• Let me introduce you to Zulily

    there's a purple plastic mailing envelope with the word Zulily written in white script. in the top left corner, lying on top of the package, are two pairs of folded pants

    “Thanks, it’s from Zulily!”

    OK, so I definitely said this at least 20 times this past weekend at my soon-to-be sister-in-law’s bridal shower. My purse, my jean jacket, my shoes, even the Scout bag I wrapped my gift in were all from Zulily. So what the heck is this site?

    Last year, I started partnering with Zulily as an affiliate. Simply put, when you buy items through the link on my website and social media, I receive a commission at no cost to you. It’s a way to support my small business as I continue to grow Joyful, Brave & Awesome!

    The best part is you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on leggings or Tupperware to support me. (But guess what? You can often find both leggings and Tupperware on Zulily if you feel like you are missing out!)

    Anyway, here are some answers to some of the most common Zulily questions, along with my number one tip for shopping on the site:

    What is Zulily? How does it work?

    Usually, so-called “flash sale” sites fill their warehouse with discounted products from brands, and then sell the product. Zulily keeps prices low – we’re talking sometimes even 70% off – by ordering product from brands AFTER a sale ends. Then, all your orders are consolidated at Zulily warehouses and shipped out. In short: longer shipping = lower prices!

    Do I need to pay for a membership?

    Nope! Membership is free – you just need to sign up for an account. Once you do, you can start browsing for savings right away. And if you’re worried about too many emails, you can choose exactly how many emails you receive from Zulily, whether its daily, weekly, monthly, or not at all!

    What’s an event?

    Zulily calls its sales “events”. Usually these last 72 hours. Zulily launches over 120 events EVERY DAY! Sounds overwhelming, but honestly the way the site is set up, it makes total sense. And you have me sharing some of my favorite #ZulilyFinds that I think resonate best with my readers. If there’s a certain type of product you are interested in, feel free to reach out to me!

    Wait, shipping isn’t “free two-day”?

    No, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t ways to score free shipping. When you order on Zulily, you qualify for free shipping on any subsequent orders the rest of that day. Friday and Saturday orders score free shipping through Sunday! So if you buy something Friday morning, for example, you can keep ordering items up through Sunday evening for no extra shipping charge. Also, some items qualify for free shipping automatically.

    My best advice is to plan ahead: Use Zulily for items you do not need immediately, but rather items you know you’ll need sometime in the next few months. Our family’s birthdays all fall around the holidays. I start Christmas shopping using Zulily in the summer, so by the time Thanksgiving arrives I’m all done with shopping and the gifts are all safely stored in my house. Same goes for those “just in case” gifts to stock up on for last-minute parties, etc. Also, when I see a great deal on clothing or shoes a size or two larger than what JB is currently wearing, I’ll stock up. That way I know I’m ready should we have a sudden growth spurt! (The photo accompanying this post is of just this. They were having a major end-of-season sale on boys sweatpants, so I bought several pairs of the next size so we are ready for the fall.)

    What are you looking to save on in the next few months? I’d love to hear in the comments!

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  • My favorite books of 2021 so far

    straw beach bag with books, a picnic blanket and a hat, spread out on a green lawn

    Affiliate links are used in this post. As an Amazon affiliate I may earn from qualifying purchases at no cost to you.

    Guys, I’m writing this from the library – THE LIBRARY! If that’s not a sign that things are returning to normal, than I don’t know what is!

    Anyway, today I’m going to be discussing books, specifically my five favorite books of 2021 so far. There’s quite a range of tones here, but honestly hasn’t this year been an emotional rollercoaster anyway? It makes sense that the books I’ve read would match (or counteract) that same unpredictability.

    Here are my favorite books from the first half of 2021.

    Favorite novel: Fire Keeper’s Daughter by Angeline Boulley (also available through Book of the Month

    Hockey. Suspense. YA romance. A socioeconomic examination of the opioid crisis on Native reservations in the early 2000s. While these may not all be genres/topics you are necessarily looking for in a book, the combination is what makes The Fire Keeper’s Daughter my favorite fiction read of 2021 so far. The plot is intricately woven and complicated, to say the least, but know three things. First, Daunis, the protagonist, is one of the strongest, best-written main characters I’ve encountered in years. Second, trigger warnings abound, so proceed with caution and do your research before reading if you have certain topics you need to avoid. And third, Barack and Michelle Obama will be adapting this book into a Netflix TV show!

    Favorite children’s book: What is God Like? by Rachel Held Evans and Matthew Paul Turner
    I spoke about this book a little bit a few weeks ago in my post about switching churches. I didn’t learn about Rachel Held Evans until after she died in 2019, but I wish I had known her. When she passed away, her friend Matthew Paul Turner (one of my favorite children’s book authors) was asked to finish this story she had started. This book they co-created is an incredible, inspiring celebration of the concept of God, especially for young children. Throughout the story, we meet characters of different ethnicities and races, a child with a wheelchair, and members of the LGBTQ+ community. The story switches pronouns for God along the way – sometimes God is He, sometimes She, sometimes They. I love this book so very much, and if you are a friend of mine with a young child, I’m probably going to talk your ear off about this book at least once in the next few months!

    Favorite poetry book: What Kind of Woman by Kate Baer
    I’m as shocked as you are that I’m listing a poetry book here. I normally don’t “do” poetry. Heck, one of the main reasons I wasn’t an English major was that, despite my love of writing, I didn’t want to have to study poetry! Kate Baer’s work is different, however. Her poetry tackles motherhood, body image, feminism, mental health and more in a raw, powerful way. Her “Erasure” series of poems is my favorite. In these, she takes online comments she’s received and blacks out select words, using the words remaining to form uplifting messages out of the hate. Baer’s second book, I Hope This Finds You Well, comes out this fall, and I’ve already preordered it!

    Favorite nonfiction book: Getting It Done When You’re Depressed (Second Edition) by Julie A. Fast and John D. Preston (also available on Zulily)
    How much do I love this book? So much that I bought it twice, in e-book and paperback formats, so it’s always with me. I’m currently rereading it, and I’m getting even more out of it the second time around. The authors have an incredible talent for putting in words different aspects of depression that I always assumed were just my own unique weaknesses. I feel seen and understood in a way no other book has ever made me feel. My favorite feature of this book is that each chapter also has a script portion for you to share with loved ones when you are depressed and don’t know how to put your specific experience into words.

    Favorite cookbook: Everyday Dinners by Jessica Merchant
    Confession: I own the hardcover and e-book copies of this book, too. Jessica Merchant is the Pittsburgh-based founder of my favorite cooking blog, How Sweet Eats. In her latest cookbook, she focuses on easy weeknight meals that you can (but don’t have to) prep for in advance. Because let’s be real – I’m never going to prepare a week’s worth of meals on a Sunday. It just isn’t my style, although I admire all you folks who swear by it. Like Merchant, I would much rather preparing components of a meal here and there in pockets of free time throughout the week. So far, my favorite recipes are the Cajun-Lime Sweet Potato Salad and the Chicken Romano Meatballs. Seriously, I dream about both of these dishes. I’m planning on making several more recipes from this book over these next few days during the holiday weekend!

    What has your favorite book been so far in 2021? I’d love to hear from you! Also, if you want to expand your family’s summer reading selection, I’ll be sharing recommendations for young readers in the next week or two, including some FREE printables! (Admit it, you love free stuff!)

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  • An exciting new partnership!

    “Can you start a website where you curate all these awesome finds?” my son’s therapist asked me half-jokingly (I think) last year.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I often cope with JB’s diagnosis by shopping. I’m always hoping there’s a certain toy or piece of equipment that can help him develop skills a bit more easily, or make this therapy sessions more fun for him.

     I am thrilled to announce I am now an affiliate partner of Zulily.com – my favorite online retailer! 

    Without a doubt, Zulily has been my top source for therapy (whether speech, occupational, physical or feeding therapy) and sensory items for JB. It is also where I’ve found the best selection of toys and books featuring people with disabilities.

    In addition, I do most of my holiday shopping – birthdays, Mother’s and Father’s Days, Christmas, Easter – on Zulily. Since the pandemic, I’ve also been doing most of my own clothing shopping on Zulily. (Their shoes and plus-size offerings are especially fantastic.)

    See the photo above? Those are all Zulily purchases I was able to grab in a three-minute mad dash through my house. Even the area rug is from Zulily.

    Over the next few days, I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite Zulily finds both here on the blog and on social media. I’ll also be sharing suggestions from Jessica N. Turner, one of my favorite bloggers out there and a big career inspiration to me.

    Is there anything in particular you are looking to purchase right now that you could use help finding? Let me know!

    Please note: I know I sound like I’m doing an infomercial for Zulily, but this is not a sponsored post. If you buy something through the affiliate links used in this post, I may be compensated, but other than that, I’m just an [over]eager fan who loves a good sale.

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