Friday, April 18, 2014

Day 39 of 40 Days of Random Acts of Kindness in Honor of Lent 2014

My Random Act of Kindness for my Giving Back Instead of Giving Up project for today was a surprise for my aunt. She loves all things Disney. We had a bunch of Disney figurines that were Michael's mother's. Sadly, they have sat in storage for about ten years.

Not anymore! I packed them up and shipped them to her. These adorable figurines needed to be displayed!





There was about a dozen in all. I am so glad to hear that they will be displayed again! She received them yesterday and loved them!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Teaching Your Children About the Passion of Our Lord (The Gluten Free Version!)

Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored post. I did not receive any compensation from any brands mentioned.

Have you seen the FANTASTIC post over on Catholic Icing (Okay, what post over there ISN'T fabulous? But, I digress...) entitled "Story Of The Passion Lunch- Symbolic Lunch For Good Friday"? Okay, go take a peek and come back.

It looks fabulous, doesn't it? What a wonderful way to teach your children about the Passion of Our Lord. doesn't quite work if you are gluten free. So I wanted to share our version of a Good Friday lunch in Christ's honor. I'll warn you now that my pictures aren't as awesome as hers!

Yes, I realize that some of these choices are not "clean" real food, BUT we do "let some things go" when it comes to special occasions and what could be more special than our Lord?

Here's my modified Shopping List:
  • Grapes (this is just because we don't like olives! You could also substitute spinach leaves to represent the leaves on the olive tree)
  • Peppermint Patties (These are for Judas’ “silver”, so if you want to wrap something else in silver foil, that would work as well. Our patties are not wrapped round-like)
  • Hershey’s Kisses (for the “kiss” from Judas) We also used the dark chocolate ones because they are purple, the color of Lent.
  • Plastic Cocktail Swords (We bought ours in the party section of Publix.) 
  • Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs (We also don't care for eggs.)
  • Natural Peanut Butter
  • Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins
  • Glutino Table Crackers
  • Salt and Vinegar Chips
  • Glutino Milk Chocolate Wafers (Yes, there are gluten free pretzels made by Snyder's and Glutino. Our store was sold out so we made do with what we could find)

I took the Glutino table crackers and used a knife to carefully break it in half long-wise to make my cross (held together with peanut butter).

Grapes, speared onto the swords.

Crown of thorns. Blue Diamond Almond Nut Thins spread with peanut butter. Then I finely chopped a Glutino milk chocolate wafer and placed it around the edges to represent the thorns.
The candies, as listed.

Salt and vinegar chips.
Not the healthiest of meals, but the peanut butters provides some protein, the grapes are an added fruit, and there's nuts in the round crackers, too.
Please follow Catholic Icing's Passion of Our Lord scripture readings as you enjoy your light lunch. Don't forget that not only o we not eat meat on Good Friday, but we also fast. Therefore, our lunch will be a light meal.

Day 38 of 40 Days of Random Acts of Kindness in Honor of Lent 2014

My Random Act of Kindness for my Giving Back Instead of Giving Up project for today was another online offer.

I was cleaning up around the house doing more spring cleaning and came across some things that we no longer have a use for.
So I posted them online offering them for free!

I love giving stuff away!

"Off the Edge of the Map" by Michael Rank- A Living Book Review

Disclosure: I got this product as part of an advertorial.
As a homeschooling mom, when I saw this book, I got really excited. What mom wouldn't love a living book about history? Off the Edge of the Map: Marco Polo, Captain Cook, and 9 Other Travelers and Explorers That Pushed the Boundaries of the Known World is not a dry historical textbook.
This book is best read broken into parts, in my opinion. It's a bit much and a little overwhelming for a kid to read all at once like a novel. Parts of it were tough for Brandon (age 12) to get through.
He kept trying it though. In fact, he picked up the book to read it several times. While I wouldn't say that it's his new favorite book, he has gleaned some valuable historical facts from it.
I do think that given more time and allowing him to mature some more, definitely by high school years, Brandon will really get into this book as he is a bit of a history buff like his Grandpa was. 
I even read quite a few passages from various sections throughout the book. I think that it is well written, informational, and certainly NOT dry and boring!
I think that this book would be an excellent resource for homeschooling families and a great gift for a history buff!


From the #1 bestselling author of History’s Greatest Generals comes an exciting new paperback book on the greatest explorers in history and how their discoveries shaped the modern world
Whether it is Rabban Bar Sauma, the 13th-century Chinese monk commissioned by the Mongols to travel West form a military alliance against the Islam; Marco Polo, who opened a window to the East for Europe; or Captain James Cook, whose maritime voyages of discovery created the global economy of the 21st century, each of these explorers had an indelible impact on the modern world.
This book will look at the 11 greatest explorers in history. Some travelled for religious piety, such as Ibn Battuta, who travelled from North Africa to Indonesia in the 1300s, visiting every Islamic pilgrimage site between — and becoming counselor to over 30 heads of state. Others travelled for profit, such as Ferdinand Magellan, who wanted to consolidate Spain’s holdings on the spice trade. Still others travelled for discovery, such as Ernest Shackleton, who led two dozen men to the bottom of the world in an attempt to cross Antarctica on foot.
Whatever their reason for discovery, these explorers still inspire us today to push the limits of human achievement — and discover something about ourselves in the process.
Get the book at Amazon by clicking here.  (It is available in paperback and Kindle versions!)

About Michael Rank

Michael writes history books on dictators, the Middle East, and insane rulers, not necessarily in that order. He lives somewhere between Europe and Asia (literally).
Connect with Michael Rank -
I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Day 37 of 40 Days of Random Acts of Kindness in Honor of Lent 2014

My Random Act of Kindness for my Giving Back Instead of Giving Up project for today was another online offer.

Sometimes it's just easier for me to post things for free online, especially if I don't have plans to go anywhere that day!

It's amazing the amount of resources there are for this sort of thing. I suggest you look into it!
Anyway, today, I offered some new toys. I gave away an RC car and an electronic learning toy.

Organic, Vegan, Gluten Free, GMO Free, Fair Trade Lip Balms From Eco Lips (Review with Giveaway, Ends 05/01/14, US and Canada Only)

Disclosure: We received four lip balms and an eco clip carabiner in exchange for our honest opinion about them.

About Us - The Eco Lips Story

In the early 1990s, Andrea Danielson began brewing small batches of natural lip balm in her kitchen for her friends and family.  She took great care in handcrafting the balm and packaging it in small amber glass jars to preserve the freshness of the pure ingredients.  Andrea didn’t realize that by giving a sample of her natural lip creation to Steve Shriver, her life would be changed forever.
Having larger than average lips, Steve was continually searching for a better lip balm.  When Steve met Andrea in 1995, he immediately fell in love with the lip balm, and moments later he also fell in love with Andrea.  They were married in 1997 and Steve, a lifetime entrepreneur, quickly spent Andrea’s life savings on ingredients and packaging for the couple’s first product, Hemp Lip Buzz.
By 2003, Steve and Andrea had built a specialized private label natural body care company focusing on making high quality products for many other successful brands.  Their company rapidly became a leading natural body care manufacturer in the Natural Products industry.
Much of the growth of their business was due to their top sales representative and entrepreneur, Jim King.  Working out of his California office, he founded and grew a successful and environmentally friendly promotional products company called Access Eco.  He enjoyed the process of building other peoples' brands through promotional products, but something was missing.
Jim had a vision of creating a lip balm brand like no other. He became obsessed with lip balm!  Jim looked at every lip care brand currently on the market, buying them, one by one, until he had acquired over 200 different samples.  From petroleum-based lip care to natural brands, he packed all of these samples and flew to Iowa to meet with Steve about his dream.
Jim and Steve spent hours mulling over a 10-foot conference table layered with what would soon become their competition in the lip balm industry.  The goal was to create a brand image and an organic formula that would take market share from petroleum-based lip balm brands.
VoilĂ !  Eco Lips was born!  Jim and Steve swiftly brought the product to market and began raising awareness of the importance of pesticide-free products.
Today, Eco Lips lip balm is handcrafted in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  With the mission of satisfying the needs of every customer, Eco Lips has been first to market with several innovative organic lip care products and packages.  With environmental initiatives in place, a focused marketing and sales strategy, award winning packaging, and a relaxed, yet productive work environment, Eco Lips is making its way around the world, one set of lips at a time.

I was very pleased when Eco Lips agreed to partner with me for a review and giveaway. I totally wanted to try their lip balms. Before I tell you about the lip balms we received though...I wanted to show you something really awesome!

Eco Lips lets you CREATE YOUR OWN LIP BALM!!! I told you it was awesome!! Your can pick the ingredients, design the container, and name your lip balm.
Here's the lip balms that we received -
My son was excited about the eco clip carabiner.

He didn't even mind that the lip balm is unflavored...I think it makes him feel more grown up.

The cap is very sturdy and the clip works very well. He likes to bring the lip balm with him when we are going to spend a lot of time outdoors.

The ingredient list is superb. Look how creamy the lip balm is.

He feels very grown up clipping his lip balm on his loop...and I like that it doesn't end up in the laundry from him forgetting to remove it from his pocket!

This next one is my favorite. I have tried many lip balms in the last few years and I absolutely love this one the best.

The RELAX lip balm is just that - very relaxing! I love the blend of the lavender and the lemon flavors.

This ingredient list is also amazing AND it's gluten free!

This tube is much thicker than the others we received.

This tube also is different in that it twists from the top, not the bottom. PLUS, THE TUBE IS MADE FROM RECYCLED MATERIALS!

The third lip balm is another one that I have been enjoying a great deal, but then again, I LOVE ANYTHING COCONUT!!!

The Pure & Simple Coconut Lip Balm is listed as 100% edible...and I believe it because it smells and tastes good enough to eat!

Daniella received the Honest Kids Berry Berry Good Lemonade USDA Certified Lip Balm by Eco Lips. She was too cute being super excited about having her very own lip balm (previously, she always shared mine).  

She loves to slather on her lip balm. She loves the bright color (which makes it easier to find when she loses it under her bed for the 1,367th time).

I love that the ingredients are far superior to commercial brands targeted at young children.
Connect with Eco Lips-
Create your own lip balm website -
Twitter- @ecolips
Using GREEN20 will get online customers 20% off their order during the month of April.
Enter to win from Eco Lips-
A lip balm from their Premium line…a Gold Balm with an Eco Clip Carabineer.
Made with the finest certified organic Baobab Oil. USDA Certified Organic. Vitamin enriched. The ultimate lip moisturizer.
USDA Organic and Fair Trade certified. Eco Clip is made of recycled aluminum, convenient for backpacks, purses, sports bags, etc.

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