Monday, November 12, 2018

A Christ Centered Wedding -- Book Review

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a review.  Opinions are my own.  Please note, this post contains affiliate links where I receive a small percent of purchase price when you click through my link.  Thank you for starting your shopping here.

A Christ-Centered Wedding: Rejoicing in the Gospel on Your Big Day  by Catherine Strode Parks

Since June, I have been in wedding planning mode.  There's so much to get ready.  I've looked at several wedding planners, and even purchased one, but I had been lamenting the one thing I wish I had:  a guidebook to help make sure that the wedding is a Christian one.  So many times we go to weddings, and no matter how much money spent or time planning, after a few years they seem blur into another wedding in our memory.  Fourteen years ago, I went to a wedding that was the most Christian wedding I'd ever been to.  I'd been hoping I could find a copy of my friends' wedding tape because I still couldn't remember what all was done except that it was a beautiful faith based wedding.

I didn't need to find a copy of their wedding tape because I decided to read A Christ Centered Wedding.  This book had everything that I've been wishing for -- from advice on the ceremony, the dresses, to the reception.  After reading the section on the bouquet and garter toss, my fiance and I decided that's one tradition we want to forgo, especially because I'm an older bride and I don't want to give the indication that women need to be married to be complete.  We are using the suggestion for the bouquet toss with a twist mentioned in the book, and I already have friends looking forward to this.  (You need to read the book to find out this fantastic suggestion.)

Friday, October 12, 2018

Entering Sweepstakes and benefits like Public Assistance, Disability, and SSI

*Disclaimer:  This is not professional advice.  I am giving an overview so you can know how to talk to your accountant or tax professional and hopefully make some wise decisions regarding what you enter to win.*

I often heard when I was big into using coupons, "I can't use coupons because I am on Food Stamps."  That is a myth, and it upset me so much to hear it because coupons could help stretch the amount of groceries that could be bought with the amount of assistance the person receives.

Unlike using coupons, which is considered a DISCOUNT, winning a sweepstakes is considered INCOME!  And technically, just because you don't get a 1099-MISC form reported to the IRS for every win, you technically are to report every win.  An example wold be going to McDonalds and finding a free fries instant win game piece on your cup.  Unlike in previous games, the 2018 Trick. Treat. Win! sweepstakes gives an ARV (average retail value) on each game piece.  Reality says you need to report that $2 prize to the IRS at the end of the year, but I don't think many people know that, and I seriously doubt anyone is going to be audited for leaving off a Big Mac win on their income taxes.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

How "They Like You" becomes "Hate Speech"

"You don't matter. Your voice doesn't matter. You are perceiving things all wrong"

That's what I was told time and time again in junior high and the year I went to public high school. Not in those words, but I heard the message LOUD and CLEAR.
Yesterday, someone come on to my Facebook page, find a post I had open to the public, and said things about my weight, how much my ***** stinks, etc. Some of it was not as bad as when I was in high school and the things that would be said to me in high school was much worse.
A friend reported it to Facebook. It was removed for hate speech.
In 2018 it's considered 'hate speech'. In 1988 it was "They only say those things because they like you.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

What It's Like To Have Sold on eBay for Twenty Years

*This post contains affiliate links*
A couple weeks ago a friend set up a group for people who sell things to let people know of sales and such. I wasn't allowed in. Why? Because I sell on eBay instead of Etsy or a multi level marketing company. I don't think they understand what selling on eBay is like, so I thought I would share:
I want to tell you a little bit about selling on eBay. I've been doing it for twenty years. (How many of you have stayed in the same job for that long?) . I've become a lot more knowledgeable and serious about it in recent years. Five years ago I had under 300 items listed. Now I am hoping to have 1300 by the end of the month! Unlike selling with some MLM I have all 1300 items in my house (plus many more that are not listed yet.) . I also have TWO storage units filled with unlisted items -- at this point I have quit sourcing for new items to sell.
I have repeat customers who I know what they like and if I am out and see something that I think these people would like, I purchase it. A couple examples are I have a buyer who loves community cookbooks from Virginia. I have another who loves co-ed Catholic high school cookbooks. Sometimes I will buy these things (and those for repeat customers) even if I have a low ROI (return on investment) because I want to keep customers coming back to me. It's not exactly common that people buy multiple times from the same seller on eBay and I want to be a seller they seek out!
When people begin selling on eBay, it's fun and many times people will not think it is a job. I've easily sold over 15,000 items (and that's probably a low estimate) over the last 20 years. That's sourcing an item, taking photos, writing description, waiting on payment to come in the mail (pre-paypal), packing the item, shipping, and any follow up that needs done. I do enjoy the flexibility and freedom it gives me, as well as being able to bring in decent money without having to leave the house and having to have another car, business clothes, etc.
There have been times people have told me they would "let" me teach them to sell on eBay. How do you think you would respond if someone came up to you and said they would let you teach them how to do your job.
I no longer sell for others. Why? After someone called me and said "Their buddy is in jail and owes them money and he had some belt buckles that belonged to him". Another time, someone called and wanted me to list magazines for her. She said that some of them could even sell for FIVE DOLLARS EACH! (I don't list anything that low.) . Also, I have made as low as 1% selling items for others. It's the same amount of work to list something that I will keep the money from as it is to list something for someone and make only a few cents. While I do make exceptions for selling for others, it's extremely rare, and I generally say I don't sell for others.
I have over 6,000 positive feedback at 100% satisfaction on my new account (back in the day I had multiple accounts for different things.) . I called eBay one time about having my listing limits raised. I was told "Your buyers love you." With pride, I said, "Yes they do."
Many people sell more than I do. I'm small potatoes in the circles on Facebook I hang out in. But I learn more and more stuff every single day. The eBay of 1998 is not the eBay of 2018. I've kept up with changes. I have bought multiple computers over the years, not only that I have invested in iPads, cameras, and even photo studio tabletop boxes where I can take nicer photos. Of course then there are all the reference materials I have. Ring sizers so I can tell what size a ring in, a book on how to identify first edition books, plus my favorite item of all -- a tape dispenser that has one side for regular sized tape and beside it a place for packing tape. I have invested in myself so I can become the best seller I can be.
I also have spent literally thousands of dollars in the last twenty years on tape, boxes, bubble wrap, and more. I highly recommend uPackAndShip on eBay
It's a job. A real job. I'm thankful for it because it allowed me to be able to bring in some income while I was dipping into savings each month when my mother needed help. I am thankful for it because if I am sick, I can pretty much just leave everything but shipping for a few days, and I am working with my husband to get things easier for him to be able to ship if I don't feel up to it. When my mother was in ICU in Pittsburgh, I asked a friend to ship a couple items for me. I have to be responsible for each and every sale, no matter what happens. I had to ship items between the day my mother died and her funeral. I have to *plan* for days off, and I never get paid time off like most jobs give. I sometimes think people don't understand this when it comes to the planning I need to do (and factoring costs) of being gone for more than a weekend. My September through January are always busy. I barely have time to breathe because I can work as much as I want because that's the busy time of year. But, my husband usually has Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday off as his "weekend", and I can do what I need to do those days and work harder on the days he has off so we can spend his days off together. No one loves their job 100% of the time, but I have to say most of the time I very much enjoy it, and I am thankful for the flexibility.
I often wear a slap bracelet ruler when I am listing. It makes finding a ruler easier. There is a lot of measuring. There is a lot of cleaning of times. A lot of research. Sometimes a lot of negotiation.
I give 10% of everything I bring in to charity. It helps my items be seen on eBay. It helps others. And I get 10% discount on my eBay fees.I do many things to bring in money. This is the one I have done longest. So that is a bit of insight into my life.
As Christmas approaches, remember real people like me sell on eBay. If you can buy from a smaller seller (vs. a big company) on eBay you are helping someone pay their light bill, save for a vacation, or buy school clothes for their kids. Yes, some eBay individuals are huge sellers, but think of us as small businesses, not a cog in a giant corporation.
I have one professional in my area who gives me a small business discount when I do business with him. Why? Because I'm bringing money into our area. I might sell something to Australia (which I do often), but then I buy gasoline for my car locally -- which helps the store employing my husband and over two dozen others stay in business.
This is a glimpse of my life. If you enjoyed reading this, I can write about other things I do to make money and such over the next few weeks.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

How to Enjoy a West Virginia Pepperoni Roll

If you are asking yourself "What is a pepperoni roll?" then you are obviously not from West Virginia or the surrounding area.

So what exactly is a pepperoni roll?  They were invented in Fairmont, West Virginia and originally they were just pepperoni baked into bread.  However, since that time there are other variations.  Chili and cheese is my favorite and that's popular in the Fairmont area -- my recommendation is to get one from Colasassano's if at all possible.  (They are so huge an fabulous there they call them "Pepperoni Buns" because it can't all fit in a roll!)  I recommend the Pennsylvania Avenue location for the fun history (Robert Kennedy ate there!)

In my area, about an hour from Fairmont, cheese baked into the roll is a favorite.  It's not uncommon to find plain or with cheese at a church garage and bake sale.  I prefer mozzarella or cheddar cheese, but I have seen them made with American cheese.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

When Getting There is ALL of the Fun - Cadillac Ranch

I can't remember a time I wasn't in love with the thought of travel.  I was a preschooler when I watched my aunt board a tiny plane in Morgantown, West Virginia.  I wouldn't see her again for years.  I remember crying and asking why I was crying and why it made me sad.  The innocence of a child.  My aunt was making her way to Alaska to start a new life there.

Alaska became the far away place I originally found most interesting.  After all, I knew someone in that cold part of the world.

When I was seven, I was so excited because in my school in second grade we got pen-pals.  I can remember thinking Tulsa seemed so exotic from my small town in West Virginia where we had homemade lunches by a school cook in her 80s, no stoplight in town, and our Dairy Queen closed every winter because there wasn't enough demand for ice cream during snow storms.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

3700 Square Feet of Garage Sale. Is that right?

To say I am overwhelmed right now seems trite, so let's just say I feel drowning in a sea of camel fur.  Does that give you a better idea?  How about drowning in camel hair that the health department once wanted to confiscate from my grandmother?  Yes, there is a story there, but not now. . .

It feels weird to say that my grandmother died recently.  She hadn't spoken to me in years.  I sent her an invite to my wedding thinking maybe there would be some reconciliation there, but the only relative I had was my dad's step-sister.  That's another story as well. . .

For the last few years, I have wanted to move. Badly.  Like really bad.  I inherited the house my mother -- she and Dad bought it when my husband was only 3 years old.  That's how long I have lived here. (I'm a tad older than he is.)  It's the site of where the priest said Last Rites for my mother, lifeless on the floor, the site where I watched Dad leave after almost 25 years of marriage to my mother, and countless other memories, and it seems the bad memories outweigh the good.  So I've been frantically selling on eBay for years.  (That's an affiliate link because disclosure. Plus there will be more affiliate links in this post.)  I went to my grandmother's estate auction and bought three carloads and one truck load full of stuff.  That's all from the place she was currently living.  My uncle (who I am starting to become friends with, but again, another story. . .) My uncle is wanting to turn the place where my grandmother once lived into a hunting cabin.  Grandma was a crafter.  Some of the stuff can be valuable, some of the stuff is just trash, and some of the stuff is just nothing but confusing.  (I even found a bouquet she made of used plastic spoons nestled in a coffee can because someone somewhere thought the idea was clever.)  But knowing there is some good stuff in there that would be tossed out, we are bringing it home and sorting through it.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Why God May Give You More Trials Than You Can Bear

Having memorized so much of the Bible, I cringe when I hear it misquoted.  I was in Bible quizzing in high school as I mentioned in my post about memorizing Scripture.

God will never give you anything you can't handle.

It's in the Bible, right?  Actually it isn't.  Most people think that is what I Corinthians 10:13 says, but let's take a look at that verse in a few different versions.

 13 No temptation[a] has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted[b] beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted,[c] he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.  (NIV)

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Debt Free Virgin Without Tattoos who Married at age 42.

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With all the talk about the post "Men Prefer Debt Free Virgins Without Tattoos", I think it's appropriate to tell my story -- a story not often heard of the consequences of purity culture.  I grew up in a church that allowed dating (although no dancing, but we had great times at non-dancing activities.)  I spent two years at a college of my denomination, dates were allowed, and I still have good friends from that time in my life.

(This post contains affiliate links.)

My dad was hit by a drunk driver, and I didn't have the money to go back to college, so I stayed home a couple years.  I didn't have the money to attend a Christian college, so I went to a state school and was in Christian groups.  While I was there, the book I Kissed Dating Goodbye became very popular amongst my friends, and I bought into it completely.  I had a list of things I would not do with a man before I was married.  (Even allowing him to touch my head was on it.)

I was so hopeful that doing all this would mean God would grant me the wonderful Christian man that I deserved.  (What?  How can you earn a good husband?) 

Saturday, June 9, 2018

What is Very Dice? Does it Legit? What can I earn for Free?

What is VeryDice?  Does it really work?  Can you really earn free prizes?
(This post contains referral and affiliate links)

I was skeptical at first, but I have to say it is a fun app I have really enjoyed having on my phone.

You sign up, and you roll virtual dice.  It's that simple.  You can earn extra rolls by doing various things such as watching ads or downloading other apps. I will occasionally watch some ads, but most of my rolls have come from the daily free spin.

How does it work?

When you roll the "dice" you earn tickets.  Those tickets can be exchanged for items in the rewards center.  Here's a pro hint:  Many, many things from Amazon are in the system, you just have to search for the item instead of browse.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Frugal or Frivolous? My opinion on Subscription boxes. And a Frugal solution.

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

I have won a few subscription boxes over the last few years, but only one month of them.  For someone who loves mail, I have to say they are extremely tempting, but I also am a frugal person.  I just looked at one of the more popular subscription boxes, and it costs $19.95 for a month, but it claims to have $50 of stuff in it.

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Book Review: Almost Amish

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

Almost Amish: One Woman's Quest for a Slower, Simpler, More Sustainable Life by Nancy Sleeth

Having graduated high school located within an Amish community, I'm sure my perception of the Amish is different than the average person.  When I hear "Amish" I automatically think of the elderly lady who would stop by to use the school's telephone, the lady who we would buy produce from by the side of the road who kept their buggy in their garage, or the girl who would take my money at the store that sells bulk foods.

This book was inspired when Nancy Sleeth was talking about hanging her clothes out to dry, and she was asked the question, "What are you, Amish?"  That is not the first thing I would think of when it comes to the Amish, but evidently that's the idea some have of the Anabaptist communities!

Friday, March 30, 2018

Six Ways to Best Use Your Income Tax Refund

FTC disclaimer:  This post may contain affiliate links.

It's that time of year again when the tax refunds come in.  Some people seem to think it's Christmas and go out and buy the latest and most expensive stuff they can't afford the rest of the year, but that's not really the best use of your refund.   Here are some better ideas.

1.  Unless you are getting Earned Income Credit, make sure you don't get much of a refund.  Why let the government hold on to your hard earned money all year when you could be using it?  If you like having a "windfall" once a year, start a savings account!

2.  Pay off credit cards / bills.  If you owe anything on credit cards, pay them off.  With interest rates as high as they are, you are much better paying off credit cards.   I highly recommend the method of paying off debt that Dave Ramsey talks about in The Total Money Makeover.  Pay off your smallest debt first and then you can put that money that you pay each month towards your next biggest debt, and so forth.  (If you haven't read Dave Ramsey's book, I highly recommend a small part of your tax refund and buy it or another good financial planning book for everyday people.)

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Book Review: Summer Promise by Robin Jones Gunn

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

Robin Jones Gunn posted on a social media site that during a radio interview she was introduced as Christy Miller. I can see why. The character she created is so realistic that I, as a non-fiction aficionado, enjoyed this book greatly.

Summer Promise: Book 1 in the Christy Miller Series is a Christian book, and I normally have a bias against books that weave the "plan of salvation" into the story line, but aside from that I want to read the rest of this series, and I'm not even the target age range!

I believe this was originally published in the mid 90s, it's a bit dated in the fact the teenagers have no cell phones! I thought different times how crazy it was none of them texted! What a difference fifteen years makes!

The book doesn't shy away from difficult topics. Drinking. Drugs. Death. Sexually active friends. An alcoholic mother of a friend. These might make this book not a great choice for a tween, but unfortunately this is the world in which teens live, so tackling these topics in a book would likely be a great help to some girls.

Christy is from Wisconsin, but living with her aunt and uncle for the summer. She makes new friends who are different from those she knows back home. She takes risks in wardrobe and changes her hair, starts wearing make up and she falls for a guy who takes her to Disneyland for her birthday, but then at the end of the day things aren't quite the way she thought they were. . .

The biggest thing I disliked about this book is it's part of a series, and of course, when the end comes, you're left wondering what is going to happen next.  But that's all the more reason to buy the next book and enjoy more time reading!

Friday, February 23, 2018

The First Time I Needed Permission to Read a Book

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

My mother never was one to tell me I couldn't read anything.  She always said she taught me right and wrong and trusted me to know the difference.  Summers found me at our local library devouring books from the likes of Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, and the Childhood of Famous Americans series.

One of my favorite authors of all time at the ripe old age of sixteen was Dr. Seuss.  I loved the lesser known book I can Lick 30 Tigers Today.  I checked it out of the library quite often when I was younger, and I would giggle while curled up to my mother listening to her reading that some of the tigers' fingernails weren't very clean.  As with some of his books, there were other stories included.  I loved the Glunk that Got Thunk, and growing up in poor Appalachia, I felt sorry for the family who the Glunk was overtaking their phone line.  I would remind myself it was just a for-fun-fiction story, and get back to the rhyme.  (That's how I always remembered fiction and non-fiction.  Written "for fun" starts with the letter F.)  And I loved King Louis Katz that was the last of the stories in that book.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Honoring Your Parents at Your Wedding When Both are Deceased

Photo Courtesy Kelley Bittner Photography
FTC disclaimer:  I received the photo frames from Reed & Barton in exchange for this post.  All ideas and opinions are my own.  Post contains affiliate links.

When I was planning my wedding, I spent hours online trying to find ideas to honor both of my parents at my wedding.  I found ideas to honor a parent who is deceased, but no ideas when you are trying to honor both parents.   I spent almost more time on this part of wedding planning than any other.   I wanted to do something  touching, have them a part of the ceremony, but didn’t want to turn the celebration into a memorial.

We started by having a page each in our wedding bulletins in memory of them.  We included biographical information, a fun story, a photo individually and their wedding photo which my husband and I recreated at the cake cutting.

Friday, January 19, 2018

How To Sanitize Your Smart Phone

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

It's flu season again, and with this year's flu shot not being as effective as some years, extra vigilance is required to try and stay healthy this year.  One way to do that is to make sure your smartphone is as clean as possible.  Charles Gerba, microbiologist at University of Arizona, states that the average smartphone has more than 10 times the bacteria on it than most toilet seats!

Here's a few tips to keeping your iPhone 8, iPhone X, and your Samsung Galaxy Note8 germ free this cold and flu season:

Wash and sanitize your hands regularly.  This goes a long way in helping to prevent coming down with a bug, and it also is helpful in keeping your phone or tablet clean.  Germs travel easily from hands to devices (and things like light switches, doorknobs, etc.)  Clean hands transfer fewer germs so wash those hands.  Singing the ABCs or Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (they are the same tune) while you wash your hands helps ensure you wash long enough!

Disinfect devices and cases regularly.  Using a disinfectant wipe that does NOT contain bleach can help reduce germs on your devices.  Wring out the wipe several times to minimize the amount of moisture that gets near your phone.  After using the disinfectant, wipe with a microfiber cloth.  Or you could invest in a special cleaners made just for electronics.  U.S. Cellular Stores sell Gadget Guard Greener Cleaner.

The most difficult places to clean on a iPhone are the headphone jack, charging port, speaker and microphone.  Do not use a toothpick or cotton swap to clean these tiny places.  They can damage circuitry and/or leave behind cotton fibers.  Amazon sells a  putty that has been created specifically for electronics called Cyber Clean.

Don't use devices in the bathroom.  This should be a no-brainer because of the amount of moisture in that room and the risk of dropping your phone in the loo.  (I know someone who has dropped multiple phones in the toilet and had to replace each one.)  Yet, 61% of people, according to an survey, said they use their phone in the restroom.  The habit of "toilet texting" can cause users to become ill as germs from the bathroom can wind up on the phone.