Category Archives: Happenings

Q&A With Jodi Picoult in Houston

Listen up, y’all. Just read.
This is Jodi Picoult, an author I discovered recently and I have become enthralled with her books. I love the amount of knowledge I gain after reading her books. I can tell that she researches and dives deep into the topics. 
I discovered that she’d be in Houston, so of course I jumped on the opportunity to see her! It was about an hour of her talking with Q&A, and then she did photographs. We also got a copy of her new book, A Spark of Light! I WAS TOTALLY FANGIRLING. 
I want to share some of what she said, because I sure do wish everyone could have been there.
First of all, I made a new friend last night! As I was waiting in line to get in, someone asked if she could take a pic of my 2 different shoes so she could show her daughter. Needless to say, we became Best Book Friends and sat by each other and got to know each other a bit throughout the night. I’m so glad I met Amy! We even got BACK in line to get a picture with Jodi Picoult together 😀 I definitely hope Amy and I get to spend some more time together! We live on opposite sides of Houston, but meeting in the middle needs to happen, at least!
Now, A Spark of Light is a book about abortion. It’s a controversial topic, and Picoult was saying last night that the book isn’t pro-life or pro-choice…but people reading it often see it one way or the other. She said that “When women don’t tell their stories, other people make up narratives for us.” She encouraged everyone to share stories of things they’ve been through – abortion, sexual assault, racism, etc. Just share. Talk about it.
Before the event began, we could submit questions to ask….so I submitted 4. 
  1. Is there a topic you’ve wanted to write about, but haven’t quite figured out how to yet?
  2. Did you write when you were younger? AKA when did you start writing?
  3. Who are your favorite authors?
  4. Which book of yours was hardest to write?

Now, she didn’t answer all 4, but 2 of my questions were answered!

In response to question 1, she said that there was a topic that she’d wanted to write about for a long time, but wasn’t sure how. It took her a long time to crack. It’s the recent book she wrote, called Small Great Things (which I just bought at Half Price Books and am looking forward to reading!). It’s about racism in America. She said her book isn’t here to tell people of color about racism. It’s for white people. She said that racism is prejudice plus power, and that she lives her life very differently now because of that book. 

Someone else asked her what her favorite book is that she’s written, and she said it’s Small Great Things. It’s the only book she’s written that’s made her change as a human being. 

In response to my question #2, she said that she did write when she was younger! Her first book, which her mom still has, was called “The Lobster that was Misunderstood” and it’s complete with words and pictures all her own. 

Someone asked her how long it takes her to write a book. She said it depends on the book, and the amount of research needed. It’s pretty easy to find, for example, lawyers to talk to and interview, but harder to find, say, an Eskimo. But in general, it takes about 9 months, which she likened to growing and birthing a baby. 

When asked how she chooses the topics to write on, Picoult said “If I keep thinking about it and it keeps me up at night, I should write a book about it.”

Someone asked about the next book she’s working on, and she said it answers the question “who would you be if you weren’t who you are now?” She added that it also involves Ancient Egypt, to which Amy and I assumed she’s got trips to Egypt in her near future for research!

Also discussed was how to get kids interested in reading when they don’t want anything to do with books. She said to not start with the big classics and popular books….let them read about topics they are interested in! If they love baseball, let them read baseball books and baseball stats. If they love Minecraft, let them read books about Minecraft. Once they read about topics they love, they will naturally fall in love with reading and will eventually be more open to other topics. But let them read what they want. 

She was also asked what the best and the worst thing is about being an author. 

Picoult said that the best thing about being an author is meeting people and hearing how her books have affected them. 

She then said that the worst thing about being an author is Twitter. There are some mean people on Twitter. 

She mentioned a few times about how she enjoys getting and answering fan mail….I’ve never sent fan mail, but you bet your butt I’m gonna. 

There was so much more shared, and I won’t be writing it all here. If you ever have the chance to see an author speak, GO. This was my first time, and I foresee many more in my future. 

What’s your favorite Jodi Picoult book?


Leave a comment

Filed under Happenings, Uncategorized

Just Like Fire

It’s been one week since I watched my apartment burn down. It’s been one week since I have had to start redefining normal and rebuilding my life. 

This is in no way a full account of events, but a slightly detailed summary, we’ll say. 

On Wednesday, August 17th, I went to work. I’m a special education life skills teacher at a high school, and I love my job. It was the week before school started, and after work I went to visit 3 of my students. They bring me such joy! I then went to Pizza Hut to pick up the pizza I had ordered 4 hours ago, and I STILL had to wait 20 minutes for it to be ready. 

Can I just say that my heart is racing as I type this, because I know what comes next?

I left Pizza Hut and got to my apartment complex 3 minutes later and saw smoke coming from behind the front building. I got worried about what it might be, but never thought it could be coming from somewhere familiar to me. I turned the corner and saw my apartment building on fire. I started freaking out, parked, and called 911. As I was on the phone, I was frantically texting my friend Teo, my friend Danielle, and my supervisor, telling them that my apt was on fire and I didn’t know what was going to happen. 

Teo is my best friend who lives in Romania and was asleep at the time, but she is the one I talk to about everything all the time. 

Danielle is my friend that lives 6 minutes away…I am basically family. I nannied her kids for forever. 

My supervisor needed to know that I didn’t know if I could come to work the next day. 

And then I waited. I wondered what would happen. I pleaded with the fire to stop growing. I tried to breathe. As soon as I saw the teenagers that lived next door to me, I got out of my car and we hugged each other as we watched our apartments burn and let the rain soak us through. I cannot explain how we felt. 

I took this picture after about 5 minutes of arriving home. It was still small. My apartment is up the stairs on the 3rd floor. On the right side of the staircase. I could see that there was already smoke coming from it. 


Danielle arrived and she couldn’t get in because police and fire trucks had already blocked the area. She had to park at the movie theater across the street. Hard is not the right word here, but it was hard for me to walk away and go across the street to her. We were able to walk back, but couldn’t get back to my car. At this point, I just wanted the pizza on the front seat of my car. Because I didn’t know what else to do. As we watched the apartment burn and people being evacuated from surrounding buildings, I cried, tried to breathe, and kept thinking of things that I had lost. My scrapbooks. My flamingo collection. My pictures. My green box (full of super important personal things). My letters. My journals. My quilts. My kitchen. My BOOKS. My personal library! I am a girl of many collections, and I was watching them burn. 


I went through stages of crying, naming things, staring at the fire, and trying to breathe. Danielle called my mom for me (she lives in Utah) and she also called my supervisor. I could not talk to anyone. I could not breathe. 

Danielle recently told me that I kept trying to walk closer to the building, like I thought I was going to be able to save something, and she had to lead me away. 


After a while, everyone from building 3 was called into the front office. The American Red Cross and the apartment management handled the situation very well. The investigator from the police dept (I think) was super insensitive. I got up and walked away from him. It was ridiculous. 

I could not stop crying. Danielle was calling anyone I asked her to, and explaining the situation to them. I did not want to be contacted because I didn’t know what to say to anyone. I had just watched my apartment burn. 

I always have a book in my purse, and I had my purse, so I did what I knew how to do. I read. That was the only way I could be comforted. No words could be said and no action could be done to make me feel better. I needed to escape. So I read. I didn’t get very far before I started thinking of all of the books that I had just lost. And then everything else that went along with that. 


Danielle was amazing. She was right there with me, holding me, helping me, and gathering all pertinent information from the authorities, because I was in no state to remember things. 


When Teo woke up, we finally got to talk. I was in Danielle’s car across the street, charging my phone as we talked. She is my sanity, and I was relieved to finally be able to talk to her. We couldn’t talk for long, because I had to go back to the apartment office and take care of things with Danielle. But it was comforting to finally be able to talk with her. 

Before we even left, I had a small glimpse into the miracles to come. 

Every human and every animal was saved from the building. THAT is amazing. 

Danielle posted about the tragedy on Facebook, and within minutes my friends were rallying together to help me rebuild my life and redefine normal. 

I was amazed at how many people were offering help. Friends, family, acquaintances, and strangers alike. 

Turns out, lightning struck the apartment at 6:30. I arrived at 6:37. We didn’t leave until 11:30, with generous help from the American Red Cross and an offer on a new lease in the same apartment complex. 

I was grateful that I could stay with Danielle’s family, but it was not my home. My home was gone. 

I slept for only about 2 hours. Mostly, I cried. 

The next day, I went with Danielle to sign the lease on my new apartment. I was lucky that they had a vacancy in the same complex, 3rd floor. 

My friend Raspbana showed up to take over when Danielle had to leave. We can equate this to babysitting. I needed someone with me. I simply did. Raspbana was the perfect person for the job. I figured out insurance, signed on the new apartment, and ignored a call from LuLaRoe Onboarding. 

You see, on July 8th, when I was in Romania, I signed up to be an Independent Fashion Consultant for LuLaRoe. I knew there was about a 2-month waiting period to onboard, and I was expecting my call at the beginning of September. I had been doing many things to prepare, and even bought some of the supplies I would need.

My computer was gone, along with all of the work I had done to prepare to be a LuLaRoe consultant. The supplies that I had bought for my new business were gone. I didn’t know what to do. So, when LuLaRoe called me to onboard as a consultant, I didn’t answer, knowing that they would call back twice if I didn’t answer.  

It was very rainy. Each time it rained, I cried. I was thinking of my apartment, with no roof…I knew that anything that could possibly be saved was now getting rained on. Again. Each time it poured. Each time it sprinkled. Everything that was left in my apartment was getting wet. 

Yes, logically it was already wet from the fire hose and the rain on Wednesday night. But it was like pouring salt into a wound, letting it rain on my already burned apartment. 

Raspbana and I went back to Danielle’s house and started to make the list of everything that was in my apartment and the cost to replace it all. Oh, daunting. I can’t even tell you how many little treasures. Well, just think of your house. Try listing each and every thing inside of it, while sitting 6 minutes away. Furniture, books, clothing, trinkets, kitchen goods, floss, everything. And then finding out how much it all costs. And then imagine that you will never see any of that stuff ever again. 

On Friday, I was outside of my apartment looking up at this. 


They were pulling things out of my apartment!!!!! I couldn’t believe it!!! I had to sign a release form so that I could get things…drama. First they said that nobody was allowed in the top 4 apartments. Then they said they were. Then they weren’t. Long story short, the apartment didn’t want anyone in. The cleanup crew said they were going in. So, I am forever grateful that they went in!! It looked like they threw anything in a bag that they could get to, and that looked like it could be saved. 

Then it started to rain. Again. I had to wait my turn for them to get to my apartment, and I needed to be present for them to bring stuff down. So I could not leave. I needed to see what I still owned. 


Eventually, they started bringing my things down. I cried. This time, happy tears. Not all was lost. 


He said there was about this much more up there, but he had to wait until the crew got off lunch and then they would take it down. 

I had nowhere else to go. So I waited. Danielle and Lucas showed up just as I was going through A SCRAPBOOK. THREE of my 12-ish scrapbooks were saved!! The three that my mom had made for me as I was growing up. I turned each page and cried as I savored the half-soaked pages. Worth saving. 


I spoke to Damien, the main guy on the cleanup crew. Oh, he was a miracle worker.


Then they started bringing stuff down. 



See that green box by my left hip? That’s THE green box that I mentioned wanting earlier. AND IT WAS BASICALLY UNTOUCHED. It’s like the fire jumped around some of the things that were most important to me. God works in mysterious ways, y’all. 

Damien was amazing. He kept going back up and getting things for me…passport, journals, and more. The structure of the 3rd floor was unsafe, especially with the ceiling hanging down, but he kept going back. That man is amazing. 

Going through the bags would have been impossible without the support of my friends. Danielle was there, and Raspbana and Sarah showed up shortly after. Their presence was invaluable. 



Honestly, we had to throw most of it out. The water and smoke damage did most of it in. 


We took a lot to Danielle’s garage, and over the next few days I slowly went through things, with a little help from my friends.


I spent hours each evening in the garage…with a hair dryer, drying out journals. But I am grateful to have them. 


The kitchen table at Danielle’s house is full of my journals and scrapbooks drying out. And I am grateful to have them. 


A few days after the fire, I was going through a bag, and I found my box of letters!!! The red and white box itself was ruined, but WHO CARES!? I had the letters!!


We laid them out to dry, but I still have to go back and wipe off ashes and rubble. 


A lot of the stuff we took to Danielle’s garage had to be thrown out. But that’s okay. I just wasn’t ready to let go of it yet on Friday, but by trash day on Monday, I had come to terms with the fact that I had to rid myself of the damaged items that could not be kept, and move on. 


I cannot tell this story without mentioning the love and support that I have received. Danielle stepped right up and basically took over my life, answering questions, receiving phone calls, and managing donations. I don’t know how she could handle it all. 


Once my LuLaRoe consultant friends found out what had happened, they contacted other consultants that they know, and by Saturday I had a whole new wardrobe being built. I HAD CLOTHES!!!!



After seeing the response from my LuLaRoe community, and after talking to some key people in my life, I decided to go forth with my LuLaRoe business. I decided that I wasn’t going to let the fire hold me back. I was going to continue my life as planned, and start a new business venture. Now I just had to wait for LuLaRoe Onboarding to call me back. 

Also, I had to start school on Monday. I had to be there for my students. I needed them in my life, now more than ever. I spent most of the day on Saturday on campus, preparing things. I had missed work on Thursday and Friday, so I had quite a bit to get done. Luckily, an amazing lady, Lisa, came up and helped me with my classroom!

The first day of school came, and I was in full work mode. I didn’t have time to think about my problems. These kids needed me. And I needed them. 

I am glad I went back to work on Monday. Connecting with my students had a sort of healing power that helped me in a way that I cannot describe.

I am overwhelmed at the support I have received in the past week. 

Danielle had created a GoFundMe account, and I still can’t believe how many people have donated. It warms my heart to know that I have financial support to redefine normal and rebuild my life. 

Renter’s insurance, y’all. Get renter’s insurance. And the right amount to TRULY cover your belongings. I now realize that my policy basically just covered my book collection…but at least I had insurance!

Thanks to friends, family, and friends of friends (of friends, too)…my Converse collection is being restocked, my flamingo collection is beginning again, my Alice in Wonderland book collection has restarted, and my personal library is being rebuilt as well. 

The booster club at my school has raised money for me, allowing me to go this weekend to buy new furniture for my apartment, among other things. The support I have received is incredible and unbelievable!

Most importantly, this is not the end. It is a new beginning. Everything that is in my new home will have a story and will be there because someone loves me and supports me. 

LuLaRoe Onboarding called after work on Tuesday. I pulled over, took the call, and became an Independent Fashion Consultant for LuLaRoe. I am so excited for this journey ahead. I am proud to be a part of a company and a support system of ladies that have helped me through this trial in my life. And let’s be honest, I can’t wait to share these comfortable clothes with everyone! Plus, a little extra income right now would definitely be useful as I try to rebuild. Shameless plug: Go ahead and “like” my business page on Facebook! LuLaRoe Chloe Palethorpe

And now for the name sake of this post…Just Like Fire. 

This song came out with Alice Through the Looking Glass in May of 2016. I fell in love as soon as I heard it. I have been jamming to this song ever since I first heard it. And now I listen to it all the time. 

This part of the chorus speaks to my soul:

“Just like fire, burning out the way
If I can light the world up for just one day
Watch this madness, colorful charade
No one can be just like me any way”

I am going to let this fire define me. It is part of my life. It changed my life. I will now burn my own new pathway through life, lighting up the world, even if for just one day. No one can be just like me. 


I still have moments. 

I was driving home from work on Monday, listening to the radio, and I heard a song come on. I remembered that I have a really cool mashup of that song, and then I remembered that it was on my iPod, and then I remembered that my iPod is gone, and then I started thinking of all of the other things that are gone. I had to pull over to cry before I could finish driving home. 

Last year, my class read an adapted version of the book Inkheart by Cornelia Funke. I read the full version before we read the book in class. There’s a character named Aunt Elinor. She is a crabby old lady who lives by herself, and every room of her house is filled with books. And she has a library that has her most special books inside. Elinor left her home to help her niece find her father, who had been taken by Capricorn. When Elinor returned, she found that Capricorn’s men had burned down her house and destroyed all of her books. As I think of the hours I spent standing outside, watching my house burn and knowing that my books would not be spared, I feel connected to Aunt Elinor, as she stood and mourned the loss of her precious books that defined her life. 

I still have thoughts along the lines of “if only Pizza Hut had had my order ready on time…I could have been home.” I tend to think that I would have been able to save more things. I could have thrown things off of my 3rd floor balcony, down into the grass, and then I could have been able to save more of my scrapbooks, my books, my quilts…but people keep telling me that “at least I’m safe” and I don’t know that it would have worked out that way. 

I know they are right. But I can’t help but have these thoughts. 

One week ago I watched my apartment burn. I have seen a lot of positivity since that dreadful night. 


I am forever grateful for the first responders that were there that night. I found out shortly after the fire that my friend Madeline was one of them. She went in towards the end to put out hot spots on the 3rd floor (my floor). About 8 months after the fire, I found out that a friend from high school, Matt, was in my apartment that day putting out the fire. It truly is a small world. These people put their life in danger to save others, and I am eternally grateful for their service. 

Life is unexpectedly incredible. 


Filed under Happenings

The Best Money Saving Apps

final collageI have recently come across some money-saving apps and after just a few weeks I have already earned and redeemed a $25 Amazon gift card and a $5 Target gift card, and am on my way to more!

Here are the apps I use to save money!

If you download them, please use my referral code and I will get extra money, too!

First I’ll do a short version, then I’ll go into a longer version for those who want more details…

  1. Ibotta
    Basically, you find rebates through the app and get cash back for things you buy. You can withdraw your money into Paypal or a gift card when you have a certain amount. My referral code is ekiudqk (I’ll get $5 when you redeem your first rebate). 
  2. Shopkick
    Basically, you earn “kicks” by walking into stores, scanning specific products, and buying certain products. You can redeem your kicks for gift cards that you must use the same day you click “redeem.” OR you can redeem them for cool items!On your phone, click on (I’ll get 50% of your kicks for the first 2 weeks). 
  3.  Checkout 51
    Basically, you find rebates through the app and get cash back for things you buy. When your balance reaches at least $20, you can “Cash Out” and they will mail you a check. Snail mail, yes, but it’s $20 so that’s fine!
  4. Find & Save
    Basically, you can get cash back by spending money at stores you’re going to go to anyway. When your balance reaches at least $25, they transfer the money to you through PayPal.
    My referral code is K9ZG (I’ll get $3 when you redeem an offer!)
  5. MyPoints
    Ok, technically not an app. It’s through email.Basically, you click on emails to get points. You can redeem your points for gift cards.
    It’s not all emails. You can get points for shopping online, buying gift cards, taking surveys, watching videos, searching the web, and more. My mom did it when I was younger and I signed up as soon as I turned 18. I’ve gotten so many gift cards from them!
    I have to email referrals individually, so if you know me and you want to sign up, let me know and I’ll email you my referral code!

And that sums it up…


Now, if you want more details…read on for a longer version.

  1. Ibotta
    There’s a ton of “any brand” rebates, which are the best. It’s on things like any brand of: cereal, milk, tomatoes, bread, eggs, bananas, and more. It’s also got specific items such as Cheerios, Kid Cuisine, Stouffer’s Entrees, Kleenex, Progresso Soup, Glade Aerosol cans, Krusteaz Cookie Mix, Windex, and A TON MORE!!
    Is this starting to sound like stuff you’re going to buy anyway?
    Well, it is!
    So you might as well get cash back for buying it, right?!
    There’s also some stuff on there I’d never buy, but that’s okay. After you’ve chosen the store you’re at, you’ll choose your item…IMG_0824

    Then you’ll tap whatever item you want to “unlock”…


    You will then see a fact, a “getting acquainted” question, a short video, a recipe, or something like that. 

    Click tap on unlock, and it’s ready to be used!

    Then you can shop as usual. When you get home (or to the car!), you’ll tap “Verify Purchases” and you’ll choose where you shopped and scan the barcode on the items you bought (if applicable….for example, bananas don’t have  a barcode sometimes), then submit your receipt by taking a picture of it through the app.

    You’ll get the cash deposited into your Ibotta account within 48 hours…mine has usually taken less than 12 hours!

    When you have the minimum balance, you can withdraw your cash! I love Amazon, so I was saving up for the Amazon gift card. 

    The gift card options are Best Buy,, Starbucks, Sephora, Walmart, Express, Regal, and iTunes. They might add more over time, but as of when I wrote this post, those were the options. 

    I chose the Amazon card, they emailed me the redemption code, and I bought a new book for my Alice in Wonderland collection!

    Now, get Ibotta and don’t forget to use my referral code: ekiudqk

  2. Shopkick
    There are so many stores you can get kicks for just walking into! Sometimes you can just drive by near the entrance and it will register that you are there, then you can go along your merry way.

    Also, you can scan products. It will list products, tell you how many kicks per scan, and sometimes you can get additional kicks for purchasing that item. It’s stuff I’m personally not interested in buying, but obviously someone would.The items that there are to scan are usually the same or similar at multiple stores, and I’m scanning them each time I go, so after the first time it is faster because I know exactly where the items are and don’t have to spend time searching.

    You tap on the store you are at. Target this time for me. When you walk in, you open the app. It says you need to have Bluetooth on, but I’ve done it both with and without Bluetooth on, so I don’t know why it says that.

    Anyway, when you walk in, that blue circle will pop up. Tap it and you get your kicks!

    Then it will show that you can get “0” for walk ins. Don’t worry, you can get some next time. Unless you go way often, like I do.


    But don’t worry, you can still scan stuff!

    Here’s a screenshot of when I was scanning at Walgreens.


    You tap the item, a scanner pops up, and you scan the barcode!

    Now, let’s talk about getting kicks for spending money.


    First, the “Purchases” section. I use this all the time. You enter your card info and they track the purchases and give you points for how much money you spend. In most cases, you can get 1 kick per $2 spent, but some places are 1 kick per $1.

    In the screenshot below, all I did was have my card connected to Shopkick, spend money at Target (1 kick per $2), and go on with my life. Not much later, I got this notification. And BOOM, I’m 20 kicks closer to a gift card. Win!


    I connected both of the cards that I use most often, to be sure I am getting rewards for purchases, no matter which card I use.

    If you’re not comfortable connecting your card to this app, then simply don’t. You can still earn kicks with walk ins, scans, and submitting receipts, which we’ll come to next…..

    Now, the “Receipts” section. I haven’t used this one yet. If you buy an item that has a “KickBate,” then you get however many kicks it lists.

    In the following screenshot, you can see that I can scan Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blank and get 25 kicks. If I buy it and submit my receipt, I’ll get 150 kicks.

    You’ll see that The Dreaming Tree wine has a grayed out scan…because I already did it. However, the whole section isn’t grayed out because I can still get a KickBate if I buy it and submit my receipt.

    You’ll also see that the Straight Talk Wireless Phone On Display is all grayed out because I scanned it and there is no KickBate, so I’ve done all I can with it.


    If you scan an item at one store, sometimes it will let you scan it at another store and sometimes it won’t. Sometimes it will open up a few days later, too. Just check on it.

    Ready to redeem your kicks?
    Choose your reward! For my first one, I chose a $5 Target gift card.



    Tap “Redeem”…then it will tell you that once kicks are redeemed, it’s final. Tap okay, and you’ll immediately get a code for the cashier to scan! I whited stuff out on mine to post….


    When it’s time to pay, tell the cashier you have a gift card, show them the barcode on your phone, they’ll scan it, then tap on “Mark as used”….you just used a reward! Woo hoo!

    Check it out!


    Remember when I mentioned items? Yep. Items. Check out these options! I’m working towards the red camera now!


    It’ll take me a long time to get there, but the Sony Cybershot I have right now is about 10 years old and is on the end of it’s life…so, I’m saving my kicks for a new one!

    Now go get kicks and redeem them for gift cards or items!!


  3. Checkout 51
    Similar to Ibotta in some ways…they put rebates on their app, you buy them, and redeem for cash!You can “Star” the items you want to purchase, that way they are easy to access.

    IMG_0865After you buy them, you upload your receipt.


    Then you select which items you bought.


    Then, it credits your account and notifies you when it’s finalized!


    It even works for things you buy online! See the area I boxed and starred below.


    I haven’t redeemed enough rebates to get my cash back yet, but I’m almost halfway there! When your balance reaches $20, you can request your check…snail mail…but it will get to you!


    Now, go enjoy Checkout 51!

  4. Find & Save
    If you download this one, please use my referral code – K9ZGThis one is a bit different…you just spend money at certain stores and you get a certain amount of money back. They include stores such as Best Buy, Family Dollar, Claire’s, Target, Walgreens, DSW, Lowe’s, ALDI, Ulta, Kroger, Advance Auto Parts, and more! Sometimes you get a small percentage back, sometimes it’s a few dollars back. Either way – cash back! 


    You simply shop and then tap on the store you shopped at.


    Tap “Add Receipt” and take pictures of your receipt – super easy. Then you’ll get an email saying that it was received!


    On this one, you get your money back through PayPal…see the bottom of the screenshot below:


    Now, go Find & Save as much as you can!

  5. MyPoints
    I have to email referrals individually, so if you know me and you want to sign up, let me know and I’ll email you my referral code!MyPoints is something amazing I have been doing for a long time.
    I’ve been a member of MyPoints since September 2007 and check this out:

    I’ve redeemed $325 in gift cards simply for clicking and shopping.

    Here’s how this one works:
    You will get emails.
    MyPoints Emails
    You click on the emails and you can get points for simply going to a webpage.

    Check that out. Just for clicking “Get Points” you will get 5 points. And if you go further and request a quote (which I did), you will get 100 more points.

    There are many other ways to get points. There are 6 listed below!


    Now, I’ll tell you a bit more about the top 3 of those…

    Surveys are easy – if you have time, go through the whole survey and get all the points. If you don’t have time, don’t let yourself qualify! Just say you are 5 years old or something, and it will still give you 5 points for trying!


    You can also print coupons and redeem them at the store. I’ve never used that, but it’s an option.

    Another way to earn points is searching. You can get up to 100 points for searching!


    Here’s what I do…I type in a letter and click “Search & Earn” 41 times in a row. Boom. 100 points. You can do this once a month. Easy!


    You can also get points by purchasing things online, and even for purchasing gift cards! I use that one. I’ll get a TON of points for purchasing gift cards to places that I know I’m going to spend money anyway – and I get points for it!

    Also, watching videos on their website can get you points. You get 1 point for every video you watch, up to 75 videos each day. It used to be that you could start the video, mute it, and go on with your life doing other things on the computer, going back to click on a new video every few minutes, and rack up points that way.
    Now they’ve got it set up where the video pauses when you navigate away from the video. SO, just start a video, mute it, and go on doing other things around your house, leaving the video up and running, and come back to change it every few minutes.
    Or, you know, sit and enjoy the videos…

    Now, let’s talk about redeeming your points. I like to get Amazon gift cards. They also have Banana Republic, AMC, American Eagle, Barnes and Noble, Chili’s Bath and Body Works, GAP, Game Stop, Jack in the Box, Olive Garden, Nike, Target, Starbucks, Walmart, and SO MANY MORE!!!!!!!!!

I know this is a ton of information about these 5 amazing ways to save money. Seriously – do at least one of them!
If you have any questions, let me know, and don’t forget to use my referral codes!

You can also check out my five-dollar savings plan by clicking here!

final collage

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Porch Glider and Table

I used my Five-Dollar Savings Plan again!!!!

Click here to read more about how it works in detail….the overview is that you save every $5 you come across, and save it to buy yourself something. 

Now, here’s my new setup! I bought a glider and a table!


So, I started with $275. I thought of many things to spend this on. The only one I can remember right now is a new point-and-shoot camera (the one I have now is more than 10 years old). Anyway, I finally decided on furniture for my porch/patio!

Why? Because the sun sets riiiiiight there. Quite the view in the evenings. 


Ok, so I had a $275 budget. 


And I REALLY wanted a swing. For my porch. See? It needs something to keep the gnomes company. 

But, after much measuring, I decided that a swing won’t work. Too small of an area. You see, it would FIT, but then I wouldn’t be able to get into my front door…so I was looking for chairs…so I went looking for chairs with my 2 awesome girls. 

And I found a glider at Home Depot!


But I wasn’t sold. I tend to like dark furniture. That seat was so light. 

Then Natalie found this set! 

They didn’t have the glider in the store, but she saw it in the booklet!!!

So, I went home and looked at it online, measured my porch, and tried to decide…


It looks lighter in that picture, but the one at the store was darker…so I went with it! I did it!

Now, I had paid for it online, so I had to take my $5 bills and deposit them into the bank…


I chose to have it delivered to the store (shipping was free that way), and my friend and his Jeep helped me get it home. 


Then it was time to assemble!


And I did it! And I felt great! It was beautiful!


And then I had sticky stuff on the metal from the stickers that they’d put on it….but I know how to deal with THAT!

After it was all cleaned off, I took it outside!

Then I realized I needed a table. I had $40 left, so I went searching…at Target. 


And I found one!!! 


Now, excuse the night picture, but check it out!


And hey, check it out! I’ve still got $15 to start me off for next time!


Now, go forth and save!

I’ll just be here enjoying my porch…


Click here if you want to learn more about the $5 savings plan.

Click below to see other things I have bought with my $5 savings plan:
A Kitchen Aid
Harry Potter Wizard’s Collection
A sitting apparatus…well, 2


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Egg Peeling Magic!

Peeling hard boiled eggs stresses me out. 

I’ve tried it the “spoon method” … where you break an end with a spoon, then slip the spoon under she shell and scoop it out. NOPE. 

I’ve tried the “rolling” method” … where you roll it all over on the counter, and then peel off the shell. NOPE.

And I know I’ve tried other ways. 

80% of the time, I end up taking off layer of the egg along with the shell.

My peeled eggs are rarely smooth and pretty. 

I was on Facebook and my friend Melissa shared a video of an easy way to peel an egg. 

So, after I watched it, I was amazed, yet skeptical. So I boiled an egg, and tried it!

Just one. 

Just to try it. 

And… worked!!!

egg peeled

Looooooook at it! Look how beautiful it is!! So smooth! None of the white part came off with the shell! It’s so easy!!

My poor friend Teo was on the phone with me and had to listen to my nonstop excitement…for the next while. 

So, here’s what you do…which is in the video, but I’ll try to write it here…
1. Get a glass cup or jar. Your hand has to fit over the opening, leaving a little bit of space for the water to escape. 
2. Put the hard boiled egg inside.
3. Fill it up with water, about 3/4 full. 
4. Put your hand over the top (or put a lid on, if it’s a jar), and shake it over the sink so the water can come out into the sink as it escapes (unless you have a lid on). My hand is smaller than the guy’s in the video…or my glass was bigger…either way, I ended up just grasping it around the top, not the bottom as well. 
5. Shake for about 10 seconds, or more if the shell isn’t coming off easily. 
6. Take out your magically peeled egg, and be AMAZED. 
7. Eat it!

Go and try, and tell me how it goes for you!

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A Sitting Apparatus or Two

When I moved into this apartment, I realized I needed a place to sit and eat. I didn’t want a table and chairs…no room for that in my apartment. I just wanted a sitting apparatus (actually, 2) to put up against the counter ledge that juts out a bit. But because I had just moved, I didn’t have a lot of money to buy them. 

But then I saw the pile of things that were waiting to be hung on the bare walls, and I remembered my $5 savings plan!!! I couldn’t believe I had $240, since I had spent 4 months that year in Romania and Ireland (where I wasn’t adding to my $5 savings plan at all since I was using a different currency). Yet alas, here it was! And I had $240!



I wasn’t sure how much I would need, but I had it!

If you don’t know what the $5 savings plan is, click here to read about it. 

Well, I set out with the Solises to Trader’s Village (a flea market here in Houston) to find some! 

Natalie had fun counting my $5 bills on the way there…


I only found one that I semi-liked…


But here’s the thing…I wanted ones that spin. I had qualifications (1) must spin (2) must have a back (3) must have that leather(-like) seat, not fabric or wood.

So that wouldn’t do. 

Kept looking, and found one!


I was glad that Aldo was with me, because he speaks Spanish and could barter for me…

The whole time, I was updating my friend Teo on my progress. When we found this one, this conversation ensued:

Aldo: I like them
Me: Me, too.
Aldo: I hope Teo likes them.
Me: I’ll send her a picture.
Aldo: You’re crazy.

So I sent her a picture, and she approved! Opinions matter. 

Aldo talked down the price to $108 for both of the chairs that are there, since they are the display ones and had some imperfections from everyone sitting on them and moving them around. Or I could buy them new and get them next week and have to put them together, for $145. 

SOOO I said I’d think about it. 

We walked around and got some other stuff (I scored on some Christmas presents!) and then I decided to buy them new! I would have to put them together and wait a week, but I would have them without blemishes, and that was nice. 

So I pulled out my $5 bills and paid! The guy was surprised, and I was proud. I love using my $5 savings plan!

I picked them up a week later, and Clara helped me put them together!

IMG_5830 IMG_5831

Here they are, in all their glory!

chairs 001 chairs 002 chairs 003 chairs 004

The best part! I only used $145 of my $240! I still had money left in my $5 savings plan, for the next time!

Click here if you want to learn more about the $5 savings plan!

Click below to see the other things I’ve bought with my $5 savings plan:
Kitchen Aid
Harry Potter Wizard’s Collection
Porch Glider and Table


Filed under Happenings


So, I bought a juicer

juicer 1 juicer

Not to detox. 

Not to cleanse.

Not to lose weight. 

Simply because I got tired of having the same kind of juice for a week in a row. 

Every week I would buy Simply Apple or Simply Orange and would have that every morning for a week. Well, 5 days a week. I take a small bottle of it to work every morning to drink as I start my day.

But I got tired of having apple juice for 5 days in a row, or orange juice for 5 days in a row, so I bought a juicer!

My friend Teo was just here visiting for a month, and I bought the juicer after she left…unfortunately. She’s all about fresh juice, and I totally regret not buying this before she came. But hey, it’ll be here the next time she comes!

My first try at using it, honestly…I cried. Not happy tears. The oranges I bought were GROSS. I bought them in a bag. The one on the bottom was moldy, and the two that I opened were mushy. I threw the whole bag away and cried. Yes, I can be dramatic. But it’s how I felt. 

I no longer buy the oranges in bags. I buy large navel oranges. 

Round 2: Gala apples. MISTAKE. Not delicious to my tastebuds.

The apples you see below are Pink Lady or Washington or something like that. No more Gala for juicing. 

Round 3: Navel oranges. WIN. WIN. WIN. SO DELICIOUS. All the oranges below are large navel oranges.

Let me share with you some of my favorite juice combinations. If you’re wondering what will help you lose weight, detox, or otherwise improve various parts of your lifestyle, go to Pinterest. I just combine different things until I find what I like. 

Oh, and that Simply Apple bottle in all the pictures? That’s what I refill to bring my juice to work every day. Perfect size. I have 2. 

3 oranges


2 oranges + 10 strawberries

Orange Strawberry

1 apple + 1 orange + 1 carrot

Carrot Orange Apple

strawberries + pineapple


1 apple + 2 kiwis + 10 strawberries


2 oranges + 1 nectarine


I tried adding beets. NO. Dirt. 

I tried adding celery. Not bad. Just not a favorite. Quite overpowering.

I tried adding grapefruit. Eew. Not for me. I gave the rest to my friend Reesa. 

My friend Reesa juices for nutrients. She adds lots of greens and such. Basically whatever is in her fridge. She thinks it’s delicious. If that’s your style, go for it!

I juice for taste. Yum.

My friend Teo says I’ll have withdrawals when I go stay with her this summer, since she doesn’t have a juicer. I say that I lived 25 and a half years without a juicer, I can live without it again! Yet she was at the store looking at juicers today. I know she would use it often, since she loves fresh juice. Juicers are just way more expensive in Romania. Lame. 

Update: Teo bought a juicer! She found a super powerful one that was inexpensive and bought it on a whim! She went home and juiced a ton of stuff…and loved it. I’m so happy for her!

But let’s be honest…being able to make the kind of juice I’m in the mood for is quite convenient. 

If you want to see some juice recipes from both  my style and Reesa’s style, check out our shared Pinterest board!

Pretty much the only good thing (as far as I can see) about my transmission needing rebuilt was that most of that cost was put on my Amazon Rewards credit card…and I got a ton of Amazon points, and I was able to get this juicer (and this for my Kitchen Aid!!) for free with my points. Win. The ONLY win. I think. 


jucing dory

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On Reading

Today I realized two reasons why I love to read:

1: It makes me proud. 

I got my car detailed today (I haven’t had a car this clean inside and out for YEARS!). While I was waiting, there were 3 men around me who were also waiting, and they were all doing something on their smartphones. I pulled out my Alice in Wonderland book and started reading where I had left off last time I was waiting for something. And yes, it made me proud to be a book reader amongst the smartphone men. Who knows, maybe they were reading a book on their smartphone (I doubt it). However, there is just something about holding a book in your hand that makes it more worthwhile. 

2: One word can trigger the memory of a whole story.

I have recently (meaning last week) discovered the beauty of Panko bread crumbs. And after my car wash today I went to the grocery store and I bought pork chops (among other things). So when I got home, I looked for a recipe involving pork chops and Panko bread crumbs. Found quite a few, and decided on one after I read “No need for frying, this oven baked, lower fat pork chop recipe is delicious served with pasta and your favorite simple marinara or puttanesca sauce.”

Is it the “no need for frying” that got to me? NO. 

Is it the “lower fat” that got me? NO. 

Was it the “puttanesca” that got me? ABSOSTINKINLUTELY YES. 

The last (and only) time I hard the word “puttanesca” was when I read A Series of Unfortunate Events. I love that series!


Reading the word “puttanesca” again brought back the memory of Violet, Klaus, and Sunny being forced to cook for the evil Count Olaf and making puttanesca sauce. I had never eaten it then, and I still haven’t eaten it (if I ever to make it, I am leaving out the anchovies), but what matters is that ONE WORD can bring back a whole memory of a book I have read. Like magic. 

And there you have it. Two of the many reasons why I love to read. 

P.S. Shout out to Texas Car Wash on Eldridge here in Houston, TX for doing a great job with my car.

P.P.S. Shout out to all the writers ever. 

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Water on Nature

I love to take pictures of water on nature.

Dublin, Ireland

ireland 294 ireland 311 ireland 342 SAM_9053 SAM_9081

Houston, Texas, USA


Inishmaan, Ireland

ireland 121

Provo, Utah, USA

2013 165

Orem, Utah, USA

nature 001 nature 007 nature 011

And my best friend Teo took this next one for me, since she knows I love them…I couldn’t believe I didn’t get any when I was in Romania, but then I remembered it was snowing the whole time. I’ll have to hope for rain when I go back next summer. 

Iasi, Romania

Romania water on nature

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Dance At Least Once

Madeline and I were on our way somewhere, and we were walking through the mall. Well, the open area that is outside. There’s an ice skating rink and little bakeries and cafes. I imagine that in the spring, there will be flowers. 

There was music on, and I felt like dancing! So, of course, I danced as we walked. 

Madeline had a look of confusion and embarrassment on her face as she said “Sometimes I just want to pretend like I don’t even know you.”

I changed my dancing style for something else and replied “Well it’s really hard to dance with these boots on. With Converse it’s much easier.”
(I hate boots, just in case you didn’t know that. However, I am enduring them because of the snow. Hopefully it will warm up soon and I can go back to wearing Converse.) 

She then moved a little further away from me and said “Thank goodness for boots!”

I was enjoying myself. But don’t worry, I didn’t torture her for long. The dancing ceased shortly thereafter. Luckily, today is not lost. 

“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”
-Friedrich Nietzsche

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