the life changing magic of tidying up

This best-selling guide to decluttering your home from Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes readers step-by-step through her revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing.

Despite constant efforts to declutter your home, do papers still accumulate like snowdrifts and clothes pile up like a tangled mess of noodles?

Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo takes tidying to a whole new level, promising that if you properly simplify and organize your home once, you’ll never have to do it again. Most methods advocate a room-by-room or little-by-little approach, which doom you to pick away at your piles of stuff forever. The KonMari Method, with its revolutionary category-by-category system, leads to lasting results. In fact, none of Kondo’s clients have lapsed (and she still has a three-month waiting list).

With detailed guidance for determining which items in your house “spark joy” (and which don’t), this international bestseller featuring Tokyo’s newest lifestyle phenomenon will help you clear your clutter and enjoy the unique magic of a tidy home—and the calm, motivated mindset it can inspire.

My Review

Very interesting and well laid out.

I, myself, have slight tendencies to over-save. My grandparents taught my parents a “Depression Era” mentality (“use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”) in that, you should not throw anything out since you might at some future point need it. Living with this thought process all my life definitely has its pro’s and con’s. I do think that I am more appreciative of things and do not take the value of anything lightly. I hate to be purposefully wasteful but I do have the ability to recognize junk and toss it out. So, it is a balancing act to keep it or not to keep it….

One of this book’s main ideas is that you should go through an entire room, or rooms, or better yet, your entire house at one time and do a major purging. Doing it all at once, instead of cleaning out a corner here, or a closet there, will give you a large visual to see the major process and thus the desire to never fall back into the cluttering trap again. I do think this is valid. Only cleaning a small area, does not give you a larger sense of accomplishment and thus little motivation to continue on towards complete cleanliness. I do, however, think that if your problem is larger than, “I don’t like to throw anything away,” and there are hoarding tendencies, then the issue goes much deeper. I think whatever is causing the hoarding tendencies needs to be addressed first before lasting change can be made and kept.

Overall, I think this book is very useful and would be a wonderful tool in helping many bring their lives into order.

Buy it Here

Waterbrook Press sent me the above book for review purposes. It will allow me to keep the book. I have no other connection to and have received no other compensation from Waterbrook Press.

i can learn the bible

Memory verses and devotions that will write God’s word on your children’s hearts.

In this 52-week devotional for children, author Holly Hawkins Shivers adapts the gift book The Joshua Code (written by her father, O.S. Hawkins) into a devotional that will help kids learn and live the scriptures. Using kid-friendly language, I Can Learn the Bible teaches scriptures in a way children can understand. Each week, kids will commit a new scripture to memory by reading a fun, engaging devotional that’s doable for a child. Matthew 7:7 will remind kids to always ask God for help. Philippians 1:6 will teach them that God is always working in their lives. And 50 more scriptures will continue to write the truth on their hearts so that they will remember it forever.

Parents using the gift book will love using the kids’ book as a discussion tool for the entire family. A great gift for baptisms, confirmations, and any special occasion, I Can Learn the Bible includes clever tips for memorizing scripture. Each new day and each new verse will reinforce to young readers that:

God’s Word is FOR ME and TO ME, it is IN ME and working THROUGH ME, and just like His love, it goes on and on forever!

You can see the flipbook here.

My Review


Although this book is recommended for ages 4-8, any form of Scripture is beneficial for all ages. This book does have simple terms of defining truths, but for my 12 year old son, sometimes simpler is better. Because of my son’s age, instead of spending  a week on one devotion we do it in one day. Every day we review all of the Bible Scriptures and will do so until we get to 52. I am hoping by then, he and I both, will have many to most of them memorized. We are making it work well for our family.

The illustrations included are beautiful also. Each one is precious and lovely.

My only critique with this book, is that I wish all of the Bible verses that are included were NKJV or other, and not the International Children’s Bible©.  Instead of the more commonly known, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” sky is substituted for heavens. I think for down the road when he is older, the more common versions would be more beneficial, but that is just my opinion. Otherwise, a beautifully made and wonderfully sound book.

Buy it Here

Tommy Nelson sent me the above book for review purposes. It will allow me to keep the book. I have no other connection to and have received no other compensation from Tommy Nelson.


Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Monstrously Funny Cartoons by Christopher Hart

by Diane Estrella

Monstrously Funny Cartoons by christopher hart

Learn to draw the silliest and scariest monsters, zombies, vampires, witches, mummies, and other creepy cartoon favorites.

Cartooning master Christopher Hart teaches aspiring artists all the drawing tips and tricks they need to create laugh-out-loud renditions of their favorite monsters and scary creatures. This jam-packed cartooning guide shows readers how to capture the lighter side of these creepy creatures by combining them with Hart’s incredibly popular cartoon drawing style! Taking readers step-by-step through each monster type, Hart demonstrates how to draw everything from terrifyingly silly heads to wacky comic strip-like scenes of monstrous menace. Chockfull of hints, humor, and horror, Monstrously Funny Cartoons is guaranteed to be a real scream for aspiring and professional artists, as well as all fans of things that go bump in the night.

My Review

There are books you throw on the bookshelf and they just sit and sit and collect dust….

Thankfully, this is not one of them!

My son is definitely NOT an artist. He gets very frustrated trying to imitate someone else’s artwork and not getting a similar result. VERY frustrated! Because of this, I have a hard time encouraging him to even TRY to draw something. I got Monstrously Funny Cartoons in the mail and just set it out haphazardly on the coffee table. His curiosity got the better of him and he took it to his room and started reading it and drawing the pictures. He loves it! The combination of silly and quirky monsters along with easy step-by-step illustrations on how to draw them, made it too easy for him to pass up. Here are my son’s own thoughts:

As soon as I saw this book, I had an idea that this book would be great. I knew it could help me with my drawing skills, and it definitely did. I didn’t know there were so many different ways to draw monsters zombies, vampires and mummies, and even bigfoot.

This book definitely keeps me from getting bored with drawing. The step by step directions give me the ability to copy the pictures. I also got a good laugh out of this book with all the funny quips included. All of the characters are well drawn out and I really think you should get this book too.

There you have it. A winner for sure!

Buy it Here

Waterbrook Press sent me the above book for review purposes. It will allow me to keep the book. I have no other connection to and have received no other compensation from Waterbrook Press.


Tuesday, November 04, 2014

The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson

by Diane Estrella

the princess spy melanie dickerson

About the Book

Margaretha has always been a romantic, and hopes her newest suitor, Lord Claybrook, is destined to be her one true love. But then an injured man is brought to Hagenheim Castle, claiming to be an English lord who was attacked by Claybrook and left for dead. And only Margaretha—one of the few who speaks his language—understands the wild story.

Margaretha finds herself unable to pass Colin’s message along to her father, the duke, and convinces herself “Lord Colin” is just an addled stranger. Then Colin retrieves an heirloom she lost in a well, and asks her to spy on Claybrook as repayment. Margaretha knows she could never be a spy—not only is she unable to keep anything secret, she’s sure Colin is completely wrong about her potential betrothed. Though when Margaretha overhears Claybrook one day, she discovers her romantic notions may have been clouding her judgment about not only Colin but Claybrook as well. It is up to her to save her father and Hagenheim itself from Claybrook’s wicked plot.

About the Author

Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice and The Merchant’s Daughter, both Christy Award finalists, winner of The National Reader’s Choice Award for 2010’s Best First Book, and winner of the 2012 Carol Award in Young Adult fiction. She earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama. She has taught children with special needs in Georgia and Tennessee, and English to adults in Germany and Ukraine. Now she spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama. Visit her on the web at

My Review

Another winning title from one of my favorite authors!

All of Melanie Dickerson’s books, thus far, have been based on fairy tale classics, and I hope she continues as such. This story is a vague retelling of The Frog Prince by the Brothers Grimm. I was slightly disappointed that this novel did not have more references to the original, but the new tale this author told, more than made up for this lack.

Margaretha is definitely one of my favorite heroines from all of these stories. I’d like to think that if I had an alter-ego, or if ever I went back into the 1400’s, that I would resemble her. Her quick thinking intelligence, empathetic heart, and ability to kick some bad-guy butt is how I’d hope to come off as well. She was a woman that our hero Colin, could respect in both his head and in his heart. We always have to keep our motives in check and decide where our actions are taking us. In one way or another, freedom or destruction usually awaits us.

This can be read as a stand-alone book, but it is so much fun to revisit other characters from the author’s previous books. I love to catch up with old friends and see how their happily-ever-after’s are progressing along. Another quick read for teens and even older lovers of fiction and, of course, true love’s first kisses…..

Buy it Here

The author sent me the above book for review purposes. It will allow me to keep the book. I have no other connection to and have received no other compensation from Melanie Dickerson.


Sunday, November 02, 2014

5 Tips for Help with Homework

by Diane Estrella

visual latin 3

If your first child has started school it can be a little overwhelming for you when they begin bringing school work home. How much help is too much? What if you don’t know the answers? Even if it is your fifth child now it is probably not getting any easier. Curriculum seems to get more challenging with each passing year and every teacher has different expectations. Not to mention, if you haven’t done algebra for many years you may feel the urge to run and hide when the books come out.

  1. Create an Ideal Homework Environment – Ideally, your child will have a desk in their room, but sometimes this is not possible. Doing homework at the table is “okay,” but if there are other kids in the house they will easily get distracted. Plus, their homework space should have supplies they need ready and waiting. You can easily create a space with a small desk in a large closet, under the stairs, or in the corner of your own office.
  2. Have a Routine – Creating a homework routine is very beneficial because they will always know their expectations. If they have to do homework before they go out and play, they will know better than to ask to go outside before they are done. If you let them play after school when it is still light out and save homework for after dinner this is great, too. Obviously, you have to be flexible when soccer practices and dance classes infiltrate the schedule.
  3. Know the Teacher’s Expectations – Parent-teacher nights are not created just to inconvenience you or talk about your child’s outburst in class. Teachers are available during these times for you to ask questions and get involved with their education. Know what their expectations are. Ask about homework policies and what role they would prefer you take in terms of helping.
  4. Don’t Hover – There will be times when you need to sit and help, but this does not mean you need to hold their hand through everything. Some kids feel nervous when someone is looking over their shoulder. Others become too dependent on someone being there for assistance, so they don’t put forth the effort to figure out the answer. Buy yourself a calming slate water fall from stores like Luxe Water Walls and take this time to go relax and read a book. Check on them periodically or wait for them to ask for help.
  5. Praise Efforts – It is important to not only point out when they get something wrong. Even if nearly every spelling word is wrong, maybe they were closer than last time or perhaps they got a word right they were struggling with before. They need a little encouragement to stay motivated.


Sunday, October 26, 2014

Vitamin C Facial Toner from InstaNatural

by Diane Estrella

instanatural vitamin c facial toner

Hydrate… Renew… and Restore Your Skin With InstaNatural’s Vitamin C Facial Toner

Our Facial Spray is a premium toner that provides many benefits and is suitable for everyday usage:
– Cleans and purifies skin
– Provides Anti-Aging Benefits
– Shrinks appearance of pores
– Removes excess oil and dead skin cells
– Restores balance to natural pH levels
– Helps protect your skin against impurities
– Gives you instant refreshment
– Preps skin for other applications

Our Vitamin C Facial Toner is unparalleled to any other product on the market.
– Huge 4oz bottle will last a long time and provides great value
– 100% Natural with Mostly Organic Ingredients
– Each bottle contains powerful anti-aging and astringent properties
– Cruelty-free
– Made in the USA

InstaNatural backs their products with a Lifetime Money Back Guarantee, no matter where you buy our product. If you’re not satisfied, simply contact us and get a full refund.

My Review

I always enjoy using natural products on my skin. Since our skin is the body’s largest and fastest-growing organ system, we need to take care of what goes on it and then absorbs into it.

I have used other Vitamin C facial products before and I am sure that each brand has differences that set them apart. The InstaNatural Vitamin C Facial Toner has a spray top that can be sprayed directly onto the face, or I like to spray it into my hands and then rub it on my face exactly where I want it to be. It does have a stronger citrus-y smell then another Vitamin C product I have used before, but it is not unpleasant in any way. It dries almost instantly when it hits the skin. It is not oily and does not leave your face feeling wet. It’s almost like giving your face an immediate wake-up call. It feels refreshing and invigorating.

Lovely to use first thing in the morning or anytime during the day to freshen your face and ignite your senses. I like this product very much.

Buy it Here

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.