Saturday, March 9, 2019

Book Review: Wild & Wonderful (and Paranormal) West Virginia

FTC disclaimer:  I purchased this book myself.  All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

I went to school for a couple years in Tennessee having grown up in West Virginia.  As is typical of college kids, we would sometimes sit in a dark room and tell ghost stories.  (Even at a Christian college!)  There was one friend of mine who would leave the room when I would tell a story because she said they were so frightening.  I adapted most of my tales from Ruth Ann Musick's books.  So of course, when I saw this book, I was curious.

Wild & Wonderful (and Paranormal) West Virginia exceeded all expectations I had.  Unlike other books, it didn't just deal with one subject, but included The Moth Man, Flatwoods Monster, UFOs, ghosts,  Sheepsquatch (which I had never before heard anything about it) and also included other strange phenomenon and cryptozoological mysteries from across the Mountain State.

The thing set this book apart from others in this genre is that the author tried to give multiple explanations when possible, and some of them seemed quite plausible to me.  For instance, there have been reports of kangaroos getting loose from zoos and other places, so who is to say some of these monsters might not be part of a pack of kangaroos that live in a remote part of West Virginia? Obviously, he also leaves open the possibility for paranormal occurrences, but I really enjoyed reading the different theories.

Monday, March 4, 2019

Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio Book Review

When I was a child, I remember meeting someone who had been crippled with polio.  She was the first person I ever met who was in a wheelchair, and as children are apt to do, I was extremely interested in the fact she was in a chair that rolled around.  Of course my parents were embarrassed at the attention I was giving her chair, but she showed it off to me and told me about how she did different activities that many of us take for granted.  Of course, this is a great way for children to learn about handicaps.

I remember coming home and telling my mother I hoped I never got polio.  She told me I never would and reminded me of the little cup of liquid I didn't like the taste of but was required to drink.  She explained that would keep me from getting polio.  Of course I asked why that lady didn't drink that liquid and it was explained when she got polio there was no vaccine.

Polio was a very real -- and very scary -- part of life before the vaccine was developed.  The iron lung, a machine that helps patients breathe was developed in the 1920s.  In 2017, there were still three people alive living in an iron lung.  Polio was highly contagious -- and when she was twelve years old, Peg Kehret had a twitching thigh muscle in chorus, then went home for lunch.  She collapsed, and was diagnosed with polio.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Book Review: Goodbye Clutter, Hello Freedom

FTC disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links.

Goodbye Clutter, Hello Freedom:  How to Create Space for Danish Hygge and Lifestyle by cleaning up, Organizing and Decorating with Care is by Lena Bentson.  It is a relatively short book, only 82 pages, but I would rather a book be the right length than too long or too short.  (The right length is explaining what the author wishes to express, but not rambling.)  This book is the perfect length.

I read this book because I'm dealing with a lot of clutter.  I sell on eBay which creates a lot of clutter.  Plus I am still going through my mother's possessions.  My husband and I sometimes disagree as to which item we should keep and which we should get rid of.  As a result we have multiple computer desks in our garage!  :)

If you are looking for an inspiring book to help you want to get rid of the excess in your life, look no further.  Lena Bentson does a great job of this.  She is a Dane, and while geared towards the Danish people, it is relevant to everyone.  (I mean, don't we want to be like the Danish when we think about hygge?  And who wouldn't when they are one of the happiest countries on earth.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Voice, Story, and Humanity

Last night I was listening to a Catholic Stuff You Should Know podcast.   I've been pondering it ever since.   Everyone has a story.  I've heard it said that everyone has a book inside them.  Life is not without adversity, and it's often the adversity that makes our story.  Adventures are either due to facing adversity or going out of our comfort zone.  The ones that are funny are just often not the normal.   For instance, I once crossed the Baltic Sea at 3 in the morning with a Ben Stein look-alike.

I think of some of my family stories and am both amazed and horrified.  My grandfather, whom I never met as he passed away before I was born, had to drop out of school in 6th grade. Yet, he took to educating himself and often read the dictionary for fun.  (I loved to read the encyclopedia when I was young.  Everyone thought it was strange, but I think my grandfather would have been proud.)

My grandmother was orphaned before the age of ten.  When she was a toddler, she poured a kettle of boiling applesauce over her.  I remember as a child sitting and listening with rapt attention as she and her brother told stories of growing up, how the doctor thought that tomatoes would kill her because of her burns and Uncle Ira sneaking her the forbidden fruit so she would snack on them without adults knowing.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Saving Money on Heating bills

As part of our "Ditch Debt" effort this year, I was totally shocked when I saw that our heating bill for our home was almost $250.  I am determined to find ways to lower this bill.

(This post contains affiliate links)

I cannot fathom what other people pay for their heating bill because last year I read the Kindle book How to Save Money on Utility Bills.  I then ordered Magnetic Vent Covers to place over heat ducts in rooms we don't use and close the door so we aren't heating unused rooms.  (It's just my husband and me in a five bedroom house.)

My husband installed Under Door Draft stoppers on our doors that lead outside and to our utility room which is not as insulated as the rest of the house.  I have also used a towel or an energy door guard combined with that.

When I was in high school my mother and I lived in poverty.  We weren't eligible for any assistance, and some weeks I had to stretch $2 into food for the entire week.  That is how I learned to coupon.  I acquired that skill before it was cool because if I didn't we wouldn't have eaten.  One of the things we did was turned our heat down to 58 degrees in the day, and 54 at night.  Both my mother and I had a good electric warming blanket from when times were better, so we loved night when we could be warm!

When my mother was in her final years of life, she was often cold, and we kept the house at 72 degrees in the winter much of the time.  After she passed, I can remember I dialed it back to 68 and how my step-mother-in-law was miserably cold at that.  This year, I told my husband we were dialing the heat back even more.  For the heating bill that was $250, we had the heat at 64 degrees.  I told Terry we were going to try and go for 62 degrees.  I couldn't take it, so we turned the heat up to 63.  We seem to be surviving just fine.  I wonder if once we get used to 63 if we can bump it down another degree.

When my grandmother passed away this year, I told my husband we weren't getting rid of any of the afghans she had made.  A good hand crocheted afghan is warm!  And we have a stack that seem to be migrating to the living room.  Never overlook these finds at thrift shops and garage sales.  Grandma also knitted a number of slippers, and I wish I had more of those.  I often find socks not as comfortable because I feel like my feet are restricted.  I like loose footwear and other than hand knitted slippers I feel like there is a straight jacket on my feet.

My husband and I also replaced our drafty windows a few years ago.  We purchased the windows and a Catholic Church youth group installed them for us as part of a missions trip.  That saved us over $800 a year in heating.

But right now, we don't want to pay $250 a month for heating.   So we are going to try to cut costs even more.  At this point, we're going to try to keep the house at 63 degrees in January, and I'll see if we can go to 62 in February.  I was able to go colder than that when I was in high school.

Space heaters aren't an option for us because our electric bill jumped significantly and they use a lot of electric.  I am currently sleeping in the living room because I've been sick and our upstairs bathroom isn't working, and I haven't felt able to navigate the stairs.

So I'll report in next month at how much cheaper our electric bill is because of lowering the temperature one degree.  I've heard 1 degree gives a 5% difference, so we'll see.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

2019 Goals and Dreams

Each year I tend to do a "Want to Win" list of sweepstakes because I have entered sweepstakes and contests as a hobby for 20 years. 

This year, I decided to just focus on five things I want to win and five other goals.

This is my list.  Breaking them down and why I chose each of them:

1.  Upstairs bathroom working

Right now, our upstairs bathroom is not working as the toilet it leaking.  We turned the water off to that so it wouldn't ruin the floor.  I would like to be able to get that working again.  It feels so 'poor' to have a bathroom in your home that you can't use because it doesn't work properly.  This is one of my main goals. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

November 2018 -- Redeem Coupons for Face Value AND an EXTRA 25 Cents!

We're all looking for ways to save big at the register. Well, I've found a way to make every coupon I use at my local grocery store worth an extra 25¢! 

How you ask? It's as easy as 1, 2, 3! 

1) Sign up at and use my special code SBCouponer to earn an extra 50 points, that's 50¢ just for signing up 
2) Head over to the Grocery Coupons page and start clipping coupons for your upcoming shopping trip  
3) Use the coupons the next time you shop at your local grocery store. You'll earn 25 points (25¢) for every coupon you use.  
That's it!  

But, that's not all... This month you can earn 1 point (1¢) for every coupon you print, up to 25 prints per day. That's an extra 25¢ every single day! 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Entering Sweepstakes and benefits like Public Assistance, Disability, and SSI

*Disclaimer:  This is not professional advice.  I am giving an overview so you can know how to talk to your accountant or tax professional and hopefully make some wise decisions regarding what you enter to win.*

I often heard when I was big into using coupons, "I can't use coupons because I am on Food Stamps."  That is a myth, and it upset me so much to hear it because coupons could help stretch the amount of groceries that could be bought with the amount of assistance the person receives.

Unlike using coupons, which is considered a DISCOUNT, winning a sweepstakes is considered INCOME!  And technically, just because you don't get a 1099-MISC form reported to the IRS for every win, you technically are to report every win.  An example wold be going to McDonalds and finding a free fries instant win game piece on your cup.  Unlike in previous games, the 2018 Trick. Treat. Win! sweepstakes gives an ARV (average retail value) on each game piece.  Reality says you need to report that $2 prize to the IRS at the end of the year, but I don't think many people know that, and I seriously doubt anyone is going to be audited for leaving off a Big Mac win on their income taxes.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

How "They Like You" becomes "Hate Speech"

"You don't matter. Your voice doesn't matter. You are perceiving things all wrong"

That's what I was told time and time again in junior high and the year I went to public high school. Not in those words, but I heard the message LOUD and CLEAR.
Yesterday, someone come on to my Facebook page, find a post I had open to the public, and said things about my weight, how much my ***** stinks, etc. Some of it was not as bad as when I was in high school and the things that would be said to me in high school was much worse.
A friend reported it to Facebook. It was removed for hate speech.
In 2018 it's considered 'hate speech'. In 1988 it was "They only say those things because they like you.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

What It's Like To Have Sold on eBay for Twenty Years

*This post contains affiliate links*
A couple weeks ago a friend set up a group for people who sell things to let people know of sales and such. I wasn't allowed in. Why? Because I sell on eBay instead of Etsy or a multi level marketing company. I don't think they understand what selling on eBay is like, so I thought I would share:
I want to tell you a little bit about selling on eBay. I've been doing it for twenty years. (How many of you have stayed in the same job for that long?) . I've become a lot more knowledgeable and serious about it in recent years. Five years ago I had under 300 items listed. Now I am hoping to have 1300 by the end of the month! Unlike selling with some MLM I have all 1300 items in my house (plus many more that are not listed yet.) . I also have TWO storage units filled with unlisted items -- at this point I have quit sourcing for new items to sell.
I have repeat customers who I know what they like and if I am out and see something that I think these people would like, I purchase it. A couple examples are I have a buyer who loves community cookbooks from Virginia. I have another who loves co-ed Catholic high school cookbooks. Sometimes I will buy these things (and those for repeat customers) even if I have a low ROI (return on investment) because I want to keep customers coming back to me. It's not exactly common that people buy multiple times from the same seller on eBay and I want to be a seller they seek out!
When people begin selling on eBay, it's fun and many times people will not think it is a job. I've easily sold over 15,000 items (and that's probably a low estimate) over the last 20 years. That's sourcing an item, taking photos, writing description, waiting on payment to come in the mail (pre-paypal), packing the item, shipping, and any follow up that needs done. I do enjoy the flexibility and freedom it gives me, as well as being able to bring in decent money without having to leave the house and having to have another car, business clothes, etc.
There have been times people have told me they would "let" me teach them to sell on eBay. How do you think you would respond if someone came up to you and said they would let you teach them how to do your job.
I no longer sell for others. Why? After someone called me and said "Their buddy is in jail and owes them money and he had some belt buckles that belonged to him". Another time, someone called and wanted me to list magazines for her. She said that some of them could even sell for FIVE DOLLARS EACH! (I don't list anything that low.) . Also, I have made as low as 1% selling items for others. It's the same amount of work to list something that I will keep the money from as it is to list something for someone and make only a few cents. While I do make exceptions for selling for others, it's extremely rare, and I generally say I don't sell for others.
I have over 6,000 positive feedback at 100% satisfaction on my new account (back in the day I had multiple accounts for different things.) . I called eBay one time about having my listing limits raised. I was told "Your buyers love you." With pride, I said, "Yes they do."
Many people sell more than I do. I'm small potatoes in the circles on Facebook I hang out in. But I learn more and more stuff every single day. The eBay of 1998 is not the eBay of 2018. I've kept up with changes. I have bought multiple computers over the years, not only that I have invested in iPads, cameras, and even photo studio tabletop boxes where I can take nicer photos. Of course then there are all the reference materials I have. Ring sizers so I can tell what size a ring in, a book on how to identify first edition books, plus my favorite item of all -- a tape dispenser that has one side for regular sized tape and beside it a place for packing tape. I have invested in myself so I can become the best seller I can be.
I also have spent literally thousands of dollars in the last twenty years on tape, boxes, bubble wrap, and more. I highly recommend uPackAndShip on eBay
It's a job. A real job. I'm thankful for it because it allowed me to be able to bring in some income while I was dipping into savings each month when my mother needed help. I am thankful for it because if I am sick, I can pretty much just leave everything but shipping for a few days, and I am working with my husband to get things easier for him to be able to ship if I don't feel up to it. When my mother was in ICU in Pittsburgh, I asked a friend to ship a couple items for me. I have to be responsible for each and every sale, no matter what happens. I had to ship items between the day my mother died and her funeral. I have to *plan* for days off, and I never get paid time off like most jobs give. I sometimes think people don't understand this when it comes to the planning I need to do (and factoring costs) of being gone for more than a weekend. My September through January are always busy. I barely have time to breathe because I can work as much as I want because that's the busy time of year. But, my husband usually has Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday off as his "weekend", and I can do what I need to do those days and work harder on the days he has off so we can spend his days off together. No one loves their job 100% of the time, but I have to say most of the time I very much enjoy it, and I am thankful for the flexibility.
I often wear a slap bracelet ruler when I am listing. It makes finding a ruler easier. There is a lot of measuring. There is a lot of cleaning of times. A lot of research. Sometimes a lot of negotiation.
I give 10% of everything I bring in to charity. It helps my items be seen on eBay. It helps others. And I get 10% discount on my eBay fees.I do many things to bring in money. This is the one I have done longest. So that is a bit of insight into my life.
As Christmas approaches, remember real people like me sell on eBay. If you can buy from a smaller seller (vs. a big company) on eBay you are helping someone pay their light bill, save for a vacation, or buy school clothes for their kids. Yes, some eBay individuals are huge sellers, but think of us as small businesses, not a cog in a giant corporation.
I have one professional in my area who gives me a small business discount when I do business with him. Why? Because I'm bringing money into our area. I might sell something to Australia (which I do often), but then I buy gasoline for my car locally -- which helps the store employing my husband and over two dozen others stay in business.
This is a glimpse of my life. If you enjoyed reading this, I can write about other things I do to make money and such over the next few weeks.