FREE GIVEAWAY Courtesy of Fresh Produce...

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Fresh Produce  has sent me an awesome t-shirt to give away. It is an adorable number and is one size fits all so all of you can try to win. All you have to do is leave a comment.  That is it!  I will pick a winner by drawing out of a hat on Sunday night so you have a few days to enter.

Fresh Produce is celebrating 30 years! If you have not checked out Fresh Produce lately, you should. It is not your grandma's store anymore. They have really cute summer looks! See??

To show appreciation for its customers, Fresh Produce Stores are hosting a party inside their stores all weekend. They will give away stuff including a girl's weekend and much more. Your invite is below.

My local Fresh Produce store is in Ft. Lauderdale. Here is the info on their party this weekend…

What: Fresh Produce 30th Birthday
When: Sat., June 28 – Mon., June 30
Where: Fresh Produce Ft. Lauderdale
912 E Las Olas Blvd
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33301

Check out your local store or Fresh Produce online if you can't make it to the Ft. Lauderdale party!

Thanks Fresh Produce for hosting this giveaway. My readers and I loooove free stuff!~ 

The Best Thank You Gift for Teachers...

Saturday, June 7, 2014

   I live in the land of complainers.  Present company excluded, the moms that I know are big whiners. Sure, it is coming from a place of love and dedication to their children, but the administration and staff at the schools that my children attend are probably very happy that school is out if only so that they don't have to answer parent phone calls and emails for the next 80 days.   

  They complain about everything as mundane as the color of the PE uniform shorts to important things like bullying and school safety.  There is not a lot of discrepancy as to the tone of their concerns. Everything is a major emergency.  If a child is not placed in the same room as her friend during the overnight field trip, calls placed to the administration have the same sense of urgency as ones made about the child not being able to pass a reading test. 

Funny T-shirt from

   They are a tough crowd so I have made it my business to make sure that when a teacher has done an outstanding job, I write a letter at the end of the year. Not to the teacher, but to her boss.  I only write when I feel that it is heartfelt and honest. I don't blow smoke.  Some years, none are written. This year, as I exit a school that I've been involved with for many years, the letter will be sent to the " superintendent" and will praise more than one person by name.

    Not only do I live in the land of complainers, I live in the land of major gift givers.  It has been rumored that court-side seats to Miami Heat games and complimentary weekends at local five star resorts have been given as Christmas and End of the Year gifts to teachers and staff by well connected parents. While well intentioned, that $10 gift card to Starbucks or a scented candle that most of us pass out seems a little chintzy. My letters are appreciated though. In fact, one of the teachers that I wrote a letter about many years ago, came up to me during the book fair this year and told me that she still has a copy the letter in a box of mementoes from her first years of teaching. She said that she had really been touched by the fact that a nice letter was written to her principal about her. 

   So along with that #1 Teacher Coffee mug which included a thank you letter to the teacher herself, you might want to pen a few lines to her boss about how lucky the school is to have her on staff.  Use examples but make it short and sweet. (One page is enough ). Send a cc to the teacher.   Even if your school year is over, it is not too late. Principals still work for part of the  summer.  It might not be extravagant but it is a thoughtful gift.  

Summer J is in the house...

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Today is the last day of school.  The very, very best part of summer is that School Japolina is sent to the trunk of the car for the next 81 days  and Summer Japolina (let's call her Summer J) is in the building!

Summer Lovin' T-shirt 

Summer J is way more fun than that other lady. Her alarm does not ring at 5:45 a.m. She does not spend hours being a jitney driver. She does not make lame lunches at 6:15 in the morning that often get traded or thrown away. 

Summer J gets to have girls night out during the week with her summer friends without having to be home by 9:30 p.m. Once she gets the camp trunks packed, Summer J does not have to run to Target, Michaels and Publix on a daily basis. Summer J does not have scream about doing homework every day.

Once the children leave on their summer adventures, Summer J is even better. She never has to go to Publix, she just runs into the gourmet market to pick up a few things for dinner for two, or eats out. Summer J has happy hour. Summer J does not yell at all during this period. Summer J's husband remembers the girl he married. 

So if you run into Summer J, make sure to say "hi" because she is much more fun and friendly than that other girl who lives in her house for the rest of the year and she is only around for a limited time. Summer J does not think about her limited time as she is too busy seizing the day! 

Happy Summer! 

Private Browsing...

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

   Sometimes it really pays to live with teenagers. While searching for travel ideas on the internet, my son told me that I should turn on "private browsing".  HUH?? What the heck is private browsing, I thought.  

   My son explained to me that when you search the internet, third parties can track you and see what you are looking at to track buying patterns, etc.  For example, if you go onto "" every day to check prices for your escape, they know that you really want to go and may not lower prices for you.  If I log on just for fun, they may quote you a different price.

   I really did not believe that this was actually true. It seems so unfair. I compared it to me going to Target three times a week and paying one price and my husband going in only once a year and getting a better price. That is insane.

   Unfortunately my son was right, at least in the case of American Airlines.  I was searching for fares for an upcoming trip.  I searched the same exact trip a few times before booking it.  The fare was  $686 with fees, taxes etc. I booked the ticket but put it on a courtesy 24 hour hold.  I then searched it in private browsing. The fare for the exact same trip (same day, time, flight & seat)  was $654. That is a 5% difference.   SERIOUSLY??? This seems illegal, but I guess it is not.
    Different browsers have different ways of turning on "private browsing" so good how to do it. On my mac, I use safari and you just go click on the drop down menu for "Safari" and  click "Private Browsing"

    I'm going to try this again and see what other variations that I can find. Has this ever happened to you? I'd love to hear other stories of this.

What do you get for someone's 80th birthday???

Monday, June 2, 2014

   First of all, I promise you, this is not a sponsored post. (I wish it was!)

    My father-in-law was about to turn 80. My mother-in-law decided to plan a little surprise party. She put me in charge of making a slide show to play during the party. She gave me a shopping bag full of photos and let me loose.   It was a labor of love to weed through the photos, pick out the best ones, scan them and then figure out music etc.   I went with upbeat songs so as not to make the birthday boy depressed.  It was  a family only party so I was not really worried about keeping the slideshow short (My feeling about photo montages of people you are not related to has been discussed on this blog. In one word, they are… BORING ).

    After I finished the montage, I wondered what the heck we would buy for this 80 year patriarch. He is one of those people that has EVERYTHING. He buys the latest and greatest gadgets and loves to shop online. He is impossible to buy gifts for.  In my post-scanning haze, I remembered what I did for my grandfather's 90th birthday a few years back. …SHUTTERFLY.

    Shutterfly and other online photo companies make great hardcover photo books.   For my grandfather's 90th, I made a story book, like a fairy tale…It started with photos of him as a child and then he met the princess (grandma) and the rest of the story of his life in photos. It was really sweet and he loved it.

     For this current gift, I just took the slideshow photos and made a large 11 x 14" premium photo book. It is like a coffee table book and turned out well.   Everyone in the family wrote messages in it (like a yearbook) so it is an instant family heirloom.  It was a big hit and I think that he liked it more than the slideshow.

    I decided to make this book 6 days before the party. I paid for express shipping but that still put the estimated delivery window on the day after the party. I called Shutterfly and they said that they could not promise anything but would put a note on the file to see if it could be rushed. It arrived three days BEFORE the party.  Thanks Shuttefly…You rock.

     I would say that this gift takes a little bit of time and effort but despite it's relatively inexpensive cost (under $100 shipped), it was one of the best things we could have given him.

     I've made similar albums for anniversary gifts, thank you gifts and more before. These photo books are make special gifts which show that you put in effort into getting.

    Here are a couple of shots of the book that I made for my grandfather a few years ago.  (faces have been blurred out to protect the innocent!We all have cute faces in the real world.)

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