Tuesday, July 26, 2011

review and giveaway of Cooking on the Edge of Insanity

i normally do reviews HERE, but today, I've got one up at my regular blog, including a giveaway of Emily Rosenbaum's Cooking on the Edge of Insanity. Click here to check it out and enter the giveaway.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

getting the goods at Home Goods

The good folks at Blogher and Home Goods set me up with a $25 gift card, the only stipulation being that I had to spend it and share with y'a'll what a bought. Hmmm... no downside there!

I had never been in a Home Goods store, and maybe neither have you. It reminded me of a (much cleaner and neater) TJMaxx store... but with no clothes, only... you guessed it... home goods. Lots of kitchen stuff, decorations, Holiday gift items, candles, vases, bedding, bathroom stuff, incidental furniture pieces, etc. All at prices lower than department stores. Oh, and toys. That came in handy with the gift shopping.

I started off just wandering the store to get a feel for what was there, and how to best spend my $25. I kept wishing that I had already moved into my new home, because then I would SURELY have spent the money on myself. But I'm trying to hold off on buying cute house stuff until we move in and figure out what we really want/need. I was tempted to save the $25, but that would be against the rules. So I guess I'll just have to go back and spend my own money.

I think I did pretty well with my $25... it went a long way, don't you think? I bought the cute puppy stacking toy for my godson, the Curious George paint set for a friend's son who adores George, the gourmet doggy treats (Jimmy CHEWS - get it??) for my sister in law's pups, the candles for our advent wreath, and the set of mugs for my best friend from high school (when I had tea at her place the other week she commented that the snowmen mugs we were drinking out of were the only matching mugs she had, and they belonged to the kids. So two pretty, grownup mugs were immediately added to my mental shopping list). The total, with tax, was just over $26. Presents for one adult, two kids, two dogs, and some stuff for my house. For $26. Nice.

(full disclosure... the candles and Jimmy Chews were on clearance, making them extra, extra cheap. Yippee!)

They had some really great little girl stuff that I was SO tempted to buy for my daughter (like a paint your own tea set) but I'm trying to focus on her actual LIST this year, so I restrained myself. They also had a nice selection of Melissa and Doug toys at about half the price you'd find them for at a toy shop. Unfortunately, none of the kids I needed to buy for were quite in the right range for the puzzles and such. They have lots of pretty Christmas stuff and nicely packaged sweet treats, perfect for those secret Santa exchanges (which, for the first time in years, I'm not a part of this holiday).

Thanks, Home Goods. And smart move sending me that card, because I had never been in your store before. But once I close on my new house... I'll be back!

Home Goods and Blogher are giving away one $100 gift card, and 20 $25 gift cards here. Go leave a comment, and if you win... I could really use some housewarming gifts. Hopefully soon.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Winner of i'd know you anywhere

By virtue of a complex system (writing down numbers 1-5 on paper, folding them, and then drawing one) lucky commenter number 4... Kaye... has won my copy of i'd know you anywhere. Kaye... I think I have your address somewhere... but you know, I've moved and all, so who knows if I can find it. Would you be kind enough to send it again?

I've just checked another Laura Lippman book out of the library: Life Sentences. I'm only one chapter in, but so far, so good.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Book Review: i'd know you anywhere

The lovely folks at Harper Collins offered me a chance to review Laura Lippman's new book, i'd know you anywhere. I have to confess, I had never heard of Laura Lippman, even though she's a NYT's best selling author with 17 previously published novels. But the description intrigued me ("a stunning stand-alone novel that explores the lasting effects on lives touched by crime. With I’d Know You Anywhere, Lippmann tells a gripping tale of a young woman whose life dangerously entwines once again with a man on Death Row who had kidnapped her when she was a teenager"), and heck... A FREE BOOK. (I know I can borrow free books from the library all the time, and do, but still... FREE. And then I could give it away to one of you!)

I went into the book with minimal expectations, expecting a murder mystery, which aren't the kind of books I usually read. I thought there would be a rapidly rising body count and a woman who kept putting herself in danger in some weird combination of stupidity and bravery as the murders got closer and closer to her. I thought it would be a quick diversion. Instead, I was drawn in to the psychology of the story. I already knew that our protagonist made it out alive:

Eliza Benedict is now a mother of two, and has worked hard to build a happy and secure life after being kidnapped and raped when she was 15. Her world is rocked when she receives an unexpected letter from her old captor, Walter Bowman. Walter is in prison awaiting execution for his murder of another girl, a case that was won with Eliza's testimony. He is suspected of having killed more girls, although his involvement is never proved. Walter had seen her photo in a magazine, a picture taken at a society event with her husband, and asserts "I'd know you anywhere."

The walls that Eliza has built to keep the past firmly behind her are crumbling down, and she is torn between rebuilding them and finding out the answer to her unanswered question: why was I allowed to live? She struggles to understand Walter's manipulation, then and now, and fight against her own fear and survivor's guilt. The narrative jumps between present day and the past, slowly revealing the secrets not only of Eliza's time as Walter's captive but also Walter's history. The point of view shifts between Eliza, Walter and the mother of the murdered girl, anxiously awaiting her moment of revenge when Walter is finally executed.

The novel is full of well developed characters and slow building tension. I was drawn into the story: gobbling up the pieces, wondering at the ending, rooting for the protagonist.

I was up until 2 in the morning, pushing towards the end. When I closed the book and turned out the light, I was satisfied.

Now I have to look up more Laura Lippman books at the library.

Wanna give the book a try? Leave a comment. On Friday 9/17 I'll announce a winner, and I'll mail you my copy.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Skimming the fat with Lose It!

I'm grateful for a size four.


I've lost 23 pounds.

3 pants sizes.

I didn't think it was possible. I never would have thought, frankly, that I had that much to lose.

This summer I came home from camping and put new batteries in my scale. It hadn't worked in months, but my clothes were getting tighter and I knew that I was heading in the wrong direction. The scale just showed me how much.

I decided it was time to get serious. I lost 5 pounds before heading off to a week in Cabo, during which I gained 2 of those pounds back. I wasn't too discouraged, though, I expected that.

Then I discovered Lose It!, a free iphone application that helped me track calories. I programmed the app with my height and weight, and my goal weight. I decided how many pounds I wanted to lose each week, and it told me how many calories I could eat each day. I put in everything I ate, and most of the time the application actually had the numbers. Occasionally I would do a google search and use the function that allowed me to put in my own numbers and create a new food.

Having the numbers in front of me made decisions pretty easy. Hmmm... 12 chips at 140 calories or countless carrots for 40?

I soon realized that the app assumes you sit around on your butt all day. I started putting in all my activity, like housecleaning. It motivated me to be more active... cleaning for an hour could literally afford me a glass of wine in the evening.

And not so slowly, but definitely surely, the weight came off. I didn't exercise per se, because I didn't have time, although I did look to add activity whenever possible. Every other time I've tried to lose weight I tried through exercise and a slightly restricted diet.

Nothing worked like this. Calorie counting. Simple math.

And Lose It! made it so easy. Less guess work. And serious results. The results became the motivation.

When I hit my "dream goal" of 18 pounds, I decided to keep going.

23 pounds.

I still can't believe it.

But all those new pants I bought today? They make it pretty real.

There is one serious downside, though. Care to guess how many companies I've found that make pants in a size four LONG? Here's a hint... you'll only need one appendage.

(I'm slightly nervous about posting this. Let me be clear that I know I was not fat before. I am lucky enough to say that I have never been what a doctor would call overweight. I was on the higher end of a healthy weight, and decided I finally wanted to get serious about seeing if I could get it back down. I am proud of myself, and so share this with you. But I also know that I was born with tall, skinny genes that I inherited from my father. I am, and
almost always have been, grateful for that. I have many, many friends who have struggled for years and years with their weight, and I have not had to deal with it in the same way they have. Weight is a touchy issue among women. I know. For this very reason I rarely discuss it with my friends. Or on this blog.

also... this is in no way a sponsored review. I am simply sharing something that worked for me. Cross posted from my main blog)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Tickled Clean Teeth

This is a compensated review from BlogHer and Sonicare for Kids.

My husband and were starting to worry that perhaps our daughter, "The May Queen," (who just turned 7!) wasn't doing a good enough job brushing her teeth. She would rush through her brushing, and we were concerned that she wasn't giving all areas of her mouth equal time. My husband had just been to the dentist and suggested that when I went the next week I should check out this electronic toothbrush they were advertising. Sonicare. He thought it might help our May Queen get her teeth cleaner without us having to be the brushing police.

But before I even had the chance to make it to the dentist myself I was offered the chance to test out Sonicare's new toothbrush designed specifically for kids. Kismet, no? I eagerly signed us up.

When the toothbrush arrived we got it charging right away. The May Queen was delighted that she got to choose from three different stick-on faces to decorate the toothbrush. She chose blue. That evening, the brush was ready to use. The May Queen was so excited.

Upon first putting the brush up to her teeth she giggled. GIGGLED! A lot. The vibrating motion was tickling her teeth. She loved it.

The brush gives off a fun musical sound indicating when it's time to switch to a different section of the mouth. It took a bit of instruction for her to understand that rather than moving her wrist she just had to slowly movie the brush over one area until it was time to switch places, but by the second use she was a pro.

And it works. The May Queen LOVES using it. The tickling sensation, as promised in the directions, lessens with each use as your mouth gets accustomed to the motion of the brush. The May Queen looks forward to using it, and undoubtedly spends more time brushing than she did before. The timer on it is fantastic, it keeps her from rushing like she did with her regular brushing routine. About a week after she began using it SHE visited the dentist. He was pleased to hear she was using Sonicare, and told her to keep up the good work.

I would recommend the product on the sheer fact that our 7 year old now enjoys brushing her teeth and spends more time doing so. But I also feel confident saying that it does a better job of cleaning her teeth than she ever did on her own. She has a lot of her permanent teeth already, and I want her to keep them cavity free. I am confident that Sonicare will help us reach that cavity-free goal.

as an aside: Sonicare was kind enough to provide us with an adult version of their toothbrush as well, and I can personally say that it DOES tickle at first (I giggled, too!), you DO get used to it, and my teeth feel VERY clean when I am done. I didn't get to choose a fun stick-on faceplate, but I'll keep using it anyways.

Wanna check it out for yourself? Blogher and Sonicare are having a sweepstakes! You have a total of 10 chances to win a $100 Visa gift card from BlogHer Reviewers, plus the chance to win a Sonicare prize pack on the BlogHer.com special offers page! To enter, leave me a comment below and tell me How do you handle your kids' dental hygiene? - or you may write a post about your kid's dental hygiene on your own blog leave a link to that post in the comments below. The contest will begin at 9:00 a.m. (PST) 10/15/2009 and will end 5:00 p.m. (PST) 11/15/2009. Make sure that you leave a correct e-mail address so I can contact you if you win!

Here's the Rules:

No duplicate comments.

You may receive an additional entry by linking on twitter and leaving a link in the comments.

You may receive an additional entry by blogging about this contest and leaving a link in the comments.

This giveaway is open to US-residents, 18 years of age or older.

Winners will be selected via random draw (via the Random Number Generator), and will notified by e-mail.

You have 48 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.

Please see the official rules here: Official rules.

For more information on Sonicare for Kids check out their Official site.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

New Review Blog

So... I'm starting a review blog. Hopefully I'll get a chance to review some fun stuff. If you have something you'd like reviewed, contact me at pntdmaypole AT yahoo DOT com.

I have a regular blog wherein I ramble on about my life as a thespian mommy. You can check it out here.