Archive for the ‘Sponsored’ Category

Did I Just Get Hit by Robin Hood?

23 Feb

I’ve never had reason to consider IdentityHawk or other identity theft protection services.  But recently my credit card information was stolen and used – despite the fact that the actual card never left my possession.  I didn’t have any idea anything had happened until I got a call from the Fraud Department.

They wanted to know if I had recently had a pizza party.

And donated to the SPCA.

In England.

Um.  No.

While I appreciate the apparent philanthropic generosity and low-level theft of the perpetrator, that didn’t stop me from filling out the fraud investigation report the moment it arrived in my mailbox.

It’s a good thing my credit card company keeps a better eye on my expenditures than I do.

 
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Posted in Finances, Sponsored

 

Balloon Festival

20 Sep

… Or not.

I had planned to post this week about our annual (or biannual?) tradition of attending the Balloon Festival.  We bought discount tickets off a daily deals site, packed our cameras, picnic blanket, strollers and lawn chairs, stuffed everyone into the carpool vehicles and caravanned (is that a word?  Spell check doesn’t think so.)  over to the field where the hot air balloons take off.

And then we got there and were told to turn around because the Balloon Festival was being canceled due to inclement weather.  It had been a beautiful day so far, but there were some large clouds coming in pretty fast.

Well.  That was anticlimactic.

At least we hadn’t gotten out of the car yet.  There were a lot of people who had already parked far away and walked a mile over the hilly grass to get there… they looked kind of downtrodden as we passed them trudging back to their vehicles.

So I have no Balloon Festival pictures this year.  The kids did enjoy some chocolate custard on the way home.

The end.

 
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Posted in Current Events, Occasions, Sponsored

 

Free Recipes

24 Aug

Hello all you cooking gurus out there.  I know a lot of you are constantly on the hunt for new recipes, so here’s an opportunity to get an entire book (over 200) of them for free.

Chef Jeff (not the one from Food Network.  The one from MyDietChef.com) is coming out with a new e-cookbook entitled dinneRevolution.  He’s looking to create some buzz and get some feedback, so he’s offering it for FREE to Go Ask Your Dad’s readers.

I’ve seen the book, and it’s over 200 pages of “healthy and modern recipes made simply with 10 ingredients or less in under 30 minutes.”  There are a lot of traditional recipes made with chicken and beef, but also some vegetarian dishes, seafood dishes, and sides.  I’m not much of a cook myself, but these seem easy enough for even me to try once in a while.

So click here or on the picture to your right to get your free copy of the e-book!

Full disclosure: You do have to enter a name and your email address to get your free copy, but no payment information or other personal details are required.

 
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Posted in Food, Sponsored

 

It’s So Quiet Here Today

22 Aug

So now that the kids are both in school, there’s a good likelihood that I will be returning to work.

Remember a while ago where we had to restructure our spending and finances in order to get back on track?  We’re still plugging away at that and things are on the right track, but since the opportunity has arisen to bring in a little extra income and cut our “getting out of debt” timeline by 3/4 – well, it just seems like the responsible thing to do.

It’s like our version of the “balanced budget” approach. /end unrelated political commentary

One thing that I’m really trying to work on is my credit score.  It’s not abysmal or anything, since we have never had a problem with late payments.  However, the debt-to-available credit ratio is less than desirable, and it does affect a credit score.

Actually, I didn’t have any idea what my actual score number was until I recently applied for a car loan.  Most credit agencies want to charge you to share this information with you, but there are various ways to obtain a free credit score – though you usually have to sign up for some kind of a trial membership or something.

So here’s to new beginnings.  New schools, new jobs, new goals.

 
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Posted in Sponsored, Work

 

Cube Dog 3D

10 Jun

Thank you to Cube Dog for sponsoring this review. For more information about Cube Dog please visit the Facebook page or download it on iTunes.

Earlier this week, we were given the opportunity to try and review the new Cube Dog 3D app. Kaelin had previously been a big fan of Foo pets (until the website eliminated the option for free membership) so I thought this app might be right up her alley.

It was.

She spent quite a while “creating” her own Cube Dog by selecting the facial and body features.  And the color … which was, of course, PINK.

“This is how it works, Mama.  If you raise a kid without pink, they’ll love pink.”
“So what you’re saying is that it’s really my fault that your favorite color is pink.”
“Yeah.”

#facepalm

When you’re finished creating your Cube Dog, you can rotate and zoom it to get the full 3D view.  You can also pet, tap or swipe it and it will do little tricks.  Kaelin’s favorite is when it turns into a Ninja.  She also really likes the one where it calls your phone, but we both thought it was odd that regardless of whether you “answer” or “decline” the call, the dog just hangs up and puts the phone away.  I think it would be cool if he carried on a little mini conversation or at least said “hi.”

Kaelin has asked to play with the app several times over the last few days, which tells me that it has some staying power for a 5-year-old.  She also figured out how to work the features mostly by herself (including filling my photo album with snapshots of her dogs), which tells me it’s pretty intuitive.

Overall, it’s an app I’d willingly pay the standard $0.99 for.  At the moment, it’s FREE (not sure if they’re planning to keep it that way), so I think that’s a great value.

While Cube Dog provided me with the app to review, the opinions I’ve expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Cube Dog, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity.

 
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Posted in Sponsored, Thumbs Up

 

Adjusting

16 May

I LOVE PAVEMENT. That’s one of the first things that hit me when we moved back. The roads? PAVED. The parking lots? PAVED. And it’s clean pavement, not covered in layers and layers of dirt and sand left over from the winter’s ice treatment.

I haven’t seen – much less driven on – a single dirt road since we left Homer. And I’m totally cool with that. My car is clean. A clean car – inside and out – is one of the things in life that just makes me smile.

Today we went to a bank. A real, live, actual BRANCH of Capital One and talked to a real, live, actual banker face-to-face.

I also took the kids to get haircuts at their favorite little “get a toy when you’re done” place. They both look pretty sharp, if I do say so myself. I was even able to keep Koren from getting scalped on top.

My skin is begrudgingly adjusting to the added humidity in the air. And makeup. See, I actually have to groom myself when I live in Texas. As in, daily showers and everything. And this is a place where makeup is not just reserved for evening dresses. Women here will actually apologize if they’re in your presence without their make up on. As evidenced by peopleofwalmart.com, pants may be optional, but makeup is not.

It still shocks me (and admittedly, makes me a little giddy) how many stores there are here. I drive around just soaking them in. Container Store, Ikea, Home Depot, Best Buy, Target, Costco, Whole Foods, Toys R Us, DSW, malls, and any other store or service you could want – all within 15 minutes. I’m exercising restraint to keep myself from heading over to Allen for designer handbags.

I cannot wait to go to Costco. I have already visited Ikea, but just to window shop. Also, I really want to go to Container Store, but I can’t leave there without spending $100. There’s also the little matter that I don’t actually have a house to accessorize yet. So that one will have to wait.

Even when I do shop online now, I have more options.  While Bluefly and Amazon are great, it’s nice to be able to choose from more than two sites on the internet.  If they don’t flat out refuse shipping to Alaska (that’s a foreign country, right?), most stores would agree to ship to the Last Frontier only in exchange for my life’s savings, first child and perhaps my right arm.

I’ve fallen madly in love with Cragislist, and am knocking things off my “Things We Have to Buy” list left and right.  Washer – BOOM.  Dryer – BOOM.  Bed for Koren – BOOM.  Car Seat – BOOM.

Also, I’m seriously crushing on LivingSocial.com, ever since I got a dental exam, cleaning, x-rays, and teeth whitening treatment for $70.  I really need an exam and x-rays and was wondering how I would fit that into our budget.

* * * (insert random change of subject) * * *

The kids get worn out a lot easier here. Perhaps it’s the lack of an actual routine. Perhaps it’s the heat (which isn’t really hot, it’s just that we’re not really used to anything above 38 degrees anymore). But whatever the reason, once we hit about 3 in the afternoon, they’re pretty much done for a while. Today I’m making them take naps because they couldn’t seem to do “quiet time” without erupting into conflict every 5 minutes. I sent them to their rooms and 15 minutes later they were both out cold. Kaelin hasn’t napped in two years, and Koren had given up his naps a couple of months before we moved. Or so I thought…

He also fell asleep during dinner the other night. We went to On the Border (real! Mexican! Food! *) and he fell asleep on my shoulder while we waited for a table. He slept through the entire meal – we were fortunate to get a booth – and went straight to bed when he got home. Kaelin made it through dinner, but put herself to bed as soon as we got home, requesting that we do a bedtime story some other night because she was just too tired to get through one tonight.

We’re enjoying seeing family and friends again. We had the opportunity to see some friends at a graduation party the other night, and that was lots of fun. Madelyn is one of Kaelin’s favorite friends and her family came to visit us in Alaska, so we enjoyed getting to see them in person again.

I need to get on the ball with scheduling some play times for Kaelin and her friends before the kids start full-time summer camp programs in mid-June. Actually, there are a lot of things I need to get on the ball with, and I’m trying to knock a few off the list every day.

But seriously, after being bored out of my mind for 6 days in a car, I’m pleased as punch to be busy right now.

*Well ok, I know that among the purists of ethnic cuisine, the term “real” is debatable when applied to a chain restaurant, but what I mean by that is “Mexican Food” that’s worth paying for, and tortillas that weren’t purchased at Costco.

 
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Posted in Culture Shock, Food, Kids, Makes Me Happy, Moving, Sponsored

 

Moving

12 Mar

Well, it looks like we’re actually going to be heading out of here in less than 2 months.  Somehow that seems really close.

The landlord informed us that people may start coming to look at the house (I guess he’s trying to sell it) which prompted a panic attack at first because MUST CLEAN ALL THE THINGS!!!! … but it needs to be done anyway, so maybe it’s a blessing in disguise.

The worst part of moving is the packing.  Mostly because I have this foreboding feeling that no matter how diligent I am at labeling and organizing the boxes, we’ll unpack everything back in Texas and be completely unable to find those stupid little things that are so important, but have a tendency to disappear.  Then it will be off to the store to find some cheap television cables or DVI cables because even though I KNOW I PACKED THEM IN THAT BOX, they have mysteriously disappeared.

The one part about moving that I AM looking forward to is the lightening of our load – getting rid of stuff.  Don’t tell the kids, because it’s mostly toys that we’ll be offloading, but I hope to have a slightly less jam-packed trailer on the trip back than we had coming here.  Especially since we won’t have quite the same amount of extra hands around to help load it.

It would also be nice in case Border Patrol decides to pull everything out again in their search for guns.  Last time we weren’t entirely sure it would all fit back in there.  Maybe this time we should strap all our stuff into the trailer with our endless supply of DVI and USB cables, and then we wouldn’t have to worry about finding them when we unpacked.

 
 

The Sun Sets Again

09 Mar

Thank you to P&G’s Have You Tried This Yet? program and Kroger for sponsoring my writing about trying new things and breaking out of my everyday routine. Click here to find great savings on high-performing P&G products at a Kroger store near you. I was selected for this sponsorship by the Clever Girls Collective, which endorses Blog With Integrity, as I do.

* * *

A little over a year ago, my husband and I went on a Sushi date.  It was during this dinner that the conversation veered suddenly to Jens announcing that he missed Alaska and and wanted to move back (well, back for him – I have never lived in Alaska).

The first thing I told him was that I didn’t want to move.

We had a stable, happy life in our little corner of North Dallas.  I had just spent a ridiculous amount of time carefully choosing where the kids would attend school the next year, and had just turned in applications and deposits.  We had a nice house, a nice job situation, a nice group of friends, and everything was NICE.

And then I began to mull it over and the idea slowly grew on me.  I mean, WHY NOT.  We had lived in the same area of North Dallas for 7 years.  And as NICE as a place like Dallas is, it doesn’t have much going for it in the way of excitement or adventure.

And then in this weird way, everything started falling into place to make this impossible transition… possible.  A nice, fully-furnished place to rent in a quaint little Alaskan town, renters for our current house in Dallas, storage solutions, everything just seemed to fall into our laps to the point where we would have felt silly NOT to take this opportunity to move.

As you have probably read, this last year has been an adventure for us.  There have been many ups and downs, and we are officially moving back to our nice little life in North Dallas at the beginning of May.  But even through the challenges, I have never regretted making this move.  Our life here is nothing like our life in the burbs, and I appreciate the experience of knowing the difference.

As our time here draws to a close and we prepare to move back, there are a lot of things I’m looking forward to reintroducing into my life.  And there are also a lot of things about this little Alaskan hippie town that I will miss, and I thought I’d share them here.  Actually, there are several of these that I already miss because they are only available in the summer and I’m a bit sad I won’t get to enjoy them again this year.

But without further ado, here is a list of things I would never have experienced if I had stayed in my little comfort zone:

  • The view of the mountains and ocean from our house
  • Eagles
  • The moose that loves to nap for hours in our yard
  • Beach access within 15 minutes
  • The summer farmer’s market
  • Handmade soaps (I’m going to have to find a way to bring back a big box of this stuff)
  • Homemade jellies & jams from the lady at the farmer’s market
  • Fat Olive’s pizza
  • Fresh king crab
  • Cinnamon rolls and fresh bread from Two Sister’s Bakery, with which there is no comparison on earth
  • As much FREE! Halibut! as I can eat
  • Watching the kids play in the tide pools and scavenge the shores of Seldovia
  • Ferry rides when the waves are huge and the boat soars up and down like a roller coaster ride
  • Jogging the trail that runs down the spit on a breezy, sunny, 60° day, surrounded on 3 sides by the mountains and ocean
  • Fires made with real wood
  • Jens getting off work at 2:30pm every day
  • No wait at movies or restaurants during the winter