Thursday, November 11, 2010

Novica Giveaway and Review

Recently, an incredible opportunity to support artists all over the world came across my path.  The online company Novica, associated with National Geographic, contacted me and asked me to check them out and spend $75.  I asked if I could spend $45  and give away a $30 gift card towards their site to one of you. 

When asked if I wanted to participate I looked up their site and fell in love with their mission:

We want to give artists and artisans around the world a global platform to express their true artistic talents and to spur their creativity. And, we want to provide you with access to unique, hard-to-find items at great values that only the Internet infrastructure can allow.

At the deepest essence of our philosophy, we want to create a bridge between you and the many talented artisans across the globe.

We want you to know about who you're buying from. We want you to feel that attachment to the product and to the hands that created it.

In the spirit of the Internet, let us bring you together.

NOVICA. The World is Your Market.

I spent hours looking at all the fun art work, clothing, handbags, accessories, kitchenware, decor and more.  I was tempted by  many different items.  Since becoming pregnant and having to wear maternity clothes I have pushed myself to spice things up with necklaces and scarves....well, I bought one scarf and one necklace and a few bracelets at Kohls.  So this opportunity offered a chance to add a unique accessory to my maternity wardrobe that could add a little fun to the blah maternity tops. 

I picked this necklace titled "The Elephant Stack".  I chose it because I fell in love with the simple design and the idea that the three elephants represented my three little miracles. 

The necklace came faster that I expected.  They said 4-6 weeks and it took a week or less!  It came wrapped in really cute eco friendly wrapping paper.  The necklace was displayed in such a cute manner, wrapped around a little pillow. 

I have already received numerous compliments on it. 

When you are shopping at Novica you can learn about the artist that made your item. 

The artist that made my necklace is named Jantana.  She is from Thailand and here is a little bit about her:


"My dream is to one day have a jewelry workshop and produce my own designs. My parents are jewelers and created made to order jewelry in our home. Because I've had to the opportunity to observe the process and even to help out sometimes, I'd like to continue this family tradition. I enjoy it a lot. After college, I worked two years for a jewelry company and gained experience in new techniques.

"My name is Jantana, but people usually shorten it to Na. I'm the youngest of five children. When my brother and sister married, each moved to stay with their new families, but continued to work with jewelry by setting up workshops in their new locations. I visited my sister and her husband in Northern Thailand where they produce silverware in their home. She invited me to help her. Because I really like the region, I resigned at work and moved to Chang Mai to live with my sister's family.

"She and her husband have 12 silversmiths who collaborate with them. It is a small workshop and they all work together happily like brothers and sisters. One of the women cannot speak, however she is learning to assemble simple pieces, clean the silver, etc. She's been much happier since she started working with us and I'm proud to help her achieve a better life.

"While assisting my sister, I've also been able to develop designs of my own. Every time a shopper admires my work, this makes me very happy and gives me greater motivation. My designs are crafted by hand – almost every step of the process. Sometimes I create a piece of jewelry designed by an artist to display in museums, both inside and outside Thailand. I also create jewelry for new generation designers who want to test their market with small quantities. Some of my jewelry has been specially designed and hand crafted for Novica. "I'm so happy to be living in Northern Thailand and to work at something I enjoy. My sister's family is warm and lovely, and I'm pleased to help her take care of her daughter and son. Now that our parents have retired, they have more time to visit us. They are so happy that we are carrying on their silver jewelry tradition!"

I was impressed with the entire Novica online shopping experience.  It was smooth, quick, and hassle free.  The shipping was very affordable for being from such a far away location. 
Novica has such a wide variety of items, whether you are looking for
fair trade corporate gifts

green gifts

unique gifts

As the holidays come upon us...think of trying the Novica online shopping experience for a unique gift that supports artists from all over the world! 

If you would like to win the $30 gift card to use on a Novica gift for yourself or someone in your life...leave a comment telling me one thing that is on your Christmas list this holiday season. 

You can have a second chance to win the giveaway if you visit Novica and tell me what you would buy and who you would buy it for.

This giveaway will end Wednesday, November 17th at 8pm.

Monday, August 16, 2010


The winner of this exciting book is Sarah!  Thanks to all that threw your name into the drawing.  I wish you all wonderful ends to your summer and strong and steady starts to Kindergarten...preschool...or whatever stage you are at! 

Sarah, please email me your email and home address and I will get the information to the author.  You have 24 hours to contact me otherwise I will pick a different winner. 

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book Review and Giveaway: Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten?

Recently, I was given the opportunity to review the book Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? by Audrey Vernick.  The opportunity couldn't have come at a better time.  As the month of August starts to move forward, quickening it's pace as we go, I realize that my time with both boys home all day is coming to a quick end.  Charley will become an actual real life Kindergartner come September.  There will be no more spur of the moment trips to the zoo just the three of us.  We will have to plan.  Don't get me wrong - Charley is definitely ready for kindergarten and we are easing in to his school career with only the HALF day experience. 

The emotions though are becoming more and more apparent for both him and me.  I am excited for the routine, the stimulation it will give him, the time with friends, and the opportunity to be loved by another adult or two in his life.  I am fearing the impact the separation will have on Henry - even though I can see the good in the upcoming time apart.  I am dreading the feeling of not knowing everything that he is saying, thinking, doing, and learning.  I am praying that the connections I have established, the family meal time, the quiet afternoons that he and I will still have...will allow for plenty of time for this boy of mine to share all that he experiences. 

As a teacher, who is on leave to be home with these two little men + the one on the way, I have a handful of fun beginning of the year books.   I am delighted to have another one in my hands.  Is Your Buffalo Ready for Kindergarten? is a book that will put a smile on both a child and adult's face. 

It touches on the anxiety that children have starting something new:  different looks, different skill sets (scissor skills), getting along with other children, and sharing.  It realizes the excitement of a new backpack and figuring out ones place in a classroom.   It uses current language and phrases like:  How crazy is that? and Kidding!

 My favorite page says:

He'll stop, take a deep breath,
and remember the Rules for
Sharing and Caring.

That's why kindergarten's so great.
You learn to get along without using your horns.

There is also a discussion guide and  coloring sheets available.

Is Your Buffalo Ready for School? is a great book to throw into the weeks building up to the new experience of kindergarten. I am so glad it found it's way onto our bookshelf.  You can win a copy of your own by leaving a comment telling me something you are looking forward to about the school year beginning, how you get ready for the routine shift, or share a favorite kindergarten memory or children's book.

The winner will be chosen on Sunday, August 15th.

The winner will also get their name submitted with mine to win this opportunity....The winning team (blogger and blogger contest winner) each get to choose a personalized pose for the buffalo which Daniel will illustrate and then print onto a book bag for each.

The following is an interview I had with the author Audrey Vernick.   Thank you Audrey for sharing your thoughts. 


1. What inspired you to write this book?

One morning, my son had to bring pumpkin muffins to school for a cooking class. As we were waiting for the school bus, our dog was very actively sniffing around the muffins, and I said, offhandedly, "you might need to teach your dog to bake." A minute passed and then I said, "A smarter writer would have a whole series right there--Teach Your Dog To Bake. Teach Your Cat to Surf. Teach Your Buffalo to Play Drums." Later that morning, while walking the dog, I wrote most of Teach Your Buffalo to Play Drums in my head.

When my agent sold that book to HarperCollins, they offered a two-book deal. My editor knew I was working on a book called Is Your Yeti Ready for Kindergarten? We agreed to try to turn that one into a buffalo/kindergarten book instead.

2. What feelings and emotions did you have when your children headed off to kindergarten? How did you deal with them?

My sisters had children before I did. I remember a day when we were all in a hotel room somewhere, hurrying off to somewhere. As the last of us was about to leave the room, we realized we had forgotten to take my sister's baby. We had forgotten the baby! That's how I felt when my children left for kindergarten-- this sense that something was terribly wrong, that we were about to go somewhere without our constant companion. It was a very panicky feeling.

Time took care of that pretty quickly. My children loved going to school. And I found many ways to fill my time.

3. What made you pick a buffalo...why not a giraffe?

Good question. I have no idea. But seeing the buffalo that Daniel drew makes me know that it was the right choice. I will admit that for about a day, I changed the buffalo to a humpbacked ox.

4. How long did it take you to write the book?

Hardly any time at all. Editing, on the other hand, took a long time. My editor and I worked very hard to find the right balance between sweet encouragement and snarky humor.

5. Lots of people dream of writing a children's book. Is there any advice you would give to them?

How much time do you have?
I thought this would be easy. And sometimes writing children's books is easy. Getting them published rarely is. The best advice, which I never wanted to listen to in the beginning, is to read a ton of NEW children's books. We're all pretty well versed in the books we grew up with, but it's important to maintain a sense of what publishers are putting out NOW. Once or twice each year, I visit local bookstores and read through the new picture books. I don't actively process the information, but on some subconscious level, I get a sense of things.

It's also worthwhile to find other writers or readers who are good readers of your work. I have a handful of people whose opinions matter to me a great deal. They help me revise and reshape my work before I submit it. It can take a while to figure out who's a good reader for you and who isn't, but for some writers (I am one), it's of great value.

6. What is your silliest or favorite kindergarten memory?

I have very fond memories of the kitchen area in my kindergarten classroom. I remember nervously inviting the young and beautiful Miss Katinas, a first-year teacher, to attend my dance recital. She, in turn, invited me to attend her wedding at the United Nations.

You can get a copy of your own by leaving a comment telling me something you are looking forward to about the school year beginning, how you get ready for the routine shift, or share a favorite kindergarten memory or children's book.

The winner will be chosen on Sunday, August 15th.  

The winner will also get their name submitted with mine to win this opportunity....The winning team (blogger and blogger contest winner) each get to choose a personalized pose for the buffalo which Daniel will illustrate and then print onto a book bag for each.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

CSN Giveaway - this giveaway is complete

CSN Stores is once again offering up a $50 gift card to use at one of their 200 online stores. Go here to check out the many ways you could splurge on yourself or someone you love...or me :)

To enter to win share 3 things on your summer to do list for the month of July...

Here are a few items on my July list:

Sandy toes on the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. 

Strawberry picking.

Visiting my grandpa and other relatives at a Sunday picnic.

Smore's over a fire in our backyard.

Late night game of Hearts against my brother-in-law Andy.

More time at the pool.

More time at the beach.

Making Vanilla Rainbow pudding pops with the boys.

A winner will be selected next Wednesday, July 8th. I will offer one other chance to win in the next week!

So share 3 things you are hoping to do, accomplish, relish, challenge yourself with...this second month of summer! 

Look What's Happening Tomorrow

CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find everything from cookware to cribs to specific needs such as dining room sets and shoes.  I have been given the opportunity to give away another $50 gift card to one of their 200 online stores.  This opportunity start tomorrow.  So today I thought I would share a few items I would buy for myself, friends, or family, if I had an extra $50 laying around.

For my nephew Eli...I would buy him one of these classic riding vehicles.  It keeps boys busy for hours!

For Henry... I would buy him this bike.  A neighbor boy has been zipping around on one of these at the age of 2-3 and now he is riding a two wheel bike without training wheels!  Amazing.

For my mom friends...I have one of these bags and I love it.  It slides over your shoulder and lays across your back and leaves you with two hands for holding and two arms to reach and grab little ones running in all directions.

For my niece Morgan...these shoes squeak with each step she takes.  How cute...and maybe a little annoying after a while for mom and dad :)

For myself....I have always wanted one of these...not sure why. 

There are so many options and you could actually spend hours searching through their online stores.  Start dreaming...and tomorrow stop by to enter for your chance to win a $50 gift card to CSN Stores more than 200 online sites.  Coming tomorrow!

Sunday, May 23, 2010


And the winner to of the $50 giftcard to any of CSN Stores 200 online sites is......Jaime!

Jaime, please email me and I will send your email to CSN Stores and they will email you the code for the $50 online giftcard!  Happy Shopping!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Organically Grown Review

Recently I was given the opportunity to try an review an outfit for Henry from the Organically Grown Company.  Typically, I will not do reviews without some benefit to you, my readers - but I couldn't pass up the opportunity to try a cute outfit for my little second child that always gets the "hand me downs".  And I am always trying to learn more about the "organic" choices we can make.

Why Organic cotton?  Taken from Organically Grown's About page"According to the Organic Exchange, as estimated 170 million pounds of pesticides, and 25% of the world's insecticides are used in the production of conventional, non-organic cotton. 7 out of 10 of these pesticides are on the EPA's "known" list of "likely" or "probable" carcinogens. These chemicals result in the work-force illnesses, water contamination, and the devastation of farmland. All of the problems are eliminated through organic farming practices. Organically Grown is proud to be a part of the solution."

The outfit arrived and then we waited....we waited and waited and waited...for the warm summer temps.  Too bad Organically Grown Company couldn't send some California temps too.  But, they have arrived!  We might even hit 80 these next few days.  Henry put on the outfit, after I washed it, and it fit almost perfect.  They sent me a 3T just in case.  Henry is an average sized 2T child...and the 3T is verging on small.  So just like all the unique special brands of clothes out there - they typically run small.

The design says Nature Boy and it is so subtle and cute.  I love that it isn't a bright in your face design.  Classy.  The fabric is soft and thick.  It was quality material...not thin and cheap.  It was comfy with an elastic waist that was snug enough to stay up...without buttons or snaps to mess with.  He had no complaints all day!  The pants included little pockets for the many treasures that little fingers uncover during the day.

Organically Grown also sells packs of onesies or bodysuits for $20.  The item though that intrigues me...because I will be honest that the price of $28 for Henry's outfit is pretty steep for me...especially during garage sale season, and to me garage sales is one way I promote green living.  The thing I am most tempted to order from them are these vintage t-shirts for women.  $14 you can't go wrong!  They look super soft and very affordable!  I might have to order me one or two of those. 

We will enjoy this outfit all summer!  

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Thank you to my readers and Giveaway

I am excited to announce my second real giveaway.

CSN Stores has over 200 online stores where you can find tv stands, furniture, toys, home decor, and so much more!  You can find a listing of all of their online stores here.  They contacted me and are giving me a $50 gift card to giveaway to one of you.  My fabulous readers. 

I have purchased toys from and was thrilled to find free shipping and great prices.  Maybe you remember hearing about Henry's Christmas/birthday gifts this year!

You can find shoes, kitchen stuff, in and outside decor and more.

I am not receiving anything for this giveaway....wondering if you could help me out.  I am wondering what you enjoy reading on my blog.  So to enter the giveaway please leave a comment sharing what you enjoy reading on here...kid updates, recipes, my silly mothering thoughts, pictures, kid activities....Just curious.  Or just say hi and introduce yourself if you are a new visitor. 

You can get a second entry by following...right over there on the left-hand side.  Just leave a second comment telling you are a follower.  You must leave two separate entries to get the two entries.

This giveaway will end Saturday, May 22nd at 9pm.  I will select one winner using!

I have strong feelings towards mommy bloggers doing giveaways and reviews.  I do feel we should be compensated for the time we take to write up and review a product.  And I never want my readers to think I am lying about a product.  I will be upfront about my actual experience.  This giveaway seemed like a great opportunity to say Thank you for reading, subscribing, following, but most of all commenting every now and then and making this blog thing so. much. fun.   CSN also looks to be a fabulous online resource!  I will also stay true to my content, my boys, and you my readers.  My blog is sharing my thoughts and experiences as a mother and woman.  It is not about what I can earn, get, or giveaway.  But if a few little opportunities come about....what the heck!  SO. fun!