June 21, 2013

Review & Giveaway: Thirty-One Gifts

I am so happy to let you guys in on a fantastic review and giveaway from a pal of mine. She has been with me since the beginning and has always supported me and my page. So in my helping her out I bought a Timeless Beauty Bag from her and Thirty-One. I love it as its a super cute design, totally functional, and a great way to store my extra make-up and jewelry.

The bag has three different compartments and one area for your make-up brushes, or anything else you'd like to stick there. I have amassed a small number of lip glosses and found they fit perfectly in the top pocket. Honestly I didn't know I had so many lip glosses till I pulled them all out of the bag. I have 19 total lip glosses, some eyeliner pencils, mascara, eyeshadow, lipstick, and concealer pens. Total items I fit in that top pocket...30 items! Of course you would probably put way less, but for me I hand it in my closet so I can see what I have and use what I need.

Second I'll show you the bottom pocket, which happens to be the same size as the top pocket. It too has more than enough room to put your goodies in. I have some of my extra eyeshadows and palettes in this one. Total I was able to stick about 24 different products in here and there was still room for more. The zipper held it closed and there wasn't any pulling at all.

Last but not least was the middle portion which holds your jewelry (or anything else) and your brushes. I don't normally keep my brushes on here as they have their own little carriers already. Here you can see that from little to big, the bag is able to accommodate them all. I even was able to put more than one on there and for the most part the hoops go back to their starting point after you take the brushes out. They weren't loose at all and held all the brushes tightly. There is also a little cover that goes over the top to keep everything nice and clean.

Thirty-One is having an awesome deal - spend $35 and get a large tote for only $10!! The tote is regularly $35 bucks so you could get a whole set of stuff for only $45! I mean seriously some of you ladies pay way more for just a wallet...you know who you are. You can pay by paypal or credit card. These would definitely make some great gifts for birthdays or even Christmas! Get your Christmas shopping started early, they'll love them. Most of the products can be personalized so it would make it really special. Also if you think you would like to sell Thirty-One products you can talk to Angela H and she will definitely help you out. All orders get shipped directly to you, and I can personally say it comes really fast!


Like I said before Angela H has been a great fan of mine so I've teamed up with her to bring you a great giveaway. You could win a cute zipper pouch from Thirty-one worth $15.00. I can definitely say that it's totally worth it because they are so well made. You can stuff them to the brim and it won't tear or break. They come in some really cute designs that will definitely fit your style. Shipping will be paid by Angela H, yay for free shipping...sort of. To win enter through the rafflecopter below!

June 16, 2013

Book Review: Hidden Under Her Heart

Hidden Under Her Heart
By Rachelle Ayala

Meet The Author:

How did you first decide that you would become an author?
I always enjoyed writing short stories or satires, but never took it seriously until Michal jumped off the pages of Scripture and into my imagination. Here was a woman who was much maligned and misunderstood, because she was too independent and dared to defy authority in a time when women were viewed as property. Michal loved David before he became King. She defied her father to save his life, but was repaid with his marrying other wives and concubines. Her most famous act was to scold David for dancing lewdly in front of the Ark of the Covenant, which at this point, she is never heard from again. To me, there is an unfinished story begging to be told and while studying Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary, I found a comment on 2nd Samuel 3:5 that led me to believe that David actually loved Michal and there was a tragic reason why she never had a son who became king. Obviously I mixed fantasy with fact, motivated by the need to tell Michal's story in a way that is affirming to this great woman who saved not only David, but the line to Jesus Christ, yet was unappreciated and scorned by most preachers.

Is there any special way you come up with the ideas for your books?
Ideas take life on their own. I honestly don't know where they start, but once I start, I play out scenarios in my mind as if I were watching a movie. My most creative times are when I'm jogging. So I should do that more often. I start with a general conflict and set of characters, and from there, the story comes together as I write and daydream. For example, while working on Knowing Vera, I introduced a minor character named Krista. I thought about her background, what she wants, dreams about and why? Something comes to mind about protecting dugongs. What's a dugong? Why is this knocking on my brain? I google it and discover they are severely endangered and subject to poaching. Now I have a potential storyline. I add in a murder, then the who, why, when, where? and of course we must have LOVE. So let's take the twin brothers in my current Work in Progress and see how they can mix things up.

Why do your books all seem to have very different themes? They almost seem written by different people.
That is strange, isn't it? My voice changes with each book. I'm not very good at replicating anything, even myself. I like the freedom of living in the world of the current set of characters, absorbing everything from them, and immersing in their reality. But after I finish one book, there's a period of divorcing myself from one set of characters and moving in with the next. It is actually quite an emotional process for me and makes me sad and excited, like falling out of love with one person and back in love with someone else. 

Tell us about your upcoming work?
Knowing Vera is the next book in my contemporary "Chance For Love" series. If you've read Broken Build and Hidden Under Her Heart, then you already know Vera, to some extent, but not really. Vera has a flirtacious but tough public face and hides her emotions under a don't care attitude. But in Knowing Vera, she is forced to take off that veneer and face her fears as well as the secret she hid, that her father jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge because he was suspected of murdering a wealthy woman, one who happens to be her current bed buddy's late mother. Vera is unable to give him the usual brushoff because he suffered a crippling injury where he lost his leg. The story deals with admitting feelings to yourself and discovering that love is not real unless someone truly knows the real you, not just the illusion you portray.

Have your children read your books, if so what do they think about them?
My daughter (who's over 18) has read my books. She actually beta reads for me and gives me suggestions and feedback. She probably thinks her crazy mother has all sorts of strange ideas to write about and is amused.

Who are some of the authors you enjoy reading?
Melissa Foster, for her dramatic situations and characters that pull you in. Melisa Hamling, for the intensely sweet way her characters fall in love, Tracy Sumner, for her historical women who are ahead of their times and strong, unyielding men that can't resist them, and Mary Forbes for that intense addictive love story you can't get enough of. 

Thanks for answering my questions, anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for having me, Sally. I enjoy writing and the fact that I never know what adventures are in store for me next. But most of all, I enjoy the reactions I get from readers. I'm fulfilled when I have made a positive difference in someone's life.

My Review:
This is the third book I've read and reviewed from Rachelle Ayala and she never ceases to surprise me. There were so many things going on in this book, but not too much that I got lost. It does touch on some controversial issues two being racial issues and abortion.

So in this story we meet MaryAnne Torres and Lucas Knight, both seem like strong characters in the beginning. Sadly, we find out really soon that looks definitely are deceiving and they are both pretty damaged people. Now for me I found it kind of annoying with their back and forth indecisiveness. I grew up in a single parent household so I learned really quick that I'd have to be strong. So sometimes when reading stories where the woman is the "come and save me" type, well it turns me off. I kept asking myself, "Why won't she just say what she wants?" Then I started saying, "Why won't he just make up his mind?!" It got a little tiresome at times, but not to the point where I wanted to stop reading. It was really an emotional rollercoaster and kind of had me thinking, "How much more could one person take?" When the topic of abortion came up it was aimed more towards a prolife angle. I'm pro choice but I never felt like it was being forced upon me. Rachelle touched a bit on the religious reasons and that the child should have a chance at life. She also showed the other side of that with MaryAnne first choosing abortion as the better choice for her at the time. Now she ends up changing her mind, but not because she found god, but because she felt that adoption was a better choice. I think Rachelle really did it tastefully and I think it made me think about abortion and the other options out there. I'm still prochoice though, but I can say I am a little more open to seeing other views.

At the end I think it all turned out well and even though this is a romance story, there wasn't much love-making. So it wasn't racy at all and a really great read. Rachelle Ayala's books always have a religious theme to them, but they never feel like she is trying to hard. I'm not a religious person so this makes it a easy read for me.

Links: Amazon.com
Website: http://rachelleayala.me/
Twitter: @AyalaRachelle

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.

Food Recipe: Pico de Gallo

So I'm not really a huge fan of salsa, I'll admit it. I think its a textural thing with it being not really smooth or chunky. I'm big on texture and anything that doesn't seem just right throws me off. Yes this means I end up turning away from a lot of foods, but I can't help it. Salsa is just one of those things that just doesn't rub me the right way, but I love the flavors. A great alternative to regular soupy weird salsa is "Pico de Gallo", which oddly enough means rooster's beak. I'm guessing it comes from the fact that the jalapeno or serrano peppers can sometimes "poke" you with its spiciness. I love making pico de gallo for every occassion as you don't really need a reason to make it. Also because you're just using veggies its actually a great snack, so skip the queso dip! The best thing is that its really easy to make - get ingredients, chop them up, throw them in a bowl, add some lime juice, a touch of salt and all done. Seriously can't get any simpler than that and its great with some chips or put them on some pork, chicken, and even beef.

1-2 tomatoes, chopped or diced (I like smaller pieces)
1 Small onion, chopped or diced (Again your preference small or big)
1/2 Cup fresh cilantro, chopped (optional - I personally don't use this in mine)
1-2 jalapeno or serrano peppers (seeded for less heat or leave the seeds in)
1 Clove garlic, minced (optional - I personally don't use this in mine)
3-4 limes (for a juicier lime look for one without a lot of "skin")
Salt and pepper to taste.

Combine all the ingredients and let it sit for awhile, at least an hour. That way all the flavors will be able to mix well together and it'll taste fantastic. So there ya go really simple and easy snack right? Do you guys like pico de gallo or salsa? Have any fun ways you like to eat it? I'd love to hear from ya'll.

June 10, 2013

Sponsored: What's Essential Rescue Pet Photo Contest

Budha - 11yrs old
When I was approached to do another sponsored post by Nordic Naturals I jumped at the opportunity. I have worked with them on two separate occasions and both were great experiences. They are a great company who sell products aimed at your health, your children's health, and even your pet's health! Who knew that omega-3s were also really great for your furry babies as well. 

So what exactly can omega-3s do for your pets and why is it important? Here are some questions answered by Jodi Ziskin - Holistic Nutrition and Wellness Specialist for Pets. 

Questions and Answers:
Q: Why is omega-3 fish oil important for joints?
A: Omega-3 essential fatty acids are considered essential nutrients for us and our pets because they can't be produced by our body naturally. That's why we need to supplement them through our diets or supplement pills. The omega-3 EPA is a companent of all cell membranes while DHA works to develop and maintain neural structures. Together these omega-3s help support optimal pet health and diet.

Q: What is the best way to add omega-3s to my pet's diet?
Beast when we first got him - pink is for real "men".
A: The answer is simple the same way it is for us - fish oil. Omega-3s are found abundantly in cold-water fish like sardines, anchovies, and cod. Fish oil from wild caught fish is optimal for safe and effective use. They should be independently tested and proven to meet the standards for heave metals, PCBs and dioxins. Also please only use fish oils specially formulated for pets as many marketed towards humans contain flavorings and preservatives that may not be suitable for animals.
Q:Can exercise really help keep joints healthy?
A: As important as exercise is for humans its just as important for our pets. The simple act of walking a dog (or a cat) helps to lubricate the joincts preserving flexibility, maintaining muscle mass, and keeps the blood circulating. For cats, its helpful to provide things to climb on, like kitty trees and towers. 
Exercise also alerts us to potential joint problems. Signs that a cat or dog might be suffering from joint inflmation can include stiffness, difficulty walking on stairs, jumping on their favorite spots, change in speed, and limping. If you notice any differences in your pets consult your vet for proper diagnosis and treatment options.
Omega-3s EPA and DHA help support:
  • Joint Health
  • Heart Health
  • Celluar Health
  • Skin and Coat Health
  • Immune System Health
  • Brain development and maintenance
  • Eye development and maintenance

Nordic Naturals Products for Pets
For centuries, canine and feline diets consisted of unprocessed foods rich in EPA and DHA, omega-3 fatty acids derived from algae, plants, and fish. However, most of today’s pet foods contain primarily omega-6 fatty acids from vegetable oils. Even the highest quality pet diets rarely contain adequate amounts of EPA and DHA. This results in an unbalanced ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 that can negatively impact the health of our pets.

Nordic Naturals offers two omega-3 fish oil formulas that are specifically designed to maximize the health benefits for pet companions. Purchase some Omega-3 products for your pets HERE.

What's Essential Rescue Pet Photo Contest

Bear - 2yrs old and little brother to Beast
So let's get down to why I'm posting about Nordic Naturals "What's Essential Rescue Pet" Photo Contest. With having many furry babies of my own I think its a great way to give back to a great organization: Paws For Veterans. With every vote Nordic Naturals will donate $1 to Paws For Veterans (Up to $5000)! So not only can you and your rescue pup win, so do many others who are in the Paws For Veterans organization. Isn't that fantastic!? I think all pets should be able to have a life with a loving caring family who will care for them. I also think that having a pet definitely helps you lead a happier life. If you're already a pet owner, congratulations you've been blessed. If you aren't then look at your local rescue organization or animal shelter because they have tons of dogs and cats who deserve a great family.

Now while none of my pets were rescue pets I did get my pup Budha from one of my brother's friends. He was the runt of the litter and really small. He was also a very sick pup, they didn't even take him to get any shots done because they figured he would just die. I took him to the vet and they said he was a bit sick, but with meds and some love he would be just fine. That was 11yrs ago and now he is my 70lb big boy who, for the most part, listens well and does what he is told. Beast was my second pup and was actually bought from my cousin. He was the only pup left because sadly his mom accidentally killed his 3 siblings. After 6 short months he was gone, we never knew what happened and the vet couldn't give us any closure. When my cousin told me her Chihuahua's had had another litter I told her I wanted another one. I know it wouldn't be like my Beast, but knowing they were related would help. So along came Bear, my 2yr old furry terror. He totally resembles his name as his bite is as mighty as his bark, with him being the alpha dog. Yup that little 13lb terror pushes around his 70lb big brother. I couldn't imagine my life without my dogs and I know when that time does come, I'll be burying apart of myself with them. They are like children and give you unconditional love - with no talking back! So do you want to win - want to know how to enter?

How To Enter:
  • Super easy just head over to Nordic Naturals Facebook page and upload a picture of your rescue pup! You can upload a photo from 6/28 until 7/18.
  • Don't have a rescue dog, well you you still win by voting.  Voting runs from 7/19 until 7/31 with the winners being announced on 8/1.

2 Grand Prize Winners will win .

  • A 3-month supply of Nordic Naturals Omega-3 pet products and human products – you choose from a list of qualifying Nordic Naturals’ products
  • Dog and cat goodies including collapsible water bowl, chew toy, doggie bags and a plush fish toy
  • The Dog Bible: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and The Cat Bible: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know books by Tracie Hotchner
  • A custom canvas painting of your pet by beccavision.com
  • Mr. or Ms. Omega-3 Pet Award Certificate
  • Profile featured on the Facebook app

About Paws for Veterans
Paws for Veterans, Inc. is a community-based organization that provides service dogs, training, supplies, and therapeutic group sessions to Veteran and Active Duty men and women struggling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and Physical Disabilities. As a 501 C 3 non profit, this organization rescues, rehabilitates, trains, and rehomes dogs as service dogs for injured Veterans.

About Nordic Naturals
Based in Watsonville, CA, Nordic Naturals is committed to delivering the world’s safest, most effective omega oils to help provide the essentials of an extraordinary life. Distributing to more than 35 countries, Nordic Naturals offers more than 150 products in a variety of flavors and formulations, all in line with leading standards for safety, efficacy and sustainability. By providing omega oil supplements for adults, kids, athletes and pets, Nordic Naturals helps everyone do more of what they love. Further information is available at www.nordicnaturals.com. Nordic Naturals is on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nordicnaturalsand people can follow the company on Twitter at @NordicNaturals.

Disclaimer: While this post is sponsored I definitely love the ideas and products by Nordic Naturals. All opinions are my own and I stand behind them.

June 8, 2013

Household Review: Pennington Seed Fertilzer

My sad little garden second time around - no green yet!

So I was super excited that I'd be able to try out Pennington's Smart Feed Sprayer System. I was just getting a garden started so it was perfect timing. Sadly we had some major rains which ended up killing my plants before they ever had a chance to really grow. I had to start all over again and it has been a little slow going. Thankfully I still had some of the fertilizer left to start over again. I planted lettuce, greens, tomato, jalapeno, and will add more as I get the chance. Thankfully we have long summers here in Texas so I have a little time to continue adding some veggies. 

First off it was super easy to use and set-up the sprayer. You twist it open, using very easy to see arrows, you then add the blue circles of fertilizer - either one or two and then twist it shut. Then you attach it to your hose, turn the water on and spray whatever you want to spray. I have to say though it can be a bit heavy especially if you have major arthritis. It is a bit bulky, but I managed it just fine. I have to say I was a bit surprised at how fast the water came out. There was a lot of pressure which was awesome. At first I was a bit annoyed with having to press the trigger, but I ended up finding it to be a real convenience. I was able to spray, readjust my hose and then spray again. 

As you can see to the left you just drop in the blue disks and twist the top closed. Make sure you close it correctly and that the black arrow is matched up to the arrow on the green lip. Believe me you want to really make sure because if not prepare to get sprayed. I made the mistake of not twisting it completely and like I mentioned above the pressure is pretty darn good. While I didn't necessarily like getting sprayed with fertilizer it was refreshing on a hot summer day. Not recommended though - seriously!

The attached head is great with its different spray functions. In total there are 5 different sprays along with drain. I happen to like the shower function for spraying directly onto my garden and jet for the rest of my yard. Flat also works really well to get the most area of yard. It's easy to change to different functions when it's needed.

Now I did notice that with the two tablets in my sprayer they dissolved really quickly so the water was really concentrated. I did read that you could over fertilize your plants so I'm hoping that didn't happen. With the second application from the separate container of discs sent they dissolved much slower so not sure why it was like that. I know a lot of complaints are that they dissolve too quickly making the water too concentrated. I think if the price were 2 bucks cheaper then they could leave those out because they seem to be a real issue. I'd rather have the sprayer and then the separate discs as a package for maybe about $20 which would still give you a savings of about $3-$4 dollars and Pennington would still be able to sell a good product. I do think its a great system even with the small issues. I'll definitely be using it again because it did make a difference in my yard...even though it's mostly weeds I am seeing more green. I definitely need to overhaul my yard, but being able to be outside and see more than just dirt is awesome! Yea, yea don't remind me that they're just weeds, but check out the pictures below. You only need to use the fertilizer discs every 7-10 days so the 4 discs could last you either a month or half a month.

Overall it was simple to use, while the tablets already in the sprayer were "so-so" the actual system is great. I would recommend getting the separate discs as those seem to dissolve a whole lot slower. You can purchase Pennington Smart Feed Sprayer System at Home Depot. So far that seems to be the only place you can buy them at so hoping they'll branch out to other home stores. They're priced at $12.98 down here in South Texas so the price will vary in your region. The discs are also available at Home Depot and go for about $9.98 for 4 tablets.


Poor Budha was hurt when I took this picture, he is feeling great now.


Look at all the green, yea they're weeds and such but better than nothing.

Disclaimer: I received this product from Penningtion and BzzAgent for the sole purpose of reviewing it. No further compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

June 6, 2013

Book Review: Crime and Passion

Crime and Passion 
Chantel Rhondeau

This book is a mystery romance book leaning more towards mystery throughout the book. You start off the book with the main character, Madeline Scott, finding a dead body on the beach. Well Chantel Rhondeau wasted no time and it was non-stop for the rest of the book. It literally took me less than a day to read this book because I couldn't put it down. Now while it was a great read it wasn't all peachy.

There were times where I was extremely frustrated with the back and forth relationship between the two main characters, Madeline Scott and Officer Donovan Andrews. I wanted to scream with his crude bad boy image and her weakness to it. I know C Rhondeau was trying to make Madeline seem like a strong woman, but it was really evident that she wasn't. It wasn't endearing though, for me and my opinion it was pretty darn annoying. If she were a friend of mine it would get old pretty quickly. I'd be rolling my eyes at her, "Do you think he really likes me? A like-like and not like the women that he bedded within a day? I can change him, right?" No, you can't change him! As strong as she was for overcoming her own past issues it was totally over shadowed by her low self esteem. I wanted her to either own her decision in her relationship with Donovan, or lack thereof, or she needed to completely walk away.

Now for Donovan...oh he is definitely a man that I would totally hate. He is like a male peacock strutting around trying to impress the females. Sure he opens up and you find out he has had some bad times in his life. Okay not just bad, but pretty darn horrible yet it still doesn't convince me that he is a good man. Now he may be a good person, but to me he would make a horrible boyfriend. All throughout the book the things he did and said were totally unacceptable. When he automatically moved his clothes into Madeline's house my first thoughts were...how is that okay? How is she not saying anything about that!?

As frustrated as I was with the romance portion of the book there was never a moment where I wanted to stop reading. Sure the flip flopping between the two was a little annoying. Sure their sweet endearments were a bit over the top. But Chantel Rhondeau kept the story moving forward which didn't give me the chance to truly "get over the book".  Once I got annoyed with the relationship, boom something else happened which carried you into a different direction. There weren't too many racy moments in the book, but a lot of lovey dovey "snippets".  I wouldn't recommend you letting your 10yr old read this, but if an older teen got their hands on it I wouldn't be too worried. The mystery definitely gives you a chance to take a breather from Madeline's and Donovan's up and down relationship. I did kind of know what was going on, but didn't have the whole picture. So by the end of the book I was thoroughly surprised at who the murderer was and why they did it. I think if you really like crime or romance books then this is definitely a book you should pick up.

You can check out more from Chantel Rhondeau HERE at her website.
Also if you'd like to purchase Crime and Passion you can do it HERE.

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.

June 4, 2013

Health Review: Centrum Multi-Vitamin Chews

I was sent some samples to try out by Centrum and Smiley360. I'm always looking for some great vitamins to try out so was looking forward to getting them. I got the samples and opened them up to see two round balls that reminded me of gumballs. You know the kind you bought as a kid for .25 cents. I popped one in my mouth and was pretty surprised at the flavor. First of all they're really sweet, sweeter than I imagined. They were pretty flavorful and the sweet tartness really got to me. The flavor was good, and the texture reminded me of a chewy gummy.

It was hard to even think that this was a vitamin. It really reminded me of candy. There was no gross smell, no weird taste, and no after taste either. You know how some vitamins make you burp up that gross after taste? Not so with these!

Overall this was a great alternative to taking regular vitamins. Although I do think it could be a little less sweet, it was alright. I'll definitely look for these at my store and hopefully they have cherry flavor because that would be awesome!

Want a free sample and a $2.00 coupon for Centrum Multi-Vitamin Chews? Then click HERE.

Disclaimer: I received a sample of this product for the sole purpose of trying it out. No review was required and all opinions are my own. No further compensation was given nor received. I received this sample via Smiley360.