Friday, December 30, 2016

Heck Of A Christmas - Round 4

me and Liz

This is the last round of Christmas pictures for the year.  

On Christmas, me and Jason went over to a friend's house for a feast.  Just like the few days leading up to, I ate too much and made myself miserable.  Holiday food is the best, but I'm glad I don't eat like that every day.  I'd hate myself, for sure.


After sitting around in food comas for a while, I went with a couple gal pals and my son, Adam, to the Senior Center to visit with the residents.  We made up goodie bags and handed them out.

On an interesting note, my Small Group had visited the Senior Center in late November to pick three names from the Angel Tree.  We purchased for those people and took the gifts back to the center.  We didn't put our names on the gifts, just a note that said we were a Small Group from The Crossing church.

While we were visiting random seniors on Christmas day, we chatted up with one lady in particular. She was a joy to visit with.  I bet we hung out for over 45 minutes.  During the last part of our conversation, she mentioned that a Small Group from The Crossing had given her a bunch of nice gifts.  Unbeknownst to her (and still the same) we were those people who had done that.  Gave me all the feels.
After the Senior Center visit, we went to another friend's home to visit, eat some more (!) and sing karaoke.  Me and Jason actually spent the night there and we ended up watching Through My Mother's Eyes.  (Don't watch it; Not worth it)

This was definitely one of my most memorable Christmases ever.

Now that it's all over, here's wishing you a fantastic 2017!

It's National Baking Soda Day

For all you scientific folk out there, It's National Bicarbonate of  Soda Day.  For all the others, that translates to National Baking Soda Day.

There's a ton of uses and purposes for baking soda.  Baking Soda can be used for baking and household purposes, but did you know that it can be used for beauty treatments?  Here are just a few simple and effective tips:

Hair Care

Get rid of product buildup by sprinkling a small, quarter-size amount of baking Soda into your palm along with your favorite shampoo. Shampoo as usual and rinse thoroughly. The Baking Soda helps remove the residue that styling products leave behind so hair is cleaner and more manageable.

Natural Deodorant

Dust Baking Soda under arms as needed to feel fresh all day. The magic Baking Soda actually absorbs odors instead of just covering them up.

Facial Glow

To use as a scrub in a facial, mix 3 parts baking sod with 1 part water. Consider enhancing the treatment by including 1 part ground oatmeal. Cleanse skin as usual, followed by the gentle scrub. Be careful to avoid the eye area. Rinse with warm water. It leaves skin feeling nourished and refreshed.

For what purposes do you use baking soda?

Last of December Winners

A few of my giveaways have ended and the winners have been randomly drawn.

The winner of the Bedtime Read and Rhyme Bible Stories giveaway is #1, Peggy.

The winner of the NOVICA giveaway is #56, aperry.

The winner of the Brightly giveaway is #60, Renee Rousseau.

Congrats to the winners and thanks to all who entered.  Be sure to enter my currently active giveaways, all listed at the top left hand side of my blog.  There's no limit to how many you can enter or how many you can win.

Cheers with Backpack Wine at Your Next BYOB - Review

I received products for review.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.  Be responsible when drinking and, remember, you must be at least 21 years of age to drink alcoholic beverages.
Shelby indulging in Backpack Wine

I'll admit, I'm not much of a wine connoisseur.  I know there's such thing as red wines and white wines, and apparently cheese goes well with it.  As far as wine goes, I'll drink it if it tastes good and won't if it don't.  Pretty simple.

Have you heard about Canned Wine yet? Me either...until recently!  The Canned Wine category offers portable, shareable wines that are easy to pair with casual or fine dining options. So “Skip the Cork”™ and grab a pack of Backpack Wine
 
The Chicago based Backpack debuted in September across Chicagoland Binny’s and is available in two blend varieties, Cheek Rose™ and Snappy White™ (rose and white wine), in four-can packs. Backpack Wines are sourced from vineyards and packaged in recyclable cans that are ready for any occasion.  Backpack Wine offers a unique combo of great-tasting, quality wine in an approachable, rebellious and fresh manner.

Like I said, I have little knowledge about wine.  BUT I have a good knowledge of what alcohol I like.  And, I gotta admit, I like Backpack Wine.  The two flavors taste good and are refreshing.  Like any other beverage in a can, I just gotta pop the top and drink it down. 

I guess almonds, chick peas and carrot chips go well paired with wine.  At least, it did for us!

I had a small gathering with some friends and my daughter not too long ago.  It was the first any of us had heard of Backpack Wine.  Some people may consider canned wine to be beneath them (I don't know, just a guess) but it didn't bother us any.  All of the guests who indulged really liked the taste and smoothness.  One of the gals said that she'd definitely purchase Backpack Wine the next time she goes on a float trip.  Glass bottles aren't allowed and she usually only drinks wine.  So she likes that the canned wine option is available.

Again, I'm going to sound like an idiot but I don't know much about vineyard grapes either.  I know wine is made from them.  'Nuff said.  But for those who are interested in knowing what grapes are used in Backpack Wine, Snappy White is a blend of riesling and pinot blanc and Cheeky Rose uses pinot blanc and Sangiovese.  
Have you ever drank canned wine?  Which Backpack Wine flavor would you like best - Cheek Rose or Snappy White?

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Heck Of A Christmas - Round 3

Christmas Eve brood

Yep, it's another Christmas post!  

Christmas Eve was celebrated at my sister's house.  It's been that way for several years.  We eat, exchange gifts, then eat some more.


My eyes are always bigger than my stomach and I load up on food, then leave half of it sitting there while I loathe in misery and bloat.
Alec (aka Ralphie)

We didn't get a visit from Santa Claus, but "Ralphie" showed up in his bunny suit with gifts for the kids.  

Since we are a large family, each person draws another's name during Thanksgiving and we purchase a Christmas gift for when the time comes.  My sister received my name and got me a set of bed sheets.
Jason with his oldest, Allyson

Me with Traci and Donnie - This pic's for you, mom! 👼👼

How did you spend Christmas Eve?
Do you exchange gifts with everyone in the family or draw names?

SONIC Welcomes New Lil' Grillers to Menu - Giveaway

I received no product or compensation for this post.  This post is in partnership with PR firm.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

SONIC® Drive-In is the ultimate Grilled Cheese destination with the introduction of Lil’ Grillers, an innovative way to enjoy timeless comfort food. Fun-sized and bursting with the savory flavor of classic grilled cheese, SONIC’s Lil’ Grillers make for an irresistible snack at any time of the day.

 Each Lil’ Griller begins with Mini Sourdough Toast and warm, melty American cheese. Guests can choose to intensify the flavor experience by adding crispy chicken, a burger or even breakfast nestled into their Lil’ Griller. Lil’ Griller options available all day include: Lil’ Cheese Griller, Lil’ Chickie Griller with a Chicken Strip and Buffalo Sauce, Lil’ Patty Griller with 100% Beef Patty and Ketchup, Lil’ Breakfast Griller with egg and your choice of bacon or sausage.

Starting at 79 cents*, these Lil’ Griller mini grilled cheese sandwiches are perfect on their own as snacks, but can also be bundled into a full meal with tots and a drink or slush. Lil’ Grillers continue SONIC’s innovation in snacking like past favorites Lil’ Chickies and Lil’ Doggies.

* Tax not included.  See menu for details.

Win It!

One person will win a $15 SONIC® Drive-In gift card.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Power of Prayer Thursdays - Week 55

(photo credit: Unsplash)

I believe in a God that hears prayers and answers them. I've witnessed the miraculous gift of answered prayer. And, I want to pray for you. I've started weekly Power of Prayer post every Thursday. We are now on week 55. If you are needing prayer in an area of your life, please leave a comment and I'll commit to pray for your need or request. You can be as general or as specific as you like. Whether it be for healing, salvation, finances, emotions, or another area of life, I'd like to lift it up in prayer. 

If you're the praying kind, please say one for me.  I've been feeling like a Mack Truck ran over me, then came back and did it again.  Ya know, the normal wintertime icky feeling, runny nose, cough till you pee issues.  Thanks.

Heck Of A Christmas - Round 2

I warned you yesterday that I'd be forcing you with Christmas picture overload.  I didn't lie!  Here's Round 2 of our Christmas festivities:

Juliann, Logan, Emma, and Allyson

Friday evening was another one of Christmas paper and tissue vomit.  All of Jason's kids were there and one of mine was.  

Jason's brother and mother also stopped by.  Fun fact:  Jason and his brother are 19 years apart!  

Emma - Gimme a "High Fries"

Jason's mom brought over enough candy and cookies to give us a sugar high.  Being the simpleton I am, I cooked frozen pizzas.
Jason's brother, Cody

I'd say I was blessed with gifts this year.  I honestly had no strong desire for anything in particular.  I didn't even make a wishlist.  But I definitely didn't go without.  I received Ferrero Rocher chocolates, a new bedding set, pajama pants, a body pillow, handmade paintings, certificate for a night's stay at a lodge, and more.  No complaints here.

The bedding set is new.  The dog isn't.  

We also attended church service.  The music, stage production, and message was spectacular.  And the place was packed with over 800 attendees.  

Me and Logan in front of a Christmas prop at the church

What gifts did you receive for Christmas?

It's National Card Playing Day

Does the guy in your life like a little euchre?  How about gin rummy?  There's a whole world of card games out there, and today's just the day to celebrate.

Getting a game out in my home means quality time with the family and some friendly competition. Although we have our favorites, we're not picky with what kind of games we play. Card games, board games, word games....you name it, we'll play it.  And today I believe we'll be throwing down the challenge with some old-fashioned card games. Wish me luck!

What's your favorite card game?

John Frieda Frizz Ease 10-Day Tamer Pre-Shower Treatment - Review

I received product for review.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products and using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
The frenzy of the ultimate holiday season started a long time ago.  And now we're busy preparing for New Year's.  Running around in crowds while finalizing your entertainment and outfit lists means two things - getting frizzy and overheated. Don’t lose your cool - John Frieda will keep your hair under control!

John Frieda, known for its haircare products, is a brand that I use somewhat often on my hair.  I like how it makes my hair feel and that it works as intended.  I style my hair everyday.  I also have it colored quite often.  Add those two combinations and I've got a recipe for a hair disaster.  Along with that, I often have frizz and dryness.  It's pretty darn frustrating waiting for my hair to return to a state of semi-healthy.


I've recently been using John Frieda Frizz Ease 10-Day Tamer Pre-Shower Treatment and I have to say it's on top of the list of one of my favorite review products of 2016.  Seriously, where has this stuff been all my life?!

This shower treatment is the ultimate solution for frizz, flyaways, and unmanageable curls.  It's formulated to last for ten days.  There are an estimated two uses to each bottle, and that was how it was with me.  How it works is that you simply apply the gel to dry hair before you shower and allow it to fully penetrate hair follicles.  You need to entirely saturate your hair and not skimp.  It has a mildly nice fragrance and doesn't burn or tingle.  After you've let the gel sit for the recommended amount of ten minutes, you then shower, shampoo and rinse hair as usual.

After the first application, I immediately noticed a positive difference.  My hair was the softest and shiniest it had been in a long time.  It was easier to style and manage.  Although it didn't maintain that way for ten days, it did go on for a little over a week.  And that was one of the best week's of my hair's life.  I've since used the whole bottle up, and will definitely be purchasing more.

Apparently People Magazine likes this product as much as I do.  After testing almost 500 new products of 2016, People Magazine teamed up with The Today Show to announce the Best Beauty Products of the Year Award winners.  And John Frieda Frizz Ease 10-Day Tamer Pre-Shower Treatment received the award as Best Treatment for Frizzy Hair.  I've gotta say, I definitely agree!

Dawn Dish Brush and Kitchen Brush - Review

I received products for review from Dawn.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
The holidays are a time when many people do a major housecleaning to prepare for guests.  And trust me, I did plenty of that!  Luckily, I had Dawn Cleaning Tools on hand to make the tasks less tedious.  Both the Dawn Dish Brush and the Kitchen Brush look very similar and work for mostly the same tasks.  The major difference I noticed is that the bristles of the Kitchen Brush spread out further at the sides.  They are made to clean kitchen surfaces, and to clean dishes.  The handles have an ergonomic grip and don't cause fatigue.  I've used both several times over the holidays and was pleased with how well they worked, without causing scratches or ruining surfaces.  And I'll continue to use both for my kitchen chores after the holidays (which there are plenty of!)  They are available for purchase at Target.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

It's National Fruitcake Day

It's been a few days since I've done National Day.  Didn't think I forgot, did ya?!

Well, today is National Fruitcake Day.  People seem to be split down the middle regarding the cake rich in candies and nuts.  They either really love it, or really hate it!  Which of the two are you?

If you're a fruitcake lover, be sure to check out Matthews 1812 House.  The company is offering 15% off their fruitcakes, today only.  Use code FRUIT16 at checkout to redeem your offer.
(photo credit: Matthews 1812 House)

Heck Of A Christmas - Round 1

Logan, Shelby, Adam

I'm not gonna lie.  I wasn't into the whole Christmas thing this year.  I only put up a tree because my Small Group wouldn't leave me alone about it.  I usually love to wrap, and wasn't even up much for that.  But enough with the pity party.

As it turns out, I had one of the best Christmases ever.  Granted, I wish my mom was here.  But my heart was filled with joy when I was surrounded by family and friends.  Everyone got along and I laughed a lot.

Like most of you I'm sure, I was super busy.  For three days straight, we were either entertaining or being entertained.  Sorry for the upcoming picture overload but I want to blog about all of my Christmas memories so I can look back and reflect on it when the mood strikes.
Shelby with the painting made by her brother, Logan

On Thursday morning we celebrated Christmas with my three kids.  As a blended family with five of the six teens who work, we had to do exchanges in shifts this year.  

Shelby, Logan and Allyson all turned into Picassos this year and had made paintings to give as gifts.  

Logan with his "gold"

Each kid received an estimated 10 gifts each from us.  As it were, all Logan needed was a toaster.  You would've thought we bought him a PS4.  The darn thing isn't even fancy.  Just a regular 2-slice toaster.  We have one in our home, but I heard him made mention that he didn't have a toaster at his dad's house.  So I bought one.  And apparently it's the best thing ever!  It's the little things...

After the gift exchange, Adam and Shelby headed to St. Louis to visit Six Flags Holiday in the Park.  So me and Logan went to Dunkin Donuts and chatted like intellectuals.  


Hope your Christmas season was as great as mine!
Warning:  There will be more Christmas pics posted soon.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Ease the Pain with Salonpas - Review and Giveaway

I received products for review.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

For anyone suffering from pain, the holidays can exacerbate their symptoms with all the planning, shopping, cleaning and partying.  A stocking stuffer from Santa that is filled with Salonpas will reduce pain and may foster holiday cheer. A new, cost-effective solution for pain management awaits aching sufferers with the launch of the maximum strength, unscented Salonpas Lidocaine 4% Pain Relieving Gel-Patch.  They're cheaper than the prescription patches, but work just as well.
I'm no stranger to Salonpas.  I've received and used it in the past, especially on my mother when she was alive and living with me.  She suffered with pain, and Salonpas helped ease that.  As much as I hate to admit it, I'm not getting any younger.  And with the rise in age comes the rise in aches and pains.  I don't have any chronic health problems but do suffer from joint and muscle pain from time to time.  Even more, my husband is on his feet all day and works hard as a custodian in the church.  I'm not saying we're a bunch of living fossils but we have our fair share of hurts between us.
(Jason wearing a Salonpas Pain Relief Patch)

Salonpas is a leader in external analgesic products, and I like it as much now as I have in the past.   The company name Salonpas comes from its active ingredient, Methyl Salicylate.  Methyl Salicylate passes through the skin and goes directly to the site of your pain, right where it hurts.  Their products are intended to provide symptomatic relief of conditions where pain is present.  Gels, patches, and sprays are formulated to administer pain alleviation.  I'm a fan of the entire line but my favorite is the Salonpas DEEP Relieving Gel.  It feels good when it's being applied and makes my body instantly feel better.

As with any other pain relief products, there's precautions to follow.  It's important to read and follow directions for each product.  Salonpas does not take the place of the importance of seeing a doctor but their products can and do provide temporary relief for aches and pains.  I, along with others in my household, have benefited and felt the relief.  Salonpas is an alternative for pain sufferers who prefer to avoid the use of oral OTC pain relief medication labeled for only minor aches and pains. Unlike an oral medication, the active ingredients in Salonpas® is absorbed through the skin and go directly to the pain site.

Salonpas features a blog, with new articles featuring world-class experts each Monday that offers expert advice on pain management, holistic living and wellness. 
Win It!

One person will win the entire line of Salonpas pain relief products.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Remembering A Loved One with Precious Moments - Review

I received product for review. The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way. Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services. Your opinions and results may differ. This post contains affiliate links.



(click graphic to shop Precious Moments)

One of the first things you see when you enter my sister's home is a large curio cabinet with collectibles.  Many of them are Precious Moments figurines and ornaments.  She collected them for many years, and still receives some from time to time as gifts.

I haven't ever necessarily been a collector of Precious Moments but do have a couple pieces.  I can see why they're popular and why people are so fond of the brand.  And now I have a new Precious Moments figurine - "No Tears Past the Gate".
This Precious Moments figurine resonates heavily with me and is now one of my favorite decor pieces in my home.  Made of bisque porcelain, it shows a girl standing at the gates of Heaven with a tear running down her face.  An angel stands on the other side, and words scripted on the gate say "No More Tears".  

As many of you know, my mother passed away in April and it's been very hard on me.  She wasn't just my parent, she was also my best friend.  I've cried so much and so hard that it physically hurts at
times.
   
The "No More Tears" Precious Moments figurine doesn't necessarily take away the pain but it honestly helps remind me that my mother is now in Heaven.  She has no more tears.  She has no more pain.  She's in a good place.  It's me that's crying, not her.  Seeing the figurine gives me an understanding of where she's at with her place in eternity.  

Not only that, the figurine is very well crafted and quite adorable.

Do you have any Precious Moments collectibles?
What techniques have helped you cope with grief?

Five More December Winners

A few of my giveaways have ended and the winners have been randomly drawn.

The winner of the Southside with You Blu-ray giveaway is #19, Jana Leah B.

The winner of the Kung Fu Panda activity book giveaway is #26, Renee

The winner of the Teletubbies giveaway is #1, James Robert.

The winner of the Christmas All Over Again DVD giveaway is #12, Darcy Koch.

The winner of the Inlight Skincare giveaway is #45, Fiona N.

Congrats to the winners and thanks to all who entered.  There are other currently active giveaways going on.  Be sure to check them out and enter to win.  There's no limit to how many you can enter or how many you can win.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Last Minute Holiday Shopping with Kohl's Cares - Review

I received products for review.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
When I walk into our local Kohl's store one of the first things I notice is the Kohl's Cares merchandise display. I'm drawn to it because the products are very affordable and monies from the sale of the collection supports children's health and education initiatives nationwide. It's a win, win!

New this holiday season, Kohl’s Cares offers gift givers a novel assortment of incredible items for the entire family.  Perfect for stockings or under the tree, there is something for everyone. Pieces are priced at $5 and $8 each, with 100 percent of the net profit supporting children’s initiatives nationwide. The holiday collection will be available through December 27th at Kohl’s stores nationwide and on Kohls.com.  The current Kohl’s Cares holiday collection features beloved hardcover books and classic characters including Curious George, Paddington, Madeline and Corduroy.  They are available now through the end of December.   

The new Kohl’s Cares holiday giftables include:

Christmas Movie Trivia
Home for the Holidays Music CD
Color and Create Your Own Cards
3 pack travel edition of adult coloring books
Crayola Winter Adventure Creativity Kit
Night Before Christmas book and plush bundle

Although you don't have to purchase a book that coordinates with the plush, both together are a perfect combination. The storybooks are a wonderful read all on their own, but the plush give an added touch. The plush are super soft and adorable.  The books are hardcover and written for young children.

Adult coloring books are all the rage, and I'm totally diggin' the 3 pack travel edition of adult coloring books.  They're smaller than most adult coloring books but they're high-quality and I really like the illustrations.  One of them is a holiday coloring book, while the other two are "normal" coloring books.

My oldest step-daughter loves everything about Christmas, including the music.  So she's been listening to the Home for the Holidays Music CD quite often.  There are ten songs to the CD, for a total of 26 minutes playing time.  A couple artists and songs included are "Santa Baby" by Eartha Kitt and "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!" by Frank Sinatra.

The Christmas Movie Trivia is a card game with a couple hundred questions about Christmas films.  I'm apparently not as well-versed about holiday films as I thought I was, but the game is fun and brings us lots of laughs.
Have you ever purchased anything from the Kohl's Cares collection? Which item from the holiday newest collection or the holiday collection is your favorite?

Irish Fairy Door Worry Plaque - Review and Giveaway

I received product for review.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
In November of last year, I was introduced to The Irish Fairy Door Company, which helps fairies relocate into homes and gardens all over the world.  Handcrafted fairy doors help the magical creatures go between our world and Fairyland.  They create doors and accessories to build upon the magic of fairies.

Irish Fairy Doors are fun and imaginative pieces.  Now The Irish Fairy Door Company has introduced the Worry Plaque.  A fantastic concept, this hard plastic plaque made to look like tree bark can help ease your child's worries.  How it works is that the plaque glows red when your child places their hand on it and thinks of their worry.  After a short bit, the plaque glows green, signifying that fairies have heard the worry and have transferred them from negative energy to positive energy.  


According to website lore, fairies use human worries to grant wishes.  The energy in worries is ground down to make perfect wish-granting dust.  

Purchasers of the Worry Plaque are granted access to a collection of positive video affirmations, on the website, from a human fairy.  Screws are included with the plaque if you want to hang it on a wall.  Words on the plaque state "A fairy's magic changes red to green, gone are your worries never to be seen."  I'm all for creative ways to ease children's minds and the Worry Plaque does just that.  Pretty ingenious, if I do say so myself!
Win It!

One person will win an Irish Fairy Door Worry Plaque.

*This is a Rafflecopter giveaway open to residents of the USA.*
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Power of Prayer Thursdays - Week 54

I believe in a God that hears prayers and answers them. I've witnessed the miraculous gift of answered prayer. And, I want to pray for you. I've started weekly Power of Prayer post every Thursday. We are now on week 54. If you are needing prayer in an area of your life, please leave a comment and I'll commit to pray for your need or request. You can be as general or as specific as you like. Whether it be for healing, salvation, finances, emotions, or another area of life, I'd like to lift it up in prayer.
(photo credit: Unsplash)

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Dawn Elite Latex Gloves - Review

I received product for review.  The opinions within this post are of my own and I was not influenced in any way.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.
I wouldn't consider myself a germaphone.  A little dirt never hurt.  I can get down and dirty with the best of 'em, and most messes don't bother me.

But even I have my limits.  When it comes to the real greasy and grimy, I don't want my hands exposed.  Dawn Elite Gloves come in handy for those kind of jobs.  They are designed with super premium latex and a seamless knit reinforced cuff with hanging loops. The loops make it simple to hang the gloves and reach for them when I want to use them.  They slip on easily and are comfortable to wear.  They keep my hands and lower arms protected.  It's a great product to simplify holiday cleaning.