Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Review: The Almond Tree

A few months ago I won a Goodreads First Reads giveaway for the book, "The Almond Tree" by Michelle Cohen Corasanti.  This book was absolutely spectacular; I'm not usually so impressed with a book, but this was was a superbly written story. It follows the life, from boyhood to old age, of an intellectually gifted Palestinian man, Ahmed Hamid.
The Almond Tree on

The plot and action of this book are absolutely intriguing and page-turning, but not in a "thriller" type of way. The characters are so real and compelling that I couldn't put the book down because I wanted to know what happened next.  For me the subject matter is particularly interesting because of the current day conflict between Palestine/Israel.  The story really humanizes all of the struggles and conflicts that region has had in the past 60 years and presents it in a fairly unbiased way.  Although this is a fictional story, it is clear that the author knew and researched the subject extremely well.  Her writing style is clear and descriptive.  At times, I felt like I was sweating under the summer sun with Ahmed and his brothers as they worked dangerous construction jobs to support their family. I could easily imagine that I was in the dorms and classrooms with Ahmed when he finally was able to go away to college.   For the most part, I could easily believe that all of the events in "The Almond Tree" were possible.  There were only a few parts that seemed a bit far-fetched, making this a truly great piece of writing.

I highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone and everyone.  It is one of the best books I have read this year.  I would rate it 4.75/5.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review: PicStick Photo Magnets

Today's review is of, a company that makes magnets out of your pictures. PicStick sells magnets by the sheet, and each sheet is made up of 9 magnets and costs $14.99. They are based in the UK, but ship worldwide (for FREE!).  I recently received a sample of 1 sheet (9 magnets)  for free in return for my honest review.

To start, I was very pleased with how easy it was to create my sheet of 9 magnets.  PicStick offers the options of uploading photos from your computer, or connecting to Facebook  and Dropbox and choosing photos from your online albums.  I chose to connect to my Facebook account and choose 9 pictures that I thought would make nice mementos from the past several years.  I chose to use a few photos of my parents' cats as well as some pretty pictures from my wedding. It was very easy to upload and resize my pictures, almost completely foolproof.  The only problem I encountered in this step was that a few of the pictures I wanted to use were automatically changed to a weird crop/orientation/size that didn't look all that great. I couldn't figure out how to fix this so I simply chose other photos.

After I uploaded my pictures all I had to do was check out and enter my shipping information.  I promptly received an email receipt and confirmation that my order had been received.  It took considerably less time for me to receive my magnets than I expected; only about a week from the day I placed my order.  I was very impressed by the speed I received my order and by how well informed the company kept me of my order status. I received emails when my order had been processed, produced, and shipped.

Once I received my sheet of magnets, it was just a matter of folding along the perforated lines and snapping the individual magnets apart before they were ready to hang on my refrigerator.  This was super easy and convenient, but I do have some mixed feelings about the quality of the magnets themselves.  To start with, I was pleasantly surprised with the picture quality of the magnets, especially considering that I used pictures from Facebook.  With other photo printing services, the pictures I had printed from Facebook albums always turned out grainy and looked very bad.  Nearly all of my PicStick magnets looked great, with the exception of one photo that wasn't very high quality anyways.  My biggest complaint is that the magnets themselves aren't very strong.  They stick to my refrigerator just fine, but they are a little bit too weak to hold much. They are too weak to hold more than a few thin sheets of paper up.

My 9 magnets

Overall, I think the best use for these would be as a space-saving way to decorate your office space, dorm, or kitchen with your personal photos, but I wouldn't expect them to be highly functional.  I like the way they look and it's nice to be able to add some personal touches to my otherwise boring refrigerator.  They work just fine to post my shopping list or a note, but I will have to look elsewhere for a stronger magnet to hold cards and coupons.

As a special offer to my readers, PicStick is offering a 25% discount with the code FAUX25

*I received this product for free in exhange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own*

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Review: Degree Motion Sense Deodorant

*I received this product free of charge to try and review thanks to Influenster and Degree Women. All opinions are my own*

I recently got the chance to try a free sample of Degree Expert Protection with MotionSense deodorant as part of the VoxBox program.  I was pretty excited to get this sample because I have a hard time finding a deodorant that I like and that really works well.  I had previously been using Equate Clinical Protection, but wasn't entirely happy with it.  

Degree Expert Protection

First off, I received a full size sample of  Degree MotionSense in the "Fresh Energy" scent, which smells really good. It is a light and clean scent that isn't overpowering or cloying. It is light enough that I barely notice it after applying the deodorant and it doesn't compete or clash with any perfume I might choose to wear.  It is not messy at all during application, unlike the deodorant I had been using, and it doesn't leave those gross, white deodorant marks on everything.  

Now, the really important part is how well it works at keeping me smelling good and feeling dry during the day.  Supposedly, this deodorant uses a new technology that works more the more you move.  I'm not sure if that is really the case, but it does do a really good job of keeping me feeling fresh all day.  I am on my feet, running around, for 8 or 9 hours at a time at work and this keeps me remarkably dry and fresh for the entire day.  Degree claims that this deodorant offers 48 hour protection, but I sweat A LOT so it only lasts a day for me. Also, lets be completely real: People sweat. People are MEANT to sweat; it's a natural biological process to maintain your proper body temperature.  No deodorant out there is going to completely prevent you from sweating, and no deodorant should.  

So, the bottom line is that Degree MotionSense is one of the better deodorants I have ever tried.  It really does offer superior freshness and protection compared to all the other deodorant/antiperspirants I have tried over the years.  I highly recommend you try it out for yourself if you want to feel clean and dry all day.  For more reviews and info about this product check out and the hashtag #DoMore on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.  

I received this product complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes.

Affiliate Links:

Monday, September 15, 2014

Fall Freebie Crochet Patterns

The weather here is FINALLY cooling down and starting to feel like fall. To celebrate, here are some free fall-themed crochet graphs and patterns. Link to patterns are in the caption under each picture.  The first two graphs are my own design and can be downloaded from  All other patterns and their associated photographs are the property of other designers.  Happy crafting!

Oak Leaf

Small Harvest

Lion Brand Harvest Bowl
CroCreations Autumn Infinity Scarf

Teeny Tiny Pumpkin
Crocheted Fall Wreath
Easy Crochet Pumpkins

I hope you enjoy these fabulous, free fall patterns.  I'm working on an original v-stitch afghan design so keep your eyes open for that to come soon, as well as more halloween graphs, thanksgiving graphs, and soon, Christmas graphs. I'm also working on a few more book reviews that will hopefully be posted soon.

Affiliate Links:


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Eco Emi Deluxe Box Giveaway

Remember a few months ago when I posted about Deals of Sweetness' July Eco Emi Box Giveaway? Well, Emilee and Eco Emi are bringing you another opportunity to win a deluxe box of earth-friendly products!

Eco Emi Deluxe Box Giveaway Sponsored by Eco Emi

Hosted by Deals of Sweetness

Co-Hosted by Pea of Sweetness

Eco Emi Deluxe Box Giveaway
Eco Emi is the first eco friendly sampling service. For only $15/month, they will mail you five to ten samples of natural, organic, green, eco-friendly products to your door wrapped in chic earth friendly material made from 100% recycled bottles. Just recently, they introduced a Deluxe Beauty Box which includes 4 to 5 full or deluxe size bath and body, beauty, and/or cosmetic items for just $22/month.
All of their packages are adorned with 100% organic or vintage ribbons or they will often use 100% bamboo yarns. Part of the fun is that the package will look a little different every month. You will have the luxury of trying out an array of green products in the comfort of your own home or over a cup of herbal tea with close friends. See what Emilee at Deals of Sweetness thought of her August Eco Emi Box.
Would you like to win one of the new Eco Emi Deluxe Boxes? (Box may be different than the box pictured.) This giveaway begins on 9/8 and ends on 9/22 at 10:00pm (times are Central) and is open to US residents ages 18+. Please refer to the full terms and conditions in the Giveaway Tools.
  Disclosure: Emilee from Deals of Sweetness and Pea of Sweetness received free product(s) to facilitate her review. No other compensation was received. Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment.

My Denim and Lace tie-dye tanktop giveaway

Here's another giveaway brought to you by Emilee of Deals of Sweetness and the My Denim and Lace apparel website. This sounds like a pretty neat website and it might be pretty fun to get personalized tank tops as bridesmaid gifts.

Tie Dye Tank Top Giveaway Sponsored by My Denim and Lace

Hosted by Deals of Sweetness

Co-Hosted by Pea of Sweetness

Denim and Lace Giveaway
My Denim and Lace is an apparel website where the focus of their apparel is for parents to personalize the garments using rhinestones for their kids. They have a line of tops and bottoms for boys, girls, and women, and they are always adding to their line. Emilee at Deals of Sweetness had a chance to review a personalized tie dye tank top.
To expand the line of clothes My Denim and Lace offers they are currently running a crowd funding campaign on small knot. Support their campaign and receive various rewards! Plus, My Denim and Lace will be donating 15% of the what they raise and donating it to K.I.D.S./Fashion Delivers which is a not for profit based in New York who assists children and adults by the donation of apparel, school supplies and other items to help those in need. Visit their Small Knot campaign now!
Would you like a Women's Tie Dye Tank Top? This giveaway begins on 9/8 and ends on 9/21 at 10:00pm (times are Central) and is open to US residents ages 18+. Please refer to the full terms and conditions in the Giveaway Tools.
  Disclosure: Emilee from Deals of Sweetness and Pea of Sweetness received free product(s) to facilitate her review. No other compensation was received. Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Free Halloween Crochet Graphs

To make up for my lack of posts lately, I'm going to be posting two free graph days this week! This first post is 6 of my Halloween graphs since we're already in the second week of September! I have a few smaller graphs that would be nice pillows or wall hangings, and a few larger graphs that would make good seasonal throws. Feel free to play around with the colors on these. I think a dark purple background would look pretty awesome for most of the designs. The fangs would look especially cool and creepy against a blood red background.  All 6 of these graphs are available for free download from Enjoy!


Evil Pumpkin


Spooky Tree

Haunted House

Zombie Hands

Sponsored Links