Archive for March, 2005

**More Free Magazines**

Thursday, March 31st, 2005

I can tell by the messages that I have received that you guys love the freebies as I have received a lot of inquiries on my Budget Living Magazine post.

I should clarify a bit on the Free Biz Mag site that I posted on yesterday. Free Biz Mag is a company that sends out free subscriptions to magazines to folks like you. Now why in the heck would this company be giving away free magazines? Well, the reason is that they are looking for people who fit a certain criteria in a certain region to fill these spots that are lacking. So when they are looking for a tired homemaker who lives in the beautiful Midwest- I get an email alert from this company notifying me that a new magazine has become available based on my job description and region that I live in.

Upon receiving this alert, I then have to fill out a questionnaire in order to receive the subscription. Don’t get scared! Scroll down to “No thanks” and “no” responses to everything. The “No thanks” will, of course, be the very last response. The important thing to know is that you do not have to sign up for anything other than the magazine you are after.

The subscription length will depend on the deal that they are offering. Some are six months, and many are for two years (if you can believe it).

I am willing to share with you my secret hint for keeping track of those freebie magazines. Just in case, God forbid, you should get a bill for one of your free magazines, it is good to remember which subscriptions you have paid for and which you have not paid for. Use the initial “F” for free on the freebie ones that you sign up for. If you get a bill, you know that it is a freebie and therefore, not something that you have to pay for.

Now on to more freebie magazines….

Kraft Food Magazine– Chock full of great dinner ideas which include recipes or variations on some of your old box favorites. They usually have special kid recipes and also have great ideas for birthday cakes and entertaining. This is a magazine that I look forward to each time I receive it.

Lowes Creative Ideas, Garden Club and Woodworkers Magazines– Lowes offers several publications that are full of great ideas on home improvement projects, gardening, or learning more about the art of woodworking. Some of the projects are very simple while others are for more of a seasoned home-improvement expert. They also include within their step-by-step instructions, a shopping list for you to go by to pick up the materials needed for each project. This is one of those publications that my husband and I both fight over.

Enjoy all of those free magazines and give me some feedback, some gratitude, a bone or something for all these nice things I do for you….I will even be happy with some comments, people!!

**Budget Living Mag**

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

I just got my first issue of Budget Living Magazine so I can learn about more ways to save money. I saved even more money by getting this subscription for free as I do almost all of my subscriptions. If I cannot acquire the magazine for free through that company, I trade with my girlfriends or I hit the library and read them there.

I read my first issue of this magazine and poured over the magazine for hours. I marked pages and shared articles with my hubby. It really is a great magazine if you are trying to save money. Unfortunately, it also makes me want to SPEND money in order to get all of those fantastic deals that I now feel like I missing out on. I suddenly need every product in there and it is as cheap as heck anyway so why not? This very reason is why I can no longer go to a drugstore. I am a self-proclaimed drugstore junkie and I would go there to get my fix. Two dollar lipsticks, five dollar mascaras, the latest shampoo, the newest razor, and anything else that strikes my fancy would get thrown into my cart. My “great deal” adds up to a gazillion dollars and I have tons of stuff to prove it.

When I began staying home, I realized that
1) No one cares about what I look like anymore except for me.
2) We have zero money in our budget for my weekly hit of my drugstore fix

The moral is, even if it is cheap and even if it is the best deal ever- it might be better if you didn’t buy it.

The tips I did get out of Budget Living this month were:
– Use your extra mouse pads as trivets in your kitchen (this is where my husband said, “What is a trivet?” If you are not into cooking, a trivet is a hot pad.)
– Cut the magnets out of the bottom of your old shower curtains to be used as refrigerator magnets.
Steal It Back is where you can go online to score some deals on police auction items like electronics, diamonds, and designer goodies.

I highly recommend the magazine and they have a fantastic forum as well!! Visit their forum and don’t forget to swing by our forum as well! Our forum is soooo much cooler….seriously.

Blockbuster Breaking News

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

Editor Note: If you see a message in italics, I am sharing tips & quips and no fluffy stories. Regular font from now on will get you those touching stories that you have grown accustomed to on my blog….Gotta appeal to all the fans out there (fans= my family) and the haters (you know who you are!)

On with the breaking news…

How many people really thought that you got to keep your rentals indefinitely? Apparently there were a few raised hands out there- catch up on the Blockbuster late fees scandal….

Blockbuster No Late Fees Campaign Busted Tue Mar 29, 2005 – As Saving Advice reported at the end of last year, Blockbuster ended late fees – with a catch. That catch being that if people didn’t return their rentals in a timely manner, they had to actually buy the rental. That catch has now come back to haunt Blockbuster as it has agreed to pay some $630,000 to settle claims by 47 states and the District of Columbia that their “No Late Fees” campaign deceived consumers.Under the No Late Fees campaign, the movie was automatically sold to any member who did not bring the rented movie back within on week after the rental was due. This came as a surprise to many consumers and many considered the $1.25 restocking fee if they tried to return the rental as a defacto late fee.The settlement requires Blockbuster to refund money to consumers who claim the campaign misled them into believing they could keep their rented videos or DVDs for as long as they wanted without any fees being incurred. For those that make this claim, Blockbuster will give a refund or credit to both consumers who paid the restocking fee or the full price of the video or DVD they rented.While it will help those who incurred fees to this point, Blockbuster is not going to end the campaign. Instead, they will make alterations to the way it’s advertised by adding signs and other information in its stores to better explain the details of the program.While you may have avoided the restocking fees and forced purchases until now, it’s unlikely you’ll get a break from these in the future. The best piece of advice is to make sure you get the rentals in before their due date.

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Happy Easter!

Sunday, March 27th, 2005

Happy Easter to everyone! I hope that you have had as fun of a day as we have had. Our day was filled with family activities, visits from the Easter Bunny, and lots of egg hunting.

The Easter Bunny left a cowboy hat, sheriff badge, and red bandana for the little guy so that he can look like a real cowboy. He has suddenly been really interested in cowboys, but it has been a sad sight to see him do his cowboy impersonation in my beach hat. He would throw my floppy hat on over his head and say, “Howdy, partner!” The catchy phrase and the beach hat just didn’t go together so I spent a day walking around the costume shop trying to find the perfect cowboy attire (minus the gun). The whole set was a total of eight dollars which was a gosh darn miracle considering the other cowboy costumes were at least fifty bucks for a pair of pleather chaps and vest. Unbelievable! Those stores must be raking in a ton of money with those prices!

After making this purchase I was beyond excited to see my little cowpoke’s face when he woke up. We displayed his gifts neatly in a little cheap Easter bucket that we had laying around the house tucking the bandana in the basket along with his badge. Can you guess what his favorite thing was? Yup, the stupid bucket…oh, and the cowboy hat was also used as a carrying case for his Thomas the Tank Engine trains. Oh well! I made a good effort.

I hope that our son will be able to sleep tonight as I hear him kicking his legs against the wall. Considering the amount of goodies he consumed before he hit the sack, the outcome looks doubtful. I am sure I am not the only parent wondering if their child will be resting tonight. I guess I should be happy that Ethan is only kicking against the wall and not jumping through the ceiling with the copious amounts of candy he has eaten. But, heck, isn’t that what Easter is all about, ya’ll?? Goodnight, partners!

Gearing Up for Summer

Thursday, March 24th, 2005

Summer is just around the corner and with the warmer weather comes many preparations in both the interior and the exterior of the home. Spring-cleaning your house should not just involve the deep-cleaning of the interior of your home, but it should also include preparing the outside of your home for all of those lovely days that you will be able to be out enjoying the sunshine. The best part about this type of cleaning is that it can all be done outdoors. Not only can you accomplish a few things off of your to-do list, but you can also get a nice tan while you are cleaning.

Get Your Grill On

At the end of the summer we should have all dedicated a day towards cleaning our grills and preparing them for the next summer. If you are anything like our family though, you probably decided not to do this until the next season and now you have a dirty grill to contend with before you can start your grilling. Cleaning a grill does not have to be a tedious task, however, and there are a few ways that you can go about cleaning your grill without involving a lot of elbow grease.

If you have a self-cleaning oven, cleaning the racks of your grill will be a breeze. Simply bring the grill racks indoors and place them inside your oven. Run the oven through the self-cleaning mode and then, not only will you have sparkling clean grill racks, but you will also have a clean oven to boot.

If you do not have a self-cleaning oven, this task may require a little more effort on your part, but it can still be done easily. Upon removing any lava rocks in the bottom of the grill, spray the interior of the grill with a no-heat oven cleaner, shut the grill, and go about your day. The following day, hose down the interior of the grill and use a metal wire brush to remove any stuck on gunk from your grill.

A great way to prevent your grill from getting any stuck on grease and build-up on it in the future is to spray the grill, before heating, with a nonstick skillet spray. In a pinch, a cheap alternative to a nonstick spray is to use a cut potato. Rubbing the potato on the grill racks creates a lovely nonstick surface and performs just as the spray would.

Before firing up your grill this year, be sure to take careful safety precautions to insure that there is not a leak in your gas connection. You can check for leaks by making a mixture of dish soap and water. Brush this mixture onto your gas connection and turn on the connection. If bubbles appear when you turn the grill on, you will know that there is a leak and that the grill is not safe to use.

Outdoor Seating

Last year we purchased our first patio set and it has been so nice to have somewhere to sit and relax while my son plays. We disassembled our chairs and stored them for the winter, but despite these efforts, the chairs will need a thorough cleaning when they are removed from storage.

The type of cleaning needed to restore the beauty of your furniture will depend on the type of lawn furniture that you own.

Plastic furniture is one of the easiest types of furniture to clean. This furniture can be cleaned with any multipurpose household cleaner that you might have on hand. Dampen a rag and wipe down with a spray of the cleaning solution. Do a quick rinse with the garden hose and then your lawn furniture will be looking like new again.

Wicker furniture requires a more careful cleaning. Using a soft cloth, give the furniture a good dusting. Once the furniture has been dusted, you will have a clearer picture of what areas will need more special attention. Use a homemade mixture of water and dishwashing soap, (one tablespoon of dishwashing soap to one gallon of water) to do a through spot cleaning of your wicker furniture. Remember to make sure that the furniture is completely dry before being sat on though because it could permanently ruin your furniture.

Lawn furniture with outdoor cushioning can easily be cleaned with a homemade solution of water and laundry detergent (spray bottle filled with water and one tablespoon of your favorite laundry detergent, shaken well). Spray the cleaner on any dirty spots on your cushion and wipe with a cloth. For especially fresh smelling seating, spray with a fabric refresher.


Porches will need some extra attention after the winter and fall seasons before they are summer-ready. Sweep away all dirt and debris from your porch and then spray the area with a hose to remove any lingering dust or debris.

Rain Gutters

Rain gutters should be inspected twice a year- once in the spring and one in the fall. The best way to discover if your gutters are in need of a cleaning is to look up at the outside rim of the top of the gutter. If there is discoloration, there is most likely some buildup in the gutter and water is not able to make it through and is causing overflowing. Be sure to check all of your gutters for debris and wash them out with a hose.

A “gutter scooper” can be made out of a gallon plastic jug for scooping out any large amounts of debris. Using a razor or a knife cut the bottom half off a gallon jug. Grasp the handle of the jug and use the jug to scoop out any large amounts of debris.

If the down spouts are clogged, a garden hose turned on full force can be pushed down to blow out the clog. If your water pressure is not strong enough to remove all of the debris, a hose bladder can be purchased at your local hardware store. This holds the water and allows it to build up for a minute, then releases it in a high-power rush. If you are still plagued with plugged drain spouts, you can then try using a plumber’s snake to loosen the objects that are blocking the path.

While cleaning your gutters, make sure that you note any special repairs and replace any gutters that may need updating.


Many people remove their screens before the winter and bring these out in the spring. If you are one of these people, your screens may need a little extra TLC to get them back in shape. The best way to clean your screens is lay them flat on top of a cloth or soft surface. Keeping them on a soft surface will prevent scratching from occurring on the frames. Next, hose down the screens and then scrub gently with an all-purpose cleaner. A frugal scrubbing brush for your screens can be made out of a leftover scrap of carpeting. The carpet can be used doing a thorough cleaning of your screens. Finally, rinse the screens again and then tap off any excess water. After they have been cleaned, they are ready to be hung up for the warm season.

Wrapping Up

After completing all of these tasks, not only will the exterior of your home be lovely, but you will also have been able to enjoy some of that great sunshine too. Enjoy all of that beautiful weather and I hope that these tips offer some helpful insight on how you can get these tasks accomplished.

Camp Cheesecake

Sunday, March 13th, 2005

It has been several days since my last entry, but I have a pretty good excuse this time…really! My husband has had the last couple of days off and so we have been tackling a few of those lovely homeowner projects that have been pushed off until we had “free time.” Any parent knows that this will never happen so that is why my poor hubby had to use his “vacation” to “work.” It is nice to get a few of these things accomplished though.

Today Ryan shared with me that he read about the recently released list of people who made the Forbes billionaire list. Among them was a 21 year-old guy (unbelievable) and the amazing Martha Stewart. Apparently, her status has actually risen since her recent time in jail. Her business is thriving, her stocks have increased in value, she has landed a reality television series, she has won Emmy’s for her and all of her friends, and she lost weight too. Basically, if you hated her before, you will certainly hate her now because she is even more desired after her brief (but lovely) hiatus in jail.

After giving this a lot of thought, I have decided that I would like to go to jail. I have not discovered the perfect crime yet, but I do know that I want it to be something stupid and/or minor that would result in everyone feeling sorry for me so that would leave out any biggies like murder or drugs.

Once I have received my just punishment (by the way, I want my jail to be called Camp Cheesecake, okey-dokey?), I expect that Mom Advice will take off like CRAZY! People will be calling me to set me up with a new show, I will have like forty people come and visit my site, my ranking on Google will sky-rocket to the 2 billion ranking, and I will get one of those cool mom site flashing banners on my homepage. In other words, I will ROCK! It will be an exciting year for Mom Advice and it will all be just because I shoplifted my twenty-nine cent mac & cheese from Aldi’s Supermarket.

I will also let you all say that you knew me before I became so famous and successful, however, autographs will have to be denied due to my extreme popularity.

So enjoy all the freebies that Mom Advice has to offer you because there are no guarantees after my career takes off and I land myself a starring role as inmate number 9387539857.

And just think…you can all say, “I knew her when….”

In Yo Business: The Life of a Writer

Saturday, March 5th, 2005

I made the mistake of putting several of my articles up on a Free Ezine Article site. The idea was that other websites would use my work (and my bio) and then link back to our site.

I also made the mistake of Google Alerting myself if anyone used my work. I could discover this through the keywords Amy Allen Clark, MomAdvice, Mom Advice, or Amy Clark.

This is what I have discovered through making these two mistakes:

Mistake #1- Letting Others Use Your Work

This first mistake was a biggie- letting other sites use my work. Now if the sites were comparable to my site or were even slightly decent, then I would not have a problem with my article being posted there. The unfortunate thing though is that these sites that used my work suck- and I mean, suck. I went on this really awful cult-like site and found my, “Decorating On a Shoestring Budget” article. This made me so sad because the site was actually called, “How to Tell A Great Story.” Now I am not saying that this article is not great, but come ON! Do you actually think that my greatest story ever told was how to decorate your house? Then, the more depressing part was that it looked like I had submitted that article to them because they had a link that said, “Tell Your Greatest Story Ever Told.” Not only are they using my article, but now they are making it look like the only stories that I have to share are on how candles create the right mood in every room.

The other part to the mistake is when someone uses your work and then doesn’t give you credit for your work. You can imagine how thrilled I am when someone uses my work (the whole purpose being to get someone to come on our website) and then doesn’t include my bio.

Mistake #2- Google Alerting

I don’t know if you know this or not, but the internet is actually not anonymous. When people write things like, “Your writing sucks,” I am going to find out. I am going to find out and then I am going to type your name, city, and state into and then I am going to print out a little map that says exactly where you are (I will have trouble locating you, please read past blogs for more info), and then I am going to tell you that YOU suck and not me. No one actually wrote that my writing sucked, but someone did get my blood boiling.

You see, I wrote this lovely little article that was called, “Happy Mother’s Day.” The article was all about saluting other mothers and all that they do. I thought it was quite touching and received good feedback from it and it was in a magazine publication (not worth mentioning, but heck it was in print!) This site used this article and then had a little place for people to leave their comments. Do you think that I remembered the comments where people said that it made them cry, that they were so touched by what I had to say, or begged for more of these types of articles… I remembered this old lady who wrote something like this…

“This is a nice article, but I have to wonder what a mother of only one child who is only a year old could be offering any advice on. If you want advice, I can give advice on motherhood because I have bounced babies on my pregnant belly and am now raising my grandchild.

I do like her ideas though and I think I will use that one for my son. Thank you so much for sharing your work. If anyone woud like advice though you can email me at [email protected].”

Wow, so she criticized my work, told me that I didn’t know anything because I only had one child, and then told me she would use my ideas. Really, it was quite touching!

Yes, I saw all of the nice things people had wrote, but that one comment stuck out in my mind. It stuck out in my mind because…

1. Sharing your work is personal. It is hard to share your life and your writing with other people. You open yourself up for a lot of criticism, I realize this, but sometimes it is hard to hear that your writing is not that great.

2. I have found that writers are the meanest people to each other. I mean that in all honesty. I went on a writer’s board, hoping to get some ideas, and I saw that this poor woman had posted on their message board and got a spanking from every writer on there. She asked about getting published and instead of sharing some invaluable information with a novice writer, they went into criticizing her post. Her commas were in the wrong place, she didn’t use the correct preposition, her spelling was a disgrace….how was she EVER going to get published if she couldn’t even write a correct sentence. I quickly logged off and became a lurker on the board- I even feared that my login name was incorrect and I obsessed that I had not capitalized my name just so I could post.

3. I do only have one child and he is only two- so I’m not a mom? Am I missing that star-quality that would define me as a mother. I thought if I stayed up all night with a crying baby, wiped his behind every single day, and rocked him to sleep at night that maybe, just maybe, I might be called a mom.

4. Don’t get me started on the one child thing because that REALLY burns me up, given our current circumstances.

I have now asked Google to only email me positive feedback. Comments on how my hair was perfectly highlighted in my author photo, that my writing is delightful, that my wit blows people’s minds….this type of thing will be sent to my inbox. Things about how many children I have, how I am not a mom, and how I am too young to offer advice on frugal living…this will be automatically moved to my Spam file.

I guess what I am trying to say is, the internet is not anonymous. There is a writer on the other end of this blog- thankyouverymuch.! And she is a mom and she offers advice. I do not offer advice on how to parent your child (read past posts if you need a glimpse into why this is), but on living on a budget, organzing, and working at home….just a few of the topics that I think I am qualified in writing on.

I am now looking for [email protected] she better be ready for a non-momma’s wrath….

Dumb Magazine Tips…

Friday, March 4th, 2005

I was reading through my Self magazine yesterday and noticed a little blurb in their beauty section. The blurb said that not only should I condition my hair daily (and deep condition once a week), but I am also supposed to be conditioning my eyelashes. The tip was to rub peutroleum jelly on my eyelashes and let it sit on them for one minute and then gently wipe off with a tissue.

All I could think was…wow! Who the heck has time to condition their eyelashes? Will they become dry and brittle from my lack of deep-conditioning each individual eyelash? Will they just fall out because they have been so mistreated and neglected?

To be honest, I am lucky if I wash my hair every single day and conditioning…well, let’s just say that this is less than the recommended amount for my mane of frizz.

So here is a real beauty tip for your magazine and for all of you mommies out there who can’t wash your hair every day. You know that astringent that you are supposed to use on your face, but never get around to doing that much less moisturizing? Dab this on a cotton ball and rub it on your roots. It takes all the oils out and you can have hair that looks (sort of) like it has been washed. It can get rid of the greasies in one fell swoop.

Now that is a tip that someone really COULD use!

Who do you love?

Friday, March 4th, 2005

Me: I love Ethan!

Ethan: I love cake.

Me: And mommy?

Ethan: And cake.

Unofficial Snow Day Part 2

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2005

Thank the Lord that I am a fan of footed pajamas because those, my friend, saved the day.

Remember when I referred to snot explosions? Well, now we are suffering from explosions of a different kind altogether. This explosion was well-contained and well-concealed though in super cute footed pajamas.

Now Ethan and mommy got to both take a bath so we are at least clean and I am officially out of my pajamas- whoo-hoo!

I told you that this must be the most boring day ever if I am blogging about this…And whoever must be reading this is probably having a more boring day then myself.

Well, at least I am in good company.