Sunday, December 31, 2017

Heck Of A Christmas 2017: Christmas Pajamas

In the middle of December a group of 15 of us went to Eureka, MO to see the lights at Santa's Magical Kingdom and stay at the Drury Inn.  My sister purchased Christmas PJs for all of us.  After seeing the lights, we donned our pajamas for some photos.  Then we hung out in the suite while we drank hot cocoa and ate Chex mix.  It was probably one of my favorite Christmas memories I've had.  There was mention of it becoming a tradition....I truly hope so!

Our crew of 7 adults and 8 kids

LEXO Smart Mug - 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 will differ.

Call me a fish, but I always have to have a drink on hand. I have a soda, water, tea or coffee by my side at all times. I'll sip throughout the entire day. My most recently discovered beverage holder of choice is a LEXO insulated tumbler. Whatever I'm drinking, the 16 oz. tumbler I have keeps my beverages at the temperature they're supposed to be.  The mug maintains hot drinks and insulates cold drinks so that you can keep your drink at the perfect temperature for hours.

The LEXO utilizes phase change technology to bring your hot drink to an ideal drinking temperature and then keeps it there. The hot drink is cooled through a heat transfer system which makes it just right and holds it there.  Phase change technology in the LEXO occurs when a substance in the walls of the container melts from solid to liquid. The phase change material takes many hours to go from liquid back to solid, which is what holds your drink at a near constant, perfect drinking temperature.

The body of the insulated mug is made from 18-8 stainless steel. The lid is made from food–grade plastic.  I like the sleek, contemporary design of the tumblers and their heaviness.  They have a heavier feel than any other tumbler I've had.

The tumbler fits snugly in my vehicle's cup holder. I don't have a dishwasher so I can't vouch personally for it being dishwasher safe; however, I've used it in the microwave a number of times. The fact that I don't have my drink causing sweat or condensation on my furniture and work desk is a major plus.
There are four different lid options available for the LEXO Smart Mug.  The one I have for my mugs is the Luxury Slide Seal Lid.  With it, you just slide the button open and close the drinking valve.

I'm not the only one who likes the LEXO Smart Mugs.  Jason's been taking one with him when he goes deer hunting.  He's out in the woods for hours and says that his coffee stays hot for quite some time.

The price point for a LEXO Smart Mug is a little high.  They range in the area of $37 to $45.  I have to say, though, that these are not cheaply made tumblers and they do, indeed, keep beverages at the right temperature.  They're higher end mugs with advanced mechanics.

Win It!

One person will win a LEXO Smart Mug.

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

PUR attitude Love Your Body Bath Set - 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.
I only recently learned of PUR attitude, a skincare line that's dermatologist tested and approved, backed by independent clinical studies, and follows the brand’s standards for “Safe Beauty".  PUR attitude products contain only safe beauty ingredients and are not diluted with water.

I received the PUR attitude Love Your Body Bath Set which includes Caviar Anti-Aging Hair Shampoo, Caviar Anti-Aging Hair Conditioner, and Foaming Bamboo Almond Scrub.  I love it, but I don't, but I do, but I don't.

I'm not sure I've been so "on the fence" about skincare products before.  I will say that I love that PUR attitude has worked to eliminate chemicals and toxins from their products.  I'll do a run-down for each product and let you know what I liked and didn't like about them.

First off, let's talk about the PUR Caviar Anti-Aging Hair Shampoo.  It's infused with caviar extract for soft, silky hair.  It is sulfate-free and contains no soap.  I'm not used to shampoos with almost no lather, so that threw me off. It has an amazing smell that reminds me of sweet nectar.  The shampoo makes my hair feel clean but dry, so I definitely use the conditioner with it every time.

The PUR Caviar Anti-Aging Hair Conditioner combines pure Moroccan argan oil, kukui nut oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil and caviar extract to nourish the scalp and replenish dry, brittle hair.  It doesn't really have a fragrance.  I really like the soft feel of this conditioner and it helps my hair when used with the shampoo.

The PUR Scrub Foaming Bamboo Almond is probably the best exfoliant I've ever used.  I have very dry skin, particularly around my elbows and nose.  This scrub works great with removing dead skin cells, especially in those troublesome areas.  The scrub is formulated with crushed bamboo and almond, and is enhanced with natural botanicals and essential oils to soothe and condition skin.  It is recommended to use this scrub 2-3 times a week. 

I've never actually seen any foam from this scrub.  I use it as indicated but can't say I see foam.  The texture is that of gritty sand and it looks like cocoa.  It actually leaves residue in my bathtub which is somewhat of a pain but I absolutely love how this stuff works.  My skin feels renewed and rejuvenated after each use.

I don't know how long the sale is going to last but, right now, you can purchase any one item from PUR attitude and get one free.  And, shipping is free for any US orders $5 or more.  That's great incentive to check out these skincare products that are natural and good for the skin.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Keep Track of the New Year with Day Planners from Minted - 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.

I must write appointments and dates down or I'm liable to forget.  I also work midnight shift with rotating nights off so I keep track of that throughout the year with a planner.  In other words, I have to "write my life down".  

Minted, a company that's known for unique art, stationery and home decor, has come through with providing day planners to help stay organized.  You may have heard of Minted over the Christmas season.  Several bloggers used their services for holiday and Christmas cards.  I personally used Minted to create day planners for myself and others.

It is almost the beginning of the year and it's a great time to consider purchasing a day planner.  Minted offers personalizable notebooks that can be customized with unique cover designs, photos, and text.  The notebooks can be turned into an address book, planner, or journal based upon choice.  

Although you can use a picture for the front cover, I chose to use designs from the many options.  I created day planners for myself and a couple for my teenage kids.  I know Logan's will come in great use when he's writing down his college schedule and Shelby will use hers to keep track of when she has to work.

After I chose which design I wanted on the front cover, I was able to add each person's name for a personalized effect.   On each inside cover, I included a photo that was special to that person and used a quote that was already suggested.  

The monthly planners are 20 pages and slim in size.  It includes a two-year overview and undated month spreads.  This means you can write in the months and dates yourself.  You don't have to start with the beginning of the year if you'd rather not.  There's also a paper pocket for bills and receipts, and stickers to mark important dates.  Extra pages are available to write notes, and a clear protective cover keeps the front of the book smudge-free.  You can choose spiral binding (which I did) or grommets.

The process to create the monthly planners was simple, and I love that each planner is individualized to each person.  I'm ready to tackle 2018!

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Heck Of A Christmas 2017 - Round 2: With the Family

Christmas Eve was spent with family at my sister's home.  She's hosted for the holiday for many years.  There were about 25 people who came to celebrate.  Before doing anything else, we ate and ate and ate.  The food....there was so much of it.  

My niece and her man are always coming up with creative food dishes. I'm a little jealous.

After determining no one was going into a food coma, we opened gifts.  Because we are such a large family, each person draws one name during Thanksgiving and purchases a gift for them.  I received three pair of leggings and salted caramel K-cup coffee from my niece.

my plate of food

Juliann in front of the big tree

My newest and only son-in-law, George with his youngest daughter, Aryana

me and Jason

Milling around and chit-chatting was the past time for a while, before some of us decided to break out a game of Farkle.  I can't seem to wrap my mind around that game.  As my nephew says, "Farkle is for those who can't figure out Yahtzee".  Needless to say, I lost.
playing a game of Farkle

Where do you usually gather to celebrate Christmas?
Have you ever played Farkle?

100 Favorite Bible Verses for Children - 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:

100 Favorite Bible Verses for Children includes best-loved verses for children and parents to learn together. The verses are in various translations and are paired with fun devotions and prayers. Full of charming animal illustrations, this is an excellent choice for families who want their children to learn God’s Word and apply it in their lives.

My Review:

A hardcover book with cute illustrations and colorful font, 100 Favorite Bible Verses for Children promotes spiritual growth.  This book is like a devotional for children, and includes Bible verses that are favorites among many.  Each of the verses are numbered from 1 to 100.  You can read the book with your child in chronological order or start at a page that might apply to that day's circumstances.  

There are titles for each of the 100 days.  There's verses that apply to God's kind of love, God leading the way, forgiveness, sleeping peacefully, and more.  For each verse, there is a short devotional pertaining to that title and a short prayer that the child can say aloud.  

100 Favorite Bible Verses for Children can be used to help kids memorize scripture.  It can also be  used as a teaching tool for the miracles, love, peace, and hope of Jesus.
Win It!

One person will win a 100 Favorite Bible Verses for Children hardcover book.

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

Nine New December Winners

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

The winner of the My Christmas Prayer children's book giveaway is #8, Pam.

The winner of The Doux Shampoo and Texture Foam giveaway is #62, Elsie Mangeri.

The winner of the Welch's Fruit Rolls giveaway is #3, Peggy.

The winner of the Really Woolly Christmas Blessings book giveaway is #28, Julie Waldron.

The winner of the Reader's Digest Mind Stretchers Puzzle Book giveaway is #5, skkorman.

The winner of the Jackson Galaxy Butterfly Ball giveaway is #30, Missy Schutz.

The winner of the ThriftStyle book giveaway is #5, Rachel Browning.

The winner of the Go Organically Fruit Snacks giveaway is #49, Darlene.

The winner of the Chuckit! Locator Sound Ball giveaway is #9, Ken Ohl.

Congrats to the winners and thanks to all who entered.  Be sure to check out and enter the current giveaways going on at my blog.  They're all listed at the top left hand side of my home page.  There's no limit to how many you can enter or how many you can win.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Power of Prayer Thursdays - Week 102

Photo by Ron Smith on 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 102. 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.

Job 11:18 
You will be secure, because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety.

Light Box Arts - Home Decor 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.

I don't necessarily have a lot of high-end items or know a lot about home design, but I love to decorate my home.  I own a lot of pictures, knickknacks, and collectibles.  Light Box Arts is my kind of company.  It feeds into my love of eye-catching decorative pieces.  Located in Pennsylvania, Light Box Arts offers boxed art that can be shown with or without light.

Light Box Art -  unlit

Light Box Arts is more than just a pretty piece sitting on your coffee table or nightstand.  There are hundreds of in-stock designs to choose from and you can even make your own personalized or customized designs by uploading images from your photo library or by connecting your Instagram account.  Better yet, you don't have to buy a box frame every time.  If you want to change out the current art design, you can purchase an art panel only and replace it with one that's already in the box.  

Light Box Art - lit up

For instance, I received a light box with the 'Grateful Heart Bird' art panel.  I also received an art panel with a butterfly on it.  Depending on which decorative piece I want, I can display the bird art in the light box or replace it with the butterfly art.  

Replacing the art panels is simple.  There's a plastic plug that you gently pull out of the bottom of the framed box.  Once that piece is out, you slide in which art panel you want to use.  From there, you can display the piece as is or turn on the switch at the back for it to light up.  Batteries are already included.  

Light Box Art - unlit

You can purchase an initial light box with choice of one art panel for $25.  If you want your art to be personalized or customized, you can do it yourself and it doesn't cost any extra.  You also get to choose which color of wood you want the box to be.  There's the options of brown, black, white, and gray.  To purchase an art panel piece by itself, the price is $12.

Light Box Art - lit up

I like the concept that I can change out which decorative art is displayed dependent upon my choice.  I also like that I can have it lit up or unlit.  Light Box Arts is definitely a company I'm going to keep in mind when I want to purchase a seasonal gift or a special piece for someone.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Heck Of A Christmas 2017 - Round 1: With the Kids

Logan helping make confections

Well, it's another holiday in the books.  Other than me having one private meltdown over missing my mom, everything went very well.  There was no drama and I made it a point not to stress over anything. 

We spent Christmas Eve Eve at our house, opening gifts with our six kids and a few others in the family.  We gorged on a feast of glazed ham, buffalo ranch chicken dip, cheesy potatoes, and dinner rolls.

Rahjae spoiling the heck out of Helen

Logan talked me into going to the store the night before to get stuff to make chocolate covered pretzels and Puppy Chow.  He hung around and helped me make the Puppy Chow but skipped out to spend time with his girlfriend after.  Guess who got stuck making the pretzels!

Shelby got to a booty whiff  from Trader Jimmy for Christmas.  Shelby wasn't grateful.

I received a nice selection of gifts, including pajamas, socks, picture frame, boots, solar lights and more.  Logan bought me a Columbia jacket.  I couldn't find it the next day so I searched hell and high water.  I even grilled the kids, asking if one of them took off with it.  Two days later I found my jacket....In the closet.  Where I had hung it.  The same night I got it. 
#GettingOld #LosingMyMind
Juliann and Emma with umbrellas they got as gifts.
I took the same picture on Juliann's phone....then dropped and shattered it!

After opening gifts, we watched ELF (twice!) and played card games.  
Of it all, my favorite was just spending quality time with the family.

Allyson and Emma with their gifts

How was your Christmas?

Make A Next-Gen Gingerbread House with Go Organically - Giveaway

I will receive products in exchange for this post.  Please do your own research before purchasing products or using services.  Your opinions and results may differ.

Christmas may be over but many are still celebrating the holidays.  Take some time during the school break or on New Year's  to whip up a cup of hot cocoa and let the creative juices flow as you and the ones you love construct the most unique and innovative gingerbread house yet, courtesy of Go Organically Fruit Snacks.

Make a Next-Gen Gingerbread House

One of our favorite seasonal traditions is decorating a gingerbread house with the family. Some years we go all out and bake one from scratch. Other years we pick up a pre-made kit at the store. Either way, hands are sticky, hearts are full and memories are made. This year, we're giving the traditional gingerbread house a Go Organically "renovation" with fun swaps and alternative decorations that everyone will love. We're calling it the "Next-Gen Gingerbread House." Here's how it's done!

Step 1: Go House Hunting

First you'll need the gingerbread structure itself—meaning the walls, roof and doors. Your two options are baking and buying.

Baking: Find a basic gingerbread house recipe online, like this one from The Food Network. It includes paper patterns for your gingerbread house template so you'll know how big to make the walls, roof, etc. It's easy to swap out any of the ingredients for organic versions, such as organic butter or organic all-purpose flour.

Buying: The holidays can be hectic, so if you can make things easier with a pre-made kit, why not? This one from IKEA* includes just the structure itself and lets you add whatever decorations you want. Better yet? It's only $1.99. Perfect! If you're not near an IKEA, any kit will do. Simply save any unused decorations or icing for other holiday baking projects.

Step 2: Make the Cement

Next you'll need to make a binder to hold the structure together. Traditional royal icing is made with confectioners' sugar, egg whites and vanilla extract, and you can find the instructions here. For a Next-Gen version, consider modifying the recipe with coconut confectioners' sugar and free range eggs. Or skip the royal icing altogether in favor of melted organic white chocolate. Use your "cement" of choice to assemble the house and let it sit for a bit while you gather your decorations.

Step 3: Decorate with the Unexpected

Now comes the fun part: decorating! While we love candy canes and gumdrops as much as the next person, there's something so elegant about a natural-looking gingerbread house adorned with nuts, popcorn and fresh herbs. A few ideas to get you started:

Thatched roof: Use shredded wheat cereal to create a thatched roof. You can either apply whole pieces as shingles, or shred them with your hands and scatter them across the roof for a rustic effect.
Pathway: Create a "stone path" leading up to the front door using a mix of almonds and walnuts.
Windows: Outline your windows with pumpkin or sunflower seeds to mimic the look of a wooden frame.
Wreath: Shape a wreath out of fresh thyme to hang on the front of the house.
Pop of color: Use Go Organically Organic Fruit Snacks to add visual interest while keeping the rest of the look low key. Stick on a red door knob or outline the roof with a string of colorful holiday "lights."

Happy decorating from everyone at Go Organically! Made with real fruit, their gluten-free, nut-free, dairy-free kids snacks are a great choice for your on-the-go life.

*Note: Go Organically is not associated with IKEA.

Win It!

One person will win three boxes of Go Organically Organic Fruit Snacks (one of each flavor).

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

Make Sparkly Slime with Elmer's Glitter Glue

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.
Elmer’s has introduced four new Glitter Glue colors in silver, gold, black and orange, adding more fun to your crafts and d├ęcor.

Making slime is a fun and easy way to involve your kids in a project and keep them entertained for hours with the end result.  Here's a recipe from Elmer's to make Glitter Slime:

Supplies Needed:

1/2 tbsp of baking soda

1¼ tbsp of contact lens solution

6 fl oz Elmer’s Glitter Glue


1. Pour out the entire contents of a 6 oz of Elmer’s Glitter Glue into a bowl.
2. Add ½ tbsp of baking soda and mix thoroughly.
3. Add 1¼ tbsp of contact lens solution.
4. Mix until mixture gets harder to mix and slime begins to form.
5. Take the slime out and begin kneading with both of your hands.
6. If needed, add ¼ tbsp of contact lens solution to make the slime less sticky.

*Adult supervision is required; This project is not appropriate for children under the age of 3 years.  Always wash your hands before and after making and playing with slime. Warning: If large quantities of contact lens solution are accidentally ingested (greater than a tablespoon), get medical attention immediately.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Strong Self(ie) Subscription Box - 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.

Subscription boxes are all the rage right now.  People seem to love the idea of receiving themed boxes in the mail every month.  One such company is Strong Self(ie), geared towards girls aged 8 to 17 years old.  It is a quarterly subscription box for teen girls filled with positive messages, trendy products, and a mission to help parents build strong girls for life.

The company was founded by two moms who have girls themselves, that wanted to inspire this demographic to be strong and positive and to also encourage them to pay it forward. The boxes feature high quality items (for example, one of the items in the December box is a Mermaid Pillow!) that many girls are looking to buy anyway. Now they are packaged in one easy shipment, cost a fraction of what they would pay for each item individually and mailed to their home with a positive message every three months.

There are two boxes – Bloom (for 8-12 year old) and Burst (for 12-17 year old) - that feature trendy products that represent the four corners of self(ie) strength: Health(ie), Smart(ie), Funn(ie) and Beaut(ie).  Both boxes are the same price of $59.95 per quarter.  You can also shop online at Strong Self(ie) to purchase boxes or individual items without having to subscribe.

Because Emma is 16 years old, I chose the Burst box of the two available options.  Emma was super pleased with the items inside and loved that the entire box was something tailored specifically for girls her age.  Inside the Winter Burst Box was a sequin gold and off-white pillow with the words "Inspire" on the front and gold sequins on the back.  A black wishing bracelet encouraged Emma to first make a wish before putting the accessory on her wrist.  A  hydrating lip mask and a small bottle of hair treatment were nice for the lips and hair.  Stickers with positive images and sayings were included that Emma can add to her 2018 planner.  Two velvet hair wraps are used to keep her hair in a ponytail and a pack of kindness cards are encouraging and uplifting reminders to be a Strong Self(ie).

I was very pleased with the products chosen for the Burst box.  The items included in the box were of good quality and I felt like it was a good value.  The Bloom and Burst boxes are full of little gifts of surprise and delight that help remind your girl that she is strong, brave, and confident.

Exclusive Discount Code:  Receive $10 off your first Strong Self(ie) subscription box when you use code HECK10 at checkout.  

Win It!

One person will win a Strong Self(ie) Burst Box filled with items for girls 12-17 years old.

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Holiday Cocktails with Spicy Ginger Beer

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.

Cased in 7 fluid ounce bottles, Brooklyn Crafted's small but mighty ginger beers are the perfect size for Christmas stockings and great for enjoying on their own or incorporating into cocktails this holiday season. Made with 100% fresh ginger pieces you can actually see in each bottle, the craft ginger beers are available in four trendy flavors.

Below are two festive seasonal recipes, courtesy of the new Brooklyn Crafted Mini Ginger Beer:


1/3 oz Raspberry Puree
1 ½ oz Brooklyn Crafted Ginger Beer Mini, Lemon & Lime
Splash of Limoncello
4 oz Champagne
Squeeze of Lime Juice
Fresh Raspberries
Directions - Stir raspberry puree, Brooklyn Crafted and Limoncello in a champagne flute. Top with champagne and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Garnish with raspberries.


16 oz (2 cups) Pomegranate juice
12 oz (1 ½ cups) Cranberry juice
3 T Lemon juice
8 oz (1 cup) Peach vodka
1 bottle (750 ml) champagne
12 oz Brooklyn Crafted Ginger Beer Mini, Traditional
Directions - Combine all ingredients into frosty punch bowl. Cheers and enjoy!