Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Book Review and Giveaway Info: Playing Hurt: A Guy's Strategy for a Winning Marriage

About the book:
A marriage book that husbands will actually want to read!

Everyone admires people who play hurt, from the superstar athlete to the journeyman player who finishes the game even when hurt, sick, or falling apart. Everyone looks up to these athletes and wants to mimic their “never give up” attitude. Except when it comes to marriage. Most husbands are willing to take a bullet for their wives in a life-and-death situation; but when his bride fires the bullet--hurls an insult, disrespects him in public, ignores his foreplay in private--he’d rather throw in the towel than play through the pain.

Playing Hurt is a biblical playbook for marriage that speaks in the language most men understand—the language of sports. Using a sports analogy to explain the motivation, means, and methods of playing hurt, author Brian Goins shows men how to overcome the temptation to stay on the bench. Playing Hurt is more about inspiration than instruction. It’s about finding the motivation to stay in the game, despite the pain. It’s about becoming like the One who knew more about nails and thorns than any superstar athlete. Using Ephesians 5 as a biblical basis, this book will call husbands to be the heroes they long to be--men who play hurt in order to win at marriage.

Check out the video trailer on YouTube.
You can also learn more about the book by snapping a picture of this QR with your smartphone:

My thoughts:
Because this book was designed for men, my husband and I read this together.  At first, my husband was a bit hesitant, because he is not a sports guy, but he humored me and read it anyway  
♥♥♥.  We both found the the book to be realistic and humorous, but above all helpful.  We appreciated the honesty of the author as he shared what he was feeling on his wedding day (horny) and could easily relate to many of the stories he shared.  

This is a Christian self-help book, so there is definitely preaching involved, but it is not fire and brimstone preaching, but kind and realistic.  He takes you step by step to improve the way men look at their marriages and their wife.  Being LDS (Mormon), there were some doctrinal differences in what the author wrote and my beliefs, but they were truly minor.  Also, as we use the KJV of the Bible, the scriptures were a bit different.  All that aside, the message of the book is the same and can be easily understood by any Christian.  

About the author: 
Brian Goins is the author or editor of numerous study guides, workbooks, and Bible studies that he has developed for Insight for Living (Chuck Swindoll) and Walk Through the Bible. When he’s not traveling across the country as a Family Life Weekend to Remember speaker, he and his family reside in North Carolina.

About the Giveaway:

Help us spread the word and you could win a $50 gift certificate to Amazon.com:

Kregel Publications is sponsoring a $50 Amazon.com Giveway to help promote the release of Playing Hurt. To enter all you have to do is send a tweet (using @litfuse) about Playing Hurt or share about it on Facebook!
If you tweet we'll capture your entry when you use @litfuse. If you share it on Facebook or your blog, just email us and let us know (info@litfusegroup.com). Easy.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Book Review and Giveaway Info: Blue Skies Tomorrow

About the book:
Blue Skies Tomorrow is the third installment of the Wings of Glory series, each of which shares the story of one of the Novak brothers.  The other books in the series are A Distant Melody and A Memory Between Us.

In Blue Skies Tomorrow, Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but at least his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life. As he courts Helen Carlisle, a young war widow and mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work, the sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril. After Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, Helen takes a job in a dangerous munitions yard and confronts an even graver menace in her own home. Will they find the courage to face their challenges? And can their young love survive until blue skies return? 

My thoughts: 
Let me share a piece of information I have never shared with any of you before.  I was involved in an abusive relationship long before I met my husband.  I will not get into details here, but I felt a strong connection to Helen Carlisle and, because of my history, feel I better understood the feelings she was experiencing through the book.  However, one does not need to have been in an abusive relationship to enjoy this book or to connect to the characters.  Blue Skies Tomorrow has many aspects to it that readers can be drawn to.  It deals with abusive relationships, World War II, finding one's true calling in life, and building self-confidence.  I enjoyed watching the characters discover who they are and growing up as they also grew together.  The perspective of the story changes chapter to chapter as well, so the reader can hear more than one side of the story and better understand the emotions that each person was experiencing. 

Also, the book is Christian fiction and it was a bit preachier than most of the other books I have reviewed, but it was still very enjoyable.  None of the characters are without flaw and by making one of the main characters the son of a preacher, with a desire to become a preacher himself, none of the "preaching" feels like it was shoved in there just to preach.  (Does that make sense?)

I am also always concerned when I read a book in a series when I have not read the others.  Blue Skies Tomorrow does tie in with A Memory Between Us and A Distant Melody, the other books in the Wings of Glory series, but it can definitely be enjoyed as a stand alone book as well.  Having said that, Blue Skies Tomorrow lets you get to know the other Novak brothers enough that you will likely want to read the other books as well, so that you can get to know them a bit more.

About the author:

Sarah Sundin received the 2011 Writer of the Year Award from the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference, and her second novel A Memory Between Us is a finalist for an Inspirational Readers' Choice Award. Her stories are inspired by her great-uncle who flew with the U.S. Eighth Air Force in England during World War II. Sarah lives in California with her husband and three children.
For more information about Sarah and the Wings of Glory series, please visit her website at www.sarahsundin.com.

About the Giveaway:
To celebrate the release of Blue Skies Tomorrow, the final installment of the Wings of Glory series, Sarah is giving one lucky winner A Vintage Kindle Prize Package! 

Read what the reviewers are saying here.

One winner will receive:

* Kindle with Wi-Fi

* Handmade vintage apron for you and a friend (see a photo here)

* Blue Skies Tomorrow (for Kindle)

To enter just click one of the icons below. But, hurry, giveaway ends on 9/10. Winner will be announced on 9/12 at Sarah Sundin's blog. Details and official rules can be found when entering the contest.

Enter via E-mail Enter via FacebookEnter via Twitter

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. 

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Upcoming Review: VocabularySpellingCity.com

I have been given the opportunity to review the Premium Membership at VocabularySpellingCity.com.  This is something I have been considering to purchase, as I love the features they offer for free, but wanted to use the paid features as well.  In fact, we use their free site when working on our spelling lists each week.  I look forward to sharing this review with you in the upcoming weeks.
I've been given a Premium Membership to VocabularySpellingCity.com for a candid, personal, online review.
VocabularySpellingCity.com helps students study word lists using 25 different learning activities such as Vocabulary Test, Unscramble and Word Search.  Parents can create their own spelling lists, find published lists already available on the site or use any of the dozens of  free teaching resources such as compound words and math academic vocabulary.  Be sure to come back in three weeks to read about my experience.
There might be more free memberships available for bloggers.  If you're interested, find out how you can review VocabularySpellingCity.com.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Giveaway Winner: Seventh Generation Diapers

Random Integer Generator

Here are your random numbers:
Timestamp: 2011-08-24 02:00:04 UTC

which belongs to
Emily W said...
I shared a link to this blog/giveaway on my Facebook page.
Congratulations Emily!  I will send you a separate e-mail which you will have 48 hours to respond to.

Thank you to all who entered.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Fascinating Womanhood online class

If I had to choose 1 book that drastically altered my life, scriptures aside, I would easily tell you it was the book Fascinating Womanhood by Helen Andelin.  I have not blogged about it mainly because I first read it and applied its teachings back in 2005 and unfortunately, have let myself slip on the teachings quite a bit in the past 6 years.  I can see and feel the side effects of slipping out of the positive habits I had developed after reading the book.  I even pulled the book off my bookshelf to read it again, but the same things that was keeping me from living the teachings in the book, were the same things keeping me from reading it again.  Maybe it is time or just the way my life currently is, but I am ready to recommit myself to living life as a Fascinating Woman.  As though she knew it, my friend Cynthia Berenger, is about to start an online session of her Fascinating Womanhood course.  I did not take the course the first time I read the book, but this time around, I think it would be very helpful for me to do so.

Here is what the course is about (taken from Cynthia's flyer, which can also be found on her website):

The course was originally designed by the author of the book, Helen Andelin.  Cynthia has been living the teachings of Fascinating Womanhood with great success and happiness for almost 30 years and has been authorized to teach the classes since 2004.  Personally, I have know Cynthia, as an on-line friend, since 2005 when I joined a Yahoo! group about the lifestyle of Fascinating Women.  I have always found her to be authentic and knowledgeable and I completely trust her ability to teach this course.  Here are some of the subjects covered in this course:

❧ The ideal woman from a man’s perspective
❧ Recognizing and achieving Celestial Love
❧ Awakening love, tenderness, and devotion from loved ones
❧ Joy from embracing femininity
❧ Self-acceptance and appropriate self-love
❧ Overcoming role confusion and controlling others
❧ Releasing trying to live both male and female roles
❧ Releasing unnecessary worry and bitterness
❧ How to give up old resentments and hurts
❧ Developing self-control and character
❧ Improvement of homemaking, organizing, and child-rearing skills
❧ Achieving inner happiness and serenity
❧ The Eight Relationship Rules and how to tailor them to your situation
❧ Accepting others without being a doormat
❧ Retaining a girlish spirit
❧ Anger in marriage

One should not expect to receive any sort of marriage, spiritual, medical or legal counseling as Cynthia is not licensed in any of those fields.

There are 2 class options that you can choose from, the Basic and the Advanced.  The subjects covered are the same and both classes include an electronic copy of Mrs. Andelin's workbook.  All class participants are expected to have a copy of Fascinating Womanhood (for married or single women) or The Fascinating Girl (for single ladies).  If you can find them at your library, that will work as well, but you may need to renew it several times.  The Basic class is held live in an online classroom, once a week.  If you are unable to attend the class at the scheduled time, it is recorded and will be available for you to listen to at your convenience for 1 week after the lesson.  The next start date is August 23rd and the session will run through November 15.  The class will meet from 6:00-7:00PM PST (That is 9-10PM for my East Coast readers) every Tuesday.  If that does not work for you, she has more classes commencing in October and November, as well as one planned to start in January.  The Basic Class costs $35.

The advanced class also includes an electronic copy of Cynthia's book, A Fascinating Companion.  The Advanced classes are not held at regularly scheduled times and are taught one-on-one with Cynthia via e-mail exchange.  You have 1 year to finish all 13 lessons, at your pace.  You can also sit in on the online classes up to 3 times during the year you have to complete your lessons.  The cost of the Advanced class is $75.

To learn more about these classes, or any other classes Cynthia offers, visit her website at www.CynthiaBerenger.com
. You can also find the registrations for either the Basic or Advanced class on her website under "Downloads".

I have received my enrollment in these classes in exchange for sharing with you a little about the class.  I will be posting again as the class progresses to share more.  As always, my opinion is my own.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Product Review and giveaway: Seventh Generation Free & Clear Diapers

We recently had the opportunity to try out Seventh Generation's newly relaunched Free & Clear Diapers.  In all fairness, we did not get to experience them with anything other than overnight wettings because my son became potty trained during the day in the days before the diapers arrived.  However, overnights tend to be one of the times when a good diaper is important and these diapers held up well for us.  On top of being a good quality, they are also friendlier to the earth than  disposable diapers have been in the past.  One of the ways they are gentler on the earth is that they are not whitened with chlorine.  You can read about how they do whiten the diapers here: http://bit.ly/TCFProcess This leaves the diaper looking a bit different than you may used to, kind of the same color as butt paste, but not a terrible color.  The diapers also are free of pigments so there are no cutesy cartoon characters to be found on them either.  You will not find latex, fragrances or petroleum based lotions in the diapers either.

Seventh Generation is also aware that disposable diapers and its packaging do contribute to landfill waste so they are working to reduce that as well.  They redesigned their diapers so that the inner core is light weight, but still absorbent.  They have also reduced the amount of plastic packaging and their packaging can be recycled in the bins where you bring your plastic store bags to be recycled.

You can find Seventh Generation on facebook and on Twitter.

The folks over at Seventh Generation and MyBlogSpark are giving one of my readers a package of Seventh Generation Free & Clear Diapers, in size 2, 4, or 5.    Here are the ways you can enter:

Mandatory entry:  Tell me what you love about eco-conscious baby products.

Extra ways to enter (leave a comment for each one you do):
- subscribe to The Happy Wife
- follow The Happy Wife
- share this giveaway via your blog or other social networking site.
- Follow me on Twitter
The giveaway will end on Wednesday, August 24, sometime after 9PM.  You can enter until I choose the winner.  The winner will have 48 hours to get back to me or a new winner will be chosen.
I received a free package of diapers in exchange for this review.  My opinion is my own.  The diapers I received, as well as the prize for the giveaway and the information I have shared have been provided by Seventh Generation via MyBlogSpark.

Product Review: Gerber Graduates Fruit and Veggie Melt Snacks

I recently had the opportunity to sample one of the newest products to the Gerber Graduates line of snacks, the Fruit and Veggie Melts.  We were fortunate to try both the Very Berry Blend and the Truly Tropical Blend, both of which were very tasty and neither of which tasted like vegetables.  These little treats, melt in your mouth, releasing a fruity flavor as they do.  They are lightweight and easy to transport, so they make great snacks for on-the-road.  They are easy to chew and to swallow  and little ones can feed themselves with no mess.  The only downside is that they are easy to eat a lot of so the whole bag can easily disappear in a very short time.  My little ones were always begging me for more.

Now you know that they taste good, let me tell you more about why they are also good for your child's body.  These Fruit and Veggie Melts are freeze dried snacks made with purees and juices from real fruits and vegetables and are specially designed for toddlers, though kids (and adults) of all ages will enjoy them.  They also contain vitamins A, C, and E for healthy growth and natural immune support.  Each package of Fruit and Veggie Melts contain 3 full (toddler size) fruit/vegetable servings.

You can check the Gerber websites to find these at a store near you or you can find them online at places like Amazon.com.

I received 2 packages of Gerber Graduates Fruit and Veggie Melts in exchange for my review..  All opinions remain my own.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Hawaiian Salad Recipe

Wow!!  Two posts in 1 day!  My husband cleaned out our back room so that I would have a quiet place to go and blog (and you wonder why my blog is called The Happy Wife?).  It is my little haven off the back porch, but because it is only a 3 season room, I can only guarantee that it will be usable until the temperatures fall too much.  However, we do own a small space heater, so who knows?

Anyway, we hosted a BBQ a few weeks ago and I served Hawaiian Salad (sometimes called Ambrosia Salad).  Several people asked me for the recipe so I am sharing it now.  I love this recipe because it is extremely versatile and can be altered to suit your needs and tastes.  Here is how we like it:

1/2 cup fat-free sour cream (can use regular sour cream, or even Greek yogurt)
1 large box sugar-free pistachio pudding (can use regular, but we like to cut down on the sweetness)
2- 11 oz cans of mandarin oranges, drained (for both this and the pineapple, I prefer them canned in their own juice to cut down on the sweetness a bit)
1- 16 oz can crushed pineapple, drained (can substitute chunks)
3 1/2 cups fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed (can use regular or light if you prefer)
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut (sweetened or unsweetened)

1 cup maraschino cherries, chopped ( can use whole or halved if you prefer)
2 cups miniature marshmallows (we use white, but rainbow can be fun)

 1) Mix the sour cream, whipped cream and the pudding together, in a large bowl, until well blended.
 2) Add the fruits (oranges, pineapple, coconut and cherries) and the marshmallows to the sour cream mixture.  Gently stir the salad together.
 3) Refrigerate for 1 hour and then serve.

Some hints:
- This can be made ahead of time, but do not add the marshmallows until a few hours before serving.  They will disintegrate into the salad if allowed to sit overnight.  You can always add additional marshmallows if this happens, but the overall salad will be sweeter.
- You can add or substitute any other fruits as you desire.  Canned or fresh will likely work best though.
- You can also add slivered almonds or any other nuts you choose.
- We have yet to try this with other pudding or whipped topping flavors, but I am sure they would work fine as well.


Cheese: Real or Processed

I recently held a cheese tasting at my home so my friends could taste and see the difference between real and processed cheese (Photos are coming as soon as I can find my cord to download the pictures).  Personally, it was an easy decision for me, as I have always disliked processed cheese, especially when eating it plain.  However, many of my friends do like processed cheese so I was not sure how it would go.  Many of them had never eaten processed cheese side by side with real cheese to compare them directly and after doing so, definitely preferred real cheese.  So besides taste, what are the differences between the cheeses?

Sargento Natural Cheese:
       -  Is never made with processed ingredients.  Contains only natural ingredients: milk, cheese cultures, enzymes, and salt.
      -  Is naturally aged to perfection.
      -  Is tested by professional cheese graders to ensure the highest quality cheese.
      -  Is cut directly and simply from real block cheese and packaged immediately for your enjoyment.  It is never melted while it's being made (although it tastes great melted on lasagna, pizza, enchiladas, and many other dishes).
      -  Needs to be refrigerated.
      -  A 21 gram slice of Sargento Cheddar has 130 Milligrams of sodium.
      -  Is REAL cheese.

Processed Cheese:
      -  Is made with added emulsifiers such as Calcium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate, and Sodium Phosphate.  It also typically has preservatives such as Sorbic Acid.
      -  Is typically heated to about 180 degrees and cooked with direct steam which strips out delicate flavors.
      -  Some processed cheeses sit on a store shelf for months without refrigeration before being sold.
      -  Often is pumped into plastic packaging and run over a series of rollers to form a slice.
      -  Is cooked into a liquid before being formed into a slice.
      -  A 19 gram slice of Processed Cheese typically has 250 Milligrams of sodium.
      -  Is MADE FROM cheese (and other ingredients).

Now that you know the differences between real and processed cheeses, you can hold your own cheese tasting in your home.  Here is how to taste cheese (as opposed to just eating it):

1) Look at the cheeses.  Natural cheese, like cheddar, come in many different colors, but in general have an understated and non-glossy appearance.  However, processed cheese have a luster or shine to them, even after the plastic is removed.  We refer to processed cheese as "plastic" cheese in our house, because it looks the same even after you remove the plastic wrapper.

2) Touch the cheese and feel its texture.  Bend the cheeses.  Natural cheese texture can vary by cheese variety, but it typically breaks in an authentic fashion when you do this.  This is also what allows you to crumble many natural cheeses.  Processed cheese is characterized by a smooth, rubbery and artificially pliable texture.  Often, you can bend and fold processed cheese without it breaking and sometimes, it can feel "mushy".  You can also tell the difference in the texture when it is in your mouth.

3) Smell the cheeses, similarly to how one would smell wine. Natural cheeses' aroma will vary by cheese type, and the range of smells vary from earthy to nutty to fruity.  Processed cheese usually lacks a strong aroma, but can have notes of cooked milk due to the heating process.

4) Taste the cheese.  Natural cheeses have an incredible array of flavors- from savory to fruity to spicy and sharp.  The dominate flavor in processed cheese is often described as salty.  We also think it tastes like cooked milk and has a mild flavor when compared to the flavor intensity of real cheese.  When tasting the cheeses, ask yourself, how does it finish?  Does the taste linger?

I did not need to be convinced of the taste difference between real and processed cheese, but I did not realize how many people did not even know that not all cheese is processed.  Real cheese is out there and if you have never tried it, you are missing out.  Sargento makes several types of real cheese including: Parmesan, Romano, Cheddar, Colby, Colby Jack, Swiss, Mozzarella, Provolone, Pepper Jack, Muenster, Gouda, and Havarti.  At our tasting we tried the Sargento cheddar slices and a processed cheese, but I think it would be fun to try other cheeses as well.  I would certainly prefer a cheese tasting where all the cheese was REAL, so maybe I will host another cheese tasting in the future.

I received the cheeses that we tasted, along with some snacks to cleanse the palate and napkins, along with a small stipend, in exchange for hosting the cheese tasting and this post.  All opinions remain my own and were not influenced by anyone.  The information about the cheeses and how to taste cheese, along with the stipend and products I received, were provided by Sargento and TheMotherhood.