Thursday, April 24, 2014

Fake Spring Cleaning

I received a free product from Purex Insiders for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Do you need a quick easy way to fake that Spring cleaning vibe in your house? Maybe it is still cold where you live and you just need to bring in some Spring scent and freshness but you can't open your windows yet. Or perhaps you are away from home all the time but you have company coming this weekend and no time to spruce up your place. Let me give you a new little secret I have found.

Purex Crystals are now available in a dryer sheet. Maybe you are asking how a dryer sheet relates to Spring cleaning. Let me tell you these dryer sheets have some STRONG SCENT. Like stronger than air freshener, stronger than cleaning spray STRONG. They came in the mail yesterday and my box was slightly damaged from shipping. No joke y'all within an hour my whole house smelled like Lavender Blossom! It still smells that way this morning!

I guarantee that if you hid one sheet in every room of your house, people would think you cleaned for hours or that you were using some sort of expensive oil or fragrance to freshen your house. AND these are made to keep your laundry smelling fresh for 30 days! Long lasting freshness for sure! Not only do they smell great, these Purex fabric softener dryer sheets reduce static cling and repel lint and dog hair! That is a must because our sweet Faith sheds like a Wookie! These Purex Crystals fabric softener sheets also come in Fresh Spring Waters scent. 

Now y'all know that Purex LOVES to give stuff away so I have 3 coupons to giveaway to 3 lucky readers. Enter on the easy Giveaway Tools widget below for your chance to win one. AND Purex has a special giveaway going on right now called Try Your Luck & Win $500 (or some of these awesome Spring cleaning enhancers). Please use my link to enter before May 9, 2014 (when the promo ends). You could win the grand prize of $500 or one of 50 free boxes of Purex Crystals dryer sheets.

I received a free product from Purex for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own. 


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

My New Favorite Blogging Tool

Contains affiliate links.

Carter Chaos has been around for a few years now. In the last couple of years, I feel like it has gone to a whole new level with product reviews and promotions. I've tried several different ways to keep track of all the posts I need to do, review products, and tax information.

The first year I just had a document on my laptop with a generic list. It helped me stay on track but was totally inefficient at tax time. Last year I made a document that was a little fancier with columns and categories. Again it was useful but not always efficient. This year I have started out with a spreadsheet. For some that would have been the first step but sometimes I am a slow learner. So while the spreadsheet has been working much better (I am up to over 50 reviews/promotions/ special posts this year!) it still isn't giving me room for all the information I really need.

If you a new blogger and you plan to enter the world of reviews or earning money through your blog, you will find yourself in a sea of information, contacts, affiliate links, passwords, and more. It can quickly become overwhelming. Let me save you some time and frustration and introduce you to what I recently discovered: The Well Planned Blog Planner.

My Blog Plan dates from July 2014- June 2015 to match the other Well Planned Day planners. There are so many terrific features including: a Social Media Kit page, contacts page, affiliate program page, monthly blogging tips, social media party planner, and more. Each month includes places to record plans on a month calendar and a weekly planner.

As I really work to grow Carter Chaos, I am most excited about the Monthly Evaluation checker at the end of each month. Not only will I be able to record my most popular posts but I can also keep up with my average numbers and my income/ expenses. This is going to be SO USEFUL come tax time. At only $19.95, the Well Planned Blog Planner is a hugely helpful resource for any blogger.

4th Grade Reading

As we work to wind down our school year, I wanted to fill you in on one thing that worked really well for us. I tend to be one that pieces together our school work. I love buying curriculum and getting all those new shiny books (with that new book smell) but I am cheap and so in reality a lot of what we get is used or something I put together on my own. At the end of last (school) year I really started looking into choices for literature for Apple. I found so many wonderful reading lists and unit studies but the cost of some of them would have blown our entire homeschool budget.

My other issue (especially with Apple) is that she has read SO MANY BOOKS. Like I cannot stress enough HOW MANY BOOKS. While she will re-read a book if I ask her to, I really want school to be as exciting and interesting for her as possible (trust me she needs this). So I spent a little time last spring researching various reading lists (you can find many on the internet divided by grade) and I made our own list. Once I had our list of books, I started searching for unit studies and lapbooks for each book. There are lots of those available online as well.

Then being the cheapie that I am I set out to find the books she would need. Some I had already collected and set back for her. Others I found at Goodwill. I borrowed one from a friend and ordered one used from Amazon. The point is you can get your books for literature at much much less than retail cost if you are willing to spend a little time looking.

Some unit studies and lapbooks I already had on my computer. I had gotten them as free downloads over time from various resources. In addition to those I used many free unit studies and lapbooks that I found with quick internet searches. While I didn't use any this year, there are some amazing ones available to purchase online as well. Some of them only cost $1 or $2! You can also easily invest your time to make your own studies to go along with the books. I made a few question pages on my own for some of the books Apple read this year in other subjects.

This method worked so well for us that I will be using it in the fall with both kids. I've already started making their lists and gathering the books they will need. The great thing is I put back all the ones Apple read this year for Speedy to read in a few years. Double savings! Don't be afraid to put together resources on your own, it will save you money. You can always see our curriculum choices including literature on the Curriculum tab at the top of the page.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Girly and Twirly

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

Sweet Apple (now 9- can you believe it?!?!) has always, always loved to wear dresses and skirts. This was the first winter that she wore jeans (almost) as much as she wore dresses and skirts and long tops with leggings. She is just a girly fashionista at heart. I have spent a LOT of time the last couple of years searching the internet for dresses and skirts in her size that are modest and appropriate and don't look like something straight out of a 25 year old's closet. Trust me there aren't as many choices that meet those criteria as you would imagine. comes the good news. I've hooked up with an amazing company called TwirlyGirl to tell you about some super unique, modest, twirly skirts. They were kind enough to provide me (for free for review) with a Pinwheel Twirly Skirt in Carnival Twist. Apple was so excited to find out about unique twirly skirts for girls like these.

I was so excited that her twirly skirt came just in time for Easter. Apple squealed over the ribbons and the pretty blue fabric. It had to be tried on immediately of course! Then she wore it to our family Easter meal and egg hunt Saturday. Look how adorable she is:

These skirts are made of soft, stretchy material that is comfy and not scratchy or itchy. The seams are made not to be bothersome so the girls twirly skirt is great for little ladies that complain about other clothing. The fabrics also are made to grow with your girl so they last them a long time. The elastic waist ensures some give in the fit. Also to ensure they last these twirly skirts for girls have a 4 thread overlock stitch. How's that for quality? The biggest draw of the unique twirly skirt?

The HUGE twirl of course! These skirts FLY. My pic is a little blurry because she was moving fast the whole time she had it on! Little mom top- these do need shorts under them. TwirlyGirl also offers leggings and bike shorts. We didn't have any awesome TwirlyGirl shorts so we just used a pair of shorts we keep on hand to wear under dresses. Apple was so pleased with the skirt. She was comfortable bending down to pick up eggs because it is longer and she had one shorts underneath. She also said it was cool which is important with our Tennessee heat. 

Apple, Speedy, and a cousin enjoying the egg hunt

As you can see Apple had a great time Saturday and was LOVING her twirly skirt. She has already asked to check out their website to see the other dresses and skirts they offer. The Pinwheel Twirly Skirts are $52 plus s/h. That is quite a bit more than I would normally pay for a skirt or dress but I have to tell you that the quality and WOW factor of this line is well worth $52. I have a feeling Apple will be putting them on her holiday wish lists for a long time to come. I also have a special offer for you! You can get 10% off your order (through May 15, 2014) by using the code "CarterTG" in the coupon code box at checkout. If you would like to see the full TwirlyGirl collection, shop here

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Worth the Wait

Yay! Book 4 in the Amish Vines and Orchards series has finally released! I shared my review of Book 3 in the series back last September. Then I went back and read the first two books and then I impatiently waited for early April. I was so excited when I was offered the opportunity to review Seasons of Tomorrow (for free from Blogging for Books).

Cindy Woodsmall certainly has me hooked on these characters. There's Rhoda (the canning expert with a keen intuition) and Samuel (Rhoda's ex-fiance's brother and her business partner) and their very complicated romance. Will Jacob (Samuel's brother, Rhoda's ex-fiance, & the other business partner in the Orchard Bend Farms) ever return to Maine and can they ever get his approval to be married? Then there is Landon (the Englischer who has always been Rhoda's assistant) and Leah (little sister of Samuel and Jacob) and their secret love. How can their relationship ever work? Last but not least are the other founding members of the new Orchard Bend Old Order Amish settlement- Stephen (Rhoda's brother) and his wife Phoebe (and their children of course). Will Stephen be in trouble for all of the chaos brewing in Orchard Bend? 

On reason I enjoy Woodsmall's writing is that she always has unique twists and turns. Some author's use a pattern for every book and so the mysteries become too simple to figure out after you've read a couple of their works. Woodsmall's books always keep me guessing until the very end and I enjoy that. She also portrays Amish life in a unique way. All of her characters are not living "traditional" Amish lives. The smooth blend of her writing along with her very gentle read romances (really not romance novels at all- just stories that include folks that happen to fall in love) make her books a joy to read. If you haven't read the latest installment in the Amish Orchards and Vines series or if you haven't read any of them- get your hands on it now! Perfect vacation reads!

I enjoyed a free copy of this book from Waterbrook Multnomah for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Homeschool Grammer

Contains affiliate links.

You can look at my curriculum tab at the top of the blog and see that over the last few years we've tried several different approaches to Grammer. It isn't the most exciting subject and so I have swapped things up for the kids a few different times trying to find a program that fits for us. A friend highly recommended Shurley English Homeschooling Curriculum to me last year. I decided to try it with Speedy and I went in a different direction with Apple.

Let me tell you the things I have LOVED about this resource:

1. Lessons are planned for you. No I don't just mean broken down. They. Are. Planned. with a script and everything! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this. It makes it SO easy.

2. It includes songs to help the kids remember. Now granted the songs are a little funny but kids really do learn through songs! We all know this, right?

3. The work for the kids is fairly short. Well at least it was in level 1 but I'm telling you the way this is broken down I don't forsee hours of work in any future lessons.

4. There is some review but I didn't feel like they were beating the kids over the head with the same info. Know what I'm talking about? I have one child that does not do well with being spoon fed the same lesson repeatedly. Shurley English doesn't do that!

5. It is broken down into chapters with 5 lessons each. Don't worry this will work for you if you do 4 days of seat work per week because it is a short number of chapters. In the first level there are only 28.

6. One thing I didn't like was that some of the extra activities were redundant or required extra work on my part but guess what? You DON'T have to do them!

I like this curriculum so much for Speedy that Apple will be doing it in the fall as well. She will jump in at level 5. I think she's going to do just fine with it. She enjoyed the other Grammer program we used this year but it was......a little....less than thrilling.

Now here's the exciting news for you- Educents is offering Shurley English at 20% off! Woohoo for savings!

Passion and Road Maps for the Young People

When I was in high school, I was a regular church member at a local church. I left my town to go back closer to my original home town and to a university that was associated with the church I was leaving. Even though the people who lived with me while I was in school were not regular church members, I had found a wonderful support system in my church. Starting all over in a different place, living with different family members, and not having that church support system sent me into a spiral. It wasn't enough to be at a Christian university. I took a waitress job at a very secular restaurant and though I had visited several local churches, I never found one that I felt comfortable enough in to return to it even a second time.

It's easy enough to look back now and see so many of my mistakes. I should have lived on campus, I should have found a different job, I should have.....However everything from my early twenties wasn't a total loss. I did meet Hubby and eventually we found our way back to a real relationship with God. By the time I was 25 we had settled down into passionate relationships with Him, church involvement, and welcoming our first beautiful child into the world.

I heard of the Passion conference several years ago and I see things on Facebook every now and again from a young friend attending. I've never been to a Passion event myself so when the book Passion became available for me to review (for free!) from BookLook I wanted to see what it was all about. I was immediately impressed with the names associated with the book: Louie Giglio, Frances Chan, Beth Moore, John Piper, Judah Smith, and Christine Caine. I'll bet you've heard of some of them before! This book is a compilation of some of the messages that these folks have given at Passion events over the years.

Let me tell you that no matter how old you are (because I'm certainly over the target age of 18-25), there is at least one little something in each chapter that will get you fired up! I now see why my young friends feel so energized after a Passion event. This is what we need y'all. Young leaders rising up from outstanding messages like these from the leaders that have been around awhile. We've seen that people just shuffling in and out of church on Sunday morning isn't spreading the gospel. A church building full of hypocrites (because we all are) isn't enough to bring people to God.

I am seeing more and more that we must let go of our passive natures. We must show the world our passionate relationships with Jesus and what He can do for us! Do you know a young person that needs a road map as they set off to college or to their first job? Do you know someone middle aged that has lost that passion or is just going through the Christian routine? Pick up a copy of Passion for them. Don't forget to get one for yourself!

I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of review. All opinions are my own.