Sunday, April 30, 2017

It's National Hairstylist Day

Alaina, on the left, does hair for both me and Rhonda

I'm not overly girly or dramatic when it comes to beauty.  I'm no good at knowing how to style my own hair and sometimes I don't even comb it.  If it takes more than fifteen minutes on a good day to do my hair, I'm out.  Ain't nobody got time for that.

I've been to many stylists and salons in the past.  Sometimes I'd get a good cut but it seemed that, most of the time, I just wasn't happy with the results.  I feel like some (not all) hairstylists just want to get you in and out so they can carry on with their next customer.  From personal experience, that's mostly with big hair chains and rarely with in-home or small business salons.

Not only is my bestie, well, my bestie but she's also my amazing hairstylist.  I've been going to her for nine months now and she's DaBombDotCom.  I haven't had a bad cut from her yet.  Alaina works from her home with a salon in her basement.  Even if we weren't good friends, I'd still go to her.  She gets me; she really gets me.
Alaina's in-home salon

Don't go in to Alaina's salon expecting to get in and out of there.  Be sure to allocate some time.  She is methodical and wants to make sure she's doing it right, so she takes her sweet time.  She's also a talker, so be prepared to chat.  I was in there just the other day to get my hair cut.  As it is, I haven't taken any selfies lately with the new 'do.  But I'm, once again, a pleased customer.

Sadly, all good things must come to an end.  Alaina is moving in just a couple of months.  And, it will no longer be a hop, skip and a jump for me to have her cut my hair.  I won't be able to see my bestie all the time and I don't know if I can't be bias now that I know how I like my hair done.

Sometimes my hairstylist even ties my shoes!

Do you have a favorite hairstylist?  If so, be sure to thank them for their hard work today.

Grandpa Hugs - Children's Book Review and Giveaway

I received book for review from Tommy Nelson.  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.

Book Overview:

Grandmas are for kisses, and grandpas are for great big hugs! Grandpas are fun! They go on adventures, tell silly jokes, say funny things, and love to eat treats. This adorable board book celebrates how wonderful spending time with Grandpa can be.

My Review:

My maternal grandfather passed away just a few days after my 8th grade graduation.  Although I don't have any adult memories with him, I have very fond recollections from my younger years.  He was a strong, mighty man that invoked fear with his stocky build and gruff voice.  But he was a teddy bear at heart and showed me how much he loved me with his actions and words.

Grandpa Hugs is a book written for small children.  It is told in rhythmic form and is 20 pages of special things grandpas do for their grandchildren.  The adorable illustrations show grandfatherly animals such as monkeys, tigers, and elephants bonding with their grandchildren by reading, fishing, hugs, playing games, This book is darling and would be perfect as a way for a grandparent to read to their grandchildren and discuss the special bond they have.

Win It!

One person will win a Grandpa Hugs hardcover book.

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

Edushape Look & Feel Baby Book - Review

I received product for review from Edushape.  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.
Whether you are a first time parent, grandparent or a friend searching for the perfect
baby shower gift, Edushape is here to help. Edushape, a company that focuses on learning and fun, recently came out with the Look & Feel Baby Book.

This soft, easy-to-grasp book unfolds to bold black and white shapes on one side and smiling animals on the other. Each animal has a special feature for baby to explore- crinkles, ribbons, felt, strings, and squeakers. This product can be looked at as a book with pictures.  Or, it can be laid out straight so baby can see all the pictures on one side.  There are several short red strings so that this baby item can be attached to a baby's bed or car seat.

Morel Mushrooms: My Kind of Delicacy

Pre-cooked morel mushrooms

Here in the Midwest, picking mushrooms is a big deal this time of year.  So much so, that people are usually tight-lipped about where they can be found.  We are not a part of the elite and can rarely find them.  Knowing me, I could be stepping over a whole mess of them and not know it.  

My husband did go on one mushroom hunting trip this year.  He didn't find any.  But, he did come home with a plastic Easter egg with a dollar in it!  

People who have been lucky enough to find a bunch have been selling them for $35 a pound.  Grocery stores were selling them for close to $70 lb.  As much as I loooove morel mushrooms, I couldn't justify spending that much.  

My son happened to be fishing the other day when he found one lone shroom.  And, he happily brought it home to me.  One of the best gifts ever!  My husband fried it up and let me eat the whole thing....all by myself.

Then, the heavens parted!  My good friend invited us over to their house the other night and presented us with a big ole' heaping of mushrooms.  Jason prepared them in egg, flour, and cracker mixture then fried them up.  I had a full-on foodgasm.  

I'm drooling just looking at these bad boys.

Have you had any luck with morel mushrooms this year?
How do you like to prepare them?

Friday, April 28, 2017

My First Pedicure (But Not My Last!)

Many moons ago, when I was younger and had a credit card, I would get artificial nails with fancy designs at the salon.  Since then, I've not had a mani done and probably won't.  I don't like how my real nails get tore up in the process, and I have no doubt nail files were torture devices invented by the devil.
me with Felicia

Because I have the best Small Group gals ever, we got together last week for a mani/pedi session.  I only went for the pedicure.  Again, manicures aren't my thing.  

But now that I've had my first pedicure ever (at the age of 40 no less!) I have no doubt those will become a regular thing.  How did I not know about how glorious pedicures are before now?!
For one thing, it's like getting a massage and pedi all in one.  With the touch of a few buttons, the chair massaged my entire back.  If I hadn't of been with friends, I would've fell asleep in a New York minute.

I've got some fugly feet but wasn't afraid to show them.  The heavens parted when the pedicurist massaged, trimmed, and exfoliated.  I chose a dark green shimmery nail polish for color.

When it came to filing, I had a bit of a problem.  I had a hold of Felicia's arm till it almost went numb.  After the first foot, he had to give up on the second.  I swear, nail files will make me want to crawl a wall in no time flat.  They're pure evil, I tell ya.

I left that place feeling like I'd done been spoiled.  And I made the girls pinky swear me we'd do it again in three weeks.

This place even had the cutest little puppy.  Alaina, lover of all things animal, smothered it with love.

Have you ever had a pedicure?  If no, go get one NOW!  You'll thank me.

Blast Box - #BlastBoxChallenge Game 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.

 The creators of Wet Head have added to their collection of suspenseful fun with the introduction of Blast Box, a new exciting game with a Big Bang!

Blast Box is a fun family game, keeping kids and adults at the edge of their seat. Fill the box with balloons and use the spinner to determine how many pins to hammer into the box. If your pin pops a balloon, you are blasted out of the game.

I received the Blast Box game for review and knew it'd be right up our alley.  It's very simple and very suspenseful.  

Most of us cringe at the sound or thought of a balloon popping.  That's where the suspense comes in.  That, and not wanting to lose.

The Blast Box game includes a balloon inflator, 100 balloons, tie clips, plastic hammer, plastic pins, a spinner, and a plastic black box.

The game can be played with 2 to 4 players.  The first thing you need to do is inflate one balloon per player with the inflator.  The balloons are small, and the branded tie clips keep them from deflating.  Once you've done that, you place all the balloons under the black plastic Blast Box.  You then start the game.  Players take turns spinning the spinner to see what the indicated action will be.  For instance, if you land on a 2X spot, you will have to hammer in two plastic nails.  The spinner also includes a reverse and a skip space.

Each player will keep taking turns until there's only one balloon remaining.  The person with that last balloon is the winner.  Easy enough!  

The hammer and nails are made of plastic, and the nails do not have spiky ends.  So, there's no concern for spiking yourself or smashing a finger.  

Although I have not done so, you can download the free Blast Box app to record and share your game on social media.  The app also includes trivia questions and alternative game play.

Win It!

One person will win a Blast Box game.

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

It's National Superhero Day

When you think of superheros, who comes to mind?  The Marvel or X-Men characters - Batman, Superman, Iron Man, Thor?  Or, do you consider a superhero to be someone who is ordinary but puts their life on the line?  I could use a superhero, to  save me from....a burning building, a one-eyed, one-horned monster, insanity, having to do dishes, or even piled up laundry.  My 23 yoa daughter is a big fan of Batman and her apartment looks like a teenage boy's dorm room with all the superhero collectibles and knicknacks.

To help young fans everywhere enjoy the SUPER day, check out the special PJ Masks Official Hero Celebration Kit, featuring downloadable PJ Masks party invites, decorations, character masks, activity sheets, and more.  Get in on all of the heroic fun with Catboy, Gekko and Owlette.
Who is your favorite superhero?
If  you could have a special superhero power, what would it be?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Power of Prayer Thursdays - Week 71

(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 71. 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.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Wordful Wednesday - Logan's Prom

Logan's last prom for his school years was Saturday.  I took a million and one pictures but will only overload you with a few:

Logan's date for the evening was Whitney, his girlfriend.  They make such an amazing couple.  

with good friend, De'Angelo

A Dog's Purpose - #ADogsPurpose Blu-ray 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.

An uplifting and inspirational look at life through the eyes of man’s best friend warms hearts this Spring when A Dog’s Purpose arrived on Digital HD on April 18, 2017 and arrives on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack, DVD and On Demand on May 2, 2017,

An empathetic and relatable drama, this sentimental film takes viewers on a powerful journey to experience the relationship between dogs and their owner – to love, protect, comfort and always find a way back home.

 A Dog’s Purpose on Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD includes deleted scenes, outtakes, a behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film, and more.

Based on the beloved bestselling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, A Dog’s Purpose, from director Lasse Hallström (The Cider House Rules, Dear John, The 100-Foot Journey), shares the soulful and surprising story of one devoted dog (voiced by Josh Gad – Frozen, Angry Birds) who finds the meaning of his own existence through the lives of the humans he teaches to laugh and love. A narrative with “genuine heart, humor and a real message of love” (Michael Heaton, The Plain Dealer), the family film told from the dog’s perspective also stars Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland, The Longest Ride), KJ Apa (“Riverdale”), John Ortiz (Silver Linings Playbook, American Gangster), Juliet Rylance (Sinister, “The Knick”), Luke Kirby (“The Astronaut Wives Club”), Peggy Lipton (When in Rome, Twin Peaks), Pooch Hall (“The Game,” “Ray Donovan”) and Dennis Quaid (Far From Heaven, The Rookie).


 Deleted Scenes  Outtakes  Lights, Camera, Woof! - A behind-the-scenes look at the making of the film.  A Writer’s Purpose - Learn the story behind W. Bruce Cameron’s beloved best-selling novel.

The Blu-ray™ Combo Pack includes a Blu-ray™, DVD and Digital HD with UltraViolet™.
Win It!

One person will win A Dog's Purpose Blu-ray/DVD Combo Pack.

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

It's National Pretzel Day

Here's a fun fact:

In Germany, 17th-century children wore pretzel necklaces to symbolize good luck and prosperity for the coming year.

I won't be going that far, but I will be heading to Auntie Anne's today to indulge in a delicious Garlic & Parmesan soft pretzel.  Admittedly, I could eat there every day.

In celebration of today, here are some establishments offering freebies:

Auntie Anne's - Download the My Pretzel Perks app before the end of the day.  You'll then be able to choose an Original or Cinnamon Sugar pretzel to redeem at stores through April 30th.

Ben’s Soft Pretzels - From 1 to 7 pm, today Ben's will give away one soft pretzel in exchange for $1 donation to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.

Philly Pretzel Factory - Receive a free pretzel anytime today.

Pretzelmaker - Soft pretzels are 26 cents today.

Wetzel’s Pretzels -  Visit today to receive a free pretzel.

CedarLane's Three Layer Enchilada Pie - Review

I received products for review from CedarLane.  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.

CedarLane Natural Foods’ very first frozen product, the Three Layer Enchilada Pie, turns 20 years old this year!  This gluten-free and vegetarian enchilada pie is made up of layers of organic corn tortillas, organic black beans, organic chiles and cheese and then covered with a tasty Mexican sauce.
I'll be honest and admit I'd never heard of the Three Layer Enchilada Pie.  But I was sure willing to give it a try.

Each enchilada pie counts as one serving.  I ate one and my husband ate one during lunch hour one day.  Neither of us consider ourselves strictly vegetarian but do enjoy eating those type of meals from time to time.  The Three Layer Enchilada Pie can be cooked in one of two ways - either the microwave oven or the conventional oven.  We went with the latter.  For that, it took about 35 minutes to heat.  

As for the meal itself, it satisfied our hunger.  There was plenty in one serving to feed each of us.  I really, really liked the organic corn tortillas.  And, the beans were super plentiful.  I do wish there would have been more cheese rather than just on the top but it was still delicious.

Happy birthday to the Three Layer Enchilada Pie!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Heck Of An Easter - 2017

Shelby (AT 23 YEARS OLD!) with her Easter basket

I know I'm a few days late and I didn't do anything extravagant but here's my 2017 Easter post.  We went way low-key but I think it was one of my favorite Easter times.  Probably because it caused me no stress.  It was all "Keep Calm and Easter On".  

Juliann, Allyson, and Logan

We started Easter out by finally getting the boys' Senior pictures taken.  We had went to Easter services at church the Thursday before.  And glad we did!  Four hundred people on Thursday compared to over one thousand on Sunday.  The lesser the better for me.

Juliann, Logan, Allyson

Three days before Easter I was confronted by a couple of the kids wanting to know if I was going to get them Easter baskets.  Were they really effin' serious?!  Answer:  Yes, yes, they were.  

In fact, Shelby posted this to her Facebook - "Idc if I am going to be 23 tomorrow...when my mom told us she wasn't getting us an easter basket...those where fighting words hahahaha". 

So two days before the big day, I hopped my happy little ass to Hyvee and bought Easter baskets, beverages, and candy.  I'm either a pushover or a great parent.

We had to eat in shifts because some of the kids had to work (yep, even on Easter).  Jason made a delicious meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, and dinner rolls.  After the carb overload we sat around the back porch table and played some gin rummy.  Simple and sweet - my kind of holiday!
Logan and Juliann

How did you celebrate Easter?
At what age do you quit giving Easter baskets to your kids?

Voortman Bakery Cookies - 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.

Voortman Bakery (formerly Voortman Cookies) just underwent a total brand reimaging, including all-new recipes and updated flavors, using only real ingredients.  What you see on the new packaging is what you get in the new Voortman cookies and wafers. 

Founded in Canada in 1951 and best known for its signature Dutch “Windmill” cookies, the cookies hold a sentimental sweet spot for many moms and those who recall snacking on their wafers as a child.  I can't honestly recall having eaten Voortman's cookies, except for the festive flavors.  I didn't know they had so many varieties available.  
Voortman’s new products are rolling out at Walmart, Target, Kroger’s and over 30k retailers across the country. The bakery provides more natural snack options, they don’t have high fructose corn syrup or preservatives and are made with real ingredients like fruit, cocoa etc.  And, everything is made in an actual bakery by real bakers.

I received several packages of Voortman Bakery cookies.  I shared them with family and took them to eat at Small Group gatherings.  I've received favorable responses about the cookies and wafers.  Just because they're not made with a bunch of artificial ingredients doesn't mean they're not good.  In fact, they're quite delicious.  If you're a fan of coconut, you'd probably like the Coconut Dark Chocolate cookies baked with real shredded coconut and chocolate chunks.  If you like peanut butter, the Peanut Butter Wafers made with real peanut butter will more than likely satisfy your taste buds.  

The cookies have a crunchy, solid palate and the wafers are more light and airy.  Both kinds are delish, but I prefer the wafers.  

The new Vortman Bakery packaging is different than what you might be familiar with. The  packaging reflects the company's new promise that the confections are made with real ingredients.

Win It!

One person will win an assortment of Voortman Bakery cookies and wafers.

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

Adventure Force Hydro Storm Water Guns - 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.
T.J. with the 6-pack of water guns

Now that the weather's warmer, it's time for kids to get outside and play,  I keep plenty of outdoor toys on hand for when the young'uns come over.  If they're entertained, it's less likely they'll complain they're bored or want to be in the middle of adult conversations.

The Adventure Force Hydro Storm Water Guns are outdoor toys that are sure to keep kids active in the warm weather.  These compact water blasters offer a great value and high performance for any water battle.
This set includes six water blasters of different colors and sizes.  There's one larger gun, two medium-sized ones, and three smaller ones.  Before they can be played with, an adult will need to use scissors and patience to cut many zip ties to release the guns from the package.  

To play with the guns, you just need to fill the tops with water and then push down on the opening to secure it closed.  Then pull at the trigger to spray away!  The blasters project water up to 25 feet.  The guns are made of hard plastic and so far have been built to last.  They're a fun way to keep several kids entertained, and even cooled off on a hot day.