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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Review: Great book series for reluctant young readers!

I am fortunate to have a child who loves nothing better than a good book. He comes by it honestly, from his mama!  I've literally got books started all over the place - one is always in the van, in case I have to wait somewhere. Then there's a bathtub basket of books, and one on my nightstand too! You might even spy one on my kitchen table, and one on the coffee table!  So you can understand why I'm thrilled that he loves reading so much, too.  Some days after his school work is done, you'll find us both cozied up in my bed with our books, or reclining on each end of the sofa reading.  It's definitely a passion for us both!

D's breezed through several series of books this year - including the Maximum Ride books and the Gone series, plus the Maze Runner and The Giver.  When I had the opportunity to check out the first book in a series by author Jeff Gunhus, I knew my son would be excited too! I read the description and knew he would be hooked.

The series is called The Templar Chronicles and so far, there are four books in it.  Book one is Jack Templar, Monster Hunter.  You can read more about it here!  My son gave me his mini-review to share: "GREAT characters, a plot that was fast-paced with lots of action, and I really liked reading about all of the monsters in the book!"  He was really bummed when he finished the last page of Jack Templar, Monster Hunter. Well....he doesn't know it, but he will be getting the next book for New Year's, so he can continue the series!  (there will eventually be seven books in it). If your kiddos enjoyed Harry Potter, or Percy Jackson, they are going to love this series too.  Even a child who doesn't love reading will enjoy all of the action and adventure in Jack Templar!

If you are still looking for a last minute Christmas gift for a special kiddo in your life,  this book (or all four!) would be great for young readers (maybe 5th/6th grade and up)   You can get it for kindle too - no leaving the house required!

Jeff Gunhus also has a highly rated book for parents with kids who don't love reading. It's about reaching the reluctant readers in your life, and you can find out more and purchase it here.
Over on Amazon, learn how he turned his son, a reluctant reader, into an avid reader!

You can see all of the books from Mr. Gunhus at his website.  I'm thrilled that my son loves his books so much - we are now big fans of his work and look forward to finishing this series!

I received a free copy of the book for my son to read for this review.  No other compensation was received.  

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: 2.5% Retinol Moisturizer by Body Merry

I have been using this Body Merry 2.5% Retinol Moisturizer for about 3 weeks.  I love it! It is so rich, yet absorbs very quickly.  I can apply makeup very soon after using this.  I didn't have any irritation from the Retinol when using this either. It does take time to see big results, but I am quite happy with it so far!  I'm also super-happy to share and support products made in the USA!

Product Information:
Retinol has time and again proven itself to be a potent youth reviving ingredient. Body Merry's Retinol Surge Moisturizer combines the power of 2.5% Retinol with a bunch of soothing natural antioxidants & ingredients (Wildcrafted Green Tea, Organic Jojoba Oil, Vitamins E & B5 plus Shea Butter) that work together to visibly reduce the signs of aging. Plant Derived Hyaluronic Acid hydrates and nourishes your skin. This unique formulation not only helps to provide a flawless tone and texture, but also leaves your skin feeling and looking smoother, plumper and younger.  Works its charm on discoloration, acne, hyperpigmentation and sun damage. Both men and women can use this moisturizer! Works well for all skin types.  

The formula does not contain any harsh chemicals such as Parabens, Sulphates or Phthalates. The moisturizer is made in the USA in an FDA registered and GMP compliant facility. It is not tested on animals.

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, December 9, 2014

Review: We Choose Virtues poster

As a homeschooling mama, I love finding new resources and companies that offer products to encourage and motivate my son.  This colorful poster is a treasure!   It clearly illustrates what is expected in our home, and it's been a cute yet important addition to our homeschool room. 

According to Heather McMillan, the creator of We Choose Virtues, this poster features a complete list of all 12  Virtues, their Catchphrases and Antonyms. The Kids of VirtueVille are pictured next to each Virtue for easy reference. The Kids Virtue Poster presents a language of Virtue that is both clear and positive.  If you are looking for a precise and consistent standard for both attitudes and actions that everyone can understand, this is a great place to start. It will help you create a brand new culture in your home or classroom that will eliminate confusion and build hope. 

The 12 Virtues are: I am Diligent, I am Obedient, I am Kind, I am Helpful, I am Forgiving, I am Honest, I am Perseverant, I amSelf-controlled, I am Content, I am Patient, I am Gentle and I am Attentive!

My readers can use promo code VIRTUE15 for 15% off this item from  

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.

Review: Dr Song's 50% Lactic Acid Face Peel

I was offered the chance to try Dr.Song's 50% Lactic Acid Face Peel.  I was a little nervous after reading the instructions, which mentioned sun sensitivity and other possible side effects, as some people have reactions to Lactic Acid.  I was lucky and had no such problems, other than a slight tingling on my face where it was applied.

I have only tried it once so far, as the instructions state to use once every 4 weeks.  I left it on for about one minute, and next time I do the peel I will leave it on for an additional minute, as well.  It is said to help with wrinkles and discolorations, so I'm excited to see how it works after a 2nd peel!

Very pleased with the results so far!  Hope this gives you an idea of what to expect when using a Lactic Acid peel.  Dr. Song's is great!

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.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

How to Throw a Country/Rustic/Shabby Chic Bridal Shower on a budget

My sweet daughter got engaged on New Year's Day of 2014.  So we knew a wedding was coming up, but they couldn't decide when they wanted to have it.  Initially they planned a Spring 2015 wedding, but as the summer progressed, they decided to speed things up.  I wanted to throw a shower for her, so I enlisted two of my sweet friends, Denise & Renea, to help and we got to planning!

Katie had many ideas on her wedding pinterest boards: shabby chic,  vintage, country, burlap and lace, chalkboards, mason jars, chevron stripes and hot pink.  She's eclectic like me, for sure!  I tried to incorporate each of these elements into her bridal shower.

My budget was almost non-existent.  My husband was on medical leave most of last summer and money has been tight, to say the least.  I think we managed to do a great job, despite the lack of funds, and I found that you CAN throw a great shower on a do-it-yourself budget!

For the shower, we used her fiance's church.  I never saw the room we were using until the night before her shower when we went to set up.  We had some obstacles to work around, including a long row of hooks, several doors, and a big soda machine!  But it all worked out in the end.

BRIDAL SHOWER GIFT TABLE:  I made a backdrop from a dowel I bought at Michael's, and 4 rolls of crepe paper from Dollar Tree (solids) and Michael's (polka dots).  I doubled up long lengths (maybe 8 feet each?) of crepe paper, then hot glued the strips to the top of the dowel and let them hang freely.  I alternated white/pink/polka dots. I saw many of these on pinterest and etsy and it turned out great!  I will be making these for other events - they are easy, cheap and look really cute.

I make rag garlands to sell on etsy, but also for decorating our home. When I find fabrics I like, I make several, so I had a couple of garlands in pink and green tones that I used to decorate the front of the table. I bought command hooks to use for this and they failed miserably. Don't waste your money! I ended up taping the garlands to the tables.  The plastic tablecloths came from Dollar Tree.

My sister-in-law Lia taught me to make tissue paper flowers.  I picked bright tissue papers and got to work. In the end we only used three above the gift table, and a few by the drink station. They are SO easy. If you want to learn to make them yourself, there are some great step by step tutorials - a quick google search will bring them up!

I did a google search to find free chalkboard printables to use for decorating as well.  This was a favorite! This was another. (I framed these and gave them to K after the shower to use at home.)

My sister Mallory let me borrow two awesome chalkboards she made from old cabinet doors.  I wrote on one that we used by the drink station, and she did the other one on the gift table!

BRIDAL SHOWER SIGN IN TABLE:  We also had a table by the door with a whole bunch of stuff going on! I have a tendency to fill every space and looking back, I can see I went SO overboard on it...

In her invitations, I enclosed recipe cards (purchased off Etsy) and asked each guest to include a special recipe for the happy couple.  So at this table, they could file the recipe cards in her recipe box,  address an envelope for thank you notes, and sign the guest book. And I added more pictures and flowers to fill in the spaces! If I could go back in time and edit this table, the basket with rose balls,  the little succulent and the square wall hanging with the heart would be gone!

BRIDAL SHOWER DRINK STATION:  As much as I wanted to buy customized adhesive labels for water bottles, it just wasn't in my budget. So I bought water bottles at Costco, and we used hot pink duct tape to cover the labels.  I found a super-cute mason jar drink dispenser, which we filled with sweet tea.  We also had sodas.  To decorate this area, I used the free printables that I framed, a mason jar of hydrangeas, a chalkboard sign, plus two smaller tissue paper flowers.  We used Chinet crystal cups to serve the tea and sodas.

BRIDAL SHOWER SEATING AREA:  We used five tables to set up our eating area.  I went with a "U" shape, seating our guest of honor at the end table with her friends. The Bride's table had a long burlap runner. I sewed lace onto the ends of it, and I also added a rag garland to the front.  All of the family members sat on either side.  The tablecloths were from Dollar Tree.  The jars in the middle have pens for our games.

Fresh flowers are one of the most expensive components of any shower, and I thought I'd have to skimp on them with the (lack of) budget I had to work with.  But luck was on my side! I had to visit three different Kroger stores, but I found amazing flowers the night before the shower.

Yes,  Kroger marks down their floral department, and I hit the jackpot!  Katie loves baby's breath - it is one of her favorites.  So I couldn't believe my luck in finding a huge bin of baby's breath bouquets marked down to 99 cents - I think I got 8!  And the hydrangeas and roses were also marked down at the second store I visited.  Cleaned them out!   Finally at the third store, I found a huge bouquet with a variety of flowers that was also marked down, and I was done.

At home, I cut them and put them in water overnight.  I ended up with probably $100+ in flowers for about $40.  Happy happy!  They didn't look old, or bad. They were gorgeous! There were a few roses that needed some petals pulled off that were spotted, but they looked great after that. When we arrived at the church Saturday, I made up mason jars for the tables with different flowers. We ended up with a variety of flowers in several colors, but I believe they all looked charming together!  So check the local grocery stores and find out when they mark down their flowers - you can find amazing flowers at rock bottom prices.

See that adorable burlap garland hanging on the front of the counter? It was made by my super-talented cousin, Morgan.  She hosted a shower for Katie in Alabama two weeks before our shower and sent it home for my daughter.  Katie wanted me to use it at this shower too.   

There is so much more to come - food, games, favors, etc - so stay tuned!  Thanks for stopping by...