Trade in Your Wedding Notebook for a Website

While we have all seen the tremendous impact personal and business websites and blogs have had over the internet and internet surfers, engaged couples have found that wedding websites have been extremely helpful and convenient in not only their wedding planning, budgeting and reference, but also for just about everything else.

Wedding websites are the new reference point for the bride and groom and also for their attendees and wedding party. The websites that couples can make range from simple to complex and can be used purely for getting the word out to your friends, family and colleagues along with your online friends and everyone else in the world or for just about everything that goes into planning a wedding complete with interactive sections for your bridal party to participate in.

There are many websites out there that cater specifically to couples who wish to build their own wedding site. If you are not HTML savvy, there are some very chic and elegant templates to choose from on Wed Simple and My Wedding; both sites are set up to be as simple or as complex as you’d like.

Through a wedding site you and your husband or wife-to-be set up, you can not only keep track of your guestbook and contact information, driving directions, menus, little notes that remind you of upcoming appointment, photo galleries of the whole process from the proposal to the honeymoon, an extensive online gift registry and also a personal blog for the two of you to get frustrations out, think out loud and so on.

If you are HTML savvy yourself you do not have to go through a pre-made wedding website company. You can simply buy your own domain through GoDaddy ($10) or NameNova ($7 and also the domain purchasing website I have used for about 2 years now) After you get your domain name all you need is the hosting, which I cannot recommend BlueHost enough; I have used them for years now and have never had a problem with them.

Wedding websites are your complete wedding planning tool so do you think now is a good time for you to throw away that overflowing binder and myriad of Post-It notes in various colors to keep track of your schedule? Yeah, me too.

Ditch the Disposables Challenge

Every month or so the Crunchy Domestic Goddess issues a challenge to all of us who want to make a better effort at going green. For the months of September and October, she is asking us all to ditch the disposables.

This challenge focuses on every day items that we use and then mindlessly throw in the garbage. Every week when we take out or garbage, it is picked up by the garbage truck and hauled off to a landfill or whatever method your community uses to get rid of its population’s trash. As we all are aware of, the Earth needs our help as global warming is upon us and our Earth is suffocating, shriveling up and dying at rapid speeds. It will continue to do this is we, the people of this planet, do not make conscious efforts each and every day to reduce the amount of waste we put out there.

Think of the every day items you use that you could easily do away with and start using the reusable alternatives. You could ditch your paper napkins and towels to cloth napkins and towels, tissues to handkerchiefs, disposable water bottles (think of how much bottled water a household or person can go through) for reusable bottles or cups with lids; on that same note, you can reuse the same water bottle, thus eliminating the amount of your waste long-term. You could also ditch your plastic sandwich bags and paper bags for reusable containers and bags. If you’re using disposable diapers you could switch to cloth diapers; a lot of different companies have started making excellent cloth diapers.

Another great reusable alternative women should seek out are reusable menstrual products. I have personally done away with disposable pads and tampons and started using reusable products. The reason for this is because I have had minor kidney infections that have caused frequent urinary tract and yeast infections. All the women out there know that this is not fun! After doing some research on minor things I should be doing to keep my reproductive organs the healthiest they can be I found some very troubling information about disposable menstrual products. Standard pads and tampons (made by men, I should point out) contain synthetic fibers and bleach, both of which can cause infections. I then did some research on reusable alternatives and found quite a few great alternatives. For women who use pads, I could not recommend Lunapads enough. I have been using their pads for about a year now and couldn’t be happier. They are made with fleece and cotton, they use cute fabrics so even while you have your period you can feel cute and match your outfit with your pad and they are oh so comfortable. Just a simple machine wash (or hand wash, I hand wash mine and have found it to be a great way to bond with my body during my menstrual cycle and further understand the functions of my body) and an air dry and they’re ready to go again! Lunapads also makes the Diva Cup, a reusable tampon alternative. Other pad and tampon alternatives you could check out are The Keeper and The Moon Cup, Glad Rags, Pretty Pads and New Moon Pads.

So what disposables do you think you could live without for the next two months? Have you already eliminated disposables from your household? Tell us about them!

Make Informed Decisions While Shopping Online

With the world’s population now doing the bulk of their shopping online and the people of the US, specifically, going through the first hurdle of a recession, we are now beginning to see the impact money makes on our lives and more importantly, the real value of a dollar. As a freelancer, I, along with other freelancers have spoken about how we feel the decline in income first and we have collectively been seeing the first few waves of an impending recession for months now. As someone who also shops online quite frequently, I have become a bit pickier about how and where I spend the money I do manage to earn.

Many stores will do the first leg of a sale online only, before it hits stores and they have also released online only coupon codes. Internet sales are important to companies and the convenience of online shopping is important to us. That is why I was thrilled to have come across a website that I have come to refer to as the bible of cheap online shopping.

Free Shipping.org is a website that tells you what stores are currently having promotions and where you can get the convenience of free shipping. You may come across a sale item on a store’s website but once you get through the checkout and look at the shipping costs you soon realize that while you did get a product a lot cheaper online than you would have at the store, you end up paying what you supposedly saved and then some just in shipping costs. Free Shipping.org lists the stores you want to shop at, the free shipping promotion they are running at the time and the promotional codes letting you save as much money as possible.

Free Shipping

Their site is set up into several different categories containing over 800 stores so each and every single person who likes the convenience of online shopping should not miss out on any free shipping promotion. Free Shipping.org also gives you the added security of free shipping alerts, letting you know every time a store has a free shipping promotion.

Don’t spend more money than you have to when shopping online and visit Free Shipping.org for free shipping promotions at your favorite stores.

FurReal Friends Biscuit My Lovin Pup

All kids love animals. Whether you have a boy or a girl, at least several times during their childhood they are probably going to ask for a pet of some kind. As a woman who was raised with a German Shepard through childhood and then a purebred Rottweiler and Siberian Husky throughout adolescence, I know that dogs are great pets for boys and for girls alike. However, most children want a pet and will ask for one incessantly until you cave in and say okay. Give it a month or so and most children will get bored and start asking for something else or (and I’m willing to bet this has happened in most families with pets) the children will not have any part in the feeding or cleaning up after the pet. They may love to play with them, think of them as part of the family and love them to death but after that pet needs someone to clean up after it, that kid doesn’t want anything to do with the pet–They suddenly don’t even know who it was who insisted on bringing that animal into the house.

Well, that’s where FurReal Friends comes in.

There have been many different variations of cats and dogs that felt, acted and sounded like real pets for children who want pets as part of the household but don’t want to be told to feed or clean up after them. However, FurReal Friends offer the best animal-like toys for children. In 2002 they came out with the FurReal Cat that purred and sounded like a real cat and in a very short amount of time it became the very best toy you could purchase for a child who wanted a pet of their own. FurReal friends went on to offer not only a cat, but a horse, a parrot, a duck and even a few small dogs. A few years later and they have finally come out with the next best animal toy for children–A 2 foot Golden Retriever named Biscuit.

FurReal Friends FurReal Friends Biscuit My Lovin Pup is a soft, cuddly and fully trained dog that comes with an adoption certificate that your child can go online with so they can say that they truly own Biscuit.

In a very short amount of time Biscuit can understand your child’s voice and also comes knowing six commands, including “sit”, “lay down”, and “speak.” Each time your child speaks to Biscuit he will reply with either a bark or a whine–A whine if he’s hungry, wants attention or a treat and a bark if he’s happy. Biscuit will also obey his commands just like a fully trained dog and bark with joy every time you tell him to speak or give him a toy biscuit. Biscuit is most definitely the best alternative to a real dog when your child gets to the age of wanting to add a pet to the household.

If you think Biscuit would be a great addition to your household, read FurReal Friends Biscuit review. The best thing about this toy is that he does not have to be plugged into the computer or anything to get him to recognize your voice; after speaking to him a few times, Biscuit has the technology to understand your voice no matter where it is coming from. Biscuit is a widely talked about toy and great for young children, children allergic to pets or for those of you who live in an apartment where pets are not welcome.

I’m in a Long Term Relationship with My Hair

I usually keep my hair long, but I’ve noticed that the longer my hair gets, the worse it looks. I frequently develop split ends that I have to trim every two months or so, my hair looks dull and flat a lot of the time because I don’t have very full hair and while it isn’t fine, it’s just thin enough to look flat and boring a lot of the time. I’ve tried a variety of different volumizing hair care products and while they worked for a little while, the effects were short-term and in even just a few hours, my hair returns to its original, lifeless state.

I’m a beauty product addict. Shampoos, conditioners, skin creams, moisturizers, bath products; you name it, I need to try several different variations of it. So when Herbal Essences came out with a line of shampoo, conditioner and split end protectors for a variety of different hair types, it was no surprise that I needed to try them.

Herbal Essences Long Term Relationship I recently picked up Herbal Essences’ Long Term Relationship shampoo and conditioner, a line of hair care products just for women with longer hair and I could not be happier with the outcome. My hair looks so much healthier, feels so much softer and is giving off a beautiful shine, even when just waking up in the morning after washing it the night before. It’s laying a lot nicer now and while I usually keep my hair up a lot because I don’t like the way the ends look after a few months without getting it trimmed, I’ve been leaving it down a lot more lately because of how beautiful it’s laying. It has a very sophisticated scent; it’s a blend of red raspberry and satin but isn’t overly fruity-scented which is a huge plus because I’m not too big of a fan of hair care products that smell very fruity or very floral; Herbal Essences has found the perfect blend that attracts a fan base of not just teenage girls.

I love this stuff; it works a lot better than I thought it would and I cannot recommend it enough.

Add Some Style to the WordPress Admin Panel

As anyone who uses WordPress knows, the admin panel is a little rough on the eyes. It’s the same blend of blues and greys, it never changes and if you get sick of looking at the ‘fresh’ design that was released with WordPress 2.5 the only other option you have is the vintage WordPress look, which is even worse than the fresh look.

If you’re like me, you know that change is good, especially when it comes to sites you look at every day. We all need to change it up a little bit every now and then, which is why sites like MySpace have so many free template sites and the same goes for Blogger and WordPress design templates, why sites like Plurk and Twitter allow you to change the look of your profile, and so on. People do not want to be forced to look at the same thing over and over again. This also applies to the WordPress Admin section. I know that I spend countless hours every week working on my websites; the amount of hours I put in on my websites are the equivalent of two full time jobs, not even factoring in the fact that I also work a full time job from home. With a “job” that you spend up to 80 hours a week on, looking at the WordPress admin panel while you go about your website work can get a little sore on the eyes and very repetitive.

Pressing Pixels thought the same thing and decided to make a plugin to change the look of your WordPress admin panel–WordPress Custom Admin Branding.

The WordPress Custom Admin Branding plugin is a great plugin and makes logging into your WordPress panel again and again a little more refreshing than it would be normally. Here’s a look at what Woman Tribune’s WordPress now looks like:

WordPress Custom Admin Branding plugin login
The WordPress login screen using the WordPress Custom Admin Branding plugin

WordPress Custom Admin Branding plugin header
The WordPress admin dashboard header using the WordPress Custom Admin Branding plugin

WordPress Custom Admin Branding plugin footer
The WordPress admin dashboard footer using the WordPress Custom Admin Branding plugin
With this plugin, there are three separate parts of the WordPress admin panel that may be changed with an image of your choice–The login screen, the header and the footer, as you can see to the left here. The plugin works with all WordPress installations, I’m currently running WordPress 2.6.1, which you can also see in the footer image, and the plugin works perfectly without any tweaking.

I definitely recommend this plugin for anyone who is sick of looking at the same old WordPress admin panel. Download the plugin here.

Book Review: Love, Meg by C. Leigh Purtill

Love Meg Meg and her sister Lucie have always moved around a lot; sometimes three times in one year, they will pack up their belongings, move into a new apartment where Lucie starts a new, dead end, crappy job and Meg will start a new school. Meg’s life seems as shaken and impermanent as the boxes of belongings that never receive a proper place in their new apartment and the Walmart bought, particle board furniture that isn’t likely to survive many more life-altering moves.

Because of their sporadic lifestyle, Meg has become accustomed to starting new schools and reinventing herself; she has went by a handful of different names as she grew up and has settled in with being the permanent new girl, finding a new friend to socialize with until her time in that neighborhood was through where she would be forced to repeat the same steps again and again.

Meg was told by Lucie throughout her life that their parents had died, which is why Meg had never known any parental figure besides her older sister. But while Lucie was the only parental figure in Meg’s life, she did not play that part in her sister’s life and often barely played the part of her sister. Lucie was often consumed by selfishness; with her string of boyfriends, how she felt, what she was going through and while there were elements that Lucie did try to provide an okay life for Meg, Meg had been disappointed by Lucie and their life far too many times.

While her sister was busy living her life and Meg feeling as if she didn’t truly belong there, or anywhere, Meg confided in the Friends celebrity, Jennifer Aniston, to get her through the rough times in her life. For years, she and Jennifer had exchanged letters about what Meg was going through at the time, how she was feeling and Jen would respond with worldly advice always leading Meg in the right direction. Even when Jen’s letters had stopped, Meg kept writing for years after and always thought of Jen as the supportive friend she had known her to be through her letters.

When Meg finds out that Lucie isn’t the only family that she has and that she had been lied to her entire life by Lucie; the only person she has had to count on and trust, Meg decides that upon hearing about a family she never knew she had, she wants to know more. In hopes to experience what a real family feels like and have a life that Lucie had always failed to give her, Meg travels across the country, from Hollywood, California to Astoria, New York to live with her Uncle Lonnie and Grandmother, Alma.

Meg’s life in Astoria is completely different from the life she lead in Hollywood. For the first time in her life, and after a little adjusting, she felt at home, as if she had a place of permanence. She goes on to become friends with a small clique of three other girls and makes a life for herself in New York while helping her Uncle with her Grandmother, who is suffering from cancer due to being a life-long smoker. The life Meg makes for herself in New York, while it does hold its own set of problems and setbacks, is a great experience for Meg and what she finds out about herself and others in New York gives her the opportunity to find out the truth about the life that Lucie had never spoken of to Meg. For the first time in her life, Meg experiences what it is like to have best friends, to have a first date and to have her first boyfriend, Juny; the older brother of her new best friend–Who is such a sweet and amazing guy that made me immediately think that every woman needs to have Juny in her life.

Throughout her time in New York and learning more about herself and her family, Meg starts to understand Lucie more than she thought possible. Meg truly makes the best out of everything she is given in life and just with the way she starts to think by the end of the book makes you realize how grown up Meg really is, taking on responsibilities and putting her life into perspective. She makes life altering decisions and successfully deals with what life throws at her, coming out of her experiences as a well-balanced, intelligent young adult who has taken control of her own life and realizes where she belongs.

Love, Meg was a fast, exciting and exceptional read. Though I did see the twists and turns Meg’s life makes throughout the novel coming before they happened, that in no way means that Purtill doesn’t know how to put together a truly enjoyable novel. I just happen to be a self-proclaimed bookworm, am a significantly well read person and also have a knack for guessing the end of thriller movies. It is also worthy to keep in mind that Purtill’s novels fall under the category of young adult and most definitely excite and thrill the pants off of her target market, while also succeeding in giving adult women a fast paced and gratifying read.

If you are particularly interested in C. Leigh Purtill’s work, life, or random thoughts, you should definitely check out her blog here. Even her blog posts are especially interesting.

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