The Real Deal

Have You Ever Wondered... Is that certain book really good? Does that product really work? So have I. From Indie authors and musicians to local products or nationally advertised, I can't tell you the countless products I've bought as seen on TV only to find out that they don't work at my house, the book was really a bunch of hype, the music was not what I had hoped for or a movie was a yawn. If you want an honest opinion, you will find it here. Although I do lots of book reviews, I also check out lots of other products and let you know if they really live up to their ads or their hype. Stay tuned, and check in often. You never know what I'm going to talk about next.


Don't Leave Home Without It!

I was beyond thrilled when Amazon Vine sent me the GoalZero Guide 10 Plus Adventure Kit. The photos don’t really do it justice. This small design is light weight and extremely pack-able and fast charging.

GOAL ZERO Nomad 7 is two solar panels about the size of a trade paperback, bound in black canvas and much like a book, closing with the panels inside protecting them between uses. A sturdy Velcro closure folds over like an envelope flap and on the back is a super tough mesh carrying case to store all the wires and Guide 10 Plus battery pack. Two zipper pulls make it accessible. The Nomad 7 can be used together to charge one unit (like an iPad) or to charge two separate devices: a phone, mp3 player or battery pack. The the panels are housed in durable canvas, stitched with French seams, and sports ten braided loops at various intervals for a myriad of hanging options. The entire unit is weather and water resistant.

This kit contained the Guide 10 Plus, a rechargeable, four-battery pack of AA batteries (included), with a snap-shut door to keep the batteries in place. It also included an adapting clip that pops right in, allowing the recharging of AAA batteries.  User tips and Nomad 7 and Guide 10 Plus user guides, and warranty were included.

Three distinctly different charging and usage wires included in the kit give the user various charging options; one connects the solar panels to the Guide 10 Plus, a second connects via USB to the batteries or directly to the Nomad 7, and third, a 12 volt output. I plugged my Koolotron into the latter, but it didn’t so much as turn on the fan. (For that I would need their larger unit.) I hooked it up to my fiance’s phone and it began charging immediately. Currently we are looking for other electronics that we can charge this way. (A Kindle? A Nook?)

I intend to take this unit on our next vacation and several planned camping trips to give it a thorough field test. Everything about this product is first rate and with proper care would last for years. I give this item a 5 out of 5 stars. I won't be leaving home without it.


Alluring Addiction

One doesn’t hear about opium per se these days. I became curious immediately, especially that the author of this tome was still among the living. To be clear, I’ve not used opium or any of its derivatives knowingly. I have known several people who did. Certainly nothing comes close to the exotic opium smoking Steven Martin conveys here. One assumes an opium fiend to hold the less glamorous title: addict. It is at this point, trying to break the addiction, that Steven Martin begins his personal story.

The book is rich with Asian history and tales that surround opium’s mysterious, though sordid, rise in popularity. Martin, a collector of opium smoking paraphernalia, is masterful in his ability to captivate the reader and carry them along in this dangerous and illegal foray. It isn’t long before he becomes prisoner to the pipe. However, three quarters of the way through the book, I was tired of being a spectator to this self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing adventure. But honestly, I didn’t want to miss a word he wrote. Fortunately, the author’s tale takes a turn for the better. All of the people in his story were not so fortunate.

The writing is spectacular, and the neighborhoods and shacks where Martin finds company with his muse bloom in the imagination. At times I felt intensely interested wanting to be present where this activity might be taking place, and actually, I have no real desire for such things. My concern is that his portrayal of opium smoking will be found alluring to a new generation. I give this book four stars. It’s a boldly honest book, and if you choose to read it, not one you will soon forget.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Amazon Vine Program, I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


You Can Get There From Here

The title of Gene Edwards book grabbed my attention straight off. I hadn’t been good at living close to God for a long while. As of late, I’m not great at morning devotionals, don’t usually have a list of prayers at the ready, nor will you find me burning out my kneecaps in hours of prayer. Somedays I need a drive-thru church, prayers that I can say while reheating my morning coffee in the microwave and sound bites from my Heavenly Father. I had fallen under the spell of “too-busy.” Add to that, I was thrown into heavy duty life changes every other year.

What I also noticed, however, (and usually late at night) is the insidious, ever-widening gap between me and God. Gene Edwards reveals that for him connecting with the almighty in a real way was elusive, not only to me and others,but to him, a pastor. I had beautiful seasons, life on the edge seasons, breath-taking, white-knuckle seasons, hold-your-breath-until-this-is-over seasons. When there is God or nothing, I choose all God. But honestly, outside of a crisis, when everything is going right, I didn’t know how to connect.  So how does one cross the threshold into continuous, meaningful relationship with God?

I found Gene Edwards answers surprising and simple. Almost too simple. He explains the entryways that led him to the heart of God, and profoundly impacted his journey. I appreciated Edward’s honesty that as a pastor he struggled in many of the same ways I did: falling asleep while reading the word or praying, running out of things to pray or talk to God about and his feelings of inadequacy.
His steps to living in communion with God are so easy anyone serious about their journey can follow. At the back of the book were exercises and questions that could be utilized alone, with another or in a small group setting. I will be sharing this book with my fiancé and in the fall, our writers group. I’m giving this book 5 stars.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Blogging for Books program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255


More Zzzzz's with ZzzQuil

Unlike other NyQuil products you don't have to be sick or in pain to take ZzzQuil. If you are having a sleepless night, you definitely want to give this
a shot. I read the package instructions, expecting to be told I needed 8 hours in which to make optimum use of this product. If they are printed on the package, I didn't see it.
What I did see was the recommendation that it not be used with alcohol.

After lying awake for an hour one night, I took the recommended dosage, 2 caps. What I should tell you is that I rarely take medications of any kind. I am, apparently sensitive to them. As someone pointed out to me once after taking a certain type of over the counter cough medicine, "You should not be seeing star trails when you move your hand from otc cough syrup!"

At any rate, when the ZZZQuil hit my system I was out. At 7 am when it was time to get ready for work, I could have easily slept for another two hours. I was relatively groggy until 9:30 a.m.

In the future, if I'm partially through a night but still need to sleep I may take half the dosage. My fiance also tried it and found it very strong. He takes some medications but nothing depressant type. He felt foggy headed for several hours after waking.

I like the way it works within 30 minutes and the sleep was deeply restful. I just wanted to keep sleeping.


Contigo for People on the Go

The Contigo Autospout Addison Water Bottle from Amazon Vine was a beautiful deep translucent blue. My fiancé and I had tried all kinds of water bottles: Aluminum, steel, recycled plastic. We prefer the fresh taste of filtered water, but always there was the disappointing reality that some taste attributed itself to the bottled water.

 Some other bottles we've used weren't conducive to in-motion use, like if you're driving, or cycling. One finger press unlatches the drinking tube from it's shield and one finger press puts it back. It's ideal for use in rush hour traffic, riding your bike or anyplace you don't want to be fumbling with two hands to open a bottle. The top has a sturdy loop that makes it easy to grab and easy to carry. The wide mouth makes it easy to fill and threaded seal doesn't leak. The removable straw inside means you have options of no tipping the bottle or using it without the straw. When the bottle is closed it doesn't seep and water doesn't run out of it if it happens to fall over. The design has no pressure-equalizing air hole. So in order to drink from it (with the straw) you need to slightly loosen the cap or blow air into the bottle. The silicone drinking spout lets the flavor of the water have center stage.

My fiancé had no trouble going through 24 ounces of water the first day we had it, as opposed to possibly eight ounces on any given day. I found the color of it appealing and it comes in additional colors: charcoal purple and raspberry. I like this design the best so far of all their bottles. I would recommend this product as the positives outweigh the negatives. And I think I need to get another one anyway since it keep ending up in you-know-who's lunchbox!


Ultra Doesn't Do It

Dear Neutrogena,
You don’t know me, but I was recently given Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser through the Amazon Vine program. I washed my face this morning and thought, it was pretty good stuff. I let my fiancé try it too. His skin is extremely sensitive. So much so, that some sensitive skin products leave the t-zone of his face dry and inflamed.
He agreed to try your product, and he initially looked good afterward. His quotes, “I am not fond of liquid soaps. But this wasn’t bad.”  He looked nice, softer, no exzema. I pressed a little further. 
“How do you feel after washing with it?
“I like bar soap. But it was better than Dove.”
I admit it, Neutrogena. I am not afraid. I decided to put you to a real test, and do a total body wash in your product. I figured if it can handle his face, it should be able to handle my body. I am prone to dryness, but have no sensitivities.
I squirted clear liquid formula in a scrubbie lathered up to a medium foam. I didn’t think much of that, while I scrubbed and shaved and sloughed off a whole days work in the city. That medium foam had real staying power.

But, after setting the scrubbie aside, I washed my hair (for another product review). When I came back to my scrubbie, it was still full of lather. I can’t say that about many skin cleansers, let alone ones for sensitive skin.  After patting myself dry, my skin felt soft, your product impressed me. The pleasing,  aromatic fragrance is definitely a plus, neither masculine or feminine, but clean.  I personally like your formula.
My fiancé however, did not fare so well. The next day he was red and inflamed and even a little flakey. He won’t be using it. We were disappointed that it didn’t work for him. I’m giving it  3 out of five stars.

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