Ericka is a Kansas City, African-American blogger. Her favorite things are: tacos, watching "The Big Bang Theory," and spending time with her family.

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3 Tips You Need To Know Before You Buy A New Mattress

These tips were provided by CertiPUR-US.

May is Better Sleep Month and to celebrate I’ll be sharing a few posts about getting a better night’s sleep.

The right mattress is synonymous with good sleep and helps you wake up feeling rested and refreshed. Sleeping on the wrong mattress can cause sleeplessness, back pain, aches and pains, and can be a contributing cause to health problems.

I suffer from back pain that stemmed from carrying oversized rucksacks during basic training when I first joined the Army. The pain got worse over the years and nowadays I have to be very careful of what type of mattress I sleep on.

I’m desperately in need of a new bed and have been searching for mattresses for months. With the range of choices and the sheer number of models available, finding the right mattress can seem more daunting than buying an automobile or insurance plan.

These four tips you need to know before you buy a new mattress can help you navigate the route to a better night’s sleep:

  • Look “under the hood.” How a mattress “feels” varies widely among innerspring, foam, gel, pillow top, airbeds, adjustables or hybrids. Do your research and enlist a salesperson to explain the different styles and how they compare in terms of comfort, support, durability, and performance.
  • Test-drive or order on-line… these days it’s your choice. Lying on a variety of mattresses to see what feels just right to you can still the best way to determine your best sleep surface. That said, many consumers like the convenience of buying a “bed in a box.” If you order on-line, be sure you understand shipping and return policies.
  • Size matters. If you are sharing your bed, make you have turning room. A healthy person moves 40 to 60 times a night and makes lots of full-body turns. A bigger bed will give you and your turning partner the freedom of motion you both need for a sound sleep. Need to measure your room first? These dimensions will come in handy:

Twin 39” x 75”
Twin XL     39” x 80”
Full 54” x 75”
Full XL 54” x 80”
Queen 60” x 80”
King 76” x 80”
Calif. King   72” x 84”

  • Be sure it contains certified foam. Consumers who care about what’s in the products they bring into their home are increasingly demanding that the foam in their mattresses and pillows be certified through the CertiPUR-US® program, a foam certification program for bedding and upholstered furniture administered by a not-for-profit organization. Certified foams meet strict standards for content, emissions, and durability and are tested and analyzed by independent, accredited testing laboratories. To find companies and brands offering mattresses containing certified foam, check this list: Pretty much, most of the mattress brands you’re familiar with are certified.

When you consider that we spend about third of our lives in bed – and the quality of that time affects our waking hours as well – it pays to invest time and care in choosing the right mattress.


New: Weekly Grocery Haul 3/11/17

On Snapchat I always post snaps of my grocery trips but never include a breakdown. I usually just show what I purchased and say the total. I started receiving snaps asking questions about what I got and how I did it, how much a certain item cost and etc.

After receiving those messages I decided it would probably be a good idea to start sharing my trips on the website and start a Weekly Grocery Haul category.

I usually spend anywhere from $25 to $50 a week on groceries. My budget used to be $150 monthly, but I increased it to $200 because I stopped eating a lot of processed foods (I still eat them). Most of the food that I buy is fresh or organic and those foods cost a little more. I also don’t eat a lot of meat, but when I do it has to be free of synthetic substances, chemicals, GMOs, or antibiotics, and grown in sustainable environments. Every once in awhile I’ll eat whatever while out and about but I usually cook most of the time.

This trip is my second trip for the month, last week I spent around $25. I hit a lot of sales the last week of February so I didn’t have to get a lot. I ended up spending a total of $43.38 but was actually $41.38 minus the $2.00 milk bottle deposit (I turned in my old bottle). I shopped at four different stores. I do this to save money, and the stores are not far from each other.


Total= $11.19 ($10.57 value $0.62 tax) 

  • $0.99 Celery
  • $2.00 Navel Oranges (I got 10) 5/$1
  • $1.00 Red Bell Peppers 2/$1
  • $2.24 Pink Lady Apples
  • $2.40 Fuji Apples
  • $2.00 Dole Classic Romaine Salad Blend
  • $0.69 Yellow Mustard


  • $0.75 off Dole Salad

Dollar Tree

Total= $3.16 ($3.00 value $0.16 tax)

  • $1.00 Sara Lee Bread
  • $1.00 Mayonnaise
  • $1.00 Sweet Relish

The only time I really get condiments from Dollar Tree is when I don’t see anything on sale when I search the grocery sales ads. Bread wasn’t on the list but I got some because I decided I’m going to make tuna sandwiches this upcoming week.

Price Chopper

Total= $14.86 ($12.24 value $0.72 tax +$2.00 bottle deposit)

Did you know when you shop at Price Chopper with your own bags you get a “sack refund” of $0.05 cents per bag? I used two bags and got $0.10 cents back. I also turned in my previous bottle from Shatto and got a two dollar deposit. I’m not a big milk fan, but when I buy it I only use Shatto.

  • $1.99 Shatto 2% Milk
  • $2.00 Milk Bottle Deposit
  • $0.39 ea. Crushed Tomatoes (2 cans)
  • $0.39 ea. Diced Tomatoes no salt (2 cans)
  • $0.39 ea. Pinto Beans unsalted (2 cans)
  • $0.39 ea. Black Beans unsalted (4 cans)
  • $0.39 Light Red Kidney Beans
  • $0.39 Dark Red Kidney Beans
  • $0.49 ea. Chicken Of The Sea Tuna (4 cans)
  • $0.90 Ginger Root
  • $1.00 Grapefruit 2/$1
  • $0.71 Onion
  • $1.00 Welches Fruit Snacks 2/$1 (not pictured)


Total= $14.17 ($13.39 value $0.78 tax)

  • $1.99 ea. Pineapple (2)
  • $0.33 lb. Bananas (3.15 lbs $1.16)
  • $1.98 Green Grapes Bag
  • $1.29 Blueberries
  • $0.99 Strawberries
  • $3.99 Medium Shrimp

I get a lot of my produce from ALDI or the farmers market. In the spring/ summer/ fall, I mostly shop at the farmers market. If you’ve never shopped at ALDI check out my post ” How To Shop At ALDI,” it has everything you need to know about shopping at and navigating the store and you can also check out my post “The Best Items To Buy At ALDI.” ALDI isn’t the cheapest store for everything, but this list will show you some of the best items to get.

Most of the sales are going on now so you still have a chance to take advantage of them this weekend. I already have items purchased from previous weeks that I’ll be incorporating in my meal prep. This upcoming week I plan on making tuna sandwiches, shrimp salad, and the usual sweet potatoes, veggies, grilled chicken breast, smoothies, and fresh juices. Can’t wait to see what I score in next week’s grocery haul!

If you don’t follow me on Snapchat you should, that’s where all of the fun happens: randomericka


“Obviously” New Year, New You Giveaway

Hotel Sorella Kansas City, thanks for sponsoring today’s post and hosting an amazing giveaway!

Update: Congrats to the winner Veronica R. enjoy your gift card!

Start the New Year with a brand new perspective—in a brand new location. Leave your 2016 worries at home and celebrate the New Year with adventure and flair courtesy of is one of the world’s leading hotel booking sites, offering rates at various hotels across the globe for a fraction of the cost than booking directly with the hotel. has offers such as daily deals, last minutes deals, and global travel deals, it’s hard not to walk away from the site without a steal.

The hotel booking company is offering the gift of experience with a gift card—a gift you can’t grow tired of, break, or outgrow.

A gift card presents the perfect opportunity to start the New Year off right with a romantic getaway with a significant other, a family vacation, or a well-deserved escape from everyday life.

One lucky “Life of Random” reader will win a $50 gift card!

Entering the giveaway is simple, there are four DIFFERENT ways to enter (each option counts as an entry).

  1. Sign up for my newsletter:
  2. Subscribe to my Channel: Here
  3. Click to Tweet this message: I just entered to win a $50 @hotelsdotcom Gift Card! @randomericka #giveaway #travel #getaway
  4. Leave one comment below in the comment box telling me where you want to go. (End your comment with your name and one social media account name so I can contact you, or make sure when you comment you fill in the section that asks for your email address.)

Entries are open from now until January 23, 2017. Open to the USA and US territories only.

One lucky winner will be chosen randomly and announced on January 24, 2017. The winner has 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be selected.

photo credit: me (at Hotel Sorella)


One Simple Way To Step Up Your Greeting Card Game

Who writes cards anymore? Um, me, I do.

It’s just something about stationery products that drive me crazy. I love cards, journals, pretty pens, stickers, cute little notebooks, basically everything about it.

Every year I try to send each of my friends something throughout the year. The bulk of items usually go out during the holidays.

This year I sent a combination of Kate Spade Holiday cards and Paper Source cards. After I sent them, a few days later I got a text from my best friend saying,

You just made my day Ericka. Thank you very much for taking the time to hand write me a card. The little things mean a lot to me.

Which brings me to my point…one simple way to step up your greeting card game is to:

Personalize it!

That’s really it. Personalize it. There’s nothing like getting a handwritten card or gift from someone you care about (lover, family, friends, etc.).

When choosing cards I always go for high quality cards that are pretty simple and don’t have a lot of writing in them.

The Kate Spade holiday cards purchased this year were my favorite. I really love how pretty they are and each card only has one simple sentence scrawled, which gave me tons of space to write. The Paper Source cards were completely blank so I filled the entire card with words on my mind.

The best way to personalize your card is to add a sincere and heartfelt message. I sat down and took my time to hand write each card. I thought about how the person made me feel and things that I’ve always wanted to say to the individual but never have.

I know sometimes it may seem like you’re lost for words and the greeting card company knows just what to say, but I’ve found it easier to say what I want in my own words. Plus, you’re adding your own flavor to the card and the recipient will know you took time out to express yourself and really care.

If you need help trying to figure out what to write take a sheet of paper and jot down different words that make you think of the person. Think about something they’ve done for you or an experience you’ve shared together or how they make you feel.

After you’ve done that start piecing together sentences. For example it can start as simple as this message to you:

Thank you for supporting my blog these past four years as I’ve jumped from various names and various topics. Thank you for being patient with me as I’ve figured things out in my life and grown. Thank you for not turning your back on me and continuing to visit even when there was no content that captured your eyes. Thank you again for your support “Life of Random” wouldn’t be anything without you! Looking forward to growing with you this upcoming year.

Ericka  🙂



Photo credit: Me.


5 Books To Read When You’re Trying To Upgrade Your Life




  1. raise (something) to a higher standard, in particular improve by adding or replacing components…
When I decided to upgrade my life I didn’t know that I was “upgrading.” I just knew I was tired of the same ol BS. I knew there was something better for me and I knew in order to get it I’d have to do something different.

I decided to take a blogging break and work on me. I started thinking about what I wanted in life.

Hmmmm, Ericka, What do you want in your life? What kind of life do you want to be living? Who do you want in your life? You know, those deep instagram-pictures-with-a-person-looking-super-cute-gazing-out-at-the-horizon-with-a-quote-of-some-sort type questions, lol.

Upgrading your life is a personal choice. It only involves you and that’s really it. Deciding you’re going to do something and do it.

I am a book junkie, I LOVE books! When I buy a house I’m definitely going to have a library. If they got rid of books and only wanted us to use electronic copies I’d be part of the “underground hardcopy book secret society”, lol, my love for books is that serious.

Over the years I’ve curated a plethora of books on various topics and situations and events. I own so many books it was hard to even come up with this list (I guess I’ll post more reading lists).

Here are 5 Books to Read When You’re Trying to Upgrade Your Life:

1. You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life
Ya’ll this book has given me life. Like seriously Jen Sincero was up to something when she wrote this book. I sat down and read it and re-read it and keep it by my side. Why do we doubt or greatness? Why do we allow fear to control us? Why do we care what others thinks about us? These are some of the questions I came up with. This is a must read!

2. Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person

Ok, I’ll admit at first I couldn’t believe that “Superwoman” “#TGIT”  Shonda Rimes was full of fear. In this book she reveals her flaws, insecurities, and weaknesses. She accepted a challenge to say Yes to opportunities and the rest is history. It is a little hard to get into but it’s a great book.

3. “It Always Seems Impossible Until It’s Done.”: Motivation for Dreamers & Doers

If you love quotes this is the book for you! It has motivational quotes and inspiration from various writers, artist, rappers, singers, social activists, philosophers and more. If you need a push throughout the day then scoop this book up.

4. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

Ok, I’ll admit I haven’t read this book yet. It’s been on my wish list for a while and I finally purchased it, and started reading it today. From what I hear it’s a life changer and I like what I’ve read so far.

5. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing

Ok, ya’ll this little book is a life changer. Some of the methods may seem corny (you’ll see when you read it), but it’s worth a try. When you finally declutter your home according to the book you’ll feel a sense of relief and really start to only keep the things you want in your life. Which in turn helps you think clearer and have a more balanced life.

Ok I know I said five books but here are two more on the top of this list…I might add them in another post.

6. You Can Heal Your Life

When I tell ya’ll that this book is a game changer, believe me it is! This book was originally made in  1984, and pretty much every life coach, inspirational guru has learned from this book. She talks about the power of your thoughts. It is a MUST READ!!!

7. The Alchemist

Not everyone will understand this book but when I first read it my life was changed.  Every time I read it I have a new perspective. I know there is a lot of hype about this book. All of the celebrities swear by it, but trust me it really is a great book.

I have so many books that could have gone on this list, but I’ll keep this as it is. I didn’t go into detail on each book because I want you to discover these things on your own. I hope that these books can help you along your journey.

Are there any books that you think should have gone on the list? Comment below and let me know!