Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Win a Keurig Elite, Carousel, and K-cups!

 Enter to win a Keurig Elite Brewer which comes with 12 sample K-cups, a K-Cup counter-top carousel, and a box of your favorite K-Cup variety! 

The following awesome blogs have joined forces to sponsor this fabulous giveaway for our readers:

The giveaway begins Wednesday, Jan 25 at midnight EST and ends on Wednesday, February 1 at midnight EST. Entry to the giveaway is simple, easy and fun using the Rafflecopter form below. 

Important! Please be sure to complete each entry in full. If you are required to sign up by email, enter your email address or Twitter username, etc. – be sure to do so. If you don’t and your name is chosen as the winner, your entry will be void if the required action is not completed and a new name will be selected. That’s it! Now go enter, have fun, and Good Luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 22, 2012

An App For That: Zoodles

If your household is anything like mine, you probably have 7 and 8-year-olds adding Ipads to their Christmas lists or 3 and 4-year-olds mimicking a cell-phone conversation with anything that fits in their tiny hands. I can't count the number of times those little hands have gotten to my phone- sending alien texts and pseudo-stalker breathing voicemails to all of my nearest and dearest. Heck, They've even managed to completely change my phone's settings and display!

As a mother of four I've taken the "we just can't have nice stuff" saying on as our family's own personal slogan. We do a lot of sharing, thrifty shopping, and we learn to live with less. It's very unusual that I purchase items for myself, but that does not apply to my phone. As the main (and sometimes only) source of communication to the outside world, most importantly my family back east, I like phones loaded to the 9's so I can call, text, or email all with the power device in my hands, without paying a hefty price.

So you can imagine my worry when those little hands are on my phone. I subscribe to many different magazines on parenting, including my fave, ALL YOU, so I have seen many articles about recommendations of phone applications for the little ones. There were always two things I looked for in a good phone application for my kids: 1. Is it educational? and 2. Is it FREE? My brother, who got his smartphone approximately 6 months before I did, once told me , "Never pay for an app. No matter what you're looking at, there's always a free version. Trust me." It's been the greatest piece of phone advice someone has ever given me and to this day I have never paid for an app for my phone. That being said, my phone is so tricked out with apps and the like I'm hard-pressed to think of something I can't do with my phone.

I searched long and hard for a good free app for kids. I didn't really love the idea of them playing with my phone, but if I knew it was going to happen I wanted to be prepared. Then one day it came along, a FREE Kid's app so good you'll think they paid me to talk about it. {They didn't, but if they're reading this I won't turn it down! :) }

Zoodles is an APP and Website that fits all of my needs and then some. On Zoodles you can add six profiles, so I have one set up for Mr. E, Fingers, Stink, and Bubby. (If you see in the photos one of them set up a profile for me. I had to laugh at that, but I wouldn't mind playing it when I need a break!)

Zoodles has so many fun features it's worth taking a few minutes to go over and check it out for yourself. I like how on both the phone app and on the website you can't easily exit the system and get into unwanted territories, like the phone's settings. There's also the parental controls, which lets you block networks, shows, and/or characters which is great when you don't want the influence of a particular show on your little ones. You can also limit the time they spend on a certain subject or area. Another great feature is the option to view and send video mail to family members too far to visit on a regular basis. The video recording feature also enables you and anyone you chose to record themselves reading a story to your kids.

I took a few screenshots to show you a few of the many great features of Zoodles. Check them out below then go check out Zoodles for yourself!
This is the screenshot of  what the kiddos see. If they press the little "x" they have to also type in "Exit" so it's very hard for the kids to navigate to a different site!

Zoodles lets you and your family record yourself telling a story that your kids can watch over and over. Here I am, reading an expanded version of the Three Little Pigs over a year ago!

The welcome page under the Parental View. This is Stink's profile. Notice her picture of her pout? We love it. :)

Zoodles tell you the themes your child has been learning on the progress report.

Zoodles breaks up how your child spends their time on the site- by shows, subject, and more...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Show me your GLEE! CD Board Game Giveaway!

I love Glee. I love all musicals. If I were a fictional character I would be Rachel and Kurt's best friend. I also love games. You can imagine my glee when I was walking down the aisle in a "super" store and saw the Glee CD Board Game sitting on the Clearance rack. Not one, but EIGHT!

Can you imagine finding 8 of these on the Clearance rack? Insanity!
This is probably the time to tell you I've been thinking about doing a giveaway and wasn't sure exactly what I was going to do. When I saw the Glee games, I just knew. I grabbed them all and now I am offering them up (minus one) to my readers, old and new.

I want to say, up front, that I am not being paid or sponsored by Fox, Glee, or any other company or person. I just love Glee, and would love to share this great fan with followers!
Contents of the game.

Fingers enjoying playing GLEE
I WAS able to play once before offering up this giveaway. Mr. E, 8, Fingers, 7, and Stink, 4, joined me to play. The box said 13+ but I figured they loved Glee, almost as much as I do, and they might be able to play a little bit to give me the idea of how to play. I was very pleased that with very slight change in the rules they were able to play just fine.

This game is like a mix of charades and guess who. You divide up into two teams, and each player alternates holding a card up to their forehead with the finger "L" card holder. That person asks yes or no questions to determine what character they are. (There are hard characters in there for kids, like Mr. Hummel, so we skipped those.) After you guess who you are then you have to guess the fact that is displayed on the card. your team mates can shout out clues but you have to give the actual terms. (I know this is another game, but my brain is farting on the title at the moment. Sorry. )

My favorite part was when my son, Mr. E., was holding up a card to his head, asking questions, each of which we said "no" to. I literally laughed out loud when he said, "Okay, it's like I don't know Glee that well, but I do really like it."

I had tons of fun though, no matter if it's young kiddos or adults, this game will sure fill you with Glee!

(Sorry for all the bad puns. Call me Carrie Bradshaw. Lol.  )

Sunday, January 15, 2012

SaMiE's first SURPRISE Linky Party- 1/15/12

I didn't put my first party up as a POST but rather as a PAGE, so I am copying the first one in here to keep better track! Thanks for understanding!
SaMiE's SURPRISE Linky Party #1 - 1/15/12

Everybody loves a Linky PARTY!
But I think the element of surprise makes it THAT much better!

I like to change things up, but for this first linky party ANYTHING GOES!

The only rule for this party is.... follow me. Somewhere. Anywhere. Everywhere. SaMiE designs is my dream, and for being new it is doing well, but I would love to see it go further and really get its footing! After you follow, make sure to leave a comment letting me know where you followed me and of course link back to your site in your comments!


And if you'd like to read the comments you can click here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Taming The T-Shirt Monster: The Hula-Hoop Rug

He lives at our house, does he live at yours? He's very sneaky and can haunt families for years, decades, if you let him. He'll hide in your closet, or neatly folded and packed up in boxes, he even creeps into your dirty clothes pile, if he's feeling gutsy, to be washed and re-washed, again and again. He can disquise himself in many, many forms. Sometimes he's the shirt too small placed in a box until you gather more of his buddies to donate or sell. Sometimes he's disguised as the shirt that won't fit for three more years- but it was so cute you just had to!

I think Stink found The T-Shirt Monster hiding in a pile of dirty clothes!
More often than not he's the shirt that you don't give much thought to, you don't know if it's too big or too small. heck - you can't even remember the last time it was worn! Know exactly the monster I'm talking about now, don't you? The question really isn't 'what is the t-shirt monster?' though, the question is 'How do I defeat the t-shirt monster?'

Glad you asked. I've been wondering the same thing myself for years. Until now. I've been on a mission to find ways to 'up-cycle' those pieces of clothing that never seem to disappear! After all, they've proven their durability! Come with me as I test out fun and creative ways to re-do what's already in your closet!

Last week I found this goodie from the Disney Family Fun site via the amazingly addicting site, Pinterest. I of course immediately pinned it to my "Getting Crafty" board and made the plan to pick up a hula hoop that week. I found one at K-Mart the next day! They had two different sizes. (and only three overall!) I grabbed one of each and when I was checking out I noticed the bigger hoop was dented so I only got the smaller one. I let my boyfriend measure it, it was approximately 27".

The reason I was immediately drawn to this project is multi-layered. To begin with I have three girls, so the mass of clothes at my house is non-stop. Secondly, the project required very little additional tools, supplies that everyone has. (Or can easily get.) Lastly, how COOL is a rug made from t-shirts?

So let's get down to the nitty gritty, shall we?

1.  Find two shirts that are either the same color or look good together. A boys large shirt (or size 6-8) should probably work just fine. I grabbed a dark green shirt and when that ran out I used a yellow shirt. The colors didn't look bad together but there are things I didn't think about (or realize) when I did this. One part is that these colors will be VERY visible as the center of your rug. They will also be 'tails' of your rug. So let me say it again: Pick attractive colors so you don't end up with this ->
Yeah, dark green and yellow, not the best color combo. Anywho, moving on..

Gotta love the green and yellow, right? This is how you start your rug, with a big X!
2. Go around your house and grab every shirt that has a stain on it, a rip, hasn't been worn in this decade, etc etc. You get the point. For some reason it was an easier decision for me to cut a shirt into pieces than to remove it from my house. Odd. Back to the point: shirts. Grab shirts from everyone's room, including your own! I used everything from maternity shirts to boys shirts to girls toddler shirts to yes...even onesies! My youngest is 3, can you tell me why I still have onesies and maternity shirts in my house? Yeah, I can't either. Overall I used approximately thirty shirts. But a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Here are all the shirts I used on this project:
Shirts used in the hula hoop t-shirt rug. As you can see I used anything, and lots of it! So don't worry about graphics, you'll barely see it! And when you do it adds just another punch of color!

3. Cut the hem off the bottom of the shirts. Then start cutting them into one inch strips, so you are ending with loops. Don't worry about being perfect- it's going under your feet!

Stink showing off her work.
4. Being to place your loops around the hula hoop, each time you add a loop divide a section by half, then place it there. If you are using more than one color, I would suggest you use one color first, then use the second color last, so you end up with an abababa pattern. Place 11 loops on the hula hoop, making 22 "spokes" on the hoop. Then pull two of the sections together so you have an odd number of spokes on the hoop. If you have an even amount on the hoop you will always be going 'over' and the 'under' the same spokes, never creating a true weaving pattern.
Step 5, the first loop.

5. Now it's time to start the pattern. Place a loop around the first spoke (you can start anywhere, but it's probably easiest to start from the two you pushed together) and loop it through itself. This will secure it to the spoke. If you've ever looped two rubber bands together, it's the same looping. I forgot to take a picture, but thankful Disney didn't! Here's what I'm talking about:

6. You add loops of your t-shirt material using the same method. Wrap each loop through the existing loop, then through itself, pulling snuggly. Look, all kids can do it, even a 4-year old!

7. Continue this pattern for the entire rug. Instead of pulling on the loops push them towards the center. You CAN and WILL distort the rug by pulling on them.

Mr.E shows what your rug should look like.
Step.8 pt. 2 Knotting the loop to the nearest Spoke.

8. When you get to the end of your rug, snip the end of the loop and tie it to the closest spoke. I always do double knots.

9.Then you can begin to slice the spokes, pulling them through the last loop and double knotting them together. As you can see I didn't have a lot of room to do this.

Step 9. Cutting the spokes.

Step 9, knotting the spokes.

I had noticed towards the end of a little distortion, but when I was finished the hoop was in an odd shape and the rug was "bowling". I took a few pictures to show you:

My "rug" a.k.a. my new basket. Glamourous? No. But we all learn from our mistakes, right?

Disney Family Fun said to treat each spoke as one for the first 8 inches then as two separate spokes for the rest of the rug. I glazed over this, and it might have made a difference. Disney also said to stop 8 inches from the hula hoop. I also didn't do that. I don't know if it made a difference or not.I also let the kids do a lot of the work, so they could have been pulling on it. And on another note, this project took a few days to complete and in the meantime the hula hoop was definitely played with. Would it have ended up different if I had kept it safe? I don't know. I have definitely got enough t-shirts to re-do this project in the future, and I definitely will.

Now, my rug was warped. I was very disappointed. Until I realized it made a neat little basket. And you know what it was just perfect to hold? All the t-shirt scraps!

 Final note: NO hula-hoops were harmed in the making of this project. After cutting the rug of the hula-hoop, it popped back into shape. I only wish I had the elasticity.

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