icRKphJXQm-ezth8lntKydifkDg The Loose Screw: December 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Product Review~Slice Safety Cutter-Great for Couponers!

Over the past few months, I've heard couponers talk about the Slice Safety Cutter and how it is SO much nicer to use than scissors.  I couldn't wait to get mine in the mail, and I put it to use immediately.  I was so impressed!  Here is the product description from the website:

The Slice™ Safety Cutter is the most versatile tool you'll ever own. Features a finger-friendly microscopic ceramic blade that's quick, easy and a safe substitute for scissors or traditional safety knives. Slice Safety Cutters are perfect for scrap-booking, clipping recipes, coupons and news articles, removing shrink-wrap, opening CDs, DVDs, plastic packaging, and more. Includes a built-in magnet and key-ring hole.

- Ceramic blade lasts longer than steel
- Stays sharp and never rusts
- Built-in magnet and key-ring hole
- Rubberized non-slip finish
- Finger-Friendly™ Design
- For left- and right-handers

The Slice Safety Cutter really is perfect for couponers!  I can go through several pages of coupon inserts with one quick swipe of the Slice!  I have to say, I'm amazed that this little tiny ceramic 'bump' is the blade and cuts so well!  The awesome thing about that is that it cannot hurt you or your kids, and if you keep it in your purse you won't cut yourself reaching for it.  This is perfect for scrapbooking too!  Much easier on your hands than scissors for all your cutting needs.  I was really surprised that it can cut through the plastic cases on CDs and such:

The Slice Safety Cutter-great for couponers is available for only $5.99 at www.sliceproducts.com.  Buy several to keep around the house, and one for in your purse or attached to your keychain.  I have mine on the front of my fridge (it has a magnet in it), and that's been working great for me!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using href="http://www.tomoson.com/?code=BOTTOM5118cf43025d0a1446b9171f22bdda0b">Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Great Budgeting and Couponing Tool!

Angela over at The Coupon Project has released the Savings Tracker for 2012.  Click here to learn more about it and download.  This is an awesome budgeting tool that tracks coupons and savings from your receipts.  She put a lot of work into this and it shows!  I played around with it some last year, but didn't use it faithfully.  Now that I've revamped our budget, I'm ready to use it consistently in 2012. 

Also on the Savings Tracker download page you will find a manual you can print out to help you use the tracker, and a webcast from January 2011 where she goes step-by-step and shows you how to use it yourself.

Even if you don't have interest in the Savings Tracker, I highly recommend checking out Angela's website, The Coupon Project.  She has great tips and ideas to help you save money!

Friday, December 23, 2011

A fun, messy Christmas treat!

I saw this idea in a magazine (and of course I can't remember which one it was now to give credit where it is due) and we tried it out yesterday.  Very simple and fun.   All you need are cone-shaped ice cream cones, frosting, and sprinkles or whatever decorations you want that can stick to frosting. 
Add green food coloring to make the frosting nice and green.  Decorate as you wish with sprinkles, etc.
Here is Chad with his finished Christmas tree.  He says it was very yummy!!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

A debt-free Christmas!

It's the worst feeling to go into credit card debt buying Christmas presents!  I don't know about you, but with the way the economy has been the past few years, our salaries are shrinking more each year with budget cuts and increases in insurance premiums, etc.  We've cut back a lot. The best way to handle Christmas is to put away a little money every month.  We've tried that.  Then guess what happens?  The car breaks down or there is a dental emergency. Gone is the Christmas savings. 

In mid-2010 I started trying something different.  This year (2011) was my first full year of using this method, and I think it was a success!!  Here's what I did:  I am signed up on several survey sites and sites where you collect points in exchange for money or gift cards.  I also scan all my purchases for Nielsen. All year I took every opportunity I could, and as I redeemed points for gift cards I tucked them away for Christmas.  I only got cards to places I knew I would use, like Amazon and Target.  I also used the Target promotion when they would have something on sale that we use, and I had coupons for it as well (often both Target and mfg coupons), and if you bought a certain amount during the sale week you would get a $5 gift card.  I did this all year with toilet paper and paper towels, as well as a few other things. By the end of November, I had just over $300 in money and gift cards!!  I was SO excited!!

My husband and I don't usually do gifts for each other for any occasion, including Christmas (except cheap stocking stuffers). After almost 23 years of marriage we both know we love each other, we both hate wasting money, and would rather put that money away for ours and our kids' futures. It just works for us.  This year we made gifts for our parents, and we are also making our neighbor gifts which will be a minimal cost.  So, getting a handful of neices and nephews a little something, our homemade presents, and then with our three kids, $300 was plenty of money for gifts!  We don't go crazy on big expensive gifts for our kids, and everyone is still just as happy!  Another lesson learned from years of experience.

A word of warning:  You may think all these surveys and clicking on things would be very time consuming.  It isn't. Maybe 3-5 hours a week at the most.  But-I must say at this point I am a bit burned out, and I'm taking a break from surveys.  I will be back at it soon though!

Here are some of the companies I've been using.  These are all companies that I have used all year, and have received gift cards/prizes from them all, so I know they are legit. They worked for me, hopefully they will for you too!

Swagbucks  (I have a button on the right sidebar you can click as well)
Valued Opinions
Campus Fundraiser Surveys
Mills Advisory Panel
Nielsen Homescan

I just joined JD Power and Associates, they are taking applications now.  I've heard good things about them.  I've been trying forever to get into Pinecone, but never fit the criteria they need.

*I will not get any compensation for you clicking on the above links, with the exception of Swagbucks.  If you go through my link, I will receive bonus points*

I also want to stress requesting free samples as there are many that could be stocking stuffers, or just use them to save a little more money toward your savings goal!

I have tried many survey/points websites, and some I didn't care for. There are so many out there!  Some are hard to get into (Pinecone!).  Have you had any success with survey/points websites? 

Well, that's how we paid for Christmas this year.  Of course presents are fun, but  I want to make sure my family remembers and focuses on the real reason for this Christmas season: our saviour, Jesus Christ.

Monday, December 19, 2011

~Review-The World's Greatest Stories~

I am very excited about this product! It's one of those great finds that you want to tell everyone about!  The World's Greatest Stories are a collection of award-winning CDs (cassettes are available as well) for children and adults that tell Bible stories word-for-word from the King James Version or NIV.  They are not re-written bible stories. 

George W. Sarris is a master storyteller, who uses dramatic voices, music and sound effects to capture your attention as you listen to scripture.  Click here to learn more about Mr. Sarris, who has quite an impressive background. 

Each CD is approximately one hour long.  Currently there are six CDs available, with a total of 23 individual stories on them.  Here are the titles of the CDs:
1.  The Prophets
2. The Life of Christ
3.  Beginnings
4. Joshua and Esther
5. Joseph and his Brothers
6. Defeating Giants

I was given volume 1, The Prophets in NIV version, as well as a sample CD, to review. Included in volume 1 are the stories The Blazing Furnace (Daniel 3), The Handwriting on the Wall (Daniel 5), Daniel in the Lion's Den (Daniel 6), Elijah and the Prophets of Baal (1 Kings 17-18), and The Prophecy of Jonah (The Complete Book of Jonah).  I honestly didn't think my son Chad, 9, would sit and pay attention to it.  We put it in the CD player, and wow!!  The hour went quickly, with Chad asking questions and commenting throughout.  Afterward, he said it reminded him of listening to Chronicles of Narnia (which he loves) with all the action! 
I have to tell you, immediately my husband Jeff looked at me and said, "We need to order the rest of the set and tell everyone about this!"  Here is the exciting part-the price.  Each CD is only $7.95!!  If you order the entire set, shipping is free! Click here to listen to audio clips and order CDs. I encourage you to go to The World's Greatest Stories website and learn more about it!  Click here to read more reviews of this product by fellow TOS crewmates.

Disclaimer: I was given a copy of The World's Greatest Stories in exchange for my honest review.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Winner!! Cooper and Me and The Winter Adventure!

Congratulations to #9, Shawna (pridelandmama)!!  I have emailed you with instructions.  I hope you enjoy your book!!

Friday, December 9, 2011

~The Christmas Signing by Cindy Woodsmall~

A few months ago I reviewed The Christmas Signing by Cindy Woodsmall, who is one of my favorite Amish fiction authors.  You can read my review here.  With Christmas quickly approaching, I want to suggest this book would make the perfect gift for the readers in your life!

Click here to watch a video about The Christmas Singing 
Here is a peak at the first chapter of The Christmas Signing

Right now you can  get 30% off and free shipping on The Christmas Singing (and any other title) when you use promo code CHRISTMAS11 at checkout on http://www.waterbrookmultnomah.com/.  The coupon code expires on December 20th, 2011.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Review and GIVEAWAY!!! Cooper and Me and the Winter Adventure!

We love reading fun winter stories during this time of year, and if the books have animals they are usually a favorite!  Chad and I received Cooper and Me and the Winter Adventure, written by Monique and Alexa Peters.  I had heard of the Cooper and Me series, but this is the first time we have read one of the books.  From the Cooper and Me website: "Explore life along with Cooper, a fun-loving black Labrador Retriever, whose entertaining adventures help kids navigate the emotions and challenges of everyday living. Created by mother-daughter team Monique and Alexa Peters and inspired by their real-life family dog, Cooper and Me provides adults and children with opportunities for meaningful conversation and tools for constructive problem-solving. Kids will laugh at Cooper’s antics, and adults will appreciate the resilience nurtured in their children."

I love it when a story can be fun and entertaining, and have a good message come through as well.  The illustrations are very charming, the characters are fun, and we have enjoyed this book several times since we received it.  I encourage you to go to the website,  http://www.cooperandme.com/ where you can find their mission statement, activities, buy books, and more!

You can also find them on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cooper-and-Me-Inc/214695101924101
and Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/cooper_and_me

If you are interested in purchasing from the Cooper and Me website, there is a special going on right now-Make any purchase of $25 or more at CooperandMe.com and get FREE SHIPPING now through December 15. MUST USE THIS CODE at Check Out: COOPERBLOG

Here is something else very special: Please note that $1 of every Winter Adventure book sold will go to advance research & treatment of pancreatic cancer, via the Lustgarten Foundation (http://www.lustgarten.org/)

***Now, for the giveaway: I have one copy of Cooper and Me and the Winter Adventure to give away to a Loose Screw reader!!  You have 5 chances to enter:

1.  Leave a comment letting me know you are a GFC follower (on right sidebar).
2.  Follow me on twitter and leave a comment letting me know you did.  @athenalang
3.  Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment with a link to your tweet.
4.  Facebook about this giveaway, leave a comment with a link to your post.
5.  Blog about this giveaway, and leave me a link to your blog post. 

This giveaway will end on December 15, 2011 at midnight MST. I will notify the winner the next day.  Good luck!!

"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.”

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Curriculum Review~ ARTistic Pursuits

Art is not a strong subject for me-I have never really enjoyed art. So teaching it can be really intimidating.  I was looking for an art program that would help me teach Chad art, without needing creative talent myself.  I am so glad we got to review ARTistic Pursuits, created by Brenda Ellis, because it is the perfect fit for us! 

We received Grades K-3 Book One, which is an introduction to the visual arts. The book is written to the student, with no teacher preparation required.  There is a list of materials needed in the book, and then it is broken down into three sections: What Artists Do, What Artists See, and Where We Find Art.  The pictures and examples in the book are fabulous, and I like that the words are written to the child, and are simple and easy to understand.  The exercises in the lessons are a perfect fit for this age group. 

ARTistic Pursuits is an art history program as well as instructional, examining works of Great Masters.  There are 32 projects in each book-the range of projects includes painting, drawing, sculpture and more! Chad has gone through many of the lessons with great enthusiasm, and that makes me very pleased, as that is not the experience with art that I had as a child in school.  Here is Chad's oil pastel drawing from Lesson 6:
The ARTistic Pursuit book that I received is $42.95, and is non-consumable, which means you can use it over and over with many students. There are many books available to choose from, ranging from preschool to High School ages.  Click here to learn more about what products are available, including materials packs already put together so you have everything you need to get started!  To learn more about ARTistic Pursuits you can go to their website at www.artisticpursuits.com.  I look forward to trying more of the books in the future!

To read more reviews of this product, click here.  Disclaimer: I received this product in exchange for my honest review.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Product Review-BrytonPick

Did you know that ADA statistics show only 12% of the population flosses regularly?  I was really surprised to hear this-I am a flosser, mainly because I have noticed a definite drop in cavities if I floss regularly.  People think floss isn't convenient or easy to use.  If you don't like using floss, you may want to try this product out!

BrytonPick is an alternative to regular floss. It is made in the US from completely recyclable materials.  The really cool thing is that is is reusable for up to a month, due to its germ-resistant stainless steel cleaning strips.  It's very flexible and thin, perfect to keep in your wallet or purse.  It also comes in a variety of fun colors!

I have been using BrytonPick for the past two weeks, and I am impressed!  I must admit at first, putting something metal-looking in between your teeth is a little scary-I was afraid my gums would get cut.  But the blade is thin and flexible, and I quickly got used to the feeling.  Click here to learn more about how to use BrytonPick. 

I like that it is portable in its own little pouch to slip in your purse or wallet if you're going out to eat.  There's nothing worse than getting food stuck in between your teeth and not being able to do anything about it!  Am I going to replace my regular floss with BrytonPick?  Yes and no!  For my regular flossing at home, I still prefer the old-fashioned stuff.  But-I will definitely keep BrytonPick in my purse for eating out! BrytonPick is available at stores across the country and online.  Click here to go to the BrytonPick website, where you can purchase your own BrytonPick!
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.