Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Book Review: The Mass by Cardinal Donald Wuerl

The Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the TraditionThe Mass: The Glory, the Mystery, the Tradition by Cardinal Donald Wuerl

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s book The Mass is a 212 page volume which delves into the mysteries we encounter each week as we head to church.   Each part of the service is examined in depth from preparing for Mass to the dismissal.   The people and other parts of the service are discussed, such as explaining the function of the cantor.   Also, parts of the church are mentioned, such as the Tabernacle.   Even the vestments are explained.

This is a fantastic book for those who are new to the Church.   One thing I particularly enjoy about Cardinal Wuerl’s style of teaching is he starts at the basics, but it’s in a style that no one feels talked down to when he is explaining something.  Even when you think “I know that”, his wonderful style is such that you will still gain something new from enjoying this book.

This book also has a number of photos so you aren’t guessing as to what is being discussed.  In the chapter “The Great Amen”, the chalice and paten are mentioned as being elevated, and there is a photo of Cardinal Wuerl doing just that — what better way to know exactly what is being taught as by seeing it.

As Catholics, Mass is just what we do.  But WHY do we do it?   This book delves into that, and not only is it an informative book, but one that could easily be a springboard for mediation as the meanings behind the rituals are explained.   For example, making the sign of the cross at the beginning or the end of a homily is a way of asking God to help us make the message real in our hearts.  (While not all people do this, I found this example to be especially interesting!) So many times things become habit rather than meaningful.  I would highly recommend this book to any Catholic to try and bring the original intent of each ritual back into the forefront of your mind, and hopefully you will enjoy Mass as never before.

FTC disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher to review.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The tree isn't up, but the bed is down

It feels like forever since I've posted anything but a review.  It's 1 in the morning, and my boyfriend and I just prayed together.  Since we met online in February, that's often been part of our goodnight routine.


Something that has felt so lacking in my life this year.  

On August 12th, I had strep throat and a horrible sinus infection.  Nevertheless, I had to drive my mother to dialysis.  I went to tell her I was up at a little after 9 in the morning and see what help she needed before I got myself ready enough to drive her the 20 minutes.  I often would spend the extra time in the library bumming wifi, but that morning I was so sick I was going to come home and come back to bed.  But my plans changed instantly -- and life changed in a moment.  I went into her room and found her on the floor.  Instead of driving her 20 minutes to dialysis, I drove her an hour to the E.R.  She was in the hospital for a week, then into a rehab facility, then back into the hospital where they gave her a 10% chance of living.  From there she was transfered to another hospital, one in a "big bad" city about 2 1/2 hours away.  (Remember I live in a town of 1500 and any city of about 25,000 or more is a "big bad" city! ha!)  I burned every Hilton Honors point I had earned in over 10 years to be near here.  (Thank God I had enough that I wasn't worried about how to pay for a hotel room.)  She came home from the hospital and from rehab just after Thanksgiving.

It's been a hard year for a lot of people.  Some have had a much worse year than we have.  I have two online friends and a friend from college who have lost children this year.  Their year has been much harder than ours.  But ours hasn't been easy.   It's been a harder year for Mom than it has for me (physically at least).  She didn't realize she was on a ventilator for 11 days.  Eleven LONG days that she thought was two.  My boyfriend came in (he was living in Virginia at the time) and we were in Pittsburgh for eight of those days. 

I finished up my pre-Christmas eBay sales tonight.  Now what?   Not one light is up, not one gift is wrapped.  I did a great month on eBay.  Still $700 shy of what I had hoped, but I had set my sights really high this month. However, when my mother got a hospital bed this year, the bed she had been using was moved to the living room.  It's finally down.   A living room without a spare bed in it.  Some people will see Christmas decorations as a tree, stockings, and a nativity scene gracing the mantel.   This year I see a Christmas decoration as a spot where a bed is no longer standing.  The mere fact it was there and is now gone is a miracle -- or at least symbolizing a miracle that my mother survived being so sick this summer.

A week from now we'll be at Grandpa's.   I didn't want to go.   My mother insisted.  She wants me to meet Grandpa  (my boyfriend's grandfather)   She said she can get along okay without me because some people will be coming in to help out.  I am scared.  When I saw her on the floor, I don't think anything will erase that image from my mind.  She never asks me to check on her in the night, but yet I felt like "if only" I had.

Life is returning to normal.  I don't know what that new normal is quite going to look like.  I just know right now it looks like an empty spot in the living room where a bed stood.  There is no tree, but there is no bed.  And for me, that's all the Christmas decoration I need this year. 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Apps for Holiday Sharing and Gift ideas from U.S. Cellular

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post by U.S. Cellular.  I am part of their blogger team, and I only recommend items and services I use myself.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

’Tis the Season . . . To Instagram the hot cocoa that your grandmother makes with real chocolate.  To Tweet a photo of Uncle Ed’s crazy Christmas Sweater.  To upload a Vine video of your little nephew opening his gift and jumping with joy. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Review and Giveaway: The Promise DVD

The Promise: Birth of the Messiah, The Animated Musical is exactly what it sounds like it is -- an animated musical.   Using the Biblical narrative of Jesus' birth from the book of St. Luke, this DVD presents a fresh look at the birth of Christ.  I was highly impressed with how much was included and how much it stayed true to the Biblical content.  This is one Christmas DVD where you won't find talking animals or such because the true story is so amazing that you really don't need anything that didn't really happen.

Something I really enjoyed about this DVD is the relationships.  I never thought of the reaction of Mary's parents.  While I had thought about Joseph's reaction before, I never considered how Mary's parents feelings to their daughter being chosen by God for such a special role in history.  Also, in the movie, Mary sings to Baby Jesus and calls him her King.  I never considered if she explained to Him who He was or if it was totally revealed by God to Him that He was to be the Messiah.

Watch the trailer:

The one thing I did dislike about this DVD was I think if you weren't very familiar with the story it would be difficult to follow.  If you are showing it to children, I would read through the entire Biblical account first -- including Simeon, Elizabeth greeting Mary, as well as Luke chapter 2 which is commonly read at this time of year.  A friend said he felt like he had watched an opera about the birth of Christ.  Personally I wouldn't go that far, but these are not songs your children will sing constantly (which is a huge plus considering how annoying some songs are in children's DVDs.)

Overall, I think this is a very well done portrail of Christ's birth.  While is says it is for children, I think anyone would enjoy this because of the quality and how closely it follows Scripture.  It is a DVD I think families would enjoy year after year!

Connect with The Promise:
The Promise Website
Glorious Films on Facebook
Glorious Films on Twitter

Purchase The Promise:

Win The Promise:

(Terms and conditions, United States only, 18+.  Must respond to winning e-mail within 24 hours or another winner will be chosen.  Giveaway ends December 8 at 11:59 pm)

"Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in the hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products with services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising"

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Review and Giveaway: Old El Paso Frozen Dinners

I have a busy life.  It's one of those busy lives where people look at me and ask "What do you do all day?" because it doesn't seem like since I work at home I'd be busy, but I am.  When it comes to food, I like things I can cook quickly and that are tasty.

I recently received the opportunity to review Old El Paso Frozen Dinners from My Blog Spark.  "Frozen" is currently one of my favorite words when it comes to dinner.  That often means it's quick to fix!

I received a coupon for any Old El Paso frozen dinner, a chip and dip bowl serving platter, and a $10 pre-paid Visa so I could buy anything else I needed for my Mexican meal.  I picked up the chicken fajita meal.  It has enough for three fajitas for two people.  I liked the though of the peppers, onions, and chicken already being in there and taking 10-13 minutes to cook!

After about 13 minutes it looked liked this:

And finally I put it in some tortillas and added a little sour cream:

It was quick, easy and delicious.  I will certainly be buying this again.  I love fajitas but don't always have the time to chop everything to fix them for dinner that evening, so this will solve that problem.  I believe my store sells these for about $6 so and that is so much cheaper than eating out!  They were tasty, just enough spice for me but not too spicy for those who like mild Mexican food, and they certainly hit the spot!

Be sure and check out the  Old El Paso website and the Old El Paso on Facebook

FTC disclaimer:  I received a coupon for a free Old El Paso Frozen Dinner, chip and dip tray, and $10 pre-paid Visa to allow me to make a Mexican meal for review.  All opinions are my own and I only endorse products I personally have enjoyed and I think my readers should know about them.

On to the giveaway:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Apps to Help With Shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday

FTC disclosure:  I am a member of the U.S. Cellular Better Moments Blogger Brigade.  This is a sponsored post.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

The holidays are coming!  That means Black Friday and Cyber Monday are closer than you think!  A few years ago on Black Friday I saved over 90% of the original price on the items I bought with a lot of time and effort.  I'm glad, though, that this year I have a phone that will help with my shopping so I can save time as I save money that way I can put lots of gifts under the tree without going over my budget.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Coming Home for Christmas DVD Review and Giveaway Ends 11/22

I love Christmas movies and Christmas specials.  I could watch them all year long.  I had nearly a dozen videotapes years ago filled with Christmas shows I'd taped off TV.  Everything from the classics to things that no one had ever heard of but me!

To me, to make something a perfect Christmas movie there needs to be humor, sentimentality, love of family, and maybe even a touch of romance sprinkled in.   Based on this, the new movie "Coming Home For Christmas" is a hit!   I really enjoyed it because it's got a bit of a twist on the traditional Christmas movie.  Kate wants her family to spend Christmas in the house she grew up in -- but there's a slight problem -- it has been sold and someone else lives there.  As with most Christmas movies, the story line was a bit predictable (but would it be a good Christmas movie if it wasn't?  So, of course it's going to be predictable because Christmas movies must be happy and heart-warming.)  I really enjoyed this movie, and I know it will be a classic around here.

Want to buy it?  You can do so at Walmart.  You can even order it HERE and have it sent to you directly or to your local Walmart for pick-up.  It even includes a limited edition Norman Rockwell print inside the DVD case.

You can watch the trailer here:

Wal-Mart has graciously given an extra copy of this DVD to be given to one of the readers of The Radar Report.  Just enter on the Rafflecopter form below.

Giveaway ends November 22nd.  Open only to the USA and Canada.  Must be 18 or older to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I received one or more of the products or services mentioned above for free in hope that I would mention it on my blog.  Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.   I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising"

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Book Review: At the Heart of the Gospel

FTC disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

At the Heart of the Gospel: Reclaiming the Body for the New Evangelization

In  At the Heart of the Gospel, author Christopher West takes deep theology and makes it accessible to those of us who aren’t scholars!  I appreciate his writing style as he explains things thoroughly without talking down to the readers.  He has dedicated himself to studying Pope John Paul II’s writing “Theology of The Body” and in this book, West explains how that work relates to the New Evangelization. 

I’ve heard in my own theology classes in college about the Gnostics who believed the body was bad and spiritual things were good.  One of the things that West points out in this book is if we believe that, then what is life without the body?  It is death.   This reminded me of the many times in college that I’d be in a “feminar” (a seminar for girls) and we’d be told beauty isn’t important, it’s only what is inside that counts.  I realize that not everyone is a model, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and ask most men, and they would tell you their wife is beautiful.   We can survive in a world without beauty, but that’s often what it is, survival and not thriving. 

One chapter I especially enjoyed was “The Narrow Gate Between Idolatry and Iconoclasm”.  We can make anything into an idol be it beauty, food, other things that relate to our physical bodies, or something more abstract such as a hobby, or even veneration of saints.  But do we need to go so far as to do away with things rather than keep them in check?  Most likely not.  If you have ever tried to lose a few pounds, to do it in a healthy manner, you still have to eat.  So to have a healthy relationship with anything, it must be in moderation. 

I also very much appreciated West tackling the tough topic of “The Great Analogy of Spousal Love”.  Have you ever read through the Song of Solomon?  That is an erotic book of the Bible!  The high school I graduated from decided they were going to read through the Bible, one chapter a day, and being super conservative, I wondered what they would do when they came to that book if they continued that plan!  Like Pope Benedict XVI said “The Prophets describe God’s passion for his people using boldly erotic images.”  (page 103)

I enjoyed this book, not as much as a previous book by the same author, but it’s still a good, solid book that makes Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body not only accessible but practical.   I highly recommend this book.

FTC disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  I only recommend books I enjoy.

You can purchase this book here:

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Our School Won from U.S. Cellular! Yours could Too!

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post.  All opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

Do you know a school that could use an extra $25,000?  What would your school be able to do with that?  New computers?  Equipment for classes that have been affected by budget cuts?   Making the playground safer or even putting in a handicapped playground?  I'm sure every school in the country would love $25,000 so if you are interested, read on!

In 2009, it was the first year of U.S. Cellular's Calling All Communities contest.  Locally, it was everywhere.  It was in the newspaper.  I heard about it on the radio.  There were signs up in our community.  Our high school decided they were going to rally the community and see if they could win part of the prize money.  Of course, it made front page news when a representative from U.S. Cellular handed a representative from Preston High School in Kingwood, WV a check for $100,000.  If you think about contests and sweepstakes that no one really wins those things, think again, you can find Preston High on the list of winners at the U.S. Cellular website.  The students really helped get the word out to the community asking for votes for our school, and the teens were asked where they would like to see the money applied from a few ideas that were pre-approved.  It was used for new technology.  Can you imagine the impact that much money could have in updating computer equipment and even tablets for a school?

You can watch when U.S. Cellular told the students and faculty at Preston High right here:

Isn't that amazing?   The excitement is just contagious!

Since Calling All Communities started in 2009, U.S. Cellular has awarded over $4 million to 56 schools across the nation.  The reason they do this is U.S. Cellular believes in being active in the community and wants to give back while encouraging the community to work together towards a common goal.

A few things have changed in the U.S. Cellular Calling All Communities campaign since its inception and my original experience with it.  Now, twenty schools will each win $25,000!  It's out there just waiting to be won!  Think how many bake sales it would take to raise that much money!  Once the campaign launches there will be flyers you can print from the U.S. Cellular website, and think how fun it would be for the band or sports teams to hand out this information!  Students could even ask local businesses if they could leave a flyer there.  You can post the link on your school's website.  Don't forget about social media.  Asking friends and family to vote for your school by posting a link as an update is a great way to spread the word!  Maybe you could get administration involved by promising if your school wins the contest they will be willing to go in a dunk tank.  (What student wouldn't love dunking the principal?  I know I would have been a hit when I was little!)


  • The Calling All Communities Campaign runs from November 4-25
  • One vote per person.
  • You can find out more including complete official rules at U.S. Cellular Calling All Communities or if you live in my local area at these U.S. Cellular locations:
248 Walmart Drive Kingwood West Virginia
12451 Garrett Highway Oakland, Maryland

Do you have a school you would like to see share in this year's award money?  What would they do with $25,000?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Book Review: Chasing Francis

Chasing Francis: A Pilgrim's TaleChasing Francis: A Pilgrim's Tale by Ian Morgan Cron

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Chase Falson is a successful church planter whose church has grown over the years.  He is respected and admired.  Then a little girl in his church dies unexpectedly and it all crumbles.  He admits from the pulpit he isn’t sure what he has been teaching is what he believes.  He’s honest.  He bares his soul.  He’s relieved of his duties so he can “pull himself together.”

Chase calls his uncle who is a priest in Italy and embarks on a journey which takes him from caves to Rome to a musical concert.  He explores faith.  He learns about St. Francis, and he develops new ideas about himself as well as God.

This is one of the best fiction books I’ve ever read.  I’ve recommended it to others, and the question that is proposed in it has haunted me.  What if faith is to be a approached as a community and not focused so much on as a personal journey.  What would that look like lived out in today’s world?

Chase takes this question to heart.  The ending surprised me, and like any good book left me wanting more.  I would hope that the author would write a sequel.  I could relate with Falson in the fact he was disillusioned with the faith he had become so comfortable with, and I’d love to see how the author would tackle living the faith in the United States that Chase embraces while following in the footsteps of St. Francis.

An added bonus to this book is you will learn more about the life of St. Francis without realizing it as these tidbits are woven seamlessly into the story. 

I have been enjoying spiritual memoirs this year, and while this book is fictional, it almost feels like it could fit into that category.  I can’t recommend this book highly enough and I’m still pondering its message and the truths it contains about life, faith, and church.

FTC disclosure:  I received an advance reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Woolzies Dryer Balls

I like to take time to write a good review.  Tonight I remembered this one was due.  My mother is in the hospital and I have been preoccupied for the last couple weeks, but I still have had to do laundry.  When I received the box of six Woolzies Dryer Balls I threw them in the dryer.  There they have stayed.  I have never timed how long it takes for a load of laundry so I'm not sure if that really reduces drying time or not as the company claims.  Likely it does because it makes sense to me!  I just throw a load in and get it at a later point in time and I honestly have no clue how long it takes. 

However, I have lots of allergies and I can't use fabric softener.  The Woolzies Dryer Balls were perfect for me because of that.  They make a great re-usable fabric softener.  I can't use fabric softener, but I had a house guest who said they were fantastic because they were fragrance free and they softened some fabrics that traditional fabric softeners don't.

Because of them being reusable, they are economical as they are guaranteed for 1000 loads.  How much would you spend for traditional fabric softener to do 1000 loads of laundry?  Much more than the price of a box of Woolzies.

Do I recommend this product?  Yes.  Because of the events of the last couple weeks I haven't done as much laundry as usual but I have been pleased with the way my clothes are fragrance free -- and for one of the first times ever my clothes are soft because I have never been able to use traditional fabric softener.

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.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Book Review: Consuming The Word

Consuming the Word: The New Testament and the Eucharist in the Early Church by Scott Hahn

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

When I was in high school, I was the top Bible quizzer for the northern half of my state.  We had to memorize an entire book of the Bible and be able to answer some of the most obscure references out of it and give chapter and verse.  But did you realize that chapter and verses were not part of the original text?  St. Matthew wrote his book as a whole, and someone added the divisions later.  I knew that for some time.

What I didn’t realize until much later was the same is true for the Bible.  Dr. Scott Hahn in his book Consuming The Word explains that the Bible was written as a whole.  The early Christians didn’t see a huge division between the Old and New Testaments as we often do now.  I’ve heard people say, “Oh, that’s not important because it’s only in the Old Testament.”   Can we honestly say that anything in the Word of God is not important? 

Dr. Hahn explains how the Bible as we know it came to be.  This is something that growing up Protestant I never really understood.  It was just told to us that the Bible was the Word of God and for all I knew it was always in the exact form we have now.  Imagine my surprise when I saw that Catholics accept more books in their Bible than most Protestants do!  Dr. Hahn explains why this is as well as explains the lectionary, which is another thing I never knew anything about in my Protestant tradition as a child.

This is an excellent book about the Bible as the early Church knew it and how they saw the Eucharist as the New Testament.  I have enjoyed every book I have read by this author, and this one is no exception.  As someone approaching the Catholic tradition with a strong background in Scripture, this was a wonderful book for me to continue to understand how Jesus is the Word, the Word became flesh, and how the Eucharist relates.  I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Catholic theology or if you have an interest in the early Church.

FTC disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.  All opinions are my own.

Please rate my review here:

You can purchase this book here:

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Book Review: Why Diets Don't Work

Why Diets Don't Work: Food Is Not the Problem by Joyce Tilney

My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Losing weight is all about balance.  There’s a balance of eating right, exercise, and the spiritual aspect of it.  That said, I was excited to be able to review the book “Why Diets Don’t Work Food is Not the Problem”.  My excitement, however, was short lived.  This is nothing but a book on the spiritual aspect of losing weight.  I don’t believe you can only focus on one aspect of something and expect results.  Exercise is not mentioned until page 83 (out of 84 pages of text, not including appendices.)  Even then what is said about exercise is the author “heard the words”  (I’m assuming from God but it doesn’t say) to “walk on purpose for His purpose”  (whatever that means!) and she followed.

On page 62 she admits she has never studied nutrition.  Let me remind you the title of the book is “Diets Don’t Work:  Food is Not the Problem”.  If she never studied nutrition, I question anything she states in this book because if I am looking for information on weight loss I believe it needs to include nutritional information.  One piece of advice she has is to say aloud, “No, devil, I’m not hungry.”  (page 37)

On page 17, she asks how did we “get saved?”.  The answer she gave was based solely on Romans 10:10 but her emphasis is on us.  “The words we spoke out of our moth had the power to deliver us from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light” [sic]  While that is what Romans 10:10 says, I believe this is prooftexting because the author’s statement leads me to believe OUR words are responsible for our salvation.  If that is the case, why did Jesus even die for us?  Ephesians 2:8 tells us it is by faith we have been saved and not by works, that it is the work of God and no human can boast.  It appears she put the emphasis on us speaking rather than on God doing the actual work of giving us salvation.

This book could also use some editing.  The author never uses the Oxford comma and because of her excessive use of three items in a row that made me pause nearly every time wondering if the last two were combined or if she meant three different ideas.  The phrase “lightbulb moment” was used more than it should have been in a book this size.  A final note, if you are not familiar with Pentecostal terminology you may not find this book easy to read as she often uses phrases that are more unique to those churches, nor do I need to hear rhyming phrases.  (An example is on page 10 “A lack of perception leads to deception.”)  This book may make a good sermon with cute phrases, but as something to read, it fell short.

FTC disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Samsung Galaxy S 4

FTC disclosure:  I am a U.S. Cellular Better Moments Brigade Blogger and received compenstation for this post.  All opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

I upgraded to the Samsung Galaxy S4 in June.  My friends were quite happy that I did because I had complained for about two years about my previous phone.  My Samsung Galaxy S4 is a dream.   I have used it in six states thus far and have had only great experiences with it.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Book Review: Set Free The Authentic Catholic Woman's Guide to Forgiveness

FTC Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book to review from The Catholic Company.

Who do you need to forgive?  Many times the top people on the list of people we need to forgive is ourselves and our parents, yet those are often people we overlook when we start thinking about who we need to extend our forgiveness.

In this beautifully written book, Genevieve Kineke takes us on a journey of forgiveness.  In just 145 pages and seventeen chapters she shows us the healing that can take place if we but extend grace to others.  We aren't perfect, yet sometimes we expect or at least hope others to be.  

This book was a joy to read, and I believe it will help many women who are struggling with bitterness.  Just the way it was written seemed to be soothing to read as she shares her heart about how we can bring ourselves closer to God by forgiving others.  She doesn't pretend that this is easy, she acknowledges the difficulty and the heartbreak of situations that we need to fully give over to God.  She mentions sexual abuse, an accident that might be over in a minute to the person who caused it but leave behind a lifetime of pain for the victim, and she even talks about when the person who hurt you does not apologize nor acknowledge the harm that was caused.

As someone who did not grow up Catholic, I was surprised when she mentioned how if we are disappointed and hurt by our earthly mother, we can look to Mary as the perfect Mother.  I'd heard about turning to our Heavenly Father to make up for what we were lacking in an early parent, but had never heard of seeing Mary as someone who could help heal wounds.

Another passage from this book that really stuck with me was how the author mentioned that some churches are excellent in trying to keep people from sinning, but only the Catholic Church has a way for them to express their guilt and know they are forgiven.  As someone who didn't grow up going to confession this is something that really rang true to me.  I remember once thinking how wonderful it would be to have someone say to me that I was forgiven of my sins.  Although I know that God forgives sometimes hearing it does wonders, and I liked that she made that point.

I highly recommend this book and give it five stars.  If you or someone you know is struggling with trying to forgive someone, this is the book for you.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Set Free.   The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion Gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Are You Pressing the Lever on McDonald's Monopoly?

I love entering sweepstakes.  I love the thrill of winning, the hope of winning, just imaging I might win.  It's McDonald's Monopoly time again, and so I will eat at McDonalds maybe once or twice with the hope of winning something.

But did you know that you can send off for free game pieces?  Do the math.  You can send off for game pieces with a self-addressed stamped envelope, costing around $1.00 in postage, plus the cost of the envelopes.  Or get the same amount of game pieces by buying large fries ($2.09).  Of course you would get the fries, but who needs almost half a day's amount of calories to get a couple game pieces?

The rules say 1 in 4 win.  Last year I sent off for a number of game pieces, as I have done in years past.  In previous years I won more food than I could eat (and ate more than I should!)  I won nothing larger than an Extra Value Meal, but I still won tons of food when I sent for thousands of game pieces.  (Of course this was YEARS ago when they had the Best Buy dollars with the pieces and I had quite a bit I was able to spend at Best Buy, but I'm talking just the Monopoly section of game.)  This meant I ate at McDonalds a lot more often, and in so doing that wasn't a good choice nutritionally to eat there so much even if it was free.  After all, keep in mind the results of the University of Wisconsin study that showed that while upsizing a meal costs 67 cents at the register, over a lifetime it costs up to $7.72 in added medical costs.  Is that really a value for your 67 cents?  You can read that study here.

This week I had some free egg white McMuffin coupons if you made a purchase.  So I decided that my mother and I would use them.  We each ordered a hash brown, and an egg white McMuffin.  We did this two different days.  We did not order drinks.  Had we not had the coupons, I would have paid right about $15 for four muffins and four hash browns.  So paying $4.24 wasn't bad in terms of financial outlay when we got breakfast.

Each food item had two game pieces on it, for a total of sixteen pieces.  From those, I won three medium fries.  (value $1.69 if you are going to be eating fries.  I'm trying to go for healthier options overall these days.  This size fries has 380 calories in it.)  I also played all my codes online and won a Redbox movie rental.  (Value $1.50, but I won't use it so will give it to a friend.) 

The odds of winning are remote.  I think many times people don't realize how remote it is because there's the "reward" of free fries.  I studied psychology in school and I remember a study where if a rat was fed at random times when it pressed a lever,  it would press the bar much more often than a rat that was fed when it pressed the lever every X number of times.  So we peel a game piece, win free fries, and we're ready to press the lever again, so to speak, since we're rewarded at random intervals.   What if we knew that we'd only win every other time we visited?  Or every third time?   In addition, there's the collect and win, and while I know people who have won cars, cash, trips in sweepstakes I don't know ANYONE who has won in the collect and win portion of McDoanlds Monopoly.  But we peel a game piece and we get excited because we don't have Pacific yet, and we faithfully paste it to our board feeling accomplished even though we'll likely never see the rare game piece that will allow us to win a sports trip we probably might not even want to pay taxes on.  You will also see posts on Facebook with people asking for a rare game piece and saying they have the others in the grouping and if you have the piece they need, then they will split the prize with you.  (Having a rare game piece is the only reason I would say to start eating at McDonalds until you get the other pieces you need, but the easiest prize to win in the collect and win game has odds of 1 in 152,520,645.  It goes up to 1 in 5,945,378,686.)  That's almost one in six billion.  Your odds of winning Powerball are much better than that!

Read the rules of a contest, see what the odds are then enter wisely.  With no Best Buy dollars on this one anymore, I might decide to eat at McDonalds during the Monopoly game, but it's not going to make me eat at McDonalds more often.

Has anyone else figured out what they have spent at McDonalds above what they normally would have during Monopoly and what they have won from that?  Yes, some people will win, but to me it's not a wise financial move nor wise health move to be eating at McDonalds more often than I normally would in hopes of winning. 

You can check out my other related blog posts here:

How to Win Sweepstakes and Prizes
How to Win a Skill Contest
How to Win a Voting Contest
How to Win in Twitter Parties
How to Win Amazon Giveaways
How to Win Blog Giveaways
Where to Find Sweepstakes to Enter
What to do when you wi n a prize.
Should You Keep the News of Winning a Contest Prize a Secret or Tell Everyone?
Are People who Win Prizes Just Lucky Ducks?
Entering Sweepstakes and Public Assistance Like SSI and and Disability
WIN your Christmas
Are you Pressing the Lever on McDonalds Monopoly?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

World's Ugliest Pinata Take Two

I turned a significant birthday this year.  (Here's a hint -- it ends in a zero!  Yikes!)  Each year I host an annual party and this year I decided to make it the weekend of my birthday because I could "turn old" by myself or "turn old" with friends, and I decided it would be best with friends.

Each year I wrap stuff I've gotten free through the year.  It could be something I won in a sweepstakes when aiming for a different prize, something that I got free with coupons, or some other way that I came across an item with no cost.  I take all these, wrap them up and we play the "Dirty Santa" game with them.  I draw a name out of a hat, person 1 can choose from all the wrapped gifts.  Person 2 can steal from person 1 or choose any of the wrapped gifts.  Most people play this game with "three steals and it's out" but we play unlimited steals because the gifts aren't that expensive and there will be no hard feelings.  This year's most stolen items were a box of shredded wheat cereal, a pie plate, and a package of men's 2XL boxers.  (Both people stealing them were women!)

I also made a pinata.  I found a homemade pinata idea on Pinterest last year and mine was a far cry from that one. 

Here is last year's pinata:

Well, this year I didn't have a large paper bag.  I think one of my friends was a bit embarassed by the pinata I rigged this year.  But the kids care about what is inside, right?  This is what I came up with this year:

Someone told me they liked the multiple bag idea because when they were a child they were blindfolded, the pinata broke apart on the first try and they got no candy because they were blind folded.  We had ages 4-10 so it worked well because all kids got some candy or small toys as the bags were broke open at different times!

The most special part of my party this year was I invited a former teacher of mine.  She was a resource teacher and I had her from the time I was 8 until I was 12 when she moved away to get married.  I have stayed in touch with her but haven't seen her since I was 12.  She lives an hour and a half away, and on Friday I received an e-mail telling me she was coming!  It was so nice to see her again.

Next year I'll likely move my annual party back to August or September as that's usually when I have it, but I think I'll keep the Sunday afternoon date.  It seemed a better day of the week than Saturdays when I have had my party in the past.

I just can't believe I've hit the big (mumble)-zero.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Book Review: Plastic Donuts

Plastic Donuts: Giving That Delights the Heart of the Father by Jeff Anderson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

FTC disclaimer:  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

This is a short book at only 109 pages, but it's full of thoughts and ideas about giving.  Most of us who have been in church for any amount of time have heard things like "To NOT tithe is to rob God." or on the opposite side "The tithe is an Old Testament mandate and we live under grace."   Author Jeff Anderson doesn't take either of these approaches, but rather the approach of Christians should give God their plastic donuts.

What does that mean?  His daughter gave him a toy piece of food from her kitchen set one day and he saw the delight she had in giving him what she was able to give freely and willingly.  He came to the conclusion that is how our giving should be to God.

This would be an excellent book for a small group discussion or to make into a sermon series at your church.  I'm not sure the average person would pick this up on their own because, honestly, money is a topic that is shied away from in many churches.  What pastor likes to get up and teach on giving?  It's a hot topic and certainly one that can ruffle feathers of the flock.  But the way Anderson approaches it, it's a Biblical concept that doesn't dictate what you should do except to give joyfully.  THAT is something I think all Christians can agree is a great idea. 

I think it's great this book is out there as a resource for both individuals and churches, and I hope that the ideas within Plastic Donuts become the attitude of giving we see in western Christianity.

Please rate my review here:

Monday, July 8, 2013

Filippo Berio® Olive Oil

FTC disclaimer:  I received a free bottle of olive oil to review for this post.

One thing I learned recently is it's important to have some fat in your diet if you want to lose weight.  After the fat-free diets of the 1990s I thought the best thing to do was cut as much fat out as possible, but that's not true.  The key is to eat GOOD fat, and one of those things you can use is Filippo Berio Olive Oil.  You can even download a guide at their website as to how much olive oil to use in place of butter in a recipe.   

There are also recipes there you can use to inspire your taste buds.  I am one who likes to make my own tomato soup.  (My mother says I'm the only person she knows who doesn't just open a can when I want tomato soup.)  I always saute my onions for the soup in olive oil.  I also use olive oil to drizzle over salad at times when I know I need a little extra fat in my diet that day.

I use olive oil a lot as it is healthier than other oils, and currently I have a bottle of Filippo Berio Olive Oil on my kitchen counter!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

In Memory of Fuzzy the Guinea Pig

Fuzzy the Guinea Pig
May 4, 2008 - July 2, 2013

The Sunday before Mother's Day in 2008 a couple kids showed up on our doorstep, rang the doorbell and asked if we wanted two girl guinea pigs.  They were living outside, had no food, and needed a home.  While we didn't really want more guinea pigs (we had three) we had to do something.  I decided I could at least help them find a home.   Turned out they were boys (we had boys and didn't want girls because we didn't want hundreds of guinea pigs!) While I attempted to find them a home, they started showing off for us -- almost asking to stay with us.  We knew they couldn't be separated, and that was more difficult than finding a home for just one guinea pig.   Needless to say, during this time they became not just part of the household, but part of our hearts.

 A Fuzzy Photo Bomb:

They arrived to us un-named.  They had no food, no water bottle, no home, and no names.  One had a beautiful plume of white fur that reminded me of Albert Einstein, so he quickly became named Einstein.  The other had silver and white fur that made him look a bit dingy, and the fur on his rump went straight up instead of falling beautifully.  He looked like a FuzzButt, so that became his name, shortened to Fuzzy.

He had a tragic last year.  Einstein passed on June 14th of last year and then his next cage mate, Bingo, passed on December 28th.  We adopted another fellow so Fuzzy wouldn't be lonely as he lived out his days.  (Looks like Lucky is going to adjust quickly to being an only pig.  He has a strong personality and   I have always thought he'd do well with "only pig" status.)

Monday, July 1, 2013

Yet Another State Visited

I visited Utah for the first time and now I can update my states visited map.  They are getting filled in slowly.  Someday I would like to have traveled to all 50 states.

visited 30 states (60%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or website vertaling duits?

Monday, June 24, 2013

States I've Visited

I like to update my map of states visited when I've traveled to a new state.  This is my map as of now.

visited 29 states (58%)
Create your own visited map of The United States or website vertaling duits?

Monday, June 17, 2013

U.S. Cellular's Family Protector Plan

FTC disclaimer:  While this is a sponsored post, I only endorse companies and products I feel strongly about their value to my readers.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

Suppose your teenager is out and you don’t know where she is, and she’s not answering her phone?  What do you do?  Immediately start worrying?  Maybe not.  For some parents the answer lies as close as their computer.  If you had Family Protector from U.S. Cellular, then instead of calling your teen’s friends, you would simply log on to U.S. Cellular and you could see at an instant where your child is!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Book Review: The Lamb's Supper The Mass As Heaven On Earth

FTC disclosure:  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  The opinions are my own.

Anyone who has been to church has been curious about the book of Revelation in the Bible.  Growing up, I remember timelines across Sunday School classrooms that showed when the anti-Christ would make his appearance, when the Church would be raptured, and when Jesus would begin his 1,000 year reign on earth.  I’ve heard sermons saying the Revelation of St. John was fulfilled in the first century.  This apocalyptic book of the Bible has not only often remained an enigma, but is often requested to be taught on in Sunday School and Wednesday night Bible studies in Protestant churches.  Many times doing so, materials are supplemented with recent newspaper articles.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Book Review: Francis Man of Prayer

Francis: Man of PrayerFrancis: Man of Prayer by Mario Escobar

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure:  I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.  All opinions are my own.

Who is Pope Francis?  Prior to March, many in the world had never heard of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, or if they had, it was only in passing, and now he’s an extremely influential leader.  Even more interesting, how did a man of religious orders, especially a   Jesuit become pope?  Elected pontiff from Latin America, he’s the first in that as well as well as the first Pope Francis.  How did he decide on the name of Francis?   This book answers these questions and more.

The first part of the book is about the man himself.  Did you know he asked a girl to marry him and told her if she didn’t he would become a priest?  Her decision not to accept his proposal changed the course of his life -- and history.  A humble man, asking for prayers of the people upon being introduced as the leader of the Catholic Church, this book takes a look at his life and ministry.

The second part of this book gives a background on where the Catholic Church is in terms of change.  Is this a major transition for the Church?  How so?  One can only speculate, but author Mario Escobar gives his opinions of what may be in store as well as another theory behind Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation. 

This was an interesting book as I’m fascinated with Pope Francis from the few stories I’ve heard in the media about his humble and frugal ways.  He seems to put people first, and I wanted to read more antidotes about him, but unfortunately this book was more factual instead of the things I’ve read in the media about the man you would love to know and see as you are out grocery shopping.  While I understand giving the background of where the Catholic Church is currently is an important part of grasping the WHYs of a Latin America pope, as well as one from the Jesuits, I would have preferred a book with more about the man Pope Francis is.   I realize that this book is one that had to be put together quickly to already be on the market, yet I was still hoping for a little more than this book delivered.  It has given me a good background on this leader from Argentina, and I look forward to reading more about him. 

If you are looking for a good overview, I recommend this book.  If you want to learn more about Pope Francis and his interactions with others with fascinating stories, look elsewhere.  Still, it was a good book, and I’m glad I read it. 

You can purchase this book here:

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why I love U.S. Cellular

FTC disclaimer:  This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.

U.S. Cellular offers a FREE PRINTABLE Parent Child agreement to help you discuss safety of the Internet, cell phone usage, limits, and courtesy with your teen or tween.  You don't even need to be a U.S. Cellular customer to access this, although I have been for 10 years and highly recommend them. 

When I first signed up for a cell phone in 2007, I didn't have much choice of carrier.  If I wanted to receive coverage at my home, U.S. Cellular was my only option.  I've grown to love my carrier, and I never plan on switching!  I remember a party I had at my home a few years ago and one of the ladies said she was using her U.S. Cellular phone in an elevator.  That was back when most phones couldn't get reception in elevators and people asked her what carrier she had because they were so impressed.

Monday, May 27, 2013

I'm home from Faith and Fitness Week!

I didn't abandon all my faithful readers!  I spent the last week in north Texas at Faith and Fitness camp sponsored by RetroFit Ministries.  During this week I had the opportunity to train with some of the best personal trainers in the United States including John Heart who is the 2013 Mr. America for weight lifting.

We spent four hours a day working out.  That included everything from weight training with John to water aerobics.

You can see me in this photo in the front right.  I posted this on Facebook and told everyone that I looked like I was about ready to pass out, but I do have to say it was an amazing workout!
(Photo courtesy of RetroFit Ministries.)

There were also three former Biggest Loser contestants there.   Such a sweetheart was Alex Reid from Season 14.

The camp was organized by Ken and Austin Andrews from Season 11.  Here I am receiving my "Dare to Soar" award at the end of the week.  (Austin is on the right and Ken is on the left.)

I'll be sharing more about the camp soon.  It was an amazing, life changing experience and I am so glad I went!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Goal setting and Online Selling (Guest Post)

When Chip Meyer, a work at home dad, posted this on an eBay seller's group I belong to I asked him if he would like to have a guest post for me here on The Radar Report.  He agreed to let me use his post which I found highly motivational. Thanks, Chip.

You can check out his YouTube channel here and find his sales on eBay here.


I see a lot of people talk about needing to make extra money. I think a lot of people around the country/world are in this same situation. But, the solution is pretty simple. If you struggle with work ethic and motivation.......find something that gives you HOPE.

For me, it's playing with numbers. I can calculate my profit on items I sell and learn how many I need to list to sell a certain number per month, per week, per day, etc. It's simple math. But, when I start looking at the numbers, I realize the ridiculously small amount of effort it takes to push just a little harder. You can honestly build your business as big as you want to.

The beauty is YOU control YOU from the time you wake up until the time you go to bed. And, playing with the numbers and pushing just a little harder can demonstrate on paper just how much of your dreams you can realize.....and in how much time.

I encourage you, if you are struggling with hope, to break down some numbers on paper, pin them on your computer/work station/bathroom mirror/anywhere you will receive a constant reminder of how simple it is to list 5 things a day, or 10, or even 1....whatever it takes to get to your goal of $5000/mo or maybe just 1 sale a week. They are YOUR dreams....none are too big nor too small.

And use that excitement you find to attack your goals head-on today. For that excitement you feel hope. And, it motivates you when channeled properly.

Now, GO GET EM!  ~ Chip Meyer 


You can visit his eBay store here:  Choppography

His Golf Shirts 101 video: