Ah!  There’s nothing like having a good book to read in the summertime.  It’s a time to relax and just enjoy yourself in the nice weather.  That is just what I did when I read The Bridesmaids: True Tales of Love, Envy, Loyalty and Terrible Dresses by Eimear Lynch.

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This book opens with a very honest introduction from the author that explains why she wrote the book and what to expect.  I must say that I enjoyed every word of this book.  It’s a collection of stories from all types of people in all types of situations.  The one thing they share is that they know what its like to be a bridesmaid.  I don’t want to ruin any of the stories for you but I truly believe that you will enjoy each one of them as much as I did.  I learned so much from this book and I really feel like I could empathize with each bridesmaid, even though I might have never experienced anything like they had before. You will find yourself going through a full circle of emotions with this book so enjoy the ride!

I, myself, have been a bridesmaid only twice but I remember many a story from each occasion.  I was my sister’s maid of honor and I was one of seven (one ended up dropping out) at a close college friend’s wedding. Each experience was completely different but magical in its own way.  I wouldn’t change either one for the world!

Recently, I had the privilege of participating in a twitter party involving the author.  She is extremely down to earth and so informative!  I asked her how she collected the stories and she replied that she “thought of all the stories (she) wanted and hunted for ‘maids—sometimes via wedding officiants, photogs etc.”  I found it fascinating that nothing was left to chance.  She had an idea of what stories she wanted to tell before she even knew who would tell it!  Lynch also said that she “loved hearing wildly different takes about the role—and female friendship!”  I think we can all agree to the bonds that form, not only with the bride but also with the other maids.

Lynch thinks the most important thing to do is to “Step back and think about why you’re there. Focus on friends & celebration rather than silly small stuff.”  Well said.

I think everyone should add this book to their ‘to-be-read’ pile!  Better yet, use it as part of a bridesmaid gift or wedding gift for a friend!  It’s a quick read but a great read.  I can’t wait to see what Eimear Lynch has in store for her next book!

Were you ever a bridesmaid?  Have any unusual or fun stories to share?

Disclaimer:  I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for my review.  I am part of the Birch Blogger program and book club.  I received no other compensation.  Thoughts and opinions are my own. 

Last week, we just got home from vacation and I had to start planning a birthday party for my baby.  Needless to say, it’s been a little hectic over here.  But, like my mom says, “If you want to really clean your house, throw a party!”  Because then you have a deadline.  I love throwing parties.  It gives you an excuse to try new recipes and have friends over.  But enough about that, here is a photo of what’s been turning up in my mailbox lately.  I probably forgot a few things since our dining room table is a mess and with all the stuff going on, I’m lucky to post at all!  Haha!

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My haul included:

  • A personalized sticker for my Disney family from the Disney Website
  • Bath salts and a bath soap from a twitter contest & @JoyfulBathCo
  • A personalized Aveda lotion from their birthday club!
  • Supergoop Sunscreen, sunglasses and book that I won from a twitter party with #birchbloggers
  • Various samples and a coupon book from P&G
  • A lighter from Marlboro
  • Postcard from the NY Aquarium
  • Book from a #birchbloggerbookclub giveaway
  • Dog tag from Purina
  • Book from a @scholastic contest on twitter
  • My Disney Vacation planning DVD (I get one every year!) from the Disney Website

I was happy!  What have you been getting in the mail?  I would love to know!  Have a great week.

 

Disclaimer: On Mail Call posts, I only post things that I’ve received 100% free in the mail.  They come from samples, giveaways, contests, etc.  I haven’t put any money out to receive anything pictured.

Awhile back, I posted on my Facebook page that I had gotten a phenomenal deal at Victoria’s Secret.  It was so good that I can’t resist sharing it with everyone.  It even surprised me!   I am not usually one to shop in Victoria’s Secret since I think it’s fairly expensive.  I am a cheapskate, remember?  Also, there really isn’t one close to our house.

I had received an email from them about their new sports bras and a promotion where if you tried one on, you got a card that had a mystery discount.  Again, the closest one to us is an hour away and trying on sports bras with two young kids did not sound like my idea of fun.  Discount or no.  Upon further inspection of the email, I saw that they created a really cute hash tag on their twitter called #SportbraBreakup.  They encouraged women to break up with their old sports bra.  I used the hash tag and wrote ‘You are supposed to lift me up and you only pull me down.’  Something along those lines. I thought it was cute and fun! Well, anyway, I got a DM from Victoria’s Secret that I received a coupon.  I opened it and I had won a free sports bra!

I really needed a new one so I decided to make a trip to the mall to cash in my prize asap.  My friend went with me and watched the kids while I tried a few things on.  Let me tell you, this is the best sports bra that I have ever owned.  Say goodbye to uni-boob because this beauty lifts, separates and supports!  The Semi-Annual Sale was going on too so I figured it would be an excellent time to use my gift card that I won at Christmas.  Victoria’s Secret has a wonderful social media presence.  I love it because they give tons of stuff away.  I won this $25 gift card at Christmas on twitter for being on their #VSNiceList.

I picked out a sports bra (any new one that I wanted, I was told.)  But I had to get it shipped to me since they were out of my size.  They shipped it to my house for FREE!  I also picked out another bra from the sale and a cute pair of pajamas.

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Guess how much I paid for this?  I’ll give you a hint.  The retail value is $156.50.

I paid $14.98.

Here’s how I did it.

I got the sports bra for free.  As I said, I won it on twitter.  It was originally $56.50 (Woah.  Can you imagine?!?!)

The bra was $48 marked down to $24.99.

The pajama set was $52 marked down to $29.99.

That totaled $54.98

I had a $25 gift card that I also won on twitter.

I signed up for a Victoria’s Credit Card, which I have paid off since and got $15 off my order that day.

That takes the total to a measly $14.98.  I figured that we could afford that. 😉

I suggest you check out Victoria’s Secret the next time the Semi-Annual Sale rolls around.  You never know what you’ll find.  Plus, be sure to follow them on social media.  Again, you never know what pops up.  What was the best deal you’ve ever gotten?

Disclaimer: This post is in no way affiliated with Victoria’s Secret.  I just wanted to brag a little about my great deal.  Enjoy!

 

I love checking craft books out of the library.  The first reason being, obviously that I like to make crafts with the kids.  The second reason is that I hate to get a book and never make anything in it.  Sometimes the books require too many materials or they cost too much to make.  Other times, I never really see anything that I like.  Hence why I rent books from the library all the time.  That way, if it’s a little disappointing, back into the pile you go. No harm.  No foul.

I was recently given a copy of Petit College by Lorena Siminovich in exchange for my review.  Just the cover alone made me excited to read it.  It was colorful and right up my alley.

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The projects inside are so creative and cute.  I also like how the author promotes using repurposed materials.  I have a huge box in my house that’s full of recycled things just waiting to be made into something awesome!  This book uses a lot of repurposed paper to create new, beautiful projects.  Everything in the book is cute and kid-related but also very chic and fun.  It’s a very stylish and modern craft book.  My favorite projects are the Leaf A Message: Family Memo Board and the Once Upon a Time: Book Ledges.

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The book ledges add a conversation piece to any child’s room or playroom, not to mention they promote reading too! I am going to put them in my kids’ room and use upcycled wood during the process. That way, I don’t have to put out a lot of money for decor, but I’ll get an awesome result.

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The memo board is clever and so practical.  Again, it’s an instant conversation piece too.  Kids will love to draw on it and add things to it and it helps keep parents organized.

This is one I would rent from the library and then make tons of copies or keep renewing until I just buy it.  I can’t wait to get started!  I’m so glad I had the opportunity to review this book.  I loved it and I think you will too.  And what do you know?!?!?  I have an extra copy that I get to send to a lucky reader!  That’s right.  It’s my first giveaway!  So hop on board this craft train and take a seat!

I’m going to keep this one easy and fun.  If you’d like to win the book, all you have to do is share this giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter.  Then comment below with the link to your post.  You can share on twitter as many times as you’d like.  Just leave a comment for each tweet. I will pick a winner on July 27th at midnight.  I’ll post the winner the following day! 

Thanks for reading and good luck!

 

You can just copy and paste this in order to share:

Hey!  Did you know that Life In The Fast Lane is hosting her first giveaway?!?  Click here and enter!  http://lifeinthefastlane.us/petit-collage-book-review-and-giveaway/

 

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of the book in exchange for my opinion.  My review and comments are my own. No other compensation was received. Giveaway is open to US only.  Sorry Canada, I am shipping it myself!  You must follow the rules in order to enter.  Once posted, if the winner does not provide their information in 48 hours, they will forfeit the prize and I will choose another winner.

The weather is warm and summer is upon us once again.  We are lucky enough to live close to the beach and you can bet that we enjoy it!  I was recently chosen for the Surfs Up Vox Box from Influenster.  This was a great one too.  It was like a little piece of summer inside a box!

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It included Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Shampoo and Conditioner.  They are a texturizing set and they make you look like you just left the beach!  I can’t wait to try them!

First Aid Shot Therapy is a liquid pain relief shot.  I have a lot of back pain and I get frequent headaches so I will give this little guy a shot.  haha.  Pun intended.

I already painted my nails with the SinfulColors Professional Nail Polish that I received.  I got the color, Anchors Away and it fits my personality perfectly.

I’ve never tried Jamba Juice since there isn’t a store near up but I am very happy that they started selling Smoothie Kits in grocery stores!  I am all about smoothies right now and so is my daughter.  I’ll use my coupon wisely!

Last but not least, Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration After Sun was sent to me a few days later.  This stuff smells amazing and it will feel great after a day at the beach or pool.

I can’t wait to test out and review these products.  Look out for more posts as get down to business! Have a great week!

 

Disclaimer: I received complimentary products from Infleunster in exchange for my reviews.  No other compensation was received.  All comments/opinions are my own.

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My family loves to go to different theme parks every summer.  They have so much to offer with shows, food, rides and the like.  But they can also cost a small fortune.  Fear not!  I’m going to provide you with some helpful tips and links in order to make the most of your trip.  This is the stuff that my family does on trips and it makes such a difference, especially with young kids.

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  • Pack a lunch!  Food costs are outrageous at theme parks.  Most will let you leave the park and eat your lunch in a pavilion, near the parking lot.  Check in advance and pack a LOT of drinks!  Do I even need to tell you how great an ice cold drink will taste once you hit the car?!?! We pack a lunch and then we choose one special snack while we are in the park.  That way, it not only saves money but it teaches everyone how to use money wisely.  You only get one and it’s a big decision! (this works with souvenirs too!)
  • Bring a loaded backpack.  We always take a backpack loaded with essentials like sunscreen, water bottles (if allowed), money, a change of clothes (this one almost ALWAYS comes in handy), napkins, camera, etc.  Take what your family might need.  Be sure to check the rules before packing your backpack.  You don’t want to have to trudge back to the car after they search it and find unintended contraband.
  • Buy your souvenirs before you go to the park.  This one sounds weird but it is a wonderful money saver!  Find out the types of souvenirs they sell at the park by checking the website.  Then, go to the dollar store, or other mass merchandisers and buy several small, fun things for your trip.  You can even wrap them if you want to make it extra special.  Then take them with you & keep it a surprise.  You can keep some in your backpack to prevent a meltdown while in the park.  That way, you are getting them for WAY lower than theme park price plus you can bypass the gift shop if you want!  Everybody wins!
  • Put a couple ponchos in your backpack.  You never know when an unexpected shower (or water ride) might occur.  The gift shop costs are ridiculous and nobody wants to walk around with wet shorts for the rest of the day.  Trust me.  This is a gem.
  • Use a note app on your phone to remember where you parked.  I use Evernote.  I just have a note called “parking’ and I use it every time I park in a crowded place.  I just make a clear description, add a photo and voila, no more lost time at the end of the night.
  • Buy the souvenir cup.  We drink a lot when we’re hot, as do most people.  They always offer a cup, where every future refill is at a reduced cost.  Do this right away or even buy it in advance and then have everyone share it.  By the time you really think about it, it will be too late and you’ve already bought four regular drinks.
  • Check the price of a season pass.  Are you planning on hitting up the park a few times? Calculate how many visits it would take in order to pay for itself.  It just might be better that way.  An added bonus? Sometimes you park free with season passes and get other special privileges.
  • Try to travel at odd times.  If you go a little early or a little late in the season, tickets are MUCH cheaper.  If your trip dates are flexible, this might be your best bet.

Looking for discount codes for your tickets?  Here are some links to get money off each ticket.  Please keep in mind that I found these using a Google search so I’m not endorsing or guaranteeing any of them to work.  Just trying to be helpful, folks!  Be sure to check fast food restaurants and grocery stores for coupons too. Different places have different coupons.  If you know someone living near the park, ask them to send some coupons to you!

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Click the links to find discounts:

Hershey Park

Six Flags

Walt Disney World

Busch Gardens

Kings Dominion

Dorney Park

We are taking the clan to Busch Gardens this year. We are all excited and I can’t wait to try and see how much money I can try to save while there.  I’m doing some research and we’ve already purchased our tickets.  Good luck and I hope you can use some of this information. It really comes in handy when we go on vacation.

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How about you?  Are you going to a theme park this year and if so, which one?  Any tips I missed?