Friday, April 20, 2018

Book Review: You Can Stay Home with Your Kids!: 100 Tips, Tricks, and Ways to Make It Work on a Budget by Erin Odom

I think most mothers envision staying home with the kids at least for some time. And then reality kicks in and the need for a second paycheck, the adult conversations and just being able to leave the house. This book attempts to address some of these concerns and wants to enable more mothers to stay at home with kids.

Coming from Germany, with 2 years of job security while allowing mothers to stay home, it always struck me as strange that kids in the US are dropped off at daycare within months of their birth. So I was interested in how this book attempted to tackle the habit of starting daycare before the kids are even one year old. Unfortunately this book only addresses one aspect of the stay at home dilemma, the budget question. The author presents a mix of making some money, not spending money and saving money on expenses while still enjoying life and spending time with kids. From assisting new moms with a budget that does not feel cutting short the needs of the family to finding honest and reliable work from home opportunities, the author does a good job of guiding moms throughout the book in a way that is to the point and easy to understand. Most importantly, the author provides enough hints, tricks and tips that every reader has options as to what to adopt without changing their life too much. There are some ideas about getting adult time in a well, just catalogued under the heading of not overspending.

Overall, I liked this book a lot. Not only is it good for new moms, but it can be used after the kids are grown and you simply want to save money. The tips are easy to follow, fit into most schedules - no matter how busy you are-, and you will end up saving money. Reducing the financial stress alone will often improve your outlook on life.

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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Book Review: Putting It Together Again When It's All Fallen Apart: 7 Principles for Rebuilding Your Life by Tom Holladay

 We all experience at some what seem like an existential crisis from which we need to recover. How to do that and find another purpose in life and being able to put one foot in front of the other may seem impossible, but somehow people manage. This book is intended to help find that new beginning after everything seems lost. The author suffered significant loss when the church and the houses of his family and those of his church members were destroyed. Based on the experience and how he and his community went about finding a new purpose and a new beginning, the author provides the reader with guidance on how to manage a significant crisis or loss.

The 7 principles are:
  • Find the strength to start
  • Take the first step
  • Appreciate others
  • Expect and reject opposition
  • Build on your successes
  • Celebrate to sustain your joy
  • Dedicate it to God
With the exception of the last step, the first 6 can be generally applied to people of all denominations and the book is written in clear and easy to follow steps. Using plain language, the author does intend to make the book useful for everyone and I believe he succeeds at that. I found the book almost like a guide to recovery from a personal crisis and I realized just by reading the book that no matter what obstacles you face, chances are someone else has been in a similar situation and recovered from it. 
I recommend this book to just about anyone, if you have not experienced a total breakdown, chances are you or someone else in your community will and can benefit from this book.

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Disclaimer: I received a free book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Friday, April 6, 2018

Book Review: Supernatural Power for Everyday People: Experiencing God’s Extraordinary Spirit in Your Ordinary Life by Jared C. Wilson

This book was rather disappointing to me because it was very focused on religion and Christianity. I cannot stress enough how focused this book is on religion. This is somewhat sad and actually disappointing because this book like other books provides generally good advice for people of all walks of life. Shortchanging the author by focusing the audience unnecessarily in my opinion on a specific group, such as Christians, will deprive others of getting the lessons in these books.

The author is a pastor, so that certainly explains the focus on Christians, but the thought behind the book is a book to provide advice to readers on how to handle the challenges in everyday life. Whether a mother has problems juggling housework and work and family or an office worker wonders whether he is just a number in the call center or is he really making a difference? These people, in the words of the author, nee to hold on to hope, even on their darkest days.

While the book is intended to be practical, it is only practical, if you have the bible handy and can read the bible. What surprises me is the fact that either the author thinks only Christians struggle with this issue or he thinks that only Christians can find a solution to the problem because they have the bible handy.

Overall, I cannot stress how much I would hope that these books were written in a more general way, so that more readers could enjoy the book and Christians are not perceived as such an elitist group.
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Disclaimer: I received a free book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Book Review: So Much To Celebrate: Entertaining the Ones You Love the Whole Year Through by Katie Jacobs

This is a cookbook with recipes and gorgeous food pictures. But what really sets this book apart from other cookbooks is the fact that it goes beyond the recipes and amazing pictures. The author does include seasonal party ideas and include some basic instructions for events such as a chocolate party or a harvest-themed party. I also liked the detailed instructions on some of the basics, such as how to make a really good pie crust.
Overall, this book is a great addition for the a beginner, but also for an experienced bake because the recipes include some more unusual items such as Peach Caprese Salad or Grilled Avocados with Picco de Gallo. Of course traditional recipes are also include such as cobblers, turkey burgers and chicken pot pie. I was thrilled to see a whiskey tasting party that we will use when the Kentucky Derby comes around and the Mother's Day tea Party that perfect for having a bunch of girlfriends over.
Love the many party ideas and also how well written and detailed the recipe guidance is. Overall, I am very happy with the book and while I bake a lot and cook meals every day, I still found some new additions to my recipe collection.

available on

available on

Disclaimer: I received a free book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Product Review: Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent

I was excited to try out the new (to me) Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent  in convenient packs. While i have problems understanding a certain hype among some people with pods, I definitely was excited to try out the detergent for its intended use - to get some clothes cleaned in a traditional washer and dryer.

I did not have to measure and while there is slight scent from Citrus and Cedar through the addition of essential oils and botanical extracts, the packs are good for your laundry and good for nature as well. Plus they are safe for kids and pets because they contain 0% dyes, synthetic fragrances, and artificial brighteners. Another good thing, they work in both HE washers and standard washers, even my 14 year old washer had no problems getting the laundry clean and all stains removed
Talking about stains, I picked my dish cloth to see if the spots and stains from putting wet dishes on this cloth three times a day would be cleaned using the Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent  It worked fantastic. I used cold wash cycle temperature to be easy on nature and my household bills and the stains came out like nothing was ever there. Must be the Quadruple-Enzyme Formula that is to so though on stains and despite being or maybe because it has a USDA Certified Biobased Product ranking of 94%, Seventh Generation Free & Clear Laundry Detergent  was a hit in my laundry routine.

How can you beat a product that makes the job easy (pre-measured packs), efficient (all stains are gone) and does something good for nature at the same time? This is a clear winner in my book.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - dish dryer clothes is good as new thanks to Seventh Generation detergent!

copyright Durhamonthecheap

Disclaimer: I received free products in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Book Review: Decluttering at the Speed of Life: Winning Your Never-Ending Battle with Stuff by Dana K. White

I call myself a neat freak, but I also feel that I could do with a lot less stuff in my house. Working full-time and having family obligations does not leave much time to declutter and start decorating rooms with a theme, so I was hoping this book would give me some ideas how I can clean up my house without needing to set aside time for projects etc.

The book does deliver on the basic promise that decluttering does not need to be a major undertaking that requires time set aside on weekends, but can happen as part of everyday life.  So for me this book was an excellent read.

One thing I like is that the author instills humor into the book. While the book is in general a hoe-to guide to clean up your act and your house, it is done so in an entertaining way that makes reading not boring, but something you actually enjoy to do. Which is important because I normally would not read a book in this subject since I also think that I do not have time to declutter to begin with. So after having started on this book, I made short mental notes about what to do in the breaks that I would otherwise sit around and drink coffee or wipe the kitchen counter for the 15th time that day. I use these breaks to declutter. If I see an old box in the pantry that I moved for the umpteenth time, I now take it and trash it. If it did not get used for the last year and the expiration date is way in the past, remove it. Same for clothing; I have in the past moved blouses around and around - still neatly hanging them in the closet, but now I have a second hamper in the bathroom for just these items that are intended for the donation door at the thrift store.

When I have more time, such as an hour, I actually tackle a closet in the kids room or a closet in the office and come prepared with plastic bag in hand. This gives me a reasonable timeframe to get something done and still does not require me to set too much time aside.

As you can see, the book is already paying off for me and I am sure it will pay off for most readers. Decluttering, I found, has another benefit. Now that I am removing items from the house, I also am very careful what is being bought. I do not want to reclutter my house and then have to go through the decluttering process again.

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Disclaimer: I received a free book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Product Review: Free & Clear Baby Wipes

I received recently a few sample packs of Free & Clear Baby Wipes. The sample packs were convenient sized to fit into a purse and use on the go. I took them along and found it is really nice to have clean wipes available, especially when you leave home with the kids. During flu season, it is handy to have wipes with you that are free of fragrance and can be used to wash hands before eating or wipe the table at the restaurant.

The Free & Clear Baby Wipes are not only good for you, but are also good for nature because they use 70% less plastic than the original wipes, thanks to the use of plant materials. In addition, they are free of alcohol, fragrances & dyes and the list goes on. They are also free of parabens and phthalates; and of course they are hypoallergenic. Despite they softness and the ease of which to use them on sensitive skin, the wipes are really strong, thick and a good size. We used them to wipe hands of the kids, then wipe the table and any seats at restaurants that were dirty. They never failed us, did not tear and still had plenty of moisture in them when we were done.

The kids prefer them to the antibacterial lotion that we normally use. So now, kids get the wipes, adult the lotion and we can hopefully avoid the flu for the rest of the winter.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - convenient small package to take the wipes along on the go

Disclaimer: I received free products in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.