The Traveling Sisterhood: February 2016

Monday, February 29

FabKids BOGO Sale! Buy 1 Outfit, Get 1 Free!



http://www.fabkids.com/invite/20167381/
FabKids is having a great sale in through the end of March--buy one outfit, get one free!  Any 2 outfits on their site!  Plus you get free shipping. Their outfits are adorable and totally affordable, plus the clothing lasts!  It's very well made.  My son and daughters' FabKids outfits are their favorites, and after a year of wearing some of them, they still look great!
My oldest daughter's favorite FabKids outfit and the one I just ordered for my son.  Most of the items come in a wide variety of colors and range in size from 2T-14!

Saturday, February 27

Celebrate National Grapefruit Month with a Wonderful Sweet Scarletts Giveaway!



I love, love, love putting fruit in my salads!  To be honest, I really don't eat salads without it.  I recently had the chance to try Wonderful Sweet Scarletts Grapefruit for a salad recipe and I actually love them! I say "actually" because I never liked grapefruit before, but I read that these ones would "change the way you think about grapefruits" and that "they're so sweet you don't even need to add sugar" so I decided to give them a whirl.  It turns out all of those statements are true and they're absolutely delicious!

February is National Grapefruit Month so we're celebrating with a Wonderful Sweet Scarletts Giveaway!  Their Texas Red Grapefruits are from the same company who gives us Wonderful Halos... my favorite mandarins ever!  The gift basket will include Wonderful Sweet Scarletts Red Grapefruit, a grapefruit spoon, circular cutting board, grapefruit bowl, juicer, mason jar and apron. 
 
Super pretty and talented Haylie Duff has joined up with Sweet Scarletts to create some delicious recipes.  Here's my favorite!  Just click and right click to print.  Let me know if you decide to try it!


One winner will receive a gift basket filled with Wonderful Sweet Scarletts and other goodies! Enter below by March 7th at 11 pm anyone's time.

You Can Follow Sweet Scarletts On


Special thanks to the wonderful people at Wonderful Sweet Scarletts for this review and giveaway opportunity. All opinions are honest and my own.

Saturday, February 20

Inspired By Happiness Cakes Giveaway! Gluten Free Incredibleness You Have to Taste!

 
I am wary of any gluten free company of the baked variety which proclaims how delicious their products are, with the exception of oatmeal cookies... but I just had to try these cakes from Inspired by Happiness after reading rave reviews about them and seeing how pretty they were!  Well, I was shocked to discover these cakes are the most delicious packaged cakes, gluten free or otherwise!  I bit into the Dreamin' of Chocolate Dark & White Chocolate Layer Cake and I was amazed! I'm not even kidding you. The first thing I noticed was that it seemed to have a layer of cheesecake--my favorite!  And then I had to take another bite just to make sure I wasn't imagining how good it was.  And then I had to double check the package to make sure it really is gluten free.  And it is.  They use brown rice flour in place of wheat flour and they do it well!

This outstanding cake was designed for dedicated chocolate lovers in mind. With two generous layers of the finest Belgian white chocolate mousse between layers of dark chocolate sponge cake, this chocolate ganache-topped decadent cake is moist and rich in taste - so delicious, the first one I tried!

And then there's Dreamin' of Strawberries White Chocolate Shortcake.  This one is my favorite with it's light, summery taste.   The Chocolate Cake comes in at a very close second place. ;)

 The Cravin' for Cookies & Cream Layered Cake is my oldest daughter's favorite.  Reminiscent of an old-time favorite, this creation delights with melt-in-your-mouth sponge cake, cubes of cookies and silky vanilla cream mousse. Smothered with a dark chocolate ganache and white chocolate drizzle, this cake is so good!

Inspired By Happiness cakes come packaged like this and you can find them at a wide variety of retailers: Albertson's, Kroger, Target, Basha's, Food4Less, and so many more. You can see a full listing here
One of my readers will receive 2 Inspire By Happiness Cakes of their choice!  Enter below by 2/27 at 11 pm anyone's time.  

You Can Find Inspired By Happiness On
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Special thanks to the wonderful people at Inspired by Happiness for this review and giveaway opportunity! All opinions are honest and my own.

Friday, February 19

KidStir Review: The Best Recipe and Craft Box for Kids!

In December, we received our first kit from KidStir, a monthly subscription box for kids.  KidStir included 3 recipes, a fun craft, extra activities, and a variety of items for cookie decorating and gift gifting.  Gifts are my love language and I was excited to make some giftable crafts and goodies with my kiddos!
The craft in our KidStir box was so simple and so cute, I wondered why I hadn't thought of itOn Christmas Eve morning, we made the adorable snowglobes out of little toys I found at the dollar section of Target, water, baby food jars, and glitter. Simple but elegant! The kids put bows on top and presented them to their grandmas on Christmas morning.

Everything in the December KidStir kit.  The presentation was beautiful!
A piping bag that will last forever!  For decorating out beautiful snowflake cookies...
 
I happened to have a snowflake cookie cutter so we went that route with the KidStir recipe.  The cookies turned out beautifully!  We took these to our neighbors--they were a wonderful, giftable treat and tasted soooo good!

How to Start Your Own Product Review Blog


In the last week or so, a couple people have asked me about how to get started blogging and I've been wanting to write this post for awhile, so here it is!

About 3 years ago, I wasted away an afternoon entering blog giveaways.  At the end of those few hours, I thought, "Wow, Celena, that was really a complete waste of time. You could spend less time reviewing things yourself and wouldn't have to enter contests to get them!" Here are a couple of my best tips for getting started:

Set Up Your Blog
I use blogger.com which is free and which I have found to be more user friendly than the other main platform bloggers use, which is wordpress.com. Try both--maybe you'll love wordpress! Who knows?

Make Your Blog Pretty
I then make my blog pretty by heading over to thecutestblogontheblock.com where you can get blog backgrounds and add-ons like you see here, on my lovely blog.  Most of them are very easy to change around with a simple html code copy-and-paste. "Html" may sound frightening, but I promise, blogger makes it so easy!

Host  A Giveaway
After I set up my blog, I posted my first giveaway--a couple free item coupons for some organic shakes.  Giveaways are the best way to build up your numbers, and the more readers you have, the more companies will want to send you free stuff.   

Use Nice, Big Pictures
Make your photos extra-large! That may seem super big at first but they look so much nicer than smaller pics!  I promise--make them as colorful and big as they will fit.  The more eye-catching the better.  They grab the readers interest even if they don't read all of the words in your post, and they impress companies who are considering sponsoring your blog.

Write a Post or 2 About Something You Care About
Readers and companies don't want to come to a blank page when you give them the link to your blog!  I shared my page with friends and family and started requesting products after I posted my first giveaway and some personal stories about my experience as a new mama.  They're now in my "Devotionals and Stories" section if you would like to read them.

Start Pitching Companies
There are a couple product review blogs I follow by e-mail.  Everyday, I skim over their posts in my inbox and start a quick "draft" e-mail of any companies they're reviewing that I want to review but haven't yet.  When I first started, I found a blog I liked and made a list of all the companies they reviewed, headed to the company websites, and found their contact me section. I recommend scrolling through my website and noting the products you'd like to review.  Make it worth your time. Your time is valuable.  If you're going to spend an hour taking pics and writing a review, you don't want to request a product with only a $5 value! I like to try to request products with at least a $30 value, but the higher the better! I keep my pitch e-mail short and sweet. It goes something like this:

Subject: Traveling Sisterhood Blog Review

Dear Sun Basket,
Your food delivery service sounds both delicious and inspiring! If you're
currently able to provide product samples to bloggers, I'd love to review
it at The Traveling Sisterhood.
Hoping to hear from you!
Best,
Celena Janton


*note: be sure and hyperlink your blog in the the text

Host Giveaways
After I have received the item and have decided to review it (a few times I did not at all like an item and didn't feel right about promoting it, but that is very rare), I send another e-mail that goes something like this: 
Hi Nicole,
We loved the box so much!  I'll be posting my review next week. When I do, would you like to offer my readers any type of promo and/or giveaway?  Thanks again and hope you had a merry Christmas!
Celena

9 times out of 10, a company will want to do a giveaway.  The company generally sends the products themselves so that you don't have to pay out of pocket shipping costs. You simply e-mail them your winner's mailing info after the giveaway ends.  I use Google Docs for my giveaway forms, some bloggers simply have you comment (I don't personally like that b/c of privacy issues--I'd rather protect my reader's e-mail addresses in a secure form), and some bloggers use Rafflecopter which I've tried but which has always seemed like quite a hassle. Post your giveaways on TightWadInUtah-- their giveaway listing is free and gets me a lot of hits!

Buy a Domain Address
My blog has always been about saving money, never spending it!  The only thing it costs me is my yearly $9 fee for a domain address which makes your page seem more professional.  I purchase mine through GoDaddy.com. Dot com addresses cost a bit more, .info is less which is why I went with that.  This is definitely not necessary, though.

Start Making Money
I wrote another post -- Part II, if you will, all about how to get started making money blogging. You'll find that here.
 
Budget Your Time
I spend an average of an hour a day on my blog.  Sometimes, I won't post anything or send any e-mails for a week at a time, and then I'll spend a few hours a few days in a row. It's very flexible, a fun hobby, and it's also started making me money which is an added bonus!  Like I said before, our time is valueable. Don't spend your life in front of a screen.  I spend my days homeschooling my kiddos, spending time with my family and friends. I spend many evenings when the kiddos are in bed working on my historical fiction novel, brushing my pooch, Lucy's, hair while I enjoy Reign or Indian Summers, and leave the blogging for another day.



Violins and Guitars with Cases and DVD Lessons for $80! Originally $150 at Educents



http://www.educents.com/signup-bonus.html?r=35119
Educents has a new promo--$10 off a $25 purchase when you sign up for their Daily Digest! Plus, they've started "Give 10, Get 10"--every friend you refer who makes a purchase will earn you a $10 Educents store credit! No limit! You could essentially get the violin for free!  Now that is awesome!

Just head to Educents, click the gift card pic above, or copy and paste the promo link: http://www.educents.com/signup-bonus.html?r=35119



Ladybug Guitar - My daughters already have an acoustic guitar but this electric guitar is pretty amazing!  And, anyway, it's really a very different instrument.  It's a gonga deal --$125 for a Short Scale Electric Guitar, CD and DVD lessons, tuner, strap, case, and amp when you sign up for Educents Daily Digest (link above) and take advantage of their President's Day Sale (ends 2/20) .

Electric Guitar - Just like the one above, but a boy's or more mature girl's version.




Wednesday, February 17

Room for Hope: A Charming Love Story #Giveaway

 
In the midst of the Great Depression, Neva Shilling has her hands full caring for her teenage twins and keeping up the Shilling Mercantile while her husband Warren travels to neighboring communities to sell goods. Then a wagon pulls up one evening, carrying three children and a deputy with news that will change her life forever. Warren and his wife have passed away, requesting on their death beds that their children go to live with “aunt” Neva. Neva’s heart is shattered to learn of her husband’s secret life. How can she care for three children who remind her daily of Warren’s betrayal? But how can she abandon innocent children to an orphanage?
 I had read two of Kim Vogel Sawyer's books in the past and when I read the synopsis for this one, I jumped at the chance to review it.  Book giveaways are more rare than review opportunities, so I was especially excited for a chance to share copies with 2 of you if I enjoyed the book.  And I definitely enjoyed it!  Based on true events from the author's family history, Room for Hope is a beautiful story of God’s powerful redemptive work in the midst of struggle, betrayal, and heartbreak.  The characters were likeable, the ending was not predictable, and I just really enjoyed the story!
2 winners (US or Canada) will win a copy of Room for Hope!  Enter below by Feb. 27 at 11 pm anyone's time.


Special thanks to the wonderful people at Waterbrook Multnomah for providing me with this book to review and giveaway.  All opinions are honest and my own.

Thursday, February 11

Fresh Fruit from GrubMarket: An Incredibly Delicious Giveaway!



  GrubMarket has such an incredible selection of organic bananas, juicy oranges, crisp apples,  and sweet kiwi, among so many other delicious fruits.  I was impressed once I received the box and continued pulling out one fruit after another.  You can buy fruits by the "GrubBox" and receive a variety, which I found fun and exciting--we had the opportunity to try quite a few new fruit varities. You can also choose your favorites; because you won't be able to find organic fruit at these prices anywhere else! I was very impressed with their prices--.25 for organic honeycrisp apples, for example!  Who can beat that?! 
GrubMarket sent my absolute favorite fruit in the world -- Honeycrisp Apples! They had them on sale for .25 an apple which is an amazing price. I've seen these apples priced at upwards of $2 each!  GrubMarket works with a variety of farms and artisan producers to bring you high-quality foods and other items at prices that are up to 50% OFF what you'd typically find at Whole Foods and other grocers.  

Fruit Salad a la GrubMarket. It's super easy: just select your favorite fruits, chop them up, and then serve in a bowl (add a pinch of cinnamon or sugar if you want)!
   
DISCOUNT
Get $10 off your first order by using this link!  You can also use the code GRUB20 for 20% off and free shipping on orders over $49!
 
One of my readers will receive a GrubBox of fruit from GrubMarket!  Enter below by 2/18 at 11 pm anyone's time.  

You Can Find GrubMarket On
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Special thanks to the wonderful people at GrubMarket for this review and giveaway opportunity! All opinions are honest and my own.

New Year, New You: Breakfast Edition With a Two Winner Giveaway!

Enjoying my cool drink this morning--all natural, sugar free, zero calories, Everly comes in a variety of flavors: green tea passion fruit, peach mango, and pomegranate maqui berry.  My favorite is the pomegranate.  I like to pour it over frozen strawberries for even more delicious berryness.  You can find Everly at Target, Whole Foods, Publix, Kroger, Amazon, or Goeverly.com.  
Everly is essentially enhanced water (flavored water with vitamins), and it's an awesome deal because it's only .45 a packet as opposed to $2 a bottle! You can get a trial pack (2 of each flavor) here, paying only the $2.99 for shipping.

And now for the actual breakfast! As I Facebook-stalked Evol, I read them proclaiming "The freshest ingredients make the most delicious breakfast!" and I wondered how fresh, really, can a frozen, microwaveable meal be?  I was pleasantly surprised, as they really do taste amazingly fresh!  The Egg, Basil Pesto, Potato & Cheese Scramble Cup is my favorite.  That ones not pictured here--somebody probably ate that one and didn't have it handy.  My second favorite is the Chicken Apple Sausage.  I'd buy these with real money!  That's saying something, coming from a girl who gets a majority of her food for free. ;)

As you can see in this super cool (pun intended!) pic above, Evol makes a variety of other food, all of which is gluten free and, I'd bet my buttons, delicious.  I can't wait to try more!  You can find it in the freezer aisle at Fry's, Safeway, Target, Sprout's, and I even saw it at the Air Force Commissary.  Pretty awesome and very convenient!

One of my readers will win a variety pack of Everly, and one will win a variety of free item coupons for Evol! Enter below by 2/18 at 11 pm anyone's time. 



Special thanks to the wonderful people at Evol and Everly for providing me with these products to review and give away.  All opinions are honest and my own.

Wednesday, February 3

New Year, New You: Kids Snacking Edition With a Wonderful Halos Gift Basket Giveaway!



Wonderful Halos are the best mandarin oranges we've ever had!  When they sent us a big basket of them, we were thrilled!  My kids love them because they're super sweet, seedless, and easy to peel.

You can find the Halo brand of mandarins at most grocery stores: Fry's, Safeaway, Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, Target, you name it!  They're Available November through May in a 3 lb bag, 5 lb bag and 5 lb box.


Giveaway
One winner will receive a gift basket filled with Wonderful Halos and other goodies!  Gift basket will be similar to the one above to include Wonderful Halo mandarins, water bottle, backpack, lunchbox, mandarin flavored chapstick, sunglasses, and stressball.  Enter below by Feb. 12th at 11 pm anyone's time.

You Can Follow Wonderful Halos On
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Special thanks to the wonderful people at Wonderful Halos for this review and giveaway opportunity. All opinions are honest and my own.

New Year, New Desserts #Giveaway: An Artisana Organics Coconut Truffles Recipe


I am a huge fan of dark chocolate!  At Artisana Organics, they’re passionate about chocolate, too. They take the finest cacao in the world all the way from tree to bar.  Lightly sweetened and handcrafted into bars by master chocolatiers, their cacao's aromas, flavor and fragrance are fully expressed with finesse.  Their chocolate bars come in 65, 75, and 85% cacao. The 65% is my favorite to snack on, while the 75 and 85 are ideal for melting and covering your favorite fruits or truffle concoctions.


My Coconut Truffles Recipe could not be more simple!  
You need only 3 ingredients: Artisana Organics Coconut Butter, sliced almonds, and Dark Chocolate (either bar or chips for melting)
Step 1: Stir the Raw Coconut Butter--it can become separated. If you need to, warm it in the microwave per instructions on the jar.
Step 2: Scoop out tablespoons of Coconut Butter.  Mold into balls and place on a wax paper lined cookie sheet or plate.  Freeze for 10 minutes.
Step 3: Break apart chocolate bar or pour 1/2 a cup of dark chocolate chips into a small bowl.  I've found my small, glass candy bowls work best for this. Microwave for 40 seconds.  Stir well.  As you stir, the chocolate will melt more as the heat is distributed.  If you need to, microwave a bit longer at 10 second intervals.  Burnt chocolate is no bueno. ;)
Step 4: Using a spoon, dip the Coconut Butter balls into the bowl of chocolate.  Completely cover and then place back on the cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Harden either in the fridge or on the counter.  Enjoy!

P.S. Next time you don't happen to have chocolate handy, a lot of people (myself included) like to just dig into the jar of Artisana Coconut Butter with a spoon. I can't speak for any other brand, but theirs is that yummy!

Dark chocolate has numerous health benefits and so does coconut.  Here are some of my favorites of each:

Dark Chocolate
Powerful source of antioxidants
Improves blood flow and lowers blood pressure
Raises good cholesterol and lowers the bad
May lower the risk of cardiovascular disease
Improves brain function

Coconut Butter
Stimulates metabolism resulting in weight loss
Kills yeast infections
Packed with lauric acid which kills viruses and boosts immunity
Highly moisturizing and promotes skin elasticity

Giveaway
Two of my winners will receive a jar of Artisana's Coconut Butter and Chocolate Bar to try out the truffles recipe!  Enter below by Feb. 10th at 11 pm anyone's time.

You Can Follow Artisana On
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Special thanks to the wonderful people at Artisana Organics for this review and giveaway opportunity. All opinions are honest and my own. 

Tuesday, February 2

New Year, New Subscription Box Adventures: Girls Can Crate! A Pioneering Nurses Giveaway



After discovering my own favorite subscription box for 2016, I began the hunt to find something perfect for my girls.  Girls Can Crate is a unique subscription box company inspiring girls to believe they can be and do anything by celebrating fearless women who made the world better.
We had the opportunity to review 2 of their crates, both of which were awesome as you shall soon see! 

First up was the Persevering Painters Crate, complete with every supply we'd need right down to the markers, paints, scissors, pallet, apron, and brushes... everything you see here.  Even a canvas was included.  The value was definitely there!

After reading about famous artists Frida Kahlo, we learned about color mixing and made our own creations.  I happened to have 3 extra canvases I was saving so that was perfect!  I loved teaching my kids about Frida Kahlo because she is a supreme example of a woman who overcame great hardships.  Bed ridden for months at a time, she used the time on bedrest to explore with art and became one of the most famous woman painters.

Frida Kahlo was known for painting both monkeys and flowers in her works of art.  The instructions in the kit were for a flower headband, but my daughters decided they wanted to display their flowers in a vase on the kitchen alcove.  They look beautiful!

One of my daughter's works of art painted with her Girls Can Crate supplies--an ocean meets the sky. So pretty!

Next up was the Pioneering Nurse Crate featuring Florence Nightingale, one of my very favorite women in  history.  Miss Nightingale was a wealthy, society woman who didn't find pleasure in the Jane Austen life of endless parties and dances.  Instead, she felt God calling her to be a nurse.  Before Miss Nightingale revolutionized nursing, more people died in the hospital than on the battlefield.  She was an incredible woman! If you want to know more about her, I encourage you to see the BBC movie Florence Nightingale.  As you can see, our kit came with so much great stuff!

 
Our nurse is giving her doll a bandage after she sprained her elbow.  As you can see here, one of the activities was to make a working stethoscope.  Pretty cool!

All bandaged up, the happy girl received a sticker for being a brave patient.
Ut oh, she needs a flu shot!  Her sister got lucky, as you can see in the video below, and was old enough to receive the flu mist instead!


The nurse imaginative activity was only one of many in this kit.  We also grew bacteria (gross!!), make a stethoscope, and created a life size map of the human body.  The kids definitely loved playing nurse best, though, and still get out everything to play and imagine days later.
Giveaway

One of my readers will receive the Pioneering Nurse Crate!  Enter below by Feb. 10th at 11 pm anyone's time.

You Can Follow Girls Can On
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My parents were wonderful at teaching me that I could do or be anything. I definitely want to teach my kids the same and Girls Can Crates are incredible towards that end.   

 What did you want to be when you grew up? What does your daughter want to be? I've always wanted to be a writer and have almost finished my first historical fiction novel!
 
Special thanks to the wonderful people at Artisana Organics for this review and giveaway opportunity. All opinions are honest and my own.