Saturday, April 23, 2016

Book Review: Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind, and Soul by Ruth Soukup

I think we all have been there. Every time we move we wonder where all this stuff has come from and what do we do with it? Donate it? Keep it? Store it? There is never an easy solution, but still when the next move comes, we go through the same problem again. Rather than limiting what we bring into our house, we accumulate and then need to get rid of stuff somehow. Ms. Soukup obviously is no exception and this book is her way to tackle the "stuff problem". Shoe not only tackles kids toys or clothes, but also paperwork that keeps accumulating and gets delayed. In a clear, no nonsense language, she presents plans to limit what we bring into our house, how to take care of paperwork before we have a pie on our desk that seems to delay even longer the start of the let's tackle this point and also throw in for good measure how to not feel bad if the gifts that we really do not need can disappear without being rude to other or feel guilty about the separation process.

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 Even someone like me, who has moved too may times and has now cut spending on anything but groceries and clothing down to a minimum for the family could still learn from this book. If nothing else, it shows you as the mother of the coop that getting rid of stuff or preventing things from adding clutter is not being mean, but simply approaching the question of what is important by focusing on non-material things first. We tend to invest now in experiences rather than goods, so the experience is taking a weekend and going to the zoo (the pictures are nice lasting memory that can be stored on a harddrive), while we may be in past years would have bought another outdoor toy that ended up cluttering the garage during the winter months. Not only will the decluttering be positive for your checkbook, not rushing to buy the latest and greatest will make you focus on what is important in life, your family and a lot of immaterial things such as health, happiness etc.
This book is well written and easy to read. It brings in a few chapters the reader to a point where de-cluttering is an doable task. The impact of this book can be really positive for the whole family.

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

Friday, April 15, 2016

Book Review: Black and White Bible, Black and Blue Wife by Ruth A. Tucker

This is an unusual book for me to choose as a review subject. While I am not someone to pretend that abuse does not exist, it is to me a very sad subject that brings up too many emotions to be an easy or entertaining read or even a book that I can read a few pages, then put the book down and go to sleep. While I feel sorry about the victim of abuse, I am more concerned with the fact that the abuser is often a person that lives in our midst, could be a colleague at work or my neighbor because domestic abuse is often well hidden and rarely is known even to close friends of the abused.

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 Mrs. Tucker describes in this book the abuse she suffered from a husband, who was representing Christian religion. While this shows that not even a man of the church is above domestic abuse, it also shows that abusers can be people who are held up as heroes in society, people whose character we should emulate and who are considered leaders of the community. This example by Mrs Tucker therefore underscores the real problem with abuse, both parties, the abused and the abuser, are quite adept at hiding the abuse. The abused will often feel it is their fault and believe the promises that the abuse will end and the abuser just lost it for a moment. The abuser may feel remorse until the next situation causes the anger to turn into abuse again.
This book is an easy book to read, but it is an important book. It makes you realize that dark sides can be present in some of the most respected members of the community and Mrs. Tucker is eloquently describing how domestic abuse is not a matter between a man and a woman, but a struggle that affects the community and, in this book, the church community. We all need to be aware that these things occur and need to be willing to speak up and do the right thing. It is hard to believe that a man of the church can be an abuser, but this is what makes the book so important; to raise awareness that abuse can occur in what seem like happy families and outstanding members of the community. What is the responsibility of the church in these situations? In my opinion, to assist both parties, but also to be willing to openly address abuse of any kind. Pretending it does not exist and be silent on the topic will be seen as weakness. So the church needs to acknowledge that abuse can take many forms and can be present in many forms in the church. This is one of the important messages of this book.

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of the book 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.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Crowdtap sampling: Advil Film-Coated

We love to knit and crochet in our family and do so regularly throughout the year. But, in particular, my mother has been suffering from joint pain recently and that does put a damper on knitting and has also slowed down her plans to make some more scarves and hats for donations.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - when you love to knit and crochet, pain in your hands can be a problem

copyright Durhamonthecheap - Advil Film coated to the rescue, a collection of samples and coupons!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - mom ready to start knitting and thanks to Advil less pain!
 Through Crowdtap, we were able to sample Advil Film Coated as a means to reduce general joint pain. My mother took one pill and noticed that the pain in her hands was lessened, so now she can knit again and enjoy making scarves and hats for donating to others.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - mom at the needles, knitting again for the relatives!
We will definitely consider Advil as part of our regular medicine box in the home to ward off general joint pain and to ensure that the knitting needles are still finding good use in our home.

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

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Book Review: Forgiving My Daughter's Killer: A True Story of Loss, Faith, and Unexpected Grace

This is a very different book from the ones I normally read. It describes maybe a parent's worst nightmare, finding out that someone they knew and trusted and invited into their home killed their daughter. In this case, the boyfriend, who grew up as part of the family, ended up shooting their daughter.
What turns out to be their worst nightmare, also turns out to make the parents stronger. Rather than despair about the loss and hate the young man, they turn that event into a growing experience and forgive the murderer. 

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I found this book easy to read and the pictures added from the family album end up making the experience more personal, especially since the daughter Ann is always shown smiling into the camera. While this seemingly permanent smile makes the loss even more gut wrenching,  the smile also underscores that this daughter who seemed to always be happy most certainly did not want her parents to be mourning her death by being depressed and angry. So it is to me also a fitting memory to the daughter that the parents were able to forgive the boyfriend and in the process end up being able to live a normal life that is not all consumed by this tragic event.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed are solely my own and have not been influenced by any third party.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Crowdtap sampling: Mr. Sketch® Scented Washable Markers

Through Crowdtap and Mr. Sketch, we were able to play around with some washable markers. As a mother, I am always happy about anything that says washable because that may ensure that the house stays reasonable clean.

But in addition, these markers were also scented and not only your usual fruit scents, but they did have a licorice scented black marker. Now we are talking! I know that does sound odd, but my family loves licorice and has done so for generations. So getting to play and draw with a licorice scented marker was definite bonus on this experience. Three generations in my family played with the markers and enjoyed it, so that is saying something.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - markers come nicely packed in a plastic box

copyright Durhamonthecheap - love the vibrant colors

We found the markers were indeed washable, although we never waited very long to allow the stain to set, so that may make a difference. The scents are awesome and my kids now talk about their fruitsalat on paper, which I think is funny because it never occurred to me to come up with that kind of description for a drawing done using scented markers.
Overall, these markers are great, they are fun and as a mother, they are indeed washable!

Disclaimer: I received a free product to try out and review. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Crowdtap sampling: Clearly Brighter Brightening & Smoothing Daily Moisturizer SPF15

Thanks to Crowdtap and Garnier, my mother and I as well as some of our neighbors were able to sample a new product by Garnier. The  Clearly Brighter Brightening & Smoothing Daily Moisturizer SPF15 is intended to brighten the skin and leave the skin after only one week looking more polished and rejuvenated. Both of us were eager to try out the product and my mother, as pictured below, really did see an improvement in her skin.
Clearly Brighter Brightening & Smoothing Daily Moisturizer SPF15 contains a bunch of ingredients that are good for you and for your skin, including an Antioxidant Complex of Vitamin C & E, Pine Bark Essence, and Lipo-Hydroxyl Acid. This non-greasy cream will turn your dull and rough winter skin into a skin that looks more radiant, perfect for the spring weather and wanting to go outside.
My mother acknowledged, after applying the product once a day for about 8 days, that she felt her skin looked more even in terms of skintone and also had a better texture, with some additional firmness. I had the same impression and we are both happy that we got to sample the new product by Garnier. On this product sells for about $12 for 2.5 fl oz.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - we both love the Garnier product and what it does for your skin, this time mom is the model

Disclaimer: I received a free product to try out and review. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Product Review: fashionable clothing at very reasonable prices from Spaze

 I was contacted about doing a review by Spaze Apparel. I had not heard about this company, but when I looked at the website, I was impressed by the variety of products available and also the very reasonable prices. I selected two pieces that I felt would get a lot of use. I went with a sturdy pair of light gray sweatpants that have flared legs and look a little bit more put together than regular sweat pants. I also selected a navy colored T-shirt that can be combined with jeans, the sweatpants, but also worn under a blouse to work.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - The navy T-shirt is from Hanes without a tag than can show and well made

copyright Durhamonthecheap - the arm falls just right and the cut is very generous - comfy, but still fitting!

copyright Durhamonthecheal - I tried to show the flared legs that make the pants a little bit more put together

My T-shirt selection - Hanes 5680 Ladies 5.2 Oz. Comfortsoft Cotton T-Shirt - wears as shown in picture!

Gildan G184FL Heavy Blend Ladies Sweatpants - love the fit and the comfy fabric!
 Overall, the products were nicely priced. Very competitive pricing since both products costs together less than $20 and you can order in a variety of sizes and colors. I would definitely consider ordering from this company again. Especially the sweatpants are a new favorite of mine. While they still have the comfy feeling of sweatpants, the flared legs make them appear more stylish and put together and I am definitely comfortable running errands in these pants.
If you are looking for activewear or just some T-shirts or basic pants, give a try

Disclaimer: I received free products in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed in this post is solely my own and has not been influenced by Spaze or any other third party.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Free Product at Food Lion - Stur liquid water enhancer

If you are an MVP customer at Food Lion, head on over to their Facebook page and get free water enhancer.

Free product through Food Lion on Facebook