Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Juicy Gems Giveaway ~ 3 winners!

Christmas giveaways, Juicy Gems, Pomegranate arils

How did it get to be Wednesday afternoon already? Time is flying by! I wanted to let you know about another fun giveaway we are having here on the blog: a Juicy Gems Giveaway!

Our friends at Juicy Gems are going to provide three of our readers each with a $5 Wal-Mart e-giftcard so they can pick up their own 10 oz. bag of frozen Juicy Gem Pomegranate Arils!

Just in case you've missed our post about how much we love Juicy Gems, go read it now! Hopefully it will give you lots of ideas about how to eat your juicy gems if you are one of our winners. If you want even more ideas, Juicy Gems has a wonderful collection or pomegranate recipes on their Pinterest boards!

Christmas giveaways, Juicy Gems, Pomegranate arils

Because I was busy helping a certain college student I know study for her finals, I forgot to post this giveaway last weekend. No worries though - the giveaway will run through midnight EST on Monday, December 18th, and I will contact the winners on Tuesday the 19th. Since Juicy Gems has already graciously provided the prizes, if you are a winner, you will still have several days to print out your certificate and get yourself some Juicy Gems to enjoy for Christmas!

Remember, three of our readers will be enjoying some delicious and nutritious Juicy Gems next week, will you be one of them?

This giveaway is sponsored by Juicy Gems and ends at midnight EST, December 18, 2017. US Residents, 18 and older.

Oral Essentials ~ better oral care for everyone!

*This post contains affiliate links. If you choose to purchase using them, it won't cost you any extra, and it will help fuel our blog - Thank you!

Oral Essentials, fluoride-free oral care, oral essentials discount code, dead sea salt

Back in mid-October we were introduced to an amazing company called Oral Essentials. I've been wanting to write a review of their products for a while, but - true to our form - I just could not write a review on just a few days' worth of use. We wanted to give you our long-term thoughts on the products, so I've waited six weeks - it has been really difficult for me to wait this long to tell you about these amazing products! If you've been following our Facebook page or our new Instagram feed, you will have noticed some shout-outs to Oral Essential - because we are sold on their products!

Let me tell you a little more about our backstory with oral care...
We found out several years ago that fluoride was one of the triggers that causes Emily's psoriasis to flare up. If you are not familiar with psoriasis, just let me tell you that those people who struggle with it will avoid their trigger foods or substances as much as possible because a flare-up is both annoying and painful. So for the past five years or so, we have been trying out one natural, fluoride-free toothpaste after another. Some of them are good, a couple are awful. When Arlene (age 17) and I heard that Oral Essentials was going to be at the Moms Meet WOW Summit we got excited. We were hoping to find a new fluoride-free toothpaste for Emily (age 19) because while her current one is decent, and does not taste bad, it is nothing to brag about either.

The first day of the WOW Summit I had the opportunity to talk with the ladies from Oral Essentials during the Blogger-only time in the exhibit hall. I was excited to be able to read the ingredients list, actually know what those ingredients were, and get a travel sized tube of their Whitening Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth to take home and try. Oral Essentials products are made with Dead Sea Salt, Organic Aloe Vera, essential oils, and Non-GMO xylitol from birch trees. That night was the cleanest my teeth have felt in years! I was AMAZED! I told  Arlene right then that she needed to go back by the booth with me on Day 2 so she could get a sample as well and we could take it home to Emily. Little did I know that Oral Essential's toothpaste would also be a HUGE hit with Arlene. She has been warning me for two weeks that we were about to run out. Redheads can be persistent!

We spoke with the ladies from Oral Essentials again and found out that they had recently launched a kid's toothpaste: a strawberry flavored toothpaste (with a Unicorn on it!) We also talked about their whitening strips and got a couple samples of those to bring home to try. Both of our girls had asked me about the possibility of using whitening strips this past summer, but because I had suffered sensitivity issues when trying to use name brand varieties a few years ago, I had been putting them off. No longer! I have to say I was impressed with how well these whitening strips did on just the very first use! I decided to wait a couple weeks before trying my samples, because I wanted to see just how well the Whitening Toothpaste worked on its own. It was superb! The whitening strips are fantastic!

Oral Essentials, fluoride-free oral care, oral essentials discount code, dead sea salt

So how does that lead us to today's review? Simple: the awesome people at Oral Essentials emailed me a few weeks after the Summit and asked if I would be interested in helping promote their Holiday Sale. Because we were already overjoyed with how well the samples had worked - of course I said yes! They graciously sent us a tub with some more samples to try- including their other toothpaste varieties and cute little travel-sized samples of their mouthwash. This stuff is awesome!

I've been hesitant to write my review too soon, because I wanted to make sure these were products I would continue to use before I told you about them. The Holiday Sale has actually been going on since December 1st, and I felt bad about not telling you on day one - but fear not - it continues through December 31st! There is a 15% discount on any online order at if you use our discount code: holidaysmile21. You REALLY need to enter the entire code, including the 21!

Today I ordered us a two-pack of the Whitening Toothpaste for Sensitive Teeth because that way I can combine the regular two-pack savings with the Holiday Sale and make sure we will not run out of our new favorite toothpaste! It was super easy, and the standard shipping was only $0.99!!!

So, to prep you for your order, because I know sometimes we get tired of hunting for the magic boxes during online shopping, and you might too, here is how it goes...

First: head over to

Oral Essentials, fluoride-free oral care, oral essentials discount code, dead sea salt

Then click the Products tab on the top-right above the smiling blond lady

Oral Essentials, fluoride-free oral care, oral essentials discount code, dead sea salt

Scroll down and choose which items to add to your cart, and then, before you even think about entering your customer information, click on the Discount box on the right side of the screen and enter: holidaysmile21

Oral Essentials, fluoride-free oral care, oral essentials discount code, dead sea salt

Once you hit Apply, it will show your discounted price, and you can go ahead and enter your customer information and payment - unless you'd rather use PayPal, then just click the PayPal logo box!

Oral Essentials, fluoride-free oral care, oral essentials discount code, dead sea salt

You will then accept the standard shipping option, because if you order now - by Friday, you should have plenty of time to get it for Christmas. I'm not sure if the mouthwash costs more to ship, but I was super-stoked that this is the first online order I've made this season where the shipping was so inexpensive!

Oral Essentials, fluoride-free oral care, oral essentials discount code, dead sea salt

Once you've chosen your shipping, place your order and wait to be amazed! It took less than two minutes from the time I finished checking out until I received my order confirmation email. If you're one of those package-tracking types, you can sign up to get text messages about your order.

Now I know some of you are still thinking about Christmas presents, and wondering if you should really get someone Oral Care for their present? The answer is yes! Oral Essentials' formulas were developed by a periodontist and an award-winning cosmetic dentist. They've been lab tested to be just as effective as those OTC brands that have fluoride, artificial colors, and SLS, but without the yucky and the risk to your tooth enamel that peroxide and bleach can cause. 

Because you might want to consider Oral Essentials products for stocking stuffers, I want to make sure you see this tab on the left side of the products page, down near the bottom, right above the whitening strips link, is where you find the Travel Size products. You can purchase 4 travel tubes of either the original Clean and Fresh or Whitening Toothpastes, or a six-pack of travel sized mouthwash in any of their four formulas.  What a great way to bless someone with good oral health, or get yourself ready for your next trip! There is nothing worse than leaving your favorite toothpaste behind for the family to use when you travel because you only have one tube. (Go back and re-read paragraph three if you don't believe me!)

Oral Essentials, fluoride-free oral care, oral essentials discount code, dead sea salt

Now remember, you need the discount code: holidaysmile21 for your 15% off savings.

Go get some Oral Essentials products and get your teeth clean, and healthy! 

If you're like 80% of other Americans aged 18-49 and want whiter teeth, pick up a package of their amazing whitening strips as well - they're also on sale with the discount code:holidaysmile21 !

Oral Essentials, fluoride-free oral care, oral essentials discount code, dead sea salt

P.S. A couple of our readers are going to get Oral Essential samples instead of Christmas cards - you won't be disappointed!

Disclosure: I received free product from Oral Essentials in exchange for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, and I was not compensated in any other way. All opinions are mine or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

What Would Happen? ~ A National Geographic Kids book review

book reviews by teens, what would happen, national geographic kids books

What would happen?

It’s a fascinating question isn’t it? People as a group have lots of questions that we ask every day. Questions are things we ask from almost the time we can talk as a small child and something we still do even when we get older. Well if you are a parent you probably have a kid who has lots of questions that you either don’t have the answer to or simply don’t have time to answer all of. Well now to help you out is this new book from National Geographic Kids. 

What Would Happen? Serious answers to silly questions is written By Crispin Boyer and published by National Geographic. It answers the interesting questions like: What if you had wings like a bird? What if we could speak to dolphins? What if the sun disappeared? What if you were related to royalty?

This books tells kids that while everyone wants to be a super hero, if you really got bitten by a spider, got hit by cosmic rays or lightning it wouldn’t really make you have super powers. In fact it could be quite harmful. 

The book answers all of these questions and more in a fun and easy to understand way. Talking about what might happen, and if it really could happen or not. 

I loved the fun answers that also taught what really could happen. It was fun and easy to read. 

The book itself has over 160 full color pages of information and pictures and is a good size for children to carry around. This book was written for ages 8-12, but I think it would work fine for a read-aloud with kids as young as six. Retail price of What Would Happen? is $14.99.

On a side note to anyone who believes in a young earth and is raising their children with this belief. National Geographic is a secular organization and so the historical science questions are answered with numbers into the millions of years. 

This review brought to your by Arlene, age 17. To read her weekly column: Books With Bean, click here.

Disclosure: We received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. We were not required to write a positive review. No other compensation was received. We are diclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.

Mark 7:9

Mark 7:9, Scripture Writing

Monday, December 11, 2017

Add butter

baking cookies, seeking God

Sometimes we make life harder than it needs to be.

Today I was thinking about all of the things I could tell you about how God has been at work in our lives - there are definitely a lot of them - but right now, you need to know that God offers grace, and sometimes the answer to the hard thing is simple.

Arlene was making some cookies today. The dough was not sticking quite right, so she read the directions. Guess what? The directions said add butter. She did, and the cookie dough was the perfect consistency.

Is there something in your life that needs a little fix? Maybe you need a little butter, or a little time spent in prayer.

God knows what you need - go seek Him.


Books With Bean ~ The Redheaded League

Books With Bean, book reviews by teens, Sherlock Holmes, The Redheaded League

Title: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes: The Redheaded League 

Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Published: 1891

Genre: Mystery 

Summary: When Dr. Watson goes for a visit to see his friend Sherlock Holmes he finds Sherlock in the middle of talking to a client. The man's name is Mr. Wilson and he is telling Sherlock about a set of strange events that has happened to him recently. He joined a group of redheaded men and he was tasked with copying the Encyclopedia. It was easy and paid well but then he came one day to find the group of men dissolved. Not knowing what else to do he came to Sherlock. 

What I liked about it: Its interesting and clever, and like all of Doyle’s other Sherlock Holmes stories it keeps you interested and guessing until the end.

Language: None

Romance: None

Violence: I small scuffle when they capture the villain but nothing gory.

Magic: None 

Recommended Age: This is one of the interesting but clean Sherlock stories. I would say it is fine for 12-13 on up.

*** Note from Carol: I hope you saw Arlene stated this was one of the clean Sherlock stories, thus, appropriate for ages 12 and up. We would not recommend letting your teen loose on Sherlock Holmes stories in general until at least age 15.

Books With Bean

Friday, December 8, 2017


Today I'm back to joining up with my friends in the Five Minute Friday community where we write for five minutes on Kate's word prompt of the week.

five minute friday writing prompts, only

When I woke up this morning and saw that Kate's prompt was only, I knew exactly what I wanted to say. So here goes...

Only those who look for blessings find them.

Way too often, we, even Christians who are supposed to expect that God would want to bless us, do not see the blessings around us. We are so self-focused, or so busy that we are unfocused, that we do not see the amazing things happening all around us.

Earlier this week I was reflecting on a few of the many times I remember God blessing our family over the years. Let me share just a couple and hopefully they will inspire you to look for the blessings in your own life. It is a matter of our perspective. When we focus on the struggles - we miss the blessings. When we focus on the blessings - the struggles lessen.

Once, when the girls were still really little, a friend from church called me up. She asked if I was going to be home for an hour or so and could she drop something off? Sure, I replied, and then went back to whatever I was doing until the doorbell rang. My friend Jan showed up on our doorstep with two really full paper grocery bags full of frozen food. She told me that that morning while she was having her Bible reading time that God had impressed upon her that they had too much food in their freezer and that they were supposed to share it. When she asked God who, He pointed her to us. That was an amazing blessing! We had actually been going through a really low spot financially and I had decided that instead of trying to scrape together money for the grocery store, I would just be creative with whatever was left in the cabinets - which was mostly pasta. When we looked through the grocery bags while putting the food away - almost everything in the bag was something I had wanted to purchase, but did not have enough money for.

Another instance was November of last year, when a herb of Bison was relocated to a nature preserve in our state. Bison used to roam freely in Indiana, in fact, they are on our state seal, but it had been a really long time since there were any here (other than a couple of farmers who had brought some in to raise for meat.) We went to the nature preserve with hopes of getting to see the bison. The preserve is pretty big (1000+ acres just for the bison) and there was no telling if we would actually see the herd. When we got there - the herd was right along the edge of the prairie that faces the drive into the preserve. How amazing! Our girls got to see Bison up close and personal like. Kurt and I were pretty amazed too! We have since heard from friends that it is rare for them to be that easy to see.

There are so many instances of God providing just what we needed at just the right time. I think I'll have to write more about it soon, because now I'm out of time!


Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Foodie Fuel Giveaway

Foodie Fuel Snacks, giveaway, healthy snacks

Hopefully you remember reading about how much we are enjoying the Fuel Snacks from our new friends over at Foodie Fuel. If not, pop on over and read our review.

Besides being nice enough to offer our readers a 25% discount on online orders through December 31, 2017 with discount code: Homesweetlife, these awesome people have generously offered to provide a yummy prize package to one of our readers. That means we get to host another awesome giveaway! Hurray!

A quick recap, Fuel Snacks from Foodie Fuel are available in four delicious flavors: Coconut Vanilla, Butter Toffee, Cinnamon Ginger, and Swiss Chocolate. These nutrient dense snacks are packed full of great-for-you ingredients, with lots of flavor. The are available in either 2 oz or 4 oz pouches, with resealable zipper tops. They make great on-the-go snacks for all ages, and because they are bite-sized squares, they are a fabulous in the car treat.

For this giveaway, our friends at Foodie Fuel are offering the winner four, 4 oz. packages of Fuel Snacks. The winner can choose to receive all four packages in their favorite flavor, or one 4 oz. package of each flavor. US addresses only. Giveaway ends 12/12/17 at midnight EST.

So now, the giveaway!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Books With Bean ~ The Hardy Boys Mysteries: Book 1 The Tower Treasure

Books With Bean, Hardy Boys books, book reviews by teens

Title: The Hardy Boys Mysteries: Book 1 The Tower Treasure 

Author: Franklin W. Dixon 

Published: 1927

Genre: Mystery 

Summary: While delivering papers for their father, Frank and Joe Hardy almost get run off the road by a car traveling way over safe speeds for the small curving road. They don’t think much of it until they find the can in a ditch and their friend Chet’s car gets stolen. They work to get the car back and during the process find an even bigger mystery. The Tower Mansion was robbed, and their friend Perry’s dad is charged with the crime. Feeling that the two thefts are connected and wanting to help their friend, the Hardy boys work with their detective father to follow the clues and solve the mystery. 

What I liked about it: There is something about the Hardy boys that makes their original books so interesting even 90 years later. They are fun and their adventures keep your attention until the end. They are written well and the boys have lots of fun and adventure with their friends. 

Language: None

Romance: Both boys have girls that they like from school, but it is very simple, they like them and they go out sometimes. It is not really romantic.

Violence: They boys do get trapped and in some dangerous situations in the book but nothing graphic.

Magic: None.

Recommended Age: The boys are in High school, but the adventures are fun for lots of ages I would say 10-11+

Books With Bean, Hardy Boys books, book reviews by teens

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Holiday Sale at Oral Essentials

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for helping keep our blog running.

Oral Essentials Holiday Sale, fluoride-free toothpaste
Use the code: holidaysmile21

December is here already, and we are trying to limit the amount of gifts we purchase so the focus can remain on Christ this Christmas. With that thought in mind, it can be tricky to find a quality gift to give those you appreciate and love without resorting to food. While I love giving food, most people already have too many sweets around the holidays. What about a gift that helps combat all those party snacks?

That is why I am super happy to tell you that our friend over at Oral Essentials have put their entire line on sale for the month of December. You could give gifts that improve the health of your loved ones. You can also use these awesome products in those grab-bag office gift party swaps because everyone should brush their teeth - right?!

Arlene (age 17) has been on me for a week to reorder her some more of the Whitening Toothpaste because it is the first toothpaste she has ever actually liked using! I'll admit I was hooked on it the first day I tried it as well. It gets your teeth so clean you are sure they will squeak when you run your tongue over them. It has always been a challenge to get Arlene to brush her teeth - so of course I'm all for stocking up this month while there is a 15% sale going on! The Oral Essentials Holiday Sale started yesterday (December 1st) and runs through December 31st. You will need the coupon code: holidaysmile21 to receive the 15% discount.

There is a two-pack of the Whitening Toothpaste available, so now I know what to get for Arlene's stocking. :)

Oral Essentials Holiday Sale, fluoride-free toothpaste

Mark 4:24

Mark 4:24, Scripture Writing

Friday, December 1, 2017

Juicy Gems Pomegranate Frozen Arils ~ a Review

What is your favorite way to eat a pomegranate? Mine is to sprinkle the arils (seeds) over a bowl of granola or cereal and top it with a little almond milk. Of course, since pomegranates are a delicious, nutritious fruit, I also like to just eat them fresh... but I do not like the mess that happens when I try to open and de-seed a pomegranate in the kitchen. They are still yummy - but it looks a little like a crime scene if you walk in on me with my hands covered in pomegranate juice - LOL!

What? You've never had a pomegranate? You are missing out! It is time to change that.

punicalagin, juicy gems pomegranate arils

Imagine my delight to meet the friendly people from juicy gems who grow pomegranates out in sunny California and find out that they specialize in making them eater-friendly! No mess required. I'm in - sign me up! They invited me to try their pomegranate arils three ways: fresh, frozen, and dried. 

Just in case you are wondering, aril is another word for seed. Because so many people think of something hard and crunchy when they hear the word seed, and pomegranate arils are not hard and crunchy, I'm going to keep referring to them as arils ok? If you are wanting a texture comparison, the fresh and frozen arils are similar to the consistency of uncooked sweet corn. A little bit of texture, and a lot of juiciness. Oh - that gives me an idea for another salad to try!  The dried ones are similar to the consistency of dried cranberries, but smaller, and much sweeter. These pomegranate arils are tasty frozen, but eating them frozen is a treat for warm weather. Pomegranates are nutritious and delicious!

For this review the lovely people at juicy gems had me head over to our local Wal-Mart where you can find their 10 oz. bags of frozen arils in the frozen fruit aisle. One of the benefits of getting the frozen arils is that they stay fresh for a really long time. You can find their fresh arils at several retailers, but their frozen ones are right there at Wal-Mart, and is there anyone out there that does not drive by a Wal-Mart every month? Probably not! So stop in and pick up a couple bags of juicy gems the next time you are in the neighborhood.

juicy gems pomegranates, frozen fruit

I've been experimenting with using the pomegranate arils in different ways these past few weeks. My newest repeating recipes include them in a lot of salads. You can either put some of the arils in the fridge the night before and let them defrost before you add them to your salad, or you can do what I do and toss the frozen ones on your salad in the morning while you are making lunch, and by noonish they're defrosted anyway. :)

I've been keeping a steady supply of juicy gems defrosting in the fridge to put on my morning granola or other cereal. It has been unseasonable warm here this past month, so I have not had them in my hot oatmeal yet, but I'm pretty sure that will be happening next week when they're predicting snow. I just open the bag of frozen arils and pour about half of them into a resealable container and put them in the fridge at night for the next two or three days' breakfast treats. The 10 oz. bags contain 2 servings at a 3/4 cup serving size. Putting 3/4 of a cup of fruit in my 1 cup of granola every morning would be a bit overwhelming, so I usually use around 1/4 cup of the juicy gems pomegranate arils in my bowl of granola.

punicalagin, juicy gems pomegranate arils

My other new favorite use for the arils is as salad toppers. I made the most delicious salad by accident one day when I threw a bunch of leftovers in a container and topped them with juicy gems right before I headed out the door to work.

1 cup romaine lettuce
1/2 cup shaved turkey
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup juicy gems pomegranate arils
a generous slosh of honey mustard dressing

punicalagin, juicy gems pomegranate arils

I tried it again without the bell peppers and it was not as satisfying. Something about the combination of those arils with the peppers made this salad pop with flavor.

Then I got around to baking with the juicy gems. Oh yes, my family started laughing at me, but they were delicious baked with chicken, just adding a little sweetness ... although they loose their color when baked, so I've decided that next time I will set some defrosted arils aside to add as garnish after the chicken is baked. Yes, that is honey mustard dressing as a glaze for the chicken - I'm on a honey mustard kick this month. In December it will probably be raspberry vinaigrette, you should stop back by to see what I make next!

punicalagin, juicy gems pomegranate arils

I've been waiting for salmon to come up again on our menu rotation to try this latest salad, and it was worth the wait! I grilled the salmon and then put it over a bed of romaine lettuce which was generously seasoned with honey mustard... yes ~ pomegranates do work wonderfully with other dressings, or even no dressing if you'd like a dry salad ~ I'm just letting you in on what I did. :) So after the lettuce and dressing, I added the salmon, chopped green bell peppers, and about a quarter cup of juicy gems. It was delicious!

punicalagin, juicy gems pomegranate arils

Arlene and I have been working on a smoothie using juicy gems, crushed pineapple and chocolate whey powder. I'll let you know once we've perfected the recipe.

Just in case you love the challenge of de-seeding a pomegranate yourself... Arlene and I saw these lovely ones at Costco this morning! They have plenty - and they're juicy gems - so they'll  be delicious!

juicy gems pomegranates, eat healthy, punicalagin

Connect with juicy gems

I received free product in exchange for this honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions are mine, or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.