Thursday, November 29, 2012

My Experience With

Call me stupid. Call me trusting. Call me an optimist, perhaps. I signed up for's too-good-to-be-true free trial offer. I know what you are thinking...with so many bad reviews about them online, why would you do something so stupid? Like I me an optimist. 

The offer I received was in a package of HP printer paper, valid for businesses only. I have a valid business license. The expiration date was 9 months off, so I figured it would be safe to assume the offer was still valid: a postage scale that measures up to 50 lbs., free mailing boxes, and $50 in free postage! I do want to stress that this was a business offer, which differs slightly from their other offers. 

So I got my welcome package in the mail...
This is the the meter shown on the offer, value of $50. 

To find a little silver postage meter that measures up to 20 lbs. not 50 lbs. Okay... the little brochure inside tells me if I want the one that was promised to me, I have to pay for it. *sigh* Okay forget that. Free meter is still free, even if it is not what was promised.

This is the meter they sent me, $10 value. 

The part they do not disclose to you: You get $5 free postage. If you want more free postage, you have to spend at least $25 in postage (boxes do not count towards your total). It would have been nice to know that before I signed up, it definitely would have affected my decision. I am informed of this by a letter inserted in with my welcome package.  They already have my credit card information. By now it is already too late. 

Now, to try the service....
At first, everything worked smoothly. The software is easy to use. I printed postage for my business, sent out big bins full of packages, paid them money for this postage...began to wonder what they did to earn their $17.99/month fee (I am still under my 30 day trial at this point) but decided that, since I send out an average of 10-15 packages weekly, the convenience of buying postage in my jammies might be worth it. I pay for 1 month of service. I never got my additional free postage, even after purchasing the required amount of postage.

THIS is when I begin to have software issues. All of a sudden, the program is only printing part of the postage label. I buy new ink and reprint the one free reprint the software allows. Still, only printing part of the label. I deal with HP...end conclusion, is it is's software acting up and not my system or my printer, or user error. I deal with customer service and am told to file a refund claim. Which I do. Which is denied.

I complain via email, letting them know that this was all going in my review for my blog, and that I was pretty annoyed with their service. They assure me that I will get my refund, however it will be by check in the mail. It takes me a month and a half to receive the checks.

One look at the website and it is pretty clear that the only way to cancel is to call in. I call the 888 number, and proceed to spend an hour on the phone with an agent. Me, trying to cancel the account and the agent trying to upgrade me and sell me more crap I don't want or need. End result ~ account cancelled! I promptly put the whole mess out of my mind, I don't even bother with the blog review. I just move on. 

6 MONTHS go by. I go to pay my rent one day and am told that I don't have quite enough in there to make it. One look at the account tells me why: pulled $107.94 from my bank account! That is a lump sum charge for 6 months of service, AFTER my account was cancelled, pulled all at once. What the heck?

The Good News is that it only took talking to 2 agents and 20 minutes of my time to get it straightened out. The Bad News is it took 6 days for the charges to be reversed. I now owe a $35 late fee to my landlord, which of course I just have to eat. 

My advice? Go to Consumer Affairs and read a few complaints, and you will see stories so similar to mine, but minus the quick refund. Most people don't get their money back, they are told over and over "these are legitimate charges" (what the first agent tried to tell me when I called about the missing $107.94) and even if they cancel the account, there is no guarantee you will not see more charges in the future, if these reviews are to be believed. 

Once the money was back in my account, I went to the bank and ordered a different debit card, cancelled the one I had used, and banged my head against the wall for not having used a prepaid card, like I always tell my readers. THIS IS WHY you use a dummy prepaid card for this stuff. So they can't mess up your finances and maybe your life. Luckily, I was able to soothe the landlord's ruffled feathers long enough for my funds to be reversed, and in the end there was no permanent harm. Other than the late fee that came out of my pocket. 

But let me tell you, this is not an experience I want to go through again. I think I finally learned my lesson. 

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

FREE $10 Zulily Credit = FREE Kid Gifts

Sign up with Zulily you can earn a FREE $10.00 Credit which will then be automatically taken off at checkout and will not appear in your account credits.
PLUS you can use it on items UNDER $10.00. There is no minimum means great freebies! ( just pay shipping) Hurry this ends 11/26!
Start HERE.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

4 Great FREE Gift Ideas from Vistaprint!

Get your customize-able freebies FAST while these great offers from Vistaprint last! 

Free Business Cards  (Make gift tags from the cards!)
Free Rubber Stamp (Don't return address your holiday cards, use this handy stamper!)
Free Business Card Magnets 
(or unique holiday card magnets!)
Free T-Shirt (Great Free Gift Idea!)

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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Get FREE Gifts for the Holidays! (Retail Freebie List Updated)

Here are the retail deals that are still available...remember, it is never too early to start stocking up for the holidays! 

* Be current on all things Adagio Teas by following them on Twitter! As a reward for following their tweets, they will send you a $5.00 gift certificate. This offer is only valid for new customers to Adagio Teas. Tell them Little Mom on the Prairie sent you! This is a great teacher gift when added to a pretty mug. 

FREE 60 Day Pass to BJs Wholesale Club! Exp. 12/31/2012 Get great deals!

*My munchkin is now almost 10, and is learning about money (and coupons!) so prepaid cards are a fun way to give allowance or holiday gifts. I just got her first card, and her allowance will be loaded on it each week. I am adding a little bonus of $10 for the holidays, to get her started. The card was FREE and you can get one here. This is a great gift for teens too!

Get a free Eat Smart Bar at GNC! Exp. 12/31/2012 Stay fueled while hitting the sales!

*$10 Off Coupon from Origins for Your Birthday (they send out a postcard for $10 off your $25 purchase) Great for buying gift sets or stocking stuffers.

*$10 Off Anything from World Market on Your Birthday (you can get a $10 off $10 coupon to World Market when you are a member of their Explorer Club!) You can get a pretty decent gift for $10! Check out 3 of the examples I've found:

*Get on the Victoria's Secret mailing list, and receive a coupon for $10 off any $10 purchase during your birthday month. They also send you a voucher for a free panty! Great gift for your husband [haha]! :)

*Here's another way to get some free Christmas gifts: Michael's does free Make-It-Take-It events throughout the month. Some are for kids, some are for adults, and the projects are often quite nice. If you get a sales flyer in your newspaper, upcoming events will be listed there, but you can also find them on their website.

*Don't forget you can get free shipping boxes for priority mail or Express mail at the USPS. Mailing can get expensive!

*Freebie from Sephora on Your Birthday (makes great stocking stuffers)

*Get a free personalized cell phone skin when you buy two specially-marked boxes of Playtex Gentle Glide tampons. Great gift for teens! 

*$5 Amazon MP3 Credit for FreePerfect if you plan to give a MP3 player as a gift. I am going to get one for my daughter and load it up with her favorite songs!

*Vitacost offers a $10 credit to new members, PLUS $10 if you have a friend sign up! You can get great organic gift sets, cute baby toys, pet gifts, stocking stuffers, and even organic snacks!

* gives away all sorts of freebies, you just pay s/h. For my munchkin, I got a personalized "Things to do" notepad, "Hey Mom!" sticky notepad (for her to leave me notes or reminders about school stuff), and a fun self inking stamp that says "Property of Genevieve" (for her books,etc).

*Get free pair Dry Feet Therapy Socks when you purchase any one Kerasal product then mail in the completed rebate form with proofs of purchase [original receipt and UPC]. Great stocking stuffer!

*FREE Personalized Liquor Labels for Knob Creek, Johnie Walker, Chivas Regal, Kahlua, GlenLive and Crown Royal. Use them to add something special to a bottle of their favorite!

Black & Mild Cigarette company is giving away a FREE Drink Shaker. I haven't gotten mine yet, but reports from friends tell me this is another high quality freebie! I plan to give mine to my father in law for Christmas.

*Dewar's is giving away a free Whiskey Glass! This would make a great gift for any guy in your life.

*L & M Cigarette company is giving away a really high quality lighter cover. This is a great stocking stuffer idea, or pair with a package of BIC lighters for a fun yet practical gift. 

My Tips:
1.  Use an alternate email address for freebie sign up. 

2. Get the deals ASAP! They go fast!

3. I add to my stash all year round, and I start the day after Christmas! Otherwise, our holidays would be pretty bare. Hit the huge sales with your coupons! 

4. Score great freebies, like from (who has ever-changing freebie offers, check our Facebook page for direct links to the freebies!) and stash them away. 

5. Donate any unwanted/unused freebies to shelters or food pantries...Get free toys and give them to Toys for Tots! It feels good to give!

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Free Printable Letter To Santa

A nice, simplified version that you can print and have your kids fill out! 

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Friday, November 16, 2012

Make Your Own (DIY) Jellied Cranberry Sauce in a Can!

I spent the first half of my formative years (until the age of 12) in a home where everything was made from scratch. My stepmother, a woman with family ties to the Amish community, was the original "Domestic Goddess". Every day she showed me how to do things around the house with supreme efficiency and frugality. But as important as saving my Dad's hard earned money was, she was also a stickler for quality and taste, as well as health. 

When I was a teen, I lived with my Mom, a fly-by-night kind of woman who moved us around constantly and can only really cook a few things well. Everything else was take-out or from a box, and while I don't think there is necessarily anything wrong with that, it was a huge change for me. Sometimes I absolutely HAVE to have something homemade, because its the only way it tastes right to me. I guess I was spoiled, culinarily speaking, when I was little. 

THIS tutorial is a mash up between the two worlds! While I am one of the only people in my house that will eat cranberry sauce, I am now sharing traditions with my own child. This has become one of our favorites, Homemade Cranberry Sauce in a Can! Complete with can ridges (though that part is optional) and a smooth blended, silky texture, minus the high fructose corn syrup and dyes. This is perfect for anyone who is finicky (picky), has food allergies or is trying to eat less processed foods. I used BPA free cans, too! 


1 (12 oz.) pkg. whole cranberries
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup apple juice, unsweetened if possible
1 1/2 cup sugar

Medium Saucepan
2 clean cans (BPA free if possible)
strainer, mesh sieve or food mill (whatever you have on hand)
wide mouth funnel


Picture by J.Rae

1. Combine water, apple juice and sugar in a medium sized sauce pan and bring to a boil. Add your rinsed cranberries and bring it back up to a boil (the cranberries will initially bring down your overall temperature, requiring that we bring it back to a boil). 

2. Simmer on med-high until all the cranberries have burst, stirring regularly. If it starts to thicken too quickly, add a little more water as needed.

3. Remove from heat. When cranberries are finished cooking, pour them into the bowl of the food mill, mesh sieve/strainer and use a rubber scraper to work it through, until all that remains in the bowl of the food mill/strainer is seeds and skins.

I used a mesh strainer and a spoon

4. Set a wide mouth funnel into your well-cleaned cans and scrape the warm cranberry sauce into the can, leaving a bit of space at the top.

Leave little space at the top!
5. Cover the filled cans with foil or plastic wrap and place them the fridge to set. If you can, give them at least 12 hours of chilling for molding.

To Serve:

1. Carefully slide the butter knife down along the side of the cranberry jelly and run it in a complete circle to loosen. Take care when you to this so you don’t end up slicing all the can ridges off the jelly. 

Sliding right out!

2. Once the sauce has been loosened, turn the can over onto your dish and give it a little wiggle and a tap. The jellied sauce should shimmy and shake its way out onto the dish!

Picture by J.Rae

3. If it remains stuck in the can, use the can opener to break the vacuum, by beginning to take the bottom off the can. I've found that you don’t have to remove it all the way,  just a little bit of air in there helps move things along. 

If you like this recipe, you can check it out with more step by step pictures over at Instructables!

You can also use this recipe for funneling into glass jars and processing in a boiling water bath  for canning. 

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Homemade Spa Day! DIY Olive Oil Sugar Scrub for Hands, Face and Entire Body!

I LOVE smooth, soft skin...harder to come by in the winter! People always ask me what my secret is, and I tell them 
"Olive oil sugar scrub - Head to toe!"

Olive oil is is good for your health (and delicious on pasta) but did you know it can also be good for your skin? This is especially true if you have extremely dry skin or are allergic to topical creams and lotions. Olive oil is one of those magical substances that is good for almost everything--your nutritional health, your hands and nails, and your hair,too! It might even protect your skin against sun damage and cancerUse Extra Virgin Olive oil because it doesn't clog your pores.

Be careful when applying, though -- olive oil might be good for your skin, but it's not so good for fabrics.

Sugar crystals are formed in a way that is MUCH less abrasive to skin than salt (I used to break out horribly after using a salt scrub!) and will slough off dead skin without scratching. 

For Hands: 
Pour 1-2 tablespoons of sugar into one hand. Pour about the same amount of Olive Oil into same hand. Rub the mixture in between your palms to combine and then spread it all over your hands. Working in circular motions all over your hands, scrub off all that dead skin!

For Face: 
I recommend pulling your hair back (if long) and adding a headband regardless of hair length - keep all the wispies away from the oil! Add 1-2 tablespoons of sugar into one hand. Pour about the same amount of Olive Oil into same hand and rub together between your palms. Slather this all over your face. Try to not go to crazy with the scrubbing, or else you’ll end up looking like you got hit in the face (red and raw) or have been crying.  Be gentle, use circular motions and be gentle. (No, not a typo... I mean it ~ with ANY face scrub, be gentle!)

For Entire Body: 
Add 1/2 cup sugar to a small bowl. Add in olive oil (approx. 1/4 cup, you want the mix to be wet but not so wet the sugar doesn't do its job). While in the shower or tub, rub the mixture in between your palms to combine and then spread it all over your body. Work in circular motions and remove the dead skin from arms, legs, everywhere! Rinse thoroughly with warm water and make sure to rinse your tub completely - this stuff can be slippery!

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

10 Easy and Fast Organization Tips That Will Amaze You

Credit: Houzz

This is one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” ideas. No longer will you have to take out every single pan!

Credit: The Crafty Cafe
Into crafting? Try using this trick to organize your colorful ribbons!

Credit: Little Lucy Lu
Who would have thought to use a ladder as a drying rack? I surely wouldn’t have, but I’m glad I discovered this nifty trick that I am passing on to you!
Credit: Credit: Meck Mom
Brilliant! A tissue box and trash can all-in-one!
Stumped as to how to store scarves? Place shower rings onto a hanger! Voila! So easy…a caveman can do it.
Credit: None found
How many times have you lost those small ponytails? Place your stash onto a key ring before you lose them! Unless, of course, you lose the key ring too…
Credit: Chez Larsson
Organize your family photos by year via a CD-rom.
Use a pencil drawer to organize your spice rack in your pantry! Major space saver!
Credit: Attempting Aloha
Use one of those closet shoe organizers to store kid’s school and craft supplies!
Credit: None found
Stuck on how to organize towels and washcloths? Use baskets!

Happy Organizing!

You may also like:

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why You Don't Need a Flu Shot

The weather turns chilly… someone sniffles…Suddenly, everyone in America wants a flu shot. Clinics and companies alike (such as Walgreens) toss open their doors, offering discounted and sometimes free flu shots. Getting a flu shot, or so the logic goes, means staying healthy during the impending flu season.

But here is the catch that seems lost on many anxious Americans:

The CDC and the vaccine industry are lying to you. 
"Our vaccines work so well that they offer almost total immunity from the flu," they claim. Yet somehow they also work so poorly that they "wear off" after a year and require you to be re-vaccinated annually. The lie that says you have be re-vaccinated each and every year, often with the exact same strains you were vaccinated with the previous year. The coming winter flu vaccines for 2012, for example, are being manufactured with the same strains as the 2011 flu vaccines.

There's something fishy about this. Because human antibodies last a lifetime, remember? That's why you don't get the chicken pox over and over again. The first time you got the chicken pox as a kid, your body created chicken pox antibodies and those antibodies last a lifetime. The vaccine industry tries to claim its vaccines work exactly the same way…They cause the body to produce antibodies against viral strains. But there's something you're not being told about vaccines: They don't produce the same quality and strength of antibodies that our bodies would produce from a natural infection. That's why the vaccines "wear off" and leave you with zero protection from the very strains they inoculate you against.
In other words, vaccines don't work as advertised. 

"This year's 
flu shot will be a duplicate of last year's because the same flu strains are still circulating," reports the Associated Press in an article about the CDC. "Government health officials are urging nearly everyone to get this fall's flu shot. They say a vaccine's protection can fade significantly after several months." 

You can immunize yourself against the winter flu
But here's the dirty little secret the CDC does not want you to know: 

If you…
Skip the vaccine
 Boost your vitamin D intake
Encounter the flu naturally
You will build natural antibodies to the flu.

The  best way to immunize yourself against any strain of the winter flu is to dose up on vitamin D, boost your nutritional intake (eat right), get healthy and go out into the world ~ stop worrying about exposing yourself to the flu! That isn't to say you shouldn't take precautions like washing your hands frequently, avoiding sick individuals, etc…but chances are you will pick it up somewhere, and if your immune system is functioning well with high levels of vitamin D, your body will build its own antibodies and you won't even know it!

Don’t fall for the hype, keep your money and take care of yourself!

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

Italian Flat Bread (From a Baking Mix)

I love making food ‘from scratch’, but we run a busy household: school, work, track practice twice a week, and so much more going on at all times! I've found a few acceptable shortcuts in the kitchen, such as using Bisquick baking mix to make fast and easy flat bread for dinner. 

2 Cups Baking Mix
1 Cup Water 
2 Tablespoons Butter or margarine; melted
1/2 Cup shredded Mozzarella Cheese 
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
 1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 Teaspoons Parsley (optional)
2 Teaspoons Italian Seasoning

1. Heat oven to 450.

2. Mix baking mix and water until stiff dough forms.

3. Place the dough in the freezer for 20 minutes, to stiffen the dough. Turn dough onto surface well dusted with baking mix; gently roll in baking mix to coat.

4. Shape into ball; knead 60 times. Pat dough into an 11-inch square on ungreased cookie sheet.

5. Spread butter or margarine over dough. Mix remaining ingredients; sprinkle over dough.

6. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are light golden brown.

Notes: I would use olive oil next time, instead of butter. This went great with my super easy Minestrone soup!

Happy Baking!

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