What I wish I’d known when I did online shopping last week: Groupon Coupons

With glorious thoughts of summer fast approaching, I did some online shopping last week. I bought a hammock, a huge castle-shaped sandbox for my son, and a fire pit to toast some marshmallows over on a starry evening. I’ve already been enjoying cuddling on the hammock with my son in the evenings, looking up at the beautiful forest trees in our backyard. Ah, how did I not have a hammock sooner?

What I didn’t know about was Groupon Coupons. I could have saved a lot of money on those items. Hindsight, right? Groupon Coupons are a free section of the Groupon site. Just this morning, the site had over 80,000 coupons for nearly 12,000 stores, including ones that I shop at regularly like Target, Starbucks, and Kate Spade.

One coupon listing that caught my eye was for 1-800-Flowers. This morning there was a deal for 40 percent off flowers and gifts. The coupon is good until July, so this would be a great idea for Mother’s Day.

The other listing that caught my eye was for Hotels.com. We are thinking about what we’re going to do for vacation this summer. If you scroll down a little on the site, one coupon is for 50 percent off.

You can see all of the coupons at https://www.groupon.com/coupons. I hope this will help your family save a little money this summer. I know I will be checking the site when I shop.


Disclosure: These thoughts are entirely my own. My post was written in collaboration with Groupon.

A Place I Felt At Home in the World

athome-smIn celebration of the release of her new book, At Home in the World, about a year spent traveling around the world with her family of five, Tsh Oxenreider is challenging readers to share where they have felt most at home in the world. Before I tell you my place, let me share how much I have been looking forward to reading this book. I went to the travel section of Barnes and Noble the day her book was released this week and immediately bought a copy. I want to support her work because I believe in her message of simplicity, a global perspective, and Christianity that is rooted in Christ’s teachings — not skewed by a political view, not superficial. I listen to her podcast regularly and consider her to be a great influence toward a life lived with intention and reflection.

My travels have taken me abroad to the high-energy sidewalks of London, to a misty fjord of Tadoussac to see whales, to the mountains of Alberta to slide down a waterfall, and to the Caribbean, where the snorkeling was a stunning show of colors and sea life. One trip closer to home that really stands out to me was Asheville, NC, because our week was filled with wonderful live music, food, friendly people, and an evening spent at an outdoor spa hot tub. I’ve only ever had one bad travel experience — on our honeymoon — when our travel agent sent us to St. Thomas, in a spot that ended up being over-priced and sketchy, but we made the best of that.

When I think of where I feel most at home in the world, I would probably pick my cozy red living room chair, curled up with a book and a cup of hot tea, with my Sheltie at my side and my son playing with his Thomas trains on the floor. That would be closely followed by a walk on my family’s farm where I grew up or a hike in the beautiful forest trails near the house where we live now. Hiking with my Sheltie and breathing the fresh air as the trees stretch high above brings such a connection to the land, to God’s creative hand, and to myself. With this view of the world, valuing simplicity and nature, is it any wonder that my husband and I are great admirers of Henry David Thoreau?

I wrote the following post on my blog a few years ago, but the theme of feeling at home in the world brought it to mind again. It connects two of my favorite writers — Lucy Maud Montgomery and Henry David Thoreau — with my travel experience of being engaged at Walden Pond.

“It gave a strange reality to the books 
of theirs which I have read 
to see those places where they 
once lived and labored.– L.M. Montgomery

440px-lmm_signed_photoI saw something in a blog recently that gave me a feeling of awe. The writer probably didn’t realize what she wrote would touch someone else so deeply – but she told me that one of my childhood dreams had partially come true five years ago.

I didn’t even realize it back then.

My dream reveals an early level of literary geekdom: I wanted to visit Prince Edward Island to walk in the steps of author L.M. Montgomery, who wrote the Anne of Green Gables stories, to make the stories come alive for me even more than they already had in the past.

When I was young, I loved Anne’s imagination, her dramatic way of speaking, how she had a best friend as true and loyal as Diana, how she yearned for stylish puffed sleeves, and how she was so oblivious to Gilbert’s love at first. As I grew older and kept returning to the books and movies, I saw the character of Anne as someone who was a role model — a writer, a teacher, a friend, someone whose love ran deep. Anne and Diana were real to me.

The blog said L.M. Montgomery made a literary pilgrimage in 1910 to Concord, Massachusetts — the spot where American greats including Thoreau, Emerson, and Louisa May Alcott once lived and wrote.

Montgomery wrote: “[Concord] is a most charming spot and I shall never forget the delightful drive we had around it. We saw the ‘Old Manse’ where Hawthorne lived during his honeymoon and where he wrote ‘Mosses from an Old Manse,’ the ‘Wayside’ where he also lived, the ‘Orchard House’ where Louisa Alcott wrote, and Emerson’s house.”

My mind immediately connected: L.M. Montgomery had been to Concord to visit literary spots; my husband and I were engaged there five years ago and visited those same spots after a very long drive from our hometown. My husband got down on one knee at the site of Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond, and later that day, we visited the Old Manse that L.M. Montgomery had also written about visiting. We ended up seeing the Alcott house and spending a lot of time in Boston, not too far from Concord.



It was a romantic engagement that created lifelong memories way before I realized the new connection.

As I read the blog, the realization hit: I had probably walked in L.M. Montgomery’s footsteps without even realizing it. It wasn’t how I imagined it happening, but seeing my memories in this new light is inspiring.

I still want to visit Prince Edward Island someday. In the meantime, I think it’s amazing that my own feet have already travelled a little closer to the steps of L.M. Montgomery than I had realized. As a person of faith, I believe we can never fully know all of the connections that life has in store for us. I’m thankful for the sweet surprises that are revealed along the way, and I’m also thankful for the parts of the story that are yet to be known.





I hope life surprises you this week.

With love and blessings,

Teresa from Mama Muse Me


A Movie I’m Taking My Son to See Soon (and ticket giveaway!)


To enter my giveaway, sponsored by FlyBy Promotions, click the Rafflecopter link here.

Smurfs: The Lost Village is coming to theaters soon. I’m taking my son to see it when it does! Looking back at old Polaroid pictures, my very first Halloween costume was a Smurf outfit. I was definitely a fan, so I am hoping my son will like it too. If you want to find out more about the movie, visit the official site here. The site has recipes, coloring pages, and character profiles that will engage children of many ages.

In The Lost Village, Smurfette (Demi Lovato), Brainy, Clumsy, and Hefty use a special map that guides them through the Forbidden Forest, leading them on a course to discover the biggest secret in Smurf history. They must race against time and evil wizard Gargamel (the hilarious Rainn Wilson) to find the mysterious village.  

To enter my giveaway, sponsored by FlyBy Promotions, click the Rafflecopter link here.

Check out the trailer here.

Continue reading

Slice of Life

Almost April already? It is hard to believe! This is what I’ve been into lately.

WENT: My family rode the metro to D.C. to see Paw Patrol Live at the National Theater. It was awesome for my little guy and his best buddy! The show was definitely worth the price. We ended up sitting just three rows from the front. My son cheered, clapped, and got very serious about the action at times. It was a memory that I was so glad to give him. Paw Patrol Live still has some dates open around the country if you are interested in going with your family.

READ: I read the second book of L.M. Montgomery’s Emily series. Several bloggers are reading the series together, and I decided to join them. Here is what I thought about last month’s book, Emily of New Moon (that post will also give you a little background on the Emily series if you have not read it). This month’s book was Emily Climbs. In this book, I love how L.M. Montgomery continues the supernatural element from the first book . In the first book, Emily has an illness-induced vision that allows her to clear the name of a woman who has died; in the second, Emily produces a drawing, seemingly in her sleep, that tells her where a 18704927boy is trapped. Everyone thought the boy was dead, but Emily’s vision was accurate again. I really like how L.M. Montgomery just hints at something uncanny, but she does not go over the top with the supernatural elements. Emily’s “second sight” frightens her, so she prefers not to think about it. Meanwhile, the funniest scene in the second book is when Emily has a misunderstanding about a dog. Emily thinks the badly-behaved dog belongs to a woman she had hoped to impress, and the woman thinks the dog belongs to Emily. Both of them start out having a horrible impression of each other because of the mutt — but it does not belong to either of them! Seeing Emily become published in magazines multiple times in the second book is very gratifying for the reader, who is rooting for Emily despite the oppression of very conservative family members and the expectations of society in general at that time. The second book seems to have some commentary on the negative impact of gossip and jealousy in society, something that L.M. Montgomery was dealing with in her own life at that time, according to this post. At the end of Emily Climbs, I was feeling a little sad — but not surprised — that Emily turned down a career opportunity in New York to stay at home in Canada because the people and landscape mean so much to her. I also hoped that Teddy would return her love so that Dean would not end up holding her back in life. When I have a little free time this summer, I want to skim back through the book and look at the different novels that Emily mentioned as influences to her as a writer. I figure those books were probably influences for L.M. Montgomery as well.

GIVEAWAY: I’m giving away two tickets to see the new Smurfs movie via Fandango, courtesy of FlyBy Promotions. You can enter by clicking here.

BOUGHT: I splurged on my first ever pair of nice sunglasses from Coach. Woot! Now, let’s just see if I can make it through the summer without scratching them or losing them altogether.

LISTENED TO: The La La Land Movie Soundtrack. Repeatedly. So good! La La Land is going on my list of favorite movies.

WATCHED: The new Beauty and the Beast movie is wonderful. I went to see it with a friend, and the entire theater applauded afterward. I sat down with my husband last night and watched the first episode of This Is Us, and I think that’s going to be my go-to show for awhile. Other ones I like are New GirlJane the Virgin, and American Housewife.

COOKED: I tried out a free subscription to Blue Apron that my friend gave me. It was so nice to not think about planning meals that week, but I decided not to continue the subscription because it’s a little pricey for what is offered. I also did not like all of the separate vegetable prep. If I ever did it again, I would probably read through the recipes and prep the vegetables for all of the meals at once. The ingredients are high quality, but the portion sizes do not make leftovers. When I cook, I personally like leftovers because that makes a little less work for me throughout the week.

What are you loving lately? Any good recommendations?

Have a great week!




Reading L.M. Montgomery’s Emily Series

L.M. Montgomery is one of my favorite writers. I wrote this post back when I first started blogging about my admiration for her that came from reading the Anne of Green Gables books when I was young. The Anne books bring me a feeling of nostalgia for when I was a girl, walking on my family’s farm and writing little stories in my spare time. My pap used to pay me for the stories that I would write when I walked over to his house.

Anyway, when I saw that several bloggers are reading L.M. Montgomery’s Emily series, I decided to join in with them. I just finished last weekend, so I’m a little behind others who might be participating (hey, it’s never too late to read a good book, right?).

Emily could be described as the dark-haired, more introspective counterpart of Anne. She is a budding poet with pointed ears that remind whimsical thinkers of a forest elf. When her father, a former journalist, passes away, Emily is sent to live with her mother’s extended family, which had been estranged from her because they thought they were too good for Emily’s father.

The first book, Emily of New Moon, is about a young girl discovering new parts of her identity — finding out about the life of her mother who died when she was young, and also finding herself as a writer despite the negative opinions of those around her. Writing poetry and reading novels is frowned upon by Emily’s aunt, who wants to raise her “properly,” and her first school teacher uses Emily’s poetry as a means of mocking her. The teacher purposefully reads the poems in a sing-song voice and critiques them harshly to show her control of the students.

Considering the times that Emily lived in and her status as an orphan and a female, she must continually hide her writing and her thoughts. She finds freedom in going to the attic to write or in playing with her few close friends that she meets at New Moon. She manages to stay an independent and creative thinker despite the efforts to control her. By today’s standards, it seems silly to consider reading novels and writing poetry out-of-bounds for a young woman, but that was the reality in those times. Emily’s father never tried to oppress her gift because he recognized it and understood it.

Throughout the book, Emily gets “the flash” when she sees something of beauty or has a moment that goes beyond the ordinary. I think “the flash” is something beyond creative inspiration. It is probably what some writers have described as the sublime or transcendence; since L.M. Montgomery was familiar with Thoreau’s writings, that’s my theory. One of my favorite parts of the book is when something supernatural happens; Emily sees something in an illness-induced dream that ends up redeeming the tainted memory of her best friend’s mother, who had been accused of running off to sea and abandoning her young baby and husband. In life, so much is beyond explanation. L.M. Montgomery captures that idea so well with Emily’s dream.

So far, I am enjoying the Emily series. L.M. Montgomery identified with Emily the most out of all her heroines. As a dark-haired, creative, introspective type, I identify with her more than Anne too. Stay tuned next month for my thoughts on the second book in the series, Emily Climbs.

Have you read the Emily books?


— Teresa

Books for a Positive Mindset


51xl9fypayl-_sy346_Both books that I am reviewing this month are great for a positive Christian mindset. The first one is Talk Yourself Happy by Kristi Watts. She explains how you can transform your heart and mindset by speaking God’s scriptural promises as you go through challenges in your life. Watts does not sugar-coat the truth as she shares her own trials and testimony. She writes of betrayal by her ex-husband, raising her son as a single mother, going from a high-profile job to unemployed, going from a put-together persona to feeling less than beautiful, and how God gave her the strength to forgive and make peace with her ex as he lost the battle to cancer. As Christians, many of us walk through trials; they come in different forms, but the way Watts writes of her experiences is so true to the realities of life itself. I could relate to how she struggled with her identity as she went from a high-profile broadcast journalism job to unemployed because I used to work in the print journalism field, and I personally experienced what it was like to have to switch career fields because newspapers have taken such a hit over the past eight years. It was heartbreaking at first, but — like Watts — I am reminded that my identity in Christ will always remain, no matter how my job title may change. My story is not finished, but God has brought me through things I never could have imagined. Growth tends not to happen in comfortable times. I highly encourage you to visit her website.


159052456xThe second book I am reviewing is Andy Stanley’s Visioneering. I have been a huge fan of Andy Stanley’s preaching for the past seven years. I first discovered his work when a small group I was attending used to watch his videos and discuss them. He gives a lot of practical advice about how to set up a wise life that is effective and pleasing to God. He talks about relationships, finances, and other practical aspects of life. His book is great for someone who wants to discover and maintain a personal vision. As I wrote earlier in this post, changes in the job market meant I had to shift the life direction that I took in my twenties. My early thirties were spent as a full time mom, and now I am in the education field. Having a vision, and not just floating through life, is so vital for having a life that is well-lived. If you have never heard Andy Stanley preach, I encourage you to check out Your Move with Andy Stanley. The videos are free to watch and will definitely provide a paradigm shift.

Both books from my reviews today were provided for free in return for my honest review — but I do highly recommend both. Even if you can’t afford them, please check out the websites for both ministries because the free videos are excellent. Talk Yourself Happy was provided by Book Look Bloggers, and Visioneering was provided by Blogging for Books.

Have a wonderful week!

xoxo Teresa


Final Thoughts on the Daniel Fast


It’s very early on Sunday morning. I’ve got laundry going while I sit at my laptop, sipping some Matcha tea and catching up on a few blogs that I like to read. The house is quiet while my husband and son are still fast asleep. This morning is different because my Daniel Fast is over today. For the past three weeks, I ate the most healthy diet that I have ever eaten in my life. Generally, I don’t do a lot of processed foods or soda anyway, but the Daniel Fast definitely steps up the healthy game. Looking back, I am glad that I took on the challenge for the whole three weeks that my church committed to it. The first week was the hardest, especially not having coffee every morning. Three weeks with no coffee and creamer. Three weeks with no processed foods. Three weeks full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and unsweetened almond milk. For me, unsweetened freeze-dried fruits were a lifesaver some days when I was on the go and needed something just a little snacky.

As I said in my last post, I was not perfect a couple of days. Those days, I prayed and thanked God that his grace can cover my weaknesses — during my time of fasting, and in the daily journey of life itself. I believe I gave God my very best during these three weeks. The most surprising thing for me is that I do not feel like I need a cup of coffee this morning. My energy level went up without it. I also lost five pounds. Honestly, I was hoping to lose more than that — but hey, it’s better than gaining five pounds in the middle of winter!

Throughout my fast, my One Word for the year — JOY — kept showing up almost daily in ways that were so blatant that they had to be from God. Keep going, my child. Another way that God spoke to me was by reminding me that the fast is also about trust. I started out pre-planning so much, exerting my own control over the endeavor, and God told me to relax and not try to do this whole thing in my own strength. Amen to that.

Have a beautiful Sunday!

xoxo Teresa


P.S. If you missed my other Daniel Fast posts, check out Why I Started the Fast, along with reflections on Week One and Week Two.

Kari Jobe CD Giveaway


Grammy nominated Kari Jobe is the premiere female worship leader in Christian

music. Coming off her last live album, Majestic, which featured the worship anthem

“Forever” and radio hit “I Am Not Alone,” Kari Jobe has returned to the studio to

record her new album, The Garden, full of brand new worship anthems for the

church and for personal reflection. Finding inspiration from life’s joys and

hardships, Kari leans into the firm foundation of Christ through it all. capture

I think Kari has a beautiful voice. This CD would be good for a quiet day at home or for when you’re feeling discouraged. I love the graphic design on the CD jacket — so pretty. I would like to give one of my readers a copy of her new CD, provided by FlyBy Promotions. To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post.

Update: A winner has been chosen! Even if you didn’t win, I hope you will check out the new CD.

Daniel Fast Diary: Week Three


This is my final week of The Daniel Fast. Here are my other two posts about why I started the fast and how my first week went. Last week, I was so busy that I didn’t get to write an update. My headaches (probably from the lack of caffeine and sugar) went away completely, and I started to feel a little more energy. As a side perk, I lost about five pounds. A few of the men at my church lost ten pounds the first week (Is it acceptable to feel jealous during a spiritual fast? haha).

The first week went smoothly, as far as sticking to the plan was concerned. The second week? I had a few moments that were less than perfect, but I am still chugging along. On the tenth day of the fast, I felt like God was telling me to go back and read the section of Daniel that tells about his food choice; as I read, I realized that the tenth day was when Daniel’s captors admitted that he looked healthier than the others and agreed to keep letting him eat the foods that he requested instead of foods from the king’s table. I had a moment where I was pretty excited that I made it to day ten.

Last Sunday, our pastor preached a sermon on the difference between perfection and excellence (doing your best at something new). When we try new things, he said, we might not always be perfect right away. Our best might not get compliments just yet. A person who is fasting for the first time might not be perfect, but trying and giving your all is better than not trying at all if you are called to it. This is my first time trying a fast; at times, I did have to rely on God’s grace, but overall it is going very well. The first week was the most spiritually challenging in terms of what life was throwing at me that week, while the second week was more challenging as far as sticking to the plan itself. Interestingly, throughout the first week, my word for the year — joy — kept showing up all over the place.

Only six days left . . .

Have a great week, and thanks for reading!




Diary of My Daniel Fast

This is Day Six of my Daniel Fast. I wrote a post last week about why I’m doing the Daniel Fast and the meal plan that I am following. The fast is loosely based on the verses in which Daniel requests to eat only “pulse” and drink only water when he is in captivity. He ends up healthier than the people who eat from the king’s table because he is able to eat the diet he requests. Some Bible scholars believe that the food from the king’s table was being sacrificed to other gods, or perhaps Daniel’s request was a way of trying to keep his diet within kosher traditions. The verses were not intended to say that a vegetarian diet is better – but by today’s standards, the Daniel Fast is very healthy. It allows fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and water. Dairy, meat, coffee, wine, added sugar or salt, and processed foods are not allowed. The key part of the Daniel Fast is prayer and using the fast as a time to focus on God.


DAY ONE: The first day of the fast was pretty simple. I had my breakfast shake, prepped my lunch, went to church, and then came home to eat the lunch. My son and hubby fell asleep on the couch, so I was able to cook ahead for the week. It was a peaceful, relaxing day. I sat down and read the book of Daniel from the Bible and prayed as I had planned that evening. I remembered a lot of the beginning of the book of Daniel from Sunday School when I was young (Daniel and the Lion’s Den, the fiery furnace, etc.), but the prophetic part of the end of the book were really complex and difficult to understand without reading some commentary about them.

DAY TWO: I woke up craving my cup of coffee, but my husband and I had the day off work for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so we went out for a walk instead. For a January morning, it was gorgeous. We walked about four miles in the fresh air. It was still easy to stay on the meal plan, other than feeling really tired by the end of the day without any caffeine at all. I continued my prayer and Bible reading that evening.

DAY THREE: This is the day it got hard. I had to go back to work, and my son had been sick that night. My job is very active and deals with people all day, so not having the cup of coffee was very, very difficult. I felt really sluggish, and I was definitely tempted to just add one cup of coffee or tea to my routine. I prayed about it, and I realized that immediately taking out the hardest part of the plan would not be the right thing to do. A fast is not supposed to be easy. Amazingly, that day, as I read my Jesus Always devotional, one of the verses was the verse that I had picked for my One Word resolution for the year (Isaiah 61:1). I felt like that was a burst of encouragement that I needed because I was struggling so much to stay upbeat and have energy. That evening, I went to a ladies paint night with my mom, and we painted a winter scene that turned out great. I ended up adding some freeze-dried fruit to my routine that day because I went straight from work to the painting party.

DAY FOUR: I had a headache and felt sick for several hours. It was probably the lack of caffeine. I prayed about it and pushed forward. When I got home from work, I decided to call it an evening of rest. My body was so exhausted because I had been up with my son again the night before. I have gotten to the point in my life that I have tried not to shy away from things that are hard. This fast is a challenge, yet I realize that many people around the world do not have the option of coffee or tea in the morning. They would love to eat the amount of food that I am eating on my fast. Admittedly, I will be really thankful when I can have a cup of hot tea because it is so comforting to me.

DAY FIVE: I have lost one pound so far. Last night, I started reading Talk Yourself Happy by Kristi Watts. The title sounds kind of gimmicky, but as I read, I found that she was speaking many of the truths that have come about in my own Christian walk concerning perspective and using Bible verses to speak truth to myself. I only planned on reading one chapter, but I was drawn in and ended up reading three. I am going to be reviewing the book on my blog later, and I will give you the full details on it. Her testimony about being a single mom who went from a high-profile job to an unemployed, single mom (and how God helped her through the struggles) is so honest and inspiring.

DAY SIX: This day was an emotionally tough one that left me feeling misunderstood in a certain situation. The temptation to have a cup of tea or a glass of wine this evening is definitely there, but I am pushing forward. I want my fast to be to God’s glory and pleasing to him. So far, so good. God knows me and knows my heart.


My fast ends Superbowl Sunday, so stay tuned for more . . .

xoxo Teresa