Friday, May 15, 2015

Winners of the American Sniper Movie Giveaway!

Yes, you read that right.  Ben and I decided to give our copy away to one of you wonderful people as well.  We were so impressed with all the heart-felt shout outs and love shown to our service members, we just couldn't keep it.

That and the fact that scary movies give me nightmares and I chickened out watching it because even the book frightened me.  Yeah, I'm a baby.  This is coming from a girl who can't watch CSI or Criminal Minds... and even Supernatural gives me bad dreams.

So we decided to give the extra movie to someone else who is much braver than I...

The winners of the Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy Bundles go to:

Jessica Carpenter

Who said: "With all the family and friends in the military that I know my Brother tops the list. Iraq once and Afghanistan twice all I. A 7 year time period back when tours lasted 15+ months. He is a soldier true to the core and is slowly making his way back into the civilian world. I am blessed to be able to talk to him each day as I know he fights the memories and trauma of war everyday."

And....

mom2tk

Who said: "I have had a father that served in the Army. My husband served in the Air Force. But my favorite (yes I am totally bias .. lol) Would be my son who is currently serving in the Army National Guard. He left in March for basic and AIT. I can not wait to see him and put my arms around him. I am so proud of him!!"


Winners:  Please email me your mailing address asap so I can send out your prize! nutsinanutshell(at)gmail(dot)com

Thanks to everyone who participated, and for the beautiful. heartfelt shout outs! 

-Cat

Disclaimer:  Winners were picked completely randomly using random.org.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

American Sniper Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy Bundle Giveaway!

Many of my old readers may remember when I first reviewed Chris Kyle's American Sniper when it first came out.  You can't read the book without feeling like you KNOW the man.  Like he's your friend.  When he died, we mourned like he was family.  That's just the kind of guy he was.

I was really excited when the film promotion company sent me 3 pre-released copies of the movie (which will officially come hit the stores on May 21st in time for Memorial Day weekend) with the following instructions:

1. Keep one for myself as a Thank you for my husband's service.
2. Give a copy to a Vet or Service Member that we personally know.
3. And to give one away to my readers.

One of our favorite families
Ben and I talked a lot about who we would give the copy too. We have SO MANY wonderful friends who serve! But after talking about it, we both knew exactly who we wanted to give it to.  The second copy is going to an amazing husband and father of two little girls.  He's been in the service for about 8 years and has been deployed.  His wife is one of my best friends and one of the greatest examples of what a military wife should be: strong, loyal. honest, hard-working, and classy.  When we think of a married couple who we look up to and admire, it's them.  My only regret is that we weren't living closer to them and didn't take advantage of the time when we were neighbors so long ago!  As a BIG thank you for their service and their example to us, that DVD is going to them.

The 3rd copy is up for grabs!!

This is what I need you to do:

Mandatory:  Leave a comment giving a shout out to your favorite service member(s) past or present.  (If you can't leave a comment, because my blog is a little testy these days, please email it to me at nutsinanutshell(at)gmail(dot)com and I will post it!

Optional (Leave a comment for each completed)
- Share this giveaway on FB
- Tweet about this giveaway
-Share on another social media site

For those of you who don't win, Warner Bros wants you to know that $1 from every sale goes to the Wounded Warrior foundation.

Contest ends tomorrow night!!! Thursday!  Winner will be announced on Friday so I get this sent out quickly and the winner will have a copy before it's even out in stores!  How awesome is that??

Good Luck!

-Cat

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

In Which I Nearly Blind Myself Only to be Rescued by a Friend

As a mother to 4 boys, I learned early on that great eyelashes are wasted on the male sex. Why?  Seriously!  Why is that?  It just isn't fair that I have these short, fine, blond, hardly even there lashes when my husband and boys get these lush, thick, dark beauties.  (With the exception of my red-head who sports long, thick, gorgeous white lashes.)  It's totally not fair.

Take a look at me with no makeup:
My lashes are so stick straight, they won't even curl.  And I've tried all the tricks... so don't go there, I'll just feel bitter and resentful.

One of my BFF's had my issue and she had someone glue on some that lasted a few weeks and she LOVES them.  But I can't afford to spend $50 plus bucks every three weeks to get it done... besides it takes some time, and with two little ones in tow, time to sit still and get my lashes put on is time I don't have.

So I decided to give the cheap self-glue on ones a try.

Let me start by telling you something about the south.  When bad weather is rolling in, everyone and their dog is over to Walmart buying out food, water, flashlights, and apparently fake lashes.  Not kidding you.  It's like "Holy crap a tornado is coming!!  Stock up on fake eye-lashes!!"

I made the mistake of going on such a day and almost died right there in the cosmetic aisle.  So I ran for my life, using my cart as a battering ram to make my escape, and decided to come back when crazy wasn't in the air.

Finally, a week later, they restocked and I was able to buy a pair.

I even bought some glue.

And I guess I didn't do it good enough because they fell off in my food at Texas Roadhouse on my anniversary date.  It's true, I just blinked and off fluttered the left right into my ranch dressing.  The right one landed by my honey butter roll a few seconds later.  I was smooth and slipped them quickly into my napkin, and Ben was so busy focusing on the onion blossom, he luckily missed all the action. Ha. Men.

But I forgave my fakies and decided to give them another chance when Ben took me out on my birthday.  This time, I totally over did the glue.  First, I glued my eyes shut. Then my lashes keep sticking together throughout the night... I couldn't wait to get them off when I got home, but they wouldn't come off!  I started to cry.  The stupid things were ripping off my skin and real lashes!  I had to finally google how to remove super glue, because makeup remover was just NOT working.  So there I was late at night dabbing nail polish remover on my eye lids.  Thankfully, I didn't get any in my eyes and my lids were only swollen and rashy for a few days.

But I couldn't forgive the fakies this time.  In the trash they went with my hopes of having lush lashes.

Now, I had heard of Younque.  I actually had a "friend" on Facebook that was trying to sell the special mascara.  Emphasis on HAD.  She unfriended me because I was ignoring all her party invites.  Normally, I NEVER talk about people in a bad-ish way, but since we are no longer Facebook buds... well, all bets are off.  (Moral of story, don't unfriend me or I will seek evil revenge on my blog... MWAhahahahahaHA! PS: I hope you know I'm kidding, right?;) )

Since then I have learned that Girlfriend did NOT know how to use her product.  The reason I never joined her party or bought anything from her was because she looked like she had some kind of black, hairy growths on her eyes.  They were thick and chunky and just scary as hell.  No freaking way I was going to buy into that, I'd rather take my chances with the fakies, thank you very much.

Then a few months ago, one of my closer, nicer, sweeter friends who would NEVER unfriend me, started selling it and she made it look AMAZING!

Her name is Nichelle, and look how gorgeous she is:

I thought at first that she just had really great lashes anyway... but she sent me a before shot too:
So I started following her parties and pretty much Facebook stalked -- you know the creepy silent watcher who never comments.  Yeah, that's me sometimes... makes you really want to be my Facebook friend, right?!

Something about me:  I hate spending money on myself.  I REALLY hate it.  I just feel the boys have bigger needs than I do, so forking out the funds for mascara was just not going to happen right now.

Then one day, Nichelle messaged me and asked me if I would review the mascara if she sent me some.  Well, well, well... I guess my silent stalking does pay off once in a while.

When it came in the mail, I was excited and nervous at the same time.  What if my lashes don't look as awesome as Nichelle's.  What if they look like Girlfriend's tarantula eyes?  It took me a couple days to be brave enough to give them a go.  Well, I couldn't get my lashes to curl... and because of that, I really couldn't see the length because they were sticking straight out.  At least, they didn't look like hairy monsters... but I needed to know how Nichelle made hers so perfect.  She told me that she uses a eyelash brush.  What the heck is that?!  Oh, that little brush thing that comes in the makeup brush packs that I just chuck in the trash?  So that's what it's for...

She was so sweet and sent me a video on how to use it... I still need to go buy one.

But I owed her a blog post, like last week, so the brush will have to wait for now.  I feel like the mascara does give me some length, some body and thickness, and it makes my eyes pop in a pleasant and non-painful way.  And the best part is that I don't have to glue anything on.

Here is my before, with mascara, and with Younique in the last one:


Here is a little info Nichelle sent to me:



I was hording the mascara because I thought if I used it too much, I would run out too fast... but Nichelle told me that it lasts for 3 months with every day wear.  


ALSO, a quick mention:  there is a 14 day money back guarantee, so you can try it and if you don't like it, you can send it back.

Before I end this post, I need to tell you a little about Nichelle and why this business is so important to her.  She'd probably be really embarrassed that I am sharing this, because she is so humble, but what good is a friend who won't tell everyone how awesome you are or let the world know when you need help??  So yeah, I am being THAT friend.  Nichelle is an Army wife, like me, and she is gearing up to have her 3rd baby.  Her husband is gone to training for like 6 months, and isn't allowed to come home for the birth.  However, the Army said that he could come for a few days AFTER the baby is born, but he has to pay his own way.  Plane tickets are SUPER pricey right now, and Nichelle is working really hard to earn and save up the money so her husband can come be there after the baby is born.  So if you pop over to her site and buy something, you aren't just getting mascara or what ever other makeup she is selling, you are helping a soldier come home to meet his baby.  No pressure or anything. *wink, wink*

You can check out Nichelle's website HERE.  And you can check out and LIKE her Facebook page here: Nichelle's Lovely Lashes.  


In conclusion, I really like it, MUCH better than the fakies... and WAY less pricey than getting those little ones glued on professionally.  You don't have to be a Chunky Clunker like Girlfriend, you can be long and classy like Nichelle... unless you are me... then just do what works.

-Cat

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

DIY Baymax T-Shirt (Big Hero 6)

Boy #3 is OBSESSED with Big Hero 6.  We watch it everyday about a million times.  He can quote the movie word for word (and so can I, for that matter).

Poor little guy, though.  Every time we go the store he BEGS for ANYTHING with Baymax on it.  If you haven't seen the show, he's this big marshmallow looking robot:
This cute lovable guy is my 4 year old's hero of the month.  And we wants all the paraphernalia... but being the kind of parents we are, we like to wait for holidays to get the prizes... unless they want to buy stuff with their birthday money.

But today was his 4 year doctor well check and he got his shots... and he was so brave.  So after taking him out for a Wendy's kid's meal, I made him a new shirt.


I used an old white tee and a sharpie.  I should have looked at a picture first, but I didn't so the head is a little too big and I didn't make fingers.  But he doesn't care.  He's in heaven and I'm the best mom in the world!

-Cat

Monday, March 30, 2015

Home Again: A Book Review

I get about 5-10 requests per week to review new up and coming books.  About 95% of them have to do with the military one way or another.  I know we get them because we are a military family, and that's great.  But sometimes, I just get a little burned out on military literature.  I turn down most of the requests, mainly because I don't have time to review them all.  Between raising all my boys and being wife to my soldier-man, sadly, I have limited time to sit down with a book.  Audio books have been my friend lately.

So a book really has to catch my eye and interest for me to accept reviews these days.  And Home Again by Michael Kenneth Smith
was one of those eye catching books.

I liked the fact that it took place in Tennessee.  Since living here, I have been very interested in learning more about the history, especially concerning the civil war.  Although, the book is fiction, you can tell the author went through a lot of trouble to include a lot of non-fiction details and real people.

One thing I LOVE about history, is learning about the little stories that make up the big events.  I love the details about real people that make them REAL to me.  And this book includes those small, yet important details, and I LOVED it.  It's a perfect blend of fact and fiction!

I actually promised to do this review last week.  I got the book in the mail and I started reading it.  The first two chapters didn't really grip me because it was "guy talk".  Mostly hunting and guns were being described, and I fazed out a bit.  But once the story started rolling I was swept away.

Even though the publicist sent me a hard copy, I got myself a digital copy on Amazon (You can get it FREE if you have Kindle Unlimited).  Since I have a Kindle Fire 7 HDX, I have text to speech.  So I turned it on to read to me while I folded laundry.

Husband comes home.

He listens in.

He gets sucked in.

And he starts lurking around...

"Are you listening to my book?"

"Yes," he said.

"What do you think?" I asked.

"This book is AWESOME!  I am loving this!" He said.  That's a HUGE compliment coming from Ben.

Then I was banned from reading it without him.  So my review is a little late coming but here it is!

Before I go on, here is what the back of the book says:

An American Sniper in the Civil War Takes Center Stage in Historical Novel

Snipers are not a modern-day military tactic. In the American Civil War, both the Yankees and the Confederates had skilled snipers with advanced rifles and scopes that allowed them to hit targets over a thousand yards away. 
In Home Again, author Michael Kenneth Smith presents a true-to-life work of historical fiction that describes through a young soldier the important role of snipers—called sharpshooters back then.  Zach fights for the Union and earns notoriety for his accuracy with a rifle custom-made by his father, a gunsmith. Beginning with his first kill, Zach feels remorse and guilt over ending a human life.  He questions if it’s fair, honorable or moral to shoot an enemy without warning from a safe distance.  Are his victims really enemies, or soldiers like him eager to return to their families? 
Luke is a Confederate, who enters the conflict in hopes of doing something to make his father proud.  He volunteers to help two overworked surgeons in a field hospital by stitching up the gashes of wounded soldiers. Seeing an opportunity to stand out, Luke impulsively mounts a horse and rushes into enemy lines to retrieve the fallen Confederate flag. His fellow troops cheer, but the surgeons shame him for risking his life for the sake of glory when he is needed to help save injured soldiers. 
Set in Tennessee, Home Again does not take sides. Zach and Luke are both from Tennessee and there is little mention of the issues or the cause of the war. The surgeons tend to all soldiers regardless of the side they fight for. The dramatic and poignant stories of the two boys, uniquely told in alternating chapters, represent the aspirations of many young boys who seek action, adventure and glory and quickly confront the horrific realities of war. 
Smith vividly describes the chaos and elements they endure, as well as the sight of soldiers with limbs blown off and guts spilling into the mud, the screams and desperate pleas for help, the smell of gunpowder and decaying bodies.  
Based on his meticulous research, Smith skillfully weaves his fictional characters into actual events and battles, notably Shiloh and Gettysburg.  The personalities and leadership styles of well- known generals on both sides of the conflict are well presented, and brief biographies of many of them are in the epilogue.
I have to say, I really enjoyed the book. Probably not as much as my husband who was soaking it in. But as a history buff, and wife of a soldier living in Tennessee, I really liked it.  The first thing I notice about a book I review is writing style.  Michael Smith is an excellent writer.  He made me fall in love with the two main characters in such a way that I just couldn't pick a side!  When reading about Zach the sniper, I want the Union to win.  But when reading about the adventures of Luke the medic Confederate, I want them to win!  The reader can't help it!  I think it takes a lot of talent to write like that.

I love the parts when Zach the sniper is proving his skills to the unbelieving soldiers.  But I think my favorite part is when he walks into a confederate tent full of men, after hiding out in the rain for hours and pretends he is one of them to get a good nights sleep.  I still chuckle when I think of that part. But it was really interesting as the writer explored the emotions Zach went through as he was picking off guys as a sniper.  And the lasting effects of war on him.

I really liked Luke too.  I loved his compassion and charity.  He really wanted to take care of everyone... and their horses.  But he had the saddest story I thought.  His dad was a total douche and pretty much forced him into the Army.  But Luke was an animal lover and fishing small town boy. What the war did to him was just short of tragic.  I did find it fascinating the way they were able to patch soldiers up even though the conditions were unsanitary and the supplies were so limited.  But he just didn't give up on anyone.

I am really hoping for a sequel.  The ending left it open to follow these young men on new adventures.  Fingers crossed!

So whether you are a history buff or just love a good military adventure read, you need to read this book!  It will make you laugh, cry, cheer, and it will open your eyes to a new understanding of what the civil war was and what those men fought for so we can live like we do today.

-Cat


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Salonpas Review and Giveaway


Back in January, I got an offer in my email to review Salonpas Pain Relief patches, gels, and sprays.  I thought, hmmmm... with a the injuries Ben comes home with, that would be fun to experiment with.  But for the first time in the history of my husband's Army career, he has been injury free for a couple of months.  I felt terrible!! How dare he not get hurt so I can try out these new pain relief products that Salonpas so generously sent me.

How selfish can a man be?!

So there they sat in my kitchen going unused.

Somewhere along the way, though, I think I cursed myself.  A few weeks ago, my heel started hurting like really bad.  It popped when I walked and pretty much burned when ever I was doing anything on it... and even when I wasn't.

So I thought, well, serves me right for wishing a minor injury on my husband just so I could try out a product.

Turns out I have a heel spur. Boo!  So I have been putting Salonpas Deep Relieving Gel on it.  And icing it too.

It has helped WONDERS!!

I was super paranoid about having to get a cortisone shot in it, but now, looks like I won't have too! Yay!

Salonpas also sent me:

Salonpas Pain Relief Patch,
Pain Relieving GEL-Patch HOT-L, 
and Salonpas Pain Relieving Jet Spray

I wish I could say, I can't wait to try the others... but that would just be wishing myself more misfortunes.  So here's to being prepared for when and if it happens again!

A little bit about their product from the email they sent me:
Many of us included daily exercise as a primary New Year’s resolution.  Keeping that resolution can result in more aches and pains than usual due to the demands of the regime.  Reaching for OTC pills is not always the healthiest solution.  A healthier solution for pain management awaits with the availability of topical analgesic products in the form of creams, gels, sprays and patches.
By putting the medicine right at the site of pain, bypassing the stomach and liver, Salonpas can use less medicine to deliver an effective dose. Try it and we think you will agree that Salonpas offers powerful relief when and where you need it.
“When people self-medicate with over-the-counter oral pain pills, they can ingest inappropriate doses and run the risk of potential drug interactions, which can lead to unintended or unsuspected dangerous side effects, some of which can be as serious as liver failure or heart damage,” says Dr. Sylvia Hesse, a New York based orthopedic medicine specialist.  “By relying on topical analgesic gels, sprays and patches for pain relief - without the use of pills - you can be assured of making a safer choice.”  

Salonpas would like to give one of our faithful, lucky readers a $100 worth of Salonpas products to try out at home. Woo Hoo!

Here's how to toss your hat in the giveaway ring:

Mandatory:

Leave a comment telling us how Salonpas can help you or someone in your family. (If you can't post, please email me your comment and I will post it for you -- nutsinanutshell(at)gmail(dot)com)

Optional entries: (leave a separate comment for each saying you did it)

Follow Salonpas on Facebook
Follow Salonpas on Twitter


That's it! Contest ends Monday night at 11:59pm.  Winner will be announced on Tuesday.  Good luck!

-Cat


Cock-A-Doodle-Doooooo!

Ever since all this snow day and spring break business, the Tweedles (Boys #1 and #2) have gotten into this lazy habit of going to bed later than they should.  This has caused HUGE issues come morning time when I come in and kindly wake them up with my sweet morning singing... and sometimes a little dancing.

The frustrating thing is, they just don't appreciate the fact that after long nights of feeding baby and waking #3 up to go potty so he won't wet the bed, I still get up at 7 sharp so I can put on my happy face, climb the longest stairway in the history of the world (at least it feels that way at 7 am) only to wake up grumpy little morning trolls.

These last couple weeks, #1 has been especially sassy, and #2 just flat out ignores me and stays in bed.  This results in missed breakfasts, unbrushed teeth, and crazy hooligans in mismatched socks, shoes in hand, running out the door racing to catch the bus. And yesterday morning after a particularly difficult wake up, #1 informed me that it was all MY fault.  I am the WORST mom in the HISTORY of the world because... wait for it... I wake them up too early.  Yes, that is right.  Their grumpiness has NOTHING whatsoever to do with the fact that I have to fight them every night to get their butts in bed and STAY in bed by 8.  No no no... the fact that they sneak toys and books and flashlights under their covers and giggle until midnight has NOTHING to do with them being tired in the morning.  It's ALL my fault because I wake up the little angels too early.

Boo. Freaking. Hoo.

"So let me get this straight," I said trying not to lose my cool. "It's my fault you are tired in the morning because I wake you up in time to get ready and catch the bus to school?  Even though you guys made bad choices last night and stayed up too late?"

"Yeah," #1 said.  I laughed.

"Okay, since me waking you up is such an issue, I won't do it anymore.  You guys can get up yourselves and get ready and make it to the bus on your own, since you are such BIG boys now."

I heard high fives and fist bumps going on as I went down stairs.  Go ahead and celebrate boys... enjoy your brief moment of false victory... 

Last night I had Ben set the alarm on their innocent looking digital clock.

This morning, I woke up to THUMP THUMP THUMPS of many little legs running down the stairs at 7 am sharp.

"MOM!!!! MOM!!!!! The fire alarm is going off upstairs!!!!" They were yelling in unison completely wide eyed and totally freaking out.  It was GLORIOUS!

"Not the fire alarm guys.  You said you didn't want me to wake you up in the morning any more, so I decided to treat you like responsible big boys and daddy and I set your alarm clock."  I walked upstairs and showed them how to turn it off.  "So now every morning, instead of being bothered by me, you will wake up to the sweet digital music of get-your-lazy-butts-out-of-bed.  Welcome to the real world boys!"

Oh, snap!

Total melt down. Of the nuclear class.

"We're SOOOOO SORRY!!!" and "We'll never be mean to you again!"'s were followed by "PLEASE don't make us wake up to that again!!  PLEASE!!!" and "We want you to wake us up EVERY morning!" and lots of wailing, fist pounding, leg kicking, brown-nosing, and as the Bible would say, gnashing of teeth.  All of which were completely pointless and a waste of good energy.

Oh, how sad it is to get a reality check.  I'm feeling really bad for them as I laugh myself silly and sip a congratulatory morning Diet Pepsi on the rocks.

Needless to say they got out the door with shoes on their feet, lunches in their packs, full bellies, teeth brushed, and repentant faces.

Oh, I love parent wins!

-Cat



Saturday, March 7, 2015

Fit Snack Review

 My long time readers know how I am always on the look out for new healthy ways of eating and getting fit.  I was really excited when asked to do a review on a new healthy snack program called Fit Snack.  It's a box of healthy snacks that you get in the mail and you can sign up for it online and buy a single box or sign up to get them monthly.

And I have to say, eating crazy healthy food has never been so fun.  Seriously, everything in the box was pretty new to me, so it was like this little treasure trove of new food discoveries.  And I love good healthy food.
I have to say that my FAVORITE item in the box was the Quinoa chips.  They were so tasty, I wished there was a lot more in the bag!  Even my picky eater loved them... sad I had to share :(

A close runner up was the protein lemon cookie... nom nom.

My husband really liked the energy chocolate bites, and has been using them for help with PT this last week.

I have to mention the weird item: the veggie chips.  They were tasty once you got past the fact that there were whole green beans chip-style in there.  Ben couldn't get past the green bean, but I enjoyed them... they were just a little strange to me.

You can also find a protein bar, a yummy seed mix, some nut spread, Lentil chips, and a gluton free pancake mix.

All and all I think if you are up to getting some healthy snacks, you need to give this a try!!

-Cat

The Winner of the HALO SleepSack!!

I was really excited to do this contest, but it's always so hard for me to pick a winner because I want to give ALL the entries one!  The guy who came up with Random.org was a genius! Because of them, picking a winner is easier and fair.

So the winner of the HALO SleepSack is:

Congrats to Mands @ Rhody Life!!!  Email me your mailing info, size (S,M,L), and gender preference, and I will get it sent on so you can receive your HALO SleepSack!

Thanks to everyone who participated!!  We have another giveaway coming up so keep an eye out for it.

-Cat