Monday, April 24, 2017

REVIEW: Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316

I was super excited to get to review the Daily Bible Jigsaw by Planet 316, because this was a game that was right up my alley!

WHAT IS IT?:

The Daily Bible Jigsaw is a free game platform available for Apple in the AppStore, Android from Google Play, or the Facebook App played in your browser. 

Each day, you can solve that day’s jigsaw puzzle featuring a beautiful photo.  When you’ve solved the puzzle, the puzzle is overlayed with an inspiring bible verse, which can be shared instantly on Facebook.

In addition to the free puzzle of the day, you have the option to purchase puzzle coins to play additional archived puzzles from past days on the calendar.  You can also use puzzle coins to make use of helpful tools to assist you in solving the puzzles faster.

For the review, I was given a pack of 500 puzzle coins in my account, which allowed me to play tons of extra puzzles!

 

OUR EXPERIENCE:

This game is really fun and relaxing!  I enjoyed doing it most either first thing in the morning after I took my son to school, or in the evening as I was relaxing before bed.  Either way, I loved being able to share the inspiring bible verses with friends and family on Facebook.

You can earn extra puzzle coins for awards you receive, like solving so many puzzles for a certain day of the week, solving a puzzle in under 1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, etc., for solving a bulk total number of puzzles, or for successfully connecting the “power piece” in each puzzle…a random piece that sparkles for a few seconds while you try to connect it to another piece.  In this way, you can earn coins to play additional puzzles, even if you never buy any coin packs.  But I can tell you that if you enjoy solving jigsaw puzzles, then you will definitely want to buy some extra coins!

During the review period, I ended up solving over all the puzzles for December through the current date in April!  And I still had a LOT of coins left.  In addition, there are some bonus puzzles that you can play for free that contain a lot more puzzle pieces and therefore take longer to solve.  Those are definitely more challenging.  The daily puzzles all have 30 pieces in them.

You can view your ranking in the weekly tournament, and your time to complete each puzzle is saved so you can also repeat a puzzle (with coins) and try to get a better time than you had before.  Even with the many months’ worth of puzzles I completed, I only saw a few images repeat.  Mostly, they were different each day.  And you can challenge a Facebook friend to play, as well, and see who gets the best time.

There are a number of tools you can use to assist you if you need help or want to improve your completion time.  Here’s a summary of them and what they do:

  • Rotate:  Automatically rotates all puzzle pieces to the correct orientation.
  • Guide:  Shows you what the completed image will look like so you can better picture how the pieces fit together.
  • Sweep:  This sweeps all the unconnected pieces to the perimeter of the screen.
  • Magnet:  Randomly attached 2 pieces together to help you when you’re stuck.
  • Edges:  Separates all the edge pieces from the middle ones so you can easily put the frame together first.

Each of these tools costs you coins to use them.  Occasionally, a tool might be free for a limited time.  I am pretty good at solving puzzles, and I didn’t feel the need to use the helps, and I would much rather save my coins for more puzzles to solve!

Initially, my goal was to solve puzzles in under 5 minutes.  As I got better, then my goal was 4 minutes, and today, I solved one in under 3 minutes for the first time, which earned me the reward of a few extra coins.  The program keeps track of your rewards, and you can look back at all of the bible verses you’ve completed at any time.

The bottom line is that this game is addicting, fun, and a great way to relax for me.  I find myself looking forward to it.  And when my 12-year old daughter saw me doing the puzzles, she opened her own account on her Android tablet, and she does the daily puzzles, too.  We even sat side by side and competed with each other many times to see which one of us would solve it first!  Sometimes, that competitive nature just rears its head, LOL. 

I personally played it using the Facebook app on my computer, and I had only one issue…my computer completely crashed (shut down suddenly) at least half a dozen times while I had the game open, and it was always after I’d completed the puzzle and got up to do something so it sat for a minute or two without any activity, or when I was looking through my rewards.  It never did it while a puzzle was in play.  I’m not sure what the cause was, but I’m pretty sure it was related to the Facebook app since it never happened to me any other time.  As with all apps, there are occasionally bugs that have to be fixed, and I’m assuming that is one of them.  I have no idea if others experienced it, as well, or if it is specific to my computer or version of Windows 10.  But it wasn’t enough to deter me from playing the game!  I have really enjoyed it and highly recommend it.

Take a look at what other Crew members had to say about this entertaining and uplifting game by clicking the banner below.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Our Final Mountain Vacation

I am so happy to have spent the past week at Cliffside Cabin in Front Royal, VA.  It’s truly our home away from home…our respite from the stresses of life in the city.  I can’t express how much I will miss our annual vacation up there.  We have been coming since 2007 when I was pregnant with Holden.  Time flies!

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We usually venture out a couple of times and find new historic sites and museums or caverns to visit, but not this time.  We really just wanted to enjoy the view of the Shenandoah River and the mountains from our front porch.  I slept with our bedroom window open at night just so I could listen to the sound of the rapids and wake up to the sound of birds singing in the trees.

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We stayed up so late most nights…too late to get up early and watch the sun rise like I normally do, so I made sure to go to bed a bit earlier on Friday night so I could at least get up and do it on Saturday morning…our final leisurely day at the cabin.  I rushed out in my pj’s with a lap blanket wrapped around me and a cup of tea in hand.  My favorite way to spend vacation!

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Mostly, I just sat on the porch and read a book or napped on the double rocker on the porch.  I even lay on the picnic table and just felt the sun on my face.  It was unseasonably warm on this trip, so we never got to make a fire in the indoor fireplace, but we did make one in the outdoor brick grill one night, and we all sat around the picnic table beside it and listened to music and looked at the stars.  The weather was so beautiful!

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I just can’t put into words how much we will miss it!  Farewell to my beloved Front Royal!  I hope we meet again someday…

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Best Laid Plans…

My husband and I have almost identical personality types…only I’m an extrovert and he’s an introvert.  But basically, we are can-do types who are very organized and like to plan and control things.  Our attempt at taking a northern VA job and moving to Front Royal was no different.  As a result, God likes to remind us every so often that we are not the ones in control…He is.  Apparently, this is one of those times.

Steve got an incredible job offer in TX early last week which he had to respond to by the end of the day on Friday.  We never really intended to take it…I mentioned last week that it was just a backup plan to the northern VA job.  But it seems God had a different path for us!  Steve did finally receive a verbal offer on Friday after they stalled all week long, but they wouldn’t put it in writing until the following week, and they had no details other than a salary.  They only came up with that much information after serious pressure by the recruiter.  It was the same base salary as the TX job, but no allowance for a vehicle (which was $800/mo. at the TX company), and zero information on any other benefits.  Not only would they not take the time to put it in writing, even in an email, but they made the mistake of saying they had reservations even about that amount.  That was the last straw for Steve.  He started to have reservations about the job itself and the lack of support he might expect from a company that’s based out of town and is too busy to wrap up a job offer for which he’s been interviewing for the last 6 weeks.  He realized he’d been trying to push it along the whole time, and their offer did not show him that they really wanted him there.  Since the position/location was new ground for this Tampa-based company, he decided the TX offer was a safer bet for stability and a better offer, even though it was a lateral position to his current job.

So much to my shock and dismay, Steve officially accepted the TX job on Friday, and we will be moving to the Fort Worth area, hopefully at the end of June after Hayden’s graduation!  What’s more, he starts on May 1st, so he’ll be leaving in less than 3 weeks, and he won’t be back at all!  No vacation the first year, so he won’t even be able to come back for Hayden’s high school graduation, which is probably one of the saddest parts.  The ceremony is mid-week for whatever reason, so there’s no chance of flying home on the weekend for it, either.

Sigh.  So here we are!  We’re embarking on what will surely be a trying and difficult period of change, but I know that once we get settled, we’ll be fine.  The upside is that there will be plenty to do there, and homeschooling is completely unrestricted and popular there, so there are lots of support groups, sports and activities for the kids.  We’ll also be very close to Six Flags over Texas and Six Flags Hurricane Harbor amusement parks, so we might actually get to go regularly.

I have to admit that as I made the drive to Front Royal for our annual vacation yesterday, I did cry big tears when I came up over the hill and got my first glimpse of the mountains.  Inside, I’m so devastated that not only will we not be moving here any time soon, but we’re also not likely to vacation here again.  That’s probably the hardest part.  We all feel such a letdown when we leave the cabin every year, and the only thing that makes it bearable is the knowledge that we’ll be returning the following year.  So while we’re so happy to be here right now, it’s also bittersweet, being the last time.  We’ve been fortunate to be able to come here for the last 10 years.  It’s been such a blessing, and I’m very thankful!  It is truly the place I go in my mind’s eye whenever life stresses me out.  It’s our little piece of Heaven on earth.

I went out on the porch overlooking the Shenandoah River and the mountains to read a book and sip some tea this afternoon.  It was such a beautiful, truly perfect day.  I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night and was exhausted from the drive up, so I decided to stretch out in the double rocker with a pillow and blanket, and in no time at all, I was blissfully asleep, enjoying the peaceful nature sounds and the sound of the rapids below.  It was the best nap ever!

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this move.  I can hardly fathom that we are going halfway across the country to an even hotter climate!  I was quite looking forward to the average annual snowfall of 24 inches in Front Royal.  But there was certainly a hard and valuable life lesson in this…God managed to remind me to follow His leading while blessing us with an incredible job offer at the same time.  I’m so thankful for His provision!

On to the next adventure…

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Update…Our New Beginning!

So my husband, Steve, spent Thursday and Friday traveling for final job interviews with two out-of-town companies. 

On Thursday, he drove 4 hours to Herndon, VA to have a 45-minute conversation and then drove 4 hours back home again!  It went really well, though, and they let him know that they would be offering him the job.  Yay!  This is the position he wanted as a Senior General Construction Project Manager.  They said they would put their offer together and get it to him early this week.  The only thing that would keep him from taking it is if the salary is not satisfactory, but I expect it will be fine.

Then on Friday morning, I drove him to the airport for a 9:30 AM flight to Fort Worth, TX.  It was not a direct flight…he went through Charlotte, NC…so it as already a longer-than-necessary trip.  But then someone on board had a medical emergency, and they had to divert the plane to Alabama!  That delayed his arrival another 1 hr. 40 minutes, so he was very late for his interview.  Everyone was waiting in a conference room for him to arrive.  That company was really big with a state-of-the-art office facility.  He was a little overwhelmed at the size of it, and they had to make it a quick interview so he could catch his return flight back to Norfolk.  At least that was a direct flight so he landed at 10:30 PM.  Two very long days!  But they also confirmed that they would be offering him the job and would get an offer letter to him early this week.

In the meantime, I took the kids out to dinner Friday night in the middle of a horrendous storm, and everyone’s phones were going off about every 1/2 hour with emergency alerts.  There was a tornado just up the road from my house, and it did a huge amount of damage nearby.  I was so afraid Steve’s flight would get delayed again due to weather, but the storm stopped about an hour before he landed.  Crisis averted!  And I was so thankful that we weren’t affected by the storm.  There was total devastation to a lot of homes, and I feel so bad for everyone affected.  Tornados don’t happen too often around here.

We had so much rain that our baseball practices were canceled on Saturday morning.  We were all out of whack with everything that had been going on, and I totally forgot we had tickets to the Barnum and Bailey circus in Hampton last night!  My teenager walked through and mentioned it while I was thawing meat for dinner, so I threw it in the fridge, and we all ran out to the van to get there as fast as we could!  We were about 30 minutes late, but we made it!  I didn’t want to miss the final performance of Ringling Brothers EVER!  It was fun, and I’m glad we made it.

So now we’re looking at houses in Front Royal in earnest!  Our vacation next week is going to turn into a house-hunting trip!  I’m incredibly excited about it.  I found my new favorite house…this is IT!

276 Deerhaven Rd, Front Royal, VA 22630

It has an amazing kitchen with a 6-burner gas stove with double oven and griddle top!

276 Deerhaven Rd, Front Royal, VA 22630

And the winter view is incredible!  What a winter wonderland!

276 Deerhaven Rd, Front Royal, VA 22630

This is definitely going to be the FIRST house I go see next week!  I’ve been getting all of my ducks in a row in preparation.  I got in touch with my loan officer to get pre-qualified so we’d be all set to know what we can look at while we’re in town.

So now we’re just awaiting those offers to come in…and the Herndon offer most importantly.  I’m anxious to see if the salary will be what we’re expecting or not.  I really don’t think it will be a problem, though.  My dream house is 54 minutes from what will be Steve’s new office, 15 minutes from the church we attend there, and only 10 minutes from town where I can grocery shop and run errands.  *Perfect!*

So stay tuned…Red heart

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Upcoming Freebie

Image result for ben & jerry's free cone day 2017

Next week, get ready for an awesome freebie…FREE Cone Day @ Ben & Jerry’s on Tuesday,  April 4th from Noon to 8 PM!

Stop by and enjoy a yummy treat!  It’s worth the wait. Winking smile 

Monday, March 20, 2017

REVIEW: Monthly Plan by Creating a Masterpiece

We were absolutely overjoyed to get to review the Monthly Plan from Creating a Masterpiece!

WHAT IS IT?:

Creating a Masterpiece offers many options for access to their unique online art instruction program, including monthly or annual subscriptions, as well as annual access to individual levels.  There are also discounts for group access. 

We received access to the Monthly Plan, which gives unlimited family access to all levels of projects on a month-to-month basis without an ongoing commitment for just $39.99/month.  This provides your entire household with access to over 144 lessons, plus additional videos and tips!

Creating a Masterpiece has been used successfully by students as young as 4-5 years old, and yet it’s appropriate for adults, as well.  The goal of the program is to teach students in such a way that they can produce a masterpiece rather than simple refrigerator art, as is the case with so many art programs used by children.  The aim is to have them complete something they can truly take pride in!

 

OUR EXPERIENCE:

I was really, really excited when we were selected to review Creating a Masterpiece!  The reason for my excitement was that many years ago, a good friend’s children used it when it was just available as individual lessons on DVD, and even her preschool student produced the most amazing results!  I was truly impressed.  I had watched some testimonial videos online that showed even very young students being called from the audience at various homeschool conventions and completing beautiful works of art right before your eyes.  It was really something to behold!  That led me to believe that anyone could use this program with success.

Years later, I was at a homeschool convention myself and saw a booth set up by this vendor.  I stopped by and looked at the materials and was informed that they were transitioning to online access to all of the projects at once.  That really got me intrigued!  There would be no need, then, to keep buying individDSCF4801ual DVD’s to learn new projects.  That was a great idea.

So fast forward to now…I just knew my daughter would love this program, and she absolutely did!  She normally jumps at the chance to do any kind of art review, but I can honestly say that this program quickly took the forefront as her most favorite art program EVER!  And those are her words, not mine.  She had a favorite art program before for many years, but she made it clear to me that there’s no longer any competition.  She is in love with Creating a Masterpiece!

She said it’s so easy to use and follow.  Once you log in to the site, you see all of the projects laid out before you.  They are visually categorized by level in the order from simple to most difficult.  There is a sample project, then the beginner level, then all of the projects for levels 1-5 broken down, and then finally, a section for art in history. 

Once you click on a project, it describes the project and breaks dowDSCF4802n how many lessons it will take to complete it.  When you select the first lesson, you will get an embedded instructional video, color swatches to help you match your supplies to the right shades for the project, a list of required supplies, some tips, highlights, downloads for the project (including a .pdf of the supply list as well as a link to purchase the right supplies from the Dick Blick website), and samples of advanced applications of the techniques learned in the project.  Even the instructional videos are broken down into individual stages. 

My 12-year old daughter, Haylee, said it was so easy to follow.  I was just able to log in and set her loose to choose a project and work on it without any help from me.  I just made sure I had an assortment of supplies for various mediums available to her, and she was able to work on it from start to finish on her own.  When she would let me know she would like to do a particular project next, I would pull it up on my phone at the art supply store and easily access the supply list to make sure I got just what she needed.  The color swatches shown for each project made it easy for me to use my phone to match up paint colors and such to ensure the project would turn out the way it was intended.  I loved the convenience of that!

During the review period,DSCF4803 Haylee was able to complete two watercolor projects and two soft pastel projects.  Watercolors were always her favorite medium, but she really fell in love with the soft pastels, which were totally new to her.  She knew nothing about how to use them properly, but she learned all she needed to know in the project videos!  She really liked how forgiving they were.  She explained to me how easy it was to fix a mistake with them.  We both loved the soft finish of those projects.  I told her I’d have to get some frames with glass to display them and protect the surfaces.  They were so pretty!

I think Haylee plans to move on to trying out the watercolor pencil projects next.  She just got a new set to use for that purpose.  I love that she is feeling so enthusiastic about this program!  Sometimes, she’ll pick a project that is broken down into multiple lessons, but she’ll just keep at it until it’s finished, only stopping to let something dry between stages.  I’m really proud of how hard she worked on it, and the results were so beautiful!

Haylee’s cousin made her a wood-framed cork DSCF4804display board for her bedroom a few months ago for her birthday, and she likes to display her art work on it above her bed.  I can only imagine it being filled up with lovely masterpieces created with this program before long!

We would definitely recommend this program to anyone who doesn’t want to waste time feeling discouraged or inept in their artwork.  This program has a unique way of making masterpieces an achievable goal for everyone!

Take a look at what other Crew members had to say about this awesome art program by clicking the banner below.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Freebies Tomorrow for the 1st Day of Spring!

Tomorrow is officially the first day of spring!  Of course, you wouldn’t know it since I actually saw snowflakes on the way to church services this morning, but hey…who am I to make judgments about the weather?!?

But seriously…to celebrate the first day of spring, there are two great freebies lined up for you tomorrow only:

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FREE small vanilla cone at Dairy Queen, available all day, one per person.

 

Rita's

 

FREE Italian ice at Rita’s Italian Ice from noon to 9 PM!

 

 

HAPPY SPRING!!!