Thursday, May 31, 2012

Weekly Featured Blogger: Gena from "Life with Captain FussyBuckets"

This week's featured blogger is Gena, from "Life with Captain FussyBuckets"

1) Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging because we were living with my parents, hubby was trying to get a job, we had a 2 year old and a four month old and I needed a creative outlet!

2) How did you come up with the name for your blog?

When our now three year old was a baby, he was very fussy. He had tummy/colic issues and also was just always hard to get to sleep and stay asleep, so we began calling him Captain Fussybuckets when he would have his fits. We don't call him that often now, but it's a funny way to remember those early days as new parents.

3) What is your blog about?

I like to blog about our life and stuff that's on my mind. Of course I like to review and giveaway items, post recipes and crafts, and other fun ideas for families with preschoolers and toddlers to do.

4) What is one thing in your life you are most proud of?

I'm proud of our little family and what it has become. It seems like when we got married, we were so young and naive and you know, when you get married you think you have all the answers and it will all be so easy. Well, having two children and hitting some bumps along the way has really strengthened us and taught us a lot. And leaning on God for support rather than ourselves has taught us a lot, too.

5) What were you like as a teenager?

I was a homebody! I liked to be social with friends, but I also liked to stay at home and read and listen to music. not surprisingly, once we got the internet in our house, I was busy exploring it a lot!

6)Do you have any special talents?

I'm a creative cook. I can also type really fast. ha!

7) Your friends/family would describe you as....?

Quiet, caring, and hopefully a good friend!

8) If you could give one piece of advice about starting a blog, what would it be?

Be prepared for a lot of work. It looks a lot easier than it actually is. And if you have kids that need constant attention and don't nap well, forget it! :)

Be sure to visit Gena on her blog's Facebook page and follow her on twitter for updates, giveaways and more!

My Hare Line books! Review and GIVEAWAY!

Do you have a kiddo that LOVES animals? Mine does!

"My Hare Line" is a 4-part book series with pictures that gives young animal lovers a fun series to read about rabbits. The first book, "My Hare Line" is non-fiction and an introduction to the characters in the books, while the next three books, "My Hare Line and the Hat","My Hare Line and the Dead Pine Tree" & "My Hare Line Meets the Brown Rabbit" are fictional, fun stories.

The books feature real photographs of the rabbits in the books. They are beautiful, full color pictures that really make you want to keep reading. Each story is engaging and delightful for kids of all ages! I admit, I even enjoyed them as a 30 year old big kid.

These great books have a free download of the audio version of the book so your little ones can take it to go!

The books are written by Patsy M. Henry. Patsy is a retiree who wanted to explore her dream to write. It was a perfect fit to mix her love of rabbits with her writing and "My Hare Line" was born.Patsy Lives in Georgia with her husband & are active members of the Baptist Church there. They have two grown sons and four grandchildren.

Patsy would love to offer 1 of my readers the chance to win a set of the four books for thier young one's delight! Just enter on the rafflecopter form below! If you are new to entering on rafflecopter read this post!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

How to enter a rafflecopter form!

I have many readers ask me how to enter my giveaways. The rafflecopter form/widget is super easy to use! It is the same for all my giveaways :)

Please take a moment to watch this 45 second video on how to enter and I look forward to having YOU as a winner on my blog!

"I cannot tell a lie"

I have a 9 year old daughter, Jaeda. Boy have we had a struggle with her about lying. I think all kids go through that phase and what a frustrating one it is!

I love books as parenting tools because my daughter loves to read. "I cannot tell a lie!" is a book that teaches kids in a fun way why lying is sinful and why it hurts those we love, and God.

While the book is targeted at 4-8 year olds, my 9 year old daughter loved it. She said the "pictures were great" and Liked the message. It opened up a dialogue between us why lying is not good.

What is really great about the book is it comes with instructions to download the book in audio version so you can take it on the go!

The book has biblical reference on lying. This truly is a wonderful book for Christian parents looking for a teaching tool for their young ones going through the lying phase.

"I cannot tell a lie!" was written by Ruth Thompson. Ruth is a speaker and a Pastor. She has two grown children.

Ruth Thompson has been generous enough to offer my readers a chance to win a copy of the book for their little ones!

Just enter on the rafflecopter form below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Where the Wild Things Are Movie Review

My life used to be full of excitement, vacations, and nights out with my friend, Jenna. Oh how times change, but I am glad I still have my friend Jenna. We have both moved in a different direction with our lives from where we were years ago in our singleness. One thing that has changed: Kids. We both have them now. I had my daughter, Jaeda when I met Jenna. In fact, she was only a few months old then and she is now 9 and I have now been married for a couple years. Jenna has two blessings in her life; her 2 year old son and 1 year old daughter.

Anyways, I tell my readers this because I realized how much my definition of "fun" had changed the other night when I went over to her house late at night last week. No, it was not like years past where we got together to get dolled up for a night on the town. This time, it was to settle in after the kids were in bed and my husband was at work to eat popcorn, drink soda and watch a family movie on her couch. We are a lively bunch these days.

We watched "Where the Wild Things are". I had loved the books as a child and was excited to hear they made a movie based on them.

I have to say, I was somewhat disappointed with the film. Now, It hasn't been that long since I read the book, but it was not what I remembered.

The most disappointing part I think was how long the story dragged on and how long it took to get to the plot. I have a hard time following movies that have a long lead into a plot. "Where the Wild Things Are" was unfortunately one of those.

On the plus side, the computer animation of the monsters was wonderful. The special effects were excellent. The cinematography was great.

It could be that I just was disappointed with the long intro to the characters that I didn't care for it, but in any case, this might be a good movie for a younger person. I admit my ability to engage my imagination is a bit rough.

I am always glad when there are more family-friendly movies made, though. They are getting hard top find.

To buy "Where the Wild Things Are" and find other family-friendly movies at great prices, check out Mommy Bear Media. They have good clean movies there with no worry about inappropriate content!

Time to hit up those thrft stores and yard sales!

I live in a College town. This time of year is a virtual goldmine when it comes to cheap shopping.

The thrift stores are full of furniture from graduating College students and yard sales pop up everywhere from everyone's spring cleaning projects.

Here are some of my personal tips for having the best time diggin' up these deals:

1. Go with a friend or your spouse. Split up at the store or yard sale. This ensures you will have full coverage of the area and allows both of you to look for things the other might like in a quicker fashion. Just plan to meet back at a point to discuss items found.

2. Grab a cart and just put anything you might like in it. You can discuss later before checkout if it is something you really need or want and if it fits in your budget. You will often see something you want and then decide later in that trip to go back and get it and it is already snagged by another shopper. Putting "maybe" items in your cart basically holds them for you while you decide later. Also, you may find something even better similar to an item you put in your cart, then you can choose between the two.

3. Unless you have lots of time and skill, don't buy things that need repair or are missing parts. I have found that items I bought with then intention of fixing up never end up fixed because of my lack of time, so it is just wasted money and takes up space.

4. Don't be afraid to haggle. If you find a shirt for instance with a small stain, bring it to the cashier's attention. They may be willing to knock off a few dollars.

5. For Yard sales, pick up a paper and scour craigslist to map out your route. You will find it more efficient that way.

6. If you find an item you think you got a good deal on, check out what it's going for on Ebay later. It's always fun to know when you got a screamin' deal and when you didn't. Knowing what the item goes for on Ebay will help you better understand how much you are willing to pay for similar items later.

Have fun!

Handmade Yard Sale Sign

Photo via flickr by youtube_user_willtrade4food

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Couponing: The Extreme Video Course

I am a couponing newbie. I kind of have a general idea about coupons, but admit to being a bit intimidated by the thought of really using them a lot. Like many people, I worry if my time and energy will be wasted.

I then took Couponing: The Extreme Video Course. I feel much more educated when it comes to the art of using the coupon and getting maximum savings.

Couponing: The Extreme Video Course is a 14 video series that teaches you how to get maximum value and even how to shop specific stores that offer even more savings. There are two bonus videos with resources and other ways to save money on food as well as a downloadable workbook included.

I really enjoyed the series. I am a visual learner and this is just the ticket for someone like me. The series was clear, easy to understand and well laid out. I like that it was broken down into shorter videos. This made it easy for me to watch a video or two and then come back when I had more time.

The series really makes the user feel more confident in using coupons. Anyone can be an extreme couponer and save thousands of dollars!

Go get your own Couponing: The Extreme Video Course!

Also check out the other awesome resources on the Stay A Stay At Home Mom website. Be sure to stay up to date on news on the website by "liking" the Facebook page as well.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

Aww the "kick off to the summer" is here. (If only summer weather would actually grace us in Montana!). BBQ, Friends, good times..

Today is not National BBQ day though. Don't forget the men and women who have fought for our freedom here in America.

When I think of all the brave souls who gave their lives so I could be free in this country, my throat gets a lump in it.

Little known fact: I joined the military straight out of high school. I didn't stay in and got out before my basic training was over. It is so hard to be in the military. I admit, I couldn't cut it.

I am so grateful for those that could make the cut though. Without them, I am sure my life would be hugely different here.

So, today, while I am about to leave and go have a picnic under the cloudy skies here in Montana, I want to thank those that helped give me that freedom.

Happy Memorial Day!

Memorial Day Free Download Poster, Graves at Arlington National Cemetery, American Flag, Veterans Day Holiday

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cook'n recipe organizer Giveaway!

As an avid cook and a "foodie", I have tons of recipes littering my kitchen. I often run out of ideas as well.

Don't you ever get tired of Spaghetti and Tacos at home? I know I do!

Here comes Cook'n to the rescue! One of the coolest features of Cook'n is the recipe search feature. You can literally sit down with no idea what to make for dinner and just put in a few keywords and Cook'n will help you figure it out in seconds!

Cook'n is like 5 programs in one!

*It's a recipe organizer. You can input your own recipes into it and Cook'n will organize them for you!

*It's a recipe database search engine. Just plug in a few keywords and find hundreds of recipes in one click!

*It's a Menu planner. All you do is drag and drop your recipes into the calendar and your week is planned!

*It's a grocery shopping assistant. Cook'n will organize your weekly shopping list down to the isle!

*It's your personal nutritionist. Cook'n will analyze all your recipes, even the ones you put in and let you know nutritional content!

Busy Families NEED the Cook'n software!

Cook'n offers WEEKLY prize giveaways on their Facebook fanpage!

You can do a quick and easy download of the software at DVO, their website.

Please consider getting Cook'n. With today's busy families and economy, Cook'n can help save you time and money! And there is nothing to lose. Cook'n has a 200% guarantee. Can you believe it?

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Cook'n would like to generously offer my readers a chance to win a FREE copy of thier software! Just enter on the Rafflecopter form below! If you can't see the form, click "Read More" and GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Skillet Chipotle Pumpkin Sauce


I tried the bacon spread from Skillet Creations a couple weeks ago and wrote a review on it. I was now given the opportunity to try the Chipotle Pumpkin Sauce,

Let me tell you, readers, this is a great addition to your dishes!

I used mine as a seasoning for tacos. I just browned some ground turkey, added a tad bit of water and the Chipotle pumpkin sauce and let it simmer down. Honestly, the best tacos I have ever had at home and so simple to use! Not too spicy and wonderfully flavorful!

I am thinking this would go great in my enchiladas mix or even with some Carne Asada steak. It might also do well as some base for a chilli! The smell upon opening it immediately reminded me of chilli.

I think this sauce would even make a great dip or spread for sandwiches! It is super versatile and comes in not only the Chipotle flavor I tried, but also Thai Coconut and Apple Vinegar Brown Sugar.

If you are worried about tasting the pumpkin flavor (I know I was..I am not one to like squash of any kind), no worries! You cannot even taste it at all. It is great it has pumpkin in it though because pumpkin contains a lot of nutritional minerals and vitamins.

To get great recipe ideas and find out about these wonderful products from Skillet Food products, please visit their website or send inquiries to

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Car situation solved!

If you read a couple days ago, you saw that we pretty much wrecked our old car (a 1998 Buick Century) by hitting a deer on the freeway.

Well, after frantically trying to figure out a way to remedy the situation, we decided our only option was to purchase a new car. The old car was gonna cost too much to fix and without full coverage insurance on it, the cost was going to be all ours. My husband gets off work late 3 nights a week and since our headlight was completely gone and demolished, it wasn't going to be work to keep the old car. We did a couple thousand in damage.

After figuring out our finances, we came to the conclusion that getting back into car payments in our only option at this point. It's going to be tight, but we will hopefully manage.

We are proud new owners of a 2000 Buick Park avenue:

I feel way too broke to have leather interior:

I am sure it will all work out in the end. In the meantime, we are getting full coverage insurance!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Hemp Hearts

I have recently been finding myself wanting to try more healthful options in food. I have to admit, though, I am often put-off by most things in the healthy catagory because I admit to being somewhat intimidated and not sure how to use them. I was given the opportunity to try Hemp Hearts by Manitoba Harvest.

What are Hemp Hearts? They are raw shelled hemp seeds and they are so versatile! You can use them in smoothies, on cereal and baked goods and as a salad topper. They have a wonderful nutty taste and a texture somewhat like sesame seeds.

I used them in place of granola on top of yogurt and fruit, in a parfait. They added such a great texture and flavor!

Hemp Hearts really are great straight out of the bag, though.

Hemp has some wonderful nutrition, only 3 g Carbs per serving and no cholesterol.  It has calcium, Vitamin B6, Iron and magnesium.

Manitoba Harvest uses earth friendly practices in production such as using 100% wind power! Hemp Hearts are Vegan as well.

Who knew that hemp seeds would be so tasty?




Thursday, May 24, 2012

Bare Balance bars Father's day review and GIVEAWAY!

Looking for the perfect Father's day gift for your health conscience dad? Get the Bare Balance Bar Father's day gift set!

I was happy to be able to review this entire set for my readers. I am so excited to tell you about it!

Balance Bar®, one of America’s original nutrition/energy bar leaders, is offering its first-ever Father’s Day Gift Set. It’s the ideal choice for busy, on-the-go dads who appreciate great taste, healthy nutrition, energy and convenience.

The limited-edition Balance Bar Father’s Day Gift Set includes:

· fifteen BARE Balance bars in three delicious flavors – Sweet & Salty Peanut Butter; Sweet & Salty Chocolate Almond; and Blueberry Acai.

· an exclusive Balance Bar water bottle with a special built-in compartment perfect for storing a BARE bar

· a playful “BARE Hug” Father’s Day card

The items are wrapped together for an extra-special presentation and neatly boxed for free ground shipping.

The water bottle truly is unique! I love how you can hold a Balance Bar right in it. What a great thing to take on a hike!

What Makes BARE a Great Gift for Dads?

BARE Balance bars are sweetened with all natural organic agave and brown rice syrup. They contain 15 grams of protein, up to 5 grams of fiber and up to 7 grams of whole grains. They have 200 calories, 19 vitamins and minerals, and are an excellent source of antioxidants. Each 1.76 oz. single serve BARE bar adheres to Balance Bar’s proven healthy 40/30/30 nutritional model (40% of calories come from healthy carbohydrates, 30% from quality protein, and 30% from dietary fat) to help stabilize blood sugar levels, satisfy hunger and provide lasting energy.

Balance Bar BARE is certified Kosher, and nutritional information and tips can be found on

Delight Dad and Order a Gift Set Today

The very affordable Balance Bar BARE Father’s Day Gift Set is only available online at while supplies last. The introductory price of $17.84 – valued at $27.00 – includes ground shipping and handling within the U.S. (Tax where applicable is not included.) To qualify for free ground shipping, orders must be placed by June 11, 2012.

My husband LOVED the Sweet & Salty Peanut butter flavor. That is no surprise to me because his nickname as a child was "Peanut" because of his love of them. (I rarely can get away with calling him that, though. He's no fun!) I took the Balance Bar water bottle with us on our road-trip. It was a great way to stay hydrated and have a snack handy at the same time in a cramped car.

Get your Dad this great gift at a great price OR win a full set here, on Saved By Grace! Just enter in the rafflecopter form below! (click "read more" if rafflecopter is not able to be seen and wait for it to load) If you are new to using the rafflecopter form, please watch this 45 second tutorial! It's super easy!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Dr. Pepper Gift Box from WOW!

I was so excited to review this product! My husband loves Dr. Pepper.

There were so many Dr. Pepper items in this box that a person who loves Dr. Pepper would go crazy!


The best part of the gift box was the great customer service I got from WOW giftboxes, the company that I worked with to review this gift box. Michael was extremely friendly, knowledgeable and personable. The gift box arrived very quickly and I got tracking info with it. I love when I get tracking info because I can be ready for my delivery and I think it builds excitement for it's arrival!

Inside the Dr. Pepper giftbox is an array of awesome Dr. Pepper themed gifts.

Some were so unique I had never heard of them! One item was the Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce! My husband saw it said, "NO WAY! Dr. Pepper makes BBQ SAUCE??!"

Inside the beautiful Gift box (tied with a ribbon, I may add!) you will find:


~ a 12 oz can of Cherry Dr. Pepper
~ a 12 oz can of Diet Dr. Pepper
~ a 16.9 oz bottle of Dr. Pepper
~ a 12 oz can of Dr. Pepper 10
~ a 16.9 oz bottle of Diet Dr. Pepper
~ a 17.5 oz bottle of Dr. Pepper BBQ Sauce

~ a 14 oz bottle of Cherry Dr. Pepper Dessert Topping

~ 2 Mrs. Field's cookies
~ 3.5 oz of Dr. Pepper Jelly Belly Jelly Beans
~ 1.4 oz box of Claey's Kettle Fresh Fudge
~ 2 oz Christopher's Gourmet Toffee Corn
 and A hand-written greeting card!

WOW has so many more gift boxes for just about any occasion in many different price ranges! Consider buying your next gift from WOW and please check out thier Facebook fanpage for updates on new gift boxes when they come out! WOW even has a deal of the day for you to get a great deal on a gift box for the one you care about.

WOW has a wonderful program called "Gifts of Good". It is a program for helping those in need and those that are going through tough times that are in need of a "box of happiness"! I LOVE this program. Recently, they donated to the Salvation Army in Dallas, Texas. 

For every 10 boxes sold, WOW donates 1 box to charities, military and children in need. Now that's something to say WOW! about!

You can find more info on this program by visiting the WOW webpage!


My very eventful trip

Hello Readers!

As you know, I took a 4 day trip with my husband for his business trip. I had thought I had planned for everything, but nature likes to throw wrenches in plans.

Nature literally did throw a wrench, or rather a herd of deer into our plans.

A little back-story; we just paid off our car in April. We were looking forward to a summer free from car payments. Our car was our pride and joy. We had scrimped and saved for 2 years to pay it off. It was in pristine condition for it's age- it is a 1998 Buick Century.

About 80 miles away from home, at around 4:30 am, we came over a small hill in the road and with no warning, a herd of deer ran out on front of us. We were traveling at about 70 miles per hour (5 miles below the speed limit here) and could not stop. My husband just yelled, "Hold on!" and we had no choice but to plow into them.

Needless to say, our pretty car is pretty badly damaged. The engine, amazingly is still in perfect working order. However, the headlight on the driver's side is gone, completely.

Now, I was mad at the situation, but due to my husband's good sense of humor, we were able to stay calm and even laugh about it in the days to follow.

I am very thankful it was only my car that was damaged and not us. We could have been seriously injured. We definitely had an angel on our side.

And my husband joked that when we hit him we scared the poop right out of him cause he pooped on the side of our car. (yes, my husband has a warped sense of humor, but it's part of why I love him!)

I am very grateful to be alive and so grateful we made it to our destination over 300 miles away that same day and back to home with no mechanical issues.

I do have to add that that whole day, was not a great one either. I have IBS and all the stress caused it to act up so I had issues all day and evening and I also go stung by a yellow-jacket that flew in our window as soon as we got to our destination. Oh well, every day can't be great can it?

What is your wildest road trip story?

Baked Oatmeal Recipe

Today's Guest post comes from Sensibly Sara! Her blog has wonderful giveaways, reviews, recipes, organization tips and much more!

Baked Oatmeal:


1-1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon vanilla
2-1/2 cups oats (quick or old fashioned), uncooked*
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon


Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In medium bowl combine milk, eggs, oil and vanilla; mix well. Set aside.
In 8×8 square casserole pan, combine oats, sugar, baking powder, and cinnamon. Add to liquid ingredients in bowl; blend well. Let stand about 15 minutes.
Bake, uncovered, 35 to 45 minutes or until center is almost dry and firm to the touch. Cool slightly before serving.

**I got this recipe from a friend, but I am a rule-breaker and use heavy whipping cream in place of milk. You can make it either way.

Full Disclosure from Sara: I was not compensated for this post. I am sharing one of our favorite breakfast recipes (I did NOT create it, I merely altered it) because I thought you’d like it! :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Natural Calm review

Since I have some anxiety issues. I was glad to be given the chance to review Natural Calm on my blog.

Natural Calm is made by Natural Vitality. It is a powdered drink mix with magnesium.

The flavor I tried was raspberry lemon aid.

To be honest, when I first mixed it up, I didn't care for the taste too much, so I walked away from it. When I came back, it had completely dissolved and it looked almost like a glass of plain water. I am glad I didn't dump it out at first, because it tasted a lot better the second time when I gave it a chance to fully dissolve.

The good thing about this as opposed to taking a pill form supplement, it will more easily absorb in your system. Take a look at this video:

I didn't really notice a difference in my mood or anything from it, as I only took it for about 3 days in a row, but it was a refreshing taste. I do think it was a tad bit bitter though.

I would say that maybe if you take this daily, you might notice more of a difference and to definitely give it a chance to dissolve as well.

A 32-page guide to the benefits of magnesium, along with magnesium deficiency symptoms, written by Dr. Dean is available as a free download at the non-profit

Money Saving Tips for Families

Today's Guest poster is from Zombie Mommy Saves. She has a wonderful blog to check out with money saving tips and awesome giveaways/reviews! Go to Zombie Mommy Saves to check her out!

Money Saving Tips for Families

1) Time is money unless you stay at home full time, then perhaps some deals are worth your time. If you can spend an hour cutting coupons and you save $10, then $10 an hour is worth your time (you get the gist, don’t go crazy on me now). However if you are a working mom, spending time with your family is more valuable so getting some help with a cleaning service (hire a friend and spread the love) or letting some deals slide is okay too.

2) Stockpiling is saving money. If you see a great deal on something you regularly buy and you see it for 50% off, then it is worth going ahead and buying several months worth, if you have the storage capacity. I bought 13 cans of Parmesan on sale this year, that is a savings of $13. Those little efforts add up. Of course I wish I bought more now, those cans only lasted a couple a months. I never saw a sale like that again. If I would of had a bigger stockpile fund I shoulda bought 50.

3) Keeping track of your savings is quite an encouragement to keep the savings ball rolling. Rollin, rolling, keep that ball a rolling. (whiphere, Rawhide). Plus when you do it this way you have braggin rights down the olde saloon/playground.

4) Put money aside every month for your stockpile. If you save $5 a month within a couple of months you will have $20 bucks. And then when you see 13 cans of Parmesan marked down you can go for it without having heart palpitations that you’re living on the edge of your monthly budget.

5) Try the envelope system. Split your monthly grocery budget into 4 or 5 weekly envelopes. I know its so Dave Ramsey, but come on, Dave Ramsey is a smart guy.

Money Saving Tips for Families is not something you just jump into like a bowl of hot chili. You must take baby steps, one pinkie toe at a time until it becomes part of who you are. A saver.

Repeat to yourself “I am a Saver”.

If you liked these Money Saving Tips for Families, Subscribe to her blog's posts! Come on now, keep that money where it belongs, in yo pocket!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Who knew that being green was being Christian?

Today I have another guest post from my bloggy friend at Momma Does It All. She offers some great perspective on being green and what it has to do with being a Christian. Enjoy!

Admittedly, I have been late to the party as far as green living is concerned. I drive an SUV. I don't recycle much. I buy bottled water. My groceries are packed in plastic bags and I throw a fair number of them away. I don't pay much attention to the amount of waste created by me or my family. For some reason, the whole green living thing hit me the wrong way and I've just not embraced it. That started to change for me a few Sundays ago.

A few Sundays ago, I was sitting in our church listening to our pastor's sermon ready and waiting for the wisdom she would share that week. Her sermons in April focused on the earth and God's creation. Early in the month she had talked about the beauty of God's creation and encouraged us all to pause during the week to admire the beauty that we find all around us. It was a great sermon and she even asked us all to email her pictures of the beauty we saw during the week. Those pictures were run in a slide show before, during and after the service the following week and there were some amazing photos shared. The sermons both weeks were great and I enjoyed them, but it was the next sermon that got my attention. It was her sermons the following two weeks that truly got my attention. It created that little bit of discomfort in myself that makes me think about my own thoughts and actions.

If you refer to Genesis 1:1-26, you will note that Man was created last. We were created after the vegetation, the rivers and the animals. In Genesis 1:29-30, God gives these instructions to Man
Then God said, "I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground - everything that has the breath of life in it - I give every green plant for food." And it was so.
As a person who is new to the Bible, I have spent more time in the New Testament than in the Old Testament. The verses above showed me that God had a purpose in mind for all that he created. God gave us the Earth to provide for us and for all that he created. In Genesis 2:15, it's presented a slightly different way:
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
As a Christian, I often focus on living my life in such a way as to be closer to God. I attend church services every Sunday, go to Bible Study and I am active in our church. Our family tithes and we try to live our lives in line with God's teachings. Well, I thought we did until I heard our pastor's sermons in April. After that, I began to question my attitude about green living. Here I am, trying to be a good Christian and all the while, I am paying very little attention to the planet that God created for us. I've taken it for granted and honestly, forgotten that it is God's creation for us. Now that I have been reminded, I have to change my thoughts and my actions. By not recycling where I can, not paying attention to the waste our family creates and not looking for ways to live a more green lifestyle, I am not respecting the beautiful gift that God gave to us. Who knew that being green was being Christian?

Cyndy is an East Coaster turned Texan who lives outside of Dallas with her family. You can find her at Mama Does It All where she blogs about her faith, living frugally, her faith, and whatever other random thoughts hit her radar.

Feel free to also follow her on Facebook and twitter. I am sure she would love it!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Adventures in AWANA

Today's Guest post comes from a dear bloggy friend of mine, Janet. She was generous enough to guest post for me while on my trip, but she has also been a huge help in me figuring out "this whole blogging thing". Make sure you check out her blog, Going Crazy! Wanna Go?!

Adventures in AWANA

Last Fall I volunteered to teach AWANA for the youngest group of children in our church. My son is in the Puggles class with me, although he could be a level up (he's just not ready to leave Mommy yet), and he gets excited every week to have me come "teach his class". The lessons were fairly easy: God made the sun, God made the sky... but teaching them to children ages 4 and under was not quite so easy. There were 6 children in the class (max) each Sunday and 3 of them are boys around 3-4 years old. They each have such fun personalities, but when you put them gets a little hairy!!
My boy has a laid back, sometimes shy, likes to play alone, but also likes to tell his friends what he is doing, type of personality. He is in the middle of the other two boys. The younger of the 3 is the middle child in his family and he has learned to take what he wants, no matter who is playing with it. He is adorable and has quite a personality, but he lacks a little in the sharing department. :) The older of the 3 is a well-behaved quiet young man, but he is the youngest of 3 boys in his family. He has an excellent vocabulary and his knowledge of the Bible (of most things, really) is pretty impressive!!
There is also a sweet little 2 year old girl and two babies between the ages of 6-12 months (boy and girl) but they are usually preoccupied with whatever they are playing and pay no mind to the boys' shenanigans. I started out the year with a teenage girl helping me and she occupied the babies while I corral the boys.
About three weeks into the AWANA class, our lesson was God made the Sky. We were supposed to take the children outside and look at the clouds and talk about what we see, etc. but we knew that we couldn't take them outside!! Usually, I let the children play for a while and then try my best to get them to sit down for a story or quick lesson then we sing and play again. This particular Sunday was definitely different. The boys were fired up and not convinced that this was the day to share. The youngest had a truck and trailer and that is my boy's favorite thing EVER. My boy asked if he could play with it and I told him that he needed to wait his turn so the second it was put down, he was on it!! The boys started out playing pretty much seperate, but that changed quickly. There is a small playscape in the room with us that the kids can climb in and then slide down...but really, what boy do you know that wants to climb UP the steps and slide DOWN the slide? You have to climb UP the slide!! As soon as one boy wants to slide down, another boy is taunting him by sitting at the bottom of the slide. As soon as one boy has a car/truck, the other boy really wants that one NOW! Depending on the boy's personality type, he may or may not grab the truck, push the other boy, yell at the other boy, tattle...whatever works. :)
It only took about a short time before I looked at my teenage helper and informed her that we would probably be skipping the "God made the Sky" lesson and learning about Sharing and Manners and Big Boy play!!
At this point, the boys were all 3 in the top of the playscape, each had a car except for my boy who somehow sneakily ended up with 2 cars and were driving them around in circles behind each other. I praised them immediately and told them I appreciated their Big Boy play...and then one stopped. Alright, my boy stopped... He caused a traffic jam of sorts and the youngest who was behind him started pushing and my boy stood firm and whined that the youngest was pushing him. So, the lesson started again.
I have very little patience when it comes to my boy misbehaving. I get upset, angry, embarrassed, frustrated...and he gets more mischievious because he sees it's working. He actually thinks it's funny when he's being stubborn. I kept my cool and was surprised at how well I took it all. We learned a lot about manners and sharing and the boys really responded well!! I don't really remember what all I said to them, but it was a lot of praise for the good and some type of redirection and instruction when things were not so good. They started to act proud of being able to play together in that little playscape.
They eventually got down and the teen girl tossed a ball to them to take turns and they loved that!! At some point, someone asked for a snack and the three boys and 2 year old girl all sat politely at the table and ate graham crackers and drank water. I took this opportunity to sneak in the "God made the Sky" lesson...and they listened and interacted and answered questions!!
Toward the end of the time in class, I took them all to the window to look at the sky and we talked about clouds and shapes and how God made all of that and God made EVERYTHING. The youngest of the boys, who is often the most challenging, LOVED this part so much that when everyone else went back to play, he wanted to stay at the window with me and talk about the sky. When his mom came to get him, we had to tap him to get his attention because he was so interested in the clouds moving!!
I feel like this was a turning point in our AWANA adventure Sundays because things really started to shape up after this. After a few weeks, the teen girl stopped coming in (I'm still not sure why, but since things were running smoothly, it was okay with me) and the children looked forward to coming to "class". I'm a little sad that AWANA is coming to an end this year, but I'm very proud of the changes they made this year. I will likely have to un-volunteer for next year because I want my boy to move up and I'm not sure that he will if he knows that I am teaching in the younger class, but this has been such a great learning experience for me and for the children that I am thankful that I was given this opportunity to grow, step out of my comfort zone (extremely shy, here!!), and spend my Sunday mornings with these beautiful little children.

Jeremiah 29:11 New International Version (NIV) For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

GoingCrazy!! WannaGo??!!Janet is a full time work outside the home mommy of one fast and furious four year old. She rambles on about life and stuff at GoingCrazy!! WannaGo??!! She also talks some about her passion, Child Safety, as well as reviews family-friendly products and hosts a ton of giveaways.

Crock Pot Creamy Italian Chicken recipe

I wanted to share with you this wonderful recipe from my bloggy friend at Life with Captain Fussy Buckets. It is for a crock post recipe and I know everyone could always use more of those for those busy nights!

Crock Pot Creamy Italian Chicken recipe

4-6 chicken breasts
1 cup water
1 package dry Italian seasoning/dressing mix
1 block cream cheese (we use fat free or reduced fat)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
rice or pasta


Put chicken, water, and seasoning/dressing mix on high for three hours.
After chicken is cooked, add soup and cream cheese. (I cut the chicken into smaller pieces at this point)
  • Cook another hour, stirring two or three times.

  • Serve over rice or pasta.

    Make sure you go visit Dena at Life with Captain Fussybuckets for more great recipes, giveaways and great reading :)

  • Sunday, May 20, 2012

    Weekly Featured Blogger! Guiding Light

    This week's featured blogger is from Dawn, from Guiding Light Homeschool.

    1) Why did you start blogging? To work with the TOS Homeschool Crew, actually. Although I had thoughts of starting one before that - that was the thing that actually got it started.

    2) How did you come up with the name for your blog? Everything I've done has been "Guiding Light" - dog training, Rabbitry, raising it was just the next step in the line of things with that at the beginning. And "Guiding Light" came from our Lord Jesus Christ being the Guiding Light of our family - and allowing us to hopefully be a light to others for Him.

    3) What is your blog about?
    Mostly reviews and giveaways, but also just life in general with regards to being Christian Homeschoolers. I don't really have a "niche" yet (and not sure I ever will!).

    4) What is one thing in your life you are most proud of? Surviving being a single mother for 8-1/2 years!

    5) What is your hometown like?
    Hometown. Interesting wording. Not sure what "hometown" means really. Is it where I grew up, mostly? Or where I live now? Where we live now is a small town of about 5,000. People are always out walking around - I love that.

    6) Do you have any pets? If so, what? Absolutely! (Wish we had more!) We are down to two dogs and two cats. We recently sold our small rabbitry and our guinea pigs.

    7) What is your favorite book or movie?
    Movie: The Man From Snowy River. Book: Man O' War.

    8) What is your family's favorite meal together?
    Supper. But we love to eat every meal we can together!

    You can follow Guiding Light on facebook, twitter, G+ and Pinterest!

    Saturday, May 19, 2012

    Can't wait to go out of town

    I am so excited! Tomorrow, my husband and I are taking a road trip across the state. He is going for work training and I am going with him to visit with some friends I have not seen in ages!

    I very rarely leave town for a couple reasons:

    a) We are low on the fund-age

    b) I have a tad bit of agoraphobia (which is why blogging is so great for me!)

    I am a little anxious about leaving, but to calm my nerves, I thought I would write a post offering my personal checklist of what to take on a road trip.

    Ready? Here we go!

    For the trunk of the car:

    Jugs of water
    Extra oil and anti-freeze/coolant
    batteries for flashlight
    jumper cables
    lug wrench and spare tire kit
    extra blankets
    Basic first aid kit

    I think all of these are essential for traveling a good distance from home. These will help cover any minor car emergencies.

    Now, you probably know that I love to save money, so here are some tips to save money on the road:

    Instead of stopping at gas stations along the way for drinks and snacks, consider bringing a small cooler. You can put water, soda etc in it and your drinks are covered.

    Pack a bag or your cooler with small individual portions of snacks that can be easily eaten in the car like fruit, carrot sticks, chips, sandwiches etc.

    Freeze water bottles to use for ice. As it melts,you have the added bonus of a drink without taking up more room in the cooler.

    Fill your gas tank up at a gas station away from the freeway. Prices at gas station near the freeway are often a bit more expensive, especially during tourist season. Use to check fuel prices in the area for the cheapest location.

    Plan for free or cheap roadside attractions so you can have fun without going over your budget.

    To save gas, try to stay around 60-65 MPH. This has been shown to save the most in gas than going faster.

    Before you leave, check the air pressure in your tires. If they are low, fill them to the ideal weight per manufacture instructions. This actually helps you get better gas mileage

    Fear not, readers, I will return on Thursday and I am sure to have plenty to blog about! Make sure you enter the Oh! So Pretty giveaway while I am gone :)

    Road Trip(flower child)

    photo via flickr by mRio

    A few tips for Companies seeking bloggers

    This post is a little out of my niche for Saved By Grace, but recently I have been getting random pitches from companies and I think it is important that companies know how to work with bloggers. Blog posts as an avenue to get your products out there are a fairly new and exciting way to generate what I like to call 'buzz', but there are several ways that work better than others when approaching bloggers.

    Cat And Keyboard
    Photo via flickr by

    Now, I don't want to sound like I am an expert, this is just what I have observed in my time doing product reviews.

    Please, for love love of Bob, greet me with my first name

    My first name can be found on the sidebar in my "About Me" section. It is so important to me to be greeted as if I am a person, not a blob on the blogesphere. I often ignore pitches from companies that put things like "Dear Blogger", "Greetings Saved by Grace blog" and "Blogger,". It seems so impersonal and if you want to form a potential relationship with me to promote your products, please at least find out my name.

    Seriously consider doing a giveaway for my readers

    I know it is a bit more costly to consider doing an additional item for giveaway, but I can tell you it will be much more effective. My readers are more interested in reading about a product I am giving away than just what is essentially to them a sales pitch with nothing in it for them. Plus, think about it this way, if you give away a product, you might create a potential customer in the future because they already think favorably of your company. Also, please don't tell me you will send me a small sample for review, but offer some huge prize package for my readers. Blogging is my job, I take it very seriously and I deserve to be compensated fairly for taking the time to write up a review.

    If you like my work on your review, please consider telling other companies

    If I do a good job, please consider telling others about my work. I would LOVE to also have an ongoing relationship with a company as well and I am totally open to more projects with your company. Don't be afraid to keep me around.

    Please, take the time to read a few posts on my blog

    I would really love it if you would take a peek at my blog before deciding to pitch me. That way, you can see if my blog's readers and myself would really be interested in finding out about and reviewing your product. I like to try to stay in my niche, so make sure I am a good fit for you. It works out to your advantage as well. Think about it. If a blog's main readers are men for example, would it make sense for the blogger to post a review on a new line of makeup?

    I really appreciate it if you treat me like a human being

    I have developed some wonderful relationships with PR firms and people selling products simply because they went out of their way to add some character to their pitch. They talked to me about anything from current weather to my love of blogging. I have even spent hours on the phone getting to know the people behind the screen/email and it made me that much more excited about writing up their review post. I love to make connections with people. It is part of the reason I started blogging in the first place.

    If you decide for what ever reason to not go ahead with a product review, please let me know

    I have had companies that were eager in pitching me, we almost got to the post, I had sent them my address for the product to be shipped to and then silence. There is nothing more disappointing than having this happen. I totally understand if you changed your mind, or ran out of products available for review, but please just let me know. It means a lot and is highly professional to do.

    If I write up a review for you, I would love it if you would promote it

    I spend a great deal of time promoting my blog posts and reviews, but if you really want a ton of people to see it, lets work together. Promote my post on your social networks as well!

    Bloggers, Could you weigh in on this and let others know what also makes a product review run smoothly for you?

    I hope I have helped some PR firms and companies understand how to more effectively work with bloggers. We want to work with you! We really do! We just need some better communication, that's all!

    If you are a PR firm or a company reading this and you would like to have a product review on my blog, feel free to contact me at

    I promise I don't bite!

    Friday, May 18, 2012

    Your Gung-Ho Life book review

    I recently read the book, Your Gung-Ho! Life by Jacque Coffee. I was very pleasantly surprised by how wonderfully visually appealing the book is.

    I love a book that is not only a good read, but is also engaging and fun to read because it is unique.

    Jacque Coffee's book is exactly that!

    The pages are lit up with fun patterns and side notes in a not-so-typical font. (Can you tell I get bored with Times new roman?!)

    What I loved most about the book is it's content of course though. It is inspiring to see a Christian based book that gives it's readers permission to have a great pro-active life!

    Your Gung Ho! Life takes the reader through steps to find encouragement to find meaning in their life and meet goals. Not only does it help you make and attain goals, but it helps you understand how God's goals for our life are often times different than our own earthly goals, but that he has so much better for us if we just allow ourselves to use our faith as a compass. The book helps Christians understand how to re-set their own personal navigation towards goals and find fulfillment in seeking out God's plans for us.

    Do you have worries and doubts about your life? This book will help you turn those into activity that will enhance not only your life, but those around you and turn it into a positive thing. It will help you find your identity in God.

    I recommend this book to any Christian that is suffering from a feeling of hitting a brick wall in their life with no direction, spiritually and emotionally. It will help you re-learn how to live your life with Gung Ho! direction

    You can buy Your Gung Ho! Life from Amazon:

    From Jacque Coffee's biography:

    Jacque Coffee grew up outside the 'burbs of New York City somewhere around the time "Welcome Back Kotter" forever captured this best-in-the-U.S. season. In spite of her northern roots, Coffee survived successfully south of the Mason Dixon Line, though not without some adjustments and difficulty with the new language--like when "oil" sounds like "all."

    For four decades Jacque coiled, that is, called North Carolina home, and raised a family, studied, taught, owned businesses, spoke to groups, mentored, coached, and created art. Most importantly her life was changed by a new relationship with God in Jesus Christ.

    Currently, the Tampa area is home and the perfect climate in which to write her first book, a Christian inspiration/ God-help-us publication (as opposed to self-help book). An additional benefit to Florida living: a warm welcome back to her native tongue of New Yorker.

    "Your Gung-Ho! Life: The ABCs of Proactive Living" proclaims today is the day to adjust your spiritual trajectory by finding out how gung-ho God is about you. Time is of the essence, and Proactive Living is how God wired you to live, so charge up. Right here. Right now.

    Author and Speaker, Visual Artist and Coach, Jacque Coffee promotes this vital message in many mediums: "It's about YOUR Gung-Ho! Life. For the generation who's had it best of all: it's all or nothing, and it's now or never. My mission is to wake your life to the boldest brightest blend of God's supernatural life, poured into your talent, energy, gumption and grit--so you'll soar with the message you were created to carry."


    Worry ~ What does God say about it?

    Eternal Youth
    Picture via Flickr by Jan Tik

    I am what some people refer to as a 'worry wart'. I deal with a lot of anxiety and stress. Its terrible to get in a cycle of worrying. For me, at least, the worry just builds upon itself until I have myself in a tizzy.

    The 'what ifs' just wear me out.

    I have a hard time remembering to turn to God in my times of worry and stress even though he tells not only to, but delights in my trust when I tell him.

    In Philippians 4:6; we are commanded, “Do not be anxious [do not worry] about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

    Its amazing to realize that God not only wants us to lean on him in times of distress, but he does so because he genuinely loves us and cares! The God of the universe cares about my little worries!

    Its important to remember that there is not worry that is too small or big for him! In 1 Thessalonians 5:17 we are instructed to Pray without ceasing. God wants to hear our thoughts, feelings, worries and anxieties. He wants us to trust him. He wants us to continue to ask him for our desires and needs.

    Jesus even tells us that we are not to worry. Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

    I need to now work on trusting God with my whole heart. Its a sad realization when I figure out that if I am afraid to give God my worries, I have not given him my whole heart. It is a lifelong process, I think.

    In love,


    Skillet Bacon Jam Review

    Have you ever heard of Skillet Bacon Jam?

    I hadn't either until I was given the opportunity to review it.

    I must say, at first, I was a bit intimidated by it. I was unsure what to eat it with, how it would taste and what in the world it was for. The first night I opened it, I let my husband smell it and he accidentally dumped the "juice" onto his shirt. He smelled like "bacon goo" as he called it after that.

    The look of it ain't too pretty, but it's one of those things that looks scary, but if you give it a chance, it really is a hidden gem in the food world.

    Because I was short on time, I didn't have time to really try one of the recipes the website for the Skillet Bacon Jam offers, but I decided it might taste good as a topping on steak instead of the usual steak sauce.

    POW! I was right. I added it to the top of my steak just before it was done and let it's juices mix with the steak and it was EXCELLENT! It has a tangy, sweet and smokey taste that really compliments the meat.

    I look forward to trying it in other things. I am thinking next time I will do double pork and add it to some ground pork and make pork cube steaks. My mouth is watering already.

    To purchase Skillet Bacon Jam and see the wonderful recipes that it goes good with, please visit 

    For Inquires, please send a message to


    I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

    Update on LA DreamCenter trip!

    If you read my previous post about wanting to raise funds to go to the LA DreamCenter, I have now added an easy way to do so. There is a website called Indiegogo and they have a platform where you can donate to the trip.

    If you are a corporate sponsor/ business owner, I am willing to offer FREE advertising on my very active Google PR 2 blog. I am also going to be gathering up any sponsors-corporate or personal that help me reach my goal and writing up a recognition post.

    Please consider donating! Thank you and God bless!

    Thursday, May 17, 2012

    Oh! So pretty! Giveaway hop!


    Welcome to the Oh! So Pretty Hop hosted by How Was Your Day? and Saved By Grace.  All of the blogs below have joined forces to bring you beauty-related giveaways.  Each blog has a prize package of at least $25 worth of cosmetics, perfumes, and other beauty products.  Once you've entered here, be sure to hop along to all the others on the list. 

    I am giving away a FABULOUS prize package! An En Rouge Elite Cosmetics custom eye color kit! The kit includes a 5 color eyeshadow palette, an eye shadow brush, liquid eyeliner and mascara! All together, this would cost you over $80! The set is on sale for $65.50. Make sure you check out my review on it :)

    a Rafflecopter giveaway



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