April 2014 archive

Easiest Play Tent EVER!

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Play tents are hot right now. (It seems) Every kid has one and mine wanted one. There are 1000 and 1 ways to make your own on the web, but most of them require cutting wood, using a hammer and nails, some require sewing. While I can handle those things, it’s just not how I want to spend my time right now.

So, off to search internet I go, to purchase one – ARE YOU CRAZY? I respect the fact that people are hand crafting these beautiful tents with ruffles and lace, but I just can’t drop $200 on an play tent.

Then I found this little gem at the home improvement store. I am in no way affiliated with Lowes, I’m just telling you that’s where I found it. It is in the garden center. The sides are sturdy and with the cross bars, it supports the fabric without sewing, clipping or staples. It’s hinged, just open it up and your done.

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The next great thing – use a full sized bed sheet and it’s covered! No fabric cutting, stitching, measuring.

I’m in love with the ease of this tent, my kid is in love with the fun!

The trellis cost $25 and a flat sheet at a yard sale was $0.50. Which is much more cost effective then buying fabric, wood, nails and eventually a doctor’s visit after I either cut myself or hit my thumb with a hammer. And WAY Cheaper than premade ones I found on the net. I also placed a $0.99 dowel rod across the top of the trellis to hold the sheet straight across the top, it's not really neccesary. 

It also fits in the back of my Outback for transport home. It is lightweight enough to carry in one hand, but with the sheet on it, on a fairly windy April day, it stayed standing with no problems.

Get one and play with the little one in your life! You’ll be glad you did!  

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SWEET HAUTE

BooksTo.Me – Your Instagram in Print!

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I had the fabulous opportunity to try out BooksTo.Me and let me tell you, It’s AWESOME! I was an Instagram dabbler, but once I heard about BooksTo.Me, I became a picture taking junky and my Instagram feed was full of daily life shots. On April 4, I signed up for BooksTo.Me and 6 days later the coolest thing showed up on my door step, a personalized hardbound photo book. All the fun images from Instagram are printed in the book and I didn’t have to do anything. I love my book, it’s so fun to look back over the month and see all the things that we did. It’s also nice to be able to take it to my grandma’s house and share it with her, since she is not the least bit tech savvy.

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Here is everything you need to know so you can get started receiving your photo books in the mail.

BooksTo.Me is pretty awesome! Just choose your subscription plan and keep shooting! Once you sign-up you don’t have any order forms to fill out, you don’t even have to tinker with choosing which photos need to get printed. All you have to do is post your photos to Instagram the same way you always have. Live your life and keep it up—they will handle the rest.

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After a month, it’s time for them to transform your recent pictures into a permanent book. They automatically pull your images from the last month off of Instagram, lay them down in a sleek and modern layout, and print them. Afterwards, they individually assemble the pages of your life into a hardbound photo book. You don’t have to lift a finger.

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Finally, your book is shipped and arrives on your doorstep in just a few days. All without you having to do a thing. That’s the beauty of BooksTo.Me. They take about 3-5 days to produce and are then shipped. So you should expect your book in around 7 days!

Your subscription brings your memories out of the cloud and into your home. Grab a loved one, look back at the past month, and enjoy. They print everything from your Instagram feed during your chosen subscription period. If there is a picture you don’t love, You can omit specific images by adding the hashtag #noBTM to any you don’t want included. Their algorithm will ignore these images when it comes time to print. (Which totally works – it's a great feature to have!!)

BooksTo.Me books are 8′′x8′′. They print with only the best printing presses and hand make their covers. The book is then wrapped with a simple book jacket covered with your most liked images!

The books are made using Neenah Classic Crest Smooth Digital 100# Text paper. The paper is FSC, Carbon Neutral Plus, and Green-e certified. This allows them to provide you with bright, crisp images on pages that feel great to flip through, all while minimizing their carbon footprint.

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What happens if you don’t have enough pictures for the month? They send you a reminder email! They let you know that you have 5 days left and you need at least 20 pictures to make a book. If you don’t have enough pictures to make a bound book they print your pictures on individual 5”x5” Fuji Luster paper. This way, even though you won’t get a book, you’ll still get prints of your images!

BooksTo.Me is perfect not only for serious Instagramers, but also for the mom on the go who remembers flipping through family albums growing up, but doesn't have the time to layout and make her own. It's a great and easy way to document a growing family, month to month. Plus the books make an excellent addition to any coffee table!

Visit the website at BooksTo.Me for more information!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Blog Buzz 2 Go for BooksTo.Me. As always, opinions are 100% mine.

 

Mother’s Day Tee Giveaway!!

Mother's Day Giveaway

Because it is never TOO early to start celebrating the mother of all holidays (pun intended), I have teamed up with a bunch of my favorite bloggers to bring you a very special mother's day giveaway!

When I am not blogging away over at Creative Geekery, I am a graphic designer and one of my favorite things to do is design tee shirts. A few years back I came up with the idea of creating personalized tees for moms, grammies, great-grammies, aunties and great-aunties that incorporates the names of all of the special kiddos in their lives! We will be giving away ONE personalized mom's day tee with whatever nickname you choose (mom, mommy, mama, yaya, grammie, auntie, ANYTHING!) and the names of all of the kids, nieces, nephews, grand and great-grand babies! Don't worry if there are a lot of names. I can get creative!

The tee shirts are a relaxed fit standard weight t-shirt for women from Gildan, 100% pre-shrunk cotton (50%cotton/50%polyester for deep heather color). They come in NINE colors and 5 sizes (S-XXL) and you can choose from 14 ink colors including metallic silver and gold (fancy!). We will work out those dets later! Time for the contest! a Rafflecopter giveaway

ModCloth’s ‘Spring-Time to Shine’ Contest

FTC Disclosure Statement: This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

Share your spring style with ModCloth’s ‘Spring-Time to Shine’ Contest, and you could win a $50 gift cerfiticate! Entering is simple — just snap a photo of yourself in your freshest spring ensemble and upload to the Style Gallery. Outfits do not need to feature ModCloth (although it is encouraged!), and users can submit as many entries as their hearts desire. Two winners will be chosen and featured by ModCloth. This contest is open to both domestic and international applications through 1 p.m. PT on 4/28. Please see our blog for more details. Good luck!

I'm kinda in love with this one! I think I needs to be part of my spring closet.  

Earn FREE Stuff – How I earned my UP24 Jawbone for FREE!

SavingMoneyBlog

Part of my "A Real Family, Saving Real Money" series.

Earning FREE stuff.

I have been a little resistant to sharing my secret, because I wanted to make 100% sure that my method was legit before I told others about it. Honestly, I am going to say that what I'm about to tell you it worked for me and I earned enough to get my Jawbone UP24 bracelet for FREE!

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Swagbucks.

What is Swagbucks.com you ask? Swagbucks.com is an online portal dedicated to helping you earn digital dollars called "Swag Bucks", which can be redeemed for exclusive Swagbucks.com merchandise or gift cards.

It's a search engine, use it to search the web and earn swagbucks for just surfing the web.

They have manufacture's coupons that you can print and when you redeem them you earn Swagbucks, plus save money, Plus double them up with the Target coupons and Cartwheel app that I mentioned here. Win, Win, Win!!!!

You can also shop online and earn points. I buy stuff at Old Navy online (because I have an Old Navy Credit Card and earn rewards bucks for free clothes) and earn swagbucks based on the purchase, you can still use all the promo codes, and get the best deals at the store, and still earn swagbucks. I also bought a pair of sandals from shoebuy.com and I earned 6 swagbucks per dollar. The shoes were on sale, there was a promo code for 20% off and I earned swagbucks on the purchase, it was a win, win, win!!! There are tons of stores that are part of the swagbucks shop and earn.

Refer friends to earn more plus there are other tasks that can you can do to gain more bucks.

In a week of using the search engine, tool bar and daily poll, I earned enough for a $5 Amazon gift card. I could have gotten a Starbucks, Target, Walmart or a host of other $5 gift cards. It's super exciting, earning money for using the internet.

There are offers that if you complete you can earn more. One great offer is earn 500 Swagbucks for signing up for Julep's Maven Box, which you get for FREE. So, you get 500 swagbucks – which equals a $5 gift card to Starbucks or Amazon or Target, ect. PLUS you get FREE nail polish, how wonderful is that?

(Julep is a fabulous nail polish company who's polish is 4 free and lasts for weeks. The maven program sends you a box of nail polish each month. I love it because it's a fun box to get and it makes me smile each month. )

Swagbucks.com is a free way to earn a little extra – which can mean the difference between obessing over something (like the Jawbone UP24 ) and actually being able to afford it!!

I normally don't post about things like this but I was so excited when I got my UP24 bracelet I just had to share it with you.

 

This week I'm going to share more of our money saving ideas, so check back all week and save:

4/7/14 Buying Glasses – Because I need to see, but don't want to spend $400.

4/8/14 Buying Art Supplies – Because I am a huge crafter / Artist and supplies are not cheap!

4/9/14 Buying Clothes – Just because I'm frugal doesn't mean I look it.

4/10/14 Buying Food – You gotta eat.

4/11/14 Saving on TV – Let's be real – The TV is on almost all day. I can't say I'm proud of it but I like white noise.  

4/12/14 Earning Free Stuff – It's nice to get a treat every once in a while.

Food on the Cheap – A Real Family, Saving Real Money

SavingMoneyBlog

Part of my "A Real Family, Saving Real Money" series.

Food. It's expensive. It's a large part of a family budget – or since we don't have a budget – it's where a lot of our money goes.

For 2 years now we have purchased a large amount of beef at one time. We found a farm that pasture raises cows. They are not certified organic because that kind of certification requires a lot, but they are as close as you can get without the certification. The initial cost might give you a heart attack but the overall savings is amazing. Plus by purchasing a half of a cow, there are many roasts, ribs, steaks and ground beef always in the freezer. We cook more meals at home, because the food is there. It's a win, win.

I have found that discount grocery stores are nice. We have a discount grocery store in Central PA called BB's Grocery Outlet. They buy broken pallets, a pallet that gets broken or destroyed in shipping, the products are fine by since it can't be moved because of pallet damage it gets pushed to the side and this company comes in and cleans up. We buy our dog food there. They are a great source of brands like Call of the Wild, Blue Buffalo and Wellness. I find that this store is also a great place to pick up personal care items. Search for Grocery Outlets in your area, they seem to be all over if you know what to look for.

We shop at Wegmans and Target a lot. Wegmans' store brands are just as good as the name brands and are a great bargain.

Target is a fantastic store for discounts. Target has their own coupons that are available to print from their website. Target coupons can be combined with manufactures coupons, plus they have an app. (I know I said I don't clip coupons, but every once in a while it's totally worth it and Target let's you double up.)

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The App is called Cartwheel. I downloaded it to my iPhone. When I'm in Target, with or without coupons I scan the barcode of the item I'm buying to see if there are any deals from Cartwheel. Last time I was running through and picked up a box of Market Pantry Granola Bars for the kid. I scanned the bar code with my phone in Cartwheel and it said I could get an addition 5% off the box. How cool is that?

The App is also avalible for Android as well!

FYI – Cartwheel has a 10% off all Toys this week and Monster High Dolls are on sale for $10 – that takes another $1 off. That's a pretty great deal. (I know that has nothing to do with food, but it's still a good deal.) Also M&Ms also have a 10% off cartwheel!

 

This week I'm going to share more of our money saving ideas, so check back all week and save:

4/7/14 Buying Glasses – Because I need to see, but don't want to spend $400.

4/8/14 Buying Art Supplies – Because I am a huge crafter / Artist and supplies are not cheap!

4/9/14 Buying Clothes – Just because I'm frugal doesn't mean I look it.

4/10/14 Buying Food – You gotta eat.

4/11/14 Saving on TV – Let's be real – The TV is on almost all day. I can't say I'm proud of it but I like white noise.  

4/12/14 Earning Free Stuff – It's nice to get a treat every once in a while.

Brand Names on the Cheap – A Real Family Saving Real Money

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Part of my "A Real Family, Saving Real Money" series. Here is how we rock those brand names for pennies.

I have no shame – Thrift Stores, Consignment Stores and Yard/Tag Sales.

I have some favorites in my area, but I base most of our family vacations around hitting at least one or two shop in that location. In fact, our vacation last summer was completely based on Thrifting and Antiquing.

Start off by finding the shops in your area, here is a great resource for that, TheThriftShopper.com.

Once you pick one learn the secrets to it's sales. Yes, even Thrift Stores have sale days. Most have a tag color of the day sale, then there is Senior day (no, I don't bring my mom just for a discount – but I've thought about it), some places even have Student Days. These sales can be up to 50% off the marked price – totally worth it.

Now, know your brands. We like Lily Pulitzer, J. Crew, L.L.Bean, Hanna Andersson and Levis to name a few. It's good to know your brands because a cardigan can be a great deal or no deal at all. (If you love it then it's a deal at any price but just follow me)

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J. Crew costs: approx $65 and up

Old Navy costs: approx $15, sometime on sale for $10 

Crofts & Barrow (Kohl's) cost: $36, but is normally on sale for $19.99 and if you have a 15% off coupon = $16.99, if you have a 30% coupon = $13.99.

George (Walmart) cost: $13.99 on sale for $6

SO, if the cardigan is $4.99 at the thrift shop, which is the better deal? All are a good deal if they are in brand new condition, but the J. Crew would be the best savings. 

My Grandmother wears clothes from Bon Worth and Alfred Dunner. These brands for her are very expensive, so if she can find them, she's know what's a good deal. I don't follow those brands because I don't wear them.

The Key – know your brands.

I hate to sound like a label snob, but I can be at a Thrift Shop. – Get to know a fake if you see it too! Very helpful if you are in the market for a handbag or shoes and you want to know if it's a real one or a knock off. If you find a name brand bag check out this post about how to tell if it's a real Coach bag.

Extra Savings – The Bulk Bin Room 

Now, you know your brands, you've looks through the racks, scored a deal or 2. Now you're ready for the bulk bin room. What you ask?

Find a Goodwill in your area called an Outlet, use their map to help you. The Goodwill outlet is a large room full of rolling bins, full of junk and you dig and dig for bargains. These places charge you by the pound. The more weight the less per pound.

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Last weekend I scored an Ikea Down Comforter with Duvet cover, Retail $75- $100. (Ironically, Hubs and I were just talking about how we need to get an Ikea Down Comforter for The Kid, since we love ours so much!!! SUPER SCORE! )

2 Ikea Pillows with Shams, Retail $19.99 each.

Old Navy Pea Coat – Retail $74.95 (Winter Clearance still is $54.97)

J Crew Cardigan – like I said before – Retail $65

J Crew 4" Chino Shorts – Retail $45

L.L.Bean Sweater – Retail $59.95

School Uniform (yes, I found our school's plaid!!! )  – Retail $40

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I also picked up a Coldwater Creek shirt for my mom, and for the kid: Justice sweatpants, Brand new Old Navy Hoodie and 2 Webkinz still with tags (so they can be used on the online game – Lord knows I do not need more stuffed friends – so they must have tags or they don't come home.)

I also got an E.T. sheet. A little nostalgic, I couldn't let it behind.

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This whole pile of stuff cost me $24.

BULK BIN OUTLETS ARE YOUR FRIEND!!!!

 

This week I'm going to share more of our money saving ideas, so check back all week and save:

4/7/14 Buying Glasses – Because I need to see, but don't want to spend $400.

4/8/14 Buying Art Supplies – Because I am a huge crafter / Artist and supplies are not cheap!

4/9/14 Buying Clothes – Just because I'm frugal doesn't mean I look it.

4/10/14 Buying Food – You gotta eat.

4/11/14 Saving on TV – Let's be real – The TV is on almost all day. I can't say I'm proud of it but I like white noise.  

4/12/14 Earning Free Stuff – It's nice to get a treat every once in a while.

 

 

Art Supplies on the Cheap – A Real Family, Saving Real Money

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Part of my "A Real Family, Saving Real Money" series.

Recently I had someone ask me how I get all my bargains. Well, today I'm going to share a little secret to getting art supplies for cheap.

I love art, we have a wide range of interests, so saving money is always helpful, plus I'm much more willing to let me 5 year old experiment with my supplies since I only pay a fraction of the cost. For instance pad of water color paper can cost $15 for 12 sheets making each sheet of paper $1.25. I picked up a "Used" pad of watercolor paper for $2, one sheet was used so I got 11 pieces for $0.18 each. My child gets to experience how it feels to use watercolor paper and it doesn't break the bank. 

Are you ready for my Secret?

Creative Reuse Stores. What is a Creative Reuse Store? It is a shop that sells discarded art supplies for a low cost. Some of the things we have found in the past are:

cases of bottles – which Hub's used for bottling Mead and Beer

Industrial Felt Cut Outs – All the scraps from a felt factory, in cool shapes

recycled canvases – stretched canvases used from recycled muslin and wood

movie film reels – who knows why I bought them – I'll find something to do with them

Beads, brushes, sketchbooks, paints, glitter, rubber stamps, and more.

I found my first store about 7 years ago in Detroit called Arts and Scraps. My husband was less than thrilled when I filled the car with re-purposed craft supplies on our Vacation but it was totally worth it.

Now living in PA, we have visited The Resource Exchange and Lancaster Creative Reuse.

This past weekend we hit the Lancaster Creative Reuse and we scored BIG!

We picked up a brand new watercolor set, retail is $24, I paid $6. Watercolors are a big part of the year long art class that I am taking so that was one of the items I focused on when I was shopping.

They had tons of brushes as well for only $0.50 each – those can range in price at the art store from $2 – $20, some brushes can be as expensive as $80!!! So, picking up a couple on the cheap is totally worth it!

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I think I'm most excited about the Merino Top Wool Roving they had. It was only $1.50 an ounce!!! Most of the time it run anywhere from $2.50 – $4.00 an ounce, so this was a huge bargain and it's gorgeous. (Yes, I spin yarn so I didn't just buy it because it was a deal – I can't wait to spin up some beautiful yarn this week! )

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We also picked up miniatures for my daughter's Fairy Garden, glitter (lots of glitter) and vintage 1950's dress patterns (that actually look like they will fit me!!!)

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Here is a great directory of Creative Reuse Stores all over the country and world! Start saving money and saving the environment while you recycle, reuse and renew!

 

This week I'm going to share more of our money saving ideas, so check back all week and save:

4/7/14 Buying Glasses – Because I need to see, but don't want to spend $400.

4/8/14 Buying Art Supplies – Because I am a huge crafter / Artist and supplies are not cheap!

4/9/14 Buying Clothes – Just because I'm frugal doesn't mean I look it.

4/10/14 Buying Food – You gotta eat.

4/11/14 Saving on TV – Let's be real – The TV is on almost all day. I can't say I'm proud of it but I like white noise.  

4/12/14 Earning Free Stuff – It's nice to get a treat every once in a while.

 

A Real Family, Saving Real Money

  SavingMoneyBlog

Over the next couple days I'm going to be sharing a series called "A Real Family, Saving Real Money."

We are an average family of 3, by the US Standard of Living. We have a small house and we had to buy a new car, since ours died in the parking lot of the dealership. So, with those 2 large bills every month we need to save money where ever we can.

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I hate budgets, I hate clipping coupons (I'm not good at extreme couponing, I've failed big time), I hate cooking and I am not organized at all, but I do love a bargain and I'm going to share some of the things we do to save cash.

We are fairly cheap people. I try not to buy ANYTHING if it isn't on sale and if it's a big ticket item, I always try to research it everywhere before buying. If you buy something online, search for a promo code before buying, it might only be free shipping but that can still add up! I have ways to save money in most parts of our life. Here's where I started:

Glasses

Let's start with what I'm known for: prescription eye-wear. It kills me that people are dropping $300- $400 on one pair of glasses!!! It used to be me, stuck in one pair of glasses for 2 years! That does not need to be the way anymore! Yes, go get those peepers examined by a professional then get a written prescription. They can't tell you where you MUST buy your glasses from, just like a Doctor doesn't get to pick which pharmacy you use.

Now take that prescription and cruise the net. There are frames for everyone out there and if your insurance doesn't cover eye-wear, you'll be happy to know that you can get glasses for as little as $20!

Check out my awesome glasses from this company, or this one, or this one, or this one. All of these companies offer great glasses for little money.

This week I'm going to share more of our money saving ideas, so check back all week and save:

4/8/14 Buying Art Supplies – Becasue I am a huge crafter / Artist and supplies are not cheap!

4/9/14 Buying Clothes – Just because I'm frugal doesn't mean I look it.

4/10/14 Buying Food – You gotta eat.

4/11/14 Saving on TV – Let's be real – The TV is on almost all day. I can't say I'm proud of it but I like white noise.  

4/12/14 Earning Free Stuff – It's nice to get a treat every once in a while.

These are things that we do to save, they may not work for everyone, but it helps us out.

Good Luck Saving!

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Anjolee – Customize Your Own Diamond Ring

Girls deserve beautiful jewelry! Now every girl has the chance to design that special piece of jewelry to fit her own taste. Anjolee is a jewelry manufacturer that offers fully customizable designs for all of their products.

Anjolee was founded in 1977 as a high-end jewelry manufacturer.The company originally started selling its products to wholesalers and retail stores and quickly gained recognition as the leading manufacturer of high-end diamond jewelry. Anjolee’s product line has expanded throughout the years and includes an extensive collection of bridal jewelry, rings, diamond bracelets, earrings, necklaces, and pendants.

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One of my favorite sections to browse is the Wedding and Anniversary rings. In the comfort of your own home, custom build your dream ring. Whether it's your dream engagement ring or a hint for your hubs to buy an anniversary gift, it's so simple to design a ring that is absolutely perfect for you and your life.

Start by choosing one of Anjolee's base designs. Then choose the metal, yellow or white gold or platinum. Next, you select the weight/size of the diamond as well as the clarity. Then you choose the diamond certification. Finish by selecting ring size and you have just made your perfect ring.

A fun option that this company offers is a Sterling Silver and Cubic Zirconium replica of your ring. A great option to have and wear when traveling or going to the gym.

Anjolee also offers gem stone bracelets, a perfect custom gift with birthstones, remember Mother's Day is coming up!

I was offered the chance to try out one of their ring styles in the Sterling Silver and Cubic Zirconium replica. The quality is amazing and flawless. The fit of the ring is true to size and it looks fabulous.

(I was offered the opportuniy to have a Topaz inserted as the main stone instead of a Cubic Zirconium for the purposes of reviewing the overall product and design, this is not an option offered, since Anjolee only uses high quality diamonds for their solitares and diamond band rings.)

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Follow Anjolee on Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest

 Remember Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend Forever! Geeksig

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

 

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