Monday, November 10, 2014

Agent Ace Crate & Barrel Giveaway

Sponsored by: Agent Ace
Hosted by: Mom Powered Media
Agent Ace is the new way to find the best real estate agent. When you've thought about buying a home, how did you figure out who would help you with that? Did you find someone who you felt you could trust to get you what you wanted from it, whether that was a good price on a new home or the best sale of your old one? A lot of homeowners and potential buyers will just pick a random agent from a list online without a lot of background on what they're best at. It's like throwing a dart at the Yellowpages. With just a little information from you, Agent Ace can match you with the best agent to sell your home or buy a new one.
They're not a service who bases their list on whoever pays the most in your area either, so there's no worry about what goes on behind the scenes. For those of us in the market, Agent Ace a completely free service. Their innovative, patented technology — the Agent Connection Engine (ACE) — makes an unbiased evaluation of every agent who has bought or sold a home just like the one you’re trying to close on based on the information you've provided. They gather and analyze years of past home sales data from ALL the real estate agents in your state, not just a small network. Then they promise to recommend the single best agent for your needs — based on facts.
Agent Ace is free, easy to use, and there’s no obligation to use any of the agents they recommend. You're not locked into anything if you don't find someone you think fits or if maybe you decide you're not ready yet. They make up to 3 agent recommendations for buying and 3 for selling so you can choose the best fit for your needs and your style. Once they identify your best agent, the experienced Agent Specialists will screen them and confirm that they can fully commit to you. They do the initial contact and the sometimes awkward "Hey, can you take a new client right now?" questions for you. Once they’re sure it's a great fit, your recommended agent will give you a call within 24 hours (but usually sooner). It’s as easy as ordering take-out.
[Agent Ace Home Photo]
If you're even considering getting into the housing market for your dream home, whether to buy or sell, you can check out Agent Ace's amazing system from the comfort of your home (in your pajamas) at AgentAce.com.
Speaking of Dream Homes, Agent Ace wants to help you decorate yours. Two lucky winners are going to receive Crate & Barrel gift cards! The grand prize winner will receive a $250 gift card and a runner up will receive a $100 gift card. The sweepstakes is open to residents of the US through November 24, 2014. Enter using the form below and Good Luck!
Disclaimer: The participating bloggers were not compensated for this post. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household, per address. Void where prohibited by law. Winner(s) will be contacted by email and have 48 hours to respond before a new winner is chosen. The sponsor(s) will be responsible for product shipment to winner(s) of this sweepstakes. This event is in no way administered, sponsored, or endorsed by, or associated with, Crate & Barrel, Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest. Contact brookedoesitall@gmail.com if you have any additional questions or comments.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Follow-up to I hate trials…But.

Warning: I am not affiliated with this company.  The purchase I made was strictly with my own money 

In today’s busy world, people often turn to subscription services to do all sorts of things. You can get subscription services for craft kits, gardening, wines, and even things for your pets.
Having foods subscription services are no exception to the rule. In a matter of days, you can have any food item, such as chocolates, and food meal kits. Today, I am focusing on the food meal kits service, what does the service entails, and what can you expect when you are charged for the delivery.
Delivery services have been a commonality in today’s society. The reasons for having such services very between the haves and the have-nots. For the haves, it is a symbol status, or a way to replace the hired help. For the middle class, it is a way to keep up with the Joneses, or “I am just too busy to cook a meal” type of day. As for the have-nots, this is just another way to say “I’m sorry, but you cannot have this type of service, because of the cost of the service.” I’m sorry I have to say it, but it is the way of the world, that in less you are able to use this type of service, it is not feasible to have it. I will explain it all in a moment.
So I decided to try such a service, give it a review, and see if it’s something I would like to keep on a more permanent basis. I have already tried one service, which is not really of food meal type of service. It is a healthy snack service, called Nature Box, and you can see my review of the service here. For that service, I am only going to use it one more month, then see if I can pause it for a couple of months. I like the service, my only complaint is, before I can finish a bag of snacks, there is a new delivery in my mailbox. So by pausing the service, it would give me a chance to catch up. I will have to let you know what happens in a different post.
The service I decided to try first, is called Blue Apron. I signed up under The Nive Nulls connection. If you have been following this blog, you will see that this is how I signed up under Nature Box, even though I did not use their link up. It was more of a recommendation. Anyway, after I finished watching one of their videos, I clicked the link, and it took me to the Blue Apron website, and I filled out my information. With their offer (The Nive Nulls) it is three meals, correction, two meals you get free. At this particular time, you also give your payment information, which I did. My first delivery date is this coming Friday. Today, the payment department charged my debit card. I will be honest to say, that I thought I would be charged in November, so I called customer service, and she explained the payment process further to me. It is important to understand all agreements before signing up for service like Blue Apron. I have not canceled service and I will explain in a moment, but first more on subscription services.
Food service kit subscriptions are not the only products I have tried in the past…I used to subscribe to magazines, CD’s, and scrapbook kits, and they all basically do the same thing:  products come in the mail  at a certain fee (usually monthly), and you either read it, listen to it, or make it.   You have to be careful to know what you want out of it before you buy it.  I have three major tips (two of which bears repeating):
1)      Make sure you check your finances before going into any subscription services.  I know it sounds a little stupid, because of course you want to be able to invest into it.  That is what a subscription service is, an investment.  It is like a mortgage or car payment, only smaller.  You need to know where your money is going at all times.  What if there is an emergency and you need to pay for something on the fly, like an unexpected bill?  It is a little hard when your subscription for wine took the bulk of your money for the week, and you do not have a backup credit card or bank account. One way to do it is track your finances for a month to see where it goes.  Make sure that the subscription service is WITHIN YOUR BUDGET.  You do have a budget?  If not, you should.  If your bank has a way for you to check your money online, check at least once a week. Question everything that you find wrong.  If you use checks, make sure you document everything.
2)      Next, research different services that do the same thing.  Check out pricing, and make sure there are no hidden fees. Check on policies, and see if there is an out clause.   An “out” clause are rules and regulations in case you want to cancel.  Some subscriptions have hidden fees if you cancel in the middle of the month as oppose to the beginning or end of the month, but all should allow you to cancel at some point.  Make sure they will return the unused portion of the month, if you can cancel in the middle or if you fee is an annual fee.  Get a clear understanding of everything, and document everything if you decide to go with that service.  Also in the case of food services, make sure you tell them of all known food allergies, better yet, do not subscribe if you, for example, are allergic to tree nuts, and everything processed in that plant touches any hint of a tree nut.  This is for your safety.
3)      Finally, Make sure this is what you want.  Many things have been addressed under #2, so this bears repeating:  many people buy things only to be disappointed and it is not what they really want.  I am also talking to myself.   Do you really need to part of the Chocolate Bar of the Month club?  Make sure it is a need and not a want.  I know I am talking to myself when I say this.  If joining a meal plan kit does help you save time in the grocery store because you are busy or you like trying new things, and you have the funds to get it, then do it.  If it make you lazy, because you do not feel like grocery shopping, or you do not feel like looking for scrapbooking supplies at a local scrapbooking store, or you have picky eaters, you may think twice about joining a service.
So back to my subscription with Blue Apron. My subscription plan consists of three meals for two people. Now my problem with that, is I am a single person. I can, however, have a friend over, or even have my parents try it. I can do whatever I want to do with the kit. But for right now, my plan is to fix a meal, and save the rest for lunch. This is the problem for most single people. Your average meal for any service, is for two people. I guess this is the average serving norm.
What does my kit consists of? According to the description from Blue Apron, the kit comes with a recipe card and all the ingredients you need for the recipe, packed in some kind of iced container. According to my plan, the meals are supposed to be delivered this Friday. The next time I have a delivery, it will be next Friday, on November 7. As long as I do not skip a week, then I will have a delivery every Friday. However, I have chosen to skip the 14th and 21st. The week of Thanksgiving is an automatic non-delivery week. So my next delivery after November 7 is around the first week of December. I chose it that way, so I can give my full evaluation to see if this service is right for me. If this service is not right for me, I will cancel before my next actual delivery date in December.

So, tell me what you think about Blue Apron, if you have it, or food delivery meal kit services in general. Do you think it is a waste of time or perfect for the busy person? What do you think about the cost? What do you think about subscriptions in general? Do you like them, hate them, or have no thought about them at all? I would love to hear your comments. 


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Target savings: apparel

Fall is about a month and a half old, and you have not prepared for the winter months. You need to find winter apparel for the kids, a couple of sweaters for hubby, and you want a new coat. Now is the time to get all these items, before the holiday rush, especially since Black Friday is around the corner. Jump ahead to the front of the line, get all of your holiday shopping done before Black Friday, and the holiday rush.
Below, are specials for both apparel for the whole family, as well as specials on shoes. Unless specified, you can use them for both online and in the store. Have fun finding those deals.Good from October 26-November 1.
(Warning: there are affiliate links listed below.)




Apparel


Target savings: Beauty

(c) Target.com
This week, save 65% on selected beauty, baby, toys, electronics, and more from Target. You never know what type of savings will happen from October 26 through November 1. In addition to the 65% savings on select items, check out Taylor Swift’s 1989, featuring 3 additional songs and 3 songwriting voice memos. This album is a Target exclusive, and you can only get it at this store. Click on the links below:
(Warning: this post contains affiliate links below.)




Target savings: Home savings

Now is the time to get ready for the holiday season. During this time of the year, there are social gatherings, such as home and office parties, thanksgiving, family and friends gathering around the table, and travels far and wide.  No matter what the event is, you want a spectacular home to greet everyone, and you do not want to spend a lot of money doing it.  The event should be about celebrating the people you care about the most.
So this time, we are looking at specials from Target. Most of the specials for the home run from October 26 through November 1. They are as follows: (caution: affiliate links ahead)





Monday, September 29, 2014

Hug a Coffee Bean Day (National Coffee Day)

Happy Coffee day, I wonder what I got under the coffee tree.  Should I go sing coffee carols to all my neighbors?  They would probably think I need to quick trip to the local psych ward.   My parents would probably shake their heads in disbelief when they hear the coffee edition to “Oh Christmas Tree” (Oh Coffee Bean has a nice ring to it).
So to be serious about this subject for today, my question is “How do YOU take your coffee?   My answer is one of three ways:  Warning there may be affiliate links ahead
1)      When I am at home, I have a Keurig coffeemaker.  If you do not have one, you are missing a treat.  I have all my coffee stuff ready and raring to go.   I have my favorite Longaberger mug, called a Jumbo Mug (you would think that as a Longaberger Home Consultant, I would remember the actual name of this retired product).  I fill up my Keurig coffee maker, which is a downsized version of the one I use to have for a 10 oz. cup size.  I use a vanilla Starbucks K-cup(my current choice of the day).  While I am waiting on my coffee, I am making my Black and white mixture (wait for it) and put in my mug:  Sweet cream or Mudslide creamer, My Your Inspiration at Home chocolate powder (any chocolate powder or syrup will do), no sugar, because the chocolate powder and creamer is sweet enough.  The coffee is finished and in my Longaberger short pitcher (also retired) so I can pour it into my cup.  Give it a little stir, and voila, it is finished.   Sometimes when I am feeling like it, I will replace the creamer with Almond or Soy milk with Vanilla (sweetened).
2)      When I am out and I have some extra money, I will go to Starbucks, and get a White Chocolate Latte with soy.  I have a Starbucks card that I will sometimes refill just in case.  I fell out of love with McDonald’s a year ago (although I am tempted to go once the new Monopoly game starts sometime this week)
3)      Finally the old fashioned kind-black, with cream, 3-4 packs of sugar.   This is how I got started drinking coffee.  It was more fun, when there was a co-worker, who did not know how to brew that perfect cup of coffee made a pot.  It tastes burnt when it sits on the burner too long. No one has killed me yet with their version of the perfect pot of coffee.
So if you have not had you morning cup of Joe yet (I did), you should celebrate the day now.  If you have not, it is not mandatory if you cannot stand the taste of coffee, or if you had your 15th cup of the stuff.

Other Coffee Deals.....


Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tuesday Tip of the day: Inventory

(c) JanneyInsurance.com
Take a picture, it will last longer, just do not lose it.   What do I mean by that?  Simple.  Do an annual inventory by taking pictures of your stuff.  It is fast, and you do not need a fancy camera to take pictures with.   Just your phone and your computer, but first, make sure that your phone does not load these special photos to Google (my phone automatically does that), or you may have someone doing a little shopping in your home without your permission.
Go room by room, and start clicking away.  Open up the closets, your drawers (yes, your unmentionables), nooks, crannies, every inch of your home.  Download the pictures to a special disk and place in your safety deposit box.  You may also purchase a special cloud for them too (choose one with a 2-entry security entrance (Your password and a special recognition question)).  Once done, you need to update once a year.  
The reason you take these precautions, is so if you lose all your stuff due to disaster of any type.  It may not bring back your stuff, but at least the insurance company can pay your properly. 
While you are at it:   Take a picture of your loved ones, especially children and the elderly.   Update those every 6 months.  Children are taken by strangers or angry relatives, and older people (especially those with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease) tend to run off confused of their surroundings.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I Hate Trials, BUT….

(c) By Leon Mcgann
It’s true, I really do not like trials.  I am not talking about legal trials.  Those are necessary.  Legal trials help the legal system to prove, without a shadow of doubt that someone have or have not done something, which got them in front of a judge and jury in the first place.  It makes a person think about why they got there in first place.
The kind of trials I am talking about are the “try it before you buy it” kind.  You will see what I mean in a moment, first some facts.
In America (and possibly western civilization) we are a money hungry society.  If we can get a nymph to pay for crossing the street, we would.   There used to be a time, where certain things, including some what we now call luxuries, were considered free. 
In marketing, a trial is one of the best ways a company can get a product out, have the potential customer use it in a way they need to for a short time, before buying it.  If they cannot, that customer must surrender the product, or cancel a subscription and delete the product from their device.
For the customer, it gives them a chance to see if they like it, and once they do, pay for an item.
I feel like I am on both ends of the coin.   As a business person, I can send out a bunch of cards to people, have them send the card to their family or friends, and on the marketing materials, I can say something like, “If you find this card to useful in anyway, and you would like a subscription to my service, please pay $______ for a monthly subscription, or $______ for a yearly subscription.  Thank you.” Same thing for my writing, or even buy a monthly subscription for me to send product out to a customer from the company I sell for, TheLongaberger Company. The possibilities are endless for anyone who is in business for themselves or part of a company.   This is how software companies get people to buy their products.   By having trials, and in turn if the person loves the software and they do not mind the price, they will buy it at the end of the term.
As a consumer, I can try the product, put it through what I like to call, “Patricia paces”, meaning how I use the product, and buy it, or cancel.   The downside to it, which I do not like, is I can forget that I have it in the first place, especially with software trials and subscriptions.  It becomes a sticker shock for me, when if I find out that I do not have the money to give them in the first place (the beginning of the trial), and I do not have money to give at the end of the trial.  This is what I want to education you on today.
Here are some pointers on how to work trials to your advantage, and don’t have that “deer in headlights” look on your face when your trial ends:
·         BEFORE you sign on the dotting line (subscribe), read the fine print (RTFP), AKA that tiny print that everyone claims they cannot see.  The fine print gives you everything you need to know about what do you actually get, how much it actually costs, and what happens if you do not follow the rules and regs (regulations) during the trial period.
·         Check your finances:  Did you know that if you sign up with a credit or debit card, that the company has the right to start your regular subscription without you knowing it?  Next thing you know, there will be a charge on your bank or credit card statement that you do not remember agreeing to.  If you don’t think you will have any money by the time a trial ends, DO NOT SIGNUP!!!! The trial will always be there.
·         Be wary of surveys…. They can have some hidden agendas too (another reason to read the fine print), again, if not, there may be some hidden charges afoot.
·         Use a calendar to keep track of the trial.  Note the date that you signed up and the end date.
·         As you come close to that date, re-evaluate your trial.  Ask yourself these questions:  How much did I use it?  Did I get any benefit out of using it?  What were the cons of having it?   What was my life like before I had it?  What will I gain for not having it should I stop using it all together?
I would never tell a person not to do something that you believe in.  I do trials all the time.   I just want to let you know about the benefits and cons of trials.  In fact, some trials are useful, like if your doctor wants you to try a new medicine.  They may give you a trial med from their office to see how it affects your body and other meds you are taking, but do not let them experiment too much.  If they are, find a new doctor, especially if that doctor are not listening to you.   That is a whole new subject for a different day.

Let me know what you think about trials, how they have helped you, or even if you hate them too.   Comment below.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Not just for Colored Girls….How I maintain my hair

(c) P.Lynne Designs
I am trying a new type of post. Well new to me.  I will tell you right now, I am going through a journey, with my hair.  The reason, and I am not sure if my Caucasian sisters out there are going through the same, but when you are a colored sister, not just African Americans, you take issue with your hair.  (Oops, run-on, sorry).
Let me explain…
When I was a little girl, I had this long, thick, kinky hair.  If you were to straighten it (a process of taking heat to hair and making it manageable to style), it would have probably be half way down to my butt.  My mom, on Saturday nights, would fix my hair that way, and I loved it. So my mom help me with my hair, until I was a teen.  When I was a teen, I experimented a lot, and I had eczema, which made my go from that length to just above my shoulders.  So thus started the damaging process of my hair. 
Me in first grade
Fast forward to my twenties….I had Jeri Curls.   Some of you know what I am talking about.  It takes some doing with Jeri curls. You spray for days, and then sleep on it.   I have messed up more pillow cases that way, and then came Wave Nuevo.  I do not even want to talk about it.   It was just that painful.   Finally came what Chris Rock calls, “The Creamy Crack”.  Yep, I started relaxing my hair.  Well relax I did, and relaxed, and relaxed some more.   The last relaxer I had, which was 2010, took out some of my hair.  So I decided to go natural, but I instead decided to braid and twist my hair.  I have not relaxed it at all since 2011.
So, now it has been almost three years, and I am loving the twists, but I need to rest it a little.   The wonderful thing about African braiders are they can have 3-4 people work on you at the same time, but the worst thing about them is, THEY DO NOT WASH YOUR HAIR IF THEY CAN HELP IT.  At least if you go to an African American beautician (which is NOT the same), they will wash your hair before taking the twists out and re-twisting it.  African American beauticians will also tell you if they think it is time to give it a rest, but African braiders do not. (I guess they want that money more than anything, I don’t know)
On to washing….(warning-affiliate link ahead)
I will tell you right now, I am lazy.   It has been a month since I washed (please say eww, because I am), mainly because I hate the shampoo that I got for braids and twists only.  Look, I am going to break it down to you, and I am telling myself this too, you need to wash your hair, period.  The scalp is skin, and skin needs hydration to thrive.  So last week, I broke open the piggy bank, and bought a product line called Carol’sDaughter Black Vanilla.  I have the shampoo, conditioner, smoothie (more on that in a moment), and leave-in conditioner, and used it for the first time last night.  I can tell the difference already.   I am not an expert, but to me, leave the stuff formulated for braids and twists in the store (except the sheen).  Use your regular shampoo and that’s it. 
Have a regular shower routine.  FYI-I know it is harder on mothers to do this, but if you can have your spouse or partner take the baby for a while, or do it late at night when baby/child is sleeping, you will thank yourself in the morning.  Light a candle or two, and get in.
Image from Carol's Daughter
Caution:  Codes ahead.   I took the CDS, and worked up a good lather.  This stuff smells amazing.  Make sure you get all the way to the ends, even if they are extensions.  Treat your extension as part of your hair.  Rinse well, getting all of the shampoo out.  Repeat, if needed.  Next, take the conditioner, and do the same, BUT, let it sit for 3-5 mins.  You want this stuff to condition your scalp, and to condition the hair.  Rinse, again getting the conditioner out. Take the smoothie, and go from root to tip, making sure you detangle along the way.  Do not pull hard.  According to YouTubber Naptural85 AKA Whitney , you can detangle with your fingers, instead of using a comb. It sure help me.  After that, rinse the smoothie out.
Once you towel dried your hair (I washed my body after the routine, a plus), take the hair oil (which, I did not have, but will get) and from root to tip, according to Whitney, not the bottle instructions, put it on, but do not rinse.   Last, spray in your leave-in conditioner.  Do not rinse it out either.   One tip from Whitney, and I suggest it too, especially after failing to do it until I was applying the smoothie, if you have long hair  or like mine, twisted, divide into sections, so it can be an easy process.    
Smoothie
Let hair air-dry in sections (I did, three big twists for me to sleep in).  The next day, take out the big twists, and style.  Oh, one thing I forget to mention as well.  After spraying in the leave in conditioner, you can do your roller sets, your twist-outs, or any style you want to start out with in the morning, and then style it when you get ready for the day.  I basically use the braid/twist sheen for mine. 
Do it for weekly routine.  If your wash too much, you can stripe your hair of the natural oils it produces, and that it not good either.  If you need to shorten your routine, just shampoo, conditioner, and leave in conditioner will do.

If you would like to see me do more of these types of posts, let me know in the comments section.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Follow-up to It’s the most wonderful time of the year….One more tip from About.com

(c) Zavala
I love when a plan comes together, and I know when I have done something right. Two weeks ago, I wrote about 10 ways to get ready for back to school. I appreciate all the wonderful comments and re-tweets from all of you, words cannot say enough.  Now, this is, at least I hope, a short follow-up to the post. 
I am a regular subscriber to About.com.  In case you are not familiar with About.com, it is a how-to reference guide to everything from crafts to getting into wine-making, to specific diseases* to how to start your first novel.  I live this guide.  Since I am bombarded with so many emails (as well as switching email accounts last October), I only get the one daily guide.  One of today’s topics was how to get school supplies for free, and I was intrigued by it.  You can read the entire article HERE, but for now, I will mention the highlights.
-          First of all, I do agree with the article about how much of an annual burden to get school supplies.  I want to know whatever happened to getting just your basic pen, pencils, notebook (spiral and 3-ring), markers (if you are older), ruler, eraser, and paper bag (brown).  Does it really matter if the lunch bag have to be a character or have cool colors?  According to Target and other stores, yes.  According to your kids, yes, but according to you and the teachers, no.  A pencil is a pencil and a ruler is a ruler, so, if you are short on finance, there are ways to get the basis without breaking the bank.
-          Look for deals.  They are all over the place.  Depending on what is needed, I start with free.  Free is always best, and according to the article, the best place to start is with your child’s school.  Often times, the school will purchase extra supplies for the students.  If no luck, ask the district.  They may have a program where people can donate school supplies.  Some programs have a list where you can sign up for, while others are on a first come, first serve.  If all else fails, look for help with school supplies though communities, church groups, and if you are a military family, there is also help there.
Most important, I give you this little tip:  If you cannot afford, get help.  There should be no reason for your child to do without.  It may not be the latest and greatest pencil on the market and the lunch bag maybe two years old, but your child has one.  Please do not get what you cannot afford.  This is why programs are created for, to help, not hurt.  It is the ignorance of people, who do not understand the full nature of your situation, and that is the real problem.  Do not let it fold you, and make you a bitter person.  You are better than that and this is temporary.


*Disclaimer-please, please, please, do not self-diagnose. Consult your doctor before reading any medical guides on the internet, which are meant for information ONLY. Your results may not be typical from what is the norm FOR THAT DISEASE, and you may not have what the guide suggest.  Your doctor or nurse practitioner is your best advocate.