Saturday, December 28, 2013

Udderly Smooth-REVIEW

On December 16th, I received a rather unique package in the mail;  An assortment of Udderly Smooth products for a quick review.  As I've shared, I am a bit of a farm girl, and I live in the frozen north, so this one was something I had looked forward to as a challenge of a product that potentially fit my needs. 

Now, to see what they have available, visit their website at
Find them on Facebook at
And on Twitter at

You see, I have a daily routine that includes dates with this fine bovine:

Except that it is now late December.  And I live in Minnesota.  That means that the temps these past few weeks have rarely been above zero, we have snow up to our knees, and we are constantly dealing with moisture on our skin in those temps to do chores and milk by hand.  That means this stuff was put to the test. 

I had used some of the Udderly Smooth a number of years ago at the recommendation of a doctor for a child's nasty diaper rash, but it had been almost 20 years and I really don't remember what the result was of that usage, just that the package was familiar.

To give an idea of the condition of my hands, I've been having to wear non-latex exam gloves to prevent further irritation of chapped hands.  They are cracked and rough, and bumping and rubbing against a dirty udder are not a friendly feeling.  A picture couldn't be taken to really show it, our lighting is too poor. 

Now, the nitty gritty:
This product is made in the USA.  That is pretty important to a lot of folks, so it deserves a good mention.
The product has been around for more than 30 years, also worthy of note to many. 
It can be found in many big name retailers.
Prices will vary according to place of purchase.

I received the hand cream in both 2 and 4 ounce sizes, along with 6 of the sample packets.  I also received a tub of body cream and a tub of foot cream, along with a great coupon.

  • Convenient options for package sizing.  The 2oz. tube is perfect for a coat pocket or purse!  The larger 4oz. works great for the counter/night stand/desk locations. 
  • The packaging makes EASY dispensing.  As long as you don't have an overly eager child squeezing for all they can, the tube doesn't seem to allow large bursts of cream to come out at once.
  • The ingredient list is almost identical to the udder balm I have from the farm store (as the company suggests in their promotions) with only slight variations in formulation and a few ingredients that are not identical.  The entire ingredient list is easily found on their website!

  • For those who want all natural stuff on their skin, there are some ingredients that may be less than desired. 
  • There is also "fragrance", which can bother some.  Several in my house commented when I'd used it because they noticed the fragrance without even seeing me use it (we are exceptionally sensitive to smells in our house, so this is NOT likely a problem for everyone!
Personal Experience:
 I lean towards the more natural things for preferences and wasn't all that excited by the ingredient list.  Not that there is anything I disagree with in particular, but I like "simple".  Meaning the fewer ingredients, the better.  If I don't know exactly what an ingredient is by reading the name, I wonder if I should be using it.  I often use coconut oil and beeswax to make my own lotion bars.  Having a soft, flowing hand cream was a bit of a variation that was nice to have.  I used the entire 2 ounce tube in less than 10 days and found that while my hands didn't heal from being chapped (who can truly expect them to when the temperature is -20f and you have to get them wet regularly?!?!), it did help to maintain them.  My hands did NOT get any worse, and the areas that are not damaged are soft and smooth as the company suggests. 

For those who want something to use "off the shelf", this is a great product.  For those who are concerned about ingredients, it may be something they'd rather pass on, but I am not an expert, nor a chemist, and I know this worked for me.   As with all products?  It may not work for everyone the same, and your experience may be different, but if you need to work on your hands, I'd say give this stuff a try!

If you want to learn more about the experiences of my Mosaic Reviews friends, check out their reviews in the linky at the bottom of this page:

Friday, November 29, 2013

Gratitude Challenge-catching up post...November 29th

To give you a bit of a background, my husband has had some major health challenges for a few years.  We have been spinning our wheels working with an inadequate treatment plan for a while, and fighting and hoping to get a chance to get new eyes on his case and give opinions of how to improve.  We finally got it.  We had 12 days' notice to travel almost 400 miles to see doctors and had to arrange for home, family, children and animals to be cared for in our absence.  What was supposed to be a 2 day trip became 5.  Life was a bit overwhelming and I am still not recovered, but coming up for air and trying to get back into the swing of things before our holiday season takes over with all of my business obligations...

So here is the list as I saved it:
Day 7: Thankful for a vehicle to get us where we have to go at a moment's notice.
Day 8:  Having a small farm to be able to raise many of our own foods.
Day 9:  Children who are innocent and don't know all of the hard things going on in this world yet.
Day 10:  Books.  One can never have enough knowledge, and books keep that knowledge at your fingertips.
Day 11:  My electric blanket.  I get cold, and it makes life more bearable.
Day 12:  A full calendar to keep me busy and prevent me from being bored.
Day 13:  Dirty dishes.  I loathe them, but they tell a story of a well fed family.
Day 14:  Fur-friends.  Dogs, cats, cows.  All of them bring something special to our family, and their fuzzy winter fur makes them lovable and cuddly.
Day 15:  Social media.  It connects me to all of these amazing people.
Day 16: Events that bring new customers to my business.
Day 17: Thirty-One business that provides me all the functional bags I need for travel and daily life.
Day 18: Buffets.  When traveling, it is nice to have an option to eat something, no matter what your tastes.
Day 19: Doctors who truly are attentive to their patients.
Day 20: The Internet and phones that allow us to keep in touch with friends and family while away from home.
Day 21:  Gracious women who are understanding and kind when you have to cancel your plans to meet family needs.
Day 22: My own bed.  There is something comforting about your own bed after traveling, no matter how bothersome it may be.
Day 23: Cupboards with food in them.
Day 24:  Warm winter clothing.
Day 25:  New beginnings and blessings. 
Day 26:  Friends who are there no matter what they think of your situation.
Day 27:  A home where children laugh, make messes, make memories.
Day 28:  A family that is dedicated to each other, through thick or thin.
Day 29:  My Lilla Rose business that provides opportunities to meet amazing women while providing some extra income for my family. 

Join us with the Gratitude Challenge hosted by my friend, Brenda over at Quiet Pandemonium

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Gratitude Challenge 2013- November 6th

A simple thankfulness today.  Technology.  Being able to talk to friends and family in different time zones, cross state or cross country or half way around the world in real time is a huge blessing. 

Hop on over to Quiet Pandemonium to see what you can be thankful for and link up your own posts.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Gratitude Challenge 2013- November 5th

Today is simple.  I am thankful for big, comfy blankets.  I over extended myself physically yesterday and the piles of big, comfy blankets that help keep me warm and relax those tired muscles are priceless.

If you'd like to join the Gratitude Challenge, hop on over to Quiet Pandemonium and share your thoughts with the rest of our friends. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Gratitude Challenge 2013- November 4th

Today I am grateful for the quiet time spent in the barn in the early morning with no sounds except for the animals.  The cats purring, the cow munching on her hay, the chickens clucking no and then.  For the farm girl in me, there is nothing more relaxing and peaceful.  There are no pictures that can convey that feeling of total relaxation and comfort.  Just peace.

If you'd like to join the Gratitude Challenge, hop on over to Quiet Pandemonium and use the link up there or just take the time to read some other gratitude posts.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Gratitude Challenge 2013- November 3rd

Today, I am grateful for my faith.  This picture represents a small piece of that faith that was passed down by some very dedicated grandmothers.  Those women had faith that didn't get hidden in my life.  Another copy of this picture hung in my grandmother's kitchen, always a reminder to pray and give thanks. I have a previous post about the details of this particular piece of artwork, should you be interested.

Thank you, Brenda, for hosting Gratitude Challenge 2013 over at Quiet Pandemonium.  My readers and guests are welcome to join us and check out the other Gratitude Challenge posts.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Gratitude Challenge 2013- November 2nd

Thank you to Brenda over at Quiet Pandemonium for hosting the 2013 Gratitude Challenge.

Today, I am grateful for messy windows and glass throughout my home.  They are reminders that someone little lives here that loves to snuggle and can call me "Mom".  They are reminders of a life unaware of the challenges of adulthood and full of opportunities to explore out those windows and doors.
The longer I have little people around, the shorter that time feels.  I am choosing to embrace it and leave those marks of a little "love" just a little bit longer.

What are you grateful for today?  Want to join our Challenge
Visit Brenda's page and link up your own post on Gratitude!

Friday, November 1, 2013

Gratitude Challenge 2013 - Day 1

I am participating in the Gratitude Challenge with my friend Brenda over at Quiet Pandemonium.  Go check out her page and see what makes you grateful this month!

"What if... You woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?"  Is a question that swirls around facebook every so often.  A friend recently posted it and it got me thinking again about whether I am truly being thankful for everything I have.  I have a family, a home, a car to drive, food to eat, water to drink, and so many little (and big) comforts in life that so many others do not have.  I often ponder whether I am thankful enough.  When Brenda offered the Gratitude Challenge, I decided I need to participate.

To kick off day 1, I am sharing my gratitude for warmth.  Blankets, a wood stove, space heaters, heat packs, extra clothing...whatever it is I use each day to be warm.  After trick or treating last night, a friend and I bantered back and forth about the weather and how it was too cold to stay out long and it hit me how many do not have those things that we "chose".  Those who are homeless or those who work outside in our region don't always have the luxury of warming up a rice bag in the microwave or warming a blanket next to the wood stove to get that extra little snuggle.  Lord, do not let me take these things for granted.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sidetracked by life...

I've come to this page repeatedly over the last 6 weeks.  Not sure what to say or where to go with all of the ideas swirling in my head.  The reality is, they are all so intertwined at times, it is hard to separate them to pull just one out.  There are times when I get a bit overwhelmed with life and the things I have to do.  There are times I just need to step back and say "I can't fit that in right now, check back later".  A few friends even asked if we were having problems {in our friendships} and if everything was ok.  Yep, it sure is and was.  I just run a busy schedule and have times where I need to downsize what I am doing, and focus on the biggest/most important projects.  It was hard and still is, but I had to focus on business for a bit.  I had an amazing month for August and September with both of my business ventures, but I had the great pleasure of promoting to SUPERVISOR with Lilla Rose in September.  It all started with one clip and one party, but now I have more of an opportunity to earn money to help meet the needs of my family.  My growing Lilla Rose team is a huge blessing in my life, and I can't thank them enough for what they've done for me.

Coming up?  Watch for some fun reviews.  I am also participating in the Gratitude Challenge with a sweet friend.  I have some business and health articles in the works too... I promise that winter is knocking at the door here in northern Minnesota and I will have more time to write consistently in just a few short days!

Monday, September 9, 2013

REVIEW: EEME Project Genius Light

The Mosaic Reviews team had an opportunity to check out a product that I never imagined existed, but knew it was a perfect fit for one of our kiddos as soon as I heard a bit about it.  

EEME's monthly hands-on project kits teach kids about electronics. Each project kit is paired with online curricula to not only guide the kids in assembling the project but also to teach the concepts applied.

EEME is a monthly subscription program that has a couple of options available.  Prices are $18.95 per month for the basic kit, and $29.95 per month for the pro kit.  Subscriptions may be canceled at any time.

The Dad at EEME  has generously offered all new subscribers the opportunity to have their first month FREE for this next week.  

We decided to extend your readers a 1st month free towards an EEME subscription limited time promo - expires 9/16/2013

The promo URL is here -

About Project Genius Light

With the Genius Light project, you will assemble a simple LED circuit system that does the smart thing - lights up when it is dark and dims when it is light.
The project kit will be shipped with all the materials needed to build the Genius Light (a breadboard, resistors, circuits, LEDs, battery).
Once you've gotten your kit, you'll come back to to access our 45 minutes of online videos, which will (1) teach you and your kid how to build the Genius Light, and (2) explain the electrical engineering concepts behind it. (Videos are free to check out.)
Questions? Feel free to get in touch with Jack at!

We set aside a couple of hours to do this project, not knowing really what we were getting ourselves into.  There are no directions in the box, you log in online on the company website to access the free videos (the directions to log in are included in the box).  I chose my 8 year old for this review because he LOVES "projects" and is constantly building and creating with any materials his imagination can spin into something else.
Checking to make sure all parts are accounted for before starting the project.

Once you log in online, the videos show you step by step with extremely clear explanations of what to do.  They start with the "whats" and then go back and teach the "hows" of each part of the project.  The videos for this particular project are broken up into very short pieces.  Most of them were only a minute or two. The steps were short, easy to understand and very clear.
These projects require some detailed work and some excellent fine motor skills.  There are NO tools required, but a parent does have to be involved with the whole process for younger children, and it is encouraged for all students.  The projects are geared towards 7-12 year old students, but I have to admit that I found it fun and fascinating to be able to do this project, so I think that I'd use the age as a guideline for understanding the concepts, but use it rather loosely.  Some younger children would do well with this project (all of mine stood around us and watched!) and surely older ones would too.

As you progress through each step of the project, some of the videos have a few short questions to help ensure that there is understanding of the concepts and the process. As you complete each part, there is a window that opens to give you a congratulatory message. This gives you the chance to continue on to the next step or go back to review what you want to spend a bit more time learning or understanding.  We had to stop a few times and adjust placement of wires to make them look nice for the project maker.
My little project maker was very thoughtful during the process and was able to soon anticipate what was needed and why.  He tends to be very analytical and thought this project was a blast. 

All told, this project took us a bit over an hour, with interruptions.  We REALLY enjoyed this one!  The reward of a working LED light at the end lit up the faces of the little guys watching and got the wheels turning in my project maker as he considered what else he might be able to do (yes, it spurred that critical thinking that EEME seeks to encourage!)  The parts can be a bit tricky to handle since they are so small, but with a parent's help, it is easy enough to get done. The explanations of the terminology and the parts/components were clear enough that even the 4 year old observer picked them up quickly.  The price is a bit daunting to some, but the quality of the videos and instruction and the "all parts included" (YES, even the batteries!) makes it seem very affordable in most budgets if you have a child with an interest in building and creating.

If you have a project builder at your house, this one is AWESOME to jump in and try!  Thank you EEME and Mosaic Reviews for such a great opportunity!  My guy is thrilled to have something to show off to adults now and share what he has learned in school here at home.

You can find the EEME team at:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

REVIEW: Teen Coder Windows and Game Programming

Mosaic Reviews recently offered us the chance to review something a bit different than your standard curriculum.  Homeschool Programming offers both "kid" and "teen" courses in computer programs, games and Android applications.  Reaching into some of the electives, computer programming is a bit of a specialized market and an even more specialized interest.  In our house, the computer minded folks are affectionately dubbed the "geeks".  This program appealed to me for that very group of students in our home. The time of year was tough for us to dig in deeply and use it as a set, structured curriculum and work through it fully.  We were able to do several lessons and skim the rest, checking out what it had to offer.  It left enough of an impression, it will be part of our school program this year (we aren't starting just yet, for family needs).

From the website:
  Our computer programming courses for kids and teens teach students to write programs, games, and Android applications!
No teacher expertise required! All of our award-winning computer science courses for Visual Basic, C#, and Java are self-study.

And boy, oh boy!  Let me tell you, I am thankful for that "no teacher expertise required" bit!  I will explain more in a moment. 

As a reviewer, I received:

A digital copy of both the Windows Programming and Game Programming text books
Online access to all of the videos (optional part of the program)

This is the equivalent to the year pack for $155.00 on the website, with the videos included.

A brief summary of the product from the publisher:
 The TeenCoder C# programming courses are designed for 9th-12th grade students who may be interested in computer science as a career, hobby, or who may need a computer course for high school graduation. Build your school transcript with a high quality technical elective that is easily recognized by college professors.

I will tell you that way back when, in my final months of high school, I took a computer programming course that I still vaguely remember.  "If then, go to" will forever be stamped in my mind.  It left me feeling a bit arrogant about what I knew, I will unashamedly admit.  Computer programming has come a very long way and changed so much that it was like reading a foreign language to me, as I was browsing the terminology and components.  To say that it has been 20+ years and I do somewhat know my way around computers meant absolutely nothing when I opened this program.  I was quickly humbled by my meager, fading knowledge of this ever changing subject.  After a deep breath, and following the steps from the beginning, taking bite size pieces at a time (remember that part about reading instructions? Yeah, trust me!  It helps sometimes, LOL!).  The team at Homeschool Programming knew there would be parents like me.  They broke it all down so very well that I was back on my feet and running in no time. 

The program helped me understand the history and background of programming and how it has changed and evolved.  The lessons explain not only the HOW of various tasks and lessons, but the WHY.  This was huge.  I am a firm believer in understanding.  I like to say that if you can't understand how it works, you probably shouldn't be using it.  I will admit, I haven't applied this mantra to my computer usage.   This program is helping me fix that problem.  What? You thought it was only for the kids? I think parents can easily learn from this too. 

As we worked through the various lessons, I truly, and I mean *TRULY* appreciated having the videos to help me.  If you've read any of my other reviews, you may remember that I am a visually oriented learner, and having a digital copy of the text book challenged me, but the videos helped pull me back together again.

Thoughts and summaries:

  • This program is very thorough to my non expert eye and mind. 
  • The price point is a bit steep to some one's pocket book if you are cheap like I am, but the program is very easily handed to a child with total self direction for the teen program that we reviewed.  That is priceless to many parents.
  •  The depth of the language was above my head and I felt lost until I took it step by step.  The text and the videos make it clear what is being explained and what is expected. 
  • The projects are simple, practical, and fun
  • I was impressed by the lesson plans, the scope and sequence, the tests that and the solutions manual.  They are so straight forward that I don't need to fully understand the concepts to help my student.
  • While the videos are optional, they can be beneficial.  They are animated and not anything fancy, but highlight printed text and activities to help those who learn through different input.
  • The basic graphics and cartoon styling are perfect for the easily distracted in the house.  Simple, yet appropriate.  

All in all?  I have had a crazy summer, interrupted by health issues, garden and farm life and work, but the time I did spend with this program left me wanting more time to use it and absorb it. 

To check it out more, here are the must know details:

Homeschool Programming, Inc
980 Birmingham Rd, Suite 501-128
Alpharetta, GA 30004

Find them on Facebook at:

The website:

To read all of the team reviews of both TeenCoder and KidCoder, visit Mosaic Reviews

Monday, September 2, 2013

So, I took a bit of a medical hiatus....

I am sorry to those who were waiting for more, but I've been battling some physical health problems for a while and when the schedule came up for surgery within a week, all of life shifted towards preparing to have the house and children ready for my down time.  I am on the mend already and getting back into the swing of things quickly.

Coming up, I have a couple of reviews that are a bit different than what I've had in the past, more in my home business "series in the works", and more about life around here.

Monday, August 19, 2013

There are those moments to just sit back and wonder...

What will life look like in a year?  Five years?  Ten years?  Do I dare imagine 20 years from now? 

I sat in my comfy chair watching my boys from the other room, and couldn't help but to soak it in.  One sitting on the counter, admiring every word shared by a bigger brother.  One sitting on a chair challenging the one next to him to some sort of duel of knowledge just out of the line of vision from my vantage point.  One off helping the men do something outside.  I admired those 4 littler boys sitting there and going through their regular routines of "who is in charge/smartest/toughest/biggest/whatever challenge we decide today" with their little challenges of who knew the most about the latest adventure on a video game, which comic book character was strongest, and who did the most chores for the day.  Their competitive nature is hard to ignore sometimes, but it keeps them (mostly) honest...because if they don't tell on themselves, it usually isn't long before a brother will tell for them.  They have a crazy respect for one another, but also that brotherly "love".  They can often be quoted as saying "We are best friends and worst emenies" (yes, they say it wrong, but who am I to correct their little cute quirks in those moments?!?).

I wondered what will they be doing to challenge each other in the future?  What will they argue over?  Will they truly be friends?  Will they despise each other for those little quirks that often lead to spats?  I couldn't help but to laugh at the entertainment I had in front of me and soon got distracted in my day dreaming.  Back to reality with a ball hitting the chair beside my head.  The sentimental moment was over and the war was on.  Soon those boys who caused me to day dream for a few minutes had jumped back into their regular routine again and were running after one another as they headed out the door. 

I could have gotten after them for running in the house, yelling, or any of a number of things...and then I realized that instead of fussing, they gave me a gift.  A moment to treasure.  A dream to look forward to.  A plan or a bit more training.  Life isn't all wrapped up in bows and beautiful paper, but those small, tender moments have to be grabbed sometimes instead of just waiting for them to land in your lap. I am working hard to absorb those moments and catch the loving moments when I can.  Even if they may not like the camera, or even if they are camera hogs.  As you can clearly tell, I have some of both.  I couldn't get to my camera without disrupting that particular special moment, but I am learning to keep something with me at all times. 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

There are angels all around us

This past several weeks, I have been stuck in a whirlwind of activity that has left this blog sorely neglected.  One party laziness, one part overwhelmed mind, one part brain fog.  You see, as an independent consultant (aka home business owner), I've gotten involved with several great circles of women who often do events together.  This group of women has been torn to shreds mentally by several of these gals being slammed with major health issues.  Two of them were diagnosed with cancer less than 2 weeks apart.  This would send many reeling, and to be honest?  Mentally, it has.  These are both vibrant, active women who live full lives.  Both have children at home yet.  It could have been devastating news, but instead?  It has become story after story of inspiration. 

No, the cancer is not gone.  There is question of whether it is even possible for it to be gone.  That part of things is terribly sad and solemn...but it is not the focus of attention.  You see, instead?  This group of women that I have been blessed to become a part of on a regular basis has linked arms and said, essentially, "we are fighting this together!".  Fund raising, sharing burdens, sharing prayers, rallying support, connecting resources, and sending words of encouragement.  This group of women who otherwise has no significant connection besides doing business together several times a month has become an inspiration.  I will say that I am a Christian, but I do not believe one has to go to church or follow a particular teacher.  I believe that it is about personal relationship and actions.  I see some amazing faith in these women who've never said a peep about church or faith.  I've seen encouragement through scripture, through actions, through genuine, unashamed love for our fellow "sisters" in business.  These women have shown themselves to be angels on earth. 

Today, I am choosing to post on my designated day of "rest" or "time off", to say I am blessed to those around me who aren't overtly church going, rule following Christians who step out and show the love of Jesus in just the right time and place as needed.  They aren't always found in a church, they don't always act as if they are regular church goers to those who follow "the rules", they may slip out a cuss word or smoke or drink, but they have their hearts where they should be...and it isn't out there for the world to see on a regular basis, but it is there.  Behind the rough edges and imperfect lives.  Right where many modern churches would say it doesn't exist. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Phew! Did you see that?!?!

It is August 1st already and I think summer kinda ran right past us and missed us!  The weather has been so crazy here, we are up so late at night that we end up sleeping late in the mornings.  I feel like my head is spinning some days just trying to get it all done. I just keep reminding myself to try to soak it all in before the world looks like this again:

Living in the north, that could be next week!  Ok, so not really, but it feels that way sometimes.  Last week there was a frost advisory in our region, so it is coming faster than we'd like. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Wednesday...just because

I've seen a lot of "Wordless Wednesday" posts lately in various places, and decided that it sounded like a great idea.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Take the time to enjoy the simple things in life....

Summer is so busy around here, it is hard to find time to put thoughts together in words and sentences and paragraphs.  It is easy to dig in the dirt, get busy with cookouts with friends, spend time mowing the lawn, doing repair projects, working at the farmer's market, and the rest of daily life. 

Over the past weeks as things have been so crazy busy around here, I've tried to make a special effort to notice the small things that make us smile.  Enjoy!
Sunset at our favorite fishing hole.

Watching my young children appreciate their adventures in nature.

Sitting with my own bobber in the water.

Young, new life.  Full of energy and mischief, and the ability to keep rodents away from the house and garden with great stealth.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

Today, we celebrate the birth of our beloved nation.  May you, your families, and all of your friends be truly blessed in your freedoms.  Whether you fly a flag outside your home or pass one by on the pole of a local business, take the time to appreciate the freedoms we have in the U.S.

I don't have a grand old flag flying at my house, but I do enjoy seeing them.  I love the artistry created from their inspiration, too!

This little beauty is from Lilla Rose.  In case you didn't already know, I am an Independent Consultant with the company.  This post isn't about business, but I appreciate the beauty and wanted to share.  The link to my website is at the top of the page if you are interested ;)

Whether you are young or old, I hope that you will do what you can to learn more about our beloved history and the Declaration of Independence that started it all.
One of our favorite movies around here is National Treasure
The Declaration of Independence is a big part of the movie, and that movie alone has brought up more discussions than any other about how our nation was founded, how history is preserved, and how things have changed.  The boys are drawn in by the action, the girls by the content.

Among some of our other favorites?
 Liberty's Kids
Schoolhouse Rock

What resources do you use that are non-traditional?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

10 Tips for Friends of New Home Business Owners

So, your friend just started with her favorite direct sales company or started sewing or crafting, or is doing a bit of photography or something else from home.  Word of mouth is a business owner's best friend and sometimes those closest to the owner get a bit gun shy and overwhelmed.  Sometimes, those of us in this type of business can get a bit too obnoxious with our sharing and can push friends away without trying.  Under the best of circumstances, there are still some bumps in the road.   Here are some tips from my own perspective and experiences.  Make clear boundaries and work on making it a positive experience for all.

10.  Don't be afraid to say "thanks, but no thanks"...but don't beat around the bush...her (or his!) time is precious.  Friends will often spread the word more enthusiastically than strangers, especially when they are just getting started.   If they ask you for a party or an order, just say what you mean.  The "maybe later" answers leave them believing that you may not be sure but there is still hope that you will do something.  If you aren't sure, it is ok to say "ask me again next month".  Give boundaries, give deadlines, set limits.  It is beneficial to both of you!

9.  Don't hide from them, face it head on from the start.  This may seem the same as number 10, but it isn't.  people avoid answering invitations, phone calls or events.  Don't fall into this!  Just face it head on and start off with your decisions.  It is OK to say no!  If you say no and mean it, then you and your friend can move on to the next thing and be friends.  Avoiding them makes things awkward for both of you.  Kick that elephant out of the room before it even comes through the door.

8.  Do consider taking the time to listen and see what they are doing...if they are your friend and you normally trust them, you may actually like what they are doing now too!  You probably share some common interests and it may be something you'd like too!  No one says you have to jump in and sell it or buy it, but maybe you do know someone who would love to.  This advertising is priceless to new businesses.

7.  Don't compare your friend's experience to someone else's failure.  They need to hear encouragement or a soft voice of reason, not discouraging comparisons.  They've thought this through and planned.  They are not your uncle's ex-wife's cousin who went into debt and got collection calls because she never paid her bills. At least, for my sake, I sure hope not.

6.  Be careful not to "one up" them.  That can also be discouraging.  They just decided to start a business with a company and you have a favorite product of the same type from another source.  That is perfectly ok, but please, for both of you....don't try to convince them that their product is inferior or not adequate compared to the others.  Yes, people do it every day.  Don't let that be you!  Even if their business is horrible, unless they are looking for sympathy over a bad hair cut, they don't want to hear how awful you think it may be.  When they are excited, your cold response can be hurtful. 

5.  While it is great to ask how their business is doing, don't ask details about how much money they are making.  Unless you openly share your financials with those around you, a home business owner should be given the same respect.  Now, if you are considering such a business and want motivation, there are numbers that are ok to discuss...but if you wouldn't ask your neighbor down the road how much their last paycheck was, it probably isn't ok to ask of your business owner friend.  People ask this all the time.  My tax man knows, my husband knows.  The IRS knows.  The rest?  Isn't any one's business.  Unless they want to share how much THEY made this week.  Then we can talk.
4.  Let them complain without judgement from time to time.  Just the same as you may complain about a boss pushing a deadline or adding extra work to your pile when you were already overloaded?  Sometimes, your business friends get overwhelmed to.  Yep, they chose their job, but so did you.  Ouch!, right?  It is true.  You could work at McDonald's or Wal-Mart, but you chose your business affiliation and it is still not a perfect job all day every day.  We are all human and all have our ups and downs. 

3.  Don't tell them to get a real job.  People work from home and make serious income every day.  Over the years, I've had several friends who make 5 figures or more per month, every month because of the businesses they've built (that were ALL legal!).  It takes time and effort, and it doesn't happen to everyone, but it does happen to those who choose solid companies and work hard.  Just like most any other job in the world, it all starts at the entry level, and determination, hard work, dedication, continued training can lead to great things and big advancements and promotions.

2.  Realize that your friend is actually working, not just playing on the computer, visiting with friends, or chatting on the phone for fun.  The business hours and events are business.  Not leisure.  It isn't your time to sit and chat on the phone for hours or strike up a message marathon on facebook.  Your friend may be networking, advertising, attending coaching meetings with her upline or mentors, or contacting clients and team members. Be careful not to assume that since your friend is home, that they are not busy.

and last, but certainly not least!

1.  Don't ask for freebies.  They didn't start a charity. They started a business.  If you'd walk up to them and ask them on any given day if they'd give you the cash that equals the value of the item you want, then by all means go ahead...but if you want that snazzy new gadget that is $50, and you wouldn't just say "hey, can you give me fifty bucks?"...then control yourself.  I see photography folks talking about this all the time.  They tend to be the most targeted group for beggars, but it happens to all of us. Don't be greedy, no matter how tempting it is.  Don't be afraid to ask for a discount for your legwork, but make sure you have mutual benefit...not just asking for handouts.

No worries, I have an open letter to new business owners in the works too.  In the 16+ years, I have seen a lot, done a lot, and learned even more...both good and bad. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Classical Historian Medieval History for Kids- REVIEW

The Classical Historian recently partnered with the Mosaic Reviews team to get the word out about a few of their products.  I was lucky enough, I got to review the Medieval History Memory Game. 

The team at The Classical Historian works to make fun ways to learn history.  You can play this game one of two ways, as directed by the instructions that are included with the game.  You can play as a memory game for ages 3 and up, or you can sort the cards by the 4 categories of: Europe, The Americas, The Far East, and Arabia.  During the second version of game play, the play is timed and it is a "race".

Specifics of this game can be found HERE
The game is $14.95 by itself, but can be purchased in two different bundle options with other games as well. 
You can find The Classical Historian at their website and on facebook.
The game includes 64 playing cards that you have to punch out from their frame.

The Classical Historian offers many other products, including games, books, and even classes!  Check them out to see if there is anything to fill in the gaps of your educational supplies.

Personal thoughts:
This game is a great variation on a well known and well loved childhood game.  The company has chosen to use sturdy, quality materials, which is something we greatly appreciate in our home!  The box has held up to the boys, which says that they didn't pick junk.  The game offers pictures that are not nearly as common as many of the other games of memory that we've played and get a child thinking. 

I would LOVE to see a small guidebook added to this game, or even a simple brochure with a bit of info about each of the cards.  While most parents know the significance of the pictures or topics, children may not yet know, and having a little guide to add to those teaching games would be VERY valuable to me. 

All in all, we had a lot of fun with this game and it is a nice departure from just your average memory game.  I like having a purpose to our play, and I LOVE having more than one play option offered by a publisher!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

How Do We know God is Really There? - REVIEW

How Do We Know God Is Really There?
The latest item that came my way as a part of the Mosaic Reviews* team is a thought provoking little story book that tackles the big question:

How Do We Know God Is Really There?
How Do We Know God Is Really There?
How Do We Know God is Really There?

ISBN: 978-1-935495-96-3
ISBN: 978-1-935495-96-3
Melissa Cain Travis, ©2013
Apologia Press
A division of Apologia Educational Ministries, Inc.
1106 Meridian Plaza, Suite 340/220
Anderson, IN 46016
ISBN 978-1-935495-96-3

It can be found, along with a preview in PDF form, at this link:

This quick little read has a page of text complemented with a full page illustration on the opposite of each page that brings the words to life.  It is classified as a picture book, but it is more than just pictures.  As you read the story, you get a glimpse of the big childhood question, "How do we know God is really there?".  Thomas and his father come upon this question in their nightly routine, and come to their conclusion through logical reasoning.  The illustrations almost tell the story by themselves for the youngest of readers. 

This book is a fun, gentle approach at a very tough question.  It doesn't tackle theology or scientific evidence but a child's perspective of faith and understanding in a very simple, delicate way.  This is a great bedtime story, or a book to just read.  It isn't heavy on scripture, only having one verse cited, Psalms 19:1, to back up their final conclusion. 

I have to say, I am a book lover, and this little hard cover book is sturdy, with heavy duty paper for the pages.  At 48 pages, it is a bit intimidating for new readers, but great for the intermediates if they are planning to read independently.   With a bit of digging to learn more about this book, I found that this is expected to be the first in a series of books that tackle questions for young readers digging into the details of their Christian faith.   I look forward to seeing future offerings, I believe this one was well done.

*Check back for an updated link that will link you to all the other team member reviews for this item!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Some linked love to share with my friends for Fun and Fast Friday

Some days, I sit at the computer and I have great ideas that I want to share.  Some of them are HUGE.  And then, I get distracted for a moment or two and start reading other posts and realize that there are messages from various friends that are even more important in the moment than mine... some are cool, some are inspirational, some are very sobering. 

Today, I just want to share one that is revolutionary. Create your own portfolio for your homeschool student with ease!  Using Pinterest, you can easily collect details from the year and create a nice digital portfolio.  My friend, and one of many mentors, Brenda Emmett, has laid it all out clearly in her blog post:

Used with permission from Brenda Emmett, Copyright 2013

Tell me what you have learned that can be Fun and Fast and save time in your home!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Every day is a gift

Today I had the pleasure of running into a woman whom I've known for about 15 years.  This elderly woman is soft spoken, but full of life.  We chatted about her family, the weather, the crops (farming community that we live in, whether you are a farmer or not, it is a rather regular topic for most anyone).   All the chit chat faded quickly in my mind when she turned to her husband as the topic. 

He has had rather rough health the past year, and given all of us many scares.  She proceeded to share how he had a heart attack 27 years ago, and she never expected to bring him home from the hospital.  She said that every day when she wakes up, she gives thanks for one more day with him, knowing it is truly a gift.  Wow.  I know that is the case, and I have had that lesson many times in my life, but seeing her sincerity today just hit me all over again. 

Every day with him is a gift, she said.  There is something mighty powerful in those words.  It was even harder to hear her admit that she knows her time with him is short and it is time to say goodbye.  The strength in her voice began to shake and I fought hard against the tears that wanted to let loose with those words coming from her mouth while standing there in the grocery store.  I do not know her husband well at all, though we have met a time or two.  Her devotion to him, her appreciation for him, her fondness for him hasn't faded in more than 50 years of marriage.  What an amazing legacy to leave their family.  What an amazing glimpse into her faith in just those few words.

Every day is a gift, and I sure hope that some day, I will be able to embrace it like she has and truly absorb and appreciate every moment with those I love and not be muddled by the daily grumblings and disappointments, but be thankful.  Every day IS a gift.  Will we receive it or cast it aside?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Surviving frequent travel for medical needs

As I get more comfortable sharing our story, I have a lot of ideas and tips and experiences.  Our household has some chronic health issues that are life long and require regular, specialized care.  Among the many tips are my travel tactics that have helped us to stay somewhat sane.  We travel to a world renowned clinic for care for 2 members of our household, at nearly 400 miles each way.  We do this on a regular schedule, and have come to learn that packing and unpacking are big time wasters for us.  There are certain things we try to keep in the vehicle at all times, and a few that are in the closet, ready to go at a moment's notice.  At the height of our medical needs in the past, we were making this trek once a week.  We've had varying schedules since then.  Every 3 weeks was nice, but got to be too much.  For now, we are spread out a bit more and finding a groove to it.

Among the things we depend on to get us through:

A bag that is always packed with toiletries and laundry supplies just for purpose of travel, as well as a few odds and ends for the "kitchen", such as a can opener and a microwavable container with a lid, and a small stash of napkins.  I also keep a dish cloth or microfiber rag or two in there to help with dish washing as needed.

Dollar store supplies for in the vehicle:
plastic shoe box
zipper bags
basic medicines-pain relievers, antacids, cold/cough essentials, and an allergy med or two
garbage bags
bowl or 2 with lids
garbage can/basket
basic cleaning wipes

These things do not have to be high quality or all that durable.  They are the "oops! I forgot to grab..." part of my plan.  Plastic, or even cheap metal utensils can always come in handy for a meal on the go that didn't get the needed items or a quick pick up from a grocery store. The zipper bags can contain quick leftovers from a meal on the go to be saved for later.  The medicines, I just get for the emergency times when we can't get to our regular prescriptions in our luggage or when we meet someone else who is without.  It happens regularly.  Most of those supplies fit in the shoe box.  Garbage bags and can?  Well, travel is messy.  Especially with little ones.  It gets even worse when someone gets carsick.  An ice cream bucket lined with a plastic shopping bag is my favorite. Bags lining a bucket are EASY to clean up, and in my opinion, more sanitary than wiping out a bucket with a paper towel and trying to dispose of things in a rest area.  Cleaning wipes need no introduction. 

I also try to always keep a small coin purse with several dollars in coins in it for parking meters, toll roads, and incidental needs from a vending machine.  I try to keep another in our luggage but that doesn't always happen,.

A blanket and a change of clothing and a few diapers or feminine products and baby wipes for each traveling person is ALWAYS nice.  Even if it is only a day trip, things happen.  You could have someone spill on you, your clothing get snagged getting in or out of the vehicle, an unexpected change in weather, anything can happen and you are left with clothing that isn't what you'd be comfortable wearing for the rest of the day.

Phone directories.  Either your own essential and possibly used numbers or a regular old phone book.  We have learned to never count on cell phone reception in all areas, and having numbers on hand has been a life saver. 
Charging cords for all phones.  We keep one for each phone in each vehicle so that there is no concern of being caught without one.  I also keep one in my luggage at all times for indoor charging needs.

I am sure there are things that I am forgetting, but we often find people who are caught off guard and have traveled hundreds of miles and are "stranded" without one or two essentials.  It is well worth the time to share the ideas that have worked for us. 

Friday, May 31, 2013

Fun and Fast Friday- organized and out the door

Every family seems to have a weakness or two in their organization and planning.  Ours is getting out the door on time. 

My tip for this week:

When you get home from an outing, pack up the bag of essentials and have it by the door with the items you will need.  Water bottles, diapers or a change of clothing (as age requires), a snack or two, hygiene products, etc. 

Quick, simple, time saving and sanity saving... as long as no one moves that bag or "borrows" the contents before your next outing!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Fun and Fast Friday- copying recipes

Every weekend gets so full of plans and ideas, visiting with friends and relatives, doing yard work, catching up on household chores that get neglected or put off during the week, the list goes on.. My plan is to share one simple, fast tip each Friday so that my "lessons learned" can be your time saver... and hopefully we can all share. 

This week's tip:

Instead of hand writing each recipe you want from someone, snap a quick picture with your phone or camera! Do be sure to be mindful of copyright laws (this was fun to do a bit of research before I hit "publish" on this post!).  These were taken from my phone, so the quality isn't great, but it is functional.

Freezer coleslaw always fascinates me!

Canned bullhead.  This one just hit my "that's weird" side and I needed proof the recipe existed!

How many times do you want to bake a cake and don't have a mix?!  We don't keep mixes on hand usually, so this was a welcome recipe from an old asylum.

Do you have a Fun and Fast tip to share?  Post in the comments!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Waterproof Bible - REVIEW

Have you ever come across something that makes you share your head and say, "HUH??!?! A what?!?!"  Yeah, me too.  This happened to be one of those things.  Bardin Marsee Publishing is really taking something classic and turning it on its head, as the saying goes.  Or are they?  Any book lover knows that you don't mistreat these beloved creatures, no matter how big or small.  Those of us who are of the Christian faith hold the Bible in an even higher regard.  Making a Bible waterproof and having reviewers put this claim to the test is such an amazing opportunity.  I admit to being a skeptic.  I admit to also being very challenged by the thought of intentionally trying to cause harm to a book. 

The story behind the Waterproof Bible really is a practical one.  The company motto is "Be Inspired.  Anywhere".  We've all had that moment of regret with a book.  A spilled drink, dropping it while carrying it outside, something causing us to forget it in a place that gets it wet or dirty..and for parents, the ultimate horror is that moment when a young child grabs that book by the pages and they end up ripping it.  My very first Bible was damaged at the teeth of my beloved Irish Setter, and so I know well the heartache of having something as precious as my Bible permanently damaged by something so simple as daily life.  The publishers, being outdoorsy and adventurous, found a gap that needed to be filled.  While camping, hiking, and even just having fellowship outside are normal things, your average, every day Bible is not likely to be a regular part of it because those delicate pages don't tolerate the wind, the rain, the rigorous trekking without showing wear and tear.  Let me tell you, we put ours to the test. 

I waited for the best possible days to get good pictures and show what we really did, as much as I could.  That meant waiting until the last minute to get the best pictures to go with the review.  The weather here has been rather wild and not conducive to being outside and taking pictures.

We took it to the creek and let it go for a ride. 
Picked it right up, squeezed it firmly to get the water out...
KJV Waterproof Bible
NT, Ps & Pr Blue Wave
ISBN# 9780984085712

• New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs
• Extremely Durable Synthetic Pages
• 100% Worry Free
• Stain Resistant
• Ultra Clear Text
• Ideal for Gear Bag or Backpack, Tote Bag or Purse
• Dry Highlight
• Write and Underline
• No Bleed Thru
The durability of the Waterproof Bible gives you the freedom to take God's Word with you anywhere - lounging, fishing, exercising, traveling, camping, missions... with worry free confidence that your Bible will withstand the test of time.
Specs: 376 pages, 4 1/4" x 7", 7 pt font
Material: 100% Waterproof Synthetic Paper and Binding

Price: $24.95 

These Bibles are made of synthetic materials that are not only waterproof, but allow some of the Bibles to float.  These Bibles come in both the full version and the New Testament Version with Psalms and Proverbs.  They come in the 5 most popular translations (King James Version, English Standard Version, New King James Version, New International Version, and New Living Translation).  There are 4 different options for the cover (Camouflage, Blue Wave, Pink Brown Floral, or Lily Pad).

There is a whole list of buying options on the shopping page.  You can find anything from accessories to a clearance section with affordable options for fulfilling the needs of a family on a tight budget.

I really appreciate that there is the ability to personalize these Bibles!  My dog-chewed Bible has always been special to me because it has my name embossed in the leather cover.  It was a big deal to get that first Bible from my church back in 2nd grade, and I worried that these Bibles wouldn't afford that opportunity.  I was wrong. I found that the prices are VERY affordable for a quality Bible, and was impressed with the options.  The company also offers a BOGO opportunity where you "Buy One, Give One" that is used within the ministry they choose to partner with and they do all the leg work to get the Bible into the hands of those who need it.

We sprayed it with a garden hose to be sure there was nothing left of the sediment and sand from the creek.

Nice and strong....

See the water run right out of it?
Squeeze out what you can (two hands works better, but it is hard to do that and use the camera!)

Stand it up to let it air out a bit...note the pages seem to cling together...just fan it out when dry, and all is back to normal.

Right back to where we started.
Weathered, but not worn.

I am totally thrilled with this Bible and the materials with which it was made.  I would LOVE to recommend this to anyone!!!

 Now, I can tell you what we did NOT do: 

  • I didn't try any writing utensils or highlighters in it.  I couldn't do it.  I was always taught to not write in my books, not even my Bible.  Note pads are for that job. 
  • I was sorely tempted, but never did try red beverages.  I just couldn't imagine what it would feel like if it didn't wash off as easily as the mud, dirt, cracker crumbs and frosting did.  
  • We did not try any petroleum based products.  The publisher was clear that those types of products could affect the integrity of the materials used to make the book.
  • We did not leave it outside for any extended periods of time.  While the publishers were clear that the book is durable and could handle some exposure, our weather has been so very extreme, I didn't feel safe for fear it may have been damaged by wind or flying debris, if not disappear on me. There was also that concern of stray or wild animals that I'd rather not discuss.
  •  We discussed a run through the dishwasher to simulate a good cleaning.  I opted not to because of the heat.  I do not want to risk damaging this book, as I rather like it and want to keep it in usable condition. 

    To reach the publisher:
Find them on Facebook

And last, but not least?  I got the video to work!  Here you go! Don't mind the amateur flaws, it was fun to do anyway.  My tester was not thrilled to participate, but it was fun to see how the Bible would hold up.

Waterproof Bible put to the test from Stacy Erickson on Vimeo.
As a reviewer for Mosaic Reviews, I had the opportunity to review the Waterproof Bible and put it to the test.