Reviews, Giveaways, Recipes, Fiber Arts, and more...

The New American Herbal {Book Review}


The New American Herbal by Stephen Orr is a extensive guide that both beginner or advanced herb enthusiast will want to add to their book collection. Whether you like using herbs for the cooking, aromatic properties, medicinal use, or decorative purposes this book covers many of these areas in adequate detail. Many known herbs are obviously included as well as many not so known. There are over 900 entries within this 386 paged book. The full color photos make this book fun to look at and even better for identifying specific herbs.

This book is one I’m thrilled to have. It’s extremely easy to navigate and for that I applaud. A book of such a size with so much information can sometimes seem overwhelming but not this one. The table of content lays out the book as follows; Herb Basics, Herbal Preparations, Garden Projects, Kitchen Projects, and Specialty Herbs. In each of those sections, there’s much to learn from growing advice, DIY projects, recipes, preservation, harvesting, and much more. Following the table of contents is the Herbs A to Z page. There are more than 125 listed. If I want to look up Cilantro, I can easily do so using the A to Z page.


Each herb page has helpful lists, sidebars and sometimes a quote. Each sidebar provides information such as category the Herb falls within, its origin, type, height, other names & varieties, how to grow, season, and safety. Each featured herb section is about 2-3 pages in length. There’s usually a brief history, a recipe depending on the herb, as well as other information that will help you get acquainted with what variety you so chose to learn about. There’s always up-close photos to go with each herb as well as the recipes included.


I feel that this book will help me greatly in my gardening and DIY herb projects. There’s so much helpful informational provided in guiding readers no matter what way they intend on using Herbs or growing them indoor or out. I’m eager to try some of the 40 recipes and crafting projects from herbs I manage to grow myself! The harvesting and growing information I found extremely helpful! I would highly recommend this title! It’s a  beautifully complied book full of a plethora of information!

15 23Interested in Purchasing? The New American Herbal can be purchased on as well as other book retailers online and in store. Amazon prices are 11.99 for e-book and $20.22 for paperback.

Disclosure: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.  The opinions are my own or my immediate family members, based on our personal experience of the title.

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Mrs. Cavanaugh’s Chocolates

logoTime was when Marie Cavanaugh spent hours in her South Dakota farmhouse each Christmas season making pecan rolls and homemade chocolates for holiday gifting.

5lbcleanbox“It started when my aunt sent her pecan-rolls recipe,” Mrs. Cavanaugh recalled. “I gave the recipe my own touch and started making the yummy specialties. Then I began dipping chocolates. Our friends and neighbors loved these treats, encouraging me to start a candy business. Finally, I decided it might be a good idea.'”

Her husband George and children Carla, Lorraine, Calvin, Colene and Genise rallied, helping Mrs. Cavanaugh fill demands for her homemade sweets.

…In 1972, the family moved to Utah, leaving good friends and their beloved cattle ranch.

“It was a difficult decision, especially for George,” Mrs. Cavanaugh said. “He was excited about making our new venture, which we chose to call Mrs. Cavanaugh’s Candies, a great success. We felt Utah was blessed with good chocolates and that we would enjoy – and could compete with – those who pride themselves on making excellent chocolates.”

Millions of pounds of chocolates later, Mrs. Cavanaugh’s candies have earned a reputation for unquestionable excellence….Ask chocolate aficionados. They will direct those seeking the best chocolates to the popular Mrs. Cavanaugh’s Candies.

My readers receive Buy 1 lb Get 1 lb FREE of Mrs. Cavanaugh’s Chocolates use promo code: usfamily14

Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample of the product for review purposes. The opinions are my own or my immediate family members, based on our personal experience with the product.

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Nielsen-Massey Fine Vanillas & Flavors




If your aim this Holiday season is to surprise some one with a gift that will leave a lasting impression, why not aim for something handmade? Nielsen-Massey with their fine vanillas and flavors makes this extremely easy! I think their products would make a wonderful addition to those desserts in a jar gifts that can be thrown together fast.

When looking through the companies recipes page ideas I learned their products can be used for more than just baking but in easy to make skin care products. These thoughtful DIY gift suggestions are sure to be well appreciated by friends a loved ones!


Over the weekend, I made chocolate chip cookies per the recipe suggestion found on the companies website. Let me just say, these chocolate chip cookies may just be the best I’ve ever had. The Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla was quite present in taste and just added that extra special something.

I can’t wait to try it out this vanilla for our annual December sugar cookies and for the cake frosting I plan on making for my sons upcoming 4th birthday cake! This vanilla is certainly very high quality and smells amazing! I would recommend every kitchen pantry having a bottle on hand.
It’s very easy to make the suggested skin care product with Neilsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Sugar and I’m happy to share the recipe below. I plan on making this as soon I get a jar for it. It sounds quite delightful and it’s not too late to start making this now before Christmas gets here!

 Vanilla Body Scrub

1 cup Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Sugar

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 or 2 drops of an essential oil such as lavender, eucalyptus, etc.
Decorative, waterproof container

Mix ingredients together in a bowl.

Spoon into a decorative, waterproof container.

Wrap in decorative paper.

Instructions for use: Apply a small amount to damp skin while in shower or bath. Gently scrub skin with a soft washcloth. Rinse thoroughly.


P1160645Overall, I’m quite impressed with the pure vanilla sugar and pure vanilla extract I’ve used from this company! I would certainly recommend these and am eager to see if I can find them locally! These products can be found at numerous places online and are well worth the price for the quality you are getting!

Please visit the Nielsen-Massey website for more product information and additional recipes, including more DIY gift ideas.

Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample of the product for review purposes. The opinions are my own or my immediate family members, based on our personal experience with the product.

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What’s the Big Idea, Charlie Brown? {Book Review}


What’s the Big Idea, Charlie Brown? features the fun loving Peanuts Gang in a story that’s not just fun but educational as well. This story leads children to learn about some of American history’s greatest inventions and inventors such as Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford, Orville Wright, Thomas Edison, and another that even I didn’t know about! I won’t give it away but know readers are in for a sweet surprise!

The story features Charlie Brown and his friends throwing a big celebration in honor of great inventions. Each friend sets out to come up with their favorite big idea and to share about it at the party. It’s quite a big party full of posters, prizes, music, and a blue ribbon for the one that found the best big idea. Charlie Brown is a bit discouraged and has trouble though coming up with an idea. Oh whatever will he chose to share about?


There’s so many great inventions in the world, so it was fun when reading this to my kids and asking them what they thought he and the others might would share about.

Near the end of this book there are several pages that go into detail about the the inventors Linus, Lucy, Peppermint Patty, Charlie Brown, and Sally chose to spotlight at the party. These pages feature a quote from the inventor and bit of details about specific inventions they created. In ending the book, there are two pages that challenge children to describe an invention in writing they might would want to invent and also draw a picture of it. You can allow a child to write and draw directly on these pages or on a separate sheet of paper.

I really like this book and my children ages 3 and 6 did as well. The illustrations are quite colorful and kept my children engaged. This book is an excellent classroom addition. I plan on incorporating this book into a homeschool US history unit study with added additional activities. It’s a great book that introduces biographies in a kid-friendly way! Definitely ideal for children ages 4-8 years old.

Interested in Purchasing? What’s the Big Idea, Charlie Brown? as well as the other two recently released in this series will be available on Amazon.comBarnes & Noble, Bam! Books A Million in e-reader or hardcover format.

*Disclosure: I received the following book at no cost to facilitate this review. All opinions are my own.

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Earth’s Enrichments Certified Organic Skin Care Products

tripletreatI’m always on the look out for Organic Skin Care Products that are effective as well as affordable. I discovered recently Earth’s Enrichments a company that offers the finest of hand-crafted products free from all sorts of stuff you really don’t want to be putting on your skin! Whether you like luxurious delicious smelling fragrances or not, they have products great for the whole family being completely health and environmentally friendly!

The holiday season is upon us and I’m sure many looking for the perfect gift! Well something great about skin care products is that they are great for use year round and not limited to just giving out during the Holidays! Earth’s Enrichment’s offers USDA Organic Sugar Scrubs, Bath Salts, Body Balms, Lip Balms, and Organic Body Bars. These products can be purchased separately or in a convenient gift set format ready to be shipping directly to the recipient or to you to gift personally!

I’ve been enjoying several Earth Enrichment’s products lately and am extremely pleased with each of them! I’m kind of a bath and beauty product snob. I’m sensitive to scents and even some essential oils. I like a more subtle scent not an overpowering one. These products are excellent in not being over-powering but still smelling wonderfully and working as each should. An added perk is that all the packaging on each product is environmentally friendly and recyclable too!

My thoughts in on a few of the products….

Lemon Fresh Shea Balm

Lemon Fresh Shea Organic Body Balm: If you’ve never used a balm before, note that they commonly contain little or no water. Balms are thicker in consistency as well as solid. Balms are best for protecting the skin from outer elements like the cold & wind while locking in existing moisture.

I find it to be an ideal choice for hands, fingers, and feet though also a good product for rough areas of skin like elbows, knees, and cracked heals. I use this on my hands the most to help with those bothersome ragged cuticles that I get more often during the colder months of the year. I knit a lot and skin hand discomfort in the past has put off my crafting but no more since using this balm!

This balm smells amazing! The lemon scent really awakens my senses yet it doesn’t linger very strongly which is nice. A little bit of the balm tends to go quite a long way. It goes on my skin smoothly and it’s not sticky of greasy in the least bit. Ingredients include Shea Butter and Lemongrass Essential Oil as well as being enriched with Sunflower Oil, & Coconut Oil among a few other things. Benefits of lemon grass are known to ward off skin infections fight fungus, and works as a astringent!

The properties of each ingrediant are listed on the companies website product description and I’ve found that to be extremely helpful in making purchase choices.

Body Balm Price: $11.99 for 4 ounces.

Earths Enrichments Fresh Ground Java_Combo

 Fresh Ground Java Soap: This soap is sure to please any lover of Coffee! I am a quite the fan of both hazelnut and vanilla and feel that the combination of the two goes together rather well. The benefits of the main ingredients in this soap are known to reduce redness and skin irritation, improve skin tone, decrease stress in your body, and help with cellulite!

I found that the soap lathered really well and the bits of coffee bean work great at ex-foliating the skin. I’ve had zero skin irritation. My skin in toner after use is left pretty soft and supple. Now in order to keep the soap lasting, you’ll want to make sure to place it upon a dish with slots. The made in the USA slotted wooden soap dishes offered by Earth’s Enrichment are made out of pine wood and are custom fit to the size bars of soap offered. I would totally recommend if making an order to make sure you include one of the soap dishes.

Soap Price: $7.99 for a 4.5 oz/128g bar. Each bar measures 3? x 3? x 1?. The USDA Organic Bar Soaps come in a variety of combinations such as Honey Granola, Lavender, Chai La Tea, and a few others.

Lavender Sugar ScrubsLavender of the Valley Organic Sugar Scrub: This sugar scrub is a treat because it goes on smooth doing quite a good job in exfoliating. I think those with even the most sensitive skin would be able to use such a gentle scrub.

After use, my skin is left feeling soft, smooth, and hydrated! I would suggest being a bit careful when bathing or showering while using this product as it can be a bit slippery when used on your feet. This scrub is gentle enough to be used all over but I would most recommend it for your feet but know it works well anywhere else that you may have dry and flaky skin.

I felt that the scrub goes on my skin smoothly and  it smells fabulous! Lavender is known for giving one a sense of comfort and peace. It also has healing benefits. Aside from Lavender, this scrub is enriched with Coconut Oil, shea butter, sugar, sunflower oil, and a number of other beneficial ingredients.

Sugar Scrub Price: $14.99- 24.99 depending if you purchase the 8 ounce or 16 ounce size.

Coconut Chai

Coconut Chai Organic Lip Balm: Coconut and Cinnamon is a combination I’ve never used before. Let me say, it’s pretty amazing! This enriched with coconut oil and shea butter lip balm is having me re-moisturize my lips less often than I usually do.

This time of the year is usually very rough on my skin and lips so I am happy I can care for them with ingredients that are completely safe! I don’t know about you, but I prefer to use products that will not just moisturize but nourish as well.

Lip Balm Price: $3.99 each and other flavors are Honey Vanilla and Lemon Grass Mint.

If you are aiming to purchase something for yourself or someone you know, these lip balms would make great stocking stuffers or just an additional awesome extra.

**You can purchase Earth Enrichment’s products separate but know that gift sets range from $12.99 to $24.99 and it’s free shipping on all orders over $49.00 right now! An additional 20% can be taken off your order using the code  ‘C2C2014’ now through December. **Get connected with Earth’s Enrichments on their website as well as at these other channels:   Facebook  | Twitter  | Pintrest | Instagram

Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample of the products for review purposes. The opinions are my own or my immediate family members, based on our personal experience with the product.

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Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength Review & Giveaway


We’re all stronger than we think, and we often discover our inner strength and resilience when a problem arises. The 101 empowering and uplifting stories in this collection by people who have overcome challenges, solved problems, or changed their lives will help you find your own inner strength, resilience, and remind you to think positive, count your blessings, and use the power that you have within you.

My Thoughts…

We all have a story to share and no story is stronger than one of conquering over our weakness. It’s a hard lesson when we realize that often life isn’t all we expect it to be. We are human and with our humanity comes happiness but sorrow as well in some shape or form. Everyone’s challenge is just a bit different. In Chicken Soup: Find Your Inner Strength there are numerous stories of all kinds that are shared that give hope in moving forward and not letting our challenges defeat us.

There are stories of in this book that can empower, encourage, and prompt us to bravely keep standing despite what is thrown our way. In doing so, we are encouraging others to keep going on as well. Each story shared is roughly about 3-4 pages each. There’s a title followed by a quote that goes with the story at hand. These stories are shared and written by and from every day average people just like you and I. There are ten chapters with about 10 stories each. The chapter titles are:

  • Overcoming Self Destructive Behavior
  • Fighting Health Challenges
  • Powering Through Loss
  • Moving Past Disabilities
  • Accepting New Normal
  • Accepting What Makes You Different
  • Learning to Reach Out
  • Rising to the Challenge
  • Pursuing Your Dream
  • Taking Back Your Life

This book is sure to inspire and keep you hooked in reading story after story. There are 101 stories but at only a few pages each, one can easily read this book in a couple of days if not sooner. I like this book a lot because it’s a reminder that we aren’t alone and how together we are made stronger as well! I would certainly recommend this title!

Interested in Purchasing?  Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength: 101 Empowering Stories of Resilience, Positive Thinking, and Overcoming Challenges can be found at at right now for $8.89 Kindle format & $12.29 for a paperback copy as well as at other retailers!

Get Connected: 
Twitter: @ChickenSoupSoul (
Instagram: @chickensoupsoul (

Win it: I’m excited to be giving three of my loyal blog subscribers a chance to win a copy of this book for themselves or to gift to friend! Enter below through Rafflecopter. Giveaway is open to USA & Canada participants.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure: I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample of the product for review purposes. The opinions are my own or my immediate family members, based on our personal experience with the product.

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