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My Special Note – your online source for personalized gifts and letters – is giving back to a very special cause this holiday season.

Someone very close to us has Cystic Fibrosis – a disease that affects the lungs and digestive systems of about 30,000 people across the U.S.

SO…in support of Breanna, 10% of all sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas will go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.

Shop My Special Note for:

Buy a personalized gift for your child and give back at the same time!

To learn more about CF, visit their website at:  http://www.cff.org

Happy Holidays!

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square-logo-w-tag.gifGet 15% off of EVERYTHING at My Special Note!  Hurry – it only lasts through the end of the month 🙂

Personalized pillowcases, laundry bags and Letters from Santa…and coming VERY SOON – Personalized Children’s Books with your favorite licensed characters!!

Just click on the logo to start shopping!!!

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Have you been struggling to lose weight?  Have you tried diet, exercise, and even weight loss pills, but nothing seems to be doing the trick?  The trouble may not be with the things you’re doing while you’re awake, but rather the simple fact that you are awake.  Studies have shown that getting more sleep and better quality sleep can help you shed pounds without expensive fad diets.  So if you really want to get rid of those excess pounds once and for all, why not spend less time counting calories and more time in bed?

Reason #1
The more hours you spend sleeping, the fewer hours you have to eat.  We all have cravings for certain foods that aren’t good for us, and the longer we’re awake, the longer we have to fight those cravings.  Plus, sleep deprivation reduces deductive reasoning skills, so we have less will power to resist. 

Reason #2
Getting a good night’s rest makes you feel energized and awake the next day.  If you sleep well the night before, you’re more likely to be able to get up and go work out.  Sufficient sleep can give you the energy to work out harder and for longer periods of time, further fueling your weight loss efforts.

Reason #3
We used to believe that you we hungry when your stomach was empty and full when your stomach had no room left, but we know better than that now.  We now know more about hormones and other chemicals in the body and how they affect hunger.  One of these chemicals is cortisol.  Excess cortisol not only causes us to feel hungry when we’ve had enough to eat; it can also affect the amount of fat we store.  On top of this, cortisol decreases memory retention along with other stress inducing side effects.  Getting sufficient sleep helps return the cortisol balance to normal. 

Two other chemicals that have recently been shown to be affected by the amount of sleep your get are the hormones leptin, which makes you feel hungry, and ghrelin, which makes you feel full.  Reduced amounts of sleep can reduce ghrelin levels and increase leptin levels, causing you to feel you need to eat more when you’ve actually had enough.

Reason #4
Another side effect of sleep deprivation is a change in the way the body metabolizes carbohydrates.  Most individuals have problems fully digesting carbs without sufficient sleep. This means that instead of being burned for energy; these calories are being stored as fat.  Plus, excess carbs in your system can cause a rise in blood sugar levels, along with insulin resistance; these are both symptoms of type II diabetes. 

Reason #5
If all of the above reasons aren’t good enough for you, lack of sleep also drops the level of human growth hormone in your system.  While HGH helps children grow bigger, it affects the percentage of fat in proportion to muscle in adults.  Decreased levels of this hormone send even more of the food you eat to be stored as fat reserves, further hindering your weight loss.

So if you’re really serious about losing weight, make it a goal to get a full night’s sleep every night.  You’ll likely start seeing those pounds fly off in no time.

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One of the best ways to stay on track with your family’s budget, is to curb impulse buying. Many people do this without even realizing it, and then wonder what happened to that careful planning that was supposed to balance income and bills.

The most common place that people impulse buy is at the grocery store.  A good rule of thumb is NEVER to go shopping when hungry.  Almost anything looks good when you haven’t had a meal recently, and you’re more likely to give in the appeal of a display or “special” for things that you might not buy otherwise.  Go shopping with a list and your coupons.  Don’t sabotage yourself by giving in to cravings or convincing yourself that you deserve a treat. 

On the other hand, treats should be written into the family budget, whether those are food items, or an entertainment expense.  Financial budgeting is much like dieting for calories.  If you continually deny yourself all the good stuff, or the things that you like best, you’re more likely to rebel and go overboard by gorging or spending to excess.

And of course, the classic safeguard against impulse buying is to ask yourself if you really need it.  Don’t stand there and argue with yourself, and try to rationalize the purchase.  If you can’t honestly answer “yes” immediately, turn and walk away.  If you really do need the item, it will still be there when you’ve considered your financial state and whether you can afford it.

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While stress is the leading cause of serious health conditions, there are ways in which we can alleviate the every day stress in our lives.  Here are some stress relievers you can incorporate into your daily life.

  1. Meditation – Utilize a room in your home that is quiet and void of distractions.  Sit on a floor mat with legs folded, back straight, hands palm up on legs.  Clear your mind.  Begin breathing in and out slowly.  Focus only on your breathing.  Before you know it the stress will leave your body and you will become relaxed and energized.
  2. Exercise – Any form of exercise will release endorphins in your brain and alleviate any ongoing stress.  Stretching, however, can relieve stress by engaging in a few exercises in your home.  For example, stand with knees slightly bent, arms out-stretched, and then slowly bring your arms in toward your body in a circular motion.  Think of carrying a large basket in your arms and moving it close to your body.
  3. Walking – 20 minutes of walking can create a wonderful and relaxing state of mind.  You can literally work off the stress and feel relaxed and full of energy after a brisk walk.  Walking in the park also affords you the opportunity to commune with nature and the environment.
  4. Writing – If you are not into exercise, another way to get rid of whatever is causing the stress is to keep a daily journal.  Write down your thoughts and feelings as a way of releasing the negativity within.  It is a catharsis that does dissipate stressful thoughts.  There is another way to relieve the stress, and it does work.  Write down a stress-induced feeling on a piece of paper and then put it into an ashtray and burn it.  Dissolving it into ashes releases the burden.
  5. Music – Music does calm the savage beast.  Whether you are driving, at work or at home there is nothing that can alleviate stress more than soothing music.  Whether it is classical, instrumental or sounds of the waves.  Utilize this stress-relieving technique as often as you can.
  6. Yoga – There are many forms of yoga available today.  There is, however, a new method called Qi Gong (pronounced Chi Gong), which has become very popular.  It encompasses slow movements, which allows you to focus on your breathing and relaxes you immediately.
  7. Dancing – This is another stress reliever that anyone can participate in.  Put on your favorite CDs and dance away.  It is not only great for the heart, but the workout alone will energize you and is a fun exercise as well.
  8. Shopping – This may sound a bit odd, but a trip to the mall can help reduce stress.  You become so busy looking at the latest fashions that you forget about you and concentrate on what you can purchase.
  9. Play, Musical, Symphony or the Opera – Perhaps the one thing you haven’t done is treat yourself to a night on the town.  Everyone needs a break once in a while, and one of these forms of entertainment can put you in a great mood immediately.
  10. Tea – Sometimes, making a cup of brewed tea such as chamomile can alleviate stress.  Its properties will calm and soothe and it does reduce stress levels.  Have a cup during the day or before going to bed. A peaceful sleep awaits you.

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Are you always looking for that perfect deal?  Want to get the most you can for every dollar you spend?  Here are 11 different ways for you to find T.H.E. B.E.S.T. D.E.A.L. when you shop.

T.AKE ADVANTAGE OF DOUBLE COUPONS – Many grocery stores offer double coupons, most of the time up to $0.50 (doubled to $1.00).  Cut them out of your Sunday paper and use them!

H.OLIDAY SALES – This is a great time to shop.  You can get great discounts many times throughout the year.  Look for sales in your paper around these times:  Presidents Day; Memorial Day; Labor Day; Thanksgiving; and after Christmas.

E.LECTRONICS AND APPLIANCES – You can usually take advantage of some sort of mail-in rebate or gift card rebates with big dollar purchases like electronics and appliances.  Check around at your local stores like Home Depot, Lowe’s, Best Buy and Circuit City to get the best deal with rebates.  Only drawback – it can take 6, 8 or even up to 10 weeks to receive the rebate. 

B.OTS – There are Shopping bots such as Shopzilla.com or Pricegrabber.com that make it easy for the consumer to comparison shop and find the deals.

E.XAMINE REVIEWS BEFORE BUYING – Check out the product reviews online before you spend the money.  Often times, they will lead to a discount code, sale or free shipping.

S.TORE CREDIT CARDS – Many stores offer their own VISA or Mastercard sponsored store credit card.  You can really take advantage of some great offers and rebates by signing up for one of these cards.  Sidenote: try to pay off the balance each and every month and only apply for those cards where you frequently shop (you’ll get the most bang for your buck that way).  Example: Kroger (a grocery store) will award points for all purchases made in the store and outside the store using the Kroger Mastercard.  These points are tabulated and rewarded on a quarterly basis with gift certificates that can be used as cash in the store (I’ve gotten up to $80 in one quarter).  PLUS they’ll give you a $0.15 per gallon discount on Kroger gasoline purchased with the card.

T.AKE A LOOK AROUND – Make sure you do some browsing before jumping on that great deal…there may be an even better one right next door! 

D.ISCOUNTS, DISCOUNTS EVERYWHERE – There are always great deals in the: Sunday paper; Val-Pak coupons in the mail; local restaurant coupon deals; and coupon sites such as coupons.com and couponchief.com.  Take the time to check these out…it can save you a bunch of money!

E.FFICIENCY IS THE KEY – Many online shopping carts will allow you to combine or “stack” their deals and codes.  You can get free shipping, 10% off AND receive a free gift all at the same time!

A.SK AROUND – If you see someone wearing a cute pair of shoes or that new tee you’ve been dying for…ask them where they got it.  If they got a great deal, they will be more than happy to tell you about it.

L.OOK FOR USED OR CONSIGNMENT SHOPS – They have great prices on name brand goods and items that have barely been used.  There are always hidden treasures to be found in these shops. 

When you break it down into a formula, it’s not so overwhelming, is it?  Use these steps as a guide to help you find the best deals around.  Happy shopping! 

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Check out the unique, personalized gifts and letters at My Special Note!

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OK – I probably shouldn’t share this, because I want to win.  But I will, because I’m always looking out for you too 🙂

Go on over to A Mommy Story and check out the contest to win a BusyBodyBook.  What is a BusyBodyBook???  It is a planner that is off the hook!

I love anything to do with organizing my SuperMom life and saving time by doing so…this personal calendar has 5 columns for every week to help you, “The SuperMom and Organizer Extraordinaire,” keep track of the schedule for every member of your family.

 So head on over and join…you only have until Friday (which is tomorrow…OMG) – HURRY!

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