Thursday, November 29, 2012

Are you the next XSRE girl?

XSRE is the hottest new store opening at Destiny USA in Syracuse, NY and they are looking for the face that will represent the Destiny USA XSRE store.  Come on out on Saturday, December 1st from 2:00PM-4:00PM and have your photo taken by a professional photographer.  The girl that is chosen as the XSRE girl will be given a 6 month modeling contract, be featured on the XSRE website and in ads, receive an all-expenses paid trip to NYC for photo shoots, and receive a $100 XSRE gift card each month.  In addition to the chosen XSRE girl, all other entrants have the chance to win a gift card by receiving the most "likes" on facebook.  If you are not in the Syracuse area, there is also an event in Anapolis, MD the same day, and others coming up later in December.  Visit the XSRE facebook page for more information.  Each store will choose their own XSRE girl to represent them.  This is open to girls of all ages.  I would love to see one of my readers, or one of their friends, become an XSRE girl, so I hope that you will be able to make it to the casting call.

Here is a picture of a feminine ensemble you could put together while you are there.

This post was compensated by The Blogger Connection.  All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Review: Pine Bros softish throat drops

Pine Bros

About the product
From Pine Bros: "Ulysses S. Grant was President, the population of America hovered at 39 million, and the telephone was still a pipe dream, when in 1870 J. Herman Pine hung out a confectionery shingle on 8th Street above Walnut in Philadelphia and, along with his brother, sold their first batch of what they called 'Pine Brothers Glycerine Tablets.' In an attempt to relieve his own sore throat and those of his family members, Mr. Pine, a former German confectionery maker, determined that by combining the soothing natural qualities of glycerin with the healing properties of gum acacia, he could sooth and mitigate the mild discomfort of a sore throat. Add in some natural flavoring and a sweetener and voila, Pine Brothers Softish Throat Drops were born. "I have discovered something," Pine wrote, "which will give quick throat relief to thousands afflicted as I was." He added,"Perhaps I won't make much money out of this. But I can make people happy, and that's more important than money." Mr. Pine was being unduly modest, as his "discovery" would become one of the most successful, most delicious and most unique throat lozenges in the world. Nor has the recipe changed appreciably since it was first introduced to the public over 140 years ago.
In 1930 Pine Brothers was sold to the Life Savers Company and continued to flourish. Known for its 'soft drop consistency,' Pine Brothers lozenges became a favorite of adults and children alike. The product, which attracted healthiest sales in the eastern and northern states, due to its icy winters, reached its peak popularity in the 1970's. The company was sold by Life Savers, and then, having been re-sold and acquired a number of times, found itself essentially rudderless and under appreciated; this despite a legion of loyal consumers. Cost cutting changes were made to the original recipes, packaging became stale and marketing non-existent; Pine Brothers began to be made overseas. Sales declined.
Recently, Pine Brothers was acquired by the creator and former owner of Airborne, Victoria Knight-McDowell, for her new company 3 Sisters Home Products™. Much time and effort has been spent locating the original Pine Brothers recipes, redesigning the packaging, and creating an exciting yet classic new look. The natural product is once again being made in America, and is launching nationally in fall 2011. At which time old Mr. Pine, will succeed once again in "making people happy." God bless him!"
Pine Bros

My thoughts
I received both the cherry and honey flavors to sample and the timing of the shipment was perfect.  Everyone in my house had recently come down with a minor cold, with an accompanying dry throat. All the kids (except the baby of course, who obviously did not try them), my husband and myself loved the cherry flavor, and all except my husband also enjoyed the honey flavor.  The cherry flavor is similar to a cherry flavored candy, while the honey flavor has a flowery flavor, with honey undertones.  The drops work best if you let them dissolve in your mouth, but I admit it takes some self control not to chew on them as they dissolve.  They are pretty chewy so it still takes some time to break it down by chewing it.  I also like that there is no artificial colors or flavors in these and they are free of high fructose corn syrup (though they do have regular corn syrup).

These worked well for treating our dry throats.  They are not medicated so they will only help a cough that is caused by a dry throat, but sometimes, as with the cold we all just had, that is all you need.  You can find these at CVS stores nationwide and I also found them on  They are also available in Lemon Citrus and Black Licorice flavors.  You can get them in a fun, re-usable puck which comes with 26 drops, or a bag which holds 32 drops.

You can find Pine Bros online at their website, on facebook, and on Twitter.  They are currently running a contest on their facebook page for a $500 CVS gift card.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Review and Giveaway: SafeSkin Kids Antibacterial Gel

With 5 kids, I have seen my fair share of scrapes, cuts, and burns.  When it happens to me, I worry about infection, but as an adult, I have a bit more control when it comes to keeping it clean.  However, with my kids, I worry even more about infection, and with things out there like MRSA, I worry even more.  So when I recently had the opportunity to review SafeSkin Kids Antibacterial Gel, I was happy to do so.  Of course, during the weeks I have had the gel here, there have been no injuries that required it.  Not that we have not had injuries, just none that broke the skin.  So, I decided to use the gel myself.  Even though it has Kids in the name, does not mean it won't work on adults, too.  I especially like that it is not greasy and allows for a bandage to still stick to the skin.  It provides 48 hour antibacterial protection and provides a barrier to MRSA.

If you want to try this yourself, you can click for a $1 coupon and/or you can enter to win a free tube in the Rafflecopter form below.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received a free tube of SafeSkin Kids Antibacterial Gel and a giftcard from Safeskin and BSM Media in exchange for this review and giveaway.  My opinion remains my own.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gift Idea: Pinypon

I recently had the opportunity to host a party for PinyPon.  So what is PinyPon?  They are small dolls, about 3" tall, that you can interchange the pieces, creating your own unique dolls, and changing them when you feel like it.  Here is a picture of 3 dolls as they came from their packages.
 The kids decided they all wanted to pool their pieces and build new dolls so we separated each doll into its various parts.  Some of the kids wanted to keep certain parts of their dolls so this is not all the dolls we had, but here is the pile we ended up with that the kids got to choose from and a close up of one doll, broken down into it's components.

As you can see in the picture, there are several small pieces, so these are not recommended for children under the age of 4 years old. I also have to note that while our guests were mostly girls, the sole boy, enjoyed playing with them as well, and particularly liked that there were boy dolls in our pack. All of the kids got a kick out of the caravan as well, with one of them especially thrilled that she won one of her own to bring home with her (Yay Maya!). 
I have to say the caravan was pretty fun. The kids enjoyed finding all the small details that made the caravan had. The top flipped off and turned into a fun boat.  One wall turned into a bath with a showerhead that really sprays water.  I liked that there was plenty of spots to store all the little pieces that came with the caravan.  I also appreciated that the caravan was fun and ready to play with right out of the box, but there are also stickers you can add to enhance the look.  For the party, I did not apply the stickers, mostly because I did not open the box until just before the first guest arrived.  I also left all the little pieces in the box so that they would not get lost.  We now store them all in a resealable bag in the small box that holds the dolls. 

I think these would make a great gift for the younger girls in your life.  My older girls, ages 10 and 11 years, played with them and enjoyed them as well, but I think they would grow out of them rather quickly.  They were perfect for my almost 6 year old and the other girls who were here, ages 4-8 years, all enjoyed them immensely as well, along with the 4 year old boy who played with them.  You can also buy these individually or as part of a set.  You can buy pets, the caravan or an apartment for them. along with other accessories, making this one of those gifts that you can add to at other times of the year.

At the end of the party, in addition to awarding one of the caravans to a guest, we also were given a doll from Nenuco to award to a guest:
You can find PinyPon and Nenuco online at their web pages, as well as on facebook (PinyPon, Nenuco) and Twitter (Piny Pon, Nenuco)

I received a party pack, from Mommy Parties, that included several dolls, the giveaway prizes and gifts for myself in exchange for hosting this party and sharing it with you.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Giveaway: Snuza go!

I am teaming up with S.O.S. Mom, Baby Costcutters, and Life With Two Boys,and some other bloggers to bring you a giveaway to help bring peace of mind to new moms.

Whether you're a first-time parent or welcoming your third one, the safety and well-being of your little ones is always a priority on your parenthood list. Truth be told, we rely on any kind of product or item to help us through the journey and make our job a little easier. And perhaps a giveaway could give you a hand with your baby needs. S.O.S. Mom, Baby Costcutters, and Life With Two Boys, along with the very generous sponsor Snuza are spoiling two families with a mobile baby movement monitor... to make those nights a little easier on you!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Book Review and Giveaway Info: Courting Cate

Amish fiction

About the book

When This Couple Gets to Courting, Sparks Will Fly!
In Paradise, Pennsylvania, Cate Miller is known more for her sharp tongue and fiery temper than her striking appearance. Her sweet and flirty sister, Betsy, on the other hand, seems to have attracted most of the bachelors in Lancaster County!
But the sisters' wealthy father has made one hard-and-fast rule: older Cate must marry first, before younger Betsy can even start courting. Unfortunately, untamable Cate has driven away every suitor-until Pete Treger comes to town, that is.
Prodded by the men of the area, Pete turns his attention to winning Cate's hand. But is his interest true or is there a scheme at play?

Book 1 in The Courtships of Lancaster County series.

My thoughts

 I enjoyed this book, but found some of the characters a bit irritating.  Cate seems to have trouble trusting others.  I know people like Cate, and some do have very legitimate reasons for their mistrust, but the things that Cate has faced in her life that caused his to lose faith in others, particularly men, is not that different from things that we all face at some point in our dating lives.  Without giving to much away, Cate seems to mistrust men because the one guy she ever really courted, had supposedly only done so for a reason other than to build a relationship.  We never learn exactly what happened that led her to believe that he had other intentions, but I would question if it wasn't Cate's overactive mind causing her to believe that he had other intentions.  I also found Betsy to be a bit annoying as well.  She seemed really sweet in the beginning, but as the book went on, her true colors came out.  You can tell she loves her sister, but she is also incredibly selfish.  She does not care about how her sister feels, as long as she gets what she wants.  The character of Pete, I had a hard time disliking, even though I wish he would have insisted on communicating more with Cate, particularly in the latter half of the book.  It is not that the characters are not well written, it is just that some of them were a bit unlikable.

Aside from the characters, I enjoyed the rest of the book.  This is the first piece of Amish literature that really addresses the financial differences among Amish families.  I honestly did not think that there was a difference.  I guess I just never really thought about it, because they all seem to live to simply, but in Courting Cate, we really get to see how a wealthy family's daily life differs from a very poor family's daily life.  It really made me think about how even the things that I consider to be so simple and basic, are still a luxury to some people, Amish or otherwise.  

The storyline is different from the many other romance books that are out there.  This was more like a forced romance that blossomed into something more.  There are a few tender moments, but it is more about the emotional growth that the characters have to go through in order to mature.  I also like that all of the characters grow in some way by the end of the book.  The author did a good job of developing most of the characters, and explaining why they behaved in certain ways.  The only one I would like to have known more of their history is Cate.

I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a love story, but can handle it not being a lovey-dovey romance novel.  I am told it is a re-telling of Shakespeare's the Taming of the Shrew, but I have to admit, that I have never read it (gasp! I know.) so I cannot compare it.  However, if you enjoy the Taming of the Shrew, you may find this to be enjoyable as well.

About the author

Leslie Gould is the co-author, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 bestselling The Amish Midwife and The Amish Nanny. She is also the author of numerous novels, including Garden of Dreams, Beyond the Blue (winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for Best Inspirational Novel, 2006), and Scrap Everything. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor. She resides with her husband and four children in Portland, Oregon. 
Learn more at

About the giveaway

A retelling of the Taming of the Shrew! Leslie Gould is celebrating the release of Courting Cate  with a fun Kindle Fire Giveaway and a Facebook Author Chat Party (11/20)!

One lucky winner will receive:

  • A Kindle Fire

  • Courting Cate by Leslie Gould

Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on November 19th. Winner will be announced at the "Courting Cate" Author Chat Facebook Party on 11/20. Connect with Leslie, get a sneak peek of her next book, try your hand at an Amish trivia contest, and chat with readers just like you. There will also be gift certificates, books and a Book Club Prize Pack to be won (10 copies for your book club or small group)!

So grab your copy of Courting Cate and join Leslie on the evening of the November 20th for a chance to connect with Leslie and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the book - don't let that stop you from coming!)

Don't miss a moment of the fun, RSVP todayTell your friends via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 20th!


Thank you to Litfuse for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for this review.  As always, my opinion is my own.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Melissa & Doug giveaway

Remember the Melissa & Doug Terrific Twenty Holiday List and Giveaway I told you about yesterday?  Well, I have a been given the opportunity to offer you one of the gifts from the list, the Melissa & Doug Rattle Rumble Push Toy, a $69.99 value!  You can enter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Melissa & Doug are providing the prize for this giveaway and are also providing me with the same prize in exchange for sharing the information about the Terrific Twenty Holiday List and hosting this giveaway.

Are Mormons Christians?

Are Mormons Christian

I am not one who typically discusses religion (or politics for that matter) on my blog, or elsewhere.  It is not I am ashamed of my beliefs, it is just that I prefer to avoid contention, and religion and politics are probably the two topics that can rile up the most people.  Having said that, my religion is a major part of who I am and there are lots of misconceptions out there as to what my religion teaches.  I am planning, over the next several weeks or so, to address some of the various things that I have heard about my church and my beliefs.  While I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I am not a spokesperson for the church.  You can learn more about the church's official beliefs at their website,

The first thing I want to address is the idea that Mormons are not Christians.  I will agree that Mormons are not Protestant Christians, but they are most definitely Christians.  I was not raised a Mormon.  I grew up attending various Protestant churches and spent my freshman year of high school at a Catholic all-girls school.  I have studied many different religions and Christian religions tend to fall in one of three categories: Catholic, Protestant, Mormons.  Here is my brief synopsis of how they differ: The Catholic church was first Christian church.  Protestant churches in all their forms (Baptist, non-denominational, Presbyterian, Episcopal, etc) branched off the Catholic church, typically due to a difference in one or more tenets.  Mormons believe that Christ came back and re-established his gospel on the earth.  Not one of these groups are more Christian than another.  What they have in common is that they ALL believe that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and that he died for all of our sins.  The definition of a Christian is one who believes in and follows Christ.  This is why it really irks me when others, particularly other Christians, try to tell me that I am not, nor are any Mormons, Christian.  I am okay with the fact that we have different fundamental beliefs and I understand that there are parts of my religion that you do not agree with, but to tell me that I do not believe or follow Christ is A) judgmental and B) just wrong. 

So often, those who do not believe Mormons are Christian like to focus on how we are different, but I like to focus on our similarities.  First, is our shared belief in Jesus Christ, His death and His resurrection, as I stated in the previous paragraph.  Second, we all believe the Bible to be the word of God.  Mormons do also hold the Book of Mormon to be scripture, as another testament of Christ.  We use the Book of Mormon in conjunction with the Bible, not instead of it.  Third, we all believe in the divine nature of God the Eternal Father, His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.  Fourth, we all believe that as followers of Christ, we are to love our neighbors and obey the commandments given to us.  This means providing service to others, regardless of their beliefs and withholding judgement of those who believe differently than us.  Members of the LDS church, as well as the "church"  itself, have been the first to arrive in many disasters that have struck around the world, often arriving before the government and other service groups.  I am not saying they are better than others, I am just sharing that they are definitely loving their neighbors and serving others, regardless of race, religion, etc. 

I encourage you to explore the website, to learn more about what Mormons believe.  I also encourage you to ask any questions you may have and I will try to ensure that it gets answered, either through a blog post or directly.  Also, if you are interested in receiving a copy of the Book of Mormon to read for yourself, please let me know, either by a comment or a private e-mail, and I will send one to you free-of-charge.  It will arrive in the mail and I will keep your information confidential. Unless you request to speak with members or missionaries in your area, your information will not be given to anyone else.  As for comments on this post, or any of the follow up posts, I am only going to publish comments that are respectful of others.  This does not mean you cannot disagree with me, or other commenters, I just ask that you are not inflammatory.  I appreciate your understanding on this.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Getting rid of lice

Back in July, we discovered that the girls in our house had lice.  We are not 100% certain how we got it, but we have our suspicions.  Apparently, one of my girls had it for several weeks before we discovered it and her scalp was covered in black/brown stuff.  Another daughter had several bugs and nits and my youngest daughter and myself had a handful of bugs and nits.  I believe that I got it due to the girls using my hair brush, a practice that has since ended.  If you think you may have lice in your home, you can check out these photos to compare.

I held off on posting this because I wanted to be certain that the lice was truly gone.  All it takes is ONE nit to start an infestation again.  I can happily say that I am confident that we successfully eradicated all the lice in our house and on our heads from the infestation and we did it without the commercial lice treatments.  I would want to avoid those treatments anyways, but due to nursing a newborn, I wanted to avoid them even more.  Plus, we had 4 people to treat and it was going to get expensive very quickly to buy all those treatments.  So how did we do it?  I am going to list the things we did, but please note, I cannot credit any one thing, nor can I promise that they will work for you.  I researched online how to get rid of lice and then tried the things that made sense to me.  Here are my tips:

- Removing the nits is the absolute most important step in getting rid of lice.  Commercial treatments do not kill or remove nits.  The only way to remove the nits is to either let them hatch and remove the bugs, hoping you catch all of them before one is ready to start laying eggs again, or remove them manually with a comb and/or your fingernails.  We started with some good quality metal combs
, but did not get rid of the last nits until we switched to the Terminator comb.  What makes the Terminator so much better is that it pulls each strand of hair around its' teeth, shredding any eggs that it does not remove.  You can find the comb in stores, but we bought ours on Amazon.  Here is a picture of it so you know what you are looking for:
   - As we started combing through our daughters' extra thick hair, we realized how much easier it was going to be to just cut it.  These were "rough" cuts, mostly to just make it manageable to get the combs through.  I tried to leave some length so that a hair dresser would be able to fix it afterwards and in every case, they were able to.

    - Protect yourself as you comb through someone else's hair.  My husband thought the bugs would attach to his shirt so he did it shirtless and while the bugs did not stick to him (body lice is different from head lice), they did bite before they dropped off of him.  If you have long hair, pull it up into a tight ponytail, or even better, a bun.  You can also buy a shield spray to protect you.

  - I had also read that Medicated Denorex will kill any live bugs and alter the DNA of any viable nits.  I do not know if this is true, but due to the amount of dandruff we were also dealing with, we decided it wouldn't hurt to try it.  It is a chemical and there is some question (in the online community) as to its safety, but it rinses out much sooner than the other lice treatments, so we chose to try it.  If you do try it, it must be the Medicated Denorex, not the extra strength or therapeutic.

    - We bought a black light to help us better see the nits and bugs.  They fluoresce under the black light.  The problem is so does dandruff and other bits of lint that may have collected in the hair.  Who knew how much stuff we had on our heads day-to-day?

    - For my daughter that had so many bugs in her hair, and the thickest and curliest hair of all of us, we also decided to coat her head in olive oil and put a shower cap on it overnight.  The idea is that the oil smothers the bugs and the shower cap catches them.  She absolutely hated this and, while it did catch a few bugs, I would skip this step in the future unless nothing else was working.

   - It is also very important to keep up with vacuuming and laundry, especially of bedding, towels and shirts.  We vacuumed the girls' bedroom, my bedroom, the living room, the couches, and the mattresses and pillows every day at least once and every time we combed through someone's hair, we vacuumed that area as well.  We also washed all stuffed animals and dolls that they had in their room.  They were okay with all but one of them being put away until after the lice was eradicated so daily washing was not necessary.  The one that we could not put away, was washed daily.  When washing, use detergent and HOT water.  If there is anything you cannot wash, put them into a black garbage bag, close it securely and set it aside for several weeks.  This will kill off any bugs and nits that may be on them.  We also dealt with ours in the summer, so if it is colder weather when you are dealing with the lice, be sure you wash hats and coats daily as well.

   -  This will not help you get rid of the lice, but it is an important note.  Be sure you tell anyone whose home you have been in, who has been in your home for an extended amount of time, or who may have otherwise been able to pick up any bugs.  By letting them know, they can catch it early if they did in fact pick up any bugs.  Plus, let's face it, having lice can be embarrassing, and not something people want to talk about.  If you let them know you have had it recently, they are much more likely to let you know that they have it, allowing you to make an informed decision when it comes to visiting them or having them visit.  Having said that, lice is not forever and you do not need to isolate yourself until you are 100% certain it is gone.  Use your judgement and react in a way you would want others to react if they were in the same boat.  You may want to avoid sleepovers for a while, but attending a picnic would be fine.

I am curious to hear if any of you have had to deal with lice and what worked, or didn't work, for you.

While I do have some affiliate links in this post, no company sponsored this post in any way.  I did not receive any products, cash or otherwise in exchange for this information.  Everything I wrote above is exactly what we did to get rid of the infestation we had.

Melissa & Doug Terrific Twenty List and Giveaway

Melissa and Doug

The holidays are just around the corner, so you know what that means….time for the Melissa & Doug “Terrific Twenty” list! This list compiles the “best of the best” holiday gifts for the 2012 holiday season, and we’re excited to share it here with you!
To celebrate, they’re having a “20 Days of Terrific Twenty” Giveaway on our Facebook page! Every day (starting TODAY, November 6) they’ll be giving away one item from our Terrific Twenty list to at least one of their lucky Facebook fans!

Head over to the Melissa & Doug Facebook page to enter to win. There will be a different prize given away each day, but you only need to enter once to be eligible for all the prizes. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Another way to earn some money: Medical Research Studies

Another way you can earn some extra money to help with the holidays, or any time, is to volunteer for medical research studies.  I know some of you are thinking that you would never want to be a guinea pig for some untested medication, so it is important to note that there a LOT of studies that do not require you to take any medications.  Also, many of the studies that do have the participants taking medications, are giving medications that have already been through many safety tests.  Here are some of the benefits, aside from monetary payment, of participating in medical studies:

- You may be able to participate in a study that is related to a disease/illness you have.  This could make treatments that are not currently available to others, available to you.  This can be particularly helpful if other treatments have not worked.

- You are helping others in the community by helping advance medicine.

- You often receive free medical care and treatment for study related issues.  In some cases, this can include diagnosis of a disease you think you may have.  It may also include giving you medical devices such as blood pressure monitors, thermometers, scales, etc.

Here are some of the studies we have participated in:

- I once spent 2 weeks in isolation for a study.  Isolation sounds scary, but in the age of technology, it was not so bad.  I talked to my kids via Skype a few times a day, had wireless internet and spoke to friends and family on the phone often.  I also chatted with fellow participants from our doorways.  The pay was phenomenal, and I enjoyed the short break from my routine.  It was also nice for my husband and kids.  He was out of work and it gave all of them a chance to spend time together without me.  That helped them grow closer together and increased their appreciation of what I do.

- We are currently in a study where they take cheek swabs from my daughter to test her stress levels.  We go twice a year for 3 years.  She gets to play games with the tester as well as with my husband and myself.  My husband and I have to pretend to have an argument in front of her during one of the visits each year, something we don't usually do, but it is always interesting.  The place provides someone to play with our other kids during our visit.  The pay is great and each kid gets a nice toy at each visit.

- We just ended a 4 year family flu study.  We had to go in twice a year for blood draws.  We were free to get a flu shot or not, but that would have been out of our own pocket.  During flu season, I had to report online once a week whether or not any one had any flu symptoms.  If we did have any, we would go in for nasal and throat swabs.  If they came back positive for flu, we would come back for a blood draw.  At every visit, each child received a gift card to Toys R' Us and each adult received a check.  We also received a grocery gift card at the end of reporting season and thermometers as we needed them.

- My husband has participated in studies where they need a blood draw from a healthy person.  The pay is great for the short, easy visit.

So now that you know a bit about what these studies entail, you may be wondering how to find them.  There are 2 main ways I have found them.  First, read those ads in community newspapers and magazines and second, register with a site like  At, they will help find studies for you in your area.  They also have some interesting information based on the diseases/illnesses, if any, that you tell them you have.  They will contact you when they find a study that you may qualify for.

I am a participant on, but have not received any incentive or payment for this post.  It is simply shared in an attempt to share information with you.


Book review: The Hunted Hare

About the book

The hamlet of Pennant Melangell consists of a church and a few cottages and lies in a mountainous part of North Wales that is so remote that it is, even today, only barely accessible to cars. It is the ancient pilgrimage site for the medieval Saint Melangell and is still visited by those seeking healing.
The Davison family has come to Pennant Melangell seeking spiritual refuge as their family faces the reality of Jenny Davison's terminal cancer. Jenny and Aidan have visited before, but this is the first time they have brought their daughter, seven-year-old Melangell, to the place which inspired her name.
New since their last visit is a lavish hotel--The House of the Hare--a grand project conceived and financed by local businessman Thaddeus Brown. The Davisons are impressed by the extensive facilities developed with the needs of the sick, weak, and disabled in mind. Jenny is particularly excited by the archery range with modifications that will enable her to shoot arrows even in her extremely weakened state.
But instead of a place of healing, this sacred location becomes a place of doom when Thaddeus Brown is found dead, an arrow in his eye. Suspicion falls on those who have used the archery range, including Jenny along with Brown's vulnerable young niece Lorna. As Aidan works to clear his wife’s name, young Melangell goes missing. Is the murderer also a kidnapper? Or does The House of the Hare harbor more mysteries? And who might be the next victim?
The first of a series of new mysteries featuring Aidan Davison and set in what celebrated fantasy novelist Fay Sampson describes as the "thin" places of the Celtic world.

My thoughts
So often when I am reading a book, I find that there are similarities to other books I have read. It is not usually a big deal, as there are enough differences to make each book unique.  In The Hunted Hare, I found every aspect of it to be unique.  I enjoyed the depth and variety of the characters, the setting that was so well described that I felt I was right there, and the plot, a mystery, yet not heavy and dark.  You are kept guessing who the guilty party is throughout the book and each time that you think you know who it was, you read something else that causes you to second guess your hypothesis.  It is an easy read, but the author is British, so there are some terms that one may not recognize right away, but context usually will give you the meaning.  I lucked out in that my mom was born in England, so I am somewhat familiar with the differences in our vernacular.

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a mystery and to those who enjoy reading books with a Celtic setting.

A special thank you to kregel publications and the author for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for this review.  As always, my opinion is my own.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Earning "extras" for the family

As we near the holidays, I know a lot of people begin looking for ways they can help earn a little "extra".  I have been a member of the National Consumer Panel, a division of Neilsen Research, for several years now. They provided me with a scanner and each time I go shopping, I scan the UPCs on the items I bought and enter the total into the scanner. Once a week, I hook the scanner up to my computer and submit the information, earning me points. The whole process is super easy. In fact, my kids usually do the scanning for me. They also have surveys, fairly regularly, that allow me to earn additional points. The points are redeemable for gifts that they offer in their gift catalog. It is a bit late in the year to really earn much in time for the holidays, but I can typically get 2-3 gifts each year for doing this. This is a great way to start earning those extras for next year.  There is no cost to sign up and they provide all the materials you need.  It is easy to install and use the scanner and software, but they have great support if you ever have any trouble or need help. 

I have heard that some people find it tedious to scan each week and that the points are not worth it.  To answer that, I can say that they have improved greatly over the years.  For almost every store I shop at, it is as simple as scanning the item, inputting the quantity and saying whether it was on sale and/or I used a coupon.  After everything is scanned, I enter the grand total.  There are still a handful of stores where you also have to enter the price of each item, and I agree it is a bit tedious, but like I said, it is only a small number of stores that work that way.  Also, they are offering tons of ways to earn extra points, such as the surveys, as well as random point giveaways, special panels you may be invited to join, and extra points for submitting once a week.  I try to only participate in activities that are worth my time and would not recommend something I did not see the value in and this is one of them.  Also, like I said above, this is something my kids like to help with, so I let them scan and put the items away.  That makes it less tedious and takes a chore off MY list :)

I am an ambassador for National Consumer Panel and receive incentives when someone applies for the program and again once they start scanning and submitting.  However, my opinion is my own and I would not recommend something I did not believe in.

Book review: Over the Edge

About the book
Seth Kincaid survived a fire in a cave, but he hasn’t been the same since. Then he fought in the Civil
War and returned to Colorado crazier than ever.
Somewhere along the line, it appears Seth got married. Oh, he has a lot of excuses, but his wife isn’t
too happy to find out Seth doesn’t remember her. Callie isn’t a long-suffering woman. When Seth
disappeared, she searched, prayed, and worried. Now she’s come out west to wrangle her long-lost
Seth is willing to make amends. Callie is more interested in shooting him. Can they rekindle their
love before one of them goes over the edge?

You can also watch the video trailer on YouTube.

My thoughts
Over the Edge is the 3rd installment in the Kincaid Brides Book, but it is the first one I have read.  The Kincaid brothers are cowboys running a ranch left to them by their father.  Their lives are full of adventure and hard work.  Each character in the book is unique and the reader grows to know at least a little about each one of them.  Callie was my favorite character though.  She is tough as nails when it comes to protecting her family, but so tender in the way she cares for her young son and those who are sick, even if she is deeply angry with them.  I think I like her so much because I can relate to her.  I really enjoyed watching her and Seth rekindle their relationship, her, as she learned how to trust him again and he, as he began to remember her and their history together.

My recommendation
This is a great book for those who enjoy romance books, adventure stories, stories of the Old West and/or stories about ranching.

Thank you to Bethany House and the author for providing me with a copy of Over the Edge in exchange for my review.  My opinion remains my own.

Movie Review and Giveaway: Courageous

About the movie
Honor begins at home.

As law enforcement officers, Adam Mitchell, Nathan Hayes and their partners willingly stand up to the worst the world can offer, yet at the end of the day, they face a challenge that none of them are truly prepared to tackle: fatherhood. While they consistently give their best on the job, they quickly discover that their children are beginning to drift further away from them. When tragedy hits home, these men are left with a newfound urgency to renew their faith and reach out to their own children. Will they be able to find a way to serve and protect those who are most dear to them?
Commentary with the Kendrick Brothers
The Making Of Courageous
Deleted Scenes
Outrageous: Outtakes and Bloopers
Courageous In 60 Seconds
The Heart of Courageous
The Story of My Father

Friday, November 2, 2012

Album review: Chris Mann- Roads

  As a finalist on the hit NBC television series “The Voice,” Chris Mann captured the hearts of millions while drawing the respect of multi-platinum talents such as Christina Aguilera and Cee Lo. Following one of his many dynamic live performances on the show, Aguilera told him, “I feel the heavens open up when you sing.” America agreed, and when the series ended, Chris had not one, but two songs on the iTunes Top 10 Pop Singles Chart.

   Influenced by Pavarotti, Robbie Williams and vintage Sinatra, Chris’ blend of classically-trained tenor and contemporary pop vocals is a sound that’s rare in music today. Said Cee Lo, “He is by far one of the most incomparable vocalists I have ever heard.”

   I have to admit, I have not watched very many episodes of "The Voice" and had never heard of Chris Mann before being asked to review this album.  I typically listen to country music, but appreciate all types of music.  I really enjoyed this album and Chris has an amazing voice.  There was not a song that I did not enjoy.  The songs are all the ones you can sing along too, and are great for listening to when you are trying to relax.

   The album released on 10/30/2012 and can be purchased on both iTunes and Amazon.  Chris also has a Christmas EP available. You can keep up with Chris Mann on his website:

This is a review post from One2One Network. I was provided with a copy of the album and I am eligible for a prize drawing. All opinions stated are my own.