The more reviews I do, the more I see the need to consistently use a product for an extended period of time before recommending it. It's great when you get a brand new appliance and it's shiny and functions wonderfully... then you right a glowing review for the world to see, only to have something to wrong a month later.
For that reason, I've waited an entire year to review my Instant Pot Ace Blender. We purchased it last November, (and got a one year protection plan just in case) and I was a bit skeptical because it was new to the market and the reviews were mixed.
Previously, I had been relying on my Nutribullet which has been a faithful accessory for 6 years! I felt like I was cheating when I pulled out this new mega blender in front of my Nutribullet, but with so many smoothie drinkers in my house, I needed something bigger and wasn't about to spend Vitamix money.
The first thing I tried to make was a frozen dessert. I took coconut milk, frozen bananas and cacao and hit the frozen dessert button. A few minutes later, the mixture was perfectly smooth and I put it in the freezer as a special treat for later!
Then, I made our traditional green drink, but family sized. The Instant Pot Ace Blender crushed it perfectly. I do notice more green foam on top than with my Nutribullet so it’s possible that the smoothie setting was over blending, but that can be avoided by simply using the high medium or low setting and turning it off sooner.
I also made a cauliflower mash recipe in the Instant Pot Ace Blender. The puree function heated the cauliflower perfectly and blended it. The only thing I didn't love was that the blender smelled like garlic for quite a while after, despite multiple washings.
The final recipe I hesitantly tried was butternut squash soup in the blender. My cauliflower mash didn't burn in the pot, so I was optimistic that the soup would work out, despite reading other reviews that said the soup burned. I loaded up the blender and hit the soup button... and it burned.
Especially because it's really hard to get the burn out with the blades. I found soaking it in soapy water helpful as well as scraping it out with those straw cleaners. NOT ideal at all...
I feel like the design is also a bit cumbersome. The heating element is at the base of the pot, which makes it heavy and harder to clean. The blender is also too tall to slide neatly under the cabinet, so you might have to get creative on where you’ll store it depending on your kitchen layout. But it doesn't change my love for the Instapot Ace Blender- it just means my make my soup in a regular pot! The functionality of this blender is amazing and at a fraction of the price of other machines.
If you’re looking for something to make pureed soups- check out the Hamilton beach immersion blender. I’ve had this one for 4 years, and trust it with all my pureed soups!
Have you tried the Instant Pot Ace Blender? What do you think?
Back in June, I embarked on a quest to save money to stash away for Christmas time. I thought that I might save $50 bucks or so, but had no idea that there were so many ways to save... and that I was about to embark on such a fun journey and save hundreds!!
If you’re looking to save money and live better, aren’t we all? Then, here are my suggestions for the top ways to save!
Ibotta: Savings $251.87
Ibotta has been a game-changer for me! With the amount of groceries we purchase, grocery shopping feels like a full-time job and now I'm actually earning some benefits from it! Ibotta is an app that provides rebates for items you regularly purchase at the grocery store.
Do you like DiGiorno Pizza? Well, you can get $1.50 back for buying it.
What about Udi’s Bread? You can get $1 on that too.
What makes Ibotta even more fun is that you can stack coupons rebates for a single item. This makes it easy to walk away with free food, or incredibly cheap deals! Today, DiGiorno Pizza was on sale 2 for $10 and I had a coupon for $1.50 off so, and the $1.50 rebate x2. That means I scored two pizzas for $5.50, which is cheaper than the regular price of one!
Last week, Canyon’s Gluten-Free Bread was 20% off with Target Circle, then I used a $2 coupon and cashed in a $1 rebate to walk away with bread for $1.89!
I wish I had started using Ibotta years ago!
If you want to check out Ibotta for yourself, I'd love for you to use my referral code so we both earn an extra bonus!
Target Circle: saved $98.83 in addition to receiving $60 in gift cards
I was hesitant to jump on board with this program at first, but I'm glad I did. Target Circle is a simple app that has additional deals for members who shop at Target. It’s really simple to find additional deals for what you’re shopping for, and you receive bonus offers like “Spend $50 on groceries and receive a $10 Target gift card.” Pairing Target deals with Ibotta deals deepens the savings and makes this a huge win!
We ended up opening a Target Redcard to save an additional 5%. Plus, my target has some of the best customer service around, so I love my weekly visits!
Target Circle is a free download in your app store, so be sure to check them out if you don’t use it already!
TopCashback is a program similar to Ebates. When you are looking to make an online purchase, you click through their site or app and then they give you cash back from your purchase. Ibotta also offers this feature with some retailer, but I've found that TopCashback offers higher percentages back, plus they have a $10 sign up bonus if you click through my link.
I have used this with three orders, one I received the $10 bonus, one I received $2.28, and one was not properly tracked so I'm currently waiting on a claim. I'll update this post, depending on how it goes! All in all, the sign-up bonus is worth it in my books!
Fetch Rewards: [almost] $10
Fetch is a similar program to Ibotta in that you upload photos of your receipts, but instead of adding individual offers, you receive points for what you buy and can use the points for gift cards. I like that you don’t have to add any offers ahead of time, they do that work for you and you simply get points if your items qualify!
So far, I've earned about 9,454 points which is a few receipts away from a $10 gift card. Certain brands earn more points, so check out fetch and see if what you purchase can start earning you major cash back!
If you’re interested in checking out Fetch Rewards, use my referral code for 2,000 bonus points!
These programs have made saving money FUN! I hope you'll enjoy them just as much too!
Happy Holiday shopping, friends!
This post originally appeared at Rebirththebook.com.
The following post is not meant to be medical advice, please discuss your unique situation with your medical team.
I wanted to take a moment to address stitches for perennial tears after birth. "Did you tear?" Is one of the leading questions I hear when discussing births, and understandably so as no one wants to go through labor, childbirth, and THEN face stitches.
In my opinion, stitches are overly used on tears which could heal on their own without intervention. But, they're overly used because doctors and midwives know that for a tear to heal correctly, the new mom must be laying down in bed for two weeks in a position that allows for the tear to properly line up. Sounds a bit complicated, eh?
First, let's address the tear lining up correctly because this is crucial. Picture a rectangular piece of cloth... now take a pair of scissors and cut it about one inch in the center. When that piece of cloth is lying flat on a table, the part of the cloth that is cut will still line up neatly. Many perennial tears that line up correctly when mom lays down will heal perfectly on their own with bed rest. If mom is running around after a toddler and trying to do the dishes, the extra movement can undo any natural healing and make the damage worse.
Not all tears will line up correctly. In this case, stitches are the best option and will prevent mom from dealing with any future issues. A local anesthetic is injected, and self-dissolving stitches are placed to ensure proper healing and minimal scar tissue. Though no mom wants this to happen, stitches prevent any major complications such as painful or difficult intercourse, pain sitting or walking, and excess scar tissue.
In my own life, I've had 4 babies and torn 3 times. I received stitches the first time and really was uncomfortable for weeks after. Part of it may have been more physiological than physical, but I never wanted to go through stitches again. My second birth was my smallest baby, and I did not tear. But, I did tear during my next two homebirth.
My first homebirth was in Virginia. At that time, midwives weren't permitted to carry lidocaine to numb the area before performing stitches, so for them to be performed, mom needed to be taken to the hospital after birth. Nobody wants to do that. My wonderful midwife said she felt I would heal on my own if I laid down and rested, and I did.
My second homebirth was in Connecticut, and the midwives are permitted to keep lidocaine on them so they can perform stitches in a home setting. My tearing was a bit more complicated and my midwife recommended stitches because she felt that rest and proper healing would be tough with 4 kids running around. I REALLY didn't want stitches so I declined them and agreed to lie in bed with my legs and knees together so the tear would line up properly and rest for 2 weeks. I did heal perfectly without stitches and was really relieved.
The bottom line is that stitches can be declined if you discuss it thoroughly with your provider. Declining stitches poses the risk of not healing correctly or taking longer to heal, so be sure that you’re aware of your tear and your ability to properly rest before declining stitches. If I tear heals in separate sections, a person would be looking at much more complex surgical repair work than simply having stitches after birth so talk about it with your provider and postpartum support team before deciding!
If you're planning to breastfeed or currently nursing, I'm sure you’ve checked out the various nursing pillows in the market. Most pillows are a life saver, or at least a back saver, once you find the right one. I've owned four different types, three of which I would recommend to a friend.
First off, we'll start with the bad. I grabbed a no name nursing pillow at a consignment sale. It came in the same half-circle shape as other nursing pillows, but was pure fluff with no support. I threw it in the back of my car for infrequent car nursing sessions, and eventually dropped it off at goodwill. Don't waste your time and money on no names pillows, because they leave you with no support!
The Boppy nursing pillow, My Breast Friend, and Ergo nursing pillow are far more worth your time and money.
Which nursing pillows have you used? How would you rate it?
My Facebook and Instagram have been packed with ads for Grove.co and the Mrs. Meyers deal convinced me to dive in and give it a try. So- here's how the program works, what I purchased, and my honest, unsolicited opinion.
The Mrs. Meyers Cleaning Kit came free with my first purchase and I was only going to buy things that I absolutely needed. I found my new chapter multivitamins, a big bottle of hand sanitizer, and a toddler toothbrush and hit order! The package arrived about 5 days later, and I was super excited!
The multivitamins were just as expected. I ordered a 48 count of New Chapter Multivitamins for $24.95, which breaks down to about $0.50 per serving. Amazon has the vitamins for $0.40 per serving, so I paid a bit more- but was getting a cleaning kit!
The toothbrush that I ordered was the Radius Totz Toothbrush for $3.99. That's about 3x the cost of a regular kids toothbrush, but it claims to be safer and supports a charity... so I went for it. The photo showed a white one, and we received a purple, sparkly one which my son didn't like... so that purchase was a bit of a bust.
Then I ordered the Grove brand hand sanitizer for $6.95. I figured we go through so much of that this time of year, so trying a new one with coconut oil in it sounded great!
The Mrs. Meyers cleaning kit came with a bucket, sponges, dish soap, floor cleaner. The dish soap was labeled pumpkin spice but only smelled like coconut and the sponges were in a package but felt moist and didn't smell great. :/
I did leave a low star rating and customer service promptly got in touch, which was great!
The two products I unexpectedly fell in love with were the hand sanitizer and floor cleaner. Both smell amazing and do their jobs incredibly well.
Ultimately, I feel like the products I received were a great value and the customer service was superb. I plan to order from them again, and am really excited about their dish towels. I know... I'm at that point in life when dish towels are exciting... but what I didn't love is that the service automatically subscribes you to ordering the products monthly. I like to pick out my stuff and order when I need it, so I always unsubscribe. I also don't like that after 60 days, you have to pay for the VIP service. That's not something I can financially justify at this point, especially when the products seem to be priced a bit higher than amazon.
The bottom line is Grove.co is offering an amazing introductory deal, which you should take advantage of! Then, decide for yourself if it's worth keeping long term!
If your interested in trying out Grove, I'd love for you to use my link so we both get bonuses. Right now, they're offering their Christmas scents, [and if it smells like coconut, customer service can help :)]
Have you tried Grove? What did you think?
One of the hardest parts about motherhood is that everywhere I look, there's a need, and someone looking at me to fulfill it. There are emotional needs like love and encouragement, educational needs for my second grader and kindergartner, play need for my three year old, and a baby who needs milk, and food, and protection and diapers. Then there's all the crazy physical needs, like financial, organization, cleaning, and cooking. The list is completely endless.
When I grabbed my bible after a particularly trying day, I opened up to Mathew 15. Jesus just learned that John the Baptist had been beheaded, so he retreated to a quiet place. BUT, people followed him.
As I was reading this passage, I was struck by the notion that Jesus gets it. He understands the moments when you want to hide from your kids, eat ice cream and cry. [That was me yesterday after my kids managed to spill THREE smoothies on carpets]. When Jesus retreated to have some alone time with the Father, people followed too.
But, Jesus had compassion on them and healed their sick: The mute spoke, crippled where healed, the lame walked and the blind saw (Matt. 15:31).
Then Jesus fed them, and not just a little snack. We're talking about 5,000 men plus all the women and children (Matt. 15:38). The fact that he miraculously gave in abundance out of that trying moment, to me, is assurance that he will also give each and every tired mama who seeks Him the grace, strength and patience they need for the tasks ahead.
"I do not want to send them away hungry, or they may collapse on the way..." (Matt. 15:32 c).
Mama, Jesus sees your weary heart and he never wants to send anyone away hungry. He's got every bit of provision waiting for you so that you don't collapse on this journey. Seek him at each step, and remember, He gets it.
I just love spaghetti squash. To me, it's just as good as pasta. To my kids, not so much. But, my 5 year old loves very vegetable so she eats my veggie concoctions with me- and this ones a favorite!
Plus, it's super simple! All you need is a spaghetti squash, some fresh spinach and a jar of Newman's Own Vodka Sauce.
Start by cooking your spaghetti squash.
I like to microwave mine for 4 minutes first. This makes the skin more tender and easily cut. One the squash is cut it two, bake it on 350 for about an hour.
When the squash is cooled, scoop out the seeds and scrap out the spaghetti squash.
Next, take a medium sauce pan and add vodka sauce and cut spinach. Bring it to a simmer and add in your spaghetti squash and stir.
You'll have a veggie packed dish that's healthier than traditional pasta in vodka sauce- but just as delicious!
Last year was our second year of homeschooling as my oldest son worked through first grade. It was also the hardest homeschooling year for us as we tackled learning to read and added a 4th baby into our household. I’m pretty sure I wanted to quit every three weeks and was certain I couldn’t continue this journey. Thankfully, this year has been much more peaceful and productive. Hindsight is always 20/20 and I wish I could travel back in time and tell myself a few helpful tips... but I can't so I'll share them with you instead!
1. Don’t interrupt playtime for school.
Yep, you read that right... Tip number one is not to interrupt play for school. Playing is so important to learning, young children need to play. If my son is lost in his lego world or playing with his sisters, then school can wait until later.
2. Playing is Messy- clean up later
Books, puzzles, toys everywhere- every day. That’s life, and I have no one to try to impress but myself. Messes mean fun and learning has been happening here, and that’s ok.
This is what my living room currently looks like as I write this, thanks to my 10 month old... it happens to us all ;)
3. Read [AT LEAST] One Book a day- outside when possible
Reading with your child is crucial to them being able to read on their own. For second grade, we implemented a 30-minute reading slot in each day where I read with my son and he follows along and then jumps in and reads paragraphs when he sees words he likes and knows. This simple time of discovery and learning should be free and fun, not a painful task. Last year, I would hand my son books he “should” be able to read and then get frustrated if he couldn’t. I wish we had started dedicated reading time earlier, but was waiting for my kids to read independently. It's NEVER to early to start!
4. Reading isn’t a race- it’s a journey.
I felt like my son was “behind” with his reading ability. We had used an online program and he quickly completed grade one, but I noticed many gaps in his ability to read so I picked out a good ol’ fashion paper curriculum and started first grade again. Because I felt behind, I rushed us through instead of working on phonics mastery. I wish I could tell myself to relax. Reading will come... keep practicing and make it fun!
5. Televisions are tools, not babysitters.
The television often feels like an enemy living within my walls, so I have pretty strict TV rules. But, there are some really educational shows that teach important lessons, values, science, and history. In moderation- it’s an excellent tool to tackle new ideas and reinforce other learning that's already taken place!
6. Set Learning Goals
Curricula tends to feel like a challenging race to me. That's probably because we review curricula, so I take the task upon myself to try to read all the material so I can accurately review it. When I use it with my kids, I'm on a schedule and often crunched for time. Instead, this year I decided to set learning goals for each child- topics and material that I want them to learn in the fall and then the spring. Then, we get books at the library, and find projects on pinterest to expand our learning on our time and work towards goals! I find this particularly helpful for my littles. For instance, this fall I'd like my kindergartner to master the ABC's, 10 sight words, numbers up to 50, and the continents. We've done this through puzzles, songs, games, and easy reader books- having fun along the way!
7. Lead by example, and don’t underestimate the long term value.
There are so many things I want to teach my kids, and most of those lessons aren’t from a book. I want my kids to read their Bibles every day, so I read to them from the Bible every day. I want them to enjoy healthy food, so I prepare healthy food even if they don’t eat it. I want them to value education, so I read books and include them in what I’m learning. It’s exhausting, and sometimes discouraging, but I’m not doing this for the moment, I’m doing this for my children’s future and eternity.
What are your tips for successful homeschooling? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!
is an author, blogger, and homeschooling mom of four, giving her excellent credentials to run her own circus one day!