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Thursday, April 24, 2014

Book Review of: The Berenstain Bears Keep the Faith by Mike Berenstain

There is one thing you can never have enough of in my opinion: Love....and books. I am a huge fan of reading, so when the opportunity arose to become part of the Z Blog Squad, I was thrilled! Each month we get the opportunity to choose a couple of books through Zondervan, free of charge, in exchange for an honest review on our blog. Plus, they have a giant assortment of high quality books to appeal to infants through adults.



What I love about The Berenstain Bears books in general is that each book focuses on a moral lesson, and further, turns it into an entertaining story. In The Berenstain Bears Keep the Faith, Brother and Sister Bear are faced with a situation where they learn that some of their friends practice different religious beliefs than themselves. From these differences, they learn that they have faith in God, although are uncertain about what that means. With the  help of Preacher Brown, they learn about what faith is. While The Berenstain Bears Keep the Faith is appropriate for children ages 4-8, I have a 2 year old and an 8 year old, and this can keep both of their attentions. It is easy to read for my 8 year old son, and has enough pictures and color to keep the attention of my 2 year old daughter. Plus, we received this book shortly before Easter, and I thought that was fittingly appropriate. Additionally, on the inside of the back cover, there is a section with bullet points addressing conversation starters and activity ideas. Any older children could benefit from discussing what they read, while also seeing the real world application.


I found that the message in The Berenstain Bears Keep the Faith was very easy to understand, and simple enough for children to follow. I also found that it was not overpowering or confusing as some religious books can be; the message was clear, as well as relatable. I do not feel as though the spiritual message in this book is strong, however, it is perfectly appropriate for the audience that the book is written to entertain. Religion can be a very loaded topic, and I appreciate that they break it down into digestible pieces for young readers. As stated earlier, the illustrations help to pull the story together and keep the reader's (or listeners) attention, and they are the same high-quality pictures that are present in all of the Berenstain Bears books.

I would definitely recommend this book to add to any children's library, and give it 10 stars:

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *   

Disclosure: I was given a copy of this book complimentary from Zondervan in exchange for an honest review. The opinions stated in the above review are my own.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Vitamin C.... In Your Beauty Routine!



Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

I have seen so much lately on using oils and serums in your beauty routine. I never quite put enough thought into it to care much. I figured, I have sensitive skin and I don't see the point of smothering my acne-prone face with something oily or adding yet another step to my already time consuming routine. If anything, I want to shorten the time I spend "beautifying" myself everyday. I have since learned the science behind the oil things too; oil attracts oil, and consequently dirt and bacteria as well, therefore pulling it from the pores and purifying your skin. I have since used some oils, and with success! So there is your lesson for today - Don't judge a product by it's ingredients. Unless, of course, they are harmful....In that case, judge away. I am on a "green" kick, and have been attempting to rid my household of products that contain high concentrations of toxic ingredients. That being said, my beauty routine was one of the first things to get overhauled. Since then I have tried to seek out products that are made with more natural and organic ingredients. Fortunately, I was given the opportunity to try out La Beauté Pure Organic Vitamin C Serum complimentary for review purposes.

This Vitamin C serum comes in a sturdy, 1 fluid ounce glass bottle with a dropper for easy dispensing. It retails for $49.99, but tends to be available for cheaper through Amazon. This price seems to be in same price range as similar products. I always look at the small bottle and wonder how something so small can cost so much! That being said, I only use a couple of drops each time I apply it, so I envision this lasting for quite some time, making it much more reasonable in my opinion. Plus, many dermatological procedures that make the same claims are much more expensive. The serum itself is cloudy in color and does not really have a scent to it. I like this because oftentimes fragranced products contain unnecessarily added ingredients. The ingredients used in this serum are 98% naturally derived, with 72% being organic. I love this, as it complies with my attempt at ridding chemicals from my household, and my body. Additionally, this particular Vitamin C serum contains as much Vitamin C as possible without making the product watery. The bottle states:

This serum is a concentrated delivery system for the highest form of active bio-available Vitamin C for beautiful skin. Suspended in a concentrated base of pure vegan hyaluronic acid to plump skin cells and protect and restore.

And my favorite part:

No parabens. No chemicals. No preservatives. No Formalin. No Formaldehyde. No Phthalates. No Petro-chemicals No GMO. No Triclosan. No Fragrance. No Colors. No Animal Testing. No Worries.

After using this serum for a couple of weeks, I have to be honest and say that I have not noticed any differences in my skin aside from a bit of a brightening effect; My looks rejuvenated when I wake up in the morning, versus dull. That being said, I am still young and don't really have any signs of aging for the serum to erase. Perhaps I am providing my skin with some added nutrients to prevent that process from taking effect sooner? In which case, YAY! Additionally, my skin is very susceptible to breakouts, especially with the introduction of a new product, and I have not experienced an increase in breakouts since adding this to my regimen. Plus, it is a new way to get my daily dose of Vitamin C! (Your skin is your largest organ, you know?)

Overall I give this Vitamin C Serum 7 stars:

*  *  *  *  *  *  *
If you are looking to try a serum and have a need for reducing signs of aging, I would recommend that you give this Vitamin C serum a shot!  I have been using this serum for only a small amount of time. While some people may experience drastic transformations right away, I am sure that using it for an extended period of time is the only way to find out if this serum will work for you. Luckily, they do offer a money back guarantee so you have nothing to lose. 

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Deliciousness Delivered through Hello Fresh

I LOVE to cook (and bake too!). It is something I am passionate about and take pride in. I am forever on the search for new, tasty meals to share with my family, and to break-up some of the tedious food ruts we get into. I wish I was as skilled as those "home" cooks on Masterchef who can identify the most bizzare foods in a blindfolded taste-test, or who can take one bite of a meal and identify all of the main ingredients. My palette isn't as sensitive as theirs, and I don't even know how to cook with some of the ingredients they use on those shows. That being said, it is one of my secret desires to cook a gourmet-style meal with the fancy plating techniques, or at least eat one at some point in my life. That isn't too much to ask, right? Well, the closest I have come to fulfilling this fantasy was through the free order of Hello Fresh that I was given the opportunity to review through Mosaic Reviews!  
I may or may not have tackled the Fed Ex delivery guy when this arrived...


If you are concerned about fresh-ness - this is the arctic insulation/ice pack combination it is delivered in!

 Hello Fresh is a fresh food delivery service. It could be described as a subscription-box-meets-grocery-delivery-service, except with greater flexibility. What makes this particular service unique is the fact that you are given durable, illustrated recipe cards and all of the ingredients (with the exception of a handful of household staples including: butter, milk, sugar and oil) to complete 3 nutritious meals, delivered right to your door! You can choose from the Classic Box (receive 3 of 5 meal options) or the Vegetarian Box (receive 3 predetermined meals). From there you decide whether you want supplies for 2 people, or 4 people. If you choose 2 people, the box costs $69 per delivery for the Classic box, and $59 per delivery for the Vegetarian Box. If you choose 4 people, the cost is $129 for the Classic Box and $109 for the Vegetarian Box. Orders must be placed by midnight on the Wednesday before delivery week. Don't wait until the last minute because it takes a few minutes to set-up your account and submit your information. Plus, give yourself time to assess your options! Please be advised that this is a subscription service. You will be charged these fees each week that you have an active subscription. What is nice about this particular company is the fact that you can "pause" your subscription. If the next week has meals that do not interest you, you will be out of town or your budget does not allow it, you simply "pause" your subscription through your account settings before Wednesday. Be sure to save your actions and look for a confirmation e-mail to ensure that your changes have been applied to your account. If this sounds like something you would be interested in trying, use code: DEM57U to receive $20 off of your first order.

We chose the Classic Box with 2 servings, and from there decided to customize our meals to include: Chile Dusted Shrimp with Corn Relish, Steak and Brussels Sprouts Stir-Fry and Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Lemony Skillet Potatoes and Zucchini. Here is my experience in pictures (because no words I know of can express it on the same level that the pictures do):

On Wednesday evening I made the Chile Dusted Shrimp with Corn Relish:

Unpacked directly out of the delivery box (and ice cold)

Before prepping

Prepped and ready to cook

Finished product!

Up close and personal
On Thursday we had the Steak and Brussels Sprouts Stir-Fry:

Right out of the delivery box

Pre-prep

All diced up and ready to fry!

So delicious!

I mixed it up a little to give credit to all of the ingredients
On Friday I made the Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Lemony Skillet Potatoes and Zucchini:

Takes the guesswork out of which ingredients go where

So fresh!

All ready to cook!

Love the way this one looks!

And it tasted just as great as it looked, and then some!

I have nothing negative to say about my personal experience with Hello Fresh. My package was delivered on-time, ice cold, and with all ingredients in beautiful condition. I was able to cook using ingredients I was not accustom to using, with ease. For example, I have never used fresh ginger in my cooking and did so with 2 of my recipes. I have used powdered forms of it, but never fresh. I also, and I am embarrassed to admit this, have never used scallions. Each of the 3 recipes we received used them and come to find out, my husband LOVES them (as do I)! I also love the culinary knowledge I got from using the provided ingredients; I paired foods together that I would have never thought to on my own accord. Everything is packaged and labeled so you can easily decipher which ingredients go with which meals. Additionally, you can customize the recipes to fit your tastes. If there is an ingredient you dislike, leave it out, or substitute with something you have on hand at home. I made the meals as they were described for the sake of the review, and I am so thankful I did. My husband discovered that "brussels sprouts really don't taste bad" after years of hating on those poor baby cabbages. So remember, even if it isn't something you would traditionally eat, try something new and be adventurous! I am grateful for the recipe cards that I now have on hand for when I decide to make these dishes again, and I WILL be making them all again. It is worth mentioning that the amount that comes in the 2 serving size box is more than enough for 2 people, especially if you serve sides with the meals. And lastly, I love the fresh, wholesome ingredients. It's so simple to throw something in a microwave, or heat something up on the stove top. Surprisingly, it truly takes a small amount of effort to make a completely fresh homemade meal that tastes even more delicious.

I give Hello Fresh a 10 out of 10 stars:

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *
See what some of the other reviewers had to say here!

If you are interested in ordering your own box of nutritious meal ingredients, please go here to see if they deliver in your area. You can reference the Hello Fresh website here, and their FAQ section here if you are seeking more information about the company and how their service works. Additionally, you can show them some love and keep an eye on the up-and-coming meals and features by liking them on Facebook and following them on Twitter.

REMEMBER to use code: DEM57U to receive $20 off of your first order




Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Utterly Smooth with Udderly SMooth®

'Tis the season.....for baking cookies, drinking hot cocoa, and spending time with some of your favorite family and friends. And....... DRY skin. Where I am (NY), it's inevitable; as soon as the furnace kicks on full time, out come the humidifiers, the cold/allergy medicine and the heavy creams and lotions. My oldest has cold weather induced asthma, and my youngest has eczema which flares up this time of year. I, personally,  have a pet peeve with dry skin, especially on my hands. This becomes even more of an issue during the colder months because the air is much drier, cleaning tends to be more frequent (because we are indoors more, no one here knows how to take their boots off when they come in from the snow, and those pesky germs are intruding my house) and hand washing reaches a whole new level of constant. You can imagine my relief (and excitement) when I received a complimentary package full of Udderly SMooth® products to test and review for Mosaic Reviews. Not only was this a treat for me personally, but it came at the perfect time of year.

Look at this generous package!
Love the packaging too!

I had preconceived notions about this line of products before I received them. Due to the name Udderly SMooth® -as in cow udders, and care for said udders- I pictured a thick, heavy, waxy/greasy type product which worked so well that people just didn't care that they were leaving their greasy hand prints all over things. I despise lotions, creams, etc. that leave your hands greasy, and you locked in the bathroom because your hands can't properly grip the doorknob without wiping half of the product off. Ahem, waste of money, ahem. Let me tell you that this is not the case with Udderly SMooth®. Just another life lesson in not judging a book by it's cover, or in this case, a lotion by it's name.

I received two tubes of the Hand Cream, a 2-ounce and a 4-ounce size, and the smaller one has taken residence in my purse. It is the perfect size to keep with you for on-the-go. It has a super smooth consistency, and is a silky-white color. It absorbs effortlessly, and smells clean as well. I enjoy the simple scent because it is subtle, and neutral. Therefore, it doesn't override the scent of my perfume, but gives me a nice pick-me-up when I put it on, and my son and the hubby can use it without complaint of a "girly smell". I keep comparing the scent to soap, but I think that is because I feel that it has a fresh scent. Again, it is subtle, and doesn't linger, and I imagine it would appeal to most everyone, however, they do offer a fragrance-free variety for those with super-sensitive nostrils, or skin. This is the product that I use most frequently because I rarely allow my hands to stay dry for long-It gives me the heebie-jeebies. This time of year I feel like I should have lotions stationed at every corner of the house. Would it be tacky to have those pump-style hand sanitizers and lotions placed sporadically throughout my home?


See, it's nice!
The Body Cream is a little bit thicker than the hand cream, however, is rubbed in and absorbs just as effortlessly. This surprised me, as most of the targeted body care items seem to be thick, difficult and messy. This comes in an open jar, so you can use as little or as much as you need. I will mention that a little goes a long way. My son gets SUPER dry elbows and knees in the winter, and we have been using the Udderly SMooth® Body Cream on it with much success! In the past I have used ointments to get the added benefit of using more of an oil-based product, however, it gets messy. I love that we are getting better results with this without the consequences of using the greasier ointments.

Udderly SMooth® Body Cream - Thick, yet creamy!
The foot cream is superb as well! It has a consistency similar to the hand cream and, again, absorbs completely leaving feet soft, smooth and smelling nice. I feel as though my feet are the most neglected members of my body during the winter because I constantly have thick fuzzy socks covering them. It's like I forget they have skin on them that is prone to all of this dryness too. Then, come Summer, I have to put a bit of effort into getting them ready for flip-flops and barbeques. Luckily, the opportunity to try the Udderly SMooth® has given me the motivation to keep up with them during the Winter months. Hopefully this will make for less work later on! Additionally, I like that it doesn't smell like mint - what is the relationship between feet and mint? Aren't our mouths supposed to smell like mint?



The best part is, these products are made in the USA and extremely affordable! Here is what they retail for:
  • Udderly SMooth® Hand Cream - 2 oz. tube - $1.75
  • Udderly SMooth® Hand Cream - 4 oz. tube - $2.75
  • Udderly SMooth® Body Cream - 12 oz. jar - $5.75
  • Udderly SMooth® Foot Cream -  8 oz. jar - $6.50
Plus, they are sold at several common retailers. For the entire list, go here.

To keep up with the brand, and you want to because they host giveaways quite frequently, follow them on Facebook and Twitter!

I have enjoyed using the Udderly SMooth® products, and will continue to do so when I run out. They get 10 stars from me:

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Check out what some of the other reviewers had to say on Mosaic Reviews!


Sunday, December 15, 2013

Review of Escape From Mercy Hall by Garth Edwards

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.

My son is getting to that age where he kind of secludes himself from everyone else. This is normal, right? It is almost like the pre-pre-teen weirdness. It makes you realize that the baby you once did EVERYTHING for, is getting a little more capable of doing most things *gulp* on his own. In an effort to do something together, and get him reading, I applied and was accepted through Tomoson to review a book perfect for his interests and a little above his reading level: Escape From Mercy Hall by Garth Edwards. The story takes place in an orphanage for abandoned kids named Mercy Hall (surprise, surprise?). Some weird things happen when the main characters, Sam and George go on a search for their friend Milly, who made an attempt at escaping Mercy Hall in search of her brother Tom.



Right from the get-go this book ropes you in. I loved reading this with my son because I could see his comprehension wheels turning when we would discuss what was going on and what might happen next. This book is a little over his reading level (he is only in third grade, this book is written more for Middle School aged kids) which is why I made sure we read this one together. We took turns reading, and we discussed when we came across a word he didn't know or understand. What was great about this was the fact that several of the special vocabulary words they have hanging on the wall in his classroom were in this novel, and he got so excited each time that one came up. Plus, the chapters are the perfect length. It was simple to sit down and read a couple of chapters together before bedtime.

The world that emerges beyond the hedge of the Mercy Hall, called Littlewich, is full of twists turns and surprises that are out of this world - Literally, the characters (both people and animals) are quite intriguing! Luckily, there are few illustrations throughout the text to give you a bit of a visual representation of what is being described. I love this aspect about the book because at some point in life, we grow up. We leave behind the creativity and the imagination that makes childhood such a magical and innocent time. So quickly that is stolen away. My son still has a wild imagination (which most of the time I am truly thankful for), but Middle School tends to be the time when that changes. I love that we have this book on our Kindle now, and hope that my son will continue to read, and re-read it as he grows. We are looking forward to purchasing the other two books in the trilogy to see what excitement and adventure they hold!

We give Escape From Mercy Hall 9 out of 10 stars:

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If you are interested in grabbing yourself, or that special child in your life a copy, you may do so from Amazon.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Boots With the Fur - Review of Dr. Scholl's® For Her Cozy Cushions

I'm one of those people that need to keep their feet warm at all times. If my feet get cold, my entire body gets cold. It could be the middle of Summer and I will have to throw on a hoodie and some socks to warm myself up. I know people (one of which is my one year old) who go barefoot year round. Just looking at bare feet on cold surfaces makes me shiver. During the colder months I keep my feet and toes warm by wearing my slippers around the house, and owning those boots, you know, the ones with the fur. That being said, they are kind of plain (although I do love some of the styles with the button embellishments and what not). I decided this year that I was going to break out of my comfort zone a little bit and buy a pair of "tall riding boots". I'm not planning to ride horses in them, but I do plan to wear them this Winter. The problem.... there is no fur on the inside of them. What are my poor, little, prone-to-coldness feet going to do? Bump-Ba-Da-Dum (trumpet noise?): Stay warm and comfortable with Dr. Scholl's® For Her Cozy Cushions!!!!! (Thanks to Influenster for allowing me to try them free for review purposes)


Yay for fuzzy!
I am a sucker for all things comfortable, and I am almost certain that if it was fashionably acceptable I would wear comfortable clothes (AKA sweats) year round. Speaking of which, why don't these big time, extremely rich fashion people make clothing that is fashionable AND comfortable. Hello, fleece lined leggings.... can't we do that with everything? Luckily, we can now do it with our feet! The Dr. Scholl's® For Her Cozy Cushions take those not-so-cozy winter, rain and dress boots, casual shoes and flats to the next level by adding a warm fuzzy layer that absorbs moisture. They are hand washable too! 

Easy to follow size guide
First, you need to cut them to size. This is not a one-size-fits-all product directly out of the box, but it is super easy to get them into your least comfortable footwear, regardless of your size (10 and under that is). Use sharp scissors to cut along the guide on the bottom of the insert to the size that is closest to your own. I used our sharp kitchen scissors and they worked perfectly!

A perfect pair :)
They were very easy to place into my boots once they were cut to size. I got a little ahead of myself and just wanted them in there, but that was not appropriate. They were a perfect fit once I cut them. These boots are normal width and I had no problem getting them in with a little maneuvering. You want it to be a tight fit so that you aren't dealing with them moving all over the place while you are trying to walk, drive, work.... live. If you have footwear that is tight, I would not recommend trying to squeeze these in there and then your feet. They are thin, but they do add a little fluff for comfort.

All tucked in!
I chose to use the Dr. Scholl's® For Her Cozy Cushions in my new boots to give them that extra coziness right from the start. Sometimes breaking in new footwear can be a pain, but not with these. I can say that these insoles keep my feet toasty warm in this blistery cold weather, and make the time I spend on my feet cushioned and comfortable. I have enjoyed the Dr. Scholl's® For Her Cozy Cushion inserts while waiting out the crowds and the lines while Christmas shopping this season.  

So far, I give these insoles a 9 out of 10 stars:

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These insoles retail for $12.49 and can be found at these retailers.

I would recommend following Dr. Scholl's® on Facebook and checking out their website to keep up with promotions (they are currently offering a $2 off coupon) and product development - you never know what they will come up with next!

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product complimentary from Influenster for testing and review purposes. The opinions stated here are my own, based on my personal experience. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Getting Retro with Rimmel London Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara

I have a thing with mascara.... yes, a thing. I don't know what that means either, but it accurately describes my relationship with the product so, chew on that for a little while. I am a mascara junkie (and a make-up junkie in general), meaning I buy things unnecessarily, just because I like the way it looks, and for the sake of trying something new. I think there are worse addictions, right? At this point in time I probably have upwards of 10 different mascaras in my make-up closet stash. The upside to this? I have a pretty good idea of products that work well for me, and can customize my look based on the way the product and I work together - it's like a team effort.

I recently received Rimmel Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara through Influenster for testing and review purposes. I was like a kid in the candy store when I saw that I got a new mascara to try out. The kicker was, this mascara just hit the shelves in November 2013, so we had a bit of a head start in trying it! I can tell after trying a mascara ONCE whether or not we have "chemistry" and will be able to work together. I know it sounds ridiculous, but there are just some mascaras that make me sad in regard to their performance.

Here is a before and after picture of my first time using the Rimmel Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara:

It is amazing!
Clearly, Rimmel Scandaleyes Retro Glam Mascara and I were a match made in Retromania heaven <3 In order to get these glamorously lengthened and defined lashes I first made sure my lashes were clean and dry, second, applied one coat to each set of lashes (moving slowly and carefully from root to tip), and third, applied a second coat while also using the wand to ensure my lashes were separated and evenly covered. Note: this mascara dries pretty quickly - to avoid clumping from over application, move quick enough to get it situated, but not too quick as to cause smudging/smearing or getting it all over your face. Simple enough for the most amateur of make-up appliers! Another mascara application tip: "swirl" the wand versus "pumping" it. Pumping can push air into the product making it dry out quicker and become prone to clumping and flaking.  

I love the thick, hourglass shape of the Retro Glam Mascara brush, the color of it (black without being harsh), and the effects it has on my lashes (I have very short lashes, and you can obviously see the results after using this mascara)! I definitely give this mascara a 10 out of 10 stars!

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Another feature of this mascara is that it is affordable! It retails for $5.99 and can be found anywhere they sell Rimmel London products (unless they are sold out - this is a HOT item!).  

Disclosure: I received the above mentioned product complimentary from Influenster for testing and review purposes. The opinions stated in this post are my own. 
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