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Coinstar ~ Turning Change into Amazon Purchases!

I know that I could turn counting change into a wonderful math activity for the kids, but after all is done and counted…I still have the change to deal with. And when I have bucketloads of change, taking it to a bank teller just seems like cruel and unusual punishment.

Enter the lovely Coinstar machine.

We have several machines in our area that we can use to count our change. Usually there is a fee associated with the change-over {around 9%}, but our machines offer a lovely feature ~ FREE coin counting if you opt for an e-voucher toward several online companies..one of them Amazon.

Since Amazon is pretty much my favorite place to shop online, I’m loving this feature. I had a sandwich-sized baggie of change and it amounted to a little bit over $33. That’s a lovely chunk of change that I can put towards an ever-growing cart of books and such that seem to be accumulating in my cart by the week.

Just wanted to pass along a little tip to you all in case you have a pile of growing change….and a soft spot for Amazon like me!

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Are You Using Windows Live Writer?

If you aren’t using it for your blogging, let me just tell you that you SHOULD be! Windows Live Writer has made blogging/posting so much easier for me and I am truly in love with the program! It is compatible with several blogging platforms {Blogger, Windows Live, WordPress, LiveJournal, TypePad, and more}…but sorry to those of you who are Mac users. It isn’t compatible with Macs. :(

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Why do I love it so? Let me give you a few {or more} reasons:

1. I can blog anytime, anywhere without needing to be connected to the internet. All those post ideas swimming around in my head are saved as a draft in Live Writer and I can edit and add things when I think of more to add. This was a HUGE help to me when I was traveling and didn’t have constant access to the internet. I was able to write my posts and get them ready to go and then ‘publish’ them when I did have internet access.

2. I can post from multiple accounts. Live Writer allows me to create posts for all of my various blogger accounts. I don’t need to log into blogger, and with a simple click of a drop down menu I can switch accounts.

3. I can create template posts and use them as needed. There are certain posts of mine that use the same format. I love that I can click a button to pull a template that I’ve created/saved and all the same information pops up quickly without my needing to redo it all.

4. Photos and formatting is SO much easier! All it takes is a quick click of a button to add a photo, quickly resize it and even add watermarks and other special effects. When I publish a post, the picture automatically uploads to my Picasa account. This part alone has saved me so much time!

5. I can preview my posts. Live Writer offers the great feature of previewing your post so you can actually visualize what it will look like on your blog. This helps me see if there are any odd spacing issues before I actually post.

6. Editing after a post is up is simple! Live writer lets you ‘recall’ a post even after it has posted to your blog. Should I notice a spelling error {ahem} or anything else that needs to be fixed, I can do it quickly…and you all never even know!

7. My kids can also use it as part of their writing ~ without needing to be on the internet. Laurianna and McKenna both have blogs that are a part of my Blogger account. If they are online, they have access to my Blogger dashboard {and that could cause some unintentional problems!}. I have Live Writer set up on the kids computer so that they can blog away and publish to their own blog without even needing to be on the internet.

8. It’s FREE! Did I forget to mention that? When you download the program it comes with extra ‘add-ons’ that are unnecessary, so be sure to uncheck all the extra boxes when you download it.

9. I can add links quickly and easily to photos, text…anything. I can even specify that the link opens up in a new window.

If you’d like to see a video tutorial, Remarkable Blogger has a great Windows Live Writer tutorial.

What are you waiting for? I promise you it is a lovely, lovely thing…go check it out and have fun playing around with it! It is definitely something that Works for Me! If you are already using it, what are YOUR favorite features of Windows Live Writer?

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Getting the Best Price on Amazon

I have to tell you ~ Amazon is one of my favorite places to shop. The convenience of being able to order items and have them delivered quickly {and generally with free shipping} is something that touches a VERY special place in my heart.

The one where I don’t have to haul all four of my kids around town looking for the best price on something. :)

Anyway, I wanted to let you all in on a few tips for finding some great deals on Amazon.

1. Don’t be afraid to buy an item used. It may not always come with the free shipping {generally, s/h on the used books is $3.99 per item, but it can still add up to some HUGE savings. Take the book Meet Our New Student From Mexico {a great series by the way} as an example:

imageThis book retails new for $29.95 and is offered USED for $3.99. After s/h that is a $22.00 savings ~ not just pocket change! We’ve found some amazing books using the used feature that Amazon offers and ones that we generally wouldn’t purchase otherwise. Incidentally, I snapped up this book and all it was missing was the dust jacket ~ something that would get ripped in no less than 10 seconds flat in our house…ask me how I know.

2. Look at the different prices for various formats. Many of the books that you search for are offered in hardcover, paperback and/or library binding.

image The book below {Little Walrus Warning} ranges in price brand new from $4.95 {hardcover} all the way to to $16.95 based on the format of the book. For this book, the paperback version was actually MORE than the hardcover edition. There is also a used version for $1.19 {$5.18 after s/h}, but the new hardcover is an even better price and has free shipping.

Those are just a few quick ways to help save a little bit when browsing the many resources Amazon has. Hope that helps you out some! Just wanted to pass along a little something that is Working for Me!

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School’s Out Summer Challenge {girly-style}


A few days ago I shared Zachary’s School’s Out! Challenge, but wanted to also share what we’re doing with the girls. They’ve been working like mad to earn some of the treats on their list and have already listened to three different audio books in the Narnia series and completed NUMEROUS other feats to earn those precious points.

Note: ** I am not the one who came up with the idea ~ I based ours from Carissa’s Summer Plans at 1+1+1=1. Be sure to head over and see what she’s doing too!**

The girls earn points based on a list that I pulled together of school-type things or helping out around the house. There are different levels of points that they can cash in for a prize…or show a little restraint to save up for a big prize. Once a prize has been earned it is crossed off the list and they can start on another one. I happen to have some things that I found at yard sales for **cheap, cheap, cheap** to use as bribery bait incentive.

25 points: Trip to Target dollar section; trip to Dollar Tree; book from Gift & Thrift

50 points: Outfit for Our Generation doll or Frosty from Wendy’s

75 points: Ice cream for dinner or a little sister for Only Hearts Club doll

The points page is hanging nearby to remind me of how many points then can earn for different things {the areas are similar to Zachary’s, but stepped up a notch}:

~ Reading/Listening: Audio books {in the van} or reading independently

~ Writing – a complete story {illustrated earns bonus points}

~ Bible – daily Bible reading together {without fighting}

~ Spanish – Using a cd-rom we have and knowing the words Mommy asks

~ Lapbook review – going over the lapbooks we’ve done this past year

~ Letter writing – choose someone on our list to write to {practicing addressing and proper letter etiquette} – grandparents, cousins, uncles/aunts, Compassion child

~ Chores & Extra: Cleaning up without being asked, going all day without tv, etc….

If you are interested in doing something similar with your kids, I uploaded a blank set of Summer Challenge sheets for boys and girls to Scribd. Just follow the link and you can download your own set to print off. If it doesn’t work for you, let me know and I can email you the pdf file.

Just wanted to pass along a little something that is Working for Me!

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Biking with a Toddler

Over the past seven or so years my husband and I have practically broken our back pushing tricycles around the block while we were waiting for our kids to learn how to pedal. While we know there are tricycles that have wonderful handles, we already had one and couldn’t justify the extra money to buy a new one ~ just for the handle {and believe me, I tried to come up with every excuse possible ~ ahem}.

The question is why it took us so long to figure out how to have a fun bike ride without the backache.

Apparently we needed a seven-year-old to help us out with her handy jumprope.

We tied the jumprope around the front of the handle and that way Kaleb can still help with the steering. We’re able to pull him along while our other three ride around on their bikes. And Kaleb loves it!

We just wish we would have figured it out years ago…and passing along a little something that is Working for Me!

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