Friday, December 5, 2014

RSVP needed - InStyler Hair Party - Gracias Vocalpoint!

I as incredibly excited to be selected for the InStyler Party Courtesy of Vocalpoint!
copyright Durhamonthecheap - the Vocalpoint InStyler Party Kit - so excited to try out the new styles!
Included in this kit that retailed at more than $300 were three fantastic hair styling aids:
  •  TULIP Auto Curler
    • Great for Soft Curls, Beachy Waves and Striking Tight Curls
  • Ionic Styler Pro
    • Hot Brush for Smoothing and Ceramic Flat Iron for Straightening All in One
  •  MAX 2-Way Rotating Iron
    • Preferred for Straightening, Volume, Shine, Controlling Frizz, Texture and Speed; Can be used for Texture and Waves 
      I cannot wait to try out these tools and share the great gifts with my guests! How cute are these little style bags and great combs to untangle hair?
      Disclaimer: I received an InStyler Party Kit courtesy of Vocalpoint in exchange for hosting a party and an honest review. The opinions expressed in this post are solely my own and have not been influenced by any third party.

Product Review: Moms Meet National Geographic Holiday Book Boutique

I am very excited to have been selected to sample the National Geographic Holiday Book Boutique t work. The sampling event will provide me with a great selection of National Geographic children's books to review and show to my colleagues at work. In addition, the book and additional books can be ordered directly through National Geographic.

I received my sampling kit the other day and I was so surprised by the great selection of books that were included. There were activity books, cookbooks and books about animals and nature for children of various ages. It is hard to pick a favorite. They are definitely all high quality and the content is age appropriate and fun for parents to read with their kids.

For example the Kids Cookbook, which features master chef and National Geographic Explorer Barton Seaver explaining what it takes to create the ultimate dish, providing scrumptious seasonal recipes and suggesting fun crafts and activities. The book includes a lesson on how to plant a kitchen garden, host a dinner party for your friends and pack the perfect school lunch! Activities that parents can easily do with their kids.

Best of all, the Kids Cookbook is now on sale for the Special Price $11.99 (reduced from $19.99) - what a bargain!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - the National Geographic Holiday Book sampling kit!
Another great book included is the Cool Animals Sticker Activity Book - on sale now for less than $8 (reduced from $13).  This book is full of fun-packed pages loaded with colorful nature scenes and 1,000 stickers of cool animals, including tigers, sharks, wolves, vibrant snakes, frogs, and lizards, amazing insects, and more! The book is made up of a combination of color photographs and artwork and encourages kids to use their stickers to bring hippos, giraffes, and other African animals to the watering hole, or to have clown fish glide through the coral reef. There are also interactive games, mazes and spelling activities included that keep kids entertained, while learning at the same time.

Disclaimer: I received a collection of  National Geographic Holiday Books  for free in exchange for hosting a sampling event and reviewing the books. The opinions expressed in this post are solely my own and have not been influenced by any third party.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Book Review: The Last Alibi by David Ellis

David Ellis used to work in litigation as an attorney and it shows. The detailed courtroom scenes are written with great realism and the legal arguments are put forward with a knowledge that shows the experience the author himself had in the courtroom. In this book, David Ellis brings back Jason Kolarich, an attorney, who is on trial for murder. In flashbacks we find out how Jason ended up in his current predicament. 

One day, he is approached by a mysterious client, who believes that he is being set up to take the blame for murdering women. When two more women are murdered, Jason, who initially tried to convince his client to notify the authorities, disregards his duty under the client-attorney privileges and goes to the authorities. Revenge is swift. Jason’s clients finds out about the breach of trust and vows that Jason will pay. And so Jason finds himself being framed for murders he never committed, by the same client who thought himself being framed for murders. 

It also turns out that Jason’s client is not really who he makes out to be and now Jason needs to determined not only who is responsibly for the murders, but also who is mysterious client is. Throw in the fact that Jason is not really feeling well and dealing with his own health issues and what seems like an insurmountable obstacle soon appears. But don’t count Jason out because as soon as we move into the courtroom, Jason shows his true talents and slowly, but surely unravels the mysteries that led to his present predicament. 

In this part of the book is also where the author really shines and for any fan of good courtroom fiction, this book is highly recommended.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Book Review: Storm Siren by Mary Weber

Storm Siren by Mary Weber is a fantasy fiction book geared towards young adults, but the content and storyline is certainly something that can fin into the regular adult category as well. The central character is Nym, a 17 year old slave girl in the Kingdom of Faelen. She belongs to the Elemental kind, which are usually born as males and killed at birth, so Nym surviving is quite a miracle.

When she is auctioned off and her uniqueness is revealed, she is bought quickly by a court advisor of Faelen, who recognizes Nym unique ability to summon and control storms. The advisor recognizes that this ability of Nym could be turned into a powerful weapon that Faelen can use during war. Nym is given a choice, either be used by Faelen to win wars or be killed. She chooses life and is thrown into politics, court intrigues and endless training, which is hard work for Nym. Especially with a trainer that miraculously can calm every lightening trike that Nym creates, the training can be frustrating at times and Nym is also wondering what the secret of her trainer is that has this unusual ability. And soon enough there are hints of romance between the two, especially since we find out that her trainer and a secret to tell of his own.

Like most fantasy books, there is a significant cast of characters, lots of names of people and locations to memorize. The author does provide a map in the beginning that helped me to orient myself, but I still found myself going back to the map several times throughout the book.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Crowdtap sampling: Scott Naturals Tube-Free

Through I received a 4-pack of Megarolls of Scott Naturals Tube-Free, which is a great new environmentally friendly product because it omits the cardboard insert. Even though the cardboard insert can be recycled, it is still generating waste that needs to be hauled away from your house and somehow turned into another useful product.
I love that the quality is the same, but now when the roll is used up, you simply slip a new one on the holder and you are done. No more disposing of the cardboard insert or trying to find a crafty new use for it so that you do not have to toss it. Scott Naturals Tube-Free make being environmentally friendly a lot easier.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - my Crowdtap sampling kit!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - comparison of traditional and Scott Naturals Tube Free TP

copyright Durhamonthecheap - another comparison, same quality paper, but better for the environment!

Disclaimer: I received a free sample of Scott Naturals Tube-Free to sample, review and share through The opinion expressed in this blog is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Crowdtap Sampling - Hidden Valley Ranch Feast

Through I received a huge party pack to celebrate the wonders of Hidden Valley Ranch dressing and the use of Hidden Valley Ranch flavor in dips and as seasoning mix. They included samples for me and my guests to try and so of course I took the pack to work so that everyone there could sample it.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - the great party pack courtesy of Hidden Valley Ranch and Crowdtap!

This is the list of contents for the party pack - what a selection:
  • 1 Hidden Valley Team Ranch T-shirt
  • 1 Bottle of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing
  • 2 Packet of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing & Seasoning Mix
  • 1 Packet of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dips Mix
  • 1 Party Guide Insert with a coupon, tips and recipes
  • 1 Dip Clip 
  • 10 Packets of Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing & Seasoning Mix
  • 10 Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dips Mix
  • 10 Guest Inserts with a coupon, tips and recipes
  • 10 Dip Clips 
But before I took the pack to work, I had to just sample the use of the seasoning mix for cooking at home. So I fixed a quick lunch and added the contents of the HV Seasoning Mix for added flavor to a number of side dishes. 
copyright Durhamonthecheap - make the plain green beans special with a sauce of milk and HV Seasoning Mix

copyright Durhamonthecheap - plain vegetable ground beef turns extra tasty with HV Seasoning Mix

copyright Durhamonthecheap - adding seasoning mix is as easy as 1, then stir, heat and ready to serve!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - of course I had to add some fresh peppers from this year's harvest to boost vitamins

copyright Durhamonthecheap - boxed mashed potatoes can always use some extra flavor

copyright Durhamonthecheap - ready mashed potatoes with HV Seasoning Mix for more flavor

copyright Durhamonthecheap - a quick lunch, made all the better thanks to HV Seasoning Mix!
 I loved how quickly I could add extra flavor thanks to Hidden Valley Seasoning Mix, not only did it add flavor to cheap boxed mashed potatoes, but I also added more flavor and an interesting twist to ground beef (in this case a soy alternative) and it took only a couple more minutes and basically no extra preparation.

 Disclaimer: I received Hidden Valley Ranch samples to review and sample. The opinion expressed in this blogpost is solely my own and has not been influenced by or any third party.

Crowdtap - Zep Sampling for a new, versatile cleaner that works!

Through I received samples of Zep Cleaner for around the house.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - Zep sampling kit from Crowdtap
 Zep, for those of you that have not heard of it and are not familiar with the product line. offers a great variety of cleaning products. All of the Home Depot stores carry Zep cleaners and you can find the variety offered at Home Depot here. In my sample kit from Crowdtap, I got samples of the All-Purpose Cleaner and Degreaser that works great on a variety of surfaces, including staionless steel, porcelain and tile and is therefore perfect for all rooms in the house, including kitchen, office and bathroom.

I also received a couple of sample bottles of Quick Clean Disinfectant. This cleaner kill more than 99% of bacteria in 5 seconds, including K pneumonia and S. aureus; this product is great for kitchen and bathrooms, in which you want to make sure that the surfaces are not just clean and free of bacteria. I have started cleaning with Quick Clean in the bathroom and limit the use of the antibacterial wipes to the kitchen, where I more frequently need to clean up a spill. Using Quick Clean in the bathroom, allows me to clean the surfaces once daily thoroughly and be sure that the bacteria are all gone.
  • Kills 99.9% of bacteria in 5 Seconds
  • Kills common kitchen & bathroom bacteria
  • Effective virucide, kills cold (rhinovirus) & flu virus, HIV, Canine Parvovirus
  • Cleans, disinfects, deodorizes in one easy step
  • * Staphylococcus aureus (Staph), Klebsiella pneumonia
  • - See more at:

    All-Purpose Cleaner & Degreaser is perfect for tile, stainless steel, porcelain and many other surfaces in the home, workshop and office. - See more at:
    All-Purpose Cleaner & Degreaser
    All-Purpose Cleaner & Degreaser
    All-Purpose Cleaner & Degreaser

    Disclaimer: I received free samples through to review and sample. The opinion expressed in this blogpost is solely my own and has not been influenced by Crowdtap or any third party.