Sunday, June 30, 2013

Music Lover? Earn Money for Sharing Your Opinion!

I have shared before how it was music that ultimately brought my husband and I together. I introduced him to a new band, whose music he really liked.

I have always loved music of all types.

Now there is a site where you can find new music and even earn money for reviewing the music that you hear.

The site is called slicethepie. It seems that your earnings might start small, but by writing thoughtful, constructive reviews, you can improve the rate you receive for sharing your opinion.

I really like the idea that you can easily earn a little bit of money by listening to music.

Why not give it a try?

*this post contains a referral link. By signing up through my link, I will earn a little each time you complete a review.

Google Reader is going away & a solution

I am sure that there has been communication and I am sure that I missed it, but I was surprised to read this morning about Google Reader going away - TOMORROW! What?!? I have used Google Reader for several years to get the feeds from my favorite blogs. Each time I open up the computer, I use Google Reader to scan through the most recent articles for the blogs I follow, so that I can quickly catch up with what they have been sharing.

Thankfully, Mama to 5 Blessings, who is on my Google Reader list, shared about Bloglovin' today, as an alternative to Google Reader.

When you sign up for Bloglovin' (before July 1st, when Google Reader is gone), you can use them to import all of the blogs that you follow directly from Google Reader. It froze up on me, but I was able to find the Import from Google Reader in the drop down under the heart icon on their title bar. Sign up was easy and I have pinned Bloglovin' to my toolbar so that I can easily check on my favorite blogs.

You might want to check it out, if you are currently a Google Reader user.

You can even use this quick link to follow A Busy Mom of Two. Follow on BloglovinFollow my blog with Bloglovin

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tune Belt Sport Armband for iPhone Protective Cases (AB84) Review*

* No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary sample was provided for the review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.
I am not sure what it is about us, but my husband and I seem to have an uncanny knack for looking for products several months in advance of their availability. It has happened with kids toys, bike accessories, party ware for a birthday party and more. I haven't yet figured out how to parlay it into something of value, but it is a reality that we deal with.

Such was the case when I got an iPhone last year and was looking for a way to be able to use it during my workout. I like to use the RunKeeper app for my workout, so bringing my phone along (and not holding it in my hand) was a requirement...and the workout clothes that I had did not have a pocket that would hold the phone (several have them for the smaller iPods and/or for a key). There were several options available for pouches/pockets that would hold the phone, but none of them could be used without first removing the phone from the OtterBox Defender case that I had for my phone. I didn't want to mess with having to remove and reapply the case on a daily basis, so I simply went without and continued to look, convinced that what I was looking for was out there somewhere. In the mean time, I simply would tuck my phone under my bra strap when I was out for a walk or run. It worked for me, but was not ideal and I worried about it being next to my skin - especially if it was an extra hard workout and I was sweaty - and worried about it slipping out and falling to the ground.

So, when I found the Tune Belt Sport Armband for iPhone Protective Cases (AB84) that was specifically designed to fit an iPhone in an OtterBox Defender case, I was excited. (Now, out of fairness, it has been around for a while, I just hadn't found it until recently.)

Some details from the site for the AB84 Sport Armband for iPhone Protective Cases:


Lightweight, comfortable neoprene construction
Stable armband securely holds player
Adjustable armband fits 9" – 17" and an Armband Extender is available for larger arm sizes (see SKU EX3)


Full navigational control through clear, protective window cover
Cord flap securely stores and manages earphone cord


Cushioning neoprene protects player
Helps protect against perspiration, bumps, scratches & the elements
Reflective logo

As soon as the armband arrived, I checked it out by taking it for a run the very next morning when I headed to the Y for my Spinning class. The case is made of Neoprene, making it lightweight and stretchy. The inside, although there are seams, doesn't have any spots that felt rough on the arm. The construction appears to be quality, something that I expect will last for a while.

The phone, in its protective case, easily slides into the holder through the opening at the top. The opening is self-closing, so there was no need to worry about the phone falling out, but the material is soft and flexible and would accommodate the cord for earphones. There is even a small Velcro strap (called a cord flap, I learned) on the one side, that you can use to wrap around any excess length on the headphones cord. I like that there is even some extra room behind the phone, where I could tuck a couple of dollars, a license or a credit card - all things that are a challenge to take along in typical exercise clothes.

The clear plastic facing allows you to easily see and operate the touch screen on the iPhone. Even when I am wearing the armband, I am able to unlock the phone, start the run and stop it. Certainly, as with any armband, you have to move your arm or turn the band to allow better visibility of the phone while wearing it - but aside from start, stop or time check, I rarely am looking at my phone while I work out. Having the phone in the armband did not make it anymore difficult to hear the cues I have set in RunKeeper - it tells me my distance and pace every 5 minutes...keeps me going!

With the Velcro for securing the armband on your arm, it is fully adjustable to accommodate a wide range of arm sizes and I found it easy to adjust even while wearing it. While wearing the armband, I was able to remove the phone with relative ease - which is good, if you need to answer a call. Putting the phone back in while wearing it was a little more challenging - consider, I was trying to do this one handed and the opening was more taught because of the armband being securely fitted around my arm. I don't see a problem with this and when the occasion has arisen, I have either just dealt with it and taken the time to put it in or have loosened (but not removed) the armband to replace the phone quicker and then re-secured.

The design was updated last year and will accommodate both the iPhone 4 and 5 in the OtterBox Defender case. Have a different type of phone or music player? Tune Belt offers a wide variety of options, even options for portable CD players and cassette players, which is where they got their start with an idea for the first TuneBelt about 30 years ago.

I hadn't previously worn an armband style holder, so it was a little strange feeling at first, but it quickly became something that I was accustomed to. I have been able to use the holder to allow me to track my runs and my walks and taken it on bike rides too. Not sure that you want an armband style holder? Fortunately, Tune Belt also offers a full series of belt style holders that fit around your waist.

Based on my experience with the sport armband from Tune Belt, I would purchase another Tune Belt product and recommend it to others that are looking options for holding their phone or music device while being active. I like that they have been around for several years, and have taken customer feedback to continuously improve their products. I like that they have a variety of cases, for different brands and styles of phones and music players.

Have you checked out Tune Belt?

No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary sample was provided for the review. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Summer Cookie Giveaway!

*no compensation was provided for this post. I am simply a guest host and fans of my Facebook and Twitter are eligible for additional entries.
When there is a special event and you want to send something special to that someone special, flowers are nice, but lately, I have found myself trying to do something different. For Administrative Assistant Week, we stuck with flowers, but sent potted plants, including one that flowered in each pot. That was different than just a bouquet, but sometimes you want to be even more different, and stand out. For those occasions I find that fruit bouquets and cookie bouquets are a nice change of pace. The treats can be enjoyed by all.

At Gourmet Cookie Bouquets, they offer several themed options for birthdays, graduations, and get well, as well as 'just because' options. You can get a bouquet, a basket, a bucket, a gift box and even a personalized cookie cake. They even offer candy bouquets and options that include stuffed animals. Along with the wide variety, come a variety of price points...with one to fit every budget, and even some that include free shipping.

Now that summer is here, Gourmet Cookie Bouquets is helping you celebrate with a great new Gourmet Cookie giveaway! Two lucky winners are going to get to choose their favorite summer cookie arrangement - up to a $75 value each. See this page for the designs you will get to choose from.

Contest ends July 7th so hurry and enter today! The comment for your first entry can be made right here on A Busy Mom of Two.

The giveaway rules (direct from the Gourmet Cookie Bouquets giveaway page):

*Enter using any of the Rafflecopter choices available for entry below. Any of the options are acceptable, and entries per person are limited to the number indicated in the contest form. Entries will be reviewed and duplicate or uncompleted entries will be removed.

* If you have problems using Rafflecopter, be sure you are running the latest version of your web browser and have JavaScript updated.

NOTE - You must complete the specified entry task in order to be eligible to win the contest. If you click the green entry button without completing the task, your entry will be thrown out (disqualified from winning the prize).

*Contest is open to all residents of the 48 Contiguous States and only to those 18 years of age or older!

*Winners will be randomly chosen by the contest sponsor gourmet Cookie Bouquets.

*The winners will receive their choice of summer cookie gift valued at up to $75 from this summer bouquet page.

*Winners will be notified via e-mail. You must respond within three days of being contacted. If you do not respond within that period, another winner will be chosen.

*The full list of the summer cookie giveaway rules can be found in this pdf.

*Sweepstakes ends at midnight EST on July 7th, 2013. The sweepstakes winners will be announced by July 14th, 2013.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*no compensation was provided for this post. I am simply a guest host and fans of my Facebook and Twitter are eligible for additional entries.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

Well, it is definitely finally feeling like summer around here. The temperatures have been in the mid to upper 80s. Our schedule has been filled with my son's baseball, minor league baseball, summer camps, and amusement parks over the past week and weekend. I was so inspired by the summer, that I had to include steak on the grill, baked potatoes and corn on the cob in this week's menu, even though we just had it last week. Despite the summer weather, I am also including some soup. We didn't have it last week and it is a nice make ahead meal that won't leave the kitchen hot.

Spaghetti with meat sauce

Steak/chicken on the grill, baked potatoes and corn on the cob

Chicken Patty Sandwiches

Buffalo chicken sliders on homemade rolls

Chicken Meatball Soup

Homemade Pizza (thinking of trying this on my homemade bread dough)


What for dinner at your house?

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Summer Time!

*information for this post was in part supplied by Hormel Foods through their Hormel Extended Family Blogger program. No compensation was received for this post.

I can not believe that Friday marked the official start of summer. We have been on summer break from school for a few weeks now, but now the calendar officially says it is summer. One of the things that I love best about summer is grilling out. When you can combine grilling out and good friends - it makes for an even better evening. I enjoy entertaining and always invite my guests to bring dishes to share, but I am also always one to have a back up option for every course. Some I keep tucked away and only pull out if no one brings something for that course, others I still put out figuring you can have a couple of options for dessert or a side dish.

This month, Hormel is challenging the Hormel Extended Family Bloggers to a grilling challenge to celebrate the official start of summer.

Here is the meal plan for my grilling challenge:

Grilled Bacon and Carmelized Onion Pizza
. I will take the standard recipe and prep everything. I will start by grilling the first side of the pizza crust on a hot grill that has been brushed with a bit of olive oil. When it is browned, remove it from the grill. Place grilled side up and top per the recipe and place back on the hot grill to finish cooking.

Main Course:
Southwest Turkey Burgers Topped with Fresh Salsa Of course, as always, when I make hamburgers (I still call turkey burgers hamburgers, it just is what they are regardless of the meat used) my preference is to grill the buns for a few minutes before removing the burgers from the grill.

Apple Enchiladas (and some S'mores Enchiladas too!) I will prep the spiced apples in typical fashion and will roll them into flour tortillas and wrap in foil. Place them on the grill to heat through and serve with the extra sauce on the side. For the S'mores Enchiladas, roll up a mixture of broken graham crackers, broken milk chocolate bars (or use minis) and miniature marshmallows inside a flour tortilla. Wrap in foil and grill them until they are heated through.

Of course, we will have other dishes too, but these will be the stars of the meal.

What would you make for the grilling challenge?

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.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Fantasy Life by Matthew Berry*

*complimentary review copy received for this post.
When I was growing up, as many siblings can relate to, I spent hours watching my brothers play soccer and baseball. But aside from heading to a Reds game when we got discounts for good grades or going to watch the local hockey team play, I don't really remember watching sports. It changed a little bit when I was in high school. I started to attend the football games, because it is what everyone did and I wanted to fit in. I didn't know much about the game of football when I started to attend, but with time, I started to learn a little bit about the game. In college, that social tradition of attending football continued.

But, I don't think any of that prepared me for being the wife of a Fantasy Football Player. Not only is my husband a fantasy player, but also the league commissioner. Sunday afternoons in the fall and winter were spent watching as many football games as possible and all of the post-game commentary and anything else where we could get regular updates on the stats of the players on his and his opponent's teams. In dating and marrying my husband, I was suddenly submerged in the world of football.

Off season was spent dealing with a lot of drama as all the other owners debated what needed to be changed with the league. The weeks leading up to the draft, which was an auction, was spent prepping and creating an order of who to bring up and what they were each 'worth'. One season, I even got to serve as the auctioneer - talk about an experience.

During the early seasons, my husband relied on the newspaper for scoring and line-ups and trades were submitted by leaving a message on his answering machine. The increased usage of the internet and e-mail was transformational for the league, allowing line-ups to be submitted and trades to be worked in e-mails and statistics being pulled from a specific site (in case there were differences in numbers, there was a source of record that was used for the official scoring). Now, there is a site that everyone can log into and see live statistics and know exactly where they stand.

For a long time, it seemed that the only fantasy players that I knew of were my husband's friends and league-mates. Then, I started to notice that people I worked with were playing and then, with time, there seemed to be whole leagues comprised of co-workers. As recently as this week, during a new employee introduction, it was shared that he liked to spend his free time analyzing sport statistics and the woman next to me made a comment that he probably was a fantasy player.
Recently I had the chance to read Fantasy Life. Fantasy Life is the soon to be released, auto-biography mixed with anecdotal tales about the world of fantasy sports, from Matthew Berry who is "universally regarded as one of the leading voices in fantasy sports" and is ESPN's Senior Fantasy Sports Analyst.

Despite never having actually played fantasy sports, it was an enjoyable read and surprisingly easy to relate to. Matthew Berry's unique sense of humor and perspective permeate the book.

I enjoyed learning about the path his life took to make him the "Talented Mr. Roto" and eventually to his career as an ESPN Fantasy Sports Analyst. His experience really shows how being in the right place at the right time can really shape your life. I enjoyed reading about the evolution not only of his career, but of fantasy sports themselves - from the early days where the perception was that only 'geeks' played to a widespread activity openly enjoyed by many people from all backgrounds.

I could see aspects of my husband's league in some stories and realized how fortunate I am that his league is not as extreme as some whose stories were featured. His league with friends from college was filled with history and rituals, but they didn't have anything like the 'hazing' rituals that were shared in Fantasy Life. Draft day has always been more of a draft weekend and a social event for both the guys and their girlfriends/wives. Many of the owners would show up the night before for a night of cards and then stay the next night for a cookout and hanging out. For the wives/girlfriends, the weekend was filled with shopping and chick flicks.

Reading about the men that drafted while at weddings or during/after the birth of children, reminded me of the uproar created when my husband 'moved' the draft the year that I was expecting our son. Being the sensible person he was, he held the draft earlier in August than normal that year, in hopes of not being 8 hours away when I went into labor. Of course, the challenge is that there are too many unknowns at that point. The good thing is that his move of the draft was a good thing, as our son was born on a weekend, less than two weeks before the start of that season.

The stories about families in fantasy sports throughout the book was a favorite part of mine, it was great to hear the stories about generations brought together by fantasy sports. There were tales from kids separated from their kids due to divorce that used fantasy to bond to sons, dads and grandpas playing together in leagues. Even Matthew Berry has used fantasy sports to help him bond with his stepsons and brought together a group of kids and parents for a 'family' league.

Whether you participate in fantasy sports or have a spouse that does, I think that Fantasy Life is a book that you will enjoy and relate to. You can pick the book up at your local bookstore or order it online. It is scheduled for a July 16 release, but is available for pre-order.

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.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

I can not believe how quick time flies. Here we are in the midst of summer. Our spring sports are starting to wind down and we are actually finding time for more traditional meals, vs the schedule of meals that can be prepped ahead to allow for short time to table.

I love the tastes of summer. We have been enjoying fresh berries with every meal lately. Tonight we grilled out and had baked potatoes - there is something so tasty to me about a steak hot off the grill. I think only corn on the cob could have made it a better meal.

CiCi's Pizza (Dad's choice - his buffet was free)

Grilled Sirloin Steak and baked potatoes

Chicken Patty Sandwich

Pizza Stuffed Crescents

Chicken Meatball Soup and Italian Breadsticks

Hot Dogs

Grilled chicken

Weekday breakfasts are generally cereal, or if the kids are at latchkey, whatever they're offering. Lunches will vary between leftovers, sandwiches, or the hot meal in the cafeteria.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

CVS Scenarios - week of 6/16

As I mentioned, I am planning a trip to CVS this week to pick up some deals.

Transaction #1
6 - Purex Liquid Detergent (~$6.49)
1 - Almay Eye Makeup
2 - Glaceau Fruit Water
1 - Gold Emblem Gummy Bears

sub-total (after B2G1 deal) $21.76

-$4 $/$20 CVS e-mail offer
-$3 $3/2 Purex IP (*)
-$3 $3/2 Purex IP
-$3 $3/2 Purex IP (need a second computer to get three)
-$4 Almay mfg coupon
$.25 Gold Emblem CRT (listed in ad)

Total $4.51 OOP, earn $3 and $1 ECB. Wow! A net cost of $.51 for all of this! A savings of about 91%.

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

Are you earning rewards for printing and using coupons? If you join MyPoints, you can earn points every time you print and use coupons. If you are not a member, I can send you a referral link.

CVS Deal - 6/15

Yesterday, I went to CVS. My trips to CVS have been rather few and far between lately. I think that it is two-fold, I have a well developed stock pile of products and the deals haven't been that good on what I do need. Of course, another factor is likely that my schedule just seems to get busier and busier, and when I do have time, shopping is not what I want to be doing. That being said, I headed to CVS to get some inexpensive snacks yesterday and plan to go back this week for some deals.

Transaction #1
2 - Cheddar Chex Mix

-$.50 Chex Mix IP
-$.50 Chex Mix IP

Paid with $3 ECB, earned $2 ECBs. Net cost of $1 ECB.

Did you find any deals this week?

Happy Father's Day!

Wishing all of the dads a wonderful, Happy Father's Day. May your day be filled with everyone and everything you love.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Denise Hunter’s “Barefoot Summer” Summer Sun Giveaway!

Denise Hunter is celebrating her new Chapel Springs Romance series with a Summer Fun Giveaway. The first book, Barefoot Summer, is already a favorite with readers. “Hold-your-breath romance, heartache, and laugh-out-loud moments. It’s more than a good read. It’s a delight.” -- Lisa


Summer: it’s all about sunny skies, star-gazing, swimming, spending time with loved ones, and living as if a small part of the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders.

Get ready for some serious summer fun with Denise’s 12-Day Summer Sun giveaway. From June 10-21, keep your computer near as you head to the lake or your friend’s barbecue because Denise will be giving away a summer essential each day!

No compensation was received for this post. Information and the link was provided by Litfuse Publicity through the Barefoot Summer Blog Tour. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Denise Hunter’s Barefoot Summer*

*complimentary review copy received for this post.

Barefoot Summer is the first book in the Chapel Springs Romance series by Denise Hunter. (Can you believe it, I finally started with the first book in a series!) This was the first book that I have read by Denise Hunter, but based on this book, I am pretty sure it won't be my last. She has written several other books, including a couple of series.

Madison McKinley, one of the McKinley twins, lost her twin brother Michael to drowning about ten years earlier and hasn't yet healed. One of his dreams was to win the town's regatta before his 27th birthday, so that he could be the youngest to ever win it. Madison has decided that she wants to win the regatta for him, in his boat - in hopes that she will be able to put an end to the hurt and pain caused by his death.

So, with her 27th birthday approaching in the fall, she buys sailing lessons from a man who has won the regatta, in the hopes that she can learn to sail and win the regatta. Only problem is that the man that she bought the lessons from can no longer fulfill the commitment and turns to Beckett O'Reilly to help him fulfill it.

There is a history between Beckett and Madison, that as the story progresses we learn more about. He is the son of the town drunk and was a troublemaker as a kid.

At first, Madison is resistant to learning from Beckett, but with time he shows himself a worthy instructor and her a quick study. And the sparks fly ... in more ways than one.

I really liked the style in which the story was written. The focus on character development is around the two primary characters, with those around them developed mostly to help further define the main characters. The book jumps right into the story, using reflection and conversations to help the reader 'catch up' on the background, history and the different relationships. This occurs not just in the opening chapters, but throughout the story.

The characters are hard not to like. I love how their relationship evolves slowly from that of distrust and dislike to one of trust and friendship to even more. As an outsider, it certainly seems obvious how each feels, but they have to slowly come to realize the attraction. This helps make it feel more real and the story more believable.

I really enjoyed reading this book and was able to read it in a relatively short window. Given my schedule, trust me, I have to shift things to make that happen, to 'create' time to read - but I wanted to keep reading, to see how things progress and turn out.

I would recommend Barefoot Summer to anyone looking for a enjoyable, summer love story.

You can learn more about the story and what others are saying, by checking out the blog tour.

You can find out more about Denise Hunter and her books, on her website.

No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary copy was provided for this review through Litfuse Publicity. All opinions expressed are my own or that of my family.

Friday, June 7, 2013

National Donut Day

Looking for a treat to start your day today? You are in luck - in celebration of National Donut (or Doughnut) Day, you can score a free treat this morning.

At Dunkin Donuts, receive a FREE donut of their choice with the purchase of any beverage at participating U.S. Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants while supplies last. Details here.

At Krispy Kreme, you simply get a FREE doughnut for coming in. You can find out more details and a list of participating locations here.

At Tim Hortons, it is a FREE doughnut with purchase, but you will need the coupon. Head over to their Facebook page to print out your coupon.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

It is so hard for me to believe it, but the school year is gliding to a close. This week we have our last day of school. My son's soccer season also wraps up this week, leaving us with baseball for my son and softball and soccer for my daughter. So, despite the fact that one sports season is wrapping up, we have three nights where a quick dinner before or after the games are necessary.

I was selected as hostess for a Soda Stream House Party. I am always looking for a reason to host a gathering and love to try new things too, so I am excited. We will try the varieties and enjoy some pizza and good company on Saturday evening.

Pizza Bagels (and buns)

Rattlesnake Pasta

Cincinnati Style Chili (Skyline)

Hot Dogs/Hamburgers

Chicken Cheesesteaks


Pizza (Soda Stream House Party)

Now that summer is upon us, lunches will vary - at camp, at daycare, at home, at work.

This post shared at Menu Plan Monday.