Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hot Summer Giveaway - Day 1, take 2! *CLOSED*

Welcome to HOT SUMMER GIVEAWAYS! I will be hosting 5 days full of great giveaways from various crafters around the internet!

Welcome to the 2nd giveaway today! Check out my other giveaway here:

This next giveaway comes from Wild Sisters Bowtique, found on Facebook. Wild Sisters is a shop that sells all sorts of goodies, including hair bows, headbands, flower clips, crayons, hair bow holders, and more! 

Be the envy of your friends this summer with this adorable set of Heart & Flower clippies direct from Wild Sisters Bowtique! 

Nitty Gritty Details:
  • Check out Wild Sisters Bowtique Facebook page, and LIKE it. 
  • Post on her wall that My Frugal Family sent you!
  • Leave a comment letting me know you LIKED it, and include your EMAIL address. If there is no email address, I can't contact you!!
Additional Entries - For each additional entry, please make sure to leave a NEW comment, or your entries will count as 1!

There will be 1 winner drawn on Sunday, June 5th from all the comments. 

Good luck!!!

Hot Summer Giveaway - Day 1!

Welcome to HOT SUMMER GIVEAWAYS! I will be hosting 5 days full of great giveaways from various crafters around the internet!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS CLOSED! The winner is announced here!

Do you have something you would like to giveaway? See my full post here, and email me at Herberkids3(at)yahoo.com to participate!

Today's first giveaway comes from ME! I run a shop on Facebook called Bowtique Critique. I sell items, host auctions for other shops to sell through, and advertise for shops. I make hair bows, headbands, flower clips, and digital bottle cap images.

Start the summer off right with new hair accessories in hot Summer colors!

This prize set will include:

1 Hot Coral Polka Dot Bow on Alligator Clip
1 Neon Green & Hot Pink Polka Dot Bow on Alligator Clip
1 Turquoise & Bright Summer Color Flip Flop Hair Bow on Alligator Clip
1 White Crochet Headband
1 Pink Crochet Headband

All bows can be worn on the headbands, or apart from the headbands, and come in great, bright summer colors. Approximate Value: $25

Nitty Gritty Details:

  • Check out my Facebook page: Bowtique Critique, and LIKE it.
  • Leave a comment letting me know you LIKED it, and include your EMAIL address. If there is no email address, I can't contact you!!

There will be 1 winner drawn on Sunday, June 5th from all the comments. Only 1 entry per person!

Good luck!!!

Monday, May 30, 2011


I will be hosting a week of giveaways! The giveaways will start tomorrow, with a set of hair items from my own shop. I am looking for shops who would like to participate by donating items to give away.

As some of you know, I run an advertising page on facebook, and reach over 4,000 people daily, and will be advertising your etsy shop or facebook page or blog along with the giveaway.


You will have a 5 day giveaway period. Your post will be posted and advertised for 5 days here on the blog, as well as on Facebook, and in other blog giveaway linkies.

Your item will be given to a random comment. To enter, participants are required to:

  • Like your facebook page OR pick an item they love the most from your Etsy shop OR follow your blog. You can choose which to require, but only 1 is required. 
  • Like my facebook advertising page.
For extra entries, they can also:
  • Like, follow, or pick items from your facebook, blog, or etsy shop.
Winners will be randomly drawn by me. People donating prizes are required to ship within 5 days at their own cost.

If you are interested in participating, let me know!!

You'll need to get me the following info:

  • Contact me at Herberkids3(at)yahoo.com OR send a MESSAGE to Heather Tompkins on Facebook. 
  • A description and photo of the item you wish to give away. If you wish to do something custom, please get me a comparable photo to post, and make sure to list that it is A) custom, and B) how long it will take to arrive.
  • A logo from your shop, facebook page, or blog!
  • Links to which ever of the following you have: A facebook shop, an Etsy shop, a Blog.
  • A description of items you offer in your shop! 
  • Snag a button to share on your blog- you can link it directly to the blog, or to your specific giveaway!

Please leave a comment if you wish to participate! I'm looking to have items to giveaway Tuesday through Saturday, with the giveaway announcements starting Sunday. I will do several per day, if there are more shops interested.


Supporting Breast Cancer Awareness... and having fun!

As a grown up, I spend most of my time as a full time mommy. I deal with school, doctors, kid functions, and everything else. As an adult, I also like to occasionally kick back and relax. While I do have the random adult drink from time to time, it isn't often that I actually do any hard drinking.

This past weekend was a large event in my home town- The Pink Dress Run, which is a bar crawl with the proceeds being donated to cancer research. There are teams- each of the local bars have their own team. You start at your home team, and move around from bar to bar.

Each bar has specials, games, raffles, and more- you can win items, buy fun items, and have some drinks. Most of the money is donated right back to charity, and each bar totals up what money they make, and at the end, there is a winning bar.

My mom went last year, and it looked like a TON of fun, so I decided I would go this year. We didn't have the greatest weather- it was over cast and a little chilly from time to time, but at least we didn't fry in the sun, or get rained on.

Here are a few photo high lights- now, with the theme being "Pink Dress Run", you want to wear a pink dress, or at the very least, as much pink as possible. Going fun and gaudy is also great, and yes- the boys dress up as well!

I had a great time, though next year, I may take it a little slower, because I had a rough night and morning the next day. ;)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dealing with School Changes & Autism

As some of you may or may not know, our youngest daughter was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome last fall, which is a form of Autism. In fact, the psychological community is trying to eradicate the use of the term Asperger's Syndrome, and just call it highly functioning Autism, because they feel that a lot of people don't take Asperger's Syndrome seriously.

Two years ago, at the start of 2nd grade, Gilly got a teacher who was very observant, and realized that a lot of her "behavior" problems and general 'quirks' fit the bill for AS. After meeting and agreeing, we started the paper work for the school to test her. She was formally diagnosed last fall, and has been receiving a LOT of fantastic help from the school ever since then.

Fast forward to this Spring. The state is yet again cutting school funding- never mind that the state is actually looking at it's first year of bringing in more money than the budget currently is. This is the first year in several years that our state is looking at making a profit, instead of losing more. The new governor really feels, though, that our school age kids should lose $500 each towards the budget, and that college kids should get more of it.
Because of that, our city is losing almost $4m in budget money. They are closing down a school, a lot of people lost (or will lose) their jobs. It's a mess. It happened 2 years ago, which is how Gillian got lucky and wound up at the school she's in currently.

So, with the closing of one of the elementry schools, they have decided to turn the middle school into a 4th-8th instead of 5th-8th school. They are splitting the 4th and 5th graders into an "Upper Elementry" school in the same building- they'll have their own principal, different school hours, and be segregated from the middle school kids in 6th-8th grade.

I was not sure how to take that news- how would it effect Gillian? Would she get the same help up there that she gets now?

Turns out, her teacher, her principal, her special education teacher, and her social worker are all going up to the Upper El next year.

I'm excited- I know that new routines can be disruptive and confusing for Gillian, and couple that with a new school, and all new people, and I wasn't sure how well it would go over with her. But, she'll have the same type of break room she has now, she'll have the same core group of people around her, and I did request if it were at all possible, that she be placed with the same teacher next year. That one might be iffy- they have kids from 3 schools all coming in up there, and other new teachers, and 2 grades to work with. They did say they would definitely keep it under consideration, though.

We did her IEP for next year today, which stays basically the same. She gets breaks through out the day, does social group work to help her learn how to cope with people, that sort of thing.

On top of all of this, Gillian joined Girl Scouts this year. I'm really happy she's fitting in. I have always been hesitant to let her be in groups because I was never sure how they would react to her. A few months ago, one of her classmates invited her to join, and after talking with Gillian's teacher, I said why not? Her leader has a son on the spectrum, and has been fantastic with Gillian. The girls have really helped her, as well- she's finally in a group that I feel she's doing good in.

Monday, May 23, 2011


Someone posted about this deal on a website I frequent, but details are lacking. I am planning to stop in tomorrow to check it out a bit, but here's the deal.

Buy $30 worth of specific products during the course of the advertising week (Sun-Sat), and get a coupon for a free $10 gas card.

This week's products include:

22.6-33.9 oz Foldger's Cofee - $8.99 with card, limit 3
Coke 2 liters- $.99 with card, limit 5
Lysol Spray or Wipes- 2/$10 with card, limit 4
Palmolive dish soap- $.88 with card, limit 5
Finish Dishwasher stuff- $2.99 with card, limit 3
9.9-15oz M & M's- 2/$5 with card, limit 4
19.2 oz M & M's- $4 with card, limit 4
Sour Patch Kids or Swedish Fish- 2/$5 with card, limit 4
Twizzlers- 2/$4 with card, limit 4
Gatorade or Sobe- Buy 1 get 1 Free, limit 6
Doritos, Tostitos, and Salso- 2/$5 with card, limit 6
Edy's Ice cream, buy 1 get 1 free with card, limit 4
Hershey's single candy bars, buy 2 get 1 free with card, limit 3 (meaning 1 transaction)

It would likely be pretty easy to bring the $30 cost down further with coupons, as well.

Hopefully I will know more tomorrow- free gas money would be helpful on our vacation! Though, to be honest, we've blown past the amount we -had- to save to still do everything we wanted. Now, we're on to having a slush fund and more fun money ;)

Clearing the clutter & making some cash

I am an avid second hand shopper. Yard sales & thrift stores are like manna from Heaven to me. 4 years ago, we relocated for a new job, and went from a small house with a garage, to an apartment that was actually larger, but with almost no storage space. When we made the move, we shed about 5 tons of crap. Goodwill made a killing off us.

After a year, the housing market was collapsing around us, and we suddenly realized- we could actually afford a house. A nice house. 10 years married, and 3 kids later, we were going to own our first home.

It was love at first site. Well, it was love at first entrance, anyway. The outside wasn't bad- the inside was perfect for us. 4 bedrooms, a den, a pantry, a laundry room, and a 'back room' (slash junk collecting room). Perfect.

So when we moved into the 4th and last house we even looked at, our 1500 square foot apartment's worth of stuff was lost in this new 2500 square foot house. And, in our town, we had a Goodwill clearance center. Oh, praise the thrift store Heaven's above!

I did what anyone else would do- I shopped. I brought stuff home. I saw dirt cheap prices, and realized I -had- to have it. At some point about a year ago, I started to realize that it had become... well, maybe not an addiction, but a habit. If I saw clothing in the kids sizes, and they were $.29 each, I grabbed it. I over-grabbed it.

So, for a bit now, I've started to really limit A) how often I allow myself to go thrift store shopping, and B) limited just what I spent my money on.

Why? Because our 2500 square foot house now holds 3500 square feet of clutter. It's a huge problem. I plan to declutter a LOT this summer, especially the clothing.

Yesterday, I posted several items on Craigslist, including a Step2 rocking video game chair. We picked it up for $5 at Goodwill when we moved into our apartment- we thought our son would love it. It has been loved and abused by our kids for 4 years now.

It was time to go, and was still in great shape, so I listed it for $10- and 3 hours later, it was sold. It was just picked up. I'm happy to have the money in my pocket, and 1 less item in my house. I almost kind of want my house to look like this again.

Blissfully empty and clutter free.

Product Photo Tips

***From my blog, Bowtique Critique, which is for shops. 

If you own a shop, you take photos of your items to sell, right? Well, have you ever noticed some photos look better than others? Here are some quick tips on making your photos look nice every time!

Tip 1- Unless you have no other options, always chose a camera vs a camera phone. While many phones these days take nice photos, you CAN always tell a camera phone photo apart from a camera photo.

Tip 2- Clean your lens. Any eye-wear cleaning cloth will give great results, and even Dollar Tree carries them. Simply wipe finger prints and smudges off the lens before taking photos. That slightly blurred spot showing up in your photos is where you smudged the lens. Clean, crisp photos require a clean lens, so take a few seconds to inspect the lens before taking photos.

Tip 3- Lighting. Lighting is important. This will actually be a multiple part tip. First up?

  1. Natural Lighting. If at all possible, always take advantage of natural lighting. You can do this by setting your 'stage' up near a window, or outside. Direct sunlight can be too harsh, though, so try to use indirect sunlight. Sunlight is only good when it's out, and somewhat bright, though- dark stormy days, or evening won't give the same results as you'll get on a nice, brightly lit day.
  2. Flash lighting. When taking photos of your items, I strongly recommend using natural lighting during the day. However, this is not always possible. Even I have middle of the night moments when I just -have- to share a photo, and can not wait till morning. So, here's some tips when using flashes. First off, don't hold the camera an inch from the object with the flash on. Back up about a foot, then use zoom. Next up, if you have spots that appear faded from the flash, take the photo from a slight angle, so the flash is bouncing off the background and not the object.
  3. Lamps. Unless you are using a bright white (not soft white) light bulb, without a shade, you are going to have a yellowed image with a lamp. If your only option is a lamp, wait until morning and go outside for natural light. The yellowing from the lamp will change the color of your item, and color is important if you are trying to sell something someone wants to match, such as a bow for an outfit. 
 A staging area- this shelf placed under a window is the perfect location for taking photos of your objects, just make sure you are closer than this to the object, or the object will be dark.
Lamp light tends to look yellow, such as the photo above. In the two photos below, only lamp light is used, and the objects and background take on a yellowed hue.
Please note- in the photo above, light blue felt was used- not grey, as the lighting suggests! This is to show how much of a color difference there is when using lamp light for your lighting!
 Everything around the photo is yellowed from the lamp.
 In the above photo, I used a flash in conjunction with the lamp light. The yellowing is gone!

Tip 4- Staging. Your keyboard, kitchen floor, deck, and any other flat surface you use are distracting, and tell the buyer you didn't put time or effort into your photos. Fabric squares or even rectangles of felt can make a decent backdrop for your pictures. But, word of advice- match the object with the background. You don't want to take a photo of a black bow on black felt. You simply can't see the item. Switch out the color of the backdrop to contrast with the item you are photographing. If you want a solid white background, felt works nice, but you can even use white poster board to take the photo with. Just avoid direct light with poster board, as it will reflect the sun, and change the items up. Felt, on the other hand, will absorb more of the light, so it won't reflect as badly.

My stage area- a tall shelf under a window. Most of my photos are taken in this location.
More staging- to help provide contrast, I use a felt "doily" shape to set my smaller bows & clippies on. This is left out of larger bow photos, and photos of white bows or clips.
The above photos are used to show off just how I stage items, NOT how I take the actual photos.

Tip 5- Save the fancy Picnik editing for photographs of people and memories, not your bows, and clips, and clothing you are trying to sell. If the photo is off color, or blurred from editing, it's harder to pin point exactly what the person is buying. Below is an example of a photo of a bow before editing, and after editing. I've seen countless shops do exactly what is shown in the AFTER image. Trust me- your photo is not going to sell your product when you blur it, obscure it, and edit it to death.

Tip 6- Blurry photos are a no-no when selling something. Here are a few tips on how to avoid that.

  1. Distance. Putting your lens right up on the item can cause the camera's focus to not work. Your best bet is to have your camera 6"-12" from the object, then zooming in. 
  2. Zoom- however, you don't want to be zoomed in TOO close. Zoom can also blur based on distance, so if your camera is too far away, and zooming in on the item blurs it, then you want to zoom out a bit, and bring the camera itself closer to the object.
  3. When in doubt, click. Digital is free- you can take 2 photos, or 200 photos, and it won't cost you anything to "develop" them. So, I recommend taking 2-3 photos of each photo just to make sure you have a clear photo to enjoy. 
 This photo was taken 10" from the item, and zoomed in slightly. It does show off the item, but I recommend less blank space.
This photo was still 10" from the item, and zoomed in closer. This is the typical distance I use on my photos.
A closer image, such as this, can be used to show off your bow, or details of your item. In the photo above, I used off-centering to make it more visually interesting, but if this is the only photo of the object, you should make sure all of the object is in your photo.
 Zoomed in WAY too close- this photo, if clear, would certainly show off all of the details on the ghost, but it's blurry, and should not be used to show off your items.
In this photo, I brought the camera down closer to the actual item. I am much closer to the object- 3" away, with no zoom. This turned out fine, but don't count on close up photos to always turn out. Make sure it's clear, or take multiple photos before moving on.

Tip 7- Watermarks! It's always nice to include a watermark on your photo, but it should never be distracting, or take focus off your items. A small, opaque name stamp over the image and only marginally visible is a good way to go. Stamping a logo in the corner of the image is another good way to claim your photos. Stamping your logo so it half covers your image is not a good way. Remember, your item should be clearly visible still!

In the image below are 4 watermarks. 2 are not touching the bow. 1 is small, and while touching the bow, it does not obscure it. The fourth is slapped over top of the bow, and distracting from it. An image of what you should and should not do.

Overall, you want your photos to look nice, and professional. But, it doesn't take a $1200 camera to take nice photos of your items.  Take your time, and practice. Look at the photos on your computer and discard the bad ones. No need to save your blurred product photos!

Good luck! Please feel free to share, but give credit where credit is due.