Sunday, April 28, 2013

Rusty Bucket Mom's Day Promotion #ad

No compensation was received for this post. Information about the promotion was provided by Rusty Bucket.

Mother's Day is a chance to celebrate Mom! Why not celebrate by getting everyone out of the kitchen and enjoying a meal out as a family?

Each mom that comes into the Rusty Bucket on Mother’s Day, May 12, will receive a free Cheryl’s Cookie! (while supplies last). Come celebrate with the Rusty Bucket for a meal the whole family will enjoy!

No compensation was received for this post. Information about the promotion was provided by Rusty Bucket.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Ghost of Blackwood Lane by Greg Enslen

A while back, when I was visiting, my mom gave me a book she had bought by a local author. I was busy and just didn't seem to have time to read, but lately, I have been doing a lot of reading (and loving it!) and finally had a chance to read the book.

The book is called The Ghost of Blackwood Lane. The author has written five books, three of which were fiction and writes columns for a couple of local papers.

* cover image used from author's website

I really enjoyed reading the book. The story was told primarily from three perspectives - Chris/Gary, Judy and Vincent. We learn as the story begins that Chris' dad is testifying in a federal case against the head of the local mob in a small community, just east of St. Louis, who also had been his employer. After his mother is killed by a car bomb, at a safe house, it is decided that Chris needs to have his memories about the community and his friends blocked, for his own protection, and is given a new name in the process. One of the memories that is suppressed is that of his girlfriend, whom he has recently proposed to. After his dad is done testifying, the family is moved under the witness protection program to Sacramento.

When Chris' family suddenly disappeared, Judy was lost. With time, she met and married Vincent, a member of the Family that Chris' dad had testified against. Judy finds herself in an abusive relationship and relies on her painting, which she hides from her husband, to help her escape life.

Vincent wants to be the head of the Family, but has had to be content with just being the lead of one fraction of the family. His brother has taken the other portion to legitimate businesses, but Vincent wants them to be a 'proper crime family'. When his brother approaches him about joining forces and really growing the family business, he is all in.

After several years, Gary (formerly Chris) has graduated from college and is working at an architecture firm in Los Angeles. He has new friends, but can't seem to maintain a relationship with women. He starts to have trouble sleeping, being haunted by a recurring dream. The woman in the mirror seems so familiar to him, yet he can't place her. As the dream continues, he reaches out to his father to try to figure out what the dream means and who this woman, whom he believes to be at risk for harm, is.

When his step mom gives him a picture from his past, it sends Gary on a mission to learn more about his past, which he can't remember, and to try to locate this woman who is haunting his dreams, before it is too late.

The story that unwinds is captivating. As I got deeper into the story, I found myself unwilling to put the book down. When the story finally reached the end, I found myself wanting the next find out what happened after.

As I mentioned, there are a couple of other fiction books that he wrote and I think I will check them out. You can find this book online at Amazon or you can order directly from the author.

To learn more about Greg Enslen and his books, check out his website -

No compensation was received for this post. My mother bought this book for me. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Samples and Freebies

Shout Color Catcher sample

Ruffies Pure Flexx Stretch bag and coupon

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tulips are Blooming!

I love the progression of spring flowers.

This post shared at Wordless Wednesday.

Monday, April 22, 2013

JAWS Cleaner - a review and giveaway *

* information and product was supplied for this post by the manufacturer.
A while back, you may remember that I shared with you about JAWS cleaners. I wanted to let you know about the current special running at Beuhler's. From now, through April 28th, you can save $2 off on JAWS cleaners at Buehler’s ( It’s normally $4.99 a bottle at each store (with one refill included) and is $2.99 on the sale. The sale is on the JAWS Glass and Hard Surface Cleaner; JAWS Multi-Purpose Cleaner/Degreaser and Bathroom Cleaner/Deodorizer.

Each bottle’s extra cartridge refill lets you keep reusing the same cleaning bottle – and save on plastic waste. Here’s how it works: Use up one JAWS bottle, then refill it with tap water and insert the cartridge, screw on the lid and you have a second bottle of cleaner. More refill cartridges are available in a separate two-pack.

The JAWS line will clean from kitchen to bathroom.

JAWS - or "Just Add Water System" - comes in the form of a super-concentrated cleaning cartridge and a reusable spray bottle. You fill the spray bottle with water to the line on the bottle, pop in the cartridge, insert the spray wand as you tighten it on, the cleaning solution in the cartridge is dispensed into the water. Give it a little shake you are ready to use the cleaner.

In addition

· JAWS products work are effective in all types of water, including hard water that can be found in many homes in Northeastern and Central Ohio.

· JAWS was created and is manufactured in Ohio – Toledo to be more specific.

· Purchasing JAWS products is not only helping the planet and helping you cut cleaning costs, it’s also contributing to the betterment of the regional economy through both JAWS International and the more localized retailers they partner with."

I have been using the product since I shared about it last year. I find that it works well for me. I like that not only is it environmentally friendly that the refill cartridges are small and make a full bottle of cleaning solution, but since I always feel space constrained when it comes to storage, I am able to keep extra on hand without having to find a place to store full bottles. In fact, I can keep the next cartridge with the bottle, so I'm not searching to locate it when I'm ready for a refill.


Thanks to the folks at JAWS, one lucky A Busy Mom of Two reader will win a JAWS cleaner gift pack, valued at $15.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway will remain open through May 7th. Giveaway is open to residents of the US only. One winner will be selected through Rafflecopter. The winner will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

No compensation was received for this post. JAWS provided information about the product, a sample for me and the gift pack for the giveaway. All opinions expressed are entirely my own or that of my family.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Earth Day *

*information for this post was in part supplied by Hormel Foods through their Hormel Extended Family Blogger program.

Tomorrow, April 22nd, is the 44th anniversary of the celebration of Earth Day. This year the Earth Day Network announced that the main focus of Earth Day will be to help put a face to climate change. One of the easiest ways to help prevent climate change is through a commitment to minimizing waste and recycling as much as possible.

At our house, we have made several small changes over the years that have not only helped us be more environmentally friendly, but have also had a favorable impact on our wallets.

We reduced our usage of paper towels, by using wash clothes and old diapers for cleaning and dusting. We are able to use it for a little while and then, I simply rinse them and toss them in the wash. We still use some paper towels for certain clean-up, but generally use less.

We reduced our usage of paper napkins, by purchasing and using cloth napkins everyday. My family was a little hesitant at first, but now has fully embraced them. You can see my post on moving to cloth napkins here.

We reduced our usage on paper plates by purchasing a set of plates that we can use for game night, birthday parties and other social gatherings at our home. When we are done, we simply fill the dishwasher and clean them up. We actually recently extended our purchase to include not just 24 dinner plates, but about 15 snack plates too. For those that want a smaller plate. You can see my post on eliminating paper plates here.

We reduced our usage of plastic utensils by purchasing a set of inexpensive silverware that we can use for game night, birthday parties and other social gatherings at our home. We found a set of silverware at Sam's Club that allowed us to get enough place settings to meet our needs even at our larger gatherings. You can see my post on elmininating plastic utensils here.

From Hormel:
Each year Hormel Foods strives to do their part in the conserving energy and reducing pollution. In 2011 they reduced their solid waste to landfills by 29 percent and completed 33 packaging reduction projects to reduce materials used by 4.2 million pounds! To learn more about these successes and many others please visit

There are plenty of simple ways that you and your family can help out this year, including:
* Next time you want to enjoy a picnic, pack-up an eco-friendly basket with dishes from home instead of paper plates and plastic utensils. Enjoy a healthy spread with products that are known for their eco-friendly and sustainable packaging. One example is Hormel® Natural Choice® deli meats. Hormel® Natural Choice® deli meats comes in packaging made of 100 percent recycled material – making them the only national brand that features 100 percent recycled packaging. Just last month, Hormel® Natural Choice® launched their new line of Family Pack deli meats – perfect for feeding a large group and cutting down on your trips to the store.
* Pack lunches in reusable containers instead of plastic zip-lock bags that can only be used once. Take it a step further by saving and using plastic containers from take-out meals.
* Opt to receive bills and notices through email instead of by mail. Most banks and organizations offer a “paper-less” option, which will not only help cut down on wasted paper, but shorten your stack of mail that comes in every day.
* Offer your support through a contribution to the Earth Day Network! Or check out the many opportunities to volunteer in your community.

What efforts do you and your family make to try and minimize your carbon footprint? What is your favorite “eco-friendly” activity?

No compensation was received for this post. All opinions expressed are mine or those of my family. I am completing this post as a participant in the Hormel Foods Extended Family Blogger program. Hormel Foods provided some product and some of the information for this post.

Stolen by Daniel Palmer *

*complimentary review copy received for this post.
You might think that since I didn't grow up with computers as a part of my life (my kids still think this is strange), that I would be more cautious around them, have a certain amount of distrust. That's not to say that I share information willy-nilly over the internet...I do try to think before I post on my blog, on Facebook, on Twitter. But, I am completely at ease ordering from retailers online, doing my banking online, and registering for contests and the like. I always expect a certain amount of security from those sites and never felt that my data was at risk.

But, what if an employee or an owner on one of those sites, who was otherwise a good person, had a need and felt that they could 'borrow' an identity for their own benefit?

In Stolen, the third techno-thriller novel from Daniel Palmer, John Bodine is faced with a challenge. With him being self employed with an online gaming business and his wife Ruby studying to pursuer a new career, they have a basic, cheap health insurance that doesn't provide the best benefits as they learn after Ruby is diagnosed with cancer. As he pursues options to get help in covering the medications and treatments that Ruby needs to fight the illness, he learns that there are insurance plans out there that do cover the medication in full. Plans that could help his wife fight the battle against her illness. As he learns, he begins to hatch a plan. With some techno-savvy skills, he locates a customer of his site that is similar in age and married and confirms that he has the 'right' insurance, and heads down a path of identity theft. John, who was generally a good person, made a bad decision, in a desperate situation. They set up a new residence and become another couple - starting fresh with a new doctor and all.

Everything seems to be going well, until it isn't. Ruby is getting the treatments that she needs, and although they are leaving her feeling weak, they seem to be working. Then, unexpectedly, the couple is contacted by their 'victim'. He tells them that he won't report their fraud, in exchange for playing a game of 'Criminal'. In this game, they are faced with challenges of escalating criminal activity. These challenges are a complete departure from things that they would do, but the problem is, that if they fail to successfully complete the challenges or don't even try to complete them, not only are they risking exposure of their crimes of identity theft and insurance fraud, but they are also risking the life of someone else, someone near them. How far will they go? What crime is too much for them to bear?


The future has never looked brighter for Boston couple John Bodine and Ruby Dawes. John’s online gaming business is growing, Ruby is pursuing her dream career, and they’re talking about starting a family.

Then Ruby receives a life-changing diagnosis, and their cut-rate insurance won’t cover the treatment she desperately needs. Faced with a ticking clock, John makes a risky move: he steals a customer’s identity and files a false claim for Ruby’s medication.

The plan works perfectly–until the customer in question contacts John with a startling proposition. If John and Ruby agree to play a little game he’s devised, he won’t report their fraud. The rules of ‘Criminal’ are simple: commit real crimes. Fail in their assigned tasks, and there will be deadly consequences.

The book is simply fabulous! I received an advanced reader's copy from Daniel Palmer for this review and I am so glad that I didn't have to wait until the book is officially released on April 30th.

Daniel Palmer has the ability to weave together an amazing tale that really makes you stop and think. The characters are well developed and relate-able and concern for their well-being leaves you unwilling to put down the book. I found myself reading every second I could find. I simply needed to find out, who was this 'victim' that John had chosen in his quest to save his life? How could it be that someone was as twisted as this victim in the game that he was forcing them to play and the consequences that occurred when they didn't play along as he wanted.

I love to read thrillers and this thriller did not disappoint. If you are a fan of thrillers, I highly recommend the books of Daniel Palmer. You can pick up Delirious and Helpless in paperback, if you want to check them out while you wait for the release of Stolen. Stolen is available for pre-order through the typical online book retailers, and will make it's way to your local bookstore in a couple of weeks on April 30th.

No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary advanced reader's copy was provided for this review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Giveaway Winners!

I had a couple of giveaways that ended earlier this week. Here are the winners....

Eggland's Best Giveaway - Lisa!

Super Why Tickets - Judy!

E-mails were sent to the winners.

Thanks everyone for entering and look for more giveaways, coming soon!

Samples and Freebies

I didn't request any free samples or freebies this week, but my mailbox was active!


Tom's Wicked Cool mild mint toothpaste and coupon
Pedia Lax Probiotic Yums and coupon (Target)
Schiff Mega Red Omega 3 Krill Oil sample

Monday, April 15, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

Our weekend was unexpectedly quiet. With all of the rain that we had at the end of last week, many of our sports were cancelled in advance, vs the game time decision that we normally have. We took advantage and planned an afternoon with friends on Saturday. We headed to the Akron Art Museum for a Family Drop in Activity and then explored the museum. The kids interest in viewing the art was short lived. We tried out a local restaurant that everyone loves. It was good food, but I'm not sure that I would wait in the line that formed outside for very long for it.

This week was supposed to be busy with sports, but already, two nights of expected busy have been cleared from our schedule.

Hamburgers on the Grill

Chicken Tacos

Penne with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce (Pasta Bravo)

Pierogies and Eggs

Hot Dogs/Sausages on the Grill

Chicken Buffalo Cheese Steak


Breakfast is cereal or oatmeal each morning. Lunch for the kids is either the school lunch or usually a couple of times a week they pack. Lunch for my husband and me is typically sandwiches, frozen meals or leftovers.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

CVS Scenarios - week of 4/14

I knew that I was in for a light week at CVS when I saw my ad had a big 20% off savings pass on the front of it. My challenge with their 20% off deal is that it always seems like the items that I might want to pick up are on some sort of other sale and hence ineligible. I also feel like the application of the CVS CRT and ECBs against the coupon value seems to vary. I did find a couple of things that I will pick up this week on deal and who knows, I might even find some 20% off deals too.

Transaction #1

2 - Kellogg’s Krave, Apple Jacks,or Froot Loops
1 - Colgate Max Fresh

-$1/2 Kellogg's cereal mfg coupon
-$2/1 Colgate Max Fresh CRT from coupon machine
-$1 Colgate mfg coupon

Total $3 OOP and earn $1 ECB. A net cost of $2 for two boxes of cereal and a tube of toothpaste is not too bad.

For more deals and scenarios, check out Money Saving Mom and Deal Seeking Mom. For more $5 Scenarios, check out the CVS $5 Challenge.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Target - Pizza and Ice Cream Deal!

As I looked at the paper last week, I discovered a deal at Target, that I simply knew that I must take advantage of - free ice cream when you buy pizza. What is there not to like about that combination?

2 - DiGiorno Pizzas
1 - CPK Pizza
1 - Nestle Drumsticks

-$2 DiGiorno Pizza IP (printed a few weeks ago)
-$2 DiGiorno Pizza IP
-$1 DiGiorno Pizza Target coupon
-$1 DiGiorno Pizza Target coupon

-$5.99 FREE Drumsticks wyb 3 participating pizzas

-$.05 Reusable bag credit

-$.45 Target RedCard savings

Total $8.49 for 3 pizzas and ice cream. That is not a bad deal at all!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Winner of the Cirque Ziva tickets

Congratulations to Jennifer M! Her entry was selected as the winner of the tickets for Cirque Ziva, featuring The Golden Dragon Acrobats at the Akron Civic Theatre.

Thanks to everyone that entered and be sure to check out the other current giveaways in the upper right sidebar.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Monday, April 8, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

This week - it is back to reality week. We had Spring Break last week and while it was just a staycation, it was still nice to have a looser set of plans than normal. The weather for most of the week was blah, but this past weekend was great and we took advantage of it by playing outside.

Now, we have to go back to school and spring sports start up this week and next. That means that soon we will be changing gears to the easy to put on the table menus. Things that can be fully prepped ahead of time and then just 'finished' to put it on the table.

Pork Chops

Homemade Pizza

Chicken Patty Sandwiches

Chicken Buffalo Philly Steaks

Turkey Roast

Spaghetti and Meatballs


Breakfast is cereal or oatmeal each morning. Lunch for the kids is either the school lunch or usually a couple of times a week they pack. Lunch for my husband and me is typically sandwiches, frozen meals or leftovers.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Friday, April 5, 2013

How Do You Protect Your Personal Information? (PSA from ITRC and Fellowes)

The thought of someone stealing your identity is a scary one. When I was younger, I don't remember it being an issue. I am certain that there were still issues with credit cards being stolen and used, but I don't think that someone stealing your identity was something that people really thought about. In fact, when I got my first driver's license, it had your social security number printed on it. I can remember when they started to make it optional - it was up to you to include or not. Thankfully, they have moved away from the practice of even asking if you want it printed. I have also started to see in more recent years, a move by health insurance providers and others to give you a customer ID, instead of using your social security number as your identification number. I was surprised a year or two back when even our local tax office gave us taxpayer IDs, instead of using our social security number like they had always done.

It is great that others are helping to protect our identity, but there are still things that we can do to help protect ourselves, at tax time and all year round.

I know that we try to use strong passwords for all of our online accounts and avoid using the same passwords repeatedly. Because I like to know my password, this is one that I struggled with. Before my husband and I were married, I had several simple and repeated passwords. He taught me to include a mix of upper and lower case, numbers and special characters and still have a password that I can reasonably recall for the most accessed accounts. Plus, he set us up with a password program, there are several password programs out there that can help you track all of your passwords in a secure way.

We also make a habit of monitoring our accounts. The simple process of checking your credit card statements and balancing your check book can go a long way to helping you find inconsistencies that might indicate foul play. With the free credit reports, rather than pulling all three at once, we cycle through each company over the course of a year, so that we are never more than a few months from the most recent review of one of our credit reports.

We make good use of our cross cut shredder. When we clear out our files, we make sure that we shred the old documents and don't just throw them away. Same thing with all of those unsolicited credit offers that we receive in the mail, they go straight through the shredder. We also use our shredder to shred old credit cards, id cards, etc.

Identity Theft Resource Center finds Cases of Identity Theft Increase During Tax Season
Expert Resource Provides Tips to Help Prevent Crime

The Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC) has seen a dramatic increase in IRS-related identity theft cases during key tax filing months as compared to previous years. Specifically, the ITRC received almost 77 percent more cases in 2012 than in 2010 and during the three years incidences of identity theft were highest during the key tax filing months of February and March.

“A lot of information changes hands during tax season, which is why we believe we see so many IRS-related identity theft cases this time of year,” said Eva Valasquez, President and CEO of the ITRC. “And although more and more people are now e-filing, we still need to be cautious of how we are protecting information offline.”

The Identity Theft Resource Center recommends taking steps to safeguard your entire tax filing process to ensure you’re protected from the crime. From installing a firewall on your computer, to storing important files in a fireproof lockbox and shredding no-longer-needed documents, it’s important to stop identity thieves in their tracks along the way.

“Shredding is one of the most effective ways to destroy personal information,” said Nancy Heaton, Director of Global Marketing, Business Machines, Fellowes, Inc. Fellowes is a corporate sponsor or ITRC and works closely with the organization to provide education about identity theft crimes.

Below are the Identity Theft Resource Center’s identity theft prevention tips for tax season:

Tax Time Tips
• Install a firewall on your computer and change passwords frequently using a combination of letters, numbers and symbols
• Select tax preparation software carefully if you intend to do your own tax return
• File at the earliest time possible allowed by the IRS
• Send completed tax returns via a U.S. Postal Office. Mailing from home exposes your tax returns to potential risk
• Do not send sensitive documents/information over unprotected e-mail
• Never file your electronic tax return using an unsecured public WiFi connection. A secure site will have its address begin with https:// rather than http://
• Throughout the year, store sensitive tax season documents in a fireproof, locked cabinet
• Shred no-longer-needed tax documents with a Cross-Cut shredder, such as the Fellowes 63Cb, can destroy paper into hundreds of small, unidentifiable pieces. (you can learn more about Fellowes shredders at

About the Identity Theft Resource Center
Identity Theft Resource Center® (ITRC) is a nonprofit, nationally respected organization dedicated exclusively to the understanding of identity theft and related issues. The ITRC provides victim and consumer support as well as public education. The ITRC also advises governmental agencies, legislators, law enforcement, and businesses about the evolving and growing problem of identity theft.

About Fellowes, Inc.
Fellowes, Inc. is dedicated to providing identity theft education to consumers and businesses and is a corporate sponsor of the Identity Theft Resource Center. Fellowes, Inc. offers an extensive range of products to equip the workspace, including paper shredders, binders, laminators, desktop accessories and record storage solutions. Founded in 1917 by Harry Fellowes and headquartered in Itasca, Illinois, Fellowes, Inc. employs more than 1,200 people throughout the world and has operations in 15 countries. Fellowes products are now readily available in over 100 countries across the globe. For more information, visit

How do you protect your personal information?

No compensation was received for this post. Fellowes provided information and the contents of the PSA, as well as a 63Cb shredder. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.