Ten Big, Daily Reminders (Desiring God)

Image taken from article at Desiring God

I was encouraged by this blog from Matt Reagan at Desiring God where he gives 10 different reminders for Christians concerning realities about God and ourselves. Reading through these, I’m compelled to remember these daily as I am weak and often need reminders. I agree with the writer where he says that somehow during the night, he’s forgotten the big realities about God and the universe and himself and the Gospel. He states, “I desperately need to steady myself with biblical truth rather than stumbling forward to live from unbelief… I’ve learned over time to put structures in place that remind me of those unseen things, especially during my bleary-eyed, half-conscious mornings.”

Link: http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/ten-big-daily-reminders

I pray that it encourages you as it encouraged me.

Reviews, Saving Money & Word of Mouth

save money

image by 401(K) 2012 on flickr

I love being a homemaker! It is such a joy and a blessing to take care of our home and make sure that we have a clean environment, good food to eat, and a warm, cozy place. With that comes my love of saving money! It’s exciting! I am always looking for ways to clip coupons, take advantage of sales, and cut our costs on everyday items. Whenever I go grocery shopping, it’s almost like a personal contest for me to stick to the budget and get the most for our money!

Some time ago, I came across some reviews on Amazon that kept citing Bzzagent as the source of the item received for those reviews. I checked out Bzzagent, signed up, then discovered that there are quite a few other sites that send out free products in exchange for honest reviews. I signed up for several and have saved my husband and I quite a bit. I haven’t had to buy razors since last year! Because these sites have been so great for me, and for my husband, I thought I’d go ahead and share them on the blog for those that are interested.

  1. BzzAgent | Receive items for free in exchange for review

    I joined BzzAgent last year in July and received my first campaign just a few weeks after signing up. My next few campaigns came like rapidfire in March & April of this year. At this point, I have had campaigns with BIC, Russell Stover, Procter & Gamble, and even received a leather office chair from Comfort Products! BzzAgent is looking for quality, not quantity. Your reviews are necessary to help others decide on whether they want to purchase the product you’re reviewing. Be sure to provide detailed reviews that incorporate all of your senses! BzzAgent will provide ratings on your reviews and activities. You always want to shoot for a rating of exceptional. Having great reviews gets you invited to more campaigns! Your reviews and activities also affect your BzzScore; the higher this is, the more likelihood there is that you’ll be invited to more campaigns as well. Also, oftentimes with the campaigns, you will receive coupons toward future item purchases.

  2. Smiley360 | Receive items for free in exchange for review

    I joined Smiley360 last year in July and received my first campaign in late September. My first campaign was for gummy vitamins for hair, skin, and nails. Since then, I’ve been a part of an Emergen-C campaign, All laundry detergent, Pure Protein crunch, and Centrum VitaMints. I was invited to another campaign 2 weeks ago, but declined because I was not comfortable sharing those details online. You can decline campaigns, and it is okay. It will not prevent you from being selected for future campaigns. Like BzzAgent, be sure to provide good, thorough reviews and feedback. Always think – What would you like to know if you were looking to purchase that particular product? Answer any questions that you think viewers would have in mind. As with BzzAgent, you will often receive coupons with the campaigns you get.

  3. Influenster | Receive items for free in exchange for review

    I am newer to Influenster and at this point, I have received one campaign (or VoxBoxes as they call them) for Head & Shoulders shampoo. To complete the campaign task, I needed to leave a review on Head & Shoulders’ website. They do offer pretty neat boxes, as seen on their website, but I cannot vouch personally for them as I have only received 1. On Influenster, you do need to stay pretty active on the website, answering questions & writing reviews. Also, they measure your impact based on your social media connections. So if you do not have social media, Influenster would not be a good fit for you.

  4. Crowdtap | Receive items for free in exchange for review + gift cards

    Crowdtap takes some effort and the way that it works is that you have to apply for samples. You also have to stay pretty active with poll participation, sharing posts, commenting on things, and so on. I have applied for several campaigns and have been approved for one, which is the Arm & Hammer one that I posted about last week. It was a great crowdkit (as they call them) with a spinbrush and toothpastes & coupons. I have been rejected for other campaigns that I thought I was a shoo-in for. So, Crowdtap is hit or miss for me thus far with campaigns. However, with the things that you participate in, you do receive points for each one. As you clear 1000 points, you receive gift cards. At this point, I have received a $5 Amazon gift card for each time the wheel has cleared 1000. If you are pretty active, that could be a great way  to stack up gift cards to purchase something you’ve had your eye on!

  5. Mintvine | Earn gift cards by taking surveys

    Mintvine takes some time & effort as well. You do surveys! Each survey has a different points amount assigned to it. Each point = $1. When you reach 1000 points ($10), you can redeem that for a gift card. There are SEVERAL gift card options! You can let your points stack up if you’d like to receive a larger gift card. I have redeemed points several times for Target & Old Navy gift cards (2 of my favorite places!) so Mintvine has been great for me!

  6. PinchMe | Receive free sample size items in exchange for review

    PinchMe is neat because you get free samples each month. The 2nd Tuesday of each month is Sample Day. Samples are pre-selected based on profile information that you provide. The downside of it is that, although you get free items, it can take well a month (or even more) for you to receive them. It is free, so you can’t complain, but that is just something to tuck in your hat.

These are some of my favorite sites that have been a huge help and blessing to our family. I hope they help you to discover great new items and earn money along the way. Got any questions? Feel free to leave your question in the comments below and I’ll be glad to help!

Review: Arm & Hammer Truly Radiant™ Toothpaste

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(Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by ARM & HAMMER™ Oral Care as part of a sampling activation for Crowdtap. I received complimentary products to facilitate my review. All thoughts & words are my own. In this Crowdkit, I received a full size toothpaste, 2 travel size toothpastes, and a Spinbrush.)

Good oral health is important. Apart from making sure you have fresh breath, it also affects other body systems, including your cardiovascular. Arm & Hammer has a great name when it comes to baking soda and baking soda based products. Their name is synonymous with freshness. With that said, Arm & Hammer’s Truly Radiant toothpaste does not disappoint.

With my first time using it, I noticed how much fresher my mouth felt after I used it. There was no minty combining with the previous meal, but the toothpaste totally eliminated previous tastes. Even hours later, my mouth felt clean and fresh. I immediately informed my husband that he would enjoy this toothpaste as we both enjoy (and appreciate!) having fresh breath and clean mouths. While the toothpaste itself starts off as slightly gritty, it transforms as you brush your teeth.

I have looked forward (more than usual!) to brushing my teeth each day, and when I compare this toothpaste with past ones, Simply Radiant has them beat, easily.

Concerning it’s whitening ability, at this point, I’ve only used it for a few days and have not noticed too drastic of a change yet. There’s a slight difference, but nothing major.

While it is quite a bit more expensive than my regular toothpaste, I’d purchase it if it were on sale, or there was a coupon. I do have a budget to maintain! If you’re not on a budget, I’d say that this is a worthy purchase. Whiter teeth, fresh breath, and a clean mouth. Arm & Hammer Simply Radiant will make sure that those things will be yours.

Review: Russell Stover Sugar Free Bites (Blueberry & Cranberry)

(Disclaimer: I received this product, for free, from BzzAgent, in exchange for my honest review.)

Most people don’t go for sugar-free when they are in the mood for a chocolate treat. I know I don’t! I usually grab a candy bar or small bag of dark chocolate goodness and worry about the sugar & calories later! Because I do not consume sweets on a regular basis, I don’t normally pay much attention to the sugar content. Therefore, I have never opted for sugar-free sweets.

I recently received, for free, some Russell Stover Sugar Free Bites, dark chocolate with blueberry & cranberry flavors. It appears to be their sugar free answer to Brookside Chocolates. Fruit & dark chocolate are a great, delicious combination so I looked forward to seeing what Russell Stover had in store for me! When I have had drinks with sugar free sweeteners, I have always noticed a strange aftertaste. I wondered if these would be the same.

From first glance, I really like the bag. I think the lighter colors actually communicate that it is a ‘lighter’ candy. The green and white look somewhat festive. Opening the bag, I was surprised to see how big these ‘bites’ are! Definitely a good surprise. I tried the blueberry bite and immediately liked it! It was SO delicious! After eating it, I waited for that aftertaste to hit. It was very faint. As I ate more, I tasted more of the aftertaste, leading me to want less. I decided to go ahead and try the cranberry and immediately regretted that. The taste of the Splenda (also known as sucralose) was very strong in those.

With that being said, I have several concerns about this product. I decided to take a look at the ingredients and saw quite a few concerning things. First, the cranberry flavor states that it is partially produced with genetic engineering. That is quite disturbing. Why would a candy need that? This is not listed on the blueberry flavor so I do wonder if it is pertaining to the cranberry source. Additionally, the label on both packages warns that excessive consumption may cause a laxative effect. I believe this is from the maltitol, which is listed in the ingredients twice. Maltitol is a sugar alcohol used as a sugar substitute. “Excessive consumption” is relative so there’s no true way to determine the threshold for a person. Sugar alcohols commonly cause laxative effects. Now, to Russell Stover’s credit, the label does indicate that it contains sugar alcohol which, it says, generally causes only a small rise in blood glucose levels. However, the more I looked at the label, the less I wanted to eat it.

(NOTE: When I did eat it, let’s just say – I had to change my plans for the evening after eating these. Never again will I consume anything with sugar alcohols. My digestive system was wrecked.)

Although the sugar content would be different, I’d much rather grab a well known candy bar or bag of chocolates instead of Russell Stover Sugar Free Bites. While being sugar free is a great thing, the things mentioned highly outweigh this fact. I’d rather have pure sugar than deal with the possible effects from Russell Stover Sugar Free Bites. I do not plan to purchase it, and although it would be better for a diabetic than regular candy, I would still not recommend it.

If Russell Stover reworked the formula to remove the sugar alcohol and remove the genetic engineering, I think this product would be a winner. However, until that happens, I cannot, and do not, recommend this product.

TGC: 5 Reasons You Need the Westminster Shorter Catechism

Over at The Gospel Coalition, Andrew Conway gives 5 reasons that Christians needs the Westminster Shorter Catechism and why it’s worth engaging today:

1. The catechism gives a helpful summary of core beliefs. 

2. The catechism rightly views salvation as past, present, and future.

3. The catechism calls for whole-life discipleship.

4. The catechism opens the door to the wisdom of the Puritans.

5. Our ‘chief end’ really is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.

To view the article in its entirety, head over to The Gospel Coaliton:

5 Reasons You Need the Westminster Shorter Catechism

 

Chloe

Sometimes, the Lord does things in His childrens’ lives that we don’t understand. There are times when it can make us question His goodness or His plan. Sometimes the Lord gives us glimpses of those plans; sometimes He doesn’t. The struggles in those times are real, deep, and heartfelt. Walt & Annie Manis share their struggles with infertility, transparently, in this video that documents their journey. It was such an encouragement to see them discuss their highs and lows, their wrestling with the Lord’s will, and the Lord’s constant love and care for them.

I pray that this is an encouragement to you!

For years, Walt and Annie struggled with infertility, but in a single moment they realized that God was writing a beautiful story for them that was over 20 years in the making.

Review: Comfort Products Commodore II Big & Tall Leather Executive Chair

(Disclaimer: I received this Commodore II Big & Tall Leather Executive Chair for free via BzzAgent in exchange for my honest review)

A good office chair is invaluable. If you’re someone that spends a lot of time sitting at a desk, like me, then you know what it feels like to have a good chair that supports you for a long length of time. A bad office chair can lead to back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, and a host of other problems. To put it simply, you need a good office chair!

Enter the Commodore II Big & Tall Leather Executive Chair, which supports up to 350 pounds. I’m only 5’4 so when I saw ‘big & tall’, I thought the chair would be great for my 6’1 husband. I was excited! He spends a lot of time reading & writing so I thought this would be a great support for his frame.

The box was large, but what did I expect? There is a chair in there afterall! The parts were easy to identify by sight and also by referring to the diagram that came with the chair. The paper lets you know how many of each part you should have, and if something is damaged, or you’re missing a part, there is customer service contact information. This was helpful. I identified each piece and followed the instructions to assemble the chair. It took me about 45 minutes and was not hard at all. I enjoy building things and I would say that assembling the chair was a piece of cake. Don’t fear the assembly! Embrace it!

Once the chair was assembled, I sat in it. It felt great! It wasn’t too firm nor too soft. My feet dangled above the floor, but that was just fine. The adjustable headrest provided great head support and the arm rests comfortably supported my arms. I twirled around in it and the movement was smooth and fluid. The leather is easy to clean with a damp cloth should it get dirty. Once my husband tried it out, he loved it! He immediately could see himself using it during his study and writing time. He tilted it back, smiled, and voiced his approval! We knew that we’d be able to relax and take care of our desk tasks without worrying about upper body strain or pain!

The chair has 5 wheels that make it easy to move around your area as needed, not causing any strain to the body. It’s a handsome leather & chrome chair and well worth the money. If you spend long amounts of time sitting, then you’ll definitely want to consider the Commodore II Big & Tall Leather Executive Chair for purchase. Say goodbye to body strain and hello to comfort!