Christine Park

Monday, December 27, 2010

Shape up or Shapewear!

New Year's Eve is on a Friday night this year... which means, for the first time in decades, I might actually go out for a night on the town. Trouble is, I just spent the last month or so stuffing my face and expanding my waistline. You know how it is, from Thanksgiving through Christmas, it's an eating bonanza. So it's no surprise that snug LBD (little black dress) that I was thinking about wearing this Friday doesn't quite fit right. So I've got a couple options here:

1. Go on a 5-day Master Cleanse diet which will make me drop a few pounds but gain lots of enemies due to my irritability and irrational behavior from starvation.

2. Go shopping for a dress in a bigger size which will trigger a depression that could ultimately prevent me from wanting to go out.

3. Hit up the Spanx.

So option #3 seems most appealing and least damaging to my physical and emotional well-being. But how to choose? The pictures modeling shapewear always include women who obviously DON'T need shapewear because they don't have an ounce of fat or jiggle anywhere on their bodies. So here's a story I recently did in which Consumer Reports used REAL women with REAL curves to try out the most comfortable and effective shapewear. Also, check out this article which breaks down the best garment based on the body part that needs the most help. So good luck ladies, hope to see you in da club, shaking what your mama gave you (with a little help from Spanx, of course!)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas time... for many, a time of loss

My grandmother is dying of cancer and as Christmas nears, it becomes more of a miracle that she is still alive. It's been a roller coaster of emotions for all of us, as we dread yet pray for her passing. She is in a lot of pain and bedridden, but the other day when I visited, I found a lot of joy and comfort in being able to sing Christmas carols to her. She no longer responds or recognizes us, but our family is planning one last get together at her home this Saturday. We plan to talk, eat, exchange gifts, just like we do every year. Because that's what she would want us to do. There are some great articles written about this topic, including this one called "How to Deal with Death at Christmas." One of the best points I thought it made was: There is no harm or disrespect in celebrating. Your loved one would want you to find comfort when and where it comes.

How do you remember your dearly departed around this time? Any suggestions you can share?

Finally, I leave you with this incredible story about a teenage couple celebrating life and finding love even in the face of death.
Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Holiday Tip or Skip?

My girlfriend used to live in a New York City apartment that had a doorman. I remember her explaining to me how vital it was to tip him for the holidays. And if she didn't... she would never receive her packages again! Now I've never had a doorman hold a piece of mail hostage, but I do know several service providers that make my life better, easier, more beautiful, or in rare cases, like my hair person, all of the above! Obviously you're going to need to consider your personal budget. If you don't have the means, consider a handmade gift or even a handwritten, thoughtful note.

I found this handy holiday tipping guidelines from the Emily Post Institute.

Au pair or live-in nanny: Cash or consider a gift. This person works closely with your family and you probably know them well. (One week’s pay and a gift from your children.)

Regular babysitter: Cash. (One evening’s pay and a small gift from your children.)

Day care provider: Cash or a gift for each staff member who works with your children. (A gift from you or $25-$70 for each staff member and a small gift from your children.)

Live-in help (nanny, cook, butler, housekeeper): Cash and a personal gift. (One week to one month of pay as a cash tip, plus a gift from you.)

Private nurse: Gift (A thoughtful gift from you.)

Home health employees: Check with agency first about gifts or tipping policies. (If there is a no gifts/tipping policy, consider a donation to the agency.)

Housekeeper/Cleaner: Cash and/or a gift. (Up to the amount of one week’s pay and/or a small gift.)

Nursing home employees: A gift (not cash). Check company policy first. (A gift that could be shared by the staff like flowers or food items.)

Barber: Cash or gift. (Cost of one haircut or a gift.)

Beauty salon staff: Cash or gift depending on whether you tip well after each service. (The cost of one salon visit divided for each staff member who works with you. Give individual cards or a small gift each for those who work on you.)

Personal trainer: Cash or gift. (Up to the cost of one session or a gift.)

Massage therapist: Cash or gift. (Up to the cost of one session or a gift.)

Pet groomer: Cash or gift. (Up to the cost of one session or a gift.)

Dog walker: Cash or gift. (Up to one week’s pay or a gift.)

Personal caregiver: Cash or gift. (Between one week to one month’s salary or a gift.)

Pool cleaner: Cash or gift. (The cost of one cleaning to be split among the crew.)

Garage attendants: Cash or small gift. ($10-30 or a small gift.)

Newspaper delivery person: Cash or small gift. ($10-30 or a small gift.)

Mail carrier: Small gift only. (United States Postal Service’s gift regulations prohibit carriers from accepting cash gifts, checks, gift cards.)

Package deliverer: Small gift only, no cash. (Only if you receive regular deliveries.) Small gift in the $20 range. Most delivery companies discourage or prohibit cash gifts.

Superintendent: Cash or gift. $20-80 or a gift

Doorman: Cash or gift ($15-80. $15 or more each for multiple doormen, or a gift.)

Handyman: Cash or gift. ($15 to $40.)

Trash/Recycling collectors: Cash or gift (for private) check city regulations if it is a municipal service. ($10-30 each.)

Yard/Garden worker: Cash or gift. ($20-50 each)

Teachers: Gift (not cash) A small gift or note from you as well as a small gift from your child.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Family Tragedy in Merced County

There is a special place in hell for people who murder mothers and abandon babies to die in the cold. In this case -- the baby survived because it was found in time. But its body temperature was only 86 degrees. Thank God a neighbor heard/saw him on her doorstep and took him in. But if the baby had died in the cold, this would have been a double murder case. Heartbreaking.

As I was reading this story in the newscast yesterday, it made me sick to my stomach. Like literally, I wanted to throw up. When I first became a mother four years ago, my first story I had to cover coming back from maternity leave, was a baby abandoned in a dumpster. REALLY??? And ever since then, these kinds of stories are especially hard for me to read. I can read about death and destruction without batting an eye... but the death or abuse of a child gets my blood boiling. I know journalists are supposed to be impartial and all that, but we aren't. Our life experiences shape our viewpoints... and being a mom has made me sensitive to the plight of little ones. LOL... let me tell you how I REALLY feel.

I think this is a good time to remind people that California has a safe surrender law to save abandoned babies. The Safely Surrender Baby Law ( was put into effect January 1st, 2001 with the intention of providing parents/guardians with a safe way to "abandon" their child (typically a county fire station or hospital's emergency room). Since the law was enacted, a total of 331 infants have been saved in California.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Facebook for... Milk Sharing?

Anyone who's given birth in the last decade or so... has encountered what my friend affectionately calls, the "boob nazis." That is, the well-meaning nurses, doulas, moms, and other "lactivists" who push the new mom to breast-feed their newborn.

I nursed both my kids, Sydney for 10 months and Isaiah for 7 months. So I'm a firm believer in breast-feeding, both for selfish and unselfish reasons. Obviously, the health benefits for the baby are numerous... but for me, breast-feeding melted off the pregnancy pounds faster than I could say "postpartum!" So even after I went back to work a couple months after each was born, I faithfully toted my breast pump with me everywhere I went. And I mean EVERYWHERE. I remember asking my photographer to stand outside in the rain while I pumped in the live truck before I went on air. I remember pumping in a tiny unisex bathroom in a New York City club while waiting patrons pounded on the door outside. I was committed, and my cup runneth over... meaning I had a huge oversupply. Both freezers were stocked full... and I found myself reluctantly tossing bags and bags of frozen breast milk as they expired. Several relatives and friends shared similar stories with me... of valuable breast milk going down the drain.

I first heard about milk sharing during a newscast one day, when I read a story about a man whose wife passed away in childbirth and area moms were donating their breast milk. But there's a stigma around it in modern society, especially in the age of HIV. Remember the uproar last year over Salma Hayek who nursed a malnourished African baby? There are milk banks that screen and pasteurize donated milk and give priority to premature and very ill babies. The milk is often very expensive: $3 to $5 per ounce, upwards of $100 for a day's supply.

My co-anchor Matt Keller recently showed me this article in Time about how Facebook has become a way to connect moms who milk share. The reasons for milk sharing are compelling... a mother who can't breastfeed because she's on chemotherapy. Another is on active duty and has to leave her baby behind. Honestly, I don't know how I would personally feel about feeding my child a stranger's breastmilk, but there are plenty of people who participate.

A new network called Eats on Feets — a play on Meals on Wheels — uses Facebook to connect women whose babies need supplemental breast milk to women nearby who have extra milk to give away. Time reports the network has grown to 98 local groups, spanning all 50 states in the U.S. and 22 countries. More than 70 matches have been reported so far, with milk coming not only in bags and jars, but also sometimes directly from the source. Here's a link to the Northern California chapter. The founder posts this warning, and I would just like to re-post it to remind any readers who are thinking about milk sharing: KNOW THY SOURCE. While it is true that tribe feeding offers MANY benefits, there is ALWAYS the risk of disease/contamination.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Surviving Family Get-Togethers

I love my in-laws. I really do. My husband's side of the family has been kind, loving, and generous from the moment I met them when we were dating a decade ago. My mother-in-law keeps my freezer stocked with Korean food, which is very labor intensive, so my husband can get a taste of home on any given day with minimal effort on my part. And my sister-in-law, my brother's wife, is a dream. She is the most amazing auntie to my kids and she's an amazing cook. In fact, she is cooking up a Thanksgiving feast in my kitchen as we speak. I can't wait to sample her homemade pies and creamed corn and famous (or infamous) mac 'n' cheese (with bacon!)

But my TV husband, that's my male co-anchor for those of you not in the biz, showed me a hilarious Yahoo article he found about avoiding holiday family fights. The author explains how to manage 15 different and difficult personalities all clashing around the holiday dinner table.

I had a good laugh reading it, and you may too, because we all know a great aunt or second cousin (twice removed) who falls into one of these categories. Or maybe you do! Thanks to Real Simple blogger Amanda Hinnant for these tips.

The “Constructive” Criticizer: Often heard saying: “When I was in your situation, I knew exactly what I had to do.”
The offense: Gives you unsolicited advice about everything from raising your kids to raising your hemline.
Your course of action: “The criticizer relies on his ability to bait you,” says Sue Fox, author of Etiquette for Dummies ($22, Don’t take the bait. Thank him, point out facts he may have overlooked, and move on. If he keeps offering barbed comments disguised as advice, Caroline Tiger, author of How to Behave ($15,, suggests cutting him off with a breezy “Don’t worry about me—I’m fine!”
The Slacker: Often heard saying: “Yup, just a sec...I’ll be riiiight in.”
The offense: Refuses to help with the cooking, cleaning, child care, or even candle-lighting.
Your course of action: “Entertain the possibility that this person doesn’t realize anyone needs help, or perhaps he’s worried that if he were given a task to complete, he’d fail,” says Tiger. Give him precise instructions, something like “Vincent, it would be a great help if you went ahead and started rinsing the dishes. Let me get you an apron.”
The Cheerleader: Often heard saying: Anything with exclamation points. “Hey, guys! Let’s bundle up and go caroling in the snow!”
The offense: Hurls herself into the holiday spirit, donning seasonal sweaters with more doodads than a junk drawer.
Your course of action: If you’re not in the mood or if her joyousness feels forced, the cheerleader can be extremely irritating, says Fox. Don’t attempt to dampen her good cheer (she likes being the center of attention), but don’t let her cow you into wearing felt antlers to the table, either. Just keep your distance.
The Exaggerator: Often heard saying: “The Feds said the raid could not have gone down without my tip.”
The offense: Chronically oversells achievements, work situations, children’s accomplishments, size of fish caught.
Your course of action: “It’s rude to embarrass a guest who might be exaggerating due to feeling insecure,” says Tiger. “A little hyperbole on his part isn’t too much for you to endure if it makes him feel more comfortable.” Besides, everyone else at the table probably sees right through him, too, points out Barry Greenwald, Ph.D., associate professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
The Martyr: Often heard saying: Nothing. She’s still in the kitchen, slaving away over a hot stove.
The offense: Lets everyone know just how many potatoes she had to peel—and shows the blisters to prove it.
Your course of action: When she begins listing her suppertime sacrifices, interrupt with “And that is why you deserve to relax for the evening.” All you can do is ask if she needs help—if only to assure yourself that you tried. “She is obviously getting something she needs out of this, be it satisfaction or superiority,” says Tiger.
Keep reading, and see how to deal with your family's Bully, Gossip, Grinch, Drunk Uncle, and more! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Habits of a Happy Mom

I consider myself a happy mom. Sure, I have the occasional cry locked inside the closet (that time of the month!), but overall, I'm a pretty stress-free, go-with-the-flow, good-natured mommy. Poop on the floor? No problem! Hello Kitty stamps all over the wall? I try not to laugh. Late for preschool again? Oh well. I've learned not to sweat the small stuff.

My friend Lisa Gonzales, who is also a TV news anchor in Sacramento, started a Facebook page called Moms in the Morning. She posted this great little article from Yahoo about how to be a happy mom.

Here are 10 things happy moms do--so remember these tips in your day-to-day life!

1. Find time for yourself: Happy moms know they deserve a little time to themselves. When you know you're going to have a little room to breathe later on in the day, it's easier to take on everything that's in front of you. Our formula? Take 2 hours out for yourself every 3 days.

2. Don't make a happy baby, happier!: We all do see your baby's head at what you're sure is an unnatural angle snoozing in their car seat. You just know they'll be happier if their head was straight. So you move them. And they wake up. Then they scream. Or, you see them playing happily in the sand. You just know they'll be happier if they played on the slide. So you interrupt them and move them to the slide. And they're angry. And they let you know they're REALLY angry. Here's the thing, they were happy. It can be hard to do, but if your kid's not complaining, leave them be! Happy baby = Happy Mommy.

3. Embrace the mess: So your house doesn’t look like something out of a magazine. That just means it’s cozy! Your children have hands coated in dirt from the playground and faces coated in spaghetti from dinner. It’s not gross—it’s an adorable photo op! Life is about how you look at things. Next time that pile of laundry that’s been sitting on the chair for three days starts to get you down, just remember… it’s probably feng shui.

4. Make time for your friends: Your family can survive without you while you make time to see friends. You are a woman with your own identity and its imperative that you and that identity go out for some margaritas once in awhile!

5. Stop blowing yourself off: While you may be the one taking care of everyone, it doesn't mean you can't also get what you want. Help your family realize your needs are as important as theirs and when mom is happy, everyone is happy, but when mom is not....

6. Get in the zone: Take 10 minutes to do absolutely nothing but rest. Take a break from your day, close your eyes, breath in slowly and deeply through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Repeat several times. Think about a place you love that is relaxing, spend 10 minutes there in your mind.

7. Remember your dreams and goals: Everyday we are encouraging our children to reach their full potential. But sometimes in the midst of being a parent we forget about our own dreams and goals. The best thing you can do to encourage a child is to lead by example –happy moms hold on to their dreams and goals and don’t let go.

8. Be lighthearted: Don't be the uptight mom. Be silly and dance with your kids to their music or tv show tunes. Be romantic and pull your partner into a waltz. Dance in slippery socks in your kitchen while making dinner.

9. Bend the Rules: One of the best parts of making the rules is occasionally breaking them. Maybe it’s taking your child out of school for half a day on their birthday, or waking them up in the middle of the night to see a sky of shooting stars. Happy moms know how to turn the mundane into fun.

10. Mind your own business: Concentrate on creating your life the way you want it. Take care of you and your family. Don’t get overly concerned with what other people are doing or saying. Don’t get caught up with gossip or name calling. Stop seeking the validation of others and be confident in yourself.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Conquering the Cost of College

My cousin just finished applying to colleges. She applied to six UC schools, at $60 per application. She, or her parents, rather, spent $360 for the opportunity to try to attend one of these schools. If she gets in, the nickel-and-diming is just beginning. I found this great little chart for her to figure out the true cost of college, factoring in tuition and books -- whether she'll be living on or off campus or commuting from home. Either way, it looks like she'll be shelling out $20,000 to $30,000... a year. This is for public school.

And she can thank the state's budget crisis for that. The UC system has been hit with massive cuts in recent years. The State of California slashed $637 million from the UC school system in 2009-2010, and another $814 million in the 2008-2009 school year. So, to make up for that, the UC Board of Regents just voted in another tuition increase. Fees for Fall 2011 will go up by 8% next fall. This follows a 32% increase this year.

Earlier this month, the CSU’s Board of Trustees approved a mid-year tuition increase of 5% for this year and a 10% increase for the 2011-2012 academic year.The two step increase will raise undergraduate fees $105 for the rest of this year and approximately $440 for next year. This follows a 32% increase last year.

What's a parent to do? I mean, we've got a 529 savings plan for both kids. But at this rate, there's no way we'll save enough to cover the costs of college. I will, of course, fill out the FAFSA, but I'm not counting on any free money from the government. Our family's income disqualifies us from any grants or tuition breaks, and we don't want the kids to leave school saddled with thousands of dollars to repay in student loans. I recently did a story on finding cash for college. Applying for scholarships seems like the only option for students from middle to upper-middle class families.
Surfing for Scolarhips: Thankfully, the internet has made searching and applying for scholarships much easier. A couple good, free sites are and Just be aware, these are national scholarships, so the competition will be fierce. Also avoid services that charge a fee or any that guarantee money. You can find more info about scholarship scams here.
Look Local: Chambers of Commerce, Rotary Clubs, churches, and local businesses all award scholarships to local students. The advantage is the number of applicants is a lot smaller than some of the national awards you might find looking online. Your high school counselor will have a good idea where to start and what you might qualify for.
Ask Your Boss: Another good place to look is your own employer. Your children may qualify for help from your company or the parent corporation -- i.e. Disney owns ABC, so recently my co-worker's daughter applied for the Disney scholarship.
Happy hunting. Let me know if you have any strategies you'd like to share!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holiday Cards for the Ambitious

Are you one of THOSE people? You know who you are. The ones who have their Christmas cards in the mail the day after Thanksgiving. The ones who remind the rest of us that indeed, whether we like it or not, the holiday season is upon us and we are already behind!!!

Well, even if you haven't even thought about it until now, here are some deals and sites to get you started on your merry card making.

GOOD FOR TODAY ONLY: Valley Daily Deals has teamed up with Milestone Memories to offer 60% off for a Holiday Memory Package (redeem by November 16, 2011). For $90, photographer Michelle will provide:

  • One hour Outdoor Family Photo Shoot (up to 6 members)
  • Digital Files on Disc for personal use & re-prints
  • 50 photocards with photo of choice
If you've already got your family photo (the only one where everyone is actually looking at the camera), and you just need to print them out:

COSTCO has a great photo center. Of course, you have to be a member. But you can't beat the price, and the instant gratification. You can design and order online, then pick up in a store near you. I also like Costco's photo cards because the envelopes are foil-lined and don't look cheap. Right now, Costco's coupon book offers $5 off 50 photo greeting cards through November 28th!

WALMART is another great option if you're on a budget. The photo cards start at $0.28. You also have the option of picking up in store, but right now, they are offering free shipping on all greeting cards to your home.

Strictly online photo services like Snapfish and are more expensive sometimes, but they are always having sales. Right now Snapfish is offering 25% off cards with a coupon code MERRY2010. They are also doing a daily deal, where they throw in free product. Today is a free flip book. Shutterfly has 20% off all holiday cards through November 17th and free shipping on orders over $30 with the code SHIP30.

Look for free shipping, which can make a big difference in what you end up spending on your cards, especially since you'll have to spring for postage on top of what you pay for the cards. is offering free shipping on all items and Christmas cards are 50% off. Right now Vistaprint is offering free shipping on orders of $19.99 or more. This expires 11/18/2010.

Friday, November 12, 2010

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Does Texting Lead to Bad Behavior?

I recently read a story about how hyper-texting, or excessing texting by teens leads to risky behavior, including having sex and underage drinking.

The study, presented to the American Public Health Association, says that "Hyper-Texting" teens are more likely to have had sex or used alcohol or drugs, than teens who aren't excessive texters.

"Hyper-Texters" are described teens who text more than 120 times a day. The study found that these excessive texters were three-and-a-half times more likely to have had sex than those who text less.

The study also found that "hyper-networkers" -- teens who spend greater than 3 hours a day on social networking sites -- have a greater likelihood of being involved in risky behaviors including fighting and drinking alcohol

Research for the study was based on surveys of more than 4,200 students conducted at 20 public schools in the Cleveland area. Critics of the study say the results are questionable due to its limited sampling. They also didn't really explain WHY texting leads to more risky behavior.

Whether your kid is a hyper-texter or not, it's good to stay on top of the technology. TVNewsMom suggests texting with your kids, if you don't already do so, to keep current on the lingo. You don't want to be like that blissfully clueless dad, Phil Dunphy, in the show Modern Family (one of my faves!) who claims WTF means "Why the face?"

This is an excerpt from a recent story by one of my colleagues on cryptic codes kids use while texting. I thought I was pretty young and hip, but I didn't know any of these.

"PAW" is an abbreviation for "parents are watching."

There's also CD 9, short for "Code 9," which is another way kids warn one another not to send certain messages because their mom or dad might see them.
"DOC" means "drug of choice."
Some codes just use the first letter of each word, like "GNOC" means "get naked on camera" or LGH, short for "let's get high."
Others replace whole words with one letter or number, like "CU 46" which stands for "see you for sex."

Do you guys know of any good ones?

Experts warn parents need to educate themselves. Samantha Segars, the Director of Sierra Vista Child and Family Services in Merced says, "It's a new language. I think adults can learn how to speak the language." She suggests parents search for teen texting dictionaries online. A good one is But since kids also make up their own abbreviations, she says the most important thing is communication. Talk to them about the risks and consequences of sexting -- how that stuff can easily get leaked onto Facebook or fall into the wrong hands if they lose their phones.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

DEALS AND STEALS: Free Meals for Military

In honor of veterans day, here's how vets and active military can score some free food today. I am just re-posting an article I found on SlashFood.

A whole slew of restaurant chains are getting into the spirit by offering free deals to both active duty and retired military personnel. And to show our own appreciation, here's a roundup of some of the best offers out there. (Just remember to take along your military ID or some proof of service to avoid any hassle.)
And for more free deals for veterans, visit WalletPop.

Krispy Kreme: Free doughnut of choice.

Hy-Vee: The Midwest supermarket chain is offering a free hot breakfast at all locations with in-store dining, including scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hashbrown casserole and biscuits and gravy.

Subway: Free 6-inch sub (at participating locations).

Texas Roadhouse: Some locations are offering free entrées until 4 pm, so essentially lunch. Call your local Texas Roadhouse to see if it's participating.

Hooters: Choose from one of four free "specialty menu items" with the purchase of a drink: Nacho Ordinary Burger, BBQ Sandwich, Baja Burger or Speedway Chicken Sandwich.

Pizzeria Uno Chicago Grill: Free entrée or pizza with purchase of any entrée or pizza of equal or greater value.

Boston's The Gourmet Pizza: Free individual one-topping pizza from 5–7 p.m.

Chili's: Pick from six free menu items: Oldtimer with Cheese, Quesadilla Explosion Salad, Margarita Grilled Chicken, Cajun Chicken Pasta, Chicken Crispers or Chicken Club Tacos.

Applebee's: Probably the most heavily promoted Veterans Day promotion, Applebee's expects to serve more than a million free meals this year. The chain's special Veterans Day menu includes the 7-ounce house sirloin, bacon cheeseburger, Three Cheese Chicken Penne, a chicken tenders platter, oriental chicken salad, Fiesta Lime Chicken and Double Crunch Shrimp.

T.G.I. Friday's: Save this one for the weekend, because T.G.I. Friday's is offering its Veterans Day special from November 11 through November 14: free entrée with purchase of another entrée.

Golden Corral: The chain is celebrating its 10th annual "Military Appreciation Monday" on November 15, which includes a free dinner buffet and beverage.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

In Honor of Veterans Day: FREE WEDDING GOWNS

You might be wondering what wedding dresses have to do with our veterans. Well, I just caught this on The View. They did an entire episode on how to get things for free. It was great info... I suggest you watch, if you get a chance.

So one of the things I found out is, of you are a bride-to-be in the military, or you are engaged to someone in the military, you can get a FREE WEDDING DRESS over the next couple of days. It's called the Nationwide Military 2010 Wedding Gown Giveaway. Bridal salons are uniting across America to donate and giving away wedding gowns to qualified military brides. Most of the gowns are samples and overstocks and are worth approximately $500 to $3000. Dresses range in sizes from 4-22 and will be given away on a first-come, first serve basis as long as you qualify. Go to Brides Across America to look up a store near you. Unfortunately, for my Fresno readers, all the participating stores in California are down south. But I would say, it's worth the drive!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

DEALS AND STEALS: Disney Store Friends and Family

Just got a heads up on this great friends and family discount for the Disney Store. How could I keep this to myself?
Do you believe in magic? TVNewsMom does. Stepping inside any Disney store during the holidays can be magical... especially if you walk out without triggering an "I WANT THIS MOMMY!!!" tantrum.

Now you can afford to buy what your little one wants. From November 11 - 15, print out this coupon and redeem it for a 20% discount at any Disney Store in North America or enter the code DISNEYFAMILY online at .

Monday, November 8, 2010

DEALS AND STEALS: Free coffee and Gap's "Give and Get"!

Every Friday this month, get your caffeine fix for free at Burger King. The chain is trying to eat away at McDonald's breakfast business and you benefit. Every Friday in November during breakfast hours, BK will give away free 12-ounce cups of Seattle's Best Coffee. Customers don't have to buy anything. The chain will also give away coupons for free iced Seattle's Best Coffee for a future visit.

Gap is holding a "Give & Get" event. Basically, for 4 days only, November 11–14, you can shop at Gap, Old Navy, or Banana Republic and get 30% off using this coupon in stores. And in return, the Leukemia Lymphoma society or... you can designate a charity of your choice will get 5% of your purchase. If you're shopping online, here's a promo code: L9GK6YHQPL6W and shipping is free with a purchase over $50.

Friday, November 5, 2010

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Don't Try the Gouda...

Who doesn't love Costco? Who doesn't love the samples at Costco? In a pinch, TVNewsMom has been known to feed the kiddos their entire lunch on samples alone. A fruit drink sample here, a paper cup of mac 'n' cheese there. Luckily we skipped the gouda!

Gouda cheese given as samples and sold at Costco stores in five different states, including California, is being recalled after an E. coli outbreak sickened 25 people. The cheese was made by Bravo Farms... located right here in the lovely Central Valley town of Traver.

Health officials believe the people got sick after eating Bravo Farms Dutch Sytle Raw Milk Gouda Cheese (item #40654) sold and offered at in-store tastings between Oct. 5 and Nov. 1.
Symptoms of E. coli infection include bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, dehydration and in severe cases, kidney failure and death!!! The cheese was sold at Costco stores in California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Nevada.

Costco is offering refunds to customers.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

DEALS AND STEALS: Nordstrom Half-Yearly Sale for Women and Kids

It's that time of year again! Nordstrom is having its half-yearly sale for women and kids. Honestly, I don't shop Nordies often... but sometimes the deals are too good to resist. Last year, I got both my kids crocs for an amazing price ($16.90, normally $29.95) plus free shipping. For the half-yearly sale, there's FREE SHIPPING on online orders of $100 or more. Use promo code HOLIDAY10 when you check out.

For the sole purpose of research (ha!) I've been perusing the site, and women's shoes are 20% to 40% off, even UGGs which never go on sale! Check out the kids clothes -- brands like Juicy Couture and Mini Boden are on sale 33% off.

One more note: one of my friends commented that comparing in-store and online prices, she found that online was usually cheaper.

Happy Shopping!

Not-So-Happy Meals?

First Santa Clara... now San Francisco. Officials -- citing concerns over childhood obesity -- have banned restaurants from giving away toys with their kids' meals. But what's a happy meal without the happy?

A McDonald's spokesperson said, "We are extremely disappointed with this decision. It's not what our customers want, nor is it something they asked for."

TV News Mom could not agree more. It is a parent's right and responsibility to decide whether or not to purchase a fast food meal. I don't know a single mom or dad who "unknowingly" bought these meals, thinking they were healthy. At least at our home, they are an extremely rare "treat" and the toy is part of the fun.

Under the ruling, scheduled to take effect in December 2011, San Francisco restaurants will be allowed to include a toy with a meal only if the food and drink in the meal contain fewer than 600 calories, less than 640 milligrams of sodium and if less than 35 per cent of the calories are derived from fat (less than 10 per cent from saturated fat), except for fat contained in nuts, seeds, eggs or low-fat cheese. In addition, the meals must contain a half-cup or more of fruit and three-quarters of a cup or more of vegetables. A breakfast meal must contain at least a half-cup of fruit or vegetables. SF Superviors argue this will promote healthier eating habits.

Seriously? Taking away a toy is your answer to childhood obesity? What say you, readers?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween's Over, Now What?

I just spent 15 minutes sorting through my two kids' Halloween buckets, picking out the "good" candy, like Twix (my fave!), Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, and Butterfingers. But then I ended up with three pounds of the "undesirable" candy... or, like I like to call pinata filler. (Smarties, Jawbreakers, and Tootsie Rolls).

Then I stumbled upon this article in the Fresno Bee about some dentists who will pay cash for candy ($1 per pound). The dentists then donate it to Operation Gratitude, a national nonprofit organization that sends the candy and care packages to U.S. soldiers overseas.

Here are some participating dentists in the Fresno area:

Dr. Treva Lee's office at 2630 N. Fresno St., will collect candy between 4 and 6 p.m. today.

Dr. Tamer Michiel's office at 3796 N. Fresno St., will also collect candy between 4 and 6 p.m. today.

Dr. Michael T. Bodensteiner 4148 S. Demaree St. in Visalia will buy candy between 3 and 5 p.m. today through the next few days.

This is a win-win situation. Less cavities for the kids, and you get to help out a smile-worthy cause. Now how to convince the kiddos to part with a bucket full of candy. I think it's time to instill the fear of the dentist drill. LOL

Friday, October 29, 2010

DEALS AND STEALS: Black Friday Before Halloween?

That's right. I said Black Friday is today. For some retailers, at least. The real Black Friday is still 5 weeks away, but some stores are already dropping prices to get an edge on (extra) early holiday shoppers.

Consumer Reports went shopping, here are some of the major markdowns they found:

Remember that availability can vary from location to location.

Sing-a-ma-jigs (normally $12.99) are marked down to $9.99. It appears they're out of stock online, but check in your local store.

Kung Zhu or Zhu Zhu Pets purchase of $75 or more is 30% off!

All Leapster toys are 25% off.

Prices valid from October 31 thorugh November 24, 2010.

Hoover WindTunnel Anniversary Edition U6485-900 upright vacuum marked down to $189, with free shipping.
Cuisinart DCC-1200 12-Cup Brew Central is $65.50; a factory-reconditioned model is $52.98.
Weed Eater’s FB25 gasoline-powerd handheld leaf blower is $68.60. The handheld electric Toro 51599 is $69.97.
Olympus’ Outback 8x21 RC1 binoculars are $43.99.


Five Dyson vacuums are $100 off: The DC24 Ball Upright ($299), the DC14 All Floors Upright ($349), and the DC23 Motorhead Canister ($499). (Vacuum Ratings.)
Select Whirlpool, Maytag and KitchenAid appliances are 20 percent off. (CR Appliance guides.)
All Energy Star-qualified appliances are 10 percent off and include free delivery and recycling.


On “Sears Days” (Friday and Saturday) price cuts include Craftsman tools and Kenmore appliances. Shoppers can also get a $10 off coupon on the Sears website. (CR Appliance guides.)
Select Kenmore Elite dishwashers and Kenmore Elite high-efficiency washers and dryers are 30 percent off. (Ratings: Dishwashers; Washers; Dryers.)
All Kenmore Elite freezers are 25 percent off. (Freezer Ratings.)
Some Kenmore, KitchenAid and Whirlpool appliances and Maytag washers and dryers have had their prices cut by 20 percent. (CR Appliance guides.)
Craftsman 25 cc gas blower is $89.99; a Craftsman 30-inch poly leaf rake is $14.45. (Leaf blower Ratings.)

Home Depot

Prices have been lowered across a wide range of lawn and yard equipment, including leaf blowers and chain saws. (Ratings: Leaf blowers; Chain saws.)
All Energy Star-qualified appliances have been reduced by 10 percent, including free haulaway of old appliances. (CR Appliance guides.)
Select Maytag cooking appliances are reduced 15 percent and prices of some GE cooking appliances have been cut by 20 percent. (Ratings: Ranges; Cooktops and wall ovens.)

Best Buy

Free delivery and recycling on appliances over $599. (CR Appliance guides.)
Discounts of 10, 15 and 20 percent for buying two, three or four major appliances.
Some pairs of steam-equipped washing machines and dryers are 15 percent off. (Ratings: Washers; Dryers.)
Gift cards ranging from $25 to $150 are being offered with the purchase of some Maytag appliances.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Stroller Recall

These days we are bombarded with news of recalls. Every day brings a new announcement from the Consumer Product Safety Commission, so the information often goes in one ear and out the other. Bad booster seats, dangerous dropside cribs, strollers that strangle, the list goes on. If you want to stay on top of all the latest recalls, subscribe to the CPSC's e-mail notices.

Today's recall includes the Graco Quattro Tour, seen in the picture to the right, and Metrolite strollers and travel systems. Four babies died because they weren't strapped in and slid down and strangled between the stroller tray and seat bottom. Obviously, part of the responsibility lies with parents, to strap in their children. But failure to do so should by no means have deadly results! The strollers and travel systems were distributed between November 2000 and December 2007. For the model numbers, which can be found on a label at the lower portion of the rear frame, just above the rear wheels or underneath the stroller, click here. Contact Graco for a repair kit. Strollers purchased after December 2007 should be okay. In 2008 companies started manufacturing strollers with larger openings to prevent strangulation.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Best Phone Apps for Moms

I never knew how much I depended on my Droid until I fried it. More like murdered it by submerging it underwater. Of course it was a natural instinct to save my drowning son, who I had been taking pictures of to post on Facebook just a split second before. But I couldn't help but wonder, if even for a split second, if I made the right choice. KIDDING. Verizon told me I was out of luck. Water damage is not covered under warranty. Two weeks without my smart phone was unbearable. First, I went through denial: I'll be fine without it. Second, I went through withdrawal: actually feeling emotional and physical pain and sadness from its absence. But dear hubby, sick of my moping around and missing appointments, came to the rescue and found me a Droid, just like my old one on eBay. Aaaah, reunited and it feels so good!

This got me thinking, how critical my phone and its applications had become to my life. So TVNewsMom wanted to compile a list of some of the best apps for busy moms like you and me.

Period Predictor ($.99): Ever since hubby got the big V and I got off the pill, my period seems to creep up on me by surprise. My last visit from "Aunt Flow" came during my family vacation to Orlando. Needless to say, I was unprepared. With this app, just report your period, it will keep the record and predict the next one based on the past dates. Available on iPhone. Along the same vein, if you're trying to add to your family, Fertility Friend (FREE) for iPhone, Android or Blackberry phones is a good one. To get to the mobile site enter the following URL in your mobile web browser: Personal Finance (FREE): No more old fashioned checkbook balancing. Add in transactions while you're shopping. The app also provides budget information and a look at what categories (food, entertainment, kids) money has been spent throughout the month. Available for both iPhones and Android phones.

Coupon Sherpa (FREE): This app creates a list of nearby retailers that are offering coupons and discounts. You tap on the store, view the offer, and if you’re interested in the discount, you can bring up the coupon in Safari. Many stores will either scan the code directly from your phone or type it in. Available on iPhone only.

Mom Maps (FREE): Mom Maps provides information about different “kid-friendly" spots in your area, including parks, playgrounds, restaurants, museums and indoor play areas. You can use your phone’s current location to view spots that are nearby. They’ll appear on a map, and you can tap on the spot you’re interested in to see the address, directions, phone number, URL and reviews, if they’re available. Available on iPhone only.

How to Cook Everything ($4.99): This best-selling, first-of-its-kind app of NYTimes columnist Mark Bittman’s bestselling cookbook includes 2,000 recipes and 400 how-to illustrations — plus specially designed features for the mobile user. Recipes can be saved to a favorites list or added directly to a shopping list. This list can be sorted alphabetically or by aisle, which is a great extra feature in a cooking app. Available on iPhone only.

Web MD Mobile (FREE): Every mother has, at some point, worried about her child’s mysterious symptoms. When trying to decide whether to call the pediatrician, consult the Web MD app “Symptom Checker.” It walks you through a series of questions about symptoms to determine if everything is going to be fine or if you need to get help. The app also contains a First Aid section with information and visual guides for emergency procedures like CPR. Web MD Mobile is a great free medical resource. Available on iPhone only.

Amazon Mobile (FREE): Too busy to go shopping? You’ll be able to see the same information that you get on the website: prices, reviews, comments, etc. Plus you can make purchases directly from the app. I often use Amazon Mobile when I’m out shopping and want to see if a product is less expensive online before I buy. Available on both iPhone, Blackberry and Android phones.

Potty Predictor
($3.99): Take the guess work out of potty training. This app gives you all the tools to successfully potty train while still being on the go! This app actually has predictive logic that will help you and your child avoid those untimely accidents, and help teach and reinforce successful trips to the potty. Available on iPhone only.

Urban Spoon (FREE): Urbanspoon is a faithful app that will help you discover new restaurants in your area, based on types of cuisine and price ranges. Restaurant information includes the phone number, address and a Google map of the location. You’re able to tap a button and vote whether or not you like the restaurant. Available on iPhone or Android phones.

e-Nag Reminders ($2.99): e-Nag Reminders lets you schedule text message prompts. You can put the text together while it’s on your mind (feed the dog, pick up dry cleaning, pick up kid) and then tell the app exactly when you want the reminder message sent. Available on iPhone only.

LRNthelingo ($.99): LRNthelingo is a great resource for parents of children who are sending texts and instant messages to their friends. It provides explanations and descriptions of text codes, emoticons and slang. If you’re looking for something specific, LRNthelingo will let you search their library. Things can be viewed as expressions or in the form kids use when they type them: as slang, emoticons and text codes. If you want to understand what your children are
saying to their friends, this is a great resource. Available on iPhone only.

Grocery IQ (FREE): Grocery IQ is a grocery list app that is designed to help you quickly make and share lists by typing in items or scanning product barcodes. Lists can be created for different stores and can be sorted by aisles. You can rearrange the aisle order for the different stores so the list shows items in the right spot. Grocery IQ is linked in with and shows you coupon offers within the app. These coupons can be “clipped” and emailed or printed out for later use. Available for both iPhones and Android phones.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Starting a Hobby Without Breaking the Bank

I scrapbook. Or I should say I scrapbooked. As in past tense. There are hundreds of dollars worth of supplies collecting dust in my closet. Papers, ribbons, and stamps that I once HAD to have after attending a scrapbooking convention. Yes, I KNOW how nerdy that sounds.

But this is my modus operandi. I also have a brand new sewing machine, a gym membership I keep having to freeze, and a brand new tennis racquet with adorable, but useless tennis skirts.

So before you dive into your next hobby head first, here are some ways to do it without breaking the bank.

PICK A CHEAP HOBBY: This might seem obvious, but some hobbies are a LOT cheaper than others. For example, if you're trying to decide between golf and jogging, jogging is a LOT more affordable. All you need is a pair of running shoes and comfortable clothing. Whereas golf clubs, green fees, shoes... all add up very quickly.

TAKE A CLASS: Craft stores Michaels and Joann have tons of classes for popular hobbies like bow-making, crocheting, you name it. Home Depot has classes that are a do-it-yourselfer's dream. Classes allow you to get a hand-on experience for a small fee.

RENT EQUIPMENT/BORROW FROM FRIENDS: When you're starting out with something new, see if you can try it for free before investing any money. If you want to learn to play a keyboard, see if a friend will lend you hers for a few weeks. I could have easily borrowed my husband's tennis racket for my beginner's lessons before buying my own. If you want to try out ice skating or bowling, those facilities always rent out the necessary equipment.

BUY BASIC EQUIPMENT AND SUPPLIES: As a beginning photographer, you don't need the latest and greatest camera from Canon. As a wannabe chef, hold off on the top-of-the-line cookware. It's tempting, but recognize your passion for your new found hobby can quickly wane, and your new things (like mine did) could end up collecting dust. You can find basic, entry-level products on eBay or Craigslist, or secondhand in classified ads. Shop around and look at reviews – you want something which will give you a good introduction to your new hobby, not something that falls apart after a few uses. Consider hobby kits -- they're also a good introduction to crafty hobbies like model building, scrapbooking, knitting -- and they contain everything you need to get started.

AVOID ADVANCE OR SUBSCRIPTION PAYMENTS: However enthusiastic you're feeling right now, gyms make much of their money from all the people who pay monthly and rarely or never set foot inside. Look for ways to try out a new hobby without paying up-front for weekly classes, a monthly magazine, or similar. Yes, it's more expensive on the face of it to pay for individual gym sessions or to buy copies of a monthly journal in the store, but if you lose interest after a month or two, it'll work out a lot cheaper.

SELL YOUR OLD STUFF: Most of us have a lot of stuff which we're not using. Exercise bikes, musical instruments, DVDs, computer equipment ... all sorts of things which we bought a while ago and haven't touched in months or years. How about selling some of that clutter on eBay? It might be trash to you – but treasure to someone else. With a bit of extra money (and extra space!) you'll find it much easier to get started on your new hobbies and interests.

Monday, September 20, 2010

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Just Between Friends Consignment Sale

TV News Mom is drowning in maternity clothes, baby gear, and tiny but adorable outfits that I can't bear to part with. After two kids, and no more planned, all that STUFF is piling up in my closets (and at my mom's house across town). The other day, my aesthetician (thanks Jen!) told me about Just Between Friends! "The Nation's Largest Children's and Maternity Consignment Sales Event Franchise." The website describes it like this:
These are not retail stores but rather savings extravaganzas--shopping events that happen usually twice a year per location. At these events, consignors bring their new and gently-used children's and maternity merchandise to sell. Shoppers can then browse and purchase these items at great savings, usually far below retail prices.

Fresno's fall event is coming October 1st through the 3rd. If you're a shopper, there are toys, baby gear, furniture, clothes, shoes, everything you need for your little ones. The merchandise is inspected for quality. Some stuff still has the price tags on! My aesthetician swears she spent just $100 at the recent Visalia event and her 6-month old's wardrobe is set until he's two!!! If you're a consignor, follow this link for instructions on how to sell your goods. For readers not in the Central Valley, there are JBF events all over the state and the country. As for me... I'm looking forward to cleaning out my closets... and making some money! See you there!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

PRODUCT TEST: Neuro Drinks

Sleep in a bottle. Passion in a bottle. Happiness in a bottle. IF ONLY!!!
Neuro drinks make a lot of promises and TV News Mom HAD to check them out.

So here's what I found in my unscientific tests:

Neuro Sleep
Active Ingredients: Magnesium Glycinate, L-Theanine, 5-Hydroxytryptophan, and Melatonin

Taste: Mild, non-carbonated orange flavor. Like the Hi-C orange drink at McDonald's, watered down because you put too much ice in.

Effect: My eyes were so heavy by the time I hit the pillow for my afternoon nap, I don't remember even closing them and falling asleep. This, however, could be attributed to the fact that I got only about 5 hours of sleep the night before. I normally nap about 2 hours... but after drinking this, I slept for 3 hours straight, and woke up VERY groggy.

Neuro Trim
Active Ingredients: LuraLean, L-Carnatine, Caffeine, Gymnema Sylvestre, Resveratol, and Grean tea extract

Taste: Hint of citrus, also non-carbonated. Pretty unoffensive.

Effect: Drank this before a dinner out with the family at our favorite sushi joint. I honestly felt like it was working. I had no appetite. I probably could have sat through dinner without eating. That is, until they placed a delectable looking sushi roll right in front of me. So I took a bite. And strangely, with every bite, the hungrier I got. I ended up killing that roll. Moral of this story, don't eat if you want this to work.

Neuro Sonic

Active Ingredients: Taurine, Glucuronclactone, Acetyl-L Carnitine, L-Phenylalanine, Caffeine, L-Theanine, Alpha GPC, Inositol, Eluetherococcus senticocus, and reservatrol

Taste: My least favorite. Carbonated but sickeningly sweet. Reminded me a little of Red Bull.

Effect: Drank this before reporting for work one morning at 3:30am. Felt a little sick to my stomach and jittery, but my mind did not become intensely focused. I just know I had to get up and pee every 30 minutes.

Neuro Bliss
Active Ingredients: Acetyl-L Carnitine, L-Phenylanaline, S-Hydroxytryptophan, L-Theanine, Eleutherococcus senticosus, Rhodiola rosea, and Gingko biloba

Taste: One of my favorites! Lightly carbonated, a little like grapefuit juice, but without the bitter aftertaste.

Effect: Downed a bottle of Neuro Bliss on a Friday after a VERY long week at work. And lo and behold, I was downright gleeful for about three hours. Even the idiot tailgater behind me couldn't ruin my sunny disposition.

Neuro Gasm
Active Ingredients: Arginine AKG, L-Citrulline, Acetyl-L-Carnitine, L-Norvaline, L-Phenylalanine, Caffeine, L-Theanine, Alpha GPC, Inositol, L-Lysine

Taste: My other favorite. It's strawberry soda. Didn't know strawberry soda was an aphrodisiac. Ordering Fanta from now on.

Effect: BEST SEX EVER!!! Made you look! Put me in a frisky mood. But ever since I turned 33 1/2, I am always in the mood. Don't know whether this works or not. But I would not recommend drinking 14.5 ounces of ANY liquid (unless it's liquid courage) before doing the deed.

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Best Booster Seats


Fit matters when it comes to booster seats. That's the conclusion in the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety's recently released tests.

A good fit means the booster seat raises your child up so that the seatbelt lap belt is flat and tight across the upper thighs, not the stomach. And the shoulder belt is snug across the mid-shoulder, not digging into the neck or slipping off the shoulder. Parents: check the fit for each kid. Don't rely on the booster seat to provide the right fit. There are no federal standards on how boosters position seatbelts.

I checked my own daughter, who is 4 years old, in her booster seat. In California a child who is between 4 and 6 and 40 and 60 pounds must be secured in a booster in the back seat. Well, turns out hers is not a good fit. The seatbelt, as you can see in the picture below, is digging into her neck, which the IIHS says is an obvious red flag. This can injure a child in a crash.


The IIHS test results are below. Testers used a dummy to simulate a 6 year old in crash tests. For the first time top-rated boosters outnumber ones the Institute doesn't recommend. And what they found is one size does not fit all, when it comes to both cars and kids. Some boosters fit well in some cars, but not SUV's, and vice versa. What's also interesting is even within the same manufacturer, some performed well and others didn't. So again, the most important thing it to check the fit of each booster seat in each individual vehicle and for each individual child. That way, your precious cargo has the best possible protection.

Best Bets

Britax Frontier 85 (combination highback)
Chicco Keyfit Strada (dual highback)
Clek Oobr (dual highback)
Cosco Juvenile Pronto (dual highback)
Cybex Solution X-Fix (highback)
Eddie Bauer Auto Booster (dual highback)
Evenflo Big Kid Amp (backless)
Evenflo Maestro (combination highback)
Graco TurboBooster Crawford (dual highback)
Harmony Baby Armor (dual highback)
Harmony Dreamtime (dual backless)
Harmony Dreamtime (dual highback)
Harmony Secure Comfort Deluxe (backless)
Harmony Youth Booster Seat (backless)
Maxi-Cosi Rodi XR (dual highback)
Recaro ProBOOSTER (highback)
Recaro ProSPORT (combination highback)
Recaro Vivo (highback)
Recaro Young Sport (combination highback)
Safety 1st Boost Air Protect (dual highback)
The First Years Pathway B570 (highback)

Good Bets

Britax Parkway SG (dual highback)
Combi Kobuk Air Thru (dual backless)
Combi Kobuk Air Thru (dual highback)
Evenflo Symphony 65 (3-in-1 highback)
Graco TurboBooster Sachi (dual highback)
Graco TurboBooster Wander (dual highback)
Maxi-Cosi Rodi (dual highback)


Eddie Bauer Deluxe (combination highback)
Eddie Bauer Deluxe 3-in-1 (highback)
Evenflo Express (combination highback)
Evenflo Generations 65 (combination highback)
Evenflo Sightseer (highback)
Harmony Baby Armor (dual backless)
Safety 1st All-in-One (3-in-1 highback)
Safety 1st Alpha Omega Elite (3-in-1 highback)

Monday, September 6, 2010

DEALS AND STEALS: Coinstar... Keep the Change!

Who doesn't have a bowl of loose change sitting in their home or car? Weighing down your wallet... cluttering your clutch... pennies all over your purse!

I used to diligently try to use my change when paying for things with cash at the register. But then I started getting dirty looks from the people in line behind me and exasperated sales clerks rolling their eyes.

So hubby proposed putting a little container in the kitchen... where he and I could deposit all of our change. Cute. Like from the movie Up when Carl and his wife save up for their dream home. Or like my daughter pointed out, like Tiana saves up for her restaurant in the movie Princess and the Frog. I agreed, thinking, it would take months to build up, maybe five dollars. Then we would take it to a Coinstar to get some cold hard cash, for a fee, of course (9.8 cents per dollar counted.)

Never underestimate the power of pocket change! After just a few weeks, I took the quart-sized jar to the Coinstar kiosk at my local supermarket and watched, amazed, as the amount went up to $49!!! Even better, Coinstar waives the fee if you cash in for a gift card with one of their partners, including Amazon, Old Navy, Lowe's, and Starbucks! Even better, when you cash in $40 or more at Coinstar they'll throw in a bonus $10 iTunes gift card. LOVE IT!!!
So I walked away feeling richer, smarter, and inspired. Usually only online shopping does that for me. LOL.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

NEWS YOU CAN USE: Plastic Bag Vote

A Santa Monica assemblywoman's push to ban plastic shopping bags in California failed last night in the State Senate. So, for now, plastic bags are still legal in the Golden State. (Though some cities like San Francisco, Malibu, and Palo Alto passed ordinances banning them)

You don't have to agree or disagree with the regulation to try to do your part to help the environment. Using reusable bags will help keep the tons of plastic, even paper, bags from reaching landfills. Trust me, I am ALL about convenience and ease of use. But really, what advantages do plastic/paper bags hold over reusable ones? Some retailers even pay YOU to use a reusable bag. CVS gives you $1 in Extra Bucks Rewards every fourth time you use your own bag, but you have to buy a 99-cent bag tag first. It all adds up, so check the register and if you don't see your discount, ask! If it makes no difference to you, then join me in going green. IT FEELS REALLY GOOD. My biggest obstacle was simply remembering my reusable bags. Simple solution: I keep 'em in the trunk of my car.

Consumer Reports tested eight bags sold by national chains and regional stores, including Whole Foods, Walmart, Target and Trader Joe's. Most cost $1 or less. Many of them are made from recycled material, which is cool. The above Whole Foods bag held the most, with the largest capacity. All stood up to strength testing as well as multiple hand washings. But the Walmart bag had issues with leaking. The bottom line: any of the $1 bags tested are good alternatives to the usual paper or plastic bags.

Eyelashes for Your Car?

Coming soon to a car near you... eyelashes. As a way to individualize and feminize your car, I guess. Why not? Guys have the option of Carstache or Truck Nutz... as a way to display their masculinity... and sense of humor.

The makers of Carlashes say their product can "dress up your headlights with a touch of fashion and a twinkle of crystal!" The crystal "eyeliner" is $19.99 while the adhesive "lashes" are $24.99.

"Eye-popping" or "eyebrow raising" results? I, for one, know a few ladies who wouldn't "bat an eye" before putting these on their rides. OK. Enough with the ridiculous puns. But are they waterproof?

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Monday, August 30, 2010

PRODUCT TEST: Resolve Triple Action

Sometimes strong-willed children feel the need to test you. Like REALLY test you. Like today, when my 3-year-old daughter decided to paint our living room carpet because she, and I quote, "didn't have any paper." This follows last week's episode of painting the headboard and footboard of her bed, as well as her dresser, for the same reason. I couldn't admit to her I was rather impressed with her creation. The colors were vivid and blending was beautiful. See right:

But I put on my mad face and proceeded to scold her for doing what she knew was wrong. Then I panicked... how was I going to get this stain out? Just to give you an idea of the size of this thing: I'd say it was 3 feet long and a foot across! As any mom of babies/toddlers/pets knows -- a good carpet stain remover is a MUST to keep around the house at all times. Our choice is Resolve Triple Action. So far... I've used it on plenty of stains, not even listed on the company's website, including diarrhea, vomit, and strained peas. So of course the second thing I did was reach for the Resolve. (The first thing I did was take a picture to document it for you, dear readers, after sending the little one to time out).

The process is pretty basic and self explanatory. But the company's website actually has these tips:
1. Treat stain immediately. Set-in stains are more difficult to remove.
2. Spray area with RESOLVE® Triple Action Carpet Cleaner.
3. Wait five minutes.
4. Blot or rub gently with a clean, damp, colorfast cloth or sponge.
5. Rinse sponge or cloth and repeat as necessary

The end result... well, since pictures sometimes speak louder than words:

Thursday, August 26, 2010

DEALS AND STEALS: 30% off at The Children's Place

The Children's Place clothes are reasonably priced and stand up to repeated washes... two essential qualities in kids' clothes. So if you, like me, waited patiently for the back-to-school frenzy to die down for the REAL sales, here's your reward.

For 3 days only, 30% off if you spend $60. Enter code T9A2010 at checkout. For 20% off if you spend $50, use code R9A2010. And 15% if you spend $40, code Q9A2010.

For in-store purchases, click here to print out the coupon. Happy Shopping! Patience pays off!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

PRODUCT TEST: Crest Whitestrips / Latisse

TV News Mom loves testing products (so you don't have to). For a beauty boost, I tried out both Crest Whitening Strips (for whiter teeth) and Latisse (for fuller lashes).

The above video was the first day for both products. The Crest WhiteStrips was a two-week process. Latisse, more like two to four months, before you see results. So I'll get back to you on the Latisse.

I just finished the Whitestrips the other day. And what do you know? It works! The hardest part was remembering to use them. Twice a day, for 30 minutes at a time. But I just incorporated it into my morning getting ready for work routine and my evening getting ready for bed. Having the film stuck to your teeth can take some getting used to, and for some people, they can cause some sensitivity and gum irritation. But in the end, my teeth appeared whiter and the staining was gone. I wouldn't say I got professional results, but it is a very good do-it-yourself, low-priced alternative. Below is the "After" picture.

Definitely worth trying before a wedding, reunion, or big day at the office. Crest Whitestrips retail for $31.26 on Amazon right now. And here are some coupons before you buy! Now if only I can find my retainers! Then my smile could return to its former glory!

Want me to test a product? Let me know!