Sunday, September 29, 2013

Moms Meet Blog Review: Calorease - how did it work?

I had previously posted here about Calorease, a weight management in pill form that I was asked to review through Moms Meet. The product is very simple and easy to use. You take two pills of Calorease with each fat-containing meal. Calorease works by binding the fat and thereby could potentially reduce your intake of calories per day. The makers of Calorease state that this weight management treatment can reduce your food intake by up to 500 calories a day. So if you are busy and going to the gym does not always fit your schedule, taking a couple of pills with each meal sounds easy enough.

I took Calorease for 3 weeks now and I can assure that I did not notice any side effects. I was initially very concerned about any effect on the heart, but I did not notice any rapid heartbeat etc. I did not measure my blood pressure, so take this statement with the disclaimer that to me, my heartbeat state the same. And the makers of Calorease state that the pills are stimulant free.

I did notice that in the description it states that if you have a low calorie diet, you should consult your physician. This is because if the pills are taken with a very low calorie meal, such as a small salad, you can experience constipation. If you plan on eating a plain salad, you should simply skip Calorease and save it for a more fattening snack or skip the one dosage on that day alltogether. I did not notice any such side effects, but I usually have two slices of buttered bread with my salads or some crackers. So by my standards, some crackers or pretzels or buttered toast is enough fat that you can tolerate two Calorease with your small salad.

What I did notice though is that sometimes I would wake up hungry. This I took as an indication that my evening meal was not as filling as normal and this was due to the Calorease. So you may have some stomach growling, despite eating a regular meal. I did notice that I lost weight without changing my daily routine or my meals to any degree. I am down about 5 pounds since starting Calorease. Now that may be unrelated to Calorease, but as I stated I did not knowingly change my routine.

Overall, this has been a good experience for me. The weight management was certainly easy and convenient. You can fit it in your schedule as long as you eat regular meals and do not snack throughout the day. I have not noticed any side effects and I did drop some pounds.

So if you are curious about Calorease, a 90-tablet pack of Calorease retails for $29.99. This is in exchange for the convenience of being able to pack a couple of tablets in your purse and take them when you are eating out.

If you want to try now Calorease, you can get Calorease at 50% discount and pay only $14.99 for a 90-tablet pack by placing your order at and enter code 4MOMS. To find updated information on sales and other specials, please “Like” Calorease

To sign up for sampling opportunities with Moms Meet,simply go and sign up!

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meets program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meets blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC. or the manufacturer of the product.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Freebie Fridays: Hillshire Farm and Gevalia

Today is a good one for Kroger with its digital download - new BOLD flavors of Hillshire Farms deli cold cuts in Turkey and Ham. I got the Ham, Bourbon sounds too delicious to pass up.
Go to and select coupons, then download the free product coupon on to your Kroger card.
There is also a free Gevalia sample. You can get a sample of Mocha Latte in the K-cup version for your Keurig. Go to their new product page for Gevalia specialty coffees here and select the free sample in the upper right hand corner.

Good Luck!
Gevalia Mocha Latte K-Cup Sample
Gevalia Mocha Latte K-Cup
Gevalia Mocha Latte K-Cup
Gevalia Mocha Latte K-Cup

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Book Review: The Total Money Makeover: Classic Edition: A Proven Plan for Financial Fitness by Dave Ramsey

I have not been an avid follower of Dave Ramsey like a lot of other people, but when I got a chance through Booksneeze to review this book, I jumped at the opportunity because I wanted to find out what advice Dave was giving people.

I have to say that after reading this book, I can agree with Dave's advice on almost everything. It is common sense, straight talk that will work to improve your financial health, if (and that is important) you are willing to make changes in how you spend money. Dave is no miracle worker and so if you continue to overspend, you will not be financially healthy, even if you subscribe to something like Dave's financial advice of the day. You will have to make changes if you want or need to improve your financial situation.

What I got out of this book is debt is bad. Avoid it, unless you have a mortgage. Mortgage is about the only debt you should have and even that should be kept manageable. I have never incurred debt in excess of what my assets were, so if needed I could pay off my mortgage by selling assets (and that does not include retirement savings - those I will not touch until I am retired!).

Credit cards can be used, if you pay them off every month. I keep a credit card for business travel and to pay bills online. That is it. Credit cards do not include a means to get credit to spend money I do not have. They are for convenience, buyer's protection and that is it. They do get paid off each month, no exception.
Cut back on expenses. I now pay mostly with cash, not debit or credit card because it shows me clearly how much money I am spending out of my self-imposed weekly allowance. I do return items at the cashiers, not because I can not afford them, but because they exceed my weekly budget for food. It is not embarrassing because in the end I know that I will be better off financially.

Get over the comparing yourself with neighbors. Not worth it and it is usually a bad move. Live within your means and you will be happier than if you can match your neighbor's new car and now have car payments. So while I will not go out buy now every book published by Dave. I find his approach to be common sense, widely applicable to middle income families and easy to implement. Intuitively, I lived according to most of his rules and will now call my mom who taught me sound financial practices Mom Dave!

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book through booksneeze in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this post are solely my own and have not been influenced by booksneeze or any other third party.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Moms Meet sampling program: Hail Merry Macaroons in Chocolate and Strawberry

Through Moms Meet I had been provided with a sampling package for Hail Merry Macaroons. I love everything coconut, so I was super excited to be included in this sampling program. We combined the sampling program with lunch associated with a House Party even so that the macaroons could serve as dessert.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - big selection of food and Hail Merry provided the desserts!

People were very surprised at the shape of the macaroons. There were no negative comments, people just expected macaroons to be more shaped like chocolate-chip cookies. And once they bit into the macaroons, especially they chocolate ones, they could have cared less about the shape because they all thought the macaroons were fantastic.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - plenty of macaroon samples to go around and everyone admired the gift tin!
So we gobbled up the macaroon samples, compared notes on which flavor we preferred (chocolate was the winner) and looked at the other flavors made by Hail Merry that were present in the gift tin - including blonde and caramel salt. Then we split up the goodies, the temporary tats, the questionnaire and of course the coupons towards a future purchase. Snug in another bite on a macaroon here and there and happily took home our chocolate sample bags!
copyright Durhamonthecheap - lunch party at work with Hail Merry macaroons as dessert - Yum!
Thanks to Moms Meet and Hail Merry for providing us with this wonderful gift pack. The Hail Merry Macaroons were an awesome product discovery. No one of my group had heard of Hail Merry before this event and most would not have considered buying macaroons in the store. Sampling the chocolate and strawberry macaroons really surprised my group with how well the macaroons tasted, particularly unexpected for the strawberry flavor, and members in my group will keep these macaroons in mind wen having friends over for dinner that require a gluten-free diet. I kept a few samples on the side so I can distribute them to additional colleagues who require a gluten-free diet, but could not make it to the luncheon.

Disclaimer: I received a gift pack from Hail Merry Macaroons through Moms Meet to host a sampling event. Included in the gift pack were additional Hail Merry products just for me. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by Moms Meet or any third party.

Samples at TARGET.COM - brew over ice K-cups Snapple Iced Tea, Airborne Immune Supplement, Maybelline Stick Foundation

Hurry and go to the samples page at here and you can sign up for three samples, pending eligibility.

- Snapple Iced Tea in K-cups form. I just tried these in Lemon and Peach Ice Tea and they were absolutely yummy.
- Airborne Immune Support Supplement. I was eligible to get the orange flavored package for dissolving in water. You can select a different sample, depending on whether you prefer to use the dissolving powder or maybe chewable capsules.
- Maybelline NY Fit Me Shine-Free Stick Foundation.

Good Luck!

House Party: Butterball Turketarian - so many uses for Butterball Turkey Besides Thanksgiving!

I was selected through House Party to host a Butterball Turketarian party. House Party and Butterball provided me with plenty of gifts, including shopping bags, plastic footballs, magnets, recipe downloads, coupons and several hostess gifts. They also included a gift card for party supplies.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - supplies for sandwiches and pasta salad
I decided to have the party at work because we are all busy moms and I wanted to show my colleagues how to make brown bagged lunches nutritious and healthy (turkey is lower in fat than other coldcuts) with Butterball products. So I went to Food Lion and purchased sliced turkey for a build-your-own-sandwich bar and also to make a pasta salad. I also purchased a turkey sausage to make a stir fry warm dish with peppers and onions. Walmart and Food Lion have a good selection of Butterball products, although I wish I could have found some of the Butterball Deli selections which include pre-cooked turkey items since I could have used then bigger chunks of Turkey meat in the pasta salad. The sliced turkey worked out okay though.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - pasta salad with turkey, peas, Swiss cheese and a light dressing
I was happily prepping salad yesterday and cooking my stir-fry, then hauling the supplies to work this morning where my biggest problem and headache  was how to arrange everything on our usual party table. But I managed to fit everything on the table, put the party gifts on a chair and we started digging in.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - sandwich bar, turkey stir fry and pasta salad thanks to Butterball
copyright Durhamonthecheap - I guess for Halloween this year I will be a turkey!
Everything tasted wonderful. The deep fried sliced turkey really had a nice flavor, was wonderfully moist and worked great on sandwiches. The pasta salad had a nice texture and the turkey, again I used the original deep fried one, added a nice kick because it is more flavorful than the usual turkey sliced at the deli counter. The biggest hit was the turkey stir fry because most of my guests had thought that it would be plain and rather flavorless. But when combined with peppers and onions and sauteed in a pan, the turkey really soaked up the flavor and it tasted great, but was less fattening than regular smoked sausage. The party was a hit, everyone enjoyed getting treated to a free lunch thanks to Butterball and House Party. 

We distributed the party gifts, admired the plush turkey hat and talked about how versatile the Butterball turkey products are. I was really impressed by how well all the prepared food turned out. And the fried sliced turkey was a nice change on a sandwich, I will definitely be buying this more often now. 
Happy party time for everyone today. Thanks House Party and Butterball!
copyright Durhamonthecheap - happy faces thanks to House Party and Butterball!
Disclaimer: I was provided with a party pack by House Party to host a Butterball Turketarian party and provide product samples and product information to my guests. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by House Party or any third party.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Book Review: Please Don't Tell by Elizabeth Adler

Fen Dexter lives alone in the wilderness with just her dog as a roommate. To begin with, this is not a scenario I would ever want to find myself in and combined with the rather detailed description of how a serial killer likes to slowly kill his victims, this book is definitely on the more gruesome side of the mystery genre for me.
Elizabeth Adler manages to come up with yet another mystery thriller and this one is a good one. A serial killer likes to bleed his victims out alone in the woods. He carefully selects his victims, often well in advance. The book starts off with a bang when we as readers are put in the woods, witnessing yet another kill by the serial killer. Even though he is disrupted by an approaching car, the methodical approach to his gruesome streak becomes obvious since he carefully checks that all his utensils are present in the car and he also looks forward to ending the life of the next victim, whom he has already carefully selected.

After this introduction, the reader is introduced to Fen, who has her comfy evening interrupted by a stranger that knocks on her door in the middle of a storm with a knife in his hand. We soon find out that there is something about this stranger that leads us back to the serial killer. Whether they are one and the same, we don’t know, but I got the strange feeling early on that Fen is closer to the serial killer than she knows.
But not all is dark in this book because Fen has two nieces; Vivian works in a hospital ER, in which she one night has to deal with the latest victim of the serial killer, while also being wooed by two equally attractive men. The psychiatrist Ralph Sandowski and the detective Brad Merlin show romantic interest in Vivian. As if Vivian had not enough on her plate already, her sister J. C. also enters her life. J. C. is out of money, needs a place to stay and seeks the assistance of her sister.

I like this book because the storylines involving Fen and her two nieces bring much needed lightheartedness to the book and provide a nice contrast to the dark chapters dealing with the serial killer. While I realized early on that Fen and her nieces are closer to the serial killer than I personally ever want to end up, this book is even for a skittish person like me enjoyable because the tense situations are interrupted by storylines involving Fen and her dog that reassure the reader that even with all the evil in the world, there are still an awful lot of just plain good people around

Book Review: The Chocolate Book Bandit by JoAnna Carl

In this forthcoming book from the Chocoholic Mystery series by JoAnna Carl, Texas transplant Lee McKinney is taking the next step to fully integrate into the town life in Warner Pier; she is interested in running for office. But not mayor or town treasurer; no, she has her sights set on somewhat more basic roles as a possible member of the library board or tourism committee. Safe bets to not challenge her time too much since she is still managing TenHuis Chocolade, her aunts chocolate business.
I should mention that despite the food heavy title, no recipes are included in this book. To some degree I consider that a shame because I would have loved to see some new gourmet-type chocolate recipes. What is included is information that I would call almost insight information about chocolate and reading these tidbits will sure come in handy during the next trivia contest. 

In general, Lee is too busy solving crimes than really do much food-related work and this sets the series apart from other cozy mysteries that often feature caterers and include significant parts of the book dedicated to general foodies talk. So if you are looking for that kind of food and cozy mystery, this book is not for you. If you are looking for a cozy mystery in which you can learn some interesting tidbits about the role of chocolate in the world, the additional information will be fascinating to read.
In this book, Lee encounters a suspicious death as she is starting to admire the library director, aptly named Butch. But her thoughts and Butch’s proposal for changes in the library are interrupted when a retiring member of the library board is found at the bottom of the stairs. What initially looks like a possible unfortunate fall soon turns to murder, not the least because Lee finds important evidence while being stuck at the crime scene with the rest of the board. 

So with the murder now at the forefront of the town, Lee is soon becoming involved in more mysteries because trying to uncover who wanted the board member dead uncovers a more complex web of intrigue that Lee could have anticipated. An intrigue that could pose a serious threat to Lee’s health as well as she digs deeper into the behind the scenes work of some of the board members. 

I liked this book, even though the story line was not always as clear as I could have wished. Overall, the mystery is a nicely written cozy mystery with an interesting set of characters. Some plot twists seem a little forced, but it is a book that will keep you entertained on a vacation or just sitting at home with a nice cup of coffee or hot chocolate!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Product Review: Goodies Box September 2013

Today I received my September I believe that these are all new products for our household. And we did receive a beverage, which always makes me happy. 
copyright Durhamonthecheap - Goodies Box September 2013
 So lets start off with the listing of the products:
  • Pitted Green Snack Olives Seasoned with Sevillian Spice
    • These should be interesting. We love olives and usually have at least once a week an antipasto platter as an appetizer for dinner. 
  • Savory Tea 
    • This one I have some concern about, but it is purely personal. It is listed as Fennel and Spice (and maybe everything nice). We will see since I personally do not like Fennel - I had to drink way too much fennel tea a child to cure my constantly upset stomach and now I cannot stomach any fennel flavor.
  • Greek Yogurt Chocolate Bar 
    • I had this brand of protein bar before, but not this flavor. So we will see how Greek yogurt works in a protein bar. Chocolate is usually good, but the yogurt should be interesting.  
  • Acai Grape
    • This was the beverage and I like Acai berries for energy and anti-oxidants. Never had this flavor before and I always, always love to get a beverage so I can sample the beverages and flavors without having to buy a multi-pack.  
  • Fuji Apple Chips 
    • Colleague of mine likes them, I have never had them. But then we gobbled them up for after dinner snack and they are not very sweet. They definitely have an apple flavor, with maybe a hint of cinnamon and are quite crunchy. Overall verdict, interesting concept and certainly healthy, but not as crunchy as I like my chips.
  • Sun 
    • I just had these hummus crisps in a different flavor (seasalt and oil) and loved them. This flavor should be more flavorful and spicy. I am looking forward to these. 
  • Thyme 
    • This one was an unusual  content since it is basically Greek Honey. I sense a theme here. Greek Yogurt bar and Greek Honey. Anyway, should be a good thing to try on sweet bread.
Overall, a pretty good box. Love my fruit acai berry water and plenty of healthy snacks and interesting new flavors to try out. 

Disclaimer: I received a Goodies box in exchange for a nominal fee. All opinions expressed are my own and have not been influenced by Goodies Co or any third party.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Book Review: Secrets of Dynamic Communication Prepare with Focus, Deliver with Clarity, Speak with Power By Ken Davis

I had never heard of the author before and so I was curious what qualified him to write a book about communication. Turns out Ken Davies is the president of Dynamic Communications International and teaches speaking skills to ministry professionals and corporate executives. The ministry professionals as target audience  is the likely reason Ken’s book was offered by booksneeze. Ken also has a daily radio show, Lighten Up! and as a radio host you need to be fairly energetic. So this book sounded more interesting as I learned more about the author.

The book is divided into three sections: preparation, delivery and application. Based on the headings alone, you can kind of guess how the contents are structured and I really like this structure of the book. It is treating dynamic communication like an evolving or developing process and to me that makes intuitively sense.

Maybe influenced by his radio work, Ken really stresses the need to focus. Get to the point and keep your audience on that point. He uses the acronym SCORRE to help the reader memorize how to keep the listener engaged. SCORRE is composed of
Subject: the need to stay on a single clear subject
Central Theme: keep information limited and to the point
Objective: include a short sentence to make clear to the listener the purpose of the presentation
Rationale: make sure that the listener is exposed to the purpose of the presentation and is clear about it
Resources: break up a boring, monotone talk with jokes, images, anecdotes
Evaluation: afterwards and throughout, continuously evaluate whether the presentation is effective

After laying this groundwork in preparing for the presentation, the important part in the actual presentation is to keep the listeners engaged. If the listener is engaged, he can provide important feedback about the presentation throughout the presentation. Aides to keep the listener engaged include moving around, keeping eye contact, using slides and gestures to stress specific points. Besides the actual speaker and his involvement, Ken also mentioned the environmental variables such as lighting or audio and their importance to engage the audience. We all have sat in presentations in which the room was really dark and not surprisingly we all had to fight with sleep. So some the guidance is obvious, but Ken does a good job of summarizing the most important points in his book.

The third part deals with application and ken likes to use humor as a way to liven up a presentation and make it, in the true meaning of the word, more memorable to the audience.This part is somewhat surprising because having the book offered through a Chrisitan publisher, humor is not commonly associated with sermons in church. Although I have seen a few clergy use it very successfully and I personally prefer humor in church. Not to make light of the matter, but to underscore the community between clergy and community. So as a mean to remove the separation between the presenter and the audience, humor can work really well.

Overall, I found this book to useful and actually entertaining. I feel that is provides in general terms some good guidance for people who need to present in public and may need some quick and easily applied tips.Will you sound like a professional speaker after reading this book? No, but the audience has a good chance of experiencing a more entertaining presentation than before you read the book.

Disclaimer: I received this book courtesy of in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by booksneeze or any other third party.

Save money on textbooks through - and help others at the same time!

Even though I am only taking one class a semester these days, I am still looking to save money on textbooks wherever I can. Textbooks, even if bought online and used, are still expensive. Some people have tried to go the e-book route and now read everything on their kindle. Others, like me, still need the real book to highlight, and settle for used book that are still expensive to purchase, especially since you only need them one semester. Then at the end of the semester you try to sell them and may realize that they are no longer being used anymore going forth since I new edition came out and so on. Textbooks are just a hassle to buy. 

I was therefore excited when I heard about I know that my university is now offering renting your books and then return them at the end of the semester. This all happens simply by mail with envelopes being provided and postage is included. This is also the plan of They save you between 40 to 90% of purchasing books at the B&M bookstore. Free shipping both ways is included with the price and you can still highlight in the books. In other words, use them just like the book you would have traditionally purchased, but with one big benefit, no buyback! But instead a simple ship back and more money stays in your pockets! Best of all, they offer flexible renting periods. You can adjust the rent period to your actual semester dates and not some random pre-set intervall. In other words, is willing to work with students to ensure that they have the books they need, but at bargain prices.

And if that does not make feel good enough, also supports a charity, Operation Smile. They donate money to Operation Smile with each textbook rental. To find out more about Operation Smile, have a look here and find out how the international charity helps kids with facial deformities, such as cleft palate, to smile again!. Best of all, right now has a sale on their site - you save $8 off every order over $70! Great timing if you need an extra book for a class because that optional reading assignment is something you figured would better be required because it really helps you understand the subject matter!.

Another great new program that just started is called Rent Back, which means that you do not sell back your book to the store, but rent it to another student. This way both you and the other student benefit because the recipient of your textbook saves money going through book rental instead of buying a book and you get more money from your rent back than if you had simply sold the book back to the bookstore! - earn 2 to 4x the money than through selling back books to stores or companies!
So this new program RentBack mean renting to other students and according to this enables you to make 2-4x more money compared to what you would be making through buyback options! That sounds even better than simply saving money through textbook rental. So if you are curious about, go their website here, check out their involvement with Operation Smile and learn about the financial benefits of using RentBack! I have also attached a short video below that gives you a good overview of the renting textbooks with Campusbookrentals.

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I was asked for a blogpost by in exchange for a small compensation. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by by or any third party.

Moms Meet Blog Review: Calorease - weight management in pill form that binds up to 500 calories a day!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - Moms Meet Calorease blog kit, including a 15day supply of the product!
 Through Moms Meet (to sign up and get sampling opportunities of your own, go to I was given an opportunity to review Calorease, which calls itself an easy weight management aid because by simply taking two pills with each meal you can reduce your fat absorption and take up to 500 calories out of your food. I have never taken any diet pills because I was always concerned about side effects. But a couple of things made me go ahead with this treatment/regimen - however you want to call it.

Calorease is stimulant free and so does not impact the heart. It is made from natural ingredients, not chemicals, and there has been clinical research done on it. So it is not totally untested. Lastly, I was provided with a 15 day regimen through Moms Meet and figured this was just the time period long enough to show me how it worked, whether it impacted my health and not long enough to cause any permanent damage. In any case, I took my first two pills today for lunch and will stop, if I feel that it has any negative side effects.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - up to 500 calories a day and stimulant free + health healthy; we will see!
So the pills are easy enough to take. My diet is usually not overly fat, so it will be interesting to see how it works. But so far, I am feeling fine. There are no jitters, no shaky hands. Everything seems fine. I am hoping that this will remain the case. Because there is no commitment from my side, other than trying it out for 15 days, I will stop if I feel any negative effects. I drink a lot of coffee, so any form of jitters, which I never experience with coffee, will cause me to stop taking c\Calorease. I am making this abundantly clear to ensure my readers that I am not 100% sold on any weight management or diet pill until I have really tried it out.
I took my first two pills with some milk coffee, then ate some pasta with tomato sauce and a yogurt. I usually snack in the afternoon. Since there is no word about having to take 4x a day these pills, I will not take pills this afternoon. I will take another two pills this evening for dinner.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - two pills with each meals looks easy enoughj
So far so good. Let's see how this first entry into the weight management market works out! According to Calorease, if taken as recommended I could see results in about 2 to 3 weeks. Of course, I still have to eat sensible and not just indulge now on ice cream and donuts since Calorease is not a miracle fat averting machine. It is certainly easy enough to take two tablets with a fat-containing meal three times a day. They stress that you need to be consistent, so I will use Calorease at breakfast, lunch and dinner. But not at the afternoon snack!

Just a few quick facts about Calorease upfront. Calorease does not contain gluten, lactose, yeast, wheat, sugar, salt,egg, soy, dairy, artificial colors, sweeteners or preservatives. It is naturally sourced from grain and is suitable for vegans. It does not come cheap, but convenience does have its price. A 90-tablet pack of Calorease retails for $29.99,  but in exchange you can pack a couple of tablets in your purse and take them when you are eating out.

If you want to try now Calorease, you can get Calorease at 50% discount and pay only $14.99 for a 90-tablet pack by placing your order at and enter code 4MOMS. To find updated information on sales and other specials, please “Like” Calorease

Disclaimer: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meets program, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meets blogger, I agreed to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC. or the manufacturer of the product.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Crowdtap sampling opportunity: LUNCHABLES JR. Play-Date

We got through Crowdtap two new snacks that are available at Walmart and cost less than $2. They are called Lunchables Jr and come in four flavors. I got to sample the Oscar Mayer Lunchables Very Beary Crunch Lunchables Jr. and the Oscar Mayer Lunchables Ants on a Log Lunchables Jr. The Very Beary Crunch Lunchables Jr. was definitely a bigger hit than the Ants on a Log version because the latter one included raisins, which I am not particularly fond and so no surprise that kids do not like them either. I even had a hard time, until I tried out a new recipe, to eat Oatmeal Raisin cookies and so that says something about my distaste for raisins.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - Lunchables Jr. sampling kit from Crowdtap
The sampling kit included the two flavors and some recommended activities. This one was strange for me because I do not approve of kids playing with their food. The attached brochure suggested playing tic-tac-toe or similar things and I am somewhat puzzled by that recommendation. But anyway, the samples were split, so that equal and fair sharing was in place.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - thumbs up on anything by the raisins!
Oscar Mayer Lunchables Ants on a Log Lunchables Jr. Lunch Combination contain

  • Peanut butter
  • Sun-Maid Raisins
  • Honey graham sticks
copyright Durhamonthecheap - they do provide a nice variety of items in the package, but also raisins!

Oscar Mayer Lunchables Very Beary Crunch Lunchables Jr. Lunch Combination contain:
  • Mini Ritz Bits Cheese Cracker Sandwiches
  • Strawberry-flavored dried apple pieces
  • Teddy Grahams Honey Graham Snacks
My opinion. It is a cute idea for kids, but quite frankly I would prefer to assemble my own trail mix items for kids. That way I can determine what is included, ensure variety and make sure that we only include items that I know they like. It is certainly convenient to purchase the Lunchables Jr combos for moms that are in hurry and just as a treat for the kids. But I would probably not purchase them on a regular basis.
Disclaimer: I received two samples of  Oscar Mayer Lunchables Jr. Lunch Combination through Crowdtap in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by Crowdtap or any third party.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Moms Meet sampling kit: Hail Merry Macaroons!

Today I received my sampling kit from Moms Meet and Hail Merry. The package was huge and there is so much to share. I received a huge box with just chocolate and strawberry macaroons. Then I got two gift tins with sample bags of macaroons, a book and a cute book mark.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - yes, that is one huge box from Moms Meet

copyright Durhamonthecheap - pretty stickers for the pretty moms getting to sample the macaroons!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - how cute are these tins? More macaroons, a book and a cute bookmark!
 I will probably raffle off one of the tins. They are absolutely adorable, filled with more macaroon samples, a book "The Shift: How I Finally Lost Weight and Discovered a Happier Life" by Troy Johnson and a cute bookmark. I am definitely looking forward to sampling the wonderful strawberry and chocolate macaroons from Hail Merry. They are gluten free, so everyone can sample them and enjoy what looks like wonderful dessert cookies.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - yep, definitely is enough food for a sampling of Hail Merry!
Disclaimer: I received free products for sampling courtesy of Moms Meet and Hail Merry. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by Moms Meet or any third party.

Monday, September 9, 2013

House Party: Butterball® Turketarian™ Party Pack has arrived! Gobble, Gobble

Today a huge box was waiting for me when I came home - the Butterball® Turketarian™ Party Pack had arrived. Woohoo! In it, besides a bunch of other fantastic stuff, was the much anticipated plush turkey hat. When I read in the FAQ that a plush turkey hat was included I had no idea what to expect, but this hat is fantastic. I will be going as a turkey on Halloween now and wear this decorative headpiece when grilling outside on colder days!
copyright Durhamonthecheap - the much anticipated plush turkey hat has finally arrived!
I have already modeled the hat to various people and we determined that the legs are ideal for tying under the chin and firmly affixing the hat, so it can be worn on windy days as well.
But besides this fantastic all weather head cover, House Party included a bunch more awesome items to host a party and celebrate all the great products that Butterball makes available:
For the host:
  • 1 $40 Visa gift card for Butterball products (available at Walmart)     
  • 1 Apron - nice blue with Butterball written on it
  • 1 Cookbook - great recipes, including some fantastic salads
  • 1 Plush turkey hat - Halloween costume taken care of and I will NOT share!  
  • 1 Kitchen timer - always need one of these        
  • 1 Frisbee - still got some days of summer left to play outside
For partygoers:
  • 15 $1 off coupons - who does NOT want to save on groceries these days?
  • 15 Footballs - kids will be happy to play with these
  • 15 Sets of 4 Turketarian turkey magnets - and on to the fridge we go!
  • 15 Plastic plates, Luncheon napkins and Paper cups    
  • 15 Reusable shopping bags - to carry your Butterball products home from the store
  • 15 Butterball App Cards - download some more tasty recipes!
copyright Durhamonthecheap - everything the hostess with the mostess needs for a party!
We will be having the party on 9-23. I plan to buy the ingredients to make a sandwich bar, including Butterball cold cuts and then also make a salad from the cookbook using Butterball turkey. This should be a fun party, but no, I will not share my turkey hat with anyone else. ;)

Disclaimer: I was provided a party pack from House Party for a Butterball themed party. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by House Party or any third party.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Moms Meet sampling: UNREAL Candy - Peanut butter cups

copyright Durhamonthecheap - the goodness of "candy" right on the bag
Through Moms Meet I was able to get two free coupons for UNREAL candy and since it was available at Target and CVS, I decided to stop by CVS since it was on my way to the grocery store. I found the UNREAL version of peanut butter cups (Reeses) and their chocolate peanut butter bar (Snickers). I initially wanted to buy one bag of each, but had to settle for two bags of the peanut butter cups since the last bag of the UNREAL chocolate peanut bars was already expired.

I have already sampled the peanut  butter cups and they are pretty good. Considering the UNREAL candy is actually good for you since it lacks:
  • artificial ingredients
  • corn syrup
  • preservatives
  • GMO ingredients
  • hydrogenated oils
and when looking at a comparison between Reeses and UNREAL, they also lack sugar. yet, they still taste like candy and are equally fulfilling when you are looking for something sweet.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - from the UNREAL candy website. A lot less sugar, but still candy taste!
So if you are looking for chocolate, but not the guilt of candy, give UNREAL a try. I like the peanut butter cups, but then I do not like overly sweet candy. If you really like sugar flavored candy, UNREAL may not be as satisfactory to you as the original candy. But then you will never know until you try. So head on over to Target or CVS and grab a bag of UNREAL candy for your personal in house sampling event!
copyright Durhamonthecheap - UNREAL how healthy UNREAL PB cups are!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - reading through the NOT INCLUDED list on the bag to see what UNREAL is!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - healthy PB cups look and taste just like regular PB cups!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - one dad came as well and grabbed some UNCREAL candy to take home and share!
The overall verdict, UNREAL really does taste like regular candy, but has less of the unhealthy items like sugar, no GMO or hydrogenated oils. Eating UNREAL is good for kids because even though it is just like real candy and the kids will never know that they are eating "gasp" healthy candy, UNREAL has fewer bad ingredients than traditional candy. With green vegetables you have to make the kids eat them because it is good for them, with UNREAL, the good for them candy, you simply put it on a plate and they will eat it, never knowing that they are eating a "healthy candy". Everyone thought UNREAL PB cups tasted very good, very similar to the original PB cups and the flavor was that of candy, maybe less sweet. In our group and for me personally, less sweet is actually preferable since I personally find the original PB cups too rich and very, almost cloyingly, sweet.

UNREAL PB cups were definitely a win for us!

Disclaimer: I was provided coupons for two free sample bags of UNREAL candy to taste test with a group in exchange for an honest review. The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by UNREAL or Moms Meet.

Quick lunch with weekly specials from Harris Teeter: Sandwich with Fruit & Nut Chicken salad and fresh grapes

This week, Harris Teeter had one of my all time favorite salads on sale, the Fruit and Nut Cicken Salad from their deli counter. It was on sale for $5.99/pound and it is a wonderful mix of big chunks of chicken combined with nuts and fruits, such as golden raisins. They also had grapes on sale for 99 cents/pound, which is a fantastic bargain.
So I decided to use these weekly specials for a nice lunch. The chicken salad was a rare and special treat because it is more expensive than the usual things we put on sandwiches.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - does this combination not look perfect for lunch on a warm day?
The lunch ended up tasting fantastic, despite being prepped in only 5 minutes. The chicken salad is quite sweet with the addition of the raisins. Because the chicken salad contained raisins and nuts, it went well with the fresh grapes. The lunch turned out to be very health as well and was light - perfect for a hot September day in North Carolina.
I tend to watch out for Deli specials at Harris Teeter because these specials are often cheaper than similar products that are packaged. So do not just pass by the deli thinking everything is too expensive, but watch out for specials and see if you can fix a nice lunch or dinner with these specials for your family. Happy munching!

bzzagent: Kashi Hummus Crisps with sea salt and olive oil

 I received a free product through Bzzagent and was able to sample brand new Kashi Hummus Crisps in the flavor sea salt and olive oil. I love hummus to snack on because it is fairly healthy and can be combined with lots of different items. But it is also inconvenient to pack in a lunch bag. So when I received these hummus crisps from Kashi I was excited because now I can have hummus flavor at lunch.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - hummus in convenient crisp form from Kashi!
 The crisps are thin and very crunchy. I love that the hummus flavor is accentuated through the addition of salt and olive oil. While I like this flavor and it was probably the most popular flavor, I am now really curious to try out the additional flavors: Sundried Tomato Basil & Feta or Caramelized Onion. Especially the Caramelized Onion flavor seems interesting and I can see that going well with a simple soup. The crisps are small enough that they can be easily packaged into a lunch box and they can be paired with a salad, sandwich or a soup.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - they look in reality as tasty as the image on the bag promises!
 So if you like the crispiness of chips, but want a healthier option and like to experiment with new flavors, the hummus crisps from Kashi are a great alternative that I can highly recommend. I really like the texture and the subtle hummus flavor that is in these chips. Plus if you eat a few more because they taste so yummy, you do not need to feel badly because they are good for you!

Disclaimer: Through I received a free bag of Kashi Hummus Crisps as well as several money off coupons in exchange for word of mouth advertising and an honest review. The opinions expressed on this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by bzzagent, Kashi or any third party.

Book Review: Three Months in Florence by Mary Carter

Anyone who has ever had the feeling that a relationship took a really bad turn will empathize with Lena Wallace, the heroine of this book. And Lena is a heroine. Dutifully becoming the hard working, supporting wife, she gives up her art career to raise a family. Her initial dreams of a honeymoon in Florence seem to move further away as her marriage settles into a routine of being a good wife and nurturing mother. Even when her husband gets a dream job of teaching history in Florence, her protests about moving the whole family there rather than letting her husband go by himself soon become meek and accepting. When her husband gets an extension of his stay in Florence, she again tries to gather up the strength to protest, but soon accepts her husband’s explanation that financially it just makes sense that she stay in the USA with the kids. 

Finding out that her husband has a mistress through a phone conversation with the mistress and incorrectly delivered flowers is enough to put every wife into a deep depression. But Lena develops a surprising strength and is determined to not let husband off that easy. She will now finally see Florence, maybe not exactly as a honeymooner, but certainly with her husband – who is already living in Florence with his mistress. 

What develops in Florence is Lena coming to terms with her marriage and her life overall. Initially traveling to confront her husband about his betrayal, Lena assesses her life and her marriage. She is able to think clearly what is best for her and her dreams and aspirations. With the background of the gorgeous Florence and freed from the daily rut of a 16 year marriage, Lena finds to herself for the first time in years. The ending of the story did surprise me initially, but makes sense when one sees Lena as a heroine, who takes charge of her life. 

This book is extremely well written, the initial reaction by Lena is as vivid as if the reader was present in the same room. The author manages to make the reader feel punched in the stomach by the discovery of the mistress, just like Lena does not know what hit her when she finds herself talking to her husband’s mistress. This is a well written book that keeps the reader turning pages wanting to find out just how Lena will decide on marriage, family and life.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Book review: I Never Promised You a Goodie Bag by Jennifer Gilbert

This book is titled a memoir and I presume one can write a memoir at any age, especially if the author feels that he or she has an important story to tell. While I can sympathize with the experiences of Ms. Gilbert, I had a hard time getting interested or even excited about this book. To me the book was too disjointed to really create a memoir and the overall message became too often muddled along the way to remain clear and concise. 

The story of this book is surviving traumatic experiences and realizing that you are a strong individual that can survive these experiences and come out stronger. As such, the book sounds like a book that many women who go through troubling relationships should and could relate to. What is then weakening the overall message are what I would call bimbo scenes, in which the nightlife or looks of a woman part of a high living society become all consuming. I do not expect a survivor of a traumatic experience to become a spokesperson for oppressed women and life that life 24x7, but showing a women who is pre-occupied with what dress to wear does little to bring across a message of survival and strength. Many women who go through traumatic experiences do not have access to the financial means of the author and her problems about clothing and shoes for cocktail parties differ significantly from how the remaining 99% live. I do not envy the author her money and financial means, but if I was going to write about surviving trauma, I would focus on that and not show that my life is blessed in so many ways that many of my readers (the remaining 99%) cannot really relate to. 

I certainly congratulate Ms. Gilbert for having found the strength to lead a normal life, seemingly untainted by her past experiences. Many women are not fortunate enough to be that affluent and struggle everyday not just with past experiences, but with economic realities that exacerbate the trauma of past bad relationships or experiences. For these women, seeing how Ms. Gilbert managed to survive and be surrounded by luxury can send a message that survival is tied to having enough money. And that is not the case. I wish Ms. Gilbert would have found a different way to show her ability to lead a normal life than worry about little things that point out her economic accomplishments.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Duck Dynasty - yes, I too got hooked on that show

I am rarely watching TV these days because I hate with a passion most of the reality shows. I think that most of my TV viewing is along the lines of Antiques Roadshow and some occasional Storage Wars thrown in. These shows I watch because I love to go to garage sales and did actually attend the Antiques Roadshow years ago in Des Moines, IA.

By the way, if you ever have a chance to get tickets to attend an Antiques Roadshow, I encourage you to go. It is a lot of waiting in line, but it is also fun and it is rare that a large number of people are excited and for all the right reasons. Yes, while waiting in line, you do hear a shriek ever so often because people have hauled heavy china items and now dropped them before having the assessed, but the crowd is extremely well behaved considering the number of people involved and the hours you need to wait in line. It does help that most of the people are middle age or senior citizens, but heck, Antiques Roadshow is an adventure you can tell your kids about. In my case, the visit in Des Moines was good since I found out that the trades my grandfather did after the war were as good as my Goodwill buys. Both turned up nice profits!

Anyway, one show I now eagerly await is Duck Dynasty. I have only been to New Orleans and never visited any other place in Louisiana. I also do not go hunting and have never handled a gun. While in Minnesota I did go fishing a lot and since there was a Dick's Sporting Goods store in my neighborhood, which I frequently went to and looked at fishing gear. I do love fishing. If nothing else it gives you an excuse to be outside and also prevents other people from being loud around you since you can glare at them as an indication that they are disturbing the fish.

Which brings me to Duck Dynasty and Uncle Si in one episode using his deadly glare. Yeah, that sounds about right to what I used when people came close during my fishing and did not even know as well as my dog to be quiet. My dog had been trained to simply stay next to me for hours and not bark. So people should know to do the same.

Lapidary - taken from
Coming from a rural area of Germany called the Hunsrueck, which is fairly poor, has lots of forests and accordingly lots of people involved in hunting, the Robertsons keep reminding me of characters from back home. Whether it is the habit of telling stories that are only half true, Miss Kay being proud of her cooking, grandparents not getting computers and modern technology, people at work being more like family than mere colleagues - I grew up with these characters and so watching Duck Dynasty is like watching people from my hometown in Germany. While no one back home makes duck calls, people do take a pride in their craft and work usually involves lots of talking in the few manufacturing places that remain.

Hunsrueck landscape
Not sure that I have a favorite character in the Duck Dynasty show itself, but each character has bits and pieces in which I recognize someone from back home. So you know where I will be Wednesday at 10PM - watching a new episode of Duck Dynasty.

Some people say the show is scripted. You don't say! I would hope that the Robertson family and employees even on their most adventurous day would not consider flooding a loading dock a normal routine way to waste a few hours, but if they paid my family enough money, we would have certainly agreed to have a frog race in the backyard. I had enough frogs as pets when I was a child. So we only had a frog hopping the around office ever so often. Maybe the Roberston family can have a frog race, they certainly talk enough about frogs. ;) I would not even claim credit for that idea.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Chicago Fire - Season 2 starts on September 24, 2013

Chicago Fire is an action-packed drama that garnered more than 8.5 million viewers in its premiere season last year. So what is the show all about?

Chicago Fire deals with the experiences and adventures of firefighters and paramedics assigned to Engine Co 51 of the Chicago Fire Department. I mention that number because it is the same number that Emergency had their staff assigned to in LA, for some reason #51 must be a popular number for fictional fire departments engines or stations. Maybe there is special meaning to that number, but I am not aware of any connotations. If any of my readers know, please comment on why #51 gets picked in both of these shows!

The show does have individual episodes but there are also storylines that span several episodes, such as rivalries between the staff, which comes to the surface when a firefighter dies and various fractions blame each other for his death. In addition to these stories, there are also stories about new people joining the family and like every family this creates problems, but in the end they are one big family. I was say that overcoming differences and problems is one reason why I like this show because we all can relate to these issues in the workplace and so Chicago Fire is one of these shows in which characters on TV can almost feel like real characters in your life.

If this brief summary got you excited about the show, you can revisit your favorite episodes or catch up on Season 1 by going to here where all Season 1 episodes are available for free until 9-24-13, which by the way is an important date for Chicago Fire because ...

The premiere of  Season 2 for Chicago Fire on 9-24-13 at 10PM Eastern on NBC!

Disclaimer: This is a post in conjunction with a campaign for which I can receive behind the scenes access to the show and related material. The opinions expressed in the blog post are solely my own and have not been influenced by smiley360, NBC, or any third party.