Super Girls and Halos: A Review

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When I was given the chance to review Maria Morera Johnson’s book Super Girls and Halos: My Companions on the Quest for Truth, Justice, and Heroic Virtue I jumped at the opportunity.  Not only was I intrigued by the title, but who wouldn’t want to read a book by someone whose most recent prizewinning bestseller was entitled My Badass Book of Saints?
I wasn’t disappointed as the book lives up to its title.  It grabbed my attention right at the beginning when the author revealed one of her earliest heroes:  Lieutenant Nyota Uhura of the Starship Enterprise.  Anyone who knows me and my family knows how we feel about Star Trek.  I knew immediately that Mrs. Johnson and I were kindred spirits.
You will never read another book that explores saints and their virtues the way this one does.  Mrs. Johnson blends her personal stories and insights with tales of secular heroines and saints who together exemplify similar virtues.  The Cardinal Virtues of Justice, Prudence, Fortitude, and Temperance are revealed to the reader via the stories of such pop culture icons as Wonder Woman, Dana Scully, Hermione Granger, and Katniss Everdeen, along with the lives of saints like St. Clare of Assisi, St. Mary Magdalene, St. Cunegunde, and St. Kateri Tekakwitha.
These engaging stories are accompanied by explication of the virtues from The Catechism of the Catholic Church and steps for the reader to follow to strive to attain each of them.  And although readers will be learning a lot about saints and virtues, it will feel more like  listening to stories told by a friend.
In her introduction, Mrs. Johnson recounts a moving story of her father’s excitement while watching the first moon landing on television, and how he encouraged her to put her little hand on the screen so that she could touch the future.  She writes:  “My dad, who was my hero, had heroes of his own.  It was a small lesson with a big impact: grown-ups had heroes who were other grown-ups . . . today, grown-up me has lots of grown-up heroes.  I call them saints.”
Reading this book encouraged me to think about my own heroes, and specifically about the saints who have inspired me.  I was a little girl when I first read The Song of Bernadette.  Later I chose St. Bernadette to be my Confirmation saint.
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Bernadette Soubirous was a humble young woman, impoverished and uneducated, who did not aspire to renown.  She found within herself unexpected faith and courage after the Blessed Mother appeared to her.  Once these apparitions ended she was content to enter religious life and lived in seclusion until her painful death from bone cancer at 34.  She refused offers to travel to the miraculous spring at Lourdes, remembering Mary’s words to her: “I cannot promise you happiness in this world but only in the next.”  Unquestioning faith, obedience, and humility are virtues I have yet to achieve but hope to through her intercession and example.
Several bloggers received free copies of Super Girls and Halos from Ave Maria Press in exchange for honest reviews.  There are 15 stops on this blog tour, and a giveaway is part of the fun! Please click below to enter.
Super Girls and Halos Giveaway
To read more Super Girls and Halos Blog Tour posts, click below:
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Who are your secular heroes?  What about your Saint Super Girl?  I’d love to hear if you’d care to share in the comments!

Sponsored Review: LipSense Lasts!

I was a sophomore in high school when I first discovered makeup.  I remember how much fun I had experimenting back then.  I can even remember the name of my favorite lipstick!

Nowadays, though, makeup is a special occasion thing for me.  So you might find it surprising that I am writing a review of a lip product that I received in exchange for my honest opinion.

And it’s a pretty glowing review, y’all.  When I do take time to put on makeup, I reach for lipstick first.  And what’s always so frustrating is how soon the lipstick wears off.  That’s why I am absolutely thrilled with LipSense, which is billed as being “waterproof, kiss-proof, and smear-proof.”  It’s also lead-free, wax free, cruelty free, gluten free, vegan, and kosher.  Pretty impressive, huh?
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As you can see in the picture above, LipSense comes in tubes with an applicator wand.  I received two tubes, one of a color and the second of a gloss.  You apply the color in three layers to start, then wait a few seconds before finishing off with the gloss.  They are meant to be worn together, and there are so many fun combinations of shades you can try.

In case I haven’t been clear, I really love this stuff.  I like the wand because it gives you control to stay in the lines while applying.  I like the colors I chose.  But most of all, I like how long LipSense stays on my lips.  It really does stay on through a good part of a day, even through eating.  The advertising states that it should last for 4-18 hours.  Mine has always lasted longer than four hours.  It’s amazing!

Sponsored: TurnGram

The world is making sure we know that CHRISTMAS IS COMING.  And that’s why I am getting many requests to share products with you here on the blog.  As a US Family Guide blogger I get offers to share with you, and a free product to try in exchange for my honest review.
Today  I’m talking about TurnGram and I am sincerely excited about trying this service.  Back when I had an actual film camera I used to get triple prints, one set for us, one set for my husband to share with his family, and one set for me to share with the many people I wrote letters to.  Those days are over and although I take far more pictures than I did back in the day, I never make hard copies of them.  So TurnGram is going to be a real treat.  Let me tell you what the company has shared with me:
TurnGram is the perfect gift for everyone on your list…from your closest friend to that hard to buy for relative! For a few bucks a month, TurnGram will select photos from your Instagram feed based on instructions you provide and deliver them directly to the door of your friends and loved ones.
30 Days Free of the Most Unique Holiday Gift – Get your first month FREE when you sign up for TurnGram today! No coupon code required. 100% money back guarantee if you are dissatisfied with our service in any way. Don’t miss out! Sign up today!
Doesn’t that sound cool?  I’m opting to have my pictures sent directly to me. 🙂 I’ll be sure to come back and let you know what I think with TurnGram after I receive my first set.
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Sponsored: Wouldn't You Like to Be a Mermaid?

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I know I always used to like to pretend to be one, trying to swim with my legs together at the pool in the summertime.  Too bad this was not a thing back then.

Yes, you now have the opportunity to make someone’s mermaid dream come true!  Now, before I go any further, let me remind you that I am a U.S. Family Guide blogger, and in that capacity occasionally promote products on my blog.  I usually get a product in exchange for my honest opinion.
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You’ll be seeing more of these posts for awhile because it is now Christmas shopping season and companies want you to see what they for offering.  Here’s what Suntail Mermaid wants you to know:
Make your little girl’s dream come true! Sun Tail Mermaid has created the world’s best swimmable mermaid tails and mermaid flippers. Their mermaid tails are soft, comfortable, and come in a wide variety of designs and colors. They are made of high quality swimsuit fabric with 4-way stretch.
Sun Tail Mermaid’s monofins are extremely comfortable and virtually unbreakable. Their patented monofin is several steps ahead of everyone else in engineering, durability, comfort, and functionality. The propulsion and control is exceptional. The monofins come in a wide range of beautiful colors, so you can match your mermaid tails or look amazing wearing it alone.
My readers can get a 10% discount by using this coupon code: BestGiftEver.  And I’ll be back in a few weeks to give you my opinion after trying out my very own mermaid tail and fins!
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Uncommon Goods: An Uncommon Company (Sponsored)

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, y’all.  But as always, compensated or not, my opinions are my own.

I don’t buy many things for me or for my home.  Losing everything when my house burned down forced me into a minimalism that I’ve found hard to shake.  But as we move closer to buying the house we’ve been renting for almost six years now, I find myself wanting to add a few touches that reflect my own taste and personality.

I hate going shopping and buy almost everything online–and so I’m excited to have learned about Uncommon Goods, a company that can supply all my decorating needs.   I love candles, and so my first purchase is going to be one of their Literary Candles.  I also love the Homesick Candles (although there isn’t one for Tennessee yet!).  And I think the various tea light troughs would look great on my mantel.  Actually, I love almost everything in this section and if you like decorating with candles you will too.

Now let’s talk about their collection of decorations for the garden.  It’s no secret to anyone who reads this blog that I love gardening!  My eventual plan for this yard is to go full on cottage garden with no grass in sight.  So I will be needing more garden art in the future and now I know where I can find some unusual conversation pieces.  I’m especially captivated by the sea serpent and the octopus, and the gnome be gone tickled my fancy as well.

Finally let me say a little about decorative accents for the home, of which Uncommon Goods has pages and pages (and of which my actual home has very few).  Here I found myself captivated by the various bookends and fanciful switchplates.  The choices really are uncommon, and you can tell just by looking that they are well made.

Which brings me to an interesting point–who makes the products we choose to spend our money on?  Uncommon Goods products don’t come from big factories or giant corporations but rather from artisans and small business owners.  In many case you can click to read more about the actual person who crafted the item you are bringing into your home.  Uncommon Goods really is an uncommon company with values that are incorporated into its business model.   The company strives to be environmentally friendly and socially responsible.  They offer health insurance to all full-time (and most part-time) team members and provide a fair wage.  They  feature products that contain recycled components and sell only products that do no harm to people or animals. They give back by allowing customers to select a non-profit organization to receive a $1 donation at checkout.  You can read more about the company and its mission here.

I feel really good about recommending Uncommon Goods to you, and I am excited about purchasing some of their products in the future.

Travel Made Cheaper with Groupon

OK, y’all, so I only JUST got back from a short vacation (about which more later!), and I’m already wishing I had known what I am about to share with you before I planned it!
I don’t know about you but when it comes to traveling, I am always looking for hotel deals.  Ever since I first discovered Hotwire several years ago, I have made it my business to find the best hotel deals I can.  That’s especially important when our whole family travels together, because the days are long gone when we could cram all the kids in one room.  We need three rooms these days and you can imagine how quickly that adds up.
So I have various sites I frequent, but one thing I had never thought of was Groupon.
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I’m assuming you’ve heard of Groupon (who hasn’t?).  I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never used it even though I’m usually pretty savvy about all things online and saving money.  I had some kinds of vague idea about two-for-one deals, but I had no idea that Grouon also had a large coupon code site.  Anyway, if you aren’t familiar, Groupon offers savings at over 9,000 retailers! There are over 70,000 coupons, promo codes and deals to choose from.
Here’s how it works.  Say you want to plan a trip and you generally reserve your lodgings through Orbitz.com (which is my usual favorite).
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Don’t go straight to Orbitz–instead, click here.  That will take you directly to the Groupon page for Orbitz where you will find many coupon codes (including one for 15% off most hotels which would have saved me some money last weekend!).
I’ve already mentioned I’m a Hotwire fan.  Take a look here at the available deals.  Travelocity and Expedia are just a couple more of the many travel sites offering deals through Groupon.
I’m focusing on travel sites in this post because that’s where my mind is at the moment and because that’s what historically I’ve been most likely to search for coupons for, but Groupon offers deals for places like Walgreens and Target that it would never have even occurred to me to search for (until now).
Groupon is easy and free (and because I am a US Family Guide blogger, they are compensating ME for telling YOU how to save money–so we are all winning here!).  Check them out and if you have any other great ways to save money shopping online, please tell me in the comments.

KANGEAUX Helps You Go: Sponsored Review

Oh, y’all, I feel so bad about this.  I received this product in exchange for my honest review, and somehow I did not get around to writing the review in a timely manner.  Now it appears that the company may have suspended operations.

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And I hate that, because not only did I like the product, but it’s a Knoxville company (something I didn’t learn until after the fact).

This much of the website is still up and you should take a look.  If you are from Knoxville you will probably see some places you recognize in the promotional video.  If you find the product interesting you might want to follow the company on Facebook in case they make a comeback.

I received two carriers to try, and I gave one to my son who is always doing things like hiking and caving.  He was especially impressed with how strong it was.

I keep mine in my car for hiking.  I’ve used it to carry my phone and my water bottle.  The website suggests tons of other uses.  It is very versatile and yes, quite strong and secure.  I didn’t have any fears that my phone would drop along the trail.

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The company was still operational as late as November so I am still hopeful they will reopen.  Keep your eyes open for Kangeaux products in the future.

3DLIGHTFX 3D Deco Lights: Sponsored Review

So, y’all, I am WAY behind in my reviews for US Family Guide (I am always behind).  I received this product in December in exchange for my honest review.

Here is the company’s description of their unique nightlights:  3DLIGHTFX 3D Deco Lights are the perfect gift. They have a full range of comic book, super hero, Disney Princess, sports and car lights that look as though they are popping right out of the wall! They are battery operated and cool to the touch so you can place them any where in the room! Your kids will love having these in their rooms and they’re also the perfect editions to a den, family room, man’s cave or office!

So, I was pretty excited about this because I requested the Darth Vader light, and John has kind of a thing about Darth Vader.  He already has a 2.5 foot high model that talks standing on his desk.  So this seemed like it would be a great addition.

But then it arrived and we were just kind of underwhelmed.  To be honest, I don’t think I really understood this product completely before I saw it in person.  You are supposed to attach it to the wall and it comes with a transparent sticker to look like it’s bursting through and the wall is cracking.  Which might be cool in a kid’s room but we really didn’t want to do that.  And the mask is asymmetrical because it is supposed to look like it’s only partway through the wall I guess, but since we are not using the sticker it doesn’t make a lot of sense.  It does have light up red eyes but it doesn’t talk to you in Darth Vader’s voice or anything if you are into that sort of thing.

So I guess what I am saying is that there is nothing at all WRONG with this product.  It’s just that we did not like it as much as we were expecting to.  And keep in mind that there are many other options and they may be more appealing to you.  You can check them out right here.

Crabpot Trees SPONSORED Review

Before I even give my usual disclaimer let me tell you that I LOVE LOVE LOVE my crabpot tree!

Yes, I received said tree for free in exchange for my honest review of it here, in my capacity as a blogger for National Family Guide.  But it’s not even stretching the truth a little bit to tell you that I love this thing and I would like to own many more of them.

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First of all, the details the company wants me to share: Crab Pot Christmas Trees are remarkable, perfectly shaped trees that are pre-lit, fold flat for storage, sparkle from EVERY angle and are easily set up. What makes these holiday trees so unique and the MUST HAVE of the season for home decor? Crab Pot Christmas Trees are made from the very durable PVC Coated Crab Pot Wire which withstands all that Mother Nature throws at it.

You can see the company’s pictures and their explanatory video on my first post here.  But let me tell you about my personal experience.

This thing comes folded flat in a triangular box.  It takes literally two minutes to set up, tops.  We set it on our front porch for instant festiveness.  It came with anchors for putting it out in the yard if we had wanted to do that.  I was a little worried it might blow over in the wind but it never did even though we have had strong winds and rain, too, and our porch does get wet when it rains.

I have one complaint only which is that the cord is a little short.  It would be perfect for an in-floor or in-ground outlet but we had to attach ours to another strand of lights to reach the wall plug.  No big deal but just one detail that could be improved upon.

We love this tree and would buy more of them.  They are having a sale right now if you want to get your own–check out their site right here!