Friday, February 27, 2015

Children's Book Review: When I Grow Up I Want to Be...U.S. Army and Veterinarian

I am excited to share two more books in the WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE series by Wigu Publishing.  I absolutely LOVE this series and highly recommend it for your elementary-aged child!

This series introduces readers to careers and people in their communities.  There have been five titles published with more to come. To see my other reviews of WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE...books, click HEREHERE, and HERE

IN THE U.S. ARMY (2nd Edition)
Jake Learns About the U.S. Army

By: Wigu Publishing

Published: December 6, 2014

Publisher: Wigu Publishing

In this 2nd edition, Jack has a school project and decides to choose being a soldier in the U.S. Army.  This edition features a different cover, more characters, and a bigger storyline.

Once Jake chooses an Army Soldier for his presentation, he leaves nothing out. His dad takes him to a GI Surplus store where Jake gets an education about being a soldier.  He learns the history of soldiers, as far back as George Washington.  Then when he chooses a uniform to wear during his presentation, his father, a former Sergeant in the U.S. Army, shares about the reasons for the different pins, patches, and ribbons. Alongside the story, there are factual information pages explaining different jobs, weapons, and body armor needed for those specific jobs. After Jake gives his presentation to the class, he is surprised when a classmate shares a familiar object during her presentation.  Jake may have just made a new friend.

The book ends with a glossary of Army terms used in the book.  The book is full of illustrations and factual photos to teach the reader all about the U.S. Army, the history, and current duties associated with being a member of the U.S. Army.

Sofia's Dream Comes True

By: Wigu Publishing

Published: December 9, 2014

Publisher: Wigu Publishing

Sophia has been begging for a pet to no avail. Her mom refuses every time she asks. Then one rainy night, a cat shows up at their home and Sophia wonders if her wish has finally come true. Even though the cat is scared off the first time, she returns after Sophia is patient and offers food.  After much convincing, Sophia is allowed to take the cat to the veterinarian to make sure she is healthy.  During this visit she is given an education about taking care of her new pet. Before she leaves with her new cat, she is surprised by the veterinarian's diagnosis.

This book is perfect for any animal lover.  The story reminded me of our daughter who sat in our garage for hours to coax a stray kitten that had jumped out of our garbage can. She offered food and sang to it until if finally came to snuggle up next to her.  That kitten is now our pet, Stormy, and is very well loved.

Throughout Sophia's veterinarian visit, the reader can learn about all kinds of animals and different types of care they need including wild animals, dogs, cats, farm animals, and even birds and exotic animals.  The book includes illustrations and photos to help tell the story and teach about all different kinds of animals. Our daughter especially loved the cat pictures.  The end of the book shares tips for becoming a veterinarian as well as what it takes to be a good pet owner.

I continue to be impressed by this series of books and look forward to sharing more in this series with you soon.  Upcoming books include: A NURSE!, A GOOD PERSON!, A RACE CAR DRIVER! and GREEN!

WIGU PUBLISHING is a collaboration among talented and creative individuals working together to publish informative and fun books for children. Our titles serve to introduce young readers to the people in their communities who serve others through their careers. Wigu's books are unique in that they help children visualize the abundant opportunities that exist for them to be successful and to make a difference.  For more on Wigu Publishing, check out their website, . You can also find them on social media:

Facebook, HERE 
Twitter, HERE
Pinterest, HERE.

To purchase a copy of WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE...IN THE U.S. ARMY, click the photo below:

To purchase a copy of WHEN I GROW UP I WANT TO BE...A VETERINARIAN, click the photo below:

To see all the books in this series, click HERE.

I will be linking up this review with Booking Mama's Kid Konnection on Saturday. To see other great reviews of children's and young adult literature, click HERE.

Thanks to Wigu Publishing for sending copies of these books for review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase the books through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Product Review: Spa's Premium Dead Sea Mud Mask

I was offered the opportunity to try Spa's Premium Dead Sea Mud Mask.
I love trying new beauty products and was interested in the skincare benefits of this product. I appreciated that it is made with all natural ingredients including Shea Butter, Aloe Vera Juice, and Sunflower Oil, to name a few.  It offers anti-aging benefits and a natural moisturizer to reinvigorate your skin.

After having FOUR blemishes on my face in one day, I decided it was a good time to try out this mask.  I haven't had four zits since my teen years. Plus, I had an entire day at home, which meant I wasn't in a hurry to get make-up on and get out the door. I had a makeup free day ahead of me so felt it was the perfect time to try out the mask.

I applied the mask evenly across my face with my fingers. The mask was cool and reminded me of the consistency of pudding.  I applied it lightly, but can be applied thicker if you prefer.

It was wet and slimy, but dried quickly.

After it dried, it turned into a hard mask that made your face feel extremely tight.

You are to leave it on for 15-20 minutes. 
 I took it off at 15 minutes by removing with a warm wash cloth. 
 It wiped off easily.  
I then applied my usual moisturizer (Mary Kay Time Wise Moisturizer).

My face feels smoother and had a glow when I removed the mask. But, I will say, I couldn't wait to get the mask off. I didn't care for that tight feeling on my face. But, for 15 minutes, it is manageable.

You could use this on dry elbows, cracked heels, or other problem areas.

retails for $19.95 for an 8 oz jar. 
You will get several uses out of this one jar,
 although you should use it within one to two months due to the natural ingredients.

If you would like to purchase this mask,
 click the photo at the top of the post or click HERE.

Thanks to Spa's Premium for sending a jar of this product for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase the product through the above links, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Catching You Up on Life Around Here

Even though I haven't been posting much on here, I have been keeping busy.

I finished this book last week:

I haven't told you about it yet, because I read it for the Cedar Rapids Gazette. The author is an Iowan, near where I grew up.  So, I am doing a feature on her and this book she wrote about her mom.  If you like Memoirs and WWII, this is a book for you! I'll be running my review in mid March after the Gazette runs my feature. I can assure you it is worth the read.  Pick up your copy, HERE.

I'm reading every chance I get.  Right now, on my Kindle I'm reading, The Settling Earth.
It's a collection of short stories and it's holding my interest.  It's a quick read and I hope to tell you about it next week.

I'm also reading Splinters of Light.
It comes out next week and I will have a review for you then as well.

Our boys are in the middle of show choir season, which means our weekends are full.  But, basketball is done, so we get our weeknights back...for a bit.  Until soccer begins.

I'm sick of this cold weather and as I type this, more snow is headed our way.  I know that technically, Spring is just a few weeks away, but it doesn't feel like it is going to get here anytime soon.

Blogging and sharing books I love with all of you brings me such joy. Especially when you share about a book I have told you about and how much you loved it.  That is why I started sharing my love of books with all of you.  But, as I have always said, this is my hobby and many other things come first in my life. So, if I am MIA for a few days or a week.  You'll know that I am just focusing of the other things in life.  But, know that I'll be back, just as soon as I can.

I am also spending time studying God's Word.  That has been my Lent goal and so far I have been sticking with it....7 days in. The truths have been eye-opening and I have been reading and rereading 
several scriptures. I'm reading the SHE READS TRUTH "Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross" plan and really like how everything is laid out for me.  I didn't realize how much I missed studying His Word. I used to attend a weekly Bible Study called Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) and have missed that daily connection.

These are some of the truths that have spoken to me in these first 7 days.  I'm sharing in case you need some encouragement or hope. If so, it can be found here. 

Romans 3:20 For no one will be justified in His sight by the works of the law, because the knowledge of sin comes through the law.

Joel 2:13 For He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in faithful love, and He relents from sending disaster.

2 Corinthians 5 - Really the whole chapter brought tears to my eyes. I don't know why it was so powerful to me at this time, but it has been one I have read every single day.

1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin.

Mark 2:17 "Those who are well don't need a doctor, but the sick do need one. I didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners." 

Hebrews 12:5-6, 11 My son, do not take the Lord's discipline lightly or faint when you are reproved by Him, for the Lord disciplines the one He loves and punishes every son He receives. No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Getting Organized: Kitchen Utensils Drawer

For months I have spent way too much time digging for my cookie dough scoop or my metal spatula or a wine stopper.  I'd finally had enough and decided it was time to get this drawer organized.

Does anyone else have a drawer that looks like this?

My first step was to pull everything out and wipe the drawer clean.

How do crumbs get in there anyway???

Once everything was out, I did some purging. I moved some things that I still use but not very often to our downstairs "kitchen/bar" area. I got rid of broken or unused items. Then I prioritized what I needed in this drawer and organized by categories. 

Once everything was placed in category piles (baking, pizza, wine, etc) then I decided what I wanted in the front of the drawer and what could go towards the back. 

Several months ago I found Progressive Drawer Dividers on Zulily.
I love finding great deals on Zulily. Click HERE to be notified of all their great deals.

These dividers are also available on Amazon by clicking the photo above. 

I love how they separate everything and keep utensils from sliding all over the drawer. The dividers are spring-loaded and fit to any size drawer and fit tightly.

I did this drawer over a month ago and it still looks exactly like this. It is so much easier for everyone to find just what they need and can hopefully put it back in the same spot.

This project took me less than 30 minutes from start to finish. I'm looking forward to organizing more spaces in our home over the next few months. 

What can you spend 10, 15 or even 30 minutes organizing today? Spending that time now, may save you 5 minutes here and there over the next several months because you will spend less time looking for something.

This post does contain affiliate links. Thanks for supporting 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Product Review: NutriGold Organic Chia Seeds, Omega-3, and Vitamin K2 MK-7

For the last few months I've had the opportunity to try several products from NutriGold.  

NutriGold products are made with organic, whole food, and clinically-proven ingredients and without GMOs, artificial ingredients, Stearates, Sulfates, Laurates, and Dioxides.  You can find products such as vitamins, minerals, probiotics, oils and whole food supplements. They have products for various health concerns such as diet and weight-loss, energy, cholesterol, glucose, joints, stress, and memory.

I had the opportunity to try NutriGold Omega-3 Gold Vitamins, Vitamin K2 MK-7 Gold, and Organic Chia Seeds.

As with any health product, you should consult with your doctor or pharmacist before trying any new product in case their are concerns with your particular health situation or drug interactions. 

The Omega-3 Gold are a fish oil supplement and the pills are quite large. But, every fish oil supplement I have taken has been a large pill.  Omega-3 is best known for supporting cardiovascular health, but can also support joints and brain function. I have been taking these for several weeks and the only flaw I would have to comment on is large size of pills and that there is a "burp" factor after taking them. No other side effects or issues have come up and I do feel like I am doing something good for my overall health when I take them.

The Vitamin K2 MK-7 is a necessary supplement because it can't be synthesized by the body. Vitamin K supports healthy bones, heart and kidney functions, and promotes healthy aging. The Vitamin K comes from Natto which I had just recently heard about from a podcast promoting its benefits. This is a small capsule that you can actually see the liquid move in it. I noticed no side effects from this vitamin and appreciate knowing that I am benefiting my health while taking it.

I have enjoyed Chia Seeds in various ways over the last couple years. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to try NutriGold Organic Chia Seeds. I typically use Chia Seeds in my smoothies and in chia pudding. Some people don't like how chia seeds swell when they come in contact with a liquid but that is what I love about them. I like that "tapioca like" texture that chia seeds offer. What I noticed when using the NutriGold Organic Chia Seeds is they didn't swell as much. They stayed more seed like when mixed in. So, for texture purposes, this was a disappointment. But, I still appreciate the benefits Chia Seeds offer. Chia Seeds are a great source of fiber and amino acids. Since I only use a scoop at a time, this 2lb bag will last me a long time.

All of the above products are available on the NutriGold website. You can see all of the wide-range of health products offered by clicking HERE.

You can also find their products on Amazon, clicking the photos will take you directly to their product page:

$22.99 (as of this post)

$23.21 (as of this post)

$19.99 (as of this post)

Thanks to NutriGold for sending the above products for the purpose of this review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase any of the products through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting 

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

The Season of Lent Is Upon Us

 A couple weeks ago,
 I found out I was the lucky winner of the SHE READS TRUTH Lenten Study.

This was exactly what I needed to push me during Lent to make time for Jesus.

I won this beautiful SHE READS TRUTH Study Kit from Emilie at Flourish & Hope
and you should definitely check out her blog as well! 

This kit includes a beautiful book to use for your study 
along with three beautifully designed business-card-sized verses 
and two gorgeous 8x10 prints.

The book includes each of the 47 days 
with verses, prayers and spaces for journaling your thoughts. 

There are also several pages of hymns which I love 
because I could play them as part of my devotional time.
Music is a very important part of my time with Jesus.
When I am really stressed out, I will sit down at the piano
and play my favorite hymns. It always calms me
and fills me with a great peace.

The pages are beautiful and the words on the pages remind us of His great love for us.

Beginning tomorrow, I will be devoting time each day, for the next 47 days to this study of Jesus and his great gift of dying on the cross for us and His miracle resurrection.

I have my Bibles ready.
I have scheduled it into my days.
I have prayed about this study and how it can be help me grow in my faith.

If you would like to join me, you can also read along 
by getting the SHE READS TRUTH App on your device. 
Unfortunately, the study is all sold out. 
But, if you are interested in this type of kit/study,
you will want to stay tuned for their release of the next study. 

I am hoping to share often about what I am feeling and learning over the next days and weeks during Lent. But, I don't want to feel burdened by this study at all. I want to devote the time and energy necessary to study and pray without the pressure of sharing.

But, when I feel led to share with you, I will.

I won't be giving up anything for Lent, 
but I will be giving more of myself to Him.
Which, really, it what it is all about.

I can't wait to get started.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Bennett's KCRG TV9 Interview

Yesterday, KCRG TV9 News came out to do a story at our school. We are one of the few districts in the state that offers WiFi on our school buses. Because we have such a large district that travels over several hundred miles, kids can be on the bus for an hour or more each way to school.  Our 7-12 students all have school-issued iPads, so this allows them to continue to work on and even turn in their homework while on the bus.  Even after sporting events, athletes can work on homework rather than waiting until they get home after a late game and long drive back to school.

Our son, Bennett was interviewed for this story and I'm happy to share it with you! Click the link below to be taken to the story.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Book Review: 501 Time Saving Tips Every Woman Should Know By Georgia Varozza


By: Georgia Varozza

Published: February 1, 2015

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers


Georgia Varozza, a popular blogger and author, has combined all the numerous how-to skills, wisdom, and tips she has learned over the years into one manual written just for women. In my opinion, this isn't really a book for women who have been running a home for years, but more for the younger woman who is just starting out living on her own or in a new marriage. Most of the 501 tips I had heard of or already do on my own. But, there were a few that were new to me, for example, I didn't know the nutrients in the leftover pasta water are beneficial to plants. I will be watering my plants with my leftover pasta water next time rather than just sending it down the drain. I also learned tips for keeping ants out of the home and found some new slow-cooker meals that I'd like to try.

This book covers all areas of life including gardening, safety, housekeeping, beauty, cooking, and family issues.  In between all the tips there are also quotes and wisdom from famous people and authors as well as applicable Scripture verses.

This would make a wonderful bridal shower or graduation gift as you are looking ahead to these spring and summer gift giving occasions.

Georgiz Varozza

Georgia Varozza, author of the popular Homestyle Amish Kitchen Cookbook(nearly 60,000 copies sold), enjoys teaching people how to prepare and preserve healthy foods, live simply, and get the most from what they have. She works in publishing and lives in a small Oregon community.

You can find Georgia blogging at

To purchase a copy of this book, click the photo below:

Thanks to NetGalley for providing an eBook copy for review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated in any way for this review. If you choose to purchase a copy of this book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


By: Paula Hawkins

Published: January 13, 2015

Publisher: Riverhead

Fiction/Psychological Thriller

I would be surprised if you haven't heard about this book. It's been mentioned on nearly every book blog I follow, written about in magazines, and is on shelves in every bookstore.  Its debut is on the heels of other successful psychological thrillers like GONE GIRL, with readers wanting more of the page-turning drama and suspense. I don't typically read these types of books, but this one appeared in my mailbox and I was anxious to see what all the buzz was about.

Rachel is a recently divorced, unemployed, drunk who rides the train every day in London so that her roommate thinks she is still going to her job. On the train she watches for her old street and her old house to appear along the tracks. She hopes for glimpses of her ex-husband and the new family he has created in their old home.  She also watches the neighboring house, with it's occupants, Jess and Jason (she has named them) to appear so she can live vicariously through their morning coffee chats on the patio. She imagines their life and feels like they are friends, even though they don't know each other. Then, one morning, Rachel witnesses something on Jess and Jason's patio that changes her life forever.  Then Jess, who's real name is Megan, comes up missing. Can Rachel's story help them find her or will they just see her as a crazy, unreliable drunk?

The main flaw in this book is that I found it hard to relate to or care about the characters. They were all so completely depressing and flawed that I became bored with them. Rachel's daily whining and drinking, Anna (her ex-husband's wife) and her irrational fears of Rachel, and Jess/Megan's selfish behaviors. They really were a messed up bunch of gals and it made me frustrated to constantly read them wallowing in self-pity.  If you are in a funk and sick of winter, I'm not sure this is the book to bring you out of it. Reading about depressing people makes you want to stay in bed with a glass of wine as well.

Once Megan goes missing, the story-line picks up and you are constantly trying to figure out what really happened and who, ultimately, is the murderer. After many leads, you will guess and guess until the end when you realize the answer was right in front of you the whole time. There is quite a thrilling ending and one that will have you holding your breath. If you are looking for a happy ending, this won't meet that need, but will leave you a bit hopeful in the beginning of a new life for two of the characters.

Hawkins writes the story from Rachel, Anna, and Megan's perspective. She alternates chapters with a timeline of events so you know who was doing what and when. You are able to get inside their heads and understand their reasons behind the mistakes they continue to make. Hawkins does a fine job of leading you through their lives that led up to the night Megan goes missing all the way to the thrilling conclusion of finding out her killer without giving anything away. Fans of suspense and thrilling murder mysteries will find this book enjoyable, even with the deeply depressing characters.

Paula Hawkins, photo credit: Kate Neil -source
Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in London.  THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is her first thriller. It is being published all over the world and has been optioned by Dreamworks. For more on Paula, visit her website, You can also find Paula on Twitter, HERE, and Facebook, HERE.

If you'd like to purchase a copy of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN, click the photo below:

Thanks to Riverhead Books for sending a copy of this book for review. This review is my honest opinion. I was not compensated for my review. If you choose to purchase the book through the above link, I may receive a small commission without you having to pay a cent more for your purchase. Thanks for supporting reviews.