Archive for ‘Reviews’

March 13th, 2011

Pretty Neat book – Review and GIVEAWAY!

I often dream of having a well-organized home, where everything has a place *and* is in its place.  I love to flip through magazines like Martha Stewart and Real Simple and imagine how I can take their clean spaces and transfer them to my house.  The reality in our home, though, is quite different.  We have piles of papers to be sorted, laundry sits in various stages of the process, and Legos are one with the carpet.  I often feel overwhelmed and don’t even know where to begin.  This is how my efforts usually work out:  I’ll try to spend a bit of time clearing out one area of the house, but get distracted by the boys or something else that needs my attention.  That area will sit half-finished while I move on to something else.  I don’t forget about it, but I feel guilty that I wasn’t able to finish it, so I ignore it.  Great plan, right?  Come on over sometime and I’ll show you how that’s working out for us…

When I was offered the chance to review a new book about getting yourself organized in a practical way, I jumped at it!  Pretty Neat – the buttoned-up way to get organized & let go of perfection is a new book from authors Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch.  You might recognize Alicia and Sarah as the women behind Buttoned Up organizational products, too.

This book was exactly what I needed to read!  The first part of the book discusses the ideas that many women have about organization.  Many of us, whether we admit it or not, believe that our homes need to be perfect and pristine.  That idea really isn’t very practical when we are living in our houses, especially when there are children living there, too!  Alicia and Sarah offer anecdotes, quizzes, and conversations with women who have battled the feelings of perfection – and won.  Most of all, they offer practical advice to helping you overcome those feelings and then give you the tools to move forward.

The chapter I’m struggling with right now deals with clearing out the clutter at home.  This is a HUGE problem at our house.  For the first time, though, I feel like I can tackle it successfully by following The Four R’s that Alicia and Sarah have put forth as a cure for clutter – Routines, Rules, Regards, and Review.  I’m going to implement this at our house and I hope you’ll check back to see how we’re progressing!

Would you like to join me in the adventure to let go of your ideas of perfection?  Great!

BUY IT:  You can buy a copy of Pretty Neat for $14.95 from the Buttoned Up website here.  They also have a bunch of great organizational products, so take a minute to check those out, too.  I’m a big list-maker and many of their list pads are on my wishlist!


One reader can win their own copy of Pretty Neat AND be entered to win a $200 gift card (same as cash) and a selection of Buttoned Up organizational products (ARV $50)!!

To enter, leave a comment on this post sharing the area of your home/life that has become a source of stress for you.  If you’ve been successful in changing it in any way, please share your ideas, too!

This giveaway will end on Sunday, March 20th at 10:59 Central time.  The winner will be notified by email, so please make sure to include a valid email address with your comment.  Winner will have 24 hours to reply back to me and claim their prize, or a new winner will be chosen.  Good luck!

EDIT:  Congratulations to Cindy T., winner of the Pretty Neat book.  I hope it will help you with your organizational goals – and ease some of that stress on your husband 🙂

Disclosure:  I was provided with a copy of Pretty Neat to review.  I was not required to give the book a positive review and the opinions above are my own.
February 28th, 2011

Book Review – The Velveteen Bible (NKJV)

I recently had the opportunity to review The Velveteen Bible from Tommy Nelson Publishers, and it could not have been at a better time!  My older son has his Bible that he takes to church every week.  Lately, my younger son has been asking where *his* Bible is when we get ready to leave.  I’m thrilled that he has this adorable version to take to class with him.

The book itself is perfectly sized for smaller hands and features fuzzy flocking on the hard-bound cover.  Artwork, featuring the adorable cover bunny and friends, is spread through the book.   The text inside is the New King James version of the Bible.  It’s important to note that this is not a book of  stories for children, but is the full text of the scriptures.  Our personal family preference is for the ESV version and I think that could be a better choice for a Bible geared specifically toward children, but the text itself (font, size, etc.) is very readable.  The book comes in a keepsake box that also has the fuzzy features of the book cover.  Declan carries his Bible with him around the house and asks to take it with us when we head out, too.  The Velveteen Bible is suggested for children 4-8 years old, though Declan is only 3 and does very well with it.  I think it would make a great gift anytime, but would look especially adorable in an Easter basket!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com <http://BookSneeze®.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

July 27th, 2010

What’s in the Bible #3 – REVIEW

What is it?

In What’s In the Bible #3, Wanderin’ in the Desert, Buck Denver and his cast of friends take us through the next three books of the Bible—Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—helping kids understand how these books fit in with Genesis and Exodus to make up the Pentateuch and to set the stage for the trials and victories of God’s people. The question “Did this stuff really happen?” is also answered.

From the man who made vegetables talk (and sing and dance and tell Bible stories) comes this third release in the engaging new series that walks kids through the entire Bible! Each DVD is filled with an entertaining cast of characters who bring the most powerful Bible stories to life using humor, creative storytelling, and fun songs. Join VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer on a wild and zany journey and see the world’s most amazing book come to life.

What do we think?

We were invited to review Wanderin’ in the Desert by Tyndale House Publishers for the What’s In the Bible Blog Tour.  I was really excited because I had seen the first two DVDs in the series in our local bookstore and considered getting them, but the boys never seemed to be all that excited about them.  I wish I had purchased them!  These would have been a perfect addition to our homeschool curriculum last year.  There is so much great information packed in each episode there AND the boys loved them!  Alex watched Wanderin’ in the Desert three times in a row and I found myself watching it when the boys weren’t even home!  I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, so there are still many things that I’m learning.  I think the What’s In the Bible series would be a great resource for new believers, too!

We’re on our official summer break from homeschooling, but I can see many opportunities to use these DVDs in our curriculum.  When it’s complete, there will be 13 DVDs to cover the entire Bible, so there will be a lot of material!  Each DVD is broken up into smaller episodes and includes a song or two that can be watched without searching the episodes to find it.  For this particular DVD, I think we would use it first to do a study on the word “holy.”  This is one thing that Alex pulled out of this episode.  There is more than one meaning and this was something I had totally missed — until I watched the DVD!  Since there is sure to be a lot of discussion surrounding each of the DVDs, as there already has been, we will probably use these as part of our family worship time and not as part of our structured school day.

There is something new for everyone in our family to learn from the What’s In the Bible series and I’m looking forward to the upcoming episodes!

Disclosure:  I received a copy of What’s In the Bible #3, Wanderin’ in the Desert, as well as the first two DVDs in the series, from Tyndale House Publishers for our review.  My review is my own opinion and the opinion of my family.  You may have a different opinion.
July 16th, 2010


Duo Bento

I’ve mentioned before that we’re really trying to make better food choices around our house.  One way that I’ve found to make things more fun is by making bento lunches for the boys now and then.  There are so many amazingly creative bento makers out there that I’m a little embarrassed to even show my simple attempts here.  Seriously, go search for “bento” on Flickr and prepare to be blown away by the results.

As much as I love all things bento, there is one thing that has always bugged me about the fun little accessories you can get to make your lunches even more adorable – they’re nearly all made of plastic.  I was so thrilled when I found LunchBots!  They are made entirely of food-safe stainless steel, which is not only healthier, but a breeze to clean!  The great people at LunchBots sent us the Uno (no divider) and the Duo (divided in half) to use and both have been through the dishwasher many times.  They’ve always come out looking brand new.


I’m really impressed by the lids on our LunchBots.  They obviously spent some effort to get these just right, and I think they have done it.  The lids are snug enough to safely keep the food inside without fear that lunch will spill all over the inside of a backpack, but they are also easy enough to remove that Declan, who is two, can take the lid off without any difficulty.  They are not made to be water-tight, so if you’re including a salad dressing or some kind of dip, I would make sure you put that in a separate sealed container that is made to contain liquids.

All in all, I love our LunchBots!  As we get ready for back-to-school here, I’m trying to decide which other containers I should add to our collection.  LunchBots also have a both a smaller container, the Pico, and a larger container, the Eco, that would be well-suited for toddler snacks at pre-school and adult lunches.  Head on over to LunchBots and check them all out!

July 12th, 2010

Road Trip Mini-Vacation

Last week was our annual trip to Pennsylvania to visit my family.  I say “visit” because a trip to see family isn’t really a vacation.  There are always a ton of people to see, naps to be missed, and bedtimes that slip.  By the end of the week, I’ve found that our tempers are short and we need a vacation from our trip.  Hoping to avoid that this year, we decided to take a mini-vacation during our visit.  We packed up the boys and headed to Niagara Falls, Ontario, for an overnight stay.

Maid of the Mist

It’s less than two hours from where I grew up to the Falls, so I’ve been there many times.  One thing I never got to experience growing up was staying in a hotel that overlooks the Falls.  I thought it might be too expensive for our budget this time, too, but I searched the internet and was pleasantly surprised by the number of affordable packages right now.  We decided to go with the Family Fun package at the Hilton Fallsview.  It included the room, but also a voucher for $40 to Macaroni Grill (the first in Ontario) and breakfast at their amazing buffet the next morning for all four of us.  Plus, the Hilton has an indoor pool with a great water slide!

I can’t say enough about how wonderful our experience at this hotel was.  The staff were all genuinely friendly and knowledgeable and the facilities were first rate.  Chris, the gentleman that handled our check-in, even accommodated Alex’s request for a room as high up in the tower as possible.  We were on the 42nd floor, which made both Alex and Declan very happy.  Here are some views from our room:

View of the Falls from Hilton Fallsview

View of the Falls from Hilton Fallsview

The view at night is just as spectacular, but I wasn’t able to get any really good shots without a tripod.  They light up the water at night with different colored lights and it’s beautiful!  There are also fireworks displays on several nights and, in July and August, they do fireworks every Wednesday as well.

It was uncharacteristically hot the day we were there, so we didn’t do as many outside activities as we thought we might.  The room and facilities were well-suited for this, though.  We had two bedrooms, each with its own television.  There was also a fireplace in the room, but we decided against trying it out, even though the boys were VERY interested.  We spent a lot of time in the pool and I think my husband and Alex went down that water slide about 30 times.  Alex described the hotel as luxurious and I would have to agree.  The beds were so comfortable and the pillows were nice and fluffy.  We were sad to leave after only one night, but it was a great experience.  If you are planning a trip to Niagara Falls, I highly recommend the Hilton Fallsview!

May 3rd, 2010

Book Review: Plan B by Pete Wilson

Pete Wilson, pastor at Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, has written a new book, Plan B:  What do you do when God doesn’t show up the way you thought he would?  I originally thought I should read this book so that I might have the right words or thoughts to share with friends who find themselves at the end of their spiritual rope, unsure of where God is at this point in their lives and why He has allowed this thing (death, job loss, illness) to happen to them.  I did gain that insight, but I was also so wrong – I needed to read this book because it is about me!  While Wilson talks a lot about people who face some tragic or life altering event and turn to their Plan B, I think the same ideas can apply to those of us who experience small setbacks or disappointments.  Plan B is very readable and packed with biblical stories, modern examples, and challenging questions.  The included study guide will make it a great book for small groups to study together or for individuals to dig deeper into the material themselves.  I’m looking forward to reading through it again!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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