Saturday, December 13, 2008

Read Kiddo Read ~ Help your child foster a love of reading!


I am an avid reader, I have enjoyed reading all my life. My mom said that as soon as I could sit up, I would stare at books for hours. When I was 18 months, my mom told the doctor I enjoyed reading. The doctor thought she was nuts and told her "You know she can't really read" Obviously my mom knew that, she was just trying to point out I liked looking at books.

My kids have 100's of books, from every type. My 11 year old hates to read. It has been such a struggle for me to deal with that. Luckily, my 7 year old enjoys it, and she is well above her reading level in school. I don't think I could have dealt with two non-readers, lol.

My tween isn't alone though, many parents struggle with getting kids to realize reading is fun. In fact, according to the 2008 Kids and Family Reading Report by Yankelovich and Scholastic, despite 80% of parents wanting their kids to read for fun, most kids claim there aren’t enough really good books for their age group. James Patterson has taken this issue to heart. A father himself, he knows that one of the main obstacles for young readers is a lack of books kids can truly connect with, those rare stories that draw you in and keep you reading until the very last word. We can all remember the joy of a great book from our own childhood; begging to stay up ten more minutes to finish a chapter, then hiding under the covers with a flashlight to read “just one more.” Patterson has made it his mission to give this experience to children everywhere and instill in them a love of reading.

In order to give kids of all ages access to truly great books, James Patterson has started a wonderful site called Read Kiddo Read. The site covers picture books that you are still reading to your baby/toddler to advanced reader books. Each featured book, hand-selected by Patterson, includes a synopsis, related themes, quotes from critics, links to find the book in any number of locations (including local libraries), and even similar suggested reads. In addition, the website provides resources for finding book discounts and promotions, features interviews and contributions from authors and celebrities, and even allows members to connect with each other via a Ning community. Providing kids with a love of and appreciation for books gives them something that will remain with them throughout their lives, and this resource helps make that possible. Plus, if anyone can get even the most reluctant readers interested in great stories, it’s James Patterson.

Oh and if you are waiting patiently for the next Alex Cross novel, it is called Cross Country and is out now! You can read an interview with Al Roker. He spoke about Read Kiddo Read as well.

Thanks to Mother Talk for sharing this wonderful site!

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Plum Spooky ~ Stephanie Plum New BOOK!!!


I was so excited to get a mailing from Janet Evanovich. A new Stephanie Plum book is coming out this January. It is called Plum Spooky (A Between-the-Numbers Novel).

The First Full Length Stephanie Plum Between-the-Numbers Novel from #1 Bestselling Author Janet Evanovich.
Turn on all the lights and check under your bed. Things are about to get spooky in Trenton, New Jersey. According to legend, the Jersey Devil prowls the Pine Barrens and soars above the treetops in the dark of night. As eerie as this might seem, there are things in the Barrens that are even more frightening and dangerous. And there are monkeys. Lots of monkeys. Wulf Grimoire is a world wanderer and an opportunist who can kill without remorse and disappear like smoke. He’s chosen Martin Munch, boy genius, as his new business partner, and he’s chosen the Barrens as his new playground. Munch received his doctorate degree in quantum physics when he was twenty-two. He’s now twenty-four, and while his brain is large, his body hasn’t made it out of the boys’ department at Macy’s. Anyone who says good things come in small packages hasn’t met Munch. Wulf Grimoire is looking for world domination. Martin Munch would be happy if he could just get a woman naked and tied to a tree. Bounty hunter Stephanie Plum has Munch on her most-wanted list for failure to appear in court. Plum is the all-American girl stuck in an uncomfortable job, succeeding on luck and tenacity. Usually she gets her man. This time she gets a monkey. She also gets a big guy named Diesel. Diesel pops in and out of Plum’s life like birthday cake – delicious to look at and taste, not especially healthy as a steady diet, gone by the end of the week if not sooner. He’s an ├╝ber bounty hunter with special skills when it comes to tracking men and pleasing women. He’s after Grimoire, and now he’s also after Munch. And if truth were told, he wouldn’t mind setting Stephanie Plum in his crosshairs. Diesel and Plum hunt down Munch and Grimoire, following them into the Barrens, surviving cranberry bogs, the Jersey Devil, a hair-raising experience, sand in their underwear, and, of course . . . monkeys.

Finding Your TrueNorth

Growing up, I wanted no children and to be a psychiatrist. After graduating, I realized I wanted a family. Once I had my second daughter, I finally followed my dreams and became a stay at home mom.

Frito-Lay's TrueNorth brand of nut snacks is built on a core belief that we all have inspirational stories to share and to celebrate, and they are dedicating themselves to using that brand to discover, document and share those stories with the world.

TrueNorth is inviting people to submit a story that describes how they (or someone they know) are pursuing his or her life's passion at www.truenorthsnacks.com/story. One story will be chosen to share with the world in the form of a 60-second commercial aired during the 81st Annual Academy Awards® broadcast on February 22, 2009. The inspirational spot will be directed by Oscar®-winning actress Helen Hunt and the winner will receive $25,000 to help in the pursuit of his or her passion.

The TrueNorth brand first found its passion by turning a simple nut into an extraordinary snack. Now for this contest, TrueNorth believes there are people with life stories as cinematic-worthy as the ones showcased on the big screen, and they too deserve to be recognized under the unmatched spotlight of the Academy Awards® broadcast.

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Book Review ~ One Fifth Avenue by Candace Bushnell

I've never read anything from Candace Bushnell, however I am a huge fan of Sex in the City. When giving the chance to read Bushnell's new book, One Fifth Avenue, I was excited.

When Louise Houghton, the aged grande dame of New York society, dies, the fate of her celebrated apartment becomes the obsession not only of the real estate industry, but of everyone living at the fabled address. Located at One Fifth Avenue in an Art Deco architectural gem, the 7,000-square-foot apartment reflects an age and milieu long past its ability to influence social prominence—or so it is thought.


I found One Fifth Avenue an enjoyable read. There are several characters to get straight, but once you do the book is a quick read. If you enjoy chick-lit, you will love this book. The characters are well developed and likable. The book really delves deep into people. It explores what happens when the desire for the best in life doesn't add up but you can't stop pursuing it anyway. This book flows well, you want to find out what will happen to each of the characters.

I'm sure this will be another hit show in the future! The way the book ends, you want more. We will either see another book or tv series. Well, we can hope anyway!

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Video Game

Mom Central recently sent me Madagascar 2: Escape 2 Africa for the Nintendo DS to try out. The game includes the four famous characters Alex, Marty, Melman and Gloria as well as the penguins, King Juilen and newcomer Moto Moto. The game is in conjunction with the brand new movie. My girls really enjoyed the game. I love that you don't have to know the movies to play along, it is a lot of fun. There are several levels and mini games to play. My youngest loved the music involved.

Based on the feature film from DreamWorks Animation, the four famous zoo animals - Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Melman the Giraffe and Glorida the Hippo - and their entire madcap Madagascar crew take players on a whole new action-packed journey to help save the African Savannah. Assuming the roles of all their favorite characters, including those crafty penguins, players must work through 12 distinct levels featuring a variety of wild adventures and fun mini-games. In addition to the diverse single-player gameplay, the Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa Video Game delivers an enhanced multiplayer tournament mode allowing gamers to participate in outlandish competitions alongside or against friends and family.


Another thing that I loved that is while my girls played, they were also learning about awareness of their environment and how they should go about taking care of it.

Here are some of the things you can do to start helping the environment. Visit www.conservation.org to learn more ~

  • Stop Junk Mail - millions of trees can be saved
  • Email More - doesn’t waste paper
  • Download Only - packing has wasted paper and plastic
  • Go Solar Powered - earth-friendly battery boost
  • Step It Up - walk to more places
  • Say Cheese - take photos with digital camera, won’t use chemicals to process
  • Paper or Plastic? - NEITHER! Choose a reusable cloth sack.
  • Don’t Just Toss Em’ - think about what you throw away and recycle when you can
  • Think About Ink - refill your ink cartridges
  • Hot and Cold - watch that thermostat
  • Turn It Off - Turn off all electronic devices you are not using.


The game is made for Wii, Xbox, Playstation 3, Nintendo DS & PC so you are bound to have a system to play it on. This game would make a great gift!

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Book Review ~ DIRT: An American Campaign Mark LaFlamme


Regardless of what party you vote with, you will enjoy the political thriller DIRT: An American Campaign.

A grieving man disappears with the body of his dead bride and a mad race is on to find him before he can destroy his father's campaign for the White House. An exploration of the dark side of politics, "Dirt: An American Campaign" delivers a plot teetering on the cliff-edge of madness as one candidate tries to bury his own scandals while exposing the dirt of others.

This book is full of twists and turns. I was hooked on page one, and I read this book very quickly. I have never read anything by Mark LaFlamme in the past. I have no idea how this brilliant author slipped by me. I am going back and reading his past work.

You have to go out and read this book. It is a page turner and a must read.

Calvin Cotton is out of his mind. We find him at Riverside Cemetery bursting in on the darkness of the tomb. He is the son of a presidential candidate. But tonight, he is only a husband insane over the loss of his bride. He imagines her trapped within the cold clutch of the coffin and works quicker to free her. Soon, he will have her in his arms and they will vanish into the night.

Gov. Frank F. Cotton is out of his mind. He has learned of his son’s nighttime ghoulishness and panic has set in. It is the kind of sordid scandal that can bring about ruin. He’s seen good men go down in flames for less. Howard Dean with the animal scream in 2004. Edmund Muskie with the phantom tear in 1972. And if press got a hold of this? Frank F. will not let it happen. Thomas Cashman is thinking outside the box. Given the circumstances, he finds this idea deliciously funny. A mercenary with secrets of his own, his top priority is to find young Calvin Cotton and his stiffening bride. Thomas has an unorthodox idea. He will enlist the aid of washed up novelist Billy Baylor to help understand what motivates the deranged young man he seeks. Billy Baylor is drinking whiskey in a scrubby, downtown bar. Ultimately, he is happy because he will probably die in his sleep. It could be tonight. It could be tomorrow. Either way, it will be peaceful. He has published twelve novels and invented a new genre. He likes to call it “suburban necrophilia.” Billy Baylor has made a career out of writing about the extreme measures a man will take when pushed to madness by the loss of a love. Only one of his novels had a happy ending. He regards it as his one failure. Since his wife and daughter were killed in a car wreck, he doesn’t believe in happy endings. Set in the early days of the primary season, "Dirt" is a fast and ugly tale of the treachery and desperation behind an American campaign. The hunt for Calvin Cotton is a sordid thrill ride along the same frozen back roads where candidates smile, shake hands and try to keep their secrets buried. In the bid for the most powerful position in the world, one man’s dirt is another man’s gold.


Available now at your favorite bookseller

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Journal Buddies Review & Giveaway {Tween Gift Idea}

Let me tell you, I'm struggling with gifts for my tween daughter. It isn't that she doesn't want anything, it is that everything is so dang expensive once they stop playing with $10 toys! When I came across Journal Buddies, I knew I found a great present to give her.

The journal buddies books are fun, interactive journals intended to help adults (parents, teachers, mentors...) build and strengthen a child's self-esteem. These powerful but simple journals are truly a fresh and invigorating take on journal keeping.

Even more exciting is that there's a special version for girls and one for boys, too!

Having a strong self esteem is so important, and it is so easy to lose that during the school years. My daughter was terrorized by a group of boys from 3rd through 5th grade. If it wasn't for her strong self esteem, I couldn't even imagine what she would be like right now. Now that she is in middle school, it is more important then ever to keep that self esteem up. You know how girls can be in middle school. I honestly believe that 6th - 9th grade is some of the hardest years of your life!

The Journal Buddies book is just adorable. It is fun to look at with all the doodles, etc. Totally what kids this age love. I was sent the girls edition, and Jill was kind enough to even autograph it to Alyssa with a word of encouragement. The book begins with how to use the journal. The middle section is the actual journal. It has tons of fun entries, the kids can write directly in the book (my girls love when they can write IN the book). You can get an idea of the book by printing the free self esteem worksheets that Jill provides.

Journal Buddies even received a Mom's Choice Award® and an award at the Midwest Book Awards! Be sure to check out the website, there is a bunch of information on low and high self-esteem, plus resources, etc. A great site for parents!

Buy it ~ You can purchase it directly from the Journal Buddies website. When you do this, you get an autographed copy + $83 in bonus gifts + 45 day money back guarantee. You can purchase the girl and boy editions for $16.95. You can also purchase the book only from Amazon. Journal Buddies: A Girl's Journal for Sharing and Celebrating Magnificence (2nd Edition) or Journal Buddies: A Boy's Journal for Discovering and Sharing Excellence.

Win it ~ Jill was kind enough to offer up THREE Journal Buddies to my readers. You can select boy or girl and she will autograph them directly to your child if you wish. To enter, tell me who you would give this to & something you either learned from the website or an interesting fact you read from the website (lots of great info under the links section!).

Extra entries (leave separate comments for each thing please) ~

  • Blog about this contest
  • Twitter the contest
  • Put my Mom of 2 Dancers button on your sidebar or link me in your blogroll
  • Stumble this contest and/or any other page on my blog (up to 5 stumbles!)
  • Follow this blog, me on twitter (momof2dancers) or any of my contest listing blog
  • Digg, Kirtsy, etc this contest
  • Subscribe to this blog or my contest listing blog
Contest will end December 18th at 11:59 pm.

Winners are ~ Stacie, Rebecca & Chris

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Review ~ Bender Ball Exercise Program


I've never had to worry much about weight or exercising. I was always on the small side, always underweight. Even after my first daughter, and my second I went right back to a size 3. I don't know what happened, but a few years ago I gained some weight. Technically it brought me to average, but the problem was ... It was literally ALL in my stomach. The weight gain wasn't much to most, but when you pool it all in one area of your body it sucks!

When I was given the chance to review an exercise routine, I immediately requested the Bender Ball program from the choices. This program was developed by master trainer Leslee Bender. It works better then regular crunches because not only can you go forward, but you can go backward as well. This gives you more range of workout.



Upper, Side & Lower Abs




I didn't realize the price until I went to write this review. The Bender ball is only $12.98 (dvd) + shipping. This is seriously a fabulous deal! The dvd is really great. You have options for watching it with instructions or with not. The first time I watched with instructions, and then after that I didn't need to anymore. The workout is amazing. You will seriously hurt after it, but it is a good hurt! There is a core workout and a workout for butt/thighs. I focus on the core workout since that is my only problem, but I also like the butt/thigh. Might as well keep that area firm, right?

The instructions are so easy to follow along with. The Bender Ball itself is great. You really do get a lot of range with it and it isn't really big. I have one of the larger exercise balls, and I hardly use it. It is such a pain to pull out. The Bender Ball is also comfortable to use. It was so much easier on my back, then trying to lay down and do crunches. Another thing I like about the workout ~ there are simple stretches after each set. This makes your stomach muscles feel so muh better let me tell you.

I really can't recommend this program enough. The only down side to it, my kids keep taking the ball. When I went to use it yesterday, I couldn't find it. I've tried asking my 7 year old where it is, she just smiled and changed the subject. I'm going to have scour the house to figure out what she did with it becaus I am missing my workout. Never thought I'd say that, lol.

There is a full line of videos and products, check them out here. Be sure to check out the Family Review Network, there were 3 different exercise products being reviewed by us. The other two looked fabulous, so keep an eye out for those reviews.

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Raffle Fundraiser ~ Win Gift Card Tree worth over $500!

It's that time of year again, Fundraiser time. We are raffling off two great Christmas Trees filled to the brim with $25 gift cards on them. Each tree has approx. $500 worth of gift cards, that is over $1,000 total. Raffle tickets are $2 each, 3 for $5. There are additional prices as well, you can win a Nintendo DS, Movie Going Gift Basket and a few other Gift Basket prizes.

This profits from this years fundraiser will be divided in half. One half will go towards the girls dance costs and the other half will be donated to St. Jude! My oldest really loves this charity. It is one of the first charities that she ever did a bike-a-thon for and it really stuck with her.






Tickets






If you buy 6 tickets for $10, I will put up a 125 x 125 button on the sidebar of ALL of my blogs for the rest of December and all of January. That means your ad will be seen on 5 blogs for only $10 + you have 6 chances to win tons of prizes.

Raffle drawing is on December 14th, so buy those tickets soon.

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Works for me ~ Passwords

I've been wanting an Internet Password Organizer for awhile now, but I do not have the $19.99 to spend at the time. I tried getting a spiral bound journal & making my own. However, it turned into a big mess. It took just as long flipping pages as it did looking up my password in my email, etc.

Then I realized that like my coupons, I could store my passwords alphabetical. I had a pink index card box. Mine isn't as fancy at the one above, but it was a buck :) I actually want to get the one above because it locks, way better! Then I picked up a pack of alphabet dividers & index cards. That is it, for $3 bucks or less, I have a password organizer.

I also like that with the index cards, there is tons of room for notes. I can jot down notes, etc.

That is what works for me!

You can pick up the black 3 x 5 index box at amazon for $10.99 shipped ~ Vaultz 3x5 Index Box Black (VZ01169)

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Surefire Flashlights

If you are looking for the best flashlight in the world, you have to check out Surefire. These are the best in the world. They are used in the F.B.I., DEA, CIA, Military, Law Enforcement , Fire & Rescue .. They are even used in popular movies and tv shows, including CSI!

There are many models to choose from at different prices. The pricing can go from $36 a flashlight all the way up to $6000.00 a flashlight. All models run on lithium or lithium specialty batteries which is the highest output battery device that any flashlight can possibly use. Regular battery flashlights can never compete with a lithium device no matter how technologically advanced they are. All models are virtually indestructible with hard anodized type III aerospace aluminum bodies. There are different variances in lamps which range from Xenon, LED & Incandescent Lamps. There are also self defense flashlights with serrated teeth on the ends when used in combat

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Hidden Valley Ranch Love Your Veggies


Inspired by a study which found that children consumed 23% more vegetables when paired with a moderate amount of ranch dressing, the makers of Hidden Valley® Salad Dressings created the Love Your Veggies™ campaign as a way to help parents and educators get children eating and enjoying their vegetables.

To help moms encourage their kids to eat more vegetables, the Love Your Veggies™ campaign teaches families how to eat healthfully, purchase and grow the best veggies, and find innovative ways to serve them with the following:
➢ a Web site full of information at www.LoveYourVeggies.com
➢ a school grant program to provide students with better access to fresh produce
➢ a mom retreat hosted by celebrity chef, Art Smith

They have a wonderful recipe section. I want to try the Chinese Lettuce Wraps, I know my 7 year old would love these. The Rock n Roll ups look good as well, and they are great for lunches! The website also has a fun activity section. You can download printables to do with your children!

Wait, that is not all ~ Hidden Valley also needs the help form moms. They created a contest inviting Moms to submit their brainstorms for a community garden. The garden can reside at a school, religious organization, neighborhood park, etc. and would ideally help to get the community involved in and excited about eating and enjoying more vegetables.

The ten lucky winners will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Chicago for classes and lessons on selecting and cooking the best vegetable dishes, dinner at Chef Smith's restaurant, Table Fifty-Two, plenty of pampering, and $5,000 to create or maintain their community gardens. Plus the winner will get Dinner prepared by the children of Chef Smith’s charitable foundation, Common Threads.

        How to Enter: Parents can enter the Love Your Veggies Search for Veggie Champions Contest by completing and submitting an official entry form at www.LoveYourVeggies.com between October 30 and January 15.

        Judging: Ten (10) grand-prize winners will be chosen by careful selection from all entries received. Judges will select parents who best demonstrate a commitment to eating well for themselves, their family and their community and interest in learning to engage kids in ways that increase vegetable consumption.

        Prize Details: Winners will get a respite from their busy schedules to enjoy an all-expense-paid trip to one of the country's premier cities -- Chicago.


        The prize package includes:

          • Two days of fun and educational classes, field trips, cooking demonstrations and tastings with some of America's most notable food and nutrition experts. Workshops to include: vegetable gardening with children, grocery shopping for the healthy child and vegetable selection and meal preparation with little helpers.
          • Personal instruction from Chef Smith, who brings a personal commitment to helping children find an appreciation of healthy foods through his work with Common Threads, a non-profit he established in 2003, as well as the release of his third cookbook, Back to the Family.
          • Round trip airfare and hotel accommodations for three nights and two days in Chicago, Ill.
          • Dinner at Chef Smith’s Chicago restaurant, Table Fifty-Two.
          • Dinner prepared by the children of Chef Smith’s charitable foundation, Common Threads.
          • A spa visit to experience another great way to enjoy organic plants.
          • $5,000 prize money to be used by each winner to start or maintain a vegetable garden in her community. The winner must designate a non-profit organization to which the $5,000 prize money will be awarded and with whom the community garden will be planted or improved.

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Franchise Opportunities

Have you ever thought about starting a business, but don't know where to start? A franchise might be a good way to go. While not every franchise or every franchise owner is successful, franchising has the potential to reduce some of the risk of launching a new business by letting you copy a business concept someone else has already made successful.

So what is the best franchise for you? Start doing research on things that you enjoy. For instance, you could look into owning a dry cleaning franchise. Owning a dry clean business is supposed to be very easy. You don't have to own or lease a building or even buy inventory. With a delivery van, a territory, and the famous blue bags, you're on your way.

To get started, you can find a franchise broker to help you find the right fit. They will recommend the right franchise for you depending on your personalities, profiles and interests. The great thing about this is that you pay no fees. The franchise pays the fees.

It is something to consider if you are looking for your own business.

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Review ~ A Month of Meals

One thing I have really been working hard on is cutting our food budget down. I have been trying to watch sales, use coupons, etc. I've got it down for health/beauty items, but I struggle with the food. I think it is from not planning my dinners, etc.

When Family Review Network asked if I was interested in trying out A Month of Meals, I jumped at the chance. Here is my answer to my dinner problem! So, what is A Month of Meals. Well it is an e-book that you can download instantly. Love that, no waiting, no paper waste, no shipping waste. From the website, this is what you get ~

In A Month of Meals, you receive…

Meals – a month of easy to fix and healthy meals your whole family will enjoy. Using the premise that we need more vegetables and whole grains, you end up saving money and there are great health benefits!

Recipes – quick and easy recipes put into a weekly schedule. There are even 6 meals that you can make ahead of time to freeze for your extra busy days when you don’t want to think about cooking at all!

Ingredients & Shopping Lists – these will make going to the grocery store a breeze (maybe even a fun trip)!


Plus, there are some extras to this eBook!
  • Ready to print out recipe cards! This makes the preparation even more at your fingertips! You will know exactly what you have in your fridge and exactly how to make it – simple as that!
  • Helpful tips – having trouble getting your child to eat, don’t know simple ways to live a healthier life-style, not sticking to your budget? This eBook gives great simple tips to help you live simpler, eat healthier, and shop with less money!
  • Simple ways to be healthy and choose healthier options
  • A list of staples to have on hand – this can save you many unnecessary trips to the store
  • Tips to having a meal plan and how it can save you a lot of money in the long run
  • Great tasting and healthy side options
  • The average price of items in most locations, how they very depending on where you live, and how to compare prices
  • A better example of a food pyramid that focuses on healing foods
  • Links connecting you to information on gardening, finding your ideal weight, and more

This ebook, is a huge 71 pages with 11 chapters! It is full to the brim with information, tips, meal ideas, recipes, how to shop with price breakdowns, staples to keep in the house, food pyramid, info on feeding the hungry, website resources and recipe cards.

This book is amazing. Not only will you save money on your groceries by implementing these ideas, you will also be eating healthy. You can't go wrong with that combo.

The e-book is $19.95 and it comes with an 8 week guarantee. Let me know if you have tried this ebook yourself and what you think.

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Amazon Prime for only $5.99 a Month for Qualifying EBT cardholders

Amazon has a unique program,  Prime Discounted Monthly Offering for qualifying EBT cardholders in the US, prime membership for only $5.99...