Archive for the ‘Giveaways’ Category

Mother’s Day Gardening (and A Giveaway!)

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

This post was written as part of my partnership with Miracle-Gro.

Growing up in New England, Mother’s Day = planting day for my mom. Any sooner and you’re pretty much guaranteed to get a late frost that kills everything, and then you have a dead garden and an empty wallet. So she would wait for early May and then spend Mother’s Day in the garden putting in plants and flowers.

I’ve been planting with the kids on Mother’s Day since they were old enough to help and they love it (OMG just LOOK at tiny 2012 Evan and Caroline planting with me!!) This year Caroline asked every day if it was Mother’s Day yet because she wanted to plant “her” garden. She requested “pink and purple and pink and purple and red” flowers.

mothers day garden web size-8

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Five Ways to Celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day {and an iPad Mini Giveaway!}

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
five ways to celebrate military spouse appreciation day

I took this at the boat homecoming I attended last fall – Homecomings are magical days for milspouses.

While our 10th wedding anniversary isn’t until August, E and I broke the decade mark on our relationship last year. He’s been in the Navy the entire time I’ve known him. That’s 10 years of planning everything from vacations to oil changes to babies around someone else’s not-s0-flexible schedule.

I planned our wedding from the East Coast while he was deployed in the Pacific. We moved one week after the wedding to a city I had never seen. If you check the mortgage documents for our current house, you’ll only find my signature – a change in his boat’s schedule meant he was at sea we when bought it and I did the whole thing with a power of attorney. Right at this very moment, E is supposed to be gone (he is not). He was also supposed to be gone for Christmas (he was not). And we planned this next baby’s birth to fall in the “safe” summer window, where he was supposed to be done with sea trials (nope) and home (it is looking more and more likely he will be gone).

But I’m not thinking too much about that right now, because it could change again in the next breath. If there was one word to describe what it takes to be a military spouse – without giving yourself an ulcer – that word would be FLEXIBLE.

May 9th, 2014 has been officially designated as Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Since I’ve been a milspouse for 10 years now – and part of a military family my entire life – it’s nice to know we get a specific day to be appreciated. At any given time only 1% of Americans are serving in the military so you might not have a lot of military spouses in your life or social circle. (That seems crazy to me, since it’s always been such a HUGE part of my world, but I am the exception not the norm.) If you do know a milspouse, here are 5 ways to celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day. Although you could start with a hug and a “thank you for your sacrifice”. That always makes me cry.

1. Watch the kids. Or the dog. Or volunteer to water the plants. Whatever thing she (or he) is responsible for, take it off their hands for a few hours. There’s a lot of life-juggling involved in being a milspouse and having just ONE less ball in the air can make a huge difference. Plus during deployments or separations there’s one grown up managing 2+ lives, so a couple of hours to get a haircut or visit the dentist can be a total sanity-saver. (While we were engaged, I got a call from E’s San Diego apartment complex saying his rent check hadn’t gone through and they were going to pack up his stuff and evict him. He was unreachable under the ocean. While I was trying to straighten it all out it would have been AWESOME to have someone come and feed my cat so I could focus. For real, one of the most stressful weeks of my life.)

2. Provide a meal. It doesn’t have to be fancy. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be healthy. When E is gone we eat more fast food or hummus-for-dinner meals than I like to admit. But just like doing some free babysitting, feeding someone is the ultimate in kindness and one less thing they have to worry about.

3. Take care of some yard work. In the winter you can shovel their walk, in the summer you can mow the lawn. I assure you that it’s not a matter of “poor milspouse doesn’t even know how to start the lawn mower” but a case of “do I dare leave the kids in the house alone for 45 minutes while I do the yard work or will I find them swinging from the ceiling fan again?”

4. Learn about organizations that provide support. There’s a great website called Military OneSource that provides everything from legal and tax advice to confidential crisis counseling. For members of the Navy or Marine Corps, the Relief Society can provide emergency loans or financial support (would you believe I didn’t even know they existed until a few weeks ago?). The Army has a version too. Check out Joining Forces and the USO to learn about volunteer opportunities and ways you can help. If you know a military family that is struggling, having a website or phone number to access real, tangible help can be the lifeline they need.

5. Listen to them. Some days I just really, really need to complain about all the ways military life makes me crazy. I am very lucky to have plenty of people in my life to go to when I need to vent without having to start with a ton of qualifiers. There are a million ways my life could be worse, a billion ways we are very blessed, a zillion things that could go wrong and we could experience real tragedy. But dammit, some days I just want to whine about how I’m supposed to be going out of town NEXT WEEKEND and E’s job STILL can’t tell him whether or not he can have the days off to watch the kids. Or the whole maybe-giving-birth-while-he’s-on-a-submarine thing. Which I am still not thinking about. Nope, not thinking.

You know what else makes me feel appreciated? Presents. Who doesn’t like presents? To celebrate Military Spouse Appreciation Day, AT&T has very generously given me two gift bags – one to keep and one to give away to a reader. It has a hat, a t-shirt and -oh yeah!- an iPad mini! To enter, just use the Rafflecopter widget below. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

AT&T reached out because they wanted to do something nice for me and my readers as a #milspouse blogger. You can learn more about what AT&T does to support our troops and their families here. No monetary compensation was provided for my participation. I have the iPad mini for the giveaway in my possession RIGHT NOW and will send it to the randomly drawn winner.  

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Picture Your Dreams, Make Them Come True

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

I am officially 2 months into this crazy photography business idea and I am busier and happier than I’ve been in years. Convincing people to pay you to do what you love is old, cliched advice…but it’s repeated so often because it’s true. Never do I think “Oh no, I have a photo session today.” I always, always think “Yes! New people! New location! New light! I am so lucky!”

ginger snaps pictures collage

It’s been a long road to discover what I wanted to be when I grew up. Until I showed up to my first day of Biology 111 in college I was convinced I was going to be a marine biologist. Then I wanted to be a journalist, a tv anchor, a Pilates instructor, a human resources manager, a house flipper, a real estate agent, a thrift shop owner, and some sort of unnamed, unspecific job that involved being semi-famous and doing glamorous stuff all day. I was somewhat successful at a few of those, incredibly unsuccessful at others and never got past the just-dreaming-about-it stage of most. But once the idea to start Ginger Snaps Pictures took over a tiny piece of my brain, I couldn’t let it go.

Am I still terrified on almost a daily basis? Totally. What if the day gets crazy and I flake out on an appointment? What if I drop my camera and it breaks in the middle of a session? What if my client hates every single picture? What if my computer and my back up and my back up back up all fail? What if I’m charging too much? What if I’m charging too little? What if I am the worst photographer ever and everyone is just too nice to tell me?

Believing in myself might be my biggest challenge. It’s hard not to compare myself constantly to other businesses. There is always going to be someone better than I am. Always. My goals are just to work hard, constantly improve and make my clients happy. It’s really not that different from parenting – except the clients are a lot LESS demanding and easier to please! It’s super cheesy to say that because I believe in myself I’m making my dreams come true, but it’s the truth.

Working hard to make your dreams come true no matter what stands in your way is also the lesson in Monsters University.
collage 1 Monsters University-3

Monsters University-5

Monsters University-7

Monsters University-8

This is the face I make every time someone wants to hire me.

We’re big Monsters fans in our house – we own the first one and I took the kids to see the second in the theater this summer. We watch a lot of happily-ever-after-type movies, so learning that hard work, determination and doing your best are worthy endeavors too is something I’d like to emphasize. Of course the message is cleverly hidden in an adorable, hilarious movie that my 2 year old, 4 year old and myself all liked equally. Plus I hope the kids can see that lesson in real life as my business grows. Fingers crossed!

You can pre-order your copy of Monsters University here! And to celebrate the release, Disney is going to give one of my readers their very own Monsters University Blu-ray Combo Pack PLUS a $50 Visa gift card. To enter, leave a comment telling me about a time you believed in yourself to achieve your dream.   

 

Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “”#SweepstakesEntry””; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post”
c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 10/3/13 – 11/3/13.
Be sure to visit the Monsters University Page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

 

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Look At This Stuff, Isn’t It Neat? {GIVEAWAY!!!!!}

Saturday, September 21st, 2013

Please excuse the exclamation points and the fact that it is apparently giveaway week here on my blog (I haven’t done any in months and then BAM! THREE AT ONCE!) but I had to resort to Twitter begging for this one and I don’t regret it one bit.

THE LITTLE MERMAID Diamond Edition 2-Disc Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack with Digital Copy

How would you like to win THE LITTLE MERMAID Diamond Edition 2-Disc Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack with Digital Copy? Oh, a whole bunch? That’s what I thought.

For the record, Caroline has never actually seen The Little Mermaid. My copy is on VHS (still have it though!) and our library doesn’t have a copy from the last release Disney did. They do, however, have The Little Mermaid 2, the prequel in which Ariel’s mother dies on screen and we’ve seen it one million times. We also have four different Ariel dolls and as of yesterday Caroline has started asking for an Ariel dress. which I will probably cave into and buy her immediately. Because how do you tell your tiny red-head toddler she can’t be the best of all the princesses? You can’t. Or at least I can’t. Maybe you’re dead inside.

Check out The Little Mermaid website, where you can watch clips and play games, including Ariel’s Dress-Up, which I definitely did NOT play on my own for 20 minutes last night. Nope.

To enter to win your very own Diamond Edition 2-Disc Blu-ray+DVD Combo Pack with Digital Copy: Leave a comment on this post. For inspiration, let me start… “Look at this stuff, isn’t it neat?” (YOUR TURN!)

Official stuff: 1 entry per eligible household, winner must be 18 or older and a resident of US or Canada (no PO Box, please). Giveaway ends October 3rd, winner will be drawn with Random.org. I get my own copy in exchange for hosting this giveaway, which is why I am doing it. It’s been in my Amazon cart for MONTHS and now I can exchange the movie for the mermaid dress-up set. All opinions are my own.

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Magic Words: Free (And Worry-Free!) Coffee

Thursday, September 19th, 2013
Green Mountain Coffee Keurig Platinum If you are a guest at my house, you’ll never have trouble finding the coffee in the morning. Now that Evan is in pre-K and Caroline’s going to preschool 3 days a week, my chances to sleep in are limited. Not that my chances to sleep in over the summer were great – since E works at least 6 days a week I usually get up with the kids all 7 days. At least in the summer I can throw an apple and the iPad at them and put a pillow over my head for half an hour. Now with 5 days of school we only have those two precious weekend days for fun or sports or birthday parties or getaways. It gets even harder now that I’ve thrown all this photography stuff into the mix. I’m not OMG SO BUSY for sure – my couch still has a pretty good butt dent since it’s where I “work” – but I do have to be awake and alert and on-task.

Thank GOD for coffee. Coffee coffee coffee. And especially for my upgraded Keurig® Brewing System, which has a travel mug sized option to make giant cups of coffee with just the press of a button. I’m pretty sure my parents come to visit 50% because they love their grandkids and 50% because they love those little K-cup packs. It’s so, so, so, so easy. And I don’t care that your hipster coffee press thing is easy too – nothing beats tossing those little cups and never spilling a single coffee ground on my floor.

Green Mountain Coffee Keurig Platinum

We’ve been Green Mountain Coffee® drinkers from the start, since that’s what my office stocked a million years ago when I worked in an office and a Keurig was still a magical thing you rented because they cost a bucket of money. Now that it’s much more easily accessible, we’re already hooked – E is a huge fan of the Caramel Vanilla Cream and I like anything dark, especially iced with lots of creamer. There’s a Fair Trade Certified™ Three Continent Blend that sounds delicious.

Green Mountain Coffee-7

Ice, milk, coffee and a little sugar-free vanilla syrup and suddenly 3 pm doesn’t look so horrible.

 

It’s part of a campaign Green Mountain Coffee is launching this fall called “Great Coffee, Good Vibes, Choose Fair Trade” to raise awareness of how buying Fair Trade Certified™  coffee is good for you, the environment, and the coffee growers. Green Mountain Coffee® offers one of the largest selections of Fair Trade Certified™ coffees in the U.S. (confirmed by Fair Trade USA). Buying Fair Trade Certified coffee doesn’t mean much as far as my budget goes – I’ve committed to the expense of K-cup packs and they cost about the same no matter what brand I buy – but it is one small way I can be a better global citizen.

It’s nice to know while I’m sipping my coffee that the family who grew the beans was paid a fair price that allows them to keep their farm, send their kids to school and invest in their business. Because they’re being paid a sustainable wage for their coffee, farmers can focus on quality, which means Fair Trade coffee is extra-delicious. It’s not like I’m saving the world by drinking coffee, but buying Fair Trade Certified™ Green Mountain Coffee® is supporting farmers and their families and that’s a good feeling.

Green Mountain Coffee Keurig Platinum

Can you smell it? I swear I can smell it just looking at the picture. You can learn more about Green Mountain Coffee, Fair Trade practices, and see exclusive videos of Kelly Clarkson visiting coffee farmers in Peru at ChooseFairTrade.com. You can also check out their Facebook page.

One of you lucky readers has the chance to win a Keurig® Brewing System and a Green Mountain Coffee® gift basket!

 Just leave a comment on this post answering the question: Are you a coffee drinker, and if so, would you consider buying fair trade coffee?

 

Sweepstakes Rules: No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods: Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winner will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 09/19/13-10/31/13.

 

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