Friday, August 30, 2013

Diamond Candles - Review and Giveaway!! (Closed)

Diamond Candles is a soy candle company that is family owned and operated.  Read their story of how they got started here.
The company that cares uses soy instead of paraffin wax for their candles to make them more environmentally friendly.  The soy based candles are healthy as well - people prone to headaches, sneezing or just simply sensitive to scents will love these candles!  The scent is strong, but not heavy; lasts a long time, but isn't overwhelming.  These candles burn for months.  You read that right.  Months.  This is my second (ever) Diamond Candles candle.  My first one took me over 6 months to burn - even though we used it four to five times a week!  These incredible candles are not just a gimmick.  They really are worth it!

We picked out the Honeydew Melon scent this time.  It's sweet, refreshing, summer-y and so yummy.  I really did want to run to the store and get Honeydew to eat!

As an added bonus, each candle comes with a ring inside the wax.  You burn the wax down to where the ring is, and remove it.  The ring can be worth anywhere between $10 and $5,000!  The suspense of waiting for the ring to be ready to come out is so exciting.  Luckily this candle's ring was almost on the surface.  After about four hours of burning, I was able to take out the ring.  My previous candle took almost a week to get to the ring.  Check out the video below to see my ring.  Sorry for the terrible quality.  My webcam wasn't working right for some reason.

Now to determine how much it is worth... It doesn't have a stamp on the band, so it is definitely worth more than $10 according to the Ring Swap crew!  So excited to get it appraised.  I'm guessing the $100 mark, but who knows.  It could be more!

My ring!
 I give Diamond Candles 5 stars!! There candles are not only amazing but you get a ring inside too!  The surprise of the ring is just an extra incentive.  I will continue to buy these candles just for the candle itself (although the ring is still super exciting).
This giveaway is CLOSED.  Thank you everyone for entering!!
GUESS WHAT!  DC is so nice they gave me a candle to giveaway!!  Enter the giveaway below using the Rafflecopter form.

The prize is one candle, you pick the scent, for free!  One winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter.  Leave a comment below - which candle will you pick if you win?  Don't forget to follow my blog for more reviews, giveaways, recipes and cute pictures of animals!
Disclaimer: Diamond Candles sent me this candle for an honest review.  This did not sway my opinion.  They also provided the giveaway prize.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Exciting News!!

We're moving!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Zach and I are going to be moving from Kentucky to Ohio over the next two weeks.  Because of this, expect only a couple posts and for me to be MIA.  I promise to be back soon and have some fun stories of our newest adventure.

Why such a big move?  I work for a shoe company called Tradehome.  I was recently promoted from being an assistant manager to a store manager (GM).  This means leaving my current store to "take over" my own store.  I accepted a position in Ohio because the location is incredible and the store is gorgeous.  I can't wait to start this new chapter in our lives.

Hang in there with me while the move happens and I promise you won't be disappointed.  I'll have a giveaway coming up soon for a non-book item that smells SO good.  Plus, I'll be having a "cleaning off my shelf" giveaway soon as well.  Happy Moving Day!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Yosuke's Review: Shampoo!

Soft and cuddly fur is a must for my little pupsey..  I'm a little crazy obsessive and neurotic about his fur ... I love how soft his fur is naturally but love to keep it that way too.  He's so light and creamy colored that he gets dirty so fast.  It just means a bath every week.  Which of course pupsey just LOVES.  heh.  Not.
Anyways, our current fav shampoo is Nature's Miracle Gently Puppy shampoo.  We have the 32oz bottle right now.

Clean your pooch with this puppy shampoo. The mild formula won't cause tears, and cleans and moisturizes your puppy's skin and coat. The shampoo rinses easily and leaves your puppy smelling fresh and clean.

Wash your pooch with puppy love with this NATURE'S MIRACLE Gentle Puppy Shampoo. Featuring a mild, tearless formula, the shampoo gently cleans and moisturizes your puppy's skin and coat. The Easy Rinse ODOR CLEAN System destroys odors and rinses easily to help reduce bath time. The long-lasting scent will leave your puppy smelling fresh and clean.

Our thoughts...

Love this shampoo!  It's very effective - always cleans super deep getting all of the dirt off, smells so good (like sunflowers!), rinses off super quick but lathers really well.  I know little Yosuke likes it too because bath time is much faster!  We have been using this product for years, on all of our puppies and kitties.  The price hasn't changed over the last 5 years either, which is always good!  Don't be fooled by the "puppy" label - works great on adult dogs too!  We purchase the 32oz bottle at PetSmart for only 11.99!

We give this pet shampoo 5 stars!

Happy Review Day!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Koontz Favs

I've been going through my book shelf and found so many older Dean Koontz books.  Here are my top fav Dean Koontz books.  I highly recommend all of them, especially if you love creepy mystery novels.

It's a fear more paralyzing than falling. More terrifying than absolute darkness. More horrifying than anything you can imagine. It's the one fear you cannot escape, no matter where you matter where you hide. It's the fear of yourself. It's real. It can happen to you. And facing it can be deadly.

Fear for your mind.

One of Koontz's best-loved novels of psychological suspense, The Door to December takes readers into the darkest recesses of the human mind-and into the tempest of a father's obsession.

*DtoDec is one of the creepiest novels I've ever read. But it's incredible!*

The dead don't talk. I don't know why.” But they do try to communicate, with a short-order cook in a small desert town serving as their reluctant confidant. Odd Thomas thinks of himself as an ordinary guy, if possessed of a certain measure of talent at the Pico Mundo Grill and rapturously in love with the most beautiful girl in the world, Stormy Llewellyn. Maybe he has a gift, maybe it’s a curse, Odd has never been sure, but he tries to do his best by the silent souls who seek him out. Sometimes they want justice, and Odd’s otherworldly tips to Pico Mundo's sympathetic police chief, Wyatt Porter, can solve a crime. Occasionally they can prevent one. But this time it's different.

A mysterious man comes to town with a voracious appetite, a filing cabinet stuffed with information on the world's worst killers, and a pack of hyena-like shades following him wherever he goes. Who the man is and what he wants, not even Odd’s deceased informants can tell him. His most ominous clue is a page ripped from a day-by-day calendar for August 15.

Today is August 14.

In less than twenty-four hours, Pico Mundo will awaken to a day of catastrophe. As evil coils under the searing desert sun, Odd travels through the shifting prisms of his world, struggling to avert a looming cataclysm with the aid of his soul mate and an unlikely community of allies that includes the King of Rock 'n' Roll. His account of two shattering days when past and present, fate and destiny converge is the stuff of our worst nightmares—and a testament by which to live: sanely if not safely, with courage, humor, and a full heart that even in the darkness must persevere.

In Portland, he saved a young boy from a drunk driver.  In Boston, he rescued a child from an underground explosion.  In Houston, he disarmed a man who was trying to shoot his own wife.  Reporter Holly Thorne was intrigued by this strange quiet savior named Jim Ironheart.  She was even falling in love with him.  But what power compelled an ordinary man to save twelve lives in three months?  What visions haunted his dreams?  And why did he whisper in his sleep: There is an Enemy. It is coming.  It'll kill us all...?

A year had passed since little Danny's death - a year since his mother began the painful process of acceptance.  But Tina Evans could have sworn she just saw her Danny in a stranger's car... Then she dreamed that Danny was alive.  And when she awoke, she found a message waiting for her in Danny's bedroom - two disturbing words scrawled on his chalkboard: Not Dead.

One year after the heart transplant the saved his life, thirty-five-year-old Ryan Perry has never felt better.  He's getting back everything he nearly lost forever - his business, his life, and, with luck, his beloved girlfriend.  Miracles do happen.  The the unmarked gifts begin to arrive - a box of candy hearts, a heart-shaped pendant.  Most disturbing of all is a graphic heart-surgery video and its chilling message: Your heart belongs to me.  Ryan is being stalked by someone who feels entitled to everything he has.  She's the spitting image of the twenty-six-year-old donor of the heart beating steadily in Ryan's chest.  And she's come to take it back.

Rachael's request for a quick and clean divorce enraged her husband.  She had never seen Eric so angry, so consumed by pure and terrifying hatred.  Then, in the heat of the moment, Eric was struck down in a traffic accident.  His death was instantaneous.  Shocked and relieved, Racheael had nothing left to fear.  Until Eric's body disappeared from the morgue - and Rachael was stalked by someone who looked like her dead husband...

Spencer Grant had no idea what drew him to the bar with the red door.  He thought he would just sit down, have a slow beer or two, and talk to a stranger.  He couldn't know that it would lead to a narrow escape from a bungalow targeted by a SWAT team.  Or that it would leave him a wanted man.  Now he is on the run from mysterious and ruthless men.  He is in love with a woman he knows next to nothing about.  And he is hiding from a past he can't fully remember.  On his trail is a shadowy security agency that answers to no one - including the U.S. Government - and a man who considers himself a compassionate Angel of Death.  But worst of all, Spencer Grant is on a collision course with inner demons he thought he'd buried years ago - inner demons that could destroy him if his enemies don't first.

Michelina Bellsong is on a mission.  She is following a missing family to the edge of America... to a place she never knew existed...a place of terror, wonder, and shattering revelation.  What awaits her there will change her life and the life of everyone she knows--if she can find the key to survival.  At stake are a young girl of extraordinary goodness, a young boy with killers on his trail, and Micky's own wounded soul.

I've begun re-reading all of these this week.  I can't even tell you how many times I've read them and still find something new.  All of my copies look worn, and it's awesome!  What are your favorite Dean Koontz books?  Happy Reading!

Friday, August 16, 2013

BIY: Brownie In A Mug (Review!)

If you follow me on Twitter, you may have read some of my tweets on Tuesday all about this recipe.  I came across a recipe from called "Brownie in a Mug."  The recipe is super simple and tastes amazing!  Vegan friends and egg allergies, you can make this too - no eggs necessary!

I love to bake, but don't always want to make a full batch.  This recipe makes it soooo easy (and super fast) to fix my craving without making too much.  One mug-brownie took about 5 minutes to prep, mix and "bake."

Serves: 1 (could be two if you feel like sharing)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 pinch salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 tablespoons water

  •  Add all of dry ingredients to mug.
  •  Mix well with a fork or small whisk until blended.
  •  Add oil and water. 
  • Mix well (add mix-ins if using). 
  • Put in the microwave and cook on high heat for 1 minute 40 seconds - 2 minutes.
  • Add toppings or a scoop of ice cream and enjoy!
I topped mine with hot fudge and rainbow sprinkles (my fav combination!), let it cool for about 3 minutes and gobbled it up.  This was such an easy snack and so filling!  I "baked" it for the full two minutes, because I like my brownies to be more cakey.  If you want it to be super soft or goey, heat for less time.  Top with anything you want or add in something fun like orange, banana, peanut butter, chocolate chips, mint/choco chips, etc. to make it your very own creation.

I give this recipe 4 stars - it's not completely a "brownie" in my mind but super close!  Fudgy, goey, soft and yummy.  Be sure to follow the recipe to a T or else it will not turn out correctly.  Some mix-ins (such as marshmallow or jam) can compromise the integrity of the recipe, so I suggest adding those as a topping.  This recipe is great for college kids - especially those without any other source of cooking except a microwave.

Disclaimer: did not send this recipe to me for promotional purposes.  I made this recipe simply because I wanted brownies and was super curious to try it out.

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My New Reading Habit - Genre First, Blurb Later

So many times I will look at a book and think... "eh, It doesn't sound great so it's not worth my time" or "The blurb doesn't grab my attention... so not even going to bother."  or worse yet... "The cover art is terrible.  Not worth it."  and just forget all about it.  Terrible right?  BUT what I often times forget is the amount of time and creative thinking it took to start and finish that very book.  The writing process is so much more in-depth than many of us non-authors can even begin to understand.

I've adopted a new reading habit - just pick a book at random based on the genre.  Not the blurb, not the cover art, not the author's name, not the popularity... just the genre.  Some of my favorite books have come out of this new way of thinking.  I've also found that I don't judge books as harshly.  It makes me unsure of what's going to happen, who/what will be in the book, etc.  I really like it!

But, do you chose your next book?
When selecting a book, I simply think about what type of genre I'm in the mood for.  Next I go to that section of my Kindle (I have all my ebooks broken down by genre) and select one.  The only thing I allow myself to read before starting the book is the title.  I not only satisfy my want for that genre, but I find books that I never thought I would truly enjoy.  After I finish reading it, I go back and read the blurb and about the author.  It's so amazing how the blurb can vary so much from how the book actually felt to you.  There have been tons of books I would have passed up if I would have read the blurb first.

So... how do I actually purchase books you ask?  I simply select ones from genres I am running "low" on or genres that I like the most.  I also wait for them to be free or discounted down to less than $3.00.  Check out FreeBookDude and Pixel-Of-Ink for daily freebies and discounted gems.  Both of these sites screen their free/discounted ebooks for the best of the best.  So you can (almost) guarantee to find something you will enjoy - and for free!  

Now, I know this won't work for everyone.. but give it a try and see what happens.  Then let me know!  I'd love to hear your thoughts.  How do you select your next book to read?  Happy Reading!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Top Favs: Shoe Brands!

If you don't already know, my "real" job involves shoes.  A ton of shoes.  hehe.  Of course, I get asked all the time what are my favorite brands, what are the best for your money, how to tell quality verses crap (and it's not just price!).  I've decided to talk a bit about my top fav brands and why they are my favs.  These are not in any particular order.

  • Born/B.O.C.
    • The perfect combination between style and comfort.  Born/B.O.C. are one in the same company.  B.O.C. (Born Original Concepts) is made by Born and has the same quality -  just at a cheaper price.  I absolutely LOVE their boots and ankle boots.  They also make some of the most comfortable wedges and sandals ever!
  • TOMS
    • One-for-One.  Every time you purchase a pair of TOMS shoes or apparel, the company donates a pair of shoes to a person in need.  They donate in the U.S. as well as outside in tons of countries.  This company not only gives back in an exceptional way, BUT they make super comfortable shoes!  I absolutely love their classics, their strappy wedges, cordonnes (tennis shoe style), and their boots.  They come up with some of the most unique colors, patterns and designs possible.  I absolutely love them!
  • Steve Madden/Madden Girl
    • Need I say more?  Everyone who loves shoes knows these two brands.  Steve Madden, the name that shouts style and cute!  Madden Girl, the cheaper and just as incredible brand made by Steve Madden.  I love their boots and flats the most!  Many girls will know their boots by "the brown boot with the red zipper" which is extremely popular right now.  Super cute shoes at a price that's incredible for the quality.
  • Corral
    • Hand-made, Western and English style boots.  I'm in love with their riding boots, but their western boots are just as gorgeous.  These high-quality boots come with a price to match, but with proper care will last for eons.  Plus, they are so comfortable!  Can't go wrong with a high quality leather boot that looks just as good as it feels.
  • Sperry
    • Boat shoes no more!  These gorgeous, high quality leather shoes are made to last and look great.  They are super comfortable and only get more comfortable with wear.  What I like most about these shoes, is how versatile they are.  Dress them up with a pair of khaki or black pants or dress down with a pair of jeans.  They come in a huge variety of colors and styles to suit everybody's shoe dream.
  • Merrell
    • The perfect hiking, work or walking shoe.  Tons of support, tons of cushion and incredible quality.  These shoes are made to last and built for comfort.  There is a one to fit every person's needs and feet.  My favs are the Encore Eclipse (Primo Patch) and the Jacardia sandal.
  • Gabriella Rocha
    • A brand I can only find on, they make super cute and comfortable shoes.  The quality is great for the price too!  Some of the cutest wedge heels, flats and boots I've found at a price that anyone can afford.
What are your fav shoe brands?  Almost all of these can be found at the nearest shoe store to you.  Check out their websites for help on finding these incredible brands.  Happy Shoe Day!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

"I'm Still Here" by Marti Sharp

I received a portrait today from my dear friends, Marti and Jason Sharp.  They mean the world to me and have quickly become part of my family.  Back in February, we lost our first dachshund - Cazic - to a horrible disease called IMT.  His passing was unexpected and extremely difficult for us.  Cazic was only 3 years 11 months old when he died.  We think of him daily and miss him so much.  Our little family was hurting so badly that Marti decided to create a remembrance portrait for us.  I was overjoyed when she asked if it was okay.  Today, the portrait came in the mail.  Below is the picture Marti based her portrait on.  I can't photograph the actual portrait for copyright reasons.

Portrait title: I'm Still Here
 She did such an exceptional job though - take my word for it.  You can't even tell the picture is done in colored pencil, because it looks actual photograph.  I'm overwhelmed with how much I love it.  I encourage you to check her art out on Facebook.  If you ever find yourself needing a portrait or want to get one as a gift, definitely contact her!  Her work is done at a reasonable price for the absolutely exceptional quality.  Tell her I sent you!  Happy Picture Day!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Silent Monday

Lost my voice on Sunday - today is now Silent Monday.  This should be fun.  Here's a cute picture that my friend edited of Yosuke.  Happy Silent Monday!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

BIY: Chiffon Cupcakes and Vanilla Frosting

Welcome to the first BIY (Bake It Yourself).  After tweeting so much about cupcakes the other day, I decided it would be good to share my favorite recipe for cupcakes and a quick frosting.  I love these recipes and they are my "go-to" whenever I need a batch to satisfy everyone.  They are very fun to make too!

White Chiffon Cake (Difficulty: Medium to Hard)
Yield: two 8" round cakes OR 24 cupcakes

1/2 C. Butter softened
1 C. white sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
2 C. cake flour (must be cake flour; All Purpose has too much gluten)
2/3 C milk
4 eggs whites (do not use carton egg whites, they do not work the same)
1 tsp. vanilla extract (or desired flavoring; also taste amazing with orange or almond!)

What you will need: three bowls, measuring cups, measuring spoons, one stand mixer, one electric mixer OR stiff metal/wire whisks, cupcake pans, cupcake liners, and rubber spatula
  1. Preheat oven to 325*F
  2. Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy; scrap sides of bowl to make sure sugar and butter are mixed
  3. Sift flour and baking powder together; set aside in a separate bowl
  4. Add flour mixture, eggs and milk to butter/sugar mixture - alternating each ingredient (wet, dry, wet, dry..)
  5. Beat egg whites until medium peak (not stiff!!); Add vanilla right before egg whites are done
  6. Gently fold the whites into the batter with rubber spatula.  Only mix until whites are mostly incorporated.  You should see a little swirl pattern in the batter.
  7. Fill cupcake pan with liners; Fill each cup 2/3 of the way with batter
  8. Bake until cupcake springs back when the top is touched (time varies)
  9. Cool and serve with frosting or as is (LOVE this recipe by itself!)
 Hilary's Quick Frosting (Difficulty: Easy)
Yield: ~ 3 cups (enough for one dozen cupcakes)

4 Tbs. Crisco or Butter (I prefer Crisco that isn't butter flavored) at room temp
2 1/2 C. powdered Sugar
1-2 Tbs. milk
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (or any other flavoring you desire)
food coloring (optional)

What you will need: electric or stand mixer,  rubber spatula, bowl, cling/plastic wrap OR air tight container
  1. Put all ingredients except milk into bowl; mix until sugar starts to incorporate with Crisco
  2. Add milk 1 tsp. at a time until thickness desired (less for thicker frosting; more for thin; I usually use 1 1/2 Tbs.)
  3. Add food coloring if desired
  4. Store in refrigerator with cling/plastic wrap over top OR in air tight container
  5. Bring to room temp before using; Serve with cupcakes or cake
**Note: I use Crisco because it holds up to warm temperatures better.  If you plan to take your baked good in any kind of warmer climate, definitely use Crisco instead of butter!**

Tbs = Tablesppon
Tsp = Teaspoon
C. = Cups

Here are some pics using these recipes.  Two of my fav final products.
Chocolate Candy Cane Cake
 Chocolate cake and frosting (added cocoa powder to recipes above) and crushed peppermint in between layers with candy cane decorations.

Mini Pumpkin Cupcakes
 I love these! I took two cupcakes and stuck them together with frosting.  Then added a frosting layer on the outside, covered them in either orange colors sugar or just left frosted.  Then added a piece of pretzel as the stem!  So cute!

These are by far my favorite recipes for cake/cupcakes and frosting.  If done right, they will bring any cake lover to their knees.  The flavor combinations and filings are endless, have fun and take pictures!  Post the pictures to my new Facebook like page!  Happy Baking!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Review Day: Script Kiddie (Book 2)

It's Review Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Title: Script Kiddie (Assured Destruction Series Book 2)
Author: Michael F. Stewart
My Rating: 5 stars

Book Blurb:
Jan Rose no longer steals data from the old computers she recycles. She doesn't need to. As the newest member of the police department’s High Tech Crime Unit, the laptop of a murderer has landed on her desk. Her job: to profile and expose a killer.
But that’s not all.

A creep lurks in the shadows, stalking a friend, and Jan must stop him before the hunt turns deadly. The clock counts down for Jan to save her friend, her job, her boyfriend—maybe even her life.

My Review:
Another incredible book in the Assured Destruction series - possibly even better than the first!  I enjoyed the first book, but definitely enjoyed this one more.  Janus is developed as a character much more (of course) in this book.  We get to see more of her Twitter personalities, but also find out those personalities are becoming part of her in a very real way.  When Janus joins the police task force for her community service hours, she isn't exactly accepted by everyone at the precinct.  I loved reading how the relationships between the officers and Janus changed throughout the book.  Janus and Peter still don't get along very well, but their relationship changes drastically when she figures out who he really is.

The second book in the series and yet it's even better than the first.  I highly recommend this series to everyone!  This is a quick, witty and techy series that even people who don't like technology will love.  Try it out, you won't be disappointed!

Pick up a copy of Script Kiddie (book 2) and Assured Destruction (book 1) on Amazon.  Happy Review Day!