Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Blizz store Winner Chosen!

I've contacted the winner of the contest via the email they provided with their entry.

Congrats to K and enjoy your vanity item, pet, or time card! Thanks for entering and please spread the word!

The next planned giveaway will take place in mid- August. Stay tuned!

WoW Wednesday

Yeah, I was running a day behind with the previous post, sorry about that!

Here's Panser's TradeChat channel video for WoW this week.

Last night in raid we again successfully downed the first 3 bosses of ToT and moved on to Tortos. Tortos whoops our ass. There is just so much rockfall going on!

I dont understand this. I've even watched videos of it being done on heroic, and there totally looks like a lot less rockfall going on than we're seeing. I counted 5 different circles around me at one point, all overlapping. They look more isolated in videos. Not sure what's going on there.

In other news, trying to Legendary questline continuance for the ilvl 600 legendary cloak. The DPS challenge (the only one I can do; warlocks can't heal others or sustained tank) is extremely hard. After 7 wipes with no progress made at all (pretty much instant death when the adds came out) I nerd raged.

This is frustrating me as much as the warlock green fire quest.

I feel like I've just finally hit the ceiling of my playing ability. Until (and if) I can cross the next threshold of ability (improved reaction, movement, awareness of mechanics) I am on a plateau.

You know what?

I didn't pick up WoW to be an elite hardcore raider. I played it for fun. I got involved in raiding, and things sort of took off over several months leading to where I'm at now - I went too fast, I have been carried in some ways, and I constantly worry about holding back my team.

I don't think I've even seen T13 heroic - why am I doing T15 progression? There are still T14 normal kills that I have not seen. Sure I have gotten to see the content in LFR but it's incredibly not the same thing.

What I love about raiding is being with a group of people that get my humor and that are having fun doing the raid. I don't want it faceroll easy - I enjoy positioning, strategy, how our different roles work together and how to support each other. I like putting on my headphones and signing into Ventrilo and hearing all these voices chatter while we play. If we mess up, we'll wipe - and we'll get back up and try again. 

To a point.

I don't find wiping on the same boss 20-30 times over a period of weeks to be any fun at all. I am under incredible stress of as-instant-as-I-can reaction to *everything* so that I don't stand in shit, don't endanger someone else, or don't pull the numbers being counted on me to do to such an extent that if I screw up say 2 things out of *90*, it will contribute to us wiping. 

I do not enjoy that. I think auto-death abilities of bosses or add damage that is so freaking huge that it can kill you in 2-3 hits (especially since I play a class that cannot kite well) is effing ridiculous, and I've thought that since the first time I encountered it. Yes, if you stand in the purple puddle of death, you should expect to die within a range of time that is somewhere between "instant" and "a full thirty seconds". It should hit you hard enough that you CAN'T ignore it and steamroll through it. It should not hit you so hard that if your reaction time is slightly off, you're dead (I'm looking at you, quicksand PLUS rooted TO the quicksand of death. Really?!)

But I do understand that some people do enjoy these things, or that they are so much better players than me they need that additional challenge to make the content a challenge for them. And that's ok.

So if you're in an Oceanic realm and do late night raiding of anything previous to ToT, hit me up please. I'd like to learn Dragonsoul and Firelands and get the achievements and do the challenge of them on Heroic. I'd like to be part of an Empress kill. I'd like to take on Mogushan Vaults and learn the Heroic mechanics of it.

"Slow down" was the message of Pandaria. Why is no one listening?

Twatwaffle Tuesday - Lawncare edition

So this is a thing now.

Back in mid-July (around the 12th or so?) we had a business card left our front door. I normally toss all of this kind of stuff, but we happened to actually be in need of some of the services listed on it.

DH and I discussed it and decided to put in a request for an estimate - we weren't sure we could do what was needed right at the moment, but to even get it done before winter we would obviously need to know the level of expense we were facing. We planned to get estimates from 3 different companies to compare (and not just money, but their communication style, eye for detail.. that sort of thing. Much rather find someone we liked and could stay with long term).

What we needed done was to have all the weeds from the flower beds yanked, the ground tilled, a weed barrier put down, and mulch put down for low maintenance. We're on level 2 mandatory water restrictions in my city at this point. We also asked about the price of having the existing shrubs and bushes trimmed.

Here is where things went screwy.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Do Not.. Eat.. The Cucumber

At least not that way?

NSFW, click read more after the jump to see the pics.

DemonDaughter was chowing down on a cucumber. I looked over and totally and completely lost my shit. Then DamnHusband did. DemonSpawn fell to the floor spasming in laughter he was trying to suppress and making strange donkey like noises.

And this.. this is what we saw.

Link Up Monday!

OrgJunkie's Menu Monday. My contribution... uh. Hmm. I haven't even had breakfast yet, it's hard to think about dinner already. And I'm tired. That always means... THE CROCKPOT! Honestly if you ever see a recipe from me on a Monday that does not involve my beautiful, stainless steel, CrockPot - the body snatchers have gotten to me. Send help.

Recipe for Success:

2/3 box of mini farfalle or penne pasta (it's the mini that's important for the 4 hour timing. If you use bigger or thicker noodles, you may need a little more water and 6 hours).
2 jars Vodka Sauce
(add just enough hot water to each jar to get the rest of the yummy sauce out. Not too much, about 1/2 inch or so)
1/2 bag frozen Italian style meatballs
Cook on low for 4 hours (if you go longer with this one it gets mushy, so kick it down to "warm" if you need to leave it in longer).
Serves 8

Enjoy... we all do!

LifeHacks from Buzzfeed

I normally HATE Buzzfeed, but I actually found some usable ideas here, like a magnet strip for bobby pins; we already have coat hooks in the kids bath but idiot me never thought about a shelf over it and I actually have one we can use; and StickOnPods may just become my new crack habit.

I really love the look of the two shower curtains parted in the middle, but I could not reconcile this idea with it being functional in a bathroom shared by two teenagers and a very messy DemonPrincess. But my brain wouldn't let go of the idea. I think I figured out how to make this work, so I'm actually going to try it.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday's Funny Shite

We had friends over for dinner (STEAKS! and sweet potatoes! and spinach! NOM NOM NOM) and to hang out and play Munchkin. Much hilarity ensued.

First, we needed to keep DemonPrincess entertained so we could actually play, so DamnHusband gave her his bag of dice. This kept her busy for all of about 4 nanoseconds, then she dissappeared with them. We found dice in her bed, hidden under the pillow. The best part though was that she decided she needed a dice bag as well - so she took off her socks and shoes and made one.

Yep. A sock. Works in a pinch. Doesn't make dice smell too good though. And the dog kept trying to eat it.

Oh yes. Our dog has a shoe fetish. I don't mean the typical "goes after discarded shoes to chew on them" behavior. If he sees a shoe, he FREAKS THE FUCK OUT. If it's on your feet, he chases it and tries to bite it. In a box? Bark bark bark growl. Sitting down? Um, sorry about the hump job, dear visitor. And the dog hair.

And the funny comments from yesterday which I am not including the context of so that they sound even more wrong than they were (but actually they were all really almost THAT wrong.)

"Get your hand out of your butt"

"+1 Slimy Armor. FOREVER ALONE!" "Yeah, the slimy part has a lot to do with that, probably".

"NO! You cannot touch my boobs! NO! ..... I feel violated".

"Congrats, you're a unicorn"
"No, he's extra horny."

"Thank you so much for that slap in the face".

See ya tomorrow!

Quick Deal of the Day at Plumdistrict

This deal has expired.

Plumdistrict is offering 30% their deals today with code PARENTSDAY30.

Of particular note, they have a 1 year subscription to Bulubox for $55. After the coupon it is $38.50 - making your sub $3.20 per box! I thought that was pretty darn awesome. (They also offer a 6 month sub for $21 after the coupon, or $3.50 per box.) Bulubox is normally $10 a month.

Bulubox offers both a weight loss option and a healthy lifestyle option for boxes, you can choose which one you prefer.


Go to Plumdistrict and add the voucher to your cart. Use code PARENTSDAY30 to get the 30% off. Click on My Account and view the voucher # (copy it).

Then go to BuluBox and click on "Box". Select the option you chose (6 month or 12 month, and which of the box choices you want). Add to cart and go to checkout.

At checkout is a box for COUPON. Enter your voucher code there. Enter shipping infomation. Payment section should state "No payment information needed" - this also means they won't bill you after the year's sub ;) Click done!

Hope you found this deal as awesome as I did!

ETA: When I signed in to Bulubox, I found I was awarded 120 points for getting an annual subscription. 100 points = $10 (very similar to Birchbox). That right there makes this deal worth THIRTEEN months! Or you can choose to spend the points in their store if you sample a product you'd really like to get more of.

Disclaimer: I received nothing extra for free or compensation for posting this. Links included are affiliate links that do give me credit should you choose to you use them (and which allow me to continue reviewing new products and deals for you). If you do not wish to use the affiliate links, simply type in the website names into your address bar - there is no affiliation attached to the codes or steps offered.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

So Much for Not Blogging on Saturday

Just have so much going on in my head today. I finished some chores in less time than I thought I would, so now I'm sitting down and taking a break before jumping back in (and waking up demon princess).

I've had some questions from those who know me elsewhere about my newly discovered love of subscription boxes. See, we tend to live a more minimalist, simple lifestyle. It was not always this way; we lived simply in some ways, but I did a lot of coupon shopping and hoarded usable things in large stockpiles. There *is* a time and a place for that (I'll go into that later), but the time I was spending both buying it up and maintaining it (organizing, dusting, whatever) became a hassle.

"How in the world," they ask, "can you justify getting all of this, well, crap when you said you want to live more simply?"

That was a really good question. I thought about it before replying. As the boxes have actually come in, I've thought about it every time I've opened one, as well.

Was I doing the wrong thing? Was I getting sucked into materialistic consumerism at a time when we'd decided that our experiences were worth way more than any "Stuff" we'd surround ourselves with? Where was all of this going to go if we didn't use it?

I've learned some good answers - at least on a few of the boxes. Go Home, You're Drunk

I just had to share, this was an order I had a couple orders ago for just some shampoo deals and whatnot.

Someone in the shipping department was totally ready to go home. This is exactly how the box came with no cushioning (I think they usually use those filled-bags-of-air), and we apparently gained an industrial grade box sealer. Yes, the box did not fair well and is collapsed/kicked in on one side. Fotunately all my products themselves arrived fine.

This was so funny, I didn't even bother complaining (my stuff was fine). It's good for the LOLz though. I hope this worker had a nice Friday night out.

 photo IMG_0187_zps23f101b1.jpg

Friday Challenge (Yes, we're a day late.)

The Continuing Adventures in Lawn Care really threw me for a loop. We have big plans this weekend - I need to go to the grocery store, Demonspawn is spending the night with a friend in another suburb and needs transport; then tomorrow DearDemon returns from my stepdad's just in time for friends to come over for dinner.

Did I mention that the house needs a good cleaning as well? Eek. Or that DamnHusband works till Saturday evening? And I raid tonight!

So let's talk about the challenge of when you suddenly realize Company Is Coming. What do you do? What are your priorities?

Here's what I try to make sure gets done:

  1. Send one demonchild around with some sort of box to collect The Things Which Do Not Belong. Said box can be stashed away to be dealt with later, or they can actually Put Things Where They Go if time allows (or if I just need to give them something to do to keep them out of my hair).
  2. Have demonchildren start sweeping and vacuuming up the copious amounts of dog hair that seem to explode out of nowhere. We have one, very short haired dog - and yet we have the appearance of dog hair from an entire kennel's worth of differently haired dogs. When gathered up, the resulting hair ball looks to be bigger than my dog. How does this happen? Are there late night Dog Hair Parties that I am missing?
  3. Demonchidren then make sure the guest bath trash and kitchen trash have been emptied.
  4. Demonchildren are responsible for cleaning the playroom (which these days is pretty empty, but the table still collects crayons and papers and such) and generally making sure anything the dog chewed up has been trashed, or given to DemonPrincess2 so she can cry about it for the next three hours because it was her Favorite Piece of Random Crap Ever That Can Never Be Fixed and I tell her too bad, so sad, don't leave it out where the dog can get it. (Yes, I am that mean.)

Lest you think that I force my minions to do all of the work, I am actually busy doing the things I don't yet trust them to do to my standards of cleaning. If they miss a dog hair, no big deal. On other things, cleanliness rules (for me).

  1. I blitz the kitchen. Sink cleaned out and deoderized. Counters disinfected from gods know what (including scraping off wax, crayon, or any other disgusting crusty substances that may have at one point in time been peanut butter.) I am thankful once again for the granite which will never show black sharpie marks and congratulate myself on picking it out.
  2.  Run around and put a new cube of Scentsy in each warmer that's out. I don't actually care how full it is, as long as it doesn't overflow, it gets the perk-up. Win! The kids would totally turn this into SplashMountain of Wax, so they don't get to do it.
  3.  Give the kitchen table as best of a scrub down as I can, like the counters. No one wants to set their drink down in the middle of conversation only to have a look of horror come over their face as they stare into the abyss of I Swear That's Strawberry Jelly and Maybe Crisps.
  4. The Guest Bathroom. My floors may look like a horror show, but I promise the Porcelain Throne shall have the appearance of cleanliness with the lid up OR down. And that place where you wash your hands will actually be a clean place to do so, with soap, and a clean towel (pardon the bleach stains).
  5. Gathering up any large random items like projects, ironing, or the like and shoving them into the laundry room as the doorbell rings.
Time: Approximately 15 minutes. If we had an entire half hour, the chances are greatly increased that the dog hair is actually mostly gone, and I am not facing piles in the laundry room of Things to Put Away Later. Longer than that and I may even have been able to scrub the peanut butter and yogurt off of the fridge handles and use the Stainless Steel Polish so that it doesn't look like Gozer's children haunt my house and live in the appliances.

What's your plan?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Organizing Kids' Art Supplies


This project was originally done in our playroom some time ago. While the containers themselves have since been re-homed in a cabinet, the organization itself remains the same and is as functional today as it was when I first did it 3 years ago.

I am posting it again because Oriental Trading finally carries the Large Plastic Jars again (for over 18 months, they didn't, and I had many disappointed readers trying desperately to find them.)

Are you tired of using cups, pails, mugs, or boxes that contain your supplies but can be knocked over (or dropped and spilled)?

Do you do a lot of crafting that uses small items, like beads?

Would you really enjoy a *pretty* organizing method for these supplies that is 100% functional, adaptable, and can be used almost anywhere and customized to any decor?

Okay maybe you don't care as much about that part as I do, and I'm no Billie Mays. But I did find a really awesome way of neatly organizing all of our art and craft supplies. The containers are plastic and child safe (but they are not food safe).

First, you will need these:

Tall Jars, $7 per dozen
Short Jars, $7.25 per dozen

The great thing about these jars is the that they fit everywhere I have tried them - kitchen cabinet shelves, standard bookshelves, the tall ones even fit 4 per Closetmaid Cubicle if you want them further organized in some manner.

The Short Jars:

  • Hold all manner of crayons from standard to the My First triangular type, to Crayon Rocks. (Note that brand new "Jumbo Size" Crayola crayons do NOT fit as they are 1/2" too tall; however they can be placed once they've been colored with a bit, if you use these).
  • Are great for separating out mid to larger size beads, including children's large wooden counting bead.
  • Hold all manner of small office supples such as pushpins, paper clips, mini binder clips and yes even LARGE 3" binder clips.
  • Hold an entire set of standard 1" magnetic plastic letters.

The Tall Jars:

  • Hold paintbrushes, including larger children's brushes such as Melissa & Doug. 
  • Hold pens, highlighters, Sharpies, Gel Pens, Mechanical Pencils, unsharpened pencils, and all manner of writing implements. I've even gotten full size extended calligraphy pens with nibs and kanji brushes in them safely.
  • Hold full size trays of children's watercolors (such as Crayola, Rose Art, etc)
I chose not to decorate mine, but you can go all out on these with beautiful trim to match your decor or interests, or use Chalkboard Labels or other Vinyl labels.

The first place I used them was for our art supplies on a shabby chic bookcase my kids loved.

I don't have pictures to share, but I have continued using these in many other places and purposes.

In the bathroom they hold hair clips, ponytail holders, those disposable flossing sticks, skincare supplies for each of my teens, samples and travel sizes of items (like single packets of sunblock), even bandaids.

In the kitchen I've used them to organize bento items in a drawer (the short jars only) and holiday cookie cutters and such in a deep drawer.

My husband uses them in the garage for nails, screws, extra knobs (short jars); and cable ties, drill bits, screwdrivers (tall jars).

They are the perfect versatile organizing solution! I hope this helps you as much as it did me!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Tiny Note About Birchbox

Because I am dumb and just figured this out.

You can review each of your 5 products each month, for 10 points each (50 points total). 100 points = $10 to spend on the site.

$10 = a free Birchbox every 3rd month, or spend it on a specialty box.

Very cool on top of everything else they are offering. I liked this box so much that I went ahead and signed up for an annual subscription for $110. Using code join110annual gave me 220 additional points for upgrading. In combination with my 1 purchase and reviews from ONE Birchbox, I have $30 credit (and got a free box with the annual rate, as well). That means the next specialty boxes they offer, I can already order for free, or if there's a must have in one of my boxes, I've already got $30 to spend on it.

Best reward program options I've seen so far that are not driven purely by "refer a friend". I did all of this on my own and feel like I really got a deal on something I'm really enjoying. Birchbox has also been around for awhile with tons and tons of reviews, so I feel like this was a solid purchase.

Thursday Box of Awesome: Vega

This definitely qualifies as a Bag of Awesome!

Imagine my surprise when this box came this morning, shipped super quickly. Inside was this:

 photo IMG_0366_zpse0b780fc.jpg

It took a good ten minutes to lay everything out to try to get a decent picture. There was SO MUCH awesomeness in this bag of awesome! Over 50 samples, deluxe samples, and even several full size freebies! We already ate the "SmartyPants Gummy vitamins For Adults" - and I am so ordering these. They're freaking candy! Really good tasting candy, even. I'd have no clue they were vitamins at all if someone didn't tell me. I'm going to get some, for sure. I can't wait to try some of the other awesome in here.

It's still available on the site, so I highly recommend getting it!

*edit - I didn't lay anything out to help with sense of scale, but that's a *full size* bag of granola and 3 serving size bag of Funny Monkey. The bag is a good 18" by 18" reusable bag. Even the stuff that looks tiny, like the little green tube, is actually about 4" tall. These are not itty bitty samples at all.

 photo IMG_0369_zps4808b05b.jpg

Additionally, I've updated the site with reviews of BeautyBox5, Birchbox, and ConsciousBox. Check it out!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

WoW Wednesday - 7/25 Edition

Welcome to WoW Wednesday! Today's cool Panser video is about the WoW TCG (with a higher chance of getting a loot card); a trailer for the WoW movie shown at SDCC; vanity helms in the virtual store, and other items of note.

I didn't have time today (doctor's appointment and an absolutely lousy Adventure in Lawn Care that I'll go into next Tuesday...) to actually write much of a post about WoW this week. We did take down the first 2 Throne of Thunder bosses (again) last night, but stalled again on Council. I can't wait to see those suckers go down, let me tell ya.

So in lieu of a post with a lot of discussion, let's have our first Geek Giveaway! Enter here for a chance to win your choice of a time card, pet, or one of the new vanity items! Maximum value $15.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

TwatWaffle Tuesday - School Enrollment Edition

Much WTFery about today.

A little back story. DemonSpawn went to a charter school for the first two grading periods of 8th grade. Due to some massive douchebags in administration there, we withdrew all of the children  right after the Thanksgiving holiday.

The first WTF we ran into is that our local public schools do some kind of "accelerated instruction" where they take 4 classes per semester, and cover a year's (full 1.0 credit) material within that time. This meant that if he transferred in, he would receive no credit, including the six weeks he attended and was graded for in the remainder of that semester at that school. *feels brain cells die just thinking about it again* Even as an adult, all I could think was "Well, why the hell bother then?"

So, we home schooled. We all hated it. I know some people love it and succeed at it and have amazing kids that do great with it. DemonSpawn does not.

Then, in January, he suffered a large seizure, and over the next few months of panic and neurologist visits and testing, we found out that he has Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy (JME). By the time all of that was sorted out, it was already May.

So here we are. We used a Virtual School for curriculum, and they agreed to let us withdraw him with "incompletes" instead of any grading/failure because of the medical issue. We all knew he'd need to repeat 9th grade this coming year.

But I'm pissed off. The local campus won't give him *any* credit for work he did complete a year's worth of unless the virtual school graded it *or* he can do credit by exam. CBE is fine with us, but they don't offer it for French or some of the other subjects he should absolutely have credits for (they only do it for English, Math, Science, Social Studies courses). We were counting on these so he would have more electives this year to ease him back into things without too much pressure from too many subjects, especially since he's never done this "accelerated learning" thing.

I'm not even getting into the 504 plan and bussing issues I talked to the registrar about.

Bah, humbug. I know what to do and will win this little bullshit battle, but I cannot for the life of my understand how the state of education here got to be so absolutely, positively, fucked up regarding transfer students.

Decent deal for the Eco Friendlies is running a large Vega sample bag with the purchase of $75 or more from the Green store section of the site (such as "Eco Home"). The GE LED lightbulbs qualify for this.

I ordered 4 since I've been wanting to try them and do a review on the light quality, plus some Method dishwashing soap refills (I love this soap, in the Clementine scent) and granite polish. There are some coupons available if you like or use Bee Soap (B3G1F at 1.59), Chicken Poop Lip Balm (B2G1F), and some Tom's toothpastes if you want to maximize savings. I didn't worry about it since I had drugstore dollars I needed to use in the next week. My total was $62 shipped.

Simply visit (non affiliate link) and click on the banner that looks like this:

Monday, July 22, 2013

Lots of Posts Today!

I'm going to give a little rundown of what to expect from this blog. Plus, I totally suck at planning out what to write, so a little structure is good.

Monday Link A Thon because my brain is fried on Monday and so is yours:
  • A link up to OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday
  • Links to posts I liked from blogs that I enjoy, such as RantsFromMommyLand
  • Links to deals I've collected from the past week to share with you
TwatWaffle Tuesday because what else am I going to do while WoW does weekly maintenance?
  • Negative stuff that's going on, in your world or mine. We all need a place to vent. Given our Adventures In Disabilties, this is likely to be about dealing with schools since it's about to be August.
    Wednesday WoW Roundup because I raid on Tuesdays, yo. 
    • Embedding one of Panser's WoW youtube vids, or some other cool WoW video
    • Discussing aspects of the game or funny things that have happened during the past week
    • If viewership rises to the point that I can afford to do it, the First Wednesday of the month, I will give away either a 30 day PlayTime card for WoW, or a virtual item from the Blizz store for WoW content
    Thursday Box of Awesome every day in my house has awesome boxes. Empty boxes can be awesome, just ask my kids.
    • Reviewing at least one item I seriously couldn't live without, and don't think you should, either
    • Linking up to the reviews of subscription boxes that have come in the past week
    Friday Challenge because it's not quite the weekend yet
    • Asking you to join me in a project - virtual or real 
    • Showcasing a previous organization that I have done, filling in back content to bring the blog up to date, then proceeding with current projects from then on
    Saturdays don't get blogged because that's the day I'm taking off. However, follow us on twitter because my phone can go to the park, grocery store, and other places my computer can't.

    Hangover Sunday because I raid Saturday nights, yo. Dungeons and Drinking, Arrr!
    • Sharing the weirdest crap our kids have said or we have found ourselves saying to them this week. 

    We're Looking!

    First of all, I'm committed to keeping this blog limited to ads that I have personally added to the site - whether it's a subscription box, graphics service, WAHM business, or products I personally use from Amazon.

    I will NOT be enabling AdSense or any other 3rd party ad targeting. We all get enough of that from Facebook, right?!

    There are things that I would like to do to make the blog somewhat self supportive, though. Thanks to Blogger, there are minimal operating costs (domain registration yearly, graphics, etc). If there's anything that pays out "real money" - such as Amazon - I am committed to using those proceeds for additional product reviews, or even giveaways on the blog.

    What can you do to help?

    1. Please use my referral links if you decide to sign up with a service or product I've reviewed or promoted. This may enable me to continue a subscription I might otherwise have needed to rotate out to review others (since my goal is to review as much for you as I possible can, but I do not have a Tree of Infinite Wealth).

    2. Send me a gifted box from a service you'd like to see me review. If I've signed up with one, you will see them on the Reviews page without a hyperlink. If I've received it and reviewed it already, a hyperlink to the review post will be included. If you gift me a box, I will include YOUR referral link within the review!

    3. Send me products that you'd like me to try, review, and promote. If you own the business (or are an independent consultant), I'll give you free ad space in return (this may either be in post format, or sidebar rotation).

    4. Make suggestions of things you'd like to see, and participate in the discussions. I am casting a wide net currently, that will eventually narrow based on responses (and whether or not we as a family personally use or enjoy certain ones).

    Please send all submissions to

    Yes, there will be a geek giveaway

    I'm aware that not everyone in the audience needs skincare or makeup :)

    Let's do a little poll. Which of the following would you like to be gifted a free box from?

    • BootyBin
    • LootCrate
    I have to tell you, we *just* got LootCrate in, and it's pretty damn cool! I was impressed.

    Org Junkie link up - What's For Dinner?

    Monday is Menu Plan Monday over at my hangout, Honestly, I haven't decided yet, but probably crock pot chili. Even my super picky DD2 will ask for seconds!

    Easy recipe is as follows.

    1 CrockPot or other slow cooker (if you don't want to bother with clean up, I love the crock pot liners)
    1 can of light colored beans (white kidney is our choice) - drain this can first
    1 can of dark colored beans (dark red kidney is our choice) - use juice from this one
    1 can of el Cheapo Spaghetti Sauce in a can (need the large size can, or 2 smaller ones)
    1/2 to 1 full pound of browned ground turkey or beef
    1 packet of McCormick's chili seasoning ( we prefer mild)

    Give a quick stir and cook on LOW for 4-6 hours (You can go longer if you keep the juice from both cans of beans.) If the chili is too thin, increase the temperature and remove the lid to reduce the sauce, takes about one hour. Feeds 6-8 people.

    We love this easy chili so much that we don't even use cheese. Perfect over Fritos or served with crackers or cornbread - so versatile! Also freezes well.

    Sunday, July 21, 2013

    Welcome to my Asylum!

    You may know me from our previous journeys or social sites. You may have read one of my blogs. Or maybe we met at one of Meltini's infamous parties (heh).


    When I first started blogging, I was overwhelmed at being a mom to two children, one of whom had some sort of undiagnosed special need. In the years that followed, that became three children. After ten years of advocating, my middle daughter was finally diagnosed with Autism (along with ADHD, OCD, and generalized anxiety disorder). On the heels of her diagnosis our youngest was also diagnosed with a more severe form of both ADHD and Autism. This past January, our neurotypical eldest DemonSpawn had a grand mal seizure, and was ultimately diagnosed with Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy.

    So now I'm really freaking overwhelmed. 

    *takes a deep breath*

    But we keep plugging on. Sometimes there is screaming. Sometimes there are tears. (Don't bother putting me on a pedestal, I already broke it). There are always hugs and kisses and a lot of honest and open communication. 

    Instead of having seperate blogs about my organization projects, shopping and coupons, and special needs advocacy, it made more sense to re-launch as a more general blog and let things show how they all work together for us, and give a better picture of our lives together. So this blog came to be.

    While I haven't determined the way it will go yet, I will be doing certain subjects on certain days routinely here on the blog. You can also use the handy buttons at the top to see my tweets, facebook updates, pinterest, etc which will be updated more often (I love my phone. It's schmexy)

    For quick reference, the people in my blog are referred to as:

    DH - Dear (or Damn) Husband
    DS - Dear (or Demon) Spawn, eldest boy
    DD1 - eldest Dear (or Demon) Daughter
    DD2 - youngest Dear (or Demon) Daughter
    Meltini - my sister in law who is crazy awesome wonderful and does roller derby and has an ubercute kid and throws the BEST PARTIES EVER.


    Tuesday, July 16, 2013

    Why I Love World of Warcraft

    For many, many years, I was - and used the term - a "WoW Widow". The term was used to refer to being the wife of a World of Warcraft player. It was the subject of much frustration at times. I just could NOT understand what the deal was with this stupid game!

    Finally, another acquaintance of mine turned out to be a player, and got me to sign up for the free trial to check it out. By this point, I was very familiar with games such as the Sims, and had played a couple other MMO's for a short period of time, never finding one I really liked that held my interest.

    An addiction was born. Now I think it's my poor husband that's a WoW Widower (but thanks for getting the kids to bed while I hopped on for Raid sweetie <3) We do play together when possible, but our main characters are on different servers for various reasons, and the game doesn't currently let you raid the most current content with groups made from different servers.

    So why do I love WoW? First, because this game is straight up hilarious at times. It remains somewhat family-friendly and Safe For Work while still making a ton of references to pop culture and innuendos.

    Panser (WoW Insider) does some decent videos on listing some of them out, so I'm going to leave that to her. Even if you don't play, you can enjoy some of the in jokes and references here.

    Things Raven Is Not Allowed To Do in Raid (Part 1)

    (Original credit goes to Skippy's List that I have always enjoyed.)

    If you're not familiar with the term, "Raid" refers to my weekly guild event on World of Warcraft. Ten people form a connected group and then attempt to defeat powerful bosses together. We voice chat (Vent) at the same time to help enable quick communication. If we have less than ten people, we will sometimes bring people from outside the core group in to make the number needed to Raid.

    Ravyn is my blood-elf Warlock.

    Things I'm not allowed to do in raid anymore, Part 1 

    1. Turn the tank into a bunny right as we pull the boss
    2. /Pet the hunter's pet snake, Trouser
    3.  Pull All The Things
    4. ERP with death knights or anyone else during break 
    5. Steal the undead healer's jaw
    6. Talk in Creepy Little Girl voice over Vent
    7. Play "Let the Bodies Hit the Floor" over Vent
    8. Play or even threaten to Play "MmmBop" over Vent
    9. /Snort the Funereal Dust
    10. Ride Horridon (giant dinosaur raid boss)
    11. Ride any raid bosses 
    12. Jump for the invisible boat or any other object I have been told is there and just invisible
    13. Die to the elevator boss on purpose because the mage saved you once
    14. Tell new people to jump down the Elevator Boss as a shortct, even if they are annoying.

    *ERP stands for Erotic Role Play, something a particular server is known for and constantly made fun of

    I'm sure there will be more..

    Family Resemblances

    I received a very unexpected message on Facebook today, from my mother's first husband. He was kind enough to send me some pictures of her. Until today I don't think I'd seen any from before her high school graduation pic (or if I had, it wasn't often or something I had access to with regularity).

    My mother passed away in June of 2011. It's been very hard being without her. We didn't have a typical mother/daughter relationship, but we had a good adult one. She was very kind hearted, and my kids have many good memories of their Granny. She is sorely missed.

    I was struck by the picture of her because I'd been told for some time how much my middle daughter resembled her; I could see a slight bit of that, but not a lot. In this picture, I can really see it. I'm told this one is from 6th grade, so I'm posting a photo of DD1 from 6th grade so the ages are very close.

    Is there someone in your family (parent or otherwise) that you greatly resemble?

    Monday, July 15, 2013

    Birchbox Review

    I am totally in love with Birchbox! Birchbox has approximately a 1 month waiting list, and costs $10 per month including shipping.

    This month's box contained the following. I was so excited I made a fangirl squirrel squee. It was embarassing, really.

    - Benefit's "Hello Flawless Oxygen Wow" deluxe foundation sample (I LOVE Benefit, as most of you know. Love it so very very very much. I know from experience in trying to pack lightly for trips that their "deluxe sample" sizes are perfect - and you can only get them through special offers like with a purchase at Sephora or Benefit online, OR you can buy them.. for $10 a pop. That's the cost of my Birchbox right off the bat!)

    - N4 instant detangling spray (we go through detangling spray here like Cookie Monster goes through cookies)

    - Three - yes, three - deluxe packets of  100% Pure coconut body cream (dd1 was in desperate need of this. Poor thing with fast growth, she's even got stretch marks on her shoulders)

    - Small sample of an SPF 30 sunscreen (will update later with name, dd1 ran off with it, we also go through sunscreen like crazy)

    - Tantowel tanning wipe. (This is the only thing going into the "giveaway" pile, we just don't use this kind of thing.)

    4 out of 5 hits in one box! I'm really impressed. BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE!

    I logged into my account, and found they'd given me $10 credit for joining!

    They have these 2 neat special edition boxes they emailed me about, a luxe one for $18 and a mainstream for $12 - or buy both for $26. I also wanted to order some of the Cocoa cream for dd1 and that pushed me over $35. The deal with *that* is that you get to then add 2 more sample kits to your cart *for FREE* and you can choose mystery or one that tells you what's in it. I chose a hair twistie and nail polish that's a neat shade.

    And THEN for the coup de grace, I used the code that came in my July Birchbox for a free deluxe sample of Benefit's ChaChaTint (unlike their other liptints, this one is HARD to get a deluxe sample of unless you want to shell out $10!). Limit one code per purchase (I had like 11 codes so that made me a little sad, but that would have been too cool to be allowed to happen, anyway.)

    If you DID sign up and got your box - use your $10 credit on the mainstream limited box and get it for $2 shipped :) Good deal there too!

    Verdict: A+ I am definitely keeping this subscription and it was worth waiting for!

    BeautyBox5 Review(s)

    This is probably my only mostly negative review so far, so be aware of that. I have already cancelled this subscription.

    I signed up for BeautyBox5 in the beginning of June. The first box that I received was one of the first subscription boxes I had ever signed up for, so I wasn't sure what to expect.

    The box was small, and light. Light blue in color. Contents were dissappointingly small, to me.

    • 2 larger packets of Body Bronzer, by "Just Being Sexy". This is sort of in between a self tanner and a bronzer in that it is a body cream that absorbs, however there are multiple warnings on the packet about drying and potential color transfer. I can't seem to find this product for sale anywhere; googling produces and Amazon image result, but goes nowhere, as if it was at one time on the site. (Setting retail for these at $1 each since I can't find them)
    • Shampoo and Conditioner by Coolway. These were 1oz sample bottles (about the size you'd find in a hotel). I'm not familiar with the brand, but I can't locate this for purchase either unless you buy the whole "system" (including a flat iron) for over $100. (Setting retail for these at $1 each since I can't find them)
    • Shea Terra Black Rose Hip Facial Cleanser. A nice eco-friendly, full size product - that retails for $4.50.
    • A makeup brush hanger (called Minxxette). This might truly be an awesome product for somebody and have some niche market application. None of my brushes will work with it (Tokidoki) and there's nowhere to really use this in my bathroom. It looks, sadly, like a dollar store item, though it supposedly costs about $4.50.

    Retail value was about $13. The box is $12 a month, so really no value at all. I disliked that I hadn't even heard of any of the brands before (and I know a *lot* of brands.. just saying.) I decided to cancel and here's where I actually got "negative" - the website was down. You could sign up, as near as I could tell - but could not access your own account to cancel. I had to email in my request. By the time that went through and they responded, they said I'd already been charged for July's box, but it would be cancelled and no more boxes would come following that.

    (Note - July was nowhere close to *shipping* at that point - really? DISLIKE)

    So a couple of days ago, the July box came. Same small blue box (It's even smaller than Birchbox).

    This time around we got...

    1) Every Beauty Foot Smoother ($8.99) full size product. Actually, I really liked this. I am obsessed with good foot care, and cursed with bad genetics. I get dry skin and calluses easy, so I am always interested in products that help with this. This is basically a sponge with two types of sandpaper on it (yes, really) - but it works really well. It was a lot easier and more ergonomic to use than a PedEgg or similar. I have concerns about how long it will last before breaking down or being ineffective.. but I DO actually like this.

    2) Two Jean Pierre Cosmetics nail polish remover wipes. I love the idea of these and portability, and I do understand this is just meant to be a sample. However, I couldn't get one wipe to last long enough to do one hand of NON-sparkle polish removal - due to the nature of the remover chemicals, this dries out quickly. At least I do know now that if I wanted to take these on a trip, I would need more than I thought I did. Retailing at $4 for a set of 10, I think I'll stick to the 99c bottle of remover and some tissues.

    3) Be a Bombshell lipgloss, fullsize. This was in a color that made me wince - 1980s neon hot pink! However, I let the demon daughters try it out, and it wasn't bad at all - so I stole it back. It is pretty tacky in texture, but it's nice for a quick pop of color. Retail $14

    4) LA Fresh pack of travel antibacterial wipes. Full size - TRAVEL - pack. This was actually useful and neat, but I don't see what it has to do with "Beauty" as far as "BeautyBox" implies. I'd expect this in some other type of curated box. Retail $2

    5) H2O Plus Face Oasis Hydrating Treatment. This is a very tiny sample; full size retail of $36. I actually tried this right off the bat since so far so good on the products in this month's box... and yuck. It felt really heavy, tacky, and just ultimately gross and slimy on my face. I have thrown away the remainder.

    So this box in contrast to the first, actually had a value of about $28. Much better value, and at least 2 usable full size products (When normally you'd only get one, bonus!).

    Sadly, if this had been the FIRST box I received, I probably would have kept the subscription.

    There are mixed reviews of hit or miss months online regarding this service. I think they possibly have limited suppliers and haven't quite found their feet yet. I aigned up hoping to see Its a 10!, Ferro, Demeter, Freeman, Supergoop!, or All Natural Face (listed on their brands page) and in 2 months didn't see any of those, sadly. Most of what I got isn't listed on the Brands page at all.

    If you do sign up, I think for this one, bite the bullet for the $99/year subscription (making it 8.25 per month). That makes it THE cheapest box out there, so if you're dissappointed a few times during the year, it won't matter much.

    Verdict: C- as presented, potentially an A with the yearly discount and some more clarity on the brands page, as well as more dependability on box values. It shouldn't vary as widely in value between 2 months unless there's an announcement of a special surprise in the box that inflates the value (but lets you know that's a one time bonus).

    PopSugar Must Have Box Review

    Popsugar is a very interesting company that offers a basic "Must Have" monthly box, as well as curated ones by Ashton Kutcher, P!nk, a celebrity chef, and others. I happen to love P!nk but wanted to try out the "basic" box first.

    I am a little underwhelmed. I really had my hopes up after seeing May's box that had a hat that I fell in love with, a book that I would 100% read, and some other neat stuff. At one of the more expensive options - $39 per month - this is really something where I need to love it in order to keep it.

    I didn't love it. I am SO SAD that I missed the May box.

    • A rose gold double chain from and a 20% off coupon to BaubleBar. This is actually a stunning piece of jewelry; I am just not a fan of gold. Personal preference only. For the vast majority, this beautiful piece will be well worth the price of the box and more. 
    • A large cube silicone ice cube try. This is the type designed to have only 1 cube in a drink so that you get less watered down drinks. Again, probably something really cool, but with an automatic ice maker, something I'm very unlikely to use.
    • Full size of Supergoop! SPF 30 sunscreen. Totally summer appropriate, and an excellent brand. This will get used.
    • Full size box of Mighty Leaf tea. (I'm being overrun with tea, here). Again nothing bad or horribe, just a very "meh" thing.
    • Dark chocolate chocolate chip Cookie Chips. EXCELLENT idea - but I didn't care for it. They reminded my husband and myself of the slightly-overdone bits of the bottoms of cookies. They were not bad but it's not something I'd take pleasure in eating. The good side is they are what they say, and have some crunch, and you can eat cookies in the style of potato chips! We're giving these to the kids.
    • Full size bottle of NCLA nailpolish in a muddy lavendar shade. I've really been looking forward to trying this brand, but the shade does nothing for me (and my 13 year old daughter disliked it as well.) This is another that will come down to personal preference.

    Verdict: C, which bodes badly for such a high priced box. I am not sure if I will give this one another month, or try one of the more curated boxes that they offer instead (and that will rely on if there's a coupon available, honestly).

    ConsciousBox Review

    This is by far one of the best boxes I've received so far.

    Package is deceptively on the smaller side but I noticed quickly just how heavy it was. And it was truly a Box of Awesome! The really neat thing about ConsciousBox is that they offer three different options - Regular, Vegan, and Gluten-Free. For some of you this would really be helpful! Even the Regular one is focused on healthier options for life, body, and home.

    This subscription is $19.95 per month, and that includes the shipping. At the time that I ordered, code FIRSTBOXFREE reduced the cost to $8.95 for shipping. (Which I thought was high, until I received this box!).

    This month's box contained the following:
    •  Last Round All Natural Hangover Support - looking forward to trying this after one of Meltini's parties ;)
    • MRM Hydration Factor- I'm always looking for good hydration options for my husband since he works out in the 100+ degree Texas heat and humidity.
    • Ultima Replenisher Everyday Health Drink - another product I'm glad for my husband to try to stay hydrated with
    • Organic Flavrz Fruit Punch All Natural Liquid Drink Mix Energize - The kids and I are totally addicted to the Crystal Light liquid water additions, and I've been really looking foward to trying these natural ones. I was SO happy to see these in my box that I cheered!
    • Skout Gluten-Free, Organic Trailbar Apple and Cinnamon- This looks pretty tasty and I'm always looking for healthy and quick snack options
    • Orgain Healthy Kids Organic Nutritional Shake - full size and heavy! My youngest stole it and said it was delicious!
    • Equal Exchange Fair Trade and Organic Chocolate - teeny tiny bars of chocolate, but in my opinion that's the best way to enjoy them. Just a little treat. Taste and consistency were excellent, even though they arrived in triple digit heat!
    • Qbel Whole grain Minty Mint Wafers - these looked, and tasted - awesome!
    • Stash Tea Organic Very Berry Herbal Tea - we actually got the Chocolate Orange flavor. I'm not really a fan of the sheer amount of tea bags we are getting, but we happen to love Stash and these will go to use.
    • Clean Ethics Bottle Bright Water Bottle Cleaner- I know it's not really the intent, but I am the queen of accidentally leaving my travel coffee cup in the van. For a few days. Ew. Maybe I've finally found a solution to that problem?..
    • Episencial Soothing Cream - I have a little patch of eczema on my elbow that is crying out for relief from this cream. It helped! It's a packet enough to get a few days treatment out of, so we'll see how well it does.
    • Ecover Automatic Dishwasher Tablets - I already ran one load of dishes with this and am impressed! They look much better than the Finish I've been using. I'll be using the second tablet to complete my trial, and then I think I'm switching to this brand!
    •  Nordic Naturals DHA Xtra - I'm not really sure what these are for, and given the medications we are on, I play it safe with supplements. Look for these to appear in the Lela Rose Bag of Awesome.
    • Similasan 100% Natural Computer Eye Relief Drops - I was happily surprised to find these (or even that they are made). I love the brand, and I know my eyes could use the relief at times.
    • Epic Dental Fresh Fruit Xylitol Mints- again small, ala the chocolate, but just the right amount! We'll be looking for the full size version. Good flavor, too.
    • Eco-Gecko Wooden Cutlery - this is a really cool wooden spoon. However, it's very small, and for awhile we couldn't figure out if it was supposed to go with something in the box. It's a stand-alone "sample" and a product of it's own. Could be a nice addition for school lunches, depending on price.
    Whew, so that's it! Again I was really impressed with this box. The packaging was also very nicely done and a joy to open to reveal the cool things awaiting us. 

    Verdict for $9 - A++++++. We are keeping this subscription!

    HelloFlo Review

    HelloFlo - another T.O.M. box (time of the month) to contrast with Bonjour Jolie.

    Box was plain, but it came with an UBER cute little cloth caddy to hold your TOM supplies. It's a nifty item that you can set on the toilet lid or tuck under the sink or use for pretty much anything that can be stored in a cloth caddy. I did have a *snerk* moment that the pattern I received was red with big white dots on it. I suppose it could have been worse and been the opposite.. (however I do like the fabric).

    Came with 1 little feminine wipe (rosewater scent, not a Playtex type). Also came with...sea salt Cocomels (I'm sensing a theme here hehe. It's summer though, chocolate would melt all over the place). The Cocomels were delish and I must have more. Lots and lots more. Vegan, gluten free, non-GMO, and delish? MUST HAVE.

    For $7 less than Bonjour and customizable ($14/mo for "short&heavy"), I think it was definitely worth the first month's fee because of the little caddy (seriously this thing is so cute).

    Suggestions: I really wish one of these TOM companies would do the feminine wipes (1 per pad/tampon). They are not uber expensive, are lightweight, and really would round out the packages. I'm fine with a cheapie brand, just give me something to "keep that fresh feeling", okay??? Is that so much to ask? Huh? :P

    The only real cons to this one are that they are not as individually customized as Bonjour Jolie. However, this may be a big deal later as both get more subscribers - this system is likely to be a lot easier to keep up with and more reliable than the "totally customized" ones. It's always sort of a balance because as a company grows, it becomes more difficult to do that 1-on-1 customer interaction out of sheer time constraint. 

    Verdict? A+ with the caddy, but a solid B+ without.  (I originally gave this a C, but after tasting those Cocomels and looking up their price - $4 for that packet - I'm upgrading them. That was damn impressive.)

    Check them out at HelloFlo

    JewelMint Review

    JewelMint. I paid $9 for my first box, with the recurring charge being $30 per month (one of the heftier subscription box services.)

    Packaging was very nice, from the branded and black custom bubble mailer to the nice black branded box with magnetic closure. Really awesome branding job and presentation, it's very striking and I absolutely love it.

     Unfortunately, I was extremely underwhelmed by the jewelry itself. It looks like something very cheap. Maybe it's just the style I chose, but at $30 per month, I am unlikely to continue this subscription. At $9 for my first box, I'm fine with it, but I would not have paid over that for it. They do offer the option to skip a month, so I have a few weeks to think about it.

    This is the best picture I could get of the set that I ordered:

     photo IMG_0319_zps24e3a1f8.jpg

    Current coupon code is 70FIRST for 70% off your first order. (at $30ish for most pieces, this puts you at around $9. There are some cheaper, and more expensive, options as well.) Check them out at JewelMint.

    Bonjour Jolie Review

    Bonjour Jolie "time of the month" (T.O.M. box) subscription. $21 per month. 

    The mailing box was discrete. Postage on the box recorded as $5.35. 

    Pros: VERY beautiful and tasteful packaging with fabric rose petals, little tulle bags for the pampering stuff, pretty tissue paper, etc. (SO pretty!) Did contain exactly what I specified for my flow. A big pro here for those who like it, this company really supports WAHM's and family businesses; even the tea packets were from Bigelow. My other goodies were from wahm businesses. Organic and Vegan were represented well in the box I received. The crocheted face scrubby is neat; who doesn't have a breakout that time of the month?

     photo IMG_0323_zps2356794d.jpg photo IMG_0326_zps46c6ba37.jpg

    Cons: The packaging wow-ed me more than the actual contents did. A sari? I guess it does fit a summer theme (And it is a pretty color) - but my fat butt can't use it lol (this item was probably really nice for those who can use it, actually. It's just a size issue here). The bath bomb is actually really nice, but it's super tiny. 

     photo IMG_0328_zps23d738f9.jpg

    Some suggestions: Initial boxes would be really nice to ship with a WAHM purse size reusable wetbag (instead of the seasonal theme, not in addition to). "Feminine wipes" would be a nice addition to the supplies kit. A WAHM aromatherapy stress pulse point oil is acceptable in a tiny size and would really be helpful for those with PMS. Instead of body lotion, how about "cooling" foot lotion for those who swell? 

    Verdict: B. This is a company I would like to support. However, I have a literal ton of stocked up TOM supplies, so I'm cancelling for now until that supply has dwindled. If Bonjour Jolie is still up and running at that time (and I hope that they are) I will happily resubscribe and not have to worry about TOM since they supply everything so customized!

    BroBoxClub Review

    BroBoxClub - I liked this one, but a little too much emphasis on caffeine and/or the full size items you could buy after trying were overpriced. 

    However, box itself was really good! It's normally $15 a month, shipping included - I paid $6.45 for my first box, and inside there was a code for a survey that will give me my next box for $11 shipped. (This one is not a subscription; you get to see the box, choose to order it or not each month. If you forget, you don't get charged or get the box.)

    That was a nice perk! Got a full size protein brownie (a little teeny bit chalky, but not bad; however carb to protein ratio was no bueno). Some b12+caffeine aerosols (QQ!). "dude wipes" still have me laughing, but they are pretty neat. Waterless shaving gel! And TurboTruffles, which are caffeinated chocolate (4 flavors, I think). Also a nice bonus, a heavy steel multi tool that fits into a credit card sleeve (really cool but watch out for the knife edge!).

     photo IMG_0339_zps94a5d943.jpg

    Verdict: A. Especially if they keep the codes coming to put it at $11 per box. I was impressed at the multiple full size items and the quality extra (the multi tool). 

    Current coupon is GOBROGO to get $8 off your first box. Check them out at BroBoxClub

    LoveWithFood Review

    My first subscription box review for you!

    LoveWithFood - I paid $2 for this month, it's $12 recurring.

    The box was smaller than I expected, but part of the proceeds are used to feed the hungry ("1 box, 1 meal") so I do take that into consideration. In fact, July's box benefitted the Oklahoma Food Bank for TWO meals! 

    This month's theme was "Fun on the Boardwalk" - some pink sea salt caramel popcorn, a bbq beef stick (approx 3" long), Spicy Bloody Mary peanut packet, 2 pieces of orange salt water taffy, 4 of those little Twangerz salt packets (lime, pickle etc), 1 full size hard sourdough pretzel, a fig and strawberry full size bar, and a small pack of Necco wafers.

     photo IMG_0340_zps516a5cda.jpg

    Everything fit the theme well and was cute, and I love how part of this goes to charity, but $12 is a bit steep for what it seems to include 6 samples basically, and 2 full size items. 

    Taste Testers Agree:

    Pink Sea Salt Caramel - could have been amazing, but the sea salt is really chunky for popcorn, and our bag seemed to have a LOT of it. I never thought I'd say popcorn was too salty, but this one was. 

    BBQ Beef stick - I stole it and NOMNOMNOM'd it to death. It was excellent.

    Spicy Bloody Mary Peanuts - Just what they say, but the aftertaste is weird. No one really cared for these.

    Salt Water Taffy - always a winner.

    Pretzel - good, but it's hard to screw up a hard pretzel. It was a nice full size and everyone liked it.

    Fig and Strawberry bar - I found this to be too sweet, but the kids loved it.

    Verdict: C. With that said, the food boxes are probably a lot more well done in the winter months for shipping purposes (chocolate, etc). I'm surprised they could find enough food that wouldn't melt in this heat, so with that said, I'm up for trying it again in November. DD1 absolutely loved it and said she'd pay for this one out of her allowance, haha, so I guess we'll go one more (hot) month on it and see what happens in the August box.

    Current coupon code is FBGIFT - get your first box for only $2 shipped. If nothing else, you get a few snacks and feed the hungry. You really can't beat that. Check them out at LoveWithFood.

    LootCrate Review

    So our LootCrate came, and it's a Box of Awesome!

    This month's theme was "Varsity" for Video Game High School. (which I've never heard of, but this box made sure that didn't really matter!)


    • Full Season 1 DVD of Video Game High School
    • Sonic the Hedgehog air freshener (dd2 totally stole this. She's in love with Sonic. She thinks he's real.)
    • C3PO ear buds (I saw these on ThinkGeek for $15-$20!)
    • Storm Trooper in a varsity jacket sticker (I giggle every time I look at this. I bet he has a hard time keeping his grades up in Spot the Droid class..)
    • Captain America Pez dispenser and candy! I love PEZ! That sweet, tasty, goodness.
    • A pencil that says "Emergency Wireless Keyboard". I'm totally sneaking this into DS' school supplies..
    • VGHS button set in a poly bag. (These are cooler than they sound, if buttons are your thing. I like jabbing them into my corkboard wall thing).
    I'm estimating retail value here of $45-$50. Not bad at all! DH was like a kid on Christmas morning during the unboxing. Now he's begging for a BootyBin subscription... we'll see, I still have to defeat him to steal that pencil as my winnings..

    KlutchClub "Best of" Box

    I snagged this box on a special deal (the box was free, just pay $8 for shipping). I thought shipping was a bit high, but when this box arrived, I was blown away! It definitely cost that much to ship, I can tell you that. KlutchClub looks pretty amazing. A quick search on YouTube reviews shows that they they do these "Best of" boxes nearly every quarter, and it sounds like there is always a code that makes them $10 or less. So keep your eyes peeled for the fall box? I will definitely post it and any applicable codes. It does appear to sign you up for repeating boxes, so remember to CANCEL if you don't want it every month!

    ETA: I just cancelled the recurring, and it was a super easy one button push under "My Account" with 1 "are you sure you want to cancel?" message. Done! I like companies that make this easy. It APPEARS as if I still have an *account*, but not the *subscription*, which is what I am hoping for so that I can order the next "Best of" box without committing to a monthly.

    Inside was a plethora of really cool goodies that I can't wait to dig into with the kids!

    • a full CD of Celtic music (my son already stole this, I'll have to grab the title later. How did they know we love this, because other things were sent in other boxes, the CD title was random. Woohoo!)
    • 8, yes EIGHT Flavorz "Energize" water flavorings. Turns out we really love these things and I love that they aren't packed full of icky stuff.
    • Crunchmaster's crackers in Sea Salt (GF product)
    • Korum megasqueeze Big 3 Lemon Nectar. This is an omega 3 liquid supplement in a "refill" type pouch. Given the weight of this and the actual serving size (2 teaspoons daily) this is actually a LARGE full size of the product. DemonPrincess said it is delicious, as well.
    • Mr Pink zero caffeine energy drink, also full sized (like a RedBull size).
    • Zoy premium vegetable oil 100% soybean with added B vitamins(for cooking). We got 2 packets, which is plenty to try as we actually don't usually use oil at all. I will make the effort to try it to let you know how it is.
    • Soyjoy bars - 1 cranberry, 1 dark chocolate cherry full size bars. We love these already. Yum!
    • Hemp Hearts Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds looks kind of like a granola/flax alternative.
    • Guam Seaweed Mud. This is actually a spa type product, you put it on, wrap in saran wrap, and sweat for 45 minutes. I am crazy enough to try this!
    • 1 month gift card to (no purchase necessary, redeems like an iTunes card, very cool!).

    Monday, July 8, 2013

    Dining Room to Library Conversion

    Our home has a formal dining room. In 2011, we really decided that this space could be better used and went about redesigning it into a library and office which would better meet our needs.

    We chose to IKEA's line of BILLY bookcases, doors, and media storage as well as a matching desk and floating shelf. Much measuring took place and I availed myself of the online planner available on IKEA's website to ensure how things would fit and look, and the type of clearance they would leave.


    I had been so proud of my decorating efforts here, from the lighting fixture we found on Amazon for $12 (!) to the custom blinds on clearance at JCP. However, this room never worked for us. It's about a foot to short on both sides to comfortably seat people and have any sort of buffet. The table, an heirloom, was one which I loved but the chairs needed restoration I was always scared to try. The pictures above are of the room decorated for Christmas, so normally there was not much on either the sideboard or on the table. For many reasons, this room mostly collected dust and was just "there".

    So we opted to go to this. 

    It was immediately so much more bright and inviting! I did a faux- stained glass treatments on the windows to let in light (while blocking a less than stellar view). There are also cabinet doors on the books under the pass through (this picture was taken prior to us locating them in the correct color, in stock at IKEA). They are solid and the same height as the solid portions on the other shelf doors.

    We then realized we didn't want anyone to hit their head on the light fixture which was no longer out of worry and over a table, so replaced it with a flush model ceiling mount in an alabaster marble.

    It is now 2013, and this room will be evolving at least one more time. I have opted to move my desk upstairs to our bedroom to share space with my husband. We will be replacing and "hacking" the desk area above into a functional bar and entertaining space (with the stereo). We love entertaining several times per year and the traffic pattern and location will fit this use perfectly. I may or may not place a small matching table in the middle for use as a library table (without chairs, but a place to set down books, drinks, or the like).

    What do you think? Have you re-purposed a room to give it a new life?

    The Houston Project

    Early in the summer, I had a friend in need. Their house suffered some massive water damage due to a leak, they had a roommate with self-confessed hoarder tendencies, and they needed some help getting things to a functional level after the repair company was done putting in new drywall and flooring.

    I was fortunate enough that they had a spare bedroom that I could make use of, so I arranged for childcare and kissed my husband good bye for a couple of months. This project was and is to date to the most extensive that I have taken on.

    What follows are some before and after pictures. This was a low budget project where we needed to make use of what was available within the home, deal with some hoard removal and storage for the roommate, and making nonfunctional areas functional once again. I did not focus on design or decor in this project, beyond making use of the items that the homeowner had available or wanted to use.

    My apologies for lighting, but many "Before" pictures were taken during the day and are clear; many after pictures were taken after the day of work and once darkness had fallen, so are not as crisp.

    The first room we tackled was the kitchen. Before: 


    Functional issues were all that basically there was too much stuff in this area and it was not clearly devoted to cooking, cookware, and food supplies. The pantry was bulging with out of date goods and so packed that no one could locate the food that they did have on hand.

    We first cleared off all of the countertops, then brought things back in one at a time determining functional "Work zones" for food prep, easily reachable food storage, that cooking appliances were along one wall and ones needing water were near the sink (such as the coffeemaker). The homeowner also wished to display some items that matched her plates and cookware. In addition, everything got a new scrub down, the pantry was papered, and some grease removal was done to the stovetop and ovens. The pass-through bar was cleared off to hold a winerack within reach of the stove, and the client's Scentsy warmer. Upper cabinets were rearranged to more functionally store dishes, drinkware, and spices (including seperate spaces for the roommates).

    Attached to this space was an eating area /catchall hot spot. Before:


    Per the homeowners wishes, we developed a small storage and eating area here using a pub table she had always wished to have usable in this pace, and a rack to store the larger items that there was no room for within the kitchen. The glass was also cleaned from the windows and tape removed. Catbox was relocated to an area not related to food prep or eating. Floor surfaces were swept and disinfected. The refrigerator and freezer were also cleaned out of expired and unusable perishables, then the outside was cleaned and polished.

    The second room was tackled was the main hoard area in the front living room. I have several before pictures to show.

    And after:

    This focused very much on simple hoard removal. The first picture "Before" showed the entrace from the kitchen to the dining area. The first picture "After" shows after hoard removal was finished. The small white pantry was cleared out and seperated to then give the roommate her own accessible pantry. Many of the items were either trashed, donated, or went to storage. The remainder were cleaned up and organized (even if loosely) into bins for art supplies, craft supplies, sewing, etc. The bar cabinet hutch was also cleaned up and at this point contained all of the alcohol and barware needed for the entertaining that the homeowner wished to do. Catboxes were reduced down to the one large one, which was placed well away from both the fabric supplies and food.

    Further plans were in the works but incomplete at the time that I left to make this room multi functional with a built in wall of bookshelves and fabric storage. Some minor re-arrangement and finishing were done after these pictures were taken to further clear out the space.

    The final large room that was tackled was the living area. I do not actually have before and after shots (my battery died during the "after").

    This room was the easiest in terms of what needed done, but the longest in terms of how much time it took to do. The boxes stacked against the far wall (tallest stack) contained books which were relocated to the gameroom library.

    The remaining boxes contained the homeowner's contents that had been boxed up for the repairs which had been completed. Many were empty; those were repurposed to deal with the hoard in the front room for items which would be stored. Several were unpacked and the items returned to the areas they belonged in or otherwise sorted. At the time that I left, all of the boxes had been cleared out of this room and the homeowners could once again use this space for intended purposes. Video game supplies and other games were organized inside the large wall unit; DVD's for display were organized on the three part smaller bookcase along the far wall. The sheet of insulation and other items were removed from the home. The trash area was cleaned up and moved around the side of that wall into the kitchen, and seperate recycling bins were installed underneath the rack in the eating area of the kitchen. In addition, the roommate's overflow items of Television and boxed goods from the entryway in the first picture were removed to storage and/or the roommate's room.

    In addition, some of the leftover repair supplies (grout, tiles, etc) were removed from the entry way and it was completely cleared. The coat closet situation was addressed.

    I also tackled the guest bathroom with a good top to bottom scrub. At the time that I arrived, there was almost nothing in here, including a shower curtain, due to the repairs. All of those items were located and restored (curtain, bathmat, trash can, etc). I made suggestions to the homeowner regarding wall hooks for towels, inner cabinet organization (cabinet not shown, to the right of the sink - a built in closet type).

    And finally, my little home away from home :) I kind of miss the simplicity it offered, and brought back those memories with me (the things I *really* need on a day to day basis). I will post more about that later!