Thursday, January 29, 2015

The Financial Makeover

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Payoff, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #payoffmindset #whatsyourpayoff

 We're going to make 2015 the year we make over our finances.

As I mentioned a few weeks ago in my 2015 resolutions post, one of our big goals for this year is to get our finances into tip-top shape so that we can buy/build a home in early 2016.  Our financial situation is in no way bad...I would consider us very average for our age and income.  However, just like most everybody out there, we definitely have some things we need to do to kind of spruce up the overall outlook.

This means some small changes, like giving up little luxuries (daily coffee shop visits, manicures, fast food) and frequently checking in on our monthly budget.  But it also means some big changes, like eliminating the use of our credit cards.  We don't have a lot of credit card debt, but it's there...and it nags at me.  It is just annoying and unnecessary to have outstanding credit card debt, not to mention expensive.  So, the very first thing on our list this year is to get rid of it.

We all know how easy it can be to fall into a high-interest credit card trap.  You miss a payment...your rate is sky-high.  Your one-year introductory fee is over...your rate goes way up.  You go over your limit...your rate is through the roof.  You get the idea - and if you've ever had to deal with high-rate credit cards, it can feel like an impossible situation to escape.

But there are solutions out there to what seems impossible to fix. offers loans that are designed to help people pay off their credit card debt.  These loans can help those with high-interest credit cards pay those off faster, easier, and cheaper than they would be able to by themselves.

Applying for their services is so easy.

Simply visit their website and click the green button in the top right corner to apply.

Fill out this easy form and have the people at Payoff work their magic.  That's it...really! This form doesn't affect your credit store and can be completed in under 5 minutes.  You also don't have to worry about paying application fees or pre-payment fees with this.  Once the people at Payoff evaluate your financial situation, they provide qualified applicants with a variety of offers, and you pick which one works for you.

If you don't qualify for their loan services, offers a program called "Lift." It's designed to help you get control over simple areas of your financial life through credit and money education.  Their goal really is to help customers succeed through financial products and education in how to manage money.

Who knew that making over your finances was as simple as sitting down at your computer for a few minutes?  I just love this modern age sometimes.

You can see's services here.  You can also check them out on Facebook!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Replace Every 8 #crib2college

This post is brought to you by Mattress Firm as part of the Mom It Forward Blogger Network.  All opinions are my own.

Around here, Emma Ramey's sleep schedule is a big deal.

I am kind of a stickler for making sure she gets enough sleep.  Not only does it improve her overall mood, but I think it's so important for her physical and mental development.  Did you know that school-aged children need 10-12 hours of sleep a night?

One way that we accomplish this is sticking to a pretty strict schedule.  I really try to get a 2-3 hour nap out of her each afternoon (I know I'm lucky that she actually sticks to that at almost 3 years old).  Her bedtime is a pretty consistent 8pm each night, and we usually get her to sleep about 11-12 hours each night.  She's been a great sleeper from the start!

Of course, another way we encourage healthy sleeping habits is by making her sleep surroundings as comfortable as possible.  Not only do we provide her safe blankets and pillows, but early on, we made the decision to invest in a quality mattress for her.  I was one of those crazy researchers when it came to baby products, but it actually paid off...we've been really pleased with our decision on her bed.  As a matter of fact, we're still using the one she used as a baby!

But, the time has come to start looking at big girl bed options.  We purchased a crib that can be converted to a full-size bed before she was born.  Honestly, I haven't decided yet if I'm going to keep this one for her or use it for a future baby.  Either way, we will need to purchase a mattress for her when that time comes - and that's a decision I'm already researching.

This article from Mattress Firm has been great for gauging whether or not Emma Ramey's ready for her real big-girl bed.  Two big takeaways I took from this site:  the mattress needs to be firm for proper spinal development, and might need to be synthetic-filled, based on your child's asthma/allergy sensitivity.  This is a place where your child will spend almost half of their time - I want to make sure it's a quality purchase!

Not to jump too far ahead, but there's also another purchase to consider later down the road...the teenage bed.  Mattresses need to be changed out about every 8 years, so around the time your child becomes a teenager, you might need to consider another mattress purchase for them.  Adolescents need an average of 9 hours and 15 minutes a sleep a night, and they need a supportive mattress as part of this healthy habit.  This article is a great resource for parents out there that might be close to this purchase.

Mattress Firm is at the forefront of supporting every phase of sleep, from crib to college and beyond. Not only do they provide quality products for each age group, but they really are advocating for healthy, comfortable sleep in all stages of life.  They provide mattresses and accessories to make any sleep experience as comfortable and healthy as possible.

We recently received their Coconut and Lavender pillows from Mattress Firm, along with Lux Living Premium Elite mattress protectors from Protect-A-Bed to try out.  Let me tell you - they are both such great quality.  The pillows have just the slightest bit of a scent to them, and are made of memory foam.  Once you try memory foam pillows, you will never go back!  Amazingly comfortable and supportive.  And the protect-a-bed is so important for insuring that quality mattress purchase.  There's no sense in spending all of that money to have it ruined by normal spills and mishaps!  I've been so happy with all 3 of these products.

One of you is going to win a set of Coconut and Lavender pillows from Mattress Firm (valued at $129 each), along with Lux Living Premium Elite mattress protectors from Protect-A-Bed (valued at $79.99)!  To enter, visit this site and comment on this post with one fact you took away from it.  Please also include your email in your comment. 

I'll close the giveaway next Sunday night at 11:59pm (central) and pick a winner the next day.  Winner will be given 24 hours from time of email to respond, or I will go to another winner.  Winner must have a US, non-PO box shipping address and must be at least 18 years old.

Good luck!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Not Drinking My Calories

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Pure Via®, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #PureViaSweet

  I'm sure if you've ever been on a diet in your life, you've heard the term "don't drink your calories." It's a rule that, for me, has constantly shown its value.  I can tell such a huge difference in my weight loss success when I cut sugary, calorie-laden drinks out of my diet.

But let's have some real talk: it's hard.  I love a big cup of creamer-filled coffee as much as anybody else, and man, sometimes it just seems like you just need a fountain soda.  I'll be the first to admit that sometimes it's just hard to live by this rule.  But it really is one of the most effective ways to cut calories out of your diet.

I have a challenge for y'all.  For one week, write down every single thing you drink, calorie-free or not.  You can click on the graphic above (or click here) to go to a printable .pdf version if you'd like to use this.  Write down what each drink is, how many calories it has (google is your friend), and whether it is water or not.  Then, add up all of those calories after the week is over...divide that number by 3500 (the number of calories in a pound of fat).  That's how much weight you could have lost just that week from cutting drink calories out of your diet.  You'll be shocked what a difference it makes!

Let's also go on and admit this fact: regular water gets boring.  I love it occasionally, especially when I'm working out, but I would lose my mind if I could only drink plain water.  I need flavor!

That's where this guy comes in. I love Pure Via because you get the best of both worlds: calorie-free sweetness that provides a natural alternative to sugar and artificial sweeteners.  This is a great alternative for those that are trying to live a healthy lifestyle.  Pure Via is actually made from the extract of the stevia plant.  It's not only natural, but Pure Via is also Non-GMO.

One of my favorite ways to use Pure Via is in a big fat glass of iced tea.  It takes no time at all to brew a big batch and pop it in the fridge.  I use about one pack of Pure Via per tall glass - I find that it packs a little more punch than a similar-sized pack of artificial sweetener.  This is my favorite go-to for an afternoon drink while I'm working or cleaning!

I've recently started infusing water with fruits/herbs...guys, if you haven't tried this out, it's incredible.  Pineapples, lemons, apples, and peaches are amazing for infusing water...just drop a few sliced fruits in a pitcher of water and let sit for 12-24 hours.  I even tried a few sliced strawberries and torn basil in some yesterday...delicious!  Again, I use about a pack of Pure Via per large glass of infused water.  I like infused water to be kind of light, so I don't want it too sweet.  Pure Via does the perfect job of adding a little flavor without overwhelming the flavor.

We live in a great time - we have natural sweeteners that not only provide a little flavor and sweetness, but cater to a healthy lifestyle. I love Pure Via for a quick, healthy, and calorie-free drink! 

I found the 40-count pack of Pure Via at my local Walmart.  You can pair their already great price with this coupon for ONE (1) Pure Via® Non-GMO, All Natural, Zero Calorie 40 Ct., while supplies last.  You can also download a free song and cookbook/songbook from Jewel at Pure Via's's the link!

Find out more information about Pure Via at their website, Facebook page, or Twitter page!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day Prize Pack Giveaway!

Have y'all heard about the new movie Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day?  It looks incredibly cute - it stars Steve Carrell and Jennifer Garner, two of my favorites.

This film follows 11-year-old Alexander from one bad event to the next.  Throughout the day, Alexander's mom (Jennifer Garner) and dad (Steve Carrell) get tangled up in the most terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day of their lives.  This is an adaptation of one of my favorite children's books that looks absolutely hilarious!

Here's the trailer for the movie...check it out for yourself!

This will be out in theaters October 10th.

To get ready for the movie, one of you is going to win an Alexander Prize Pack!  It contains...

- One (1) official ALEXANDER coffee mug
- One (1) giant green highlighter
- One (1) crocodile stress toy
- One (1) official ALEXANDER reusable bag

Enter through the giveaway tools widget below.  I'll pick a winner Sunday night, 9/28!

Good luck!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Our Car Seat Search is Over!

I participated in this sponsored campaign on behalf of One2One Network. All opinions stated are my own. 

There are so many factors that go into finding the best car seat for your little nugget.  Safety, comfort, ease of installation, can get kind of overwhelming.

A few months ago, I knew we needed a car seat that Emma Ramey would be able to use for the rest of her car seat years.  Don't y'all love that we have the technology now to keep our kids safe, in one car seat, from the time they leave the hospital until they're using just a seat belt?  I wish we had gone with an all-in-one from the very beginning with her - but, of course, hindsight is 20/20.  So we're correcting our ways now and using a quality seat that's going to last.

Over the past month or so, we've had to opportunity to use the Evenflo Symphony LX All-In-One Car Seat with SureSafe - and guys, I couldn't be happier with it.  It has everything that our previous car seats didn't - I feel like every complaint I've ever had with a car seat was answered in the engineering on this one.

I was impressed with the features of this seat from the time we took it out of the box. Installation was an absolute breeze.  The Evenflo Symphony LX has a Quick Connector™ LATCH with guides.  These guides are basically little tunnels you insert into your seat to make those impossible latches in your car not-so-difficult to find. The Quick Connector™ LATCH connections are so easy to install - they're not kidding when they say you can install and uninstall this one-handed!  I had this installed, by myself, within a few minutes.  That's never happened before with a car seat.  Not only do they make installation easy, but they make it easier to make sure your car seat is properly installed.  It's shown that as much as 70% of car seats aren't properly installed.  The Evenflo SureSafe System increases proper installation by 2x, compared to standard latch.

Another element of the car seat that is an absolute must for us is safety.  The Evenflo Symphony LX has e3 Side Impact™ Protection - three layers of engineered foam designed and tested to reduce side impact forces up to 50%. Hopefully we never have to test out the safety of it, but it's so comforting to know it's there if we need it.

One of those "why didn't I think of that?" features of the Evenflo Symphony LX are the Buckle Pockets on each side of the seat.  They allow me to hide those metal buckles on the car seat from the hot sun.  Those things get pretty toasty this time of the year - it's so nice to be able to keep them comfortable for Emma Ramey and prevent not-so-nice burns from metal buckles!

This might sound silly, but I have learned over the past few months that we absolutely, totally, no-question have to have cup holders in our car seats.  Not only does the Evenflo Symphony LX have cup holders, but they're built with another "why didn't I think of that?" feature - elastic bands on the outside that allow for many different cup sizes.  So smart!

Add this to the "why didn't I think of that?" list: the Evenflo Symphony LX has a no-thread harness system that - wait for it - never makes you thread a car seat harness.  Ever again.  Can I get an amen?

The seat comes pre-threaded, and as your child grows, you simply move the harness up.  It's really that simple.  Oh, and if you need to wash the cover?  You don't even have the uninstall the seat.

No, really.

We had an unfortunate incident with a milkshake in the car a few weeks ago, so I needed to wash the cover.  I had the cover off the (still installed) seat within minutes, and it was just as easy to put back on.

I really could go on and on about my love for the Evenflo Symphony LX.  The features make you believe it's a super-expensive car seat, when in fact, I think it's really affordable!

Right now, you have the chance to make this seat even more affordable - click here to print a $10 off coupon, or even make it a $15 off coupon for sharing with friends! (The coupon is on the right side of the page.)

Check out Evenflo on Twitter and Facebook for more info, and even read more reviews from moms at their hashtag #EvenfloPlatinum!  A huge thanks to Evenflo and One2OneNetwork for allowing me to bring you this review.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Review + Giveaway: Spicy Shelf Spice Rack

Lately, I've really been trying to maximize the smaller space we have in the apartment with great organizational tools.

Our kitchen is one area that's given me trouble.  There is just SO much stuff to cram into a small space  - pots, pans, food, appliances, etc.  You get the idea - it's a bunch of junk.  And it's a bunch of junk that you have to keep organized or it will take you over.

My spice cabinet was one area I really concentrated on a few months ago.  I ordered those clips that attach to the back of your cabinet for spices.  Sounds like a great idea, right?

Yeah, don't do it.

It might just be that we live in quite possibly the most humid place on the planet, but they stuck for a total of 2 days.  I finally gave up after I opened my cabinets for the 15th time to spice bottles raining on me.

It wasn't fun.

So it's been a big ol' unorganized mess in the spice cabinet for a few weeks.  That's why I'm so glad I got the chance to review the Spicy Shelf Spice Rack!

The idea is really simple - it's a sturdy plastic rack that can be adjusted (via varying leg sizes) to fit your cabinet.  I have the two sets of short legs on this one, just because our current cabinets are set really low.  But, this could definitely be made taller if you need more space.  The shelves also expand out horizontally if you need more shelf room.

It was crazy easy to put together - I did it while I was waiting on water to boil for dinner one night.  Just snap the size legs in that you need and you're done!

It fits into our cabinets perfectly and gives us an extra shelf to store smaller bottles, with a center area for the larger bottles.  I've got to adjust our cabinets for space to store spices on the top shelf of the Spicy Shelf too.

Love the Spicy Shelf - I'd highly recommend it.  It's great for spices, but it has so many household uses - makeup, medicines, nail polish - you name it.  Click here for more information on how to buy the Spicy Shelf - and you can use the code SPICE5 for $5 off your Spicy Shelf!

And one of you lucky ducks is going to win a set of 2 Spicy Shelves!  Just enter with the Giveaway Tools widget below.  I'll pick a winner next Friday night and notify the winner the next day!

Good luck!

*Spicy Shelf provided me a spice rack for the review and one to give to one of my readers in exchange for my honest opinion in this post.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Back to School Gift Teachers Really Want

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® Elmer’s and Wet Ones, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #CraftandCleanUp

 Alright y'all - a little public service announcement here.

As a former teacher, I can tell you that teachers appreciate every single thing they receive as a gift from their students.  The handmade, Pinterest-y type items are very cute, and can be useful.  I'm now going on my third year of not being in the classroom, and I still have trouble parting with anything a student ever gave me.

BUT - that first week of school is a doozie.  At the end of the day, a tired, overworked teacher just wants something to pamper herself a little.  Maybe a massage/pedicure gift card.  Or, one of my favorites - a good cup of coffee.

Since Emmie will soon have teachers, we decided to make them a little something that was both personal and useful this weekend!

Great Starbucks gift card printable for a teacher back to school gift!

We made a personalized gift card holder for my personal favorite teacher gift - a gift card to Starbucks.  Because really - that teachers just needs a little bit of caffeine at the beginning of the school year.

Great Starbucks gift card printable for a teacher back to school gift!

I used this printable to make our gift card envelope.  Click here to get the PDF version that you can download for yourself!

Because I knew this was going to be a little bit of a mess (what good crafting project isn't?), I spread out all of her supplies on the floor...watercolors, brush, water, and the cut-out gift card template.

After Emmie created her masterpiece, the gluing began...and enter one of the most useful combo packs I've come across in awhile!

Elmer's glue and Wet Ones have teamed up to bring a fantastic combo pack to Target.  You can buy both products at select Targets for one low price (while supplies last)!  This is available in the back to school section.

From here, fold the side flaps in and glue together with a small strip of Elmer's glue.

Put a small strip of glue on the diagonal edges of the bottom flap, and fold it in.

Place your gift card in the envelope, and use a small bead of Elmer's glue on the top flap and fold it in...and you've got an easy and cute back-to-school gift!

Making this was so easy with Elmer's glue, and clean-up was a breeze with Wet Ones.  That might be a great combo pack for school - but I love having it at home too!

You can find more information on Elmer's products and their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest pages.

Happy crafting!