Shameless Promotion: The Super-Secret Edition

So in the last few weeks, we've found out that Julia Child was a spy, the KFC secret chicken recipe had to be transported by guards, Bank of America bought Merril Lynch in the middle of the night, and the Fed wants one guy to control $700 billion to keep us out of a recession. What's with all the secrets lately?

InspectorGadget Well, I'm tired of the secrets. I want to use this link roundup to do a little demystifying of my own. Enjoy these great articles; I sure did!

Car Dealerships Demystified at Get Rich Slowly
If you're thinking of getting another car or selling your own car, get inside the brain of a car dealer. Knowledge is power!

Your Credit Score Demystified Via BudgetsAreSexy and Wisebread
Even in my earliest blogging days, I knew how to get free credit reports. But a free score? Cool!

Thrift Store Fashion Demystified at DC Goodwill Blog
Thrift store shopping is a great way to save a few bucks. (I'm pretty well dressed and I'm sure if I told people over 50% of my closet is thrift store clothes, they'd be shocked.) DC Goodwill Blog is among the best fashion blogs I've seen because it talks about real things you could (or may already) actually own. If you want to hone your skills picking out good pieces at the discount stores, skim this blog for awhile.

Buying Stocks Demystified at Blunt Money
A mere few months ago, people thought you were kind of an idiot if you didn't own any stocks. Blunt Money reminds us to proceed with caution on these sorts of things and with the last couple weeks, I'd say thinking before buying is definitely smart.

Identity Theft Demystified from
I first heard from this guy on a podcast. Ok, so obituaries with your family's names in them could be used against you but come on. But while John Sileo is a little paranoid, he is right. There is lots of free stuff (at the very least advice and resources) on his site about how to reduce your risk of identity theft.

Adulthood Demystified at CheapHealthyGood
A few weeks ago, a theoretical course on adult hood geared for high school students was posted at Cheap Healthy Good. Check out parts one and two of the curriculum. Cool, huh? I'm going to read up on my weak points for sure.

So maybe there are some things that aren't so secret…Good thing, because while I am pretty good at keeping secrets, I certainly don't like to.

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Shameless Promotion: Cheap Entertainment Edition

So what are you doing this weekend? It's a question casually asked during the Office Mass Exodus Friday afternoons. I always want to have something interesting to say. This weekend, I see some apple picking, a diner breakfast with Sean, and lunch with a friend in my future.

There are lots of bloggers out there who have great ideas about cheap entertainment. I may have my Too Cute Tuesdays for crafting but here are some other great ideas if you left work today not quite knowing what to say about your weekend plans:

Learn A Musical Instrument (from The Simple Dollar)
You too can learn an instrument for cheap (though like any hobby, it can get expensive if you let it). Trent has some great tips, and even learned a Coldplay song on his own.

Read That Classic Book You Never Got Around To Reading (from Counting My Pennies)
Megan has two great resources for reading books online: one where you can download the entire book and one where sections of the book are emailed to you every day. Neat! Maybe now I can stop pretending I've read The Godfather.

Read Your Favorite Magazine Online- Page Flipping Included! (from USAToday)
Zinio lets you read through issues of your favorite magazines online. Just create an account and peruse!

Tackle A Few Weekend Projects Around The House (from The Simple Dollar)
Weekends are a good time to tackle a project around the house. Whether you're solving a problem or just taking some time to DIY and save money, it's a good idea to do these things on the weekend when there's time of naps and several trips to the hardware store. Bonus is you can usually rope someone else into helping you because they have time on their hands too!

Make An Ambitious Recipe – Like Peach Gnocchi (from 101 Cookbooks)
I used to cook way more during my days on the V-have but it doesn't mean I'm not up for a good take-all-day-to-cook recipe. 101 Cookbooks is one of my favorite food blogs (if you don't cook just look at the photos!). Heidi always has amazing recipes and today's post about peach gnocchi started off "if you want a project, this is it". Sounds a lot like a challenge to me. Also on the list to attempt one of those days I have hours of time on my hands is paella, a recipe which I have from my France host mom.

And if you haven't been inspired by any of those, I don't know what to say, other then perhaps you'd enjoy a nap. Happy weekend! Speaking of which, what are you up to?

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

I was over at a friend's house last night watching a Red Sox game (well, Sean was watching the game and we were socializing). This commerical kept coming on for It was a slick guy talking about ThingsWeBuy offering to buy your old watches and jewelry for a good price. You mail them in and they send you a check. An attractive gray haired lady is saying things like: "It was so easy. I just sent in my jewelry and got the check right away. It was a pleasure doing business with such a reputable company!"

In informercials, they say something like "Famous television actress BlahBlahBlah" to introduce someone who isn't really that famous. If people are famous, you don't have to say that they are. If a company is reputable, you shouldn't have to say so either.

I went to the website and found ThingsWeBuy is owned by a larger cooperation called Lippincott, LLC. And since they have a Better Business Bureau ad on their website, I thought I would look up this company's profile on the BBB website. 93 complaints in 36 months. Hmph. To see if that was normal, I looked up a few other companies in my area. Not only did the companies I looked up have a lot less complaints (Hannaford had 3 for example), but all the ones I looked up had a "satisfactory" rating on the top of their page. Lippincott, LLC did not. To be fair, I have no idea how big this company is and the BBB does not evaluate the validity of its complaints. Still though, doing research on this company did not put more at ease with sending jewelry to them. (Not that I would; I'm a personal finance blogger! I have my emergency stash already.)

So are these commericals coming on more often because of the economy or is it just that I haven't had television in awhile? Because if you are pawning your grandma's diamond jewelry or your Rolex you actually couldn't afford to begin with, you've got to need the cash bigtime. One way or the other, a little research into that internet company doesn't hurt and the BBB is a good place to start.

Check out an actual customer experience with this company at…
Look up a company at the Better Business Bureau's website…

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Shameless Promotion: Working Through The Pain Part II

Yes, I look about two rollerskates and a tattoo away from becoming part of a roller derby and most of you commenters liked my tough look. Here's another pose and a continuation of yesterday's link love having loosely to do with the twelve steps of recovery.

Wristguards2 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
How Big Is Your Halo?
According to a Freakonomics guest poster, we judge strangers on fairness more harshly then our friends and ourselves.

8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
Eva Longoria's Short Hair – And Weight Gain- Explained
I think People magazine needs to apologize to me and every other non-skinny person out there for this article (I linked it with its original title). Because Fat Eva Longoria (for a character who has "let herself go") looks an awful lot like Normal Nicole. Perhaps People can make amends with an America Ferrera article.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
Ten Steps To Financial Success For A Minimum Wage Earner
Trent at The Simple Dollar directly targets advice that few personal finance bloggers touch on: the minimum wage earner. The comments are as interesting as the post, some a little heated (clearly a compelling discussion).

10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
21 Ways To Make Your Blog Or Website Sticky
I'm taking constant inventory of my site and tweaking but good ol' Problogger challenges us to inventory things we haven't even thought about.

11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
Surround Yourself With Constant Reminders
Gather Little By Little is a God-based personal finance blog. I really liked this post from a few months ago about surrounding yourself with constant reminders as to why you are saving money (or I guess the operative action would be not spending money anyway). If you need a little boost, God-based or otherwise to improve your attempts at financial goals, check this out.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
I really enjoy this blog for the exact reason I get to interact with people who enjoy life without feeling the need to spend money they don't have. Check out the blog roll for some excellent examples of other people trying to pass on positive messages to others!

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Shameless Promotion: Working Through The Pain: Part 1

So it turns out I have a touch of carpal tunnel (which is apparently reversible) and a combination of my own and the doctor's solutions, I am on the mend. (Though it could be the 800 mg of pain reliever talking.)

In any case, my fabulous link list is getting long so tonight, I'm working it… Here are the links that helped heal me, or at least made were worth tweaking my wrist to read, organized with the help of the twelve steps to recovery.

Wristguards 1. We admitted we were powerless–that our lives had become unmanageable.
Given A Shovel, Americans Dig Deeper Into Debt (NYT)
A fabulous article about debt in America. If you can identify with any of these problems, step up and admit your life has become unmanageable.

2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
For Some Products, Prices Have Been Falling
Carpe Diem reminds us of the bright side and restores those of us in hysteria over the economy to our senses.

3. Made a decision to turn our will, and our lives, over to the care of God as we understood Him.
Top Five Conspiracies of Science
A fellow Maine blogger at Leave The Lights On has some pretty interesting stuff to say about scientific theories. I don't necessarily agree but thought enough of the article to put it on my list of things to mull over.

4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
Are Your PR Efforts Working?
Kiplingers challenges us to take an inventory of our PR efforts. Hopefully you are doing things like setting measurable goals and objectives but it doesn't hurt to have a remind.

5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
Carnival of Money Stories
Hosted at Stop the Ride, a bunch of us shared our money stories, some of which involved our wrongs.

6. We entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
I am certainly ready for the massage I scheduled next week to remove all my defects!

So since my arm is going numb, shameless promotion continues tomorrow with the other six steps and more fun links. Plus a special bonus post… Freaky Friday: The Bad Date Mini-Series continues.

Stay healthy!

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.

Shameless Promotion and The Periodic Table

Periodictable Remember the periodic table? I sure do!

A few years ago, in what feels like a complete other life, I taught high school chemistry. That’s right. I didn’t follow through (at least not yet) in a teaching career for a few reasons. 1) I was young at the time and routinely mistaken as one of the kids (despite dressing up every day so to appear different from them) 2) I was intimidated as hell  and 3) no matter how animated you are, unless you are making things explode, you have twenty faces looking back at you like this:


Maybe someday I’ll do this teaching bit again, folks. Just not now.

But somehow I got to thinking about the periodic table today, probably because I read a blurb that the first word written in neon lights was, indeed, neon. Thought I would use the periodic table as the piece that tied all my links together. Ready, class? Let’s crack some books…

The lightest stuff besides hydrogen but way less explosive. Has the added benefit of making people laugh when they suck it in.

Scanner blog Ok so I’ll just say it, this blog is way funnier than mine. Completely inappropriate I can’t read it at work 1) because it’s indecent and 2) I laugh out loud everytime. Celebrity gossip, funny videos, and pop culture fun, it’s light and fun.

Necessary to life as we know it. Combines with hydrogen to make water, helps drive photosynthesis. Elemental (ha!)

Six Essential Money Skills Kiplingers has got you covered with six things everyone should know, especially your kids before they leave home.

Element that makes up all organic things. Something that is becoming of increasing concern to people as global warming finally hits the mainstream.

Briefs from Xconomy Xconomy is a great blog about not only economical things but really interesting things. These are the kind of nuggets of knowledge that make you think (not to mention sound smart) without reading The Economist from cover to cover.It is one of my favorite blogs I subscribe to. This particular link I saved has briefs about increased kidney stones due to global warming, using the ocean to sequester carbon, and a new kind of battery. This post gets kudos for actually mentioning at least three different elements (at least that I noticed).

Strengthens bones. A common additive to drinking water that works well in small amounts.

Your Financial Life on One Page (FLOP) Lynnae at Being Frugal has given me the great idea of compiling everything from my financial life (regular bills, bank account numbers, etc.) onto one page. Simple and invaluable in an emergency situation.

Yellow powdery element. Smells (and probably tastes) bad.

13 Things Your Waiter Won’t Tell You I got this link from Cheap Healthy Good. Talk about ruining your appetite but you should totally read this to affirm your at home cooking.

Cheap Wine According to Freakonomics, the your average bunch of economists (and therefor the average person) can not tell a good wine from a cheap wine in a blind taste test. So much for blaming the sulfites. 

A noble gas and the only true weapon against Superman.

The Annoying Scrapers Edition Gather Little By Little talks about how people have been ripping off his posts and putting them on their sites. Then they just put a bunch of Google ads on the blog and hope that your work brings them money without giving you credit. Other bloggers talked about it this week too, so I looked into it. I was shocked to find that this has actually happened to me. Someone took my writing sans permission and put it on their site. The only true weapon against bloggers (or any writers really) is stealing their words to make money.

More links another time but for now, it’s time to relax. Class dismissed!

Image of periodic table from

Image of bored kid from

Nicole runs Breaking Even Communications, an internet marketing company in Bar Harbor Maine. When she’s not online, she enjoys walking her short dog, cooking with bacon, and trying to be outdoorsy in Acadia National Park.
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