Sweet Sponsor: E-Mealz

It doesn’t matter if you’re a homeschooling mom or a public school mom or a private school mom or any other kind of mom:  it’s back to school time and most all of us could use any help we can manage to scrounge up when it comes to organization.

For us, soccer seasons are the busiest, and require careful planning, especially for meals.  If I don’t plan something uber quick or for the crockpot on practice days {which are three times a week}, we’ll end up eating fast food.  Don’t judge me.

Sure, I could sit there and peruse the Publix ad and put together a meal plan for the week, but whether anybody admits it or not, it takes time.  And to me, it’s not terribly fun.  Cooking?  Yes that’s fun.  Making a list around sale items?  No, that’s not fun.

E-Mealz is a great solution to this dilemma.  Each week, an experienced team reviews store sales ads, seasonal specials, and dietary restrictions and puts together a menu of dinners for the week.  These menus usually include seven ingredients or less and a prep time of 30 minutes or less.  In addition, the meal plans are designed around a budget of $75 per week for families and $35 per week for individuals.

Sisters Jane DeLaney and Jenny Cochran started the program in 2003 when they became frustrated about the challenges associated with creating healthy and budget-friendly meals for their families.  They’ve even created a blog, Make Time for Family, that’s full of recipes, tips to simply and organize, and plan family fun.  And hey, it’s even recommended by Dave Ramsey, so it has to be good!

The service only costs $5 per month, which is a steal for the information you get.  E-Mealz even provides you with an aisle-by-aisle shopping list, in addition to your recipes.  Be sure to check them out on Facebook and Twitter as well!

E-Mealz has been gracious enough to donate two three month subscriptions to their awesome service to my back to school giveaway packages next week!  AND, if you don’t win a subscription, they’ve provided a discount code for you to get 10% off your subscription, just use “PHENOMENA” {no quotes}.  How awesome are they?!?!

True Confessions:  I didn’t get any free stuff in exchange for posting this spotlight.  I just think E-Mealz is awesome and wanted to share with you guys!

Sweet Sponsor: mod 86 designery

mod 86 designery

mod 86 designeryI’ve had many posts about it recently, and so have many of you:  organization!  And, as many of you know, my Back to School giveaway next week is all about organization.

I was so happy to hear that Angela, owner of mod 86 designery, was donating two of her All in One Food Organizers for the giveaway packages!  Meal Organizer

These things are so cute!  There are several nifty pockets to hold your coupons and plenty of pages to list your breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks for the week.  She’s even provided a shopping list with headings {produce, meats, dairy, household, etc.}  to organize your shopping trip!

Inside Meal Planner

These little gems aren’t the only thing Angela sells.  She’s got address books, bill and loan books, planners, adorable mini planners, mini to dos and notepads, and upgrades and add-ons.  She’s even got a promo going right now so if you order more than $60 worth of items, she’ll throw in three mini to dos and notepads for free!

Angela designs all of the planner pages herself and uses 100% recycled paper {love that!}.  She even cuts, binds and assembles them herself.  How awesome is that?

I definitely recommend you head over and check out all her great products, and if you want to win one of the food organizers, be sure to come back tomorrow to enter my Back to School giveaways!!

True Confessions:  I was provided with a free All in One Food Organizer for review purposes.  After all, I can’t recommend something or give it away to you guys without knowing for sure it’s totally awesome.  Getting the free swag in no way swayed my opinions in this spotlight; you’ll always get my honest opinion.

Sweet Sponsor: dotmine Day Planners

I’m just going to go ahead and put this out there:  I love organization and planning and file folders and Evernote and OneNote and anything else remotely similar.  I get really giddy inside thinking about them.  Just keep that in mind as you read this…

I was recently sent a dotmine day planner to review, the Coral Sarong family_time.mine one to be exact.  First, you can’t go wrong with pink.  No, you can’t.  Second, the thing is awesome.  A thing of beauty and function and wonderfulness all rolled into one.  But, we should really discuss the company and all those other things first…Coral Sarong

dotmine is the result of  “a serendipitous meeting in a London pub” between Lisa and Sarah.  Long story short, they wanted to create planners that were “fashionable, functional, and affordable.”  And they really did.

This part is important:  affordable.  I bought a planner around December that I loved.  It was designed by a mom and she embellished the heck out of it with cool papers and glitter and tabbies and other awesome stuff.  I could even have custom stuff printed in the planner.  I loved it.  But it was not affordable.  Sure, I bought it, but for most of us, the price I paid was really, really, really out there.  It was a “special” purchase for me…

And you know what?  While the planner was pretty and I was able to record stuff and I loved it, it wasn’t very functional.  I was always worried about messing it up as it was somewhat fragile.  And it was too small.  Dunno, it just didn’t sit right with me.

Fast forward to this summer and the chance to review the dotmine planner.  I didn’t know anything about the company or their planners, but I wanted one.  And man oh man, I was glad when I got it.  It’s huge, but not lugging-around-a-massive-book huge.  Just the right size to record the things you need to.  This was the first thing I noticed.  I honestly couldn’t stop carrying it around because it felt substantial and important and useful.  Yeah, maybe it’s just me that does stuff like that.Blueberry Moon

I didn’t start using it right away because I wanted to use  my Frixion pens with it and they had to be ordered.  So I had to sit and stare at it.  It was torture.  But, I at least got to study the thing in detail.

  • Durable plastic cover – this thing is just hard enough without being the type of thing that would seriously hurt someone
  • Seasonal schedules – There is a fold-out seasonal master schedule for each season
  • A nifty “suggested use” section – The use of text bubbles and arrows makes this section really fun
  • Nice note from Lisa and Sarah – Motivation at it’s finest
  • Personal info section – complete with holiday dates through 2012
  • Month-at-a-glance and week-at-a-glance calendars - complete with a space to write what your special family_time will be this week and inspirational quotes
  • Perforated side pages for portable to do notes or grocery lists
  • A section for notes
  • Stickers!! – cute stickers to use on your calendar for things like the dentist, date night, and your self breast exam {there is awesome usage of the color pink on the stickers}
  • A pocket inside the durable plastic back cover - to hold all those swanky things you need to hold

That, my friends, is the family_time.mine planner at a glance.  The planner runs for 17 months, meaning you can start using it in August or January and get full use of the planner.

Reneedotmine even guides you to picking the perfect planner, whether that be life_time.mine, family_time.mine, or time.mine.

They’re cool, they’re really affordable {my family_time.mine planner is only $18.99 plus shipping, and that’s a steal for this thing, trust me}, and they’re functional.  You can’t beat that.  I really recommend these; I’ve even stopped using my other planner {still have months left on it} in favor of this one.  It’s big enough for me to keep all my important info:  homeschool lessons/events, bills to be paid, GS stuff, blog stuff, personal stuff, Vince’s personal stuff, everything.

Wanna win one?  Of course you do!

Come back next week, starting Sunday, August 7th, and you’ll have the chance to win a planner for mom/dad AND a planner for the student in your life!!  dotmine has graciously donated two planners for one of my Back to School Giveaway packages!

If you can’t wait and want to go ahead and purchase one, dotmine has provided a discount code for 10% off your order!!!  Just use “sweetphenomena”, no quotes.

True Confessions:  I was provided with a free copy of the family_time.mine planner by dotmine.  That does not mean you get a dishonest review.  I’ve provided you guys with my exact thoughts on the planner, despite the sweet free goods.