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.