Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for American Express Serve. I applied for the Serve Cash Back card to facilitate my review and received a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

This may sound unusual coming from an adult living in the 21st century, but I actually do not own a single credit card. This has it’s pros: It means that we only spend money we already have, so we’re not accumulating additional debt. But it also has its cons: There is so much these days that requires a credit card, from shopping online to renting a car, securing a hotel room or paying for gas at the pump.

Of course, debit cards fill the gap for some of those things. But there are still some areas where most debit cards just don’t compete with credit cards: The perks.


But there are a few that are bridging that gap. I recently learned about the American Express Serve® Cash Back prepaid debit card, which is the only prepaid debit account that offers 1% cash back on your purchases. So that means whether you’re shopping for groceries, filling up at the pump, buying pizza for dinner or splurging on a new pair of shoes, you’ll get 1% back from your purchase.

So a bit more about the card: American Express Serve® Cash Back is a reloadable prepaid debit account that you can manage online. It’s super simple to register for an account online and receive a prepaid debit card in the mail for free, but you could also purchase the card from a retailer for up to $3.95. Unlike a credit card, there’s no credit check, minimum balance or hidden fees. You simply pay a monthly fee of $5.95 to maintain your account. When you’re set up, you can add money to your account by setting up your paycheck for direct deposit, depositing checks with the American Express Serve mobile app or by transferring money from another debit card.

Once you start using it, you’ll get 1% cash back for every dollar you spend anywhere American Express cards are accepted, and that cash back is added to your account soon after your purchase. You can simply log in to redeem it.

You can also withdraw cash for free from more than 24,000 MoneyPass® in-network ATMs, and you can monitor your account with the American Express Serve Mobile app, or send money to other Serve members.

A card like this is a great way to help teach a teen or college student about money, and it works even if they don’t have a traditional bank account.

I’m going to start using my American Express Serve® Cash Back card soon, and I’ll be back in a few weeks to share my thoughts.

In the meantime, you can sign up for your own American Express Serve Cash Back card for free and have it in your hands in a few days.

It may not be completely obvious from my blog, but I am a bit of a hermit. As a person who works from home, it is not unusually for me to go days at a time without leaving the house. Kind of sad, but true. The fact that I can shop online a lot of the time, even from my phone, has made it so that I can just about anything I need without leaving the house. Except, of course, for those pesky shipping costs. Not wanting to pay for shipping, on top of sales tax, is one of the things that will make me leave the house.

So Walmart’s new Shipping Pass? Yeah. I’m going to be using it a lot. Shipping Pass is a new service from that offers 3-day shipping on more than 1 million products for just $50 a year. The best part is that even the products for which Shipping Pass is not available, your membership will still get you free standard shipping.


Say what?!

This makes me really happy, because there are often items available at that are not always available at my local store, and there are items I buy all the time that I’d love to be able to just order from home. So this works for me.

Walmart asked me to try out the service, and it was super simple to sign up and link it to my existing account and shipping address. Once signed up, I simply searched for the items I wanted and looked for the Shipping Pass icon. I checked out as I usually would, except — I didn’t have to pay for shipping! Nor will I have to pay for it for any order I place during the next year. Which means that I see more orders and fewer trips to the store in my future. I think the convenience of free 3-day shipping is more than worth the $50 price tag.


Anyway, two days after I ordered, I received 2 of the 3 items I bought, with the third expected to arrive any day now, as it wasn’t an official Shipping Pass item. Works for me!

So, you might be wondering how you sign up for this magical, wonderful Shipping Pass. For now, you’ll have to get on the waiting list. You’ll be able to fully subscribe soon!

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

When I started blogging way back in 2008, I knew right away that I wanted to do it for the long haul — that I wanted to make a business of it. I never really imagined how much it would change my life over the next several years, and how much I would learn and grow because of it. So when Walmart offered to send me some of the items from The Pioneer Woman’s new collection, exclusively at Walmart, it made me so proud to see another blogger succeed in a way that most of us aspire to.


I’ve been following The Pioneer Woman pretty much since I started blogging. Her photography and storytelling were always amazing, and though I haven’t tried her recipes, she made everything look so, so good! Fast forward years later, and she has a cooking show and is more popular than ever. And now, all of us can have a little bit of Ree Drummond’s magic in our own homes.

The Pioneer Woman collection features cookware, dinnerware and serving pieces.

First, let’s talk about these designs. I love a little color in my kitchen, and I love all the turquoise pieces!


The huge mason jar mug is already a favorite, and I can’t wait to make a sundae in the ice cream bowl. Normally, a cow-shaped creamer would be a little too country for my tastes, but the bright pop of color makes it a great fit for my more modern sensibilities.

The dinnerware is all handmade, and great quality. The plates are heavy and sturdy, and more importantly, they’re dishwasher safe.



Plus, the colors and patterns in the collection are designed to mix and match with each other for an eclectic look.

The cookware is great quality as well. I received the Speckle 2-pack nonstick frying pan set, and let me tell you, the pans are truly nonstick.



As in, not even scrambled eggs will stick. Having used these, I now have my eye on the cast-iron dutch oven, which would make a great addition to our kitchen.

Overall, I’m really impressed, and not just because I feel like I “know” The Pioneer Woman as a fellow blogger who I’ve been following for so long. The quality of the collection is really great, and the prices are affordable.

You can find the collection in Walmart stores and at through the end of the year, though some of the more popular pieces are already sold out online.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.


I’ve always known that, in theory, it’s a great idea to shop in bulk. There are the cost savings to consider, plus the fact that there’s less packaging to go to waste, and the idea that I don’t have to shop again for a while. But for some reason, I’ve never gotten into the habit of actually doing that.

Well, that is about to change.

I recently had the opportunity to go stock up on baby products courtesy of Acorn Influence, and I’m really wondering why I didn’t do this sooner.

Why? Well, the baby aisle looks like this:



I was able to pick up bulk packs of Pamper’s Cruisers diapers and sensitive wipes that will last us at least a month, along with a huge bottle of Dreft laundry detergent that will wash a ton of loads of baby Juliza’s clothes. But in addition to the basic necessities, Sam’s Club also has a great selection of other baby products that I never would’ve thought to shop for there, including books, toys and clothes.


We picked up a huge Doc McStuffins coloring book for our baby superfan.


I also grabbed a Carter’s fall outfit for Juliza in great quality fabric for just … wait for it … $9.87! What? I’ll definitely be going back to stock up on a couple more outfits before the weather turns cool. Because that price would be really, really difficult to beat.



I spent my entire time wondering the aisles thinking that I really need to shop at Sam’s Club more often. Because honestly, I am not a fan of going to the grocery store. Being able to stock up on one big shopping trip and not have to do it again for a long while is a change I would welcome with open arms.

Giveaway Time!

Would you like to stock up at Sam’s Club yourself? Well, you’re in luck (Why did I just sing that like the Doc McStuffins theme song? SMH.) Enter below to win a $50 Sam’s Club gift card to go on your own treasure hunt.

$50 Sam’s Club Gift Card Giveaway

Disclosure: I received a product samples and compensation from Acorn Influence for my time and effort in creating this post. As usual, all opinions are my own.

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Baby Juliza has a nickname: I call her the Hurricane. Because that’s what life with her often feels like: A whirlwind of activity after which I have to clean up. This child will take DVDs out of their cases, then take the cases apart. She tears through paper like it’s an Olympic sport, into pieces so tiny I swear it’s reverted back to wood pulp. And then there are the crumbs. Oh, the crumbs. No matter what she’s eatin1g, pieces of it end up on the floor. Most of which is carpeted. Because toddlers gonna toddle. So when Walmart offered me the opportunity to try the new Dyson V6 Slim cordless vacuum, it felt like someone had offered me the Holy Grail.


Understand something: Our previous vacuum sucked. In the colloquial sense, not the functional sense. I could vacuum the living room, then spend 15 minutes on my hands and knees afterward picking up all the stuff it had left behind. It had gotten to the point where picking it up by hand felt like less of a waste of energy. So I was only too happy to test Dyson’s new little powerhouse.

The V6 Slim, exclusive to Walmart, is designed to be lightweight and easy to use, all without a cord. In my opinion, the magic lies in that last fact. When it is fully charged, it can get 20 minutes of run time — more than enough time to vacuum my entire living room. On “max” power, it can get 6 minutes of run time on a full charge, but I found that I didn’t need to use max power to pick up everything. And when I say everything, I mean everything:


And this was just 2 days after I’d vacuumed with my other machine. I think it’s safe to say that it is going to be retired post haste.

With Juliza dropping grains of rice, bits of cereal and pieces of fruit everywhere she goes, it’s awesome to be able to pull out the V6 on the spot and take care of it before it starts to build up. This is also true of other types of messes:  Like the packing peanut-mageddon that was left in my office after I opened a box the other day. When those things disintegrate into tiny pieces, they’re almost impossible to pick up. The V6 did it without breaking a sweat, before Juliza could pick up any of it.

What she does pick up, however, is the vacuum itself, because it really is lightweight.


She doesn’t quite have the coordination to actually use it yet, but you gotta learn ’em early, right?  Anyway, she enjoys pretending to vacuum, so much that the sound doesn’t even scare her any more. 

I enjoy that it’s light enough to use in a variety of places, including one spot tht had not been vacuumed in months: Our staircase. The section head is small enough to fit on the steps, so I don’t even have to change the attachment. If I want to, though, the brush head is great for cleaning out the nooks and crannies of the sofa and the spots in the car where the bigger head can’t fit. Speaking of the car, this is another benefit of a cordless vacuum. Makes that job a lot easier.

Honestly, the Dyson V6 Slim makes a lot of jobs easier, which is kinda the point. I’m really pleased with its performance, and it’s definitely helping me keep the messes left in the wake of Hurricane Juliza in check. Can’t really ask for more than that.

If you have a hurricane — or tornado or typhoon — of your own to clean up after, the V6 Slim is on rollback at Walmart from $289 to $259 for their Labor Day promotion from 8/23-9/12.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.


A few weeks ago, we bought a potty for my 18-month-old. And she promptly refused to sit on it. Unless she’s wearing clothes, of course. She has a great time lounging in the bathroom when she’s fully dressed, but when we take off her diaper and try to get her to sit on it, she’s not having it. At all. She’d prefer to stand 2 inches away from it and pee on the floor — which she has done on quite a few occasions. Toddlers.

All this to say, it looks like we’ll have to continue using diapers for a while, so when Walmart offered to send me a few boxes of my favorite brand, along with a couple of baby snacks, I couldn’t say no.


Huggies Little Movers


We tried Huggies Little Movers diapers a few months ago, courtesy of Walmart, and we’ve been buying them ever since. Seriously, they’re the best among a bunch of diaper brands we’ve tried, and every time we decide to buy a different (often less expensive) brand, we regret it.

Juliza tends to pee a lot all at one time, which can lead to leaks in the wrong diaper. Huggies Little Movers are really absorbent, and the waistband and leg holes are both flexible and secure, which means that she can run and jump and climb and do all the things she does without worrying about an uncomfortable fit.

Plus, come on. How cute is she toddling around in these?



Honestly though, we’ll continue using these until she finally gets comfortable with the idea of sitting on the potty. Wish us luck in that department.

Gerber Graduates Yogurt Melts


We also received Gerber Graduates Yogurt Melts to try. Juliza is definitely a snacker. She won’t eat much all at once, but she likes to graze from everyone else’s plate or grab something she can eat on the run. Every now and then, I need a break from chasing her with an arrowroot cookie in her hand (and all over her face and clothes and hair and…you get the picture). I like to sit her down in her high chair and dump some snacks on the tray. These yogurt melts are just the right size for her little hands, though I will say she’s gotten really great at picking up the tiniest things — like random crumbs from the carpet that I’d need a magnifying glass to identify.

I like the fact that they contain fruit and yogurt, though I wish they were organic. She likes feeding herself. I call that a win-win.

PediaSure Shakes


The last product we received was PediaSure shakes. They’re designed to act as a nutritional supplement for kids ages 2+ who may be picky eaters and therefore not getting all the nutrition they need from the things they will eat.

My goal for the PediaSure is a little different. The thing is, I’m still nursing Juliza. I’m proud of myself for sticking it out with her this long, but I’m also wondering when she’ll wean, because some days, I really just need a break. I’m hoping PediaSure will help with that. At the moment, she’ll drink water and juice from a cup like a champ, but she flat-out refuses to drink anything that even closely resembles milk unless it comes directly from the source. The child knows what’s up. She wouldn’t drink the PediaSure from her own cup, but mama’s smarter than that. I put it in a cup for myself, and then she was only too eager to taste it. She seems to like it, so I’m hoping that when she’s old enough, I can get her to drink it in her own cup, and we can cut back our daily nursing sessions to first thing in the morning and bedtime. That would work for me. I love our special bond, but at some point, I’d like to be able to be away from her without worrying about her screaming for “titi.” I’m not in a huge rush, but I admit that I’m hoping that by the time she’s 2, we’ll be done. God, help us all.

Nursing mamas, how did you help your little one wean? Or did you let them completely self-wean? I’d love to get your advice in the comments!

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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When I was pregnant with baby Juliza, I had all these grandiose ideas about how I was going to do everything differently this time: All her clothes and bedding would be organic, I’d make all her baby food at home, and we’d use cloth diapers. Fast forward to my current days of chasing an active 18-month-old, and let’s just say that my expectations have become more realistic.

We use disposable diapers because we could never quite get the hang of reusables. For the most part, she eats what I eat, or she eats food and snacks designed for toddlers. And while I do my best to buy organic clothing and bedding when I can find it, most of her clothes are not. But there are a lot of ways to approach sustainability. One of them is to support products that are made in the U.S. 

How exactly is this sustainable? Well, products that are made domestically create less carbon emissions and require less energy overall than those made overseas and shipped here. There are stricter environmental controls here than many places overseas, as well. Plus, domestic production means jobs in the U.S. 

But how exactly do moms spot products made in the U.S.A.? Walmart sent me a few U.S.-made baby products to help me answer that question.

I was actually surprised by some of the products I received: a couple of Gerber sippy cups and baby food bowls, along with NUK baby bottles (assembled in U.S.) and a pacifier. So realistically, many of the products made by the brands you already know and trust for your kids are made or assembled in the U.S., specifically at the company’s manufacturing plant in Reedsburg, WI.

You can identify these products and others like it by looking for the “Made in USA” logo.

And that’s not all: Walmart has pledged to buy an additional $250 billion in American-made products yearly. This commitment has already led to the creation of new jobs, likely will create more. 

So when you’re shopping for baby, even if you can’t find organic, recycled, or otherwise eco-friendly products, support those products that are made here, because those are sustainable in their own way too. You can find many more of those products at , in addition to what’s available in store.

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

Disclosure: I am participating in an Ambassador Program on behalf of Influence Central for Sprint. I received a Sprint device to facilitate my review as well as a promotional item to thank me for my participation.

I swear, everyone in my house is tethered to our devices. Even baby Juliza knows how to swipe and pinch a screen on a smartphone. And since it appears that won’t be changing any time soon, I’ve promised myself that I’ll always try to stay ahead of the curve technologically, both for my own edification and so that I’ll always be able to monitor what my kids are doing online. So when I learned that Sprint was looking for mom ambassadors to test some of their newest devices and share our thoughts, I thought this would be a great opportunity to continue that education.

When I found out that the first I’d be testing would be the brand new LG G4? Suffice it to say I was excited.


We’ve all seen the commercials. The G4 promises an advanced camera, far beyond what you’d expect from a smartphone, with great clarity and quality. But I’ll be honest: I’ve never really gotten into the Android platform beyond the basics, and it still felt really foreign to me. I knew that if there was anything that could convince me to finally dig in, it was a phone with a powerful camera.

But first, the basics.

I absolutely love the design of the G4. I have always loved the clean, sleek look of metal phones with little to no embellishments. But this has swayed my position quite a bit. The back of the G4 I received is made of black leather.


I never would’ve thought a phone made with leather would make sense, but I love it! It is lightweight, and the curved back and soft leather feel comfortable in hand. This is the first smartphone I’ve ever used for which I didn’t feel the need to immediately put it in a case. It somehow feels both softer and more sturdy than a phone made of metal.

The size and clarity of the screen are amazing. The colors were bright and every pixel was beautifully sharp. The Android operating system feels cleaner and easier to understand that it was on some other Android phones I’ve used. There’s also an option to have the home screen display the bare minimum, for Android beginners. I didn’t use it, but it was nice to have that option.

Now, for the main event. That much-anticipated G4 camera.

Unlike many smartphone cameras, which are for the most part point and shoot, the G4 allows me to shoot in a few modes: Simple, Auto and Basic. Simple requires the least intervention from me. I just frame whatever I want to capture and touch the screen to take the photo. Baby Juliza shot this selfie (and a bunch of others) in Simple mode:


Yes, I said baby Juliza shot this herself. That tells you how easy it is to use, because she’s barely 18 months old.

Auto is easy to use as well, but with a few more options, like turning on flash on and off, changing the size of the image (to square, for example), and the options to use a grid or voice commands to control the camera. To really test the camera, I took it along in place of my DSLR when my family and I went to the Georgia Aquarium a few weekends ago. It was crowded and many of the exhibits were pretty dark, so I’m impressed with the photos I was able to get under those conditions.





The size of the screen and the placement of the camera also allowed me to get selfies with my whole family pretty easily, and this is usually a challenge.


The final mode is manual. So you understand how impressive this is to me, I don’t even shoot in manual mode with my Nikon. I don’t quite trust my photographic abilities that much yet. The G4’s manual mode offers a crazy number of options and settings. You can control shutter speed, aperture, white balance, ISO settings, focus and more. This is actually easier to use than my DSLR because I can see how each setting change will affect the photo on screen before I take it. I haven’t fully explored what all it can do yet, but I did shoot these two photos in manual mode.



I did OK, but clearly my manual camera skills need some work. I think this phone will really help me work on them.

Realistically, I will likely use the G4 camera instead of my DSLR in situations when carrying a big camera is inconvenient, because the quality of the photos is impressive. For me, that’s saying a lot.

The cons

I have only two complaints about the G4. It has a tendency to get hot sometimes. Like, really hot, so that it’s uncomfortable to hold. It doesn’t happen often, and I’m not sure if the heat is a product of battery-intensive apps or the temperature of the room I’m in. Still, when it happens, I have to put the phone down. If I’m in the middle of gaming (which I admit I do quite a bit), it can be a pain.

My other qualm is the incessant pop-up ads on the phone. Again, I’m not sure if these are a product of some app I downloaded, or if the capability came built into the phone, but I’ve noticed the popups since the day I started using the G4. They show up no matter what I’m doing on the phone or what app I’m using, and they are seriously annoying. They really change the experience of using the phone because they often pop up at inconvenient times, like when I’m starting a video or trying to play a game. This could honestly be a deal-breaker for some people, and it might be for me if I didn’t like the camera so much.

Phone Safety

Realistically, the phone is awesome. So awesome that it’s easy to be tempted to use it all the time. Even in situations where it isn’t safe to do so. And because Sprint understands that temptation, they’ve created Sprint Drive First, a free app for phones like the LG G4 with an awesome functionality: It sends all calls to voicemail and silences email and text alerts when a vehicle reaches 10mph. So if your teen is getting behind the wheel, the app will help keep them focused on the road. There are also new features like personal feedback and parenting mode that track miles driven and allow certain apps to be enabled or locked altogether.


Also in the interest of driving safety, Sprint has started the Thumb Wars Campaign to discourage all drivers, but particularly teens, to quit texting and driving. This can literally be a matter of life and death. As scary as this sounds, while texting, a driver spends about 10% of their driving time outside of their lane. So it makes sense that texting drivers are 23 times more likely to get involved in a crash. 23 times. Think about that for a second. But apparently, statistics alone aren’t enough to make American teens stop texting and driving, since 40% of them still report doing it. So Sprint has partnered with for the Thumb Wars campaign.

So how does it work? Well, young people who sign up at receive two pairs of yellow anti-texting thumb socks. The second set is meant to be shared with a friend or loved one they know who texts and drives. They can then take a photo of themselves and their friend wearing the thumb socks and send it back to . Simple concept, but hopefully engaging enough to work.

So what about you? What do you think of the LG G4, and what do you to stay safe while driving with the temptation of your smartphone nearby?

Check out the Sprint store locator to find a store near you, or find them on Facebook or Twitter.

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