Sunday, August 27, 2017

Crowdtap Sampling: Born Sweet Zing Organic Stevia Sweetener

copyright Durhamonthecheap - my Born Sweet Zing sweetener

copyright Durhamonthecheap - perfect for sweetening my hibiscus herbal tea
Through Crowdtap I was able to sample Born Sweet Zing Organic Stevia Sweetener, a totally organic sweetener that comes in little packets and is perfect to sweeten your iced tea or other summer drinks. I now hae a few packets in my purse and use it at restaurants because it is still hard to find places that stock an organic sweetener and I hate to use sugar substitute that comes with its own warnings.
In my house, we drink a lot of iced tea, especially hibiscus-flavored tea is our go to product and now we can brew it as usual, but rather than add sugar to taste, I put a bowl with Born Sweet Zing Organic Stevia Sweetener on the table and we each can add as many packets as we need. But to be honest,  we feel that one packet is enough to sweeten our drinks. The sweetener is just as strong as sugar and best of all, no artificial scent or taste, just plain good old sweetness and the iced tea is now also lower in calories and better for your health. What is not to like about that? So if you are looking for a new brand of sweetener that is organic, tastes just like sugar and is perfect for on the go, Born Sweet Zing Organic Stevia Sweetener is one brand I can highly recommend.

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

Book Review: Citizen Newt: The Making of a Reagan Conservative by Craig Shirley

Many of us will remember the Republican revolution that brought GOP majorities to the house for years. Newt Gingrich back then was considered the author of this revolution and a celebrated house speaker. Private affairs, but also a temperament that did offend likely one too many people in the GOP spelled an early end to his career in DC. Now Newt is more affiliated with the Trump campaign than seen as a thought leader of the GOP.

So when Shirley's book is promising a biography of "one of the most important, provocative, and visionary political figures of our time", it summarizing the lasting image of Newt Gingrich to many voters in the USA. In his second book focused on Gingrich, Shirley writes a comprehensive biography of this political phenom that is Gingrich. He starts at his childhood in Pennsylvania that despite not being political still laid the groundwork for his later foray into politics as well as his approach to winning votes and majorities, culminating in the Contract with America. This contract, even though many bills never made it into law, was characterized by a belief in a Reagan brand of conservatism and Gingrich was considered at the time its most vocal proponent. Very few people remember that other politicians, such as Dick Armey, contributed to the proposal. This was Gingrich's proposal and the subsequent Republican majority in the House became his victory. As such, Shirley does not question the leadership of Gingrich, something I would have like to have seen in this book.

This book is a comprehensive biography that follows the life of a still controversial, but also influential figure in American politics from his childhood to an academic career that ended up with a relatively quick rise in politics. After a quick fall, Gingrich is now gaining importance again as a spokesperson for the new administration, an early follower that has so far stayed away from official DC roles, he is nevertheless still influential and, by his own account, traces his roots back to the GOP of Reagan. It is fitting that Shirley, who also covered Reagan in his books, is now depicting Gingrich as yet another important, but also divisive figure in US politics, but also within the GOP itself.

available on
Disclaimer: I received a free sample 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.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Book Review: Of Mess and Moxie: Wrangling Delight Out of This Wild and Glorious Life by Jen Hatmaker

I fell in love with this book on the first few pages because it speaks to all women who are independent, do not question why life is some times no fair and persevere. Jen makes it finally okay to have doubts, but then to wake up another day and figure this day is another chance at making things right. Forget about what happened yesterday and what may not have worked out perfectly (or possibly turned into a seemingly total disaster). Another day and another go at making life fun and proving your worth as a person. Because while the book is directed at women, Jen underscores that women are no different than man in making mistakes and succeeding and trying again and being themselves. What makes women often different is the belief that we have to be perfect and if make a mistake or something does not work out - women tend to have more doubts and fear more the trying again. Jen shows in this book that women are sometimes their own worst enemy. The fear of failure and mistakes is holding us more back than society or our own abilities.

available at
Early on, my parents used to tell me after a bad grade that in the future, 5 years down the road, no one will remember this one grade. To me the grade was horrible and a total embarrassment and I focused so much on the grade that I forgot to live for a few days and simply focused on studying; in order to avoid such an embarrassment in the future. Looking back at these times, my parents were right. Everyone has a bad day and one bad grade overall did not matter and I really moved on to other things. It really was not worth it to worry about the one grade. Life is an opportunity and an opportunity to do things better next time. Forget not to live your life and enjoy it and realize that failure is part of life and overcoming failure is the reason we should look forward to each new day.
In this book, Jen provides examples to women about how to enjoy life, how to succeed and how to understand that worrying is often more about us feeling insecure than about an actual problem for the rest of society. If I get one lesson from this book, it is that life should be lived with all its ups and downs. And women have the right, if not the duty, to be themselves because we are all unique characters that deserve a space on this earth. In her usual way, Jen teaches these profound lessons through laughter, tears and thoughts that speak to her reader on a variety of levels. This is one book that I had a hard time putting down and stopping to read. I keep it in my office because sometimes the stories by Jen are the perfect pick me up during work or a nice break when I need to gather my thoughts before a meeting.

Disclaimer: I received an advanced 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.