Do You Brush Your Teeth Enough…

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I will shamefully confess that one of my healthy ambitions this year is to be more diligent about my dental hygiene.  There. I said it.  How pathetic, right?  But truly, I haven’t been always so diligent.  Working from home is one reasons I blame for my sometimes lack of dental diligence.  But really, I’m pretty sure pure laziness and habit play a bigger role.  I *know* flossing is important, but do I floss on a regular basis?  Um, yeah, no.  I *know* brushing teeth at least twice a day is very important, but do I always do so?  Um… well, I think you get the picture.  Oh, and if you want to be encouraged to do a better job of it – just do some researching on the areas of health – besides the actual mouth – that are or could be hurt by having subpar brushing/flossing habits.

So when Toilet Tree asked if I would like to do a review on something in their line, my eye went to their sonic toothbrushes and this thing I had never heard of, and frankly, sounded a bit like something that would be most unpleasant – an oral irrigator, and I noticed they had a combo unit.  I am proud to say I have *diligently* been brushing and …irrigating? (lol, that doesn’t sound right.. but it’s like flossing, so I’ll just say flossing from here on out, k?) for about a month or a little bit more.  My teeth feel very clean, whiter, and my gums have even been less puffy and red and more a pink like they should be.  I have used an electric toothbrush before, so that wasn’t much to get used to.  I like the features this has – with the 3 speeds it is very customizable.  But the irrigator – that thing honestly kind of scared me, haha.  It shoots water at you through this very small nozzle at a surprising pressure/speed.  I’m still working on not getting water misted up on the mirror, but it is now quite fun to use!  I started using it on the least pressure setting (soft)  and tried the normal setting the one day and my gums bled, so I knew it was working!  I continued to use the soft pressure setting for about 1-2 weeks because I didn’t want to make my gums sore.  But now I like to go back and forth between the soft setting and the pulse setting.  The actual unit is sleek and quite nice looking.  It’s easy to hold and operate, and it’s all together, which is nice.

What is one area you are putting more effort into this year?  It’s the end of February, I know, but everyone always starts out strong early January, (and then often falls away from their plans) so I think a month or so in it’s a good reminder – if you’ve fallen off the path of any of your healthy habits, now is just as good a time as any to get back on the path!

Have you ever used an oral irrigator before?

The Mark of the King by Jocelyn Green review

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The Mark of the King (Bethany House, January 2017)

Sweeping historical fiction set at the edge of the continent

After being imprisoned and branded for the death of her client, twenty-five-year-old midwife Julianne Chevalier trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling 1720s French colony of Louisiana, where she hopes to be reunited with her brother, serving there as a soldier. To make the journey, though, women must be married, and Julianne is forced to wed a fellow convict.

When they arrive in New Orleans, there is no news of Benjamin, Julianne’s brother, and searching for answers proves dangerous. What is behind the mystery, and does military officer Marc-Paul Girard know more than he is letting on?

With her dreams of a new life shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous, rugged land, despite never being able to escape the king’s mark on her shoulder that brands her a criminal beyond redemption.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2iKM4uj

My Thoughts:

Wow, I really enjoyed this book!  Not enjoy in an easy-going summer flippant read at the beach sort of thing, but a truly great piece of writing – that grabs your soul and mind and heart and doesn’t let go!  Easy summer reading may have its place (it’s not my first preference, though).  This had a bit of everything, from moments of heartbreak, shear terror, moments of joy, of excitement.  One minute I was rooting for a character because I believed redemption could occur, and the next minute I wasn’t sure just what to hope for. I would cry for how people were treated, then cry some more because of loss or even the illusion of things lost.  To be able to send a reader on such an emotionally turbulent ride – to me – is a sign of a great writer.  As you’ve probably gathered from my past book reviews, I love history, and historical fiction when mixed with a powerful Christian message is probably my favorite literary genre/subcategory.  I really didn’t remember much from my school days about the early colonization of Louisiana in the 1700s (if I learned much about it, I had forgotten), and so the historical element was so intriguing to me, as well as their interactions with the Indians.

No, this is not a book to read as easy fill-in-some-time kind of read, but it will draw you in and not let go.  It will cause you to have all kinds of emotions.  It will cause you to stay up late to finish reading it.  If that’s your idea of a good read, then I highly recommend you get busy reading!  🙂

See what other people are saying: http://litfusegroup.com/author/jgreen

*I was given a copy for free through Litfuse.  I was not required to give a positive review and the opinions and views expressed are my own.

12 Days of Christmas Giveaways: Charise Noel Jewelry

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I’m so excited to share about this giveaway series – I’ve joined together with some other amazing bloggers and we will be having various giveaways over the next 12 days – each giveaway being open for 1 week, with the final giveaway ending on Christmas day!  Today’s giveaway is one I am super excited about because I am loving it and think so many of you will too, either for yourself or to gift to someone special in your life.

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I heard about Charise Noel from a friend, who heard about her from a friend,…  Her designs are just so pretty, classic, simple, and feminine, and I just love how easy they are to wear – no annoying tiny clasp that takes 18749 seconds to clasp.

Charise was kind enough to allow me to ask her some questions regarding her jewelry and her company:

Q: How did you get started with Charise Noel Jewelry? 

I never thought I would make jewelry as my passion and purpose in life.   Growing up I wasn’t interested in fashion.   I was interested in helping others.  However, I started making jewelry when I had both of my feet operated on at the same time and needed something to keep my hands busy since I couldn’t walk and was going crazy!  A friend gave me her tools and pearls because she thought she would make jewelry, but she found she never had the time.   As a 6th and 7th grade math and science teacher, I had put a mathematical equation together using the principals of the pulley system to eliminate the dainty clasp on delicate necklaces.  I had done this because my mom, who was a stage 4 breast cancer survivor, had lost dexterity in both hands and couldn’t wear her favorite jewelry any more.  I took the equation that I had already figured out and the tools and materials that my friend had given to me and thought I would see if my equation worked.  I sat and pieced the materials together and what I saw in my head I miraculously could make with my hands.  I made my first pearl necklace for my mom to try and the equation worked!

Q: Is there a creative process you go through to deciding what new designs are added to your collection?
Yes, I am a story teller with jewelry.  I make jewelry that is the easiest to wear and includes everyone.  The saying “the more the merrier” is a mantra for me.  I want everyone to be included in my jewelry, to find a necklace and say “this is me”.  If I have a purpose, a story, a cause, anything that is lovely and redemptive, then I get inspired from it and want to express that in my jewelry.  I draw inspiration for my jewelry designs from scripture and from people’s life stories, like my friend and actress Venda who has struggled with diabetes since childhood.  There are endless inspiring stories and causes.  I am blessed to be an artist who can portray the difficulties and hardships of life as beautiful jewelry.

I have needed a new creative perspective from time to time, like when ladies kept asking for a necklace that had charms.  And I would tell them “NO, I’m not a charm-y girl.”  I like individual charms, however when you put a cluster of charms together, it looks cluttered and makes noise . . . two things I don’t like.  So when I created my Magic line, it was my solution to the request of customers for charms.  I had to open my mind up to creating a charm necklace that I would like.  I don’t call them charms, though.  I call them Magic Endings, because they dangle off the ends but the individual endings are easily seen.  Now ladies get to collect Magic Endings that represent their favorite things in life, and I get to make a necklace that is elegant and simple.
Q: What is the most difficult thing about owning your own business? 

One word…Perseverance.  You make money and lose money, face obstacles and figure out solutions, and accept failures as graciously as you enjoy successes.  When you are building a business it can get messy.  There is no such thing as a perfectly happy story without mistakes and or tough lessons.  Although it is your own business, nobody can do it all on their own.  We need the help and support of others.  The decisions are yours and yours alone, because you have to be able to live with the outcome.  However, when there is a need, a calling, a purpose that is bigger than YOU, then you are not alone in it.  There is a need to work with others and allow God to do the impossible through you.

Q: What is the most rewarding thing about owning your own business?

I am passionate about making jewelry that is the easiest you have ever used, regardless of your age or physical ability.  When I see a 3 year old who doesn’t know how to tie their own shoelaces, or a 93 year old with poor eyesight and trembling hands, easily put my necklace on and take it off by them self, my purpose is complete and that is success!  I just feel like screaming “SEE, YOU DID IT” but I don’t have to, because the first thing that comes out of their mouth is even more precious.  They look at me with wonder and say “I DID IT”!

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Charise sent me a Teresa Classic Beauty necklace (22″) as well as a Solitaire Magic Necklace with Magic Endings to review, and I am over the moon about them.  I have worn both, and they are so versatile.  Surprisingly, even though the Teresa has a pink/peach hue to it, it goes with so many outfits and has a beautiful mother of pearl/iridescent quality to it.  Here is the story behind the Teresa: “The Teresa necklace was designed for my Aunt who has crippling  Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) for her to wear a dainty necklace every day that she can quickly do herself.  The pink color is for joy and the coin pearls lay flat because she is dear to my heart.”  Isn’t that just lovely?  I love hearing the inspiration behind the creations – makes them more meaningful.

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The Solitaire Magic Necklace is also so very versatile.  Because of the design, it can be worn in more ways – as a simple necklace without using any Magic Endings.  Or you can put it on just like the Classic Beauty necklaces, and then attach the Magic Endings of your choice to the magnets and get such a variety of looks.  Her Magic Endings also are used in her Magic Earrings, so even more functionality and swapability there!

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Would you like to win your own Teresa Classic Beauty necklace (22″) AND a Magic Necklace with 2 sets of Magic Endings?!?! Your Magic Set will come with the Solitaire Magic Necklace plus the pearl drop Magic Endings and an angel wing with blue gray bead Magic Endings, which equals 3 different necklaces plus the Teresa (plus who says you have to wear both the pearls or both the wings together – you could do one of each for a fourth look). Just enter the giveaway below for a chance to win big!  🙂  (here are pics of the actual Teresa necklace you will win, as well as the Angel Wings Magic Endings, the Solitaire Magic Necklace by itself, and the Pearl Magic Endings.)

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Also, as if Charise hasn’t been  generous enough, she has graciously given a code – LeafyNotBeefy – that is good for 72 hours from now for 50% off everything in her shop!!!  Yes, 50% off!!  These would make great gifts!

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Cold-Case Christianity for Kids

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Some unexpected blog hiccups, but I’m back!  Felt like way too long, and I’m sorry!  Today, I have a way overdue review of a book for children called Cold-Case Christianity for Kids by J. Warner Wallace and Susie Wallace.

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Between the ages of 8 and 12, kids often start to wonder if Christianity is true.

In Cold-Case Christianity for Kids, detective J. Warner Wallace draws readers into the thrill of high-stakes investigation by showing them how to think rather than telling them what to think. In this children’s companion to the bestselling Cold-Case Christianity, detective Wallace gets kids excited about testing witnesses, examining the evidence, and investigating the case for Christianity. Includes author illustrations and links to a website where kids can download activities, fill in case notes, and earn a certificate of merit.

Detective Wallace gets kids excited about testing witnesses, examining the evidence, and investigating the case for Christianity.

Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2dZcyq2

About the authors:

J. Warner and Susie Wallace have been training young people in the church setting for over a decade. J. Warner is a cold-case homicide detective who has been featured on Dateline, FOX News, Court TV and other crime-related television shows. A former atheist, he is the author of Cold-Case Christianity God’s Crime Scene and Forensic Faith. He has a master’s degree in theology and is the founder of ColdCaseChristianity.com. Susie has a master’s degree in speech pathology and co-writes (and edits) all the kids books in this series. J. Warner and Susie have four children and live in southern California.

My Thoughts

I am planning on giving this to my 10-year-old nephew – I know he will love it because he likes solving mysteries and “who-dun-it” type stuff.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, as I had never read any of Mr. Wallace’s previous books – seeing him on God’s Not Dead 2 was my first exposure, so when I realized it was the topic of defending our faith but written for the child perspective, I was keen to review.

The wording is at just the right level – not at all too far above the target age group, but never below or dumbing anything down either.  There are illustrations throughout, as well as little blurbs on the sides with things like “CSI”, “Dip Deep”, and “Detective Definitions” – short “assignments” that reinforce or further expound on the topic of each chapter.  I especially though the tie-in of the Internet resources was great, since kids are so wired it’s just natural for them.  There are downloadable fill-in sheets for each chapter as well as a downloadable certificate of promotion (which is also in the book, but your child or loved one may want a bigger version), which makes it all feel more “official”.  It is a relatively short read – just right, though, for the age group.  Can’t think of anything negative to say about this book that reads/feels like an adventure/fiction book, but teaches invaluable reasoning, investigative, and Biblical principles.

*This book was provided complimentary from Litfuse Publicity.  All my reviews are honest and true to my thoughts.

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I’ve been working on a total redo of a room – can’t wait to share some pictures!  I’m really happy with how it has changed and how it looks!  Also have some recent foodie finds I want to share! And how can it be nearly Thanksgiving!?!

Starving Hearts by Janine Mendenhall Review/Giveaway

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Starving Hearts

 

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Since her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage.

She yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God’s existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way. . . .

Mr. Peter Adsley is joining the clergy, and he desires a godly wife by his side. After a failed attempt to obtain one, he engages in a clandestine meeting with the bewitching young woman who keeps crossing his path. But she is so unsettling.

Destined for disappointments, Peter and Annette both endure disgraceful situations. Will Peter’s faith sustain him through overwhelming setbacks? Can Annette overcome her doubts? Or will their starving hearts yield to the machinations of a mad man?

Will Annette’s search for love and acceptance replace the loss and hurt in her heart? Find out in Janine Mendenhall’s book one, Starving Hearts, of the Triangular Trade Trilogy. Since her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage. But she yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God’s existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way. . . .

MY THOUGHTS:

So much to love about this story – It is *not* an everything-is-perfect, boy-meets-girl, they-fall-in-love-and-live-happily-ever-after story.  It is how your faith and strength is tested in the hardest of circumstances, when all seems to be lost, and you don’t know how anything will be okay again story – which means that redemption is a theme I picked up on in this book as well as trust.

In many books, there are at least some characters or something in the story itself that is a bit unrealistic or something that kind of sticks out to you as not being right, and usually the story is otherwise written well enough that you overlook it.  However, I really didn’t think that about any of the story – the dialogue, the characters, the plots throughout…all seemed very much believable and they all flowed together seamlessly.  There also wasn’t any confusion on my part as I read it, going back and forth between characters (admittedly, that’s something I frequently struggle with in books…keeping things/characters straight).

While there are several characters who are quite unlikeable, the two main characters are both very likeable.  Annette has her health, her mother, and her potential arranged marriage to concern her, while Peter has to search his soul and come to terms with many things going on in his family and the business he didn’t want to play a part in.  They both experience very deep losses that make you wonder how a person could manage to keep on going. I especially loved the strong character  Janine gave Peter- no weakness or sit back and let whatever happen happen.  He is a very godly man who has a strength of character that is so refreshing.  Without giving away any of the ending, this story has a lot of everything and you don’t really know what’s going to happen until the end (you have your guesses, but keep reading!).

Join in the search for love and acceptance with Janine and Starving Hearts by entering to win the Delightful Heart Gift Pack Giveaway.

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One grand prize winner will receive:

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Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on September 12. The winner will be announced September 13 on Janine’s blog.

starving hearts - enterbanner*As a LitFuse Publicity blogger, I was provided a copy to facilitate this review.