Thursday, December 7, 2017

Book Review: Imperfect Justice (Hidden Justice) by Cara C. Putman

It looks like a clear cut case, a mother killed her daughter and with gun in hand was shot by the policy in a justified act of self-defense. But lawyer Emily Wesley knows the mother and knows also, despite all the facts pointing to her guilt in her daughter's death, that Kaylene would have never been able to harm any of her children. One daughter of Kaylene's is still alive and her uncle, Reid, is trying to visit, but prevented from talking to Kinley. Just like Emily has her doubts, Reid also believes that everything is not quire the way it seems. Why would Kinley's father prevent him from talking to Kinley? Does Kaylene's husband have something to hide?

Reid, who works as a financial investor and as sacrificed a personal life for his career, and Emily, who comes from a wealthy family and has dedicated her life helping women get out of abusive situations, band together to dig into this mystery that surrounded by the death of Kaylene and her daughter.

Together Emily and Reid unravel the mystery about the deaths of Kaylene and her daughter, find the real cupplprit and in the process save the life of Kinley, Kaylene's remaining daughter. They also realize that sometimes life and living is more important than hunting after success at work and the true value of a person is not necessarily their earning potential. 

Overall, a well-written mystery thriller that realistically describes how women can suffer in abusive relationships and the effects such lives have on children.

available on

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

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Book Review: Worry Less, Live More: God’s Prescription for a Better Life by Robert Morgan

In times of economic uncertainty, worrying tends to take over our lives. In addition to the personal issues we always deal with, now comes the worry about jobs, money, and often a good portion of political concerns are thrown in as well.In this book, the author, who is a pastor, tries to help readers to not have their lives be consumed by worry. While this book is focused on the Bible, I was hoping that some of the lessons given could also apply to people as a general guide. Unfortunately, this book is very tightly aligned with the Bible. It does not contain the generally applicable lessons and guidance I have seen in many similar books.
The author uses a good approach, by asking readers to look on bright spots in life and see the positive. But the author always goes back to specific Bible passages. Worry is not just reserved to Christians. In addition, as a pastor, the author should address all people in his community and the book just does not do that. To me, the book was a lot about interpreting the Bible and short on actual guidance on how to approach life and improve it.
It is disappointing that rather than show how lessons from the Bible contain actionable steps that everyone can use, the author focused on the Bible as a guidebook for everyone. Well not everyone is a Christian and this book does not help in bridging the gap between the religions.

available on

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

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Book review: ReSYNC Your Life: 28 Days to a Stronger, Leaner, Smarter, Happier You by Samir Becic

I have to admit that I had never heard of Mr. Becic before this book, but the title sounded interesting and with the New Years resolutions coming up, it was the perfect time to read up on fitness and lifestyle changes.
This book is about making healthy changes in your life and making changes that stick - this latter part is really important to me because as a busy working family, we do not have time to waste on fads that promise everything and deliver nothing.
Mr Becic promises that one month, 28 days, is all that you need to turn your life around and not make your healthier, but also happier overall. He clearly believes in a holistic approach to life and does include the mind and not just the body. With minimum equipment and using the body as its workout machine, this book can be used by people like me that travel and people that cannot afford gym membership. It does take discipline and does take commitment, but focusing on the mind in addition to the body, the approach is simple and is fitting into any schedule.
I am impressed with the approach because I used to do Pilates regularly and got into a good shape very quickly using no equipment and training about one hour a week combined with a healthy lifestyle. Back then, I was recovering from a serious illness and considering how bad I felt early on, the use of focused body-based workouts was amazing to me. The new components that I picked up in this book are the time for meditation, something I have never done before but I have heard from many people that meditation not just helps with fitness, but also general stress relief. And who does not need stress relief over the holidays with a house full of relatives?
I am excited to start on this routine and can now feel good about my me time since with a combination of work out, meditation and mind improvement, I can get 2018 off to a great start.


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

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Book Review: Never Look at the Empty Seats: A Memoir by Charlie Daniels

Anyone who has lived in the US and listens to the radio regularly will know Charlie Daniels and his song about the Devil that went down to Georgia. Charlie has been around the US music scene for decades and has outlived and outplayed many of his early contemporaries such as Elvis Presley. It is amazing to consider what legends this man has known, played music with and just met on a regular basis.
This book is my first direct introduction into the world of country music. I have seen movies and read stories, but I never before took the time and read a book by someone who has been associated with country music and the Southern US music scene for this many years. I am glad I made the decision to read this book. It reads like a crash course on music history of the Southern US and country music from the 1940s on. And despite being a crash course on music history, you get the feeling that Charlie Daniels never really wrote a book, but sat down and talked to someone who shared his interest in music. The book reads like a collection of stories that your old and wise grandfather is sharing with you. Written like a collection of stories in the tradition of the storytellers from the Appalachian Mountains, the book provides valuable life lessons in the form of stories. The reader can draw their own conclusions about what is important in life and people may make different observations in these stories, but anyone of the stories speaks of the experiences of Charlie Daniels from years on the road as a performer. Whether it is never being afraid of failure, doing what you love doing and doing it well or there is some form of reward at the end for hard work, the stories may be focused on Charlie Daniels' life as a performer, but deep down they are stories about people working and living and trying to be good at something.
There may be disappointments and there are maybe few highlights in your life, but you can still be satisfied with any achievement. I recommend this book to any fan of country music, Southern US culture and people just looking for a collection of good stories.
available at

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.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Book review: Capital Gaines: Smart Things I Learned Doing Stupid Stuff by Chip Gaines

Most of us have heard of Fixer Upper, if not been addicted to the show that followed Chip and Joanna Gaines around Texas fixing up old homes and showing how old can become fantastically new. This book is to my knowledge the first attempt by Chip to author a book about something other than fixing up homes and I enjoyed reading the book as a lesson learned that famous people can stumble. What I took away from this book is that the problem are not making mistakes, but making a mistake and neither learning from it nor moving forward from it. 
I had no idea that Chips tried his luck at ventures other than home remodeling, but apparently he always had the drive to do something now and be his own boss. So he tried running a laundromat or opening a lawn care business in his earlier years to mixed results. Clearly the drive was there, but success did not always follow. This book is Chip's way of telling his readers, especially his younger readers that are at the beginning of a career that failure is part of the game and learning from it will pay in the end. Chips does not shy away from pointing out that he too was naive and inexperienced at times and yet that did not hold him back from trying.
In Fixer Upper Chip comes away to me as somewhat of a big kid and this book confirms that impression of him. Not that he he does not know what is important in life or that he shies away from hard work, but he does expect failure and can live with it. If that surprised some viewers, this book will reveal that Chip failed in life before he became a TV star and maybe that is the reason why some projects on the TV show that did not quite work out or proved more challenging than expected were just little stumbling blocks that he easily overcame.
I recommend this book to people that are just starting their career and may not have yet found the job they like or anyone who wants to start their own business and finds this a daunting undertaking because they may fail. This book will teach you that failure is part of the game, what you make out of it counts in the end. Keep on working hard, do not let failure bring you down and move forward.

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

Friday, October 20, 2017

Book Review: Boundaries Updated and Expanded Edition: When to Say Yes, How to Say No To Take Control of Your Life Hardcover by H. Cloud & J. Townsend

We all have times when we feel that everyone seems to step on us and use us. Especially women as caretakers are often in a position of having to say, but struggle to do so. This book is all about setting up boundaries and taking of the me as a person. Avoid getting trampled on and create a safe, livable environment for yourself. While most of the recommendations are easy to implement, decide how far you will go into lending someone money until you say no more. Other scenarios deal with more significant problems and come into the area of life safety.
I was struggling with the thought that a book can provide sufficient guidance in that situation. Who thinks that a woman in an abusive relationship can really read a book and solve such a complex situation on her own? i do not believe that this approach is safe. I would highly recommend to use this approach about setting boundaries for situations that do not involve life safety and are limited to the usual nuisances of life, such as a friend of likes to invite herself too often, or a neighbor that keeps borrowing too much or the no good ex that stops by whenever he needs someone to talk to and maybe some money. But if you feel in any way threatened or believe that your life may be in danger, go to the police or call 911. Setting up boundaries will not be enough. To me that approach just seems naive.

available on

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.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Taste and Tell Harris Teeter = Free OUI yogurt HT VIC account required!

Go to the Taste & Tell sign up link and hurry, full address and VIC number are required. That yogurt is soooo good!

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Book Review: Saving a Sick America: A Prescription for Moral and Cultural Transformation by Michael L. Brown

Do we like the America we live in today? While most will agree that even as a deeply divided nation, the US is still preferable to many other countries, many also do not condone how the US currently presents itself to others and to its citizens. Even though Dr. Brown is a conservative and leaves no doubt about the fact he preferred a GOP win over a win by Mrs. Clinton, he is also open about the fact that he does not condone everything that is currently happening in the US. While posts critical of Twitter as a political platform may be well known, Dr. Brown uses this book to explain America must find back its roots, if it wants to be the leading pillar of democracy and good in this world.

The last election may have been a protest vote in more than one way, a vote against the establishment in DC, a vote against politicians, but was it also a vote against the America as we know it? Possibly! Talk about radical changes or even revolution as something that must happen sooner rather than later are worrisome. And Dr. Brown acknowledges this dangerous time we are in as a nation and proposes that in order to find back to our roots, Christian religion should guide us. His revolution is a revolution back to the roots of this country. While this change will also be significant, it forces the church to acknowledge that it too has made mistakes by changing and adapting to a society that is not guided by religion and religious principles anymore. The church must find its way back to its core message and principles; the word of Christ as written in the Bible.

Some may find this book to be overly religious and not applicable to people outside of the church. While I agree that this book is a message to Christians to take back the US and return its to Christian principles. What many of these critiques forget is that the US was founded on Christian principles, people from many Christian religions banded together and created this country. I would further argue that this movement is not a fight against people from other religion since Christianity does teach tolerance towards people of other believes. What I feel Dr. Brown is arguing for is a culture in which families stay together, kids can be kids and not mini-adults before they graduate high-school and effort and work ethic are expected in school.

 This is certainly a thought-provoking book that Christians should read to determine whether there are changes that they can make in their lives and their families to bring back some of the values that Dr. Brown argues we have lost as a society.

available on

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.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Crowdtap sampling - Unilever Round 3 - loved everything from Degree and Suave

Through Crowdtap, I have recently the luck of being involved in several Unilever product test. I would get a sample box with about 5 full-size samples, usually some haircare, deodorant and maybe a body lotion etc. All great products so far and I have been happy every time we received such a box. Thanks Crowdtap!

I got another Unilever sample box this week and love the shampoo and conditioner that is included. But who does not need deodorant and was happy they included a spray deodorant this time. I have not used spray deodorants since leaving Germany many years ago and was happy to see that the quality of spray deodorants has improved significantly since I first used them many years ago. were full-size samples. Again, all samples were full-size, which gives you plenty of opportunity to try out the products and also share them with family members and have them try out products. This time, I decided to use them all for me because I do color my hair from time to time and the shampoo and conditioner are specific for color-treated hair.

I got the following products
  • Degree Women Clinical Antiperspirant Deodorant - Stress Control
  • Degree Women MotionSense Dry Spray Antiperspirant - Stress Control
  • Suave Professionals Moroccan Infusion Color Care Conditioner
  • Suave Professionals Moroccan Infusion Color Care Shampoo
  • Degree Women Dry Protection Antiperspirant Deodorant - Fresh
copyright Durhamonthecheap - Love my new Unilever product samples. So happy with the Suave shampoo!
The Suave Professionals Moroccan Infusion Color Care line of products is specifically formulated for color-treated hair and infused with Moroccan argan oil/ Used together as shampoo and conditioner, regular washing of hair ensures that the color stays vibrant and  the hair looks shiny and healthy.I can attest to that, my hair feels smooth and healthy with Suave and the I absolutely love the mild scent of the products.
Unilever and Crowdtap again Thanks for the samples!

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.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Book Review: Before You Hit Send: Preventing Headache and Heartache by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

How often in this quick-paced world of email and online collaboration have you hit send and regretted it about 2 minutes later? In my case, I still blush thinking about a couple of times that this happened and wish I could take that send command back. While computers have their advantages and online collaboration has made working with groups in other countries and other regions of the USA so much easier, we are IT-workers and IT-dependent works still need some adjusting to this interconnectivity. Looking at our current president, probably a good example that tweets, even with misspellings, have a tendency to somehow survive, even if only as a screenshot.

If we make a mistake within our family, we may be forgiven, but as professionals, forgiveness is reserved to a few lucky few and embarassment is not something anyone of us wants to suffer as a result of an email error. Due diligence with email, computers, social networks, some things are hard to learn and that is one thing for sure.

Early on in law school I was introduced to the concept of netiquette and this book can be added to the ever growing body of documentation on how to adjust to the online world of communication. Email is just words, not emotions and no facial expressions. A joke may not be clear to someone reading the email and voila another notch on the embarrassment scale and lessons learned for the future.

This book is intended to help people navigate the world of email, social networking and avoiding the pitfalls of sending something that is ambiguous or wrong too early.The author is touching on four basic points that are part of every communication:
  • Is it true?
  • Is it kind?
  • Is it necessary?
  • Is it clear?

I would argue that the last point, is it clear, is really critical. Email and online communication is all about speed, but we still need to be clear in the absence of facial expressions or gestures. So choosing out words wisely and being clear about what we want to express and how we want to express it are critical.

This book is a must read for everyone that needs to navigate this online world as part of work and feels that some guidance is needed on how to navigate the use of email safely. 

available on

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

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Book Review: Truth Doesn't Have a Side: My Alarming Discovery about the Danger of Contact Sports by Bennet Omalu

 Many football fans have hard of CTE and the still ongoing controversy about the lasting impacts of contact sports, such as football, on the brain and the general health of the players. While some dispute the connections between contact sports, concussions and brain disease, especially if cited in the context of violent acts, others believe that this connection exists and point to CTE and its prevalence among football players as strong evidence for such a connection.
Bennet Omalu is at the center of this controversy. Not known to many fans, Dr. Bennet Omalu is the neurologist who first detected and wrote the paper for the foundation of CTE as a syndrome associated with contact sports.
 CTE or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy is associated with horrific consequences including suicide and violent behavior. But outside of the attention-grabbing headlines, CTE also stands for the daily struggle a lot of NFL retirees experience that involves deterioration in attention, memory loss, and depression.

available on

Dr. Bennet Omalu journey started in Nigeria and ended in 2002 with the dead body of former Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster on the autopsy table and Dr. Bennet Omalu's discovery of CTE. This book is Dr. Bennet Omalu's attempt to point out that he did not set out to create controversy or start a crusade against the NFL or contact sport in general, it was just him trying to find an answer why Mike Webster's body looked the way it did and how to explain the changes he found in the brain of the NFL player. He used scientific methods, careful observation and conclusions to come to define CTE and link this syndrome to contact sports and the effect such sports can have on a body.
if you are concerned about the potential effect of football on your children and want to learn more about the current CTE controversy, I highly recommend reading this book.

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

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Crowdtap Sampling: SPLENDA® Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend

Through Crowdtap I was able to sample a great new sweetener blend that contains sugar, but has less calories than regular sugar, while tasting like real sugar.  Splenda Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend is a mix of Sugar and Stevia and while it can be used just like sugar and taste just like sugar, due to Stevia mixed in, it has about 1/2 the calories of sugar. Also a little goes a long way, you use only half the amount of sugar to get the same sweetness. I could not wait to try out Splenda Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend in my favorite dessert - homemade Tapioca custard. Easy to make with just a handful of ingredients, the custard is a favorite in my house. I used as instructed, half the amount I normally use for sugar of the Splenda Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend and then prepped the Tapioca as always. It tasted just like regular Tapioca, but had half the calories and my family could not taste the difference. 

So if you are looking for a product that can help you cut back on calories without losing flavor or adding in a chemical aftertaste - give Splenda Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend a try. We love it.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - Tapioca with Splenda Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend is yummy! 

copyright Durhamonthecheap - Tapioca with Splenda Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend + raspberry syrup = heaven

copyright Durhamonthecheap - Tapioca with Splenda Naturals Sugar & Stevia Blend so easy to make

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.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Crowdtap sampling - Unilever Round 2 - loved everything from Ponds, Degree and TRESemmé!

Through Crowdtap, I recently received another box full of samples from Unilever and they were full-size samples. Loved it! First of all, thanks Crowdtap for selecting me again for the Unilever sampling. I could really get used to this. Second, I absolutely love the fact that I am getting full size samples really to try out. Love that they includes makeup remove towelettes and some more hair care products. I can never have enough shampoo and conditioner in my house, even though I just chopped off about 5 inches - see new haircut below. 
Again, as with the first time, I was lucky enough to get samples that my family can easily use. my mom has not sampled the products yet, but I am sure she will try to steal some of the products from me, so I have been hiding them for now and will enjoy them a little bit first before I share.
I got the following products:
  • Pond's Evening Soothe MoistureClean Towelettes
  • Degree Women UltraClear Antiperspirant Deodorant - Pure Clean
  • Degree Women Clinical Antiperspirant Deodorant - Sheer Powder
  • TRESemmé Botanique Curl Hydration Shampoo

  • TRESemmé Botanique Curl Hydration Conditioner

While all products worked great, I definitely had a couple of favorites- especially the Pond's Evening Soothe MoistureClean Towelettes were great. With the cold cream they contain, removing make up is not difficult and certainly not irritating anymore. One towelette removes makeup in an easy and comfortable way. Another favorite of mine was the Degree Women Clinical Antiperspirant Deodorant - Sheer Powder, love the scent and it does keep me dry all day with the scent lasting a long time too. 
Nothing really has been disappointing in this box and I am loving that I get to use these products as full size products for the next few weeks!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - love my Unilever samples, in particular the Ponds Makeup Remover Towelettes!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - love my Pond's Evening Soothe MoistureClean Towelettes

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.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Book Review: Coloring Christmas Devotions by Lizzie Preston, Claire McElfatrick , and Suzanne Khushi

My mother has been totally hit by the coloring craze and she loves to collect also books with proverbs, quotes and sayings that she can use to add to cards and personalize them. So when I came across this book, I figured this would be perfect for her. I was right, she absolutely loves it and her goal is to finish it before Christmas.
I should caution people that have visual issues and need magnifying glasses or use books with large print that some images in this book contain very detailed images that require decent eyesight. The images used as a nice mix of abstract art, stylistic representations of flowers and simple shapes. But there are also very nice nature scenes with animals and the three wise men. This book is perfect for all ages, although little kids will have problems staying in the lines. I would say that 12 years is probably a good starting age for this book to both read and color. That being said, the stories included a good to read to younger kids and fully colored, the book is a nice book to go through with younger kids and discuss the holiday and the meaning of it for Christians.
I should also point out that the book is a perfect size to carry in a purse. it is not too big and can be easily carried in a satchel, no huge tote required.
So if you are looking for a book that the whole family can use and multiple generations can enjoy, this book may be it for the Christmas season. We plan to have my mother color it and then during the holiday read it and enjoy it as a family.

available at

A sample image that can be used to color; the book is a nice mix of abstract art and nature scenes

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.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Product Review: Unilever Sample box from Crowdtap

Through Crowdtap, I recently received a box full of samples from Unilever and they were full-size samples. Loved it! Firt of all, full size samples really give you a chance to try out a product. How much can you really tell about a hair product if the sample is good for one use. I prefer to use a sample at least a couple or three times to make sure there is no irritation and the effect can be consistent.
I was lucky enough to get samples that my family can easily use. I even got mom into the game because any hairspray can help her keep a do with her thin hair is something that I hate to steal from her.
I got the following products:
  • Suave Professionals Firm Control Sculpting Gel
  • Suave Body Lotion Silkening with Baby Oil
  • Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant Deodorant Rebalance
  • Dove Advanced Care Clear Tone Sheer Touch
  • Suave Extreme Hold 10 Hairspray
 While all products worked great, my favorite was the Dove Advanced Care Antiperspirant Deodorant Rebalance. That scent just screamed essence of summer and it made my skin feel soft and lasted with protection from morning until evening. As I already said, my mom is now a huge fan of the Suave Extreme Hold 10 Hairspray, finally a hairspray at lasts all day and still can be brushed out in the evening. The same can be said for the Suave Professionals Firm Control Sculpting Gel; my thick hair will actually hold waves now and looks like I spent some time on it in the morning to give it some shape. What can be said about Suave Body Lotion Silkening with Baby Oil? Who does not love the scent of baby oil and we all know how well it serves us to keep our skin moist and soft. Now with Suave Body Lotion Silkening with Baby Oil we have it in a body lotion and I love it. Last but certainly not least, Dove Advanced Care Clear Tone Sheer Touch is something truly unique among deos in my opinion. It can last up to 48 hours, although I still apply it daily, but without alcohol, it really is excellent for sensitive skin, just like after you shave and the thought of applying deo already gives you bumps. Now with Dove Advanced Care Clear Tone Sheer Touch, I can actually apply deo right after having and my skin is still soft. Magic? Maybe not, but certainly close it it. Like I said, Crowdtap and Unilever product a great selection of products for me and my family. We can and will use everything in this box and some products like the deo Rebalance and the hairspray as well as the Sculpting Gel were really things we discovered through the box and wondered why did we never try out this product before.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - love my Unilever samples, in particular the Dove Deodorant Rebalance!
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: The Potential Principle: A Proven System for Closing the Gap Between How Good You Are and How Good You Could Be by Mark Sanborn

Do you ever feel that your job or your supervisor is holding you back? That, if given the right circumstances, you could be and do so much more than you are presently able to achieve? If this may apply to you, I highly recommend this book. In The Potential Principle Mark Sanborn touches on the subject to maxing out your possibilities. Giving as much as you can during your life and not leaving a bunch of what ifs and the best ideas and plans behind.
I do believe that the fact that Mark works as a leadership expert helps with him not only noticing untapped potential in people, but also providing a workable solution that you can live without relying on others to enable you. In easy to understand language and clearly organized chapters, Mark Sanborn provides an how to for the reader who strives to up his or her game in life and be more successful at work or life in general. Keys to improving your performance are not just learning, but how to apply and use it to further your career and maxing your performance at work is not just work harder, but working smarter. Working more effectively and efficiently with tools that Mark Sonborn provides to the reader in this book go a long way in ensuring that the lessons from this book can be easily applied and translate in a better and more successful human being.
I highly recommend this book to any reader that feels that more is in them, but have a hard time showing to themselves and others. Mark Sanborn's advice can be applied all or just selectively, but will improve your life no matter what by bringing out your potential. 
available on
 Disclaimer: I received a free advance 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.

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.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Kroger Bargain today only: General Mills Cereal, or Nature Valley or Fiber One Bars, just 99¢

Download your coupon July 19-22 for this hot price on General Mills Cereal, or Nature Valley or Fiber One Bars, just 99¢ each with Card! 


 Download Coupon

Kroger Friday Freebie: Gatorade Fuel Bars on 7-28-17

Sign up for an online account with and get free stuff every Friday. Coming up next:
1 FREE Gatorade Sports Nutrition Bar (2.1-2.8 oz., select varieties).

Redeem by Sunday, August 13. Available in most stores.
Learn More About Free Friday

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Book Review: The Break Down by B. A. Paris

This is tough thriller to read. Not because the action is not believable or the writing is bad; but the book is tough to read because you want to help out Cass, the protagonist of this nail biter. 
One evening, Cass is driving home and passes a car with a woman inside. She does not stop and finds out the next day that the woman in the car has been murdered. Not only is Cass plagued by feelings of gilt for not stopping and possibly helping the woman, but the woman was also someone she knew, making the murder hitting so much closer to home.

This book definitely has some elements of Gaslight in it, the wonderful thriller from the black and white era with Ingrid Bergman and without giving too much away, the reader will likely feel sorry for Cass, who thinks she may be losing her mind. The book does an excellent job of describing the journey that Cass takes from the initial guilt over not stopping and helping the woman to thinking she may be going insane and not remembering basic things about her daily routine. Along the way, the reader is left wondering whether these events are part of Cass's imagination or whether someone is deliberately acting the background to possibly remove the only witness to the murder. This would also explain the strange calls Cass has been receiving lately.  

#ad #TheBreakdown - copyright Durhamonthecheap

This book is not for the faint of heart. Even though will probably make the reader to want to protect her against what is causing this journey into madness; Cass certainly has her flaws to and her inability to trust people around her brings her more and more into isolation and this leaves her ore vulnerable. This is definitely ranking as nail biter type of book that will leave the reader wanting to finish it in one sitting. I suggest though to take your time and read every sentence because the writing is well done and enjoyable. The author has managed to come up with interesting characters and even though Cass is not without her fault, the way her life throughout this book is described still elicits compassion among the readers. I frequently just wanted Cass to move and get away from it all, so she could be safe and enjoy her life. There are plenty of plot twists and the end left me gasping because it was so unexpected. Even though thinking through the storyline, the author prepped you for such an end and it still hit you out of nowhere. This is a book I would read again just to be able to focus on the hints that may be given away. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good thriller and see darkness in everyday life of seemingly normal people. 

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book for free 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.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Crowdtap sampling: Curad first aid supplies, now with Arm & Hammer Baking soda

Thanks to Crowdtap I got a wonderful kit with a bunch of new products to speed up healing. Curad has a tradition of producing products for first aid and the bandages, gauze and tape that I received in my kit underscore that Curead is the name to trust. I love the fact that Curad now incorporates Arm and Hammer Baking Soda in their wound pads because baking soda helps with the bacterial odors that can be noticeable if a wound is oozing. They also made wound pads in different size and offer gauze that can be used in places where pads do not work well, especially knees and elbows. Too much movement can make it difficult to cover a wound, so the gauze is perfect in combination with the tape.
I badly scraped my knee last year and even though I did not need stitches, my knee still shows scarring and it took almost a month for the wound to heal. I remember all too well the bacterial odor as well as the pronounced oozing that I experienced for several weeks. Curad would not only helped with the odor, but also better handled the oozing because there are only natural ingredients in their pads that support a better healing and letting the wound breathe.

copyright Durhamonthecheap - again Target does not disappoint, Curad available here!
Having baking soda and minimizing the odor is also a big plus because even though I may have been more self-conscious that necessary, I felt that the odor was noticeable for the first couple of weeks when I was visiting clients to do some work. Overall, look in your neighborhood pharmacy or Target for Curad products. Especially minor scrapes that do not need stitching, but are deep and will take some time to heal are ideal to show off the advantages of Curad compared to other brands of first aid bandages and gauze. I am convinced and will now rely solely on Curad!
copyright Durhamonthecheap - great selection of products I received through Crowdtap

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.

copyright Durhamonthecheap -

Crowdtap sampling: RXBAR for kids

Through Crowdtap I was introduced to a new kind of protein bar. RXBAR are made in formulations specific for kids and adults. We received three samples for kids, which the adults in our family, not so surprisingly, had to test first to make sure they were good enough for the kids. So after splitting the bars between adults and kids, we are the newest fans of RXBAR. We absolutely love the fruit-flavored kinds, especially the berry flavor for kids and the blueberry flavor for adults. They are very high in protein and relatively low in sugar and they are so filling. I some times add them to the lunch box as a dessert and afternoon snack all in one and for me, the adult bars serve well to tie me over if work is hectic and there is no time for a sit down lunch. Grab a protein rich RXBAR and you can continue to work and have lunch later in the afternoon. The price is acceptable for a good protein bar and we love that in addition to the endless stream of chocolate and peanut butter flavors, we now have the option of fruit-flavored bars that my family prefers.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - great selection of RXBAR products at my Target
They are available at Target and a box runs around $6. They are well worth the price and in addition to the taste, the ingredients are minimal (egg whites, fruit, nuts, dates) and in a world where the ingredient list is too often a page out of an analytical chemistry book, I love the fact that RXBAR is sticking to healthy, minimally processed ingredients and keeps the flavor as close to nature as possible.
copyright Durhamonthecheap - picked up two fruit-flavored bars, love them both!

copyright Durhamonthecheap - mom looking forward to getting some bluebrry RXBAR, her favorite flavor.

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: Collateral Damage by Dr. J. T. Chiban

Every person that starts thinking about marriage, family and kids always has the hope that every thing will turn out for the best. No one starts thinking about divorce at the beginning of this journey. Even signing a prenup is more done with the hope to never have to use it. Yet despite best intentions, a large number of marriages end in divorce. Such a large number that often couples do not even marry, yet still start a family and eventually also drift apart. What often is overlooked, despite the best intentions by the parents, are the children and how to get them through the breakup of the family.
Dr. Chiban has come up with a well structured, clearly written book that summarizes extensive research on the effect of divorce on children. The structure of the book hits on the main points of his guidance:

  • Before You Begin: Your Child and Your Divorce
  • Part 1: Guiding and Protecting Your Children
  • Chapter 1: Attune to Your Child
  • Chapter 2: Manage Emotions and Stormy Situations
  • Chapter 3: Sustain Your Parental Role
  • Chapter 4: Provide Stability Through Nurturance
  • Part 2: Navigating Divorce for Parents
  • Chapter 5: Regain Control—Reclaim Yourself
  • Chapter 6: Realign Your Relationships
  • Chapter 7: Redefine Parenting
  • Chapter 8: Retain Your Parenthood in a Blended Family
  • Chapter 9: Preserve Loving Relationships
  • A Final Word: Redirecting Your Divorce Through Spiritual Life
     In the end, simply because a marriage fails, does not mean that the family fails. We talk to a lot of people in amicable ways and before and after a marriage spent time with friends. Most of us spent a lot of time at work with colleagues. All of these show healthy relationships that many times exist over years without a bond such as marriage. While ideally a divorce never happens, what Dr. Chiban shows is that keeping a relationship with your child is something both parents need to do because of the consequences if they don't. Often children going through a divorce bear deep emotional scars and have a tendency to seek solace in alcohol, criminal acts and show mental instability in later life. Managing the divorce in a way that minimizes the impact on a child is important and maintaining a healthy relationship despite a divorce is important and Dr Chiban's book is an excellent guideline for any parent who faces a divorce, but wants to minimize its impact on their child. 
    available at
    Disclaimer:  I received a free book in exchange for an honest review. The opinion expressed is solely my own and has not been influenced by any third party.

    Tuesday, July 11, 2017

    Book Review: Real Artists Don't Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age by Jeff Goins

    This is the second book by Goins that I am reading and I like his approach to life and work in general; this book being no exception. We hear too much about artists not making any money and that being artist somehow excludes actually making a comfortable living. Nothing could be further from the truth. Artists an live in inspiration alone or they can, and that is what Goins suggests, approach making art like you approach a real job. You study, prepare and work hard at it to make it a success and make money in the process. While I am not an artist in real life, my family has had business based on crafts that combine artistry with making money and made a good living that way. That may be the reason why I agree with most of what Goins states in this book. As an artist you need to be good at what you do and form a little, as we call it in German, Ich-AG. A company focused on and run by you. You need to market yourself and your ideas and work.
    I think this book does a good job of convincing anyone who wants to make a living in an artistic field, whether as a painter, author or even a blogger, full-time or part-time that the hours spent on the art do not mean poverty, but can be money makers if done correctly. To me as a part-time blogger they reinforced me in my goal to think of my blog and my part-time social networking activity as a creative outlet that still allows me to make money. This is a reassuring book for anyone that thinks starting a creative career means no money and poverty and instead contains good advice and some tools to get you start on making art a career by approaching it like a business.

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

    Thursday, July 6, 2017

    #RightToKnow: DIsclose full ingredients on product labels of cleaning products

    So far, you are buying cleaning products and you never know what these products actually contain. Right now, no regulation or law requires that ingredients in cleaning products are disclosure, but there is hope. Currently, three different legislative bills have been introduced to force a change to this and of course Seventh Generation has been fighting the good fight for Ingredient Disclosure for quite some time. They are leading the cleaning industry by example and want everyone to #comeclean!

    Below is a summary of a few points that struck me as particularly important when it comes to ingredient disclosure in the cleaning industry:

    Q: Why should consumers care what’s in their cleaning products?

    A: Cleaning product exposure can cause certain health conditions, such as asthma, due to the chemicals contained in cleaning products.

    Q: Who is at most risk from these adverse effects? 
    A: The sad news is that everyone with regular exposure to such products, in particular janitors or maids, are at risk, but also moms, who do the most cleaning for the family. 

    Q: Why put ingredient information on a label? Will consumers really know what to do with it?
    A: How are you supposed to make an informed decision about which product to purchase if you do not know what is contained in the product. Why is one product more expensive than another? It could be due to more risky ingredients, known to pose a health hazard, that the bargain brand is able to be on sale permanently, while a carefully crafted product that stay within safe concentrations is more expensive. But can you really put a price on the health of your family? I do not believe so and have been switching to a lot more natural products, like Seventh Generation, to make the house clean for my family.Consumer already have gotten used to reading labels for calories and food ingredients, why not let the consumers be adult about cleaning products as well ans enable them to read these labels too?

    Disclaimer: I received something for free in exchange for this post, but all opinions expressed in this post are my own and have not been influenced by any third party.

    Saturday, July 1, 2017

    Product Review: Arm & Hammer Baking Soda as a great affordable cleaner in the house

    Through Simple Solutions I received a kit for Arm and Hammer Baking Soda that included a handy sprinkler bottle and a booklet to show some uses for baking soda around the house. I had received a shaker bottle before from Arm and Hammer and so the latest one has been donated to mom, who is now happily shaking baking soda on rugs and upholstery to make her spring cleaning even more productive.
    I have continued to use my baking soda sprinkler around the house, but the booklet gave me some new ideas. Since we are now a one dog household, even though at times it seems like a hoard of wild beasts are making their home in our house, we have plenty of chew toys. After buying a new toy every week initially, we have now settled on a squirrel called Squeeky and a duck called Ducky, both looking rather disheveled and smelling accordingly.
    I do the same with the toys as with rugs, I take my sprinkler bottle, add some baking soda to the fabric and then vacuum the rug or carpet and brush out the toy. My puppy may not really be sure about what happened with the toy, but I can appreciate the fresh smell and the cleaner appearance of the toys and also the rugs.
    I love that baking soda is safe to use around kids and animals and that the price is so affordable. So far, no one has had any reactions to baking soda, the fabrics are not negatively impacted and the smell is just a nice, clean smell that indicates that the house is clean.

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - the nifty shaker bottle to sprinkle baking soda on rugs and toys etc.

    copyright Durhamonthecheap - easy to fill and easy to use + very effective in cleaning and deodorizing
    I showing the bottle in more detail in this video and also a rug that I got cheap secondhand and revived with the use of baking soda. It looks great now and the colors were revived thanks to Arm and Hammer Baking Soda. No more grayish dusty colors and musty smells, now the rug is a nice dark blue and smells just nice and clean.

    Disclaimer: I received something for free in exchange for this post, but all opinions expressed in this post are my own and have not been influenced by any third party.

    Stockpile - a new way to invest in the stock market!

    I received a giftcard to try out a new site to stock trading and general investing in the stockmarket. Stockpile tries to bring investing into stocks to the people and in my opinion they have succeeded. I got with my starter kit not only the giftcard, but a fun, easy to understand booklet that provided guidance to me about the basic principles for investing into stocks and how to buy stocks.
    Now we all know that investing in stocks does not guarantee a return, but it also historically has proven to be the best way to accumulate money.

    I found the page easy to navigate and they even allow you to buy a percentage of stock. So rather than invest several hundred dollars to buy one stock in a company such as Apple, you can use $100 and buy a portion of one stock and still benefit from Apple doing well with their latest gadgets, whether it is Iphone or Ipad. This to me was a serious advantage of using Stockpile. As a mother, money is tight and kids come first. But saving on everyday expenses with coupons, a little money can be saved and I loved how I could use some money to invest in Stockpile.
    So if you want to try out and invest in stocks, go ahead and sign up at Stockpile. Here is a link that you can use for an additional $5 as a gift when you sign up and start trading at Stockpile.

    Available stocks include Amazon, Facebook, Google, Apple, Ford and a lot of other major companies that trade for well in excess of $100 a share and would be hard to get into with just some saved up coupon money. So for moms and other new investors, Stockpile is a great option to get into the stock market early, learn about how it works and make some money possibly as well. There is nothing standing in the way of you becoming an #Investor and with the ability to buy giftcard, you can #GiveStockpile and #GiveStock to your kids that are now off to college. #HappyInvesting y'all

      Disclaimer : In exchange for my honest and unbiased review, I received a $25 gift card to try out Stockpile. This post contains a referral link. I am not a market professional and not responsible for gains or losses that you may experience. I am not affiliated with or own an investment in any company or brand mentioned, and have no plans to do so. Securities products are not FDIC insured. Not bank guaranteed. May lose value.