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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

{Book Review} Halo Found Hope by Helo Matzelle

Disclosure: I was given a complimentary copy of Halo Found Hope by Helo Matzelle by Litfuse Publicity Group to facilitate an honest review.

I recently read the book Halo Found Hope by Helo Matzelle. This book is a non-fiction memoir which documents the terrifying, yet miraculous journey of a dedicated daughter, wife and mother, as she relies heavily on her faith while most others would've turned their back. Helo, upon experiencing a bit of hearing loss and ringing in her ears makes a life-changing trip to the doctor where she learns that she has an extremely rare tumor, which had wrapped itself around the carotid artery in her brain. With her family by her side, a highly skilled medical team acted quickly to successfully remove the tumor. Upon waking, her brain swelled, which elicited a slew of medically-complicated events. The real story lies in the trials and tribulations she faced after her surgery to remove her brain tumor.


Halo Found Hope Helo Matzelle

From sleeping 19 hours a day, to needing to learn how to walk, dress, and feed herself, Helo's memoir captures the intensity of the obstacles she faced. Throughout it all, her faith never wavered. While most people would ask why me? What did I do to deserve this? Helo embraced her trust and love of God to get her through her recovery one day at a time. She kept her family in the forefront of her mind too, encouraging herself and convincing herself that she needed to work harder so that she could resume her duties as a wife and mother. She certainly struggled with the challenge of these mundane tasks becoming unexpectedly non-routine. Helo relied on God during these times to stand beside her and guide her through. She was confident in His abilities to comfort her as she wandered through uncharted territory.

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I found Halo Found Hope to be a very quick read. I could relate to Helo as a mother and a wife. She so honestly portrayed her experience, and while it was heartbreaking, it was doubly inspirational. I just cannot fathom how life can go from seemingly perfect to life-threatening in an instant. It brings our greatest fears a reality. We so often walk through life assuming that the worst things won't happen to us, that we won't be the 1%. In reality, someone has to be that 1%, and illness sees no age, race, gender or situation. Helo's story will guide you through every emotion, give you a sense of perseverance while strengthening your religious and spiritual faith.


This was a phenomenal book, and I highly recommend it with 10 stars:



You can purchase your own copy of Halo Found Hope HERE.

To keep up with Helo Matzelle, you can find her on her websiteFacebook, and Twitter. Be sure to enter the Kindle giveaway detailed below. If you wish to read more reviews of Halo Found Hope, you can do so HERE


Halo is offering a Kindle Fire to one lucky reader to celebrate the release of Halo Found Hope!




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One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire
  • Halo Found Hope
Enter today by clicking the icon below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on April 3rd. Winner will be announced April 4th on the Litfuse blog.




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{NOT ON FACEBOOK? ENTER HERE.}

Monday, March 30, 2015

Taking Paprika to a Whole New Level!


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 enjoy cooking, so I am always on the lookout for new ingredients to try, new spices to use, or new methods to test out. There are times when I get stuck in a food rut, where I keep making the same variety of meals over and over, and eventually it gets boring. I mean, don't get me wrong, it's delicious, but I also like to try new things to add to our rotation. One thing that I am starting to use more are herbs and spices. I have always followed directions and just added them as I was supposed to, but I hope to understand what flavors each brings to a dish, and how they can be combined to enhance and deepen the different flavors in dishes. I recently reviewed 2 new spices that bring a whole new dimension to a classic!




I think everyone uses Paprika at some point in time. I have always thought of Paprika as a color enhancer. You add it to deviled eggs to give it that little pop of color on top, or add it to the coating in friend chicken to give it a deeper color, but that it doesn't really have much of a taste to it. I was so excited to try out the Kiva Gourmet Sweet Smoked Paprika and Hot Smoked Paprika because I knew it would bring something substantial to a typically bland spice. First of all, this is a product of Spain, and more specifically, the La Vera Region of Spain. Here, they take hand-harvested peppers and smoke and dry them over holm oak for a minimum of 14 days. These spices are created with precision and care n small batches to ensure ample quality. The company also strives to achieve eco-friendly and sustainable methods, which is a huge plus, in my opinion.



What I love most about the Kiva Gourmet Sweet Smoked Paprika and Hot Smoked Paprika is the taste that it brings. I really love that "smoked" taste, and feel that it brings such a comforting flavor to traditional foods. It is a nice woodsy-smoke flavor. At first I had no idea what I would use these spices for, so I will answer that for you. Smoked Spanish Paprika is recommended to be used while cooking rice, meats, seafood, stews, soups, eggs and vegetables. I am so excited to bust out the grill and make a delicious rub with these spices. Until then, I use it to add flavor to omelets, chili, deviled eggs, rice and meats.... The Sweet Smoked Paprika has a distinct "smoked" flavor which reminds me of a barbeque. I definitely think that this spice would make the perfect rub to meat that is then doused in BBQ sauce before being grilled (or even baked). The Hot Smoked Paprika adds a little zing to it. The heat is definitely tolerable though, which makes it versatile. There are not too many people in this world who want to burn their tongue off every time they eat. This is great for chili if you want to make it a tad spicier without needing to add the crushed red pepper. My hubby, son and I really love a little "kick" to our food, so this is perfect for us. Adds enough spice without being overwhelming, or taking over the other flavors of the food. These are also great to use when you make burgers. It gives it a unique flavor that

The Kiva Gourmet Sweet Smoked Paprika and Hot Smoked Paprika have become instant pantry staples, and I highly recommend them with 10 stars:


If you are interested in adding some useful spices to your pantry, be sure to grab these off of Amazon HERE. They are currently $10.99 and are sold as a set, so you will get BOTH! This is a sale price, so there is no telling how long it will last.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

How to Make Your Veggies Fun


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 was the kid that actually liked and ate all of their veggies, so why I ended up with my first-born who pretty much despises every veggie is beyond me. That being said, I have always tried to make veggies enticing. You know, broccoli are little trees and peas are like tiny rocks. I eventually started pureeing veggies and sneaking them in where I could. Now that he is a little older he is more open to them, and eats them way more often then he ever did when he was younger. My second born, she is almost a self-chosen vegetarian, and loves just about any fruit or vegetable we serve her. That being said, I am always looking for new and exciting ways to cook and serve veggies to make them more enticing. I have found my new favorite kitchen toy, as well as my new favorite side dish. Introducing Kitchen Supreme's Spiral Slicer for veggies.


I've been wanting to try one of these for so long. I like zucchini as it is, but this is so much more fun! The Spiral Slicer turns your veggies into long pasta-like strands. It's great because they cook faster, and it adds a nice pop of color to any meal. I have only used this with zucchini, but you can also use it for carrots, cucumbers, squash, radishes and sweet or regular potatoes.


This thing is pretty much fool proof. There is an opening on each end. One end has blades set to make noodles sized 1/16'' x 3/32'' and the other end is 1/8'' x 3/16''.  In the picture above, I was using the "larger" size. You stick your veggie of choice into one side and then start spinning it while applying light, but steady pressure. The middle of the veggie will push through the hole in the center, while the rest of it will come out of the side in one super-long string. Once you get down to the end, you can attach the veggie to the detachable top. It has a sharp needle in the middle which will hold the food in place, and get more of it through the blades without ever compromising your fingers, and reducing your waste. Once I am finished, I place the "noodles" in a pan with a little bit of olive oil, cook them until they are soft, season with salt and pepper and add a little parmesan cheese on top.


I think it is so yummy! And entirely versatile too. For example, I added marinated chicken to this dish as well.


Great way to add veggies into your diet! Simple to create, as it does not take anymore time than it would to peel, cut and cook them on the stove top, in fact, I would say that it saves time. The Kitchen Supreme Spiral Slicer is simple to clean and comes with a cleaning brush to ensure that you are keeping the blades free of gunk. That being said, this is dishwasher-safe, so you can take that route as well. I tend to hand-wash this and be careful to get everything out of the blade-holes to ensure that nothing gets hardened onto them, or obstructs them from working as they are supposed to. The Spiral Slicer itself is small in size so it does not take up a bunch of room, and comes with a small storage bag to keep it protected.

I have loved giving this thing a whirl, and recommend it highly with 10 stars:


If you are looking for a way to spruce up your veggies, or any of your meals, you can grab the Kitchen Supreme Spiral Slicer on Amazon HERE for $15.84. As per all Amazon pricing, there is no telling how long this price will last, that is just the current price. Kitchen Supreme offers a few different products which you can explore via their website or by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

Chalkboard Labels Make DIY Fun!


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 one of those people who will spend time pinning DIY project ideas on Pinterest, yet never find the time to actually get to doing them. I always feel as though, in my head, my house looks as put together as the ideas on Pinterest, while in reality, it's the same as it ever was. I have wonderful intentions, great inspiration, and no time.... I love when I get to review things that push me to take on some of these tasks that I otherwise would avoid. The case in point: I got to review some super-cute Chalkboard Labels from Kitchen Supreme, and it allowed me to try something I have been meaning to try forever. See, I am a hoarder lover of candles. I buy Bath and Body Works candles which come in these short, stout, beautiful glass jars. They are perfect to reuse for other things after, but I've never taken the steps to do so until now!


See how perfect the jars are for making DIY organization for around the house?!?! The Kitchen Supreme Chalkboard Labels forced me to finally take the necessary steps to do a simple, yet necessary project. In order to get the candle jar clean, I obviously had to burn the candle. When it finishes burning, there is always still a little bit of wax left in the bottom. In order to get that out, I placed it in the freezer for a few hours. From the other DIY projects that I have read, I saw that next, you can pour boiling water into the jar to lift the wax out. Surprisingly, after I put it in the freezer, the small amount of wax left over cracked, and I picked it out, cleaned the jar, peeled the label off and I was left with how it look in the picture above.


The Kitchen Supreme Chalkboard Label set comes with a set of 40 labels in 8 different designs. There is a design to match whatever style you are trying to achieve, from the plain old perfectly rectangular design, to fancy and sophisticated designs as well. It's a great variety, and you get 5 of each kind of label, incase you wish for your certain project to match. This set also comes with a Liquid Chalk Marker which writes in white. This marker can only be used on non-porous surfaces, and can be wiped off, similar to a dry-erase marker with a damp cloth. It's refreshing to know that you don't have to write perfectly to get your desired look. I messed up when I did mine, and I used a wet q-tip to sharpen up the edges and clean the places that I smeared it. That being said, allow the chalk marker ink to dry before you try to peel the label and stick it. In order to use the marker you have to shake it up, press down on the tip to allow for the liquid to come to absorb into the tip, and then you can write with it. The tip itself is a little thick, so if you are looking for fine print, you may need to find another marker. I found that this worked fine for me though. If you are labeling something, it should be bold enough that you can see what it is.


There's the finished product! Now I have a cute container to store my cotton balls in the bathroom! I love how this turned out. Now I just need to find a small knob to use at a handle for the top, but for now, this will do. Next, I can make one for q-tips!

The Kitchen Supreme Chalkboard Labels can be used for many things, including labeling jars, kitchen containers, bins and spray bottles. You can organize almost any part of your home with these, leaving it looking fresh while having your things be easy to find. Plus, they are reusable, while being dishwasher and refrigerator safe. I have not tested these labels in either of those places, so I cannot personally attest to their ability to withstand those circumstances, however, they have very high reviews, so I assume most people are truly pleased with these labels.

I'm excited to partake in more DIY and organizing with my Kitchen Supreme Chalkboard Labels 
and I give them 10 stars:


If one of your goals is to organize around the house, I highly recommend these labels, and you can purchase them from Amazon HERE. They are currently $14.84 and as always, this price is not promised to last. Kitchen Supreme offers a few different products which you can explore via their website or by following them on Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Microfiber Mop Pads for Spring Cleaning in a Snap


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.

With Spring here, it only makes sense that spring cleaning should be in full swing these days. For me, cleaning has no season because I live with a tornado of a two year old, and a 95lb black lab that sheds worse than anything I've ever seen in my life. On top of that, our backyard turns into a swap during this rainy season. I'm not even remotely joking - we have had ducks come swim in the swamp that becomes our backyard in the Spring and Summer. It's awful. And remember that 95lb black lab I told you about? Yeah, he loves to track that dirt and swamp muck all through the house. In the recent past I was given the opportunity to review a beautiful mop with interchangeable and washable pads, and it has been phenomenal. It's much bigger than the one I used before, which cuts down cleaning time because I cover so much more ground, literally. I was given the opportunity to try the Turkey Creek Essentials 2-pack of Microfiber Mop Pads, and they're perfect!


First of all, these are 18 inch long Microfiber Mop Pads. They are made for commercial sized mops with velcro frames, although you could make it work with most reusable mops you pick up from the store. I have this one here, and they fit perfect. These pads are made for wet or dry use, and because it comes with 2 in a pack, you can have one for each! The microfiber material used for these pads is absorbent enough to clean up after spills, while being gentle enough to dry mop with as well.


These Turkey Creek Essentials Microfiber Mop Pads are suitable for hardwoods, tile, laminate, and really any surface. Due to their size, I save time cleaning because each room needs fewer sweeps through it. I have also found these to be amazing at cleaning walls! I despise cleaning the walls, and the task seems unbearable and redundant with a sponge in hand. I use my multi-surface spray, spray the wall and use the clean Microfiber Mop Pad at the end of the mop to clean the walls right up. It takes seconds, and the walls are flawless. With kids in the house there are always tiny hand prints mid-way up the wall, and the dog also leaves behind a shadow of mud in his most frequented areas. I felt like a mini-genius the day that I decided to use the floor mop to clean the walls - one of my favorite cleaning hacks for sure!



My favorite attribute of these Microfiber Mop Pads, is the fact that they are reusable! After they are dirtied, you can rinse them out, wring them out, wait for them to dry and they are ready for use again. They can also be laundered, but they need to be washed with themselves, without fabric softener, and allowed to air-dry or tumble dry on low, again with no fabric softener. I have a ton of mop heads, so I wash them all together in one happy load of dirty mop pads. These are available in different sized packs too so you can purchase a 2-pack, 6-pack, 12-pack or 24-pack.

I love my Turkey Creek Essential Microfiber Mop Pads and recommend them with 10 stars:


If you are looking to meet your dry or wet mopping needs while saving time, you can purchase your very own Turkey Creek Essentials products directly from Amazon HERE. The 2-pack is currently priced at $17.67, but there is no telling how long they will remain at that price.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

We're Off to See the.... Review of OZ Naturals Facial Cleanser & Mask



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 have to be an expert skincare reviewer at this point. I just cannot seem to pull myself away from the ever-growing natural and organic skincare that is becoming all the rage. I'm so glad that so many companies are deciding to make products that are formulated with better ingredients, yet work just as well as their fellow not-so-good-ingredient counterparts. The hardest part for me was taking the first step to better (and by better I men non-toxic) skincare. For so long I had been using products with harsh ingredients meant to target my particular problems that I never thought something natural would be able to work as hard as my cheap, over the counter products. I recently tested out 2 products from OZ Naturals including their Ocean Mineral Facial Cleanser and their Amino Herbal Hydration Mask.



The OZ Naturals Ocean Mineral Facial Cleanser is made in the USA, cruelty free, and vegan while also being free of alcohol, parabens and sulfates. This cleanser is formulated with Rose Hip Oil, Vitamin E and Borage Oil, to bring clean, glowing skin to the surface. This makes it versatile enough to be used on any skin type. This gentle formula is safe for sensitive skin, yet tough enough to remove dirt and debris from your pores. The cleanser itself is clear in color, so you can be sure that there are no added colors. Additionally, it smells like clean ocean water. I assume that is from the ocean minerals that are used to create it, but either way, it is refreshing. I love the way this cleanser leaves my skin feeling squeaky clean, does a fabulous job at removing make-up (and I wear full coverage foundation), yet does not strip my skin of it's moisture. It leaves my skin feeling clean and renewed, but not tight and dry. The one and only complaint that I have about this cleanser is the fact that it burns the bejesus out of my eyes. I normally remove my eye makeup with a makeup remover before washing my face, and then just get whatever is left over with my face wash. That is not possible with this because it stings pretty bad if it gets near your eyes. I have resorted to using this as a morning only cleanser, so I don't need to go near my eyes with it (assuming I washed my makeup off the night before). This works great for me, and I've been able to work around that small flaw. I use a dime sized amount with my Konjac sponge, lather up and wash the impurities from my skin, rinse it off and viola! Clean skin is revealed!



The OZ Naturals Amino Herbal Hydration Mask is also made in the USA, cruelty free, and vegan while steering clear of alcohol, parabens and sulfates. This mask uses Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin B5, Vitamin E and Amino Acids, among other ingredients to bring ample amounts of hydration to your skin. This is essential for me this time of year. My skin is so starved of moisture and one of my biggest pet peeves is when areas on my face are dry, mostly because it makes my foundation look splotchy and gross. This mask is unique in that it is actually clear. This isn't like your typical clay or colored mask that dries to a hard "shell". This is almost like a thick lotion that you are putting on your skin for 20 minutes, letting it sink in, and washing off any excess. It's nice to walk around with a mask on without scaring my children for once. Plus, my skin loves this! It soaks up all the goodness and leaves my face feeling so soft and supple. I would even consider using this as an overnight hydration mask to provide an even deeper level of hydration for the peak of Winter when my skin reminds me of sandpaper.




I really enjoy both of these products and recommend them each with 9 stars:



You can currently find the OZ Naturals Ocean Mineral Facial Cleanser on Amazon HERE for $23.49, and the OZ Naturals Amino Herbal Hydration Mask HERE for $21.99. As always, these prices are subject to change at any point in time.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Keeping It Charged Up With My Lifeguard Mini


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.

There is nothing more annoying than getting that warning on your cell phone screen that your battery is slowly, but surely, running low. Mine always conveniently does so when I am out and about, away from a charger, or another phone that I can use. As with most things these days, the wonderful world of inventors has come up with a solution to this very problem: portable chargers! I mean, why didn't I think of that???? I recently was given the opportunity to try the Lifeguard Mini portable charger, and I don't leave the house without it!



If you are clueless as to what a portable charger is, let me explain. A portable charger is a miniature powerbank that stores an electrical charge. When you are not near a power outlet to charge any number of your devices, you can use the stored up power in this little nugget to charge them up by simply connecting them via a USB cord. Most devices these days have a USB connector at the end of their charger, making the  Lifeguard Mini usable across most, if not all, of the electronic devices in your home. What is great about portable chargers is that they are pocket-sized, so they are no hassle to carry around and therefore be there with you when you really need them. Literally, this thing fits in my hand. It's a lot heavier than it looks, but nonetheless, still portable. 


The  Lifeguard Mini is designed with an tough aluminum outer shell, to keep it rugged. I mean, let's face it, when you carry something so small around, you are bound to drop it at some point in time. It's simply inevitable. Inside of that is a Samsung battery 3000mAh Grade A cell, which can hold enough of a charge to power up your cell phone completely, and maybe then some! The model that I received also came with a lightening cable compatible with some Apple products, which I like because I have an Apple iPhone 5s. The lightening cable is super short - 5.9 inches to be exact - which works great when I am just charging it up in my purse. The  Lifeguard Mini comes in a variety of colors, including Black, Navy Blue, Pink and Silver.


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I have not run into any problems using the  Lifeguard Mini and I give it 10 stars:



If you find yourself constantly running a low battery in your electronic devices, the Lifeguard Mini would make a useful tool in your life. You can purchase it through Amazon HERE for $21.97. There is no guarantee that this price will last, so grab it at a discount while you can! This product is backed with an 18 month guarantee, so you have nothing to lose!
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