Sunday, January 21, 2018

$100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

 $100 Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

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Open to US
1/21 12am ~ 2/04 11:59pm

$100 Amazon Gift Card 

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Our philosophy is simple: Breakthrough Formulas. Budget Friendly Solutions. Incredible Results.

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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Reading Is Such An Extraordinary Gift

One of the most amazing things to witness on this planet is when your little kid (or any little kid. I'm sure it's the same for teachers too!) magically understand phonics, words, word families, etc. Basically, learns how to read. 

I homeschool my youngest son because he is most likely in need of some dental surgeries and he is very self-conscious about this as well as his cleft scar and nose from his surgery. It's heartbreaking to know that a small child can feel this way. It's bad enough anybody can. So, he's super duper reserved and is just starting to "come out of his shell" around people he doesn't know. (Another amazing thing to watch!)

But, we use a few different reading programs and he is great with sight words and all of the basics. He excels at math but, cannot stand reading. Until today. 

He started school around 9am this morning and worked straight through until about 5pm. 
Around 10am this morning, something clicked and Deegan just started reading everything on the page lol. He said, lol, "My brain just told me that he understands these sounds now!" (LOL he always has messages from his brain which is awesome since, when I was pregnant with him, he was missing a section of his brain but amazingly, a few months later, at another ultrasound, it started reappearing. Long story but he's perfectly fine and only had a cleft lip and club foot when he was born.) 

Anyway, he went crazy and just started reading and that was that. He didn't even work on any math today because he didn't want to stop learning words. Actually, he learned 46 new words today and took 2 tests and had a 93% and a 100% so, he's a badass. 

If you can ever witness the exact time that something clicks inside of a little one's brain that makes reading an easy task, you will find that it is very hard to top! 

I was only able to witness this once before when my 11-year-old daughter had that light go off and all of a sudden, she ran to the 1 bookshelf and just started tearing books out. (Apparently, my other 2 had this happen during school lol!)

Reading is the most important and most fascinating gift that we have!

I wish I would have recorded both of these times because the looks on their faces when they have that "click" is such a rewarding and memorable experience. They are so grateful for this gift and so excited when they hone those skills. Both of these days will be 2 of my most favorite memories of my children growing up. (Of course, there are many more!) 

We have been using Reading Eggs, ABC Mouse, as well as several different books, flashcards, the old school way of learning to read. If you have any other ideas or tips for teaching your little ones to read, please let me know in the comments! The possibilities are endless and I want to be able to offer as many options as possible for him to really get as much as he can!

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Free Mrs Meyers Set From Grove Collaborative

** This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a commission if you choose to order through my links. ** 

Create a Better Home Care Routine with Grove Collaborative January is a great time to start practicing a better home care routine.

But what does 'better' look like? For me, it's about finding simple, healthy solutions I can stick with all year — even when things get chaotic.

Enter Grove Collaborative! Grove simplifies tasks like shopping for home and personal care products. Instead of making an extra stop at the store, you can come home to all your favorite healthy, affordable products sitting on your doorstep.

 Now is a great time to give Grove a try, because they’re offering a free New Year, New You Set with your first order of $20  to help you create your own healthy home care routine:

Free Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap
Free Mrs. Meyer’s dish soap
Free Mrs. Meyer’s hand lotion
Free Grove cleaning caddy
Free Grove walnut scrubber sponges
Free Shipping & 60 Day VIP Trial

If you’re already a customer, you’ll get a free set of Grove walnut scrubber sponges, which are so pretty you won’t mind leaving them out by the sink.

Switching to beautiful home care products has been a real game-changer for me. Because I look forward to getting out this stylish cleaning caddy, I'm much more inclined to stick to my cleaning routine. And dishes don't feel like such a chore with a stylish sponge and lovely smelling dish soap.

I can’t say enough good things about Mrs. Meyer’s soaps and lotions. They were some of the first natural products I started using, and they’re still a staple in my kitchen and bathrooms. All the products are non-toxic and made with plant-derived ingredients so I can feel good using them around my family. Right now I’m using the basil scent because it really perks me up on grey days!

When I first started developing a natural cleaning routine, I spent a lot of time (and money) experimenting with making my own cleaning products. It turns out that spending hours mixing glass cleaner isn’t necessarily sustainable for me when things get busy. Healthy living is all about balance, and for me that means buying mostly ready-made products from companies I trust.

With Grove Collaborative, I don’t have to stand in the grocery store aisle Googling hard-to-spell ingredients before I add an item to my cart. They’ve done their homework, which makes it easy to know which products are better for my family.

 In addition to the free New Year, New You set, here are the top 10 products I’d order from Grove if you’re looking to create your own healthy cleaning routine:

Seventh Generation laundry pods
Ecover stain remover
Grove Collaborative wool dryer balls — these are genius!
Grove Collaborative kitchen towel
 Seventh Generation auto dish packs
Bee’s Wrap assorted wraps — perfect for storing bread or wrapping leftovers Grove Collaborative cleaning concentrates
Grove Collaborative glass spray bottle with silicone sleeve
Grove Collaborative microfiber all-purpose cloth
Smarty Pants adult probiotic complete — to keep yourself healthy, too!

Once you submit your Grove order, you’ll also be signed up for the free 60 day VIP trial. For 60 days, save even more with free shipping, free gifts, price matching, exclusive sales and personal service. My VIP membership has paid for itself in shipping alone!

Here’s how it works:
Sign up for Grove Collaborative here.
You will receive the New Year, New You Offer for free when you sign up!
To receive this offer, your order needs to be a minimum of $20.
Choose the combination of products and scents you love and receive your first box within a few days. You made it!
Click Finish & Pay and place your order.

Do You Have What It Takes To Survive?

Everybody always talks about how important it is to plan for your future. "Save your money!" "Invest your money!" "Save for your kid's college education!" "Make sure you have a life insurance policy!" It all seems to revolve around having enough money, paying off debt, not having credit cards, spending a fortune for college, and then making sure you leave enough money behind for your family. But, there are more important things to think about. Such as: How to survive a zombie apocalypse, a nuclear war, a civil war, robots taking over, or an alien invasion. You may think this is funny but it isn't. (Ok, I guess the zombies and aliens might be a little funny.) But, survival is key to well, surviving and that's extremely important!

You might be thinking, "Ok, well, I am not going to dig an underground bomb shelter and store 100 years worth of food in there!" That's ok. I'm here to tell you that isn't necessary! As a matter of fact, a lot of items that could save your life are things you have inside of your house right now. Of course, some other tools, weapons, and food like this 72 Hour Kit from My Patriot Supply. But, you don't have to spend a fortune to make survival kits. 

Best Forever Foods

You most likely already have these items in your pantry. If not, it wouldn't hurt to stock a bit. Make sure that if you are stocking to use these items for a survival kit, they should be stored in the appropriate containers. They won't all last forever in their original packaging. 

Instant coffee
White, jasmine, or wild rice. (Not brown rice!)
Dry beans.
Dry Pasta. 
Cornstarch. (Cornstarch can also be used to make adhesives, cosmetics, deodorant, and to help loosen knots!)
Pure vanilla extract. 
Salt (No iodine!) Salt is also handy to help preserve meat. 
Maple Syrup
Distilled white vinegar. (can also be used for cleaning!) 
Beef Bouillon 

Stock These Regular Household Items

This is a list of some very simple household items that are usually found in your house. Some may not be, so, it wouldn't hurt to grab anything that is missing. You know, just in case! 

One of the most crucial things any survivalist needs is tinder for a fire. Be sure to have some tampons, matches, petroleum jelly, corn chips, Qtips, and chapstick. If you have any or all of the above, you'll be alright! Besides starting a fire, these simple items have many other uses as well. 


These are great for everything from gauze to tinder to waterproof cases. You will want to make sure you have regular tampons. The kinds that come with an applicator and a string because each section can be great for many things. 

You can unroll the tampon and use as gauze or to stop bleeding. They are very absorbent and if you have a bad nosebleed, as funny as it may look, you could even put one in your nose to stop the bleeding. 

The plastic wrap and string could be used to store things inside and keep dry. For instance, you could pack some matches inside of the plastic wrap and tie shut at the top! The plastic wrap could also be used as a fishing bobber! 

Unroll the actual tampon, tear in half, add some petroleum jelly and you have a longer lasting, slower burning fire. 

Dental Floss

Dental floss is great for keeping your mouth healthy and can still be used for this in a survival situation. Storing dental floss is easy because it is very light and small. So, you'll want to have a few of these in your survival kits! 

Dental floss can be used for stitches, sewing clothing or any kind of fabric, you could use it to cut some foods. (Which will come in handy especially if you have to ration!) It could also be used to tie things. For instance, if you need to tie your belongings in a tree to keep off of the ground, use a few strands of dental floss. You'll want to test it to see how much you will need but for backpacks and other small things, a few strands should do the trick. 

If you do have to make any sort of weapons, dental floss may be used to tie branches together and to save rope from being frayed at the ends, and it works great for tying plants in your garden!


If you have a million tubes of chapstick hanging around like I do, grab a few of these and keep them with your survival gear! Yes, they are great for chapped lips and even chapped hands but did you know you can use chapstick to help loosen tools and to fix zippers? Not only that but, chapstick is great for keeping knives rust free. Just slide some across the blade and the chapstick will protect it. 

Chapstick is also great for protecting leather, protecting glasses, putting on your heels to protect from blisters if you're walking or hiking a lot, and when it's empty, you can use the tube for hidden treasures, like cash or to keep things dry. In a pinch, you could also use a little bit of cotton for a fire. 

Coffee Filters 

Coffee filters are excellent for many things! I use them for well, coffee of course but also to clean windows and mirrors. If you're really down and out, coffee filters are good for using as paper towels, toilet paper, a bowl for your pets, for yourself, as a plate, to clean things with, scrub pans, and as a candle holder. 

Water is key to survival. You can only really survive for 3 days without it. Believe it or not, a coffee filter makes a great pre-filter and can keep a lot of the dirt, bugs, all the ickiness out of your drinking water. Just remember to boil it after filtering! 

Seeds are always necessary and coffee filters will help here too! Just put some seeds in the middle of the filter, tie it up with some dental floss or twine and add water! You should start seeing sprouts in no time and then they will be ready to plant. 

Last But Not Least 

Steel wool and a 9 V battery can start a fire in no time! (Steel wool would also be great for scrubbing your pan used for cooking!) 

Alcohol is perfect for many, many things. Bartering, medicinal, mouthwash, (It seems gross but it will kill germs!), lowering stress levels, of course! It also works great to clean out wounds and to use for swimmers ear. (The alcohol will dry the water right up!) 

Non-lubricated condoms are better when you expand them first! Blow them up like a balloon and they can stretch and be used to store water, to tie down gauze for wounds, to protect feet and keep them dry, as rubber gloves when caring for a wound, as a fishing bobber, and one of the coolest uses, to seal jars or bottles! (Yes, they could also be used for what they are actually intended for too!) Actually, I should have given condoms their own category because the possibilities are endless! One of my most favorites is using a few condoms and a few sticks to make your own bow so you can shoot arrows! I bet you had no idea you could hunt your own meat with a condom, right? 

There are several websites and lists that come in handy for planning for emergencies. It's best to have a few days worth of food and water for each person in your house, at all times. Some would say that it would be even better to have more if you have the room and the money. My Patriot Supply has a variety of options when it comes to making sure your family is prepared when it comes to food. This is arguably the most important but, make sure to stock up on some non-lubricated condoms, tampons, alcohol, even cigarettes, (another good bartering idea!), dental floss, and coffee filters! 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

What Can Your Small Business Deduct

When my husband and I started our trucking business years ago, we were quite a bit younger and didn't really have all of the information I wish we would have when it came to what we could deduct for business expenses. For instance, we didn't realize that we were able to deduct things such as mileage on our personal vehicle when used for business. We started going to HR Block the following year and learned about more business expenses we could deduct and after lots of research, receipts, talking with others who were in business much longer than we were, I compiled a list of what is allowed. (I also learned to keep every receipt just in case you ever run into a situation where you may need to prove your expenses!)

Popular Business Expenses

No matter what type of small business you own, there are a lot of similar business expenses. (Blogging and freelance work fit here too!) If you run to Staples or Office Max for office supplies, keep those receipts! Anything you are buying for your business is, of course, deductible. This includes items such as; paper clips, staples, notebooks, pens, pen holders, envelopes, and printer ink. Be sure to keep track of your mileage on your vehicle too! Be sure to pick up a ledger, some legal pads so you can keep track of dates, beginning and ending miles and destination. This will not only help you during tax season, it also makes this deduction legal and acceptable if the IRS would ever happen to ask for your records. 

If you have employees or if you pay independent contractors you can also deduct their payments. 

If you rent a business property, this is also deductible. However, if you are working from your home, there are some strict guidelines to follow if you would like to deduct a home office deduction.  Most importantly, it is a good idea to document and have evidence, just in case you need it later on. Taking a picture of your home office would suffice if the IRS asked for proof. 

When it comes to a home office, you can not just deduct your kitchen because you sit there and do some work. It must be a space that you use exclusively and regularly for your business. For instance, I have been using my kitchen table as a home office for everything since we are remodeling and my new office isn't done yet. I cannot take this deduction because we also use this space for many other things. You can read more about what forms you need to file appropriately and if you qualify for the home office deduction here

If you are paying insurance for your business, this is also deductible. Health insurance is not allowed. At least not on a Schedule C. We pay for 3 different types of insurance for 3 separate trucks so, we do take this deduction each year. 

Licenses, regulatory fees, registrations, tags, anything that is required for you to run your business is also tax deductible. 

If you pay advertising fees or commissions, these would also be fully deductible. 

We pay a lot out each year for repairs for the trucks. We paid for one motor overhaul for one of our trucks this year which is a ridiculous amount of money! I can choose to either take the full amount from our 2017 taxes or I might depreciate this over a few years. All repairs, maintenance, services, are all fully deductible. 

You may also include legal fees, accounting fees, even half of your business lunch tabs are dedcutible. (Within reason, I'm sure!)

Since we have a small trucking company, we also deduct fuel, tolls, trailer rental, (any equipment rentals needed for your business are tax deductible!) various taxes and fees required such as Heavy Highway Use Tax and IFTA. Rather than deducting entertainment since we really don't have entertainment expenses with clients, truck drivers are allowd to deduct a certain amount and then take a percentage of this amount for each night they are out on the road. (Per diem.) Certain deductions do depend on the type of business you have.

Other forgotten deductions include; interest on loans obtained for your business, business credit card fees, bank fees and ATM fees, accounting fees, money paid to file your taxes, post office fees such as stamps, shipping expenses, and packing material, (only if used for your business of course!), business related travel, cleaning supplies, work boots, uniforms, address labels, cell phones and chargers, laptops, cdesktops, printers, basically anything you buy for your business. Just be sure to keep records, receipts, and document everything. This helps to make tax time a breeze for you!

Not So Legal Deductions 

There are some business expenses that aren't necessarily legal to take. Most are obvious. But, there are a couple that might be a little hard to miss. 

Cell phone bills are tax deductible. But, only the business part. You would actually need to keep a record of business and personal calls. You can deduct things that you use for personal and business but you always have to record accurately. This applies to the personal and business use of a personal vehicle as well. Keep a monthly spreadsheet and notate everything if you want to take these deductions. 

Home phones and WiFi are also necessary for most businesses. But, when you are working from home you are probably going to end up having to split these as well. If any of your Internet services are used for personal use, you need to determine how much. Maybe half and half or maybe 75/25. Home phones/landline phones are not deductible unless you have a second line. Then the second line would be 100% deductible. 

Mileage on a personal vehicle is fine as long as you keep records. You might drive to the airport, a trade show, deliver to customers, or drive to pick up supplies, or when one of your trucks breaks down. Some people think this means they can also deduct the mileage it takes for them to drive to and from their place of business and well, this is actually illegal. 

You may not deduct your previous year's tax bill that you paid into the Federal Government. (Or any other year.) You also may not deduct fines, (including speeding tickets or any other traffic violations.)  penalties, bribes, or money you may have paid a hitman or any other illegal activity. 

As much as you may wish you could deduct outrageously expensive gifts for business gifts. It was very gracious of you to give your employees and business associates those $7000 watches for Christmas but, you're not really allowed to deduct anything more than $25 per gift. 

If you end up receiving a letter from the IRS, you may want to contact an attorney. Not that it has to be scary. You never know! They could end up owing you money. (Wouldn't that be nice for once!) Really, having an attorney on hand that you can call for advice such as tax advice, investments, and contracts is a very wise idea. You want to be sure you're protected and have someone you can trust, like personal injury attorney Tampa, when it comes to owning a business and protecting your family. Even from things that you may not plan for like accidents and injuries.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Interesting Kickstarter Startups: Where Are They Now?

Every time I receive an email from Kickstarter about a new project that is looking for funding, I like to check out what offers are available and how many others have been backing to show their support. I have seen so many entrepreneurs and some of the most unique ideas on Kickstarter. (Yes, and some that really make you think, "Why in the world??") Then there are the times you find something that really stands out. You just know this thing is going to be on all of the shelves and everybody will be fighting for it on Black Friday. (Or Cyber Monday.) So, the best thing to do is invest and back the project and hope you see the creator succeed and meet their goal. (Kickstarter is pretty much all or nothing so, it gets a little nervewracking watching some projects go down to the wire!)

I've backed so many different types of projects on this site. It's a little addicting! Sometimes I forgot I even backed a project and then I find whatever my reward was in my mailbox a year or 2 later. Here are some of the rewards I wish I had known about before their campaigns ended: 

Exploding Kittens 

Ok, of course, I don't really want to see kittens explode and I'm sure nobody else really does either. Well, I guess 219,382 people would like to see it because Exploding Kittens is the most backed project of all time! (It is just a deck of cards so it isn't really exploding kittens. I swear!) 

Elan Lee, Matthew Inman, and Shane Small came up with the idea for this game and the original goal was $10,000. I bet they didn't expect to see the $8.7 million they ended up receiving in this clever 30-day project. This project ended in 2015 but you can visit their website and purchase the game itself, expansion packs, various swag, and new games. I think it's safe to say that this simple card game exploded into a fairly big kitten empire! 


Ouya is another project that really took off. Bringing in over $8 million on Kickstarter back in 2012, they are still around today. The only problem is that they aren't selling on their website. They last updated their Twitter account in April of 2017 and suggested that fans purchase parts needed from third-party sellers. 

Ouya is a video game console that doubles as a dev kit which means the user can create their own video games right from their Ouya console! (Kind of like a startup within a startup.) The creators or Ouya also brought Jambox to the mix. 

This seems like it should have done really well. It made the list of some of the best Kickstarter projects of all time but if you check the Ouya social media pages, there are a lot of disgruntled customers. Hopefully, somebody else picks up on this idea because $8 million isn't really chump change. 

I have to wonder if the Ouya game console/dev kit would have seen a lot more success had the creators studied at Kalu Yala...

Coolest Cooler

The Coolest Cooler also made it on the of the best Kickstarter projects and Time magazine named it"Innovation of the Year". Their Kickstarter campaign raked in over $13 million and you can still buy The Coolest Cooler online. 

So now you're asking, "What exactly is The Coolest Cooler?" Well, it's a cooler that comes with everything you need for tailgating, picnics, or hosting in your backyard. They come equipped with a blender, removable waterproof Bluetooth speakers, a cooler divider, cutting board, USB charger, LED lid light, bottle opener, integrated storage for plates and utensils. Maybe you're wondering, "Are people really buying these things?" The answer is, yes. Yes indeed they are still in business, still selling, and still active online. Matter of fact, they're having a sale right now!

If you want to check out some more fascinating startups and you finished the Kickstarter lists, don't forget to look into Shark Tank too! If you're thinking of the best thing that millions of people can't live without, you may want to look into Kalu Yala and apply for a scholarship that could help you get closer to your big dreams!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Is Social Media Necessary For Good Customer Service

I don't know how many times I've heard about a product or service and figured I'd "check them out online" as soon as I had a chance, only to find that they have no social media presence. This is always a bit shocking, considering how many people have Internet access and how many billions of people are online. It's literally free advertising and if you have a business, you should probably have some way for potential clients or customers to contact you. Of course, the good old phone numbers, billboards, TV ads, radio ads, and print will always come in handy. But, with so many people online, you're missing out on reaching virtually everybody in the world. 

Social Media Advertising

Of course, just simply having a Twitter or a Facebook page isn't going to be enough. Sure, people will be able to find you a little better but you're going to have to communicate with customers and try your best to reach new people. 

At the same time, there are a few companies I can think of right off of the top of my head who have a very large following on social media, regular posts, but they lack quality customer service. Typically, people will comment or message and ask questions, leave comments or reviews. If nobody answers them, they will go elsewhere. (I've done this many times.) It's unfortunate, but, if you can't respond within a few days or you just post and let everything sit while you ignore everybody, it could end up hurting you in the long run. 

Depending on the size of your business you may want to consider hiring a social media manager. They can post on your social networks for you and manage replies, reviews, complaints, questions, offer giveaways, promote, share, basically everything you need to have customer success. You should have an active social network where you can share everything there is about your brand, What do you do? How much does it cost? What makes you stand out? What do your customers think? Offer promotions, deals, coupons, and even post when you have positions available. If you're a small business, a few simple eBooks and maybe some online courses about social media marketing and you're set! 

There are more advanced opportunities out there but once you take this step in the right direction, you'll advance and learn quickly! 

Look For The Companies Who Are Doing It Right

There are so many brands out there. I'm trying to think of even just 1 brand that we use at our house for anything that I don't follow online somewhere. I feel like if you can't take the time to make sure I'm content, you're probably not worth it. If I have to Tweet for several weeks straight, asking for help regarding my ISP and the wishy-washy connection and you haven't responded, I'm going elsewhere. (and it's a good possibility that I'll take a few others with me. Or at least turn a few away when they research you and find my complaints.) 

There are thousands of makeup brands out there who all make some sort of lipstick. If I decide I would like to try 4 different brands of lipstick to find my absolute perfect match, I have criteria I follow. Highly pigmented, fair price, ingredients, availability, packaging, history, mission, do you donate to any charities? Do you offer any rewards programs for repeat customers? If I have a question, do I have a tiny 1800 number to call between the hours of 9AM EST and 4PM EST? OR if I Google search will I find a website with links to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Google+ or any of the above? When I find these links, are you active? What are other customers saying? How do you respond? If any of the above does not look totally excellent, I'll be moving on. Am I the Queen of lipstick? Nope. Not at all. But, I'm a customer who could end up being devoted to your brand and I could be bringing my friends, family, followers, and possibly others who read my online reviews about your fabulous lipstick and phenomenal customer service! 

There are a LOT of brilliant social media accounts out there for brands! Of course, the bigger they are, the more they can spend. They may be online around the clock, manning the comments, tweets, and reviews. Or they might shut down at nighttime and are right back at it in the morning. 

I'm sure you have already seen something in the news or maybe your friends have brought up something funny they read or saw on Twitter. You may have heard about the Wendy's Twitter account once or twice. This is a brand who is doing it right. They are always there, always have clever comebacks, and they are consistent with replies to disgruntled customers. They will make you laugh, scour Twitter for people Tweeting about how hungry they are, they will go above and beyond just to attract and keep customers. I'm not sure who runs their Twitter account but whoever it may be, that person is a genius. This account has made national news more than once and will continue to in the future. 

Learning from others is essential when building your own network. You don't want to copy but take notes There are a lot of great accounts from great brands. Wendy's sells burgers, chicken sandwiches, french fries, and salads. So do quite a few other similar restaurants. But, they have managed to find their difference and they will be impossible to beat at the social media game.  

You wouldn't ignore thousands or possibly millions of customers banging on your door. Don't ignore them on the Internet. They could make or break you and you need them for customer success