1. Coursera- FreeThis highly rated new startup has impressive online courses from "legit" universities. Lauren and I took Stanford's Child Nutrition class (thoroughly enjoyed it), but they offer classes in a variety of subjects--science, humanities, design, business, and so on. Basically, the same kind of stuff you'd see on campus. Ever wanted to improve your public speaking? Study up on composing classical music? Take an intro to psychology? Maybe something you regret not taking while you were in college. They really have an impressive array of classes from actual professors. This is nice for when you're in one of those "learning" or "self-improvement" kicks, which should ideally be everyday of our lives. Check it out at coursera.org.
2. USPS Click-n-Ship Postage: Free to order boxes/envelopes, discounted shippingOne day I was feeling too lazy to drop a box off at the post office and wondered how expensive it would be to print the postage off online and have it be picked up by my mail carrier. A little cheaper than bringing it to the post office, actually! Who knew? Yep, they give you a discount for printing from home. And with another little one on the way, I'm all about finding things I can do from home. Too lazy to even go pick up the free envelopes and boxes USPS provides? Guess what, you can have those sent to your home for free, too! I know this isn't new information for most Americans, I've just never taken much advantage of it before. But I fully intend to in the future. FYI, if you're having trouble printing the shipping label (like I did), download to PDF instead and then print that.
3. Pingg - Free (and better than Evite!)Big Red Clifford, and tried it myself. Like Evite, it's also free--unless you want to pay to opt out of the one ad they show or use their bonus "premium" designs/features. Just make sure after you select an invitation type, click the option on the left sidebar to show "Free" designs. Advantages it has over Evite:
(1) Doesn't require/pressure invitees to make an account.
(2) It lets you use your own design and puts it right in the email, looking very slick and clean.
(3) You can share invitations on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
(4) Its invitee tracker is much better. Besides the basic RSVP, you know when people view the invite, etc.
Check it out at pingg.com.
4. Endless Alphabet--Was Free, Now $4.99
5. GDesigned Printables: Free! Seriously.Ivy Lane Accessories, a fabric earrings Etsy shop), so instead of creating another business, she has opted to publish her adorable printables for free. They are amazingly cute and professional, so I don't know how long this freebie will last, so I'd act fast! Here's her website where you can download the printables.
6. Xlear - Price depends on type/size - $7 from Amazon, as pictured below
Remember my son's constant runny nose? Not surprising considering his dad is allergic to...everything. I've whined in previous posts about how we'd tried everything and finally accepted our fate as constant Kleenex carriers. The bright spot is Little Man was a nose-blowing pro at age one. And *knock on wood*, he never once developed an ear infection. But fast forward to a couple months ago when my sister-in-law recommended this saline spray with Xylitol made by Xlear. We've done saline sprays before without much luck, but for whatever reason, this stuff has worked wonders for my son. Even though allergy season has peaked in our area, we rarely, if ever, have to wipe his nose. As a matter of fact, sometimes he demands unneeded nose wipes, just for old times' sake. This stuff helps clear out allergens before it has a chance to irritate the heck out of his sinuses. We bought the kind that works best for little ones, but they make it for adults, too.
7. Heaven Is Here by Stephanie Nielson - Free from Library or Buy on Amazon
I can't nail down exactly what I loved about this book. I really am not much of a reader, so generally a book earns my recommendation when I choose to forgo eating and sleeping in order to keep reading it. I imagine most people enjoy it because of her interesting life, both before and after her plane accident. I enjoyed that aspect of her story, but this book also touched me on a personal level. Obviously, I've never been in a disastrous plane crash, but when I had my first (and, at this point, only) major life crisis, it felt like life as I knew it had ended and I felt so horrendously alone, like no one could understand the pain that was going on inside. So to hear Stephanie describe some of the experiences she had in the hospital, how she felt about her new self, her relationships with her husband and kids--sometimes I had to stop reading just to sob, partially because I was reliving my own experiences, but mostly because it made me realize that we are never alone. Even though other people (excepting one) will never share our exact same experiences, we all go through so many similar emotions. And we all have to come to the same decision that even though we sometimes have trials that result in lasting life changes, we can still find the strength to go on, accepting and then embracing our new reality. And as we do that, we find a strength and beauty we could have never seen before simply because we lacked the perspective to do so.
8. Edenbrook - Free from library, $11 from Amazon
This historical romance novel won't change your life, but if you're looking for a fun read for your next vacation or beach trip, this is a good one. I tell you what though, once you get into this thing, there's no putting it down--once I really got started, I finished it that day. I generally don't get to read while Little Man's awake, but just to give you an idea of how into this book I was, he and I sat in the car in the garage for over an hour so he could play to his heart's content (he has a bit of a car/carseat obsession) while I kept reading. Lest you think I'm joking, I took a picture to document my shame:
It's one of those books that you are torn between voraciously devouring every page without stopping and hesitantly beginning each new chapter because you know you'll be kind of sad when it's over. To give you an idea of whether you'll like this book or not, it's set in the same time period as Pride and Prejudice, but written in 2012, so obviously not quite as authentic. It definitely doesn't reach the class of Jane Austen in terms of wit, but I must say, this book is much more romantic than P&P ever was. If they don't make a movie out of this book ASAP, I'll be shocked.