If the Shoe Fits {Book Review}

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About If the Shoe Fits

Julianne used to believe in fairy tales; she’s been watching for Prince Charming to come charging in on his white steed ever since the day her mother read her Cinderella for the first time. But she’s never come close to finding the perfect man-instead she’s always tripping over her childhood best friend, Will. And who finds their Prince Charming on a 10-speed bicycle on the other side of the cul de sac? Well… Julianne does. Only she doesn’t have a clue.
She and Will are attorneys now, and they’ve joined up in private practice in a beautiful Cincinnati office building that overlooks the Ohio River. And then one day Julianne is on her way to court, and runs right smack dab into Prince Charming. But when she looks again, all she finds is a metaphoric sign she is certain came straight from Heaven: The Prince’s toolbox has fallen off the back of his truck, and a work boot along with it. What better way for God to grab the attention of a Cinderella-in-training than to show her a glass slipper…errrr, work boot?…waiting to be reunited with its owner?

So she sets out to track down the mysterious Prince Charming. He’s the most gorgeous guy she’s ever seen…and a caring animal rescuer, too. Surely he must be the soul mate God has prepared her for.

But, Julianne’s prince is starting to look less and less charming all the time. No matter how she tries to romanticize him, he just keeps tumbling down off that dumb pedestal. And with the Bar Association dinner coming up that will honor her for her outstanding charity work over the year, Julianne wants so much for her friends and colleagues to see her with someone besides her best friend Will. To make matters worse, Prince Charming has no designs on wearing a penguin suit and attending a stuffy old dinner. With her pride pressing in on her like sticks from a cactus, Julianne sinks to the bottom of the proverbial barrel and actually offers to pay Paul to be her date.
Julianne is on a collision course with God’s perfect plan for her life…if only she could open her eyes and see it before it’s too late.

My Review

This is a cute, quick read.  It is quite charming and in places, very funny.  I love the friendship that Julianne and Will share – it’s almost too good to want to push them to romance at some points!  As characters, Julianne and Will are also themselves charming, although there are times I want to shake them both.  Julianne, as a successful attorney, should not have put up with NEARLY the crap she put up with from her supposed “Prince Charming”, who is pretty much the vilest creature on Earth!

I loved the relationship that Julianne had with her mom, but didn’t like the relationships that she had with other women in the story – especially the other main female character – also an attorney.  As opposed to be friendly or even civil, they were extremely back biting and petty.  I hate to see women be like that in real life, and I don’t love the perpetuation of the stereotype that women are ultimately at odds with each other (over a man).

That being said, this is really a fun (and funny!) story that is definitely worth the time to read!  In terms of it being a Christian fiction novel, there is not a lot of preachiness or a real concentration of the religious aspects – it blends nicely with the story.

 

 

Smart Cookies Cooks Up a Boredom Buster

* I received a complimentary copy of The Smart Cookies in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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I hate hearing “I’m bored” around my house – my younger daughter frequently wants to play a board game, but it’s not always a convenient time.  Smart Cookies is just the solution – not only is it a one-person game, but it’s brain boosting!  The game is designed for players age 6 and up, and is based on principles of logic.

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The games is easy to set up and play.  The spiral notebook has a variety of logic clue “recipes” that require players to place nine different “cookies” onto the “cookie sheet” in a way that obeys all of the clues.  The picture above is the very easiest puzzle, and I don’t think most six year old kiddos would have a hard time figuring out this puzzle.

But here’s the fun part – as players progress through the spiral binder, the clues get harder, and this helps kids develop and strengthen their reasoning and logic skills, as well as verbal expression.  David Capon, President of FoxMind, explained, “Smart Cookies challenges players to use intuitively their reasoning skills  to solve the puzzles while having fun. The skills that young minds develop as they play Smart Cookies are helpful in learning most subjects. The puzzles use visual clues in an appealing cookie design that guide players to advance at their own pace.”

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My daughters really love this game too – the puzzles prevent a nice challenge and keep them well engaged – this game is going to be a FANTASTIC boredom buster.  The cookies are solid and don’t appear easy to break.  You’ll want to watch how you put up the “cookie sheet” and the puzzle book as these are a little easier to damage by little hands.

Smart Cookies ($24.95) was recently named one of the 10 Best Educational Games by Dr. Toy.

Chem-Dry Makes Spring Cleaning Your Carpets a (Healthy) Breeze

* I received a free sample of Chem-Dry Cleaning Products in exchange for my honest review, but all opinions are my own.

 

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Do you have mess makers in your home?  We sure do – between my two kids, two dogs, and a ferret, our carpets, frankly, don’t stand a chance.  I try to use organic products when possible, but sometimes a mess gets  made (usually by one of the dogs) that needs some awesome cleaning power.  However, everyone in my house is an allergy sufferer, and my youngest daughter has pretty severe asthma – she is on two inhalers and asthma medication every day.  So it’s really important to me to have a healthy home that isn’t going to irritate my daughter’s (and the rest of the household) allergies.

I had a chance to try out three different Chem-Dry cleaning products:  Carpet Stain Extinguisher Spot Remover, Grease & Oil Stain Extinguisher & Carpet Deodorizer (Lemon Scent).

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Unfortunately, I had an opportunity to do some extensive testing of the Chem-Dry Carpet Stain Extinguisher Spot Remover.  My oldest dog got an upset belly while we were at work at left several “presents” on the living room run (although this really isn’t like her).  This was a DISGUSTING stain.  The Spot Remover was so easy to use, and it worked AMAZINGLY well.  I just sprayed it on and let it sit for about 30 seconds, and then blotted the stain up with a clean cloth.  Stain GONE – no kidding – one application and the stain was out.  Not only does it have professional strength carbonated cleaning solution, it is green-certified and contains no harsh solvents, detergent, and bleaches, so it’s safe for both my girls and my pets.  Also, it doesn’t leave behind any dirt-attracting residue like other spot cleaners.  I’m a HUGE new fan.  I followed up with the Chem-Dry Carpet Deodorizer that left the whole room with a light citrus scent.  So if you’re looking to add a great carpet cleaner to your spring cleaning arsenal, I highly recommend Chem-Dry!

As you start Spring Cleaning this year, you have a chance to make it a whole lot sweeter!  Make sure to stop by and enter Chem-Dry’s spring cleaning contest with a grand prize of $500 in cleaning products.

What is your LEAST favorite part of spring cleaning?

 

Brieftons NextGen Spiralizer + FLASH Giveaway


* Disclaimer:  I received a free sample of the Brieftons NextGen Spiralizer in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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I love, love, love pasta.  However, pasta does not love me and definitely does not fit into my diet!  It can be hard to substitute healthy things when you aren’t used to it, but the Brieftons NextGen Spiralizer makes it super easy to substitute pasta with healthy spiral veggies.  This helps you meet those daily requirements of veggies while keeping out carbs.

There are lots of spiralizers on the market – many of them are super clunky and big, and I don’t know about you, but my counter space is precious!  There are also lots of smaller spiralizers that are like pencil sharpeners, but these don’t have a lot of cutting options and they waste a lot of your vegetables or won’t even work at all for large vegetables.  They can also be brutal to clean!

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The Brieftons NextGen sprializer solves these problems – the innovative cap design allows for a deeper reach and firmer grab on veggies with 50% less wastage. It also accommodates vegs up to 6.5 CM in diameter, compared to 4 – 4.5 CM in competing products. It also features a longer blade (7 CM). This results in a longer cutting surface & shorter time to spiralize vegs.

The other great thing is that it is easy to store and comes with removable blades so it is easy to clean.  If you are looking to add a spiralizer to your kitchen, I highly recommend the Brieftons NextGen Spiralizer!

And, one lucky Mama Games reader has a chance to win a Brieftons NextGen Spiralizer in this FLASH GIVEAWAY!

You must enter before 2 pm on 3/5/15, and you MUST respond within 1 hour of notification or a new winner will be chosen!

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Purex Powershot with Auto Dosing Technology + Giveaway

* Disclaimer: The Purex brand provided me with a sample of Purex Powershot detergent in exchange for a product review. All opinions are my own.

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Do you have kids that like to help with the laundry?  Do you have kids that like to help with the laundry for extra money??  I know I do!  One of the concerns that I have with my kids helping with the laundry is that they can easily dump out wayyyy to much detergent and make a HUGE mess.  Well, the new Purex Powershot with Auto Dosing Technology has SOLVED that problem with a new easy measure liquid detergent!  You will never have a laundry mess again!  But instead of telling you how easy it is to use, I’ll let my daughter show you!

 

Looks easy, doesn’t it!  That’s because it is!  This is a great easy measure liquid detergent, and most important, it leaves your clothes clean and smelling great.  The Auto Dosing is really easy.  You just turn the bottle upside down, pour until it stops, and then latch the lid!  There is no fuss, no mess, and NO measuring.  You get the perfect dose every time – and if you have an extra dirty load, you just put in two doses.  Easy peasy!   The bottle automatically refills for your next load.

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Purex Powershot is also an excellent value and much more cost effective that higher priced detergents.  Give the Purex Powershot with Auto Dosing Technology a try – you won’t be disappointed!

AND, three lucky winners will have a chance to try Purex Powershot for themselves.  Enter below to win a coupon for a free bottle of Purex Powershot with Auto Dosing Technology!  Enter below to win!
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An Instant Read Thermometer Makes Meat Safer


* Disclaimer:  I received a sample product in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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Do you use instant read thermometers when you cook? If you are like many cooks,  you probably don’t.  One study showed that only 46% of people who responded to a survey said that they never use a thermometer for chicken, and 66% never use one when cooking hamburgers.  Using a digital thermometer when cooking is super important.  Food can come to you contaminated with all sorts of icky organisms like salmondella, E. coli, or listeria. And if you don’t properly cook your food to the right temperature, these pathogens can make you and your family sick.

You may wonder what temperature is safe to cook your food – the instant read digital thermometer that I had a chance to try came with a handy chart for reference for all types of meat, which was one of my favorite features.

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Safe temperatures vary by what meat you are eating – for example, chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees, and hamburgers should be cooked until at least 160 degrees.  The instant digital thermometer that I tried out was super easy to use – it goes into the thickest cuts of meats and provides an extremely quick read.  I used it to test some chicken sausages that I was cooking for my girls’ lunch.

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As you can see, the numbers are really easy to read.  One thing I really love about this instant read thermometer is that the buttons don’t have cracks around them – so food can’t creep into the crevices.  It is so hard to clean when this happens.  Speaking of cleaning, this thermometer is super easy to wipe down and sanitize, which is a huge plus.

So if you’re looking to add an instant read food thermometer to your kitchen supplies, I highly recommend the one that I tried out!

Buy an Instant Read Thermometer

Buy an Instant Read Thermometer on Amazon for only $19.99

100% Plant Based Konjac Sponge Infused with French Green Clay {Product Review}

* I received a free sample of the Konjac Sponge Infused with French Green Clay in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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The 100% Plant Based Konjac Sponge Infused with French Green Clay is 100% NATURAL, ECO-FRIENDLY and BIODEGRADEABLE, and is a great beauty sponge to add to your beauty regime.

As I have aged, my skin hasn’t exactly improved.  I’m actually more prone to having bouts of acne and blackheads than I did as a teenager.  Not to mention some of the anti-aging products can make my pores feel clogged after a bit.  An exfoliation routine is super important for me, but many of the products with chemical exfoliators are too harsh for my super sensitive skin – so I often have a bit of a dilemma on my hands!

This beauty sponge contains Konjac fiber, which is is grown on the pristine volcanic plains of Jeju Island in South Korea, free from chemicals, pollution and irritants.

When you open the sponge and get it wet, it soaks the water right up and just about doubles in size – it starts out quite hard.  However, once it is wet it is very soft and glides over your skin.  It gently exfoliates, cleanses, and is naturally pH balanced.  This is the perfect exfoliator for me – it is soft but still exfoliates – and the price can’t be beat, unlike expensive electronic gadgets.  

My favorite feature of the Konjac sponge is its shape – the tear drop is PERFECT for getting into the blackhead ridden creases around my nose! And the other best part is that the sponge is:

-Free From Chemicals, Pollution and Irritants

-100% Biodegradable and Sustainable (You can even plant it in your flowerbed or compost when you want to retire it)

-Not Tested on Animals, and Vegan Friendly

-Has NO Added Dyes or Colorants

PERFECT!  I am always trying to add more natural products into my routine, and the 100% Plant Based Konjac Sponge Infused with French Green Clay definitely fits the bill!

You can purchase the 100% Plant Based Konjac Sponge Infused with French Green Clay  on Amazon for only $10!

Bella Spill-Proof Dog Mats {Product Review}

* I received a free Bella mat for my honest review. All opinions are my own.

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If you have pups like I do, you know that your fur babies can be as big of a mess as your human kiddos.  So I was super excited to try out the Bella Spill Proof Dog Mat.

The Bella Spill Proof Dog Mat comes in an adorable bone shape and sits under your dogs’ food and water bowls.  I have the small mat and my dog’s full sized bowls easily fit inside of the mat.  My dog is pretty sensitive and she refused to eat her food in the kitchen – it took a while but she finally will eat on our hard word floors.  So it makes it even more important that we prevent spills and splashes – or else our hard wood will be ruined.  Before we got a Bella® Spill-Proof Dog Mat, we were constantly wiping up spills and sloshes with a towel, and food would scatter all over the place when she would eat.

One of the best things about the Bella Spill Proof Dog Mat is that it is slip resistant- it has little rubber feet so Sunny can’t push the mat across the floor.  It stays in place and catches any food pieces that she drops.  It makes clean up as simple as dumping the mat rather than sweeping the whole floor.  And it cleans really easy no matter how big the mess – I just rinse if off in the sink.  Also, I don’t worry about Sunny eating directly off the mat, since it is non-toxic and BPA free.

So if you have a messy eater or need to protect your floors, I highly recommend that you check out a Bella Spill Proof Dog mat!

Meritropolis {Book Review}

* I was provided a free copy of Meritropolis in exchange for my honest review.  All opinions are my own.

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About Meritropolis

The year is AE3, 3 years after the Event. Within the walls of Meritropolis, 50,000 inhabitants live in fear, ruled by the brutal System that assigns each citizen a merit score that dictates whether they live or die. Those with the highest scores thrive, while those with the lowest are subject to the most unforgiving punishment–to be thrust outside the city gates, thrown to the terrifying hybrid creatures that exist beyond.

But for one High Score, conforming to the System just isn’t an option. Seventeen-year-old Charley has a brother to avenge. And nothing–not even a totalitarian military or dangerous science–is going to stop him.

Where humankind has pushed nature and morals to the extreme, Charley is amongst the chosen few tasked with exploring the boundaries, forcing him to look deep into his very being to discern right from wrong. But as he and his friends learn more about the frightening forces that threaten destruction both without and within the gates, Meritropolis reveals complexities they couldn’t possibly have bargained for…

My Review

If you have wandered into a bookstore in the last couple of years, you will know that dystopian literature is all the rage in the YA section.   As this is a super popular genre, I have read several of them lately – and some are definitely better than others.  While I love this particular genre, I am always suspect of a new author breaking on to the scene.  The question that always enters my mind is “Is this a rehash of something I’ve already read?”

I can say that I was definitely pleasantly surprised by Meritropolis!  While all the elements of a great dystopian book were there, it was unique!  One of the features that I really enjoyed was the artwork in the book, which depicted the creative animal hybrids that exist in the book “Post-Event”.  These are some pretty imaginative creatures and I felt like this added a very unique aspect to this novel.

The main character is  bit different from others that I have encountered in YA dystopian novels – Charley, the main character, definitely has an ax to grind.  As a “High Score”, I did expect him to exhibit some more intelligence traits – so far what I have seen as a reader is that he is quite physically powerful, but not as intelligent as his “score” would imply that he is.  His female love interest definitely seems to have the brains of the relationship!  I am hoping that the author develops this trait in Charley moving forward (see below).

I really enjoyed the parts of the book where we are learning about the world outside the walls of Metropolis. Fairly soon after this, a “war” begins with raiders of unknown origins, which leads to the end of the book.  There is a HUGE cliffhanger at the end of this book, which I am assuming means a sequel is coming.  Otherwise this book has a very “Giver” like quality in that you will be left to decide for yourself what happens to these characters.

I did enjoy the book, but I think the optimal age range for this book is 11-15.  It is certainly quite appropriate for young adults and I have no qualms about handing this one right over to my 13 year old for her to enjoy!

 

And here’s an awesome giveaway for you to enter!

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The Nourished Kitchen Bring the Farm to Your Table

*Disclaimer:  I received The Nourished Kitchen from Blogging for Books for this review.  All opinions are my own.

 

About the Book

A cookbook from the author of the popular website Nourished Kitchen, featuring over 160 recipes based on the “traditional foods” philosophy of eating, which emphasizes whole grains, dairy, red meat, organ meats, and fermented foods.  

The traditional foods movement is a fad-free approach to cooking and eating that emphasizes nutrient-dense, real food, and values quality, environment, and community over the convenience of processed, additive-laden products that are the norm on grocery store shelves.

Based on the research of Weston A. Price, who studied the diets of indigenous peoples to understand the relationship between nutrition and health, a traditional foods diet avoids processed ingredients, but allows meat, animal fat, and grains. It embraces cultured dairy, such as kefir and yogurt, that contain beneficial bacteria; fermented foods, such as sauerkraut and kombucha, that are rich in probiotics; and organ meats that are packed with vitamins and minerals. It also celebrates locally grown foods. By choosing ingredients from nearby sources, you create a stronger connection to your food, and have a better understanding what you’re eating and how it was produced.

In The Nourished Kitchen, Jennifer McGruther guides you through her traditional foods kitchen and offers more than 160 recipes inspired by  the seasons, land, and waters around her. In the morning, fuel up with Eggs Poached in Fiery Tomato Sauce. On a hot summer day, Cucumber Salad with Dill and Kefir is a cooling side dish, and on a chilly fall evening, Barley in Broth with Bacon and Kale offers comfort and warmth. Old-Fashioned Meat Loaf with Gravy makes a hearty family meal, while Chicken in Riesling with Peas can be the centerpiece of an elegant supper. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Maple-Roasted Pears, and quench your thirst with naturally fermented Vanilla Mint Soda. With the benefit of Jennifer’s experience, you can craft a loaf of Whole Wheat and Spelt Sourdough Bread and stock your kitchen with Spiced Sour Pickles with Garlic.     

The Nourished Kitchen not only teaches how to prepare wholesome, nourishing foods, but also encourages a mindful approach cooking and a celebration of old-world culinary traditions that have sustained healthy people for millennia. Whether you’re already a practitioner of the traditional foods lifestyle or simply trying to incorporate more natural, highly nutritious foods into your routine, you will find plenty to savor in The Nourished Kitchen.

My Review

I love this book – it is truly “old-school.”  One of my favorite books (still) is Little House in the Big Woods, and I love the part of the book that talks about how the family puts up all of their food, including fresh churned butter.  This book taps into that same part of me…the part that loves (when I have the time) to get my hands dirty and make food from scratch, from fresh, local ingredients.

There are some really cool recipes in this book – it teaches you how to make butter, cheese, and a variety of yogurt.  Some of them require raw milk (meaning not pasteurized), and I’m not sure where to get that just yet, but just ready about the techniques is fascinating!  The book is divided into sections, such as “From the Water” and “From the Fields” and has a HUGE variety of foods – from drinks, to breakfast, to dinner, to dessert.  The ingredients range from the somewhat-hard-to-procure but yummy sounding (Rabbit Pie with Bacon and Chantarelles – umm, yes please!) to the gourmet (Braised Short Rib with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Herbs), to the no-thank-you-but-interesting (Pickled Tongue with Mustard Sauce).  That being said, as with other cookbooks I have reviewed, this is NOT a cookbook where you can go to your pantry, grab a bunch of canned goods and throw together dinner – it’s recipes are thoughtful and soulful.

This is truly a cookbook that is a fascinating, beautiful addition to your cookbook collection, and gives you a blast from our culinary past.  It may make you want to move to a farm, especially if you are like me and are partially bent to that idea in any case!

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