Category Archives : Reviews

Zester/Grater Review

crop_0fe4d57b56d31eca7d4e92d3b855c5286a7aecc7f04995cc1c97d24b3802eecb3e345c2c250250I’ve always wanted a zester/grater, but never had one until now.  I got the Best Premium Zester Grater from Smarty Pants Supplies.  I’m pretty much in love with it!
You can use this Zester to …
– Grate Parmesan cheese over soups and salads
– Add chocolate garnish to a chocolate-drizzled angel food cake
– Mince hot peppers to make a spicy guacamole for game day
– Grate lemons, limes, and oranges to add zest to pesto sauce, dressing, pound cake, and more
– Create an enticing marinade for seafood, chicken, and meat

And the best part is, the Best Premium Zester Grater is safe, easy-to-use, and a breeze to clean up.
– Super thick handle for a safe, comfortable grip – it just “feels right”!
– Extra long, 8 inch stainless steel blade means your zest is the perfect length every time!
– Toss it into the dishwasher when you’re done for easy clean up!
– Durable, built-to-last design is backed by a 100% Satisfaction Guarantee

I, of course, am a huge fan of the fact that there is the 100% satisfaction guarantee, and I love the stainless steel blade.  I made some soup the other day and decided to liven it up a bit with some lemon zest.  Yum!lemonzest on sopu

I’m such a geek about wanting to make my food look pretty lately.  I’ve never really cared before, but with the new diet I’m doing, I need to liven thins up every chance I get – it makes it more enjoyable to behave, ha ha!

*No monetary compensation was received. I received the product in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are mine alone.

Black Jewell Popcorn – Product Review

Black Jewell is the leading grower and producer of colored, specialty popcorn.  They are a healthy snacking option that I was recently able to try out.  Let me share a little bit about them for you:
Black Jewell Popcorn grows, packages and markets natural, whole grain specialty popcorn products. Black Jewell’s heritage started with the proprietary Original Black™ colored kernel popcorn that established the Company as a leader in specialty popcorns.  Black Jewell popcorn products are available at national, regional and local retailers across the U.S. They are sold as loose kernels in 28.35 oz jars and in microwave packaging. The jar varieties include Original Black, Crimson Jewell and Native Mix. The microwave varieties include Natural, Butter, Kettle and No Salt No Oil.

  • All products are 100% natural (no artificial ingredients).
  • All products are Non-GMOProject verified.
  • Their specialty popcorns are grown and harvested from rich Midwestern farmlands to ensure that they deliver the highest possible quality and best tasting products.
  • Black Jewell does not use the chemical POFA in their microwave bags. They use proven, safe materials. Their bags are also made from a more eco–friendly “natural” brown paper as opposed to bleached white paper.

We were SO excited to try each product out!

We tried the microwaveable Kettle Corn first.  Munchkin said, and I quote:  “This is the best kettle corn I’ve tasted.”  Nope, not kidding.  She loves the stuff!  And yes, the entire box (with 3 bags in it) was gone in a week.  My favorite product was the Crimson Jewell.  It’s so dark, and just gorgeous.  It pops pure white, and with the black kernels, my family was all worried that I’d burned it, lol.  It was definitely not burned, but the contrast color is beautiful.  I popped mine over the stove top in coconut oil, and sprinkled one batch with sea salt, and the other with sea salt, monk fruit extract, and cinnamon.  Yum!

*The kernels are a bit smaller than the “regular” popcorn kernels I’ve bought at the store, and so I’d advise watching them closely as you cook.  Don’t, say, get distracted by arguing with your son about why he needs to eat his vegetables when the bag is cooking in the microwave.  Just a random, non-specific example, I assure you. ;)


As you probably know, I had to make some drastic changes to my diet over the summer.  I’ve committed myself to these changes for the rest of my life, and I’m SO grateful for snacking options like these that make my diet a little easier to handle.  It’s a snack that my kids will eat, and I can feel good about them having.

*No monetary compensation was received.  I received the product in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions are mine alone.



The Divorce Papers – Book Review

Sparkling and sophisticated, this sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking debut novel tells the story of a very messy, very high-profile divorce and the endearingly cynical young lawyer dragooned into handling it.


This book by Susan Rieger is written through a series of letters, memos, and emails between the characters.  It’s unique and witty.  The way it is laid out is fun, and I enjoyed hearing the story from different character perspectives.  There is a lot of “paperwork” included, you know, copies of negotiations from the divorcing couple in the book, and honestly, some of it is long and drawn out.  I tended to skim over the really long bits of that, as I felt the story was still complete without all the extra.  I suppose it fits well with the title, though, and therefore, has it’s place.  I enjoyed the book and read it in 2 days.

You can actually read the first few pages yourself, to get a feel for the story.  I love that authors are allowing that now!  GO HERE to do that.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

Susie’s Hope DVD – Review and a Giveaway! 21 comments


Based on the true story that successfully passed Susie’s Law in North Carolina, which seeks stricter punishment for animal abusers, Susie’s Hope brings to life the inspirational relationship between pit bull attack survivor Donna Lawrence and Susie, a pit bull-mix puppy found beaten, burned and left for dead. Recognizing reflect and abuse were to blame for the tragic attack that nearly claimed her life 10 months earlier, Donna resumes the battered animal and accepts her as family. Together, they learn to heal, love and forgive as thyey lead a historic effort to seek justice and protection, not only for Susie, but all animals. Starring Emmanuelle Vaguer (40 Days and 40 Nights), Burgess Jenkins (Remember The Titans) and Andrea Powell (Ender’s Game, The Twighlight: Breaking Dawn Saga: Part 2), Susie’s Hope is an incredible story of love, loss and redemption.


wp55448163_05_06About Susie:
Susie was found nearly dead in Greenfield Park in Greensboro, North Carolina on August 20, 2009. Just a puppy, Susie had licked the face of her owner’s newborn baby. Her owner became violent—she was beaten so severely her jaw was broken. That wasn’t enough, though. She was then set on fire and left for dead. Incredibly and against all odds Susie survived. Donna Lawrence adopted her two months later. Susie is now a trained therapy dog and event won the American Humane Association’s American Hero Dog this year!


Guys, you’ve gotta watch this film.  My gosh, it’s just so heartfelt, and so sweet.  Susie stars in the film as herself, and she’s just precious!  My 11-year old daughter watched this with me and cried her little eyes out.  I love to see how deeply she feels when it comes to animals, and it was a real tender thing to be able to watch this with her.  At the very end of the film I started wondering if it would drag on, but it didn’t.  The story is incredible, and inspiring.  I love movies based on true stories!  It’s a powerful thing to see how strong REAL people in our world are – to see how strong human (and animal) resilience can be.


Here’s the trailer:


Interested?  This website is a great resource for all things Susie related.  Oh, yeah, and one other thing…you can also enter to win your very own copy of this DVD right now.  Awesome!!  If you’re an animal lover, or know someone who is, you’d better enter this giveaway.  The story is incredible.  Open in the U.S. and Canada.

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Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

The Skinny Gut Diet by Brenda Watson – Book Review

9780553417944The secret to permanent weight loss revealed. The real reason diets fail has nothing to do with calories and everything to do with the balance of bacteria in your gut. A simple guide to show you how to finally achieve your ideal weight.
The 100 trillion bacteria that live in your digestive tract—which make up 90 percent of the cells in your body—are the real reason you gain or lose weight. When those microbes are out of balance, chronic health conditions can occur, including irritable bowel syndrome, fatigue, and obesity. By balancing the good and bad bacteria, you can finally achieve your ideal weight—for good.


When I first heard about this book, I really wanted to read it – not for the weight loss side of it, but simply for the “healthy gut” side of it.  I recently learned about the incredible amount of bacteria in the digestive tract, and have been working with a homeopathic – style doctor to address it.  When I saw the statement about balancing good and bad bacteria, I was hooked, and knew this was a book I’d be able to really get into.

The author, Brenda Watson, CNC (learn more about her HERE), includes a 14-day start-up food plan and a bunch of recipes.  A good amount of these recipes are things I can eat on my anti-inflammatory diet, although not all.  I’m impressed by that, because I KNOW how healthy the anti-inflammatory diet is.  This woman knows her stuff, and she’s legit.  While she talks about weight loss, the feel of the book, at least to me, is more about creating a HEALTHY body/gut…not necessarily a skinny one.  That’s something that I appreciate SO much.

I won’t lie, the diet proposed is not an easy one.  Gluten is out the window.  Don’t plan on having milk.  Most oils are eliminated, as they have inflammatory properties.  That means that you aren’t going to be able to eat many processed foods, if any. (I wish companies would create organic chips with olive oil, but it’s cheaper to use canola oil, or something else not good!)  However, I HAVE GIVEN UP ALL of these foods – at the same time – and I’m telling you, it CAN be done!  If you have a support system, oh man, what a difference it will make.


If you want to learn more about The Skinny Gut Diet or the author, you can head to this website.  There you’ll find a full synopsis as well as information on where you can find the book for purchase.  It’s a book I HIGHLY recommend to ANYONE looking to improve their health – whether it’s digestive health or not.  This diet will change your body, on the inside for sure, and likely on the outside as well!  5 stars for me. :)


I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.  The opinions are mine alone!


Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas In Theaters November 14, and a Giveaway! 21 comments


This Christmas, have your family join with Kirk Cameron’s family and dive headfirst into all the joy, dancing, celebration, feasting, imagination, and traditions that glorify the true “reasons for the season.”  KIRK CAMERON’S SAVING CHRISTMAS is an engaging story that provides a biblical basis for our time-honored traditions and celebrations, and the inspiration to stand strongly against a culture that wants to trivialize and eliminate the faith elements of this holy season.  So take in the splendor, take in the majesty, take in the story.  Take it all in…and let’s put Christ back in Christmas!  KIRK CAMERON’S SAVING CHRISTMAS is in select theaters for a limited engagement beginning November 14 for TWO WEEKS ONLY!


I was SO lucky and fortunate to be given the chance to view this movie early…before it came out in theaters, and I’m SO glad I was!  What a great film.  The very beginning was a bit cheesy, and I couldn’t decide if it was to be funny or not.  I’m hoping the cheesiness of the beginning setup was on purpose, because I found it humorous. :)  As the film goes on, Kirk tells the very engaging story of the histories of different Christmas symbols.  He talks about commercialism, although not in the way you may think!  The beauty of this movie for me is the WAY these stories are told.  Adding film to the story, and dramatic music, adds so much to the power of it all.  I’m looking at Christmas in a whole new way, and I’ve always been a big believer in keeping Christ in Christmas anyway!  I really enjoyed it, truly.   I can’t lie, I’m dying to get out my Christmas decorations now, and to share with my children the symbolisms and the histories.  To share with them in this new light, as it has been shared with me.  (My husband won’t likely let me get stuff out quite yet, however. ;)  )


Would you like to see the film yourself?  Go to to watch the trailer and to find a theater near you.  Don’t waste time though, because as I said, it’s only going to be in theaters for 2 weeks.  


And hey, in keeping with the Christmas, I’m gonna hook you up!  One lucky reader is going to win the following:

 photo 1
A SIGNED Saving Christmas movie poster (by Kirk Cameron), the soundtrack to the film, and a car air freshener (they smell like Christmas trees! :) )  Open in the US and Canada.  Good luck!

< a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Manic Drive VIP CD – Review and Giveaway! 7 comments

Manic-Drive-VIP-CDI got the chance to review a Christian Rock CD, something that is definitely new to me!  It’s always fun to discover new music, so my kids and I were excited.  The songs are “harder rock” than I had expected.  Good tunes, though!  My daughter and I both liked the song Indestructible quite a bit.  It’s nice to know there is music out there with lyrics that I don’t have to be afraid of my kids hearing.


A little more about the band:

Manic Drive has been widely known as a Canadian band who always delivers a great show, but over the past few years and project releases, they have added to their extensive touring of Canadian and US markets multiple Billboard Top 10 & 20 singles on CHR & Christian Rock Radio. Manic Drive is clearly very intentional about reaching their generation and inspiring them to pursue a deeper walk with Christ and to get involved in changing the world they are inheriting. And they are uniquely equipped to do so. The band members, all in their early-mid twenties, have made sacrifices to pursue God’s call on their lives. Their life experience, spiritual maturity and ministry have opened doors to speak into the lives of their own generation and that is perhaps the most defining characteristic of this group of guys.


If you want to learn more about the band, or listen to some of their songs, check out the below links:

Official Website-

YouTube Channel-

Official Twitter-



Here’s some fun news…I get to give a copy of the CD to ONE lucky winner!  Good luck! :D

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Their Name Is Today by Johann Christoph Arnold – Giveaway! 13 comments


TheirNameIsTodayDespite a perfect storm of hostile forces that threaten to deny children a healthy, happy childhood, courageous parents and teachers can turn the tide.  Yes, we can reclaim childhood, says Johann Christoph Arnold, whose books have helped more than a million readers through the challenges of education and family life.  In Their Name is Today, he highlights drastic changes in the way our society treats children.  But he also brings together the voices of dedicated parents and educators who are finding creative ways to give children the time and space they need to grow.  Cutting through the noise of conflicting opinions, Arnold takes us to the heart of education and parenting by defending every child’s right to the joy and wonder of childhood.


What a great book.  It keeps things very real, but also provides REAL hope in the futures that we can provide our children, and in the moments now that we have with our children.  There is so much sound advice in this book – advice that I will take to heart and apply to my own children.

The author’s story about Berto the monkey and the family having to leave him behind touched me and taught me a great lesson – and that’s how the entire book is written.  Personal stories, personal experiences, whether his own or those he knows, intertwined with messages intended to improve our lives.

This is a book I’ll refer back to often.  I’m so glad I had the chance to read it!


More about the author, Johann Christoph Arnold:

People have come to expect sound advice from Johann Christoph Arnold, an award-winning author with over 1.3 million copies of his books in print in more than 20 languages.4ef3c31d326e0a82390a00.L._V357127432_SX200_

A noted speaker and writer on marriage, parenting, and end-of-life issues, Arnold is a senior pastor of the Bruderhof, a movement of Christian communities. With his wife, Verena, he has counseled thousands of individuals and families over the last forty years. His books include Their Name Is Today, Why Forgive?, Rich in Years, Seeking Peace, Cries from the Heart, Be Not Afraid, and Why Children Matter.

Now, thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC, I am able to offer my awesome readers a chance to win a copy for yourself!  Are you looking for advice to help your children reclaim childhood?  Are you looking for ideas and ways to lower your children’s stress load?  If so, enter below; this book just may be what you’re looking for!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post.

 Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.

Noah – A Wordless Picture Book by Mark Lundy – Review

indexA hundred years before the Great Flood, a man named Noah came home talking crazy. God wanted him to build the biggest ship the world had ever seen. The future of humanity depended on it. How would his wife respond? What would the neighbors think? Was it even feasible? This lavish re-imagining of one of the greatest stories of all time will fascinate children and adults alike. Nuanced and playful, yet meticulous in following the biblical narrative, Mark Ludy’s world-class art digs deeper than the Sunday-school tale of cuddly animals, exploring Noah’s relationship with his family, the natural world, God–and a formidable engineering challenge. Immerse yourself in this stunning wordless epic. Whatever your age, you’ll never read this story in the same way again.

Mark Ludy’s world-class artwork lets people see, as though for the first time, the beauty within this story – revealing a clearer picture of the nature and character of God and his relationship to humankind. It’s immersive and epic in scale and scope. The wordless format invites conversation and storytelling, key building blocks of literacy. And as with his previous books, Ludy’s signature mouse Squeakers appears hidden on every page.


My Thoughts:

Wow – the above description is exactly right.  This is a full picture book, without any words.  The pictures in this book are incredible.  The lack of words simply provides the reader with more opportunities to discuss and “feel” the story.  My son and I both really enjoyed talking about the scenes as they appeared before us, and it was a lovely experience to be able to answer questions he had – questions he probably would not have had if we’d simply read the story from the Bible.  Having the bright and beautiful visuals encouraged discussion, and simply made the story more real for my kids.  The joy that you can see on Noah’s face after the flood has gone down is just so….ALIVE!

I’m giving Noah by Mark Ludy 5 stars.  I absolutely LOVE it, and will cherish it with my children for many years!

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! :)