1. Remove Word Verification - Free
Okay, I experimented with this forever ago on my personal blog and wanted to report the results: Since removing word verification from my comments, I have had almost no spam comments. In deciding to remove the verification, I had basically decided to put up with a healthy dose of spam for the benefit of my readers because I received several spam comments when I *did* have word verification, so I found the results of this experiment to be downright shocking. So I guess what I'm saying is, you may get spam without word verification (I've gotten virtually none), but you still get it without it, so if you're interested in making life easier for your blog commenters, here are the steps that work for Blogger:
1. Go to your blog and sign in.
2. In the upper right corner, click "Design"
3. On the left hand side, click "Settings," then "Posts and comments"
4. Show word verification? No!
2. How to Pin from Your iPhone - Free
Here's how to pin from your iphone. It's a bit of an odd workaround, but it works like a charm. So between this and downloading the App, my phone is fully Pinterest capable.
3. Our Best Bites - Free from their website, or you can buy their cookbooks from Costco, Walmart, Amazon, etc.
Ok, I'm fairly confident there isn't a Mormon blog-reading woman on this planet who hasn't heard of Our Best Bites. So this shout-out is less of a recommendation and more a public "Thank you!" to these wonderful women who got me cooking. I've tried to put my finger on what it is I love about them and I have to say that besides their recipes being good, I love how they explain everything so clearly. They don't glaze over steps like most recipes with an unspoken, "anyone who knows anything shouldn't need me to spell this out for them." Well guess what you culinary artists out there--I'm a newbie, so when it comes to cooking, I'm still a paint-by-numbers kind of girl. I need everything spelled out for me, I need someone to hold my hand, and I need pictures. Every recipe I've ever used from them does just that. I used to only use recipes that came from the back of Kraft products and Campbell cans because I knew they would at least be easy--even though I didn't love the results, what else was I supposed to do? Since using Best Bites, I've found my cooking confidence growing and suddenly I'm cooking from scratch, searing roasts like a pro, and making fancy side dishes.
4. Amazon - Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer Reviews - Free
To be clear, my recommendation is not for the product itself, but to read some of the reviews for your entertainment (credit for this link goes to my friend Mel W). Let it be known I have a weird sense of humor and I first read these at three in the morning (long story). But whether it was the mood I was in or what, I found the reviews for the Hutzler 571 Banana Slicer to be hilarious. You may not think all of them are great, but I guarantee you can find a least a few that make you smile.
5. NeilMed Sinus Rinse Kit - $16 from Amazon
I was fighting a cold recently and if, during the worst of this cold, you would've put me on a desert island and told me I could only bring one thing with me, I might just choose my Neilmed Sinus Rinse kit. Sounds overly dramatic, but duuuude, this thing rocks. My sister who used to suffer from nearly constant sinus infections recommended this to me. Honestly, I never bothered to get it until I was pregnant with my first, congested, and so miserable because my medication options were so limited. Decongestants are especially verboten while nursing, so it came in handy then, too. But even when I was done nursing, I started doing sinus rinses every time I got sick because this helped keep everything so clear and infection-free. I have to admit, it took a while to get used to--at first, it felt like swimming with water up my nose. But once you get used to how to do it property (this reviewer had a good tip), not only is it comfortable, it is SO addicting. When I'm sick, I literally jump out of bed in the morning to do my sinus rinse because it's what gives me the most relief. The instructions come with the kit, but be sure to use distilled or boiled water. For a clearing effect when especially congested, you can add a teaspoon of Alkalol (a natural, mint-y like rinse) to the saline rinse.
6. Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat - $5 from Amazon
For anyone who sees me often, you know I don't do my nails often. So I'm borrowing the street cred for this recommendation from my sister Hayley whose nails always look perfect. She has always done her own manicures, does an AMAZING job (better than professional), owns boxes and boxes of nail polish, and is a bit of a brand snob. So when she told me that Seche Vite is simply the best top coat hands down, I listened. This stuff is about $10 from Target, but you can get it from Amazon for $5 with free shipping (or at least you could when I bought it from this seller). Regardless of what you do before the top coat (I prefer OPI), finish with this top coat to protect your nails and make your manicure last longer.
My sister Hayley read this and wanted me to add that it sets in 5-10 minutes so you can move on with your life more quickly post-manicure.
7. Love and Logic - $18 at AmazonI have to give a shout-out to the book I finished recently: Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood. Never in my life did I think I'd bother to read a parenting book, but I'd heard some raves about this one, so I checked it out from the library. Such good ideas! It's not my new religion or anything, but if anything, it just helped me think through my own parenting style to help me be more consistent. And even though I probably won't adopt every method they suggest, it did give a lot of great ideas. Loved it. Rather than get frustrated or flustered when your kids misbehave, it helps you feel fully equipped to handle the situation and actually get excited for how to handle those little mistakes and help them learn from them to avoid making much costlier mistakes when they're older. They have similar versions of this book for all ages.
8. The Happiness Project (and documentary Happy) - Free (Checked out from my local library) or $9 from Amazon
Okay, this first half of my recommendation is a repeat, but I loved this book *that* much. The most important concept I learned from it is to not worry so much about what you or other people think you should be doing to make you happy, but to be true to yourself and really get in tune with your priorities and what you love. As for some specific tips, I found both the 1 minute rule (if something takes less than one minute to do--do it now) and the 15 minute end-of-the-day cleanup to be really great for lowering my stress level while still allowing me to wake up to a clean house.
The Happiness Project weaves some of the positive psychology studies regarding happiness throughout the narrative of the book. If you, like me, found this element of the book interesting, you might enjoy the documentary "Happy." The movie shows a number of cultures and societies and what universal elements of human nature they embrace to find happiness. I found it to be really inspiring. In full disclosure, one of the many groups studied is the nomadic people of Southern Africa, who are untouched by Western culture, so the women are topless. I personally didn't find it offensive, but I'm sure some people would, so I have to give fair warning for those who might want to skip this 5 minutes of the movie. Happy can be watched for free on both Amazon Prime and Netflix.
9. Shoe Tying Trick - Free
I learned this trick from my Grandma a couple summers ago. It gives you the strength of a double knot with the untying ease of a single knot. It is a must-do for toddlers. After some googling, I can tell you it's called a surgeon's shoelace knot. The diagram may look a little confusing, but basically when you pull the second loop through, before tightening the knot, you run that loop through one more time, then tighten. I made my husband learn this trick because I found the only time my son's shoelaces came untied is when my husband had tied them without using this trick.
10 - You Tell MeCold Survival - What do you use to help you get through a rotten cold?
Film Critic - What's your favorite documentary?