Showing posts with label Tips And How-To's. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tips And How-To's. Show all posts

How I Listen To Audiobooks For Free (Or Cheap)





Sometime last year I became aware of the vast array of audiobooks that are available these days - and I also became aware of how much more "reading" I could sneak in through audiobooks!  Who says you can't read and drive at the same time?

I listen to audiobooks while I drive places, while I fold laundry, while I cook dinner, and while I clean out closets (the current project).  I've listened to them while doing yard work.  I've even listened to them before I go to sleep when all the lights are out.  On top of all that, there are a lot of books I know I would never even get around to reading that I've been able to cross off my list because of the wonder of audiobooks.  I'm a big fan!

So for those of you who might be interested in giving audiobooks a try, I wanted to share how I've obtained quite a few books to listen to for free (or very inexpensively).  Here are all my secrets.  You are welcome.


Overdrive

If you have not heard of Overdrive pull out your phone right now and sign up!  It's an app that works through your public library, so you do need a library card.  Once you are all signed up, you have access to an unbelievable array of ebooks and audiobooks!  I really got started through this app, and it's so nice because if you come across an audiobook that just isn't doing it for you, you've invested no money and there are many more waiting for you to try.  

Audiobooks.com

I signed up for Audiobooks.com because I saw a book I wanted to listen to on there, and realized that Audiobooks.com gives you a free audiobook credit for signing up!  Shortly after signing up, I also got an email with an offer for another free credit for leaving an iTunes review.  That's two free audiobooks!  It is a monthly subscription membership, but you can cancel anytime, so I just cancelled before I got charged for another book credit.

Audiobooks.com also has a fantastic selection of free audiobooks that you can download and listen to through the app.  These include a lot of classics!  Some are Librivox recordings that have been compiled into an audiobook format through the app, which is the most convenient way I have found to access Librivox audiobooks.  Some of the free books I am most excited about (for myself and for the kids) are Under The Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott, The Wind In The Willows by Kenneth Grahame, Chronicles Of Avonlea by Lucy Maud Montgomery (never read this one), Dr. Doolitte, Little Bear, The Bobbsey Twins books, and more!

Audible

Most people think of the monthly membership fee with Audible, but in case you weren't aware, you can download the Audible app and use it without creating a monthly membership.  And why would you do this?  Download the app now and go to the "Channels" tab.  Look at the top and choose "Featured".  Scroll down a bit and you should see a banner for free audiobooks to stream for Amazon Prime members!  I'm listening to Pride and Prejudice right now, under "Celebrity Voices, Classic Stories".  They have a selection of 20+ free, high-quality audiobooks that you can stream right now.

You can also sign-up for a membership trial for two free books, and if you don't decide to keep it, you can cancel anytime (even before you are charged the first time).  I haven't used the two-free-books deal yet, because I'm waiting until I finish more of the audiobooks I already have, but rest assured, I will be taking advantage of that in the future!

ChristianAudio

ChristianAudio is another audiobooks service much like the two listed above, and they also offer a free book for signing up for a membership (haven't taken advantage of this yet either, but I will eventually).  However, ChristianAudio is great because they actually offer a free audiobook each month, just for entering your email.  No other strings attached!  They also have a reviewer program that you can sign up for to receive free audiobooks - this is open to you even if you aren't a blogger!

Amazon Whispersync

This is the option where you have to pay, but at a deeply discounted price.  Amazon often offers Whispersync audiobooks as a package deal with their Kindle books - this is neat because you can switch between the ebook and audiobook anytime, and Whispersync will save your place.  If you are interested in a book, check the Kindle version on Amazon, and then look underneath the price.  If Whispersync is available, there will be a checkbox to "add Whispersync audio for $______."  These deals are often great for audiobooks, especially if the Kindle book also happens to be on sale.  The best deal I've gotten was probably the Anne Of Green Gables audiobook and Kindle book combo for $2.  Read the ebook in the Kindle app, and be sure to download the Audible app to listen to the audio - all of your Whispersync audiobooks will show up under your Amazon account in the app!

(Affiliate link below.)


And to finish this off, I wanted to answer a common question:  

"Isn't it hard to listen to audiobooks with kids running around?  I wouldn't be able to focus."

While I understand why you might think that, I don't have a problem with this for two reasons.  

First, I don't expect to be able to sit with my eyes closed and focus on every word of my audiobook (which is the only way I would hear every word of my audiobook).  You can enjoy an audiobook without being 100% focused on it, and you might just have to realize that even if you miss a sentence here and there, you are will still hear and understand and enjoy 95% of what's going on.  The question is, is it okay if you lose 5% of non-critical words through listening to the audio version as a mom of young kids, with all the distractions that entails?  I say it's okay.  It's okay with me.  It's the tradeoff for getting more books in through taking advantage of audiobooks.  And if the thought of missing a few sentences really bothers you, try picking a book you aren't as invested in from among some of the free options I listed here!  Sometimes I'll choose to listen to books I've already read, or books I feel a little more casual about, to ensure I don't feel like missing that 5% robbed me of something.

Second, earbuds.  A lot of audiobooks, even Christian ones, aren't necessarily appropriate for young kids, so most of the time I listen through my earbuds.  This also helps me to be able to still hear my book when I'm cooking dinner and the kids are running through the house driving fire trucks on the wood floors (very noisy).  I really want to get some sort of wireless earbuds (like these maybe? I can't afford Airpods, so these look like an acceptable alternative), because that will make my audiobook-listening even more accessible and convenient!  I'm thinking these would be great for situations like working out and listening without wires connecting me to my phone, or sneaking my earbuds in while waiting for a doctor's appointment.  This will open up even more audiobook listening opportunities!

So there you go, all my audiobooks tips and secrets!  

Do you listen to audiobooks?  What has been your favorite audiobook?

The only other word of caution is that a narrator can really make or break an audiobook, so I'd be interested to hear if anyone has a favorite!









Five Tips For Keeping A Clean Car With Kids


Don’t you sometimes wish as a mom that you could just keep your car clean?  What is it about carting around kids that gets the car so messy?  And if you are like me, it’s hard to find the time (or motivation) to do a full wash and wax, getting out the bucket and hose and big vacuum for a deep clean of the car. 

However, ever since we got our new car in December, I’ve been determined to keep it looking spiffy.





Isn’t it pretty?  This, my friends, is the newest vehicle I have ever owned.

Derek always teases me about my inability to keep a car clean with the kids, but I am happy to report that I have been doing a pretty good job with our new van!  I’ve come up with a few tips for keeping a car clean, on the inside and out, even as a busy mom with four (soon to be five) kids to drive around.

Don’t leave unnecessary items in the car.

This should be obvious, but if you are a mom of young kids you probably know that they tend to sneak toys, sippy cups, and books into the car without your noticing.  I like to do a quick sweep of the car every time we get home.  It’s much easier to bring in a few things each time than it is to let it go and have to haul out a trash bag to empty out the car later!

Minimize food eaten in the car (or be picky about the kinds of foods).

Some people don’t let their kids eat in the car, which is probably the only surefire way to avoid crumbs.  We are not those people.  We live in a rural area, so we spend a lot of time in our car, and my kids are hungry all the time (I don’t think my children are the only ones).  So instead of restricting all food consumption when in the vehicle, I just try to be aware of what kinds of foods I let them eat.  Small crackers (like goldfish) cause less mess than big crackers that you have to bite into to eat (graham).  Sandwiches and chicken nuggets are pretty clean-car-friendly.  Above all we avoid sticky substances and condiments in the car, because those will get ground into the carpet and take a lot more effort to clean.

Buy a handheld vacuum.

I used to drag our big floor vacuum out to the car each time I wanted to clean it - no wonder it happened so rarely!  My grandma gave us a handheld vacuum last year, and it has changed my car-cleaning life.  As I mentioned above, I don’t restrict all eating in the car, so there are often a fair amount of crumbs on the floor.  The handheld vacuum lets me do a quick cleaning job when the crumbs just get to be too much, and it works really well.

Keep a trash bag handy on the go.

Somehow we end up having a pile of trash in our car every time we go somewhere.  I’ve learned to keep a trash bag tucked into the back of the seats, so when we produce trash from food wrappers, etc, I can just gather them all up right there and through them away in the nearest trash can.  It’s less for me to do when I come home, and makes it nicer to ride around in the car all afternoon when there is no visible trash.

Find easy and convenient cleaning supplies for the outside of your car.

One thing I’ve realized is that the inside of a car can look great, but if the outside of the car looks like you’ve been four-wheeling it doesn’t really matter what the inside looks like.  I’m married to a man who really appreciates a well-washed car, and his appreciation has rubbed off on me.  However…we just don’t usually have that much time for a full bucket-and-sponge wash.  I was thrilled when I found out that the car can still look clean on the outside without all that effort.

I had used Armor All wipes previously for the interior of my car, and loved how convenient they were.  I was excited when I saw that Armor All had created wipes and tire sponges that bring that same convenience to cleaning the exterior of our cars.

The Armor All Ultra Shine Wash Wipes are pre-moistened and treated so all you need to remove grime is the wipes!  Then the Ultra Shine Wax Wipes can be used to add a protective layer once you get all the dirt off.  The Ultra Shine Tire And Trim Shine Sponges are especially convenient and are really the icing on the cake to make your car look freshly washed, without having to go through all the hassle of a bucket and hose!  











The bonus is that these wipes are perfect for handing to your kids as well - then they can be involved in keeping the car cleaned too!  And yes, I cleaned the car in my dress!  This was by car the easiest, least messy way that I've ever cleaned the outside of the car.

These wipes are so easy to use and the 3-step system covers every area of the exterior of your car.  I found all three products at Walmart in the automotive section, and I really recommend trying all three!  I even have a coupon for you - $2 off an one of the Armor All Ultra Shine Wipes line, while supplies last!  

I am so happy to have these on hand so I can quickly give the car some extra shine when it needs it.  Derek won’t be able to tease me anymore about how dirty the car gets, because these wipes will let me keep it cleaner with so much less effort!

How do you keep your car clean, especially with young kids?  I’d love to hear your ideas!

This post is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Armor All, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #LessTimeMoreShine http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV




18 Ways To Wear Mustard Yellow Leggings




A month ago my friend let me borrow some mustard yellow leggings (they may have been of a certain brand that is "all the rage" right now).   She said something about not being sure how to wear them, and I told her I thought a lot of things could go with yellow leggings - and I put together a few outfits to prove it to her and myself.  I may have gotten a bit carried away!  But I thought I would share my outfit ideas with you all, in case you too wonder how to pull off colored leggings for everyday wear.

(In this whole process, I realized how many things I have that really would go with this color - so I may have bought myself a pair of mustard yellow leggings.  They may have been from Forever21.  Because I would like the $4 price tag.)

So I give you...eighteen ways to wear mustard yellow leggings!  Yes, eighteen.  I told you I got a little carried away.

Late Summer/ Early Fall Ideas














Autumn Ideas









Winter Ideas





I think there are a couple formulas to making colored leggings fit into an interesting outfit:

1. Use a neutral-colored top (like white, grey or black) that covers your behind as a base, and then layer interesting pieces over that (like coordinating scarves, patterned kimonos/cardigans, jackets/vests, pretty jewelry).

2.  Wear a multi-colored patterned top that coordinates with the leggings.  Notice I said coordinates.  The great thing about patterned tops is that it doesn't have to have mustard yellow in the pattern for you to pull it off.  As long as the colors don't clash with yellow it still works.

I hope this post is helpful if you have been wanting to hop on board the colored legging-train!

Do you own any colored leggings?  What tips do you have for how to wear them?





Woodland Tea Party (First Birthday Party!)





At the end of September we had Clarice's first birthday party!  I have probably been planning and mulling over this party more than most of the other ones I've thrown, and I picked my theme months ago when I ordered our gorgeous invitations.  Despite all my mental planning, I didn't actually buy anything else until a week before her party, but I am happy with the way it turned out!































Details

Tissue paper flowers: I made them from a kit that I got on clearance at Joann's - they were so easy!  You could easily make them without a kit, and maybe one of these days I'll do a post (or find one already written) to show you how.

String of balloons: The best idea I ever got from Pinterest.

Lemon drops and tea cups: The tea cups I have had for a while - whenever I find a pretty on in an antique shop I snag it, so they were perfect for my "tea party" vision.

Rose-shaped dessert mints: My mom made these for Clarice's party with an old family recipe!  They fit in perfectly with all the decor.  Thanks, Mom!

Tea pot: I've been wanting one anyway, so when I saw this Pioneer Woman tea pot at Walmart, I figured this was the perfect excuse to buy it!

Milk bottles with chalkboard tags:  I bought some extra milk bottles, because these are my favorite cups for the kids - if they leave them around the house, they kind of look decorative!  I added some chalkboard tags with these little cut-outs that I found at Hobby Lobby for $3.

Chalkboard: My attempt at hand-lettering!  Don't laugh.

Water bottles: I got some scrapbook paper that looked like aspen tree bark to replace the water bottle labels, and I taped them on with pretty washi tape.  The mint-colored tub I already had (Hobby Lobby).

Punch: Cranberry juice and Squirt.  It's simple and very good.

White cabinet: Can you believe I won that in an Instagram giveaway?  It was very exciting.

Small "dot" banner: Minted!

"Happy Birthday Clarice" banner: Minted!

"Sips" and "Treats" table signs: Minted!

Cupcake toppers: You guessed it - also part of the Minted party kit I received earlier this year!

Cupcakes: I made those, strawberry cake mix, store-bought strawberry frosting.  Keeping it simple.

Jello Popcorn: See recipe here, minus the peanuts.

White chocolate leaves: I made those with Almond Bark chocolate and some leaf molds.

Flowers and Aspen tree candle holder: Hobby Lobby.  I just loved the candle holders when I saw them, and it was very convenient since I could use them for Clarice's party too!

THE CAKE:  All caps, because I am so proud of it!  My sister made this cake - isn't she amazing?  All I told her was that I wanted an "aspen tree stump", and the cake turned out better than I even imagined!

Glitter candle: I saw it on another Instagram account, and when I tried to find it again later to look at her DIY, I couldn't find it!  So I just winged it and used Elmer's glue and glitter to cover a "1" candle.  It worked out nicely.

Banner cake topper: I got the little triangle cutouts at Hobby Lobby and strung them between two paper straws that I already had.

Clarice's birthday dress: I found it on Taylor Joelle last year, and it just happened to work perfectly as her party dress!

Headband: I bought it from this shop.

So there you go!  A year's worth of mental planning, and now it's over.  It's a little sad really - where did the last year go?  HOW IS MY BABY ONE?!   It's cliche, but it really does go by too fast.









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