Friday, June 24, 2011

Weekend Blog Hopping

Make new friends, gain new followers and find some new reading!  Join us as we hop through the weekend!

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Got a Slow Computer?

We do!!  Boost your computer speed with Auslogics!!

Here at Artsy Chaos we love technology.  I get excited if I see a great deal on a 2 terabyte external hard drive or some really cool software.  However, in this down-turned economy and raising a family with heavily involved teenagers, keeping up with the price of technology is simply not an option. 

When we were offered the chance to try Auslogics BoostSpeed 5, we were thrilled with the prospect that it may help our older, yet so beloved, computer.  The first thing I did, as the person in our home who usually takes care of the technology (unless it's over my head and I have to call in the troops, i.e. my oldest son, the computer programmer!) is to run over to CNET and see what they had to say.  I always check out CNET when I am considering downloading and installing software over the internet.  BoostSpeed has a 5 out of 5 star rating with a whopping 1,818,854 downloads.  To me, this screams download this program immediately!

BoostSpeed 5 hard at work scanning our computer.

Now, to be perfectly honest, Auslogics says "The program will clean up, speed up and repair your system
to make it running as fast and stable as new" but with our computer I just didn't see this happening mostly because the computer is so old with only 512 MB of RAM.  After the first scan using BoostSpeed the computer really does run a little faster!  Our slow PC is indeed running a little more perky.

Here are some of the things I found really useful about the program:
  • It removed traces of software from the registry which had been annoying me for years.  You know, you remove software from the add/remove programs icon in the control panel and you can still see the icon but the program is gone.  And who really wants to venture into the registry alone?
  • One click quick option to remove all temporary files.  I have found that temporary files and cookies are the bane of slow existence for computers.  Remove those temporary files and it solves most or much of the problems you experience on the internet!!  Seriously!!
  • One click memory optimization.
  • Scans for junk files - those pesky files and bits of files that just sit on your hard drive and take up space.  Most of the time you don't even know they are there.
You can also sign up for their emails which are very helpful and written from a non-techy point of view which makes them very easy to understand.  The emails which I have received have valuable tips on using the program PLUS discount offers, bonus!!  We were also impressed that the license for the program allows you to use it on 3 computers.  At $49.95 for the full version with a free 15-day trial, the price is well worth it to speed up a slow computer.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using created by Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product review & giveaway Disclosure.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Winner Love!

We recently received this photo from Deanna who won the Camp Smartypants giveaway during the April Artsy Chaos Close to Home Camping and Nature Art Event.  Congrats again to Deanna for participating and we're thrilled that she loves her prizes from Camp Smartypants!!

And since summer is in full swing, now is the time to revisit Rachel Beyer's tutorial on how to make a sit-upon cushion for all your outdoor and camping fun.  Rachel's blog is also full of fun ideas and crafting.  A great resource, check it out!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Summer 2011 Campout #1

This one gets a thumbs down.

It all started because we wanted to go camping. The rain, cold and yuck has just been terrible this year, seemingly never ending. Since it was forecasted to be sunny last weekend it seemed like a natural progression. Oh, how we were wrong.

We prefer going camping in the mountains and enjoying the beautiful scenery. However, because of the rain, cold and general yuck that is lingering, we still have 20 foot snow drifts in our mountain camping spots. Not a good recipe for camping in a tent. With that in mind, we decided to venture out to the West Desert and The Pony Express Trail. Someplace warmer and also someplace new to us. The scenery is... well.... barren and the vibe is... weird out there. No wonder all the UFO hunters and conspiracy theorists congregate out there by Dugway. Much of the property is owned by the military and there are strange bunkers, patrolled dirt roads and signs every 10 feet that declare they'll shoot if necessary.  And when it rains, it RAINS.

All this weirdness has also seemingly created mutant bugs. We got eaten alive by itty bitty tiny little gnats (or midges as I learned later). 40+ years of camping in Utah and surrounding areas and I never remember being bitten by bugs like this! We're still itching the growing red bumps that won't go away.

There was no shade and nothing but dirt roads where we camped.  Our pre-prepared tin foil dinners didn't fare so well and the potatoes turned a nasty looking black.  The tent nearly fell on us in the second night and it rained non-stop all that night.  My brother-in-law got sick.  And seriously, we saw two lizards, one coyote, one antelope and two llamas (yes, odd I know) in two days.  The animals don't even like it out there!

Now don't get me wrong, there were some good points which I will list here:
  • A pit toilet close by our campsite, hooray!  Gross, but oh-so-handy.
  • A lovely fire pit which we all sat and talked by the first night.  For some reason some of us were getting way too much humor from the kids singing the "Barney's Dead" song.
  • Beautiful wild flowers including cactus flowers and our state flower, the Sego Lily.
  • A cute, fat lizard which we wanted to catch, take home and name Harold.
  • Yep, that's about it.
    So with Summer Camping Trip #1 behind us, let's hope that our future excursions fare better!  Oh, and we won't be visiting the West Desert again anytime soon.

    REMINDER:  The Great American Backyard Campout is this Saturday, June 25th!!  If you haven't signed up yet, there's still time.  Be part of the fun!!

    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Having a Summer Party?

    Amy Adele Invitations

    This summer, we will be hosting the family 4th of July party in our backyard.  It's going to be a lot of fun and to get the party started, Amy Adele provided us with invitations to customize.  Amy Adele has literally tons of styles to chose from!  Since aerial fireworks are legal this year in Utah (waahooooo!!) we chose the fireworks party invitations.  Aren't they adorable!

    The customization process at Amy Adele is very easy and you can change your text, font colors, styles, etc.  You can really create invitations that are perfect for your event or party.  All invitations are printed on 100% post consumer recycled paper, yay!!

    We were thrilled with the professional and friendly service at Amy Adele as well as the super fast shipping.  When our invitations and envelopes arrived, they were all tied up with a ribbon and safely tucked inside a plastic bag and box.  Perfect and no bent corners, we couldn't be happier.

    If you're planning a Summer Birthday party and need kids birthday invites or maybe even a holiday party like us, Amy Adele can get you started with adorable invitations.  Amy Adele runs promotions on their website frequently so be sure to bookmark them and check back often. 

    Happy Summer partying!!

    I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using created by Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising. Tomoson Product reviewgiveaway Disclosure. &

    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Prospecting for Gold!

    Nature-Watch Gold Diggins Activity Kit

    Did you ever fantasize about being a gold prospector, huntin' for gold in them thar hills?  A few years ago we visited Alaska and were able to take a tour about the Alaska Gold Rush.  It was so exciting to pan for gold and see a recreation of a prospector tent town.  I was fascinated with the stories of the women in the Klondike and their part in the Gold Rush.  Still being part of Victorian society, these women, whether wife - business owner - saloon girl or even prospectors themselves, wore corset, long skirt, bonnet and bloomers to clean, cook on a fire and hike over mountain trails!  Can you imagine?

    Eldest son panning for gold in Alaska.

    How fun it is to imagine the romantic side of prospecting for gold.  The thrill of the chase, so to speak, the beautiful outdoors and the dream of striking it rich.  

    We'd like to introduce you to, a company committed to bringing incredible nature and science hands-on activities to families, home schools, camp groups, non-profits and academic institutions.  To top it off, they offer a wonderful Gold Diggins activity kit!!  Jeff from Nature-Watch was gracious enough to send us a kit to review and we absolutely loved the activity.  Our whole family got involved and 7-year old Eliza was beyond excited to find her "gold"!

    Included in the Gold Diggins Activity Kit is:
    • 2 pounds of iron pyrite ("fools gold"), 4 gold prospecting pans and 25 cloth bags (miner's pouches).
    • A balance scale and "weights" (washers) to measure findings.
    • A vial of real gold (for demonstration and dramatic purposes).
    • Books and resource materials to supplement the lesson.
    • An exclusive instructor's activity guide that makes planning the project easy and delivers loads of fun ideas for activities, games and relevant projects.
    Since we had gone camping along the Pony Express Trail, we trekked out to a small stream called Indian Springs and set up for panning gold.  This kit would be perfect for a home school group activity or summer camp workshop.

    The Gold Diggins kit comes with iron pyrite or fools gold, and plenty of it.  After discussing gold panning and prospecting, we had one person strategically place the shiny rocks at intervals along the stream (unbeknown to the group).  Each person had a turn using the included gold prospecting pans to swish around the stream contents and look for gold.

    Once everyone had their treasure, we headed back to the truck where we had set up the scale to weigh the gold.  The Gold Diggins kit has included small drawstring bags as well, to safely hold your gold.

    Nature-Watch is an incredible resource to help bring nature to life through doing.  Not only do they have kits like the one we tried, but kits that are more "crafty" in design and some that are more science related.  Some of the categories include Egypt, Gardening, Reptiles, Trees and Weather.  There is an activity kit for any lesson plan or group interest.  Plus, the kits are incredibly affordable for large groups and super fun for family parties and reunions. They would even work fabulously for kid birthday parties, like the Buccaneers/Pirate Activity for boys and the Hummingbird Flower Feeder Activity for girls. We highly recommend Nature-Watch!

    Visit Nature-Watch online and see their incredible selection of Activity Kits.