Author Archives: Carrie

REVIEW: Dial Sugar Cane Husk Scrub Hand Soap

I’m so excited to present to you a new variety in Dial’s Deep Cleansing Soap line: Sugar Cane Husk Scrub!  With a creamy sweet scent inspired by fresh cut sugar cane, this premium formula with gentle micro scrubbers cleanses deeply while moisturizing and smoothing skin.

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You can see a close up of the tiny scrubbers here!  We love to use the Dial Deep Cleansing varieties to get strong smells off our our hands–usually from food preparation.  The soap lathers up very richly, and the scent is just enough–not overpowering, but enough to leave a light trace on your hands after they’ve been washed.

My husband used the Sugar Cane Husk soap after getting his hands all yucky peeling and deveining shrimp.  He washed his hands afterwards with a couple of pumps of this soap, and the fishy smell was gone!

Dial soap is a staple in our household, and we are definitely adding the Sugar Cane Husk Soap to our rotation.

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To find out more about this or other Dial products, visit their website or Facebook page.

REVIEW: Girl Underwater by Claire Kells

Girl Underwater

by Claire Kells

New Adult Coming of Age

Book Description

Nineteen-year-old Avery Delacorte loves the water. Growing up in Brookline, Massachusetts, she took swim lessons at her community pool and captained the local team; in high school, she raced across bays and sprawling North American lakes. Now a sophomore on her university’s nationally ranked team, she struggles under the weight of new expectations but life is otherwise pretty good. Perfect, really.

That all changes when Avery’s red-eye home for Thanksgiving makes a ditch landing in a mountain lake in the Colorado Rockies. She is one of only five survivors, which includes three little boys and Colin Shea, who happens to be her teammate. Colin is also the only person in Avery’s college life who challenged her to swim her own events, to be her own person—something she refused to do. Instead she’s avoided him since the first day of freshman year. But now, faced with sub-zero temperatures, minimal supplies, and the dangers of a forbidding nowhere, Avery and Colin must rely on each other in ways they never could’ve imagined.

In the wilderness, the concept of survival is clear-cut. Simple. In the real world, it’s anything but.

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MY THOUGHTS: 3.75 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Girl Underwater by Claire Kells

This book caught my interest because of the disaster survival aspect of it, but there is so much more than that going on. Avery is a college swimmer going home for her Thanksgiving break, when her plane goes down in the Rockies. She, along with three young boys and a teammate, Colin, are the only survivors. They have to scrape together what they can of the wreckage to keep themselves alive through days of blizzards.

Colin and Avery knew each other before the crash, of course, but going through something so traumatic together has altered their relationship in ways neither of them really understand. Avery, who already has a boyfriend, is too busy dealing with her PTSD and the loss of her swimming career to think about Colin–much. But circumstances keep bringing them back together even months after the rescue, and they will have to face what happened in the mountains and their true feelings for each other.

Like I said, I wanted to read this book because of the idea of such young people not only surviving a plane crash, but everything else that comes their way after. But, within the first couple of chapters of the book, you learn that all five of them have been rescued and lived through their ordeal, so that definitely takes away some of the thrill while you are reading the chapters that take place after the crash.

Avery is a bit hard to pin down as a character; sometimes she is quiet and reserved, while at other times she makes her opinions well known. She is always trying, but really not quite fitting in wherever she is. Unfortunately it took something like a plane crash and months of therapy to help her learn to be herself.

The romance between Colin and Avery felt sort of rushed to me, as the scenes on the mountain were not really great in relaying their emotions. I do appreciate the fact that the three kids were there for Avery and Colin to worry about, which makes the book not just a couple trapped together and falling in love sort of thing.

I thought the author did a great job in portraying PTSD, as signs can show up at so many times and in so many ways. Avery, like others suffering, insists she does not need help, but is forced into it to the betterment of her psyche.

The ending was a little too nicely wrapped up for such a messy (not in a bad way) novel, in my opinion. But overall the story is worth a read, and definitely different from most of the new adult offerings out now.

View all my reviews

About the Author

Claire Kells was born and raised outside Philadelphia. She received a degree in English from Princeton University and a medical degree from the University of California. She lives and works in the Bay Area. This is her first novel. @KathKells | http://clairekells.com

PURCHASE GIRL UNDERWATER, OUT TODAY!

B & N | Amazon

REVIEW: Pura D’Or Argan Oil, Shampoo, and Conditioner


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In the past couple of years, argan oil has exploded in popularity, and with good reason–it has several amazing benefits in various beauty products.  I recently got the opportunity to try out argan oil products for the first time ever, from Pura D’Or.

Here’s a bit more about the company:

For more than four years, Pura d’or has been growing a culture planted on a natural set of values and beliefs. But when all is said and done it comes down to one unified mission—to create organic personal care solutions that naturally work.

All our ingredients are grown on trees, not in test tubes. Our products are artisanally handcrafted by a hybrid team of artists and scientists, not by machines. Some say that this is a step backward, but we believe that this is a step in the direction of how things should be.

Pura d’or creates better beauty products from ingredients that are not only naturally beneficial, but are also sustainably grown and raised with respect for the animals that eat them and the people who produce them.

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The Pure and Organic Argan Oil is great for skin! It’s 100% cold pressed. It helps create smoother skin, restores nutrients to cells and reduces scars.

A couple of drops definitely go a long way.  I was at first nervous to put oil on my face, which already gets pretty oily by the end of the day.  But rather than making my face slick or greasy, the argan oil absorbed right into my skin, making it super soft.  This is not something I would use in the summer, as I have a feeling it might be a bit too much for my face then, but in winter it’s perfect to keep my skin from drying out from too much indoor heat.

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The Premium Organic Argan Oil Based Hair Loss Prevention Shampoo is one of a kind. It contains 12 DHT Blockers, creates thicker hair and prevents from further hair loss.

I definitely noticed much less hair going down the drain after using this shampoo JUST ONCE.  As most shampoos made without chemicals, this one does not lather a ton, so if you’re used to more commercial shampoos, you may think your hair is not getting clean, and finding the right amount to use takes some getting used to. But you will be left with heavenly scented (you’d better like rosemary!), stronger hair immediately.

The Premium Organic Argan Oil Based Conditioner adds texture, shine and volume to hair. Pura D’or shampoos and conditioners are free from SLS, Parabens and Gluten!

I absolutely love the scent of this conditioner…lavender vanilla is one of my favorites and surprisingly hard to find in bath and body products.  Aside from that, the conditioner works well at controlling frizz and flyaways, which is very important to me with the spring and summer months coming up.  You only need about a nickel sized dollop for shoulder length hair, and this conditioner rinses away easily and never leaves hair feeling weighed down.

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Showing the textures: shampoo on the left, conditioner on the right.

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All of Pura D’Or’s products are made with only all natural ingredients with no harsh chemicals. They  are animal cruelty free, USDA biobase certified and doctor trusted.

Pura D’Or’s website shop is offering great deals right now, such as free shipping on most orders, and 20% for first time orders!

DISCLAIMER: This post powered by BrandBacker.  I received free product for review purposes, but no other compensation was given. My thoughts and photos contained herein are my own.

REVIEW: Get Safe Email for Kids at KidsEmail.org

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As my son gets older, he is definitely wanting to do things more and more on his own, and wanting a bit of privacy. At 6 years old, he has already learned some computer skills in his Montessori kindergarten classroom.  I decided now was the perfect time to get him an email of his own.

KidsEmail.org is the perfect solution for kids who want the freedom of their own email address, and parents who want to be able to have some control over what their child sees.  Parents have the option to choose who their child can email and who can email them. You can block senders, filter language and attachments, and so much more!

On the kids’ side, they get to pick a fun login name and customize what their email screen will look like. There are many designs to choose from–here are a few examples.

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My son chose the “Racing Champion” template, as I knew he would. There are cool designs for both boys and girls, younger kids, tweens and teens.

Speaking of teens, with KidsEmail your child has the option to have his email grow along with him.  As your child feels they might be getting a little old to have a “kiddie” email address, their account can be changed to a KMail.org address–but still allowing parents that monitoring option.

All of these features are available at one low price, and you can even get your first 30 days free! Try out the KidsEmail service free for the first month, then choose from one of the low priced subscription plans–as low as $2.99 a month.

(Please ignore my perpetually cluttered desk!)

My child thought it was so cool that he could have an email of his very own, and I could tell that he was proud of it and felt so grown up.  It was very easy for him to understand the interface, and he got the hang of his inbox really quickly. He is already asking to check it every day!

If you’re looking for a safe, fun, highly customizable email for kids, look no farther than the award winning KidsEmail.org!

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Saving on Electricity Bills in the Winter

During the winter months many people enjoy staying inside because it is warmer than being outdoors. Monthly electricity bills begin to increase when fall comes around. Companies that provide services similar to Columbia Utilities can easily see the increase of electricity used by many families.

Prevent Heat from Escaping
Heat can escape a home in many different ways. Small gaps between doors and windows in a home can be easily sealed with a few supplies found at a local hardware store. Silicone, foam and foam sprays are all effective in sealing areas like this.

Turn Off Electronics
Electronics that are on most of the day in many homes include: TVs, computers and tablets. Most of these electronics can be turned off when they’re not in use and this will decrease the electricity bill each month. Many people like to have these devices on at all times because they don’t feel like waiting for them to startup. The Environmental Protection Agency has researched the usage statistics of electronics not in use but still powered on. They found out that the idle devices can drain more than 100 billion kilowatt hours of energy each year for the entire nation. $10 billion is estimated to be lost each year alone.

Use Gadgets to Estimate Energy Use
There are many devices on the market that can help families limit their electricity use during the winter months. One device measures the kilowatts of a plugged in device and display this information to the user. Timers, like those used for Christmas lights, are another great invention that can turn off a device when it will not be used. On those days where everyone rushes out of the house and no one has time to turn off the electricity, these timers can turn everything off in an instant.

Usage Hours
The bill can also be reduced if electricity is used during non-peak hours. These hours will vary from home to home but they are usually in the morning and evening. Many energy companies will provide peak-hour information to customers for free.

Families like to be cozy when the temperature is below 13 degrees. A plastic sheet can be taped onto windows to insulate them when it is cold outside. The thermostat should be adjusted and lowered as much as possible to avoid high electricity usage.

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: VeggieTales Noah’s Ark DVD

NOW AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE!

Carrots meet cubits as VeggieTales builds an ark filled with fun, adventure and important lessons about trusting God in NOAH’S ARK, its first Bible-themed production in more than four years. Starring Wayne Brady and Jaci Velasquez, along with Larry the Cucumber, Bob the Tomato and a whole crew of Veggies, NOAH’S ARK will be available March 3 on DVD and digital download.

In NOAH’S ARK, Shem and Sadie return home from their honeymoon to find that Noah (played by Pa Grape) has begun, at God’s direction, to work on a massive ark, which his wife Naamah (played by Madame Blueberry) and sons Ham (played by Larry) and Japheth (played by Bob) are helping construct before the start of 40 days and 40 nights of rain.

But Shem doesn’t understand Noah’s unshakable faith in God, particularly when animals start arriving two-by-two – while the rain is nowhere to be seen. When the deluge does come, Shem begins to understand Noah’s determination to preserve humanity’s future … and the importance of trusting in God.

MY THOUGHTS:

Though my son, at 6, is on the upper age group of VeggieTales’ target demographic, he still enjoyed watching Noah’s Ark.  He is in kindergarten at a Catholic school, and has learned the story of the ark–so seeing the tale brought to life was a great way to bring the message home.

I also showed the film to my one year old niece while babysitting one day. She absolutely loved the songs and danced every time she heard one.  Both kids laughed at the silly voices and antics of the characters.

As a mom, I appreciate knowing that there is a kid friendly way to teach my kids the lessons of the Bible,  and also that I don’t have to be watching TV over my kid’s shoulder for fear of him seeing something inappropriate.

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The VeggieTales excitement continues with five all-new episodes of VeggieTales In The House, the hit animated series, debuting exclusively on Netflix – bringing the total of VeggieTales In the House episodes to 15 as the series continues its first season.

To learn more about NOAH’S ARK, and to order the DVD, visit the official VeggieTales website at http://www.veggietales.com, or call the toll-free VeggieTales Hotline at (844) 2-VEGGIE (U.S. callers only).

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I have an extra copy of VeggieTales Noah’s Ark to give away to one commenter! Let me know if you have ever seen any VeggieTales films before!

Giveaway open to US only, and will end on Easter Sunday, April 5.

TRAILER REVEAL: Hillsong–Let Hope Rise #HillsongMovie

Hillsong–LET HOPE RISE chronicles the spectacular and unlikely rise to prominence of the Australia-based Christian band, Hillsong UNITED. Directed by Michael John Warren, the film follows the band they labor to record their next album and explores the history of Hillsong, a 30-year journey from a tiny church in the Sydney suburbs to a vibrant international ministry. The movie culminates in a transformational concert experience spotlighting the humble hearts behind this worldwide sensation.

They changed the world, but the world’s not changing them.

Watch the OFFICIAL TRAILER for Hillsong – Let Hope Rise now. #HillsongMovie

Find out more about Hillsong–Let Hope Rise on the Facebook and Tumblr pages.

REVIEW: Pretty Ugly by Kirker Butler

Pretty Ugly

by Kirker Butler

Literary Fiction/Satire

Book Description

From a producer of Family Guy, a satirical look at a dysfunctional family complete with a stage mom, 9 year-old pageant queen, philandering husband, his girlfriend, and the crazy grandmother.

Miranda Miller’s mission in life is to make sure her nine-year-old daughter, Bailey, continues to be one of the most successful child pageant contestants in the southern United States. Lately, that mission’s been difficult. Bailey has been secretly binge eating to gain weight so Miranda will let her retire; and the reality show Miranda been trying to set up for Bailey (and herself) just went to their biggest rival, Starr Kennedy and her tyrannical stage mother, Theresa.

But Miranda’s got an ace up her sleeve. She’s seven months pregnant with her fourth child, a girl, thank God, and Miranda is going to make damn sure that this one will be a pageant champion, too.

Unbeknownst to her, Miranda’s husband Ray, a nurse with a hobby of popping random pills, has knocked up Courtney, the less than brilliant seventeen-year-old orphan granddaughter of one of his hospice patients. With a wife, a mistress, two jobs, three kids (and two more on the way), a mountain of debt, and no real friends, Ray is desperately hoping his life puts itself back in order.

Meanwhile, the Millers’ two boys are being “homeschooled” by Miranda’s mother, Joan (pronounced Jo-Ann), a well-intentioned widow who spends most of her time playing solitaire and planning a murder with Jesus. Yes, that Jesus.

They’re just your typical dysfunctional American family.

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MY THOUGHTS: 4 OUT OF 5 FLEURS DE LIS

Pretty Ugly: A Novel by Kirker Butler

Oh my God, this book was so awful in the most amazing way. It tells the story of young Bailey Miller, pageant queen extraordinaire, and her family. Mom Miranda was a queen in her day but pushes bailey to be even better; dad Ray is hardly ever home due to the time he works to cover Bailey’s costs; grandmother Joan believes she has a personal line to Jesus and waits for his command and advice in everything she does. Meanwhile, Bailey has decided she is done with the glamour life and sneaks chocolate bars when she’s supposed to be practicing.

Nearly every character in this book is a huge caricature of someone Southern–and as a Southern lady myself, I recognized each one. Ray is having an affair with a teenager. Miranda is pregnant but that doesn’t stop her from getting in fistfights. I could really go on and on, but I don’t want to ruin your reading experience. Trust me, the more you get to know the Miller family, the better (worse?) they get.

Don’t go into this book thinking it’s all about the pageant scene–actually not much of the story happens at pageants. The family’s dynamics are the heart here.

I would imagine some people will be thrown off or quickly dismiss Pretty Ugly because its’ characters are such ridiculous stereotypes…don’t do this. I promise, you either know or are one of the people in this book, especially if you are a Southerner.

I subtracted one star because there are a few moments that are predictable, and also because sometimes the author goes off on tangents describing the backgrounds of people we don’t really need to know about. The book is a standout, however, one of the most unique I’ve read lately.

View all my reviews

About the Author

Kirker Butler is an Emmy nominated writer and producer. His TV credits include Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, and Galavant among others. Kirker grew up in Kentucky, and now lives in Los Angeles with his family.

PURCHASE:

Amazon | B & N

The Best Photo Book For Mother’s Day Gifts

What better way to celebrate the important women in your life this Mother’s Day than with a beautiful photo book full of memories! We’re all guilty of taking hundreds of pictures throughout the year but never printing them out to remind us of the magic moments spent with our loved ones.

Enter Montage, the best photo book choice for quickly and beautifully printing out your pictures in keepsake form. Montage photo books come in three sizes starting at $29, and they do all of the work for you. They automatically place your photos in the best layout, factoring in chronology, important moments, and picture quality, and then allow you to make adjustments where desired. The entire creation process takes less than 15 minutes, making it the best photo book for those of us who are crunched on time. The books come standard with an eco-friendly leather cover and premium lay-flat pages, guaranteeing you get a keepsake product that will last for years to come.

This is a mother’s day gift that is sure to keep on giving!

Montage

REVIEW: Apothecary Extracts 100% Pure Australian Tea Tree Oil


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Many years ago, I used to go to a hairdresser who used an amazing shampoo when she washed my hair.  It made my scalp tingle, and smelled spectacular too! When I asked what she was using, I learned that it was a salon grade shampoo and conditioner containing tea tree oil! Ever since, I have been on lookout for products containing tea tree oil.  There aren’t a ton, but I am excited to say that thanks to Apothecary Extracts, I can now create my own beauty recipes!

Apothecary Extracts 100% Pure Tea Tree Oil comes in a huge 4 oz size.  I am so excited at the prospect of everything I will be able to make…and when you purchase the oil, Apothecary Extracts will send you an ebook containing over 50 uses for your new oil! You can use it for everything from facial scrub, to hand wash, to a cold remedy, or acne treatment.

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In the few weeks I have had my bottle, I have already found a lot I can do with tea tree oil.  I have put drops in the bath to make it soothing and muscle relaxing.  I have used it in my vaporizer next to my bed at night, to help relieve serious nasal congestion due to a sinus infection.  I have added a few drops to the floor of my shower (only in the corners!) to make it an aromatherapy experience.  I have rubbed a bit on my temples when I had a particularly bad headache.  Tea tree oil is one of nature’s most versatile gifts, and can be used in almost any way you can think of!

Apothecary Extracts 100% tea tree oil is very, very potent, and for most jobs, no more than 10 drops will do what you need it to.  That is definitely not much, so I am thinking this huge bottle will last me for a while yet! And when I run out, I will surely be getting more.

DISCLAIMER: This post powered by BrandBacker.  I received free product for review purposes, but no other compensation was given. My thoughts and photos contained herein are my own.
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