NaNoWriMo Comes to an End

Cyber Monday is coming to a close and Turkey comas are almost done and in a few short hours thousands of writers across the United States and Canada will be posting their word counts into the official NaNoWriMo server to get credit for writing a novel in a month.
I've been posting my word counts all along and the widget to the immediate right has kept a tally of my progress. This year I'll finish somewhere over 60K words, officially. My unofficial count, per my word processor is at almost 70K words but now my eyelids are tired and I'll be heading off to bed.
The good news, I think, is that I still have plot left in my story so I'll still be writing on into December until I finish this draft. Then I'll put it away for a bit. I have other projects that need attention and this story could use a little time to percolate.
If you've been doing NaNo, I hope you had a great experience. Whether you win or not it's about getting words on the page. And even if that doesn't happen sometimes just learning something about yourself and your writing process is worth not winning.
For those of you who have ever thought about writing a novel but haven't sat down to do it consider doing NaNo next year or make your own Novel In a Month event and find someone to help keep you accountable. Fifty thousand words in thirty days comes to 1,667 words a day and if you work on it every day and complete your novel than you can say 'Hey, I wrote a novel' and it's that a Cool Idea!

Cyber Monday is Getting Closer

Cyber Monday is is just a few days away but there is still time to take advantage of great deals. Don't forget that shopping online affords you some great flexibility - no fuel bills, no parking lot headaches, no standing in line to pay, etc.

Just hop right over to Amazon to check out the great Black Friday/ Cyber Monday deals. You won't be disappointed. I think you'll find they are most definitely a Cool Idea!

Stock up for the Holidays with Weekly Promo Offer 300 x 250 has more great deal for us for Black Friday through Cyber Monday. {Yeah, I'm behind the times and didn't know that was a real thing. Sorry.}

Use the discount code SAVE through 11/30 and get $25 certificates for $2. That's 80% off of the regular price and makes for great presents for teachers, friends, relatives or stocking stuffers.

Remember to read the 'rules' for each restaurant but most certificates are good for a year.

Make someone happy with the gift of a nice dinner out and buy a gift certificate through It is definitely a Cool Idea!

NaNoWriMo heading for the Home Stretch

There are only a few more days left in National Novel Writing Month and from the widget on the right you can tell I have a few more words to write. The kicker is that according to the word count on my word processor I'm actually closer to the 50K endline but c'est la vie. I'll just keep writing so I can actually win this year.

But since Thanksgiving is still between now and the end of the month and several other days when there will be many people in my home and day without school it could still be tight. So, there may be fewer posts here. I'm sure you'll be able to live without me. Check the widget for my progress if you care to and I'll see you soon.

Farmer's Markets aren't just for the Summer

Even though the CSA season is over the Farmer's Market is still open and available and - let me tell you -the veggies are just beautiful. I took Comfort and Joy on an Adventure Girl morning to the market today and all I can say is - WOW!

We have a bag of beautiful salad mix, about 10 apples [red and greens], and about 12 peppers [carmen and bells] all for under $10. I could never have done that at the grocery store especially this time of the year.

First of all, even if I found those items certified organic this time of the year they would be plenty pricey. And second, I'd have to drive nearly 15 miles one way to find a Whole Foods or Trader Joes that might even have them in stock. As it was, I drove across the river 1.2 miles, we got to see the magnificent, swollen, churning James River as an added bonus, and had a bevy of wonderful produce at our fingertips by buying from our local farmer.

So, check in your area and see if your farmer's market is still open. You might just be surprised. Personally, I'm excited to get some additional veggies to use for Turkey Day and what I don't use will go into the freezer. Now doesn't that sound like an awesomely Cool Idea.

Get a Bonus from Coinstar

Don't miss out! Now you can get an extra $10 when you take your coins to a Coinstar machine and change $40 for a certificate.

Choose from big name brands like, Lowe's, iTunes, JCPenney and more – with absolutely NO FEE!

There's never been a better time to bring your coins to a Coinstar machine and change them into something you love.

Hurry! Offer ends 12/6/09.

Adorable Cookies From Frugal in VA!

You have got to go check out these cookies! If they taste even half has good as they look they must be delicious because they are just adorable. Dana at Frugal in Virginia is hosting a giveaway. There are several easy ways to enter, so head on over to check out these mouth-watering goodies and then sign up. This is a wonderfully Cool Idea!

New Cellfire Coupons Ready to Load

Cellfire coupons are ready and will be available to load to your Kroger or Safeway family of stores loyalty card until 11/30. You'll have until 12/14 to use them though. Check out the list of all the great coupons that are waiting for you:

Pillsbury® Crescents Save $1

Save $1.00 when you buy any TWO Pillsbury® Crescent Dinner Rolls.

BC Cookie Mix Save $.40

Save $0.40 when you buy any flavor 17.5 OZ. OR LARGER Betty Crocker® Cookie Mix.

BC Frosting Save $.50

Save $0.50 when you buy ONE TUB any flavor/variety Betty Crocker® Frosting.

BC Potatoes Save $.40

Save $0.40 when you buy any flavor Box or Pouch Betty Crocker® Potatoes (Except Potato Buds®).

BC Warm Delights Save $.50 Save $0.50 when you buy ONE any flavor Betty Crocker® Warm Delights® Bowls OR Betty Crocker® Warm Delights® Minis Bowls.

Bisquick® Save $.60

Save $0.60 when you buy 40 OZ. OR LARGER Original Bisquick® OR Bisquick Heart Smart® Baking Mix.

Chex Mix Save $.50

Save $0.50 when you buy any flavor 4.5 OZ. OR LARGER Chex Mix® OR Chex® 100 Calorie Snack.

Chex® Cereals Save $1

Save $1.00 when you buy any TWO Chex® cereals.

Cinn Toast Crunch Save $.55

Save $0.55 when you buy Cinnamon Toast Crunch® cereal.

Green Giant® Vege's Save $.50

Save $0.50 when you buy TWO any variety Green Giant® Frozen Boxed Vegetables.

PB Cookie Dough Save $1

Save $1.00 when you buy TWO PACKAGES any variety Pillsbury® Refrigerated Cookie Dough.

PB Pie Crusts Save $.50

Save $0.50 when you buy TWO packages of Pillsbury® Rolled Refrigerated Pie Crusts .

PB Refrig'd Grands! Save $.30

Save $0.30 when you buy TWO any size/variety Refrigerated Pillsbury® Grands!® Biscuits.

PB Savorings® Save $.55

Save $0.55 when you buy any flavor/variety Pillsbury® Savorings® products.

PB Sweet Rolls Save $.40

Save $0.40 when you buy any TWO Pillsbury® Sweet Rolls OR Grands!® Sweet Rolls.

Progresso® Broth Save $.50

Save $0.50 when you buy ONE any variety Progresso® Broth.

Progresso® Soups Save $.50

Save $0.50 when you buy TWO any flavor Progresso® Soups.

Yoplait® Cups Save $.50

Save $0.50 when you buy SIX any variety Yoplait® Yogurt cups (Original, Light, Thick & Creamy, OR Whips!®) OR any flavor Yoplait® Original OR Light Smoothie.

Huggies® Diapers Save $3

Save $3.00 on any two packages of Huggies® Diapers.

Cottonelle® Save $.25

Save $.25 on any ONE (1) 4-pack or Larger COTTONELLE® Toilet Paper.


Save $.55 when purchasing 1 box of HOT POCKETS® brand BREAKFAST sandwiches.

Scotch Fur Fighter Save $4 (At Kroger and ShopRite)

Save $4 on a Scotch(tm) Fur Fighter(tm) Hair Remover Starter Kit.

Purina® Dry Cat Food Save $1

Save $1.00 on any one (1) package of Purina® brand Dry Cat Food, any size, any variety.

Purina® Dry Dog Food Save $1

Save $1.00 on any one (1) package of Purina® brand Dry Dog Food, any size, any variety.

Purina® Dog/Cat Treats Save $1

Save $1.00 on two (2) packages of Purina® brand Dog Snacks and/or Cat Treats, any size, any variety.

Nature's Pride Bread Save $.75

Save $0.75 on any one loaf of Nature's Pride® bread.

SELECT 55 6-pack Save $1 (Only available at Vons in the San Diego area)

Save $1.00 when you purchase any one (1) SELECT 55 6-pack.

NaNoWriMo moves into the Middle

So, I'm over the mid-point of the word count and into the land where I don't really know what happens next in the story. I know where the story is headed but the road beyond the headlights is getting darker and darker. My daily word count is getting harder to meet, too.

As a way of motivating me to continue to hit the count that I need I've posted the NaNo word count widget. Now everyone who sees this page will know where I am in my quest to hit 50K - as long as I've updated the NaNo site with my new words. I haven't been good about this but I'll try to keep it up to date at least every couple of days.

Word count widget as accountability tool. Definitely a Cool Idea!

Thoughts on Writing and Romance

I'm at 28K words or so into my NaNo book and on target to finish somewhere around November 22 according to my online report card. Whew. It's true that slow and steady wins the race. Not that I've won yet. There's still Thanksgiving to get through and Joy is getting tubes put back in her ears this week. So many more struggles here at home to compete with my time.

Remember when I wrote about the details of the Romance Publishing industry this summer. Where here are some new numbers to grapple with:

· Romance novels currently comprise the largest share
of the consumer book market as reported this fall in Time Magazine. More
than one out of four books sold is a romance and romance novels earned nearly
$1.4 billion in sales last year. The happy ending feature of romance
novels seems to be the uplifting aspect that appeals to people even more in a

· Some of the challenges the publishing industry
struggled with in 2008 and is continuing to in 2009 include the following:
imprints reorganized, independent booksellers struggle, mass merchandisers like
Wal-Mart continued to dominated the book-selling scene; proliferation of
used books, book piracy, increased competition for consumer leisure time.

· Americans only spent 3.9 hours per week reading
books in 2008, while they spent 15 hours online and 12.1 hours watching
television. The biggest challenge for the publishing industry to overcome may be
increasing the perceived value of reading. Industry analysts believe the
book business should remember that the future of content isn’t about whether
it is seen, but whether it is valued.

So, while it's not all peaches and sunshine the Romance industry is still keeping the publishing industry afloat. While you may not think that 'romance' is for you I would venture to bet that there's a romance book out there somewhere that you'd love. There are so many subgenres within the romance umbrella that it's almost impossible not to find something you don't love.

If you like funny - try a Jennifer Crusie. If you like suspense - try Linda Howard. If you like terrorists - try Cherry Adair. If you like vampires - well, there are so many to pick from:) And if you just want to get more ideas you can take a look at the reviews I've been writing or go over to my sister blog and see the books I've been reading over the course of this year.

Kindle for the PC

Tia's Saving Cents and Frugal in Virginia both posted that Amazon has a new app - Kindle for the PC. [The app for Mac is supposed to be available shortly]. The download is quick and easy and once you're done you can read Amazon Kindle books from your PC. Isn't that a Cool Idea!

I Love Neutrogena!

If you love Neutrogena, too, grab this and you'll get free samples with every order, as well as, free shipping with orders over $25! Buy any 3 items and you get 25% off your entire order. I think that sounds like a Cool Idea!

Be Safe On The Road

Yep, we can file this under 'rant' but I hope it makes you stop and think.

For those of you that live in Virginia did you know that there is a law that requires you to turn on your headlights when your windshield wipers are on? Yes there is. And while I don't know anyone who's gotten a ticket for not doing it that doesn't mean it's not a good idea.

Especially in the fall and winter time when the sky is gray and visibility is diminished and when rain bounces off the roads it's very hard to see what's going on. So, just turn on your lights so that your car is easier to see and we'll all be safer.

And better yet, next time you buy a car try to buy one with Daytime Running Lights. I love these! In fact, I was pissed when I got home after buying 'Lightening McQueen' [which is what Comfort and Joy call our car] to find that for the first time in a DECADE I did not have DRL]. Daytime Running Lights are a great safety feature and make it easier for other cars to see you. It's as simple as that. Not to mention that you get a better rate on your insurance if you have DRL so it's always a good thing to look for.

That's it. Turn on your lights when it's raining. It keeps us all safer and personally I think that's a very Cool Idea!

Stewardship of Resources: Your Home

I've been doing some Fall Cleaning around the house to help take care of what we have. What? You never heard of Fall Cleaning?

Well, it's like Spring Cleaning but done in the Fall. Yeah, catchy title, I know.

But it's important to take care of the house, because it's something that is in yours and will work much better if take care of it along the way.

What kinds of things have I been doing?
  • Cleaned the stainless steel of the appliances with WD-40. I can't remember where I read this - maybe on the Everyday Cheapskate emails - but it really does work
  • Scrubbed my porcelain kitchen with Barkeeper's Friend. Another great tip from Everyday Cheapskate.
  • Cleaned the coils of the fridge.
  • Weed the front garden and trim back the hedges.

Obviously, there are other things that need to be done and would need to be done if we had a lawn or different type of property. Mostly the point is to take care of what you have responsibility for and your home is just one more thing that falls into that category.

So, look around the house or the yard and check out those things that need to happen before it gets too cold and yucky. Make a list and start working your way through it. Your house will appreciate it and it's an important part of stewardship. I promise.

Another Great Giveaway at Common Sense with Money

Mercedes at Common Sense with Money is also giving away at $100 VISA gift card [courtesy of Carnation Evaporated Milk]. There are several ways to enter - head on over for he details and read all the good ways to incorporate Evaporated milk into your cooking. It's a Cool Idea!

one small message, one mighty impact

Head on Over to $5 Dinners!

Erin is giving away a $100 VISA gift card to help with holiday baking [sponsored by Carnation Evaporated Milk]. Head on over to enter!

Payout from Inbox Dollars

I just hit the payout threshold with Inbox Dollars and requested my first check. It's taken me a little while but I don't click on all the emails that they send me. But if you are diligent I don't think it would take long to hit the cashout amount. Personally, if you're already in your email inbox and just sitting in front of the TV you might as well be making some cash for yourself. Right? Sounds like a Cool Idea to me, too!

Opinion Outpost Surveys has new Payout Threshold!

Opinion Outpost now pays out at 50 points - or $5 - if you choose an gift card as your reward. So, no waiting around until you hit $20 anymore and then waiting for a check. And since most of Opinion Outposts surveys are at least $1 this shouldn't take too long to tally up.

So, just in case you're in need of some more gift cards for your holiday shopping make sure to do your Opinion Outpost surveys as soon as they come into your email box. If you aren't signed up with them. It's easy to join. Just head on over and fill out your profiles to get started. It's definitely a Cool Idea!

Swedish Meatballs on Special at IKEA

I just love IKEA! In fact the only thing I don't love is that I live over an hour away now and have to make due with only periodic trips to this Scandinavian House of Practicality. But this weekend, November 7-10, the Swedish Meatball plate in the IKEA Restaurant is only $1! Truly, how can you beat that!!

And if you haven't made it to the IKEA Restaurant yet let me tell you that it's fantastic. Not only is the food great but you if you want to substitute something it's no biggy. And the kids food isn't fire-blasting hot. The mac-and-cheese tastes great and is at a temperature that is ready to eat. As a mom who always has kids ready to gnaw off their own arm at about that time in the trip this welcome. They also have utensils especially for kids if you look near the bottle warming station. Oh and if you forgot your own baby food for the little one, yep you can pick up a jar in the restaurant. And around the corner in the family changing room there are always extra diapers and wipes.

It really is a place where you can come and take a break for a few minutes. Let the kids sit at tables their own size, if you want. Make sure they eat something healthy - because there's always yogurt and milk and veggies, too - and that way you don't have to deal with the sugar crash that'll happen later at the end of the shopping trip.

So, just in case you're planning to go to IKEA this weekend - we'll be at the one in Woodbridge - be sure to grab your plate of meatballs for a $1 and enjoy because this is definitely a Cool Idea!

November is Prematurity Awareness Month

March of Dimes reminds us all that November is Prematurity Awareness Month. 543,000 babies are born too soon each year and thankfully, due to increased funding and research many of those babies go on to live long and healthy lives.

As a mom who struggled with infertility and who has friends who did as well I, unfortunately, became well acquainted with the virtual bands as a way to honor those who were born too early and didn't survive. But I can also say that Comfort has her own band, too. She was born a month early and I wanted to create a band as a thank you for the hard work that the doctors and nurses did for her while she in the NICU.

One way that the lives of our premature babies can be acknowledged is to buy a virtual band , either in memory or in honor of the child, as a donation to March of Dimes. If you have a premature baby in your life consider donating a virtual band in their honor and helping March of Dimes give more struggling babies a greater chance.

Great Giveaway in the Works!

Head on over to Money Saving Methods and sign up for the $25 Barnes and Noble gift card, kids books and Cherrios giveaway that Carrie has going on. You can get up to 6 entries so maximize your chance of getting some great books for yourself and your kids.

Coupons are reset!

The beginning of the month means that the coupons are reset. Check out all the great options for saving. There are the usual suspects - Yoplain, Big G Cereals, Kellogg's, Pillsbury cookie dough, etc. But there are also some great coupons for Hasbro games so if you are looking for holiday gifts already head on over to the coupon bar on the right handside and see if there's something there for a little person in your life.

Remember, too, that the cellfire coupons [available in the right sidebar] are still available if you have a Kroger or Safeway family store in your area. Just download those to your loyalty card.

Don't forget to check out and p&gesavers for coupons, too. Also, Upromise ecoupons don't come off your grocery bill but the money goes toward your upromise account. Pgesavers and upromise can be bundled with other coupons but the others cannot. Optimizing your coupons each month is always a Cool Idea!

NaNoWriMo Begins Today!

For the rest of the world that is not pestered with voices in their head and who may not know what that means. NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month. NaNo, as it is mostly abbreviated, requires writers to write 50,000 words of original material in the month of November. If you do - then you win. What do you win? Nothing but the ability to say that you finished a novel, which is something that most people say that want to do in their life, but let's face it, they rarely accomplish.
So, for those of you who may be thinking that "Hey, I could do that!" Well, you're right! 50K words is something like 1,667 words a day. If you can keep up that pace than you really don't have any huge worries.
Ahem, of course, you'll need to plan for the flu, several early dismissal days from school, the 4 days that your in-laws will be visiting for Turkey Day and various other distractions but otherwise it's totally doable.
But some of the best things about NaNo is that you're not doing this alone. There are several levels of community for you to be part of. There's the national level, then you can find a local group, or maybe even an online group. I went to a local kick-off a few years ago and it was amazing. Not something I need to do again by myself but there was a lot of energy there!
For me, I'm all about the online communities. I have 2 online writing communities of which I am part and we have a NaNo discussion set up already. Also, the NaNo site allows you to set up a buddy list using your NaNo username. These communities and buddies are to keep encouragment up and make sure you know that you're not alone. You might still go crazy but you won't be alone.
This announcement is also to say that posts to this blog in the month of November will either b a) sparse or b) used as a way to avoid the novel I'm supposed to be writing. It probably won't be hard to figure out how the writing is going after the first week!
Probably the most amazing part of the NaNo process is that it's a volunteer/ non-profit site. There's a fund-o-meter to let people know if they've met their expenses for the month to keep the servers up and to fund the educational projects they run. You see, it's not all about a bunch of people putting their butts in a chair and typing. It's also about teaching kids about the power of story. And truly, that may be the Coolest Idea of All!