Thursday, July 2, 2015

{Book Review} - Letters From My Father's Murderer by Laurie Coombs

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of the mentioned book for the purpose of review through Litfuse Publicity.

I have been on such a reading kick lately. Yes, some books are for review purposes, but I have to admit that I have enjoyed them just as well. I recently read Letters From my Father's Murderer by Laurie Coombs, and I have to say that it was, ironically, such an inspirational story. While it is not everyday you run into someone who has experienced the murder of one of their parents, the main message from this book runs much deeper. My Bachelor's in Psychology gets the best of me when it comes to deciphering human behavior, especially when it comes to murder. I am always interested to hear the back-story, as rarely is a murder committed by a stranger. That drew me into this book. I really wanted to hear what happened, and understand the meaning behind a willful correspondence between a daughter and her father's murder. What kept me reading was the powerful message of forgiveness.

When Laurie's father is murdered, she goes through a very religiously dark time. As time passes, she begins to explore her feelings through God's guidance. She needs closure, and via much thought and prayer, comes to the conclusion that she needs to reach out to her father's murderer to get the full story of what happened the evening of the murder. While there are many obstacles in the road that prevent this from being a smooth journey, Laurie remains steadfast in her faith in God and his example to forgive our enemies. This experience is told through Laurie's perspective, as well as the letters exchanged between her and her father's murderer.

Author Laurie Coombs

I could barely put this book down! As much as I wanted to find out why her father was murdered, I was equally as drawn to the underlying message of forgiveness, redemption, and most of all, healing by following the path of God. One quote that stuck out to me in this book was "It's not about whether you check the 'Christian' box on a survey, but whether your belief is backed by the power of the living God." (p. 93) I think this spoke to me because I see so many "box checkers" these days, and fewer individuals who actually try to live and behave as God intended. We are encouraged to love our enemies, which seems like such a difficult task. This proves to be the case, as seen when Laurie navigates her own journey of forgiveness. The amount of strength and perseverance Laurie shows throughout her experience is miraculous. I'm so glad that she shared her story the way she did, as I feel it could speak volumes to anyone who reads it. It gives you a very positive impression of forgiveness, and reminds us all that 1-forgiveness allows for our own healing and 2-that forgiveness does not equate to the acceptance of sinful acts.

I happily give this book 10 stars, and highly recommend it:

Be sure to enter below to win a Kindle Fire! You can purchase your copy of Letters From My Father's Murderer by Laurie Coombs HERE. And check out all of the Litfuse reviews HERE.

Letters from My Father's Murderer Laurie Coombs

Monday, June 29, 2015

What's for Breakfast? Featuring Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk.

Breakfast when you have kids can be a tricky thing. I find that it all depends on how much time you have before you, or the kids need to be out the door. On mornings when there is a mad rush for the door, cereal is happening. On the weekends, we love to take the time to make nice, big family breakfasts with bacon, eggs, toast and the like. Now that Summer is here, and there is not the chaos of getting ready for bus, I love that I have more time to make breakfasts that are nutritious and delicious, and require more thought than pour, scoop, eat. I recently got to try Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original, and thought that it would make for a really delicious base for Homemade Pancakes!

So, those are all the makings of simple, easy, delicious AND nutritious Homemade Pancakes. These have been tested by my 3 year old who I consider a garbage disposal because she will eat just about anything, my almost 10 year old who is semi-picky in his tastes and the almost 10 year old's friend, who is the pickiest eater I currently know. They DEVOURED these!

Homemade Pancakes
1 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Cup Rolled Oats, processed until smooth
3 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp White Sugar
1 & 1/4 Cups Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original
2 Egg Whites
3 Tbsp Butter, melted

Sift all dry ingredients. Make a well in the middle to add the wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the well, then mix gently until smooth.

Cook over a lightly oiled griddle on medium heat. Brown on both sides. Serve while hot.

I normally make the kids smaller pancakes, and they ate several each. Luckily there was enough batter left to make 2 for myself! I was very pleased with how these turned out, as I believe they are much healthier than the store bought mixes. I can honestly say that I prefer the taste of these, and if the empty plates are any indication, the kids did too! While it takes slightly more effort than adding milk and mixing, this is still a very quick and simple breakfast to create, while being wholesome and filling too! And the ingredients are things I always have on hand. I'm excited to also try this with Almond Breeze Vanilla Almondmilk and maybe a sprinkle of cinnamon. The possibilities are endless!

We love Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original for it's delicious taste and versatility. It is phenomenal for cooking, and contains all of the nutrients of the superfood: Almonds! Almond Breeze Almondmilks are also wonderful alternatives for those who need to follow special diets (or choose to!), as they are free of lactose, gluten, dairy, casein, cholesterol and saturated fat. Instead they are full of vittamins and minerals essential for leading a healthy lifestyle, including: protein, iron, vitamin E, fiber and folic acid, just to name a few.

We are pleased with our experience with Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original and gladly give it 10 stars:

You can discover all of the varieties they offer on the Almond Breeze website. You can also follow them on their social media outlet: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest.

Taking Nuts to a Whole New Level with Sriracha Blue Diamond Almonds

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds.

When I think of a quick snack that is designed for on-the-go, is packed with protein yet low in bad fat, sugar and cholesterol, I think of nuts! I am a fan of all kinds of nuts. I have to give credit to Blue Diamond, however, and their truly unique line of flavored almonds. I recently was sent 2 six ounce containers of the Sriracha Blue Diamond Almonds, and I am in a desperate search to find them so I can have more! These are the perfect snack for Summertime, barbecues, or anytime really!

I was super excited to try these because I love all things spicy (but not burn your tongue and tastebuds off, spicy). I have to say that these were an immediate hit in our house....with EVERYONE! Even my 3 year old who abhors "picy" things, was forcing herself to eat these and liking it! We went through them rather quickly because we all could not get over their addictive taste. They have the perfect amount of heat, yet they're smooth at the same time. I kept thinking about how good these would taste dipped in a creamy ranch dressing, as odd as that sounds. I often found myself grabbing a small handful here and there throughout the day. 

While these are bursting with bold flavor, they also contain the wonderful health benefits of almonds. They are a great source of protein, with a whopping 6 grams. Surely this is what helps them keep you feeling full between meals. Plus, each serving size is 28 nuts, so there is no lacking there! Sriracha Blue Diamond Almonds are low in sugar (only 2 grams), low in Sodium (120 miligrams), low in Potassium (180 miligrams) and have NO cholesterol. While they do contain 1 gram of saturated fat, the majority of their fat content comes from the healthier Polyunsaturated and Monounsaturated fats. Overall, they are a superb snack, easy to take on the go as they don't require refrigeration, and I have zero guilt eating them myself, or allowing any of my family members to enjoy them. It's perfect harmony when you can find a snack that is as indulgent as it is healthy. Now, if I could just find these in a store near me.....

Clearly, I am head over heels for the Sriracha Blue Diamond Almonds and give them 10 stars:

You can scour all of the delicious flavors that Blue Diamond offers on their website, and keep up with them on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, Pinterest and You Tube.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Stain Remover Power!

Disclosure: The item(s) mentioned below were provided complimentary for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions stated here are based upon my personal experience with the product(s) and are entirely my own. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I feel would benefit my readers.

So, just the other day I was telling you about a wonderful all-purpose cleaner from Greenwald Brands that I have been enjoying. Today I am going to tell you a little bit about another product from their line that I also got to try: Greenwald's Carpet, Upholstery and Fabric Stain Remover Kit. With 2 kiddos running around the house, I promise you that I have my fair share of carpet and fabric stains. More than I would like to face, that's for certain. Our couches probably take the brunt of it, and we often take our carpet shampooer to the couch cushions to keep them looking somewhat decent. I figured that this would be a great product to use for in between the deep cleans with the shampooer.

Included in the Greenwald's Carpet, Upholstery and Fabric Stain Remover Kitis a professional spray bottle, 6 water-soluble concentrated solution packets and instructions on use. For use, you simply place one of the solution packs into the water bottle (2 if you are removing a carpet stain), add warm water to the 32 oz fill line, allow to sit for a minute or two and gently shake to evenly combine. From there, you spray it liberally on the stain, allow to sit for one minute, scrub it gently with a hand brush and blot with a paper towel of white cloth. You can repeat these steps if necessary until the stain is removed. Blot with clean water afterward. As always, test in an inconspicuous area before squirting away, to ensure there are no adverse effects on the material.

I have read several of the Amazon reviews and have seen that this product is very favorable across the board. In my experience, I found that it did a really great job at cleaning a chair cushion that had been pretty heavily soiled. I am interested in using this on the couch, but need to take some time to test before I go messing with couch cushions. When I was cleaning the chair cushion, as I went to wipe it up, some of the color was coming off so I am a bit hesitant to use it on something of more expense. That being said, they are a red color, so it tends to bleed color easily anyway. My biggest concern with their products is that the ingredients are not listed anywhere. I try to buy natural cleansers when I can to keep my family safe from toxic chemicals and fumes. There are SEVERAL warnings on the products encouraging hand washing and protection (gloves) after and during use, suggesting that the ingredients are not so "friendly". I wish there was more about them on the bottle, or on their website.

BEFORE - Grossness from the 3 year old

AFTER - I sprayed a little heavy so there was a wet spot, but clearly better than the before!

Overall, I am a fan and I give Greenwald's Carpet, Upholstery and Fabric Stain Remover Kit 8 stars:

If you want to discover the products that they offer, you can check out their website. If you are interested in purchasing their Carpet, Upholstery and Fabric Stain Remover Kit, you can find it on Amazon for $19.95, which is such a reasonable price for how much you are getting! As always, this price can change at any time.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Last Cleaner You'll Ever Need!

Disclosure: The item(s) mentioned below were provided complimentary for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions stated here are based upon my personal experience with the product(s) and are entirely my own. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I feel would benefit my readers.

I am a bit OCD when it comes to being clean. You may not know it when you are in my house, but if I could spend the entire day cleaning and making sure there are zero germs or dirt in my home, I really would. I am always trying to find good cleaners, or discover tips and tricks for how to clean more difficult spaces. With 2 kids, a husband and a very large black lab that loves him some dirt, sometimes the task of keeping things sparkling, just isn't realistic.....unfortunately. That being said, when it comes time to clean, I need a cleaner that is effective and powerful enough to battle the grime. I recently tried Greenwald's All-Purpose Cleanser Kit and I am impressed with the quality and ease of this product.

Greenwald's All-Purpose Cleanser Kit comes with a professional 32 ounce sized spray bottle, 6 pre-measured concentrate refills and instructions on use. Part of what makes this system so unique is the fact that you are given enough product to fill the spray bottle 6 times! That saves you trips to the store when you realize you are out of cleaning supplies. Even better is the fact that it takes up such a small amount of space. See, when you prepare this cleaner, you take one of the pre-measured concentrate, which is in a water soluble sack, and place it into the empty spray bottle. You fill the water bottle with warm water, wait a minute or two, and gently shake to distribute the liquid throughout. It's mess-free, and because each small sack holds the contents for one whole bottle, your cupboards are not filled to the brim with cleaning products. The Greenwald's All-Purpose Cleanser Kit comes in a citrus scent that is not overwhelming, just an overall pleasant and clean scent.

I use the Greenwald's All-Purpose Cleanser to clean everything around the house. Counters, floors, cabinets doors, walls....just everything. It is tough on dirt and grime requiring less time scrubbing. For everyday messes this is entirely capable, however, it is commercial grade, so I tend to use it if there is something tough to clean, or super dirty. I don't use this on surfaces that touch food very often because there are several chemicals in it that I don't want my food near, and I don't want to have to post-wash my surfaces. That is the only downfall of the Greenwald's All-Purpose Cleanser Kit, the fact that it is not all-natural or organic. That being said, most cleaners are not, so this will likely not pose an issue for most. Again, this does a phenomenal job at cleaning everyday dirt and grime that builds up around the house, smells great, and leaves my surfaces looking brand new.

I confidently give the Greenwald's All-Purpose Cleanser Kit 8 stars:

If you want to discover the products that they offer, you can check out their website. If you are interested in purchasing their All-Purpose Cleaner Kit, you can find them on Amazon for $19.95, which is such a reasonable price for how much you are getting! As always, this price can change at any time.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Handmade Soap at It's Finest

Disclosure: The item(s) mentioned below were provided complimentary for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions stated here are based upon my personal experience with the product(s) and are entirely my own. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I feel would benefit my readers.

I'm one of those people that gets sucked into little boutique or specialty shops. I love the unique gift ideas you can find, and the plethora of handmade items. Being the makeup/beauty/healthcare junkie that I am, I am always drawn to the lotions, soaps, etc. I just can't resist! I recently received an amazing new soap to try, and it immediately made me think that it should be sitting on the shelves of the aforementioned shops. It is Handmade Soap from, and I chose the Fresh Aloe scent. creates an original variety of natural handmade soaps. What astounded me was the truly extensive list of scents that they offer. From Kona Coffee to Sea Breeze, Lemon Coconut to Black Forest Timber - I really think they have a scent that would appeal to anyone. Even more impressive is the fact that their ingredients list is short, simple, and non-threatening. Each bar of soap is created with Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Soybean Oil, Hemp Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Water and their Fragrance Blend. The bar of soap itself is a decent sized square with a net weight of 5.3 ounces.

So far, I love this soap. I'm happy that I went with the Fresh Aloe scent because it is fresh, gentle and smells so clean! Because it is safe for all skin types, and the ingredient list is commendable, I have used this for washing my face as well. I have to be careful with what I choose to wash my face with, as my skin can be very finicky and will oftentimes breakout if I introduce something new. The Handmade Soap, however, leaves my skin feeling soft and clean without stripping it of the necessary moisture, and it lathers easily too. My only complaint is that I haven't found a soap dish that is big enough to accommodate it! I am especially grateful that these soaps are affordable. You oftentimes pay a significantly steeper price for handmade or natural products, and that is not the case here.

Overall, I'm very pleased with the Handmade Soap, and give it 10 stars:

If you are interested in handmade bar soaps, I would highly recommend you check these out, as they have such a fun variety of scents to choose from. They are currently priced at $12.95 on Amazon.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Pump It Up - Your Hair That Is!

Disclosure: The item(s) mentioned below were provided complimentary for the purpose of an honest review. The opinions stated here are based upon my personal experience with the product(s) and are entirely my own. Regardless, I only recommend products or services that I feel would benefit my readers.

For the longest time, I always wanted my hair to be super thin and sleek and straight. Well, since having kids, my hair has thinned out a little and is not nearly as thick as it once was. Now, of course, I wish I had more voluminous hair, and will use products and techniques to get the look that I used to despise. That's one of the issues with the beauty industry.... What's "in" now, may not be "in" a short while later. Not that I follow trends or anything. I tend to just do what I like, or what I feel like. Every once in awhile it's refreshing to change it up a bit though. I recently had the opportunity to add a new conditioner to my haircare routine, which is formulated to decrease hair loss, while providing volume. Introducing: Salonceuticals Regenepure Intense Volumizing Biotin Conditioner.

Salonceuticals Regenepure is a brand that focuses on making products for men and women that address hair loss. They use a unique blend of ingredients in their Regenepure Intense Volumizing Biotin Conditioner that set out to provide moisture and volume, while reducing loss. Some of the helpful ingredients are: Biotin, Tea Tree and Jojoba Oil, Keratin, Silk Protein, Copper Peptides and Saw Palmetto. Some natural brands use many of these ingredients in their products for their proven ability to address scalp concerns while providing ample nutrition to the hair to keep it looking and feeling phenomenal. Saw Palmetto is the ingredient that is touted to help reduce hair loss. Together, these compounds work to unclog the hair's follicles, thus allowing it to soak up all of the nutrients, building healthier hair. And who doesn't want healthier hair?

I am driven by scent, so the first thing I did was smell this when I got it. It smells minty, and I'm actually a huge fan of minty scented haircare. I think it has less to do with the scent and more to do with the tingle it provides to my scalp which lets me know it is getting to work correcting all that is wrong. I have a very dry scalp, so the fact that this has ingredients like Tea Tree Oil and Jojoba Oil to help fight that is very important. As I mentioned before, I do not suffer from extreme hair loss so I cannot attest to how well this works in that respect. I do tend to lose a lot of hair, but I always have. I would have needed to monitor my hair loss to be able to speak to these claims. I will say that this conditioner did seem to help in the volume department, and in a good way! I also have to say that this conditioner was not overly heavy, but instead delivered weightless moisturization. My hair was so soft and smooth I couldn't keep my hands out of it! I really wish I could have tried the shampoo that goes with it to get an idea of how they function as a set, however, the conditioner alone has made a great addition to my haircare routine.

You can purchase an 8oz bottle of the Salonceuticals Regenepure Intense Volumizing Biotin Conditioner from Amazon, for the pric of $25. If you're interested, you may also want to check out the Regenepure website to explore all of the products they have to offer.