Category Archives: Favorites

May Favorites: All my favorites right now!

I seriously LOVE favorites lists. I love favorite baby products lists, favorite back to school lists, favorite cooking utensil lists, favorite recipe lists. No matter where I am reading, browsing, or scrolling, if I see “Favorites” I will stop immediately. I mean, if it’s your favorite, it might be my new “ISO”, and I love my ISO lists! (Check out my post here to learn how I use ISO lists to find awesome deals!)

Here’s my current Favorite list:

  • Salted Caramel Simply Bliss Creamer  I knew the moment I saw this flavor I would love it. Simply Bliss Salted Caramel Coffee Creamer is like a Starbucks Salted Caramel Frappachino, except better because you will be able to pronounce all the ingredients (NONFAT MILK, HEAVY CREAM, CANE SUGAR, NATURAL FLAVOR, SALT) and you can control the sweetness! Love it!
  • Not Your Daughter’s Jeans: do you know how you buy a pair of jeans and then you come home and sooner or later you realize you hate them? Yep, that’s the worst and that’s what happened pretty much every time I bought a pair of jeans UNTIL I discovered jean perfection in NYJD (Not Your Daughter’s Jeans). I have gotten mine from thrift stores, ebay, Nordstrom Rack and TJ Maxx. You can find them on Amazon also! They have the perfect stretch (without the dreaded waist gap), the perfect snug fit, and lots of great styles. I think I have about 10 pairs of NYDJ and I have been slowly replacing all my other pants. Warning: NYDJ takes vanity sizing to a new level. In NYDJ I wear a size 2, even though my typical size is closer to 6/8. Best part: NYDJ are made in the USA!
  • My new monogrammed Yeti Mug. Thank you Angie, I seriously love it! I have done so much better drinking my water this last week. Ice in the morning is still ice at night! It also keeps hot coffee hot even when I have added a unhealthy amount of that delicious salted caramel creamer. And the monogram is gorgeous!
  • The FastDiet. I am happy that I can succeed at this diet and for me it is totally sustainable. It gives slow and steady weight loss, and gives me back a sense of control over my eating habits. Check out my post on this way of living here.
  • My rescued window that my hubby painted for the mantel. I love it! Knowing how much my hubby hates home improvement projects makes me love it double!
  • Fixer Upper. I actually talked to a friend the other day who had never seen Fixer Upper with Chip and Joanna Gaines. How can this be? My entire family loves this show. My four year old actually asked if we could call Fixer Upper to help us with our mess of a house. (Joanna, if you want to fly out to the EC, we can give you a “fun” project).
  • Plant Therapy Essential Oils. I have just started dipping my toe into Essential Oils. For the last few months I have been reading about some of the science and safety and I am really impressed with Plant Therapy’s education, pricing, and business model.  We have only tried a few products but I am specifically really loving the Relax Synergy. I have been using it at night before bed and it’s definitely helping my stress levels!

Let’s be honest, I have a TON of favorites, but I will save a few of them for other days. Now it’s your turn, share your current favs in the comments!!!

Just for Women: Part 2

I mentioned in Part 1 that I have become a loyal convert to reusable feminine care solutions. I am so much happier dealing with “that time of the month” since I switched from disposable products. My first menstrual cup was the Diva Cup and it was revolutionary for me. However, recently I have been searching for something that would work a little better for me, and I am excited to share about it now!

FemmyCycle was kind enough to send me a free reusable cup to test and honestly review. I did not receive any compensation for this review, nor did I commit to writing anything other than my honest opinion about the product. Luckily, my honest review turns out to be very positive!

Here’s why I was really excited to try the Femmy Cycle. It has the largest capacity of any cup I could find. Also, it comes in three different sizes which includes a low cervix version. Finally, it has a unique leak proof design that no other cup offers. A few other things that make it different from the others: it’s softer, cleaning instructions do not suggest boiling, and it’s suggested lifespan is only two years.

Down to the details:

Is it comfortable? YES. I found it more comfortable by far than others I have used.

Is it easy to use? After practice, sure. Like most products in this category, it does have a learning curve.

Is it effective? For me, VERY. Performance was better for me than anything else I have used. Keep in mind that every woman is different, so results may vary.

Does the spill-proof feature work? To my amazement, YES.

I really like the FemmyCycle and will continue using it. I do think that the design makes it a little trickier to learn for a first-timer, but I think it’s a great option for those who have trouble with other cups or just need better protection. I’m not sure why it would need to be replaced every two years, when other cups’ suggested life span are closer to a decade. It’s slightly pricey compared to other versions on the market, but most of us can overlook the cost which is minimal over the life of the product. Women should be aware of all their options, and FemmyCycle is a great one!

FemmyCycle was kind enough to send me a free reusable cup to test and honestly review. I did not receive any compensation for this review, nor did I commit to writing anything other than my honest opinion about the product. Luckily, my honest review turns out to be very positive!

Intro to Amazon Warehouse Deals

Happy Friday!

In case you haven’t noticed, my hobby is finding deals and shopping. My parents just pointed out to me that this started when I was a young teen and I would call a list of stores regularly in search of hard to find Ty Beanie Babies. Then my mom, tybless her heart, would drive me around to buy them! This memory really cracks me up, but I would like to point out that my children still love Beanie Babies so that garbage bag in the attic wasn’t an entirely useless investment. (Also, hello? I loved shopping way before that age.)

Because I spend a disproportionate amount of time searching for deals (even those I have no real intention of buying), I wanted to share one of my favorite bargain spots, the Amazon Warehouse. You will want to bookmark this page because it is, for some reason, hard to navigate to at times. Amazon Warehouse Deals contains returned, discounted, used and possibly damaged items. There is usually an accurate description of the condition of the item and it is still covered by Amazon’s Return Policy.

My favorite way to navigate Amazon Warehouse is simply to search for my favorite brands or to browse an entire category like shoes. Within that category, you can search by brand or percentage of discount using the links on the left bar. For instance, I sometimes search by Women’s Shoes, 70% off or more. Shoes are frequently returned and can’t be sold as brand new even if they appear to have never been worn or tried on. Most of my shoes are from Amazon Warehouse Deals, this has been my favorite Amazon shopping tip so far.

Some other examples of deals I have gotten at the Warehouse:

Sold by: Warehouse Deals, Inc
$12.27(regularly $92)
vb tote
$65.33 (list price $219, regular Amazon price $89.99)
$19.79 (regularly $160)
Just as a reminder, deals found in the warehouse DO fluctuate in price, sometimes dramatically. So I usually keep $500 or so of interesting products in my cart just seeing what they will do. It becomes a bit of a gamble because sometimes I watch prices steadily go down (even lowering multiple times a day) only to shoot right up (or sell out) while I am waiting, mesmerized.
So that’s an introduction to the Amazon Warehouse Deals, I hope you find it helpful!

Flour-Free Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

We have had a fun spring break that has been full of relaxing, family time, waiting around for a nephew to be born, and playing at the park. Before school starts tomorrow, we thought we would have one more treat-fling. These are crazy-easy, surprisingly delicious, grain-free cookies! I stumbled across an easy recipe for peanut butter cookies nearly thirteen years ago, and have repeated it ever since. Tonight I tweaked it a bit and we think it’s the best version yet!

This post has some affiliate links, so that I can make a few pennies off your purchases, at no additional cost to you! Enjoy your cookies!

PBcupcookies

Flour-Free Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

1 cup Peanut Butter

1 cup Almond Butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

1 cup dark chocolate chips

4 tbls. additional sugar

  1. Preheat oven to 375 °F
  2. Beat 1 cup Peanut Butter, 1 cup Almond Butter, 2 cups sugar and 2 eggs together thoroughly in a large bowl.
  3. Gently stir in 1 cup chocolate chips
  4. Form dough into balls and roll each in additional sugar.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes and allow to cool thoroughly.
  6. Enjoy! Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

How we do Dinner: Part 1

Any links I have added to this post are Amazon Affiliate links and they help me continue posting great content! Thank you for your support.
  • Omelettes: We do a lot of breakfast for dinner:eggs/grits/fruit or omelettes & fruit (I spent a long time googling omelettes and finally found a perfect photo tutorial on how to make them easily, but they removed the link). Options: sausage, bacon bits, onions, peppers, tomatoes, cheese, broccoli etc. I have also made omelette kits and put them in the freezer with small bags of fresh veggies/shredded cheese/cooked sausage/onions and put it all in a big ziplock to grab in a hurry. This makes it crazy easy and  cheap because you have just enough of everything right when you need it.
  • Oatmeal Bar: Sometimes we even do a “gourmet” oatmeal bar with tons of toppings. Yes, I give my kids a bowl of oatmeal for dinner but if they have a small sprinkle of chocolate chips and some sliced strawberries they say “best dinner ever”. The secret to delicious oatmeal is a big plop of real butter and a drizzle of half and half or whole milk/cream. Options: fruit, brown sugar, nuts (huge bag of sliced almonds from Costco lasts forever and goes into lots of our recipes), coconut, rainsins/craisins, chocolate chips, peanut butter.
  • Nacho Night: This is also an effort free meal that somehow gets my kids very excited. We often do Nacho Night on a blanket on the floor and have movie night, so that could be a big part of the appeal! Aldi has tortilla chips for like $1.20 a bag so we are never without these. Options: shredded chicken (canned works), beans, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, veggies, ground beef. Nachos “outside the box” can include breakfast toppings (my friend Katy does sausage, eggs, cheese on nachos), or chicken salad with chips (super delicious and lower carb than chicken salad sandwiches). One final touch that we love is serving in food baskets, just like you’d get at a burger joint or hot dog stand. It makes it so much more fun!
  • Just add a smoothie! When we have slim pickings for dinner (the end of leftovers, or something my kids aren’t thrilled to eat), we add a smoothie to round out our meal. After years of smoothies, my kids still LOVE them and I can make it healthy to add  to a not-so-fab meal OR decadent to add to a healthy but not exciting meal (big spinach salad with tons of toppings is great with a chocolate peanut butter smoothie on the side). This is when having a vitamix is 100% worth it for us. Seriously, it’s like a magic bullet at our house: “We are having salad……*crickets…..AND A SMOOTHIE” *big cheers* (affiliate link).
  • Fruit side/treat: Another thing we have been doing is swapping a side out for fruit. So say we have grilled chicken and rice as our main course. Instead of adding broccoli, we add fresh pineapple which is a big treat for us. Suddenly our meal is exciting and  I have found this really helps me not feel like I need dessert also, so it’s a win/win.

Like I said, these are not original ideas or revolutionary ones, but they are in our current rotation and are working for us now. Cooking for a family gets so tiring with all the other obligations of parenting, so anything that makes it easier is valuable in my book! I’d love to hear any ideas you have and I’ll be adding Part 2 soon!

What’s on my Kindle

Please note that these links are Amazon Referral Links and that I will receive a small commission on purchases made through this link. Thanks for helping to make my blog dreams come true!

I was delighted to discover one of my favorite books from childhood is available for free for the Kindle: Freckles by Gene Stratton Porter.

This is a beautiful, soulful story of an orphan who finds his home in the Limberlost and falls in love with an “angel”. The theme of redemption is moving and the vivid descriptions of the swamp creatures, birds, and foliage are mesmerizing.

The book is free, but I discovered that you can purchase the audio for many of the free classics for a few dollars (in this case $3). The girls and I have been listening to this together and the narration is wonderful; the reading level on this is probably 7th grade and up but younger listeners will enjoy. You have to grab this book for the incredible vocabulary if nothing else! Also check out these titles (and many more) by the same author:

Freckles

A Girl of the Limberlostfreckles

Or the Gene Stratton Porter 10 Volume Collection for only $1.99!

Nothing can quite take the place of the gorgeous antique copies of these titles that I was lucky enough to be gifted, but I do love digital books also! Remember that you can download the Kindle app for free for your phone or right now Amazon has some great prices on Kindles, check them out here!

Friday Favorites: Fancy Edition

This week Friday’s Favorite is a flashback favorite to one of our favorite authors, Jane O’Connor.

I try not let my prissiness get out of control, but I’m really a girly girl at heart. Fortunately, my children seem to be a little more well-rounded; loving animals, sports, books, and still playing with dolls and wearing tutus occasionally. We all love the Fancy Nancy series by Jane O’Conner.Fancy Nancys

The illustrations are beautiful and the stories sweet. Not only does the series tickle a little girl’s pink funny bone, but it teaches a lot of great vocabulary words, even some basic French, while encouraging kindness and empathy. In Fancy Nancy we meet the Clancy family, and Nancy who feels it is “hard being the only fancy person in your family”. In Fancy Nancy Bonjour Butterfly Nancy apologizes to her mother for her behavior and learns that you must choose to have a good attitude even when faced with disappointment. The Clancy family learns about responsibility in Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy. One of our favorites, Fancy Nancy and the Splendiferous Christmas talks about the importance of family and establishing traditions and memories.

The series isn’t just about glittery boas and lacy accessories, Fancy Nancy Explorer Extraordinaire delves into plants, insects, and exploration from a “fancy” perspective. I love how it shows girls can be strong and feminine at the same time. We love these books and recommend you look to Jane O’Conner’s many titles for your daily fancy fix!

Name Bubbles Coupon Code

Even though we homeschool, we have been using Name Bubbles personalized stickers for years. With identical twins, we tend to have issues keeping tracking of whose items are whose and these perfectly solve the problem. Name Bubbles has several combo packs that include laundry safe and dishwasher safe labels. I have never had a label come off or even start to show wear, even after dozens of trips through the dishwasher or washing machine. As a matter of fact, I have even pulled the laundry stickers off of outgrown items and re-used them on the bigger size with success! That’s impressive. If you think you don’t need name labels for your child’s stuff, I invite you to take a look at our Homeschool Lost & Found. The mountain of hoodies and lunchboxes says it all! Today only get 17% off with code LUCK!

Friday Favorites: Health & Comfort Edition

This week has decidedly not gone how I’d hoped. I was nauseous all day Monday until Monday night, when things went downhill, but I’ll spare you the details. Thankfully, no one else seems to have been infected, and thankfully I am finally feeling nearly normal today. On top of the vomiting, (whoops, I said no details), I was feeling truly horrible because I couldn’t stomach coffee (or anything much) until this morning. If you know me at all, you know that a lack of coffee is not compatible with my lifestyle.

But no one wants to hear about that, so I thought I would quickly share some of the things that help me feel better when I am under the weather. In the interest of full disclosure, please realize that I have become an Amazon partner, so I will receive a small (really, minuscule) compensation for any items purchased through my links. As ya’ll know I have been shamelessly raving about my favorite things for years, I just thought I would finally try to get a little cash flow from my role as consumer enabler. 

be kool

One day I was having a horrible migraine and couldn’t keep any meds down. My husband ran out and brought home these and they have been a life-saver. They aren’t recommended for kids, but there is a children’s version (which I have not purchased). I admit I have cut the adult size ones in half for feverish kids and they have helped but that’s obviously not medical advice from me. You would never receive medical advice from me. Never.

I am also a huge fan of a good heating pad, and I really love this one. Is it weird if I admit I use it like everyday? I don’t truly have chronic pain thankfully, but as a busy mom I feel like I am always in some kind of pain and this thing gets hot, fast. I actually ruined our bed because I used a heating pad too frequently when I was pregnant, but that’s a story for another day. For the kids, we like rice filled heating pads that you can make yourself and heat up in the microwave. Little Blue Boo has a great easy tutorial and if you haven’t checked out her blog-world, it’s amazing! If you want to make these heating pads therapeutic with Essential Oils please check with my friend Jessica, she can definitely help you! They also love this stuffed bear that we were gifted and it has held up great for three years of use. Thanks, Diane! These  Anti-Stress eye pillows are also fantastic and I keep one by my bed (if only the microwave was there I’d be all set).

I have never used Goody’s powder until this year, but I will always keep a stock of it now. Especially for those with a caffeine addiction, this is amazingly effective and quick. I thought it was weird to take powdered pain reliever, but results are results. We really have a lot more health related recommendations, but my morning blog time is coming to a close and it’s time to face our homeschool day. Thank you Lord for coffee and beautiful Fridays in the springtime! 3 John 1:2 “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

Have a great weekend!

Math Makeover (Part 2)

As I mentioned in Part 1, Math has not been a favorite subject for my two girls. On the other hand, my almost four year old totally thinks he has mastered it (he perceives himself to be a master of many things). The following is an actual conversation I observed between my three children:

S&S: “What’s 1+1?”
C: “Two!”
S&S: “What’s 2+2?”
C: “Four!”
(me: getting excited about his math prowess)
S&S: “What’s 3+3?”
C: “Fire engine!”

He was looking right at them when he said this. There was no fire engine in sight. This is actually a fairly typical conversation with my son. No one really knows what he will say or do next. Anyway, back to math.

This year, I wanted to “heal” us a little from the bad math vibes from last year. I wanted to give my kids confidence in their skills so that they could realize math can be fun.

That’s when we discovered Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late (Bedtime Math Series)

When you click through my affiliate links, you make the blog world a much happier place. Thanks for supporting me in my blogging adventures!

bedtime2
Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late (Bedtime Math Series)

Just as it says, Bedtime Math makes math fun, relate-able and relevant. It transforms numbers from something kids dread into something they can really look forward to, (like staying up late for a bedtime story). While it isn’t a curriculum, it is a fun stand-alone story book that my kids ask to read. Each short story has three different math problems at the end, geared toward three different knowledge levels. Sometimes my three year old can answer the first question, and my older girls can usually get all three, so these are really geared towards younger children. My youngest likes to flip through just looking at the silly illustrations about food and animals. If you use any similar math “storybooks” please let me know in the comments!

lifeoffred
Life of Fred Elementary Series Complete 10 Book Set (Life of Fred)

Click here to check out the Life of Fred Series!

At this time, we are using Life of Fred as our “core” math, but we’ve been supplementing heavily. Personally, I’m hesitant to endorse this yet but the reviews are excellent. There is definitely a lot to like about it: well-rounded stories with lots of educational rabbit trails (skimming into topics like geography, vocabulary, and anatomy). A silly, yet substantial introduction to math subjects that gives kids the basics while also introducing much more advanced concepts. It’s definitely the gentle approach I was looking for this year but it remains to be seen if I’d be comfortable using it all through elementary school.

boo
2 X 2= Boo!: A Set of Spooky Multiplication Stories

We picked up a book from the library that all three kids enjoyed, so I wanted to mention it as a fun supplement. 2 x 2 = Boo! Although witches and creepy-crawlys have never been a favorite in this family, we thought it was a fun read. We enjoy how the author combined story/poetry elements with multiplication. Just like we expose our children to many different kinds of literature over the years, I’m starting to see the value in exposing them to math from multiple angles and formats if I expect them to enjoy it. This book definitely fits the bill. I hope you enjoyed our Math Makeover! Check out Part 1 here!

Life of Fred Elementary Series Complete 10 Book Set (Life of Fred)

Bedtime Math: A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late (Bedtime Math Series)

2 X 2= Boo!: A Set of Spooky Multiplication Stories

Math Makeover (Part 1)

This post contains affiliate links. As always, I only recommend products that I use or want to try for my own family.

For multiple reasons, math has been a struggle for the girls so far. This year I am making math a high priority so that it can become more natural and less painful. My main goal was to approach math from different angles and to dissolve some of the number-angst that had become habitual; basically, integrate math into our daily lives in a fun way. IMG_6392

If these goals appeal to you, I’d like to recommend a few tools and products that I have been super pleased with this year. The first one is Times Tales, for multiplication facts memory.

I’ll be sharing Amazon links today, which help me earn a few more pennies to put toward the costs of being a small-time, semi-serious blogger. Thanks for your support!

Times Tales DVD

We just got this DVD last week and I am already blown away by the progress we’ve had. At first the girls were apprehensive but after watching part one only twice they have been able to complete all the worksheets quickly. To sum it up, each number has an accompanying picture, each problem has a story and they are all introduced in such a way that they are easy to remember and reference. Not only that, but they move immediately from multiplication to division so the relation between the processes is very clear. Over two days, my kids became confident with the number stories and began working on the worksheets unprompted over the weekend. To be clear, this is not typical math behavior in this family.

times tales
Times Tales DVD

Times Tales DVD

I am thrilled with this program and I have to recommend it very highly. I would buy this one again and again! Please check out Part 2 for more Math Makeover ideas!