Mar 302015

The Best Photo Book For Mother’s Day Gifts

There’s no better way to celebrate the important women in your life this Mother’s Day than with a beautiful photo book full of memories!

We’re all guilty of taking hundreds of pictures throughout the year but never printing them out to remind us of the magic moments spent with our loved ones.

Enter Montage, the best photo book choice for quickly and beautifully printing out your pictures in keepsake form. Montage photo books come in three sizes starting at $29, and they do all of the work for you. They automatically place your photos in the best layout, factoring in chronology, important moments, and picture quality, and then allow you to make adjustments where desired. The entire creation process takes less than 15 minutes, making it the best photo book for those of us who are crunched on time. The books come standard with an eco-friendly leather cover and premium lay-flat pages, guaranteeing you get a keepsake product that will last for years to come.

This is a mother’s day gift that is sure to keep on giving! Click here to create your perfect keepsake, and grab the free shipping offer!


Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.” The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I personally believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Mar 292015

It’s inevitable that in every course I facilitate, I am asked about the foods I buy… do I buy tons of junk, or do I actually buy things that are healthy?  There will never be regular coupons on fresh produce, dairy, or meats, but let me share how I’ve utilized coupons to make healthy lifestyle change more attainable!

Post Cereals were on sale 3/$5, and there were $1/2 coupons available.  This alone made each box of cereal only $1.17!  But, there was also a Catalina deal.  A Catalina is a coupon that prints after you’ve paid which is often used like cash on your next transaction.  For this particular deal, if I bought three boxes of cereal, I’d earn $1.50.  So, my cost was $5 for the cereal, minus $1 for my coupon, and then I earned $1.50 to use on my next transaction.  So, my net cost was only $2.50 for three boxes of cereal or 84¢ each!

Fruit is always great to have on hand, and canned Dole Pineapple was on sale for $1 each.  There was a 50¢/2 coupon that doubled to $1, so my final cost was only $1 for two! (Remember, Schnucks is the only store doubling coupons in Bloomington-Normal.)

Barilla Whole Grain pasta was on sale for 89¢ and a coupon was available for 55¢ making each package only 34¢ each!  And, there’s more than one serving per box!

Gum is a great weight loss aid for many, and Mentos Sugarless Gum was on sale $1 each.  There were 55¢ coupons, and doubled, this coupon became $1, so the gum cost tax only!  (Coupons are rarely doubled above the cost of the purchase price of an item.)

Steamed vegetables are good for you, and are very easy to prepare.  Birds Eye Steamfresh packages were on sale for $1, and with 35¢ coupons doubled, each package was only 30¢!  This is a definite stock up price!

Progresso Classics soup was on sale for $1 each.  Utilizing a 50¢/2 coupon that doubled, the cost became just $1 for two cans!

I realize everyone has different tastes, as well as different definitions of junk food vs. healthy food, but there is usually a very good mixture of great deals for everyone’s palate!

Mar 222015

Our mission of using coupons, and encouraging hope to help others has always been our main focus.  When I facilitate workshops of my own (vs. being hired to speak), instead of charging an expensive registration fee, I request donations.  These are distributed to local organizations to assist with helping individuals and families on a regular basis.

Currently, donations of health and beauty items, feminine and baby products, as well as cleaning supplies and journals and puzzle books are items we request.  We provide outreach to the Community Cancer Center, YWCA, and other organizations as needed. (For our complete list of donations needed, please visit

In 2011 (it’s so hard to believe it’s been four years), my life was thrown into turmoil and shock, as I grieved for my dad who died from pancreatic cancer on Saturday, March 12th.  When I returned from my dad’s the following Monday, I went directly from the airport to my mama’s house, where my son and I found her unresponsive.  My mama suffered a massive heart attack, and after spending a week in a coma, died on Monday, March 21st.  Within ten days, I lost both my dad and my mom… two of the most amazing people I’ve ever had the honor to know, love, and learn from.

In an effort to continually honor my parents, I began asking for additional items to benefit our community, and now in 2015, I’m proud to say we’re still doing outreach in their honor.

For my dad, who was a nationally known poet, and educator, I am requesting donations for our Hope Packages.  Each package is filled with nurse approved items, and is given with love and prayers letting each patient know we are fighting with them.

For my mama, who was an amazing artist, with a generous heart and beautiful spirit, I’m asking for arts and craft supplies, including paints, paper, crayons, markers, as well as beads for creating jewelry.  My mama will love knowing her creative side, and her love for art, will be shared with others.  Donations may be made to a school of your choice, or you may call me directly with a donation to encourage art and creativeness within our own organization! (I’ve always wanted to have an art fair for children – at no cost, to allow everyone to attend – in honor of my mama!  Want to help?  Email me!)

Thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers, and your donations to honor my parents, as we continue to help others.  Although it’s been several years, the love I’ve felt from all of you – my extended family – has never wavered.  My parents were always very supportive of my wish to continually help other people, in my own unique ways, and I’m overwhelmingly grateful I had their unconditional love, as I worked to fulfill my own passion in life.

If you’d like to contact me, to assist with donations, or volunteer your time, please contact me at or at our office at 807-5845.  Thank you.

Mar 152015

Encourage Hope was designed to be very mission oriented, giving back when we could, and providing education and insight to families so they may learn to do the same.  One of my most favorite deals, ever, involved hundreds of packages of pudding and a very unique way of giving back!

Hunt’s Pudding, the non refrigerated four packs, were on sale for $1.19.  There had been recent Sunday insert coupons for this particular product for 40¢.  In Bloomington-Normal, Schnucks double coupons every single day.  So, this particular coupon became 80¢ and each pudding purchase was just 39¢.  Normally, this would have been a great deal alone, but Toys R Us and Hunt’s were running a promotion together.  Each specially marked package of pudding had a gift certificate inside to use at Toys R Us!  The value of the gift certificate was at least $1, so for every 39¢ I spent, I was earning $1 to use at the toy store, and purchased the pudding, too!

As luck would have it, during the final week of the sale, Schnucks started tripling coupons!!  So, that 40¢ coupon I had just became $1.20.  FREE PUDDING!

Unfortunately, however, I didn’t have a lot of insert coupons, but quickly realized Toys R Us had that exact manufacturer coupon in their store flyer!  As if timing were everything, it was the last day of the month, so I asked the customer service manager at Toys R Us if I could have the extra sales flyers, knowing the new ones would be placed on the stands the next morning.  He handed over stacks of flyers, and every one had the coupon I needed!

At this point, the potential was huge, but I wasn’t the only one aware of the deal.  Rather than clear shelves (which I’m completely against!), I talked with store personnel about placing special orders for my purchases.  The store obliged and when it was all over and done, I had 500 four packs of pudding, and $500 to use at Toys R Us!

At this time, I didn’t have any children, so my immediate family and I all went shopping together.  We didn’t buy for ourselves, though.  I handed out informational cards to everyone and between us, we purchased items for forty children who were part of the Angel Tree program.

This is our story.  This is why our mission is Using Coupons: Encouraging Hope!