Friday, October 31, 2014

An Insider’s Guide to Shoppers’ Best Rewards Programs

If you sometimes feel like coupons are the bane of your shopping existence, you might be onto something.

Unused coupons can be haunting due to the slight sense of guilt of spending more than you needed to because of coupons having gone to waste.

Then there’s the fact that coupons just take so much time to use. You first have to find the coupons and then plan your meals well in advance to be sure you can use the products you buy. You have to sort and organize the coupons. Not to mention the amount of time it takes to run multiple coupons at the checkout lane, while a line of shoppers behind you sighs with impatience.

Better Than Coupons

If you’re looking to receive the savings that coupons can provide without all of the hassles and time commitment, you may want to try a store’s loyalty program instead. You’ll still receive benefits of discounts, rewards and rebates, but you won’t have to spend hours clipping, sorting, and using coupons.

The idea behind a store’s loyalty program is that by offering you rewards and discounts, you’ll be a more frequent shopper at that particular store. And while there are mixed feelings on whether loyalty programs actually work in the way the stores intend, it makes little difference to you, as you still will receive the benefits of the loyalty program.

Some of the benefits you may receive from your store that make a loyalty program more advantageous than the process of clipping coupons include:

     Overall discount per transaction
     In-store member-only automatic coupons
     Reward points based on spending amounts
     Cashback bonuses
     Discounts on gasoline
     Free shipping or gift wrap
     Special shopping hours for members only

Finding Loyalty Programs

As shown in the infographic included here, nearly every major store brand in the United States now offers some sort of loyalty card program. Each store has slightly different perks, so it can be a little confusing to try to compare program to program. You may be best served by sticking to loyalty programs for your three to five favorite stores, just to make sure you’re not overwhelmed with plastic cards and advertising.

For those who are tech-savvy, digital options exist for helping you organize the data from your loyalty programs and save time overall. Some loyalty programs have smartphone apps that make it easier to track the potential rewards.

Others send you text messages or e-mails that alert you to special discounts while you’re in the store. Others only have a plastic card or a key tag for you to carry, so if you prefer digital tools with your loyalty program, seek out those types of stores.

Protecting Your Data

With the various data breach stories in the news these days, it can make you leery to share personal data with a store. But you can’t sign up for the loyalty program without sharing certain types of data, such as your e-mail address, cell phone number, and credit card data.

If you feel like the data the store is requesting is excessive and may threaten the safety of your personal identification data, just don’t sign up for the program.

You’ll also likely have to agree to receive marketing data and advertising from the store. So read the fine print on the sign-up form and choose your loyalty program carefully, ensuring that the personal data you’re sharing will be protected and isn’t going to result in you receiving so much advertising that the rewards aren’t worth the hassle. After all, the reason you want to start using loyalty programs in the first place is to save time.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Surviving Parenting Positively by “Mastering Negative Impulsive Thoughts” from Dr. John McIntosh & Rev. Elizabeth McIntosh

Doctor John McIntosh and Rev. Elizabeth McIntosh, authors of an important new book, MASTERING NEGATIVE IMPULSIVE THOUGHTS, use “nits” as both an acronym for their book’s title and as an analogy for the clearly unhealthy effects of negative thinking.

“Negative thoughts occur impulsively, so that is why they are Negative Impulsive Thoughts, or NITs, for short,” the authors say. “The nice analogy is that nits are also head lice and both (nits and NITs) are irritating, contagious, hard to recognize, hard to eliminate, breed fast, and spread like an epidemic.”

Unlike other, similar books that claim to have a magic route to happiness and health, MASTERING NEGATIVE IMPULSIVE THOUGHTS is based on solid clinical research, say the authors, who together have extensive experience in general medicine, medical research, and holistic health/wellness practices.

For More Information

  • Mastering Negative Impulse Thoughts is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Surviving Parenting Positively
by “Mastering Negative Impulsive Thoughts”

If being a parent is the most wonderful experience in your life, why can also be the hardest and most difficult years that you have to survive? As a mother, you are under the most intense pressure emotionally, physically and practically as you manage your personal life, profession, relationship, the house and are also expected to instill in your children all the great qualities that they need to develop into well balanced, decent human beings! Quite a task, and as a doctor and clinical therapist, we have been helping people through these challenges for many years…

So if you could have the precious gift of taking life’s challenges and managing them positively, without drama, without stress and for great outcomes for all concerned, how much better would your life be?

The secrets are all here in this book! Mastering Negative Impulse Thoughts (NITs) is the first time that negative thoughts have been defined with an easy 3 step process to recognise them.  Negative thoughts occur impulsively so we have labeled them “Negative Impulsive Thoughts” or NITs for short.

NITs, like the head lice or “nits” that their name invokes, are irritating, hard to recognise, hard to treat and spread from person to person like an epidemic! Controlling this negative epidemic and quarantining you and your family is the key to future happiness and success for all of you!

Amazingly NITs occur in every one of us every day and if you do not control them, they can ruin your life, your children’s lives and your relationships!

Here in the book are the keys to not only recognise your own NITs but also recognise negative thoughts (NITs) and behaviour from everyone around you. Uncontrolled NITs knock our confidence, breed fear, shatters our dreams, destroys relationships, and as the research in the book shows, they also attracts cancers, heart disease, strokes, mental illness and shortens our life span by about 9 years!

The book also contains new techniques for turning negative thoughts into Positive Affirmative Thoughts or PATs for short.  This 3 step process is amazingly effective, and can easily be taught to your family and you can begin to deal with difficult situations positively for better outcomes!

The book also contains many real life stories that are examples of NITs and overcoming them and many life skills that will empower you when dealing with self doubt, worry, anxiety, depression, life dramas and challenges.

Specific chapters deal with relationships, managing children and giving perspective to the process of child rearing which is a long term commitment. Qualities of patience and alternative approaches to your attitude that you will learn in the book can result in dramatic improvements for everyone!

If you want to take control over your life, you must start with controlling what goes on in your head. This new NITs concept is sweeping the planet and the book is an easy read with inspirational real life adventures of overcoming (NITs), leaving the reader uplifted, inspired and armed with tools to live a positive NIT-free life.

Begin to make the world a better place, starting from the inside first. Become the shining light of positivity and happiness that your children and everyone around you would love to follow! 

Doctor H. John McIntosh is known as the “Medical Guru” through his columns and media presence.  He was educated as a medical doctor in Scotland. He received a general medical degree from Dundee University Medical School in 1984 and moved to Australia in 1993. He received his Specialist Physician qualification in 1988 from the Royal College of Physicians (UK) and specialist Family Physician qualifications in 1990 from the Royal College of General Practitioners. Other certifications include: Approved Trainer of medical students, Royal Australian College of General Practitioners; James Cook University Medical School, Central Queensland University; Trainer of Cognitive Institute programs, Cognitive Institute of Australia; Approved Trainer of sports medicine first aid courses, Sports Medicine, Australia; and Approved Allergan Cosmetic Injector training and trainer of injectors (doctors and nurses). Dr. McIntosh was the driving force in the building of the Mackay GP Superclinic. In 2013, his medical clinics were awarded the national AGPAL Community Engagement Award for outstanding level of commitment and involvement of the community and won a finalist award in the 2014 Telstra Australian Business

Rev. Elizabeth McIntosh is known as the “Positivity Expert” from her life’s work and research in the field. She trained as a life and wellness coach; certified personal fitness trainer under Ken Ware, Mr. Universe of 1994; counselor, hypnotherapist, meditation and yoga teacher; and spa trainer. She is a Reiki master Levels 1, 2 and 3, and a Reiki Master Trainer. She holds a BMSc in Metaphysics from the University of Sedona and the University of Metaphysics, and is an ordained minister through the University of Metaphysics. She runs retreats at her resort in Bali and has produced a series of CDs on health, relaxation, and success, and a TV documentary series, as well as being a magazine columnist and radio talkback presenter.

Visit the authors’ website at  

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Back to Work - Part 1

The picture above pretty much captures my reaction when my husband told me I couldn't put off returning to work any longer. Though I had been working from home the past seven years, I sought a better balance between home life and career. More importantly, we needed the money.

My plan is to occasionally share my adventure in returning to work outside the home: the trials, the triumphs, and the little speed bumps along the way. Hope you enjoy it.

Back to Work - Part 1

The story of my return to work actually begins nearly eleven years ago when my husband and I decided it was time for me to leave Corporate America to stay home with our children; at the time our teenage son and two young daughters: John Boy, the Lil' Diva, and the Lil' Princess.

Our original plan was for me to stay home until the Lil' Princess entered kindergarten. Then I would find a part time job. That never happened. My work from home job was bringing in a fairly steady stream of income, and I wanted the chance to volunteer at school so I could be with my girls. 

In the years that followed, the money argument came up more than a few times between hubby and me. I simply couldn't figure out how we could manage my working outside the home and still dedicate time to the girls. Our son had moved out and gotten married, but the girls were still young. 

But as I watched the bills mount and the additional stress taking a toll on my husband, I knew I had to do what I could do help my family stay afloat. 

To be continued....

Monday, October 27, 2014

Mailbox Monday - October 27

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

Well, it's the last Monday of October. Not sure where the year is going, but it sure is flying by.

Only two books last week--both requested.

Charlotte Taylor isn't good at playing it safe. Reeling from the sudden loss of her job and her beloved grandmother, Charlotte knows buying a dilapidated cottage in Gordon Falls isn't exactly practical. Especially since she just hired the one man who may love the property more than she does to help renovate it. Volunteer firefighter and part-time contractor Jesse Sykes can't stay mad at Charlotte for very long. Though she snatched up the home he'd planned on purchasing, Charlotte's dreams are big enough for both of them…if only she'd let him in. Charlotte promised she'd never fall for a first responder, but is it already too late?

I'm reading this one now for my review at the beginning of November at my Christian book blog.

Private investigators Alexandra Neve and Ashford Egan are hired to succeed where the police have failed, to safely return home a missing ballerina. With no lead to pursue and no idea who could be behind the young woman’s kidnapping, they soon find themselves at a loss as to what to do.

To make matters worse, the heart of England seems to be caught in the middle of a little Ice Age. With snow endlessly falling and Tube lines either too cramped up to use or out of service, it is a pain to do any legwork in the huge metropolis.

Oh, and because trouble never comes alone, there may also be a serial killer on the loose in the streets of East London...

This review is either due late November or sometime in December. It's been a while since I've read a serial killer novel, and I like dancing, so this seemed like a good match.

What did you receive?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Book Review: Little Author in the Big Woods by Yona Zeldis McDonough

"Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs."  This sentence opens Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the first in a series of children's books that gave middle grade readers a glimpse into the life of America's pioneer families. And for some--like myself--this would be the start of a lifelong desire to learn more about the real life of Laura, her sisters Mary, Carrie, and Grace, and her parents Charles and Caroline Ingalls.

In a style similar to the  Little House books, author Yona Zeldis McDonough has created a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder aimed toward middle grade readers that not only helps point out the fact and the fiction behind Wilder's classic children's books, but also celebrates the independent mind of the Quiner and Ingalls women along the way.

McDonough's book opens not with Wilder, but with a brief prologue discussing the life of Caroline Lake Quiner, who would one day become Caroline Ingalls. This sets the tone for the rest of this biography, as it highlights how Caroline's mother, Charlotte, believed in higher education for girls; something Ma Ingalls also wanted for her daughters.

Told in chronological order, Little Author in the Big Woods follows Wilder's life and the journeys she took not only with her family, but later with her husband Almanzo and daughter Rose. It talks about the hardships the Wilders faced as a young married couple and of their leaving De Smet, South Dakota to settle in Mansfield, Missouri. Readers learn about the building of the dream house on Rocky Ridge Farm and Wilder's early career writing for the Missouri Ruralist, before moving on to the creation of the Little House series. McDonough ends with an epilogue that discusses the longevity of Wilder's work and Michael Landon's classic television show, Little House on the Prairie, which is based upon the books. Readers are also treated to quotes from Laura Ingalls Wilder, details on some of the games that Laura played, crafts, and recipes. Also included is a list of other writings by Wilder and a list with some of the other books about her.

While I have to admit I learned little new about Laura Ingalls Wilder as a result, I believe middle grade readers will enjoy getting to know more about her real life and the independent nature of the women in the Quiner, Ingalls, and Wilder families. With a similar writing style and design to the Little House series, readers will feel right at home with this book. Jennifer Thermes did an excellent job in capturing the essence of McDonough's book and Wilder's life with her beautiful illustrations. I'm thrilled to add Little Author in the Big Woods to my Laura Ingalls Wilder collection.

 Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Grade Level: 3 - 7
Series: Christy Ottaviano Books
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (September 16, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 080509542X
ISBN-13: 978-0805095425

I received a copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Friday 56 - Week 200

Welcome to Week 200!

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post to the Linky at Freda's Voice. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.

She ran a hand along the lip of the deep tub. "Mima would have loved this tub. You were smart to talk me into saving it."

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mailbox Monday - October 20

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

This one came in per my request to review:

There is a great legend that has been passed down through generations about two young boys who would change history. One was destined to become a great king. The other was a druid, and his guide, mentor and friend. This is the tale of the meeting of Arthur and Merlin and how they changed the fate of magic.

This other one showed up unsolicited:

In Fire Birds Valuing Natural Wildfires and Burned Forests, award-winning science author Sneed B. Collard III challenges society s negative views toward natural forest fires. By focusing on the research of biologist Richard Hutto, Collard reveals the complex relationships between fire and thriving plant and animal communities. The book especially focuses on the heavy use of burned forests by dozens of bird species and debunks the idea that burned forests are worthless wastelands.

Besides delivering a powerful environmental message, Fire Birds couldn't be more timely. With record numbers of acres burning every year, pressure to suppress wildfires and salvage log burned forests has never been greater. Stunning photographs and clear text deliver the message that recent fire policies have been backfiring badly.

What showed up in your mailbox last week?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mailbox Monday - October 13

Mailbox Monday is a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued. Mailbox Monday is the gathering place for readers to share the books that came in their mailbox during the last week. It now has a permanent home at the Mailbox Monday blog.

Warning: Mailbox Monday can lead to envy, toppling TBR piles, and humongous wish lists.

I skipped last week because I didn't receive anything new, but also because I'm struggling as a busy mom to keep up with blogging while working and doing all the fun stuff moms are supposed to do with the kids. I'm sorry my blog is suffering for it. I have several books on my other blogs that I need to write reviews for. I'm trying to take that Laura Ingalls Wilder class plus one on the Ozarks. The good news is, though, that I closed my first real estate transaction! It's also led me to a potential few more, so fingers crossed and all prayers appreciated.

On Saturday, I'll be attending the Write Angles Conference. I've been attending the past few years and really love it. I opted not to meet with an agent this year. I want to focus on finishing my middle grade historical novel, then be ready to meet with someone next October.

Here's what arrived in my mailbox last week got review:

“Ema, give me your hand.” These were the words Jesus spoke to Ema on Christmas Eve--the night He straightened her crooked foot, hand, neck, and spine, and restored her mobility.

Easter weekend, eighteen years earlier, an ordinary workday turned into a nightmare when Ema McKinley passed out and was left hanging upside down in the storage room.

Rather than improving, Ema’s body became progressively bent and disfigured. Doctors diagnosed Ema with reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), an extremely painful trauma-induced disease which led to Ema’s hand and foot deformities, painful sores, insomnia, gastrological distress, curvature of the neck and spine, heart and lung failure, and permanent confinement to a wheelchair.

Once an athletic, powerhouse woman with multiple jobs and volunteer positions, Ema became a modern-day Job who lost everything except her faith and desire to trust God more fully. Ema wrestled with pain, anger, and unforgiveness, but now takes the reader on a healing miracle encounter of Biblical proportions.

Rush of Heaven will ignite readers’ passion for Jesus and help them walk hand-in-hand with Him through life’s darkness. It will open hearts to embrace the impossible.

“Jesus gave me this miracle for you too!” — Ema McKinley

These are titles that arrived unsolicited. I will probably give these away:

Classic illustrations convey the magic of St. Nick's visit, from the shadows cast by his sleigh to the twinkling eyes and rosy cheeks of his friendly face.

A fresh take on a timeless fairy tale

This stunning edition of the favorite fable about a little girl in red on her journey through the woods makes brilliant use of laser die-cut paper and silhouette-like illustrations to enliven every page. Sybille Schenker’s evocative and exquisite illustrations bring a unique beauty and graphic excellence to this beloved favorite.

Blogger's note: I have to admit to not being a fan of this series. The black on red is creepy. While the die cuts are nice, I just find this and the author's Hanzel & Gretel book too scary for little kids. 

A young bird finds the strength to overcome bullying

Little Raven was last to hatch in the nest and the last to learn to fly, but he was the first to be teased and ridiculed. His only wish was to fly and play with the others, so one day he took a dare and, to show his courage, Little Raven decides to fly to the moon. Beautifully produced and with artwork from an acclaimed illustrator, this picture book gently handles the issue of wanting to find acceptance.

One of the best loved of Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tales, this retelling of The Snow Queen is both delightful and accessible.

These timeless, classic stories have been gloriously illustrated and made accessible for younger children to read alone, or for all the family to enjoy together. This fresh approach brings the stories and their characters to life. There are also special pages giving background detail to set the scene of each story.

When the Snow Queen abducts her friend Kai, Gerda sets out on a perilous and magical journey to find him.

What do you receive in your mailbox?

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Christmas Comes Early Giveaway Winner!

Congratulations goes out to Jaclyn R. She won the children's book package raffled off during the Christmas Comes Early Giveaway. The winner has 72 hours to claim her prize before a new winner is selected.

Thanks to all who participated. I hope you'll visit again soon.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Friday 56 - Week 197

Welcome to Week 196!

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don't spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post to the Linky at Freda's Voice. Add the post url, not your blog url. It's that simple.

Page 56 was a picture, so this is from page 156.

I love stuffing. I always have. It's one of my favorite things to eat--hot, cold, with gravy, or naked (the stuffing, silly).

I'm working today, so I probably won't comment back until later tonight.