Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Design Your Day ~ book giveaway!



book giveaway, Design Your Day, Claire Diaz-Ortiz

Our friends over at Moody Publishers have provided us with an extra copy of Claire Diaz-Ortiz's small yet powerful book: Design Your Day. I really enjoyed reading this book and have already put several of the tips included inside into practice in my own life. 

We are happy to get to bless one of our readers with their own copy! You can read our review to find out more about the book. 

This is a short giveaway - it only goes through next Wednesday, December 6th - because we are planning to get it in the mail to the winner ASAP - hopefully for arrival before Christmas! The giveaway is open to US and Canadian addresses.

We have a couple other great giveaways planned for December - so be sure to come back and visit the blog often!


And now - the giveaway!






Isaiah 26:3



Isaiah 26:3, Scripture writing




Monday, November 27, 2017

Regular Girl Prebiotic Fiber & Probiotic Blend ~ Review

 This post contains affiliate links. Using these links does not cost you any extra, but helps fuel our blog - Thank you!


Regular Girl fiber, Sunfiber, regularity, Dr Poo


How many of us struggle with our regularity, especially during the holidays? I know I am not the only one, because I have the distinction amongst my friends of being the lady who gets to hear all the poop stories. Why? Probably because I've been studying nutrition for years, or maybe because I'm one of the few people I know who is consistently regular most of the year. I never understood why people had magazines in their bathrooms when I was growing up - why would anyone spend that much time in there? Then I hit adulthood, and the uncomfortable realization came that most of the people I knew were NOT regular.

What is a good definition of regular? It follows the 3-3-3 rule: you should go poo no more than 3 times a day, and no less than once every three days, and it should take you three minutes or less to go. To find out what your poo should look like, check out this handy chart from Dr. Poo.

In case you had not noticed, I'm not afraid to talk about good gut health, because I have been convinced for years that a healthy gut leads to a healthier body. When I met the people at Regular Girl I knew I had found some kindred spirits. They're not afraid to talk about gut health, poo, regularity, or clinical research. They want you to get regular, and stay that way. I always try to add some extra probiotics to my regime when the holidays come around, because I want to stay healthy. I was interested in trying Regular Girl for myself because I've tried several other fiber products out there in the market today, and I've found that many of them are either really clumpy and taste gross, or they are unrealistically expensive for everyday use. Regular girl solves both of those problems by having a clinically researched soluble dietary fiber that dissolves quickly and completely. 



I was pleasantly surprised to find that Regular Girl really did dissolve well, and that it had no taste, and no aftertaste. Please tell me I am not the only one who has struggled to swallow the last of that grit in the bottom of the glass from other fiber products?! Regular Girl comes in both convenient single serving packets, and in a 30 day pouch of scoopable fiber. I prefer the pouch for everyday use, as I can add it to my morning smoothie or a non-carbonated drink (like juice or cooled herbal tea) but I am sure I will appreciate the single serve packets more next Spring when I begin traveling again. Has anyone else ever noticed how the simple act of traveling, even when you eat the same as at home, can really do a number on your digestive flow? Yeah, no one wants to be constipated while camping or flying!

Regular Girl fiber, Sunfiber, regularity, Dr Poo

What else is there to love about Regular Girl? Besides being Non-dairy and Soy-free, Regular Girl: 
  • Contains 5 grams of soluble fiber (Sunfiber) and 8 billion CFU of Bifidobacterium lactis and nothing else
  • Low Calorie (10 kcal per serving)
  • Low FODMAP Certified
  • No taste, odor or grit.  Mix with your favorite cold or lukewarm beverage
  • Add to smoothies, cereals and more
Regular girl can be used for ongoing regularity, or for intermittent use. 
  • A true regulating fiber, improves both conditions of occasional constipation and poor elimination as well as occasional diarrhea and loose stools*
  • Unlike other prebiotic fibers, Regular Girl will not lead to a state of loose stools or diarrhea with frequent consumption*
* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

I am quite happy with the results of my daily consumption of Regular Girl. What I like even more is that while it is marketed for women, it can be used with children as young as nine months, and men as well. Ladies - if your husband is hogging the bathroom for all the wrong reasons - start giving him a daily dose of Regular Girl in his morning juice or smoothie before he heads out the door. You, and his co-workers, will be glad you did!

Regular Girl offers three purchase options: 
15 single serving packets in a reusable BPA-free water bottle
A pouch with 30 servings (scoop included!)
A pouch with 30 single serving packets 


*
Just for our readers, Regular Girl had provided a 10% discount on your first purchase with the coupon code:  HOMESWEETLIFE10


Connect with Regular Girl

Regular Girl, natural fiber, gluten-free fiber


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





Books With Bean ~ The Healer's Apprentice


Books With Bean, book reviews by teens, Melanie Dickerson



Title: The Healer’s Apprentice 

Author: Melanie Dickerson

Published: 2010

Genre: Romance/Young Adult/ Fairytale Retelling

Summary: Rose is the daughter of a woodcutter but has been taken in to apprentice to the castle Healer. Rose feels really blessed because this means she doesn't have to get married and can learn to read and write. There is just one problem, Rose gets queasy at the sight of blood. While she is learning the sons of the local Duke of Hagenheim come home from studying at university. One day while the castle healer is out Lord Hamlin, the next Duke of Hagenheim comes in injured and it is up to Rose to take care of him. As she does so, Rose finds herself discovering new feelings and becoming attracted to to future Duke. There are however several problems, Rose is just a healer's apprentice and besides that Lord Hamlin is already betrothed to the mysterious Lady Salomea. 

What I liked about it: Historical medieval fairytale retelling? Count me in! I loved this book and all of her other books (yes I’ve read them all). Melanie’s books are  so interesting. The medieval world of this series is amazing and I can't wait for her next book to come out.  

Language: I cannot remember any.

Romance: Well it is a romance book so yes, there is romance. Kissing is kept to the normal kiss on the back of the hand for greeting a lady until the end of the book when they live happily ever after, but even then it is kissing but nothing detailed. 
While Rose is working she also becomes introduced to the Duke’s younger son who becomes infatuated with Rose. He is wild and loves to follow his whims and not his parent's orders, but as a younger son he inherits nothing so he must either become a Priest or marry a heiress. While he believes he will soon become a Priest, he knows he won't be able to get married so he asks Rose to become his mistress. However Rose is greatly appalled by his offer and immediately refuses him and leaves the situation. 

Violence: There is a little bit of violence but nothing gory.

Magic: Lord Hamlin is not yet married because his betrothed is under attack by a man who wishes her harm. The man finds her and tries to sprinkle a powder on her. This is the only magic-like thing in Ms. Dickerson’s books because she writes them to be realistic in their real world setting. So this man is portrayed as dealing with some dark power however its not really gone into. 


Recommended Age: Well since it is a romance I would say 14 or 15 to start.

Books With Bean, book reviews by teens, Melanie Dickerson




Sunday, November 26, 2017

Your Picture Your Story




Why do we take pictures?

Have you thought about that recently?

In this digital age where it seems like so many lives are not really lived amongst and around us, but are just snippets of social media strung together- why do we still take pictures? Are we trying to impress, are we trying to avoid, are we trying to remember?

Your pictures may never win a prize in a photography contest, but they are still yours. We take pictures to tell a story - either to share with others, or just to remind ourselves of our stories - of our lives. Your picture tells your story. But - unless you tell me more about it, I may not understand why you took that picture, what story you wanted to remember, what feeling you were trying to capture.

So tell your story


Tell me why you took that photo where the ice cream is dripping down the side of the cone, or the one where your dog is buried in soap bubbles. Tell me about that sparkle in your Grandma's eye, or the look of concentration on the face of your five year old. 

I really enjoy taking photographs, even more, I like printing the good ones out and framing them! Ha! 

But, I do not tell the stories behind the photos often enough. So from now on, I'll be going back through old photos and telling you some stories. Some may be funny, some sad, but they will let you in on a piece of my life, and maybe they will inspire you to share the stories behind your own photos with those around you. We were made to belong to communities, to fellowship with other people, to feel. Stories let us do that.

Let us embrace that humanness of our lives where we share stories again, where we linger to finish a conversation instead of hurrying from one moment to the next. Let's decide to live again - a deep, meaningful life lived with other people where stories help us connect, where the story of your life intersects with my story.  Your photos may be blurry or crooked, but they are yours. Find one of your pictures, and tell your story!



Carol on the top of Mount Baldy
Kurt took this picture of me several years ago - it was 2011. We had taken a trip for our anniversary, the first time we had done that since our honeymoon 17 years before. We had left the girls at my mom's house for the weekend, and we were going to spend 48 hours away. We had decided to go to the Indiana Dunes on Lake Michigan. Neither of us had been before, weird - since I had spent my life living in Indiana, that I had never been. But - it was a beach, and we wanted to go to a beach - and the Indiana Lakeshore wasthe only one close enough to drive to. This picture is of me standing on the top of Mount Baldy, one of the large sand dunes.  I had climbed a mountain - well, not really, but at 120+ feet tall, climbing to the top of Mount Baldy was a serious hike! I had made it, and I stopped taking pictures long enough for Kurt to snap this picture of me to show the girls that Mama had climbed all the way up by herself!

This picture will never win a photography contest, yet it reminds me of an adventure we had. It reminds me of the next trip we took to the Dunes - when we took the girls with us, and we climbed up together. And now, it reminds me that you can only take a hike up Mount Baldy if you join a guided tour with a ranger, because Mount Baldy has developed some pretty scary holes - probably brought on by rotting trees that the shifting sands have buried over the past 80 years. So now visitors climb other dunes, and appreciate Mount Baldy from the shoreline trail.

Today - this picture reminds me that mountains can be conquered, and I can be the conquerer!

Isaiah 25:9




Isaiah 25:9, Scripture writing





Friday, November 24, 2017

Familiar





Five minute friday writing prompt, familiar, family heritage


What are the tastes, sights, and sounds of your childhood? Those things that are familiar to you, even when you meet them in unexpected places? For me it is often the sights and scents of nature - seeing trees or flowers that remind me of my childhood. Sometimes it is something I had almost forgotten - like the handholds carved in the rock at a state park, or the color of gooseberries. 

So many of those things that are familiar to me are that way because they remind me of my family. Trips we have taken or foods that someone loved. I recently chuckled because a family member commented on my Grandpa's love of gooseberry pie. Although Grandpa passed from this life to his eternal one 35 years ago, I can still remember him talking to Grandma about baking a gooseberry pie. 

Those familiar things get passed on to our children - like a pumpkin pie recipe or a love of walks in the woods. Those things that bring us joy or comfort are the things we like to share the most. I hope to remember to look for the familiar things, the comforting things, in my daily life, and not wait for a holiday or special occasion to share them with those I love.



This post is in response to Kate's prompt of the week: familiar. To learn more about the Five minute Friday group, and how to join in the fun, hop on over to Kate's blog.


The Hush of Black Friday at Home



black friday alternatives, contentment, family time


This morning, while millions of people were out shopping at the Black Friday sales, Arlene and I were enjoying the hush of home. Were you? We spent time doing things that just never seem to get done, like organizing books, and cleaning out my desk. No rushing, no long lines, no craziness - just the contentment of knowing we would be fine without whatever gadget everyone else wanted to be first in line for.

Sometimes we struggle with contentment. That is why I am focusing on Jesus for these 40 days before Christmas. If my eyes are on Him, they will not be on me, or on the things of the world around me. I can celebrate Christ as the true and real reason for the Christmas season if I remember that His gift was the perfect one for the hole in every heart.



I almost did not write anything today, because I knew if your inbox is anything like mine, it is bursting at the seams with Black Friday ads. 


But I wanted to write you a note - just to remind you how much you are loved! I needed to tell you that God's grace is big enough to fill all the emptiness you might be facing. And I needed to remind myself to enjoy the hush... of a Friday spent at home.




Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Fuel Snacks from Foodie Fuel ~ a review

Foodie Fuel, nutrient dense snacks, organic snacks, coconut sugar snacks


My favorite snacks are ones that taste delicious while still being good for you. Often I find myself short on time and long on hunger, so I need to keep a supply of nutritious snacks at hand, both at home and in my car. Snacks for at home are simple, I can grab a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit as I stroll through the kitchen. Snacks for my car can be a real challenge. I cannot just leave a bunch of bananas on the backseat until I am hungry for them, and it can get messy trying to eat from a package of mixed nuts while driving down the highway. What's an active girl to do? I must eat, otherwise my mommy attitude gets replaced by one that more resembles a monster. I found a great solution: Foodie Fuel snacks!

Back in October I was introduced to the Foodie Fuel company and their oh-so-delicious snacks at the MomsMeet WOW Summit. Besides being a great organic, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly snacks to bridge that time in the afternoon when you're craving something a little sweet, these fuel snacks come in four flavors. Why is that important you're wondering? I'll tell you: as much as I like chocolate, I cannot be eating it every time I need a healthy car-snack. Too often I have found health-food companies focusing on everything chocolate, and not having enough alternative flavors. 


Foodie Fuel, nutrient dense snacks, organic snacks


I was pleasantly surprised to find the Fuel Snacks from Foodie Fuel come in four unique flavors: Butter Toffee, Cinnamon Ginger, Coconut Vanilla, and Swiss Chocolate. Then - I tasted them - oh my! Deliciousness! I'll readily admit I went back by their booth a second, and then a third time to try the snacks all over again. Each flavor is distinctly unique, and the texture is somewhat crunchy, yet lightly chewy. It looks like a cracker, but tastes more like a cookie. Butter Toffee tastes the sweetest to me, but with only 8 grams of sugar per serving while still providing 2 grams of fiber and 4 grams of protein  it is satisfying while not actually being that sweet. All of these flavors are made with low-glycemic, slow-burning carbs, healthy fats, and complete proteins. 

Cinnamon Ginger scored high with my husband on flavor, as he agreed that it was good, but knowing my tendency to not-share while hungry, his consumption of Fuel Snacks was limited. :) Arlene said this flavor reminded her of walking into a country store, with spices, candles, and pie.

Swiss Chocolate is actually lower in sugar, with only 4 grams of sugar per serving, while still being quite tasty! One of the reasons these remain so good-for-you while tasting divine is the use of organic coconut sugar as the sweetener. The different flavors are all made with various combinations of nutrient dense food sources like: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, coconut sugar, golden flax seeds, sea salt, and natural flavors.

My absolute favorite flavor is the Coconut Vanilla Fuel Snack! Sadly, this bag was gone all too soon. I will need to order some more right away. Thankfully, the awesome folks at Foodie Fuel who provided me with this box of goodness filled with Fuel Snacks for this review also provided me with a discount code for all of you, our readers, to use to order your own Fuel Snacks. From today through December 31st, 2017, you can enter the promo code Homesweetlife at checkout to receive 25% off your order. That means you too can enjoy these delicious snacks, at home or on the go. By clicking on the pictures on the Shop page of their website, you can see the nutrition label and the ingredients list for each flavor.


Foodie Fuel, nutrient dense snacks, organic snacks


Fuel Snacks from Foodie Fuel come in two sizes: 2 oz (2 servings) or 4 oz (4 servings). The smaller bags are great for throwing in your purse, backpack, or gym bag, The larger ones are great for sharing, for using at home, for recipes like those found on their blog, and for gifting! Need any ideas for a foodie, athlete, or outdoorsman on your Christmas list? These would be superb! You can order in individual quantities of each flavor, or by the case. The 2 oz size comes in a case of 12 pouches, the 4 oz size in cases of 6 pouches.

Foodie Fuel's Fuel Snacks can be found in over 1200 stores nationwide, and their website has a handy store locator feature.

Now remember, you can get that 25% discount for your online order through 12/31/17 by entering Homesweetlife at checkout!

Connect with Foodie Fuel
Facebook
Instagram
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Pinterest




I received free Fuel Snacks from Foodie Fuel 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 my own, or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC regulations.



Monday, November 20, 2017

Books With Bean ~ The Eye of Minds


Books With Bean, book reviews by teens, Eye of Minds, James Dashner



Title: The Eye of Minds 

Author: James Dashner 

Published: 2013

Genre: Young Adult/ Science Fiction 

Summary: Michael and his friends Bryson and Sarah are gamers. They spend most of their time in the VirtNet, a full immersion virtual reality gaming world that is the place to be. Michael and his friends are among the top hackers and gamers who love playing games and having fun in the VirtNet, but their safety and the safety of the VirtNet is in trouble. A new gamer named Kaine is a name floating around the VirtNet and it doesn't mean anything good. So now the VNS (VirtNet Security) has asked Michael and his friends to follow the clues and stop Kaine and bring safety back to the VirtNet. After following the first clues they find themselves on the Path. A place deep in the VirtNet and now they have to survive the Path and find Kaine and bring him down.

What I liked about it: You probably recognize the name James Dashner as the writer of the extremely popular Maze Runner series. This is very interesting but very different. I read the first Maze Runner book and it wasn't really my thing, so I honestly do not even know why I picked this up in this first place, not having really liked his other books, but I did and I don’t regret it. The world is super interesting and I found myself liking Michael and his friends, the mystery of who Kaine is and what he is trying to do is interesting and it kept me interested throughout all three books.

Language: There is some mild swearing.

Romance: There isn't romance in the first book, however they do go to a dance club during the beginning of the book to find out how to get to Kaine and it does mention that the woman are in kind of skimpy clothing but it is in passing and small sentence. Also Bryson does make a few  mildly dirty jokes. 

Violence: One of the games they have to go through is a war game and the people get really mauled up which he describes in moderate detail.

Magic: In virtual reality a person can do anything and they mention that there are magic games in the VirtNet but they don’t go through them in the book.


Recommended Age: 13-14 and up is a good age.




Books With Bean, book reviews by teens, Eye of Minds, James Dashner




Thursday, November 16, 2017

Thankful Thursdays ~ Graciousness



graciousness, thankfulness, thankful Thursdays



Graciousness - n. courteousness, kindness, pleasantness

I am so thankful for the graciousness of attitude I have encountered so much in recent weeks. So many times I have found myself thankful for a kind cashier at the store, a well-spoken word from a friend, or the overwhelming grace of our Lord.

As I sat thinking yesterday about it being 40 days until Christmas, I was overwhelmed by how gracious God has been to me. It made me pause and think about how much I want to celebrate the goodness of God this season. All day today, little things kept reminding me of His faithfulness and provision.

When you find someone being gracious, notice it, remember it, and try to do likewise. 

If we all spent our time showing graciousness, instead of trying to be "right" all the time, the world would be a much nicer place.

What are you thankful for today?


SchoolhouseTeachers.com flash sale ending soon!

Just in case you've missed hearing about it, I wanted to let you know that one of our favorite online resources, SchoolhouseTeachers.com is having a flash sale through this Friday 11/17/17. Purchase an annual membership, get the second year free, and you'll receive a cool SchoolhouseTeachers.com tote bag. I use my tote a lot. It's sturdy and roomy. 

So remember - the sale is only through Friday. If you'd like to read more about some of the resources available on SchoolhouseTeachers.com, head over and read our past reviews, or this one from January of this year, or this one from last year focused on High School resources.





This post contains affiliate links. Thanks for helping support our blog.

Rock of Ages




hand lettered songs





Wednesday, November 15, 2017

40 Days of Christmas ~ Seeking Jesus in our everyday lives




40 days of Christmas, seeking Jesus, celebrating Christ


Today marks 40 days until Christmas

Instead of letting that news send you into a mad rush to buy, decorate, and give before December 25th, let's try something a little different this year. 

This year let's choose to celebrate Jesus every day for the next 40 days. Let's turn this into a season of celebration. Let's choose to look around us and look for Jesus and His work in our everyday lives. If we want to spend November being thankful, what better way than to be thankful for all Christ has done for us. If we want to focus our hearts in December, let's spend Advent not just thinking about the birth of Christ and preparing for His arrival, but also, asking Him to have all of our year, all of our lives, and to work on making us more like Him.

For the next 40 days, let us spend time daily reading God's word, let us commit to pray for those around us, and let us think past the material presents that may or may not be given this year, and instead focus on the eternal present of forgiveness offered through Christ's death and resurrection.

May you be drawn into a closer relationship with Christ this Christmas season.



Looking for more encouragement? Hop over to the Homeschool Blog Link Up every Friday!

Mark 3:24-25



Scripture Writing, Mark 3:24-25





Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Read with Liberty

American history, Rush Revere, Liberty, American patriots


Do your children enjoy learning about history? Have you read any of the Rush Revere books? Right now is a great time to get your children interested in history if they are not already, because the Rush Revere series of books offers the chance to learn about early American history, with the fun of a few special characters, especially Liberty, the talking horse.

If you are not familiar with the Rush Revere books, take a look at our review of the series from back in June. Arlene has read all of them over the years, but the review was her first chance to own a complete set of her own. 

American history, Rush Revere, Liberty, American patriots


I have known for quite a while that Rush and Kathryn Adams Limbaugh were generous people, and the opportunity we had to review the book set earlier this year confirmed that. Right now they are hosting a Read with Liberty campaign that ends on January 31, 2018. There are two separate categories, one for individuals, one for groups. So whether you read the books at home, in your classroom, or at a homeschool co-op, there is a fun way for you to enter. Read from your favorite book, with your plush Liberty by your side, or on your lap, and then write a letter to Liberty telling about your adventures. You could win treasures from Liberty's treasure chest, cool gadgets (from Apple - thanks Rush!) or a pizza party for your group.

If you don't already have a plush Liberty of your own, you can pick one up at the All American store for $25.99 plus shipping. Arlene has a Liberty, and they frequently read books together. No, it's not just for little kids, at 17, Arlene and Liberty still read together...and most afternoons they listen to Rush's show as well. :)

So, if you're thinking about gifts for the holidays, or if someone special has an upcoming birthday, why not bless them with a stuffed Liberty, and a few good history books to read as well? Liberty has frequently kept me company when I'm writing, but I'm pretty sure Liberty prefers spending time with Arlene, because she shares her licorice! ;)

American history, Rush Revere, Liberty, American patriots