Amber tackles

small, simple steps towards a bigger, fuller life

Mid Month Books

Mid Month Check In!

I can’t believe we are already more than half way through September! I have managed to finish a few books on my To-Read list…plus a few that weren’t. ūüôā

*This post contains some affliate links. If you click the link and buy something I will receive a small percentage of the sale at no cost to you*

The books on my list that I finished are –

‚ÄĘ Murder at Longbourn by Tracy Kiely – I skimmed through this and then reread the last couple chapters just to catch back up before moving on to the next book in the Elizabeth Parker series.

‚ÄĘ Murder on the Bride’s Side by Tracy Kiely – The second book in the Elizabeth Parker series. There are 2 more in the series. (I have the 3rd on its way to me right now) They are toted as “Cozy murder mysteries” and they are fun, fast, funny reads with endings that I didn’t predict either time. They do contain some language and innuendos but nothing strong enough to personal stop me from reading. I was given the first book and have now bought the 2nd and 3rd because I enjoy them so much. The victim in each book is rather unlikeably so they are not a depressing, grief enducing reads at all.

‚ÄĘ A Woman of Strength and Purpose by Cynthia Ulrich Tobias – Was not my cup of tea. There was too much emphasis on how you feel about something then on scriptural truth or logical decisions in pursuing a goal. If you believe God has a specific purpose for you and will guide you to that purpose if you listen for his voice you may enjoy this book but I lean more towards the Bible being my source of direction. (Maybe I am a Holy Spirit squasher, but that is my belief at this time.) I received a copy of this from Blogging for Books in exchange for posting a review to their site.

Blogging For Books –

‚ÄĘ Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple – Loved it. Confusingly fun. It is almost like a good tv sitcom where the characters quirks are exaggerated enough to be funny but not so some much that it becomes completely unbelievable. It was a mix of drama, mystery, and comedy.

Books I finished that weren’t on my September list –

‚ÄĘ Smarter, Faster, Betterby Charles Duhigg – Charles Duhigg is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and it shows in his books. They are well researched and combine science with stories and his personal observations. This is his second book and it focuses on productivity and how to make your work “smarter, faster, better.” I thought this book was entertaining and educational. I got my copy as ebook from NetGalley.

NetGalley –

‚ÄĘ The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena – This was my first from Book of the Month club. I had wanted to read The Woman in Cabin 10 as my thriller for the month but couldn’t get my hands on it for cheap so when I saw book of the month was having a deal and that this was one of the book options I thought it’d be a great alternative. The language and sexual content were a little stronger than I would like but they were always used in passing not in any drawn out graphic scences. I was definitely in suspense the whole way through so the book accomplished what it set out to do.

Book of the Month –
Use code BOTM5 to get your first month for $5 or FRIEND50 for 50% off a 3-month membership.

‚ÄĘ 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam -I listened to the audio book of this on Audible. I had listened to it once before and found it helpful and I have been working on fixing my schedule lately so I thought it’d be good to listen to it again. Laura Vanderkam’s style is similar to Charles Duhigg’s in that she combines stories with research and I really enjoy that. The first couple chapters are a bit hard to get into though because her stories and advice come off as only being relatable to people with plenty of expendable income and strong support systems. The practical advice gets better as you get into the book though so I am glad I kept listening.

Audible –
Get 2 free books when you sign up for a 30 day free trial.

I’d love to know what books have you read so far this month? Did you enjoy them or feel like you wasted your time? What is up next on your To-Read list?

NetGalley Challenge

2016 NetGalley Challenge

Reader’s Legacy


Hey guys, if you haven’t joined yet you need to go join Reader’s Legacy! For real.

Reader’s Legacy is a social media site for book lovers, similar to Goodreads in that you can review books, get recommendations, connect with your friends, but the coolest part for me is that you can earn FREE books.
Free, brand-new, physical books!

When you sign up you get 40,000 Litcoins which should be enough to get a book that retails for around $12. You still do have to pay shipping on books and I have found that if you order 1 book at a time it is about $5 shipping, but if order 2 or 3 books atba time shipping is only $6-$8.

I have ordered and received 5 brand new books from Reader’s Legacy using the Litcoins I earned from signing up, adding books, liking reader and author’s pages, and from referring new users.

I just put in my latest book order and paid $7.34 shipping for 3 books that retail for a total of $50.85. I could get those same books new on Amazon right now for $37.74, or used for $23.66. But anyway I crunch it it is a good deal to get my books from Reader’s Legacy.

Also, did I mention that they are donating thousands of dollars to children’s literacy programs? It’s an all around win from my point if view.

Check it out!

Small steps to change the world around you.


How can I make a difference? How does one person change the world? My life is full of responsibilities. I have a family to take care of, a property to pay off, mouths to feed, peoples wellbeing to look after, animals to care for, a garden to weed, schooling to do, a business to run, a farm to tend to, relationships to build and to keep intact… How do I even make time for saving the world or making an impact on issues that are much bigger than me, issues that I can’t see up close, issues that I don’t know the answer to…. What can I do?

Well I can take small steps toward improving the world and…

I can be kind.
I can be generous, with my posessions, but also with my time and my energy.
I can be grateful, and let others know of my gratitude.
I can be positive and optimistic, and not bog others down with my negativity.
I can be loving to all I encounter.
I can be happy and joyful.
I can be calm and not escalate situations with my anger.
I can be patient and understanding, and try to look at things from another view
I can be disciplined and work on my small corner of the world day by day.
I can be determined and not give up, or give in.
I can be self controlled and not let my feelings determine my actions.
I can be gentle with my hands but also with my words.
I can be compassionate. I can be merciful.

I can be quiet. I can shut my mouth and not say a word until I know the facts and the feelings of a situation. I can keep my negativity to myself when I am feeling sad, or angry, or scared. I can keep my newsfeeds quiet. And I can talk people I know, and love and trust about my thoughts and feelings instead of throwing them out there to just rile up strife in those that don’t know my heart.
I can love. I can wish for and work for the best for people. Whether the know me or not. Whether they love me or not. Whether they hate me or not.

I can be kind. Whereever I am at, to whoever I come across.
I can be kind.

#tacklethat #bekind #smallsteps

Feel free to repost if you too are feeling small like me, in the middle of a big mess and want to do something, ANYTHING to make a little dent in it all.

20 Simple Things Almost Anyone Can Enjoy Today

20 Simple Things Almost Anyone Can Enjoy Today:

1. Running through hanging laundry…or watching kids run through hanging laundry…or just hanging out laundry and then enjoying the scent of it once it has dried. Basically¬†I am just saying “Hang up some laundry!”
2. Watching a seed turn into food. If you don’t have seeds in the ground now, go and get a pack and plant some today!
3. Digging in the dirt. Combine this with #2 and it is 2 birds with 1 stone.
4. Hugs: Giving and getting.
5. ¬†Playing in mud puddles…kind of like digging in dirt only messier. Which some would argue is even more fun.
6. Watching baby lambs. Don’t have baby lambs near you? Contact local farms to see if they do open houses, or go to an animal shelter and see if you can play with the animals there, or just watch for animals out in your yard.
7.  A quiet backyard. Or a quiet park. Or a quiet room. Sometimes you just need to enjoy some quiet.
8.  Volleyball.
9.  Dandelion wishes.
10.  Merry-go-rounds.
11. ¬†Rainbows! Can’t find a rainbow? Make one!
12. ¬†Walk around barefoot. (Someplace it’s safe to do so! #sketchless)
13. The sight and smell of lilacs. They are dying out here but plenty of other flowers are just as easy to enjoy.
14. ¬†Soft horse noses. I don’t¬†recommend just randomly petting horses, but if you¬†have one, or can get permission to pet one, pet it’s nose. They are so soft!
15. ¬†Sunsets. They usually come once a day. ūüėÉ16. Photographs. Take some pictures, or look at old pictures.¬†Whatever floats your boat.
17. Play on a playground. (Even if you are “too¬†old”)
18. ¬†Find flowers that are your favorite color. Mine is purple. ūüíú
19. ¬†Curls…okay maybe only I can enjoy this today and everyday.
20. Swinging. Just do it! It might make you feel silly, or a little dizzy but it’s also guaranteed to make you feel like a kid again.

Follow me on Instagram to see the rest of my #100daysofsimplejoys challenge.

Happy Tackling!- Amber


100 Days of Simple Joys

2 weeks ago I started posting #100daysofsimplejoys on a whim.

Day 1

Day 1

My kids¬†were loving when I hung out laundry because then they could pretend that the hanging clothes were a monster and the monster was eating them #kidsknowhowtohavefun. And I was enjoying watching them take so much pleasure out of¬†something that many people would consider a mundane and maybe even unnecessary chore.¬†I snapped a pic of my youngest running through my flapping laundry and I went to post it on Instagram when I remembered a video that I saw on YouTube where the Vlogger mentioned how she had done a #100daysofmakeup challenge and it clicked¬†for me that I could do the same with my simple joys. I didn’t really think it through, I didn’t plan it out, I just spontaneously posted a picture of my Little Red under the clothesline….Then came day 2.

I knew I had to finish what I started so I was on the look out for simple joys throughout the day and actually found many things worthy of the hashtag #100daysofsimplejoys. I still thought it would be easy.

Then it rained…and rained and rained. I don’t know about y’all but my mood is easily affected by the weather. Maybe it’s the vitamin D but I need sunshine, or a¬†whole lot of willpower, to keep a sunny disposition when it is not sunny. So, I confess, I used some of day 2’s simple joys over the next few days. But¬†then, even while the days were dreary,¬†my mind was so focused on finding small, simple things that made me happy that I was finding them in places I hadn’t seen them before. I was stopping and appreciating¬†my quiet and peaceful backyard then just a few days later stopping and appreciating my noisy, full of life ball field.

I was and am feeling more thankful for the small moments. I am savouring the little things. I am finding that things I normally overlook I am stopping and seeing.¬†And more than anything else I am finding that there are so many things that aren’t “instagram worthy” that¬†ARE worthy of my attention and my gratitude.

So what about you? Do you want to join me in noticing the small moments? Do you want to appreciate the little things that don’t take much time, effort or money to enjoy? They are just there waiting for us to¬†find them! If you want to take part just start looking around then share¬†pics or posts of your simple joys on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter with the hashtags #100daysofsimplejoys and #simplejoys, or just post in the comments below. I can’t wait to hear about all the simple things that make you joyful!!!

Happy Tackling! – Amber



Getting Free Sunscreen!

If I had a dollar for everytime I was told that I am the “whitest white person” that someone has ever met I would be one rich lady.

My fair skin (and the comments that come along with it) doesn’t bother me at all…that is until I go out in the sun. Then I BURN, and burn quickly. “How quickly?” you ask. I will tell you how quickly – When I was a teenager, living in Texas, I had marching band practice for 2 hours everyday after school and if I did not put on SPF 40+ sunscreen at least twice during practice I would be red hot burned by the time I got home. NOT…FUN.

Oops! I forgot to put sunscreen on my knees.

Oops! I forgot to put sunscreen on my knees.

So I think it goes without saying that I go through a lot of sunblock.

When I was younger I would use whichever sunscreen was cheapest but as I had kids, 2 of which are redheads and even fairer than me, I began to learn about the chemicals that are in conventional sunscreen. My oldest had sensitivities to fragrances, dyes and other chemicals in any and all soaps, detergents, lotions, etc. practically from birth so I was definitely cautious about the products I put on her.

In my research I came across information about the 4 types of sun protection

1.SUNSCREENS – Uses ingredients like oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate and octinoxate to filter or absorb the suns raditation.

2. SUNBLOCKS a.k.a. Mineral Sunscreens – Uses ingredients like titanium oxide and zinc oxide to create a physical barrier on your skin that blocks the sun’s radiation

3. Formulas that use a mix of both sunblocks and sunscreens.

4. Physical Protection – Things like long sleeves, hats, and sunglasses to block the suns rays.

I usually opt for options 2 and 4, sunblocks and physical protection, for me and my family. (The reason I avoid sunscreens is that the chemicals used to protect against UV rays can also cause skin irritaions, allergic reactions, and some studies show that they may cause hormone disruptions. )

So we stay out of the sun during the peak UV hours of 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. if possible, stay in the shade, wear items to physically block the sun rays, and use mineral sunblock and lots of it.

The “greener” sunscreens are all pretty pricey so I wasn’t too excited about having to buy an entire bottle in order to try it so I started contacting all the companies who had highly rated sunscreens on the Environmental Working Groups Guide to Sunscreens¬†Best Sunscreens List and requested samples. I figured I would get a couple samples and at least one of the sunscreens would work well enough for me to want to buy a full bottle. But boy was I surprised when I recieved samples from not just 2 or 3 companies but 18!

Basically I had enough sunscreen for an entire summer just by contacting companies and requesting samples!

How To Tackle Requesing Sunscreen Like Amber –
1. Go to the company’s website and find their “contact us” page.

2. Use the contact form on their page or the email provided to send a message with what you are requesting, why you are requesting it, and your name and address.

(I wrote about how my kids are fair skinned and sensitive and that I was trying to find the best sunscreen for my family. If I had used a product by the company I would include a note about which products of theirs I already enjoyed. If I had never used their products I wrote about why I wanted to try something of theirs.)

3. If you can not find contact info on their website use their Facebook page and contact them through direct message.

4. Get emails back saying “Yes, your sample is on the way!” “No samples, but here is a coupon!” “Sorry, we don’t have samples at this time.”

5. Email all those people back saying “Thanks! You are awesome.” or “No problem. Thanks for taking the time to respond!”

5. Get a bunch of sunscreen samples in your mailbox over the next 6 weeks!

Easy Peasy!

I will get of the list of the companies that sent me samples or coupons up as soon as I can!

Happy tackling! – Amber

April Recap

Hello, fellow tacklers!

Have you missed me? I promise you I have big plans for this blog…but somehow my other projects always seem to get in the way.

Some projects I have tackled lately include: switching which kitchen I use in my house, moving our bedroom into the old kitchen (we took out the fridge but the cabinets, an old range, and a sink are still in there), moving my Ebay inventory from being jammed into the corner of my living room/spread out randomly in our outbuildings to the room that was previously our bedroom, then organizing all 200+ items, putting all my boys toys into bins in the basement and then rearranging their room so that they could play without me losing my mind over the mess (though most of their toys may not have made it back up to their room yet. ;)), fighting repeatedly with my washer that does not want to keep working and constantly needs the drain cleaned out, helping my sister-in-law go through all her books, listing her books and over 100 other items on Ebay, planning what seeds I need for my garden, buying seeds for my garden, planning where to plant seeds in my garden, obsessing over my garden (Okay, that’s not a project but I sure do spend a lot of time doing it.), cleaning out our barn in preparation for when the 50 pigs we are boarding over the summer show up, taxes a.k.a torture, and finally (FINALLY!) starting to plant some cold season crops in one of our garden beds.

And if you follow me on Instagram you might have seen that the month of April ended with my kids running fevers and vomitting, and my Grandpa being admitted to the hospital with cogestive heart failure. (He is stable for now, thanks to everyone for the well wishes and prayers!)

I guess you could say that life doesn’t always follow my plans. But I promise you blogging is definitely on my “Too Tackle” list!

I have gotten requests for some scopes about gardening techniques so those will be coming soon, but for now fI have to bathe a 3 year old that insists on drawing on herself any chance she gets (there is always that one kid, right?) and give an 8 year old his first antibiotic EVER. Everyday is an adventure!

Happy Tackling! – Amber

Sleep Kicker Review

I am so excited to bring you all my first product review! The folks at Baby DeeDee gave me a choice of any of their products in exchange for me doing an honest review. I chose their Sleepkicker because it looked like the item my youngest child could get the most use out of.

My Baby Deedee package arrived just days before my youngest daughters 3rd birthday, so being the industrious woman that I am I gave her the Sleepkicker for her birthday. I wasn’t sure how pajamas were going to go over as a birthday present (she is normally a pretty thankful girl…but, you know, she’s 3) but she was SO excited. Her exact words were “This is comfy, cozy!”

I was pleased with the Sleepkicker as well as it appears to be well made and it’s one-size-fits-2T-to-4T style means it should fit Little C for a long time. What makes this item so “comfy, cozy” is due in part to it’s saggy baggy style and it’s soft fleece fabric. And although the saggy pants style may not be for eveyone as it can appear that there is too much fabric in the bottom area, I find it to be AAAAAdorable ¬†and it does not intefer with my little one’s movement or comfort. There is space to layer cotton jammies underneath and the snug but not too tight elastic cuffs on the ankles keep the pant legs secureley in place so there is no chance of tripping on pant legs. Also now that we have had a chance to wear and wash this a few times I am still impresed with the softness of the material and the the quality with which it was made. The seams, zipper, and elastic are all holding perfectly.

My 2 complaints are 1 – the lack of color choices. It comes in 3 color choices gray w/ pink trim, gray w/green trim, and blue w/green trim. ¬†We got the gray/pink combo as it was the one I thought would most appeal to my little girl. I’d love to see the Sleepkicker in a purple/pink combo as these are Little C’s favorite colors. The other items in their product selection have other color options so I think it’s just a matter of time before the Sleepkickers colors expand as well.

My 2nd complaint is not necessarily about the Sleepkicker itself but the laws surrounding children’s sleepwear which made the labeling on Deedee’s Sleepkicker somewhat confusing. The label reads that the Sleepkicker is fire resistant but is not treated with fire retardants. I emailed the company for clarification and very quickly recieved a response saying the the polyester fabric itself is fire resistant in and of itsself and is NOT treated with and fire retardant chemicals. I did some additonal research about sleepwear, because that’s just what I do (seriously, just ask my family about my excessive Googling habits) and found more information about the federal requirements that children’s sleepwear in the U.S meet certain criteria for resisting flames or be snug fitting. The jist of it all is that ANY sort of non-snug-fitting, fuzzy, commercially made pajamas have to be made of polyester (or similar fabric with innate flame resistance) or they have to be treated with chemicals. There are varying opinions on if these laws are necessary or actually harmful by requiring the use of chemicals on some fabrics and you can read a couple of articles on the topic here and here.

I myself usually opt for snug fitting cotton pajamas for my children but do let them have a pair or two “comfy, cozy” polyester jammies for cold winter nights here in the U.P. while I avoid anything that has been treated with flame retardant chemicals. I am glad this Sleepkicker does not fall into the treated category and that the company is open and willing to quickly answer customer questions. Also¬†Baby DeeDee carries a whole line of baby/toddler blankets and sleepwear including cotton options.

Overall I am happy with this sleepwear and think it will get a lot of use before my duaghter grows out of it or wears it out. It is definitely a great option to have in the cold winter months (or cold spring months that we are having now) in Upper Michigan. We can keep the heat down but still know our little one is warm and not kicking off her blankets in the middle of the night.

If you are interested in purchasing a Sleepkicker or any of Baby DeeDees products my readers can get 20% off their first purchase here.

If you have any additional questions about the Sleepkicker I am glad to answer all I can or you can contact the company on their contact page .

Happy Tackling –

Counted With The Stars Book Review

Amber tackles…Counted With The Stars book review

*Some of the links in this post are ‚Äúaffiliate links.‚ÄĚ This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I personally use and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission‚Äôs 16 CFR, Part 255: ‚ÄúGuides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.


Counted With The Stars

I was fortunate enough to be a part of¬†Connilyn Cossette’s book launch team, and was able to read Counted With The Stars before the release date, and it was amazing!

I don’t know that my husband appreciated me having our bedroom lamp on until 1 o’clock in the morning but I had so much trouble putting this book down. That captivating, page turning, finish in one sitting feeling is one I often get with suspense or mystery books but not so much with historical fiction…until now.

I was so drawn in by the story Kiya, an Egyptian maiden who lives through the 10 biblical plagues while also enduring the inexplicable harshness of her new mistress after she is sold into slavery by her father.
She struggles not just with the loss of the luxurious life she once lived, but also her feelings of abandonment and betrayal by her family, and confusion as to why a Hebrew slave girl has befriended her when she is now a pariah both among the Egyptians and slaves.

When the Hebrews set out on their Exodus she is torn between her homeland and people which she once loved (but abondoned her and are now ravaged), or a God who (if the stories of the Hebrews are true) is both powerful and frightening.

If you are a fan of Christian fiction or historical fiction this book is one to read. I can’t wait for Connilyn Cossette’s next book! Unfortunely the second book in the “Out of Egypt” series is not set to be released until October 18th this year

If you’d like to get your hands on this book there are a couple giveaways going on right now.

If you head over to Periscope to Cara Grandle’s channel @caragrandle and watch her scope from this morning she has an interview with the author of Counted with the Stars – Connilyn Cossette and Cara also tells you how you can enter to win a copy from her.

Also on Connilyn Cossettes website she has a book giveaway along with a beautiful necklace and earring set so you can “Sparkle like an Egyptian.”

If you want to get your copy now it is available on online through many retailers including Amazon.

Happy tackling!

– Amber

If you are a writer looking for encouragement and community you can join Cara Grandle’s author4theAuthor facebook group (which is where I found out about Connilyn’s launch team .)

If you are reader looking for recommendations, links to giveaways, or online book discussions you can join my Book Tacklers Book Club facebook group.

* My enjoyment of this book was purely from the storytelling aspect. I am not a historian or biblical expert and do not know how accurate Ms. Cossette’s depictions of events or places are.

*I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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