Striving to create a home strong in the foundations of love, respect, and God's truths ...

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Hearts for Home Blog Hop - January 30, 2014


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Introducing ... the Hearts for Home Blog Hop!  A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for this weekly link-up, which means that every Thursday you'll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post.  If you're a blogger, we'd love to have you link up your posts and join us.  You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.





Last week this post called Why We're Ditching Story of the World was the most-clicked-on post.

Some of my favorite posts from last week were:

- Free Printable Reading Logs for the entire year! 

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our 'Featured Blogger' buttons!  Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.



Hearts for Home Blog Hop
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Link up your family-friendly blog posts below. Please add our button to your post to link back to this one. Happy hopping!
Hearts for Home Blog Hop

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Taco Soup 2: The From Scratch Version


Yesterday I shared my family's new favorite soup recipe - a Quick & Easy Taco Soup - over at Marriage, Motherhood, and Missions.  

I like that version a lot.  You can have a healthy, hearty meal on the table in less than 30 minutes.  It's great for a spontaneous meal with company or for taking to a family in need.  
I don't buy a lot of pre-packaged food, though, and so I've made this same soup completely from scratch, as well.  It takes just a bit longer but is still very simple, and you're not sacrificing any of the flavor - in fact, you can control it even more!

So here's how to make Scratch Taco Soup:

Ingredients: 
- 2 bags of dried black beans, sorted
- 1 onion, diced
- 5 c. water
- 1 small bag of frozen corn
- 4 tablespoons of taco seasoning
- 3 tablespoons of ranch seasoning

Directions:
1.    Put the beans in a large stockpot.  Cover with water.  Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for 2 hours.
2.  Drain beans.  Return to pot.  
3.  Add the diced onion, water, seasonings, and corn.
4.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
5.  Serve with your favorite choice of toppings - cheese, salsa, tortilla chips, etc.

What's your favorite kind of soup?


Monday, January 27, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - January 27, 2014

Yay!  The end of the current sports' season is in sight!  Only two games left and we'll wrap those up this week - and then our evenings will be ours again.  I can't WAIT for that, as much as I do love to watch my Little Man play.

As for our days, we're mostly home this week, and with a birthday happening, we'll try to make the most of that, too.  

The weather is again to be super cold, so we'll be staying in when we can, enjoying lots of soup, and eating by the fire whenever possible.

Breakfast:


- scrambled eggs, juice, bananas

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-Apple muffins and oranges

Dinner:

- Zuppa Toscana with salad and breadsticks
 

- Spaghetti with Easy Bolognese Sauce, green beans
 
- Supreme Pizza Soup with salad and breadsticks

Pizza, carrot sticks, apples
 
- Barbecue, French fries, lima beans, Daddy's Ice Cream Cake

- Leftovers
 
I'm not sure what I'll be baking yet this week.  I want to try out something new and get ready for the big bake sale our kids' group is having at church in a few weeks.  Suggestions??  :-)

What are you cooking this week?

For more Menu Plan Mondays, visit OrgJunkie.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Julie Klassen’s “The Dancing Master” giveaway and “All Things Jane” webcast 1/23!

Best-selling author Julie Klassen will be hosting a Kindle Fire HDX giveaway and a live webcast event (1/23) to celebrate the release of her latest novel, The Dancing Master. Enter and RSVP today!

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  One winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on January 23rd. Winner will be announced at the "All Things Jane (from Austen to Eyre)" Live Webcast Event on January 23rd. Connect with Julie for an evening of book chat, trivia, laughter, and more! Julie will also be taking questions from the audience and giving away books, Jane Austen DVDs, fun "Jane" merchandise, and gift certificates throughout the evening.

So grab your copy of The Dancing Master and join Julie and friends on the evening of January 23rd for a chance to connect and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book, don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun; RSVP today by signing up for a reminder. Tell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 23rd!

Hearts for Home Blog Hop - January 23, 2014


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Introducing ... the Hearts for Home Blog Hop!  A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for this weekly link-up, which means that every Thursday you'll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post.  If you're a blogger, we'd love to have you link up your posts and join us.  You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.





Last week this post called Artful Friday: Arts in our Homeschool was the most-clicked-on post.

Some of my favorite posts from last week were:

- Tracks in the Snow Winter Nature Study 

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our 'Featured Blogger' buttons!  Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.



Hearts for Home Blog Hop
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Link up your family-friendly blog posts below. Please add our button to your post to link back to this one. Happy hopping!
Hearts for Home Blog Hop

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Friday, January 17, 2014

Making All-Natural Soap with Red Mountain Goodness


I have always wanted to learn how to make soap.  Maybe it started when I read about a pioneer doing so in one of my historical fiction novels.  I remember that coming up several times.

While I'm not interested in pouring lard through ashes or anything, soapmaking has remained at the top of my list of things to learn about for a long time, so I was super excited when a friend shared that there was a great soap company operating in the next county over.  I was even more excited when founder and owner of Red Mountain Goodness, Todd Hinson, immediately replied to my request for a lesson with a 'Yes!'


Todd began by sharing with us how his company began.  A research scientist by training, he was working in that field when he began to develop a type of soap to help with his wife's wintery skin.  Friends and family loved the result, and Red Mountain Goodness was born.

 The best part of Todd's backstory was the way that he encouraged our kids.  He shared with them difficulties of beginning your own home-based business, some of the details and issues that were involved, marketing strategies, and the like; all provided great information and insight to our future entrepreneurs.  He told us several times, however, that we should not be afraid to look for a solution to a problem or to do something in a non-traditional way - that those are sometimes the things that help people the most.  That those things can make a difference.  

As a scientist, Todd looks at soap differently than many.  While we might be happy to have a soap that feels good at the moment and smells great, Todd is looking for all natural ingredients.  He talked with the kids about ingredient labels on products and how the list is graduated - so that the first ingredient listed is used the most by quantity, etc., and then he compared each ingredient in order to his soap.  Did you know that one of the most common soap companies in our country puts the main chemical in antifreeze into their soap?  UGH!

Then Todd demonstrated making his soap.  While he made it look easy, he takes great care when measuring and mixing the ingredients to provide a high-quality product for the consumers. 


His soaps contain olive oil ...



coconut oil ...




goat's milk and lye.  Regardless of what other soap labels say, for a product to be a true soap, it must contain lye as an ingredient, but the lye is used up chemically during the soapmaking process, making the end product totally safe for your skin.




Combing the lye with the frozen goat's milk creates an exothermic reaction, one that releases heat, and so we watched this reaction melt the goat's milk.  My kids were fascinated by that part!




Todd has incorporated many scientific tools into the process of soapmaking.  This 'self-stirrer' (I don't know the scientific name) allows liquids to be stirred using magnet technology.  Since the soap needs to be stirred for 15 minutes after the lye has finished reacting, Todd uses this handy tool to do the work.  My Big Helper thought that was quite ingenious.



The next order of business is to combine the oil mixture with the lye mixture.  Todd uses a regular immersion blender for this, and the kids in the group all loved watching the two elements begin to change color and for soap particles to form.




Todd scents his soaps with essential oils, and our group voted to make lavender soap.  It takes 40 mg of essential oil to scent the soap.  Todd shared with the kids the best way to measure liquids in a graduated cylinder, and their eyes were all big at the sight of his scientific equipment.



As one girl inquired, the soap must be put into something while it cures and hardens.  Todd explained that you can use anything, but he uses these soap molds.  Each batch of soap will make 16 bars, and while making such small batches is quite time-consuming for a business of this size, Todd is determined to maintain the high quality of his products and refuses to make bigger batches.



When the soap is ready, Todd poured it into the mold.  He then lifted it carefully and tapped it against the table to release any bubbles that might be hiding inside.  This reminded me of the trip that candy bars take on bouncing conveyor belts to do the same thing!  

Next the bars will hang out in the fridge overnight, and then be cut the next day.  They'll then cure for a month, be wrapped, and cure for another month before being sold.  This means that each bar has been in production for a total of two months!  

Todd was a great presenter for our group.  We learned about entrepreneurship, about creativity and scientific method, about the role of chemicals in our society, on marketing and goal-setting, and much more.  I appreciate that so many kind people are willing to share their dreams and their knowledge with your young ones.  We can't replicate that kind of education!

I also couldn't replicate Todd's soap!  It feels great on my skin, has a delightful scent, and the best part is knowing that I'm not absorbing antifreeze or any other crazy chemicals in the process of getting clean.


 Red Mountain Goodness is having a special sale this weekend only.  Starting today, they're offering 30% off their soaps through their website when you enter code 30for300 at checkout.  If your order totals over $25, you'll also get free shipping!  If you've been wanting to try an all-natural soap, or if you have dry, cracked, wintery, itchy skin, this is the time to try something new!  Red Mountain Goodness soaps are designed to get you clean but leave the natural oils in your skin, keeping your skin happy and healthy.  Head over to their Facebook page, give them a 'like,' and try it out!

I am receiving no compensation in sharing Red Mountain's sale or products with you.  I'm just happy to share a good deal on a great product with others who might appreciate it! 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Hearts for Home Blog Hop - January 16, 2014


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Introducing ... the Hearts for Home Blog Hop!  A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for this weekly link-up, which means that every Thursday you'll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post.  If you're a blogger, we'd love to have you link up your posts and join us.  You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.





Last week this post called One Word was the most-clicked-on post.

Some of my favorite posts from last week were:

- Paper Heart Leis

If your post is listed above, please grab one of our 'Featured Blogger' buttons!  Congratulations, and thanks for writing such inspiring posts.



Hearts for Home Blog Hop
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Link up your family-friendly blog posts below. Please add our button to your post to link back to this one. Happy hopping!
Hearts for Home Blog Hop

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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

8 Practices of an Intentional Parent

For the past several weeks, I've been pondering about what kind of parent I should be.  About what kind of parent God wants me to be.  I began thinking about this here.

There are millions of really great things that we can do as parents, but nobody can do everything.  I'll never be perfect, and mistakes are a given - even from this list.

But these are the things that I think are most important in our household.  To us, as parents, and to our kids.  So far, these practices are calling our names, and so we're going to work to be intentional in these areas specifically.

http://www.anestintherocks.blogspot.com

1.  Listen to your kids.  Kids love to tell stories, to share news about their day, to give you reports on their stuffed animals and other friends, and to provide flash updates on boo-boos and other items of severe importance.  It can be hard to give those things full attention sometimes, especially when we're together all day.  Sometimes I just want to say, "I know that."  Or to keep my eyes - and my thoughts - on what I was doing prior to the interruption.  But they don't want my half-hearted attempts, and if I don't prove the value of their news now, how can I expect them to share with me when they're older and life brings them bigger challenges?

2.  Start the day off right.  I want to teach my kids the value of spending quiet time with God, but they'll know if I'm saying it and not doing it.  My daughter started reading her Bible on her own a few years ago because she came and sat with me on the couch at the end of my study time each morning, and she wanted "to be like Mommy."  She now has deeper reasons for her own quiet time, and those will continue to grow as she does, but I need to set a good example.

3.  Read scripture together.  We've begun to read the Bible together at breakfast each morning.  This provides a great opportunity for listening to God's word together, spoken aloud, and discussing it.  

4.  Make God an integral part of the day.  God doesn't exist in a vacuum.  He created the world and everything in it, and talking about that in a natural way invites God into our day.  We make a point to talk about exciting things that we see in nature and to talk about how God might have made them.  When the sunset is particularly vibrant, we might say, "God painted a beautiful sunset tonight!" Or when we watch an animal move, we wonder how creative God must be to make so many different animals.  

5.  Pray together.  This is the hardest one for me.  I'm not used to praying out loud with anybody, but the kids like to pray together, and I think it's important that we do so and have the bond that only prayer can create.

6.  Date your kids.  I love spending time as a whole family, and I'm thankful that God lets me stay home with them each day.  We enjoy our time together, but there's also something special about having one-on-one time.  Each child is always especially excited when we head out on a date, and I enjoy being able to do their favorite things just with them.  This is also a great way to teach them how to handle themselves when they're out and about and on a date.  Someday the time to date/court will arrive, and it will be smoother for all of us if we've practiced and set expectations for proper behavior.  Should our daughter expect to be treated with respect and chivalrous behavior?  Should she be kind, polite, and attentive?  Yes and yes.  Should our son be respectful and protective of his date, being a kind, chivalrous escort?  Yes.  Those are expectations we can build now, and we can have fun doing it.

7.  Discuss the world around you.  I want to protect my children from the craziness of the world all around them.  It's fallen, and evidence of that is everywhere.   Keeping them from all knowledge of the many ways in which we've messed up God's creation will only cause them to be in shock when their bubble finally bursts - and it doesn't allow them to be used by God as a force for good.  How can they help feed the homeless if they don't know that homeless people exist - or how many of them there are?  How easily could someone trick them into taking a drug if they aren't aware of the severe drug problem in our country?  Making them aware of these issues as they're developmentally and emotionally ready to handle them is important.  We're not going to bash the people around us, but we can make them aware of these issues in small ways, talking through them whenever they need, so that they can learn how to make wise decisions as teens and adults.  Perhaps someday they'll be able to make a difference in these areas!

8.  Make time for conversation.  Sometimes I get impatient with talking.  It's not my favorite thing, and a mom's to-do list is always so long that I have trouble focusing on conversations that don't feel important to me at the time.  Selfish, right?  I know.  But just like I need to listen to what my kids want to share with me, we also need to make time to talk things through.  Scripture.  The news.  What happened at their school events and field trips that day.  We need to talk through things, not just to discuss big world issues, but to teach them how to think things through and how to analyze things.  That movie we watched, the one that was different than the book we read?  Why was it different?  Why did the producers change the plot from that of the book when it's been popular for more than 50 years?  What message are they trying to send?  What do they want you to think/feel/say/buy?  What does the Bible have to say about this issue?  I think that we're going to be doing a bit less doing and a bit more talking in the months to come.

Our kids are still fairly young.  I'm sure I'll be adding to this list as they grow, but for now, this will get us started.  

What would you add?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

GratiTuesday - No More Commuting!



Almost exactly one year and four months ago, my husband was laid off from the company where he'd worked for fourteen years.

It was a scary time.  We didn't know what the future would hold, but we were pretty sure of one thing:  when he found a job, it wouldn't be in town.

He had worked only two or three miles away from home, but in the small town where we live, jobs in his field are hard to come by.  While we were anxious for him to find work, we took advantage of the extra family time we had, because chances were good that he'd find a job that kept him away from home.

In the end, that's exactly what happened.  My husband found a good job with a great company - that was nearly an hour away.  One way. We were so happy that we didn't think too much about the distance.  He started work just before Christmas, heading out the door early each morning in suit and tie, and we were thrilled to return to 'normal.'

Except normal it wasn't.  Shortly after Christmas he headed off for training - nearly an hour and a half away - one way.  After six weeks of driving three hours each day, returning home in time to eat a quick dinner and fall in bed, exhausted, only to do it all over again the next day, we agreed that the next time a training session arose he would stay in the city and not commute.

That made life easier on him, but we sure missed him!  He's been in training for a wide variety of things over the past year, and even when he's home, he's putting in nearly twelve hour days when you factor in the commute.

Until now.  Last week he transferred to an office in our tiny little town.  His office is now only two miles from our house - AND he gets an hour lunch break, during which time he comes home and eats with us.

We've gone from seeing him only over the dinner table - when he was in town - to having him move easily in and out of our daily schedule.  It's GREAT!

Over the past week, we've returned to our new-and-improved normal.  My husband is home to help with kiddie shower time again.  We drive to kiddie sporting events as a family instead of meeting up there.  He's home to listen to the kids' excitement over school projects, to greet their book club friends when they come over each month, and to talk with me before and after work.

We are incredibly thankful that he has a job.  We realize that many people don't.  But we're also very, very thankful to have him working back in town.  Without the commuting time, we have more time as a family to bond, volunteer, learn, work, and play together.  

I love that.

For more GratiTuesday, visit Heavenly Homemakers.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Dorothy Love’s “Carolina Gold” Southern Essentials $100 Visa Cash Card Giveaway and 1/14 Facebook Party!

Don't miss Dorothy Love's latest historical novel, Carolina Gold. Fun news: The release of Carolina Gold coincides with Dorothy's birthday. Celebrate with her by entering the Southern Essentials Giveaway and RSVPing to her Facebook party on January 14th!
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Between January 3–14, visit Dorothy Love's Facebook Page to enter to win a new giveaway each day and be entered to win the $100 Visa Cash Card grand prize. Winners will be announced at the Facebook Author Chat party on January 14th! (Don't have a Facebook account? Enter here.) RSVP today for Dorothy's Carolina Gold Author Chat Party on Facebook.

During the party Dorothy will be hosting a book chat, testing your trivia skills, announcing the winner of the Southern Essentials Giveaway, and giving away books, gift certificates, and more. Oh, and she'll also be giving partygoers an exclusive look at her next book!

So grab your copy of Carolina Gold and help Dorothy celebrate her birthday on the evening of January 14th! (If you haven’t read the book, don’t let that stop you from coming!)
 

DON’T MISS A MOMENT OF THE FUN; RSVP TODAY. HOPE TO SEE YOU ON THE 14th!

Menu Plan Monday January 13, 2014

I had high hopes for having a "normal" week this week, but it's gotten pretty full - but of really good things.  We're participating in a mission activity at church, working to plan some other church events, are heading off for a really cool field trip, and basketball season is back on after a Christmas break.  

I'm looking forward to baking up a storm for one of those church events, and we'll see what else we can get ourselves into this week.  In the meantime, meals will be ones that I can pull together quickly or prep ahead.  

I'm thinking ....


Breakfast:


- scrambled eggs, juice, bananas

www.anestintherocks.blogspot.com


- Muffins and fruit

Dinner:

Taco soup with cheese and tortilla chips - recipe coming soon!

- Spicy sausage pasta, carrots, applesauce
 
http://www.anestintherocks.blogspot.com
 

- Beef & Bean Burritos, chips & salsa
 
 

What are you cooking this week?

For more Menu Plan Mondays, visit OrgJunkie.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Hearts for Home Blog Hop - January 9, 2014

wpid-HeartsforHomeButton250

Introducing ... the Hearts for Home Blog Hop!  A Nest in the Rocks is now one of the co-hosts for this weekly link-up, which means that every Thursday you'll find lots of great tips, recipes, and other family-friendly ideas listed throughout this post.  If you're a blogger, we'd love to have you link up your posts and join us.  You can find information about the other co-hosts of this hop here.

Blog Hop" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Link up your family-friendly blog posts below. Please add our button to your post to link back to this one. Happy hopping!
Hearts for Home Blog Hop

<div align="center"><a href="http://www.upsidedownhomeschooling.com/hearts-for-home/" title="Hearts for Home Blog Hop" target="_blank"><img src="http://i1169.photobucket.com/albums/r505/upsidedownhomeschool/HFH150_zpsf22ef64f.jpg" alt="Hearts for Home Blog Hop" style="border:none;" /></a></div>



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Could Prophecy Change Your Parenting Style?

www.anestintherocks.blogspot.com
 
Every year we watch The Nativity Story on December 23rd, and this year was no exception.  This time, the scene on the beach, where Joseph and Mary talk about how they'll parent baby Jesus after his birth struck me.  

In the movie, Joseph asks Mary, "Will I be able to teach Him anything?"  Mary looks back as if she doesn't really know, and it made me think about what a big task was ahead of them.  About how much they really didn't know about the coming baby - and about how much they did.  They knew he would survive birth - which was always a question in those days.  They knew that He would be special.  That God would take care of Him.  That while He would be different, He would garner attention at some point in His life, but that it would be okay.  He was destined to become the King of Kings, after all.

All of this pondering brought me back to Joseph's question.  Will we be able to teach them anything?  We're not raising the Savior of the world, but ... what if we are raising someone unusually special?  What if we are teaching the next Billy Graham or Michael W. Smith or Darlene Schech?  What if our child is to be the mother of the next Kirk Cameron?  

Would we parent differently?

Just as the movie Joseph didn't know in what way Jesus' special beginnings would manifest itself, we don't know how God plans to use our children - but He does.  Whether they become famous authors or teachers or diligently teach the next generation all about God's faithfulness, He will use them.  Every single one.

Does that type of prophecy - or lack thereof - change your parenting style?

It has made me determined to live this year more intentionally than ever.  To be sure to be reading and studying, both on my own and with my children.  To be praying for them and with them.  To dream big dreams and pray big prayers - not that they would become rich or famous or have easy, comfortable lives, but that they would be strong and courageous and honest and useful to their God.  

Those prayers are scary to me.  God doesn't think the way that we do, and He's willing to push past all of our boundaries to accomplish His purposes.

But really, would I want my kids living anywhere other than in the center of God's will, scary or not?

No.

So I'll continue to dream those dreams and pray those prayers and teach them the best way that I can.

How will you be parenting in 2014?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Menu Plan Monday - January 6, 2014

Hello, 2014!  

Can you believe that it's here already?  Both 2013 and, with it, the Christmas season - flew by.  It's hard to believe that the hubbub is over already, but here we are, facing a new year, a new week, and new activities.

This one is going to be a typical first-week-of-the-month for us in that we have lots going on, but then our month slows way down, and I'm looking forward to that!

We're also facing cold temperatures, warmer than much of the country, but colder than our norm, so we're planning to stay inside and stay warm this week.

Breakfast:

- scrambled eggs, juice, bananas

www.anestintherocks.blogspot.com


 

- Applesauce Muffins

Dinner:

Taco soup with cheese and tortilla chips
 

- Spaghetti with Easy Bolognese Sauce, green beans

Pizza, carrot sticks, apples
 

Chili and cornbread

- Stromboli Rolls, salad

- Leftovers

- Slow Cooker BBQ Chicken with baked potatoes and steamed broccoli

This week we'll be baking something new.  I'm in the mood to play a bit.  Suggestions??  :-)

What are you cooking this week?

For more Menu Plan Mondays, visit OrgJunkie.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Great EduCents Coupon - $10 off First Purchase!

Are you an EduCents shopper?  EduCents is a website selling discounted educational products at great prices.  There's a wide variety - printables, foreign language, science kits, and much, much more.  For a short time, they're offering a coupon for $10 off your first purchase.  Since there are often products priced at $20 or less, this could make for a great deal!  I have purchased a few things through EduCents - some Human Body Detective books, some holiday printables, and some great non-fiction kid readers, among others.

To take advantage of this coupon, click over to the EduCents website and sign up.  Membership is free, and the coupon will be deposited into your account upon registration.  Then, choose your deals and shop away!

** Discount cannot be used for shipping.  Affiliate links are contained in this post.