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.