Living Without Water

We had something kind of funny happen to us. We were remolding our kitchen and it was time for the hole for the sink in the counter top to happen. All was going well until the guys realized the hole was too big. We tried to fix it with just buying a bigger sink, but the hole was too big in a way we couldn’t find one. So we had to buy another counter. No big deal. It was just a trip to Lowe’s. The part that was interesting was the fact the guy helping us was not able to stay and try to cut the hole again and he wasn’t sure when he could come back. Guess what that meant. Yup, no sink in my kitchen.

It was interesting, but it helped me grasp a new appreciation for the running water in my house. All the time we heard about these countries who don’t have clean drinking water. The speakers will usually show a video of some poor kids with sad faces, we give money towards the cause and then go home and take a long hot shower or something with water. We have little idea just how important water is to people here in America because we have it literally on tap whenever we want it.

What if we didn’t? Now, I had water in other places in my house so I wasn’t completely without water, but I had lost for three days my main water source. I had to get really creative in order to do food and clean up without a kitchen sink. I bought two five gallon buckets to wash dishes in and was going to have to fill them up by the patio hose since it would be “too hard” to do it in the shower or another faucet. I was all prepared to do it Little House on the Prairie style, but there was something we have in America that those who don’t have water don’t have. My husband and I decided to just buy two Costco pizzas and a pack of paper plates. It got us through and we were tried of pizza by the done it was all done.

But what is my point? The point is that you can’t appreciate something really until you don’t have it anymore. I just got a taste of what it’s like… Okay more like a nibble of what’s like for people all over the world who don’t have running water in there house. Heck for those don’t have clean drinking water. At least all my water was drinkable and we had our fridge to get our filtered drinking water from. So many people don’t have anything, and it humbled my heart to actually put myself in their shoes.

Now I am not saying shut all your water off just because not everyone in the world has it, but I am saying to really be thankful you can turn a knob and clean drinkable water comes out. I know I do now and I wasn’t as grateful for it before. I expected it to be there, but, after this experience, I know now to always be thankful for it because in the blink of an eye it could be gone.

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Things to Know Before Buying a Horse

There is honestly nothing better than owning a horse. They are best friends on four legs that you can have amazing adventures with in ways you can’t with other pets. The bond with a horse is much more special than that of another pet. But there is so much more to owning a horse than a dog or cat and considerations need to made before you go horse shopping. Here are some things that will make it easier and you smarter when you go to find the best friend you will ever have.

Let me give you a little background on myself. I was able to have my first horse at the age of nine and have been in the horse world in some fashion for almost twenty years. My disciplines included endurance, western pleasure, English pleasure, and jumping which I scored well in local shows.

Here we are at my first riding lesson. Aren’t we cute? 🙂

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Below is a picture of my horse and I guiding a trail ride at a local ranch.

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And even though this horse looks a lot like my horse, I am riding a friend’s horse in a fifty mile endurance race.

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All this to say that I am familiar with many disciplines and training styles when it comes to horse ownership. Now lets dive into the  things you need to know to own a horse.

First, you have to make the choice of where the horse will be living. Many people want  a horse but can’t have it on their property so they have to shop for a barn or stable to board their horse. Thankfully there are many options for boarding, but not all barns are equal because boarding fees are not the same for the same services across the board.

Make sure that you are paying the right price for the services you are looking for. Are you wanting to have the barn feed your horse and turn them out while cleaning their stalls and other duties? Or are you simply looking for a pasture to put the horse and you do all the work? Make sure you are not paying the prime price that an all inclusive stable will charge but only getting a pasture. Shop around. Go to the barns and see what you are paying for. Because the flip side can happen where you are thinking you are getting a great deal on boarding, but the level of service is terrible.

Take the two barns above. Which one would you be drawn toward? The one on the left right? Well what if I told you that the one on the right was the one that offered all inclusive treatment, has the experienced staff, and is actually cheaper than the one on left that only offers one feeding a day and not extra treatment? The reason you can’t judge a place by it’s cover is because things aren’t always what they seem.

Wherever you board you horse there are certain things that have to be there for the barn to acceptable.

  1. Safe fence lines
  2. Clean water bins
  3. Clean food bins
  4. Clean stalls
  5. Friendly and experienced staff and property owner
  6. Clean location for the feed that is free of vermin and out of the weather
  7. Not having too many horses in one pasture (think 2 horses per quarter acre pen)
  8. A stable (I mean structurally not necessarily a stable) shelter for the horse to get out of the weather
  9. Accessibility to the pasture from the feed room or tack room. Is the pasture close or far away?
  10. Are there people on site all the time?

These aren’t all the questions to ask but they will open up the conversation for things to make sure the facility has to make sure it is the best place for you horse. One other thing that you need to be aware of is the many barns have waiting lists so make sure you have a spot before you buy the horse and not the other way around.

Now if you are planning on housing the horse on your property, then many of the things above will be needed.

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  1. Safe fencing
  2. Clean water
  3. Clean food
  4. Adequate room to move around
  5. Ideal location where you can see some part of the pasture at all times and not at the bottom of a hill where you aren’t going to want to go down all the time to see the horse
  6. Shelter
  7. And anything else you come across when doing your research on horse care

These things are not cheap and require money to complete. And it can be that you will have to set the horse area up and then have to save again for the actual horse. I would suggest that because it is better to have the place all set up before you bring a horse in the mix instead of having a below par facility that can hurt you horse and cause you more bills with a vet bill. So make sure which ever way you go with housing for your horse make sure is  the setup is complete before you bring a horse into the mix.

The next thing that needs to be considered is transportation. What kind of horse trailer do you need? This is personal opinion but there are a couple questions to consider.

  1. Does it hold enough horses for what I have?
  2. Does it fit the vehicle I have?

These are two questions that are not considered until you have to pick it up and find out your F-150 can’t tow a three-horse horse trailer. So make sure the trailer and the vehicle are big enough for what you need.

Next is pick a good vet. Do some research and ask people about their vets to find out who is a vet and who might not be the best vet. You can also search online for a vet near you but make sure that you do extra research on them. It might take a few tries to find the right vet but having a good vet is vital when owning a horse because a good vet will save you money and a bad vet will cost you money.

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Good vets do what they can to save the owner money by only suggesting things that the horse absolutely needs. You can trust that the vet isn’t trying to money tap you just to make more money by suggesting test after test. A bad vet doesn’t have as much integrity. They will be more apt to suggest unwanted tests for your horse and in turn cost you money. So make sure you can really trust your vet.

Along the same lines of a vet is a farrier. Find a good farrier who will listen you and do exactly what you want. We have been blessed with awesome farriers but you have to do your diligence to make sure that the farrier is experienced, kind, and gentle so that they can work with your horse and you don’t have to worry about your horse being mistreated.

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For the vet and the farrier I would suggest you try to find them before you buy your horse. Because nothing is worse than having a medical or shoe issue and not have anyone to call for help. So shop around and find these people.

Also having these people in line can work in your favor because they are a part of your horse network and might know the right place for you to find your horse. If a vet knows someone who is selling a horse he or she has treated for years, then you have an upper hand since the vet knows the medical record of the horse and where the horse has come from. Having a horse network is very important since horse ownership can be scary if you don’t have a support system there to back you up.

One last person I would suggest having in place is a horse trainer or riding instructor. This person is going to be your biggest help when entering the horse world. They will be the ones who will be able to give the most advice about a vet and a farrier, and they can even help find the right horse for you. Take them with you if you can when you go horse shopping and seek their opinion on the horse and whether or not it is a good fit for you.

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My trainer was a big part of my riding career and I have had many in my lifetime depending on where I was in my disciplines. I started out western, went English, back to western and then finished in trail, and I had a trainer for all those disciplines. Did they have different opinions? Oh yeah! Oh yeah! But all those opinions can be good because you get a taste of everything to make up your own idea of what a horse person is. I value all my trainers and still look up to them this day.

How are you doing? Do you have these things in place? Good news is that you are ready to start shopping for a horse. But which one? I will give you a couple of tips when shopping for a horse to help you know if the horse you are looking at is your next best friend.

  1. Make sure the horse’s and your ability match
  2. A good age for most horses are 15 years old
  3. Pick the right breed of horse for what you want to do
  4. Mare or gelding?
  5. Tall or short?
  6. And don’t just shop by the color of the horse

I know this sounds like a lot of things to keep in line but they are all needed when owning a horse. They are a big project and aren’t as simple as getting a cat or a dog. So do your homework and before you know it you will be the proud owner of the most beautiful creature on the planet.

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5 Reasons to Get a Corgi

If you are searching for a dog breed, look no further than the Pembroke Welsh Corgi! They the best breed of dog for companionship, family and fun. I have the privilege of having a Smithshire Glen Corgis. Check them out here. They have nothing but the top line Corgis who are sweet and perfect for your next pet.

But I am just not here to tell that you should get a Corgi without proof. These dogs are the best. Don’t believe me? Here are a few of the reasons why I will not own anything but a Corgi ever again.

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  • Lovable

Corgis are the most lovable dog you will meet. They only want to be with their people and have a good belly rub. I mean look at my Corgi just chilling out with me on the couch. Can you get any more lovable?

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  • Loyal

These dogs are super loyal. They love the attention of people but their person is number one in their lives. They will do anything for you once they have established you as their person and family. For example, my Corgi stays right by my side all the time. Even after visiting the restroom I open the door she is there. Another example is that if there is a dog that she feels is going to threaten me, she has the bark of a dog three times her size. I don’t have to worry about a dog messing with me or her when she is in protection mode.

  • Easy to Train

I have had quite a few dog breeds in the my life but none of them have been as easy to train as my Corgi. One thing that is nice about having a dog that is lovable and loyal is that they want to please. They want to be good and have their person happy with them. Since they have the loyalty in their nature so training recall is very easy, and they love to learn new things.

Now that does not mean that they don’t have their own brains and can be naughty, but their turn around time for stopping unwanted behavior is really fast.

  • Smart

Since they are so easy to train, it means that Corgis are very smart and know exactly what they want and how to get it. If our Corgi thinks that we are spending too much time with our daughter, she will go and try anything to get our attention. It isn’t necessarily and bad thing. I mean a few crayons have bit the dust, but she is also super goofy and makes of laugh.

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As you can see in the photo, our Corgi is one that is no short supply of making you smile. If you are having a hard day, there is nothing that will cheer you up as your bouncing Corgi greeting you on the other side of front door.

  • Compact Size

I love my Corgi’s size. It was one the first things I was drawn to the breed. Females run a little smaller than males and each breeding line will have variables in the size but according to akc.org the Corgi ranges in height at the shoulders 10-1 inches and males up to 30 pounds and females up to 28 pounds. So if you are looking for a smaller dog who still has a brain, I would suggest the Corgi.

  • Even Temperament

This was the major seller for me on the Corgi. They are an amazing even temperament and are really great with kids. My daughter is one that not all dog breeds would put up with but our Corgi is so patient.

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As you can see they are buddies and love to play together. Our Corgi has never bit or nipped at our daughter and simply walks away from her when she has had enough. Now you have to make sure that the Corgi you get fits your family because there are more patient corgis than others, but overall I have not found a Corgi who doesn’t love to be around kids.

  • Only Down Side? Shedding

Is there a downside to Corgis? Yes… They shed. A lot. I have brush our Corgi once a week to keep the shedding under control. But if you get a fine comb like a FURminator (no affiliate) the situation is much easy to contain.

So there you have it. All my reasons for why I will never get another dog breed but a Corgi. Oh! I forgot one other reason. They are sooooo cute! Don’t you agree? So do some reach and find your perfect Corgi match today!

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How to Make Vegetable Broth

Living life can get busy. Yeah, really busy. But I have to make time to what I love. Jam and homemade veggie broth and soup are my new obsessions right now with the colder weather setting in. They are supper easy and there is little you can do to mess it up, which works for a busy mom like me. But today I want to share with you my secret on making the best veggie both for soups.

Things needed:

  • 1 Gallon Zipper Bag
  • Veggie Scraps
  • Big enough pot
  • As much water as needed to cover scrap
  • Cheese Cloth
  • Strainer
  • 1 Tbsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Powder
  1. First you need to collect your scraps. Depending on how much veggies you eat this could take a couple of days or weeks, but get enough to fill a zipper bag.
  2. Once the bag is full, get out a large pot and fill it with water just enough to cover the scrapes with water.
  3. Put on the stove to a medium boil for thirty-forty minutes.
  4. Let cool until broth is workable.
  5. Place strainer in a large bowl or another pot to catch the broth, and line with cheese cloth.
  6. Pour broth into the lined strainer.
  7. Squeeze remaining broth out of the veggies by wrapping them in the cheese cloth. Throw cheese clothed item away.
  8. Return broth back to the stove and add the seasonings. I like as strong so add the seasonings in 1/2 teaspoon at a time until the flavor you want is there. You can also add spices like cumin, cayenne, and oregano if desired. Let the broth boil another ten minutes.

And you’re done. You just saved yourself a lot of money and this veggie broth will taste better than anything you will fin the store. Happy cooking!

 

 

5 Tips: How to Live Without Dairy

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If you are reading this, then you are one of the many that have been told they cannot have dairy. I am sorry in one way because, as an avid lover of all things dairy, it was hard when I was told that I couldn’t have dairy. But I have some great news! Your life is actually about to change for the better. I thought that not being able to have dairy was going to ruin my life, but I am happy to say that isn’t the case. Here are my 5 tips to make the transition to becoming dairy free and living without it.

 

Tip #1: Get It Out of Your House trash can

Throw away all dairy in your house now. Don’t just think that you can slowly eat through it. I know that you spent money on it and that is important. You can check out my blog on saving money here, here, and here as a couple of examples. So I totally get the money part, but your health is more important. So throw out everything now that has dairy in your house.

Tip #2: Go Out and Buy Things You Can Have

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Now here is the fun part – Shopping! I was nervous at first when I had to switch since I thought that I would have to live without so much but these days are the best days to be dairy free because there are so many options! There’s vegan butter, cream cheese, cheese, and alternative milks. I can still bake, have a bagel and a grilled cheese relatively easy with all the alternatives that are out there.

My favorite place to shop in my are is Sprouts due to the fact that they have the best selection for dairy free items. One brand I love is Daiya. They have the cheeses covered. Earth Balance has the butter. And SoDelicious has many milk options. So there shouldn’t be much fear in feeling like you are missing out on anything. There is a slight taste difference but after a few tries you won’t be able to tell the difference.

Tip #3: Learn to Cook

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This tip is one that wasn’t hard for me since I loved cooking anyway. “But Gracelyn you just said there are so many options out there. Do I really need to cook from scratch?” The answer is yes. I still have to make many things from scratch since I have alter recipes on a regular basis. There are a lot of options out there, but much of it has to be pieced together so learning cook will be a skill you will have to gain if you don’t have it already.

Tip #4: Learn to Make Things Yourself

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This goes beyond cooking. Making things yourself means making your own coconut milk like I show you in this video here and making your other alternatives like butter and cream cheese since eating all the alternatives from the store can get expensive. So to cut the cost down, it’s time to awaken that DIY person inside you and find recipes that will help you stay true to your restrictions, but save money as well.

Tip #5: Hit Pinterest!

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I didn’t really understand the glory of Pinterest at first. Then I had to be dairy free, and a whole new world opened up for me. I have found many dairy free things that I thought were going to be lost forever. You can find recipes for ice cream, like I said butter and cheese, soups, and even Alfredo sauce that even my dairy loving husband said was amazing. So, if you don’t have one, get a Pinterest account and start searching. You will be surprised and relieved at what you will find.

Yay! 5 easy tips on how to be Dairy free. I hope these helped and comment below on any goodies you know on your own journey of being dairy free. Have a great day! 🙂

 

Why You Should Homeschool? Let Me Tell You!

It’s coming up. That time where you as a parent have to decide what is the best schooling option for your child. It’s hard that’s for sure. I am looking into that right now with my little one getting ready for kindergarten. Public? Private? Homeschool? It can be too much at times. But then I stop and take a deep breath. What is the most important thing here? It is that my child gets a good education.

One thing I have learned though is that the more I look into public and private schools, the more I want to do what family and my husband’s family did growing up – homeschool. Why? I’ll give you some examples.

Scheduling and Location

There is nothing better than the homeschool schedule. Why? There literally isn’t one. You can school your child when you are able or their activities allow. For once your life can run itself and the school system doesn’t. I remember road trips in the middle of February to see my grandparents and it didn’t matter because we were able to take our school with us.

With homeschooling the whole world is the classroom. The parents are free to teach their kids the skills they will need in life and not what the school system they have to only learn. You can teach math while cooking or changing the oil on the car with your kids for example on top of the state required material. They have the chance to engage in activities that other kids don’t because they aren’t in a classic classroom all day.

I was able to compete on my horses and train during what would be considered “school time”. But since I was homeschooled, I was able to get a jump start on everyone else. My schedule was get up at 5:00am and school until 10:00am. Then I would have the rest of the day to train my horses, play, read, or do whatever I wanted since I would have all my studies done before most kids had first recess.

Teaches Children Self Regulation

One thing that I loved about homeschooling was the fact I was in control for most of it. We had a program that all my teachers were on DVD. Check out the program here! So I would just watch them, do the assignments or tests, and my mother would grade them via their rubric. But that wasn’t always the case. When my mom first started schooling us, she was the teacher, but in many ways we were still in control based on our efforts. If I understood a concept then there wasn’t much discussion needed or we were able to move ahead. It puts that feeling of “you get what you put in” for the child.

Now I could have made it difficult on my mom and schooling would take forever and in the beginning it did until I learned the secret. Once kids learn they are responsible for how the day goes then they are quick to get their school done and out of the way for the day.

Because self regulation is a skill children will need in the real world when it comes to college and work. My classmates in college would look down on me as if I didn’t know anything because I was homeschool but I was my professor’s favorite student. I was able to time mange, get my assignments done, pay attention, and be self motivated to do well in the class. I never had to tell my professors that I was homeschooled because they all guessed, and they were always impressed.

Curriculum Freedom

The number one reason that families homeschool has to do with what is being taught in the schools. It is the number one concern for me. There is so much with Common Core that I am just not thrilled with and I don’t want to teach my daughter the concepts that way. But with homeschooling, you have the freedom to pick the curriculum that works for your child.

The child will have the chance to thrive because the parent can take the time to search and try new things that a public or private school teacher can’t. Could you imagine a public school teacher trying to teach a concept twenty different ways? No that is nuts, but a homeschool parent can because they only have one (unless you are blessed with twins or more) child in a certain grade at a time.

For example, I did go to public school for kindergarten but they missed that I wasn’t strong in math. I missed a concept back in kindergarten that I faked until I got to fifth grade and failed long division. My mom couldn’t understand why. Something was wrong but she didn’t know what. So she took the time to have me go through this new program and sure enough they found the problem all the way back to when I was learning basic subtraction like 1-1=0. (If you are interested, here is the program)

Now I wasn’t dumb. Math still isn’t my favorite subject, but since I was homeschooled, my mom was able to take that time and go back to where I missed the mark. A public school teacher can’t always do that. They have too many kids to worry about that many kids, like me, just have to fake until they make it, and aren’t able to be invested in like a homeschool kid.

More Summer Vacation

This was the bet part or homeschooling. Believe it or not the school year is only 180 days. that’s the amount of school time a kid needs to do in a year. Why in the world the school year goes from August to June I will never know. I always started the day after Labor day and was out the end of April. Here’s why – national holidays. There are so many national holidays that the kids don’t need to take off. The other thing is that sick days don’t matter. If anything we always used sick days as an excuse to  get more school work done so we could get out faster. All we have to prove is that we did 180 days worth of work. Sounds pretty good huh? So the kids might not get the national holidays as much but they will get a longer summer and I would trade a five month summer for two weeks off at Christmas.

Did That Help the Decision?

I hope that helped with your decision on whether or not to homeschool. Every family is different and so is very kid. I may end up putting my daughter in a public school for her first couple of years but she is a singleton and social is important. Actually in homeschool it it VITAL! The most vital part. If the kids don’t get the real world exposure then all the things they learned at home is void. They might be able to balance a budget and work a computer enough to be an executive assistant but they have the people skills of an ant then it’s all for nothing. The point of school is to give an education to children so they can succeed in life.

So to all parents who are looking to homeschool DO NOT FORGET SOCIALIZATION. It’s important. Get them into recreational sports, animals like horses, 4H, youth groups, music like orchestra, book clubs, chess clubs, motorcycle clubs like dirt bikes, BMX and any others you might think of. Learn what your kid likes and do that. Because the kids do need to be well rounded.

The good news is that, if you homeschool right, you won’t just have a well rounded kid, but one that surpass others around them. So have fun and enjoy homeschooling!

*Disclaimer – the links are unaffiliated and no payment was exchanged in their use. I just really love the programs.*

 

 

 

Diva Cup Review

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The Diva Cup is great idea. It can save a lot of money and is good for the environment. Since it is made of silicone it can be better for you too since who knows what is in a tampon or pad? But that’s about all that was good for the Diva Cup involving my use of it.

   *Disclaimer* This post is of graphic material and may not be suited for young children. I have also not been paid for this review and hold all rights to post it.

So, how did I like the Diva Cup? I loved the idea behind it. I mean bye bye tampons and pads. What wasn’t there to like or to go buy one? For one they are expensive. Mine was $40 and it took me months to finally justify spending that much when money was tight. The only way I could justify it was because it promised to save me money.

I looked at the packaging and saw that I would need a size 2 since I had had a vaginal delivery and everything seemed pretty easy. I get it home and read the cleaning and use instructions. Seemed pretty straight forward. So I cleaned it according the instructions and inserted it per the instructions. What happened?

Well first, the thing leaked horribly. I took it out and reinserted it many times but no position made it work. I looked for help from the company and all the advice was I was doing something wrong. Some help. (More on their customer service in a minute.)

It was also very uncomfortable when inserted. I could feel the whole thing so I once again took it out and put it back in. I tried the C-fold, the single fold, put the thing tipped back toward my tailbone, not toward my tailbone. I think you are getting the point. It was like having four tampons in and then having them expand. That alone was making it not worth it.

Not only did the thing leak, but, the first time I used it, I got a bladder infection right after. I had only used it one day and it cause me to have a bladder infection. The second time I used it I got a nasty yeast infection that my doctor said only comes from using these cups. I assured her I boiled and cleaned the thing after using it per the instructions and she assured me that it is because of the silicone there is no way to get it fully clean. So I am just too sensitive to use the cup due to the fact that any bacteria will give me some kind of an infection. None of which is on the label as a warning that something like that can happen.

My last issue with the Diva Cup was with the company. Being discouraged, I went to their website for help. Turns out I am not the only one who can’t seem to get the thing to not leak or be comfortable. That made me happy, but what didn’t was the reply from the company.

On every single cry for help it pretty much just said, “there is nothing wrong with the product. The problem is completely with you”. Seriously? There is no way on God’s green earth it could be the product?

According to that statement, all their frustrated and discouraged customers are just dumb and incompetent to use the cup. I was rather offended since there is no one size fits all for people even though the company does make two sizes. Not every vagina is the same, and there is no way a company can just say that if a customer (paying customer by the way) is saying they have tried all the tips and nothing is helping that there is nothing wrong with the product. It should say on the box “may not be suitable for everyone” because it did not work for me. I am jealous for those women who they do work for because the cup would be a real money and earth saver.

So I would suggest that you look at another menstrual cup company and not try the Diva Cup. Go online and find another company who understands the woman body a little better and cares about its customers. Don’t waste your time trying to make the Diva Cup work.