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Barth Syndrome Awareness Month

May 17, 2011 3:56 pm · Posted by erinmarie313


  What is Barth syndrome?

 Barth syndrome is a rare but serious, x-linked genetic disorder of lipid metabolism primarily affecting males around the world. What are the signs and symptoms of Barth syndrome? The cardinal characteristics of this multi-system disorder consist of the following in varying degrees:

Cardiomyopathy (dilated or hypertrophic) - A weak heart muscle usually associated with enlargement of the heart Neutropenia (chronic, cyclic, or intermittent) - A reduction in “neutrophils”, a type of white blood cell that is most important for fighting bacterial infections.

 Muscle hypoplasia and weakness/Exercise intolerance - All muscles, including the heart, have a cellular deficiency which limits their ability to produce energy. Muscle weakness and increased exertional fatigue are characteristic findings in Barth syndrome.

Growth Delay (often mistaken to be failure to thrive)-During childhood most affected individuals are below-average in height and weight. 3 Methylglutaconic aciduria - An increase in an organic acid that can be measured in urine that result in abnormal mitochondria function (the “powerhouses” or primary energy producers in cells).

Cardiolipin deficiency - A failure of Barth syndrome mitochondria to make adequate amounts of tetralinoleoyl-cardiolipin, an essential lipid (fat-like molecule) for normal mitochondrial structure and energy.

What gene is affected?

Barth syndrome is caused by mutations in the tafazzin gene (TAZ, also called G4.5) on the X chromosome. Because males have only one X chromosome, they will have signs of Barth syndrome if that X chromosome carries a mutated tafazzin gene.

Who does Barth syndrome affect?

Barth syndrome primarily affects males.

Can females get Barth syndrome?

 Females are primarily only carriers of the mutated gene that causes Barth syndrome. Females who carry an X chromosome with a tafazzin mutation are unaffected because they have a second X-chromosomes with a normal tafazzin gene that is dominant to the recessive tafazzin gene. Although it is theoretically possible for a female who carries a mutation in the Barth gene to have clinical signs of the disorder, there has been no proven affected female with a normal 46, XX female karyotype to date.

How does someone get Barth syndrome?

Barth syndrome is an x-linked recessive genetic condition, meaning that it can be transferred from mother to son. A mother who is a carrier of Barth syndrome usually shows no signs or symptoms of the disorder herself. There is a 50% chance that a boy born to a female carrier will have Barth syndrome, while girls born to a carrier have a 50% chance of being carriers themselves. All daughters of a male with Barth syndrome will be carriers, though none of his sons will be affected. There are several known non-carrier mothers, and for this reason we believe mothers should be tested.

 How is Barth syndrome diagnosed?

The diagnosis of Barth syndrome should be considered for any child or adult found to have any one of its four cardinal clinical characteristics, and evaluation for the other diagnostic criteria should be undertaken by obtaining the following studies: Quantitative urine organic acid analysis, including quantification of 3-methylglutaconic acid Cardiolipin analysis of muscle, platelets or cultured cells Complete blood count and differential Echocardiogram DNA sequence analysis (genetic testing) of the tafazzin gene (TAZ, also called G4.5) which falls on the long q arm of the X chromosome; Xq28.

Please see the “Diagnosis of Barth syndrome” webpage for further information on diagnosing Barth syndrome as presented by Dr. Richard Kelly MD, Ph.D. For more details about these tests and a listing of approved labs, please refer to http://www.genetests.com.

If you'd like more information on Barth Syndrome please go to this website!



I interviewed Kristi Pena about her son Christopher and him having Barth Syndrome!  It was a wonderful oppurtunity to talk to someone who has gone through this and get their perspective on Barth Syndrome!


How did you find out you were pregnant, and Christopher's birth story? Was CHD shown in utero?  What were your feelings learning he had CHD and how was it told to you?

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Christopher is my rainbow baby, I found out I was pregnant with him 2 months after a missed miscarriage at 5 months along. (which come to find out much later this is not uncommon in a BTHS carrier to have misscarriage or stillbirth.) The baby we had lost was very much wanted and tried for many years, so the loss was very devastating to us. When I was 2 months pregnant, I went to our cousin's son's funeral. He was 5 weeks old and died from SIDS. I remember saying, so "God, even if I carry this one full term, the baby could still die?" It was hard to let my hopes get up, but of course that was impossible and I fell in love with Christopher even the moment I knew he was coming. I had a fairly uneventful pregnancy with him, unless you count kidney stones at 5 months and gestational diabetes. Throughout my pregnancy, Christopher looked perfect with no problems. We had no idea he would be born with any health issues. I went into labor at 37 weeks along and things went pretty smoothly. Christopher was so beautiful when he was born and in my eyes perfect and pretty big for the gestation at 6# 10 oz. What I didnt know was his color was off and this prompted his birth hospital to check him via pulse oximetry and his oxygen levels were low. Late into the night he was born, he was admitted into the NICU and put on oxygen and a feeding (ng) tube. I will never forget the nurse practitioner gently shaking me in my sleep to tell me of the events and also that a chest xray was performed as a standard test to make sure his lungs were developed, and revealed an enlarged heart. I felt my world crumble right then and no more sleep for us, we went straight to the NICU to see him, and there he was, still looking so perfect. The next morning, we were told by the doctor that Christopher's chest xray was bad and there was indeed no issues with his heart, their mistake.


What would you tell a new family that has just learned about Barth Syndrome and their son's fight with it?

I would give them the same advice the geneticist gave me when he called me out of the blue with this diagnosis, to find the Barth syndrome foundation(www.barthsyndrome.org)  for more information and support about this extremely rare disease. That has been the best advice anyone could get. They are a wonderful organization who we have come to know as family. There are actually less than 200 known cases worldwide,and the community is very closeknit and full of wonderful people. We believe BTHS to be severly underdiagnosed. They are recommending anyone with a son with this specific type of cardiomypathy, neutropenia or family history of losses of boys, they should be tested, just to be safe. I didn't officially know (though I always told the doctors there was something else off with him) he had anything other than his chd and that was all that was addressed until his diagnosis. Since then, we are aware of his neutropenia and metabolic issues as well as others and it is easier to help address things if you know.


What will you tell Christopher as he grows, and is he aware of Barth Syndrome now at such a young age?  How do you cope with his limitations with him?

I guess I will just keep telling Christopher that God has the last say as does he. We can let books guide us, but they do not define who we are, nor does Barth syndrome define who he is. I will always give him as much hope as possible. I am not sure Christopher quite understands what his disease is called, but I know he does feel bad more often and knows that. He also knows his 8 different oral medicines are "nassy" (nasty) but he must have it, along with the injection for his neutropenia 3 times a week. He doesn't like any of it, and cries with the shot some, but always thanks me after. So, I am sure he knows these things help him. His "berry" (belly) hurts him often.
He is also very comfortable in a doctors office, to a point where it makes your heart hurt for him, cause he's gone through so much and been to more appointments than most will need in a lifetime. He is doted on by all of the medical staff here where we live and I'm sure that helps too. We have a really great children's hospital, where his specialists follow him.
I guess I cope ok, sometimes it does make me sad to see him struggle to do the things others his age do not have to try at and the fact he can now tell me of his pain (chronic pain is associated with BTHS) But I know he has come so far and they told us he wouldn't be here 6 months! Coming from being a hospice patient for 15  months to where he is now, just makes me burst with joy.
How did you feel when Christopher was diagnosed with Barth Syndrome, and how did they find it?  Was a it a long process or was he diagnosed by accident? (basically how would others be diagnosed if they suspected their child had this?) </p>
To be truthful, I was completely taken off guard when they diagnosed him with BTHS. I had come to terms with the fact we would never know what caused his heart condition and the fact that his heart had healed itself, I was happy with the way things were. I was pretty devastated when I found out. I remember folks saying I should be glad I knew, but no one would ever want to have this disease. I felt like I had found my new "normal" only to have it snatched away again. This disease involves so much more than just the heart being a multi sensory disease and is very complicated. I felt like I was thrusted from elementary math straight into calculus with no warning.We went from a cardiologist and a geneticist along with the ped, to around 13 different specialists total. It is truly firghtening when all of these doctors tell you they have never heard of BTHS and I know more than they do about the disease. They have been very good about being willing to learn and seeking the information provided through Barth syndrome foundation.
Even worse, was finding out that even though Christoher's heart function had went from 19% EF to 81%, there is a chance of heart failure again, as BTHS boys hearts are on a lifetime rollercoasterride. I can only continue to put our faith in God who has seen us through thus far, and more than anyone's expectations, he gave us our miracle. The boys also are all different, some being more severe cases than others or having different symptoms at any given time in their life.  
The way it was found is there had been a lot of genetic testing done, a muscle biopsy which was inconclusive and many blood tests.We went through our family history, and the fact that I had a nephew with a myopathy (muscle weakness) and 2 uncles who dies in infancy, they tested for BTHS. In genetics, tests are updated constantly, as well as new tests as well and I do believe it may have been a repeated test which determined the deletion of thr TAZ gene, confirming Barth syndrome. My nephew was also diagnosed as a result of Christopher's diagnosis.
If one were to suspect their son to have Barth syndrome, my advice would be to contact Barth syndrome foundation, as this wonderful organization can help guide through the diagnostic process. And also to talk to their pediatrician, bring info from BSF to back up the facts if they have any of the symptoms. Don't take no for an answer. A cardiologist would be another bet and most likely either of these doctors will refer you to a geneticist. A geneticist is like a detective and they are there to help you put the pieces of the puzzle together, making the overall picture, or diagnosis. As much as you don't want to truly confirm your child to have this disease (or any!), it can save his life to know. You would not know that it is dangerous for these boys to fast or that they have a different anesthesia protocol without a diagnosis.  It also helped me to know what I was seeing with my child, like his neutropenia (there was now a word for it!) or his eating issues wasn't in my head.


Do you work or stay home with Christopher?  Could he ever go to daycare, and will he be able to attend public school one day?  What are his limitations with going out in public?  (the reason I'm asking this is because of weakened immune system and taking antibodics everyday ... does this prevent him from just being a kid?)

I haven't been back to work since the day before I went into labor with Christopher. Things went crazy after that going from possible heart transplant, to us opting against, due to the risks and we didn;t think he would survive, so he went home and was admitted into hospice for 15 months. I still haven't gotten the clear to put him into daycare. When he was released from hospice with his heart improvement, even then, they said no daycare. Now with the BTHS and all of the immunity issues, he is still not in daycare, though there are many other boys affected with BTHS who do attend. It just depends on the boy and the circumstances. Many are also homeschooled. I am not sure what will happen with Christopher. For now, he will transition his therapy from early intervention, to the county special education preschool services. The will come to the home because of his  immunity. He has speech, physical and occupational therapy. I also learned that homebound services will be available if when the time comes, he is still unable to attend. The flu can be deadly for someone with BTHS and they run a great risk for infection or virus which could also be fatal. I am very friendly with lysol and take it everywhere with me and anything he comes into contact with, I try to wipe or spray. I sometimes get funny looks, but this is my son's health and safety. I am also careful about places he goes, we don't take him to the school for any reason and I keep him out of the WIC office and he doesn't wait in the waiting room for peds with the other children, many of which are there due to sickness.

His daily penecillin does help as a safety net, but the neupogen (or GCSF) injections for his cyclic neutropenia have helped him so much. He has not been sick for quite some time, and the time he got a runny nose since starting this therapy was defeated quickly.I also think it gives him some energy.  Though the medicine does have its serious risks, I believe it is helping his quality of life, because he can do more. When they told us of his neutropenia, we went from being very careful to completely isolated. Now with the shots, we can attend family functions without risking him picking up an illness that would take him months to get over, or worse. We try to let him be a kid as much as possible and he is a very social child, though we are still cautious.



Do you have other children?  How do they react to Christopher having Barth Syndrome, how much do they know?

I have an older son, Justin who is 13. The boys are 10 years apart, and unfortunately, I could not protect him from the knowlege of the seriousness of Christpher's health. They were separated from birth to 45 days old, along with Justin not only having to not have his new baby come home, but his parents who have always been there constantly to disappear with baby.

He had some severe separation issues in the first year, especially, not knowing if he went to school if his brother would still be there when he got home. It is a horrible feeling to not be able to protect either of your children from these things.

Overall, Justin and Christopher are inseparable, and if you spend any time around them, you will see a special bond like no other. They love each other so much and they made it easy not to question our decisions early on, these boys are gonna have as much time together as possible.

Justin pretty much knows everything even about the Barth syndrome (what isn't too complicated for his age and even for my age to understand) He knows how we have to be more careful with exposure and pushing Christopher too far if he needs rest. He is overprotective and loving and I could not ask for a better sibling for Christopher or child of mine. Both of my boys make me very proud.



How has your husband and your relationship changed or grown because of the diagnoses?


I know I am not the same person I was before as this has been lifechanging, as it has been for both my husband and oldest son. Even through it all, and though we are always under a lot of extra stress. The loss of my income hasn't helped our finances any, and this has been a source of guilt for me even though I love being home to raise Christopher instead of a daycare.

I worry that my husband does get resentful that I am not helping financially anymore.

It is also tough coping with habing a chronically ill child when a man and a woman are wired totally different. But we both cope in our own way. Mostly I like to talk about it more and he copes by talking about it less.

I know that they say that the divorce rate has been sky high for those who have been through what we have, but I will have to say, even through the intense moments, having these trials and tribulations has made our relationship stronger and we love eachother very much. We work well as a team and have made some very big and difficult decisions together.


If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, "move from here to there," and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you. Matthew 17:20


If you'd like to read more of Kristi and Christopher's story please visit their CaringBridge site:



Extreme Coupons ... For you or Against you?

May 16, 2011 1:23 am · Posted by erinmarie313

 I'm a huge fan of Extreme Couponing, it's what made me change my life and decide to start using coupons! I've been watching the show and taking the tips and tricks of those who are much better at it than I am to learn how to best save money for my own family!  I've learned a lot but while watching the I've also had some pretty heated debates with the man I'm going to marry!  From, why do you need 100 boxes of juice or soup, to how much time is this woman spending away from her family to save them thousands, or is their marriage suffering from this woman spending so much time couponing! 

So it got me thinking about the way I coupon.  Truthfully I hardly spend a few hours a month doing this, see the way I do it is a bit different from these people on TV because I do not want to spend that type of time away from my love and our live together ... I'd rather spend a few dollars than lose a whole bunch of time with him.  Our relationship is very strong, but partly that is because we are almost always together, he works up to 12 hours a day and that takes it's toll most of the time because he's worn out when he's working (who wouldn't be)!  He is off only 2 days a week (yes the overtime is great) but he recently got this job after months of being unemployed, so he's working as much as he can to get our savings back up to what it should be!  I am very proud to know I'm with someone so dedicated to our family and since I'm the one who stays home, I'm a homemaker!

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I make sure to clean (which because of personal reasons I've recently recongized) hasn't been an easy task, it's very unrewarding to clean for me ... truth is I hate to clean and so I used to spend most of my days online, on FB or blogging or something other than picking up the stuff that reminds me I no longer can work.  I started couponing to save us money, and I jumped in full force but after spending 4 or 5 hours with coupons, Excel, and my Binder ... I got burnt out!  I know that most will say "Keep it up" but then I started to notice that I was neglecting things because of couponing ... whether it be having dinner ready when he got home after working 12 hours, or picking up the bathroom, or even simple things like making the bed ... so I realized I have to get my couponing, blogging and facebooking under control or I'm going to lose myself it in!!


So I started getting my ducks in a row and realizing that while a lot of these things are fun they take up a lot of time when I could be doing other things!! 

I re-did the way I did couponing!  I decided to start re-organizing my binder!  BY MONTH instead of ad date!  I think that was a great idea!  I now clip my coupons and put them in a little folder for the month, now monthly what I do is plan my shopping trips ... that way I'm going shopping about once a month ... I look at the things I need and put that on my list ... and use those coupons, I look through my monthly binders and get my coupons for the MONTH in order, then I check out the sales, now of course if I'm doing it this way not everything is on sale, but I'd rather spend a dollar or two more per item than lose hours of my life trying to save a dollar or two ... just my theory ... I'd rather go shoping once or twice a month and call it quits rather than spend my time in my local shopping stores ... for me it just doesn't make me happy to spend all that time inside looking around and seeing what is on sale and matching my coupons ...

I do have a stockpile .... of course it's small compared to most!

7 shampoos

6 conditioners

4 bodywashes

isn't anything compared to what most "Extreme Couponing" would have but it's mine ... and I've gotten most of it free ... which is wonderful ... but I didn't waste my hours trying to get it free ... I would have been happy to save a dollar or two ... because I didn't lose another hour or two trying to get it free!  The truth is I really wish I could find a happy medium where I can save a lot without using too much time doing so ... so I'm looking for tips, tricks, recommendations ...


How do you not be "Extreme" with couponing??


I won a Canon PowerShot A495

May 12, 2011 12:26 am · Posted by erinmarie313

I've been winning a lot of wonderful things and I'm quite behind on my review of my winnings, so I'm so sorry to every sponsor that I'm behind!  I've had a crazy week with family visiting me, so I've got to play catch up :)

Please don't forget to enter my First Giveaway!!!!

I was so excited when I saw the giveaway on The Twinners and thought about entering because I love photography and any type of camera, I've discovered that some cameras work better with different types of photo shots than others!  I was even more excited when Elana contacted me and let me know I won this wonderful camera!!

When I received this camera I was very excited, at first I was a little taken back because it does need 2 AA batteries, but then after thinking about it I realized that is much better, no bulky cord to carry, if I wanted to travel this would surely be the camera, that I'd be taking!

It also doesn't come with a memory card, so I haven't been able to take or save any photos from it YET but as soon as I do, I'll certainly upload them on this blog so STAY TUNED!

I love the fact it has so many features, it have features for EVERYTHING, it's a 10 mega pixel camera that is just as good as my Nikon 10 mega pixel and half the price so I'd surely recommend it to any photographer or anyone who takes a lot of pictures but it on a budget! 

<p>The CD it comes with worked great with my computer (HP Notebook) and had no problem uploading the program without taking up too much space (wonderful for any notebook user)! 

I love my new camera and would surely recommend it to anyone, it's so compact but the features don't suffer!  It's cute as well, I'm sure anytime I'm snapping photos with it people will surely notice!!  It's such a wonderful color blue and I'm so happy to have won this camera!  Thank you Canon, The Twinners, and Elana!  Please check out the http://www.thetwinners.com/ and see what you could win on blog giveaways!!


PMD Personal Microderm Winner was ME!

May 8, 2011 7:25 am · Posted by erinmarie313

Before I start my review I urge you to go to MY FIRST GIVEAWAY and enter to win a Compact Mirror from Hopscotch Couture :)  It's my first giveaway so the more the better!  Now on to the Review of the PMD Personal Microderm System!

I was so excited when I came across this blog giveaway by Marie from Howard House Reviews and Giveaways but I figured, I'm never this lucky ... I will certainly not win something this wonderful but when I got the email (I'm a subscriber to her blog) posting a Huge Announcement I kept my fingers crossed, and I saw my name listed!  Yet, I hadn't received an email, so I emailed her and innocently asked "Is this me?"  She had let me know that she sent it to my email that is listed on blogger (I've still got to remember to change that) and was so happy that I contacted her so I could be one of the 9 (YES NINE) winners of this wonderful giveaway!!!

So ... I had to wait about 2 weeks to get this in the mail (no biggie) and yesterday it arrived!!  I was so excited!  I wanted to try it last night but I have relatives in town, so I got up extra early this morning so I could use the bathroom and Personal Microderm!  If you want one of these yourself please visit PMD Website trust me you won't be disappointed!  Here's the Review!


I opened the package, now if you read Marie's review you notice she tells you to Watch the DVD and if you go to the website you notice they tell you the DVD is INCLUDED but if you are like me ... you think you are smarter than the product and won't need to watch anything! 

I opened the product, like it was Christmas and even on the PMD there is a sticker, WATCH THE DVD, so I popped it in thinking I would watch it for 5 minutes and be off to celebrate my win, well after about 2 minutes into the DVD I realized WHY I needed to watch it!  I would have been one of those people who tried to go in circles rather than back and forth, and who knows what my face would look like right now if I didn't WATCH THE DVD!  I would have also been on who though it could be used around the eye (I mean isn't that what those small parts are for?  NO they are for the NOSE AREA or smaller harder to reach places like the bridge of your nose, etc) and am so grateful I did WATCH THE DVD so I could be writing this review rather than who knows what could have happened if I tried this around my eye!  I might have ended up in the Emergency Room!
Now, getting started after you WATCH THE DVD is very easy, the DVD actually walks you through everything, so again it's best to always WATCH THE DVD in fact I wouldn't recommend every using this product without watching the DVD, and I'll be watching it over and over even once I'm good at it to make sure I'm doing this correctly as to not damage my skin!  You simply put the plug in and choose your discfor the PMD machine. 
There are TWO types of disc COARSE and MODERATE, now I recommend if you think you have sensitive skin of any type, you go with the MODERATE, because even this was a little tough on my baby skin, yes I did end up staying in an area too long and got a little scratch, but don't be alarmed because once you get good enough you'll realize the speed you need to move your own arm at to not scratch your skin, this scratch came the first time I put it on my face and still even though I WATCHED THE DVD wasn't too sure how fast to go, well you know how a man shaves his face, that is about the speed I recommend!  
 Now, I'll admit on the DVD it did look easier than it was, it's going to take time and practice to get perfection, but my face looks GREAT!  I was surprised that there was so much dead skin on my face (okay to be honest I was really grossed out)!  I was happy that the DVD showed me how to clean the filter as well, this is very important and I also recommend rinsing out the tips (not the discs there is a difference) and letting them air dry so that they don't have all that dead skin in them as well!  I will share my story with you!
I turned the machine on and was surprised, for days my love and I have joked about how this would most likely feel like either sandpaper going over your face, or a chain saw, it was NEITHER, it was so quiet it didn't wake up anyone in the house (and I have a house full right now) and it certainly did not feel like sandpaper!  I do admit that I did have to get used to the suctioning and disc feeling on my face, I started out using the larger disc and realized it was a bit too rough on my very sensitive face (I mean I break out with everything and I still have that baby skin feeling face it's in my DNA and every woman in my family has been blessed with very soft skin) so I turned it off and switched the discs, mostly I did this because I was a bit uncomfortable after I had gotten a scratch and with the smaller disc I think I felt more in control.  I then after a few moments got tired of having to go over the same area, over and over with the smaller disc which truly is supposed to be used for your nose and small areas, not your whole face, I switched back.  I went back and forth and could see my skin turning pink, I stopped and went back to the DVD and realized that was OKAY just as long as I wasn't scratching it, I believe that the dead skin masks so much of our true face that the shock of seeing this beautiful pink looking skin underneath made me wonder if I was using it correctly.  I was!!!  I then got finished and put some toner on my skin, now I use a very strong toner so it burned, next time I will be buying a lighter toner just for my PMD!!  Then I grabbed the moisturizer and was even more shocked when I realized I needed a bit more than normal, of course I would after thinking about it, this is the skin that has been "hiding" under my dead skin it would be thirsty LOL! 
I now look like I'm 15 years old instead of the normal 18 years old that most people think I am even though I'm really 29 years old (thank you DNA for such wonderful skin).  My own mother walked out of the room and was like WHAT DID YOU DO TO YOUR FACE it looks like you are glowing!  I at first thought it was amount of moisturizer I was using, but then I checked in the mirror and the pinkness has certainly gone away (don't think your face is going to be PINK for more than a few moments) and I now look like I'm glowing.  I am trying to not touch my face, even though everyone in my family seems to want too LOL!  I love my new Personal Microderm and I know you will too!  I'm so thankful to Marie and PMD for letting me be the winner of this wonderful and fun machine that I will use often!!

My FIRST Giveway!!!

May 6, 2011 5:39 pm · Posted by erinmarie313

I'm so excited to announce my FIRST Giveaway!  I'm feeling so happy about this because I know that this is something you will all want!  How could you not, I surely do!!

When I came across Marelle I was so excited just to reach out to her, she was a Survivor of Open Heart Surgery, just like me!  I believe in fate and I truly think this is what brought us together!  I read her story on another giveaway and felt the need to just write her and let her know I was a Heart Surgery Survivor too and that I wanted to get to know her and asked her even if she wasn't willing to do a giveaway that maybe she'd do an interview for my blog, so others would know people like us were out there and living normal lives and trying to help others in the process!!

She's offered the WINNER of this FIRST BLOG GIVEAWAYS this from her Etsy.com shop called Hopscotch Couture ... here is a picture to the beautiful and dazzling mirror which is a Gold Compact Mirror, Vintage Rhinestones, Flower, and Brass Turtle, Vintage Silk!!! 

Isn't this awesome here is the site where you can view it yourself if you want more details and information about this beautiful mirror!!

Isn't that beautiful!  Ohh I wish I could enter!  So I talked to Marelle about how she started such wonderful art and what got her started and how she got involved in doing Art for the Blind!

Here is Marelle, in her own words!!

Isn't she beautiful :)  I'm so grateful that she decided to do this giveaway and so much more for the Congenital Heart Defect's Community but that will come later, first let's meet Marelle!!

Name and a little bit of information about your personal self (family, where your business is, etc)?
My name is Marelle, I grew up in Northern NJ.  Adopted at 6 weeks old to two wonderful parents.  My two brothers were adopted also.  Now, I reside in Northern PA with my two children
How did you get started?

I think the main reason I focused on art was due to my health.  I have always shown promise in art as a child.  But, I was trained to be a legal secretary.  After my first open heart surgery, I had to slow down.  So I just started painting in hopes of having some success in the gallery world.  After a couple years I had a dozen or so various paintings.  A few were 3d, just an experiment for me. 

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What exactly is Art for the Blind?
Well, getting my work seen was not easy.  I did have a couple opportunities but just not what I had imagined.  Then one day I was touching my painting called, With Child.  It is covered with various beads and it just felt kinda neat.  The thought just popped into my head.  I bet blind people would like to touch these.  So, I sent e mails to all the blind councils and schools in the state to get advise and to see if this was something blind people would even be interested in.  I was invited to a blind convention in Harrisburg that week.  It is so funny, I was in no way ready.  I traded home made cookies for 100 business cards.  Hey, you do what you gotta do.  I rented a van and off we went with little money.  We had a blast.  The president of the Pennsylvania Blind Council touched one of my 3d portraits and he said he had not had vision for most of his life, but, got an image in his mind when he touched it.  He then said keep up the good work.  I was high as a kite.  To me, putting an image into someones mind that can't see is a miracle.  The greatest part about painting for the blind is they each get a different image in their mind.  What we see on canvas is different from what they imagine and the painting changes with every blind person that touches it.  I like that.  It is like the painting keeps evolving with their touch.
What type of Heart Defect do you have and the story behind it?
I was born with a condition call co-arctation of the aorta.  That is typically a narrowing of the aorta.  Mine went undetected for 34 years, I had incredibly high blood pressure.  115/200 was normal for me.  When they finally found it, it was discovered that my aorta was completely shut.  When they did the cardiac catheter test the dye wouldn't even go threw it.  I am told dye is thinner than blood.  I had no pulse in my legs and was very very tired.  I honestly just thought being a single mother was hard.  After all, I didn't know any thing was wrong.  When I got to the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, the surgeon said out of all the patients he had, I was at the top of his list.  I should have died at 7 days old.  I was to have massive open heart surgery to correct the aorta and then return 6 weeks later to fix a bi cuspid aortic valve, ( it usually comes hand and hand with co-arctation.)  When I went back for my check up, after surgery, the doctor was amazed that my heart was actually repairing itself and I wouldn't need the second surgery just yet.   That was over 10 years ago and I still don't need it.  I was amazed to find out that my body, all my life, grew vessels around the closed area of the aorta.  I guess it was just enough to keep me going for a little while.  If you think about it, I was lucky it was not detected at birth, they didn't do those surgeries back then. 
What is your goals with your Art?
So, here I am, just happy to be alive and blessed to be able to create things that people love.  If I was healthy all my life, I probably would not be able to do too much art.  I would still be typing away in an office somewhere.  Everything really does happen for a reason.  I am hoping to take my exhibit to as many blind conventions as possible.  That is why I started my online shop.  I love making the couture purses the most.  The way I see it, people are helping a great cause with their purchase and getting a high quality luxury item in return.  The former president of InStyle Magazine reviewed my purses and said they were of superior quality and craftsmanship.  She went on to say I was ahead of my time with my uniquely beautiful designs. 
<div> <div>
What would you recommend to anyone who has a heart condition?
<div><span style="color: #a64d79;">If I was to give anyone one bit of advice on heart issues or health issues in general, it would be, never give up looking for a diagnosis.  It may take several doctors or even several years, but, you know your body better than anyone.  If you know something is really wrong, don't let anyone tell you your crazy or need to see a psychiatrist.  Believe me, it took the last 7 years to diagnose a odd infection that went into my bones, and heart.  I am finally feeling better.  I went to another state to get answers.  As far as I can say, the University of PA hospital is by far one of the best diagnostic hospitals.  I would recommend them to anyone.  Just don't give up and don't make the mistake of thinking, well, my doctor is so nice, I couldn't insult him by going to someone else.  Oh so many woman do that.  Let me just say, I had the nicest car mechanic.  He would pick me up when I broke down and let me pay in payments.  So kind, but, he couldn't fix a car to save his life, lol.  I will leave it at that. 

<p>I believe there really is a plan for everyone.  Worry is normal, giving up is not an option.  God bless all of you going through this most difficult challenge.  It must be especially hard to watch your child go through all of the tests and surgeries.  Reach out to other people and take care of yourself so your strong enough to be there for your child.  It is not a crime to admit your scared.  Anyone would be under such circumstances.   There is life after open heart and it can be very wonderful indeed.  I will keep you all in my prayers.</span></div> <p></div> <p></div> <p></div>
Isn't that wonderful and such a blessing!  I feel great about meeting her and getting to know her!!!  I'm also blessed to let you know she's been nice enough to make Child Sized Sleep Masks for those in the Congenital Heart Defects Community just like this please feel free to buy this and support project Dear Heart Sleep Masks!  You can always donate to this by using http://www.paypal.com/ by leaving a comment here with your email address and I can send you information!! 
So I'm sure you are all wondering how you can enter! 
Here it goes!  Best of Luck to you all!  I'll be using Random.org to pick the winner and you can always do multiple entries and do the daily entry, everyday for more chances to win and don't forget to leave your email in every entry so I can get in touch with you!!
Mandatory Entry

Be a follower of my blog by Google Friend Connect and then go to Marelle's Etsy shop Hopscotch Couture and tell me something you'd like and WHY!  Please know if you do not say WHY you like this item this entry won't count meaning any extra entries don't count either!!!!  Please let me know in a few sentences WHY you'd like to buy this from Marelle!!
                    (counts as 2 entries so leave TWO comments)

Extra Entries (leave comment(s) for each entry)
  • Go to Marelle's Etsy shop and make it a favorite Hopscotch Couture (1 entry please *leave your etsy name*)
  • Go to Marelle's Blog and become a GFC Follwer (1 entry)
  • "Like" Hopscotch Couture on FB (1 entry)
  • Follow me on Networked Blogs (1 entry) 
  • Follow my blog by email (1 entry)
  • Follow my blog in Reader (1 entry)
  • Follow me on Twitter (1 entry)
  • Tweet about this giveaway (1 entry per tweet *can be earned up to 3 times daily so if you tweet this daily 3 times imagine all the entries you could get LEAVE LINKS TO EACH TWEET*)
  • Share this on FB and let me know you did (2 entries *leave link on comment*)
  • Blog about this giveaway and leave me your blog link! (5 entries)
  • Grab my Button and put it on your blog (3 entries *Leave your blog link*)
  • Go to my Blog Frog Community and become my friend (2 entries)
  • Vote for this blog on Picket Fences (1 entry daily *just let me know you voted in each comment)
  • Buy something from Hopscotch Couture and let me know you did and what you got (10 entries)
  • Go to this Blog Posting and leave a comment or comment on another blog and let me know you did (1 entry per blog commented on)

Well I think that is enough entries for everyone ... I've left you several different ways to enter because I know how excited you all are for my first giveaway and to win this beautiful mirror!  Thank you so much to Marelle for letting me do this and make sure you check out Hopscotch Couture and buy something from her and support Dear Hearts Sleep Masks!

This Giveaway ENDS 12:00am June 5th and winner (will have 48 hours to respond) will be announced June 7th after being contacted!
Disclosure: This giveaway was made without any compensation and without reviewing the product personally.


To Etsy or not to Etsy

May 5, 2011 4:53 am · Posted by erinmarie313

I've been wondering if I should start to sell my things on Etsy, okay I'm not a professional photographer or anything but I seem able to capture the beauty of things in ways I've never seen before!  I wanted to share a few of my photos and see what you all think ... I've always been told I'm really talented and it's started to pull at me ... the fact I just won a new camera from The Twinners.com which I think is pretty awesome!  I am supposed to get it very soon (hopefully this week!)  I've been doing this giveaways but I want to give something back if that makes sense! 

I've already teamed up with Marelle and am offering this to Congenital Heart Defect survivors of all ages and their families (it's on my other blog so check that out from time to time if you want it's about my life being an adult survivor of 5 heart defects) Sleeping Masks Giveaway from Hopscotch Couture which is totally great of her but I need to branch out ... you know I'm not all about the doom and gloom of growing up with a Congential Heart Defect, in fact my blog is kind of an outlet but this blog is where I get to be the real me ... the fun loving ... needing to lose a little weight ... self confident but still a little weary of herself ... Erin ... trust me either way I'm a package deal and I do think that growing up with a few Heart Defects had it's own way of shaping how I feel about myself ... now I'm hoping I can my ducks in a row and I can soon do a giveaway on this blog ... I already have the sponser, I just need to type it up and figure a way to make it look beautiful since it's my first giveaway ...

So ... I'm thinking of getting my photos on Etsy (back to the reason for posting this ... sorry I tend to be scatter brained ... don't worry you'll learn to love it) and I'm not really sure what to charge for these ... how to even go about promoting these ... I am by no means a professional and I never claim to be ... just someone who loves to snap photos and is usually amazed when I look at them ...

This is also something that helps me to get out of the house ... explore my surroundings ... and get to know the world around me ... I think since I walk so much I'll be loosing more weight ... always a GREAT thing!

I haven't stepped on the scale in a few weeks ... these past few weeks have been tough on me ... so I'm taking a break from worrying about my weight and focusing on the more fun things in life ... I figure if I calm down and don't focus on it so much before you know it, it might be falling off ... wishful thinking maybe??

So ... here's a few photos ... and I need advice ... what do you think???

I put my Etsy.com name on them Adoring Beauty ... of course I have nothing on there right now but I figured this would be a great name for my photos if I started doing this!  I of course would not have that if I sold it because I would be literally selling my photo to another to use however they choose ... as I said ... I'm not a photographer just someone who adores beauty and finds it in this world and wants to share it ... that is why I'm so conflicted ... so I even sell these photos or should I just keep them to myself??

I don't even know what to charge for prints and since my computer certainly could not do these photos justice, I'd have to find somewhere to print them out ... so much to think about before doing this, I'd hate to get orders and have no way of getting them the photos! 


I really don't know what to do ... I love my photos and if I was sharing them with the world this would certainly mean trying to take more of these moments and capture the beauty of Earth that I adore ...

I just don't know ... do I charge $5.00 or $10.00 and of course I've been browsing Etsy.com trying to find some photographs and prices I agree with and it even moreso makes me not want to put them on the site ... I'm not a professional ... I shoot with a simple digital camera but as my mom said "This is what makes them more amazing" ... still I don't know what to do!!!

I truly don't!!  I love taking pictures and eventually would love to photograph people ... now I don't like the sit down and look professional photos ... I like the "we are having a great time" photos ... either birthday parties, holiday celebrations, fun days at the beach ... anything ... because this is "life" and I adore beauty and watching life unfold ... What do you think I should do?  I'm taking a vote ... all I need for you is to say ...


<em><span style="color: #0b5394; font-family: Verdana;">or

NO </span></em>

and you'll automatically be entered in my first giveaway (even after it's started) ... see how that works for both of us ... I don't care if you say NO ... just vote so I can have a bit of feedback and if you leave a bit of feedback on my photos that is one extra entry (so comment twice if you plan to leave feedback) ... and trust me this is something you certainly want to win!!! 

I've decided to announce my giveaway sometime either this weekend or this coming week ... but no later than Friday the 13th and I will let it run to until the beginning of June or maybe a litle longer ... since I haven't worked out all the details that is why I say maybe a little longer!


Let me know what you think ... Please Please ... plus this is also an easy extra entry into my first giveaway!!!

<p>Thank you ... and always Adore Beauty ... I know I do!

Green Magpie Clutch Review

April 30, 2011 5:31 pm · Posted by erinmarie313

I figured since I won something that was green, it would be a great color for the review!!

I went on Priti's website because she was giving away a clutch, and figured of course I wouldn't be winning it!  I was so surprised at how adorable her site was, and her family is just as adorable!  She talks about their outings, her children, and her husband!  I will be visiting Priti often just to check in and say hello, she seems like she'd make a great friend in real life!!  So when Aiysha Khaalid wrote me and told me I won and to choose my clutch I was shocked, how do you choose from such beautiful clutches?  I went with my gut, the green Magpie clutch stuck out to me as I was entering the giveaway, so I decided that was the one I wanted ... I'm so glad I did!  I'm sure all of them would have been just as beautiful in real life but I know this one will fit my personality and clothing style perfectly!

I was announced to be the winner on her newest giveaway, go ahead and enter that one, who knows if you might win!!  I was very excited!!  I couldn't wait to get my clutch and the truth is it came within days of winning, so how great was that!!

Look how beautiful it is, and Aiysha even wrapped it up and wrote a little note thanking me (I don't know what she was thanking me for ... all I did was enter and win ... I should thank her for giving away this lovely clutch and letting me win so THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!)  I love these little personal touches they make a person feel so special!!


See how adorable her note is!  It's those little touches that will make me go to her website and recommend it to everyone I know!  I think you should also check out her Etsy.com and buy something!  Her things are adorable and the personal touches she adds will make any customer satisfied!! 

See how adorable this is and I was even more shocked that the clutch has a button because I wasn't expecting it too!  I love the colors and patterns and inside is even covered in fabric!  I will surely be using this during the summer!  I have a large wallet and this fits in here perfectly and even leave room for my lip gloss, keys, extra things, and even a small comb!  I was actually surprised how much room there was!

<p>I'm so happy to have won this clutch and can share my thoughts on it with all of you!  Thank you so much to Arm Candy for You (Priti) and Khali Nouveau (Aiysha) for letting me win this wondeful clutch and I hope you check out Priti's blog and go say "365 Days of Me" sent you and also the Khali Nouveau's stores and let them know you heard about her wonderful things from "365 Days of Me" ... I hope you all go and buy this clutch, I promise you won't be disappointed!!

Review for Maria Menounos ~ The EveryGirl's Guide to Life

April 30, 2011 5:04 pm · Posted by erinmarie313

When I entered to win the book by Maria Menounos I thought, it would be nice but I'll never win!!  Thank you to "The Well-Heeled Society" for this giveaway, I can't believe I won and when it was announced I was very shocked!  Here's the link mentioning that I was the winner and when I got the email I had to comment thanking Felicia!!

I was surprised at how fast I got the book, and how well packaged it came!  I was even more shocked when I saw It Books & Felicia had written me a little "Congrats" note and sent it right along in the book!!

I was so happy to get the book which has an APR of $19.99 because I would have never splurged and gotten this for myself even though I truly love Maria Menounos which made this giveaway win so much better for me!

It was great to see that It Books & Felicia had added a personal touch as well, making me feel extra special!!

I love this extra special touch and I felt very happy to have won such a wonderful book!  I was so excited I almost ripped the package open!

While I had looked up "The EveryGirl's Guide to Life" on Amazon I was super surprised to see how colorful and fun this book was, and I can't even do justice to this book unless I show you what I saw that made me so happy! 

First Maria Menounos introduced herself (like we wouldn't know who she was) but she included things about her personal life that I never would have guessed or known.  Did you realize she was a janitor with her family, talk about my kind of strong woman, to come up from the dust (literally) to be world famous, but you can see in her writing that she hasn't changed a bit.  She still is as thrifty and frugal as anyone who has grown up having to work for everything!

She gives you tips and tricks about how she still even though she can certainly afford anything and everything, doesn't splurge too much!!  I love it! 

I've chosen a few photos of this book to show you what I mean by colorful!

See how beautiful the pages look, and the little boxes are extra tips and tricks!  She covers everything!  From getting organized to decorating to skin care and makeup and even friendships and love!  She's even included recipes which I think is awesome!! She has a whole section dedicated to weight loss and fitness ... talk about using this for this girl!  I'm going to be sharing some of these things I learn from Maria Menounos later on in my blogs! 
My favorite part was the Appendix, because she gives away her true tips to stay organized, what girl doesn't need a little extra help with this!!  I love how she gives you the list she uses, the charts she uses, and even advice on how to make your "Black Book" just like the one she has (hers is more like a binder)!!
I went on Amazon.com and got the review of the book so that you can read it and know what others are saying about this wonderful book!!                           

Raised by working-class immigrant parents and later exposed to Hollywood's most elite experts in every field, Access Hollywood's, Today's, and Nightly News's reporter Maria Menounos reveals her EveryGirl secrets on everything: her systems to organize life, manage time, and ascend the ladder of success; her lazy woman's workout; her weight-loss tips (how she lost forty pounds and kept it off); and her guide to styling yourself like the stars—a self-proclaimed EveryGirl, Maria often does her own hair and makeup for celebrity events.
In The EveryGirl's Guide to Life, Maria shares personal experiences and photos from her life and professional journey as well as the various mantras, motto's, and philosophies she's adopted from the world's most impressive women. She gives advice on health, career, relationships, renovations, recreation, and more. From your carpet to the red carpet, Maria teaches the EveryGirl on a budget how to do it all, while living a healthier and happier life.

I hope all of my friends go check it out and don't forget to swing by The Well-Heeled Society and let them know "365 Days of Me" sent you!!

<p>I'm sure I'll be giving out a lot of tips and tricks along my journey of self-discovery and I'll surely be thanking Maria Menounos, The Well-Healed Society, and It Books along the way!!

I've been a winner!!

April 28, 2011 7:51 am · Posted by erinmarie313

The reason I'm posting this blog is because I've always been a skeptic ... always ... I'm never that lucky ... but in the past week I've won more things than I ever imagined ... and I want to give credit to every blogger who has allowed me to win these things because most people don't really know what Blog Giveaways are ...

<em><span style="color: blue; font-family: Verdana;">Blog Giveaways are when people who write blogs decide they want to start reviewing products for their readers (like you) and that they want to ask the company to be extra nice and let their readers have a chance to try their products ... seems nice and easy enough ... right? 

RIGHT ...</span></em>

So I started this about a week ago ... thinking why should put my time and effort into winning things ... I'm never lucky ...


I have also met some wonderful people ... and they have been super duper nice in helping me generate more traffic to my blogs so that companies will be willing to let me win their things ... all you really need is an email address ... and a blog to win ... now having a FB and Twitter helps give you extra entries as well ...

So in this past week here is what I've won ... starting with the first thing!

~~I won this not only did my comment win on the giveaway but I also learned I was chosen through FB ... guess it was my crazy idea to start these giveaways so I might as well have won this book ... the author is named Kurtis Foote and I'm trying to work with him and get another giveaway started on this blog ... how crazy would that be!!~~

So I figured okay I love to read, and at least I got a good book out of it I never figured I would win something else!!  But I did!

~~I then entered this Bath and Body blog giveaway and while I hoped to win, I never expected an email stating I won anything!!  I got the email and was lead to see THIS!!  Are you serious, I'm a girly girl and I love anything smelly, and the fact that Melissa (the blogger) and Cari (from Coquette Bath) were super nice was awesome too!  I am going to be a Coquette customer for life and I've already started planning Christmas Gifts because once I got the products I was so impressed!  I reviewed my winnings here so please check that out and go to http://www.coquettebath.com/ and buy something for yourself ... there prices are so reasonable and they have a little bit of everything for everyone!!~~

Okay ... I figure ... I'll keep entering because it's fun and I've run across some pretty awesome blogs ... but I'm done winning ... little did I know that "lucky fairy" was flying around my head saying "NOT YET" ...

~~Now with Easter just around the corner it was very cool to be one of the 5 winners of this giveaway I figured I wouldn't be winning but I figured I would try anyway, who doesn't like to get pictures with the Easter Bunny, so when Angela contacted me I was so excited but didn't believe it until it was announced so I figured I would get creative with my picture!  What do you guys think??  Pretty cute huh?  I took one with my Bunny and got to add the Easter Bunny ... now I can even get prints!!  How awesome is that??~~


Okay now I'm figuring my streak is over and I've won everything in life I really like, a book, some bath and body stuff, and pictures ... everyone who knows me knows I would have been perfectly happy to just call it a day but everyone who knows me also knows when the table's hot ... I'm still going to gamble!!

~~So I entered to win this wonderful blog giveaway thinking, I'll never win this book ... which I honestly really can't wait to read but I figured it couldn't hurt to try!!  So when I was told I won I could help but put it on FB to prove that I won because honestly there is a reason for me doing this, I eventually want to be able to give away things to some really special families I've had the pleasure of loving and getting to know in my journey through life!  I can't wait to read this book and I was so shocked I had hit the jackpot once again!~~

I figured okay ... now I've gotten 2 books, a bunch of bath and body stuff, and a picture ... that is great but now I had started to really get into it ... and talking to the great people while winning and just reading their blogs didn't hurt, you can never have too many friends ... right ... well in this case ... I was exactly right ... for years my friends have been winning stuff and I was shocked that I was actually winning things myself!!  I figured I was pretty much out for the count ... boy I was I wrong that little "lucky fairy" was sitting on my shoulders ... cheering me on ... and trust me everyone has a lucky fairy ... I just believe mine was tired of always being the "cheer her up fairy" too so she started sprinkling that dust and letting me win!

~~This next win was a total shock!  I mean when I was going through this blog giveaway I thought, never, it so wouldn't be me who wins something this cool but I was wrong ... I mean who wouldn't want this product and especially because this blog has a focus on growing and changing from the last year of my twenties to the first year of my thirties ... this was really exciting ... I have a baby face of course (as anyone can see and I used to hate it but I'm loving it as I get older) but this means I can keep it that way!  So when I got to talk to Marie who is the blogger about this, I was so surprised I won!  I was even more surprised at how nice Marie was and how many tips, tricks, and advice she was willing to give me about blogging, winning, and being someone who companies look to review ... while I haven't gotten this prize yet I did write this and look for the review as soon as I get it!!~~

I'm now figuring since I've won something big ... my "lucky fairy" is getting tired but she was full speed ahead whispering in my ear "keep it up Erin" you are going to get your name out there and even though people don't really realize why I want to give stuff away eventually ... they surely will in the future and I'm hoping all my FB friends join me when I do ... and I'm really hoping to get the word out about awareness and why I do what I do ... but it's still nice to be winning stuff for myself as well ... everyone who knows me knows I wouldn't go out and splurge on myself like this so it's kinda fun to know I'm going to be getting stuff to pamper myself with!! 

~~I love stationary (notice I'm only entering to stuff I really like but if you do it I'd suggest you enter in everything) and while I've been winning things I've surely lost a lot in the process ... I haven't won every giveaway I entered but I'm very pleased with the ones I have entered and won ... and even if I didn't win a giveaway I assure you I found a cool blog and met a nice person to interact with and support me in my writings!  So when I won this giveaway I thought 500 Letterheads was AWESOME ... I mean I'm not going to have to buy Stationary for a long time and I'd love to send you a letter once I get these!!  Just ask!!~~

Okay, by now I'm getting faster at entering and I'm pretty picky about the ones I'm entering but I'm still open to a lot of things, now that I've learned you do actually win stuff ... I'm all for these blog giveaways and would recommend them to everyone and anyone who likes to win and who is willing to take the time to do them ... even if you don't win you read some great blogs and meet some great people in the process and right now I think this is a great way to get my name out there in the blogger word ... hopefully someone will want to do a guest blog sooner or later ... now I'm still thinking okay you've won a lot ... but the "lucky fairy" wasn't done yet ... which is just fine with me ... most people don't realize that sites use random.org so when I win it's truly out of luck ... my number gets drawn and I win ... it's like a lotto!!  The truth is the more times you enter, the more blogs you enter ... the better your chance to win is ... I'd say I've entered a few hundred giveaways so a 10% win ratio (at least not numbers wise) is not all that great but it's good enough for me!!

~~I came across Priti's blog looking for giveaways and entered this giveaway isn't her blog beautiful and her family is just adorable and not only does she do giveaways she blogs about her adventures being a mom, how fun it's great to see such an adorable family having such a fun life!  I love coming across blogs like this so when I was announced as winner see I'm there under her newest giveaway (go ahead and enter and see how you like it) and contacted by Aiysha from khalinouveau.com who has this adorable Etsy.com store I was shocked because I loved the Green Magpie Bird Clutch she was offering!  I'm so happy it's all mine!~~

Okay by now I'm realizing this is very real and my friends were not full of hot air when they told me "Erin, I won this, you should try it" ... I mean how is everyone not doing this (thank goodness not everyone is because that would slim my chances) because I surely am going to from now on ... so I figured the "lucky fairy" was exhausted ... little did I know she was just warming up!!

~~This win is actually great for this blog and I know Kristin is a busy mom so I have no problem with her only announcing the winners every month after the month is over!  Look for my name here at the end of April!!  I was so happy to win this I mean this blog is about shaping yourself as you age and so is the book plus who doesn't love anything Chicken Soup from the Soul?  I can't wait to read and review this and I am sure I'll be using tips and tricks from this book on my journey to get healthy and lose weight!!  This book gives you other people's stories about losing weight and getting in shape ... talk about that "lucky fairy" giving me a major sign!!~~

By now I am really thinking the fairy is running on fumes ... I figure she is so out of it that she'll beg me to stop spending hours entering these blogs (yes they take some time but once you get used to it, you can get each one done in a matter of 15 minutes or less) and I type 70 wpm so I'm sure that doesn't hurt ... I'm just beaming with pride now that I've actually won these things ... but this "lucky fairy" who knows where she came from ... if only she'd sprinkle that dust in other areas of my life and while everyone keeps telling me to buy a lotto I just don't think she has that much dust in her bag or I surely would!!

~~So tonight I get an email from Jen and she is letting me know I won this blog giveaway from Farfetch.com and it's an Armani scarf are you kidding me I've never owned anything Armani and I wasn't going to buy this ever in my life ... as of right now my budget just doesn't afford it ... so this winter I will be not only warm but in style ... I'm so excited ... even Jen said she was jealous I won ... since I just won this today she hasn't announced the winners yet but check out her blog in the next few days and I'm sure you'll see my name on it saying I won!~~

The reason I'm telling you about this is because I was a major skeptic ... I mean I wasn't going to even try to do this but now I don't think I could live without doing it ... I'd always be wondering if that "lucky fairy" was still sprinkling her dust around and I'm sure some of this is beginner's luck ... and it will taper off but by then I hope to be reviewing products and offering the giveaways ... this is why I'm so happy I decided to start doing this because I've been told by several blogger friends that this is how it all starts, you win a few things ... you lose a few things but people are always looking for bloggers to review and giveaway their products and I'm willing ... see my disclosure policy ... I have one now in case someone thinks I'd be a great reviewer and I'm lucky enough for a sponsor to see my blogs and realize I'm a great person to advertise for them ... in a lot of ways this is all it is ... I mean I'll surely be buying some of the things I've won again and again ...
<em><span style="color: blue; font-family: Verdana;">
Now that you know how I've done it ... you can start winning too ... and if you don't at first ... don't get discouraged ... because I think eventually you will ... you might need to get the hang of it ... because I have several friends who do this I could call them for advice, how to find the blogs to win stuff on ... but mostly I started on Google and just looked up "Blog Giveaways" now I have a lot of sites I use because of this and have become part of different websites and forums but don't jump all in at once ... you have to start small ... I did ... and I found some great tips and usually any blogger is happy to help you ... I know I am ... and will answer your questions to the best of their ability or direct you somewhere that can ... I hope this explains how I've won so much in the past week, yes that is all it's been ... now once I get the hang of it I hope to enter 1,000's of giveaways a week and at even a 10% win ratio that means I could be winning 100's of things a week if not more ... depending on how lucky that fairy is feeling ... I hope you know that I want to start doing giveaways for my friends on FB who are near and dear to my heart (no pun intended) because I think this would be great and I think most of you agree ... this is pretty awesome ...

Now let's all thank this "lucky fairy" and keep our fingers crossed she stays around a long time!!

<p>Happy Blogging ...</span></em>

My First Blog Hop!!

April 26, 2011 10:47 pm · Posted by erinmarie313

I've never entered a BLOG HOP before ... you know it's where a lot of people who blog get together and share their blogs on each other's site and connect and that way it's more fun for everyone!  It's a great way to get followers!

Thank you if you are from the Blog Hop and following me!!

Thank you to Mommy Living the Life of Riley  for hosting this awesome Blog Hop!
I hope you all join and get hopping along!!!