Monday, September 30, 2013

Fall Festival Celebration with North Star Games! #Giveaway




How are you all liking this fall weather?! Fall is my favorite time of the year, and every October that rolls around-I realize again why I love it so much! I love the cooler weather, the outdoor fun that comes because of cooler days, sitting inside at night with a hot cup of earl grey tea, sweaters and leggings, and of course, family game night.  Sooo, with fall being in full swing now, and being my favorite season and all...I decided to have a Fall Festival right here on my blog! Throughout this month, I'll be showcasing products that say "fall" to me-be it fall-themed home decor, warmer clothing, snacks and drinks to enjoy inside on a cool night, or games to enjoy when it's just too cold to be outside!


Meeples! Our favorite part of Wits and Wagers!

Hard at work-playing games!
Our family has a game night once a week during the entire year, but during the cooler months, that usually increases to 2-3 nights weekly. We like to try new games, but we also have some old favorites-such as Wits and Wagers, which we were introduced to in 2010, at our first visit to the Chicago Toy and Game Fair. Wits and Wagers was created by North Star Games, and while thinking of products that would be perfect to feature for fall, one of the first to come to mind was of course, North Star! While Wits and Wagers is probably our favorite game from North Star, we have played every one of their games, and enjoy them all. They are all super-fun, and perfect for family game night, or party games when you get some friends over for a fun time. Guaranteed, you will end up laughing more than you thought possible during a simple game, when you play Wits and Wagers, Say Anything, or Crappy Birthday! Get ready to experience this for yourself, because North Star Games is offering a Say Anything Family Edition game as a giveaway!!





Finally! A game that kids and parents actually enjoy playing together.  These family-friendly questions make Say Anything Family Edition perfect for family game nights!
How to Play
1.You read a question.
2.Everyone else writes an answer.
3.Secretly choose your favorite answer.
4.Everyone else tries to guess which one you picked!



One of my readers will receive a Say Anything Family Game!!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Give Your Business A Better Chance


Are you trying to launch a new business on a budget? It’s hard work. In fact, it’s so hard that many businesses don’t make it. Records show that over 50% of new businesses don’t last through the first year. So in order to give your business the best chance, it’s important to learn and apply a few tips and techniques. Cheap promotional items are aimed at increasing your exposure within the target customer base. Refer-a-Friend programs and loyalty incentives help to motivate customers to refer your business to others. And maintaining ethical business practices will help to ensure your customers stay loyal.
You know how companies will give out pens, frisbees, and useful household items that have their company name on them? It’s actually really helpful for getting you familiarized with a company. The recipient gets excited because they just got something for free, and your business wins because it just got a little bit more exposure. Finding theses promotional items is done by ordering them from a company that offers the items. You order what products you want, and the company will print your business name, logo, and contact information on them. You can choose from all sorts of different items: office supplies, hats, measuring tapes, and tote bags, just to name a small few.
Once you’ve had a few customers buy from you, you can also employ strategies to make sure those customers not only stick around, but that they bring you in new customers too. One particular way to do that is to offer incentive programs such as Refer-a-Friend, or other loyalty or referral programs. You basically get your customers to do some of your marketing for you, and in exchange they get a discount on services or products you offer. This type of program can be tweaked to fit any type of business, from retail to plumbing services.

All the cheap promotional items in the world won’t help your business if you’re not working hard at keeping your customers satisfied. One sign that you’re having problems with satisfied customers (or that you’re offering too good of incentives that deal hounds are stopping in) is having a lot of new customers, but few repeat customers. You want to be able to build a customer base that your business can rely on, and that means having customers coming back to you regularly. If you make sure that you  go the extra mile to satisfy any concerns your customers have, even if that means you lose a little profit, will actually be beneficial in the long run, because people tend to be very loyal to a company that treats them right.
This is a guest post provided for the enjoyment of Hope's Cafe readers.
**DISCLOSURE: This is a guest post in part with Bucks2Blog. *

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Do You Hire Lawn Mowing Services for Home?


Do you remember growing up and mowing the lawn at home every Saturday morning? That was common for many kids as they grew up. Mowing the lawn was just something that was part of the deal. Today, that is still the case for many kids. However, some homeowners are wise to hire professional lawn mowing services in Beavercreek, OH, to mow the lawn. There are many cases where this is a smart move. For example, a homeowner that is aging may consider his or her own safety and find it better to hire someone to do the lawn mowing. Another example would be a homeowner that is extremely busy and with no children at home to mow the lawn. 

Tips When Working with Professional Mowing Services
If you have never hired a professional mowing service, but are about to, here are some tips to consider. First, do all you can to make sure the lawn is cleared before they arrive at your home. This will aid them in getting the work done faster.  Second, ask them to make you aware of any sprinklers that are broken in the process of mowing. Most mowing companies can and will repair the broken sprinkler if they broke it, but it is still good to know so that you can make sure it is functioning properly the following day. Last, be sure to communicate clearly with the mowing service on your desire for how short you like your lawn cut, trimming and edging concerns, etc. The mowing company will be grateful that you have alerted them to the things you have learned the hard way through your own experience. 

Ask for Additional Services Offered
Many professional lawn mowing services in Beavercreek, OH, offer many additional services as well. Do not hesitate to ask them what other services they offer and ask for a bid on anything you may be interested in having them do in the future. Even if you do not plan to ask them to perform any of those services now, it is helpful to know what something may cost in case you want to consider it in the future. Too many times, we assume too much, ask too little, and make decisions based on bad assumptions. 

This is a guest post provided for the enjoyment of Hope's Cafe readers.
**DISCLOSURE: This is a guest post in part with Bucks2Blog. *

How A Shaving Store Can Help


Many people think of shaving as nothing more than a daily routine. Once they are taught how to shave when they are young, they do not invest any time or effort into improving their techniques or finding out how to shave better. The problem with this is that shaving is something that is extremely important and it is done very often. This means that if you have an unpleasant shaving experience, you could be putting yourself through a great deal of pain and discomfort each and every day. In order to avoid this problem, you might want to consider paying a visit to a local shaving store, such as The Art of Shaving. These stores can help you in a variety of different ways, making it so that you can have a smooth and comfortable shave every time you pull out your razor. Here is a quick look at a couple of the different ways that a shaving store can help you. 
The Products

The main way that a shaving store will be able to help you is by providing the products that you will need in order to obtain a great shave. Many people think that you only need a cheap razor and some shaving gel to shave, but this will often result in a poor shave and razor burn. First, a shaving store will be able to provide you with oils and creams, all of which can help to lubricate and moisturize your skin. They will also have brushes and razors that can easily soften and cut hair.

The Advice

Another way that a shaving store, such as The Art of Shaving, can help is by providing you with advice and instructions for shaving. Many people think that this is a simple task, but it is actually something that is easy to mess up. When you go to a shaving store, you not only will be able to get the products that you need, but you will also be instructed on how you can properly use these things, which can help to prevent problems, such as razor burn.

This is a guest post provided for the enjoyment of Hope's Cafe readers.
**DISCLOSURE: This is a guest post in part with Bucks2Blog. *

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Carry Your iPad In Style With STM Bags!! #Giveaway


Many of you probably remember last year when I featured an amazing tech-gadget bag from STM Bags. Finding a bag to carry your device, that provides the necessary cushioning and protection, yet looks stylish and isn't too bulky, can be difficult. However, I am constantly amazed at how STM Bags delivers again and again, with awesome styles and that perfect protection for your electronic device, be it iPad, iPhone, tablet, or laptop. I was very excited when STM offered to send me another bag to look at myself, and then offer as a giveaway for my readers!




I received the new Linear for iPad Shoulder Bag. Obviously, because this is the giveaway prize, I didn't actually use the bag, but I did take a look at it's features. First of all, I love the north-south design, which gives the bag a very classy look. The water-resistant poly outer material is lined with a softer fabric, and heavily padded, so you have a sturdy outer material, and plenty of cushioning inside. Additionally, the super-soft lining ensures your device's screen won't get scratched. 



Another feature I really love is the lack of velcro. My current camcorder bag has a velcro closure, and I hate trying to be quiet when opening the bag-it's just impossible with velcro! Not to mention that often the velcro gets destroyed and stops working properly long before the bag itself is worn out, but that's not a problem with this Linear Shoulder Bag! Instead, it has a simple clasp that is silent when opening and closing.



Here are some of the details, as seen on the STM Bags site:

*Soft-lined iPad (or 10" tablet) section surrounded in high density padding for ultimate protection
*Soft-lined pockets for sunnies, camera, etc.
*Comfortable and adjustable shoulder strap for the long haul
*Front slip pocket for a notebook or travel docs
*Front zip pocket for keys, cards, pen, etc.
*Reflective tab for night time visibility


As you can tell, I am impressed once again with STM Bags and the quality they provide. So, who wants to win a Linear for iPad Shoulder Bag?? Here's your chance!!


One of my readers will receive this Linear for iPad Shoulder Bag in Blue!!

Enjoy Clear Skin With BlueMD!! #Giveaway


Acne is a common problem for many people, and not just teens. If you have ever searched for the perfect skincare system to clear up that breakout, then I have news for you-you can stop looking! Instead of going through untold numbers of various cleansers, lotions, spot treatments, and more, the solution is as easy as blue light therapy-in your own home. Without having to pay ridiculous fees for multiple visits. Sounds too good to be true, right? That's what I thought at first too, until I had the chance to try it for myself!



I received a BlueMD Kit for review, which includes the Acne Blue Light Therapy Treatment Lamp, Protective Eye Goggles, and a bonus Clay Mask. Recommended use is 3 20-minute sessions per week, which amounts to 1-hour a week. Anyone can find that kind of time, especially broken up into 20-minute pieces! So, after arrival of the kit, I immediately opened it up to get started. 



As instructed, I started out by testing my skin's reaction to the light after holding my arm under the lamp for 15 minutes. The next day there was no reaction, so I went ahead with the facial treatment. Wearing the goggles is a MUST, due to the nature of the treatment. You certainly don't want the special blue light shining into your eyes! They're pretty comfortable though, and haven't gotten annoying at all. While 20 minutes may seem like a long period of time to sit or lay in one place, without being able to do anything else, it really isn't bad. Sure, I prefer to read a book when I'm sitting down for 20 minutes, but that's not going to work. However, the results are so worth it! I have been using the BlueMD for close to a month now, and I can see such a difference in my skin. I never really had teen acne, but now that I'm in my mid-twenties, I experienced a pretty bad breakout. With the BlueMD though, I'm seeing the acne disappear, and my skin is starting to look so much better-almost back to normal. 
Before-and please excuse the odd angle of the picture!

After!
Obviously it's not completely cleared up, but definitely looking much better! So, now that you have my thoughts and results with the Bluelight, here's a little information about how and why it works:

Blue Light Therapy works on a simple principle that was discovered by medical researchers in the 1970's. They found that light specifically focused in the 405nm - 420nm wavelength band has the unique ability to kill acne bacterium. These bacteria cannot survive for more than a few minutes when exposed to the correct wavelengths of light. The light causes the bacteria to die, which in turn clears skin. Consistent use of Blue Light Therapy has been proven to decrease the amount of oil on your skin while shrinking pore size.
Blue Light Therapy has been used to reduce and eliminate acne breakouts for over 20 years. In a dermatologist's office, this therapy is often quite expensive ($3000-$4000). BlueMD uses the same FDA-approved technology and has created a less expensive home-base acne treatment that is just as effective at a fraction of the price.
Trophy Skin uses a proprietary, custom-manufactured bulb that emits the exact spectrum of light needed to kill acne-causing bacteria. And what's more, we can prove it! We can prove that our light contains high intensity, pure blue light and nothing else. Take a look at the graph, showing the wavelength output of the Trophy Skin device tested by an independent source.


It really does work, so check it out today!!

Now, BlueMD is offering a coupon code to all my readers who "like" the BlueMD/Trophy Skin Facebook page. And...

One of my readers will receive a BlueMD Kit!!!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fran Kramer Natural Skincare and Perfume! #Giveaway


The past few months I have really started actually looking at what I put on my skin for cleansing, moisturizing, and fragrance. While I'm not to the point of completely going with all-natural skincare and perfumes yet, I am well on my way there. I used to think that natural or organic health and beauty products just wouldn't work as well-for example, would a natural perfume smell as nice as those Bath and Body Works scents? Well, after my experience with Fran Kramer, a natural skincare company, I can answer that question with a big yes!

Fran Kramer sent me a bottle of their Roasted Coffee Perfume Oil, and Roasted Coffee Skin Balm for review. First of all, before I even opened the package, I could smell the luscious coffee scent. I was actually worried the bottle broke open, because it was that obvious. However, the bottles weren't cracked or leaking-it just smells that good! I couldn't even wait to get home (from the post office) to try these products; I literally opened them and applied some right away! The skin balm is a dual-use product, and can be used as a solid perfume, lip balm, or skin conditioner/moisturizer. Made with beeswax, jojoba oil, and roasted coffee beans, this contains no chemicals, artificial fragrances, or fillers. Just pure ingredients that bring moisture to your skin, and a delightful coffee scent that will leave you with the desire to drink a latte or frappuccino!




The Perfume Oil has the same scent as the balm, so it works great for layering. Usually I apply the balm right after showering, and then dab some of the oil on my throat and wrists. Again, there are no chemicals in here, just jojoba oil and roasted coffee beans. It has a slight chocolate scent that turns it into almost a mocha scented perfume, that I absolutely love. You can't get a better perfume than coffee, and to find a natural fragrance oil, that doesn't harm your skin, is simply amazing!!

Be sure to check out Fran Kramer for your organic and natural skincare needs, or if you'd like some natural perfume! 


One of my readers will receive a Roasted Coffee Perfume Oil!!

"Fall" Into Seasonal Style With FRAAS!!


Are all of you enjoying this gorgeous autumn weather? I sure am! I think the upcoming 3 months have got to be my favorite time of the year. The beauty of the leaves changing, cooler weather, and of course family and friends for the holidays...it doesn't get any better! Another of my favorite aspects of the fall and winter season, is the style. I love wearing long sleeves, turtlenecks, sweaters...the list of clothing I only get to wear a few months out of the year is endless! So, when I received a new fashion accessory for the fall season, I was super excited!

FRAAS sent me a new reversible scarf (style# 060607), in a lovely petrol color. Honestly, I could not have asked for a better color-this is one of my favorite shades! Anyways, one side of the scarf is a deep petrol color with gold dots, and the other side features striped petrol, gold, and brown shades. Either side is beautiful, but I personally prefer the darker color with dots. The scarf itself is super soft-not that itchy material you always associate with scarves! It has certainly jumped to the top of my list as both a fashion accessory, and also as a neck-warming scarf come winter! M and I had some fun trying out different wear styles, so check out these pictures from our "fashion show":








And of course, here was the 12-year-old's idea for how to wear the scarf! :)

I don't think I'll be going with this style anytime soon :)

As you can see, this simple scarf will add so much style and variety to my wardrobe this fall! I am loving all the new looks I can achieve, not to mention that when it does turn really cold-I can simply wrap it around my neck or over my head to stay warm!



Check out FRAAS' beautiful line of scarves on their website (www.fraas.com) or on Amazon!

Disclaimer: I was not monetarily compensated in any way for this review. I did receive a scarf from Lipton Publicity in exchange for a review. I was not require to post favorably about the product or company. All thoughts and opinions are mine.

Top Ten Things To Look For In Web Hosting


Just as your business is unique, so are web hosting companies. Following is a list of ten items to consider when searching for the best web hosting service for your company.
Reliability
If your website is down when someone tries to access it, chances are they will abandon your site and go to the next one on the list. A hosting company should make sure that your website is up at least 99.5% of the time.
Speed
You want your website to load quickly when people access it. If it doesn’t load fast enough, people will get frustrated, leave, and not come back.
Technical Support
The hosting company should provide technical support every single day of the year, including major holidays. If there are technical problems on the weekend or holiday, someone should be working to get it up and running again immediately.
Transfer Rates
Transfer rates are often referred to as bandwidth. Most websites for small businesses use less than 3 GB of bandwidth each month. Don’t be sucked into sites that offer more or advertise unlimited service. Only pay for what you need.
Disk space
Some hosting companies will try to entice you with a large amount of disk space, such as 100 MB. Most small businesses only need 10 to 20 MB.
Email 
If you are paying for a domain name, most likely you will want email addresses that include that domain name. In addition to email, look for services such as POP3, ability to forward emails, and ability to send out automatic responses.
Modifications
If you want to change the appearance or features on your website frequently, you need a company that makes it easy to modify the pages as needed.
Amount of Control
You may want a lot of control in managing your website. On the other hand, your company might not have very much IT expertise. Look for a company that can offer you the level of control you desire.
Social Media 
To help attract people to your website, you might want the ability to can post on sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. 
Blogging
Another way that companies interact with their customers is through a blog. If you want this, then the best web hosting service for you will include a blogging feature.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Satin Lip Gloss From Ageless Derma!!


I am not a huge makeup girl. The extent of my "makeup" is maybe a BB cream, and some lip gloss. Every once in a while I'll use something more, but typically that is all I use. So, as you can imagine, I'm pretty picky about both of these, as I want the best. Recently I was able to try a new (to me) lip gloss, and I absolutely love it! 




I received a Satin Lip Gloss from Ageless Derma, in the Crystalline color. This is a pale pink shade, that is just what I like. It adds a touch of shine, and just the barest hint of color to my lips. What makes this lip gloss so unique though, is that it's not just for cosmetic effect. It actually contains ingredients that will nourish your lips. For example, the gloss contains aloe vera, green tea extract, and peppermint oil. It moisturizes your lips, so not only does it instantly improve the appearance of your lips, but with continued use over time, your lips will be softer and more moisturized! 


The Satin Lip Gloss has a pretty good lasting time as well; if I apply it in the morning, I usually don't have to touch it up for several hours, so it lasts quite well. I love how smoothly it goes on, and the pink-tinted shine it adds!


Check out Ageless Derma for Satin Lip Gloss, other mineral makeup, or other anti-aging skincare!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Experiencing The Samsung Galaxy S4!

Are any of you the proud owner of a Samsung Galaxy S4 phone? I have had the pleasure of "test-driving" one of these phenomenal phones for the past few weeks, and I absolutely love it! In fact, I've had such a good experience with it, that my brother, who is looking for a new phone, is considering getting one for himself.  


The first thing I noticed about the Galaxy S4 is the size. It's extremely slim-literally half the width or less of the average phone. And, while it's slightly taller than the typical smartphone, I like the added screen size, because while it's not a tiny phone that many people seem to think is necessary, it is small enough to slip in my pocket. But I don't have to squint to see what number I'm dialing, or just barely make out that picture on Facebook a friend tagged me in! It's really the perfect size; you get the benefits of a slightly larger screen, but still have the handiness (if that's a word) of the small, slim phone. 



Another aspect I like about the S4 is the camera. When I have the Galaxy S4 in my pocket, I don't have to worry about missing those great sunset shots, or a picture-perfect photo of the kids. I have a "camera" on hand, that happens to be HD, and 13 megapixel! That's better than the average point-and-shoot camera! Needless to say, it captures amazingly stunning pictures, with gorgeous clarity and color. I'm going to miss this phone's camera for sure!

I actually brought the S4 on our recent trip to Louisville, and it was a life-saver several times. For example, when our GPS decided to quit for no reason-I was able to use the Maps program, and we arrived at our destination right on time. When I wanted to find a certain restaurant, it was easy with the use of the the S4. 

And, of course, it kept the children busy while driving, because we had installed some of their (and my own) favorite apps, such as Candy Crush, Words With Friends, and a fun bowling game. 


Honestly, the only downside I see to the S4 is the battery life. I had to recharge every evening, but I hear that is actually pretty normal for a smartphone. Especially when it gets used as much throughout the day as this one did! So, if you're looking for a new phone, I highly suggest you check out the Samsung Galaxy S4. It's available through most carriers, so chances are your service provider has it! By the way, you can actually take a tour/simulator trip with the Galaxy S4 by clicking this link!


Monday, September 16, 2013

Delicious Ice Cream Creations from Cold Stone Creamery! #Giveaway


Our entire family loves ice cream. Whether it's a bowl of ice cream at home, a milkshake from a fast food restaurant, or, a hot fudge sundae after dinner. However, my favorite way to indulge in ice cream goodness, doesn't happen all that much, because there aren't any locations nearby-it's Cold Stone Creamery!  You just can't beat Cold Stone Creamery's delicious signature creations, or the opportunity to create your own treat. Of course there are also smoothies, shakes and frozen yogurt to enjoy from Cold Stone. So, when we were planning our trip to Louisville last week, I was thrilled when I realized there was a Cold Stone there, and even more thrilled when CSC offered to do a review and giveaway!

I received a gift card for our visit to the Louisville, KY Cold Stone Creamery, and the entire family was excited about this treat. We live several hours from a Cold Stone, so as you can imagine, we don't get to visit often. Needless to say, the whole family wanted to get in on this visit! We visited early one evening (yes, we ate dessert first!) and checked out the menu, deciding what to get. C and I finally opted for a compromise; a Peanut Butter Cup Perfection Creation, and a Low-Cal Smoothie, made with orange and pineapple juice, among other things. I don't remember the exact name, but it was a tropical-flavored smoothie, and just perfect for the 95-degree weather that day. Very refreshing, and I love that it was low calorie, so I didn't feel horrible about also sharing an ice cream with C! 

Speaking of the ice cream-pure indulgence there! Chocolate ice cream, Reese's cups, peanut butter, and fudge, all combined to make the ultimate chocolate-peanut butter perfection indeed!



M and M also decided to share a couple items, and chose a Cream de Menthe Shake, and a Create-Your-Own, made with chocolate ice cream and Reese's cups. As you can see from the pictures, they were thrilled with both of these desserts! 



As always, our experience at Cold Stone was the best. The employees were super friendly, had our order up very quickly, and were very pleasant. Our visit to Cold Stone was another wonderful experience!




One of my readers will receive a $25.00 Gift Card to 
Cold Stone Creamery!!