July 31, 2010

The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean

The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements by Sam Kean is quite possibly the most interesting book about chemistry and the periodic elements.

Book Description
The Periodic Table is one of man's crowning scientific achievements. But it's also a treasure trove of stories of passion, adventure, betrayal, and obsession. The infectious tales and astounding details in THE DISAPPEARING SPOON follow carbon, neon, silicon, and gold as they play out their parts in human history, finance, mythology, war, the arts, poison, and the lives of the (frequently) mad scientists who discovered them.
We learn that Marie Curie used to provoke jealousy in colleagues' wives when she'd invite them into closets to see her glow-in-the-dark experiments. And that Lewis and Clark swallowed mercury capsules across the country and their campsites are still detectable by the poison in the ground. Why did Gandhi hate iodine? Why did the Japanese kill Godzilla with missiles made of cadmium? And why did tellurium lead to the most bizarre gold rush in history?

From the Big Bang to the end of time, it's all in THE DISAPPEARING SPOON.

My Thoughts
Chemistry is really not my thing. I hated it in high school and in college too. In fact I may have to still take one more course of it (not something I’m looking forward to). The periodic table of elements always seemed like such a big thing to grasp and understand. I never really was one of those students who cared to memorize the properties and their symbols. Just the basic ones for me, thanks.

The Disappearing Spoon is however a book about my dreaded subject to study. This book is quite different from a textbook though, and no test is required – so that makes reading it a bit easier.

The book is divided into different sections of the elements of the periodic table. The stories told in each section are about interesting facts about those elements such as Lewis and Clark carrying mercury and how people can find where they camped by the mercury deposits in the soil to this day. It makes for learning about the elements more fun and less conventional.

Overall, I have to say that I do in fact recommend this book for those interested in Chemistry. Even though this is not going to be required reading for most taking Chemistry, it should perhaps be suggested. Those who learn about the elements from The Disappearing Spoon will have great tales in which to remember them, and this would definitely be a good thing for test day, at least one can hope. High school teachers would also benefit greatly from reading this book and incorporating some of the stories into their lectures – trust me, the students wouldn’t even fall asleep as much!

* Thank you to the publisher of The Disappearing Spoon, Little Brown, part of the Hachette Book Group for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

July 29, 2010

Dangerous Desires by Dee Davis

Dangerous Desires by Dee Davis is an action romance that takes place in a Columbian jungle. Madeline is trying to escape Columbian drug lords and arms dealers and finds herself in more trouble than she ever imagined while escaping with the man who rescues her, Drake – working off records for the CIA.

Book Description
“As the extractions expert for A-Tac, an elite CIA black ops unit masquerading as faculty at an Ivy League college, Drake Flynn knows how to survive behind enemy lines. But he's about to meet one adversary he can't subdue . . . or resist.


Stranded in the Colombian jungle after a mission goes bad, Drake has only one objective: evade the mercenaries hot on his trail and deliver "the package" to U.S. officials. But "the package" has a mind of her own, and she has no intention of trading one set of captors for another. Madeline Reynard is beautiful, headstrong, and hell-bent on escape after years as a crime lord's pawn. She'll risk everything for freedom, even if it means deceiving the dark, handsome operative who now holds her life in his hands.

Drake has been burned too many times to let a woman manipulate him, especially a secretive one like Madeline. Even so, they cannot deny the attraction between them. Now as enemy forces close in, Drake and Madeline must trust each other with their lives-or face certain death.”
– Dangerous Desires

My Thoughts
Pretty hot cover. Pretty hot book, and not just because it takes place in a jungle either. This is a “romance” book but not quite like ones that are just about sex scenes and such. This one is full of adventure than really about the sex, which to me is a good thing.

Madeline and Drake are both hot for each other, even though they don’t really realize it until much later. Madeline is annoying and does really stupid things which put her in even more danger, and riskier for Drake to save her. She becomes more of an annoyance, but a likeable one at that.

Dangerous Desires is full of twists and turns, which some are predictable, while others weren’t quite so obvious. The big one at the end (no spoilers) is really a great way to leave the story.

If you like action and romance, this is a great book to read for the summer. Bring it to the pool, read in a cozy spot with the A/C, on a plane when traveling, etc. You’ll be glad you did!

* Thank you to the publisher of Dangerous Desires, Grand Central Publishing, part of the Hachette Book Group for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

July 28, 2010

Pellinor Series – The Crow by Alison Croggan

The third book in the Pellinor Series, The Crow by Alison Croggan is told mainly by the perspective of Hem, Maerad’s long-lost brother. Hem was sent there with Saliman to study the ways of the Bard. However, in these times nowhere is safe from the Dark forces seeking to destroy the Light.

Hem and Saliman are in Turbansk when they are attacked by the forces of the Dark, only barely fleeing their capture. This story is an impressive tale of how Hem is able to help the Light and also explains his big part in finding the Treesong as well.

Book Description
“Hem is a weary orphan whose struggle for survival ends when he is reunited with his lost sister, Maerad. But Maerad has a destiny to fulfill, and Hem is sent to the golden city of Turbansk, where he learns the ways of the Bards and befriends a mysterious white crow. When the forces of the Dark threaten, Hem flees with his protector, Saliman, and an orphan girl named Zelika to join the Light’s resistance forces. It is there that Hem has a vision and learns that he, too, has a part to play in Maerad’s quest to solve the Riddle of the Treesong. As THE CROW continues the epic tale begun with THE NAMING and THE RIDDLE, Alison Croggon creates a world of astounding beauty overshadowed by a terrifying darkness, a world where Maerad and Hem must prepare to wage their final battle for the Light.

As this enthralling epic nears its climax, the young heroine’s brother discovers his own hidden gift -- and the role he must play in battling the Dark.”
– The Crow

My Thoughts
The Pellinor Series is a fantastic fantasy story which captures all those who read it. The Crow is no exception. At first I was a bit sad that the story was told from Hem, because the first two books were told from Maerad’s point of view. However, after fully reading the book and seeing how much Hem’s character advances throughout this book, I quite enjoyed it.

Another new character in this book is Zelika. She is not a bard, and her family was murdered by the Dark, which ravaged the South before going to Turbansk. While she seemed a bit more annoying, she had reason enough to be. Her friendship with Hem helped them both grow vastly in just a short amount of time.

I highly recommend all those who enjoy this type of fantasy book to read The Crow. I again also advise reading The Naming and The Riddle before The Crow. Reading a series like this in order really helps to understand what is going on throughout the story.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Crow, Candlewick Press for providing me with a copy for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Good Stuff Cookbook by Spike Mendelsohn

When looking for a cookbook, we want good stuff that isn’t too hard to make, right? The Good Stuff Cookbook by Spike Mendelsohn aims to do just that. Spike’s philosophy of “taking classic American comfort foods made from local, farm-fresh ingredients, and giving them the good stuff twist” accomplishes his goal of making “good stuff.”

Cookbook Description
“One of the most popular contestants ever on the hit television show Top Chef, Chef Spike Mendelsohn is one of the hottest celebrity chefs on the scene. His new restaurant in Washington, D.C., Good Stuff Eatery, has been a resounding success and even claims First Lady Michelle Obama as a fan. In The Good Stuff Cookbook, he serves up fast, fun, and fresh recipes for classic fare like burgers, sides, shakes, and desserts, as well as menu suggestions for all types of events, from big parties to casual family dinners.

You'll find old favorites with a twist: unique and tasty sauces and mayonnaises like Good Stuff Sauce and Curry Mayonnaise; fan-favorite sides like Baked Sweet Potato Fries and Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus; the famous Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake, malts, and floats; and, of course, Chef Spike's crowd-pleasing burgers made with beef, turkey, chicken, pork, and even lamb.

• The book features 120 fresh and delicious recipes and 140 full-color photos
• Mendelsohn is one of the hottest up-and-coming chefs on the food scene with two new restaurants, a new web-based show on Food2.com called "By The Book, Off The Hook," and a number of other projects in the works
• This is the perfect all-American cookbook for anyone who loves great casual comfort food like burgers, fries, and shakes, but wants to shake things up with a gourmet touch

Just in time for Independence Day barbecues and summertime cookouts, The Good Stuff Cookbook offers a fresh and inventive take on classic American food.”
– The Good Stuff Cookbook

My Thoughts
I love eating good stuff, who doesn’t? So, I was happy to get to try out some of Spike’s recipes included in this cookbook. I couldn’t eat some because they contain gluten, and some beef (which I don’t eat out of choice, but the gluten isn’t negotiable). All of the pictures included did make everything look very, very appetizing and almost had me giving in on both food issues of mine.

I first started simple, something I knew I couldn’t screw up. I’m not the best chef in the world, though I do try my best. The “Very Berry Shake” looked really appetizing (and easy). Mine didn’t look quite as good as the picture, but it was yummy nevertheless and quite easy to make.

Michelle’s Melt” was named after Michelle Obama, is a turkey burger inspired by the First Lady’s garden at The White House. I love turkey burgers, so I insisted on trying this (on gluten-free bread). Mine actually looked similar to Spike’s, and tasted amazing! Seriously, try this if getting this cookbook – right away!

Spike’s Village Fries” are handmade French fries that are amazing! I did bake them though instead of frying, and I used olive oil instead of canola oil, but the spices used were the same, and I loved it!

The Good Stuff Cookbook is quite possibly the perfect American good stuff cookbook. It includes so many recipes that people of all ages and palates enjoy in America. This wouldn’t be a cookbook that would go unused, and is perfect for summer barbecues and cookouts.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Good Stuff Cookbook, Wiley, for providing me with a review copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

Giveaway Winner: Cascadian FarmVille Fan Pack

The giveaway for the Cascadian FarmVille Fan Pack is now officially over. I used randomizer to determine the winner, and the winner is T! I will be contacting you right now to get the details on where to send your prize.

If you didn’t win, don’t be discouraged. I have more contests coming your way soon!

Thank you to MyBlogSpark and Cascadian Farms for allowing me to review and giveaway this prize pack. The products, prize pack, information and additional prize pack to give away were all given to me from Cascadian Farm through MyBlogSpark.

July 27, 2010

The Impostor’s Daughter by Laurie Sandell

The Impostor’s Daughter is written and illustrated by Laurie Sandell. This is not your typical book. It is fully colored and reads like a well written comic book for adults. It is humorous and witty, and leaves you wanting more.

Book Description
“Laurie Sandell grew up in awe (and sometimes in terror) of her larger-than-life father, who told jaw-dropping tales of a privileged childhood in Buenos Aires, academic triumphs, heroism during Vietnam, friendships with Kissinger and the Pope. As a young woman, Laurie unconsciously mirrors her dad, trying on several outsized personalities (Tokyo stripper, lesbian seductress, Ambien addict). Later, she lucks into the perfect job--interviewing celebrities for a top women's magazine. Growing up with her extraordinary father has given Laurie a knack for relating to the stars.” – The Impostor’s Daughter

My Thoughts
The Impostor’s Daughter is a true memoir of the author’s life. Most of us have some parental issues that we have hopefully sorted out by the time we reach our thirties. However, that isn’t always the case and this book is a fun read about the author’s life with her father, the impostor.

I haven’t read a comic book for years, and even though this is the style of the book – it reads like a well written graphic memoir. You feel the awe that Laurie felt for her father when she was a child and still looked up to him. You feel the pain and anger that she felt when she discovered how he really is and the true magnitude of what happened in his life, which affected hers.

All of Laurie Sandell’s adventures in life, love, work and exotic experiences have led to this perfect memoir of her life. I hope she comes out with one later in life too, because I for one want to see what happens next for her.

I found The Impostor’s Daughter to be a truly fun and enjoyable read. I finished it in one sitting and couldn’t put it down. I loved every illustrated page of the author’s memoir, and I think you will too. I highly recommend this book.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Impostor’s Daughter, Back Bay Books, part of the Hachette Book Group for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

The Artist Within by Whitney Ferre

The Artist Within by Whitney Ferre is a creativity workbook which is packed full with exercises which encourage creative growth and can be done over and over again.

Creativity is something I believe that everyone has. I’ve always thought I was creative – I was just brought up being told I was, and so I am! Not everyone is so lucky though. Maybe you’ve been discouraged somewhere along the line and gave up on that “creative gene” that you think you may be lacking. Well, I’m here to tell you that you in fact are more creative than you think. The Artist Within will help bring that out in you if you think you lack creativity, and even make you more creative you already know you are!

Book Description
“If you can spill paint, this book will help you turn your creative potential into reality. Whether you are looking to be a writer, architect, entrepreneur, painter, or business leader, developing creative ideas is the factor that differentiates the extraordinary from the common. Based on principles that underlie the aesthetics of design, this book shows you how to strengthen your own creative ability and how to turn that ability into reality. So, if you ever felt that you have creative potential, or even if you don’t, but you want to be more creative, pick up this book and start unlocking your own Artist Within.” – The Artist Within

My Thoughts
There are so many ways to be creative and artistic that everyone can find something that is sure to inspire and speak to their creative side – you just have to give it a try and listen. The daily life tasks of work, school, family and so much more can put people into a funk that they just don’t create. I am also at fault on this. However, I want to do something about that. The Artist Within was just the answer.

The book covers the eight principles of design and is used throughout the book. There is even a test you can take in the book which shows which areas you need to focus more on to bring your scores up to help you in each aspect of the design principles. My favorite test though was the shapes test where we had to list “doodles” in order of most to least favorite. This explains what your conscious and unconscious is seeking and pushing away. I found it to be quite true with myself, and really did help me see areas I need to be more open with.

The exercises in the book cover easy things like doodling and leaf rubbings to dream collages (or vision boards as I call them), paper weaving, abstract tiles, magazine mosaics and much more.

My favorite though was the abstract canvas. I love to paint but often found myself just staring at a blank canvas and afraid to put the brush in the paint and do it. I’m not sure why. I guess I was afraid I’d not be good at it if I didn’t know exactly how it would turn out. I’m a planner. Well, this exercise let me throw that thinking out the window.

Here is what I created:

Overall, I think The Artist Within is the perfect book for everyone who wants to be more creative – even if you think you already are creative or not. This is the book to get you painting and trying out new creative things you never could have imagined until reading this book. It really is like going to take an art class (but much cheaper).

Thank you to the publisher of The Artist Within, Turner Publishing for providing me with a copy for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

July 26, 2010

Beauty Review: Yes to Carrots Facial Kit

Clean and acne free skin is something that women (not just teenagers) are after too. With all of the products out there that say they clear acne, you would think that we’d all be free of this problem, right? Unfortunately, that is not the case.

I’ve tried everything from ProActiv, Acne Free, Noxema, Clearasil, Aveeno, etc. Sure, some work a little. Some make it worse. Some don’t do anything at all. I’ve found that ones that contain all of those harsh chemicals make my skin worse. So, I’ve stopped using those.

Yes to Tomatoes: Perfect Balance Facial
For Oily to Combination Skin
MSRP: $19.99

The Yes to Tomatoes Perfect Balance Facial is formulated for oily to combination skin. It harnesses the oil and balancing power of red organic fruits and vegetables as well as the exfoliating Dead Sea Minerals.

The kit contains:
Yes To Tomatoes Facial Wash - 100ml/3.38 fl. oz
Yes To Tomatoes Facial Hydrating Lotion - 50ml/1.7 fl. oz.
Yes To Tomatoes Facial Mask - 30ml/1.01 fl. oz
Yes To! Spa headband

I used this kit for two weeks straight. I didn’t use the facial mask each day, but the facial wash and lotion I used two times a day. After my two weeks were up - I noticed a big difference. My skin wasn’t as “troublesome” and the acne I had is starting to clear up. My face also feels perfectly hydrated and I don’t worry about what is going on my face anymore. It never turned my face red and blotchy or was left irritated.

I am completely happy with this kit and will be buying this as my facial set from now on. I highly recommend it to everyone wanting to go natural. If you are lucky and have normal skin, they have other kits available for you too.

I also suggest buying it in the kit package because it is a $30 value for only $19.99. I also suggest finding a few more things you’d like (or go ahead and stock up on two kits and a lip balm) and you’ll get free shipping (for orders $50 or over).

Enjoy your beautiful skin!

* Thank you to Yes To Carrots for sending me the products reviewed for the purpose of the review. All opinions and experiences expressed are my own.

July 25, 2010

WTF? The Russian Mafia and Penis Enlargement Advertising

While approving comments for my Blog, I came across one today that involved the Russian Mafia and Penis Enlargement. Oh yes, you read that correctly.

The comment read something like this:

“HELP I’m being held prisoner by the Russian Mafia and being forced to post spam on blogs and forums! They’re coming back… please send help!”

I obviously did not accept such a comment as it linked to websites that provide said enlargements and probably also sends lots of viruses and malware your way too.

I know it isn’t real, but it is quite funny. Imagine the girl being held hostage thinking this:

Almost makes you want to help her.

July 24, 2010

The I Hate to Cook Book – Updated and Revised, by Peg Bracken

The 50th Anniversary edition of The I Hate to Cook Book by Peg Bracken has been updated and revised. It includes a new forward by the author’s daughter, Jo Bracken. The cookbook is written for those who don’t love cooking, but even those who do can enjoy the good humor and good recipes included in this retro cookbook.

Book Description
"There are two kinds of people in this world: the ones who don't cook out of and have NEVER cooked out of THE I HATE TO COOK BOOK, and the other kind...The I HATE TO COOK people consist mainly of those who find other things more interesting and less fattening, and so they do it as seldom as possible. Today there is an Annual Culinary Olympics, with hundreds of cooks from many countries ardently competing. But we who hate to cook have had our own Olympics for years, seeing who can get out of the kitchen the fastest and stay out the longest." - Peg Bracken

Philosopher's Chowder. Skinny Meatloaf. Fat Man's Shrimp. Immediate Fudge Cake. These are just a few of the beloved recipes from Peg Bracken's classic I HATE TO COOK BOOK. Written in a time when women were expected to have full, delicious meals on the table for their families every night, Peg Bracken offered women who didn't revel in this obligation an alternative: quick, simple meals that took minimal effort but would still satisfy.

50 years later, times have certainly changed - but the appeal of THE I HATE TO COOK BOOK hasn't.

This book is for everyone, men and women alike, who wants to get from cooking hour to cocktail hour in as little time as possible.
– The I Hate to Cook Book

My Thoughts
I always am on the lookout for fun new recipes and ways to cook things. If the cookbook has some good humor thrown in, that is added bonus of sweetness – with no extra calories even.

I have to honestly say that I never heard of this cookbook until recently. I was however pleasantly surprised by the unique humor that emerged from the pages – and to think this was written 50 years ago! That was an era where most women were stay at home moms and had dinner on the table at 5:30 when their husbands came home from work. It isn’t like that now, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t look back to some of these recipes.

Among some of my favorites:
• “Sherryburger” it does have the same name as me, but I switched the hamburger out with ground turkey (I don’t eat beef).
• “Anthony’s Shrimp” this quick meal can be done in five minutes!
• “Parmesan Potatoes” this is a very yummy side dish, especially with some garlic chicken!
• “A-1 Chocolate Sundae” a chocolate sundae with sherry? I’m in!

Overall, I found The I Hate to Cook Book to be a nice retro addition to recipes that really aren’t that hard to achieve. It does use ingredients that aren’t so healthy though, so you can feel free to exchange some of the less healthy ones out with some of the newer healthier ingredients available now.

* Thank you to the publisher of The I Hate to Cook Book, Grand Central Publishing, part of the Hachette Book Group for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

July 23, 2010

52 Things to Pick Up Your Poker Game by Adam Slutsky

Poker is the card game to play to win big money, right? Well, it can be – if you are good at it and know how to play the game behind the actual card game, and have a pretty good set of luck. 52 Things to Pick Up Your Poker Game by Adam Slutsky is the book to teach you how to make your poker game better.

Book Description
“At the poker table, just like in the ocean, baitfish get gobbled up by sharks. To help you ascend to the top of the poker food chain, 52 Things To Pick Up Your Poker Game answers all the game’s most important questions with over 50 tips and strategies to give you the upper hand. So whether you’re a seasoned pro or a bare-bones beginner, this handy, information-packed guide will take your poker game to the next level by helping you discover:

- Bluffing techniques and when to use them—or not use them
- Winning strategies when you don’t have a winning hand
- What players to choose or avoid as your opponent
- How to help determine your opponent’s hand
- How to capitalize on your opponent’s weaknesses and your strengths”
– 52 Things to Pick Up Your Poker Game

My Thoughts
I’ve played poker, not for money or anything though. I don’t think I have a very good poker face and if I ever did want to play for money, I would really need to brush up on better strategies to play. That being said, 52 Things to Pick Up Your Poker Game did help me understand poker much better.

The book covers basics that most people should logically know like you are there to make money and not friends, budget your money and only play what you can afford to lose. It also explains things that most people when starting out playing poker for money don’t usually really know such as the importance of taking breaks, trusting your gut, being healthy helps, wear shades not because they look cool, but so people can’t see your eyes and you can look wherever and people won’t know what it is you are looking at – and so much more.

Overall, I found 52 Things to Pick Up Your Poker Game by Adam Slutsky as a great investment book for anyone who wants to play poker and actually win money (or keep your clothes on if playing that way). Think of it as an investment for your future poker winnings.

This book is part of Turner Publishing’s Good Things to Know series which “focuses on simple, pragmatic actions that can have a strong and lasting impact in the lives of readers.” – Turner Publishing.

* Thank you to the publisher of 52 Things to Pick Up Your Poker Game, Turner Publishing for providing me with a review copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

July 22, 2010

Giveaway + Review: “Cascadian FarmVille Fan” prize pack

Love great organic food? Love Farmville? Then, this is the contest for you!

Cascadian Farm is a pioneer in the organic food industry and have amazing products which if you haven’t already tried, I highly suggest trying. Ones that I can eat (gluten-free) are amazing and from what I hear from my family those other ones with gluten are quite yummy too.

Farmville, which if you haven’t heard of, is a FaceBook game which allows users to create and manage their own farms in whichever area you prefer: harvesting vegetables, fruits, flowers, animals and more.

From July 19 through July 26, Cascadian Farm is providing FarmVille players with a variety of benefits such as coupon offers, organic farming, green living tips, and also an organic blueberry they can harvest in their virtual farms. Checkout (and friend) their virtual farmer: Farmer Joe Cascadian at: http://www.facebook.com/farmerjoecascadian.

“Cascadian FarmVille Fan” Prize Pack Giveaway
I have one prize pack to give away. This prize pack comes with Cascadian Farm Fruit & Nut Granola and Harvest Berry Chewy Granola Bars, along with Cascadian Farm coupons and a game card containing FarmVille currency.

To enter please leave a separate comment for each entry, if you do not have a viewable e-mail in your Blogger profile, please include that in your entries:

One comment – Follow my Blog publicly. In your comment, let me know which organic foods you grow, or would grow if you had a farm or garden.

One comment – Blog about my giveaway (linking to this post). Leave URL of the post in your comment.

One comment – Follow me on Twitter and tweet about my giveaway (linking to this post). Leave URL on here.

Contest will end on July 27, 2010
Good luck!

Thank you to MyBlogSpark and Cascadian Farms for allowing me to review and giveaway this prize pack. The products, prize pack, information and additional prize pack to give away were all given to me from Cascadian Farm through MyBlogSpark.

Giveaway Winner: Self Confidence by Paul McGee

The giveaway for Self Confidence by Paul McGee is now officially over. I used randomizer to determine the winner, and the winner is Stacy! I will be contacting you right now to get the details on where to send your boost of self-confidence to via mail.

Thanks again to Wiley for providing me with a copy of this book for review and one to giveaway.

July 21, 2010

Weekly Lovelist: New Layout, Art, Celebs

New Layout!

As I brought up before, I paid for a commission done through Deviant Art for the geisha girl you see above. This fabulous artist that created it can be found at: http://www.ooangeliusoo.deviantart.com/ and offers great art for really affordable prices.

I turned the picture with the girl into the header I have now and adjusted the blogger template and such to go with it. I’ll try to add in some more things to go with it soon. I’m just happy it is how it is right now. I will be tweaking it and adding things soon though.

Finding My Inner Artist (Again)
While reviewing The Artist Within, I’ve started to bring out my inner artist again, which is fun and rejuvenating. I can’t wait to share this review with you (probably this week) and also share with you one of my paintings!

Hot Vamps Off-Screen
My two favorite vampires have been spotted recently looking hotter than ever…

Robert Pattinson

Seriously this could be an ad for so many things. How does he look so good just relaxing and smoking? I don’t smoke and don’t want to date someone who does again, but wow, I so would say goodbye to that theory with Rob!

Alexander Skarsgard

I’ve seen him look hotter, this is a paparazzi shot after all. I think it is cute that Alexander Skarsgard’s girlfriend is Kate Bosworth. Maybe he gets her to eat. I did read that he took her home to meet the family and friends, so looks like it is pretty serious!

I hope everyone else has a great week too and can find some things to add to their weekly lovelists. :)


I just joined the Giveaway Scout website where you can search through and find so many blogs that host giveaways it is crazy! Seriously, if you like entering giveaways, check this place out!

Beauty Review: Organix South – Shampoo and Conditioner

Organic hair care products are not always easy to find (and spot) in local chain stores. However, there are many great brands that are available online and in specialty shops. So, I was really excited to get to review their TheraNeem Organix Moisture Therape Shampoo and Conditioner.

Organix South is the world’s leading manufacturer of certified organic Neem products located in central Florida. They are committed to promoting organic, fairly traded and ethically wild crafted herbal dietary supplements and protective body care products. For more information about them, check out their website at: http://www.organixsouth.com/

TheraNeem Organix Moisture Therape Shampoo and Conditioner
For Dry or Damaged Hair and Sensitive Scalps
Paraben Free, Sulfate Free, Gluten Free

TheraNeem Organix Moisture Therape Shampoo helps repair the hair and scalp. It contains organic Neem oil and Neem leaf extract, calendula to nourish and refreshing lavender. The conditioner helps restore moisture to the hair and scalp. It now has even more organic Neem oil and leaf extract, jojoba oil, panthenol and rice proteins to help hydrate the scalp and reduce split ends, leaving the hair soft and sleek.

Summertime can be really rough on people’s hair and scalp. My hair is dyed, I use a blow dryer and straightener (not every day though), hair spray, etc. On days I use all of the above, I really feel the effects after it. However, after using this shampoo and conditioner exclusively for two weeks, I really saw and felt a difference in my hair. The only original drawback to using the shampoo and conditioner is the scent. It is really strongly scented (at least to me), and if you aren’t used to those scents, it can be overwhelming. It doesn’t take very long to get used to though, and the end result is quite nice and well worth it.

Thank you to Organix South for providing me with the shampoo and conditioner for review. All opinions and experiences with the product are my own.

July 20, 2010

Pellinor Series – The Riddle – by Alison Croggan

The second book in the Pellinor Series, The Riddle by Alison Croggan starts out where The Naming left off. Maerad and Cadvan are being hunted by both the Light and the Dark and while seeking the Treesong, discover more than they ever thought possible.

Book Description
“Maerad is a girl with a tragic and bitter past, but her powers grow stronger by the day. Now she and her mentor, Cadvan, hunted by both the Light and the Dark, must unravel the Riddle of the Treesong before their fractured kingdom erupts in chaos. The quest leads Maerad over terrifying seas and vast stretches of glacial wilderness, ever closer to the seductive Winterking -- ally of her most powerful enemy, the Nameless One. Trapped in the Winterking's icy realm, Maerad must confront what she has suspected all along: that she is the greatest riddle of all. A sequel to THE NAMING, this second book in a captivating quartet about the ancient world of Edil-Amarandh is a sweeping epic readers won't soon forget.
A young woman embraces her power -- and her destiny -- as the thrilling quest begun in THE NAMING continues!”
– The Riddle

My Thoughts
Maerad and Cadvan are journeying to find the Treesong, yet they don’t know what it is exactly or where they can find it. Yet, it seems to be their only lead on helping to save the Light from the Dark forces of the Nameless One.

As they journey to the North, they find that the Winterking himself is pursuing them and is doing all he can to take them down. In one of their battles he even succeeds in splitting apart Maerad and Cadvan.

It is through the journey that Maerad ends up taking alone (with the help of her Elemental side) that really starts taking the wild ride for this book. Just when you think things couldn’t get any crazier (in a good way) – they do!

I highly recommend The Riddle. The Pellinor Series is an amazing experience for all those who read it. I do however suggest reading the first book, The Naming before reading The Riddle. It just makes everything so much clearer when starting from the beginning.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Riddle, Candlewick Press for providing me with a copy for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

An Dantomine Eerly by J.R.D. Middleton

An Dantomine Eerly by J.R.D. Middleton is unique. Going into a local bookstore, this is not the type of book one usually picks up. Gothic, errie, and poetically sound with a lot of the hardcore grit that probably won’t make a best-seller’s list.

Book Description
“You are invited to witness Dallin’s passage into death. The ailing poet distantly recalls his own life through the language of a damaged psyche and the symbols of a spirit upended by violent transformation. In this, memories abound: an old, wind beaten house where a palpable absence suggests a past but somehow still-looming tragedy; vacancy permeates a ghostly barroom and the campus of a condemned university; city streets and desolated forests are populated by no one except the changing formulations of Dallin’s own mind. His inner conflict reigns, and the geography takes on the disorientation and divisiveness at the center of us all. Along with his wife Aìsling, the two flee an obscure political persecution which leads to her graphic, methodically planned murder. The impact of her death afflicts a lone Dallin in ways he cannot comprehend, spiraling him headlong into his meeting with the mythic celestial escort, An Dantomine Eerly.

This intensely original novel is a skillful re-conception of the old Irish poetic form the aìsling, literally meaning “dream vision” or “vision-poem.” As a reader you are personally addressed, called to the role of interpreter and revelator, allowing the story to unfold towards its strange, genre-defying conclusion. Through you, this story affords its telling. Dallin sends his regards.”
– An Dantomine Eerly

My Thoughts
In high school, I was the editor-in-chief of our literary/art magazine. I read through a lot of submissions for that, and also the class each week had to come up with new material and we’d critique each other. It was fun and my favorite class I’ve ever had. This book brings me back to those days. There were a couple people in my class who wrote very “dark” and “gothic” pieces - I even wrote a few every now and then.

This isn’t really a “feel good” kind of book. It is raw and makes you feel kind of dirty and weird – but in a good way, if that is possible. An Dantomine Eerly is quite gothic, eerie, and poetically unique. This perhaps may not be a book for everyone, but for those into this type of genre, give it a shot.

Thank you to the publisher of An Dantomine Eerly, Dark Coast Press for providing me with a review copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

July 19, 2010

Vampire Angel by Reussie Miliardario

Vampire Angel by Reussie Miliardario is a story about a girl who seems to have the most perfect (plastic) life ever – and her name is even Barbey. She loves to dance, act and model. She even drives a pink jeep. This is one unique story about vampires, angels, and of course a girl who gets involved in both worlds.

Book Description
Vampire Angel is Andy Warhol with "bite". Enter a world of pure pleasure. In this dark satire, sixteen-year-old Barbey Bardot is as beautiful and air-headed as a Barbie Doll and has a boyfriend as wild and enigmatic as James Dean with a halo. Barbey's seemingly idyllic life as an actress, dancer, and model appears as mesmerizing as a fairy tale and becomes even more tantalizing as she joins her boyfriend in his alluring world of utter indulgence and revelry. But just when Barbey thinks she has reached the heights of bliss, she gets bitten by a vampire, opening her eyes to a whole new reality and illusory perspective. Suddenly, she is propelled into a quest for truth in a magical realm of fallen angels and vampires that is even more enchanting and shocking than the previous reality. BREATHTAKINGLY MAGICAL AND INTENSELY SEDUCTIVE, VAMPIRE ANGEL WILL LIGHT UP YOUR MIND WITH INFINITE BLISS. – Vampire Angel

My Thoughts
Vampire books are quite popular right now, and you know that I love them. I hope they never go away, not that they really ever have.

Vampire Angel is written more like satirical teen humor which is a fun read for laughs. The character dialogue was mixed with rather large generational gaps that tried melding together, but didn’t really work too well – not to say that it wasn’t funny to read though.

Barbey Bardot, the main character wasn’t really very likeable. She was the epitome of a clueless, blonde, pastic Barbie doll stereotype. Think Cher in Clueless meets an even more annoying Bella Swan that meets Paris Hilton, mix, shake – and that is Barbey Bardot.

Rave, Barbey’s mysterious boyfriend treats her awfully, and she pretty much just takes it. He however does hold a mysterious connection to her and uses her – for more than you may originally think.

The whole vampire and angel thing was an interesting concept and made for a good story. Unfortunately, it took way too long to actually get to the good storyline which really only made for the last 60 pages or so. Perhaps if it had started around then, it would have been a bit more intriguing and less clueless.

Overall, it is a story that if you like vampires and angels you’d probably enjoy to some level. Just be prepared to read through the satirical clueless teen humor included.

* Disclaimer: This book was sent to me as a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

CSN Stores Review

CSN Stores contacted me for a review of their stores. I received a gift card of $40 and could purchase what I wanted with it. They offer over 200 online stores which carry such a wide variety of items! Needless to say, I was highly excited. Read about my pre-review post here.

I originally wanted to purchase a new bookshelf. However, the ones I really liked were quite a bit over the $40. So, I saved those and put them on my mental wishlist for a later time. I then searched for New Orleans, French Quarter, Vampires and Fairies. I found so many things I wanted (they unfortunately did not have anything in the vampire search except for a puzzle though – maybe soon they’ll have more though).

Out of the 50+ things I would like, I settled on two amazing fairy items. I did have to pay a little extra for shipping and such, but I didn’t mind one bit!

Household Fairies Book Fairy

How cute is this? Two of the items I love most: books and fairies together! This book fairy figurine is the perfect fairy item to put on my bookshelf or by the books I have stacked up to review. Maybe she can be a good little fairy and keep them all nice and clean and organized for me while I sleep!

Tapestry Throw Blanket - Nene Thomas - Flamenco Fairy

I absolutely just had to have this when I first saw it offered by CSN Stores. I’ve wanted this very throw blanket since I first saw it in Pyramid Collection’s catalog. If you think it is pretty in the picture, I can assure you that it is even better in person!

Thank you to CSN Stores for providing me with the $40 gift card for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

July 18, 2010

27 Things to Know About Yoga by Victoria Klein

27 Things to Know About Yoga by Victoria Klein explains the basics of yoga and even some things that those who practice it often may not know.

Book Description
Your coworker, your best friend, that cute cashier at the grocery store: there’s a good chance they all practice yoga. Whether you’ve already started a new yoga practice or are an honest-to-goodness beginner, this gateway book provides a hearty introduction to all the basic aspects of yoga and the benefits the low-cost practice offers—no matter your age, size, sex, religion, fitness level, or occupation. 27 Things To Know About Yoga will help you improve your health and overall quality of life by discovering:

• The countless benefits of yoga, including relaxation, physical strength, stamina, mental clarity, and patience
• Basic yoga poses and postures
• The relationship between yoga and diet
Over 100 helpful resources to supplement your yoga knowledge
- 27 Things to Know About Yoga

My Thoughts
Yoga is something I’ve been doing off and on for years, so I was quite excited to get to review this book. I’ve never taken a formal yoga class, although I do want to sometime. I am one of those who just use DVDs that I’ve purchased. I haven’t read very much about it though, until reading this book I realized I really didn’t know much about yoga at all.

The book covers 27 things those who want to know more about yoga should know. For instance, it is not a religion (I didn’t realize people actually would think it was) and really more just like a way of life for those who practice it. It can also be done by everyone, but if you have a medical condition or are suffering from something (even menstrual stuff) there are some things you shouldn’t do.

When learning the basic Sanskrit words, I recognized quite a few that I knew already: Chakra, Dharma, Guru, Karma, Mantra, Namaste and Om. The author also gives many helpful tips and suggestions when attending yoga classes. For those who don’t know where to go, she even gives many websites that can help you search for one nearby.

Overall, I found 27 Things to Know About Yoga by Victoria Klein as a great resource for all of those who want to learn more about yoga – from the beginner to the more advanced yoga practitioner.

This book is part of Turner Publishing’s Good Things to Know series which “focuses on simple, pragmatic actions that can have a strong and lasting impact in the lives of readers.” – Turner Publishing.

* Thank you to the publisher of 27 Things to Know About Yoga, Turner Publishing for providing me with a review copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

July 14, 2010

Lovelist for a few Weeks

I have been slacking on this post. Partly because I am really busy with school and writing jobs. However, I also am finding it hard to find many things to “love” the past few weeks. I won’t write about life’s annoyances on this post though, as it is my lovelist. Hope you enjoy what I came up with and have a great week!

4th of July
I hope all those in America celebrated the 4th of July and had a great weekend. My Aunt and Uncle visited from North Carolina. We had a fun time while they were here.

The family party I went to was on the 3rd, we had drunk chicken. Take a look…

My Uncle in Texas calls it “beer butt chicken” so I guess either way works.

I wasn’t able to go out on the boat and look at fireworks though because my dog was having seizures again that day, and well I had to stay home with her and my Aunt and Uncle’s dogs too. Dogs do not like fireworks. It was really hectic for me watching them all – especially after mine had another seizure. She is doing okay right now though, so hopefully she gets better again for awhile.

Not sure if this should be on the lovelist, as it has made me nuts the past bit, so I’ll just post my recent grades:

Anatomy & Physiology: 95, 80, and a lab midterm is tomorrow. I really need to get an A again on that to keep my average of an A. ::fingers crossed::

Human Growth & Development: 100, and an exam this week too. I’m not overly worried about this one though.

I hope next semester isn’t as stressful as this summer term has been.

New Layouts & More to Come!
I used blogger’s new template for my portfolio and my blog to make them over. Have you noticed? The one on my blog isn’t really very noticeable yet. I just changed it over to make it a little easier on me now before I completely re-do it.

I’m hiring 2 fantastic artists I found from Deviant Art to commission something for me. One is going to be on here, which I am really excited for and the other may be a future layout, or for my portfolio, and will also maybe end up as artwork in my room. I’m really excited! They are fantastic ladies, and I can’t wait for you to see what they can do too.

New Giveaway
I love getting to host giveaways, and in case you haven’t yet entered to win Self Confidence by Paul McGee, go do so before the 20th for a chance to win this great book!

July 13, 2010

Pellinor Series: The Naming – by Alison Croggon

The Naming is the first book in the Pellinor Series by Alison Croggon. The story is told by Maerad, a young woman who is rescued from her life and shown a whole new world outside where she was held captive. She learns that she is a bard and has a very special Gift from the man who rescued her, Cadvan. Her journey in The Naming is one that lays out the basis for the rest of the series, and one that is sure to capture all of those who read it.

Book Description

“Maerad is a slave in a desperate and unforgiving settlement, taken there as a child when her family is destroyed in war. She doesn't yet know she has inherited a powerful gift, one that marks her as a member of the noble School of Pellinor and enables her to see the world as no other can. It is only when she is discovered by Cadvan, one of the great Bards of Lirigon, that her true identity and extraordinary destiny unfold. Now, she and her mysterious teacher must embark on a treacherous, uncertain journey through a time and place where the forces of darkness wield an otherworldly terror.

The first book in a projected quartet, Alison Croggon's epic about Maerad and her remarkable yet dangerous gift is a beautiful, unforgettable tale. Presented as a new translation of an ancient text, THE NAMING evokes the rich and complex landscape of Annar, a legendary world just waiting to be discovered.

In the classic spirit of epic fantasy comes this glittering saga of a young girl who learns she possesses an uncanny gift -- and is destined to use it to save her world from a terrifying evil.”
The Naming

My Thoughts

The Pellinor series has been hailed as “an epic fantasy in the Tolkein tradition.” After reading The Naming, I can see why. I won’t compare it to Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter (though I do enjoy both of those series very much as well). I will however say that if you enjoy those stories, or ones like it, then you will almost certainly love this book/series as well.

The beginning of the story you see Maerad as a slave and enduring a very hard and lonely life. Parts of the story, such as this, make it perhaps hard for younger readers to read and fully comprehend what she was going through.

After Cadvan rescues her from Gilman’s Cot, she is thrown into the battle of Light versus the Dark. She learns that she is a Bard, and perhaps even the Chosen or Fated “One” to defeat the Nameless. Maerad doesn’t think it could possibly be her, but believes in her heart that she must go with Cadvan and becomes his student.

Their journey is highly dangerous, as traveling is not easy and the dark forces seek them out everywhere. The places they seek help and where they hide out in the forests are detailed to such a degree it feels like you can see it yourself. Croggan is a fantastic story teller.

The Pellinor series is really an outstanding fantasy story which I can see being picked up for a movie deal one day (hopefully soon).

I enjoyed reading The Naming very much, and I highly recommend it to everyone who enjoys such series. Warning though - be sure to buy the entire series, because once you start, you will want to continue reading.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Naming, Candlewick Press for providing me with a copy for this review. All opinions expressed are my own.

July 12, 2010

Giveaway + Review: Self Confidence by Paul McGee

I’m happy to share with you this book giveaway and review for: Self Confidence by Paul McGee.

Who doesn’t need a little extra dose of self confidence in their lives? I know I certainly do, and Self Confidence by Paul McGee seemed like just the book to do just that.

Book Description
“Have you ever wondered how different your life would be if you increased your confidence by just 10%? Bestselling motivational author, Paul McGee, has and in his latest book, Self-Confidence: The Remarkable Truth of Why a Small Change Can Make a Big Difference, he helps readers understand what confidence is, why it’s important, and how to develop it in themselves and others.

With this indispensable guide, readers will not only learn how to feel confident, but how to turn confidence into meaningful life-changing action. Loaded with practical tips, Self-Confidence is an inspiring, upbeat book that offers invaluable keys to making confidence part of one’s daily lifestyle.

Not only does the book deal with confidence in business, romance, social situations, and all areas of life, it explodes common myths about confidence, including why “over-confidence and “under-confidence” are both harmful. Also:
• Is confidence the X Factor For Life?
• What crushed your confidence?
• How to feel fine when your neck's on the line – presenting & interviews
• Have the confidence to go MAD – Make A Difference
• ...And much more...

What you achieve in life is all down to how you feel about yourself. It’s amazing what you can do when you have the confidence to try. So what’s stopping you?”
– Self Confidence

My Thoughts
I was really never one of those people who glowed with self confidence. Not to say that I didn’t have any, I did and still do. I just wasn’t one of those people who have way too much or anything. I’m more the type who fears public speaking, talking to random people without reason, and honestly miss out on probably a lot of things because of it.

Self Confidence by Paul McGee showed me that a small change, even just 10% can make a huge difference (over time) in my life. So, I actively decided I needed and wanted to change my confidence.

As suggested, I tried to stop thinking negatively about myself. Growing up in this era with such high peer pressure and media pressure, it is hard to have good self esteem. I started thinking “Sheri, you look good in ____” and “Sheri, you CAN change ____” instead of the “Ugh I hate how this looks” or “I can’t change _____ about myself.”

I’m just starting this self confidence journey out, so I can’t tell you how much it has changed my life yet. However, I can tell you that it feels great! Letting go of the negative thinking about myself really does feel good. If you suffer from this too, I really suggest changing that aspect about yourself, it helps much more than I can say.

I liked the section in the book about finding confidence with the help of others, and dealing with those who try to crush it. I’ve never been one to be talked down to - I just wasn’t raised to let that happen to me. So, when someone is purposefully rude or talks down to me, you better believe I snap right back at them, and then usually try not to have that person in my life anymore if it doesn’t stop. Who needs toxic relationships anyways?

Overall, I enjoyed reading Self Confidence by Paul McGee. It was a great booster to my self confidence. Even though I didn’t need or use all of the tools provided in the book, what I have been using has been working great. I highly suggest this for someone you may know who needs a boost of self confidence, or even yourself if you do too.

I have one copy of Self Confidence by Paul McGee to giveaway, courtesy of Wiley. No exclusions on this one, so anyone can enter.

To enter please leave a separate comment for each entry, if you do not have a viewable e-mail in your Blogger profile, please include that in your entries:

One comment – Follow my Blog publicly and let me know why you want to win this book.

One comment – Blog about my giveaway (linking to this post). Leave URL of the post in your comment.

One comment – Follow me on Twitter and tweet about my giveaway (linking to this post). Leave URL on here.

Contest will end on July 20, 2010
Good luck!

* Thank you to the publisher of Self Confidence, Capstone, part of Wiley, for providing me with a review copy and book for the giveaway of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

July 10, 2010

The Sims 3: Ambitions Expansion Pack Review

You know I love my Sims, and The Sims 3: Ambitions is the new expansion pack for the series. With this EP, your Sim has new career opportunities and hobbies available such as a stylist, ghost hunter, tattoo artist, and more!

After loading the Ambitions expansion pack, you have to load the new buildings into your town. These include: consignment shop, salon, fire station, and a junkyard. If you don’t have empty places in town already, I suggest making some areas where you would like these to go before installing the expansion pack. You can of course add these in later if you wish too.

I started off with the Architecture Design path. It is really more like an interior designer. It is the perfect job for those who like to decorate Sim houses and who have the time to do so. There is no “skill” with this profession though, but being a good painter, and being artistic does help. I advise not wasting too much time on any single renovation because Sims don’t seem to appreciate it. One of the things I really like about this path is the Portfolio your Sim now has that can showcase their work from renovations and also what they sketched – which can also be used as artwork.

The Stylist profession is fun for those who like to style their Sims. I personally really enjoyed this career track because it allowed me to fix up some of the unfashionable Sims in the town without having to play their family. You can also solicit work wherever you are.

The Tattoo Artist I found to be a nice new addition to The Sims 3. It is the first time that we’ve ever been able to give our Sims tattoos in the game, so that is pretty fun.

Ghost hunter is awesome. I just love that they put this into the game. You can capture kind, friendly, frightened, lost, wrathful, jealous and evil spirits. They are also available in different ages: young, old and ancient. The older the ghost is, the more they are worth! Very fun profession to try out!

Fire fighter wasn’t really one of my favorites, but I put out some fires for Sims and rode around in the firetruck. I do like the addition of the job though, and the pole you can slide down instead of taking stairs is always fun!

Private Investigator wasn’t really very fun for me. I did a few cases and then went back to ghost hunting. Just because I didn’t enjoy this one, doesn’t mean you won’t though.

Sculpting is a skill that can be used with the Architecture Design path, or to just do as self-employed. It is sort of fun, but after you already made all the designs possible, it isn’t really all that interesting. It does however let you make what you want to after you already made the design once. Too bad they don’t do that for painting/sketching!

The inventor skill is an actual skill (unlike with architectural design), and your Sim can read about it to improve the skill, or actually start inventing things with scrap they find at the junkyard or rummaging through garbage. Sounds fun, huh? Well it isn’t so bad, and you can just buy the scrap. Plus, as an added bonus they can electrocute themselves and catch on fire – maybe your workplace should be near a pool, just in case. One of the really cool inventions I made was a time machine where you can go back in time, and to the future.

You can also now buy real estate and collect your money from places you own. Nice addition to the game.

One of the glitches I ran into was the party at the town hall glitch. All of the Sims in my town went there to celebrate my awesomeness for getting the highest rank in designing. However, some perished from partying too hard and not leaving. Funny, yet sad. If you have this town hall party glitch on Ambitions too, what I did to fix it was to save a copy of town hall, then delete what was there, then put the saved copy in its place. The Sims moved to the sidewalk, and I used my Sim with a moodlet manager to “cure” them all and then they eventually left. * I’m not a technical support person, so I suggest talking with them first as I am just telling you what I did and take no responsibility of dead Sims or game malfunctions for you.

System Requirements:
• Requires The Sims 3 to play

• PC
• OS: XP SP2 / Vista SP1 / Windows 7
• CPU: For XP 2.0 GHz P4 processor or equivalent / For Windows Vista and Windows 7 2.4 GHz P4 Processor or equivalent
• RAM: For XP 1 GB RAM / For Windows Vista and Windows 7 1.5 GB RAM
• HARD DRIVE: At Least 3.5 GB of hard drive space with at least 1 GB of additional space for custom content and saved games
• VIDEO: 128 MB Video Card with Pixel Shader 2.0 support

• Mac
• MAC OS: MAC OS X 10.5.7 Leopard or higher
• CPU: Intel Core Duo Processor
• HARD DRIVE: At least 3.5 GB* of hard drive space with at least 1 GB additional space for custom content and saved games.
• VIDEO: ATI X1600 or NVIDIA 7300 GT with 128 MB of Video RAM, or Intel Integrated GMA X3100

* Thank you to the publisher of The Sims 3: Ambitions, Electronic Arts, and Gamers Gate for providing me with a review copy of this game for the review. All opinions expressed are my own.

July 9, 2010

Big Brother: Season 12

Big Brother is one of the reality shows I am guilty for watching. What can I say? I guess I am a voyeur!

I don’t subscribe to watch the live feeds or anything - I simply don’t have enough time for that. I do however sometimes watch the Big Brother After Dark on Showtime. I usually just DVR it and then fast-forward until it looks like something interesting happened.

Last night the new season premiered, and it looks like this cast should be pretty good. Plus, with the twist for this season as one of them being a secret “saboteur” will be good, and hopefully keep them guessing who it is. Kind of like the Mole and Big Brother mixed.

The only thing I’m not really liking about this cast is that there aren’t people who are over 30-something it looks like. I like having some older people on there, gives a better balance to the hoochies and womanizers.

Anyone have any ideas on who the saboteur is? Favorite cast member so far?

Right now I have no idea who the saboteur is, but we will find out next week (those in the house will not). My favorite is Kathy, the female sheriff (and only one who is 40, I think). She looks pretty tough and hopefully will be a contender in the house.

The house looks great this season! It doesn’t have any weird themes, and is inspired by South Beach, FL. Love it! If I was in the house, I would so be living in this room:

HOH Room, yeah!

CSN Stores – Upcoming Review

You know how I love doing reviews, and while I was checking my mail the other day, I was pleasantly surprised to see that CSN Stores contacted me to do a review with them. They have 200 stores online, so I knew I would be sure to find something (probably many somethings) I’d want to review.

After I save money from being a traveling nurse, I plan on buying a condo in New Orleans French Quarter or a mansion in the Garden District (maybe both one day). I’ll have to find some really nice things to furnish it with, and CSN Stores dining room furniture store has the perfect sets I’d love to one day get for them.

For the French Quarter dining room:

Hillsdale Embassy 5 Piece Cherry Counter Height Dining Table Set

For the Garden District dining room:

AICO Torino 11 Piece Rectangular Dining Table Set in Espresso

That is still quite a few years away, but setting my goal now for those things is a good idea, at least to me. It gives me focus on the bigger picture when I'm exhausted from studying at least. :)

July 8, 2010

Spicing Up A Resume

In this economy it isn’t always easy to find a job that is actually hiring, and even harder to land the job. However, have you thought about your resume? If not, you probably should be. It is something that should be included (even with low-level jobs). It impresses the manager.

My last job at Domino’s (yup, that was the last pizza place I worked at) the manager was quite impressed that I had a resume typed out with my application filled out neatly. Another added bonus (which he told me later) was that I dressed well, and of course having some experience in the area helped too.

My point is that even for first jobs, summer jobs, starting out jobs, or in-between jobs, a resume should be included. It can help to show who you are more that the sometimes very small application for certain jobs. It also shows the hiring manager that you care and are serious about working – just make sure the resume is edited to fit the job you are applying for.

Do any of you have any fun or terrifying job searching stories you’d like to share with me? I’d love to hear them!

* This is a paid/sponsored post. All opinions and life experience shared though is my own.

July 7, 2010

The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook by Vanessa Maltin

The foreword of The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook is written by Heidi Collins, a former CNN Newsroom anchor. She publicly spoke out and made others aware about celiac disease, which she was diagnosed with after fifteen years of suffering with what doctors called a “nervous stomach.”

Reading this foreword, I personally understood the struggle she went through. Doctors often told me they weren’t sure what was wrong, and said “nervous stomach” or the most annoying – IBS. Not knowing what it is is hard and highly annoying and stressful. I wish I had known then about celiac disease, so I could have been properly tested for it before it got so bad. I’m glad that it is being discussed more often publicly now, and more people are getting diagnosed.

The author of this cookbook, Vanessa Maltin, is also one of millions of Americans with celiac disease, is the Food & Lifestyle Editor for Delight Gluten-Free Magazine. She understands the need and desire for those with celiac disease to be able to eat things that taste great – yet still being gluten free.

For those that do not know what celiac disease is, it is an autoimmune disorder of the small bowel. As informed in the cookbook by Aline Charabaty, MD, the lining of it gets damaged after it is exposed to food containing gluten. This leads to the symptoms of malabsorption with diarrhea, cramping, bloating, weight loss, failure to thrive, and nutrient deficiencies. If it is left untreated, it can also lead to neurological disorders, skin and joint disease, osteoporosis, and infertility, and has been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers.

The only treatment is to not eat gluten. There are no pills to take or surgeries to undergo. That is why it is so important for those with this disease to not eat gluten (wheat, rye, barley) and live a gluten-free lifestyle.

The first thing most people think of when eating “gluten-free” isn’t usually so appealing. Most of the older gluten-free products did not taste good (and quite frankly, a lot still don’t). However, there are new gluten-free products available that do taste great. Vanessa Maltin explains that it is imperative to those with the disease to not eat gluten and to stick with this lifelong diet. The recipes in the cookbook are a great step in eating gluten-free for those with the disease, and those who want to just eat great, healthy food.

The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook is separated into four sections: Italian, Asian, Mexican, and dessert recipes.

Italian Recipes
I was thrilled to see Italian gluten-free foods I could eat. Some of my favorite foods are Italian, such as pizza and pasta. Since having celiac disease, I’ve been unable to eat these (without experienced bad side affects, which really are not worth it).

Some of my favorites from this section include:
• Italian Breadsticks – taste fantastic and just as good (or better) than Italian restaurants!
• Grilled Chicken with Asparagus and Cheddar Risotto – even Chef Ramsay would love this, I think he’d be highly impressed if one of the competitors on Hell’s Kitchen made such a risotto.
• Garlic Shrimp with Linguine and Roasted Garlic and White Wine Sauce – amazing!
• Pizza Crust – my own personal heaven. Seriously.

Asian Recipes
I love eating Chinese food, even if it isn’t “authentic.” These recipes are highly flavorful and excite the senses.

Some of my favorites from this section include:
• Egg Drop Soup – one of my favorite soups! This took me quite a few tries to get, but well worth it!
• Shrimp Fried Rice – definitely better than those local Chinese food restaurants. Delish!
• Mango Fried Rice – I never even thought of adding mango to rice before trying this out. I’m extremely glad this was included in the cookbook, it is amazing!
• Vegetable and Shrimp Beer Batter Tempura – sounds great, but I assure you, it tastes even better!
• Chicken with Cashew Nuts – this is one of the main dishes I always get at our local Chinese restaurant. This recipe is however, even better than what they use, and probably has much less salt too.

Mexican Recipes
Mexican food is much more than just tacos and quesadillas. I love Mexican food, the spices and flavors are amazing.

Some of my favorites from this section include:
• Fried Plantains with Peach Chutney – fantastic starter, especially for family gatherings.
• Chicken Tacos – I’m a sucker for chicken tacos, it is one of my favorites!
• Mango Chicken Quesadillas – I recently discovered (and love) mangos with chicken and this dish is absolutely perfect!
• Tequila Shrimp with Garlic, Chiles, and Cilantro Rice – I’ve never cooked with Tequila before, but it is fun – especially if drinking some while cooking. Yum!

Dessert Recipes
Desserts. It is really hard to find good ones that are gluten-free. However, making your own with these recipes solves that problem!

Some of my favorites from this section include:
• Chocolate Fudge Cake – pure chocolate heaven!
• Double Chocolate Chip Cookies – soft and full of flavor. Possibly some of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had.

The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook
is one of the best cookbooks I’ve used, and because the recipes are gluten-free, it is one I’ll be using the most often for a very long time. I absolutely loved it (and so did my family) and highly I recommend it for everyone with celiac disease, or those unable to eat gluten. I also recommend it for those who just want to eat healthier and cut out some of the gluten in their lives too. Fantastic cookbook.

* Thank you to the publisher of The Gloriously Gluten-Free Cookbook, Wiley, for providing me with a review copy of this book. All opinions and experiences expressed are my own.

July 5, 2010

A Girl’s Guide to Life by Katie Meier

A Girl’s Guide to Life by Katie Meier is a guide for teenage girls that covers the basics on growing up in a Christian way. I know we aren’t supposed to judge a book by it’s cover and all, but this one was quite inviting. It suits the book well, and hopefully does get the attention of the target audience.

Book Description
A Girl’s Guide to Life offers girls a fun, healthy approach to facing their adolescent years. This complete resource helps teenage girls deal with all the traumas, dramas, and triumphs in their lives. The book is divided into Body, Mind, and Soul sections to address the relevant issues in each area of a young woman’s life. It’s "the" book for any girl wondering what’s happening to her body, soul, and mind during these crazy years.

Revised and updated to include information on texting, sexting, and the viral cultural in which teens live, this book will help girls navigate their way through what can be a very tumultuous time in life.

With conversations with real teen girls, a foundation on God and the Bible, and helpful tips and questions for the reader, girls will gain an encouraging and fresh perspective on their lives.

A Girl's Guide to Life offers teen girls a new approach to facing their adolescent years.

My Thoughts
I think that A Girl’s Guide to Life is a great guide for teenage girls. It might be a little difficult to get some to read, but with a little encouragement, it would be well worth it. The book covers topics that teenage girls need guidance on such as self esteem, romance, sex, peer pressure, and much more.

I also really like that the author wrote the book like it was directed towards the girl, in language they understand. Hopefully this gets the message across to those reading it, and makes them read it all. Teenage girls really do need better self esteem, and the encouragement that it is okay to say no to certain things if they’re not ready for it yet.

Another one of the important things I hope girls take from this book is that whatever they post or send to someone electronically is likely to be saved somewhere, and can (and often does) come back when least wanted. Thinking about sexting? Don’t do it! Thinking about posting a way too revealing picture on Facebook or Myspace? Don’t do it! You never know who will end up seeing it and where it could end up.

Overall, this book is a great guide for girls aged 12-18.

* Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

July 4, 2010

Promises to Keep by Jane Green

Promises to Keep by Jane Green is a touching story about a family going through life and one of the hardest things they could go through together. It is a story told by all of the main characters, so you can see and feel their emotions through their struggle in the story.

About the Book
“From the New York Times bestselling author-a momentous new novel about a family suddenly thrown together

Callie Perry is a successful family photographer living in upstate New York. She adores her two daughters, has great friends, and actually doesn't mind that her workaholic husband gets home at 9 p.m. every night-that is, when he's not traveling six months out of the year.

Callie's younger sister, Steff, on the other hand, has never grown up. She's a free spirit, living in downtown Manhattan and bouncing between jobs and boyfriends. Lately, she's been working as a vegan chef, even though she can't cook.

Lila Grossman is Callie's best friend and has finally met the man of her dreams. Eddie has two wonderful children, but also a drama queen ex-wife who hates Lila. And then there are Callie and Steff's parents, Walter Cutler and Honor Pitman. Divorced for thirty years, they rarely speak to each other.

The lives of these colorful characters intersect when they each receive a shocking note that summons them together for one extraordinary summer in Maine and changes their lives forever. This novel is about the hard choices we have to face, about having to be your parents' child long after you've grown up, and about the enduring nature of love.”
– Promises to Keep

My Thoughts
Honestly, it took me until I was over halfway through the book to get interested in it and connect with the characters. The book is written in the style that the author changes the point of view of where the story is being told from, and with so many characters, the story gets lost for awhile.

My own promise to keep is to fully read books I review, so I stuck with Promises to Keep.

Even though it took me awhile to get into the book, once the story started coming together in a more cohesive way, I did enjoy it. The pain and struggle of dealing with such a huge loss in the family affects everyone, and through this novel, you can see how it affects a family in the different ways.

It isn’t a happy story, yet it is one that is very real in the sense that people do go through this. It also gives some hope and happiness in showing just how life can and does go on after such a tough loss in the family.

Steffi, the chef in the family, also provides the reader with recipes after each chapter. Usually something she cooked in the chapter. I liked this addition to the book, and it worked out nicely.

I think that this is a very good book for those who have ever lost someone in their lives, and also those who perhaps like realistic stories about families.

* Thank you to the publisher of Promises to Keep, Viking for providing me with a review copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.