Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Bloominous Makes DIY Wedding Flowers Easy

I read recently that most wedding coordinators and bridal planning guides suggest that couples set aside 8 to 10 percent of their total wedding budget for the flowers.  Depending on the overall budget (the national average wedding cost is $29,858), that can be quite a bit.

In an effort to cut costs, many brides turn to Do-it-Yourself flowers - DIY.  Just check out Pinterest, and you'll see that DIY wedding flowers (and decorations) are BIG.  I think every young lady I know who has recently planned a wedding or is thinking about her someday wedding has a board full of wedding ideas.  The problem with your typical DIY floral project - in this case wedding flowers - is that you have to do all the research, purchasing, and arranging yourself.  I have friends who are great with flowers.  One of them even did all the flowers for her daughter's wedding, and she loved it.  Me?  I would have no idea where to even start - besides calling in those friends - if my daughter decided she needed my help putting together flowers for her wedding.  (When she decides to get married, that is)

That's why I love this new site I was just introduced to - Bloominous.  Launched in 2014, Bloominous offers brides an alternative to traditional florists, and makes DIY wedding flowers easier.  You really don't have to be a floral expert to get gorgeous wedding flowers while saving 30 to 50% off your floral costs. They make DIY wedding flowers beautiful, affordable and easy.

Flowers from Bloominous come cut-to-order, dethorned, trimmed, shipped along with matching accessories (vase, ribbon, etc), and ready to assemble. Each kit comes with step-by-step photo instructions for easy assembling within 10 to 20 minutes per piece, as well as flower care products and design tips. The collections are all designed by experienced wedding florists to be easy and beautiful. And, it’s not just the flowers—from trends to vases to favors, Bloominous designs the whole look for your inspiration.

Be sure to check out Bloominous and browse their beautiful selections.  They offer trial kits of each design so you can get your hands on it before making a decision and commitment - make sure the design is right for you and that you really can do it yourself.  Each and every package can be customized, and Bloominous guarantees that you will have flowers in time for your wedding, usually 2-3 days before the wedding so there's time for assembly. They are so confident you will love their product that if you are not satisfied with the product you received, for any reason, they will immediately replace the order or issue a full refund.

Read the Bloominous story - find Bloominous on Facebook - follow Bloominous on Pinterest for even more wedding inspiration

Disclosure: I received compensation from Bloominous for this post.  All opinions are 100% mine.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Review: Buddha Teas

I'm a coffee person in the mornings, but if I want something later in the day, I love a nice comforting cup of tea.  I was recently drinking some tea when I opened an email asking me if I'd like to check out Buddha Teas and give them a try.  I'd never heard of them before - perhaps you haven't either - but I checked out their web page and replied that I was very happy to try them.

Buddha Teas come in many different varieties and all are 100% unaltered, organic teas made from the freshest herbs, carefully packaged in bleach free tea bags.  They really understand the importance of purity so that the true flavor of the tea comes through and that a cup of tea doesn’t contain any harmful additives or toxins. As I was reading through all the benefits each of the types of tea can have - detoxification, energy, brain function, immune support, digestive support, to name a few - it really hit me how important it is to have the purest herbs without any added toxins.  For some reason I had never given much thought to the tea I drink beyond choosing a flavor that sounded good. (Maybe I should go read the labels on all my tea boxes?)  Seriously, if I'm going to be drinking herbal tea, shouldn't I want all of the positive benefits I can get without adding anything that would counteract that?

From popular green teas to obscure bark and seed teas, Buddha Teas is sure to have something for everyone.  They have many unique teas that you won’t find offered anywhere else.  Some of them I'd heard of, but there were many I hadn't.  It was interesting reading through all the descriptions and trying to choose some teas to try.  Maybe I should have started with their list of Popular Teas to help narrow it down, but I didn't.  (I did end up ordering one of the teas on the page anyway)

I decided to try as many different types of teas as I could - Leaf Tea, Root Tea, Flower Tea, Bark Tea, Berry Tea - and I ordered a couple of the Specialty Blends, too.  I have been enjoying all of them, but I think my favorite is the Zenergy Blend.  It's a nice pick-me-up in the middle of the afternoon. The single herb teas are all good, and I find them very mild and enjoyable, too.  Most of the time I add a bit of honey and a squeeze of lemon.

The only thing I don't really like about these teas is that, once you get them out of the box, you can't tell them apart.  Each tea bag is individually wrapped, which is nice - but nowhere does it say what kind of tea is inside the wrapper.  The tag on the teabag itself isn't labeled either.  I didn't notice this until I pulled a few teabags - from a couple different boxes - to take with me on a trip.  I got ready to pack them and then looked at them and realized there was no way to tell which tea was which.  So, when you get these teas, you'll want to keep them in their own boxes - or forever be (pleasantly) surprised when you brew your tea.  The boxes really are kinda cute, and made from recycled materials.  I have a nice stack of them on my kitchen counter.

If you're looking for high quality organic teas, be sure to check out Buddha Teas.
  • Receive an additional 5% off when you use coupon code TODAY at checkout.
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I was provided with these teas from Buddha Teas in exchange for my honest opinion and review.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Book List 2014

Once again I kept track of all the books I read on Goodreads, and I could just link you to this handy page that shows the covers and information about all the books I read this year, but I'm still going to list them all.   I'll have to pretend to be surprised at the total in the end because Goodreads already told me how many books I read, but it will be fun anyway.

So, here we go - all the books I read (and listened to) this year - listed by the month I finished reading them.  I'll also include links to any reviews I wrote, in case you're interested.  I've tried to do better at sharing my thoughts on the books I read, but sometimes I just read.  If you have any questions about any of them, feel free to ask, and I'll do my best to tell you what I thought and whether it's worth your time.

  1. Longing (Bailey Flanigan #3) - Karen Kingsbury
  2. Blackout (All Clear, #1) - Connie Willis
  3. Wonder - R.J. Palacio
  4. Boston Jacky: Being an Account of the Further Adventures of Jacky Faber, Taking Care of Business (Bloody Jack, #11) - L.A. Meyer (audio)
  5. All Clear (All Clear, #2) - Connie Willis
  6. A Heart Like His: Intimate Reflections on the Life of David - Beth Moore
  7. The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
2245 pages | 13 hours and 45 minutes

  1. Will Sparrow's Road - Karen Cushman (audio)
  2. Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)- Dan Brown
  3. Tales from the Arabian Nights: Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and Other Stories - Anonymous (audio)
  4. Loving (Bailey Flanigan #4) - Karen Kingsbury
  5. Sold - Patricia McCormick (audio)
  6. The Maze Runner (Maze Runner, #1) - James Dashner
  7. To Live Is Christ - Beth Moore
1157 pages | 11 hours 7 minutes

  1. Divergent (Divergent #1) - Veronica Roth
  2. The Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates #1: Magic Marks the Spot - Caroline Carlson (audio)
  3. The Scorch Trials (Maze Runner, #2) - James Dashner
  4. Moses - Steps to a Life of Faith - Bob Saffrin
  5. The Death Cure (Maze Runner, #3) - James Dashner
1378 pages | 8 hours 7 minutes

  1. Handle with Prayer: Unwrap the Source of God's Strength for Living - Charles F. Stanley
  2. The Cuckoo's Calling - Robert Galbraith (audio)
  3. The Kill Order (Maze Runner, #0.5) - James Dashner
563 pages | 15 hours 54 minutes

  1. God's Plan for Spiritual Battle - Russell M. Stendal
  2. Cleopatra's Moon - Vicky Alvear Shecter (audio)
237 pages | 12 hours 29 minutes

  1. Amish Values for Your Family: What We Can Learn from the Simple Life - Suzanne Woods Fisher (audio)
  2. 24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life - Matthew Sleeth
  3. Little Author in the Big Woods: A Biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder - Yona Zeldis McDonough
  4. Imzadi - Peter David
  5. Off The Page & Into Your Life Getting more from God's word no matter what your story - Tami Weissert
884 pages | 4 hours 25 minutes

  1. All Our Yesterdays - Cristin Terrill (audio)
  2. Twelve Years a Slave - Solomon Northup
  3. Oliver and the Seawigs - Philip Reeve
  4. Code Name Verity (Code Name Verity, #1) - Elizabeth Wein (audio)
  5. Insurgent (Divergent, #2) - Veronica Roth
1031 pages | 19 hours 32 minutes

  1. Irises - Francisco X. Stork (audio)
  2. Enchanted - Alethea Kontis (audio)
15 hours 19 minutes

  1. The Eleventh Plague - Jeff Hirsch (audio)
  2. Lisette's List - Susan Vreeland
  3. Thankless in Death (In Death, #37) - J.D. Robb
  4. The Beauty of Christ through Brokenness - K.P. Yohannan
  5. Cruel Beauty - Rosamund Hodge (audio)
918 pages | 17 hours 20 minutes

  1. Concealed in Death (In Death, #38) - J.D. Robb
  2. The False Prince (The Ascendance Trilogy, #1) - Jennifer A. Nielsen (audio)
  3. Taken in Death (In Death, #37.5) - J.D. Robb (audio)
416 pages | 11 hours 29 minutes

  1. Allegiant (Divergent, #3) - Veronica Roth
  2. Festive in Death (In Death, #39) - J.D. Robb (audio)
545 pages | 13 hours 13 minutes

  1. Prayer Changes Things: Taking Your Life to the Next Prayer Level - Beni Johnson
  2. My Mother Was Nuts: A Memoir - Penny Marshall (audio)
  3. Fame (Firstborn, #1) - Karen Kingsbury
557 pages | 8 hours 30 minutes

49 books in 2014.  That's my highest total since I started keeping track. (last year, I read 42)  Oops, that's not true - looking over all my Book Lists from previous years I see I read 51 books in 2011.  I had forgotten that.  I suppose I could have added The Bible, since I finished a Bible reading plan during 2014, and I could have counted all those extra books I read in May when we had our grandson stay with us for two weeks.  I read The Cat in the Hat, The Cat in the Hat Comes Back, The Eye Book, The Foot Book, Caps for Sale, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, Hop on Pop, The Little Tiny Rooster, and several others - multiple times.

I added page counts and time listened this year, because I thought that might be interesting, and because I realized that the number of books read can vary widely and the amount actually read still be the same.  For instance, I could read lots of short books, or I could read a few long books - and still read the same amount.  Of course, I have nothing to compare these numbers to, but I think I'll keep track from now on.
  • Total pages - 9931
  • Total time - 151 hours
Source for page numbers - Goodreads and/or Amazon | Source for audio book lengths - Audible

I also need to do a better job of writing at least a short review of the books I read.  49 books, and I only wrote something about 9 of them.  I did at least rate most of them this year on the 1 to 5-star range on Goodreads, but still...

How many books did you read in 2014?  I'd love to hear your favorites and just might add them to my 2015 list.

*if you happen to click any of the book covers and buy  from Amazon, they say they'll pay me a small percentage.  Every little bit helps, and I thank you for your support!

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

What's Your Winter Exercise Program?

Winter!  We had our first real snowfall of the season overnight, and that means it's snow shoveling season again.  We got about 5 to 5-1/2 inches which had to be shoveled off the driveway this morning before Jeffrey could leave for work.  Thankfully it was pretty light and fluffy, so it wasn't too hard.  We got the main part of the driveway finished, and then I shoveled the side after he left.  Overall, it took about an hour, and then I went back out when it actually stopped snowing and cleaned the driveway off again - along with the end of the driveway where the plow had thrown some extra snow.

Did you see that?  We actually had a truck with a plow go through our neighborhood.  Today.  Last year we had snow on the weekend - either Saturday or Sunday - and our streets were not plowed until Friday.   So today is pretty amazing, at least for here.  In Wisconsin, it was normal for our streets to be plowed right away.  Here, well maybe they're figuring out what they're supposed to do with this white stuff.  I've never lived in Indiana before, so I just assumed they got snow in the winter...

I'm counting all that snow shoveling as my winter exercise program - along with my walking, of course, and the exercise videos I do.  If you're looking for some good exercise videos, be sure to check out BeFit on YouTube.  They have some really good ones, and they're all free.  I do mostly some of the BeFit in 90 videos and the 30 Day Abs videos.  Between the Chest, Legs, & Buns workout I did yesterday and the shoveling today, I'm a bit sore!  But it's a good sore.

I am going to have to find a better way to log my shoveling, though.  I have been logging my miles and exercise on the Walgreens Balance Rewards site where I get points for all my miles and other exercise, and I was logging them on BeeWell for Life where all my miles and other exercises earned points and then they donated to charity. (They're currently revamping the BeeWell site, so I'm not sure how it's going to work when it gets back)

It wasn't until this summer when I started logging all my steps for mowing - 11,000 steps/2 hours, every week - that I realized they were getting off easy - and I wasn't getting all the points I was probably entitled to - when I just logged snow shoveling as Winter Sports. (it's a winter sport, right?)  So I'm going to start counting the hours.  I could also carry my cell phone in my pocket a time or two just to see how many steps it takes to go back and forth and up and down and over the whole driveway to clear it off.  But, whether I know how long it takes or how many steps I'm walking while pushing a shovel, I do know it's good exercise.  More so when we get heavy wet snow, but we'll deal with that if and when it comes.

What's your winter exercise program look like?