Friday, October 17, 2014

The Hardest Peace Book Review

I normally do no post book reviews. In fact, although I love literature, I rarely read anymore. As a busy mom of 2 special needs children, it is hard to make the time. However, when the opportunity arose to read and review The Hardest Peace, by Kara Tippetts, I was compelled to read it.

http://mundanefaithfulness.com/

The Hardest Peace is an incredible book about the importance of  seeing the good in every day, no matter how much bad there may also be. It is about letting go of fear and instead feeling peace and grace.

I always try to life my life that way, but I will admit, that it is sometimes very hard, and I do get caught up in myself, my worries and doubts, sometimes. Reading this book just opened by eyes even more to how powerful it can be to live that way.

What makes the message in The Hardest Peace so powerful to me, is that I know it comes from a genuine place. Kara has endured so much, stage IV caner, among other struggles. Knowing that she could handle that, and still have the positive attitude I strive to maintain continually, is a huge inspiration and motivation to me to work harder at it.

http://mundanefaithfulness.com/

Kara has all the same struggles, doubts and questions as we all do, but her willingness to explore that and how she wants to improve is so admirable. While I have thankfully never battles cancer, I feel that she and I are a lot alike.

I especially love that Kara brings all the answers and hope in this book back to God. I know that God is the reason I even made it out of some of the situations I have been in. While it's true none of us would be alive without him, in my case, it is not just his design that keeps me here, it is his grace and mercy.

Knowing that I can always count on God is a comfort I would be lost without. I am smart enough to know that I can do nothing on my own, and I am very thankful that I never have to. I know that God sees things in me that I could never imagine, and that in spite of my many, many flaws, I am created in his image, and that makes me special.

That knowledge is vital for me as I have struggled with self-worth issues my entire life. I always tell myself that the creator of the universe, The Alpha and the Omega, actually cares about me. I am but one miniscule human, and yet God is always there for me, that makes it harder to hate myself. How can I hate someone that God loves?

I don't want to venture too far off topic to talk about myself or my perceived struggles. I just want to reiterate how special The Hardest Peace is, and how highly I recommend reading it. It's rare when you read a book that could literally change your life, but The Hardest Peace definitely could.

If you have ever read The Hardest Peace, I would love to hear your thoughts, and if you have not yet, I hope you will and I would love to hear your thoughts once you have.

*Although this is a compensated book review, all opinions are 100% my own.*

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Gift Like a Pro with Go Pro and Best Buy

'Tis (almost) the season of hustle, bustle, parties and presents. If you are anything like me, you like to get an early start on all things holiday related, especially buying gifts. I know that gifts are not what is important this season, but if you are going to be giving any, then they ought to be thoughtful.

Giving a gift is pointless if you just grab something last minute because you almost couldn't be bothered to get the person something. Instead, giving presents is supposed to be a way to show how much you care for someone. I am not saying that not exchanging gifts is bad or means you don't care, I am saying that a thoughtless gift is WORSE than no gift.

Whenever I get a gift, I get it with a specific person in mind. I know some people shop sales and then just decide who gets what later, but I think that is far less personal, and I like my gifts to be special. I would rather a doodle on a torn piece of paper that actually and thought behind it than a diamond necklace that didn't.

Of course a thoughtful gift that is also fun, exciting, and useful is even better. I feel bad for my husband most of the time, because he is not the best at knowing what to get me. Not to say that I have ever disliked anything he gets, only that I don't even know what I could need/want half of the time, and he pretty much has to come up with ideas himself.

He does a great job, he gets me things I did not even know I wanted, but he likes it much better when I tell him what to get. This year, he has it a bit easier. He knows that as a blogger and just as a photography lover that I need a very good camera. He also knows that the camera I loved broke early this year and I had to replace it with a used one, that was supposed to be great, that I ended up hating.

He has already let it slip that he will be getting me a camera this year, which is just about the sweetest thing ever. The problem is, he does not know much about cameras, and he wants me to pick the one I want. Sounds easy enough, I tell him what I want, and he gets it.

Therein lies the problem, I don't know what camera I want. I mean if money was no object, I am sure I could choose easily, but it is. It's not tight, but I hate wasting money on my presents, and I want a great camera at a great price. I have researched cameras 'till my eyes shut down from exhaustion and I thought I knew what I wanted. A DSLR, like I had before, but a different model.

The thing about me though, is I am very fickle. So when I found out about the new GoPro Hero Cameras from Best Buy, I started rethinking things. These GoPro cameras look amazing. There are 3 different models, and any one of them would be fantastic:

GoPro Hero4 Black is the most advanced GoPro EVER! It boasts improved image quality and a 2x more powerful processor and 2x faster video frame rates.

The GoPro Hero4 Silver is the first ever GoPro to feature a touch-screen display. This means that controlling the camera, adjusting the settings and playing back video is super convenient. The Hero4 Silver is 1080p60 and 720p120 video and 12MP(photos) at a remarkable 30 frames per second, so you never miss the action.

The GoPro Hero Features high‐quality 1080p30 and 720p60 video, and 5MP photos up to 5 frames per second. Combined with the fact that it's waterproof, that is pretty astounding, especially for the value. Best Buy has the for am amazing price.

So now, I have to choose between the DSLR I was already considering and all three of these incredible cameras. One thing is for sure, no matter which camera I choose, I know where hubby will be going. Best Buy is the home of all the latest cameras, including the new GoPro. Plus they have a huge selection of accessories.

The more I think about it, the more I am really leaning toward a new GoPro over a DSLR. I mean they are so much lighter and easier to hold, and with the attachments, I could even use it hands free, which is a huge benefit for active events. Not to mention it is waterproof. I don't know how many great pool/beach, etc shots I have missed out on because I was too afraid to even bring my camera NEAR the water for fear of splashing or even rain.

Once a moment is gone you can NEVER get it back, and I do not want to let the chance to capture them pass me by because my camera isn't up for it. The new GoPro cameras are up for anything and then some. That is why they would be the perfect gift, for myself or ANYONE else.

As I mentioned, I want everything I give to be thoughtful, and I can think of a legitimate thoughtful reason that the GoPro would be perfect for almost everyone on my list, a real, personal, unique reason for each person. That's how versatile and useful the GoPro line is.

I mean, my kids would love their own camera, but kids ones are awful. They take horrible pictures and are still not as durable(IE: waterproof) as the GoPro. My teenage nieces and nephews would love this. My niece surfs, being able to capture incredible shots with the camera attached to her surfboard would be incredible to her.

My Father-in-law has been looking fr a great digital video camera and wants something easy to use. They travel a lot, even out of the country, and there is so much to photograph. Something easy to use, compact and versatile to be attached many places is perfect for him.

My sister is always saying how she hates the camera on her cell phone and she wants a better camera but hates to carry around too much, and that it would get bumped around and broken. GoPro is small, high quality and durable, fitting all her needs.

I could go on and on really, but I am sure you don't care how much my loved ones would adore the GoPro. Instead, think about all the people in your life for whom you are buying gifts, and I bet you will find that the GoPro is perfect for almost everyone. Who wouldn't love to be able to take incredible action selfies/groupies like this?

I don't mean to sound pushy, but I suggest you head over to Best Buy.com or visit your local Best Buy to check out the GoPro cameras more thoroughly and get the knowledgeable associates at Best Buy to answer any questions you may have.

I wish you all a very healthy and happy holiday season. I hope you find all the great gifts you are looking for, and if you visit Best Buy, I am confidant that you will. I would love to hear what items are at the top of your wishlist and what you are planking for your loved ones. I always love holiday inspiration.

*Disclaimer: The reviewer has been compensated in the form of a Best Buy Gift Card and/or received the product/service at a reduced price or for free.*

Monday, October 6, 2014

Prevent an Outbreak (and a Breakdown) with Licefreee Spray!

As a parent, worrying comes with the territory. I know that no matter what I am going to worry about my kids in one way or another several times a day at least. Of course that is not something I enjoy, but it is inescapable. When I am forced to worry about something that should be 100% preventable though, it really annoys me.

Being a parent is stressful enough, but when head lice gets added to the mix, you might as well start shopping for a straight jacket or some nice wigs for when you shave everyone's head. In other words, head lice are horrible little creatures likely to drive a person mad.

Unfortunately, I have dealt with head lice too many times. As a child, my sisters would pick it up from elementary school, and naturally, I would end up catching it as well. Since treating with that chemical shampoo takes at least 2 applications and endless hours of combing and picking, and my mom was not exactly parent of the year(making that too much effort for her to expend), it was impossible to get rid of.

It came to the point where my mother chose to shave my 4 year old sisters head rather than continue to try to treat them. The first time my son got lice, he was 2 years old. Considering he is also autistic and hated having his hair washed even with regular shampoo, and that I did not want to use harsh chemicals on him, I decided immediately to shave his head.

My son recently contracted lice again from school(there was an outbreak). I treated him 3 times and each time they lice were actually gone(and the nits), but he kept getting it from school(he would go from none to adults, no babies, that could only be from contact. After 3 times treating, I assumed his long hair was making it easy for the lice to grab on, and felt I had no choice than to cut it.

Since he was in school, I did not want to shave his head(or to even cut it at all), but I needed to reduce the risk of re-infestation, especially so my daughter(who had avoided it to that point) did not become infested.

Thankfully, the hair cut and the repellent spray I got seems to have worked. That was right before summer this year, and he made it to the summer lice free. Because of his autism, he also attends a 4 week program during the summer(with some of the same kids), and he thankfully still remained lice free.

So far into this school year, he is still free of lice in spite of having most of the same classmates, so hopefully the outbreak is behind us. However, nothing terrifies me more than another popping up, especially since my daughter will be starting Pre-K(she is only 3 but also has special needs) on Wednesday, and she will be at a different school, on a different bus to do so, meaning there are now 2 sources that could spark an infestation.

The worst part of a lice outbreak is using harmful chemicals on my children, especially with them being so young, and the hours of combing that it hard on their heads and my back, and the horrible reality that you have to repeat the whole process at least once even if everything goes perfectly.

There has to be a better way. Cell phones can talk to use and cars can break for you, but we can't have a safe, effect way to get bugs of out our hair? Well thankfully, there is finally a product that can. Licefreee Spray! is a ONE-STEP solution to head lice.


That alone made me squeal when I found out, but better still, Licefreee Spray! is homeopathic and kills lice naturally using sodium chloride, better know as SALT. As the name suggests, Licefreee is a spray. Simply spray the hair, Licefreee starts killing lice and nits(eggs) on contact, and there s no need to even rinse it out, just let it air dry. It is so gentle and safe for any age 6 months or older.

Since Licefreee kills nits too, there is not even any need to comb(a huge lifesaver for me), but if you want the peace of mind of combing too, Licefree even includes a professional stainless steel nit comb, one that is much more effecting(and gentle) at removing nits than those horrible plastic ones the shampoos include.

Best of all, if you are worried about an infestation, you caan simple spray Licefreee Spray! on every day when your child gets home to kill anything that may have tried to hitch a ride home.

Thanks to Licefreee Spray! I have one less thing to stress over. Not only am I covered in case of an infestation, I can actually help prevent one by using Licefreee Spray! every school day. If you are battling a lice outbreak, I cannot recommend any product to take care of it other than Licefreee. Everything else I ever tried has been a nightmare. I wish I had found this product sooner.

You can find Licefreee Spray! at most major supermarkets and drugstores including Walmart and Walgreens. You can also save $2 on Licefreee with this coupon which expires 10/20/14.


*Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are 100% my own.*

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Be A STAR

Tonight I will be participating in a Twitter chat along with the WWE Moms. While the chats are always fun, they are usually focused on very serious subjects, which is the case tonight. Tonight's chat is about the Be A STAR movement.

Be_A_Star_with_Tag_oln

Be A STAR (Show Tolerance And Respect) is a program to stomp out bullying. The goal is to teach everyone to be kind to one another, and to be an example for others to follow. The message in itself is very encouraging, but it just means so much to me that it is coming from the WWE.

WWE has such a huge global presence, and the fact that they choose to use their influence to spread such a positive message is so inspiring. Bullying is, unfortunately, such a huge issue nowadays. Anything that helps teach kids that it is cool to stand up against bullying is wonderful.

As a parent, bullying is something I will always worry about, but the fact that my son has autism and it is likely that my daughter does as well(we have been having her evaluated), my fears are only intensified.

I want my children to be different, because being different makes a person interesting, but I don't want the differences that they have no control over to be a source of stress for them. I experienced bullying as a child, and I would never wish it on anyone.

My experiences were not nearly as severe as many cases I have heard about, but I was Caucasian girl in a neighborhood nearly exclusive to African Americans. I did not fit in. They did not want my family there, and it was made very clear. At school, while there was more of a mix, I was still the target as we rode the same buses.

The fact that we were also very poor did not help at all, and almost nobody wanted to be my friend. I was not a target of violence or horrible teasing, but I was very clearly unwanted, and it is a horrible feeling. I would never want any child, especially my own, to feel like that.

I will do anything I can do to help prevent my kids and other kids from being bullied(or bullying others), and the fact that WWE is doing everything they can to help as well means a great deal to me. I hope that through the Be A STAR initiative, we will be able to put an end to bullying once and for all. We all need to work together to prevent bullying.

To learn more about this wonderful program, please join me tonight for the #BeASTAR Twitter chat from 7-8pm EST. You could win some great prizes, but supporting the cause is the best prize of all. I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Recipe For Success®

I love food. I love to eat and I love to cook, or at least I used to love cooking and still enjoy it at times. Now that I have 2 children, both of whom are autistic, and a house to take care of, and a blog to run and countless other obligations to worry about all at the same time, cooking has become more of a chore than a passion, which is actually quite sad.

Now I look for any shortcut to get a meal on the table quickly, but I don't want to sacrifice quality, flavor or nutrition to do it. That's why I was so excited when I was offered the opportunity to write a sponsored post for Success® White Rice.

I have always been a huge fan of rice. I love practically every flavor and variety. Whether as a side dish or as part of a main dish, rice it one of my favorite foods. While I fancy myself a good cook, I am embarrassed to admit that rice was one food I often had difficulty with. I know, how hard can it be to cook rice? Well I don't know, but mine comes out too hard or too mushy and it drove me crazy.

With practice I can make decent rice now, but while trying to help my son with homework and pick up 14 different messes and answer the phone, etc. I am not able to make rice(that is edible) too. That's what is so perfect about Success® Rice, it does the work for me.

Success® Rice is the original no measure, no mess boil-in-a-bag rice that cooks perfectly every time in only 10 minutes. It can be made on the stove-top or in the microwave. That is a huge convenience since I have only 1 large burner(the 3 small ones never cook right).

I still usually use the stove-top, just because I don't normally cook anything in the microwave, but knowing I can is awesome. Since it only takes 10 minutes, I can cook it while I prep the other items in the meal. I can create anything using Success® White Rice, and it is so wonderful for casaroles and jambalaya, but I use it even more frequently as a side dish.

We have Success® Rice at least twice a week, and it is a huge favorite. My go-to dish using Success® White Rice is Cilantro-Lime rice. It is so easy to make and can be eaten as a side or added to a meal(like burritos).

There are only 3 ingredients(besides salt & pepper if desired).

Since the bags are so perfectly portioned and easy to cook in multiples you can easily alter the recipe to feed as many as needed. I use:

2 bags of Success® White Rice
Juice of 1 lime(or 2 Key limes)
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Just add 2 bags Success® White Rice to water and bring to boil.
Once boiling, cook for 10 minutes.

While the rice is cooking, Juice the lime(s) and chop the cilantro.
After 10 minutes, the rice will be cooked to perfection. Drain water and allow bags to drain. Then cut the bags open and pour the rice into the pot.
See how perfect the rice came out? mine never looks that good without Success®.

All that is left to do is add the lime juice and cilantro to the rice and stir to combine. Add salt and/or pepper if desired(I add a bit of salt), and enjoy.
This rice is fantastic. It takes almost identical to the rice used in one of my most favorite made-to-order burrito places. I love being able to make my own and enjoy it anytime I want without having to overpay or leave the house.

Success® White Rice is not only great-tasting, it is Gluten-Free and a great source of complex carbohydrates. It is available in two sizes to accommodate any household size(or rice addiction).

If for some reason you are not a huge fan of white rice, Success® still has you covered. Success® Rice comes in 4 fantastic varieties. Success® White Rice(or course), Success® Brown Rice, Success® Thai Jasmine Rice and, my favorite, Success® Basmati Rice.

With  Success® Rice I can cook like a pro without having to know how to cook like a pro. There is something for everyone and all my recipe needs. Success® even helps me find inspiration with over 300 recipes on successrice.com. All of the recipes look amazing, and I cannot wait to try them ALL(like I need an excuse to eat more rice).

Success® Rice is also one of the brands participating in a sweepstakes from O, The Oprah Magazine! To enter, visit http://omagonline.com/cooking. There you will submit the entry form and pin with inspiration from the "How Are You Cooking This Fall" Promo Pinterest Board. For doing so, you could win culinary-themed prizes!

I would love to know your thoughts on Success® Rice. Have you ever used it? Do you plan to know? What is your favorite variety of race? I would also love it if you would share your favorite rice recipe. I am always looking for new ones to try. If you have anything else to share, please leave me a comment. I love connecting with you all.

*This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf Success® Rice.*
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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Live a No Barriers Live with Help From Nature Valley

*Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are 100% my own.*

You only live once. That saying is used a lot in an attempt to push yourself to do something you normally wouldn't or justify doing things that maybe you shouldn't, but it definitely true. You really should be living your life to the fullest without endangering yourself or harming anyone else.

Life is entirely too short, and people often do not realize just how true it is until it's nearing the end. There are so many excuses as to why you can't do this or haven't done that. I am not criticizing, I make them too, way more often than I'd like to admit.

The problem with that is no one wants to look and reminisce about doing the laundry or running errands or watching some crappy reality show. It's the adventures that make life memorable(good and bad), and I am sick of only watching adventures on TV.

I have not had many adventures yet, but thankfully there is still time for me(God willing). I plan to take my life back and make it better than ever, and take my family along for the ride.

I was motivated by Erik Weihenmayer. I have been following Erik's journey on Tumblr and it is so inspiring. He has done so many incredible things, whereas I have never ventured out of my home state.

It is incredible to see his pictures and watch videos of him in the most breathtaking places in the world. It makes you really want to be there too.

Erik climbs mountains, goes kayaking(in the Grand Canyon) and so many other amazing feats that are mind blowing in themselves, but made nearly incomprehensible when you factor in that he is blind. I cannot do any of that, even with my sight. I am so moved my his dedication and his hunger for life. If everyone approached life that way, the world would be a much better place to live.

Currently, Erik is doing The “No Barriers Grand Canyon Expedition”. It is a 21-day, 277 mile journey through some of the world’s most challenging whitewater terrain in the Colorado River. Erik Weihenmayer will be supported by an experienced paddling team, and joined by accomplished kayaker and Navy veteran Lonnie Bedwell.  Together, Erik and Lonnie will demonstrate the power of harnessing inner strength to overcome challenging barriers.

This expedition serves to inspire people to not limit themselves, eliminate barriers in their lives and live life to its fullest.  Nature Valley is joining Erik in inviting people to pledge to get out there and live a No Barriers Life.

From here forward, I vow to be more active, to seek more adventures and to never give up. While I will never be climbing Everest, I will do so metaphorically by overcoming my perceived limits and making the most of what I am capable of - to live a No Barriers Life.

There is an actual pledge to do this, that I have already taken. I hope that you will join me in taking the No Barriers Pledge.

Now that I am determined to overcome the mental barriers I had been playing the victim to, I can focus on the physical barriers. I am not the most athletic person. In fact, I am totally out of shape(aesthetically and in terms of ability). I get tired, I run out of energy, you name it, it happens. And on an adventure, those things slow you down and make you sloppy, which is a huge hindrance.

That is where Nature Vally comes in. Erik uses Nature Valley to fuel his epic adventures, and if it is good enough for him, I know it will work for me. I'm really glad that its Nature's Valley, too, because I already have that part mastered. I am a Nature's Valley addict. The Oats 'n Honey Granola Bars are one of my favorite snacks ever.

I would love to keep raving about my love of Nature's Vally and bragging about my great "talent" for eating Oats 'n Honey Crunchy Granola Bars, but life is waiting. There is an adventure out there, and I am going to find it. Thanks to Nature's Valley, my stomach is full, but I am still hungry for life. I can't wait to see what I can discover. #MyAdventure #GetOUTThere

I would love to hear about your adventures. Have you ever done something amazing? If you don't have anything notable so far, what do you plan to do?

*Although this is a sponsored post, all opinions are 100% my own.*

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Saving (and Earning) Made Simple with Jingit

I obviously cannot speak for everyone. There may be people out there who do not want to make money by doing a few simple activities like watching videos and checking in at the stores you already shop, but I certainly am not one of them. In fact, no one I know would pass up the chance to earn money so easily.

I know that there are plenty of places that promise fast, easy money, and that the majority have fine print, and so many hoops to jump through you feel like you are preforming a circus act, but Jingit is different. That is why I am so excited to share this sponsored post with you.

http://bit.ly/1o9IPo8

I only share things like this when I really believe in them. I have been talked into trying some less than reputable sites in an attempt to make money before, and I it definitely no fun. I am not about to waste my time on a site that is not worth it, and would never recommend if it was not great.

The awesome thing about Jingit is that it is not technically a "survey site" or "sharing site" like I am used to. First of all, Jingit is an app, so you can earn money from anywhere, right from your smartphone or tablet. Whether you kill time watching the paid videos while you are waiting for you meal or at the doctor or you check in during your regular shopping trips, earning is easy.

How does Jinget earn you money when you shop? Well there are several ways. Using your smartphone and the Jingit app to check in at your favorite stores, You can scan the barcodes of products in the store(no need to buy them) to earn even more. You can also earn by purchasing selected products. Simply scan the receipt of the participating products and earn cash. The cash back offers are personalized for you too, making it more likely you will WANT to buy the featured items.

http://bit.ly/1o9IPo8

You can also earn by watching videos. Any tie you see a video with the Jingit logo online, click it. Whether it is on Jingit or on one of their partner sites, you will earn cash. There are surveys that will earn you cash too.

It is not tedious or complicated, and while it will not pay your rent, it is pretty good cash, especially considering how simple it is. I have seen things that earn you like 3 cents and such, which is only pointless and infuriating. Jingit is not like that, they pay fairly and the cash adds up fast.
http://bit.ly/1o9IPo8

I have only been using Jingit for a short time, since I just learned about it, and I have already earned $23. To some people that may not be much, but for doing very simple activities for a few minutes a day, it is pretty great to me.

Every bit of extra money comes in handy, especially with the holidays coming faster than any of us would like to think about. Not only with this help me save money for the holidays, it will help me save ON the holidays. All my holiday spending will be even more rewarding.
http://bit.ly/1o9IPo8

The Jingit app makes it so simple to earn cash online, in-store and on the go with their participating brands and you'll even get personalized offers for cash back when you shop using the Jingit app. Download the Jingit app now to check out all the fantastic earning opportunities including Grocery and Home Essentials, Back To School, Progresso Recipe Starters and so many more. Use Jingit, earn cash, it's that easy.

I would love to hear about your experience with Jingit if you have one. If you are only learning of Jingit now, I would love to know what you think and if you plan to give it a try. I would also love to hear of any other experiences you may have with simmilar concepts for earning. Have you been let down before? Can you tell that Jingit is different. Let's chat about it in the comments.

Be sure to enter below for your chance to win a $500 Mastercard Gift Card! Good luck!

*This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf Jingit.* a Rafflecopter giveaway Tracking Pixel