Seasons of Grace Sweepstakes and Giveaway!

3dbookIn bestselling author Lauraine Snelling’s new novel, To Everything A Season, the tight-knit town of Blessing, North Dakota faces change and challenge at every turn.

In the middle of the maelstrom is young Trygve Knutson. He’s devoted to his family and his community, but he sometimes dreams of other horizons–especially since meeting Miriam Hastings.

Miriam is in Blessing with one goal: to complete her training as a nurse, and get back to Chicago to support her siblings and her ailing mother.  But the town of Blessing has a way of drawing in the most reluctant visitor, and soon Miriam’s attachment to Trygve and his family has her questioning her entire future.

To celebrate the release of this heart-warming novel, Bethany House and author Lauraine Snelling are pleased to present the SEASONS OF GRACE Sweepstakes. This sweepstakes features three special prizes, each closely connected to the book:  One prize to sweep you back into history, one prize to enable you to give to someone else, and one prize to help you celebrate a little of the story’s romance, in your own home.

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This giveaway starts October 14, 2014 and ends November 3, 2014 @ 11:59 pm (PST). Entry is open to US residents only, age 18 and over. Winners will be selected Tuesday November 4, 2014, and announced at laurainesnelling.com.  See how to enter below!  Check out these fantastic prizes:

GRAND PRIZE:

SEASONS OF GRACE Grand Prize

RED RIVER RAILWAY ADVENTURE

In To Everything A Season, new visitors, old friends, and important supplies are transported to town on these rails, and the arrival platform is a place of warm greetings and new beginnings.

Our Grand Prize winner will have the chance to experience some of the same warmth and excitement with an authentic taste of the golden age of railroad travel:

A $200 value Scenic Steam Train Ride for Two (Location and dates available nationwide and will be specific to the winner’s state).

SECOND PRIZE:

SEASONS OF GRACE Second Prize

DINNER DELIVERY FROM INGEBORG

In the story, the inventive Ingeborg Bjorklund is well-known for her cooking, bread baking, and cheese making, and now she’s pondering another new idea to help her hometown: a delivery service!

Like the hard-working people in Blessing, many of our friends and family members carry heavy workloads and health burdens, and could use a helping hand and a comforting meal.

While we may not be able to deliver Ingeborg’s cooking, our Second Prize winner will win the next best thing, to be used for themselves, or as a gift to brighten the day of a friend facing chemo, a military spouse, a lonely senior citizen, or other worthy recipient:

$175 meal delivery gift card for MagicKitchen.com – Provide a full Thanksgiving meal for 6, or an extended selection of meals for 1 or 2. Gluten free, low sodium, and dialysis-friendly meals available.

THIRD PRIZE:

SEASONS OF GRACE Third Prize

STEAL AWAY DATE NIGHT PACK

The peaceful farming community of Blessing faces an unexpected threat when robbers target banks and businesses in towns nearby. As the town comes together to find a solution to the thieving problem, Ingeborg notices another kind of stealing going on: the new nurse in town, Miriam Hastings, has completely stolen the heart of her nephew, Trygve.

Soon Trygve and the dark-haired nurse with the sad eyes are regulars at the Blessing Soda Shop, sharing thoughts and dreams over Rebecca Valders’ famous fizzy concoctions.

Our Third Prize winner can share their own thoughts and dreams, and enjoy a taste of Blessing’s Soda Shop at home, with the Steal Away Date Night Pack.

This $100 value package includes: The UnGame Couples Edition, the Soda Stream Fountain Jet Home Soda Starter Kit, and the Homemade Soda Recipe Book.

How to Enter:

Go HERE and complete the entry box, anytime between October 14 and November 3.

 

Good luck!!

Update on our Dental Journey!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for LISTERINE. I received samples for this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.

 

Laying down as the dental sedation meds start to kick in.

Laying down as the dental sedation medication starts to kick in.

So, a couple of weeks ago I told you about my son’s horrible dental experience, and about how costly and stressful it was.  Never again!  I’ve been scared into action, ha ha!  I got much more serious about my family’s dental health, and decided I needed to try new ideas and tools for making the teeth brushing (and flossing) more successful in our home.

At the same time, I was invited to review some products from LISTERINE.  Oh my goodness, the timing was perfect!  Heaven sent, in my opinion.  The kids were excited to see a package of samples in the mail, and I tried to capitalize on that and keep them excited and motivated to work on their oral care routines.

 

I figured since I’m being honest about our dental woes, I should be a good girl and follow up – let you know how things are going:

  • The LISTERINE ULTRACLEAN ACCESS FLOSSER definitely makes flossing easier for my boy.  He’s still not always excited to floss, but since I’m forcing the issue, he’s doing it.  He can get the back teeth much better now.  He still prefers to use regular-style floss for the front bottom teeth.  I had tried mini flossers in the past, but this LISTERINE FLOSSER has a much longer handle, so it helps him reach better.

  • I have tried the GENTLE GUM CARE FLOSS.  It’s not at all what I expected!  The floss is actually made out of thread or something, so it has a “cloth” feel to it.  I was initially concerned that it would be harder to fit into my tight teeth ( I never had braces, okay?), because it seems so thick.  It didn’t really prove to be a problem.  My sensitive gums seem okay with it.  I’m still bleeding, but not in as many spots, so I’m hoping it’s due to this floss.

  • Munchkin and I have both been using the POCKETPAKS BREATH STRIP, and holy cow!  That is some powerful stuff.  We were excited when we learned that these strips not only freshen your breath, they also kill 99% of the germs that cause bad breath.  I believe it, man!  They are SO strong, and we get a kick out of watching each other after we take one:  our eyes water, and we always make some sort of vocal sound (oooo-eee! or something similar).  I actually took one this morning in the car, and my son in the back seat could tell.  He wanted to know where the mint was.  Seriously, powerful stuff right here. :)

  • I got a medicine measure cup (you know those 2 Tbsp size cups) and wrote each of my kids’ initials on one.  They now have their own mini cups they can use to pour the mouthwash.  Buddy Boy, as expected, won’t even try the mint flavored one, but LISTERINE has another flavor option, thank goodness!  He’s loving the Bubble Gum flavor, and is willing to take it daily.

Some things we’ve got to keep working on:

  1. Buddy Boy doesn’t swish the mouthwash for nearly long enough.  I’ve told him he can sing his ABCs or count to 20 in his head while it’s in his mouth, and we’ll see if it helps.  So far so good.

  2. I’m finding that Munchkin wants to delay brushing her teeth before school, and then just use the POCKETPAKS BREATH STRIPS.  She feels that since it kills germs, why not?  Uh, nope.  I’ve gotta stay on top of that one.

  3. I’ve got to start using the mouthwash consistently.  I’m SO BAD about it!  Bad mom, bad.

    Gentle Gum Care Floss

    Gentle Gum Care Floss

 

Overall, I feel like we’re making progress, and I’m definitely grateful to have the new stuff to help.  Sometimes with my kids, using “bells and whistles” really makes a difference.  In this case, it’s definitely paying off, and if it’ll save me $500 worth of dental work in 6 months, it will be more than worth it!

 

I’ve been following the LISTERINE YouTube page for the last couple of weeks as well, and it’s got me wanting to do a better job all around regarding my children’s health.  With the health problems I was experiencing over the summer, and seeing the turn around that I’m seeing, I’ve felt more strongly than ever that I HAVE to put healthy habits at the top of the priority list.  My kids are probably not thrilled, but I’ve been serving more vegetables at every meal.  Do they happily eat them all?  No.  But I’m exposing them, and I do make them at least sample the food.  I find that having a veggie option I know they’ll eat, along with an additional option, works best for me.  I’ll have to share in another post all of the things I’ve started doing, and you can decide which options may work for you, if you are interested in doing so.  I want to be a Healthy Hero! :)

 

 

The Martian by Andy Weir – Book Review

Six days ago, astronaut Mark Watney became one of the first people to walk on Mars.

Now, he’s sure he’ll be the first person to die there.

unnamedAfter a dust storm nearly kills him and forces his crew to evacuate while thinking him dead, Mark finds himself stranded and completely alone with no way to even signal Earth that he’s alive—and even if he could get word out, his supplies would be gone long before a rescue could arrive.

Chances are, though, he won’t have time to starve to death. The damaged machinery, unforgiving environment, or plain-old “human error” are much more likely to kill him first.

But Mark isn’t ready to give up yet. Drawing on his ingenuity, his engineering skills—and a relentless, dogged refusal to quit—he steadfastly confronts one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after the next. Will his resourcefulness be enough to overcome the impossible odds against him?

 

My Thoughts:

Okay, I’ve gotta be honest. My very first impression upon opening the book and reading the first few pages:  Wow, I’m not impressed. The author is inserting profanities like a drunken sailor here.  Strong profanities.  In the first 3 sentences, the “F-bomb” is dropped twice.  I will never see the need for that, because I’m pretty sure there are other ways one can get their point across. What can I say? I’m not a lover of strong profanity.

That was my first impression. As I read on, I became more impressed with the writing.  There are still more curse words than I could count, but once I was into the STORY, I was able to focus more on that.  Andy Weir is a talented author, there’s no doubt about that.  The character, Mark Watney, is a very likable one…he’s got a biting sense of humor and loves sarcasm.  He is witty and intelligent, and I definitely found myself rooting for him.  I figured I would have a good idea about how it would end, because at first it’s written in the first-person.  However, it later switches to the third-person, and there are definitely a lot of hints that have you guessing.  Once I was able to look past the language, I really enjoyed the book – had a hard time putting it down, in fact! I even had a dream the night I finished it – a dream that I can definitely tell you was based on my high level of emotional investment while reading.

Really well-written novel!  Engaging and entertaining.  I could easily see this being made into a movie.  I’m giving it 4 stars.  I really liked it. If I hadn’t had a problem with the strong language, I would have given it 5 stars.

 

I received The Martian by Andy Weir book from Blogging for Books for this review. All opinions are mine, and mine alone.

Looking for a Super Hero Costume?

Super Hero movies dominated the cinema market over the past few years, so it’s only right people like to dress up as them. You’ll find many of your favorite costumes available this Halloween but the tough choice is deciding which one to choose.

I confess, I’m a bit of a grinch when it comes to Halloween.  I just can’t bring myself to work so hard to dress up…so buying a pre-made costume might come in handy for me!

Rubie’s Costume Company has a lot of adult super hero costume options:

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Deluxe Mens Muscle Adult Dark Knight Batman Costume R888630-M

Rubie's Costume Co. - Deluxe Mens Muscle Adult Dark Knight Batman Costume R888630-M

Who doesn’t want to be a millionaire by day and a vigilant by night. This Batman costume is sure to be a fan favorite without breaking the bank. With it’s signature mask and cape you can’t lose.

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Deluxe Mens Muscle Adult Dark Knight Batman Costume R888630-M – $35.91, 5.90 shipping – Available at WholesaleHalloweenCostume

 

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Womens Catwoman Grand Heritage Costume R887212-M

Rubie's Costume Co. - Womens Catwoman Grand Heritage Costume R887212-M

This classic 60’s Catwoman costume is sure to get the attention it deserves. The jumpsuit and gold necklace adds a purrrfect touch to everybody’s favorite cat burglar.

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Womens Catwoman Grand Heritage Costume R887212-M – $98.91, 5.90 shipping – Available at WholesaleHalloweenCostume

 

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Batman Arkham City Harley Quinn Sexy Costume R880586-M

Rubie's Costume Co. - Batman Arkham City Harley Quinn Sexy Costume R880586-M

This Harley Quinn costume is sexy and sleek. The corset vest, gloves and choker adds to the ensemble. Find a friend to dress up as the Joker for the perfect costume combination.

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Batman Arkham City Harley Quinn Sexy Costume R880586-M – $53.91, 5.90 shipping – Available at WholesaleHalloweenCostume

 

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Grand Heritage Superman Costume

Rubie's Costume Co. - Grand Heritage Superman Costume

The Man of Steel is always a popular costume for super hero fanatics. The signature red cape and logo on the chest gives this costume a updated feel to a classic costume.

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Grand Heritage Superman Costume – $225.33 (38% off), 6.45 shipping – Available at Costumes4Less.com

 

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Wonder Woman Corset Costume Red Women X-Small

Rubie's Costume Co. - Wonder Woman Corset Costume Red Women X-Small

If you’re looking to WOW super hero fans this Halloween, then this Wonder Woman costume is the way to go. The sexy red corset, silver gauntlets, and blue skirt will make any woman feel like they have super powers for the night.

Rubie’s Costume Co. – Wonder Woman Corset Costume Red Women X-Small – $78.99, See Site shipping – Available at HalloweenCostumes.com

 

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links provided by Postpresso.

How Low Do You Turn Your Thermostat?

So, I’m curious.  How low do YOU turn your thermostat in the winter?  How low will you go? :)

 

 

Turning-down-domestic-hea-001

Over here we turn the heat off at night completely and use rice bags to keep warm.  However, if it ever gets below 55 degrees F, I will usually give in and turn it on.  We have it set at 60 degrees F overnight for those really cold nights when it gets much colder.  During the day I keep it off while we’re at school/work, and then keep it at 64 when we’re home.  On special occasions like Christmas, I say, “forget it!” and turn it all the way up to 70… ha ha.

 

How low do you go?

Best Party Book Ever! Book Review

_225_350_Book.1310.coverBook Description

From Invites to Overnights and Everything in Between…

Let the celebration begin! Whether you want to throw the best birthday bash ever or you’re dreaming up a just-for-fun sleepover extravaganza with your friends, Faithgirlz! has you covered. Packed full of creative and crazy-fun ideas, this book contains everything you need to know to plan fifteen great get-togethers from start to finish. From holiday parties to secret garden soirees, cookie bake-offs for a cause to “glamping” slumber parties, you and your BFFs will get detailed how-tos and plenty of tips for designing cute crafts, décor, munchies, and more. Plus, clever ideas throughout show you how to turn every day into a special occasion! Have a blast from invitation to gracious goodbye – all on a crafty girl’s budget.

 

My thoughts:

I ordered this book for my 11-year old daughter, and she quite enjoyed it.  I also read the book, so I could give a full review.  There are a lot of fun, cute ideas includes in the Best Party Book Ever!  I love the themed party ideas.  My daughter did as well, and wants to start throwing more parties now. :)  She and I both thought that we would like the book better if there were more activities/games included in each themed party plan.  Each plan provided 1-2 activities, and focused a lot on decor, and I would prefer to see more focus on activities.  Other than that, it’s great.  A lot of the themes and activities could be interchangeable, and so you could create your own theme borrowing from different themes in the book!  It’s definitely good to have on hand for reference, and I can tell you the book will get a lot of use.

I’m giving the Best Party Book Ever by Editors of Faithgirlz! and Girls’ Life Mag 4 stars.  I liked it!

 

I received this book from BookLook Bloggers for this review. All opinions are mine, and mine alone.

Oral Health Care – Time to Start a Routine!

I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for LISTERINE. I received samples for this review and a promotional item to thank me for participating.  All opinions are mine alone.

 
 

Now that school has started back again, our family is working into getting back into our routine – cleaning, eating, playing with friends, hygiene, etc.  I’m so ashamed to admit this, but we feel out of our routine over the summer.  We fell HARD.

It’s summer, man!  Who needs routine?  Right?  Ha ha, wrong.

 

LISTERINE is helping my family get back into our oral care routines this fall.  Kinda important, you know.  I wish we’d kept our routines all during the warm/hot weather season, so it wouldn’t be so stressful getting back into them now.  After our $502 dental fiasco for Buddy Boy, I’ve been watching our oral habits more closely, and I’m seeing a lot of things I don’t like:

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    My son, when brushing his teeth, hardly gets his teeth at all.  He swishes the toothbrush around in his mouth, sucks up the toothpaste, and calls it good.

  • Neither of my kids brush for as long as they should.

  • NONE of us floss as well as we should.  This is usually due to us scrambling to run out the door to get to school in time, and flossing gets a whole 30 seconds of attention before we’re outta there.

  • My son has a really hard time figuring out the whole flossing thing.  It takes more hand coordination than he seems to have.  Because of this, I’d like to start having him do a mouthwash rinse in addition to his routine, but he hates the taste and smell of anything that is even close to minty.

Listerine

We’ve got a plan!

We now have a plan to try and fix some of these issues.  I searched and found a bubble gum flavor mouthwash for Buddy Boy.  I’m also planning to brush my teeth at the same time my kids do so that I can observe them more closely.  Next, I gotta figure out a way to make flossing easier.   Thank goodness there are so many different options!  Here’s the main gist of my plan:

Buddy Boy - Listerine UltraClean  – LISTERINE has a ton of different mouthwashes, depending on your needs/wants, and we’ve got a BUBBLE GUM flavor for kids, along with a HEALTHY WHITE CLEAN MINT wash.  We tried the Bubble Gum flavor for Buddy Boy, and Hallelujah!!  The kid likes it!   Munchkin has no problems with mint and will be using the adult mouthwash, which is peroxide free.

 

 – See that LISTERINE ULTRACLEAN ACCESS FLOSSER he’s holding?  I’m hoping that it’ll make flossing easier for him.  With it’s long, ergonomic handle, it should make getting those harder to reach spots, well, less hard to reach.  The “yarn” on it is also designed to be extra strong, so it should hold up pretty well!

 

 

 – I’m personally looking forward to trying the  GENTLE GUM CARE FLOSS.  I’m a gum bleeder.  I hate flossing for that reason, but I still do it in the hopes that one day I won’t bleed as much.  This floss is specifically designed with a “cushion” for sensitive gums.  How cool is that?

 

 

Munchkin - Listerine – Munchkin is excited to use the POCKETPAKS BREATH STRIP.  Silly girl.  Not that I blame her.  I often worry about my breath in between brushing.  She kinda wants to focus there, and I’m okay with that, especially after learning that these strips actually kill 99% of the germs that cause bad breath.  I had assumed it would simply mask the smell, but nope!  It’s doing much more.

 

That’s the bulk of our plan.  I love that I can find all these products locally AND online.  It makes things incredibly convenient.  Now, the last thing we need…MOTIVATION.  Right?  I’ve got mine RIGHT HERE at the Listerine US Youtube Page feauturing America’s Healthiest Heroes.  One day I’ll be featured.  (ha ha, probably not, but that doesn’t mean I can’t try!!)

 

 

Motivation for the kids?  Hmm…still working on that. :)

 

 

 

Menu Monday and Weekly Goals October 6-12

Howdy, howdy!  Happy Monday to all.

I’m still in denial that it’s October.  I am NOT ready for colder weather.  Although, I cannot deny that I’m grateful September is over.  It was a rotten month, financially, physically, and emotionally.  October is already going much better!  It’s weird how that happens.

We’re still eating as much as possible from the pantry.  We’ve been fortunate to get a LOT of produce from our garden this weekend, and we canned some more salsa and applesauce.  I’ll have to take pictures and count up how much we’ve done.  It’s by far the most harvest we’ve ever had.  Here’s our menu plan, based on what we have on hand (I’ll buy fresh produce/dairy/meat as needed):

mpm-1

Breakfasts:

  • Whole grain toast

  • Cereal

  • Fresh fruit

  • Oatmeal

  • Home canned applesauce

Lunches:

  • Leftovers

  • Whole grain bread

  • Fresh fruit and fresh veggies

  • Greens chews

  • Turkey bacon

Dinners:

  • Monday – Spaghetti (with homemade canned spaghetti sauce) – this will be for the family – I’ll eat a salad.

  • Tuesday – Baked Potato Bar

  • Wednesday – Chicken and Rice Soup

  • Thursday – Taco Night

  • Friday – Breakfast for Dinner

  • Saturday – Hubby in Charge

  • Sunday – Crockpot pork, green salad

 

Happily, I was able to get everything from last week’s goal list completed:

  1. Plan and hold Activity Days  Got this done, but boy, the girls sure hated it!  I made it so fun, too…we had a birthday party for ALL the girls.  Still ended up with one crying and others whining…every time, man! lol
  2. Go to the doctor and get follow up lab work done.  Anxiously awaiting the results…
  3. Go over September budget numbers and report. – yep, and it was ugly.
  4. Go to bank and get cash for October spending. – Done, and we’ve got the budget set!

 

We are almost completely done with the food preservation.  I think next weekend we’ll have more tomatoes and tomatillos ready, and that’ll be it!  I’m excited to be done, ha ha. :)  Here’s hoping it’s a good week:

  1. Can and preserve the last of the tomatoes (with spaghetti sauce).

  2. Doctor’s appointment (find out the results of the lab tests).

  3. Gluten free expo, baby!!

  4. Begin a new exercise program (I can’t stand it anymore…I don’t care if my doctor approves or not).

  5. Start prepping the garden for winter.

  6. Plant some tulip bulbs.

Do you set weekly goals?  What about menu planning?  Do you find that it helps?

 

Linked up at OrgJunkie.

 

 

When Things Go Wrong

Wow.  I came across this poem while reading a blog, and man, the timing was perfect.  Exactly what I needed to hear!

When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit —
Rest if you must, but don’t quit.

Life is strange with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow —
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a fair and faltering man,
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup,
And he learned too late when night came down,
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out —
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit, —
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.

— Author Unknown –