Product Review

Star Trek Into Darkness Excitement! I Dress the part

Star Trek Into Darkness

Star Trek Costume

I dressed up for the premier in this sexy, officially licensed Star Fleet Uniform. Click the picture to see it full screen.

Have you see the latest Star Trek Into Darkness movie?  For us, missing any Star Trek movie is completely unthinkable.  We bought our advanced tickets in the reserved VIP seating section and made a party of it with several friends.  We are Star Trek fan-addicts.

After waiting for the new movie for over a year, excitement built and I even dressed up in a Star Trek uniform!  Each year, I make plans to go to a con and, each year, something prevents us from going.  Just once, I wanted the opportunity to live out my fantasy and don the famous powder blue science officer uniform.  I picked this one out from the Costume SuperCenter, paired it with a pair of black knee boots, and styled my hair in a high ponytail like the young Uhura in Star Trek Into Darkness.  While I love the entire Star Trek franchise, the 1960’s female costumes are my favorite of all the uniforms.   I am thrilled that they brought back an updated version with the Into Darkness movie.

I have lost quite a bit of weight since January and ordered the medium size designed to fit a size 8-10.  As you can see, it’s just a tad big on me, but I am only 4 foot 10 inches.  I’m a short thing.  Figuring it would shrink, I washed it in hot water and dried it on high heat.  Not only did it survive the tumble intact unlike some other costumes I have tried to wash, but it also did not shrink at all.  I half-way expected the Star Fleet communicator (which is actually sewn into the dress and not a pin) or the trim on the wrist to fray a bit, but both endured the wash just fine.   I probably should have ordered the smaller size, but think it still looks great!  On a side note, my husband did, too – and I get the feeling he would enjoy seeing me wear it around the house more often.

Since the Star Trek emblem is actually sewn in, and a friend had given me a Star Fleet pin for Christmas, I pinned the emblem directly over the dress’ sewn-in patch.  Since both the dress and the pin are officially licensed Star Trek items, the pin perfectly fit the emblem.  However, should some tragedy befall me and I lose my pin, the emblem on the dress does look very nice.

Most costumes are made for short-term wear and eventually become quite uncomfortable, but I didn’t have that problem with this dress.  I was able to wear it all night without any bunching or binding.  I plan on wearing it again for Halloween.  I already have the Vulcan ears.  Now, I just need to find a tricorder to complete this entire look.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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*Winner Announced* Enter to win a WordARound Game

Word-A-Round Game Giveaway and Review

Enter to win a Word-A-Round Game

 

Thinkfun’s Word A Round Game game improves verbal skills and word recognition using abstract visual techniques.  The games’ rules are easy to understand, but my kids had a hard time grasping it at first. The game presents words in a way that people aren’t used to seeing them.  It forces them to think abstractly and deduce the word on the card.

Word-A-Round is 2 player game for ages 10 to adult.  It’s a competitive, fast-paced game where the goal is to be the first one to figure out the correct word and shout it out.  The winner of the round gets the card.  Play continues until one player has 10 cards.  Of course, my kids like to modify games.  When only two of them were playing, they felt the game went to fast and frequently would play until one player had 15 or 20 cards.  On one particularly nasty weather day, they played till the deck was empty and the one with the most cards won.  The game is so simple that players can develop their own house rules to make it their own.

Game play is quite simple.  If your young child is a good reader with a good grasp of visual awareness, they should be able to play this game as well.

How to Play WordARound:

WordARound Begin Whoever guesses the word the fastest gets to keep that card.  Flip it over.  The color on the back of that card represents which ring color should be read next.  Since the back of this card was red, the red ring in the face-up card is the challenge.
Shuffle all the cards and place them face-up on the table. Cover the top card with your hand so that no one can peek until you are ready to begin. Whoever guesses the word first gets to keep that card. Flip it over. The color on the back of that card represents which ring color should be read next. Since the back of this card was red, the red ring in the face-up card is the challenge. There are three different colors and each color matches a ring on the cards. (Red, Blue and Black).
Play continues until one player has 10 cards.

Check out this little teaser flash game from ThinkFun that illustrates the basics of the game:

WordARound is Good On The Go

If a little noise in the car doesn’t bother you, WordARound comes in a compact, travel friendly box. However, the game gets so competitive that kids will sometimes yell the winning word quite loudly. If your driver is easily distracted or nervous, you will either have to coach the kids to play quieter or install sound-proof glass between the front and back seat. In my opinion, it’s better than hearing them bicker on long road trips and is probably more educational.  While arguing can be good for debate skills, I’ve noticed that fighting children tend to resort to name calling, pulling hair, poking one another and engaging in other behavior that necessitates mom or dad becoming  a referee.  Listening to them have fun practicing spelling is much less distracting for drivers in my opinion.  I did notice that kids started to memorize the cards on sight. I hope that ThinkFun will provide some add-on packs in the future to really extend the life of this game.

Where to Buy It

You can buy WordARound on Amazon for about $12.99.  If you are an Amazon Prime member, you can get even get free shipping!

HOW TO ENTER to Win a WordARound Game

Completing the mandatory entries and submitting your name and email, are required to enter and to unlock the optional bonus entries and daily entry options.  There are multiple bonus entry opportunities. You may see them all by clicking the “Options” link on the form.  Presenting entry opportunities one at a time is the default.   If you have trouble with it, please try again from a PC.

Some of my favorite places to enter giveaways:

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What is the Cost of Your Vices

Cost of Your Vices

Cost of Your Vices

Are you willing to be a quitter to save money?  What do you do to save money? Clip coupon?  Try free samples before you buy a product?  Encase your entire house in plastic sheeting to cut energy bills? Do you know the cost of your vices?

That weekly lottery ticket and daily latte may cost more than you expect.

I found this cool tool on eBay Deals called the “Cost of Your Vices.”  Just answer the questions about your lifestyle and they will give you an estimate of how much money you could save.

Just out of curiosity, I ran the “Cost of your Vices” tool for myself.  Wanna see my results?

  • Smoking: I don’t smoke.
  • Coffee Consumption: I do drink coffee sometimes.  I’ve recently cut back from 2-3 cups to a few cups a week.  I selected one cup a day as an average.
  • Alcohol: I drink about 2-3 mixed drinks or glasses of wine a week.
  • Fast Food: I’m a vegetarian, so I rarely eat fast food.  Other than a baked potato from Wendy’s or burritos from Chipotle, I find fast food completely unappealing.  Since I definitely don’t eat these items on a weekly basis, I selected the “I don’t eat fast food” option.
  • Lottery Tickets: I don’t buy lottery tickets, but my husband sometimes does.  However, he rarely buys them and, when he does, he only purchases one or two.  Since the lowest option was 7 lottery tickets a week and our consumption is less than one a month, I selected that we don’t buy lottery tickets.  While we do buy them, less than one lottery ticket a month is a long way from 28 lottery tickets a month.
  • Soda: I have seriously cut back on my consumption of diet sodas recently.  Now, a 12 pack of Pepsi Max lasts about a week.  The tool’s lowest options were 1-2 per week or 14 per week.  I drink more than 1-2, but not quite 14.  However, since 14 represents the closest option to my real consumption, I selected that.

The “Cost of Your Vices” tool told me that I could save $1160 by giving up soda, $503 by giving up coffee and $187 by giving up alcohol.  That adds up to $1850 a year.

Where they over-estimated my spending

Since “Cost of Your Vices” tool generates figures based on average estimates, I made some adjustments customized to my actual spending habits.  I spend less on soda than they suggest.  A case of Pepsi Max at full price runs about $5 a case.  I rarely buy it at full price and stock up when it is on sale.  At target, that about 4 cases for $12.  That works out to about $3 a case.  In the sake of fairness to cover taxes and the occasional time I do pay full price, I rounded it up to $4.  52 cases a year (1 case a week) costs about $208.

I like good coffee.  I usually spring for Gevalia.  Of course, I must have a little creamer.  I buy a package of coffee every two weeks and a bottle of creamer weekly.  That works out to about $388.96 a year.  However, there are 4 of us drinking that coffee regularly.  That means my actual consumption is about $97 a year.  I believe the “Cost of Your Vices” tool’s estimate is for coffee from a coffee shop.  Personally, I don’t like busy coffee shops and rarely buy from them.  As such, I am saving $406 by foregoing the over-priced latte and having a high quality coffee at home.  I save even more buy using coupons for my favorite coffees and creamers.  I also won’t buy brands I don’t like, even with a coupon.  It’s just a waste of money if the product won’t get used.

Where they under-estimated my spending

The “Cost of Your Vices” tool estimates that I spend about $187 on alcoholic beverages.  I buy about a bottle of wine a week.  I don’t go for pricier wines and usually buy Yellow Tail Reserve Shiraz.  That averages about $9 a bottle and I try to buy it on sale.  So, I actually spend closer to $468 on wine a year.

Conclusions for My budget

Based on MY personal shopping habits and tendency towards frugality beyond that of the average shopper,  if I completely give up coffee, soda and wine, I would actually save about $773 a year.   By making my own coffee at home, I save much more than if I was buying it from a local coffee shop.  If you are like me and want to save money, but don’t necessarily want to end your coffee intake, consider using coffee coupons and make your own at home.

I normally live a pretty healthy lifestyle, so the only “vice” that I have is drinking 1 glasses of wine a day.  I actually don’t consider that bit a vice and have read many studies linking a glass of red wine to better heart and kidney health.  Of course, you can always run the risk of too much of a good thing leading to health problems.

I am trying to eliminate diet sodas.  Soda is bad for your teeth and the artificial sweeteners probably aren’t that great for me.  I have cut back significantly.  Before January, I was drinking several 12 packs a week.  If I can eventually stop drinking them completely, that would net an extra $208 a year in my pocket.

Future Savings

A pack-a-day smoker with no other vices could save $2044 annually just by cutting back!  Holy cow!  That’s like my rent payment for several months.  Of course, that’s based on the average price of a pack.  Depending on your brand, you may save even more or not spend as much as the tool suggests.

Eliminating some habits may save more than just the cost of your vices.  For instance, quitting smoking saves the cost of the pack, but may also cut future medical bills.   Over-consumption of fast food and soda contributes to obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.  Cutting back here could also improve your health and save money on future medical bills.

While moderate amounts of coffee and wine may have some health benefits, drinking too much of either hurts more than just your pocketbook.  Too much caffeine can cause anxiety issues, headaches and insomnia, while too much alcohol causes neurological disorders, liver problems and serious interpersonal issues.

Tips for using the tool

In short, once you find out the cost of your vices, decide how accurately it applies to you.  Do you actually spend more or less in some categories?  Adjust accordingly.  Decide what you are willing to eliminate or cut back on.  Are there some areas where you could save more by making minor changes, such as making your own coffee at home?  Or bringing a home-made meal for lunch instead of eating fast food during the work day?  Are there some things you would be better off completely eliminating?

I would love to know how you stacked up with the “Cost of Your Vices” tool!  Did you do better than I did?

 

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WINNER ANNOUNCED – Autographed Book: House on Plunkett Street by Lorena Bathey

House on Plunkett Street by Lorena Bathey Review and Giveaway

House on Plunkett StreetI just finished reading House on Plunkett Street by Lorena Bathey.  It’s an interesting tale about an uninteresting woman whose life suddenly becomes interesting after she meets a few ghosts with lessons to teach her.  I found myself heavily identifying with the heroine of the book, Phoebe Bertram,  especially in the first chapter.  She’s a wall flower that just blends into her surroundings.  She lives like a chameleon on the edges of her own life.

Meet Phoebe Bertram.  You may walk into her if you overlook her on the street.  She’s a nondescript woman living a mediocre life.  She tolerates her run-of-the-mill boyfriend and despises her ho-hum job.  Despite her dissatisfaction, she is too complacent to change her life’s direction and accepts the daily plodding as an inevitable family curse on the women of her family.  I love how the author, Lorena Bathey, conveys Phoebe’s blandness in all things the character does.  The tastelessness of her life really struck home when, in one scene, the character is sitting at her desk eating vanilla yogurt.  Vanilla is the perfect metaphor for Phoebe’s life.

Her life turns upside down when she learns that her humdrum apartments are going condo.  She must either buy or move.  As luck would have it, a friend helps her find her dream apartment on Plunkett Street.  During her stay, she finds the new apartment haunted by the ghosts of three women from bygone eras.

The three women escort Phoebe through her days until she learns to embrace life and accept nothing but the cream of life, even in the face of heartbreaking hardships.  She learns that creating positive change in someone else’s life is the key to finding importance in your own.  Phoebe also learns to shed her comfort barrier and find the fun in life and she learns to accept life as it comes.

Along the way, she finds love and hope for the future.  She overcomes tragedy and searches for her happy ending.  If you want to know more about Phoebe, her ghostly mentors or the course of Phoebe’s life, you will have to read House on Plunkett Street by Lorena Bathey.

The decent plot line, relatable characters and several lessons for women like me that feel like our lives are a bit lackluster make this book worth adding to your summer reading list.  I read with envy as Phoebe the wall flower found the courage to blossom.  Grab a corner by the window,  curl up with a blanket and enjoy.  Be sure to follow Lorena Bathey on Twitter, like her on Facebook, and sign up for the newsletter on her website to stay informed about new books she has written.

Would you like a chance to win an autographed copy of House on Plunkett Street?  Enter below:

HOW TO ENTER to a House on Plunkett Street

Mandatory entries are shown initially.  Completing them and submitting your name and email, are required to enter and to unlock the optional bonus entries and daily entry options.  There are multiple bonus entry opportunities. You may see them all by clicking the “Options” link on the form.  Presenting entry opportunities one at a time is the default.

 


I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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MomLifeTV Lifestyle Website

MomLifeTV

MomLifeTVWhether you are an expecting mom or are like me, and experienced mom with 4 kids, you should check out MomLifeTV.  It’s a free go-to website for parents!  MomLifeTV features videos and articles to help you survive parenting.  They have also been selected as an Honoree by the 17th Annual Webby Awards in the Family/Parenting Category.

I have four kids.  Well, the oldest isn’t really a kid any more.  He’s 22 years old, but he is having problems coping with problems caused by autism, so he still lives at home.  Due to his many issues, he still relates like a child.  His 19-year-old brother is the next in the pecking order.  He has a learning disability and ADHD and, despite being 19, is still in high school.  Each of them are brilliant artists.  Daniel, the oldest produces masterpieces with his Wacom Digi Tablet and Josh prefers pencils and charcoal.

The third and fourth child are both my husband’s children by another marriage.   The oldest is a 14 year-old boy and the youngest, the only girl, is 12 years old.  The 14 year-old is an above average student interested in dance and parkour.  He loves music and playing guitar.  Lydia is in gifted programs and is a social butterfly.  She just absorbs all the attention she can get and loves spending time with adults.

Despite having been a mom for a long time, I still need some help occasionally.  One tried-and-true method that motivates one child will backfire with a different child.  My children are so different from one another that many people would never guess they are from the same family.  When I say I need tips to “survive parenting,” I wasn’t speaking lightly.

I spent a couple of hours exploring MomLifeTV and, so far, am impressed with the number of timely articles and videos I found that fit a question I have about each one of my children.  For instance, our 14-year-old son often complains about feeling tired in school.  We took the first common sense step we could think of. We set our router to turn off after bedtime and made sure that he wasn’t staying up surfing the web.  Still, he is having trouble staying awake in class.  I found an article on MomLifeTV under the “Moms of Teens” tab that suggested the amount of light he gets in the morning could cause issues.  Guess I will be rearranging his room to make use of optimal morning light.

My little Lydia just loves to snack.  I have a hard time finding healthy foods that she will eat.  Apparently, I am not alone.  I found a MomLifeTV video in the “Kids in School” section about getting kids to eat healthy fats using the Eat a Rainbow program.  Time for a snack drawer overhaul.

I also found a video under “Moms of Teens” about dealing with an ADHD student transitioning from high school to adulthood.  While I don’t believe that Josh is college bound, sine he is graduating from high school in May, I definitely found the advice very timely.  I even found a video relating certain food allergies to autistic symptoms.  While I am not sure it pertains to Daniel, it’s still worth sharing it with his doctor and seeing what he says.

MomLifeTV abounds with videos for expecting parents, as well.  I saw videos on everything from getting pregnant to preparing for labor.  If you are pregnant, do you know what foods to eat to make sure your developing child has the best chance at an above average intelligence?  Did you know that taking a folic acid supplement may help avoid autism?  After the baby gets here, how do you choose a pediatrician?  How do you say “no” when you become overwhelmed by all the visitors coming to see your new baby?  My niece’s baby makes an appearance in May, so I will definitely be sending her the link.

In addition to parenting tips, MomLifeTV also offers career advice, relationships, travel, shopping and budgeting.  I bookmarked the site and will continue to reference it for any parenting questions.  Even though I’ve been around the block a few times, I still don’t know everything.  I know that new moms and moms with school-aged children can glean plenty of useful information, too.  Be sure to sign up for their newsletter as well, so you will know when they post new articles that may be relevant to your parenting situation.  You can also check them out on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

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ExpoTV: Review products for points

ExpoTV: Review products for points

expoTVExpoTv is a cool program!  I joined several months ago and have gotten many invites to share my opinions on everything from cosmetics to cereal and cat food.  Sometimes, ExpoTv will send you a free product to try.  I have received wonderful freebies from them, but my favorite was Febreze candles.  Sometimes, they ask you to review one you already own.  Either way, you review the product and earn points for your review.  Redeem the points for awesome things like Gift Cards, store gift certificates, electronics (like a web cam or Wii remote chargers) and more.

Prize redemption does not need a lot of points either.  Most reviews are worth about 500 points each and there two pages of things you can choose from in that point range – including Amazon.com gift certificates.  ExpoTv is generous with their invitations, as well.  I get ExpoTV invitations weekly – and sometimes, several a week.

ExpoTV also has wonderful customer service.  I did have a little trouble confirming my account, but I contacted them and got a very fast email response and they confirmed my account for me with no problems.  Oh – you also get points for confirming your account and completing your profile!  Check it out – and be sure to add me (SunshineFlGirl) as your friends so we can share video reviews.

Check out my product reviews that I have done for ExpoTV and other companies.

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