Monday, December 29, 2014

Influenster Frosty Voxbox: Product Review Rimmel Kayal Eyeliner and Make Up Remover

In my Frosty Voxbox from Influenster I received two wonderful Rimmel products, the “Just Let it Go” make up remover and the Scandal Eyes Kajal eyeliner. Needless tosay, both products go well together and were samples almost immediately.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - Rimmel "Just Let It Go" Make Up Remover from Influenster / Rimmel

copyright Durhamonthecheap- Rimmel Scandal Eyes Kayal Eye Liner from Influenster/ Rimmer

I love the true black of the eyeliner. It is really easy to apply, does not irritate the eye and stays on for hours. No matter how well the Kayal applies, the make up remover takes care of any make up in one application. The Make Up remover comes in a generous bottle that will last you a long time. Just a apply a little bit of the liquid onto a cotton ball and gently swap your eye to remove any make up.This only takes a couple of minutes, so no more excuses not to remove make up at bedtime.

Overall, I was thrilled to get two high quality products in my latest Voxbox. Rimmel is a quality company and both products, the eyeliner and make up remover, exemplify the high quality that Rimmel stands for. I am very happy with these additions to my make up regimen.

Disclaimer: I received the Voxbox from Influenster and the products contained for free in exchange for an honest review and product sampling. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Healthy and cheap eats: Mago Cucumber and black bean salad

Through Kroger, where I buy most of my vegetables and fruits, and bzzagent, who provided the inspiration for the recipe, I tried out a new and tasty recipe for a light salad. It is simply made out of mango, cucumber and black beans with some cilantro added in for flavor and a light sauce mostly out of lemon or lime juice and some OJ or mango juice added in for a citrus vinaigrette.

The prep is very easy. I always make sure sure I have ingredients ready and make sure they are at high quality. The mango, as seen in the picture, is nice and yellow - at the peak of ripeness and flavor. The cucumber is ripe, just a little bit soft to the touch and the line is for additional flavor since canned or ready juice is not always as flavorful. I also added frozen cilantro from  the garden.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - the finished product with nice junks of golden yellow mango

We paired the finished salad simply with some toasted bread for a light lunch. The salad was a good lunch for two people this way. If paired with grilled chicken breast or fish, the salad would have been enough for 4 + people.

Disclaimer: This campaign was sponsored by bzzagent and Kroger in exchange for an honest review. The opinion in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Product Review: Celestial Seasonings tea in Candy Cane Lane flavor (Influenster Frosty Voxbox)

Through the Frosty Voxbox I was introduced to Candy Cane Lane green tea by Celestial Seasonings. The flavored green tea is a mix of peppermint, but also contains vanilla and hints of cinnamon - recreating the true candy cane flavor in a warm cup of tea. I just love the flavor because to me it seems like a sweet peppermints flavor. While I occasionally drink peppermint tea, the flavor is not one of my favorites and I always need to add sugar to sweeten it because otherwise the tea seems really bitter to me. Candy Cane Lane by Celestial Seasonings is naturally sweet, I assume due to the addition of vanilla flavor and the hint of cinnamon also adds more complexity that takes the bitterness out of the usual peppermint flavor.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - fixing me some hot tea on a cold day!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - yeah, I am happy just getting some warm tea with the gray weather outside!
Overall, I like seasonal flavors and the Candy Cane Lane green tea by Celestial Seasonings is definitely one flavor to watch and since I was given a coupon with my Voxbox, I may just have to get the whole box of tea at my next visit to the store.

Disclaimer: I received a free Frosty Voxbox courtesy of Influenster in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Product Review: Influenster Frosty Voxbox

Through I received an early Christmas present, a new Voxbox. This one is appropriately titled Frosty and has several winter-themed items included. Included in this box are a lipstick in the color "Sugarplum" from NYC Expert Last and a tea sample in the flavor Candy Cane Lane from Celestial Seasonings.

Below is a video of the unboxing of Frosty. 

Needless to say, I love everything included in the box. I was incredibly happy to get this early Christmas present and have already sampled the tea, which is green tea-based and sort of a mix between mint and vanilla - very nice flavor indeed.

Next, I will have to try out the EcoTools brush and of course the lipstick - I am saving that for the holiday get-togethers with my family and friends.

Disclaimer: I received a free Frosty Voxbox courtesy of Influenster in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Product Review: NESCAFÉ® with Coffee-mate®

 I received a nice sapling kit from for NESCAFÉ® with Coffee-mate®, which comes in three flavors - original, hazelnut and French vanilla. I have so far sampled the original and the Hazelnut and loved both. My sampling kit included a nice collection of items:
  • One canister of NESCAFÉ® with Coffee-mate® - choice of flavor (French Vanilla, Hazelnut and Sweet & Creamy Original)
  • Three VIP coupons
  • Link to a $0.75 digital coupon

I used two of the three coupons to buy the whole product line. I felt that I needed to sample all flavors, plus it did not hurt that the holidays were coming up and I wanted to assure myself that a good cup of coffee was only a microwave minute of heating up the water away. So far, I am impressed with the flavor. The Hzelnut flavor is smooth, not too sweet and does not have any bitter taste - wonderfully flavored coffee that is the perfect treat when I want to sit down for a minute and relax on a hectic day.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - the great Nescafe sampling kit, with three free product coupons!

 I find that using two teaspoons for a cup of water is making a tasty, not too strong cup of coffee that still allows me to sleep at night, even when I drink a cup late in the afternoon. My friend liked hers a little bit stronger and with Nescafee with Coffeemate that is easily done - just add some more powder to the cup and stir. This is a really convenient way to enjoy coffee and so far, I find the flavors very tasty.

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

Product Review: Smiley360 - Children’s Dimetapp® Cold & Cough

 Through I received a free bottle of Children’s Dimetapp® Cold & Cough to sample, which made me very happy because there seems to be always a sniffling nose and some coughing in the house as soon as the weather gets colder outside.

In my kit the following great items were included:
  • One 4 oz. bottle of Children’s Dimetapp® Cold & Cough
  • Four flyers with a $1.00 off coupon attached
  • Link to a $1.00 off digital coupon
 Needless to say I loved the free samples, but also shared the coupons with friends and kept one for my own household since we go through several bottles of cold medicine each year!

copyright Durhaonthecheap - the great contents of my kit!

copyright Durhaonthecheap - great for almost all kids (6 years and older) and the flavor is "cool" according to one expert
 I have used up almost one bottle already and one expert (somewhat young, but definitely had sampled the product) thought the flavor was cool - which is currently the highest compliment this expert can pay any product. As a mom, I am happy that the medicine is taken without too much crying and regularly + most importantly - it works and seems to reduce the cough. I am loving that kids can sleep through the night and I know that it is helping.

So far, I am happy with Children’s Dimetapp® Cold & Cough and will continue to have it at home for cold and cough emergencies with the little ones.

Disclaimer: I received a free product and coupons for sharing in exchange for a sampling and an honest review. The opinions expressed are solely my own and have not been influenced by any third party.

Book Review: The Daring Heart of David Livingstone: Exile, African Slavery, and the Publicity Stunt That Saved Millions by Jay Milbrandt

I was first introduced to Livingstone through the movie Moutains of the Moon, in which he was a minor character, but in which I felt the character of David Livingstone was shown very true to the historically correct figure of the explorer that was unconventional, yet successful.

Together with Burton and Speke, Livingstone was trying to find the source of the Nile. A humongous undertaking, in which only Speke succeeded and that resulted in huge costs to each explorer involved.

Livingstone, in that movie at least, was presented as the grandmaster of African explorers. Still deeply rooted in British culture and a desire to expand the reign of the British empire, but also forward thinking on aspects such as slavery that he saw as inherently wrong and something that should be abolished.

In this book, Jay Milbrandt focuses on various aspects of Livingstone's life, but also touches on his opposition to slavery that Livingstone sought to fight by expanding the British empire, since it had already banned slavery.

On one hand, Livingstone is fighting against slavery, deeply detests it and wants to abolish it. On  the other hand, as part of his explorations, Livingstone still works with slave traders and uses these connections to further his explorations and to survive in the jungle. This makes Livingstone not only a complex character, but also a man deeply torn and at time miserable with himself. While we may find faults with the way Livingstone walked the line between slavery and abolitionism, we also have to understand that Livingstone lived in a time in which human rights in a continent such as Africa were literally a world removed.

Whatever happened in Africa, stayed for a long time in Africa, literally, until newspapers picked it up. Africa was still largely unexplored in the interior, a jungle that was full of dangerous beasts and included at times men that were not so different from beasts in the opinion of the British aristocracy; who was crucial in support of explorations such as Livingstone's travels. Does that excuse the attitude that Livingstone had towards the native population in Africa? No, but it explains why this explorer seems torn and in our modern view at least falls short of pushing hard enough for the abolition of slavery.

Overall, Mibrandt wrote an excellent introduction to the person of Livingstone the explorer and Livingstone the representative of the British upper class. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in African exploration and the life of Livingstone.

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.

Book Review: Bonhoeffer Abridged: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by by Eric Metaxas and Timothy Keller

Growing up in a Lutheran household in Germany, I became familiar with the person of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. early on and have admired his strength of character for a long time. I was therefore happy to find this book that shows in abbreviated form just how unique this man was and how much of an example he can still set for every Christian today.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was not an easy person. He was certainly a Christian and a Lutheran, but did not fit into mainstream thinking and maybe that is the reason I admire him so much. He stands for a religion and a church that is not agreeing on everything and speaking with one voice on every issue that is relevant today, but for a church that favors unique and individual thinking to challenge existing ideas and seek out through discussion and arguments what it best for the role of the Church. Dietrich Bonhoeffer as an individual did what he thought was right and in the process of offended people, not just the ruling Nazis.

Of course he is famous for his opposition to the ruling Nazi party and his death in the concentration camp - never yielding until the end. For this aspect of the book, this abridged version is a good introduction to the life and death, but also the beliefs of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. If you are familiar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, this book may not be in depth enough for you to spark additional interest. But for someone familiar mostly with the military or historical aspects of WW2 and interested in learning more about the resistance to Hitler or the role of the church, this abridged version of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's life is a good introduction to a complex part of German history as shown through the life and work of an equally complex character.

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

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.

    Saturday, October 18, 2014

    Book Review: Rock Angel (Rock Angel Series Book 1) by Jeanne Bogino

    I received a free copy of this book for review through Tastemaker MOM. While I usually review books within the mystery genre, the topic of this book interested me. A story about the music industry and how a young women with a lot of talent would experience such a world. I did not know what to expect from a book with this subject? Would it read like an extended story in Rolling Stone that would describe in a lot of detail wild escapades, while still somehow managing to stand up on stage and make fans happy every night? Or would the book describe how a young girl, full of hope, gets used up in an industry that is always looking for the next big thing and churns out new talent every week only to drop those talents that do not bring enough in sales or fan appeal?
    copyright Durhamonthecheap - available on amazon

    In the end, Rock Angel is a little bit of both with Shan, a young woman landing a job as a lead guitarist, at the center of a drama that has everything and I mean everything in it. There is love, betrayal, loneliness, fan adoration and a cruel, but wonderful, music industry controlling the strings.

    Shan seems to have finally made it and that at only 18 years - she gets hired as a lead guitarist for a band that seems destined for stardom and there is the cool Quinn, leader of the band. We immediately find out that not everything is perfect. Shan is addicted to heroin and seemingly can;t beat the addiction and Quinn is addicted to women, sleeping around like there is no tomorrow and so we sense trouble from the beginning between Shan and Quinn.

    But we as the readers seem to be the only one that can sense the trouble because Quinn and Shan can't seem to sort things out for themselves. They engage in incredibly self-destructive behavior when together, tearing themselves apart, then taking a break and experiencing some resemblance of normalcy. Only to then have the cycle start all over - with us as readers wondering when will this nightmare stop? At times, Shan's and Quinn's behavior is extremely hard to stomach and I really just wanted the pain for these two people to be over, but I could not put the book down because I was curious whether in the end there would be something to salvage for either one.

    This author has not stopped short of providing the harsh reality of the music industry. I would not recommend this book for teenagers, some of the scenes, especially those involving the self-destructive drug behavior, were hard to stomach and get through, even for me. I wold also not classify this book as a summer or beach read, the subject matter is too dark, the characters too messed up and the constant rollercoaster made me want to shake both Shan and Quinn repeatedly and ask them to finally come to their senses.But if you are looking a gripping novel about the music industry and are willing to take the fame with the dark sides, this is a great book.

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

    Friday, October 17, 2014

    Book Review: Every Bitter Thing Is Sweet: Tasting the Goodness of God in All Things by Sara Hagerty

    This book by Sara Hagerty describes an important message about religion and the role that God can play in someone's life. While Sara uses her struggles with fertility as the starting point of the story, the overall meaning of the book is much broader.

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - available at amazon

    Here is a woman that thought she had a life all planned out. She would get married, then have kids and after the kids were grown and out of the worst childhood maladies, the rest of her life would somehow figure itself out. So what to do if the kids do not come? What to do if kids are not just a planned stage in your life, but you actually long to have kids and you wonder what to do now with your life when the kids are simply not coming and your life seems without content? It is this broader journey of seeking guidance and support from a higher power that the author describes in eloquent terms and invites the reader of this book to join her in.

    The story told in the book is of a journey, in which the author realizes in the darkest hours that strength can come through believing and that this belief can stay with you for the rest of your life. This belief in a higher power can lend you support and strength that allows you to overcome obstacles as they arise. It may not always be obvious that God is working his magic, but looking back I am sure almost everyone can point to events in which we considered ourselves either lucky that we made it through them or counted our blessings on help arriving unexpectedly before worse happened. It is these situations that the author points to when indicating that God can be found in the most desperate circumstances sometimes.

    Whether you prefer to speak of God, a higher power or some other force that you seek help or guidance from, strength can be derived sometimes from the fact alone that you know you are not alone in whatever struggle you are facing.

    I enjoyed this book very much, in large part because the author's style is lyrical and reminds you of traditional storytelling. While dealing with a very religious and incredibly personal subject, the author never appears to want to preach people or force her opinion on the reader. This is a lovely book to read and work through as you determine how you find a solution to your journey or the struggles you are currently dealing with.

    Disclaimer: I have a received a free copy of the book from the publisher. The opinion expressed in this review is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

    Wednesday, October 15, 2014

    Crowdtap sampling and review: Advil® Film-Coated - #FastAdvil Solutions

    Through Crowdtap I was given a nice kit, involving the latest advance in pain relief by Advil - Advil® Film-Coated for faster pain relief than ever before.

    My kit included the following items:
    • 8 2-count samples of Advil® Film-Coated
    • Sampling Instructions
    • 4 Coupons 

    I took my kit to work and when hosting a party for another product, I placed the Advil® Film-Coated samples out on the table as well. With the busy time of the year upon us, many people suffer from stress headaches and so the samples were taken quickly. I could have definitely needed more of the samples and the coupons were taken quickly as well.

    I have not tried the Advil® Film-Coated, but two of my colleagues commented that the Advil® Film-Coated are fast acting and easy on your stomach. But most importantly, they work as reliably as the traditional Advil!

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - only two samples left and some coupons, everyone wanted Advil® Film-Coated

    Disclaimer: I received free samples of Advil® Film-Coated in exchange for a sample review. The opinion expressed in this blog is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party. 

    Tuesday, October 14, 2014

    Riceworks House Party - Healthy snacks can taste great!

    Hosting the Riceworks at work was a lot of fun. In my party pack I got a bunch of items through House Party and Riceworks. Included in the party pack were:
    • 1 riceworks Sundried Tomato Mediterranean Herbs & Cheese gourmet rice snacks
    • 1 riceworks Sweet Chili Gourmet Brown gourmet rice snacks
    • 1 riceworks Sea Salt Gourmet Brown gourmet rice snacks
    • 1 riceworks Salsa Fresca Gourmet gourmet rice snacks
    • 1 wild riceworks Black Japonica gourmet rice snacks
    • 1 wild riceworks Sea Salt and Black Sesame gourmet rice snacks
    • 12 coupons for $1 off riceworks gourmet rice snacks
    • 12 riceworks recipe cards
    • 12 riceworks chip clips
    • 12 riceworks magnetic notepads
    • 12 riceworks water tumblers
     Everything was a hit, especially of course the many samples of crisps that we got. Hard to tell which one was a favorite, but the spicy varieties were a hit, including the Sundried Tomato, Swheet Chili and Black Sesame.

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - ready to party - all the goodies laid out for the sampling

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - thankful for the coupons to keep the party going at home!

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - clips and tumblers, recipes and coupons - great party pack!

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - hanging out in the kitchen and sapling riceworks!

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - leaving out the samples for the latecomers - everyone got some samples!

    Overall, this was a fun and easy party to have at work because the snacks were healthy and went with the cheese and fruit that we always stock at work. In addition, the snacks were so tasty on their own that people kept grabbing different flavors as they walked through the kitchen. Now almost every cubicle shows a tumbler on the desk and the notepads and coupons made their way to the homes to spread the word some more on riceworks.

    Disclaimer: I received a House Party kit containing riceworks snacks and various additional items from riceworks in exchange for a sample share and an honest review. The opinions expressed in this blog are solely my own and have not been influenced by House Party or any third party.

    Saturday, October 11, 2014 review: 5-hour ENERGY in Pink Lemonade flavor - to celebrate living beyond breast cancer

    Through I received a sample of 5-hour Energy in the new Pink Lemonade flavor with the pink ribbon bottle to celebrate Living Beyond Breast Cancer.

    And there is more to celebrate. Now through December 31, 2014, Living Essentials is donating 5 cents from the sale of every specially marked bottle of Pink Lemonade 5-hour ENERGY to Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC). LBBC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting people with trusted breast cancer information and a community of support. Living Essentials has agreed to at a minimum donate $200,000.00 to LBBC.

    As a consumer wanting to support LBBC, all you need to do is to look for the white 5-hour ENERGY® bottle with the pink ribbon and you can make a difference today!

    5-hour Energy is great when you need a boost of energy, but don't want to wait. The 5-hour ENERGY shot takes just seconds to show an effect and since 5-hour ENERGY have no sugar, there is no sugar crash to come afterwards. 5-hour Energy shots come in a variety of flavors and are still available in original, decaf and extra strength.

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - celebrate living beyond Breast Cancer with 5-hour Energy!
    Disclaimer: I received a couple of free products to sample the product and review it. The opinions expressed in this blogpost are solely my own and have not been influenced by or any third party.

    Purex Review: Purex Crystals - Aromatherapy in Well Being

    Through Purex Insiders, I received a sample package for Purex Crystals in Aromatherapy scents. The catchphrase used to recommend using these crystals when doing laundry is "Stimulate your life and infuse your laundry with these soothing aromas." and how true is that.

    These crystals are not just a great scent booster when added to the laundry. Coming in three great varieties entitled:

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - I added about a 1/3 of cup of Purex Crystals for a long lasting scent boost!

    Well Being --- brightens any mood with the happy fragrance of fresh blossoms
    Energy --- helps you tackle any day with the stimulating power of citrus
    Serenity --- keeps you calm all day long with the gentle scent of water-lilies

    They now also allow you to individualize your laundry by putting your laundry in a mood that meets yours. I am so happy I get well being as a full size sample included with the kit, but with Fall coming up and days getting shorter, I can certainly use a scent that brightens my mood. At least until winter gets here and the snow on the ground will reflect the sunlight to brighten the days again.  Purex has generated these Aromatherapy scents by using floral and citrus scents blended with aromatherapy essential oils. The crystals will now infuse your clothing with indulgent and refreshing aromas that revitalize your spirit.

    The  process is very easy, you simply add, as instructed, the crystals to your washer at the beginning of the laundry cycle and the scent will last in your clothing for weeks, not just days. No more musty smelling clothes, all clothes will be pleasantly scented and also life your mood.
    copyright Durhamonthecheap - my Purex Insider package, three free coupons for the product + a bottle of Well Being!
    Disclaimer: I received a coupon for a free product as well as three additional coupons for free products to sample the product and review it. The opinions expressed in this blogpost are solely my own and have not been influenced by Purex Insiders or any third party.

    Crowdtap Review: Ragù Sauces Sampling - budget gourmet Pasta Alfredo!

    Through Crowdtap I received a coupon for a free jar of Ragù Sauces and selected the Classic Alfredo Sauce. Rather than settle for Marinara or another red sauce variety I decided to settle for the creamy richness of classic Alfredo since I rarely prepare this sauce at home. I also figured that because Alfredo is really thick, one jar would go a long way and could be split up over several meals since we do not usually eat rich sauces. I was right, the flavor of Alfredo by Ragu is awesome, I nice balance between cream and cheese, not too many spices are noticeable. The cheese definitely is the main ingredient. I added about 1/3 of the jar to the meal and the meal itself was enough for 2 adults and 2 little kids. The flavor was a hit with everyone and the meal itself, combined with some sliced Roma tomatoes was filling and delicious.

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - starting off with a German style white sausage and the Ragu Classic Alfredo sauce

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - adding the Ragu sauce to cooked al dente pasta and the cut up sausave

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - happy mixing to get all the pasta covered in the creamy richness of Ragu Classic Alfredo

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - adding some chives for a little bit extra flavor and some color

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - voila - Classic Pasta Alfredo on a budget and no one could tell the difference!
    Disclaimer: I received a coupon for a free jar of Ragu Sauce (my choice which variety to pick) in exchange for a sampling and review. The opinion expressed in this blog is solely my own and has not been influenced by Ragu, Crowdtap or any third party.

    Thursday, October 9, 2014

    smiley360. Review: Tazo Chai Tea in three new flavors: Pumpkn Spice, Vanilla Caramel and Chocolate!

    TAZO Chai stands for quality tea brewed in the tradition of exquisite Indian-flavored spice-enhanced tea. Initially, the signature Chai tea in filterbag brought together classic spices, including ginger, pepper and cardamom, for the typical spicy taste. Nopw Tazo Chai has also developed new smooth and creamy latte concentrates, in flavors such as chocolate as the perfect way to enjoy the delightfully unexpected Chai flavors with milk.

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - the Tazo Chai Kit from with samples and coupons!
     As their latest invention, Tazo is now introducing new flavors to Chai such as the  sweet creaminess of Vanilla Caramel and the season's hottest flavor of Pumpkin Spice.

    TAZO believes there is truly a Chai for everyone.

    So if you are in the mood for the spicy goodness of Chai tea, but still want some chocolate in your life - give the chocolate Chai Tea by Tazo a try or maybe more a smooth vanilla caramel fan - I can highly recommend the vanilla caramel flavor for an interesting twist in the spicy goodness of Tazo Chai tea.

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - enjoying my Vanilla Caramel flavor - so smooth and so good!
     Disclaimer: I received free samples and full product coupons from in exchange for a review and sampling the product. The opinions expressed in this blogpost are solely my own and have not been influenced by or any third party.

    Saturday, September 27, 2014

    Photo Essay Trip to San Francisco

    Here are some pictures from my trip to San Francisco earlier this year - unfortunately only two days, but still fun and my first time to the city filled with excellent coffee and great restaurants!