Monday, April 27, 2015

2015 Backyard BBQ Event With A Giveaway Featuring Summer Fun Items



Welcome to the Backyard BBQ Event! This event has been in the works since the end of last summer, so we've been working hard bring this to you! This event it hosted by Dixieland Reviews and Co-Hosted by: Mom 'N Daughter Savings, Southern Mom Loves Deliciously Savvy, Joyful Gifts by Julie, Susie's Reviews and; Giveaways, Amy and Arons Real Life Reviews, Michigan Savings and More, Finger Click Saver, Keeping Your Cents, Life of a Southern Mom, Imperfect Women, Babs Projects, The Savings Opportunity, Heartbeats ~Soulstains, and My Starlight Blessings. Please be sure to visit our awesome Co-Hosts, these are some amazing bloggers!





Summer is almost here and spring is slowly arriving in my particular area of the country. I am so ready to be grilling and enjoying all the green and blue skies that mother nature has to offer. It seems like it has been a long winter and I'm ready to get outdoors and break out the outdoor family, fun activities.

Our Sponsors are We Love Travel Deals and Skinny Ideas. Prizes: (See photos above!) Prize 1- Weber BBQ Grill -arv:$499 Prize 2- Smoker - arv:$248 Prize 3- Patio Set-arv:$599 Prize 4-Very decorative Cooler: arv:$99 Prize 5- Stainless Steel BBQ Set- arv:$62 Prize 6- Portable Gazebo- arv:$249 Prize 7- Gorgeous Patio Firepit- arv:$119 Prize 8- Croquet Set- arv:$40 Prize 9- Dart Set- arv: $37 Prize 10- 132" Movie Screen AND Projector! arv:$235 and $270 respectively. There will be 10 winners total, one winner for each prize!

Terms and Conditions: PLEASE READ AS YOU ARE AGREEING TO THESE WHEN YOU ENTER! Must be 18+ and a resident of the US to enter. Void where prohibited by law. All entries from all tools will be combined and they ran throughrandom.org to ensure a fair drawing. All winning entries will be verified, if task on winning entry was not completed and the entry was taken anyway, that entry will be disqualified. Winner will be notified via email and will have 24 hours to respond. If no response is received, winner forfeits the prize and a new winner will be chosen. Winning email will be sent from marie@dixielandsdeals.com so please add it to your safe list. We do not spam, nor will we ever sell your email address. We hate spam as much as you do! Prizes are shipped by sponsor. Participating bloggers not responsible for shipment of prizes. Not associated with Facebook or any other social media outlet. By Facebook terms and conditions, we cannot require you to 'like' any Facebook page, we can only ask you to visit them. But it's because of the participating bloggers and sponsors that we are able to bring you such great prizes, and we do appreciate it when you like our pages, plus then you'll know when we have another awesome giveaway! But it is still up to your discretion as to whether you like the page or not, and you will not be penalized. Please direct any questions to marie@dixielandsdeals.com. Once winners have responded with their mailing information, they will be listed on the WINNERS PAGE. We list first name and last initial to protect privacy. These names are ONLY listed once we receive the mailing info from the winner.


 Entry-Form

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Natural Plus Nursery $100 Gift Certificate Giveaway: Open House Coming Up May 1-9, 2015



OK~ Spring brings a season of all things new and in Iowa we love the new color that is abundant. Today I had the opportunity to visit Natural Plus Nursery, located near Clear Lake, Iowa. The North Iowa Bloggers were honored to have a private tour of this wonderful nursery here in North Iowa.



This is a family owned business that is proud to call North Iowa home. When you arrive at Natural Plus Nursery, you are immediately greeted with helpful folks. If you have questions, the staff here will be more than willing to help you.




The hours change as the season progresses. From perennials to hostas, Natural Plus Nursery has you covered. Are you in need of an apple tree? You can find your "perfect" apple tree here on the grounds. Shrubs, as well as pond plants can also be found. We also participated in a Scavenger Hunt which challenged us a little bit. For example, did you know that the empress wu hostas grow to 36-48" tall?

I was also pleasantly surprised to find some amazing yard d├ęcor on site.



No matter what your taste, there's something for everyone. A great time of year to visit is coming up. May 1-9th is the spring Open House at Natural Plus Nursery. And in case you do not know where Natural Plus Nursery is located, it is located at 10075 263rd St Clear Lake, Iowa.

And since this event involved the North Iowa Bloggers, there was food! Beth Ann of It's Just Life, prepared some really fun food for all of us bloggers. If you enjoy chocolate, worms and a little dirt, these snacks would have made your day.




And here's the really fun part of all of this! Each of you have the opportunity to win a $100 Gift Certificate to Natural Plus Nursery in Clear Lake, Iowa. Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. Good luck to all of you.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, April 25, 2015

True Travels of Mason City Iowa Has You Covered : North, South, East and West

OK~ I was introduced to Rhonda True, of True Travels, several years ago and it has been fun to watch her business grow through the years. Rhonda resides in Mason City, Iowa and she offers a variety of tours throughout the United States. If you are wanting to get away from the daily grind and don't have a traveling companion, True Travels has you covered.



True Travels will plan your whole itinerary and they will even provide a few laughs along the way. Rhonda does suggest that you bring the following when traveling with her:


  • Wear layered clothing
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • A small cooler with snacks is often allowed, as long as it will fit under the seat of a bus
  • Medications
True Travels is offering several upcoming day trips and other adventures, but there are a couple in particular that I thought I would share with you. True Travels is venturing to Northern Indiana in August of 2015. August 4-7th is when this Northern Indiana Amish, Quilting and Garden Tour will be held. The Shipshewana Flea Market and Auction, known as the trading place of America every Tuesday and Wednesday. This is the largest outdoor flea market in the Midwest, featuring more than 900 booths. If you enjoy learning about the Amish, gardening, quilting, flea markets, auctions and more..... this tour is for you!  

If you are looking for a more of a Fall 2015 destination. True Travels has an extended trip planned to Pigeon Forge and the Smoky Mountains, scheduled for October 18-24, 2015, with 6 nights lodging and 4 nights in the Smokies. In the midst of the beauty of Fall, this is a tour you will not want to miss. And of course, your camera will be a must on this adventure.


If you would like more detailed information on this particular destination, give Rhonda a call at 641-530-0963. You can also connect with True Travels on Facebook. To see where her next ventures are going and what is currently happening with True Travels, check in with True Travels Facebook page regularly.  Rhonda does keep it fresh and keep you in the know of what's happening in her travels. And you never know, if you have traveled with Rhonda, your smiling face may show up in a Facebook post.

If you find yourself saying you are bored and ready to hit the road! Rhonda of True Travels, is your go to person. She has you covered on all roads that lead North, South, East and West. After All, It's All In a Mom's Day, Right?

*I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post and the opinions expressed here are mine and nobody else's.


Monday, April 20, 2015

Earth Day Really Needs To be 365 Days of The Year


OK~ Here we go again! Everywhere I turn this week someone or something is talking about Earth Day. Seriously, why does it take a day to remind people to pick up after themselves? I have never understood the theory behind littering. I can recall when my siblings and I were 8. 9, and 10. We were at a Trade Show and between the three of us, we accidentally spilled our popcorn. The three of us bent over to pick it all up and toss it in the trash can. I can still remember this, just like it was yesterday. A lady working at a booth nearby came over to my Mom and said, "We have never seen anyone pick up popcorn that they accidentally spilled. Thank you for raising kids that care." At the time, I honestly thought nothing of it.




Fast forward 38 years, and I think, "Wow!" I look around and see trash everywhere. Do people really not care? It seems like such a natural thing, if you accidentally spill something, you pick it up. Makes me shake my head at times. Our Earth looks so clean from above, yet so deceiving.

Here in Iowa, I often think we take clean air for granted. We do have wide open spaces and a state that many love to call home.



I think Earth Day is a great day to celebrate, but I still have reservations about celebrating something as simple as Earthy Day for one day out of the year. If everyone took responsibility and did their part, we would all be better off. You and I both know, if a community is clean, folks are more apt to take pride in their property and pick up after themselves. Seems so simple, but yet it's so hard for so many.

Now, am I perfect? No. Just the other day I opened my car door and the wind whipped a piece of paper off of my dashboard and before I knew it, this piece of paper was out in the middle of traffic and attached to the bottom of a car. My point being, if we all cared, wouldn't our earth be a little better off? After All, It's All In a Mom's Day, Right?



Saturday, April 18, 2015

Root: Fun, Affordable Cosmetics For Your Skin



OK~ Myself and two other North Iowa Bloggers recently ventured to Root in Waverly, Iowa. In case you have no idea what this wonderful company is all about, I've got a quick recap of my experience to share with all of you. Kristen of Make The Best of Everything and Laura of Cat Tales With Laura joined me for this fun Iowa adventure.



Root launched in 2013 and was founded on the belief that what you put on your face should be natural, safe and enhance your beauty at an affordable price. This is true! Not only were the products amazing, but the customer service in the store was simply top notch. These gals really care about their customers and the beauty of this whole thing- if you are not in Waverly, Iowa, reach out to Root online, they will be right beside you helping you make smart choices in your cosmetic purchases.

Eye shadow, blush, mineral foundation, lipstick, to skin care, Root has what you need! The prices are extremely affordable and competitive. Blush for $12.00 and eye shadow for $8.00 is a pretty good deal in my book. All natural ingredients designed to keep your skin healthy and fresh. The other neat thing- most of the products available through Root are made on site.



While in the store, customers have the opportunity to try all the products, experiment and get a professional opinion from the employees in the store. Need a make up brush or two, Root has you covered!



Anytime I can support an Iowa based company that offers products that I will love, I'm knocking on their doorsteps. I am so glad that I made the time to visit Root, as it is truly a business with a lot to offer. Here's a little fun fact. If you live in the U.S., orders that are $45 and above include FREE shipping!

So, tell me. Have you ever visited a local cosmetic shop where many of the products were made on site? If so, I'd love to hear about your experience. After All, It's All In a Mom's Day, Right?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Mother's Day 2015 Pajama Giveaway


Mother's Day is just around the corner and it's not too early to start thinking about what to give Mom this year. Pj's are always a win, win!

Welcome to the Mother's Day Pajamas Giveaway sponsored by Richard Leeds International and hosted by Southern Mom Loves!


Mother's Day is in less than a month! What are you getting the lady in your life? If she's a fan of characters like Mickey & Minnie Mouse, Betty Boop, Eeyore, Tweety, Ariel, Marie, or Elsa from Frozen, she'll love the new PJ sets from Richard Leeds International, available exclusively at Walmart!


These comfy PJs come in sets that include a sleep tank top and capri pants in fun characters, gorgeous spring colors, and they're oh so soft! You can read the full review from Holly at Southern Mom Loves here.

You can find these PJs exclusively at Walmart in-store (You can find them in the sleepwear section) and online at Walmart.com!

You can find Richard Leeds International on their websiteFacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. Follow them to get a first look at their new pajamas, and get notifications of exclusive giveaways!

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I have a HUGE giveaway for my readers! Richard Leeds International is providing 12 pairs of pajamas, one for each of 12 winners!

Each winner will be sent a pair of pajamas (like the ones Holly received) in a randomly chosen color/character, in their size as they state it in the Giveaway Tools widget below. The selection will be either Mickey, Minnie, Eeyore, Betty Boop, Elsa, Ariel, Tweety, or Marie. 

Enter below, the odds are fantastic!

Giveaway begins on 4/17/15 at 1:00 am CST and ends on 5/1/15 at 11:59 pm CST. Must be 18 years or older, open to residents of the US only.


Disclaimer: The participating blogs were not compensated for this post. No purchase is necessary to enter. One entrant per household, per address. All entries will be verified. Void where prohibited by law. Winner will be contacted by email; Please add southernmomloves@gmail.com to your whitelist. Richard Leeds International will be responsible for prize delivery to the winner. This giveaway is in no way administered, sponsored, endorsed by, or associated with Facebook and/or Twitter, Google, Pinterest, or any other social media platform.

Contact Holly at southernmomloves@gmail.com if you have any additional questions or comments, or would like Southern Mom Loves to organize your next giveaway.

Sun Protection Zone Offers Protective Clothing For Your Whole Family - Giveaway Included

OK~ I recently had the opportunity to review an ultra-lite shirt from Sun Protection Zone. Here's what these lightweight shirts look like and check out all of these amazing features!


The features make this shirt one that you will want to wear at the gym and while out and about outdoors during Spring/Summer/Fall in the MidWest. It's a great workout shirt for the gym all year long. Aqua Blue and Light Pink were two color choices, I chose the aqua blue. The following features make this shirt a win-win!


  • Mesh Underarms 
  • Ultralightweight Fabric
  • Light weight wear for your workout sessions
  • Water repellant fabric
  • Reflective piping enhances visibility in darkness
  • Breathable fabric with 4- way Comfort stretch is UPF 30+
A common question of Sun Protection Zone is : What is UPF? Sun Protection Zone offers the following.

Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) is a rating system used for apparel and indicates how effectively a fabric shields the skin from the sun's UV rays. The higher the UPF number, the greater level of UV protection it offers; a shirt with a UPF of 50 will let just 1/50th of the UV rays reach the skin. (The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends a UPF of 30 or higher.) Many of these fabrics, like most of these offered by Sun Protection Zone, are also designed to wick sweat and water away from your skin, so you'll stay cool and dry as well as sun-protected while being active.

I really like this shirt, although I would recommend ordering it one size larger than what you normally would.  It's very lightweight and guess what? I can workout for 40 minutes and not have a wet shirt! That's a score for me!

Sun Protection Zone not only offers women's clothing, they also offer clothing for the whole family! One of you lucky readers will win this fun hat! I'd love to hear how you and your family are taking extra steps to protect everyone from the sun, clothing is really a hot new item for this!


Enter through the Rafflecopter form below. Good Luck! After All, It's All In a Mom's Day, Right?


a Rafflecopter giveaway

* Thank you to Sun Protection Zone for the opportunity to review your products and to offer a giveaway. I did not receive any monetary compensation for this post and the opinions here are mine and nobody else's.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring In Iowa Brings All Of The Following.......

OK~ Spring has finally sprung in Iowa and I am one happy camper. And yes, less than one week ago we did have snow. Snow in April is not unusual and it's not usually welcomed with open arms. I always look forward to the new growth that seems to appear everywhere. Our lilac bushes look promising this year, as do our apple trees. The buds are beginning to appear and will bring some added color to the landscape in a short period of time.




I finally saw more than one robin in one place. For whatever reason, those brown birds had been eluding me wherever possible. And then there's that feisty blue jay that camps out near our door all year long. I am thinking he had something to do with the robins staying away.



I am getting anxious to get digging in the garden. The notes are made, which include. Plant more potatoes. Plant more tomatoes. Plant more onions and green beans. All of the above are what we run out of in a relative quick period of time. Although, the last jar of salsa disappeared this past week. I had to venture to the store to purchase potatoes a month ago and the onions, well, they ran out a LONG time ago!

I look forward to the days where we can stay outside for a few moments to enjoy the quiet of the countryside. The winds have been blowing, and I know they will subside as we move from spring to summer. There's something to be said about standing in the middle of a gravel road and looking at the solitude all around.



The farmers will enter the fields soon. Spring planting looks a little different than years ago. Around us, there is a lot of no till, so we don't see tractors working the ground like years back. Top soil is precious and it's a great thing that our farmers realize how important it is to keep it around.



So.. tell me! What does spring look like in you area? I'm anxious for all of this new life to form and to see what spring/summer 2015 has to offer! After All, It's All In a Mom's Day, Right?

Friday, April 10, 2015

National Siblings Day- Could We Do This Today?

OK~ It's National Siblings Day today and I am blessed to have a brother and sister in my life. We've always gotten along really well. Would you know it by this photo?


Yes, that is me with the garden hose. My sister has a kettle on the top of the car and my brother is trying to get out of the way! I got to looking at this photo and you know what? I honestly don't think kids could do this in the world we live in today. As you can tell, this was obviously at our home in the country and there were no neighbors nearby. If you saw this in your neighborhood, what would you think?

From the outlandish news stories I have read over the past year, I do believe my Mother may have been arrested if this were to happen today. Someone would call the police to report these three kids were unsafe and it would become a long, drawn out saga. It's rather obvious, one of our parents was nearby, as this photo exists.

Why have we as a society let it get so out of control that parents are not allowed to parent? Parents should be able to determine how they want their kids to enjoy life and have fun. I can also tell you that while letting a Cub Scout skip rocks across a stream 10 years ago, he commented  to me, "My Mom says I can't do this because someone will think I am a bad kid." I thought to myself, how sad is this..........kids can't skip rocks across a stream?

I just wish we could let kids be kids. Maybe this is one reason our kids are so sucked into smart phones and don't want to be outdoors playing. No matter what a kid does outdoors, someone will see something "bad" in it and report it to authorities. Kids can be on a smart phone and nobody will immediately see what they are doing.

I would much rather see a child outdoors skipping rocks, playing in a playground, having fun with their siblings, as opposed to doing things secretly online where they won't be seen instantly. I'd love to hear your thoughts on this..... So, do you think my siblings and I could get by with this little car washing fun in today's world? After All, It's All In a Mom's Day, Right?


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

North Iowa Bloggers Host a #BeesMeetUp At Applebee's In Mason City

OK~ The North Iowa Bloggers are a fun group of bloggers that I occasionally explore North Iowa with. We recently had a #BeesMeetUp at our local Applebee's restaurant in Mason City, Iowa. Have you ever participated in a #BeesMeetUp? It appears that this event was so new, that even management at our local Applebee's did not know about it until we educated them about it.

There is something to be said about gathering with friends and food. I might add, Applebee's did not disappoint. Can you say hungry? The appetizers themselves were simply amazing!

Applebee's new Pot Stickers were really tasty!



 I can honestly say that we tried several appetizers and I did not find one that I did not enjoy.

I had never tried the Brew Pub Pretzels and Beer Cheese Dip and I might add, these pretzels and dips were very good! We even had some chocolate on the side for dippin'! A special thank you to our local Applebee's for providing a nice variety of appetizers for our group to sample.




And then the real food came. We bloggers were tweeting, sharing on Instagram and even posting a status update to Facebook now and then. If you have never been near a group of bloggers that are having a #BeesMeetUp, I can assure you that you will not have a dull moment while dining. We get excited and we are actually quiet for a few moments when our food arrives. But then, we get to talking and the cameras start flashing and the sharing through social media takes place.

And in case you are wondering why we do this. We have fun, love helping businesses in North Iowa and it's a great way to share our passion of social media. Here is what we looked like- literally after we walked out of Applebee's.



And then the numbers..... this tells you how strong the reach is within this group!




Family friendly dining is what you will find at your neighborhood Applebee's. If you are in a hurry and would rather dine at home, you can get an order to go. Your neighborhood Applebee's is sure to offer foods your family will enjoy. The North Iowa Bloggers experienced top notch service and great food to share. After All, It's All In a Mom's Day, Right?

Monday, April 6, 2015

April Is A Month Of Money Awareness With U.S. Cellular #SPONSORED

Disclosure: As part of the Better Moments Brigade Program,  I did receive compensation for this post. The opinions expressed here are mine and nobody else's. I have been a U.S. Cellular customer for 15+ years.

OK~ Tax season is upon us. Did you know that your can use your smart phone to help you be better organized and on top of things when it comes to this time of year? This also brings another opportunity to educate our kids when it comes to being smart with money, as our kids are using technology at younger ages all the time. 



When we hold the 4G LTE iPhone 6 in our hands, we truly have the power to simplify and enhance our lives as well as our finances. According to a recent U.S. Cellular survey, 47 percent of smart phone users have used their phones to manage their budgets or finances, and 62 percent of users keep track of account transactions, paid bills and deposited checks on their smart phones. I myself, personally check my bank account balance on a daily basis on my smart phone, and do deposit checks on it. It really makes like a little simpler. 

Have you heard of the P2K Money app?



This is a free app that allows people to set up savings goals and keep track of progress towards purchasing items such as a car, bike, computer or even college tuition. Do you have a young adult in your lie trying to save up for a new car? This is a great app for them!  

Another app that introduces teens to the importance of money is the Financial Football App. This app allows teens to have fun playing a virtual spot while learning about financial literary items from credit scores to taxes to savings accounts. I don't know about you, but anytime I can see a teen having fun with an app that does not encourage blood and gore, I'm all for it! 

 
And of course, safety is extremely important. Things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure there is a passcode set up to control who has access to important data stored on your device.
  • Verify the quality of apps before downloading to make sure you are not subjecting your device to harmful viruses or bugs.
  • Contact your wireless carrier immediately if your phone has been lost or stolen.

And then we have tax season, with the IRS stating that more than 27 million people are filing their 2014 taxes, here are some great tools to help you stay in the loop as to managing your taxes.

Slice (free for android, ios and web) : This receipt and package-tracking app scans your Gmail or Yahoo account for emailed receipts. It tracks and sorts your purchases and helps you stay on top of your tax deductions throughout the year. Being organized will help you when it’s time to file.

My Tax Refund by TurboTax (free for ios and android) : Quickly check e-file status of federal and state returns so you can count the days until your refund shows up. This requires that you file electronically. 

With the strength of U.S. Cellular’s 4G LTE network/high-speed network, smartphone and tablet users can access timely information, file taxes safely and quickly without compromising accuracy, all from your mobile device. Most importantly, remember to be smart and safe online. Parents need to be sure they have installed the parent/child agreement that US Cellular offers. This will give everyone an added sense of security while online with their smart phones. After All, It's All In a Mom's Day, Right?


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Reminiscing About The Good Old Tech Days

OK~ I've been thinking about all of the changes we have had in regards to technology over the past several years. Our oldest son is 24 and when he was young, we had vcr tapes everywhere. Most kids of today would probably ask, "What are those?" Then go back to my childhood days- YIKES! The cassette tapes and 8 track tapes were a BIG thing. Technology continues to evolve and I often wonder where it will all stop.

The fact that we listen to music "online" without an actual record spinning in the room is mind boggling at times. I can also recall the day we had this thing called internet hooked up to our home computer way back in the early 1990's. Alta Vista was a regular term in our home at that time. I can recall our boys watching story books on our computer back in the early 90's. I believe they were books we purchased and they could view them online with interactive activities for them. Things are very different now with YouTube available 24/7.

There were very few companies online back then and I never imagined how the internet would change our lives, as it has. Fast forward to the year 2015 and we have smart phones. I can recall dragging around one of those "Bag phones" to keep in the car, just in case. Now we all run around with these hand held mini computers that we use almost 24/7, which keep us connected to the world wide web at all times.



Many kids of today have no clue what a rotary dial telephone looks like. I remember the avocado rotary dial telephone with the cord that reached across a couple rooms. And back then, in the 70's,  there was such a thing as a teen telephone line. Oh how I wanted one of those--- I never got one!

I am also assuming that answering machines have gone by the wayside, with so many folks making the move to cellular phones. I miss the days of being able to get outdoors and explore without having to worry about missing a phone call. When I was growing up, we did not have answering machines and people knew that they would have to call back at a later time. We now live in a society where we expect things instantly and I don't like that. If I want to spend time with my family and not be available to take a phone call that can wait- Hey, life is good! This idea that everyone should be available 24/7 drives me crazy.

Living in the country in Iowa does have its drawbacks as technology has changed. Rural America has kind of been left in the dust when it comes to access to the internet. Working from home can be a challenge for me, as I don't have high speed internet. Google Hangouts are almost impossible- I try them, but have to log in again and again.... Very frustrating. I keep hearing "talk" of how important high speed internet is... it's just talk and no action. But, despite this challenge I have been able to build a social media business. I have found ways to make it work- although I know I could get a lot more work done if I did have high speed internet. After All, It's All In a Mom's Day, Right?

So... tell me! What changes have you seen in technology during your lifetime? I'd love to hear your thoughts.