The Assistant That Every Busy Family Needs

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Thanks to Picniic for sponsoring this post.

As a busy working mom of two boys I often dream that I have an assistant to help me with my everyday tasks. Since I’m not made of money though, I don’t see that happening any time soon. That’s okay because I’ve discovered Picniic, the app that acts as an assistant that helps families become more organized, productive, and connected than ever before.

Picniic simplifies family life so you can spend more time doing what you love, and less time organizing it. All family members (mom, dad, kids, caregivers, etc.) can easily access Picniic via web, phone, and tablet to keep everyone organized and on the same page. Best of all, sign up is free!

Picniic has many features that families need including:

  • Shared family calendar
  • Grocery list
  • To-dos & lists
  • Premade lists
  • Family news feed
  • Store custom recipes
  • Search online recipes
  • Meal planner
  • Group event planner
  • Family locator
  • Secure family info locker
  • Birthdays & anniversaries
  • Work calendar import
  • Subscribe to your family calendar
  • Sync with TeamSnap sports

The shared calendar is one of my favorite things about the app because it gives me a snapshot of every family member’s daily activity in one screen. This makes it easier to visualize all my family commitments, and to see where there are available openings.

While other apps let you share your calendar, Picniic is unique in that it combines all the key areas of your family life, providing a system for running your home. In reality, most calendars only help with the scheduling aspect of family life, but there are many other critical elements. From planning meals, to centralizing important family information, to knowing where your kids are located at any one moment — Picniic’s goal is to bring all your family activities and data into one place. This allows everyone to stay more connected and in sync as a family unit.

For those that use and love Picniic already or those that start using the app and discover how amazing it is, I’m excited to share about the new Picniic Ambassador program that just launched today! If you share about it with friends and family and get 5 families to sign up using your unique link you can qualify to become a Picniic Ambassador!

Picniic Ambassadors get Picniic Premium free for one year plus a lot of extra perks like being entered into ambassador weekly giftcard giveaways, Picniic swag, the opportunity to provide feedback and input on Picniic product development and exclusive looks at Picniic updates before they go live. The best perk of all though? Money. Picniic Ambassadors receive 20% cash-back for all premium purchases made on an account referred from your personal tracking link. If someone you refer refers another family to Picniic, and they make a purchase, you will receive 5% of this purchase and for every referral from a referral from a referral, you will receive 3% cash back.

Learn more and sign up for Picniic here!

Afterschoolz: An Activity Finder For Chicago Area Families

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Thanks to Afterschoolz for sponsoring this post.

At the beginning of this year I shared about a helpful resource called Afterschoolz, a website that helped caregivers find activities for their kids in the Chicago area. The site was pretty new at the time but had such a great variety of activities listed and new ones being added frequently. I really liked the variety of activities provided, from sports to STEM classes to unique things like anime club. There seemed to be something for everyone.

Since the site was fairly new, they were looking for feedback and asked Making Time For Mommy readers what else you’d love to see available on the site. I know many of you asked for better search functions and I’m happy to say that the folks at Afterschoolz heard your request and made updates to make the search options even better.

This is great news for those of us still looking for summer activities! Personally, I have been wanting to find a gymnastics class for Lucas because the one he goes to at our local park district was cancelled this session and he was really disappointed. When I searched Afterschoolz I was excited to see many options, including gymnastics studios nearby that I never knew existed.

Searching the site to find local activities your children would enjoy is so easy using their new search feature with adjustable filters. You can pick the kind of activities you’d like by main category (academics, arts, athletics, camps or preschool) or search by specific activity keyword like “crafts” or “hockey”. You can look at all activities in your area or narrow the activities to only show ones within 5 miles of you. You can narrow the search even more by adding in more specifics about your child like age and gender and price limits if you are on a budget.

My favorite feature though, is the date and time filter. With a busy schedule I like being able to put in the hours that we have open and be able to see classes and lessons that are during those time periods. It’s great not having to search through dozens of activities looking for ones that work for our family’s schedule because this filter does all that work for us.

So whether you are looking for a summer camp for your tween, an art class for your preschooler or a dance class for your budding ballerina, Afterschoolz is the website Chicago area parents will want to check out. In addition to the great search function, the site shows detailed descriptions along with ratings and parent feedback on activities. There is even the option to sign up for the activities right on the site making this an easy to use resource parents will refer to for years to come!

What summer activities will you be searching the site for?

Make Money Selling Your Kid’s Used Items {Giveaway}

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(Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.)

Kids need a lot of stuff. When they are babies it’s bassinets and pacifiers and onesies. As a toddler it’s shatterproof plates and sippy cups and ride on toys. As they get older they don’t need those “baby” things anymore. Their things become smaller and then you have little pieces all over the place and cabinets full of video games. Sound familiar?

What do you do with all the stuff that they grow out of? Do you keep it? Do you give it away? Do you sell it? What I do is keep my favorite items or things with sentimental value and then I sell the rest so other kids can enjoy them (and so that I can afford the newest “must have” item on their birthday wish list).

I recently learned about a site called Vinted Kids that makes it easy to sell your child’s gently used items. First, you open an account on the site and list the items you want to sell with descriptions, pictures and prices. Once you find a buyer, Vinted Kids provides a prepaid shipping label and you ship it. Meanwhile, Vinted Kids can track the package to make sure it gets to the buyer safely. Payments are done online and you get paid within three days of the items arriving to the buyer. Vinted Kids takes a small portion of that payment for their services.

The only thing I love more than selling and making money on my kids’ old clothes, toys and gear is shopping for them. Vinted Kids is a great place to purchase items for your children because the items are a lot cheaper than you will find in the stores. They also offer a guarantee on the items and will issue a refund if the item is never shipped, damaged or not as described.

Here are a couple of my favorite things I found while shopping on the site!

This name brand shirt for FOUR dollars!

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How cute is this BRAND NEW Diesel jacket? I wish I had a girl!

Want to have some fun shopping for your own kids or grandkids? Vinted Kids gave me two $50 vouchers to give away! Here’s how you can enter:

MANDATORY:

Share this post on social media and leave a comment below with the link

ONE OPTIONAL ENTRY:

Create an account on Vinted Kids and leave a comment below telling me you’ve done so

SECOND OPTIONAL ENTRY:

Upload an item to sell and leave a comment below letting me know you’ve done so

Giveaway ends April 1, 2016 at 11:59pm CST. Must be a US resident and 21 or over to enter. Good luck! :)

Two Websites Moms Can Use To Make Hundreds Online

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Whether you are looking to make a full time income, or just want to make enough to have some fun money, the internet has a lot to offer. The majority of our family’s income comes from the online work we do specifically related to blogging and social media but since I realize that blogging isn’t for everyone, I wanted to share two of the non-blogging related sites I use to make money. While you aren’t going to become a millionaire, I definitely think using these two sites can benefit your family’s finances.

1. Sell your kid’s stuff on Swap.com. I’ve talked about this site before on the blog (read my review here) and I have to say that this is by far my favorite non-blog related way to make money.  Not only do I make enough to cover a couple of utility bills every month with the money I earn from swap, but I also get to clear out all the outgrown clothes and shoes that are crowding up the boy’s closet. I haven’t even started sending in toys my boys don’t play with anymore so I expect the income I make from the site to go up even more once I start doing that. They also accept maternity clothes and will soon be accepting women’s clothing so it might be a way to easily sell all your clothes you don’t want anymore.

2. Search using swagbucks.com. Skip google and use the Swagbucks search tool. Doing so will give you the chance to get “bucks” which you can exchange for gift cards, paypal cash and a variety of other things. You can also get “bucks” for watching videos, taking surveys, shopping online, and more. While this site makes me less than swap.com brings in, I love that using this tool is so easy. I have earned a few hundred in gift cards doing something that took only a little bit of extra time.

Have any questions about either of these sites? I’m happy to answer any you may have so you can get started making money today!

 

 

How To Use Swap.com To Sell Clothes Your Children Have Outgrown

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Disclosure: This post was written in exchange for trying out their service in which I was sent some clothing from the site. All other use of the site was done on my own and fees paid for by myself. All thoughts are my own as always.

(Update 7/29/17- I NO LONGER RECOMMEND SELLING ON SWAP.COM. They changed the % people can make off of their sales again and it’s ridiculously low. Items that are $10 or less only give the seller a profit of 20% of that. Seeing as most items I’ve sold have been in this price bracket, I would have only netted 20% of the selling price had this been in place. (For example, selling something for $9 previously would have netted me about $6.50 after all their fees. Under their new payouts I would have only received $1.80 from a $9 sale) Plus now they have a lot of other things you could get dinged for which they give you a fine for and take that out of your overall payout. I’m really dissapointed because I really LOVED selling on swap and recommended it to everyone but now I can’t.)

(Update 9/4/16- Terms of service have changed at swap.com as of 9/1. This post refers to their old pricing model which had made me quite a bit of money and I recommended to every one. I have loved this service for the past couple years but I am not sure if I’d recommend it anymore with the new changes they have in place. Since this post gets many views daily still, I’m testing out their new terms (on my own) and will update this post in a few months with my thoughts on if I still recommend it. Swap has raised the amount they take from sales and their price to send items in but my biggest concern is their sureprice model which lowers the amount you are selling your items for automatically after 60 days. Their “suresell” rates previously have been ridiculous with what they had offered to buy it for (though you never had to accept it- you could keep the item for sale) so I’m not sure if their sureprice rate (which you can’t opt out of) will be similar or will be higher. If they lower rates to a lot lower than you have on there it might not be worth it. They say it’s to help sell your items faster but I’d rather get the best price possible than sell for super cheap like I’d get at a garage sale or the local Once Upon A Child.)

I’ve tried many things over the years to get rid of the clothes my children have outgrown, all of which have taken a lot of time or made me no money. Countless hours were spent tagging items for group sales and then spent lugging the items to the sale. Selling on ebay, craigslist and Facebook garage sale type groups included a lot of time spent taking pictures and grouping items in lots, corresponding with buyers and paying shipping fees. Consignment shops offered me very little or they were only taking certain seasons of clothes. Donating is great and I love being able to help others but it doesn’t help me buy clothes to replace those they’ve outgrown.

I kept researching online because I knew there had to be something better. There is. I’m happy to be working with swap.com to share about their service and have spent my own money so that I can share about the selling process with you as well. I read a lot of blog posts about people buying from swap.com but couldn’t find much about using the site to sell clothes so I’m focusing on the selling process for this post.

I was allowed to pick out some clothes which I received free of charge to share my honest opinions about the service. Once I received them I was encouraged because I could see the site was legit and the clothes were as they were shown to be online. The site also has a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all items.

I decided to try the selling process when I received one of swap.com’s newsletters and saw that there was a code for free shipping. I ordered a box and sent some clothes in. The clothes can be sold or swapped for other items you need.

A few days later I received an email that my clothes were listed online. This is my favorite part about the service since they photograph AND post each item (or set) for me. Once they put the items online I got to go in and price my items. I priced my items for more than I’d get at a garage sale but for less than what they’d be at a consignment shop.

I should note here that you can send in other baby/kid/maternity items, including toys, sports gear, books, decor and more. If you don’t have a code for free shipping you will have to pay a small fee to send in your items (about $9/large box) but this includes shipping to the warehouse, the people at swap.com photographing/listing your items, 9 months of free storage and then all details of selling your item. There is a fee when your items sell as well but overall, even once shipping and the selling fee are taken into account, I still am making much more than I’d make at a garage sale and there is very little work on my end. In the past month I’ve sent a couple more boxes in and have sold 16 items and made $59 so far. Most sales I’ve made have actually been done while I’ve been sleeping or working. It’s such an easy process!

Another cool thing about the service is that swap.com offers a “sure sell guarantee” which means anything they accept that isn’t sold or swapped in 45 days, they will buy from you. My items have only been listed for a month so I haven’t discovered what they offer yet but they say it’s up to 30% of the item’s average new retail value. You are also free to ship back to yourself or continue listing on the site for free for a 9 month period.

Have you used swap.com to sell your children’s old things? I’d love to hear about your experience!

Make Money Online With Swagbucks {70 Bonus Sign-Up Points}

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There is nothing better than earning money doing things you already do, like searching the internet. I’m partnering with Swagbucks to share about a great way you can earn money online. I use Swagbucks when I have to search {instead of Google} and I have earned over $100 in gift cards to Target just by using this site.

If you aren’t a member yet I encourage you to join! Enter the code “maketime4mom” when you sign up this month and you’ll get 70 points just for signing up (in addition to the 30 you get as you complete your profile). Earn more points by searching, filling out surveys, watching videos, answering polls and more.

You can redeem your points for thousands of rewards including PayPal cash and gift cards to Amazon, Walmart, Build-A-Bear, Nike and more! The reward store has something for everyone.

Sign up here and make sure to enter the special code above when you are registering by clicking the text that reads “I have a sign up code”. Please note, I’ll get points for referring you if you use my code.

What will you redeem your points for?

Buy Quality Used Clothes & Support A Local School

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I love clothes shopping for the boys at large resales in my community but it’s not always easy to get some kid-free time to do so. I learned about a site called Schoola Stitch that just opened last week. It is an online consignment shop that gives 40% of every purchase to our schools.

Schoola Stitch sent me a $50 code to go shopping with. I found a lot of quality brands on their site. The condition of all items is listed on the site and most seemed to be in good to excellent condition. Shipping was free on orders over $50. Here is what I got for $52:

1 jacket

1 hooded sweatshirt

1 pair of jeans

1 sweater

4 long sleeve shirts

3 pairs of shorts

1 t-shirt

The GAP Kids sweatshirt is my favorite! Hoodies are definitely a must have for Fall.

Get 30% off your first order using my affiliate link. What will you find for your kids at Schoola Stitch?

(Disclosure: As stated above, I received a gift code to shop at Schoola Stitch. All thoughts are my own.)

Sevenly’s Weekly Cause: National Autism Association

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I was so happy to see that Sevenly, a for-profit social good company that I love, is supporting another Autism related cause this week! $7 from every single item sold goes directly to the National Autism Association to provide behavioral therapy or communication tools to children with Autism. If you have a loved one with Autism this is a great way to support the cause both financially and with a conversation provoking shirt.

I want to get this fabulous shirt for Lucas:

And this is my favorite one I’d wear myself:

Totally cute, right!? Learn more about this week’s cause and/or purchase an item from Sevenly to support those with Autism here {but keep in mind that each week they change causes so hurry!}

Christmas Shopping Online {And Safe Cyber Shopping Tips!}

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I never used to like shopping online. I hated paying for shipping and waiting for my packages to be delivered. I liked touching what I was thinking about purchasing before I spent money and taking my finds home from the stores.

A couple months back I received some Amazon e-cards and I had been holding on to them for Holiday shopping. The week of Black Friday I put them into my Amazon account and took a look around the site. I discovered some great prices on things I had planned on buying for Christmas. I put a few items in my online shopping cart and then a little box about Amazon Prime came up. After reading about it I got excited because I could get shipping free and it would only take two days to arrive. I signed up for my free trial of Amazon Prime and was relieved that I had started my shopping early this year.

I have to say that I have fallen in love with Amazon Prime and won’t be cancelling it. I love that I don’t have to put a minimum amount in my cart so I’ve been watching for deals and crossing things off my list as I see them. And I haven’t just limited myself to Amazon. I’ve shopped Walmart Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals and chosen site-to-store so all I have to do is run in and pick up my packages when they arrive. I also have shopped sales at Kohls, Old Navy, The Children’s Place, and Osh’Kosh Bgosh- all of which had amazing sales.

With all of the amazing sales online, some better than what I’ve seen in stores, I’ve been able to finish most of my Christmas shopping with only having to go into one store. Now that gifts for everyone else were handled it was time to shop for myself. I had been wanting a SLR camera since I was in high school and I told myself that I would finally get one this year. I decided I wanted a Canon Rebel T3i so I searched online because I wanted to find the best price I could. I typed in “Canon Rebel T3i prices” on Google to see if I could easily find a price comparison site. Towards the top was a link to cnet.com which is a reputable technology review site. Along with the review of the camera they gave a list of about 20 online sites that sold the camera and their prices.

Most of the prices were pretty similar with some sites being hundreds higher. The lowest one was about $530, $70 less than the average. I clicked through to the BPPhoto site without even thinking about it because the site I was on was well-known and I figured they wouldn’t be linking to a site that wasn’t trustworthy. While they didn’t have the camera that I wanted in stock, I looked around at what other items I did have since they had great prices on lenses and other camera accessories. I find that I am leery of sites that offer products for a reduced rate so I also checked for signs that the site was secure. I noticed that the site had a security validated button and a 30 day money back guarantee which is nice to have when making an online purchase and made me feel like this was an online retailer that I could trust.

In the end I ended up going with Amazon.com and buying a Rebel T3 {not T3i} because I found the best price on that site. 2-day shipping was free, I got 2% of my purchase back in Amazon credits, I got a free camera bag and memory card, and I got an extra lens for $150 off {which made it only $7}. I was so excited about the deal I found during the Cyber Monday sale and can’t wait to use my new camera to take pictures!

Are you shopping online this Christmas season? Here are some cyber shopping tips, courtesy of Trend Micro, to keep in mind:

WHAT TO KNOW BEFORE YOU CLICK:

1. Go with What You Know: Bookmark reliable online shopping sites, as search engines like Google can lead you to malicious sites.

2. Go with Your Instinct: Ignore suspicious emails and spam offering huge discounts and bargains as they may contain malicious links and file attachments.

3. If It’s too Good to be True It Usually is: Spam and online ads that offer mind-boggling promos and discounts can lead to web threats.

4. Double, Triple Confirm: Check a payment site’s URL. Phishers trick users into giving out personal information via spoofed pages. Two of the most commonly phished sites are eBay and PayPal.

5. Tried and True: Use reliable security software that helps you avoid visiting comprised sites.

6. Buyer Beware: Never use a payment method that does not offer any kind of buyer protection. Wire transfers and money orders are therefore off the table as there is no way of getting your money back. Pay with a credit card as it offers better protection.

7. Keep It Private: Don’t shop in a public “hot spot” or in places with unsecure networks. Limit online shopping to when you are at home, this assures uninterrupted and safe sessions.

8. Spot the Obvious: Legitimate banking or e-commerce sites’ URLs usually begin with https not http. The padlock icon at the lower right or near the address bar (depending on your browser) is also a good indicator of site’s security.

9. Keep Records: Always keep your transaction records to track your online purchases and avoid becoming a victim of online scams and other kinds of fraud.

10. Stay Aware: Stringently check your credit card billing statements to monitor all of your transactions. Immediately report any discrepancies to your bank.

 

(Disclosure: As a Trend Micro Digital Joneses family I received a gift card to shop online with but all thoughts are my own.)

Review Of Unroll.Me {Tidy Up Your Email Inbox!}

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One thing that drives me crazy is my email inbox. It seems like no matter how many hours I devote to going through my inbox I can never get the number down to an acceptable amount. As a blogger and a business owner, I find important emails getting missed because they are surrounded by a bunch of spam and subscription emails.

23,907 emails! I am embarrassed to say that this isn’t even my busiest email inbox. I could not believe that the unread emails in my gmail account had gotten so high. I went to unroll.me to see if I could use this site to reduce the number of emails I received in the future.

Unroll.me helps you manage email subscriptions by easily unsubscribing to ones that you don’t want to receive anymore.

It was easy to start with Unroll.me. I entered my email address and waited while the program went through my email and put together a list of all my subscriptions.

No wonder I had so many emails in my inbox! I was receiving subscriptions to 285 things! I had to get that number down since I didn’t even read most of them. I went through and clicked a button next to the ones I wanted to unsubscribe from. I also had the option to send subscriptions to my inbox as they came if they were something I wanted to read right as they were sent.

After I went through the email subscriptions I was receiving I ended up unsubscribing to 215 lists. 75 was a lot more reasonable.

Once I went through and unsubscribed from lists the remaining emails were then organized into categories and combined into one email per day so instead of sifting through hundreds of emails I only have to look at one.

I liked that I could choose the time of day the email would come. I could have it arrive while I’m drinking my morning coffee, while I’m enjoying the quiet of mid-afternoon naptime, or at night while I’m relaxing. I chose the morning because I like to tackle my inbox while I’m {slowly} waking myself up and preparing for my day.

Overall, I really like the concept of Unroll.me and think it will save me a lot of time when I check my email. Right now the service doesn’t work with a lot of email hosts but from what I understand that will soon change and I can’t wait because my Hotmail email account is full of subscriptions to be organized.

(Disclosure: I am a member of the Collective Bias™ Social Fabric® Community. This content has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias™. #CBias #SocialFabric )

UncommonGoods Unique Gifts {$50 Gift Card Giveaway}

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Do you have people in your life who are hard to shop for? I do, so I’m so glad that sites like UncommonGoods exist. This site has so many unique gift ideas that it makes it easy to find the perfect gift for everyone. I recently received some products for men including a wrench bottle opener, stone drink chillers, and a scented candle.

The wrench bottle opener has been a great item to have in the kitchen. It was heavy in my hand and I could tell that it was made of high quality materials. I liked that it had a long handle and was easy to grip.

This “On The Rocks” set would make a wonderful gift. It’s a set of six solid granite drink chillers with two cups. They are easy to use. They just need to be put in the freezer for a couple hours and then can be used in place of ice cubes. These stones are great for keeping drinks like whiskey and other spirits cold because they don’t melt and water down the drinks. Once they are used they just get rinsed off and put back in the freezer for the next use.

The last item I tried out was their scented candles for men. Instead of vanilla and pumpkin, these candles have scents like “pizza”, “fresh cut grass” and “sawdust”. I only had a chance to smell the pizza one but I was not a fan of it. I thought the smell was overpowering even before it was lit.

Some of my favorite items on the site:

For Kids: Foreign Language Blocks

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For The Kitchen: Mini Ice Cream Sandwich Presses

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For Mom: Necklace

GIVEAWAY:

One reader will win a $50 gift certificate to UncommonGoods

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each that you do}

1) Tell me what you’d get from UncommonGoods if you won

2) Like UncommonGoods on Facebook

3) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

4) Tweet: “Find great gifts for men at UncommonGoods http://ow.ly/bDlXT”

5) Follow UncommonGoods on Pinterest

6) Follow Making Time For Mommy on Pinterest

7) Share this giveaway on a social network

8) Enter another one of my giveaways (found here)

Giveaway ends July 15, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US Only.

(Disclosure: I received products from UncommonGoods but all opinions are my own. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)

$50 Gift Certificate Giveaway From Xperience Days {Unique Experience Gifts}

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I always struggle with what to get the males in my life. With Father’s Day coming up I am busy thinking of what to get my dad and want something more creative than socks {my go-to gift for him}. When I was contacted by Xperience Days I was excited because they have a lot of unique gifts that are perfect for the man who has everything.

Xperience Days helps you give more than just a material gift, you can give an experience that they will remember forever. The website has things like food tours, hot air balloon rides, shopping experiences, and sailboat rides. For the more adventurous there are extreme experiences like skydiving, air combat dogfighting, and driving a NASCAR.

I’m really excited that I get to offer one of you a $50 Xperience Days gift certificate good towards an experience for yourself or a loved one.

HOW TO ENTER:

{Do any or all of the following, leave a separate comment for each you do}

1) Tell me which experience you would most like to participate in

2) Like Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

3) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

4) Share this giveaway on a social network

Giveaway ends June 11, 2012 at 11:59pm Central time. US Only.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. All thoughts are my own. This giveaway is not associated with Facebook in any way.)

StyleUnited Review

Do you love reading beauty and fashion articles? Finding out about the latest styles and the newest makeup products? I do. Many of the tips and trends I find on them don’t work for me though. The clothing style isn’t right for my body type, the lotions recommended don’t work with my combination oily/dry skin, and the makeup doesn’t work with my complexion.

With StyleUnited I can get product recommendations personalized for me and also customized fashion and beauty tips. I explored the site a little and took a few quizzes. The first quiz I took asked me six questions about my skin and after answering the questions I got a list of products that would be good for my skin type at my age. Next, I took a fashion quiz to find which silhouettes would flatter my shape the best. I really liked that part of the quiz asked for height, dress size, shoe size, and bust size so it was more than just asking what “shape” I was. I also got to look at fabric patterns, styles, and other fashion related items and had a chance to choose my favorite so that the program knew what kind of syles I liked. It also asked about my thoughts on price when it came to fashion so I am sure not to get items suggested with really high price points if I say that I like to find great fashions at great deals.

Other than having everything customized for me I really liked that I could ask my friends opinions on things and could share my favorite products and tips with my friends or on social media. Another great feature is that the site offers one on one beauty consultations via webcam. If you have a style or beauty question you can just ask one of the experts from StyleUnited. It’s like having your best gal pal in your computer!!

I think StyleUnited is a fabulous website for both style mavens and newbies alike. Nowhere else can you find personalized suggestions on any fashion or beauty subject you can think of. If you join make sure to also enter the “New View, New You” giveaway and enter to win one of two $500 gift cards to go on a shopping spree at Macy’s or Nordstrom.

(Disclosure: I am being compensated with beauty products in exchange for checking out the site and giving my honest opinion of it. All thoughts are my own.)

Autism Graphics

I came across a site today called My Autie Space that’s full of amazing Autism related graphics that can be shared online {they even have code boxes for easy sharing!}. Here are some of my favorites:

For Kids:

For Parents:

For Teachers:

For Autism Awareness Month:

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Find many more graphics at My Autie Space!

If You Thought Pinterest Was Addicting…. {Check Out Polyvore}

If you thought Pinterest was addicting and enjoy fashion I invite you to check out Polyvore. I discovered this site today and spent a ridiculous amount of time on it. Polyvore lets you put outfits together and then share them with others. I think it’s great that you can see the designer and prices and also click to purchase right there instead of having to go search the items out. Most of the items featured on the website are way beyond my budget but it’s fun to look and you can always find ideas and then put together cheaper versions of the look.

Here are a few of my favorite outfits:

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Enjoy your new addiction :)

Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon When You Take the North “Poll”

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Melissa & Doug want you to tell them which of their educational toys you think is the best! Just click on the image below to place your vote in the North “Poll!” You’ll Get a Melissa & Doug 25% Off Coupon** to use at MelissaAndDoug.com just for voting!

(Disclosure: I received a gift certificate from Melissa & Doug to post this information but I’m happy to post about it because I love their products.)

Tommee Tippee Digital Storybook Review {And Newborn Starter Kit Giveaway}

tommee starter

I normally don’t review web or phone applications, especially ones that I can’t use, but when Tommee Tippee shared this one with me I just HAD to pass it on! Tommee Tippee, a brand that makes products for babies, has a new digital storybook application called The Day Baby Was Born. This innovative free digital storybook is a simple way to capture moments of pregnancy and the birth day through the gathering of Facebook posts, a selection of birthday news and facts and the collection of precious memories through a pregnancy journal.

Here are some of the features I discovered I loved while looking around the application:

-You can include comments from your Facebook wall so it keeps all the well wishes from your child’s birth day. Even better? You can only include the comments that you want to and you can choose to add the person’s profile picture or no picture (great for those people with friends and family who do not have the most modest profile picture).

-You can add news from the day and facts about the time period to the storybook. You can choose what you want to be included. On Luke’s birth day a scandal erupted about a politician’s affair and that is something I’d rather not have in his storybook (I know this because I got a birth day wall hanging from a different company and they included the affair on it!).

-You can include entries from your pregnancy journal to chronicle the pregnancy.

-You can include pictures of the ultrasound and pictures after birth.

-You can answer question prompts but the question can also be changed for a dad, sibling, or other family member to answer so everyone can have a chance to help create the storybook and the everlasting memories.

One thing I would change was when I put in my due date I got this response: “Your Due Date Was 792 Days Ago. Still waiting? We know, you’re ready, already! If baby refuses to budge in a few weeks, your doctor may want to induce labor, but for now, take it in stride and relax.” It made me laugh out loud at the thought of being pregnant that far past my due date so I would maybe suggest the company change the wording :)

Overall, I really like this web application and how it integrates with Facebook. Now on to the giveaway… Last summer I reviewed the toddler line of products from Tommee Tippee and really liked them. My post was titled “I’ve Found A Toddler Cup That Doesn’t Leak!!!” because the cup really was leak proof! It was great. I don’t have that fantastic toddler cup to give away but I do have a Tommee Tippee Newborn Starter Kit!

GIVEAWAY

Tommee Tippee Newborn Starter Kit

HOW TO ENTER

(Do any or all of the following, leave a comment for each)

1) What is one thing you would include in a storybook of a child’s birth day?

2) Follow @TommeeTippee_NA on Twitter

3) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

4) Share this giveaway on Facebook

5) Tweet: Win a @TommeeTippee_NA newborn starter kit from @aliciamarie112 at www.makingtimeformommy.com

6) Subscribe to this blog via email or RSS

7) Blog about this giveaway

8) Enter another one of my giveaways and let me know which one you entered

Giveaway ends on September 25, 2011 at 11:59pm Central time.

(Disclosure: I was not compensated for this post. All thoughts are my own.)

Meal Planning Help (And An Easy Dinner Recipe)

Easy meal planning

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve opened up my fridge and freezer to figure out what was for dinner and just stood there. More times than I wish to admit we’ve had quesadillas with salsa and fruit on the side because that was easiest to prepare. When I heard about the website Give Every Night New Flavor I wanted to check it out. I loved that I could choose my meal based on what cuisine I was in the mood for, the time I had, and how many people I was looking to feed. The website also let’s you build a printable shopping list and shares coupons for items that you might be buying.

Look how easy meal planning is:

Choose the cuisine you are hungry for, the time you have, and how many people will be eating the meal

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Look through recipes that meet your criteria

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Choose a meal that looks good

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View the ingredients needed

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Make a shopping list and print it or email it

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Some stores let you add coupons right to your card!

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How wonderful of a meal planning tool is that website!?

I wanted to try it out so I found a recipe to make and headed to Food4Less to get my ingredients. I chose an easy meal (only 5 minutes to prepare!) because I’m a busy mom and if it’s not easy it’s not going to get made. Below are some pictures of our shopping trip and meal prep and the directions to make this super easy dinner!

INGREDIENTS:

-2 chicken breasts

-2 cups of broccoli

-1/2 cup of Hunt’s diced tomatoes

-1/4 cup of Italian Dressing

RECIPE:

1) Preheat oven to 450 degrees

2) Lay two sheets of foil on top of each other

3) Put chicken breasts in the center of the foil. Add tomatoes, broccoli, and dressing.

4) Form foil into a pouch, sealing it with space at the top for steam to gather.

5) Place chicken packet on cookie sheet and bake for 25 minutes.

(Caution: When you open the packs be careful not to burn yourself on the steam that will come out.)

Our meal

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(Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shoppers insights study for Collective Bias. All thoughts are my own.)

Great Resource For Moms: Maximize Your Mornings

MYM-book-cover-med

There is no featured mom of the week today. Instead, I wanted to share about a wonderful resource I found on InspiredToAction.com.

Kat has created a FREE e-book called “Maximize Your Mornings: Take Control Of Your Day Before It Starts”. I have just read this and am encouraged to have quiet time in the mornings.

In this e-book she shares why getting up early is so important, how to develop a prayer and Bible study plan, and how to plan your day so you get more things accomplished. She also has some great forms and charts to help you plan and stay on track.

Learn how to create an effective morning routine here—->http://inspiredtoaction.com/ebook/

If you download the e-book please let me know. I’d love to encourage one another in building this habit. Also, if you are on Twitter you can find encouragement from other women waking early by following the hashtag #hellomornings. (If you are new to Twitter and need help with it just email me.)

(She also has other great resources including creating a mission statement for moms e-book, a prayer chart for praying for your children, and a prayer chart for praying for your husband.)

Social Deal Map Review and Restaurants.com GC Giveaway

socialdealmap2

There are hundreds of “deal” sites all over the internet. Wouldn’t it be great if all the daily deals were in one spot?

Well… now they are!

Social Deal Map aggregates deals from numerous group buy websites and displays them on a map. New deals are added frequently. The map pinpoints all local deals available and you can easily check out what is available nearby. Here is the map of the Chicago area. You can see the colored dots where deals are located and if you hover your mouse cursor over them the deal pops up on your screen.

There is also a list of local deals in the left sidebar. Here is a sampling of the options that are currently around me:

I love that there is a RSS subscription option so instead of getting emails from all the different deal sites I would get emails from only one website.

It is also useful for people who commute or travel often. Just by browsing the map, you can find out what is available on your way to your destination or at your destination.

GIVEAWAY:

SocialDealMap.com is giving away a $25 Restaurants.com gift card to one lucky reader.

HOW TO ENTER:

1) Visit SocialDealMap.com and tell me your favorite local deal that you find.

2) “Like” Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

3) “Like” Social Deal Map on Facebook and leave a comment on your favorite deal

4) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

5) Follow @socialdealmap on Twitter

6) Retweet a deal from @socialdealmap (cc: @aliciamarie112)

7) Tweet “Enter to win a $25 Restaurants.com gift card from @socialdealmap and @aliciamarie112 at www.makingtimeformommy.com”

8) Enter another one of my giveaways and tell me which one you entered.

9) Subscribe to Making Time For Mommy via email

Giveaway ends March 19, 2011 at 11:59pm Central time.

(Disclosure: I did not receive compensation for this post.)

Free (Legal!) Music Downloads

saragroves

I recently came upon the site NoiseTrade. According to their website: “NoiseTrade provides an alternative for music fans who want to download good music and still support the artists they love.  And it’s perfect for music fans who don’t have a lot of money but want to help great artists and fans just discovering new music.  You can choose to help in a few ways.  You can tip the artist, share the music on Facebook or Twitter, and email your friends from the NoiseTrade widget.”

One of my favorite finds on this site so far has been a free download of the “O Holy Night Tour Live: The Prison Show” by Sara Groves. Click the image below to be taken to the website to download this music along with music by many other artists.

(Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post just something I wanted to share with you all :) Enjoy!)

My New Gig

Some of you may know already through Facebook or Twitter that I am the new Brand Manager for Living My MoMent but I just wanted to “officially” announce it here.

Living My MoMent is all about supporting MoM and DaD owned businesses and blogs. Here is what Abbey (owner of Living My MoMent) says about her business: “Our country is in one of the worst recessions since the great depression and it’s hard to keep small businesses afloat let alone advertise for them. These types of businesses are usually hit the hardest when the economy is bad and I don’t want to see all of their efforts go to waste. So why not offer FREE ADVERTISING. And that’s what I do!”

Abbey offers many forms of advertising but if you are a MoM or DaD who blogs or owns a small business here is a form you can fill out to be featured FREE on LivingMyMoMent.com:

Blog Form

Business Form

Regardless of whether you blog or own a business, I hope you will check out LivingMyMoMent.com and support MoMs and DaDs.

CardMobili.com Review

I recently had the chance to review CardMobili.com and their application for the Blackberry phone. CardMobili is a unique application that allows users to store their loyalty cards on their cell phones instead of in their wallets. CardMobili supports iPhone, Windows Mobile, Android, Blackberry and JAVA cellphones, such as Nokia, LG, Samsung and Motorola. Here are some of the key features of the CardMobili application:

Using CardMobili was pretty easy. First thing I did was sign up for an account at CardMobili.com.  Next I added my reward cards on the website. I started off adding four cards: ToysRUs, Jewel-Osco (a grocery store), Best Buy, and Speedway (a gas station). All four of these cards were in the CardMobili network but cards that aren’t already in the system can be added in, too. I have not had the chance to try this application at a store yet but to use this application all someone has to do is show their phone at the store and the cashier scans the barcode that is on your phone.

Overall, I love the concept of this FREE site. Many times I have forgotten my card and they usually will take my phone number and look it up. Lately though when I have gone to the grocery store the cashiers have given me a hard time about me not having my card and having to look it up for me. It will be great having this application on my phone so that I always have my reward cards when I need them.

(This is a sponsored post written by me as part of a Team Inexpensively tour, but all opinions are 100% mine.)

Top Ten Tuesday: Sunshine Award BlogHers

Back in July I won a Sunshine Award from Staci at November Sunflower. Thank you so much Staci! :)

“The Sunshine Award is awarded to bloggers whose positivity and creativity inspire others in the blogging world.”

Awards like this have some rules…..

1. Put the award on your blog and/or within your post.

2. Pass the award on to twelve bloggers.

3. Link to the nominees within your post.

4. Let them know they received this award by commenting on their blog.

5. Share the love and the link to the person from whom you received the award.

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I am breaking the rules and sharing this award with 10 (not 12) wonderful women I had the chance to spend time with at BlogHer in New York City:

1. Louise of MomStart

2. Maria of My Chicago Mommy

3. Valerie of Seasonally Affected Mom

4. Heather of Wistful Wrists

5. Heather of Just Heather

6. Renae of Madame Deals

7. Anna of Girl With Blog

8. Maricris of Zensible Mama

9. Alecia of Savings & Stewardship

10. Cher of Mama’s Money Savers

Hope you will stop by their blogs and say hello!! :)

Review of “Sisterly Savings” Frugal Blog

I love to save money so I was very excited when Jennifer of Sisterly Savings contacted me about reviewing her site. I often feel overwhelmed when I visit frugal sites because there is so much information. Trying to find the store deals amongst the coupon codes and freebie posts can sometimes be a daunting task. I love how the Sisterly Savings site is set up. Along the top of the site is a navigation bar that helps you easily find what you are looking for.

The back to school bargains section has posts on where to find the best back to school deals both online and off.

The coupon section is split into coupons that can be found in the Sunday newspaper and ones that can be printed online.

The freebie area of the site is separated by type of freebie (my favorite ones are the photo freebies).

The going frugal section is full of tips on being frugal (I love the newest one about buying coupons on ebay).

Product reviews are in their own category and here you can also find the items that are being offered as giveaways.

The reward programs portion of the blog provides plenty of information on different ways you can earn extra rewards just by shopping, searching the internet, or a number of other things that you probably already do. You can find Pampers “Gifts to Grow” and Huggies “Enjoy The Ride” codes.

The last section is for store deals. Sisterly Savings covers drugstores including CVS, Walgreen’s, and Rite-Aid. She also has deal information from some of my favorite stores including Target, Old Navy, and Kohls.

Sisterly Savings can also be found on Facebook and Twitter so make sure to follow for up to the minute updates on what’s new on her site :)

*****

(Disclosure: I am being paid to review this website but all thoughts and opinions are my own.)

Top 10 Favorite Places Online

Below are the 10 places that I frequent most online. I will go into detail about all of these sites in future posts but I just wanted to share them with you in case you have never heard of some of them.

1. Meetup- This site is great to find local groups of people that have things in common with you. I am a member of some moms groups and we have a message board where we can connect online but then we can also “meetup” in real life. I absolutely love the groups that I’m in and am thankful for all the wonderful friendships I’ve made.

2. Facebook- I love facebook because it keeps me “in the know”. I can stay in touch with family and friends that I don’t see very often.

3. Twitter- Most of my Twitter “friends” I don’t know in real life but the connections I’ve made and the opportunities that have come up in tweets is the reason why Twitter has quickly replaced Facebook as my “go to” networking site. (I should also add here that I never really use the twitter site but view my twitter account through tweetdeck.)

4. Hotmail- I know a lot of people are partial to gmail but I prefer hotmail.

5. Blogs- I love blogs because if there is a topic you want to read about you can probably find someone blogging about it and if you can’t then you can start your own blog. I frequent parenting blogs and Christian blogs but there are some great photography blogs I love looking at, too.

6. WordPress- If you do decide to start a blog I recommend using wordpress.

7. Craigslist- Craigslist has gotten a bad rap lately because of their “adult” ads but I use the site to find garage sales and used clothing and toys for my children.

8. Etsy- This site has the cutest handmade items for children, adults, and the home.

9. Marketing Groups- I’m a part of about 15 marketing groups and I use them to find great products for reviews and giveaways. (Be sure to come back in June for our “birthday bash” where we will feature a new product every day and will celebrate with lots of giveaways.)

10. Foursquare- This last one I’m just starting to use. Due to safety reasons I do not use it in the town I live in nor do I use it when my children are with me but it’s fun to “check in” when I’m out and about.

What are your favorite places online? Do you have a favorite website that you think I should check out? Just leave a comment below!

(This post is linked up to Amanda’s Top Ten Tuesday. Visit her blog to check out more “top 10″ lists.)

Top Ten Items I Love From Mimi’s Babies Etsy Shop (& Giveaway)

8-Crochet Loafer Booties

I love to share things that I love with everyone I know so this week I am spotlighting an adorable Etsy shop called “Mimi’s Babies“. I originally found this shop through Twitter and quickly became Twitter friends with one of the women, Charissa, who co-owns the shop and she made my day by agreeing to let me do a giveaway!

Here are ten of my favorite items in her shop:

1- Trendy Newborn Baby Photography Prop - Egg Pod Cocoon

2-Cupcake Purse

3-Green Spring Crochet Beanie with Oversize Hot Pink Crochet Flower

4-It's My Birthday Celebration Shirt Infant/Toddler Girls

5-Crochet Baby Kimono Pink Booties

6-Chocolate Brown Striped Crochet Beanie Hat

7-Swirls and Twirls Business Card Holder/Wallet

8-Crochet Loafer Booties

9-Six Petal 4 layer Crochet Flower with Crochet Headband

10-Crochet Flower Hair Clip

Now do you see why I’m absolutely in love with this shop? We are giving away one pair of baby booties (boy or girl) to one lucky reader. There are multiple ways you can enter this giveaway. Please leave a comment for each entry.

MANDATORY ENTRY:

1) Go to Mimi’s Babies website and leave a comment here telling me your favorite item in their shop

EXTRA ENTRIES (1 EACH)

1) Subscribe to Mimi’s Babies blog

2) Subscribe to Making Time For Mommy blog

3) Become a fan of Mimi’s Babies on Facebook

4) Become a fan of Making Time For Mommy on Facebook

5) Follow @mimisbabiesetsy on Twitter

6) Follow @aliciamarie112 on Twitter

This giveaway will end 3/9/2010 at 11:59pm. The winner will be notified by email so be sure to leave your email :)

(Disclosure: I have not received any form of compensation for doing this post. The booties that are being given as a prize through this giveaway are being made and sent to the winner by Mimi’s Babies Etsy shop.)

I am linking this post up to Oh Amanda’s meme Top Ten Tuesday.

How to Use Freecycle.org

Freecycle.org is a wonderful website that I have been using for a couple of years now. The description from their website says that freecycle is “a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It’s all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.” You can go to their website to learn more and to sign up for an account but I wanted to do a quick post with a list of a few things I recommend doing if you are looking to receive items from others using this website.

First, join more than one group. I suggest joining not only the group of the town you live in but all towns within a 10 mile radius. One time I drove 30 minutes to meet someone but I left with three garbage bags of baby clothes. Worth it? I think so.

Second, when given the option of how you want to be notified of new posts, choose the ‘individual’ email choice. Emails are sent out when offers are posted and things go fast. I’ve responded to posts less than 5 minutes after they were posted and gotten email responses back saying the items were pending pickup. It’s a lot of emails but if you are looking to get the most out of freecycle it’s the best choice.

Third, set up text alerts on your cell phone. I have alerts come to me every time the words “baby” or “child” are in the subject of an email since I have small children and most of the items I receive are for my boys. These text alerts aren’t always from freecycle (since any email with those words come through as a text) but if I am away from my computer it’s the quickest way to find out about new posts so I can quickly respond. While not all people give the item to the first person who responds, I have found that most people do.

Fourth, say “please” and “thank you”. If you aren’t polite there is a huge chance you won’t get the item. Keep in mind that these people are giving something away for free and they get to choose who they want to give it to.

Lastly, remember that freecycle is a community and that a community works best when everyone gives. Look around your house and if you have items that you are not using consider posting an “offer” ad to give those items a new home.

Happy freecycling! If you have any questions about using freecycle.org or have another tip to share with us just leave a comment. :)