Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Death At A Fixer Upper (A Home Sweet Home Mystery) By Sarah Hobart

** I received a free copy of Death Of A Fixer Upper in return for my honest review as a part of House Party's Chatterbox program. Al opinions are my own. **

I have to say that the book cover really caught my eye. I think it really adds to the mystery and sort of reminds me of fairy tale books I had as a kid. (Which are also interesting because the covers sometimes seem to reflect a more happy and jolly story, rather than a mystery or suspense story.) That's the case with this book.

I agree this book is very fast paced and held my attention well! I did have a slight issue with sometimes having to reread a few sentences back just to remind myself of which characters were who and where. (There are a lot of characters!) I do feel that a few less would have helped a little bit. (Maybe there is something I'm missing, but, a couple of books in a series would be great and maybe introduce a few characters at a time.) I do feel that this would be a great series!

I don't know what I think about the main character, Sam. I think she was portrayed well, I am just not digging Sam's style but, that's my opinion and certainly shouldn't take from the book. Personally, I found parts of Sam's hectic, strange life, very familiar, and I know a couple of people who are similar to Sam. She is an interesting character, just not fascinating. I also like how the author uses adjectives and describes scenes. I think she did a wonderful job there! In some places, it starts to get irritating because it seems to be to many descriptions. (For instance, the icky smell in the bathroom in the beginning.) But, one of my favorite authors, Clive Barker, sometimes takes pages and pages, just to describe one thing. I find a lot of his books to be very hard to read because of how he dwells on abstract things for so long. This author isn't nearly as overly detailed as him! (That's a compliment by the way!) She does a fine job painting the pictures in your mind, of every single scene and character, so, that's a plus also!

The story itself is original and holds your interest. However, it's a very fast read and one of those books that you read on a sunny Saturday afternoon outside. It doesn't take up all of your attention and if you have to put it back down, (because of kids chatting your ears off!), it will just take a second to get back where you were. I enjoy these kinds of books even though I really love books that are a little more in depth. I think of the difference as a television sitcom as compared to a documentary and this book of a sitcom.

I think the story and the author's writing style are fabulous and I love the level of expertise the author has with real estate. Having experience or legitimate research in a career or in the character is one of the ways a book gets a lot of good review. Sarah Hobart does really well with forming a good story, delivering some very unexpected twists, and helping you to see everything play out in your mind. These are the reasons I am giving this book 4 stars

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

I Recently Found Groupon Coupons

** This is a sponsored post. All opinions and statements are 100% my own! **

I often look for local deals on Groupon. Especially when they have gift cards for pizza shops, restaurants, or my main weakness, subscription boxes! I often find some great gifts for the holidays, birthdays, and anything else that needs a celebration. Plus, sometimes, you can grab a bonus for yourself!

I owe my nifty homemade cheese making skills to Groupon. If it weren't for them, I wouldn't have found some sweet deals on cheese making kits, which led me on some super fab adventures in the past few years. Now, I'm able to whip up anything from cheddar cheese curds to mozzarella to farmers cheese.

I also shop online regularly and I always search for coupons, discounts, free shipping, and of course, check in with my cash back and rewards sites to find the best deal before shopping literally, anywhere online. Little did I know that Groupon had coupons for extra savings while shopping online!

When you think of Groupon, what do you think of? I have always just assumed this was the place for deals on events like, hockey games, concerts, gift cards, and some fascinating gift ideas. But, you can also find Groupon Coupons for places like, Puma, Kohl's, Sprint, and Shutterfly. I actually just found a Groupon Coupon for free delivery fees for Edible Arrangements! I will probably be using that one! I recently used a couple of coupon codes for Nike, which were for 20% off of my purchase and after checking out the Puma deals, I may as well start some back to school sneaker shopping!

You can like Groupon on Facebook to stay up to date with the latest deals and coupons!
You can also find them on Twitter!

Have you checked out any Groupon Coupons? Let me know what kind of deals you have found! I actually just found a New York Times digital subscription coupon I am going to grab. It's terribly annoying when I try to read a newspaper article online, only to find that I have "Gone over my 5 monthly free articles" and must now subscribe to read more! (Plus, it makes me look less nerdy if I have a digital subscription rather then having it delivered to my house!)

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Enjoy The Small Things

** This post may contain affiliate links. **

Sometimes you need to spoil yourself after a hard day. Or on a Tuesday - you know the feeling, right??

The team at Grove Collaborative (formerly ePantry), gets that. Which is why they've put together this incredible Mrs Meyer's Everyday Luxury Set for you - for FREE!





The set feels like something you'd get from a chic friend. The kind of gift where you would say, "Oh, you shouldn't have!", before eagerly tearing it open. It includes a lovely Mrs Meyer's dish soap,  Mrs Meyer's hand soap, Mrs Meyer's candle, and  Grove Collaborative Walnut Scrubber Sponges. So pretty and so useful.

I especially love this Mrs Meyer's candle. It's made with essential oils, vegetable waxes, and a lead free cotton wick for a clean, healthy burn. It lasts so much longer than conventional candles and the lavender scent reminds me of the flower market. My secret? I love to light one of these just before guests arrive. The scent is so fresh, they assume I spent the day cleaning.

Of course I do have a few tricks up my sleeve to make the house sparkle without spending hours on it. One of my favorites is this walnut scrubber sponge. The combination of super - absorbent vegetable cellulose and crushed walnuts helps me tackle messy countertops, cookware and dishes fast.

If you're new to Grove Collaborative, you'll get this set FREE- plus free shipping when you use my link and spend $20. There are so many beautiful, healthy household products to choose from at Grove Collaborative, I just can't get enough!

With a few clicks, I can choose my favorite products and scents, customize my shipments, and have them delivered right to my door. (Carbon offset of course.) I love Grove's scheduling feature because I never run out of dish soap or paper towels, which means no more last minute, expensive trips to the grocery store! That means more time to put my feet up, light my Mrs Meyer's candle, and curl up with a cup of tea.

If you're already a Grove Collaborative subscriber, they want to pamper you too! You'll get a free Mrs Meyer's hand soap with your order when you use this link. I have the lemon verbena in my kitchen right now but the basil and lavender are delightful too.

There are a limited number of sets available, and this offer is only good while supplies last or until Sunday, May 1st- so grab yours now. Here's how:


1) Sign up for Grove Collaborative here. You'll receive the Mrs Meyer's Everyday Luxury Set for free when you sign up!
2) Answer 4 quick questions about your home. Grove Collaborative will use this to customize your first basket. (This takes under 30 seconds.)
3) Once you've answered the questions, you can finalize your basket of products to suit your needs by adding or removing items. 
4) To receive this offer, your order needs to total at least $20. Choose the combination of products and scents you love and receive in your first box. (This is the hardest part- so many great choices!) 
5) Click "Finish and Pay" and place your order!      




Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Little Luxuries


I've always loved little everyday luxuries.

They may be small but they have such a big effect on your mood. Crisp, cotton sheets, pretty candles, sinfully dark chocolate, lovely cleaning products...

Wait! Did she say cleaning products??? Yes, I did.

If you're thinking there's no way cleaning supplies can be luxurious, then you've never met Grove Collaborative. And if that's the case, please allow me to introduce you!

This month, Grove Collaborative has curated the Mrs Meyer's Everyday Luxury Set-and you can get it for FREE.


The Mrs Meyer's candle smells incredible and it's a little luxury you can feel good about! Made from vegetable waxes with a lead-free cotton wick, it gives off a clean, healthy burn. I adore the lavender scent, but I can't wait to try the lemon verbena. I always keep one on my nightstand for a quick aromatherapy boost before bed. 



The Mrs Meyer's hand soap and dish soap are toxin free and come in matching scents, so my whole home smells like a spa. Plus, they're all so pretty, I actually want to leave them out on my counter. 

The kit also includes Grove Collaborative walnut scrubber sponges- how awesome are they? They're made from crushed walnuts, so they're naturally tough on messes, but gentle on your pots and pans (and the Earth). I always keep a few of them on hand. 

If you're new to Grove Collaborative, you can get this set FREE+shipping when you place your first order that totals at least $20. My friends at Grove Collaborative have hand selected the most beautiful, healthy household products and will ask you a few questions to help find more products that you will love! It's like having a personal shopper for your home. 

You can choose from more lovely cleaning supplies like Mrs Meyer's Multi Surface Cleaner and Laundry Detergent. But, why not treat yourself to Acure's Aromatherapy Rose Argan Oil and Ultra-Hydrating Body Wash?

Once you've customized your order Grove Collaborative will suggest a shipment schedule to keep you stocked up and on budget. Then your favorite products will show up at your door right when you need them. 

If you're already a Grove Collaborative fan like me, there's something for you too! When you use this link you will get a Mrs Meyer's hand soap FREE with your next order! You can't go wrong with one of these beautiful soaps and a fresh hand towel on your bathroom counter for instant ambiance. 

There are a limited number of sets and this offer ends Sunday May 1 so grab yours now! 
Here's how:

1) Sign up for Grove Collaborative here. You'll receive the Mrs Meyer's Everyday Luxury Set for free when you sign up!
2) Answer 4 quick questions about your home. Grove Collaborative will use this to customize your first basket. (This takes under 30 seconds.)
3) Once you've answered the questions, you can finalize your basket of products to suit your needs by adding or removing items. 
4) To receive this offer, your order needs to total at least $20. Choose the combination of products and scents you love and receive in your first box. (This is the hardest part- so many great choices!) 
5) Click "Finish and Pay" and place your order!      



Need some ideas for your first basket? 


I am totally obsessed with the Mrs Meyer's Multi Surface Cleaner, Dr Bronner's Pure Castile Soap, Method Cleaners in almost every scent available, and I absolutely love Method Toilet Cleaner! My kids have chore lists and also like the scents we find in the cleaning products we buy from Grove Collaborative. Plus, they are safe around kids and pets! 
                                                                          



Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Advil Film Coated Helps Me Have A Productive Life

** I received samples and coupons via Crowdtap and Advil, in return for my honest review. All opinions are my own. **


I know that most of you know by now that I suffer from a few disabilities and chronic pain disorders. So, I won't get to involved in that part of the story. Most recently, I tore another tendon, my Achilles tendon, in my left foot which was replaced once already. There was also a lot of damage to my ankle, joint, and of course, the infamous extra osteoarthritis that just keeps getting worse. If you ever tore or ruptured a tendon before, you are probably aware of the eye watering pain that goes along with this. and it never, ever goes away.


The bottom right photo shows how swelled up my legs and ankles get on bad days. Usually every night, days when it's cold, raining, snowing, or if bad weather is on the way, or if I am doing a lot around the house. I apologize for the icky picture lol! My skin is insanely dry and I have rashes and burns and blisters most of the time, so, it isn't the prettiest thing in the world. I have to wear non weight bearing walking boots to get around the house a little bit. As much as I try to do without these annoying robot boots, I can't go to long without them. If I stay still or sit or lay down for just a few minutes, my whole morning restarts and it takes a couple of hours, sometimes more, just to get moving again and reduce the swelling. 

I have been using Advil for several years. My husband also uses Advil for his headaches, migraines, and back issues. (We're like a chronic pain, arthritis, ortho problems couple lol!) and I have been using them as a part of my own pain regimen. I have to say that when I do have a headache, Advil is usually the only thing that works and they always worked fast. However, between the 2 newer Advil products that I have been using, Advil Film Coated and Advil Liqui Gels, I am thrilled with how quickly these start to kick in and get me back up and moving. Even if it is to just do the dishes or help one of my little ones get a shower or make dinner. 

I know that regular Advil has always helped me previously, when I wasn't in the shape I am in now. Whenever I had a break or a sprain in my feet or ankles, I would rely on Advil to help me get back moving and working long hours and late nights as a bartender for many years. As things progressed, it does get to be a  bit more of a project to try and find something that helps relieve pain. I don't expect 100% pain free days or anything like that! I am just content with a little bit of help. Seeing that Advil Film Coated helps with my severe swelling as much as it does, I can imagine that they would knock aches and pains right out of people who need them just some of the time and just for other types of pains. But for somebody with chronic pain and other disabilities, that little bit of relief is a blessing! 

What do you think of the new Advil Film Coated? What do you think? What kinds of aches and pains would they help keep under control for you? 

You can sign up to receive coupons and offers from Advil, here! 


** Please be careful and read the dosage! Of course, you should also always, always, always, discuss any medications with your doctor, FIRST! You should NOT take more then 6 200 mg Advil Film Coated or Advil Liqui Gels in a 24 hour time period. This is extremely important! The dosage is ONE 1 pill, not 2, or 3. (I knwo, sometimes it's easy to grab a couple or to not keep track.) But, you should keep a diary or a chart of some sort if you are taking these or any medication on a regular basis so that you can be sure to NOT overdose! (This benefits busy moms and dads when a child is sick also.) ALWAYS, write down the time and dose of any medication given. This is one of the leading causes of overdoses. **

It's A Love Hate Kind Of Thing 2006 Ford F150 XLT

I am a long time Ford fan and although I prefer my 2003 F150 over this one, I am pretty content with this truck. I wish that Ford would have done something like, have a recall of some sort for the major spark plug and coil pack debacle, but, I understand they refunded some people a fraction of their money back. (I wish they would have helped some of us who spent hundreds on spark plugs, coil packs, the ridiculously expensive "Ford Tool" needed to remove the spark plugs, and the 12 hours of time spent doing so.) A very, stressful, crazy 12 hours I should note.
Apparently, Ford decided to change this setup in the newer F150's and a few other Ford models. Which is good because, this alone would have changed my mind on this truck had I known at the time of purchase. But, I fell in love with this truck on the lot about 4 years ago and that was that. I did find a Ford F150 XLT with just 40k miles on it. 1 owner, who apparently didn't do much with it. He did keep after it like clockwork, had meticulous service records and was very well maintained. There were however, some goofy little quirks that I sometimes think led him to get rid of this truck at such a low mileage. But, we wouldn't find this out until, 3 months after purchase.


Like most Fords, there are these strange little things that magically happen, they are extremely tedious, peculiar things that just shouldn't happen. On the positive side, with every F150 I ever owned, every time something started acting up, it usually ended up being the least expensive, most annoying thing that could go wrong, that was a simple clean up, wipe off, tighten, kind of fix. Well, all except for that spark plug problem!!!


Oh, before I forget, the headlights are a bit annoying. They don't seem to be pointed properly in the right place and it makes seeing at nighttime, very difficult. My 2003 had much better headlights and even better when I replaced them with brighter ones. But, at nighttime, I have to drive with my high beams on as much as possible because the headlights on their own, don't give you much space to see. The high beams act somewhat like what headlights should be like, but even still, not good enough. Now, I do have poor vision but I wear glasses. However, even my husband has a hard time at night with the headlights and he has 20/20 vision. Just recently, the drivers side headlight started getting wet on the inside so, we'll be replacing these asap. They always seemed to get slightly foggy and now it's just about time to swap them out totally.
Ever since I bought this truck, there was this strange pulling and tugging when you turn. It happens more when you turn left for some reason but lately, it started to get as rough when you turn to the right. It's almost like the power steering went out. But, it didn't. (This is what I mean with these trucks. It always seems like the end of the world and you are anticipating an enormous bill BUT, it's something really, really, really stupid.) So, my husband has been wiping down and throwing all kinds of gook on the steering column and then it works fine for awhile after you drive it a few times and a few months later, it's time to do it again. (WD40 and PB Blaster does the job for any hard steering issues!) Except for just the past couple of weeks, it isn't working any longer. So, it's about time to shell out $240 for a steering knuckle, or a steering intermediate shaft. That's ok with me, even though I never had to replace one of these before in even older trucks. But, $240 once every few years for something in a truck that is more then 10 years old is better then what other pick up fans have to spend.


Another annoying problem with this truck, which also happened shortly after I bought it, was, the throttle body sensor. This sounds really dumb but, after driving and the truck shaking like crazy when you get to about 65/70 MPH, and praying that the transmission isn't going, you find out that it is nothing but this really idiotic sensor, the throttle body sensor, that seriously, just needs wiped off. (I know, right? What?) But, hey, you know, it's much better then paying for a transmission which is what some other owners actually did. Because, of course, the dealers and certified Ford techs will diagnose, spend countless hours trying to find the problem, no codes will pop up, and $2000 in labor bills later, they will claim you should replace this and that and blah blah blah LOL. Nope! Just Google search, join some forums, there are so many people who have had this exact same problem and went through spending a fortune, only for this problem not to go away. and I am dead serious. It is a few minutes of wiping this sensor off. Problem eliminated 110%!


I had these touchy, annoying issues and problems with my 2003. Not the exact same, but along these lines. Once, I was driving on the highway and it instantly started to overheat. I immediately pulled over and started to try to call my husband, my insurance in case I needed a tow, and I just came back home, and took it directly to the local mechanic down the street. Well, that was my first mistake. They checked all of the fluids, blah blah, filled them up, 3 hours later, came over to me and said, "I'm going to check online and get you prices for a motor. Maybe a tranny. I don't know just yet but I can't find the problem here. But, we could be looking at something major." So, of course I was like, UH no thanks! Let me talk to my husband first before we do something this stupid! (I'm sorry, but there are still a lot of shops and dealers who tend to disregard females and try to make us pay and agree to some really stupid things.) While I sat and waited for these dopes to try to fit even more oil in my truck, I started Google searching and came across some F150 forums. (Little did I know then that these would be saving us a fortune in the future, at the time.) and well, wouldn't you know? There were several Ford owners with the same problems. Some of them paid a fortune for a mechanic to diagnose it, some spent hours trying to diagnose the problem themselves. Thanks to these Ford owners, it took about 5 minutes and I took my keys, my kids, hopped in the truck, drove it a few blocks home, waited for my husband to get home from work so he could run for a $30 thermostat because, the thermostat broke and cracked and was laying in there, causing my truck to overheat. Fixed the problem right up ;)


I have to stress that as much as I want to punch my 2006 F150 some days, I just want to hug it too. It is very reliable, safe, easy to maintain, (you can find most solutions right in the forums and on Youtube.) it's roomy, (enough for my 3 little ones in the back, some grocery bags at their feet, a few in the front passenger seat, and of course the bed of the truck), the factory stereo is doable. Mine came with a 6 disc CD changer that also has some little quirky things from time to time.... (Just in case, when the CD player reads, "Stuck", don't fret! Google search that problem and remove the player and click on a couple of little knobs and your CD will come out, good as new and you can easily get that changer back inside!) this is a good, sturdy, reliable, dependable, vehicle with a decent factory stereo, a spacious center console, lots of pockets, drink holders, a nifty change holder, a couple of hidden spaces, a couple of extra spots for your kids or passengers to charge their phones or tablets, and I still haven't found any other truck that looks as mean and gorgeous as the F150. (Ok, maybe the F250!)


I am happy with mine but I'm not the one who will be in the garage in another 45k miles, trying to play real life Operation with the spark plugs. It is very important that you check into this problem, because, it is a very BIG problem. It is such a big problem that dealers actually want anywhere from $1500 to $3000 for a tune up! (I'm in East Central PA and called from Reading, PA to Hershey, PA to Lancaster, PA to Valley View, PA) and that was the price range for a tune up of all things! No thanks! It is indeed a super tedious job and very time consuming and stressful, like I said. But, with the right tool (you can find this on Amazon here, and the spark plugs and coil packs too!), and a couple of friends, a couple cases of beer, pizza, a few forums with people who post their trials and tribulations, a couple of Youtube videos, you are good to go. Oh yeah and the dealers I called wanted me to sign a waiver of some sort, that stated that I would not hold them responsible if they dropped one of the spark plugs! WHAT? NOPE! If we're going to put our truck's life on the line, let it be us. Not some already overpriced dealer.
I am surprised that there are people out there who aren't aware of the fact that when anything, and I mean, anything at all, with anything and everything, goes wrong, you only have to search for it in Google, and you will find your answer. (Almost every time.) But, I have yet to come across a problem with any Ford, that I couldn't find the solution on my own with just the internet. Just type it how you would describe it to a friend or mechanic. For example: "2006 Ford F150 hard steering problem." You'll be good to go once you join some of these forums.


Edited to add another small issue I forgot about...
The driver's seat ( power seat), started dying on me and this really sucked because um I'm a lot shorter than my husband. So, of course it always only happened when he was driving it so the seat was stuck the whole way back and I need it the whole way front. ( I'm 5'1") But we changed the fuse, worked fine. Went out again a few hours later. Changed the fuse, went out again and again and after a few days of this and calling some dealers to take this as a trade in, I found this thread about this problem..... Sure enough, there is a wire under the fuse box that needs replaced because it keeps rubbing against the fuse so, until you find this dumb wire, you won't have the power seat.


One little addition that would help with this tiny disaster, would be if Ford would have the old style bar under the driver's seat so in case of an emergency with this insane technology, you would have this to fall back on. But, why would they want to make our lives any easier?
Still, after all of this, I am very much in love with my truck and I can't stress enough how important it is to note, that after the headaches and trying to fight the sudden urges to throw your F150 straight off a cliff, they are just small things and they don't hurt so bad. You just have to find the solution.


If you like solving problems and building 5000 piece puzzles, this truck is for you!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I Wish I Had These Scented Markers When I Was A Kid!

"This post was sponsored by Mr. Sketch® as part of a sampling activation for Crowdtap. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review."

I remember scented markers from when I was a little kid. (A long time ago, like back in the 70's and 80's!) and I remember the whole class being super ecstatic, every time our teacher pulled the scented markers out. They smelled so much like chocolate, and chemicals, and omg! You could smell the black marker from a mile away! Sometimes, if you were close enough and it was being used a lot, your eyes would water. But, we didn't care! Because, it was scented markers! They were almost as cool as scratch and sniff stickers! So, I was more then pleased when I smelled these markers. They certainly don't have that gross eye watering, chemical scent to them at all. Actually, they smell very similar to what the package lists them as smelling like.



My kids love these markers and they use them a great deal! They work well, smell good, they actually are washable, and the colors are bold and bright! I'm not a fan of banana scent. I would have preferred lemon, but, the banana scented marker is my 5 year old son's very favorite one! My favorites are the cinnamon (brown) and blueberry (the darker, brighter blue.)

I intend on grabbing a bigger pack and having them on hand for birthday gift add ons, prizes for parties, and for my own kids, so when they run out (they will at some point.), they can open another pack. I think these go well for rainy day arts and crafts, gifts, just regular artwork days when your kids want to draw and color for hours and hours, (seems like this is everyday!) and of course, my 9 year old daughter just has to use them to color coordinate her journals, book covers, notebooks, and anything else that needs a splash of bright color and a fruity or candy scent.

Oh yeah, if you check the back of the pack, you will see this really awesome label!! It reads, "Assembled in the USA!" This seems to be so rare these days and whenever I do see a label similar to this, I'm a fan for life.