Thursday, August 29, 2013

Season of a Lifetime (Movie Review)

*Disclosure- I received a screener of the movie from Edify Media for the purpose of putting together this review. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the movie:


Jeremy Williams, coach of the Greenville Patriots, felt like his football players were becoming overconfident, so he prayed for adversity. What he got was not what he expected. After a thumb injury he had wasn't healing properly he found out that he had ALS (Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) more commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, an ailment that is always fatal, most of the time in a very painful way. Coach William's did not let his diagnosis stop him from leading his team and making them into better players and men that year. Season of a Lifetime is a documentary that follows Coach William's during the 2010 season with the Patriots and shows how he deals with adversity and trials both on and off of the field.


My thoughts:

When I first began watching this movie, I knew that Jeremy Williams and family seemed rather familiar. Toward the end of the documentary, there was a segment about their time on Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I happened to have seen that episode and immediately remembered what a likeable family this was and how many personal trials they have had to get through as a family. This movie shows how tenacious Mr. Williams is as he not only leads his football team while battling ALS, but also speaking at various churches. He could have retired when he got his diagnosis and everyone would have understood, the battle he had ahead of him was a big one, but not Jeremy, he wanted to see through what he had started with his football team. His wife, Jennifer, talks onscreen about how when he told her about his diagnosis with ALS, he told her they would just cry about it this once and move on. This speaks volumes as to his character. This man clearly has a deep faith in God and knows that while he is still alive, he has God's work to get done and is constantly trying to fulfill his purpose. This is a very uplifting documentary. The Williams' family is an inspiration. You can tell they really love each other, are all full of a wonderful hope in God and all do what they can to help each other out. This is a story that needs to be told and I am so glad that it was. There are also some extra features on this movie that are worth a watch. There is a little segment about Extreme Makeover Home Edition, a piece about Jeremy's Days as a college football player and several other short extras to watch. I think anyone who likes a documentary or an uplifting story about faith through adversity would enjoy Season of a Lifetime.


Check out the trailer for Season of a Lifetime below:



Connect with Season of a Lifetime on Facebook
Season of a Lifetime website

Season of a Lifetime is now available on DVD!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt (Book Review)

*Disclosure- I received a complimentary e-arc of the book from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book:

Newbery medalist Cynthia Voigt is back with a rollicking mystery in three acts!

Max's parents are missing. They are actors, and thus unpredictable, but sailing away, leaving Max with only a cryptic note, is unusual even for them. Did they intend to leave him behind? Have they been kidnapped? 

Until he can figure it out, Max feels it's safer to keep a low profile. Hiding out is no problem for a child of the theater. Max has played many roles, he can be whoever he needs to be to blend in. But finding a job is tricky, no matter what costume he dons. Ironically, it turns out Max has a talent for finding things. He finds a runaway child, a stray dog, a missing heirloom, a lost love. . . . So is he a finder? A detective? No, it's more. Max finds a way to solve people's problems--he engineers better outcomes for them. He becomes Mister Max, Solutioneer.

Now if only he could find a solution to his own problems ...

My thoughts:

 I thought this was such a cute book. I am ashamed to say I haven't heard of Cynthia Voigt before I came across Mister Max on NetGalley, but she had me at "Newbery Medal." I love the way that Mister Max is presented. Since his parents are actors (and so he is as well, naturally) instead of being divided into chapters the book is divided into acts. I thought that was a nice touch. The story begins with Max's parents leaving for a trip that he was supposed to go on without him. Did they do this on purpose or did something go terribly awry? Meanwhile, Max has to deal with his grandma wanting to take care of him when he feels like he can be independent (he is 12 year old, after-all!) This leads Max to look for a job and he accidentally finds one as a detective of sorts, so the book is about him finding things for other people and solving problems in a way that only he can. Max dons several costumes to take on the parts of these roles he needs to portray to solve the mysteries he's presented. There is a great cast of characters in this book, especially Max, who is very animated and a great critical thinker. I feel like that is really the point of this middle grade book, to show children how to think critically. I love that Max solves problems he didn't originally set out to solve, but have come along in the midst of his other cases. I would be remiss not to mention that the witty titles of the different acts and scenes and the wonderfully whimsical artwork throughout the book (by Iacopo Bruno), I thought both of those elements really tied together really well with the novel. I think this one might be a little long winded for the youngest of middle graders, but could easily be an enjoyable book read a few chapters at a time, it just might take a while to get through it. Then again, it is fun to continuously come back to characters you enjoy and there aren't a ton of young reader books that allow that privilege. I think that Voigt kicked this series off on a great note and I can't wait to see what other problems Mister Max will solve in the future books. In the meantime, I am going to check out some of the various other books by Voigt that somehow were never on my radar until now.

Connect with Cynthia Voigt on Goodreads

Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things will be available on Setember 10, 2013. You can pre-order a copy on Amazon.com.

She's Twelve Going on Twenty by Kim Camp (Book Review)

*Disclosure- I received a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher via Book Sneeze in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book:

Especially for moms of teens and preteens, a practical, Christ-centered guide to helping your daughter grow in mind, body, and spirit.
As the mother of a young girl aged 9 to 16, you want a lot for your daughter. You want to see her soar in self-confidence and accomplishment, to navigate a safe course through the treacherous waters of school, culture, and hormones, and to grow closer to God while learning to rely on his Word. And through it all to maintain a warm, open mother-daughter relationship.
She's Twelve Going on Twenty offers a comprehensive, Christian approach to issues almost every mother and daughter will encounter:
  • Identity and faith
  • Music, movies, TV, and the Internet
  • Boys and falling in love, sex and purity
  • School and grades
  • Drugs and alcohol
  • Clothes, fads, appearance, and body language
  • Boundaries and personal safety
Easy-to-read and deeply personal, this invaluable book draws on a wealth of experience, careful research, and a deep grounding in the Bible and Christian faith. "Working It Out Together"at the end of each chapter provides communication starters and activities to help you and your daughter talk things out and plot a positive course together for the challenging but exciting adolescent years.

My thoughts:

I'll admit, at 5 years old my daughter is nowhere near in the age range this book is aimed at, but as a often befuddled parent, I think that it is never too early to research, learn or seek out advice about parenting. My parents were from the old school state of mind that we just don't bring up private things or things parents just don't want to talk with their kids about and so I think that makes me want to be more open with my kids. She's Twelve Going on Twenty touches on all of the difficult subjects that I know will not be easy once my daughter is a pre-teen. I thought the book was laid out in a very organized manner and touched on all of the subjects that moms need advice on about their daughters. One of the most helpful things about the book are the true life examples of pre-teen and teen girls going through different things and how even two daughters in the same family might react differently to the same situation. The whole point of the book really is to gently guide your daughter through pre-teen and teen issues such as body image, faith, boys, sex/purity and changes within their own bodies. What I got out of this book was that we really need to be in tune to our daughter's personalities to best know how to approach these tough subjects with them (don't know your daughter's personality type? Don't worry, there are examples in the book to help you figure it out!). One of the main things that this book seems to focus on is keeping an open line of communication with our daughters and a really neat way that can be done is at the end of each chapter in this book, there are several discussion questions for mom and daughter to discuss and answer together. She's Twelve Going on Twenty will definitely be the first book I read for when my daughter hits those tween years, which isn't too far off if I really think about it. I think studying this book together could bring a mother and daughter closer together and might help answer some of the tough questions parents often face when it comes to their daughters.

About the author:

Kim Camp is the host and producer of the Lifersize video series for expectant and new mothers and the author of the book Fit to Be Mom.

Find out more about Kim Camp at FaithGateway.com

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Escape Monthly Review (Napa Escape) + Coupon Code for 20% Off For Life!

*Disclosure- I was not compensated for this review nor did I receive any free products. This post does however contain affiliate links.

I have been eagerly awaiting the first Escape Monthly box since I signed up a few months ago to receive it. I was thrilled when I found it on my doorstep and picked it up to find a very heavy box. I knew it was going to be filled with exciting products. The theme for this inaugural box was Napa Valley, so all of the products included were things that either had to do with Napa, came from Napa or would remind you of being in the Napa Wine Country. My first impression of this box is I love the ocean green/blue color of the box. It definitely goes along with the "vacation in a box" theme making me think of the ocean. As I opened the box, I thought that the blue/green & white chevron pattern on the box lid and the tissue paper covering the products was darling. Presentation is a big part of how the overall box will be received and I think Escape Monthly did a nice job in that area! As I removed the tissue paper, I was impressed with the amount of products that were included in this box, it seemed almost never ending. Pretty much all subscription boxes come with a little postcard or paper of some sort saying what is included in the box. What I love about this box and what sets them apart from other subscription boxes is that they include the retail value of each product in the list of goodies received!

Here is what was included in the box:

Napa & Sonoma Moon Handbook- This is a vacation guide all about Napa and it's surrounding areas. It was definitely one of my favorite products included. Napa wasn't necessarily on my vacation radar before this box and now it definitely is. It is fun to read about all the sights and things to do in the Napa Valley and surrounding areas.  Retail Value: $16.95

Mineral Essence Dead Sea Salt Bath Salt: I do not know if you can tell in the picture above because of it's small size, but I couldn't wait to use these bath salts so they were already opened by the time I took the picture for this blog post! They smell WONDERFUL and make for an excellent relaxing bath. Retail Value: $26.96

Tiesta Loose Leaf Tea: I am not a huge tea fan, but this tea sounds so different that I really want to give it a try. This is a white tea with infusions of red currant, pomegranate, raspberries and a white grape aroma. It will be interesting to try! Retail Value: $7.99

Napa Valley Wine Soap: This is in the cutest little package and smells wonderful. A good bar of soap to put out when you have guests! What I love about this product is that it is actually from Napa. Retail Value: $8.95

All Natural Loofa Bath Sponge: Somehow this fell out of the box before I took the picture, so it is not pictured above, but it looks like it will make a great exfoliating loofah. I look forward to giving it a try! Retail Value $7.49

Deluxe Floating Bath Candles: These are so cute! Two were included in the box. Retail Value: $5.95

100% Pure Juicy Sugar Body Scrub: This is made of all natural, simple and artisanal ingredients, just the way I like my bath products!  Retail Value: $15.00

Cookie Zen: Cookie and Cork Pairing Essentials: These are apricot cookies meant for being paired with wine. I am sure they are fantastic with wine, but I tried one on it's own and it was just fine that way as well. :) Retail Value: $7.95

7th Heaven Facial Mask: Another all natural bath and body product, another win in my book! Retail value $2.99





Mixture Luscious Lip Balm: This lip balm has a nice minty flavor. It is not tested on animals and mixed in small batches. I really like it. I can never have too much lip balm! Retail Value: $4.99

Total Retail Value: 105.22

There was also a bonus item included that was a $50 gift card for NakedWines.com. I used mine. I paid $10 for shipping and the extra $1 for the gift set I ordered, so for six bottles of wine it was $11. I will probably save a few for gifts! GREAT bonus item! Retail Value: $50

In addition to the things listed above, there were a few extra little things. There was a bar of unscented glycerin soap and a little sample of a really nice, thick lotion! 

I thought this was a great firsts box and I still think it is a brilliant concept for a subscription box. I would love to see more local products from the places the boxes are themed around, but other than that I am totally impressed. I am also anxiously awaiting the announcement of who won the vacation this month! Each month, Escape Monthly will give one lucky subscriber a vacation to the place that boxes month is themed around!! What other subscription box company does that?!? This really sets them apart from the competition!

September's Escape is going to be Oregon, The Lush Pacific Northwest. This is an area I have always wanted to vacation in, but haven't got around to. I will be looking forward to having a little bit of Oregon brought to my doorstep next month.

Interested in your own Escape? Use the code ESCAPENOW at checkout and get 20% off for life on your Escape Monthly Subscription!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Dark Halo (Angel Eyes #3) by Shannon Dittemore Blog Tour & Book Review + Win a Kindle Fire!

*Disclosure- I received a complimentary e-ARC Of Dark Halo from the publisher via YA Bound Book Tours for the purpose of this review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

Welcome to my stop on the Dark Halo blog tour hosted by YA Bound Book Tours.  Click HERE to see the full blog tour schedule!

Release Date: August 20, 2013
320 pages


Summary from Goodreads:


One halo brought sight to Brielle. Another offers sweet relief from what she sees.
Brielle can’t help but see the Celestial realm. Even without the halo, it’s everywhere she looks. And with the heavens above Stratus ravaged by war, Brielle wishes for another gift, any gift. Because Jake is gone. The only boy she’s ever loved has been taken by the demon, Damien—and she knows if she ever wants to see him again, she must fight.
But fighting is so hard when everything you see makes you afraid.
When she receives instructions from the Throne Room leading her to Jake, she unknowingly walks into a diabolical and heartbreaking trap. Then the Prince of Darkness himself offers Brielle a halo of his own making. With the dark halo, she won’t have to see the fear and brokenness that surround her. She’ll be free of that unbearable burden. And it comes with a promise: the guarantee of a life with Jake.
When confusing details about Jake’s past emerge, and the battle above reaches a fever pitch, Brielle is forced to make a choice. Will she choose the dark halo and the ignorance that comes with it, or will she choose to live with her eyes wide open and trust the Creator’s design—even if it means a future without Jake?


http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15869682-broken-wings

My thoughts: From the moment I picked up Angel Eyes, I knew I would be hooked on this trilogy and need to follow through until the end. Angel Eyes was a great book on it's own, Broken Wings (the second in the trilogy) did what many middle books can not do, it held my attention and wasn't just filler in the middle, the book was full of action, suspense and, of course, romance. I love books that leave me on the edge of my seat, especially when they have subsequent books for me to continue on the journey with the characters. Dark Halo picked up where Broken Wings left off. There were questions to be answered and I think the novel did a great job of tying everything together. Dittemore has a lovely way with words and is great at putting a story together and telling it in a way that will make you want to keep turning the pages. You get attached to these characters and you want the best for them. I was rooting for Brielle and Jake when things seemed to be against them. There is a good amount of action in this book, Brielle even comes face to face with the devil and has to make a huge decision. There is a huge battle and people that you might not have previously expected to step up to the plate do. This was an action packed young adult novel that I think many people would enjoy. I am pretty sure I said this when I review both of the previous books, but I would love to see this trilogy come to life in movie form. I think that the strong characters and world Dittemore has created in the Angel Eyes Series would make a great movie trilogy! I recommend the Angel Eyes trilogy to anyone who enjoys novels in the young adult, Christian fiction or paranormal romance genres. I would caution those that have trouble reading stories with violence about reading these novels, but I think overall most people would enjoy the Angel Eyes trilogy.
Available from:
 photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg  photo 111AD205-AA04-4F9E-A0F4-C1264C4E9F30-1855-000001A1E8CEB6D7_zps9b730b94.jpg  photo B1426D4C-9EEC-4C0B-A1FB-90524B03C0CA-1855-000001A1E82B3B3E_zps17d98f4d.jpg  photo KoboIcon_zps515cdc1a.jpg

My review of Angel Eyes









My review of Broken Wings

About the Author:

Shannon Dittemore is the author of the Angel Eyes Trilogy. She has an overactive imagination and a passion for truth. Her lifelong journey to combine the two is responsible for a stint at Portland Bible College, performances with local theater companies, and a focus on youth and young adult ministry. When she isn’t writing, she spends her days with her husband, Matt, imagining things unseen and chasing their two children around their home in Northern California.
ANGEL EYES was Shannon’s debut novel and the launch of a young adult supernatural trilogy. It was published in the summer of 2012 by Thomas Nelson. The sequel BROKEN WINGS hit shelves in February, 2013 and the final novel in the trilogy, DARK HALO, will be available today, August 20, 2013.

**Win a Kindle Fire HD or other prizes!** 

Shannon Dittemore is having a Live Twitter Chat August 27th at 6pm (Pacific) where she will be giving away a Kindle Fire HD and other prizes!  




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ShannonDittemore.com 



***ANGEL EYES GIVEAWAY***

 Win on of 5-sets of the Angel Eyes Trilogy including Angel Eyes, Broken Wings and Dark Halo. US only. Enter via the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.

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Friday, August 16, 2013

Choosing Sides by Tara Mataraza Desmond (Cookbook Review)

*Disclosure- I recieved an e-ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

Advanced praise for the book-

“Here’s a cookbook you’ll pull from the shelf every time you ask yourself, ‘What should I serve with this?’ Tara Mataraza Desmond has written an inspired and creative cookbook dedicated entirely to side dishes. Accessorizing the main element of the meal, whether for a weeknight dinner, family get-together, or holiday feast, needs to be artful, nourishing, and practical. Choosing Sides brings excitement to every meal with these innovative and contemporary side dishes.” 
–Diane Morgan, author of Roots: The Definitive Compendium

“Oh, to be an entrĂ©e surrounded by Tara Mataraza Desmond’s flavorful, colorful, vibrant sides! In Choosing Sides, Tara offers a modern spin on the humble, oft-neglected accompaniment. Her Chorizo Chard; Blood Orange Wild Rice; and Persimmon, Pomegranate, and Pistachio Salad are but three examples for how to turn supporting players into shining culinary stars. Tara can fill my plate any day.” 
-Cheryl Sternman Rule, author of Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables

My thoughts-

 When I talk to other moms that I know about cooking, the most common thing that seems to be a struggle is coming up with sides. Everyone has their go-to main dishes for breakfast. lunch and dinner and maybe even for dessert, but side dishes are often neglected. Many times, they are almost an afterthought. There are only so many times you can eat a simple salad or mashed potatoes. That is why I was beyond thrilled to discover Choosing Sides on NetGalley. I knew I needed to read it because I often struggle with coming up with side dishes and my husband and I and our kids enjoy having a variety of foods, so I was excited to find this book devoted to the lesser focused on side dish. I was even happier when I saw the vast array of recipes. Meals will never get boring with just this one book. Besides the fact that I have never seen another book devoted to side dishes on the market, Choosing Sides is probably the most well organized cookbook I have ever peaked into.  The side dishes are divided into sections by the type of meal they are meant to accompany and the coolest feature of the book is that at the end of each recipe there are suggestions for what kind of meals would best be suited to serve the particular side with. There are recipes for pretty much anything you can think of- flavored butters, zucchini melts, veggie pies, breads, salads, dressings, tarts, quiches and much more. There are sections for sides that you can make for backyard barbeques or intimate gatherings. There are easy recipes and recipes that are meant to impress. This book really covers everything you could possibly want to know about when it comes to side dishes. This is definitely a book that everyone should have in their cookbook collection, I guarantee you will be grabbing for it often!

Choosing Sides will be available for purchase September 2013. You can pre-order the book on Amazon.com

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Letters by Suzanne Woods Fisher Blog Tour & Book Review + Win an iPad, Kindle or Nook!

Disclosure- I received a complimentary copy of the book for the purpose of composing this review from the publisher via Litfuse Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

About the book:

Rose Schrock is a plain woman with a simple plan. Determined to find a way to support her family and pay off her late husband's debts, she sets to work to convert the basement of her Amish farmhouse into an inn. While her family, especially her cranky mother-in-law, is unhappy with Rose's big idea, her friend and neighbor, Galen King, supports the decision and he helps with the conversion. As Rose finalizes preparations for visitors, she prays. She asks God to bless each guest who stays at the Inn at Eagle Hill. As the first guest arrives and settles in, Rose is surprised to discover that her entire family is the one who receives the blessings, in the most unexpected ways. And she's even more surprised when that guest decides to play matchmaker for Galen King.

With her signature plot twists combined with gentle Amish romance, bestselling author Suzanne Woods Fisher invites readers back to Stoney Ridge for fresh stories of simple pleasures despite the complexity of life. Fisher's tale of God's providence and provision will delight her fans and create many new ones. Welcome to the Inn at Eagle Hill.

My thoughts:

I always love when I discover a new book series at it's beginning because there is nothing better than the opportunity to start on a journey with characters that you know you will be able to continue after the book is over. As usual, I am already ready for the next book in the series to find out what happens to these characters I have come to know and care for. Rose Schrock has a good amount of things to deal with in her life, she's widowed by her husband, her step-son is missing, her mother-in-law is ailing and she needs to find a way to support her family. Through it all, Rose remains composed and gentle on the outside, although sometimes falling apart on the inside. Her step-daughter Bethany is head over heels for a man that may or may not be stringing her along and another interesting man comes along, but Bethany doesn't want to give him the time of day because of his reputation as a flirt. There are a lot of little story lines going on in this novel which I really enjoyed. It is wonderful to have so many different characters to learn about and I felt that Suzanne Woods Fisher did a great job introducing them all. My favorite character in this book is probably the aloof Galen King, although I really enjoyed Bethany, Jimmy & Rose as well. I thought The Letters was a great story of surviving stressful situations and life in general...we all have hardships to bare at some point in our lives, Amish or not, so this is a story that is pretty easy to relate to. I would recommend this story to fans of Amish fiction or those who enjoy a good (but innocent) romance.


About the author:


Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of the Lancaster County Secrets series and the Stoney Ridge Seasons series, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is also the coauthor of a new Amish children's series, The Adventures of Lily Lapp. Her interest in the Anabaptist cultures can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is a Carol Award winner and a Christy Award finalist. She is a columnist for Christian Post and Cooking & Such magazines. She lives in California. For more information, please visit suzannewoodsfisher.com

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Read what other bloggers are saying about The Letters!

**Win an iPad, Kindle or Nook from @SuzanneWFisher in “The Letters” Giveaway!**

Suzanne Woods Fisher is celebrating the release of the first book, The Letters, in her new series by giving away 2 iPads, 2 Kindle Fires and 2 Nook HDs! Wow!
The-Letters-Suzanne-Woods-Fisher
Two grand prize winners will receive:
  • An iPad
  • The Letters by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Four second place winners will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HD or a Nook HD - winner's choice!
  • The Letters by Suzanne Woods Fisher
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on August 17th. All winners will be announced August 19th at Suzanne's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to visit Suzanne's blog on the 19th to see if you won one of the great prizes! (Or better yet, subscribe to her blog and have the winner announcement delivered to your inbox!)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lysol Power & Free Multi-Purpose Cleaner & Wipes Review

Disclosure- I received free products in exchange for my positive review via Bzzagent. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.

Bleach gives me a huge headache. I mean, it will linger all day long. When I was younger, I worked in child care I didn't have a choice but to use pure bleach diluted with water and the endure the headache I knew was coming. It is already not fun to clean (at least not for me, I do know a few crazies who actually LOVE to clean!) and to have to clean and no a headache is coming, man...that is just the worst! So when I stopped working in child care I said good-bye to bleach. Thing is, it cleans like nothing else! So...when I saw that I was invited to take part in a new BzzCampaign for BzzAgent for Lysol for cleaners powered by hydrogen peroxide, I was intrigued. I knew I wanted to try it! The thing I wondered most about was the smell. Of course, hydrogen peroxide doesn't really have a scent, so I new whatever it smelled like, it would be 1000 times better than bleach. And I was right. It has a light, pleasant scent. It was exciting to me to use these products because if you look at the picture above you can see a very tiny portion of my kitchen counter. My very white kitchen counters. It takes a huge effort to keep these cabinets sparkly clean. I have used both the spray and the wipes on the kitchen counters and for that job, I definitely prefer the spray. You do have to let it soak for about 4-5 minutes before you wipe or it doesn't clean as well as it should. I am not 100% sold on it's ability to remove stains because it couldn't get some of the bigger stains (I usually use a magic eraser on those, that's my little secret, shhh!) but I thought it worked rather well over all. I LOVE using the wipes on my bathroom counters and sinks, they are just perfect for that job and leave everything looking super clean. Lysol Power and Free kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria without the harshness of bleach. This is a great alternative to bleach that is better for your health. You don't have to worry about wearing gloves or staining your clothes (or getting headaches if you are sensitive to bleach like I am). I think this is going to be a really popular product line and I applaud Lysol for making a safer, powerful cleaner!

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Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar & Stain Remover Review + Giveaway

Disclosure- I received a complimentary product from the Purex Insiders program in exchange for my honest review. All opinions stated are 100% my own.

I have always been a little on the messy side myself, but I never truly understood how crazy stains can be until I had children. My kids play hard, so sometimes their outfits suffer. Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar & Stain Remover is a great product for pre-treating stains before you throw them in the laundry. My 5 year old daughter is a super frilly little girl and she prefers to spend the majority of her time in dresses and skirts, whether she is indoors reading a book or outdoors playing in dirt. Her most recent stain was on a mint chiffon skirt that she had only had a few weeks. Mint is a very light color so the smudge or mud she managed to get on it was fairly noticeable. The staining occurred about a week before I received my Fels-Naptha bar in the mail, so I had already attempted to treat the stain on two separate occasions, to no avail. When the Fels-Naptha got here, I was excited to give it a try. I wet it slightly and rubbed it on the stain, threw the skirt in the wash and waited to see if it would work it's magic...and I was pleasantly surprised to find that it did! The stain was gone! This is a great pre-wash treatment for stained clothing. You can also grate some of the Fels-Naptha bar into the washing machine for a boost for your load of clothes. I have also seen many recipes online for homemade laundry detergent made with Fels-Naptha (I may have to try my hand at that soon!). This is really a multipurpose bar that no laundry room should be without!

Want a chance to win a bar? Enter below via the Rafflecopter. Three lucky readers will win a coupon for a free bar of Fels-Naptha!

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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Rusk w8less Plus Review



Disclosure- I received a complimentary Rusk w8less Plus from the People Style Watch Style Hunters in exchange for my honest opinion. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are 100% my own.


 In the last few years since my kids have become a little bit older and I have more than 5 minutes to spend on my hair, I have been playing with different styles and different hair products to get a feel for what I like. I definitely like the sleek look of my hair straightened, but lately I have been in a curly kind of mood, so I got a new curling iron. The problem is my hair won't hold curl to save my life. I have to work quickly and spray a ton of hair spray on to get it to stay put. I had tried several other hair sprays before Rusk w8less and some didn't even allow the curl to hold for more than a few minutes. I decided to give Rusk w8less plus a try because I had heard that (and it says on the front of the can) that it is for a strong hold. I curled my hair as quickly as I could to where it would still look good. I also used a heat protectant, but other than that no other products besides the Rusk hairspray. My first impression was that it smelled much better than other hairsprays, which was nice because they usually make me have coughing fits. I also noticed that the hairspray was truly light weight and didn't weigh my hair down at all. After I finished distributing spray evenly throughout my hair and allowing it to dry, I wanted to see how it felt to the touch. I was happy to find out that my hair still felt soft to touch. The final test was to see how long the hairspray would hold  the curl in place. The truth is, I don't think any hairspray will ever hold my hair in place for as long as I would like it to, but the Rusk w8less did hold the curls into place slightly longer than other hairsprays have been able to. You can find Rusk products at your local Walgreens, Target or Ulta or at online retailers such as Amazon.com or Drugstore.com

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Taste of Home Recipes Across America Cookbook Review

*Disclosure- I received a free e-ARC of the book from the publishers via NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are 100% my own. 

About the book:
 
 Whether sinking your teeth into crispy Southern Fried Chicken, enjoying a Philly Cheese Steak or sampling a slice of Ozark Mountain Berry Pie, you simply can’t beat the comfort of iconic American foods. Now, it’s easier than ever to sample the flavors of the country with Taste of Home Recipes Across America.

This keepsake collection offers 735 recipes that deliver regional flair from all 50 states. Grill up a fiery Southwestern barbecue, stir together a little Texas Caviar, host a New England clam bake or share a Chicago deep dish pizza! You’ll find everything from no-fuss snacks and quick supper ideas to weekend menu items and impressive desserts…each of which left a delicious mark on its part of the country!

Divided into five regions (Northeast, South, Midwest, Southwest and West), Recipes Across America offers all the mouthwatering specialties enjoyed by locals, including unforgettable dishes featuring regional produce. You’ll even discover ethnic favorites passed-down through generations of cultures who established roots in various cities throughout the nation.

As a bonus, you’ll enjoy fun food facts and folklore sprinkled throughout the pages. (For example, did you know that Chef George Crum of Saratoga, NY is rumored to have created the potato chip after a customer complained about the chef’s fried potatoes?) There are even colorful photos and notes regarding regional landmarks, infamous restaurants and more.

With so many recipes, photos and kitchen tidbits, Taste of Home Recipes Across America makes it a snap to take your senses on a culinary vacation you’ll cherish for years to come.
 
My thoughts:

I am always up for checking out a new cookbook. Taste of Home always has some wonderful cookbooks, I own a few of them myself. Taste of Home Recipes Across America is divided into U.S. regions and offers several different types of food from each region. It is interesting to see the differences in recipes between the north, south and everything in between. It is truly interesting how different regions tend to cook different things, but it makes sense because before the industrialization of food, everyone would have had to cook with what they had local to them. I think it is pretty cool to learn about recipes that I may not otherwise have come across. There are over 700 hundred recipes in this book, so there are plenty of recipes to keep you coming back for more. You could literally make 2 recipes per day for an entire year and there would still be a few you didn't get to. Now that is an awesome cookbook! Besides the fact that there are tons of amazing recipes in this cookbook (I can not even tell you how many I have marked to give a try) there is a pretty cool feature running throughout the book. Throughout the different sections on the regions there are facts and tidbits about different cities and sometimes about the foods rumored to have come from them. I love to travel and learn about new places, so this feature is really interesting to me and I think it is a great addition to an already enticing book.

Some of the recipes I have tried or have marked to try are:

Orange Julius
Toasted Cheese Ravioli
Crumble Top Coffee Cake
Glazed Cinnamon Apples
Tacoritos
Cheesy Beans & Rice
Rosemary Garlic Roast Beef
Strawberry Biscuit Shortcake
Amish Breakfast Casserole
Maple Pancakes
Lemon Filled Coconut Cake
Double Cheese Eggs Benedict

This is just a taste of the many interesting recipes in this book.

Taste of Home Recipes Across America will be available on September 12, 2013. You can pre-order it on Amazon.com. I would recommend Taste of Home Recipes Across America to anyone who likes to cook. This is the type of cookbook that everyone should really have in their collection!

Food Should Taste Good Review

*Disclosure- I received free products in exchange for my honest opinion via Bzzagent. All opinions are 100% my own.

At our house, we try to make sure we pick healthy snack options. For us, that means food that is truly food and not overly processed. I have seen Food Should Taste Good products while out and about and have thought about trying them, but just have not got around to it yet, so I was really excited to be invited to take part in this BzzCampaign. I was even happier when the Bzzkit arrived and it was filled with a vary generous amount of product! There were 3 full size bags, 2 single serving bags, a really nice chip clip and a great reusable bag! My kids were most interested in trying the blue corn chips and they devoured them in just a few minutes. I was able to sneak a bit of one and I will say that out of all of these, it was definitely my favorite and I definitely plan to buy some more. I gave my kids some of the sweet potato chips today with lunch and once again, they cleaned them off of their plates. I thought they tasted really good too. They are chips, but they are thick enough to be considered a cracker as well (it even says so on the front of the bag!) making these little gems a great choice for dips and salsas.

These are really good chips and the coolest thing is that they are just full of healthy ingredients- things like quinoa, flaxseed and sweet potato and they are missing the crazy unhealthy stuff that most chips do contain like msg, trans fat and artificial colors and flavors and they are GMO-free to boot. This company makes snacks that I feel comfortable eating and more importantly snacks I feel comfortable allowing my kids to eat as well. I am sure that Food Should Taste Good chips will definitely be making an appearance or two in my soon to be kindergartener's lunchbox!

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

The Secret Keeper (Home to Hickory Hollow #4) by Beverly Lewis

*Disclosure- I received a free e-ARC of this novel via NetGalley. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own. 

About the book:

Jennifer Burns has always had an "old soul," but joining the Amish world will challenge her spirit--and her heart--in ways she never expected.
Jenny heads to Hickory Hollow and joins a familiar cast of characters as she learns what it takes to live the Amish life.
My thoughts:

When I read the plot description for The Secret Keeper, I was excited at the prospect of this new take on the Amish world- an outside "Englisher" not born into the Amish wanting to give up all of her worldly possessions to join their life, their church. This is the fourth book in a series of books "Home to Hickory Hollow," but stands alone well. I have only read one of the three books that proceeds it and didn't have any trouble following along. As I began to read The Secret Keeper, I noticed some familiar names (like Rebecca Lapp) pop up and realized this book was about familiar characters! I was SO ecstatic. I really enjoyed the books in the Heritage of Lancaster County series that were focused on Rebecca Lapp's daughter Katie, so I was really happy to catch up with characters in this book and see what has become of their lives a few years later. This book almost feels like you are taking this journey with Jenny. At least it did to me. I have always been fascinated by Amish culture, I don't think I could ever join their community, but it was fun to follow someone who was convinced that she was meant to live simple and among the Amish. I could relate to her in many ways- she feels like she was born in the wrong era, that she really doesn't fit in with those around her. These are things I can certainly understand. It seems that once Jenny gets to Hickory Hollow she's found somewhere she does fit in, but there are many people around her not so sure that they do. This, coupled with a big secret she is asked to keep by her mentor, causes her a bit of confusion in her own journey. There are some interesting turns in this story and I was happy to see how things wrapped up. For a moment near the end, I was almost afraid that the book wouldn't end how I thought it should and desperately wanted it to, but overall I was happy with how the entire thing panned out. I am definitely hoping there is another book that focuses on Jenny as she continues her journey! I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Amish fiction, anyone who might just be curious about Amish culture and of course anyone who loves a sweet love story.
The Secret Keeper will be available September 3, 2013. You can pre-order it right now on Amazon.com.

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  Book trailer for The Secret Keeper: