Mystery Shopping is REAL!

I am a mystery shopper for a company called BestMark…shhhh! I get paid to go to stores and ask about products and then write a review on the service I receive.  There are restaurant shops where you get paid to have dinner (in addition to getting reimbursed for your meal).  Probably the best opportunities I’ve seen as of late are the oil change and tire rotation shops.  You get a free oil change/rotation in addition to getting paid for your time (this is typically $20-$25 PLUS reimbursement for your service). Who doesn’t want free oil changes?  Shops vary by location.  In my area there are a lot of automobile and department store shops.  Sometimes I am paid to ask about purchasing a new vehicle by going to a dealership and there are also shops that pay just for making a phone call or an inquiry on a website.  In the department store shops I typically have 2 areas of the store to visit.  I will ask about laptops or cameras, for example, and then take note on my experience and the help I received from the associates.  I also provide feedback on the store itself (cleanliness, items in stock, etc.)  It’s actually a lot of fun and easy money.

If you’re interested in Mystery Shopping for some extra cash just go through this link and sign up!  I would really appreciate it if you put my shopper ID WA9756 on your application when asked who referred you.  I know there are other programs out there for mystery shopping but this is the only one that I am a part of.  If I find more then I will pass on the good word!  Go earn some extra cash!

Free Products for Moms!


I became a Mom Ambassador over a year ago for a website called Moms Meet.  I just got selected to test NeilMed Nasal Oral Aspirator with a group of moms.  I will test and write a review in late March so stay tuned!  This is a really awesome program for anyone who has a group of mom friends that want to get free products to test in exchange for honest feedback.

You can apply to be a Mom Ambassador through this link.  You fill out a profile and they match you with product samples that fit your group of moms.  You will receive emails to apply to test products.  If selected you get a BIG box of samples to share with your group.  The sample box typically contains samples of the product and coupons for free items to be distributed.  In return you fill out a survey to provide valuable feedback about the product.  If you send photos of your testing party you can earn more “coins” that can be cashed in for rewards.  Moms Meet allows you to meet other moms, try natural, organic and eco products and win prizes and rewards.

So far I have tested Ology Laundry Detergent, Horizon Super Squeeze Pouches, Annie’s Snacks and a variety of other products.  I always see these “free product websites” where you never actually get products or you have to sign up for free trials.  This isn’t one of those!  I am amazed at all the samples they provide for my groups.  In the Annie’s Snack box I got several full boxes of fruit snacks, graham crackers, regular crackers and coupons for free pizza poppers and bagel bites and coupons for all the things we tested at the party.  The coupons are for free items too, not just a certain amount off! As a mom ambassador you also get extra product samples to keep and use for yourself which is a fun perk.  So if you’re a green mama with a group of friends that want to test some products then sign up!

Two Thumbs Up For Thrive Market!

I am not a “couponer”.  The #1 reason for this is because MOST coupons are for processed foods that we try to steer clear of in my household.  Yes, you can get free groceries but that means nothing to me if I’m putting things in my body that aren’t good for me.  I actually stumbled upon Thrive Market when I was looking to purchase a probiotic.  I signed up for a free trial and was able to get 15% off my first order.  Essentially I got 1 bottle of probiotic free PLUS a free jar of organic coconut oil (they offer different freebies when you order a certain amount).  I was intrigued!  I started looking at the different products on the website and the prices for healthy products were much cheaper than you can find in any other store (believe me, I did my research!)

I encourage everyone to check it out, at least for the free trial period.  If you click on the banner at the top of this post you will receive 15% off of your first order.  You then register for free and start shopping.  There is food, health and beauty, baby, home and even items for your pets!  When you register you will be signing up for a 30 day trial which means you won’t pay a membership fee if you cancel before that trial period ends.  If you decide to continue to receive the discounted products you can pay a yearly membership fee and with your paid membership Thrive will sponsor a low income family. How awesome is that?!  If you decide to cancel you simply email or call (and shhhh….they will offer you a discounted membership fee to get you to stay!)

Do I think it’s worth it? Yes! Not only are you getting healthy food delivered to your door at wholesale prices but Thrive gives a membership to a family in need!  The mission of Thrive is to make healthy living affordable.  I LOVE THIS!

As a healthy mama I encourage everyone to give it a try at least for your trial period and first order.  With the 15% discount and free shipping over $49 you can’t go wrong.  You can try out some products you might not see at your regular supermarket and if you love it and decide to keep your membership then you can continue getting your orders shipped directly to you.  That is a perk in itself for this mama!  I mean, I do love taking my 2 children to the grocery store with me.  It is extremely relaxing (insert sarcasm here.)

One last tip…if you are gluten free, paleo, vegan or have other special dietary restrictions you can use the shop by filter to find products that fit your needs. Happy healthy shopping, friends!

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends


I read an article a long time ago about your “to do list” getting longer and longer but never finding the time to check things off.  I am actually one of those people that add things to my list AFTER I’ve done them so I can check them off.  shhhh….

  1. Eat breakfast
  2. Make coffee
  3. Write a to do list

No seriously, there are things that nobody likes to do, like clean the bathroom.  Side note…when I had Lukas and my mom was visiting she asked, “Is there anything you need me to do? Do you want me to clean your bathroom?”  I was like, “No, you don’t need to do that.” and in my head I’m thinking, is my bathroom dirty?  A couple years later…Hey Mom, come clean my bathroom anytime you want! 

So anyways, this article was about a group of friends who would get together one time per month at a different persons house.  Each friend kept a running “to do” list.  When it was your turn to have friends over everyone worked together to knock out the list!  What a great idea! The lists included cleaning, freezer meal prep…you get the idea.

So I’m thinking, make some (Irish?) coffee, turn on some music and start a friend/mom/co-worker group.  The goal isn’t to sit and socialize but to knock out projects that you can’t seem to get around to WHILE enjoying some good company.  You set aside a few hours a month and when it’s your turn you get a clean bathroom!

Put A Little Breast Milk On It!

Hi all of you nursing mamas!  Breast milk is nature’s liquid gold.  Not only is it wonderful for building your child’s immune system but it also has many healing benefits.  I have a friend whose answer to everything is, “put a little breast milk on it.”  So that’s what I do and guess what? It works!  So next time you are dealing with diaper rash, baby acne, sore nipples from nursing, eczema and cradle cap put some breast milk on it before you pull out the diaper cream or ointment.  I am all about avoiding chemicals in the foods we eat and the products we use.  There isn’t much in our household that can’t be cured with a little breast milk or coconut oil!  Oh and another perk: it’s free!

Here is a quick reference list from Simply Real Moms and see below for my homemade breast milk lotion recipe.


I used this lotion after baths and on little bottoms for diaper rash.  Remember, it’s not just for your little ones!


3 ounces of breastmilk

3 ounces coconut oil or grapeseed oil

1 tablespoon of beeswax

a few drops of Vitamin E oil

optional: add essential oils for therapy/scent

Microwave the oil and beeswax slowly just until the beeswax melts, approximately 3 minutes. You can also do this on the stove with a double boiler.

Add the Vitamin E oil and slowly pour in the room temperature breastmilk while whisking rapidly until it thickens.  You can use an immersion blender to mix if preferred.

Pour into shallow jars or lotion tubs. It will continue to thicken as it cools. Refrigerate and use for up to 3 months.


Ultimate Happiness

For those who don’t know me personally you may not know my husband and I hiked from Mexico to Canada, twice. Does this define me? No. Yes. Maybe? One of the most difficult things after a really long walk is merging back into society.  Everyone is busy, the world is loud and everyone is moving 100mph to do something bigger and to be something better. I remember getting off the trail after hiking the CDT and I felt like I was that person in the movies where they focus on someone sitting still and speed everything up around them.  I still feel like that sometimes.  Ultimately, in my life, I just want to be still and enjoy my kids and my husband.  I want to hike and explore, travel and try new foods, drink a good beer and watch a sunset.

My husband never talked to anyone much about the trail.  When we hiked the PCT together it was so life altering for me.  I wanted to tell the world, I published my journal and I felt like it was my job to tell anyone and everyone that would listen to me.  He said one day, “Do you notice when you talk to people about the trail that most of the time they don’t REALLY listen?” and I realized, yes, it’s true and I felt sad and longed to be back out there away from the rat race.  Of course there are the people who do listen and you have my mom and dad who tell perfect strangers about us.  I love that.  I’ve had friends I’ve known for years that probably don’t really know much about me at all.  That’s okay.

It took me a very long time to find myself.  I do realize that sounds completely cliche but I have no other words for it.  My husband can attest, I can go a mile a minute and have 200 projects going all at once and can be organized and prompt…and in the very same breath, I am making coffee while drinking a mimosa in my mismatched clothes and Muk Luks, swaying to Bob Marley or Hot Buttered Rum (Eric says I have the same dance for every song) and jabbering on and on about the trail. Right now that’s not the season of my life BUT it reminds me to slow down and be still and it makes me smile. Every. Single. Time.

After the trail we would socialize and meet friends of friends because “you will love them!” or “they are just like you!” and every time we would sit and have a drink together utterly exhausted from listening to how busy everyone was or what their plans were to redecorate their kitchen.  After awhile we realized that we have each other and that is enough.  We don’t need to feel obligated to go and do things that don’t make us happy. We are at our best sitting on top of a mountain together or in our pajamas on a Saturday morning listening to records and watching our kids move about.  We have friends across the country and there are definitely times we wish they were right next door.  For now, we know who we are, we aren’t defined by a job and we find great comfort in living this beautiful, slow, simple, mediocre life.  We spend our time doing things that are meaningful to us.  We contribute to community, shop local, do things we enjoy, eat good food, drink good wine, stay up too late on occasion trying to soak up some kid free time and in the grand scheme of things try to avoid that feeling of obligation.  There seems to be this inherent need to be busy in our society.  I just need to be still.

We still get caught up sometimes and it feels like we’re going in circles and we know ourselves well enough to realize it’s time for a new adventure.  Right now on our wall we have 9 different places written in Sharpie that we want to live with an ongoing list of pros and cons.  We’ve made big life decisions drinking 40’s of Malt Liquor and rolling “decision dice” and even by throwing darts.  I’m not saying this kind of well thought out plan is for everyone but it has taken us on a 3,100 mile walk across the country and to a tiny village in the Dominican Republic.  Once, our dartboard held the words “ultimate happiness” on the bullseye as we laughed with friends after way too many drinks long ago working at a lodge in the middle of the woods.  So now, when we need to make a big decision, we always aim for “ultimate happiness.”

In the  end, it’s important to realize that avoiding unhappiness is not the key to happiness.  For some, maybe “busy-ness” is what makes them happy.  For me, I want to lead this small and simple life where I find happiness in the space of “in between”.  I love our great adventures.  I love the feeling of reaching the monument on the Canadian border after hiking 3,100 miles and I love rocking my babies to sleep at night.  Both are great adventures.  While I can’t wait to see what’s in store, every single day I remind myself that this is my life and right now my greatest adventure is whatever I have right in front of me at this very moment.

So my challenge to you is to find your ultimate happiness and I’m not talking about what everybody else thinks should make you happy.  If you can get past that feeling of obligation I’m pretty sure you will experience the freedom to be who you are. That is all.

P.S. I LOVE this journal The Happiness Project. It is a 5-year one sentence journal to record all of those “little things” that happen each day.




A Breath of Fresh Air


Eric and I always say if you are struggling to find clarity then it’s time to go on a LONG walk.  While our nice long walks aren’t currently from Mexico to Canada we still get our legs moving any chance we get.  When we had kids everyone told us how much life would change.  I won’t deny that it does change but not in a “the world is caving in” sort of way. Instead, you get this chance to see life through a child’s eyes once again and there is such beauty in that.  Our adventures might be a half mile loop on some days and that may take hours but you can bet it will be full of wonder.  We listen to ravens, draw shapes in the snow with sticks, look for pine cones and play games to keep little legs moving.

Today was one of those beautiful blue sky days in the Rockies.  One where you are pretty sure there isn’t a more gorgeous place in the world.  Those sunny winter days are rare here in Kalispell so there is no other choice but to get moving.  I think the hardest part about getting ready for a day of outdoor adventure is actually getting out of the house.  I typically keep my pack by the door so it’s ready to go at any given time.  Not today. Someone (I won’t name names) has become master of dispersing anything that may be neatly tucked away inside of…well, just about anything.  So after an hour of changing diapers, finding winter clothes, boots, packing diapers, water, snacks, that extra “blow out” outfit (for Lilah, not me, just to be clear) and then we have to cycle through the diaper change again and last minute feeding and of course, “please stop riding on your sister” and “she doesn’t like it when you lick her head” well, after all those things we finally make it out the door.  Now getting past the “snow blowlee” at the bottom of the steps takes another 15 minutes because they are so darn cool.  After that, we get everyone to the car.  That my friends was the hardest part.  Smooth sailing from here…

Once I get my kids outside they magically transform.  I swear it’s true! The whole dynamic changes.  There is so much to see, so much wide open space, there is wind and sun and snow and sounds and sticks and rocks and streams.  The list goes on.  This is our happy place.  Everyone has their own niche, ours just happens to be anything that involves nature.  I do think it’s important for EVERYONE both young and old to get outdoors and breathe in the fresh air.

A few tips and tricks from this outdoor mama to others with small children:

  1. Do try to keep your basics packed and ready to go.  I like to keep a change of clothes, extra wipes and diapers in the car.  Have some easy (but healthy!) snacks on hand and if you know you’re heading out the next day then get as much as you can ready the night before.
  2. Take a deep breath and repeat.  Get your coffee and a good breakfast and know that your estimated departure time will be about an hour after what you had planned.  That’s just how it is.  Sorry.
  3. Be prepared to play!  Does that sound so bad?  Put your phone away.  Period.  You are allowed to take photos (sometimes) but seriously, put it away and play.  Kids feed off of your mood and if you’re having fun then they are having fun.  Run around, do something silly, dig in the dirt, catch frogs in a stream, find cool rocks.
  4. If you see “the cloud” moving in then switch things up.  Play a game, look at something really cool or take a break and have a snack.  Whew…tantrum avoided (at least sometimes).
  5. If you’re hiking then know there will probably be at least a little whining.  Keep your Ergo, Moby or backpack handy and let them hitch a ride for a bit.  Then when they’re ready let them get down and explore some more (this is key for nice long naps.)
  6. Always remember you are aiming for a good experience.  You want them to want to get back out there and do it again.

There are some days we do “mommy and daddy” hikes and that means packing the kids up a mountain to a lake and then letting our little man out to explore.  Other times we are out on a walk just for the kids.  These are the times when we don’t mutter, “come on” or “hurry up” (we try to limit this in our lives anyways) but we pay close attention to our words (or lack of) when we are watching Lukas explore.  If he wants to lay on the ground and be the “ant whisperer” and try to get them to crawl up his arm then he can do that as long as he wants.  It’s his walk.

So yes, life has changed and I think I’m the lucky one.  I get to take a step back and see all of those little things through new eyes.  Eyes full of wonder.  Whatever it is that makes you whole then get out and do that with your kids.  Life doesn’t stop after children, you’re just on a little different adventure and it’s important to keep doing the things you love and sharing them when you can.  What’s that saying? Oh yes, “If mama ain’t happy then nobody’s happy!”  Happy Trails!







Here’s $20 Cash from NetSpend

I’m giving you $20.  I promise on this blog I will never post anything that I haven’t tested myself.  I will only write about things I am passionate about, products I enjoy and ways to save and earn a few extra bucks.  So here is a simple way to get $20 cash.

  1. Click here to open a FREE NetSpend Account.  There will be a simple form to fill out and you will use referral code “6607682083” to get the $20 bonus.
  2. You will receive a NetSpend Visa Debit Card within 10 days.
  3. Once you receive your card login to NetSpend to activate it.
  4. In order to get your $20 cash you will need to load your card with a minimum of $40 using Paypal or a free bank transfer.  There are also a couple other options for transferring money.  You are not paying anything to do this, you are simply adding funds to your NetSpend card.
  5. After you have added at least $40 NetSpend will add a $20 bonus.  So now you have $60 instead of $40! That’s it.
  6. You can withdraw your $60 at an ATM or spend your funds online, at the grocery, gas station or anywhere you would use a credit card.

*TIP: I suggest withdrawing your cash at an ATM.  I incurred a $1 fee (per transaction) that I wasn’t aware of because I didn’t read the fine print.  If you just use all the funds in one transaction OR withdraw at an ATM you avoid the fees.

It is an easy 20 bucks my friends and when you earn I earn so it’s a win-win.  I signed up on January 4th, received my card on January 8th, transferred $40 from Paypal on the 9th and the bonus was on my account by the 11th.