Sunday, December 24, 2017

Embracing Grief at the Holidays

I think most of us can remember a time we loved the holidays.  Santa Claus. Our grandparents giving us huge hugs -- and even bigger gifts.  The smells of the once a year treats from the oven, and laughter of cousins.  I think for many of us somewhere along the way the magic of Christmas has turned into dread or endurance.

My husband and I didn't put up a Christmas tree this year.  It has always been my favorite part of Christmas.  I love looking through the ornaments and remembered so many good times.  The doll my 2nd grade teacher made out of a pack of lifesavers and a styrofoam ball head.  Yes, I have a roll of 34 year old candy in my Christmas decorations.  I loved my teacher, and the fact she made something for me was so special.  (She made one for each of us in our class.)But then there are the other ornaments.  Childhood creations from people who won't speak to me any longer.  Ornaments bought on years the holidays wouldn't be considered "good".  The year a family member threw out all the gifts I gave him.  

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Tech Savvy Senior Citizens And Smart Phone Options

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post from U.S. Cellular.  

I was a caregiver for my mother for years.  One of the things that was difficult for her was making the switch from a land line to a cell phone.  I wish I knew then what I know now about mobile phones and the elderly. 

Now just over 40% of adults 65 and over have a smart phone.  That is up from 18% in 2013!  It's no wonder either with all the features the iPhone 8 Plus and the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 provide.

For many seniors, they may have difficulty with eyesight, hearing, or dexterity.  That can intimidate some shoppers. Most smartphones have an "Accessibility" option in the settings where users can increase font size, activate high contrast and set voice controls! 

I have a friend a friend who is deaf, and would you believe she has a smartphone!  Did you know that most smartphones now allow closed captioning and LED flash notifications.  Of course, she uses text to communicate.  Reality is, even if someone is totally deaf, a smartphone can open up a world of communication to them. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Owl That Was Afraid Of The Dark Children's book

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains Affiliate links.

The Owl That Was Afraid of the Dark is an adorable picture book that is also interactive for children.

The beginning of the book there is a 'hole' in the page where Owl is looking out of her tree.  The next page has a lift the flap where you can see some foxes. This is talking about her being afraid of the dark and not getting to play with her friends because they come out at night.

When she receives an invitation to go flying with a friend, children can unfold the letter.

The moon sees her sad and has a talk with her about how she can know that God is always with her even if she can't see Him and she doesn't need to be afraid.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Why It's Not Worth Going Into Debt for the Holidays

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

When I was growing up, we had a LARGE tree, and the underneath was filled with TONS of packages.

We all got gifts -- cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents -- and multiple gifts from each person.  It was total chaos of bows, ribbons, wrapping paper, and Under Roos.

Monday, December 4, 2017

She Reads Truth Bible Review

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.  I received a free copy of this Bible to review.  All opinions are my own.

My very first impression of the She Reads Truth Bible was "It's Heavy!"as it is almost four pounds.  There is  the She Reads Truth Bible was how heavy it is.  Weighing in at just under four pounds, it's nearly the weight of the barbells I use to work out.  (Puts a whole new meaning on strengthening yourself in the Word, doesn't it?)  I have made heavy Bibles my main Bible in the past, so I wouldn't discount this just because of the weight.  There is the a lighter version in LeatherTouch weighing in at 3.2 pounds.  However the hardcover Bible does come in its own slipcover making it extra nice, and the color is really pretty.  (The official color is "Poppy" but I kind of think of it as a rose-peach.  This would look beautiful on any bookshelf with a display of nice looking books.

The only version it comes in is the Contemporary English Version, also known as the CEV.  This is a version that was produced by the American Bible Society.  In my opinion it would be nice to have other versions available because this is such a nice Bible.

Friday, December 1, 2017

8 Ideas for Keeping Christ in Advent

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

At the church I attended when I was really little, there was little celebration in the way of holidays with the exception of the Christmas pageant and something mentioned in Sunday School.  I still remember my line from the pageant the year before I was in the angel choir.    I'll be a little light too, and quietly shine the way.  I'll do my part, with all my heart, to shine for Him each day.

I didn't realize until just a few years ago that Advent is NOT a celebration, but a longing.  A yearning for Christ to appear.  I have always loved the song "Oh Come Oh Come Emmanuel".  The tune is so haunting, so mournful.  I always thought after I was a teenager the Christmas season began on the first Sunday of Advent and ended on Christmas Day, but Advent is the time of preparation for the Christ Child.

Advent and Lent have a lot of similarities.  When observed the way that has been done traditionally, there's a lot of focus on what is about to come.

But how in this busy world do we take time out from Christmas parties, shopping, and decorating to focus our hearts?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Managing Children's Smartphone Useage

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post, all opinions are my own.

It feels like the holidays have been in full swing for a while now.  I've already finished my Christmas shopping, and now I just need to find the time to wrap the gifts.  While I don't have children, one gift that I know is popular each year is giving a child a cell phone -- or upgrading your device and giving them your old one.

In 2016, U.S. Cellular did a survey about mobile phone usage.

Did you know that on average parents began letting children use their smartphones or tablets at age eight? 

Participants in this survey said the appropriate age for a child to receive their first cellphone is 13, which is down from 14 years old just five years ago.  Even so, more than half of the parents surveyed said their child had a cell phone, and the average age of the child when receiving it was eleven.

Safety is the top reason parents purchase a cell phone for their child.  It's a crazy world we live in today!  Being able to check in with your child and have her check in with you can give everyone great peace of mind.  In fact, 59% of parents said safety was the number one reason they decided to gift their tween a mobile device.

Three out of four parents also monitor their child's cell phone usage on a frequent basis.  Having talks about how they use their iPhone or Samsung device can give everyone -- including the child relief as to knowing what is expected.  You might think this is just for them, but if you require them to tell you about any bullying or other inappropriate behavior, it gives them peace of mind to know you are open to discussing difficult situations online with your child.   

It's not always easy to come up with guidelines to discuss with your child, and U.S. Cellular would like to help out.  Just visit the site   This is a FREE resource for everyone!  One of my favorite things about this contract between you and your child is the parent can promise to use their iPhone 8 safely -- for instance you can promise to never text and drive -- so it isn't just your child who has guidelines.  Children learn by example, and this is a great way to model responsible cell phone use! 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

10 Children's Christmas books that Should Be in Your Home Library

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

Are you looking for some new, fun Christmas stories?  Looking for some books to use to make Christmas
memories?  Here are some of my favorites and why I like them.  Most are under $10, one is under $2.50, so you won't break the bank to add one or more of these to a stocking this year!  While I'm sure you have heard of some of these, I expect a few will be new ones to you, and hopefully they will turn into beloved favorites like they have here!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Total Christmas Makeover by Melissa Spoelstra

FTC disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.

The Total Christmas Makeover By Melissa Spoelstra.

Normally I don't care for devotionals.  I went to a Christian college, so I have quite extensive Bible knowledge.  Also, I have been through a lot in life, and it seems often devotionals that are so fluffy it is like they are reminding women that God loves them even on a bad hair day.  If I can find one that is just right for me, then the picking up the book, reading one devotional, bookmarking it, setting it back down, and then having to find it the next day often seems a little too much trouble.  (Thankfully this is now remedied with e-books.)

But Christmas.  I have always loved Christmas.  I don't have kids, plus very little family.  The last few years I have just spent Christmas Day by myself, taking a nap, reading a book, or even working.  My husband gets time and a half on Christmas and we live too far from any family to be able to visit, so the last few years, Christmas has been like any other day to us.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Descriptions and Prescriptions by Michael R Emlet

FTC disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book to review.  This post may contain affiliate links.

I studied psychology in college.  I didn't expect this book to be anything new to me, but I wanted to read it to see how the concept was presented to pastors and other church leaders in helping those who are mentally ill.  Mental illness is a real -- it's not something we can say to them everything would be fine if they just pray more -- in fact instead of helping, that can be harmful in discouraging the truly sick to avoid going to a psychiatrist.  My grandmother landed in the hospital multiple times over her life because her pastor encouraged her to go off her medication -- without consulting her doctors or being weaned off of it.  Then there are times that someone knows there is a sin issue causing them problems and a pastor just says to go to Christian counseling.  Can there be a good balance between faith and trust in God and medicines that help improve functioning?  I believe so.  And I am happy to say that the author of Descriptions and Prescriptions thinks so as well.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Don't Kill The Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life

This post contains affiliate links.

 In  Don't Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, Sandra Beasley presents a sad but at the same time humorously written account of life with multiple food allergies.  Weddings?  As careful as she is, nearly half of them have left her gasping for air during an allergic attack.  Traveling overseas?  Don't forget plenty of meds, they may not have the same food items available.   
What a joy when a doctor relative gifts you with six months of allergy samples -- or they make them in a different way by compounding medicine.  While this is a memoir, I learned a lot about food allergies and some of the theories behind them. Do Bambas help reduce the risk of nut allergies? Did you know that China doesn't have the incidence of peanut allergies the United States does?  Does dry roasting peanuts make a difference in the higher rate of peanut allergies in America?  While that's not known, she does present some interesting facts about food allergies sprinkled through the book.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Macular Degeneration Can Happen in Any Family

My dad was a volunteer fireman for  nearly 50 years.  He first volunteered because his town had so few firefighters that they allowed the boys to leave school if there was a fire if they had joined.  So, naturally, what sixteen year old didn't want to get out of school?  He signed up, and volunteering because his lifeblood.

By the time I was ten, he had a slew of health problems from heart disease to high cholesterol to diabetes.  The one thing that no one was very concerned about at that time was the health of his eyes.

My mom grew up around books and as a child she plunked out stories on the 1915 Oliver typewriter her family owned from the coal mine business.  As I grew up she wrote stories for me, which I treasure.  She would love to read of an evening, and as a child on winter evenings we would curl up together on the couch under an afghan each of us with our own book and a cup of hot chocolate.  She didn't get her eyes checked regularly because it wasn't covered under her insurance.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Making the Dinner Table Family Time

This is a sponsored post on behalf of U.S. Cellular.

I think most of us have always thought that sharing a meal together is good for spirit, brain, and health of all family members.  The Family Dinner Project has confirmed that.  October is Eat Better, Eat Together Month, but I really think every month of the year this concept should be practiced.  In fact, I often stay up very late until my husband arrives home from work for us to have dinner together.  (We do not have children, so this is possible.) 

When he works late, the responsibility for fixing dinner is on me.  While I use my cookbook collection (remember those?) my husband, on his nights to cook, prefers using apps.  It's not uncommon for me to wander into the kitchen and I ask what is for dinner and see him searching Yummly on his iPhone 8.  Sometimes he uses the AllRecipes Dinner Spinner to seek out something interesting to cook for dinner.  (Yes, ladies, you can be jealous that my husband considers cooking a hobby!  I realize how lucky I am!) 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

My 5 Favorite Fall / Halloween Children's Books From My Childhood

This post contains affiliate links.  When you click through a link, I get a small referral fee at no additional cost to you.

I love doing these posts to help introduce a new generation to some of my childhood favorites.  I hope you find something you and your child enjoy here.

The one Halloween book that stands out to me most is Grandpa's Ghosts Stories.  I'm not the only one who would put this at the top of the list -- it FINALLY came back into print after the ones from the late 70s and early 80s were going for huge prices on eBay and Amazon.  (I have to confess, I sold mine once when I desperately needed the $60 it was going for.)  Now that it is back in print, I plan to get another copy!  But enough about the high prices this one could fetch, let's get to what I remember about the book.   It was fun, and I think you would enjoy love it.  There's a scary thunderstorm out, and Grandpa starts telling stories of things that are a lot scarier -- like a witch that turns little boys into spiders.  I got it from Weekly Reader book club about 1979, and it's the first book I think of when I think of Halloween.  (Although this isn't exactly a Halloween book, the content is appropriate for the season.)

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The KJV Know the Word Study Bible & Kindle Fire Giveaway

This post contains affiliate links.

Diving deeper into God's Word can be easy and rewarding if you break it down book by book, verse by verse, or topic by topic with the new KJV Know The Word Study Bible by Thomas Nelson. The book-by-book series of notes leads you through the main points of each book of the Bible. The verse-by-verse notes help you to dig deeper into God’s Word. The topic-by-topic articles, which cover 21 theological topics, guide you through a series of insightful notes and give you a thorough biblical understanding of each topic. With the beautiful and timeless text of the KJV translation, the KJV Know the Word Study Bible offers you choices of how to study Scripture and grow in your relationship with Christ.

This fall, become a regular student of the Bible and enter to win the Kindle Fire giveaway!


One grand prize winner will receive:

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on October 31. The winner will be announced November 1 on the Litfuse blog.

  • A copy of the KJV Know The Word Study Bible

  • A Kindle Fire 7

  • A Kindle Fire case (winner's choice)

Friday, September 22, 2017

Matthew West's All In Album -- Power! Love! Sound Mind!

I have always loved Matthew West's albums.  They deal with real life.  They give hope, and they have always met or exceeded my expectations.  So when I was given the opportunity to review this album, I immediately was excited about it.

The Album is called All In, but I'm torn between what songs are my favorite.  I believe I have a new "anthem" for my life at the present.  But I'm thinking it's going to be three songs right in a row on this CD.

Track 10:  Power Love Sound Mind
Track 11:  Never Ever Give Up
Track 12:  Dream Again

While I have to admit that one thing that makes these three tracks especially stand out to me is my state is mentioned in Never Ever Give Up.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Use Your Talents for a Christmas Without Debt!

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

Do you ever get to the holiday season and panic?  Wonder where the money is going to come from to buy gifts, decorations, cards, and all the foods and candies that in our mind seem to make our December the most costly month of the year?  Do you wonder how you can cut down on the stress of the holiday and do more than just survive but actually do something you haven't done since you were a child -- ENJOY Christmas to the fullest?

The goal of this series is to arrive at Christmas without debt and to be better prepared.  Christmas isn't an emergency, and it's something we can plan for, and planning takes preparation and time.  This month I'm going to focus on homemade gifts.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

The Money Challenge by Art Rainer

This post contains referral links.

The Money Challenge:  30 Days of Discovering God's Design for You and Your Money by Art Rainer is a short book, but stuffed with content.   At only 148 pages (and in a smaller sized hardcover book, at that!), this book is an easy read to get anyone started on their financial plan.

Being a savings and finance blogger, there was nothing new to me here, but I like to review books like this to let my readers see what is out there as resources.  This book is one that I would highly recommend.

Even though I am good with money, I am not where I would like to be in life with my bank account.  Part of that is because I took care of my sick mother for so long, meaning I couldn't get a job outside the house.  So, I feel like I'm starting again when it comes to money.  I'm sure I'm not the only one in mid-life like this.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

College Then and College Now

This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.  May contain referral links.

School is in full swing at the university town near me.  I'm in the city about once a week and I always see college students with their backpacks full of books, hearts full of dreams and a mobile phone in hand.

As I look at the new generation of students at my Alma Mater, I have to think back to my days of school in a non-tech world.  I not only had to go to a computer lab to check e-mail as no one had computers at that time, but we also had to take a floppy disk with us to be able to access our e-mail.  We were unreachable unless we were in our dorm room, and the only way we could watch a movie was to go out and rent something on VHS.

So how has technology changed how one goes to school?  Many different ways.  I remember taking an off campus class when I was in college.  The lectures were on TV on the public TV station in the early morning hours.  I had to set my VCR to tape them.  (And I waited until near the end of the semester and my VHS tape broke, so I wasn't able to access any lectures!  I still made a C in the class even though I basically didn't go all semester.)

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Gift Ideas for Missionaries. Overseas Workers, And Other ExPatriots

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links where I earn a small percentage of a sale at no additional cost to you.

Because of shipping times, if you want to send your favorite (or a random!) missionary who is overseas a package for Christmas, you better get the package ready soon.  Don't know what to send? This is an adapted list of things friends of mine who are missionaries would LOVE to receive in a package from home.  Some things are inexpensive and can't be bought overseas, but might be heavy and cost more to ship.  But there are some things that are smaller and light weight that would be less expensive to mail.

Electronic Gifts:
Amazon Gift cards -- most missionaries have a Kindle.  Or they could download a new album.  You can send a gift card in as little as $1, so don't think you have to spend a lot.  If several people sent a small amount, they could get a new book.

Paypal or Money -- send them some cash -- they may live in a place that sounds exotic to us, but they don't always have the resources to do something fun in their host country.  You could even say "Take the kids to McDonalds for dinner" or "treat yourselves to a date night" or just tell them to do something fun.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Planning a Wedding that Honors Christ

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links

Fifteen years ago, I went to what I considered the most Christian wedding I ever experienced.  From the beginning to the end of the ceremony, it honestly felt as if it was a church service.  After that, I always wanted to fashion my wedding after it.  When I was newly engaged, I got advice from lots of people as to what I should do, what books, planners, etc., were most helpful, but believe it or not, the one I used the most was A Christ Centered Wedding.  This book included everything I had hoped to find in a Christian wedding planning book, and also gave my husband to be and I some great discussions as to what we hoped to accomplish at the wedding and reception -- and some things we wanted to leave out -- such as alcohol and dancing -- and how to handle that with people who put those expectations on our wedding.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Book Review: Fierce Women by Kimberly Wagner

FTC disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.  

Growing up in church I was taught the importance of being meek and mild.  The verse in  First Peter where women should have a gentle and quiet spirit was impressed on me.  I wasn’t the most lady-like girl in the youth group and I always thought I was failing to live up to what God expected from me.  So when I saw that Moody Publishers was offering Fierce Women:  The Power of a Soft Warrior by Kimberly Wagner for review, I couldn’t wait to request it.

The author believes that God has instilled a fierceness within every woman.  I have always been a go-getter and this really interested me -- what if my personality isn’t something to always squelch but to embrace as God-given?  The thought really intrigued me.

Yet, this was a book much about marriage.   I’m not married, but I am dating a wonderful man.  Learning about what works and doesn’t work in marriage is something that I find helpful at this stage because I feel like what I learn now is preparation.  Sort of like studying for an exam.  Yet, even with this being a book about marriage, I still gleaned a lot of wisdom from this volume especially since I wanted to see how to be godly and fierce at the same time.

I loved the list of how humility affects a fierce woman.  I think the defining one for me is she’s a soft warrior.  Not harsh.  She gets the job done in her own kind way.   Other advice she gives through the book is to watch how we give advice to men (I’m learning that already.  I might be excited about a completed project and rattle on about that, but instead of it sounding like I’m just looking forward to completion, it might be interpreted differently by a man.)  I also loved how she described how the marriage relationship parallels Christ and the Church.  This is something I think hasn’t been taught on enough in Christianity. 

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Get Outside Geocaching-- With Your Phone!

This is a sponsored post from U.S. Cellular.  All opinions are my own.

Did you know it's American Adventures month?  In celebration of it, the National Park Service is waving admittance fees on August 25.  That's right, you can visit a national park for FREE!  Many of the apps I mention in this post are fantastic for helping to explore anywhere outdoors.

One hobby my husband and I enjoy which is NOT allowed in a national park is geocaching.  (Many states allow it in state parks, and some states actually set up geocaches in their parks.) It's a fun app for everyone for your phone.  Geocaches are rated from 1/1 (the easiest) to 5/5 (the most difficult)  Kids really love the adventure as it's like an outdoor  treasure hunt.  All 1/1 geocaches are free on the app, but you need to pay a fee to have access to others.  In addition, all the 1/? caches are wheelchair accessible! Because I have U.S. Cellular as my service provider, their "in the middle of anywhere" service makes it super easy to stay connected to loved ones or to my Geocaching app!

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Great Deal on Hamburger Helper and Milk 8/19/17

This post contains affiliate links.

This is certainly a your milage may vary offer, but I just did this deal and I wanted to share it.

I had a $5 off $25 coupon for Dollar General, so I stopped in.  (I'm not even going to mention the savings from that in this offer.)

I found Hamburger Helper on sale for $1 each.
There were $1 off 2 coupons on the boxes.

Buying 4, that cost $2. I bought a gallon of milk for $2.75

Total cost at store was $4.75 for four boxes of Helper and a gallon of milk.

When I got home, I submitted my receipt to to receive $2.75 back on the milk.

Then I went into my SavingStar app and redeemed the rebate for $1 back on 4 Tuna or Hamburger Helpers.

I went into Ibotta and redeemed for 25 cents back on any purchase.

Finally, I went into the Boxtops for Education App and snapped a photo of my receipt for an extra 8 boxtops for the school of my choice.

Final breakdown:
4 Hamburger Helpers = $4
gallon of milk = $2.75
Total:  $6.75

Minus in store coupon of $1 off 2 (use two) $2     $4.75
Minus SavingStar money back = $1                      $3.75
Minus Ibotta money back  = .25                            $3.50
Minus milk refund  = $2.75                                   $0.75

So for 75 cents I bought 4 boxes of Helper, a gallon of milk, and between the Boxtops on the boxes and the ones I collected extra, I earned  $1.20 for the school of my choice.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Pizza Hut Rewards & Travel Hack for App Ordering

I received no compensation for this post.  I just wanted to make everyone aware of the points program and the app!

Did you know about the new Pizza Hut "Hut Rewards" program?  Since I love to earn points on all kinds of things, I signed up when I heard about it.  Unfortunately, you can't earn rewards unless you order on the app or online.  (So there goes points for my occasional lunch buffet purchase.) But it's super easy to sign up.  The rewards seem reasonable, too.  I hate "rewards" programs where you have to earn for years to earn anything.  It only takes 200 points to get a free medium pizza, and last night, our $10 order yielded us 36 points.  (Too bad this didn't exist a few months ago when we ordered 4 pizzas to take a a work crew of teenagers who were volunteering time to help repair homes in our area for people who couldn't afford to hire it done, but next year, when I order online, I'll be happy to know our order counts for points!)

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The 100% Legal Way to Get PAID to use Coupons!

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

I love using coupons.  I love to go to the grocery store or CVS or Walgreens, and have a cart filled with items, and then scan my card, hand the cashier a bunch of slips of paper (coupons) and then have my total come down dramatically -- sometimes even free!

Yet, as much as I love using coupons, I just found this new trick to making money when you redeem them.

Okay, so it's not money on the outset, but you can turn it into money eventually.

How to Protect Your Phone from Water and Summer Heat

FTC disclosure:  This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.  This post may contain affiliate links.

What if I told you the best way to protect your iPhone 7 from heat and water is to stay indoors all summer?  Well, that would likely do the trick unless you dropped your phone in the toilet, but it wouldn't be very much fun, would it?  Well, here's a few ideas on how you can have fun and protect your phone.

With many manufactures recommend keeping a phone between 32 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit ( zero through thirty-five Centigrade) summer is a time you need to make sure your phone doesn't exceed the maximum recommended temperature.  If a phone overheats, the insides may become damaged, causing different problems from data loss to the battery could leak, or even explode and ruin the device completely.  I don't know about you, but I want my vacation photos of us visiting a town in Wisconsin that had a ton of trolls.  When you get my husband and me near a statue, we love taking goofy photos, and our photos of our trip through the midwest is something I want to keep forever.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

A Dozen Tip for Getting Low Cost (and even FREE) Diapers!

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.
Diapers are a huge expense for parents of babies.  Is there any way to get inexpensive diapers?  What about free diapers?   My answer is a RESOUNDING YES.

First I would encourage you to start stocking up as soon as you know you are pregnant (or if you are a relative, as soon as you hear the announcement.)  Diaper deals are often limited, but starting early and being in the know can help you maximize your savings.

Toys R Us suggests the following quantity of diapers:
Newborn / Size 1   320
Size 2                     870
Size 3                     870
Size 4                     728

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Five Great Tips for Social Media Etiquette

FTC disclosure:  This is a sponsored post on behalf of U.S. Cellular.

I love being on social media.  I spend a bit more time on it than I would like, but it's a great way to catch up with my friends from high school and college.  I plan my annual "Party in the Park" on social media, and even my guinea pig has a Facebook page.  Because of social media apps, I am on my U.S. Cellular iPhone 7 Plus more than ever.  I try not to use it at inappropriate times or too much in front of others.   In fact, 71% of people surveyed who own smartphones get upset with other smartphone users for excessive phone use.

In addition to being aware of how much time you are spending on your phone, here are some other tips for you to make the most of your social media experience.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

How I Host a Summer Party On a Small Budget

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

Some years back, I won an ice cream party from Edy's.  I won another the next year, and from then on everyone assumed it was an annual event.  One thing about ice cream is it's not that expensive.

I invite everyone I know, and I can usually figure the number that RSVP will be the number that show up -- usually it's right on the nose even though some people come who didn't RSVP, but there are always those who don't show.  So by the week of, I have a pretty good idea how many to plan for.

It's a really casual event, so when purchasing party supplies, I keep an eye open all year long.  This year I found lots of Christmas tablecloths, Emoji paper plates in different sizes, and even napkins at the Dollar General 25 cent after Christmas clearance. With some of the tablecloths just being red, no one has to know it was intended for Christmas.

Because our backyard is small for a crowd of about 50, I started renting the pavilion in the park.  It has electric, so that makes it fantastic. There is also nice play equipment for the kids. The downside of this is the logistics of having ice cream in the park in summer aren't exactly easy.  So, I often make my own ice cream cake as this holds up well in the heat.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Book Review: The Inkblots Hermann Rorschach and his Iconic Test

FTC disclaimer:  I received a copy of the book for review purposes from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

I was a psychology major in college.  Yet, we barely touched on Rorschach.   My first exposure to the test (which, incidentally, the inventor never called a test) was in junior high school when I was undergoing a battery of tests because I was in the Gifted and Talented class.  After about two cards I was bored and gave one word answers so I could move on to something more interesting.  I mean, why should I have to mention everything in the card?  Wouldn't that take forever?  And what did it help anyone to know my opinion of abstract art?

So, when I had the chance to review The Inkblots: Hermann Rorschach, His Iconic Test, and the Power of Seeing, I was intrigued.  Maybe I could learn more about the man who came up with this standard psychology assessment and also have an idea of how it worked.  This book didn't disappoint.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Ways We Saved Money on Our Wedding

FTC disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

Weddings can be expensive, and we went over budget -- ours cost under $3,000 and we had 150 people in attendance and flew our entertainment in from Florida -- a master illusionist who did a magic show instead of having a traditional dance.  Overall, I expect our wedding would have cost about $20,000 if I hadn't done everything I could to save money.  Here are a few of the things I did.

Win everything you can.  There are so many sweepstakes and contests open to just engaged couples.  I won our save the date cards, lollipops with our photos on them as favors, invitations, a Walmart gift card we used for food, and plenty more various things.  Sometimes you get entries by starting a registry somewhere (doesn't mean you have to use it!), or at bridal fairs or other places.  Enter everything you can because people do win!

Sunday, May 21, 2017


The deal on this is over, but I received my order.  Some people didn't.  Guess it was hit and miss or who ordered first or something.

Friday, May 19, 2017

5 Tips for Using Your Phone at Music Festival or Hobby Convention

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

Growing up, I loved summer camp.  In fact, last year I took my husband to "family camp", and we had a blast.  I thought my summer camp days were over when I graduated high school but I learned there is so much more out there that I go to and experience -- and much of it is special interest related. This summer I am hoping to go to a church's general assembly so I can attend the alumni banquet for one of my colleges.  Next summer I hope to go to the national sweepstakes convention.

One thing I never leave behind, though, is my iPhone 7 plus from U.S. Cellular.  Because U.S. Cellular has nationwide coverage, I've had service from Maine to California and points in between.  (Yes, I know this for a fact -- I have traveled to both coasts and still have been able to keep in touch with friends.)  I'm not alone in using my phone to assist in planning my trips.  Nearly four out of five people do the same.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Book Review: You're Already Amazing

FTC Disclosure:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.

Review of You're Already Amazing by Holly Gerth:

I like reading books for Christian women.  I honestly do, but many times I feel I can't relate to them.  I don't struggle with wondering if I'm "good enough" (I am), if I'm pretty enough (If looks matter that much, that person isn't someone I would want to have in my life), or if my feelings are okay (My mother always taught me you can't help your feelings.  They are what they are.) So many times I am thinking, "Are these the biggest issues facing Christian women today?" (I do think they are, but I just can't relate!)  That's how this book started -- me enjoying reading the book, but not much in it for me until. . .

Friday, May 12, 2017

What About the Women on Mother's Day

What about the women on Mother's Day who have been trying to conceive and can't?
What about the women on Mother's Day who have had a miscarriage (or several.)
What about the women on Mother's Day who have given a child up for adoption?
What about the women on Mother's Day who are a foster mom?
What about the women on Mother's Day who have dedicated their life to God in celibacy? (Nuns)
What about the women on Mother's Day who are a mother only because they were raped?
What about the women on Mother's Day who are in the process of adopting?
What about the women on Mother's Day who have had their only child pass away?
What about the women on Mother's Day whose child is in prison?
What about the women on Mother's Day who aren't married?
What about the women on Mother's Day whose own mothers are deceased?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

May 2017 Life Update

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

The day my friend Donnie Williams passed away, I caught a cold.  I pretty much just got over it this past weekend.  Whenever I catch a cold, it hits me hard, and this one stuck around for six and a half weeks.  So, I did a lot of sleeping during the month of April, and in early May.  Add to the fact one of my best friends passed away, and that had me extremely sad and I would have been sleeping a lot for that reason as well.

My husband is on a pretty regular work schedule now, with his weekend being Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.  Since I work at home, I use those as my days off as well so we can spend time together and then I can get lots of work done while he is at his shift.  That's why I have been posting on an odder schedule than usual.

Monday, May 8, 2017

How to Clearance Shop at Walgreens!

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

I love to go clearance shopping at Walgreens.  I never know what I might find, and it is as easy as walking up and down every aisle.

Walgreens makes clearance shopping extremely easy with bright orange tags for the items they need to get rid of.  While there is a section for clearance items, I have often found better bargains in other parts of the store.

While with food you do need to keep an eye on expiration dates, many times it is just a seasonal item that they are not carrying for the time being.  An example is I bought boxes of Turkey Flavored Stove Top Stuffing after Thanksgiving for only 49 cents a box!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Warning; The Mother's Day Survey on Facebook is a Security Risk

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

There is a survey going around Facebook asking about your first born.  If you want to fill it out, PLEASE eliminate some of the information on it because it puts your child (no matter their age, and unfortunately even if they are deceased) at risk for identity theft and fraud.

One of the questions asks what day they were born.  Another asks how old they are now.  It's easy to find out Sally was born January 1, 1980.

Another question asks where they were born.  This is a VERY common security question -- and one even asked for official documents such as passports.  Social Security numbers are coded by birth, and it wouldn't take a hacker very long to come up with Sally's actually Social Security Number once they find out where and when she was born.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Why We Shouldn't Be Self Righteous About Other People's Addictions

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

There is a blog post going around about how addiction is not a disease and that one chose to be an addict.

When you were in school, how many kids did you hear say, "I want to be a meth addict when I grow up."

Unfortunately, drugs often are used as coping skills.  Did you know that 88% of female drug addicts were sexually abused.   Of course there are women who have not been sexually abused who do not use drugs, but that's a staggering fact to me.  Would you say to a little girl who was abused by her father, "You chose this!"  Of course you wouldn't (or at least I hope you wouldn't.)  If you have not been in her shoes, you don't understand her choices.

I am NOT saying being an addict is a good thing, but how many of us have no addiction to anything? It might not be drugs or alcohol, but what about cutting, food, sex, or even caffeine.  (Yes, caffeine is an addictive substance.  Remember that next time you are in line at Starbucks!)

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Budapest Hungary Cat Cafe

Last month, my husband and I visited Budapest Hungary.  I'm not much of a cat person, but he is, so when I saw the card at our hotel for 10% off if you took in the card, I decided going to the cat cafe could be interesting.

I'd never heard of such a thing, but I don't have TV, so it's not unusual for me to miss news of unique things like this.  From my understanding, there are a number of these in the world.

The food was good, and everything cat cat themed.  There were rules for visiting, such as the cats had the reign of the cafe, no flash photography, etc.

To keep things sanitary, the food was prepared in an area closed off by glass so the cats couldn't get in the food prep area.  The cats' litter box was downstairs.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Book Review: The Departed by Kristy Cooper

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

I went to a Christian college for two years, and one night we decided to play a joke on someone to make her think the rapture happened and she was left behind.  This was in the days before the Left Behind series, and we thought we were so clever -- there were stereos playing music, water running, and a couple girls who were the least likely to be raptured according to themselves were around but no one else was.  When our friend got to the final room, everyone was waiting on her so she only had a few minutes to be concerned as to if she was left behind.

But what if that happened on a large scale?  A VERY large scale?  In this series, the world wakes up to find hundreds of thousands of people missing.  Most are in America, but some in Australia, Europe, and Korea.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Keeping Kids Educationally Entertained on Long Road Trips!

FTC disclaimer:  I am part of the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade.  This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

It's nearly summer, and the time for road trips is just around the corner.  My husband and I are hoping to go to the family reunion in Florida (and because of where it is in Florida, it's cheaper to drive, although more time consuming.)  Plus I am hoping to go to an event in Indianapolis where a number of friends from college will be there.  We just returned from a trip to Budapest, Hungary, as well.  As much as we travel, you would think I would be an old pro at it, but I get bored easily, as my husband would readily tell you.

Me having an iPhone 7 and U.S. Cellular which has high-quality national coverage is a sanity saver for my husband.  I have always loved learning and I'm so happy for so many resources on the Internet and apps to help me be entertained while gathering facts I can use during a trivia game at some point! In fact, some apps are collaborative so I can even compete against friends no matter where I am or where they are!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

When Grief Invades Easter

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

I wanted to write, again, about grief and the holidays.  Most people think of grief associated with Christmas, but any holiday can bring up forms of grief.

It's important to have compassion on yourself.  Twenty two years ago, Easter was on April 16, the same as the year I am writing this.

A friend went to church with me that morning, and we heard the glorious story of Jesus conquering death.  I Corinthians 15:55 was shouted from the rooftops.  "Oh death, where is thy sting?  Oh grave, where is they victory?" (KJV)  The triumphant songs signaled the ending of Lent and the start of celebration.  The toe-tapping, joyful songs associated with this glorious day.   April 1995 was the last time I sat in an Easter service without grieving.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Budapest Hungary 3-D Art Gallery

Last month, my husband and I returned from a trip to Budapest, Hungary.  This is a first in a series of posts relating some of the things we did while we were there.  I received no compensation for this post, it was a fun experience, and wanted to share this neat idea.

Many places in Budapest close at 6 pm.  Because of jet lag, we were still fully awake of an evening and not really into the nightclub scene so we look at the lobby cards to see if we could find anything open a little later.  There was a 10% off coupon for the 3D Art Gallery.  Those of you who are regulars to this blog know I'm a coupon fan, and to be using a coupon overseas just made me laugh.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

In Memory of Donnie Williams

I don't remember meeting Donnie.  As an active teenager in district events in the Church of the Nazarene in the 1980s, there were all these kids from different churches at events and over time you got to know them.  That's how I met Donnie.  We went to summer camp together, and I think, like many girls, I had a tad bit of a crush on him.  I mean, who wouldn't?  He was adorable, tremendously funny, and had a spiritual side of him that I wished would be shown by the boys in my youth group who were more interested in armpit farts than actually worshiping during the Sunday morning church service.

I never admitted my small teen crush to Donnie, although I often joked with him that I fell for him.  Indeed I did.  The camp tabernacle had a cement floor painted gray.  I remember the ash color vividly.  It was Thursday night of camp, my last camp before heading to college, and I was trying to make sure I said goodbye to everyone before service that evening because I knew Friday mornings were hectic and not conducive to departing sentiments.  There had been a thunderstorm and rain had blown into the area in front of the pews.  We were required to dress up for evening church at that time, and my dress shoes were not a good combo.  As Donnie and I separated from a hug, I took a step back and forgot momentarily about the slick floor. . . until I landed at his feet.  Evidently he had girls falling for him all the time, because by the time social media was invented and we reconnected, he had completely forgotten (or blocked) the incident from him memory.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

It's National Reading Month! Celebrate with your Mobile Device!

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post from U.S. Cellular.  All opinions are my own.

With a blog name of "Books, Bargains, Blessings", you know I love books.  I used to be a self-proclaimed book snob and only read physical books.  But then I got a mobile device from U.S. Cellular and discovered the amazing world of eBooks.

My husband and I have a lot of appointments, and I love the fact that since I always have my phone on me, I am able to access a book anywhere I am with U.S. Cellular's national wide coverage.  Not only books, but I can read magazines, news, and yes, even blog posts on my phone.  I have read more than one book by stealing a few minutes here and there.  In line at the grocery store, waiting at a doctor's appointment, or while my husband fills the car with gas, having a reading app on my phone allows me pull up something interesting to read wherever I am.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

March 2017 Life Update

Things have been really exciting around here lately.  Mostly with good excitement.  I've kept my big news from February rather quiet because I didn't want anyone to know we were going to be gone for a while, but I won a big sweepstakes prize on SuperBowl Sunday.  So many companies have promotions on that day, I nickname it "SweeperBowl".   Turkish Airlines aired a commercial with James Earl Jones, and in conjunction with that gave away 10 business class tickets.  I won one of them!  For my husband to join me on the trip, we had to purchase a ticket for him, and we had to pay for hotel.  But still, we had planned a vacation for this month anyway.