Friday, April 15, 2022

Who's Still Reading Books?

 


The last 2 years have been a real challenge to me. Hubby ended up in the hospital for his back, then the world turned upside down and hasn't been the same since. As soon as hubby had been cleared for work, he was informed he would be working from home until further notice. Lock down happened and working from home started. The building that held his office was repurposed and everyone that worked there was told they would be working from home from now on.

There have been other challenges as well. My best friend as well as another good friend died, a friend's husband committed suicide, a wedding was postponed and then cancelled, out 2 cats crossed the Rainbow Bridge just months of each other and it seems the list just goes on. Now we have the challenge of the cost of goods and services going up as well as fuel and housing. 

I look at this time to embrace new skills and relearn the old ones. It's time to dust off the old blog and start talking about the things I'm reading and the items I'm using. Now is not the time to waste that hard earned dollar on things that wasn't worth purchasing. Sadly, I haven't been reading a whole lot of new books. I didn't have the time to commit to reading and reviewing. Now, I'm pretty much brushed up on the necessary skills and have pretty much adjusted to hubby underfoot all the time. I didn't expect that to happen so soon - he's not that close to retirement yet! 

Have you found that you have more or less time for reading and other hobbies? How has your life been affected with everything that is going on?

Craftsy Disappointment

Before you read any further, please note: This post is about my real life personal experience with Craftsy and those platforms that came before the current one.

I had been a longtime member of Craftsy that went to Bluprint that went back to Craftsy. I had classes from the first Craftsy, then Bluprint that I enjoyed and were to be saved forever. When the original Craftsy went to Bluprint, nothing was lost and I was a very, very happy camper. Bluprint offered classes each time with a paid membership plus some amazing deals on craft kits and other needed items like fabric, yarn, cooking items, etc. My heart was broken with Bluprint announced it would be no more and was selling to the company that has the National Sewing Circle as well as other online memberships. I tried the National Sewing Circle and as sorely disappointed so I wondered what would happen to my beloved Bluprint. 

Well, fast-forward to present day. My Bluprint membership transferred the new "Craftsy" and so did a little more than half of the classes from the first Craftsy. I did end up with all the Bluprint classes that I purchased, but was not happy. I was assured that they would be there soonly. Wouldn't you know, I didn't keep my receipts from the first Craftsy, so I had no proof that I was short a good 04 classes. UGH.  

Renewal time came and I was never notified it was time to renew - just a credit card charge!! It appeared my card number had transferred to the new platform. Things were still not working well as articles were missing and my classes were still not all there. There had be NO compensation for those that were transferred to the new platform with all the problems and the bugs they were supposed to iron out. New people were given great discounts but those that paid full price and were in the middle of the transition were ignored. I called to find out what was going on since there was no place to even see how to change my subscription status or credit card. I talked to a customer service rep and decided to cancel. Nothing new was really being added and the amount of spam they were sending all the time was horrible. The rep apologized, told me she was letting my subscription run out and she'd send me an offer for me to renew at a better price, but I'd have to let my subscription lapse to be able to get the new price. Sounded interesting and a bit odd.  I let me subscription lapse and waited for a few months. I did finally use the new offer.

There were changes - things a little better, but still I had not received all my classes. Those from the original Craftsy seem to be gone forever. Some articles actually are now online and able to be read, but referring patterns and other links don't work. 2 years and still transitioning? Hmmmm... But here's where it get's interesting... I can no longer access many of the classes I want to. I am a premium member but now have to buy a GOLD membership to access classes that were available to me before from Bluprint and when my membership had moved over. This is becoming like the National Sewing Circle and their other platforms although we were assured this would not change.

I cancelled my automatic renewal and won't be going back except to access my lifetime classes I purchased - although lifetime seems to be something they are not honoring. I had over 120 classes and now have 68 that are in my library. I figured some would be lost but not that many!! That's almost half. Now, I will say that many of those were free or short classes, but the transfer from the original Craftsy to Bluprint lost nothing! Sadly, I was using some when we were transferred and now they are gone.

The only thing that the new Craftsy platform has brough me was frustration and TONS of SPAM. I get mailings from all their platforms and multiples each day. The benefits are no longer there and the wonderful teaching source that I had once loved is now gone. It was worth the money at one time, but for me, I won't be paying for and expensive membership that loves to spam and changes it's rules - making you pay more for certain videos that you were able to access just a bit ago and they seem to be increasing as time goes on. 

This has been my personal experience and because of this, I cannot nor will I recommend the new Craftsy to anyone. 

Friday, November 8, 2019

Living On One Income

I've heard over and over that a family cannot live on one income because the cost of living is so high. The cost of living is high, but I can say from experience, that it is possible. No, my husband didn't make a lot. His income was low enough to allow us government assistance - but we didn't take it. Why? We didn't need it!

We had a family of 4. No, the kids didn't have the latest and greatest video games, etc. They got them after they were out for a while and the price came down or they got them for Christmas/birthday from someone. They never felt like they were missing out, but ended up appreciating what they received more than their friends. They learned to work for what they wanted and saved up for things, too. This made them realize that all the time that it took to save, was not always worth the item they ended up purchasing.

The family was well dressed and well fed. I shopped at yard sales and thrift stores as well end of season clearances. It's amazing to me that we could get brand new clothes for almost nothing. Many times we got clothing with tags still on them for 25 cents or less and my winter coat cost $2 and still had the tags on it! The only thing we didn't buy used were undies, swim suits and shoes.

As for food, I didn't do the menu plan that everyone talks about. Instead, I'd scan the grocery flyers for excellent sales and then stock up on those items. I'd search the store for markdowns and buy them if they were a good price. By doing this every week, we had a nice little stock on our pantry shelves and I cooked from what I had there. There are times I'd use coupons as well. Our store would double and even sometimes triple them, but I found coupons are usually for prepared and junk food that really wasn't a savings, even after the coupon. I cooked a lot from scratch and made my own "groceries", ie: mixes and convenience foods. I also canned, froze and dehydrated foods as well.

No, we didn't have the newest things, but we never really seemed to miss them.  We always had enough - actually more than enough to keep everyone satisfied. Even on my husband's income, we still managed to put away more than 6 months of his salary in case of emergency. By the time the kids were in college, we had no debt and we were debt free quite a while before that! My husband lost his job, and didn't find anything for more than 6 months. When he did, we had to relocate and the money that was tucked away was the down payment on our new home. We ended up moving in one of the highest priced places in the state, but it was where the job was. When we sold our home, we got 10% of what this home cost - and this one wasn't nearly as expensive as those around the area. We got a "good deal" on this one!

Living on one income is not easy. It takes time and effort and it helps to have an attitude that you are satisfied with what you have. Yes, you will still see things you want, but impulse buying is not something one can or should do. Many people have buyer's remorse after an impulse purchase. Remember the clothing with tags we've bought at yard sales or thrift stores?

After moving here, I did work for awhile. We NEEDED a second car and extra car insurance, maintenance since my hours didn't match with my husband. I had to buy special clothes and shoes for work and with the job I had, they didn't last long. My shoes wore out in 3 months! I was buying 4 pair a year!  I'd get home exhausted and not feel like cooking, so we were eating prepared and take out. Our health declined, we gained weight and were sick more. I got injured at work and continued to re-injure myself, so when home, I wasn't doing much. My hours didn't allow for much time off, and I couldn't take off during normal vacation times, so we really couldn't do anything. My husband hardly ever saw me and neither of us was really happy. After all was said and done, my extra income wasn't really helping since much of it was going towards the extras that I had to have while working. The job was being more of a hindrance than anything!

I left work and we are again living on one income. We are back to eating better and all around living better.  My injury finally healed after a year (just like the doctor said!) and I am back to normal. No, I did not take workman's comp or disability although I was highly urged to. I saw no reason when I'm not planning on returning to work.

We sold the car and we are back down to one. I didn't need it any longer. There was a small adjustment period since I couldn't just hop in and go, but now,
I really don't miss it.

I'm back to cooking from scratch, canning, freezing, dehydrating and just enjoying life. I'm always learning new skills and honestly, I don't feel like I'm missing out at all. There is nothing I want or need - I have it all!



Thursday, September 5, 2019

Bluprint -vs- Creative Bug

Photo by Surene Palvie from Pexels
I love all types of crafts, from needlework to making wreaths, so I'm always doing something with my hands and always looking for new and interesting things to try. I've done subscription boxes, combed the net for new projects, watched hours and hours of YouTube and am a member of a couple of guilds.

When I check my email, I'm always getting offers to join a new club, take a new knitting class, etc., and honestly, it seems like every time I try these things, they are underwhelming and I end up cancelling after just a couple of months.

Bluprint


So when Craftsy starting sending me their offers, I did the free week, downloaded a few of their free classes and patterns, but couldn't justify the price. Then Bluprint merged with Craftsy, and the price came down. I got some great offers, but still didn't join. Well, the price came down more and after a week free preview, an offer for a free knitting kit, I said to my husband I'm going to try it out. I paid the yearly fee up front (saving some money there) and picked out my kit from their list. I chose the LaMott Wrap Knitting Kit by Erika Flory featuring Cloudborn Highland Sport in the Santa Fe colorway. Within 2 days from the time I signed up, my kit was in hand! I was impressed with the quality of the Cloudborn wool as well as the pattern instructions. The kit retails for almost $47 - over half of what I paid for my yearly membership ($79.99)

The classes are well done and very professional looking. Yes, you can probably find videos that cover some, if not all, the topics on YouTube, but I can tell you, I've spent a lot of time trying to find exactly what I needed and weeding through a lot to finally find it, and sometimes the information that is given is not correct. Provided with the classes are downloadable materials. They may include patterns and/or other helpful information.

Another perk from the Bluprint membership is 12 keep forever classes that you choose. If you decided not to renew your membership, those classes will always be available to you to watch - as well as all the class materials that come with them. You get the codes for 3 of them every 3 months.

Included with the membership is free shipping on any order from Bluprint's shop. I didn't think I'd use it really, because the prices I viewed as a non-member seemed a bit high. Well, I got a surprise with that! Members get 15% off, which is ok, but the real savings comes from their coupons. For example, I found a 60% off coupon code on my member page off one item. I used it on a wool sweater kit. I chose the largest size I could  buy so that I was sure I'd definitely have enough yarn. This kit also has a class that goes with it, so not only am I trying a new technique, but I have a class to explain everything about this sweater. The cost? $33 including shipping! I got a lovely wool cardigan kit for the cost of what I would have spent on acrylic yarn to make the exact same sweater!

I have made a couple of other purchases since I've been a member, and believe me, the savings alone has more than paid for my membership! Everything is shipped by FedEx and I usually have the items in hand in 2 days. (This time frame could be different, depending on where you are located).

Creative Bug


Right after I became a member of Bluprint, I received a free month trial from Creative Bug. I wanted to compare both to see which was more useful and a better deal for me. Creative Bug offered me a membership for $7.99 a month and I couldn't find any place to pay for a year upfront.

With that membership came the video classes, class materials, patterns and CBTV.  Currently, they are offering a $10 JoAnn gift certificate when you become a member. I didn't find any other perks besides the videos, classes and Creative Bug TV.

The videos that I viewed didn't seem to have the same professional quality that Bluprint's has. Now, to be fair, it could only be the ones I chose and may not be that way with all the videos. It's possible they were older ones. The class materials were decent. I downloaded a couple of patterns and they were well written and easy to follow. One nice thing I came across on the videos I watched, was the opportunity to download a transcript of the class. It appears you had to download one for each segment, but still, it's nice to be able to have it in print instead of trying to find what you need in the video.

Which Is The Best?


So which is the best for you? It depends what you are looking for. With Creative Bug, you don't have to make along term commitment, since you pay monthly, you can cancel at any time, however, I could find no option to pay quarterly or yearly, so I found discounts on that price. I do know they run specials from time to time, so you may want to sign up for the newsletter to see when their offers become available. If I remember correctly, there was an offer for half price off of their normal price. Currently a year of Creative Bug runs $95.88 (12 x 7.99)

For me, Bluprint was the better deal. With free shipping, a free kit, amazing coupons and sales, lots of free patterns and nicely done classes/videos,  I am thrilled with my membership!! My yearly membership was $79.99. I've seen Bluprint have other sales and membership  has been lower. I've also seen quite a few nice offers of gift certificates. I'd suggest getting the Bluprint newsletter and checking the offers for yourself.

My only regret is not joining Bluprint sooner!

***Please note - I paid for the membership out of my own money. I was not given anything or asked by either company to do a review. This if from my own experience and sharing to help others decide if they want to try either/both companies out.

Thursday, August 29, 2019

Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe?

Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe?
by United Church of God
Kindle Edition, 65 pages
Published March 11th 2012 by United Church of God
ASIN: B007JLNGP4

This free book can be found at:
https://www.ucg.org/bible-study-tools/booklets/holidays-or-holy-days-does-it-matter-which-days-we-observe

A short but very well researched book on the history of the traditional Christian holidays. This looks into the pagan holidays and celebrations and how the early Church incorporated pagan traditions and dates to draw in members.

This book concentrates on Easter, Christmas, Halloween, and briefly touches on Valentines Day. It does discuss what days we should observe, but is covered only briefly. Personally, I'm on the wall with the suggested days we should be observing, but only because I have not researched them.

What I really find fascinating, is how we, as Christians, can shake our head and wonder how those in the Old Testament could worship an idol on one day and then turn around and honor the Sabbath on the next. If one looks at the background and history of the days that Christians currently celebrate, you'll see nothing has really changed!

Holidays or Holy Days: Does It Matter Which Days We Observe? is a must read for any and all Christians!

**Please note: The Bible references used in this publication are NOT KJV. There are not many that were quoted, but I used my KJV alongside to compare and make sure it was still an accurate reference. There are many scriptural references that you will need a Bible to look up anyhow, since you are given just the Book, Chapter and Verse. Although short, expect to take a bit of time to really look up everything verse that is given.

This book is from my own personal library.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Let's Talk... Menopause

Menopause.... a thing I heard about some, usually in jokes, but never discussed. Because it was never discussed, I had no idea what to expect and that discussion could have prevented lots of heartache, pain and frustration. I have decided to tell my story, with hope that it may help someone else.

My mother died when she was 56 and had a hysterectomy at 36, so I never witnessed menopause in my immediate family. So when I entered this new phase of my life, I had no idea what would happen. I had no older female in my life that could tell me that I wasn't going crazy. No one to explain the moods or feelings I was having. There was no one. Every older woman I was close to or would trust with the feelings I was having, died. My life, my sanity and my marriage were in shambles and I had no idea what happened or why.

In my late 40's was having crazy periods. For more than two years, they were extremely heavy and clotty. I was told that I was pre-menopausal and it was normal. When I was 50, they slowed down, stopped, and I had spotting from time to time. When I was almost 51, I caught the flu, became very ill and ended up with bronchitis. I was so sick and ended up losing 25 pounds in a month. Right after that, I found I couldn't sleep. I'd go 24-48 hours with no sleep, then I'd get a couple of hours the next night, and I'd be back awake for another 24-48 hours. I moved to the living room couch so that I wouldn't disturb my husband.

Night after night, I'd be awake and to pass the time, I'd be online playing games and chatting with people all across the world. There were hot flashes mingled in this mess, but I didn't realize it since it was summer.

With no sleep, came the crazy thoughts, wild moods and depression. It started arguments and strife in our home. Finally I went to the dr. to find out if I had a brain tumor or was just going crazy. He smiled, patted me on the shoulder and said it was just menopause and it will pass. I was having a little more difficulty because of the severe weight loss from my illness and more hormones being released more quickly.  I was told to take some melatonin for my sleeplessness and relax. No real help there.

By that time, our communication at home was bad. My husband never saw the effects of menopause on any of his family either, so he didn't know what to expect and thought I had decided I didn't want to be married to him any longer. I was sleeping on the couch and was online all the time. He asked me to go to counseling, but I refused. I didn't want the counselor to blame all on me. Besides, I asked him earlier to go and he refused, so I was just getting even, or so my crazy mind told me.

Well, things spiraled out of control. I got paranoid, thought he was having an affair and the melatonin didn't help. Things got worse because of the hormones and lack of sleep. Sadly, my marriage didn't survive, my adult children were heartbroken and I ran away to another continent to sort things out.

I came back, became employed, got my own apartment and finally, FINALLY turned my focus back to God. The Lord helped me heal as I started to read my Bible again. When everything happened, I tried to hide from the Lord because I failed so miserably. I ruined so many lives and my own marriage - something I treasured more than anything. When I finally surrendered, went to Him in prayer and accepted everything that I had done, I felt a weight lifted. I then started to read my Bible, and took a challenge to read all of Paul's books once a month for 12 months. That was 3 chapters a day. That challenge changed me.

The best part is, the Lord not only healed me, but brought my husband and I back together. We remarried and life has been amazing since. We don't take things for granted any more and more importantly, we keep God at the center of our marriage.

I don't remember all the craziness of what happened for about 2 years, so much was like I was in a fog. My husband will tell me things that happened and honestly, I don't remember much. There's so much to this story, but I won't bog you down with details, as this is so long as it is. I do thank you for sticking to the end, and I pray that my story may possibly help someone who didn't have some to turn to.

If you need someone to talk to - I am here and would be happy to help. God Bless~

Friday, July 12, 2019

Creative Ewe: Crochet Creativity. Don’t Miss This!

I absolutely love the message here - and it doesn't need to be with just crochet. This holds true everywhere!!!

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