Friday, July 31, 2015

Dial Rewards - get rewarded for what you do anyway!

Dial has come up with a great way to rewards its customers. They have started a Dial Rewards programs that lets you earn bonus points for making purchases of a variety of Dial products.
Sign up is very easy. Just go to www.dialrewards.com and sign up with an email and a (secure) password. You will get a welcome email to activate your account within a few minutes.
Then you are ready to go. Enter codes from purchases to win entries for great gift card sweepstakes or complete a variety of brief activities such a sharing informational Dial items on social networking or completing surveys or something as simple as watching a brief video. Points add up very quickly and entries to the sweepstakes are requiring only 10 points each!
Variety of gift card sweepstake entries are available for just 10 points each!
I have started completing surveys and also watching some of the videos. It is fun, a nice break from household chores or work and then you fell refreshed to continue with what you were doing before.  Surveys are quick and super easy to complete.
So, go visit www.dialrewards.com to sign up and join in on the fun!

Disclaimer: As a member of Purex Insiders, I was given a promotional code to enter for prizes. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third parties. 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Crowdtap Product Review: Bumble Bee® Prime Fillet® Gourmet Flavors

I received through Crowdtap three tins of tune in exciting new flavors. The Bumble Bee® Prime Fillet® Gourmet Flavors come with sun-dried tomatoes, jalapenos or chipotle. This makes prepping a tasty lunch or a light dinner even easier than before. Need your protein, but do not have the time to prep some fresh meat or even boil an egg? No problem, pop open a tin of tuna from Bumble Bee® Prime Fillet® Gourmet Flavors and you have your protein already prepped and in very tasty form.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - my mother showing off how she is getting stronger thanks to Bumble Bee

copyright Durhamonthecheap - us trying the new Bumble Bee® Prime Fillet® Gourmet Flavors with Jalapenos

copyright Durhamonthecheap - you can see the added heat when you open the tin

copyright Durhamonthecheap - a light dinner for two to beat the summer heat

copyright Durhamonthecheap - yum! sums it up nicely.


Disclaimer: Through Crowdtap I received free samples in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third parties.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Book Review: "Among the Fair Magnolias: Four Southern Love Stories" by Tamera Alexander et al.

This book is interesting in a number of ways. First of all, four female authors got together to write a book about the post Civil War life in the South. In addition, each short story is complemented by a recipe that is full of Southern tradition and makes your mouth water. Oh yeah, the recipe is also tied to the story and to me, this was similar to some of the traditional recipes in our family that all came with a story as well. Sometimes the story was about a special meal at which the food was served or sometimes the recipe simply was explained through a story so we as kids understood the significance of a special meal on a holiday.

So in this book Tamera Alexander, Shelley Gray, Dorothy Love and Elizabeth Musser tell us their story of the life in the South after the Civil War. For Tamera Alexander, this story is about a woman desperate to visit her now lost family home. Bought by a Northerner, an attorney, who plans to present this house to his fiancee, Savannah Darby needs to get at least once back into the house to find something very precious to her, left there by her father. Will she succeed or is the house, like the traditional Southern life, gone forever?

Similar to the story "To Mend a Dream" by Tamera Alexander, the stories by Shelley Gray and the authors also deal with the struggle by women and men in the South to adjust to the new reality of a land now under new leadership and property lost to the winners of the war. Society is not the way it used to be, but in some way things are not so different. Women and men still fall in love and friends from before the war are still friends and long lost lovers are still around, so maybe there is hope that not all is lost.

When Russel Stark returns home after the war in "An Outlaw's Heart" by Shelley Gray, his mother is ill and his former love has not changed a bit from a lively, radiant beauty she was before the war. Can Russell meet his mother's expectation and save the family homestead, while also living his own life?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the interpretations of post Civil War life by each of the authors in the book. Each story presented a different facet of Southern Life after the war and how people need to adjust to the new reality, while still holding on to the old family and friends.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book in advance of the publication date for review. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party. 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Author interview with Patti Callahan Henry, who latest book "The Idea of Love" just came out today.

I was very excited to be able to interview Patti Callahan Henry, the author of "The Idea of Love". Patti is known as a Southern author because a lot of her book play in the South. So my questions focused on Patti's relationship to the South and things Southern. But I also tried to understand her approach to writing and get maybe some insight into her future works.

 I hope you enjoy the interview. I certainly felt wonderful being able to interview a real author and find out about the person behind the beautiful stories that Patti is known for.

Eva - In your latest book “The Idea of Love”, one of the characters suffers from writer’s block. This begs the question, have you ever suffered from writer’s block? And if you have (or even had problems getting started on some days), do you have a routine that you swear by to revive the writing process and get the ideas flowing? 

Patti - Oh, the dreaded writer's block. I think we all have it at some point. For me, it is when I've let the well run dry, when I've pushed too hard and too fast and haven't lived my life well. That's when I get outside in nature, take long walks, spend time with friends and go on what Julia Cameron calls "artist dates"-- doing things and going places that inspire me. 

Eva - Lies play a very prominent role in your latest book. Do you find lies acceptable in certain instances or do you prefer to be told the blunt truth? Do you feel that a relationship must be based on 100% truth or can it survive a lie every so often if told with the best of intentions?

Patti - This is such a complicated question because I never want to say that lying is acceptable. But even this story (and what is story but a way to tell the truth?) shows that lies can be both devastating and yet also lead to new lives. I prefer the blunt truth in my life so I can deal with "what is" instead of "what I imagine." But I did tell my kids that Santa was real. So who am I to judge? :)
 
Eva - Many authors cannot help but develop characters that are drawn from real life. Often the fictional characters are based in part on friends or maybe even the authors themselves. Do you incorporate people you know or even part of your personal history into your characters? If not, how do you manage to develop characters that are complex, yet fictional and do seem so realistic?
 
Patti - I have never purposefully drawn on someone I know to develop a character. My goal is to let them grow as I get to know them--just like a real friendship would. But I am positive that traits of those I know and love, and those I don't so much know or so much love, work their way into the character's lives. Sometimes I will read a section of a book I've written and know that I've "borrowed" from a friend or relative: the way they nod their head or hold a fork or even laugh. 
 
Eva - You are Southern writer and depict in very authentic ways the way we live down South. Nevertheless, are you ever tempted to write a book about some exotic location? Which far away location would you pick and why?
 
Patti - One of the best things about being called a southern writer is this fact: I grew up in Philadelphia, PA. Granted I moved south at twelve years old, but I was not raised in a quintessentially southern home. And I have written about other places. For example, Ireland in 1920 (When Light Breaks) and many other locations. But if I did pick a truly exotic location to write about (and therefore have to go research) I would choose Italy. I've only been once but would love to go again. Who knows? Maybe I will write about it one day. 
 
Eva - You incorporate characters in your book that are far from perfect. Are there certain topics or flaws that you would not cover in your books?
 
Patti - There isn't anything I would avoid if the subject served the story. I want my characters to be real, have depth and humanity. We are all flawed and I want my characters to be so also. There must be flaws to overcome, a way to grow. Decisions must be made. Choices and Y's in the road show what we are made of!
 
Eva - Now some general questions about your person and your career as a writer:
 
When did you consider being a writer for the first time and when did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?
Patti - I wanted to be a writer before I knew what wanting to be a writer meant. I was writing little stories and poems when I was seven or eight years old. But I didn't make a conscious decision to pursue it as a career until I was thirty-five years old. And then I dove into the deep end and never turned back
 
If you could not be an author, what career would you pick?
Patti - Well, before I was a writer I was a Pediatric nurse. So I would probably still be doing that. I loved being a nurse and I'm sure I would have pursued it for years if I hadn't taken the Y in the road.  
 
If you could live anywhere in the Southern USA, where would it be? 
Patti - Charleston, South Carolina. 
 
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? 
Patti - I love visiting other countries and wild places, but I think I'd still like to live in the United States. 
 
Where do you draw inspiration from for the locations in your books? 
Patti - I draw inspiration from the places I love the most -- southern united states. The beaches, marshes and small towns. 
 
If you could go on a vacation in the Southern US for one month – what mode of transport would you pick (car, train, plane, RV etc.), where would you go and why? 
Patti - I would really love to do as much of the United States as I could in a train. Travel and then get out in interesting places and ride a bike or take a car to see the sites. 
 
What is your favorite (Southern) dish?  
Patti - Pie. Any kind of pie. But buttermilk is the best. Seriously the best. You must have a piece :) 
 
And last, but not least: If you could invite three people for dinner (dead or alive), which three people would you pick and why?
Patti - I think I would answer this question differently when I'm in different moods. But right now it is all about story tellers. So, C.S. Lewis because I'd want to hear his stories, how he thinks and why. Madeleine L'Engle because well, she's Madeleine L'Engle. And always Pat Conroy because he can tell a story unlike anyone I've ever met. Ever.


What was the most surprising about the interview with Patti to you? To me, it was the fact that she was Pediatric nurse before becoming a writer. While I have taken some Ys in the road as well, the fact that a writer like Patti had a career as a nurse, especially a Pediatric nurse came as surprise because that work is so totally different from being a writer. Nurses has strict procedures to adhere to and must work in groups a lot of time, while an author often works alone and needs inspiration and ideas to write a new book. Just goes to show that you can never judge a book by its cover. 




Monday, June 22, 2015

Book Review: "Be the Best Mom You Can Be: A Practical Guide to Raising Whole Children in a Broken Generation" by Marina & Gregory Winston Slayton

Raising a child is always a daunting task and raising a child the right way to be a productive citizen and a person that you can be proud can at times (see terribly twos and teenage years) seem impossible.
The Slaytons have used their experience and training to write a book that aims at providing a practical guide to mothers on how to raise children and in the process be a mother than can be proud of her role and her achievements.