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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Little Lace Box February Box

Remember the Little Lace Box that I loved in January? I was so excited to receive the February box.

*Sigh* I had high hopes for this box, especially with the theme of "the lovers, the dreamers, and me". All their past boxes have been fantastic; this one? Not so much.

Yet, I think they know it. The information letter stated that the dockworkers' strike in California kept the wonderful artisans and designers from finishing their products. This box turned out to not be an exact match for what they originally had in mind for the February theme. Judging from this mismatched box, which is so unusual from their spot-on themes, I'd agree.
It didn't scream rainbows, lovers, dreamers or ME at first glance.
*Stud Earrings by Whitley Designs (retail $54.99) If I wore earrings I would be thrilled with these. They are dainty and cute and just like something I would wear. But I haven't worn earrings in over 15 years and the holes have closed. Besides re-gifting these, they are useless to me. Seeing as how they were the priciest item in the box, I am not happy. There are variations, such as bracelets being sent. I feel earrings are not a one size fits all item, I would have loved the bracelet.

*Pink Arrow Stationary by P. Press Papers ($12.99) Very simple note cards, but cute. I look forward to using them. LLB founders believe that writing letters to those you love should be a habit for life. 
*Bonus item was Hulu Bliss Goat Milk Lotion by Dancin' Goat Skin Care. It's been a long winter and time to get our skin ready for spring. Love this scent, wish the item was bigger.

*Tub Truffles by CeeCee&Bee ($18.99) These look just like fancy chocolates and smell divine. I can wait to soak in a tub scented with lavender! 

*Original Goat Milk Hot Fudge by Beekman 1802 ($12.99)  Some boxes held the orange flavor, mine is plain fudge which I think I will like better. I haven't tried it yet but hear it is worth eating straight from the jar. :)

Had I received the bracelet instead or if I wore earrings I would be satisfied with this box, though it doesn't have the wow factor that past boxes have had. 

I'm giving them a chance to redeem themselves and was thrilled to see the theme for March is "Here Comes the Sun". You can read the end of my blog post here to see why I can't not get this box! They say "in March, you can expect special items for the mind, body, & soul...and we're sure that, even if it's cloudy when your box arrives, the lovelies inside will be just the thing to brighten your day!"

Due to their recent growth, and item issues this month, Little Lace Box has decided not to open new subscription sales for the month of March. With that said, once they do open up for April subscription sales you can use the code LLB10 for $10 off your first box. I'm hoping that they knock the March box out of the water! 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Slow Down

One of the nice things about winter is the slower pace. It's the makings of creativity. 

I worked on a little sewing project for Amy and ended up with this top. I know she will be looking fancy come spring. 
Our school days have included more busy work.
Have kids running around the house or keeping busy at the table? I know which I choose! No snow days for these kiddos! ;)

I've been purging closets and continue with the S.O.S challenge (getting rid of at least 5 items per day). I even mailed out several packages this past week of clothing items I sold and cashed in an $80 credit from ThredUp for the bag I had sent them and another $25 from my Swap.com account (by the way, use SPRING at checkout for free shipping when ordering - they have some great stuff!). 

I did good on my first $100 weekly grocery trip. I took $100 out of the bank and used that for all purchases that week. We ended the week with $10 left! This week is not going as well. I think we are at $160. :( That's not good, though it's not just food. That included gas, hair cut, babysitting, etc. Luckily the cash I mentioned above helps to offset that extra expense. Just keeping closer track of my spending is helping me spend less.  

U.S. Cellular Helping You Stay Healthy

With February being  American Heart Month it's a good time to think about heart health. With my own Father passing away at the age of 60 from a heart attack it's an issue close to my heart (pun intended).

It may seem silly at first that a smart phone can help your health but it's true.

First of all, it's important to get immediate medical attention with the first signs of a heart attack. Having a mobile device with you means that whether you are at home, in the car, or fishing in a remote stream...you have that access to 911 at hand.

We all know that googling health problems can cause more panic than good, but most of us do it anyway. It can help with a serious problem. 

Now it's possible to "virtually" connect to a doctor with Telemedicine. Sometimes it's not possible to get into your doctor office immediately, or convenient. While you should go to the hospital at the first signs of distress, it is possible for practitioners to evaluate, diagnose and treat patients remotely using technology made available through a reliable wireless network like high speed/4G LTE network available at U.S. Cellular. It’s meant to enhance, not replace, in-person physician visits. Telemedicine is used to treat minor ailments like cold symptoms, which account for nearly a quarter of office visits to primary care doctors.

It saves time as well as money.

Wouldn't it be nice to avoid picking up more germs at the doctor office?

 Ask your Primary Care Physician. Discuss your options with your primary care physician to get their recommendations and see if they already have a relationship with a telemedicine provider.

Check your insurance.  Determine whether your insurance provider covers telemedicine, and if there are any specifications surrounding this coverage.

 Do your research.  Third-party medical rating service websites like Vitals and NCQA provide valuable research on various telemedicine practitioners and services.  

This post is sponsored by the U.S. Cellular Blogger Brigade. All opinions are my own.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Own Your Life

I was a big fan of the book Desperate By Sally Clarkson and Sarah Mae so I was looking forward to reading more from Clarkson. Own Your Life did not disappoint. Sally's writing comes across as someone having a chat over a cup of tea, not a sermon or a soapbox rant.

So many things in the book jumped out at me.

"Will you invest your life for eternity, or spend it, wasting the days on things that do not matter, on issues that will quickly fade away?" 

"Each person has the power and authority to bring his or her life back into order. Each of us is a steward of the days allotted for our lifetime."

"There is no single way to serve God, but the point is this: We each have only one life to live to tell a story about Him, about His ways, about His love. And if we are Christ followers, then God calls us to use our gifts, to exercise our faith, and to become salt and light right where we are."  

I could go on and on about what I liked about this book. It makes you stop and think about how you are living your life. How to stop making excuses for how your life has turned out because we all have the chance to change it.

Yet, it's not a "how-to" book in the way that other books seem to be. Clarkson helps us see that we don't always have to like our current situation in order to embrace it and use it to God's purpose. She writes about tough times in her own life that she saw worked towards the good of God. 

Own Your Life doesn't show us a magic formula on how to have the perfect life but rather how to take up our cross and be content in all things. And to own it. How to change how we view our life, view our days, view our life purpose.

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Tyndale Publishing in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

February IPSY Bag

IPSY is $10 a month and each month you will receive a makeup bag as well as 4-5 trial and full size items, based on your beauty profile as well as the review you submit on their site.

The theme this month was LOVE and you could tell with all the pink! 
My bag included:
*Luxie Beauty Face Brush

*ModelCo Blush

*Cargo lip gloss

*Tini Beauty Eye Shadow

*JOYA Composition No. 1 Parfum Oil (this smells amazing! but I was still a bit bummed that I didn't get the Demeter Fragrance this month)

The bag this month is cute as well! IPSY is always a fun mixture of items to try out and it's been a favorite subscription company for years.

Disclaimer: Referral links included in post. 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

If I Fall, If I Die

"Will has never been to the outside, at least not since he can remember. And he has certainly never gotten to know anyone other than his mother, a fiercely loving yet wildly eccentric agoraphobe who drowns in panic at the thought of opening the front door. Their little world comprises only the rooms in their home, each named for various exotic locales and filled with Will's art projects. Soon the confines of his world close in on Will. Despite his mother's protestations, Will ventures outside clad in a protective helmet and braces himself for danger. He eventually meets and befriends Jonah, a quiet boy who introduces Will to skateboarding." If I Fall, If I Die by Michael Christie

I loved the premise of this book. Seeing the world for the first time through a 12 year old's eyes (which is the age I finally settled on for Will, though it took quite awhile to realize how old this boy was) was interesting to say the least. 

Eating food only from a crockpot because mushy food was less likely to choke, changing light bulbs only if wearing a wet suit or dish gloves, wearing a helmet at all times. These habits that Will developed because of his mother's agoraphobia (fear of leaving the house) amused me. 

A lot seemed so out of character for the actual character of the book though. Would a boy, who had been sheltered inside his own for as long as he could remember, removed from all of society except for  delivery men all of a sudden step into the world with little to no fear? Immediately immerse himself in public school by choice? He didn't seem to have the fear that a child growing up in a household as described above almost most definitely would have. 

The "mystery" in the book seemed so disjointed and didn't make much sense even once it was revealed. By about the last six chapters I wasn't interested much in the book, nor the characters any longer. 

With that said, I did thoroughly enjoy the first half of the book. Christie's writing is vivid and fun. I just feel like he took a perfectly good dramatic fictional book and suddenly turned it into a mystery half way through, which I could have done without. 

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

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Hungry, Hungry Hippos

One of my most popular posts, even 4 years later, is How to Feed a Family of Five Under $75 Weekly. Daily I get a hit or two on that post alone. 

For years I was able to come in at $75 or under a week for groceries. All that went out the window when Jacob got sick. We were blessed by being surrounded by caring people who dropped off meals, sent gift certificates for the grocery store, or local restaurant gift certificates. That took a huge strain off of me having to closely budget and shop all the sales. It allowed me that extra time with Jacob, which I will forever be grateful for.

But a lot happens in three years, mainly rising costs of groceries. And boy, did the cost of groceries rise in the past five years! When I went back to budgeting, meal planning, and detailed grocery shopping in the fall of 2013, I was horrified by how our grocery budget needed to be doubled, if not tripled, some weeks. 

Still, I am in sticker shock. My problem is doubled by the fact that I could care less about food. No, I haven't stopped eating, probably the opposite is true, but the pleasure of meal planning...of even being able to think up a menu seems a little beyond me yet. It's grief, it's not really caring about this issue, it's trying not to stress out about it. 

But stress I do.

I find myself running to the grocery store a few times a week. Spending $30-$40 and walking out of there with just a few meal's worth of food, then repeating the process a few days later. I find myself sending hubby to the store for something, only to have him return with several bags of (unasked for!) stuff. I find us eating too much junk. Going through food too quickly. Wasting time and money. It's a circle way too easy to fall into.

I've gotten to the point that I don't even know how much we spend on food, and am a bit scared to find out. I don't even know what a reasonable weekly food goal is at this point. According the a quick Google search it sounds like $900 or more for a family of four?!

I did the Frugal Housewife's $70 Menu Plan (which ended up costing me $82) in 2012. We found the menu to involve way too much bread and not many meals that we liked. I did a $400 Healthy Month Meal Challenge in 2010 and don't think I could replicate that 5 years later.

We are a family of five. My husband packs a lunch each day for work. With us homeschooling, every single meal and snack is on me to provide. That adds up to a lot of food. Add in a 6 year old boy that literally grew out of his shirts in a one week span and a tween that will soon be as tall as me. A toddler that burns her energy as fast as she makes it. Food, food, food seems to be the theme around here! Even the cats beg for food all day long. :/

What is my point? I'm hoping to get back on track. My first goal is getting together a good menu and shopping list for this coming week. My next goal is to figure out just how much we are spending on groceries each week. My next goal will be to see how low we can go. I shall allow you peeks into this process.

What area of the country do you live in and what is your grocery budget each week?

Friday, February 13, 2015

Breathe Deep

Once again, I feel that I've jinxed myself. Saturday I boasted "Becca and I haven't been sick all winter."

I should have knocked on wood. 

Guess who is sick this week?! Yep, both of us.

I've been drinking cups of this tea (very quickly, because it tastes gross) several times a day. 

It really does work in clearing up congestion. Yes, I only paid 50 cents for this at the Amish bent and dent store. Along with the tea and the 85 cent peanut butter m&ms that I also got at the Amish store, my homemade chicken noodle soup, and a warm quilt and a good book I've managed to make the most of this icky sickness.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Frontier House

This has to be the third or fourth time that I have watched the PBS series  Frontier House (on DVD from the library). This time around Becca and Joe are also watching it along with me.

This program is about three real life families from 2002 who spend 5 months on the frontier, as if it were really 1883. 

Anyway, I was curious how this experience changed these people's lives, 13 years afterwards. I did a little googling and found out that:

*Nate and Kristen Brooks have three children now and do a lot of traveling around the world. Their Facebook page is a bit outdated but is fun to read nonetheless.

*Mark and Karen Glen are divorced. You could easily see that tension in their marriage throughout the show, and a separation was shown during the ending of the series. Mark didn't enjoy coming back to the 21st century and instead went back to live on the ranch. I can't find any more about the book he mentioned working on. 

*Gordon and Adrienne Clune divorced soon after the show as well. It sounds like the show changed them the least, as per their divorce records they went on to buy million dollar homes (one 2.5 million, one 6 million). Last reported, Adrienne is now a chief and was reported to be dating again and Gordon remarried.   

I wasn't surprised to see that Nate and Kristen Brooks are still together and traveling as they were the most likeable and adventurous couple in the show.  I wish I could have found more out about Karen's lifestyle nowadays. I'm shocked at Gordon and Adrienne's divorce. While they were the least likeable on the show, and quite the "Malibu power couple" they did at least seem to have a good marriage. I suppose appearances (especially on "reality television"!) can be deceiving! I had hoped, I think, to see that these couples weren't able to return back to a normal 21st century life (well, I suppose Mark wasn't able to). I was expecting them to have a little acreage, or be one of those "tiny house" people. Something along those lines. I imagine that an experience of living off the land for 5 months would change me and my family completely.   

Did you watch Frontier House when it originally aired? What did you think of the series?

Monday, February 9, 2015

Still Life

I loved Christa Parrish's Stones for Bread so was excited when I saw her new book, Still Life coming out.

"A tragic plane crash. One woman who lost her husband. Another who gave up her seat for him.

Ada spent her first twenty-five years with her family as part of a fringe religious sect. Her only contact with the outside world was through customers at their farm store. Then she met Julian, a photojournalist who'd come to document their lifestyle. They eloped mere days later and Adah was thrust into a completely new life as a wife, city-dweller, and an individual allowed to make her own decisions. But she has no idea who she is."

This book drew me in immediately. The sentences are so descriptive and poetic, but not in an overly done sort of way. I started and finished this book all within one afternoon, so it really was a "must read me!" type of book.

I do wish that there was more of a back story with Ada, and feel some of the story was quite unrealistic, but it didn't turn me off at all. I think the whole point of the book was to give snap shots of lives...showing brief moments that change your life completely.

I loved the characters and the way the stories of these people unfolded. I definitely plan to read Christa's three other books as she has become a favorite author of mine now.

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

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Mothering from Scratch

"We’re not perfect mothers. We don’t have perfect children." Thus begins the book Mothering from Scratch by Melinda Means & Kathy Helgemo. Finally, a book to stop telling you what you are doing wrong as a mother and one to give you ideas of how to love where you are.

"I yell a lot."

"My house is not perfect and never will be."

Kathy and Melinda keep it real as they write about real mothering, real life, and real mistakes. This isn't a how-to guide on being the perfect mother. This is a how-to guide on how to change what we don't like and how to embrace what we do...because there are all types of mothers and all types of mothering that can be done. No one size fits all and no unrealistic expectations to put on ourselves. This is truly a feel good parenting book that inspires you instead of leaving you feeling worse about yourself

Disclaimer: This book was given to me by Bethany House Publishers in exchange for my honest review. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

This Week

*I'm having to remind myself of what day it is. This week is going so quickly but I'm getting nothing done!

*I started reading our book club pick Catcher in the Rye. I like how this book club (at our library) makes you read all types of books!

*I jinxed myself by saying that the kids haven't been sick all winter except for a slight cold once. Two of the kiddos awoke this morning with a runny nose and a bad attitude.

*I was about to throw this cute little blue bow away that was part of the packaging of a candle. I thought it too pretty so decided to attach a small amount of elastic on the back (which I had taken out of a pair of pj pants that were destined for the garbage last year and placed in my scrap pile). 
Now that is upcycling! #recyclingatitsbest!

*Amy is obsessed with watching Full House and screams "baby!" all day because she wants to watch it. As I watch it now as an adult I realize how it portrayed the kids as little snots who always get their way (don't want uncle Joey and uncle Jessie to work outside of the home?! Then they won't!) and that there is so much making out and dating on that show. Wow. Guess it went over my head as a kid but it just seems so odd for a "family show".


Related Posts with Thumbnails