Life... Health... Reviews...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

“Making Sense of the Insensible” is a transformation & empowerment journey {book review}

Disclosure: The following book was provided to me for the purpose of review and inclusion in the giveaway. Any opinions expressed are my own. This post may also contain affiliate links. Please read my complete disclosure policy.

Like me, many of you review the past year of your lives and determine what worked and what didn’t, what you want to do and what you don’t, and to accomplish it all you decide on a way to be a better you. I have that goal each year, I’m always striving to be a better me through continual introspection, growth and learning.

In one of those fated kinda ways I was offered a book that will help me be a better me through those aforementioned three things. “Making Sense of the Insensible – The Ten Injustices of Our Life Lessons” by Leonie Blackwell is divided  into 11 chapters. It’s not a read-from-front-to-back book, you simply begin where you need to because each chapter is self contained.. It is a process and, as Blackwell writes in the book, “your life adventure.”

The injustices are…

  • Idleness
  • Hypocrisy
  • Deception
  • Limitations
  • Temptation
  • Selfishness
  • Vanity
  • Intimidation
  • Emotionality
  • Injustice

I started with Chapter 9, The Injustice of Emotionality. Blackwell’s first words on the subject, after a poignant quote from Alanis Morissette, are: “The purpose of the injustice of emotionality is to assist us with issues of truth and authenticity in who we are.” The labels society puts on us, or that we put on ourselves, do not adequately explain us as individuals. They are simplified labels of our roles in this society.

“The collective experiences of childhood influences our interpretations, our assumptions, and our potential, adding further complexity and depth to how we access the truth of who we are and our capacity to be authentic with others.” We don’t to to question our experiences and believes that feed our unconscious mind resulting the way we think, talk, see and behave. Therefore, when we’re dealing with another person who has opposing experiences and beliefs or just differences in those experiences and beliefs what we believe we are saying and doing is not how others experience our words and actions.

Do you need to read that again?

I hope you know I’m joking and I also hope you know that I had to read the entire two pages surrounding this information at least three or four times thus far. This is a book where you highlight, circle, annotate and scribble in the margins. Even as I finish this chapter I return to previous pages to allow the information to sink in. This process actually helped me to put in perspective one of the heated points between men and women; whether in a relationship or not.

Let me explain:

In a conversation with a male acquaintance he said, in so many words, ‘women be playing games.’ I didn’t immediately react, but let his words swirl around in my brain. Something wasn’t right. Not only was that statement off and too generalized, but my mind was tingling with a new knowledge. I remembered these words: “…what we believe we are saying and doing is not how others experience our words and actions.”

Whereas a man would say a woman’s words or actions are her playing a game because they – the man – didn’t get what they wanted, it is really just a misinterpretation of the woman’s intention. And her inability or disinterest in communicating in a way she’ll understand. To him I relay the first part of the thought, that instead of assuming what she was communicating just inquire as to her intentions. He was silent. To question her intentions never occurred to him and, on my side of things, it made me see why most people make assumptions regarding another’s words and actions.

There is way more to the chapter of The Injustice of Emotionality and to the book as a whole. Overall I found it to be an easy-to-read, discovery-type, “self help-ish” book filled with lessons for wherever you are in life.

From the book’s back cover:

Have you read every self-development book on the market? Are you looking for a book to talk to you about the reality of the ups and downs of life?

Leonie Blackwell explores ten injustices that can occur in our childhood, our adulthood or throughout our lives as recurring themes. They are often the events we spend a lifetime trying to make sense of.

The lessons of injustice come to us in three ways—how we treat others, how others treat us and how we treat ourselves. Regardless of the source of the experience, the goal is to embark on the journey of transformation and empowerment.

At the beginning of next month, this book will be one of the goodies included in a Happy New Year giveaway. If you can’t wait to read it I suggest you click the link here or the Amazon link above: Making Sense of the Insensible: The Ten Injustices of Our Life Lessons.


Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Good & bad cells – The battle to survive {#health update}

When I was about 24 years something happened  that changed the course of my health. I developed gangrene in my gallbladder. I’ve never really thought about the why and how until recently and the information is very eye opening. I’m not going to get caught up in that right now, we may talk about that later. My body dealt with the gallbladder pain and surgery by developing fibromyalgia, which can be brought on by severe trauma to the body. But my doctor didn’t realize my body was going through that he took my symptoms (exhaustion upon waking, pain, etc. – and blood test results – to mean something hematological or oncological. It was that doctor’s visit where I learned there is multiple myeloma in my bone marrow.

I try to avoid saying “I have” something. I much prefer to say “I’m fighting” or something similar.

Myeloma_cellsI spent about six months taking daily oral chemotherapy and giving myself injections while I was finishing up my degree, working (18 credits per semester and two jobs) and raising my daughter Amber who was almost 4 years old. The treatment was successful, but over the years and through further testing it was discovered that the myeloma was still hanging around in there. My physician’s assistant says it’s smoldering and most of you are probably thinking remission.

While in remission I’m being closely watched, but there are other symptoms that are showing themselves including extremely dry eyes and mouth. With someone like me, who is dealing with another autoimmune disorder: multiple myeloma, the diagnose doesn’t require too much further testing. Both are autoimmune related. With sjogren’s my white cells attack and fight the natural processes of saliva and tear production. It sounds simple, but can be an extremely painful disorder to deal with especially within the mouth. Out of the chronic pain the mouth pain is what’s most unbearable for me so I’ve developed a system to keep that under control.

Prescription medication being dispensedHere and now

Most recently, I’ve been feeling a worse, which tends to happen with fibro and sjogren’s. I call it attacks. It’s when every pain and symptom are increased, which causes me to be relatively incapacitated. That can go on for an entire day to more than a week. This time, I didn’t really think too much about it, but made sure to let my doc know. It turns out that it’s way more than a fibro flare. The multiple myeloma has reared its ugly head and I’ll be beginning chemotherapy again very soon. (Decision is made based on blood work, bone scans, bone marrow extraction and 24-hour urine test.)

Each week for a 28-day cycle I’ll take at least three additional pills per day (right now, I take about 16 each day including allergy meds) and will go to the hospital once a week for injections that will be administered in my tummy. At the end of 28 days everything will be retested. My doc recommends a bone marrow transplant, but I’ll just cross that bridge when I get to it. (It’s possible to do another 28-day cycle or a regimen of drugs.)

The myeloma cells are fighting all of my good plasma cells and I’ll be fighting them back. I beat them once…


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Two books keep parents & kids environmentally aware {3-book #GIVEAWAY}

Disclosure: The following books were provided to me for the purpose of review and inclusion in the giveaway. Any opinions expressed are my own. This post may also contain affiliate links. Please read my complete disclosure policy.

Some adults have a difficult time grasping the information and details about our environment as well as what we can do as good citizens. So imagine trying to explain those same details to children. Enter two new books to help both children and their parents get a grasp of the subject and have fun while doing it:

“How are you, Mother Earth? We’re Taking You to the Doctor” by Gordon Hunter

“Mert, The Anxious Evergreen” written and illustrated by Claire Bowman


What’s going on with Mother Earth? Well, you won’t find out until she’s finished getting a checkup with the doctor. (Cute, right?) The idea for the book was birthed as the author sat in the waiting room of his family doctor. “I started wondering about who doctors the Earth? Her health is of the utmost importance to us as she provides us with the basic requirements for life.”

It was only two or three sentences into reading the book that I became intrigued with the idea. Parents should be able to glean points from it and relay them to younger children, but this book – in my opinion – is written for adults and older children of at least 8 and above. The author has definitely taken what can be a complicated subject and turned it into a relay of fun and interesting information. Without complicated explanations, the book focuses on global warming, climate change and natural energy consumption while putting everything in perspective.

The author, Gordon Hunter, is a true example of what he teaches through his book. “I drive a hybrid car, have solar panels on my house, I recycle, I use the latest improvements of low-wattage lighting, etc.,” he says. “I use every opportunity to inform the public of the dangers of global warming and climate change.” His proposal is that we – the public along with the government and corporations work together for such a worthy cause.

Taking the time to read How are you, Mother Earth? We’re Taking You to the Doctor with your children can also help you to make changes in the way you live. I, for one, am hoping this book teaches my children even more about this subject and gives them ideas on what they can do to help our Earth. Along with letting them know that you’re never too young to make a difference.


What about Mert? What is he so anxious about? From the back of the book:

“Troubled by encroaching land development, Mert hopes to be chosen as a Christ tree so he can save Hickory Flats farm and forest. Mert’s understanding of Christmas spirit evolves as he conspires with his friend John the cat to overcome new obstacles.

From a tiny evergreen seed to a family’s Christmas tree, Mert is entertaining, informative, fun and compassionate. As Mert grows he teaches his readers lessons he’s learning from his mother, his cat friend John Begonsen and from watching his humans Ol’ Joe, his grandson Cole and the girl Sally who likes him. There are also the developers wanting to destroy the forest and Ol’ Joe’s farm.

This isn’t a book that shares the complicated version of appreciating and caring for our environment; it’s a story of the lifecycle of one of the Earth’s important beings and how it effects us as humans. Well, that’s the story it is for me. We aren’t separate from Earth, we are its children and we must care for her as she ages.

Here is Information shared with me about the book:

In Mert, The Anxious Evergreen professional musician and children's author Claire Bowman brings her original Christmas carol to life for parents, grandparents, and kids. Mert is an anxious tree troubled by encroaching land development; he hopes to be chosen as a Christmas tree so he can save Hickory Flats farm and forest - but he's not quite sure how. He'll need help from his friend, John the cat, to find his true Christmas spirit and save his home.

Beautifully written and illustrated, Mert, The Anxious Evergreen offers lessons on friendship and camaraderie, finding humor in challenging situations, responsible land usage and environmental preservation, and what it means to have a true Christmas spirit. Bowman and her sister created the book with help from a successful crowd funding campaign on Kickstarter.

I’m honored to share these books with you through a giveaway. There will be two winners:

    • #1 – First winner will receive a copy of both books. “Mert, The Anxious Evergreen” by Claire Bowman and “How are you, Mother Earth? We’re Taking You to the Doctor” by Gordon Hunter.
    • #2 – The second winner will receive a copy of “How are you, Mother Earth? We’re Taking You to the Doctor”

Enter using the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My children haven’t had a chance to sit down and enjoy these books yet, but when they do I’ll publish another post to let you know what they think.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Children & horseback riding: A joyous adventure

A few weekends ago the children and myself set out on a little adventure. Every time I decide on an adventure, I keep it a secret because I love surprising them. And this time was no different.

We jumped in the van for a “long drive,” according to them, and two hours later pulled into Chattahoochee Stables. When they figured out we were would be horseback riding, their excitement was worth the drive that almost soothed me to sleep. They were stoked to see the horses – they talked to them, called my name a thousand times and posed for pictures, which I accidentally and sadly deleted.

After a bit of a wait it was finally time to mount up, but minutes before my 6-year-old daughter Anna expressed her fear. “I wanna ride with you.” I knew, given my health, riding with her would not be comfortable and it would cause me additional pain. I also wanted her to try to enjoy the experience on her own. I let her know if she’d been 5 years old she wouldn’t have been able to participate (despite their website saying all ages) and she should take the chance to have a big-girl experience.


One of the guides brought out Anna’s horse, which was a gentle-looking, cream-colored mare named Pocahontas. Anna hesitated, but with the guide’s assistance she mounted the mare beautifully albeit stiffly. Along the trail Pocahontas followed the guide without veering left or right as if sensing my daughter’s apprehension. Halfway through the hour-long ride Anna was finally getting comfortable enough to look around and really enjoy herself. Her horse sensed that as CAM00055well and started venturing around a little to get snacks from bushes or grass on the side of the trail. Eventually I saw the guide explain to her how to get Pocahontas back on track and Anna tugged the reigns as instructed. You should have seen the delight on her face.

Andre, my 10-year-old son, and Amareah who’s 9 both acted like they’ve been riding horses forever. Andre rode with his hands in his pockets, which caused me to say every few minutes, “Please hold the reigns, just in case.” He was in front of me and the two of us chatted, laughed and pointed out the scenery to each other: a stream, a shack in the woods, a cliff and anything else we found intriguing.

I found the ride to be very relaxing except when my horse, a large female named Dixie, started getting mad at me. Regardless what I did she stubbornly did the opposite and went so far as to huff at me. She even took off at a gallop when I gently kicked her. I could only laugh even when her antics had me last in line with the others out of sight. (I had been fourth in a line of eight.)

Near the end of the trail I started singing to her and she behaved the rest of the way. They later told me she’s very stubborn to which I thought, ‘I wish they had told me that first.’ That too was funny.

horseback stable logo

My thoughts on Chattahoochee Stables:

I could complain about the wait, the ranch hand bathroom or any other petty thing, but it isn’t necessary because we thoroughly enjoyed our time at the stables. The best part? The relaxing ride and the opportunity to absorb the beauty of nature.

The following contains a referral link:
Today I noticed the horseback riding deal for the stables is still listed on Groupon.


Monday, December 9, 2013

Permission Granted: 5 Ways to Find Rest this Holiday {guest post}

Does the thought of hanging Christmas lights and attending holiday work parties make you want to grab your sleeping bag and run for the nearest cave? This year many of us have felt overscheduled, overworked and we rarely got the chance to unplug. We navigated career and life transitions and had little time to integrate the changes. We’re ready for rest. Not a relaxed evening by the fire, but a serious stretch of lazy days, long naps, walks in the woods, deep nourishing slumber and joyful, easy, simple connections with friends and family who feed us emotionally and spiritually. What we need in the coming weeks is not the latest iPad or a shopping trip, but permission to do nothing.

3D_webnurturing_the_soulBut with the holidays, all the activity and invitations, what’s a person to do? I challenge you to take the road less traveled and take a radical stand for what you most need this year.  Consider the following five ideas:

  1. Schedule downtime now. Block out periods on your calendar for “dedicated relaxation,” where your only job is to rest. Make it a priority and schedule now so you can honor your commitment to deep to-the-bones self-renewal.
  2. Just say no.  Decide what’s most important to you and let everything else go. If it’s not absolutely yes then it’s a no. Check out the 9 Ways to Say No list from my book, The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life.
  3. Ask for help. Give yourself permission to ask for and receive help whether it’s cooking, gift giving, socializing or hosting family. Be willing to let go of tradition for the sake of enhanced emotional well-being. This way you can create more space for yourself and your family to just “be.”
  4. Do less to experience more.  We create stress when we cram too much into our schedules and then try to control everything we’re juggling. Do you really need to chop down your own Christmas tree, make your mom’s famous stained glass cookies and host your husband’s department dinner?  Do less, so you can experience more.
  5. Unplug and spend time in nature.   I call nature the ultimate antidepressant and re-set button. If anyone in my family is exhausted or out of sorts, off to the greenbelt we go. Being in nature offers nourishment and renewal on the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental levels. It’s a powerful, restorative and healing force. Use it!

There is an innate push and pull that many of us feel during the winter season.  As the winter solstice approaches – the longest night of the year – our natural rhythms are calling us to slow down, reflect, go inward and contemplate where we’ve been and where we want to go. (Think of our friends the bears, they’ve got it right!) 

crop-options.inddI challenge you: do it differently this season. If the call to making rest and renewal a priority resonates with you this holiday, make it #1 for yourself and for your family. Then, you can bound — instead of crawl – into 2014 fully present, refreshed and ready for the New Year.

Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance coach/speaker, author Renée Peterson Trudeau. Her newest release is Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 11 year-old son. Join Renee this January for her new 2014 life balance telecourse New Way of Being: Learning to Go with the Flow.

Before you go, take a look at the book review I published about Renee’s book, Nurturing the Soul of Your Family, earlier this year.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

5 tips for stress-free holiday travel

Are you braving the airports this holiday season to visit family and friends? Then in addition to the busyness of the holiday season you’ll be adding travel plans – all of which can make for a very hectic and stressful time of year. A little planning will go a long way and Brian Altomare is here to offer some assistance.

You may have seen Brian featured on the television show “Shark Tank.” He’s the founder of Lugless, a luggage shipping service that sends your luggage ahead of time to wherever you’re going. This means you won’t have to pay airline baggage fees, you can avoid check-in lines and going through security will be a breeze. Then, when you land, there is no shuffling through other passengers waiting at baggage claim or worrying about lost luggage.

Here are Brian’s tips for stress-free holiday traveling:

Tip #1 – Roll instead of fold

It might seem simple and obvious, but most travelers still do not maximize luggage space when packing for a trip. If you roll all your clothes – from pants to jackets to shirts – you increase the extra space by about one-third. Bonus: Your clothes will be wrinkle free when you un-pack.

Tip #2Buy a $9 luggage scale on

We all love surprises during the holiday, but not at the check-in gate. Avoid extra baggage fees for overweight luggage by weighing it prior to arriving at the airport. This way you’ll avoid extra fees or worse, removing your clothing (and undergarments!) in front of everyone just to meet airline weight requirement.

Tip #3 – Bar belts, shun shoelaces & rock TSA-approved laptop bags

Brian says this is his favorite block of travel ideas for more sanity through security. Always wear slip on shoes, sneakers or sandals and pack your belt in a carry on so you don't have to take it off at the security checkpoint. Also, only use a TSA-approved laptop bag so you never have to worry about taking it out.

Tip #4 – Carry two small bags not one medium bag

If you want to take a bag onto the plane carry two smaller bags, if trying to avoid fees, and not one medium-sized bag that might be checked at the gate. At the last minute, a staggering percentage of bags that make it to the terminal gate are asked to be checked prior to boarding due to space issues. The other reason is because FAA fines airlines for late takeoffs and extra carry-on bags in the overhead compartment, which is a big issue preventing on-time arrivals and departures. Airlines even have staff to roam terminals and try to get travelers to pay or check bags if they think the bags are too large and should not have passed through initially.

Tip #5 – Ship your luggage

lugless screen shotThis post would not be complete without this tip. Brian recommends shipping your bags ahead of time. It is a much more enjoyable experience, he says. “I should know. I am the co-founder of, a door-to-door luggage shipping service for travelers who are tired of airline baggage fees, waiting in crowded check-in lines, tapping their feet at baggage claim, and dealing with the prospect of lost luggage. We provide on-time guaranteed service and rates that are less than FedEx, UPS and DHL for express and international shipping to more than 200 companies.”

He truly believes in Travel without the Baggage, which is the company’s tagline. In fact, Lugless is currently offering lowered holiday pricing so it’s an ideal time to give the service a try. Brian recommends you at least try the service once and experience “baggage-free” travel for a much more relaxing holiday trip.

Brian Altomare, Lugless founder, has also been featured on Bloomberg TV, FOX News Radio, ABC- San Francisco and CW- San Diego.


Monday, December 2, 2013

What's on your #baking friends’ wish list? {guest post}

By Josh Santos

Nothing is more rewarding during the holidays than opening up the oven to a toasty sheet of cookies decorated as snowmen or snowflakes. Whether you know a kitchen whiz or a professional baker, you can always find a few gadgets sure to be up a sweet tooth's alley. What can you wrap to put under a Christmas tree that will get a lot of mileage in the oven?

Write on

baking photoClear ingredient containers can confuse a baker when they cannot tell the difference between salt and sugar at first blush. The problem becomes worse when you slap a label on a container that you cannot remove, so that you cannot put any different ingredients in it when it runs dry. A $40 Memo Canister lets you put anything and everything, from green tea to brown sugar, into a container without needing to change labels or play a guessing game. Simply use a piece of chalk to record the name (and, if desired, the quantity) of an ingredient then wipe it off whenever you want to replace powdered sugar with cayenne pepper.

Cupcake trees: decoration included

Everyone gets a tree for Christmas, but how often is the tree made out of something besides wood and pine needles? Those looking to invent their own holiday classic can give someone a feast for their eyes and their taste buds. The $20 Martha Stewart Collection cupcake tree balances as many as two dozen cupcakes on three tiers so that anyone with a hankering for some frosting can pluck one off  the frame. It's also a good excuse to use that Kitchen-Aid mixer you got last year.

From digital ounces to pounds

Whether you need to make 120 cookies or get exact measurements for a specialty cake, precision goes a long way towards ensuring the final outcome tastes just right. Get the precise measurements for everything from orange rind to flour with a $30 Escali Primo multipurpose digital scale. With the ability to measure down to a tenth of an ounce, this scale helps the perfectionist on your shopping list to make the best possible batch of baked goodies. With nine colors it blends in with most kitchen décor.

A Mount Olympus-like gift

What do you get for the baker who has granite countertops, porcelain tea sets, real-silver silverware and gold filigree candles? Something practical and beautiful: a $40 marble pastry board with matching $25 marble dough roller. With the roller in hand, your baking friend will be sure to produce a pie crust so beautiful that you weep at the thought of actually eating it.

Josh, a cooking expert from the Southwest, has a penchant for cast iron and outdoor ovens.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Reveal your #bareselfie with Lancôme #DreamTone {product review}

About four weeks ago I started using my complementary bottle of Lancôme DreamTone as part of a campaign thanks to SheSpeaks/LancomeUSA. The skincare product Lancôme DreamTone is customized skin tone correcting serum that has been specially formulated to reduce the appearance of dark spots, color imperfections and uneven skin tone.

The serum is touted as the “next generation in dark spot correction.” It’s customized and proved to be powerful enough that 72 percent of women are confident enough to bare their skin for all to see. It has three minimally tinted formulas that are made specifically for fair, medium and dark skin tones.

lancomeI added the dark (#3) DreamTone to my skincare routine twice a day under my moisturizer to see how the product would work for me. Overall, and for most of my life, I’ve had a fairly even skin tone, but lately  I’ve noticed my skin isn’t as even as it used to be. So I was more than excited to try Lancôme DreamTone because of what it is designed to do as well as to feed my skincare product addiction.

My initial impression of the serum: It has a smooth feel with a light scent, and applies  smoothly to the skin. It isn’t greasy and it has a barely-there feel. I didn’t initially notice any significant changes like 74 percent of users who  reported noticing glowing skin and 70 percent noticed more even skin tone in seven days.

I snapped a #bareselfie on the first day I started using the serum, but I can’t find it to save my little life. However, here I am – yesterday – four weeks afterward…


What do you think? I think the camera isn’t accurate. LOL… There are still some small spots on my check. Let’s see what it looks like if I enlarge.


Well, I know where the marks are. {chuckling} Can you see them?

I’m going to continue using the serum until it’s gone. Perhaps I’ll post another bare selfie then. Think you wanna try it yourself? Lancôme DreamTone retails for $98 for a 1.3 fl. oz. bottle, which is available through Lancô as well as department stores nationwide. If you purchase online now they’re having a limited-time offer of 15 percent off.

Tell me: Are you ready to share your #bareselfie?

Disclosure: As mentioned above I received a complimentary bottle of Lancôme DreamTone from SheSpeaks/Lancôme to facility my review and share with you. All opinions expressed are my own. Read my complete disclosure policy at your convenience.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

Two-day #giveaway: Enter NOW to win personal stationary & mug from Treat

Disclaimer: Per FTC regulations, I and informing you that I will receive personal stationary and mug as compensation for facilitating this giveaway. Any opinions expressed are my own. This post does contain links to Treat’s retail site. Click to read my complete disclosure policy.

TreatHolidayBanner (1)

Christmas is a few short weeks away and a lot of us are searching for ideal gifts, stocking up on holiday cards and trying to take the perfect family photo. It’s a lot of hustle and bustle especially as we try to fit everything in between those yummy holiday meals.

Treatlogo (1)Not to worry, Treat makes finding the right card or personalized gift a piece of cake. All we have to do is click to view this year’s one-to-one holiday card collection and gifts. And, if you prefer to deliver your card electronically, Treat now offers digital cards with most cards on the site having digital options.

I’ve used Treat on three separate occasions and found both the digital and print choices to be high quality. When I saw the card I made for my daughter’s first mother’s day I was extremely impressed and pleased. Treat cards are definitely beautiful enough to hold onto as keepsakes. With a multitude of choices you’re sure to find the perfect card for every occasion. Isn’t the one below adorable?

Thanks to Treat I’m able to facilitate this giveaway for one lucky reader to win a mug and personal stationary from Treat. Simply follow the easy instructions in the Rafflecopter and you’re in the running to win the prize.

Good Luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Treat Digital Cards are not just another eCard.



Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dr. Scholl’s For Her Comfort Insoles can save your weary tootsies

Last year I bought a pair of Valquira Laced boots for just $27. Those boots are cute, stylish, warm and relatively comfortable. I say “relatively” because the padding inside one of the boots was not in the correct place and the nail/screw/whatever that holds the heel in place dug into my heel through the thin layer under my foot.

C360_2013-11-13-00-15-25-139Double socks and cheap inserts did nothing for this spot – regardless of what I did I would still be in pain by the end of the day. That was totally unacceptable. That’s why when I received a complimentary pair of Dr. Scholl's® For Her Comfort Insoles, from Influenster in the #RoseVoxBox, I was extremely excited.

C360_2013-11-13-00-16-00-690With the temperatures dropping to the 20s tonight, high of low 40s tomorrow with continued gusty winds and my heat kicking in tens times more frequently than yesterday, it’s time to get my boots ready.

Just taking the insoles out of the package is a treat in soft comfort. The insoles are touted as providing all-day comfort and support in addition to keeping your feet warm. They have a multiple layer design that insulates against cold and dampness. They also have two plush layers for extra cushioning and support while keeping feet dry by absorbing perspiration. You can put the cut-to-fit insoles in a variety of favorite shoes and boots including rain and winter boots, casual and dress boots and shoes.


C360_2013-11-13-00-17-00-094Dr. Scholl’s® For Her™ Cozy Cushions™ Insoles are available in women’s sizes 6 to 10 and are easily cut to fit the size you wear – simply follow the lines provided on the back of the insole.

I was in a rush this morning when I grabbed the insoles to put in my boots and I thought they would be hard to cut. They weren’t at all especially compared to another pair of insoles I’ve used that I had to get my utility scissors for.

One suggestion I would make is to leave an extra size before you cut to your exact size and insert it into your shoe or boot to see how it feels. I cut mine to my exact size and inside of my boots I could feel about a quarter inch or so of my first two toes “hanging” over the edge. It’s a bit annoying and I’m going to see if I can slide the insole further into my boot the next time I put them on.

The only negative, if I can even call it that, is my boots fit very snuggly around the top of my feet from the arch to the toes. Having the insoles inserted caused from the bunion side of each foot to the outer edge under my pinky toe to be too tight. I love how walking with the Cozy Cushion made my feet feel absolutely wonderful so I’m going to have the top parts of the boots stretched. They needed to be stretched a little in that area anyway. Oh, and my problem with the nail poking in my heel – NONEXISTENT. I don’t feel it at all. How’s that for comfort?

Overall I give this Dr. Scholl’s product an A+ for comfort. Give them a try, if you haven’t already, so you can see how it feels to walk on total softness.gray boots



You can check out more of what types of fashion I like and have by visiting my Pinterest boards.




got it from influenster

Disclosure: Like I mentioned earlier in this post, I received a complimentary products in order to share my opinion with you. All opinions are my honest reviews and are not influenced by anyone. Please read my disclosure policy for complete information.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Easy preparation, quick clean up with MAGGI SO JUICY

Disclaimer: I received a complementary product from BzzAgent for the purpose of this review. This in no way affects my opinions of products I share here. Here’s a link to my complete disclosure policy.

I am all for anything that makes preparing meals easy, quick and a cinch to clean up. That’s what I found with MAGGI SO JUICY that’s best described as a small packet with big seasoning flavor and an oven bag.

There are three easy steps to using MAGGI SO JUICY:

  1. Sprinkle the seasoning mix into the oven-safe bag.
  2. Coat the chicken by shaking it within the bag.
  3. Cook, serve and eat.

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Out of the four flavors available – Garlic & Tomato, Italian Countryside, Mediterranean Herb Medley and Tomato & Paprika – I think the Mediterranean Herb Medley is my favorite. The first time I prepared the meal with MAGGI’S Italian Countryside using chicken wings. They turned out moist, tender and lightly flavored. My children loved the taste, but the seasoning could have been a little stronger for me.

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Looks yummy, right?

The second time I used the Mediterranean Herb Medley on deboned tilapia, and it was the best fish I’ve tasted in quite some time. Restaurant worthy if you ask me. The only difference with the fish is that it may not turn out quite as pretty as you would like because of the shaking and trying to get it laid out in the bag. My suggestion, should you go this route, would be to use thicker cut or meatier types of fish.

And, lastly, I’ve tried Savory Garlic & Tomato with boneless, skinless chicken breast. These photos give you an idea of the steps involved.

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C360_2013-10-07-17-49-28-039   C360_2013-10-07-17-51-24-765

2013-10-17 11.30.37I can’t wait try MAGGI again because you can add more than just your meat into the oven bag. I want to try potatoes and spinach with chicken or rice with a little of cream of mushroom soap and the chicken. Does that sound as good to you as it does to me? Definitely comfort food.

You can find MAGGI SO JUICY at your local Kroger-owned store for just $1.79. If you have already tried, leave me a comment letting me know what you think. If you haven’t tried, what are you waiting for? Grab a packet, or two, today and test it out. In the meantime you can visit their site for recipe ideas.


Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Find inspiration

As you may be able to tell from my last post, creativity has been on my mind lately. Well, I guess coming from a writer that isn’t surprising, huh? This week, and many to come, I’ll be playing with the other stuff I like to do. Here’s a little bit of what’s I’ll be doing:

  • Reupholster an ottoman. It belonged to my grandmother and the fabric is faded, torn and outdated. But I have to have small pieces of my grandmother in my home. I have the fabric and some fabric glue then later I may find upholstery tacks for embellishment.
  • Work on a painting. There has been an idea for a painting brewing in my mind for some time. The image is clear and I already have a name – now I can’t wait to begin. Yesterday I purchased paint markers, which I believe will make this project come to life.
  • Sewing, alterations & up-cycling. I have a small pile of sewing and alteration-like projects waiting. (I love up-cycling old clothes into new designs.) And there is a bin in the laundry room that contains the next group of sewing projects.

That’s just the beginning of what my mind is on and I’ll definitely share with you.

Sometimes very small things inspire me: a thought, a word or a picture. It’s what I do with the inspiration that matters.

petularenee  on Pinterest

I’ve found quite a few places to help fuel my creativity. And, if you’re like me, you know one of those places is Pinterest. More than 12 million people pin to their Pinterest boards so there is relatively no limit to the images you’ll find. I was resistant to Pinterest at first, but now I spend quite a bit of time browsing, liking and following. If you haven’t already, check out my Pinterest boards. One of my boards, Crafty Creations, is full of inspiring ideas – some of which I’m going to try.

SloDive  Dive Into Inspiration  slodive  on PinterestThere is some inspiration to be found on a board I would have never thought to click on: SloDive: Dive Into Inspiration. I was surprised to find that tattoos and body art are quite capable of exciting my muse. Take a gander and see what they do for you.

I also find inspiration in magazines, nature, paintings and sometimes television. There isn’t enough time and space to list everything I read or view, but I figure you have some ideas to share as well.

Where do you find inspiration? Is it Pinterest, YouTube, a particular magazine or book, blogs? Leave a comment and share what fuels your muse – I’m sure you’ll give me and other readers ideas to play with.

Don’t forget to comment and stay tuned for my project updates in the weeks to come.


Monday, October 28, 2013

Have you implemented what your “creative” revealed?

I’m a writer. Way deep down in my heart where the first beat began I’ve always been a writer. It didn’t really show up ‘til I was about 5 years old (really!) and sometimes it wasn’t actually in writing that it appeared. I had magical, mysterious, fantastical stories rolling around in my head.

A “regular” person – you know, those non-writers – think that it’s just imagination or daydreaming, but when you’re a writer those images birth words. It’s pretty much the same for every artist. Have you ever wondered how a photographer can look at the sun, trees and flowers and produce a photograph worthy of an art gallery? Us “regular” folks – the non-photographers (I couldn’t resist) – can take the same exact picture and it’ll be nice or pretty or just plain bad.

That’s the nature of the creative beast.

Sometimes in the midst of those creative outbursts a therapeutic moment occurs. When that creativity is present there is a message for yourself that springs forth. Today I found one of those messages in a post I wrote in 2010. Funny, cause that happens pretty frequently, but infrequently enough that I often forget the magnitude of the message.

Which side of the moon screenshot 2010The post, Which side of the moon?, is one of a quite a few posts where I write about my thoughts, what I want to do, what I think I should have done already, what I should do and what I’m going to do. It’s usually around the end or beginning of a year when I feel the pressure of not having accomplished something or delayed in proceeding with said accomplishment.

The delay often starts and ends with my health. Ahhh, such an ongoing issue. But, do you know what? I don’t worry about my health – it’s often on my mind, but not among the things that bother me. At least not consciously.

What’s important is the question, uh, the answer to that problem. How do I surpass what keeps me from advancing? Unless you have a true answer that includes knowledge of my everyday life then I encourage you to think of that as a rhetoric question.

Today, before the day ends, spend a little time being creative and see what surprises you.




hands writing in bookHere we go: What have you created, written or planned that you haven’t reviewed lately? Are you truly meeting the goals you’ve set for yourself? And if you have, please share how you’re making that happen.


4 Holiday Gifts to Melt the Hearts of Mothers-in-Law

Guest post

Disclosure: Included links will direct you to retail sites. I have no affiliation with these retailers. For complete information read my disclosure policy.

Whether your mother-in-law is your closest gal pal or arch rival, you're obligated to give her a nice Christmas gift. Your responsibility to your husband is to shop for a gift that helps strengthen the bond between his two favorite women. Release your inner creativity, put in some thoughtfulness and use pretty wrapping paper to make this year's present a success. Make your mother-in-law smile with any of the following holiday gift ideas.

Photographic Memories

Celebrate your husband's family and childhood by creating a photo collage that highlights family photos from childhood to present day. Gather baby, school, sports, holiday, vacation, and college pictures and print them onto a quilt or frame them in an elegant over-the-door scroll frame. Scroll frames can be found online at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $29.99. Print pictures in black and white for a nostalgic feel or upload them to a digital frame that she can keep on her kitchen counter or bedside table.

Vera Wang Floral Arrangement

1116_ftd_flowersIf your mother-in-law is like most women, receiving flowers warms her heart, soul and home. Adorn her home with an extravagant holiday bouquet by Vera Wang. You'll impress her with this stunning bouquet of red roses, white Asiatic Lilies and rich greens that will complement her beautiful and vintage Christmas decor. The FTD Grand Occasion bouquet by Vera Wang starts at $129.99.

Lavish Dinner

Cook a three-course holiday meal for your family in honor of the matriarch herself. Ask your husband for a favorite family recipe, share one of your own or cook a recipe you've always wanted to try. Delicious holiday fare ideas include pumpkin cornbread stuffing, country sausage and sage, honey mustard and pecan-crusted lamb chops, or pumpkin macaroni and cheese with amoretti crust. For a memorable encore, serve Christmas cookies or red velvet cheesecake in a gorgeous serving tray, such as the Corelle Melamine Service Tray — Pretty Pink, available online at Target for $12.99.

Gift of the Month Clubs

Think about your mother-in-law's personality and favorite indulgences. If she's a culinary expert who loves to cook a savory brunch every Sunday, give her the Bacon of the Month Club or Bacon of the Season Club for $49.95 a month. Give a caffeine addict the Coffee of the Month Club for $24.95 a month with 3 to 12 month options, or if she has a sweet tooth, a Cupcake of the Month Club will deliver 12 gourmet cupcakes each month for $39.95 a month with a 3 to 12 month option. Check out more gourmet gifts at

As you thoughtfully shop for a meaningful gift wrapped and given with love, you can count on a grateful and happy mother-in-law during this holiday season.

About our guest blogger
Patti Campbell is a stay-at-home mom of three from Hawaii who runs a small ecommerce business out of her basement.


Sunday, October 20, 2013

A decade ago I fell in love

About 11 years ago an ultrasound revealed the little wiggly movements within my belly to be that of a boy. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I was crushed. I chalk it up to the crash of a big glob of hormones and a, uh, interesting preconceived idea. Thirteen years before this pregnancy I had a little girl. She (who you now know is Amber) turned out to be the best little girl ever.

I knew what to do with girls. So I decided I wanted all girls. No boys. What in the world would I do with boys? Quite a few tears later and a comforting conversation with my dear sister/friend – after an extremely disappointing and unsupportive conversation with my then husband – I got myself together and settled in for the ride.

My son was feisty from the beginning. As a little fetus he kicked, spun, swam and caused a fuss. At four months pregnant he had me going back and forth to the hospital to have my labor stopped. When we weren’t in the hospital he kicked me in the continuously. Sometimes multiple blows within five minutes. So hard and exact that I worried he was stuck in one spot and was going to permanently injure me.

I knew – just knew! – that my little boy was gonna be very demanding. He was tired of being trapped inside of me and was demanding to get out. With about six weeks to go before my due date I gave in. In the middle of the night while the rest of my family was asleep I endured the contractions that would not stop and kept me awake. When everyone rose in the morning thinking they were going to go about their day. I told them it was time to go to the hospital.

Little Andre was a very high-need baby from the beginning. Where most babies are soothed to sleep by a moving car, he screamed during 98 percent of the trips. Even the 45 minute ones to and from the church we were attending at the time. If he wanted something he would scream immediately. No fussing as a warning.

See, I mumbled to anyone who would listen, this is why I didn’t want a boy. That demanding child (the infant I had 15 minutes later would wait to be fed while he screamed!) turned into a demanding toddler, preschooler and it even leaked a little into elementary school.

Fast forward 10 years. My son, who I now say is the man in my life, is learning to be respectful, patient, obedient and calm. When he does blow his steam it’s usually very dramatic, but those instances are fewer and fewer apart.

Getting bigger…


Loving his mommy…


Being a good big (15 months older) brother…


Just knows he’s cool…


His cute mini professor look…


Now I can’t believe he’s going to be 10 tomorrow. In about six hours that persistent infant will be a preteen. I’m amazed by him. Just recently it has been coming to mind that I really have a son. I’m raising a boy to be a man. A decade later and I’m so extremely proud and happy to be called Mommy by him.

Remote hogging.

CAM01093Enduring Mom’s antics.

Dramatic play.
Library craft.
Mommy made it.

What an honor I have been given.


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