*Thrifty Living * Homeschooling * Natural Living * Creating * Baking * Learning * Exploring * Subscription Boxes * Childhood Cancer* Death of a Child*

Monday, June 30, 2014


Do you ever let photos add up in your Instagram account but do nothing with them? I recently ran across Sticky9  and think it's such a neat idea! You can turn your Instagram photos into magnets, phone cases, and more!
How cute are these?! They come in a sheet and you can either keep them that way or separate them into separate magnets.
These add such flair to our refrigerator and would be amazing for file cabinets at work, magnetic walls, canisters, etc. I think the possibilities are endless. These would also make great gifts for grandparents!

While this is not a sponsored post, I ran across this site on my own and purchased them on my own, you can use my referral link and code FRIENDXD79 to save 15% off your order, making a sheet of 9 pictures under $13!

Friday, June 27, 2014

Birchbox June Review

I have heard so much about Birchbox and now I'm kicking myself for not subscribing sooner.

It is $10 monthly for a box of 4-6 samples. Some of the samples are pretty large and occasionally you get full sized! The best part is that you can review the products in your box (in your account) and earn 10 points for each product review. Each 100 points equals $10 to spend in their online shop. So, essentially, each box can earn you $5 or more to spend in their shop (and the points accumulate so you can get some awesome deals!). This box alone earned me 70 points. 
There is a HUGE variety of sample boxes (like 40 variations or more!) each month, so it's doubtful you'll ever get the same one that you see in spoilers. This month the theme is "Away We Go" and includes products great for a traveler.
Included in my June box were:

*Davines Love Smoothing Shampoo, Conditioner, and O1 All in One Milk (these smell wonderful!)

*Joie Folle de Joie Eau de Parfum (a small sample but I love this fragrance and at $98 for a full-size I would never afford it!)
*Suki Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser. I've tried this before and love, love, love the scent and what it does for my skin.

*LAQA & Co. Sheer Lip Lube Pencil. I love this shiny packaging and love the size to throw in my purse. It glides on smoothly and though I wouldn't choose the color it is a great one for summer.

*Egyptian Magic All-Purpose Skin Cream. This is an all-natural, all-purpose salve. Great for moisturizing, fighting wrinkles, burns and bruises, bug bites, diaper rash. You can never have too many of these types of creams in our house!

I'm so happy with my box! It was a great assortment of goodies at a good price. Sign up today and use the code BBJETBLUE to skip the waiting list AND get 100 points ($10 to spend in the Birchbox shop). The July box theme is "Power Up" and features a partnership with Woman's Health Magazine. It should be a good one!

Disclaimer: Referral links included in post.  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

*I hate it when you have to call a company to cancel an auto-ship account. Luckily, the subscription boxes that I love can all be canceled through e-mail (so easy!) but just yesterday I had to call two companies to cancel. The Honest Company now sells their diapers at Target so there is no reason for me to have a subscription when I can watch for Target sales, use my debit Redcard for 5% off, and get free shipping. Luckily, besides the long wait time, the subscription itself was easy to cancel.

Proactive, on the other hand, is insane. First of all, I had to try them out again as nothing I try is helping my breakouts. I don't know if it's hormones or stress or both but my skin is like a teenagers again. So I wanted to try Proactive again. Silly me, I didn't read the fine print and didn't realize that future shipments, for a 3 month supply, would be $109! No way - even if it works great I can't afford that! So, I call to cancel. And I can't. The guy is giving me the run around and I get flustered. I push auto-ship back to November and plan to call later to cancel. Seriously, it shouldn't be this hard to cancel and at this point I don't want to purchase from a company that is so pushy.
*Matilda Jane is having a good sale on some of their items. My friend got me hooked on their adorable clothes when she sent me the above dress for Amy. I die of cuteness! Their prices are way out of my price range, except for this sale, and some used pieces on Facebook. Goodness, it's dangerous on the pocketbook to have a girl!

*This may be an odd question, but how many dishes do you have in your cupboard? I'm constantly washing dishes, it seems, and I think I realize now that the problem is that we have too many dishes so I let them pile up longer than I should. Really, does one need 15 coffee cups or 12 plates? What is a reasonable amount of dishes for someone who doesn't entertain?!

*My goal for cleaning today is one garbage bag filled for donation and one garbage bag filled with garbage. I'm sure I can get a bag of garbage alone from my desk, which needs to be sorted and organized. :/ I've put it off long enough!

*Giveaway winner of the Willow & Sage magazine is Luna Lissa. Please e-mail your address! The winner of Snack Girl to the Rescue! was Jill G. and it's already been claimed and sent. There are some fun giveaways in the work so stay tuned!

I'm joining Jennifer in Thursday Thoughts! 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Jacob's Day

Yesterday was hard but we tried to make it a celebration of Jacob's life and do things that would have made him happy.
Our "presents for Jacob" this year was a cart filled with animal supplies for the Humane Society.
Jacob loved animals and adopted his own cat, Skippy, from this same Humane Society two years ago, so I know he would be happy with this choice.
Carrying the supplies into the shelter:
We also ate at KFC (one of his favorites), had some cupcakes, handed several little baggies of coins with his card throughout town for others to find (pop machine, car wash, etc.). We lit sparklers (the same boxes that we lit with Jacob last year), wrote messages on balloons and sent them into the sky, watched Star Wars.

And we missed him terribly.

The Nourished Kitchen

After a friend got me interested in Weston A. Price I've loved studying his studies and learning more ways to cook this way.

The Nourished Kitchen; Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle by Jennifer McGruther caught my eye. "A traditional foods diet avoids processed ingredients, but allows meat, animal fat, and grains. It embraces cultured dairy, such as kefir and yogurt, that contain beneficial bacteria; fermented foods, such as sauerkraut  and kombucha, that are rich in probiotics; and organ meats that are packed with vitamins and minerals. It also celebrates locally grown foods."

This is a beautiful book. The pictures are stunning and the layout of the recipe book is perfect.

I was a bit disappointed with the majority of the recipes. Even though the ingredients themselves are fairly simple the recipes seem too dramatic, too time consuming, not very child friendly. In a word - just too fancy. There must be a simpler approach to traditional foods (I know there is as the cookbook Nourishing Traditions is one).

Though I may not use this book for the recipes, I will be keeping it on my shelves for the reference aspect of the book. Jennifer gives a lot of information about a traditional diet and how to incorporate whole foods and healthy fats into your cooking. Fermenting, whole grains, etc. are all covered in this cookbook so it is a wealth of information. For this alone I recommend the book. There are a few recipes that I do want to try out that may turn into staples in our home. :)

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest opinion.   

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

9 Years Old

How quickly things change in a year. From our family gathered around him on his 8th birthday...

to us missing him so much on his 9th birthday.
My sweet, sweet boy. We were blessed by your birth 9 years ago. You made us different people in your short, but full, 8 years of life.
We love you and miss you so, so much. Happy first birthday in Heaven, Jacob.

Feel free to follow us on Jacob's Ladder page on Facebook for random acts of kindness stories on his birthday. We ask everyone who knows of him to do one small act of kindness today in his memory. Let's sprinkle the world with some goodness in honor of this sweet soul. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Phone Case of the Month Review

I recently heard about Phone Case of the Month and had to try it out! For $10 each month you get a surprise phone case in the mail (there are several types of phones that they have cases for so check to see if your phone is one of them!).

It arrived in a cute little cloth bag, along with a sweet treat. I love this leaf design as it is something that I would choose for myself in the store. I'm not an expert on phone cases but it is a nice sturdy one.

Everyone gets different variations each month so even if you see spoilers beforehand your own case will probably be different. 
While I probably wouldn't subscribe indefinitely (I really don't need to change phone cases monthly) I do see myself subscribing for a few months out of the year.

If you would like to sign up, you can use this link to get your first case for 50% off, making it just $5!

Disclaimer: Referral links included in post.

Sunday, June 22, 2014


A big congratulations to my brother Dan and new sister-in-law Lydia!
It's been 13 years since there has been a wedding in our family and it's wonderful to have one of my siblings now married!
The day was beautiful, the bride was beautiful. The only hard part was missing my dad and Jacob. The family photo just isn't complete without them.

A lifetime of blessings on your marriage, you two!

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Seagrass Pier

I'm very conflicted on how to review Seagrass Pier by Colleen Coble. Did I like it or not?

On one hand, I really enjoyed the plot (Elin gets a heart transplant and begins to have nightmares of a murder...the one that killed her heart donor). It's a very interesting story and the suspense was good.

On the other hand, the writing itself bothered me. The very first chapter threw took much information at you. Then some of the storyline didn't even come together correctly. For instance, the flashbacks show the donor being upset after seeing a love-interest kiss someone else and immediately she is murdered. Yet a few chapters later, when interviewing the "kisser" of the love interest (yes, I'm trying to be vague so as not to give the story away!) she mentions being confronted the next morning by the donor. It's almost as though the author got her storyline mixed up and it was not edited from the book. I begin to see so many inconsistencies that instead of enjoying the book I was looking for my next. Such as a woman being murdered and within 3 hours her organs were harvested for donation, yet the family hadn't even been notified yet. That's not how it happens, the author should have studied donor information before writing this book. Maybe I'm being too technical, as it's a romance suspense, not a medical journal, but it bothered me nonetheless.

Or Elin, as a mother, who seemed to give little regard to her own child as a murderer taunted her. It was all too casual. Leaving her daughter with others, being okay with staying away a night when her daughter was at home, etc. If a murderer was after me I wouldn't let my child out of my sight. I actually started to get mad about how Elin seemed to have little regard for her daughter or mother in the grand scheme of things.

Maybe I'm being too harsh. Maybe I should have glossed over these issues, because the story itself was compelling. But I ended up just being annoyed through most of the book. Yet, I would still consider reading another of Colleen Coble's books just to see if this annoyance factor was a fluke and maybe her other books flowed better.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by BookLook Bloggers in exchange for my honest opinion.   

Friday, June 20, 2014

Willow and Sage Review and Giveaway

Stampington & Company creates such beautiful magazines that seem more like a book than a simple magazine.

You may have heard of their magazines "Where Women Create" or the "Artful Blogging" that I have mentioned before. They publish several others so there is literally a magazine for everyone. Their newest, "Willow and Sage" is chock full of homemade bath & body products.
The photography is beautiful and eye candy to those who love beauty products, or just those who love photography! While I admit that some of the recipes go over the head of a novice like me (and I wouldn't even attempt them!) there are several DIY projects that are great for anyone to try. Oatmeal Honey Face Scrub, Cooling Cucumber Face Mask, Whipped Coconut Oil, Vanilla Rose Body Scrub, Handmade Washcloths, and many more.

Not only are the projects amazing but the articles are as well. I love MaryJane's Farm books and magazines and products and was thrilled to see her article, "The Art of Bathing" in the Summer 2014 issue. Or reading an article about "Wharton Farms", which started out as a hobby farm and morphed into a bath and body business.

This is a magazine to savor and enjoy several evenings in a row. Sometimes I flip through to ogle the photos. Other times I get enraptured in an article or recipe. 

Instead of going into the recycle bin after I finish, like all my other magazines, this will go on my bookshelf. It's so pretty and useful and a great addition to my DIY reference books.

Stampington & Company sent the Summer 2014 Willow & Sage issue to review. They are also graciously offering one lucky reader an issue of Willow and Sage. Just enter the Rafflecopter below (daily!) and the winner will be randomly chosen on June 26th.   

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thursday Thoughts

I'm linking up with Jennifer for her Thursday Thoughts.

Why is it that the outdoors can instantly settle a fussy baby down? Amy loves outside. To the point that she fusses the minute we step inside. It's not exactly a relaxing time outdoors with her though. No sipping tea or reading books on the porch while she plays in the yard. She is on the go, and fast, so must be followed and watched at all times. And corralled back into the yard countless times.
A new obsession of mine is the Salt Water Taffy candle from Bath & Body Works. I had ordered it online last week during a sale, after reading the good reviews on it. When I happened upon a B&BW store before receiving my order, I sniffed it to see how I would like it. I was so disappointed - it smelled bad at the store. Luckily, when I received my order a few days later it smelled totally different and  I am loving the smell of it. It reminds me of cotton candy, without being a sick sweet. 
Speaking of candles, Yankee Candles had their big clearance sale this past weekend. I had no intention of shopping there, but stumbled in and fell in love with the "Root Beer Float" candle. It sounds gross, but smells exactly like root beer and the memories of Jacob just slammed into me as I sniffed it. He loved root beer. So I had to buy it! I was just wondering, as the saleswoman asked if I would like her to trim the wick for me for my first lightning, why all candles wicks aren't sold trimmed already to begin with?!

Do any of my readers live in the Midwest where the storms have been hitting? We spent some time in the basement on Monday. Luckily, we just had some big branches to clean up in the yard but several whole trees were down around town and a roof was blown off a home in the country. We were all lucky to be spared the worst...those poor folks in Nebraska who had to deal with dual tornadoes! Those pictures were terrifying.

Does anyone have a good cat grooming tool to recommend? Our 12 year old cat just isn't grooming herself as well this summer and has lots of tangles in her fur. I've been using the dog's brush, which gets deep into the undercoat, but she isn't liking that one bit. Is there something a bit gentler that still works?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


That describes how we all feel lately, I think. With Jacob's birthday coming up next week, us all being sick with colds, and a teething baby in the house things have been horrible not so great. 
Add some steamy weather, a severe storm or two, and you now have crabby city in our house.

If only we could nap away our problems!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Snack Girl to the Rescue! Giveaway

Blogging for Books mistakenly sent me an extra copy of this book, so all of you get the chance to win it (read my review here)!

Just enter in the Rafflecopter below (you can click to enter daily!) and a winner will be randomly chosen on Sunday, the 22nd.
  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, June 14, 2014

June 2014 PopSugar Must Have Box Review

My June PopSugar Must Have Box finally arrived! Why I seem to always be the last to receive it I don't know but it's here now! 
Like my post said last month, I had canceled due to not liking the May box much, but had second thoughts afterwards knowing that usually after a bad month they have a great month next so I couldn't help myself and signed back up.

I was also remembering last June's month and how much I enjoyed it so was hoping for the same this month...and was not disappointed!
Nothing screams summer more than a good book, a good snack, something in a summer fragrance, etc. As the information card says, "Beachy hair, citrus, sand, sun, surf, backyard BBQs, relax, unwind, read, stripes." This box has it all.
*You Smell Lemon Wet Wipes ($6) These naturally antibacterial wipes are perfect for freshening up.

*Sachajuan Shiny Citrus Body Lotion ($24) What a light scent, without being too sugary sweet like a lot of citrus lotions are.

*Lollies Basics Hair Ties ($8) These are fun with a bit of fancy tied in.
*Turkish-T Beach Towel ($32) I love stripes and softness so this beautiful towel is perfect! Can be a lightweight beach towel by day and a glam wrap by night.

*One Potato Two Potato Hawaiian BBQ chips ($2). I was hungry when I opened the box so dove right in. A lovely snack with a bit of a kick!

*Native Union $15 Gift Card. This isn't my cup of tea...first one to e-mail me wanting it can have the code!

*Emily Griffin's The One & Only ($28) This looks like the perfect beach read! I love receiving fun chick-lit in subscription boxes! And a nice hardcover to boot!

Total value of the box this month is $103. Boxes are $39.95 a month. You can use code REFER5 to get $5 off your first box. Often times there are much better codes later in the month for bigger savings. I tend to post them when they are extra fantastic!

Disclaimer: Referral links included in post.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

June IPSY Bag Review

My June IPSY bag is here! The glam rooms just updated on the 10th, showing what was in our bag this month so I was surprised to see the pretty pink mailer peeking out of the mailbox already today.
The theme this month is "Pretty in Paradise". Based on the beauty profile you answer when you sign up, your bag will contain 4-5 sample and full size items from a large variety each month.
I received:

*Marc Anthony Dream Waves Beach Spray. This smells so good!

*RealTree Perfume. I always love trying new fragrances and while this isn't a new favorite it does smell good and I will use it. These small samples are perfect for throwing in your purse.

*NYX Butter Gloss in Crème Brulee. I've heard good things about the butter gloss so am excited to try it.

*Ofra Universal Eyebrow pencil. Eh, my eyebrows are thick enough but I think I'll pass this along to my mom to try out.

*Be a Bombshell Lash Out Mascara.

*A pretty tropical bag which I love!

Verdict: not my favorite mixture of products ever but all will be useful. Some months I absolutely adore everything and the value is huge, other months it's not as exciting. Considering it's just $10 a month it is still a favorite subscription of mine and I look forward to the surprise every month.

There is a wait list so be sure to sign up soon if you are wanting to try a bag sometime this summer yet!

Disclaimer: Referral links included.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Snack Girl to the Rescue!

I've never heard of the popular blog, Snack Girl, before but was quite interested in this cookbook when I read about it. Snack Girl to the Rescue! by Lisa Cain is filled with "easy, delicious food for breakfast, lunch & dinner". 100 recipes under 400 calories.

I must not have read the description well because for some reason I assumed this was a cookbook of snacks. I was happy to find actual meal ideas within the pages. I also enjoyed the fact that the first third of the book is more about healthy eating, healthy shopping, and healthy ideas. I love to "read" cookbooks so was thrilled that this book has a little 'meat' to it, rather than just recipes.

The recipes themselves look simple, filling, and like something my family would actually eat. Not to mention pretty frugal. All these make it a win in my book. I'm especially excited about the crockpot recipes as well as the overnight breakfasts (is anyone else not a morning person? I'm excited that I can whip up some batter the night before and just bake it the next morning).

My only complaint is that there are no pictures whatsoever. This is more of a simplistic cookbook that gets down to the nitty gritty. I'm assuming that since these recipes were originally on her blog that you are able to find pictures of the foods there. But I do like my cookbooks with some pictures.

Overall a great cookbook for simple, healthy meal ideas and I'll be sure to give these recipes a try!

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for my honest review.  

How Does Your Garden Grow?

After a rough start to my garden (late frost, hungry bugs or bunnies), things seem to be going well now.

The square foot gardening method that I am using this year is giving me plenty of space, maybe too much as there are several empty squares yet!

We've already enjoyed radishes and rhubarb from the garden and the kids like to help me water, though they leave the weeding up to me. :/

I'm excited to see several gardens popping up in the neighborhood. When we moved here 8 years ago it seems that we were one of the few with a backyard garden. Now there is one behind us, one across the street, and several down the block. It's great to see people working in their yards again, growing some of their own food, and becoming urban farmers! New to our town this year is a community garden where residents can rent a plot for a small fee and have their own garden. Perfect for those with no yard space. I think that the whole garden has been rented out now and I love going past and seeing the progress.

The library even rented a plot this year and the summer reading kids can go once a week to learn about gardening, work in the garden, and probably enjoy the fruits of their labor later this year. Becca and Joe are loving it!

It's about time that we are all getting back to our roots.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014


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