Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Swagbucks - Collector's Bills for Labor Day

The folks over at Swagbucks have put a fun twist on their reward points - Collector's Bills! From now through September 6th you have a chance to win one of five Collector's Bills celebrating Labor Day. Each of the five is for a different amount and each one has a different image - you can keep track of your bills by looking in the "My Swag Bucks" area of your account, and if you get all five during the promotion, you'll get a 10 Swag Buck bonus instantly applied to your account, meaning you'll be even closer to getting the free stuff you love!

If you still haven't joined Swagbucks, head over there now to sign up. It's free and so easy! I typically earn 1-2 Amazon gift cards per month, just by using Swagbucks for internet searches. You can also earn swagbucks by playing games, watching videos, taking surveys, and more. Check it out now!

*This is not a compensated post but does contain my Swagbucks referral link. As always, opinions expressed are my own.

Search & Win


Balance Your Checkbook

Our oldest son is 18 and graduated from high school this past May. He's been at the same part-time job for almost two years now. When he started working, we went to our bank and opened a checking account for him. Because he was under 18 at the time and still a student, a parent's name was required to be on the account along with his name. He also received a debit card to use with the account.


Since my name is still on the account, I can go to our bank's website to access all account information and view all of his transactions. One of the first things I do every morning is check our bank accounts online and make sure everything is correct and accounted for. Because his account information is right there in front of me, I got into the bad habit of filling in and balancing his checkbook for him. Now, this has become a HUGE problem!

He truly, honestly thinks that it's a waste of time to record anything in a checkbook register. "Why write it in the register when I can just look it up online whenever I want?" is what he tells me. Because of this, he has not written a single entry in his checkbook register for months and months. Because I'm such a stickler for details (some may say control-freak) I have taken it upon myself to look up his account each day and fill in his checkbook register with all of his transactions. He doesn't really ever write checks; mostly just uses the debit card. I'm realizing that this is only enabling him to shirk his responsibilities. It's not teaching him to get into the habit of doing it for himself. But, no matter what I do, he simply will not use the checkbook register. Grrrrr!

I went on strike, so to speak, and totally quit doing it for about a month and he really couldn't have cared less. He still didn't touch it. I'm ashamed to admit I caved and took it over again (the stress of his checkbook being behind and out of order made me a nervous wreck).

So, my questions for you are as can I convince him that it's necessary to actually write his transactions in his checkbook register? If you have teens or older kids with checking accounts, do they keep up with their own checkbooks? In this digital, online age, am I over-reacting to his wanting to keep up with his account only online?


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Stick2It Decals and Skins from American Greetings - Review and Giveaway

~This giveaway is now closed~

American Greetings has introduced a fun new line of decals and skins that can be used to personalize everything from your cell phones and laptops, to your walls, school lockers, and even your car. The decals can be applied in minutes with no need for glue, tape, or tacks. They are repositionable and easy to remove. Prices range from $4.99-$9.99 - a really great value!

A total of 36 different designs can be found in the Stick2It collection all featuring a mix of humorous, clever, and trendy styles. Designs include everything from faux security camera decals that can adorn a dorm room and the offbeat fun of a paparazzi photo decal for the bathroom to a boom box laptop skin and the nostalgia of an old-school video game controller skin for a cell phone.

We received some samples of the new Stick2It decals and my kids thought they were very cool! I love that they are not permanent and can be easily removed (one note: Be careful when using on a painted surface because it did chip a small bit of our paint off when being removed. We applied several wall decals and this only happened in one instance. I think we just got in too much of a hurry to pull the decal off and didn't take our time).

Here are just a few of the available decals and skins:

Flowers Laptop Skin

Collage IPhone Skin

Tree Wall Decal

Kitchen Board Wall Decal

The designs are all really cute and could be enjoyed by kids and teens as well as adults. With such a low price-point, the American Greetings Stick2It Collection is an affordable way to jazz up your space and/or belongings. Be sure and check out the link for more available designs and information.

American Greetings would love to hear from you! Visit their Facebook page and let them know which decal or skin is your favorite.


I have a sample pack of Stick2It products for giveaway to one of my blog readers. This sample pack includes an assortment of 10 of the decals and skins (including wall decals, laptop skins, car decals, and IPhone skin). Here's how to enter:

Mandatory Entry
Leave a comment on this blog post telling me which decal or skin is your favorite

Extra Entries
- Follow my blog via GFC
- Tweet this giveaway using the Retweet button at bottom of post 1x daily (leave tweet link)

Giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 10:00 pm EST on 9-5-11.

Free samples of the Stick2It decals and skins were given to me by American Greetings for myself and for giveaway. No monetary compensation was received and opinions expressed in this post are my own.


Movie Trailer Tuesday - The Conspirator

From Netflix:
Robert Redford directs this gripping historical drama that follows the efforts of young lawyer Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) as he defends Mary Surratt (Robin Wright Penn), a Confederate sympathizer accused of conspiring to assassinate Abraham Lincoln. Realizing that Surratt may in fact be innocent, Aiken defies public opinion and risks everything to get her acquitted. The stellar cast also includes Tom Wilkinson, Kevin Kline and Alexis Bledel.

Rated PG-13 for some violent content


Friday, August 26, 2011

Aloha Friday - Three Words

Welcome to this week’s edition of Aloha Friday, hosted by Kailani over at An Island Life. In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day to take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So, on Fridays we can take it easy on blog posting, too.

I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer - nothing that requires a lengthy response. If you’d like to participate, visit An Island Life where you can link up with your own question and also visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

Describe yourself right now in three words...


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

10 Items On My Fall-Fashion Wish List

I've mentioned a few thousand times that I hate hot weather. Summer is just not my thing. I love when fall arrives! The crisp, cool temperatures can never get here soon enough for me. I always look forward to being able to dress in cool-weather clothes.

As I wait for autumn to make an appearance, I've been having so much fun browsing through fashion magazines, Polyvore, and Pinterest checking out all kinds of great fall fashions and cool-weather ensembles. Whenever I see a look I like, I save the picture and sometimes try to recreate a similar, budget-friendly look of my own.

I've put together a wish list of my 10 most wanted fall fashion items and thought I would share it with you...

1) Tall Brown Boots - This probably sounds stupid but I've been hesitant to wear tall boots in the past. I just felt like I was too old or a few pounds to chunky to pull them off. But, I love them so much that this year I said the heck with it! I'm going to buy some tall boots and rock them! This pair, this pair, and this pair are contenders. Boots are expensive so I would definitely consider buying a pair to be a splurge.

2) Cardigan Sweater - I am a huge fan of the cardigan sweater. But, they have to fit just right (not too snug around my middle, not too short, and have a comfortable sleeve length - I have long arms so I hate to feel like I'm wearing sleeves that are too short). This Lands' End Supima Placed Swirl Cardigan in Pewter looks so soft and pretty.

3) Long-Sleeve Chambray/Denim Button-Up Shirt - This is one item from my list that I've already purchased. I got this one from L.L.Bean. It feels and fits like a dream and will be a very versatile piece.

4) Military Jacket - This LOFT jacket with a cute ruffle trim is what I've got my eye on. I think it would be equally cute with a pair of jeans or a casual dress.

5) Set Of Stacking Rings - I found these on etsy and the colors just scream fall. Gorgeous!

6) Leopard-Print Flats - I think these would look awesome with a pair of jeans and a simple white button-up shirt. Very chic!

7) Colored Tights - I love these with a cute dress or skirt and pair of boots. I have to confess, this is another one of those items that I secretly wonder if I can pull off wearing...but they are so fun! I think I just have to go for it. I love them in mustard, navy, plum, and gray.

8) Gray Handbag/Purse - I have sort of an obsession with the color gray. It's such a chic neutral and I think it goes well with almost anything.

9) This Sweater Dress and This Ruffle Dress from Garnet Hill - with a pair of tall boots!

10) Lace seems to be a big trend for fall. I wouldn't want to go overboard with it, but in moderation, I think a lacy top would be kind of funky and different. This lace sweatshirt from LOFT is perfect.

Are you looking forward to fall and pulling out your cozy sweaters and jeans and boots? Do you have a must-have item on your fall-fashion wish list?


Movie Trailer Tuesday - The Other Woman

Emilia falls for her handsome (and oh, yes...he's very handsome!) but married coworker, Jack. She soon finds herself becoming "the other woman." After Jack divorces his wife, he and Emilia marry and begin a new life together. It's a difficult journey as Emilia struggles to bond with her stepson and get along with the ex-wife. And, when tragedy strikes, everything really begins to fall apart.

This was such a poignant story; it just broke my heart. Natalie Portman did a great job playing Emilia. While she seemed somewhat cold and aloof on the outside, you just knew she was sad and broken and vulnerable on the inside. I loved Lisa Kudrow as the bitter and demanding ex-wife. The best part of the story for me was the relationship between Emilia and her stepson. The little boy doesn't make things easy for Emilia and she is pretty lost about being a parent to him. But, in the end, they come to terms with each other and start to develop a real bond.

Rated R for sexual content and language


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Kitchen Rugs

A few months ago, we painted our kitchen a wonderful medium shade of gray. My plan is to use turquoise and yellow as accent colors for the kitchen decor. You may remember me showing you the funky pig print that I ordered from etsy. He's hanging by our kitchen table and I think he's just the cutest thing! One of the other things I've been on the lookout for is new kitchen rugs. I need a runner and a larger size that will fit under our kitchen table. I've found several that I like, but, hello!...rugs are expensive! I guess I need a kitchen-rug fund to start throwing all my spare change into. While I'm digging under the couch cushions looking for loose coins, why don't you take a look at a few of the rugs I've got my eyes on. Where there are multiple colors pictured, my choices are the blue rugs. Which is your favorite?

Floor Tile Hooked Wool Rug in Lapis from Garnet Hill

Peacock Tufted Wool Rug in Blue from Garnet Hill

Amy Butler Hand Tufted Rug in WallFlower Blue from Layla Grayce

Amy Butler Hand Tufted Wool Rug in Lacework Blue from Layla Grayce

Portland Wool Blend Area Rug from Home Decorators

Solid Area Rug in Turquoise from Home Decorators
(kinda plain, but I love the pop of turquoise color)

Madeira Rug in Indigo from Ballard Designs


Friday, August 19, 2011

Aloha Friday - Classic Reading

Welcome to this week’s edition of Aloha Friday, hosted by Kailani over at An Island Life. In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day to take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So, on Fridays we can take it easy on blog posting, too.

I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer - nothing that requires a lengthy response. If you’d like to participate, visit An Island Life where you can link up with your own question and also visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

Yesterday, my daughter brought home a reading list from her sophomore honors english class. The list contained around 50 selections of mostly classic literature. She has to choose four books from the list to read this semester. It's been a long time since I've devoted any time to reading the classics, but, I do remember them from way back when and I certainly have some favorites. It was fun to go over the list with my daughter and discuss the various book choices. I actually went down to the basement and searched through some boxes until I found my old books. Turns out, I had several from her list. For her choices, she's considering, Pride and Prejudice, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Wuthering Heights. She's still mulling over her fourth choice.

What about you? Did you or do you like to read classic literature? What's your favorite?


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Guest Blog from Suzanne Woods Fisher for “Amish Values for Your Family"

Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling author of Amish fiction and non-fiction and the host of a weekly radio program called Amish Wisdom. Her most recent book, Amish Values for Your Family released in August. The Waiting is a finalist for a 2011 Christy Award. Amish Peace: Simple and Amish Proverbs were both finalists for the ECPA Book of the Year (2010, 2011). Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world. When Suzanne isn't writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you just can't take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone's underwear in its mouth. Keep up on Suzanne's latest news on Facebook, Twitter and on her blog.

Five Things I’ve Learned from the Amish that Have Nothing to Do with being Amish and Have Everything to Do with being a Christian:

Being Amish is not a lifestyle. Life among the Amish has to do with faith. Faith can’t be squeezed to an hour or two on Sunday morning; it infuses their entire life like a teabag in hot water. What they do and how they do it is rooted in the spiritual question: What is pleasing to God?

Amish proverb: “Letting go of earthly possessions enables us to take hold of heavenly treasures.”

The Lesson: To pray about my day’s activities and offer them to God, first, for His purposes. And then trusting interruptions (seeing a friend in the grocery store, for example) or de-railings (those days when everything goes wrong!) to be God-managed.

Cherish your family. A family that works together, grows together. Amish families spend a lot of time together and try to keep their work close to home. Children are valued as gifts from God, wanted and enjoyed. They’re included in all of Amish life—from barn raisings to three-hour church services. An Amish bishop once said, "We don't prepare our children for the future, we prepare our children for eternity."

Amish proverb: “Tomorrow’s world will be shaped by what we teach our children today.”

The Lesson: Involving children in chores and activities may not be the most convenient or efficient way to accomplish a task, but the benefits are long lasting. Look for ways to get everybody involved—cook together, sweep out the garage together, set the table together. And have fun while you’re doing it!

Draw a land in the sand. The Amish want to be good stewards of God’s resources—time, money, material goods. They know that convenience comes with a cost. They don’t want to be dependent on outside sources (such as electricity or gas!). Convenience means loss of something valuable. For example, fast food means less nutrition. More stuff means more maintenance. They’re willing to say no.

Amish proverb: “Things that steal our time are usually the easiest to do.”

The Lesson: Technology has its limits. And technology isn’t all good. Evaluate purchases more thoughtfully. Think of where a purchase or an added expense will lead your family. More time together or less? More stress or less? Reframe your view of time and money and goods as God’s resources.

Watch Your Words. The Amish continually stress the importance of filtering their speech.

Amish proverb: “Words break no bones, but they can break hearts” and “Mincing your words makes it easier if you have to eat them later.”

The Lesson: Say less. Prayer more.

Nothing replaces face-to-face visits. Back in the day when telephones emerged on the scene, the Amish bishops made a deliberate decision to keep the telephone out of the house. They didn’t want to interrupt family life. But they drop everything for a face-to-face visit.

Amish proverb: “Use friendship as a drawing account, but don’t forget to make a deposit.”

The Lesson: Nurture relationships by investing face-to-face time in them. No technology can substitute for the real thing.

Honor the Sabbath. An Amish person would never think of working on a Sunday. But it’s more than that—they truly cherish their Sabbath. They spend time on Saturday to make Sunday a smooth and easy day.

Amish proverb: “Many things I have tried to grasp and have lost. That which I have placed in God’s hands I still have.”

The Lesson: Strive to make Sunday a different day than other days. A day of rest is important on so many levels—time to worship, time to reflect, time to re-energize. A re-charge your battery day.

This guest blog post was provided by Suzanne Woods Fisher and Litfuse Publicity Group


Amish Values For Your Family by Suzanne Woods Fisher - Blog Tour and Giveaway

Click here for Blog Tour Schedule

About the book:
For readers who long for strong families that know how to truly enjoy life together, there is much to learn from the Amish. Values like community, forgiveness, simple living, obedience, and more can be your family legacy--without selling your car, changing your wardrobe, or moving out to farm country.

In Amish Values for Your Family, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher shows how you can adopt the wisdom of the Amish when it comes to family matters. In this inspiring and practical book readers will find charming true stories interlaced with solid, biblical advice about parenting, marriage, and all aspects of family life. As readers get an intimate glimpse into the everyday lives of real Amish families, they will learn to prioritize what's truly important, simplify decision-making, slow down as a family, safeguard time together, and let go when the time comes.

About the author:
Her interest in the Amish began with her grandfather, W.D. Benedict, who was raised Plain. She has many, many Plain relatives living in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, and travels back to Pennsylvania, as well as to Ohio, a couple of times each year for research.

Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world. In both her fiction and non-fiction books, she has an underlying theme: You don't have to "go Amish" to incorporate many of their principles--simplicity, living with less, appreciating nature, forgiving others more readily-- into your life.

When Suzanne isn't writing or bragging to her friends about her first new grandbaby (!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To Suzanne's way of thinking, you just can't take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someones underwear in its mouth.

Suzanne can be found on-line at:

My thoughts on the book:
This was such an easy, lovely book to read. While I'm certainly not Amish nor do I wish to become Amish, there are so many simple, yet powerful, messages in this book that can be easily applied to my own family life. Today, many families are so busy running here and there with overbooked schedules that it's often difficult to find time just being together as a family. I love how the Amish have such deep family bonds and strong family traditions. The Amish values of simple living, forgiveness, community, and more can all be helpful to those of us wishing to create a more meaningful family life.

One chapter that really made an impact on me talked about the fact that the Amish believe in their children and know that good habits start at an early age. Bill Coleman, a world-famous photographer, said that in all the years he has spent visiting and photographing the Amish, he has never once heard an Amish parent raise their voice to a child. The Amish children are taught by example and from an early age become willing workers, eager to do their tasks without any complaining (wouldn't that be nice!). There is also much respect between siblings and a sense of teamwork among them. This is one principle that I would definitely like to incorporate into my own family life.

Go here to buy the book

Enter 8/15 - 8/31!

To celebrate the release of Amish Values for Your Family, Suzanne has teamed up her publisher Revell Books to giveaway a Kindle, and with Bill Coleman (the amazing photographer used on Suzanne’s book covers) to give away a signed Bill Coleman original.

One Grand Prize winner will receive an Amish Values Prize Package (valued at over $200) and includes:

* A brand new KINDLE
* A Signed Bill Coleman original
* Amish Values for Your Family (for KINDLE)

Click on one of the icons to enter. Winner will be announced on 9/2 at Suzanne’s blog. Be sure to stop by the blogs on Suzanne’s blog tour – many have copies of Amish Values for Your Family to give away.

But, wait there's more! Suzanne is running a Bill Coleman caption contest during the month of August on her blog. Title one of Bill’s gorgeous photos for a chance to win a print from Bill’s Amish Photo site and/or a copy of Amish Values for Your Family.

As a participant in this blog tour, Litfuse Publicity Group provided me with a free copy of the book Amish Values For Your Family as well as some of the information used in this post. All opinions expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Movie Trailer Tuesday - Lost In Austen

Amanda is a modern girl who just happens to be totally obsessed with the classic novel Pride and Prejudice. She spends hours reading and re-reading the book and feels like she knows each and every character personally. But, what happens when Amanda somehow finds herself transported to the fictional world of The Bennetts, Mr. Darcy, and all the other Pride and Prejudice characters? Her appearance in their world causes all kinds of interruptions and strange scenarios (some quite hilarious) and could ultimately alter the outcome of the story. It's a cute movie that had me laughing out loud. If you are an Austen fan or a fan of British chick-lit-type stories, you should watch this DVD.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Giveaway Winner - Virtual Room Makeover from Stylish Solutions

Thank you to those who stopped by to enter the Virtual Room Makeover from Stylish Solutions. The giveaway is now closed and the randomly selected winner is:

Comment #4 - Pam

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2011-08-14 14:45:19 UTC

Winner will be contacted and have 48 hours to respond and claim prize.

If you are interested in purchasing a professional Virtual Room Makeover for only $10, please visit Stylish Solutions on Etsy for more details.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Aloha Friday - A Person You Admire

Welcome to this week’s edition of Aloha Friday, hosted by Kailani over at An Island Life. In Hawaii, Aloha Friday is the day to take it easy and look forward to the weekend. So, on Fridays we can take it easy on blog posting, too.

I’ll ask a simple question for you to answer - nothing that requires a lengthy response. If you’d like to participate, visit An Island Life where you can link up with your own question and also visit the other participants! It’s a great way to make new bloggy friends!

One person that I look up to and admire is ____________ because ________

(My answer would be Laura Ingraham, the conservative commentator and talk show host, because she is incredibly smart, informed, strong, and funny. I think she's a great conservative, Christian role model for women in our country.)


Thursday, August 11, 2011

7 Reasons Why I Can't Wait For Winter To Arrive

It's no secret that summer is my least favorite season. I'm just not a hot-weather person. Give me gray skies, briskly cold temperatures, and snowflakes any day! Here are 7 reasons why I can't wait for winter to arrive:

1) I can't wait to wear my cute Sorel snow boots that I bought last year from (I even enjoy shoveling snow, for a little while anyway)

2) I want to lay on the couch and cuddle in front of the fireplace with my family while we watch Jeopardy on tv.

3) So I can enjoy this yummy Caramel Apple Spice drink from Starbucks (I know they serve it year round but it's strictly a "winter weather drink" to me). YUMMY!

4) I can start Christmas shopping. YAY!

5) It will get dark earlier. I know, I know...most people hate this, but, I love when it starts getting dark early.

6) Snow. I love to watch it snow. It's so peaceful and pretty. I also love the crunching sound made when you walk on snow.

7) Mittens. I'm currently obsessed with finding some cute new mittens to wear. If only I knew how to knit!

Which do you prefer? Summer or Winter?


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What Happened To Teaching Cursive Writing?


My kids went back to school today. Other than my youngest son's bus being late (we finally had to jump in the car and take him to school), everything went very smoothly this morning. I have to admit that I'm always glad to see this time roll around. As much as I enjoy the carefree, lazy days of summer with my kids, it's nice to get back into the school routine. And, since I'm not a fan of summer weather, I especially look forward to the arrival of fall and cooler temperatures.

Monday night our elementary school had their open house. You could drop in and take care of various tasks such as putting money in their lunch accounts or signing up to volunteer, etc. The kids also had the opportunity to visit their classroom, meet their teacher, and place their school supplies in their desks. Something pretty significant occurred when we took our son to his 5th grade classroom although I didn't realize it until the next day. As we entered his classroom, a sign instructed us to first let the student find his desk (it would have his name on it). Well, my son walked around the classroom, looking at the desks, but something just didn't seem right with him. I thought he was probably just a little nervous, being around all the other kids and parents. I spotted his name and steered him toward his desk, not really thinking much more about it. We deposited his supplies, chatted with his teacher, and left, bringing with us a pack of paperwork that needed to be filled out and returned on the first day of school.

Later the next day, as I was completing the paperwork, I came across a form that required my son's signature to say that he agreed to abide by their internet usage rules while at school. I called him to the room and told him to sign his name, "in cursive."  He just looked at me and said, "I don't know how to write in cursive." Then, I suddenly remembered his hesitation as he searched for his name among the desks - the names were written in cursive! I questioned him and he told me he didn't really know how to read cursive writing. What?! I was floored! He's going into the 5th grade and he doesn't know how to read or write in cursive. How did I miss this? How? My other kids were all taught cursive but as I questioned him further, I realized that this was no longer the case. Cursive writing is just not something they focus on like they used to. First of all, I feel like a total failure for not knowing about this; like I really dropped the ball by not learning of it sooner. If I had realized, I would've definitely spent the summer working on it with him. But, I also feel disappointed with the school. When did cursive writing stop being part of the curriculum? I personally feel that cursive writing is a skill that needs to be taught to our kids.

So, now I'm taking it into my hands and plan on working with him to teach him cursive writing. I'm sure there are worksheets and printables that I can find on the internet to help us practice. I just can't get over the terrible feeling that I failed him by not being on top of this.

If you have school-age kids I would love to hear your thoughts. My other kids learned cursive somewhere around 3rd-4th grade. What about yours? Is cursive writing a teaching focus at your school? In what grades do they teach cursive writing?


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Virtual Room Review from Stylish Solutions - Review and Giveaway

Have you ever wished you could get advice on home decorating from a professional interior decorator? Have you ever wanted some personalized tips for decorating your own space without spending a fortune? I certainly have but I knew I could never afford the expensive price tag that usually comes along with these sort of professional, in-home consultations.

I recently learned of a new service being offered by Heather Cote of Stylish Solutions via Etsy. Heather is an interior decorator who has been in business since 2004 doing colour consultations, complete interiors, online consultations, workshops, home staging and more. She recently expanded her business to include an Etsy shop as a venue for online room reviews and handmade home decor items.

For just $10, you can purchase a Virtual Room Review from her Etsy shop. Here's how it works...after you purchase the Virtual Room Review, you will send Heather up to four pictures of your room. Then, within 48 hours she will provide you with a short list of easy-to-implement tips and suggestions – what to move, rearrange, add or take away to make your room look its best. These are straightforward, quick and easy changes that you can make right now.

I had the opportunity to try out this Virtual Room Review. After sending Heather some photos of our family room, she gave me some really useful and do-able tips for updating our space.

For example, here's one of the photos that I sent Heather. We have this huge wall in our family room that I've never really known what to do with.

She offered several suggestions, one of which was to do a photo gallery in this space. I love this idea! It would be so easy and the perfect thing for a family room. I never even thought of doing something like this even though I'm always drawn to family photo galleries when I've seen them in magazines or pictured on blogs. Heather gave me detailed instructions on different ways that I could create a photo gallery. She even provided sample layouts to show me exactly how I could arrange the frames.

Some of Heather's other recommendations for our family room included bringing in an accent color by replacing some of our sofa pillows, using a throw with the love seat to add color, and utilizing a decorative tray on the ottoman to display some colorful accessories and magazines. All of the tips she gave were fairly simple and could be easily accomplished without spending a lot of money. I love the precise and detailed list and diagram that she sent me to outline her ideas.

I'm very pleased with my Virtual Room Review outcome. Getting professional yet easy-to-implement solutions for only $10 is a terrific value. If you're in need of some decorating advice and inspiration, check out Stylish Solutions and let Heather help you out.

Heather has generously offered to provide a Virtual Room Review to one of my lucky blog readers. To enter, you may do any or each of the following (please leave separate comment for each):

1) Follow @StylishHeather on Twitter (leave your twitter name in comment)
2) Follow @alas3lads on Twitter (leave your twitter name in comment)
3) Follow Stylish Solutions blog
4) Follow Alas 3 Lads blog via GFC
5) Tweet this giveaway using Retweet button 1x daily (leave tweet link in comment)

Giveaway will end at 10:00 pm EST on August 13, 2011. One random winner will be chosen and notified via email. Please make sure you provide valid contact information in case you are the giveaway winner.

*Heather Cote from Stylish Solutions provided me with a free virtual room review. She is also providing a free room review for giveaway to one of my blog readers. No monetary exchange took place and all opinions are my own.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Blog Design

April Showers Design Studio

I would like to say thanks to April from April Showers Design Studio for giving my blog this nice, new makeover. When it comes to blog design or anything "technical" regarding my blog, I'm pretty much clueless. I was able to tell April what kind of look I wanted and she did all the magic to make it happen, right down to every last little detail. I'm very happy with the way it turned out - it feels crisp and clean and fresh and pretty! Thank you, April!

Also, if you happen to have my blog button listed on your site, it would be so sweet of you to update it to my new one that's in my sidebar. I appreciate it!