A Few Good Things

A few good things I’ve read or watched online this week because we all need a little cheer this time of year:

A dying man left his 2-year old neighbor 14 Christmas presents to open in the years to come

Bao, a Disney Pixar short, made me cry. It’s unexpectedly delightful.

An artist turned a tree stump into a little free library  – so gorgeous, I want to move in!

An unlikely friendship: Charles Barkley and a Ph.D. cat litter chemist




The Lazy Girl’s Guide to Saving Money

Despite my addiction to Stitchfix, I am mostly a sale shopper and am always looking for ways to save money. Yesterday I was talking with a friend who was telling me about her upcoming holiday baking project, and I spent five minutes raving about the Ibotta app. Ibotta saves you money when you add coupons within the app, then upload your grocery store receipt, and then the app automatically matches purchased items to the coupons. I love it because I don’t have to add the coupons before I go shopping; I buy what I need, then add available coupons, upload the receipt, and ta-da, money saved. Sometimes I check the app before I buy an item in case a particular brand of, say orange juice or beans, is on sale. But it’s the ultimate lazy person’s way of saving money because you don’t have to clip paper coupons, and you can look for coupons after you’ve gone shopping. Ibotta also has mobile shopping savings, including cashback from Amazon. If you do a lot of shopping on Amazon, it’s definitely worth signing up – right now they have an offer up to 10% back on Amazon purchases!

Sign up and try for yourself – you’ll get a $5 bonus to start!

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention Ebates and Honey, two of my favorite browser extensions that save me money when I’m online shopping. Ebates gives you cash back on purchases from most major retailers and sometimes has cash back offers of up to 10%. If you have the browser extension installed, when you’re shopping online the Ebates popup will appear when there’s an available cashback offer and you just click the offer to activate it. Honey scours the internet for available coupon and free shipping codes, so when you’re ready to check out of your online shopping cart, click on the Honey browser extension and the coupon codes will be automatically applied.

What are your favorite ways to save money when shopping online or for groceries? Tell me!

Summer Reading 2018

As a parent and librarian, I’m very excited about summer reading programs. Here are three easy and fun programs in the Portland/Vancouver area in case any of our local friends want to join in.  And I’m hopeful that if you’re not local, your own cities have similar programs! Hooray for reading!


Brothers reading.

1) Fort Vancouver Regional Libraries’ Summer Reading – register online or in person and earn prizes for reaching 15, 30, and 45 day reading goals. (Ends Aug. 31.) Adults are eligible too!

2) Barnes & Noble Summer Reading – Right now Meadow Glade Adventist Elementary is in the top 10 list of participating schools at the Vancouver location! Kids who read 8 books and turn in a journal get to pick out a free book from a selected list of age-appropriate books, and the top 10 schools also get great prizes. Let’s keep MGAES in the top 10! (Ends Sept. 3.)

3) Powell’s Books has a bookmark kids can pick up, fill in in with six book titles they’ve read, and return and redeem for a $5 Powell’s gift card. We picked up a bookmark and lost it or washed it in last week’s laundry, but next time we’re there, we’ll bring a list of books the kids have read to fill in and redeem on the spot!


Mother’s Day Gift Ideas from Ever

Good morning, friends! I’ve been selling Ever skin care and makeup for a few months now, and wanted to tell you about a great deal that expires today, May 5. Spend $149 and get a free Overnight Facial Oil, which retails for $88! In addition, if you follow me on my Facebook group, Baked Tofu & a Beauty Routine, you may have seen me mention the sweepstakes that qualified you for $20 off your $100 purchase. If you combine the offers, you have yourself an amazing deal!

Here are some ideas on product combinations to purchase to get your free Overnight Facial Oil. I love this oil because whenever I use it, when I wake up my face feels smoother, softer, and my acne has a shorter shelf life! These products would make amazing gifts for yourself, your mom, or your mother-in-law! Happy shopping!

Shop for EVER products at https://www.everskin.com/with/maricheney

Don’t have the $20 off coupon? Get $10 off your first EVER purchase at https://www.talkable.com/x/13xWET


When I started my weight loss journey 9 months ago, I texted my weight loss or gains to my friend B every single day for a couple of weeks. I dreaded every morning’s weigh in because I was sure the scale would just keep going up despite my very deliberate lifestyle changes. The scale proved me wrong, and it slowly crept down, and then down some more.

I am THIS close to achieving my goal of losing 50 pounds. Unfortunately I’ve been THIS close for a month. It’s probably self-sabotage as I’m not sure what I’m planning to do diet wise once I reach that goal, so instead of getting to the spot on the scale, in the past week I’ve had a donut (it was Blue Star, so who can blame me?!?) and I stopped exercising. Granted, I’ve also had a number of new health problems, so eating a donut is really the least of my worries.

Anyway, this is all to say that on Tuesday I started texting my weight loss and gains to my friend S, and even though I had a donut this week despite knowing I’d be telling her my weight gain the next day, having an accountability partner is super motivating. I’ve been drinking more water, I’ve been (mostly) more deliberate about what I’m eating, and most of all, it’s encouraging to know that someone else is struggling and fighting temptation along with me.

What else helps me? This smart scale and app. My previous scale was really hard to read and didn’t display ounces. When you’re trying to lose weight, every lost ounce is a victory. I use the app to track my weight loss, and it’s extremely motivating to view the downward trend. The other thing that helps is a water bottle with a straw, similar to this one. I know it sounds ridiculous that a water bottle with a straw would make a difference in how much water you consume, but I find that it’s much easier to drink a lot of water with a straw. (Insert shrug emoji!) And a bonus of drinking lots of water is more steps on the way to the bathroom! And the last thing that helps is the WaterMinder app that sends me alerts throughout the day, reminding me to, yes, drink more water.

If you ever want an accountability partner, let me know! I’m always up for it!

9 Minutes

A friend recently posted an image on Facebook about how to be a better parent and it included the tip that there are nine minutes of the day that have the most impact on children: the three minutes after waking up, the three minutes when they return home from school, and the last three minutes before they go to sleep. I can’t find any articles that support this from a science or psychology perspective (just other blog posts), but I think it is sage advice that not only applies to parenting but relationships as well.

Have you ever answered your partner’s phone call with a perfunctory “what” or “yes”? Or as soon as your partner walks in the door asked them to immediately take care of a chore, like take out the trash, empty the cat’s litter box, or deal with the kids, instead of simply saying hello? Me. I am guilty of this.

When I saw that Facebook post about those nine important minutes, I decided to implement this not only with my children, but with my husband, and my co-workers as well. At work this translates to saying hi before launching into a rant, being deliberately pleasant at the beginning and end of the work day, and ending the week with positive words. At home this means I don’t disappear as soon as my husband gets home even though my inclination is to let him deal with the kids, who are inevitably cranky in the witching hour that is 5-7 p.m. This means saying goodnight, even if he’s working late and I’m feeling too lazy to leave our bed to climb a single flight of stairs to give him a kiss. In other words, I’m just trying to be a better human.

And with the kids, I’m trying to be more present, especially at bedtime. I’m trying not to rush through stories and songs and snuggles even though there are dishes and laundry and thoughtless reality TV shows calling my name. I’m not usually home when they wake up, or when Future President gets home from school, so I’m focusing my efforts on bedtime. I think it’s making a difference.

Happy Friday, friends.



Yesterday as I drove home, I calculated whether I could take some more Tylenol as soon as I arrived, or whether I would have to wait for another hour or two. I had to wait, so I made supper for the kids and counted down the minutes until I could get a tiny little bit of relief from my neck pain and headache.

I looked at the calendar while warming up the kids’ leftover pizza, and I realized in the next month I have four doctors appointments. I feel like this has been the story of my life. Besides chronic pain, I have a number of other medical issues, and one of them includes getting hearing aids in April.

But life goes on, despite the pain. Some days I feel like I am just barely making it, and look forward to the kids’ bedtime, when I can stretch out on the couch, my head tilted to the left in the only stretch that gets my spasming muscle to relax.

Living with chronic pain is a daily battle, but I’ve found that if I look for outlets that make me happy and fit into my crazy work/parenting schedule, I have some distractions that keep my mind off the pain. For me, it’s reading, watching Top Chef and Project Runway, and most recently, telling everyone I know about EVER.

My friend Sarah introduced me to EVER, and at first I was dubious. I am always, always skeptical of multi-level marketing, but because Sarah is an intelligent woman, a mom, and a physician, I gave her products a second look. Then she sent me samples, and that was it. I was all in.

At first, I signed up to sell EVER just to get the discounts offered to “specialists,” but then I decided to try my hand at selling it. And while I acknowledge that it is indeed a multi-level marketing company, I also am 100% behind the product I’m selling. Right now, I’m using the face wash and exfoliating peel pads and my skin already feels amazing. Next, I’ll buy the overnight facial oil and eye wrinkle smoother as those were two products Sarah let me sample that seriously made a difference in just a couple of uses.

I set up a Facebook Group called Baked Tofu & a Beauty Routine where I plan to post about the nutritarian lifestyle I’ve fully embraced, as well as EVER. Let me know if you have any questions about plant-based eating, or the EVER products, and I’ll be happy to answer them!