Sunday, September 11, 2016

A Game Changer in Oral Health - #SmartFloss

Disclosure: I received this item at a discount in order to facilitate an honest review. The experiences and opinions expressed below are entirely my own.

Dental health is a pretty important thing for me. I have been fortunate to go through most of my life with very little upset in regards to the health of my gums and teeth. I do suffer from recessed gums in a few areas, likely from my vigorous brushing, but that is about it. I have recently heard of water flossing and thought what a different idea it was. I was very interested in trying it, as I dislike flossing, and oftentimes feel as though it isn't the most efficient. I was stunned, nonetheless, when I heard the recent finding that flossing is not all that it's cracked up to be. I recently tested out the Smarson Water Flosser, and here I am to share my thoughts.

Water Flossing is the use of water to floss your teeth. The water flosser unit itself is filled with lukewarm water, and when turned on begins to rapidly pulse water through a narrow tip that can be placed between your teeth in an effort to remove any debris and plaque from in and around the teeth and gums. It is said that they can remove up to 99.9% of plaque from the areas it is used on, that they are twice as effective as floss alone at improving gum health. These are even better for those with braces, as they can really get in between the teeth and braces themselves. What's even more impressive is that water flossers seem to have much evidence-based support in their favor. I thought they were a relatively new phenomenon, however, the first one was developed in 1962, so they have had several decades worth of tweaking.

The Smarson Water Flosser itself is a nice size for keeping right on the countertop, as needing to take it out and put it away would be nothing short of annoying. This particular model holds the perfect amount of water in my opinion too. I am not sure how I would feel about leaving a ton of water in the "tank" over days and days. This particular model came with a multitude of heads for the flosser that can be stored right on the top (love the space saving aspect!). It comes with 3 jet tips, 2 tongue cleaner tips, a tooth pocket tip, an orthodontic tip and another one that is not listed, so I am not sure of it's purpose. This particular model does not run on batteries, so it must be plugged in. Once you turn the switch to "On", water will start pulsating from the currently attached head. On the handle of the pic, there is a control for the intensity of the water pulsing, and a "pause" button to stop the flow of the water if needed. This process can be quite messy, so it is essential to lean over the sink the entire time that the flosser is on. To reduce the spray I keep my mouth closed as I go around the inside of my teeth and spit out the water when I am done. My only complaint thus far, is the fact that the "pause" button only worked the first time I was using it, and now it will not work anymore. Therefore, I tend to get a mess when I take it out unless I turn the whole unit off. However, the kids are obsessed with it, and anything that gets them excited about the health of their teeth and gums wins in my book!

Overall, I give the Smarson Water Flosser 7 stars:

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If you are interested in purchasing one for yourself, you can do so HERE.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Dinosaurs Are So Much Fun!

Disclosure: I received this item at a discount in exchange for an honest review through Tomoson. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.

While we were on vacation earlier this Summer, I stumbled upon the fact that my little 4 year old daughter LOVES dinosaurs. I had no idea! All of my cousin's old dinosaur toys from when he was a kid are currently residing in our family cabin, and while there early in July, she discovered them, and spent hours upon hours playing with them. Now, she is a very strong-willed an uneasy to amuse child, so these were a God-send for us, and I knew that she would need her own set for home. We currently own these Kids Imaginitive Dinosaur Toy Figures and she absolutely adores them!

This set comes complete with 12 dinosaur figures (T-Rex, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Apatosaurus, Ceratosaurus, Spinosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus, Parasaurolophus, Brachiosaurus, Styracosaurus, Velociraptor, and Euoplocephalus) that range in size from 5-7 inches. These are the perfect size for toddlers, preschoolers, and all kids really, as they do not take up massive amounts of room. In fact, they come in a box that can second as a storage container for them! I am semi-OCD about "where things go" so this is one of my favorite features about them. Upon getting them I read the instructions which suggested they be washed with soapy water before using them and did that straight away, as my daughter was itching to use them. That being said, they are BPA and Lead-free which is a plus, plus for me!

We have been really loving this set of dinosaurs. There tends to be so much focus and attention on structure and order that we often forget the importance of imaginative and creative play for young kids. I enjoy listening to my daughter play with the dinosaurs and listen to the dialogue she creates between them. She remains very occupied when she is playing with them, and this is no easy feat. As I mentioned earlier, she is very particular and strong-willed so finding something that occupies her attention for any length of time, aside from an electronic device is priceless in my eyes.

I give the Kids Imaginative dinosaurs 10 stars:

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This specific set can be purchased on Amazon for their current price of $17.71 HERE.

{Book Review} (Un)Natural Mom: Why You Are The Perfect Mom For Your Kids by Hettie Brittz

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group in exchange for an honest reviews. The opinions stated below are entirely my own.

I am highly interested in human behavior. It is one of the many reasons I completed a Bachelor's degree in Psychology, and also the reason I pretty much devoured Hettie Brittz's book: (Un)Natural Mom: Why You Are The Perfect Mom For Your Kids. Unbeknownst to me upon receiving the book, is the fact that there is a companion website where you can take a simple quiz to figure out which type of parent you are. The book then explains the different types of parents, their strengths, their weaknesses, and what a typical day may look like in the life of that family. Having a background in Psychology and a real interest in human behavior made this read enjoyable for me. As a mother, this opened my eyes to how my particular personality plays a role in the way I parent, while pointing out which strengths I could try to sharpen, and the areas that I could work on to be the Supermom we all strive to be for our children.

Throughout this book Hettie Brittz describes the different "trees" of parenting styles. There is the Boxwood, the Palm, the Rose Bush and the Pine Tree. Also, you can be a combination of two trees. For example, my profile is the Box-Pine, meaning I have attributes of each of these parenting styles that characterize my parenting profile. When I initially took the profile I thought that my result was Box-Palm. As I was reading, I got to the description of the Box-Pine and I kept thinking, this is me! this is me! I took a look back at my profile and saw that yes, it was in fact me. It was eye opening to see how spot-on it truly was! Hettie Brittz also mentions the role that God plays in each parenting style, and makes some truly great biblical connections throughout.

I truly love the way this book is set-up, as each section dedicates ample description and detail to each "tree type". At the end of each section there are questions to guide your thoughts and reading as well. I believe that these help you to deepen your understanding of the kind of parent you are or the kind of parent other people are. Above all else, what I take away from this book is that we do not all parent our children the same way, and instead of being judgmental, we should embrace the differences and recognize that each parenting style brings a unique set of skills and enhancement to their family that the others do not. There seems to be this unspoken competition between parents about who is right or wrong in the choices they make for their family, and this book opened my eyes to the beauty in the difference within and between parenting styles. I am grateful for having the opportunity to read this book.

I highly recommend (Un)Natural Mom: Why You Are The Perfect Mom For Your Kids by Hettie Brittz with 8 stars:

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You can purchase a copy HERE. Also, be sure to read what others are saying about this book HERE.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

{Book Review} When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of When Death Draws Near from Litfuse Publicity Group and Carrie Stuart Parks for the purpose of providing an honest review. The opinions stated within are entirely my own.

I have been chugging through books so far this Summer, and loving every minute of it! I'm not sure what it is about Summer that allows me more time to read than in the Winter when we are stuck inside the majority of the time, however, I have been devouring books at a previously unattainable speed. I recently read Carrie Stuart Parks' latest novel, When Death Draws Near, and it was downright phenomenal! I need more of her books in my life IMMEDIATELY! If you are looking to read a thrilling story with tid its of corruption, crime and religious sects, this is the perfect place to start! Plus, until August 22, you can enter to win an Artist Starter set! Details below:

Plunge into forensic artist Gwen Marcey's world, full of cold-case murders, shady politics, and a den of venomous suspects. Add Carrie Stuart Parks' new Gwen Marcey novel, When Death Draws Near, to the top of your must-read list. Gwen accepts temporary work in Pikeville, Kentucky—a small town facing big-city crime. But before she can finish her first drawing of the serial rapist who is on the loose, the latest witness vanishes. Just like all the others. Can Gwen uncover the truth—and convince anyone to believe her—before she becomes a victim herself?

Join Carrie in celebrating the release of When Death Draws Near by entering to win an Undercover Artist Starter Set.

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One grand prize winner will receive:

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Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on August 22. The winner will be announced August 23 on the Litfuse blog.

when death draws near - enterbanner

I finished this book in about 3 days. I could not put it down very often, as each chapter seemed to end with a cliff hanger that had you reading the first paragraph of the next chapter without thought. Laundry was put on hold, cleaning as well! These are my favorite kind of reads, however, they pose the problem of a book hangover. You know, when you can't start another book because you still aren't over the book you just finished. I am so there right now. Stuck in reading limbo, afraid to move forward due to the fear of the next book just not being as good. I highly recommend this book to any and all readers! The story flows flawlessly, and keeps your attention from the get-go. There was no "getting into" the book, as it hooks you from the start. The prologue was a little strange for me, and I am still scratching my head about the connection, so if you cannot get past that, just disregard it and read on! When Death Draws Near is third in a series, however, it can be absolutely be read alone (as I did), although I would be thrilled to read the other two.

I highly recommend When Death Draws Near with a whopping 10 stars:

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If you cannot take my word for it, read more reviews HERE.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

{Book Review} - Murder Mezzo Forte by Donn Taylor

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group, in order to facilitate an honest review. The opinions stated below are entirely my own.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I am very fond of the Mystery genre when it comes to book reading. I love the fast-paced, heart-thumping effect I get from reading a good mystery. Now that it is Summer, I find myself seeking out good "beach reads", although I do not have any plans to go to the beach. We have had a bit of a heat wave here lately, and that has lead to much time indoors, which for me equals cleaning, or reading (I prefer the latter of the two). My latest read was a captivating mystery called Murder Mezzo Forte by Donn Taylor.

I found that this book started a little slow for me, but I am so glad that I pressed through it, as it turned out to be a truly great read! I found myself making time throughout my day to sneak in reading breaks. This book is the second "Preston Barclay Mystery", the first being Rhapsody in Red, however, it can be read as a standalone. It does reference the other book, so if you prefer, you can read that one first. This book opens to a murder on a University campus, where Professor Preston Barclay and Professor Mara Thorn (a former Wiccan) walk into the office of Mitra Fortier and find her dead. Having been the two that solved the last campus murder, this puts them in a bit of a situation. While trying to remain inconspicuous, but also wondering what happened to their fellow professor, Preston and Mara resurrect their mystery solving skills and dig to the bottom of this mystery. However, the path they have chosen proves to be littered with mobsters, obstacles, and close encounters with death. All the while, Preston Barclay has musical hallucinations that chime in at the most inopportune time.

I would definitely recommend Murder Mezzo Forte by Donn Taylor and already have to some family and friends! I found Preston Barclay, the main character to be a comical and highly like-able character. The flow of the book was very smooth as well, and certainly contributed to my holding on in the beginning when I was questioning whether I would enjoy the book or not. If there was anything that I could change, it would be that I could have a companion for book that had sample music for each of the musical hallucinations, as I was not familiar with all of the referenced musical pieces. That being said, it also took nothing away from the book for me to be unfamiliar with some of the pieces, and had I been more inclined to do so, I could have easily looked them up on my phone. I am tempted now to read Rhapsody in Red and look forward to more Preston Barclay Mysteries!

I give Murder Mezzo Forte 8 stars:

You can read some more reviews of Murder Mezzo Forte HERE.

Monday, May 16, 2016

{Book Review} Sister Dear by Laura McNeill

Disclosure: I received an advanced reader's copy of Sister Dear from Litfuse Publicity Group and Thomas Nelson for the purpose of providing an honest review. The opinions stated here are entirely my own.

If you cannot already tell by now, I am a lover of mysteries. I am not sure if it is the plot twists or the constant suspense, but I cannot get enough! My latest mystery, Sister Dear by Laura McNeill is a true example of just that. It is an enticing tale of family, deception and secrets that will rope you in from the get-go.

Allie, the main character has just been released from prison for a crime she did not commit. When she was imprisoned, she left behind her young daughter. Emma, her kid sister, took on the responsibility of raising her daughter for her while she was gone. Once released, Allie needs to navigate this world that has seemingly become foreign to her, while also trying to piece together the mystery of who really committed the crime that she did the time for. Caroline, her now teen-aged daughter wants nothing to do with her, and let's face it, there is nothing less cool than having an assumed convict for a mother. As Allie struggles to make the most of her life and the stigma she has attached to her, she also faces some serious challenges as she tries to prove her innocence. The suspicions and suspense build throughout this novel to the very last page.

In all honesty, I really like this book. It is one of those books that would be a great vacation read, or something you can bring with you as you travel. I personally felt that there was a great amount of time devoted to character development and the little details, which also leaves room for suspense. Some readers have said that it was "slow", and I would have to agree. To me, that is not a deal-breaker, as I simply just love the act of reading. I did find the book engaging enough, and there are little "secrets" that slowly seep out as the story is told. I also really liked that the story was told in different perspectives (Allie's, Emma's, Caroline's, Sergeant Gaines') to give the reader a bird's eye view, so to speak, of the situation.

Overall, I give this book 8 stars:

Be sure to check out some of the other reviews HERE.

Friday, May 6, 2016

{Book Review} The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Litfuse Publicity Group. The opinions stated within are entirely my own.

I have always had a love for all thing mystery and Sherlock Holmes since I was young. I even took a class during my undergraduate studies where we discussed mysteries and read Sherlock Holmes and Agatha Christie books. It was great! I was thrilled when  had the opportunity to review The Bachelors Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan. With all of the crime shows on TV these days it is impossible to not get semi-interested and intrigued by this niche.

The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder is a Fiction-Suspense novel based in Toronto, Canada, circa the early 1900s. There are accurate historical references in this entertaining and funny murder mystery. The two main characters, Merinda Herrngford and Jemima Watts are two bachelor girls whose main interest are solving murders, not changing their bachelor status. In a time period where it was taboo to see a woman doing a "man's job", they were not only fighting off the judgmental perceptions of the people around them, but also their own families, and a group called the "Morality Squad ". Throughout the twists and turns of the initial mystery, you have humorous and informational foot notes, romance and also the artistic design of the book which truly adds to the readability.

I found this book to be quite enjoyable. I love any good mystery, but to add a couple of female detective-wannabes to the mix and it gave me a truly unique read. I really love the design of the book, inside and out, and it added to the entire reading experience. This book is, informally, part of a series, so you can read more from Rachel McMillan that also has Merinda and Jem as the main characters. I found this to be a quick read, and would be something great for a rainy day, a long plane ride, or whenever you are pressed for time but would love to fit a book in.

I highly recommend The Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan with 8 stars:

You can read more reviews HERE.