobook about Gracie’s newborn stage of life.  I’m excited about being able to do it with this online tool.

In addition to the software there are many themes, templates, and kits available, and even some free downloads (to use with the software)!

Now for the software......My Memories Suite software is available for both Windows and Mac!  It is Amazon’s #1 selling software and has earned high reviews.  It’s not just a digital scrapbook creator, but is also a creator of calendars, DVD slideshows/movies (which can also be put on iPods), and cards!

I initially had some trouble installing the software, which had nothing to do with the software, but rather with our computer setup.  First a little background:  We have several user accounts on our Mac:  one for me, one for my husband, and an "Administrator" account which has all rights and privileges.   Our personal ones do not have administrator privileges.  Usually when I install software, it will give me a popup asking for the Administrator password.  I put it in, and it does its thing.

Now for the problem:  After I agreed to the legal stuff, it asked where do I want to install it.  The default is /Applications/My Memories Suite
When I clicked Next, it told me "You have no write permissions for this directory.  Please choose another one."  I didn't know which one to choose and I certainly didn't want the program files mixed in with my data files.

I then went into the Administrator user account, went to the Downloads folder in my personal account to try to access the installation file from there.  However, it wouldn't let me open the Downloads folder!

Here's how I solved it:

I copied the installation file from my Downloads folder and pasted it into a new Downloads folder under Shared.  I logged in as Administrator and started the installation.  It went off without a hitch.  Now I can finally play with it!

When I started the software, I selected the option to create an album using their templates.  My favorite one was the one for Baby Girl (are you surprised?).

The pages were VERY easy to set up.  The only thing I didn’t like is that it didn’t allow me to use the photos that are in iPhoto.  However, I had some pictures exported from iPhoto to a folder and was able to use those.  Editing the text was very easy as well.  I did all this with a wriggling, feverish toddler in my lap!

I have not yet tried designing my own pages, though I would like to.  I think it will probably require a little bit of trial and error, but based on how easy it was to set up the first few pages, I think much of it will be rather intuitive.

My Memories Suite is very graciously giving away a free download of their software to one of my readers!

To enter, click on "Read more" to view the Rafflecopter Widget.

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Saturday, October 8, 2011

Launch Party Giveaway, Day 6: Coke Collectibles

This is probably my largest (or perhaps most complicated!) self-sponsored giveaway.  These Coca-Cola collectibles are ones that I've owned for several years.  They are all in like-new or very good condition (unless noted in the picture).  I LOVE Coca-Cola, but I do NOT have the room to store or display all my collectibles.  I thought about selling them in a garage sale, but then I decided to give them away to someone who would enjoy them.

This particular giveaway has the possibility of having several winners.  The number one person will choose any or all of the Coke collectibles that she would like to have.  If you want all of them, that's fine; if you want just a few, that's fine.  If there are any left over, the next person in line can choose any or all of what remains, and so on down the line.  Make sense?

6-1/4" x 4-1/4" x 3-3/4"
6-1/4" x 4-1/4" x 3-3/4"
8-1/2" x 5-1/2" x 2-1/2"
5" x 5" x 3-1/2"

Can: 4" x 6-3/4" x 2-1/2" (dent at upper left);4 tablecloth weights.  Not a good picture but the top is rounded.
5-1/2" x 7-1/2" x 2-3/4"
10-1/4" x 5-1/2" x 3" (top edges of the lid are somewhat worn)
Ceramic salt & pepper shakers: 3-1/2" x 2-1/2" x 1-1/4"
Set of 5 Coke glasses 4-1/2" tall

Coke holder is missing magnet on back.  Tray is 4-1/2" x 6-1/2".  Coke bottle in front is a play top.
Pen (never used that I can remember) and original box.

To enter, click on "Read more" to view the Rafflecopter Widget.

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Friday, October 7, 2011

Launch Party Giveaway, Day 5: Set of THREE Toddler Busy Bags

Today's giveaway is for a set of three different Toddler Busy Bags:  Button Snake, Sponge Blocks, and Noodles on a Rope.  Your toddler will have loads of fun playing with each of these!

To enter, click on "Read more" to view the Rafflecopter Widget.

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New Highchair

Some dear friends of ours from our church moved to Kansas City recently due to a job change.  Before they moved, they had a garage sale to get rid of a few things.  I was able to go for a preview before the garage sale and got a number of things for lower than dirt-cheap!  (She was TOO kind in what she charged!)

One of the items was this high chair that all three of her girls used when they were little over 20 years ago.  We brought it home and set it up at our table for Gracie.  She loves this chair!  I think she likes being at the table with us, and she also likes climbing in and out!

The chair is well-loved and needed a bit of a touch-up, so I decided to spray paint it.  First, I sprayed on a brown primer (which was the closest color I could find) and then sprayed on a burgundy color.

The "Before" Picture
All Primered Up

All Done!  It looks really bright in this picture for some reason.
And here is Gracie, enjoying her new chair!
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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Robert's Quote

My husband Robert likes to say this quote a lot, and I think it's a very good one for motivation.  He doesn't know if he heard it somewhere or if he came up with it on his own (I say he came up with it on his own!).
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Launch Party Giveaway, Day 4: Noodles on a Rope

A few weeks back, I posted about these Noodles on a Rope which is a Busy Bag activity for Toddlers.  I made extra to give away and will be giving away two sets.

To enter, click on "Read more" to view the Rafflecopter Widget.

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Book Review: The Help

I started hearing about The Help by Kathrynn Stockett several months ago.  I don't think I ever read any negative reviews about this book; everyone loved it!  It piqued my interest, and I finally read it a couple of weeks ago.

The Help is set in early 1960's Jackson, Mississippi, in the early stages of the Civil Rights Movement.  Two black ladies, Aibilene and Minny are maids working for white families.  Each has her own heartache to bear in addition to the burden of being black in a white-preferred society.  One of the white ladies, affectionately nicknamed Skeeter, aspires to be an author and posed a question to Aibilene, "Do you wish you could change things?" (paraphrased).  Never had a thought entered into Aibilene's mind before, but now that the seed was planted, it took hold and events helped her to make up her mind to do what she could.  Skeeter had the idea of writing a book exposing how black maids really have it working for white families, sharing the good, the bad, and, oftentimes, the ugly.  Aibilene is reluctant at first to share her story, but she does so, followed by her friend Minny; together, they convince ten other ladies to share their stories as well.  All of this has to be done in secret so as not to invite trouble.

Other characters in the book include Hilly who is a snob to the nth degree, manipulative, and just downright mean; Elizabeth for whom Aibilene works for and who is middle-class trying to fake it as a high society lady; Celia, the overzealous poor white girl who is trying to make friends with the other white ladies with no success.

The first thing I want to say is:  This is not MY Mississippi!  The events and attitudes portrayed in this book is as foreign to me as the culture and habits of the Aborigines in Australia.  By the time I grew up in the 70's and 80's (I was born in 1972, a good ten years after the setting of this book), integration had long been in effect.  There were a good number of black students in my school.  I don't remember any racial tension at all (with the exception of comments made by rednecks).  It wasn't until after my family moved to California in 1982, that I had even HEARD about the Civil Rights movement and, in particular, blacks and whites having separate water fountains.  Another little girl who had learned about it asked me if it were still that way today.  I was rather confounded, having never heard about the forced separation, and told her so! That's not to say that racism and prejudice does not exist in Mississippi.  Far from it!  Racism and prejudice are a form of pride, and as long as there are sinners in this world, there will be pride, and, hence, there will be racism and prejudice.

When I taught in a predominantly black school in Northwest Mississippi, my students would sometimes accuse me of being prejudiced (unfounded).  I would tell them, "No, I'm not.  If I were prejudiced, I wouldn't be teaching here.  People who are prejudiced against black people don't want to have anything to do with them."  They never had an answer for that!  As an example, I personally have known a person who cancelled their subscription to the Sports Illustrated magazine because there was a "D--- N-----" on the cover!

This is not to discount the terrible things done to blacks through the years. I wish none of it had happened; I also wish that it could be forgotten.  I remember as a freshman at the University of Southern Mississippi, I had to attend several particular functions to fulfill requirements of the Honors College program in which I was participating.  One of these was the showing of the movie Mississippi Burning.  As saddened as I was about the movie, I was also angry that Mississippi had to be portrayed in such a terrible light.  Again, this is not MY Mississippi.

Back to the book:  I thought it was a compelling story, although it wasn't a great-not-to-be-missed story.  I read a review that said all of the men portrayed in this book are "miserable creatures."  I would have to agree, except that I think Celia's husband was a wonderfully, caring man to his wife.  It was very evident that he loved her very much.  If I could read another book based on the same people, I think I would like to read more about Celia.  I think the history of her character would be a good read.  As a precaution, one particular scene in the book, having to do with Celia requiring medical attention, was very graphic and heartbreaking.

I've read where people hated the dialogue and where people thought it was accurate.  I have no opinion as to the accuracy, except to say I hear the same type of language all the time from both white folks and black folks.  I have to be careful when I read books that have a different kind of accent or dialect, or even phraseology, because I'll start thinking to myself in that way!  Also to do with language, there is some cussing in this book.  Not much, but enough that I wouldn't recommend the book without editing with a marker, if you feel the same way I do about bad language.

Overall, if you think you would like the book, read it (just take care of the language).  If it doesn't sound quite your thing, don't worry about it.
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Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Launch Party Giveaway, Day 3: iTunes card

If you own any type of iDevice, you know all about the great apps that are available to you!  Now you have the chance to win a $10 gift card.

To enter, click on "Read more" to view the Rafflecopter Widget.

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Lengthening Dresses for Little Girls

I've been noticing a problem with Gracie's clothes:  they are too short!  I don't know if it's because on the percentile charts she is "tall and skinny" (I don't know who she gets that from; neither Robert nor I are tall or skinny!) or if little girl dresses just tend to run on the short side.  I prefer for our dresses and skirts to be knee length or longer.  I also just do not like it when Gracie's diaper or bloomers show.
The dress on the right is a particular favorite of mine.  I just love Winnie the Pooh!  However, it is too short for my preferences.  I had the idea to buy some ruffled lace and attach it to the bottom.  I think it turned out really cute!

The dress on the left is another cute dress that is too short.  I didn't even think about lengthening it (it's mostly a play dress) until I went to iron it.  I used a wider lace on it, and I think it made it even cuter than it was!  Paired with a short-sleeve undershirt, it could even be worn to church.

Not all dresses can be lengthened this way.  Much of it depends on the style of the dress.  However, I am really pleased with how these turned out!

Here are more pictures with Gracie wearing the altered dresses:

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