March 30, 2011

I Was a Vegetarian…. For 5 Days

As stated in a recent post, I was going to go vegetarian for 21 days to follow a diet plan in a book I’m reviewing.

Well, I lasted 5 days. I was 110% dedicated to it and didn’t eat any kinds of meat, dairy and all the other stuff vegetarians strictly avoid. I used soy and almond milk with cereal and said no to all oils. Hell, I even tried tofu.

As I’ve mentioned on here before, I also cannot eat any gluten. I thought I could use this to my advantage because I am already quite good at saying no to certain foods/drinks. It did help with my willpower, but that is about it.

After the first day, I thought I maybe lost a pound.

After five days though, I decided to step back on the scale only to realize in utter horror I’d gained two pounds!

How does that happen? Sure, I know all about “weight fluctuation” but this was an extra two pounds on the highest it fluctuates normally. Plus, it was in the morning before I’d eaten a thing!

Apparently, being gluten-free and 100% vegetarian just does not work with my body. I gave up being a strict vegetarian right after that scale nightmare (which unfortunately was not a real nightmare I could wake up from).

For over 10 years I didn’t eat any kind of “red meat” and was pretty healthy doing so. I had dairy, chicken, turkey and seafood. I think I’m going to just go back to that. I don’t like red meats anyways so it really isn’t hard for me to skip.

I’m still quite irritated, annoyed, and well mad that doing something so “healthy” would cause me to actually gain weight. At least I didn’t stick with the whole 21 day plan I originally was going to do before realizing I was going the wrong way on the scale.

So, that is my recent diet horror. Do you have any to share?

Update: Since eating dairy and non-red meat again, I’ve lost the 2 lbs. Sure, it may not be a huge number to gain or lose, but enough of those 2 lbs really adds up!

March 29, 2011

New Must Read – Destiny Divided by Leia Shaw

I love reading paranormal romance style books and was really honored to be one of the first to read “Destiny Divided” by Leia Shaw. This is the first book in the series, which I honestly can’t wait to read more about. So, if you love paranormal romance books and have an appetite for vampires, witches, and more (oh my) you will want to check out this book too!

Book Description
"Pure power flooded her body flowing freely through her veins. She had just found an emotion stronger than anger and fear combined. Lust. And there was no containing her now."

After fleeing her native city — and nightmares of a traumatic childhood — Sage Peterson meets the overbearing, pretentious, yet haunted Professor Elias. He’s the only one who knows about her mysterious powers, which seem to be spiraling out of control. When he convinces her to train with him, she finds herself thrust into a five hundred year war and on the run from vampires, werewolves, and even worse — her budding feelings for James Elias.

James had been living a dull and empty existence for the past century and a half. When a fiery half-sorceress, half-witch with a stubborn streak and sharp wit enters his life, he sees her only as a potential weapon to use against his greatest enemy. But when he discovers the vulnerable woman beneath the angry mask, instinct screams to keep her safe. To protect and provide. And to claim her as his.

But will it be too late? As passion and lust ignite between them, vengeance is slipping away. And when Sage is confronted with fulfilling an unexpected destiny, will she choose to trust James with her heart?

My Thoughts
Let me start off by saying that I haven’t been able to find a book since reading the Sookie Stackhouse series that I wanted to stay up past midnight to finish reading in one sitting. I found just such a book with “Destiny Divided.” Sure, my eyes suffered and text started to get a little blurry, but captivating books like this one are well worth it!

Oftentimes the main female characters in paranormal books irritate me (think Bella from Twilight). Sage didn’t really irritate me though. Sure, she was snarky and didn’t trust men, but you know what? I’m like that too and I loved it. Her flaws were funny, somewhat predictable, but yet still managed to have me like her.

James is a sorcerer and a vampire from Wales with a sexy accent. Who wouldn’t love that? Add in that he wants to protect Sage and help save his people and well, you’d want to offer him your blood to save him too, right?

The world that the author created was believable and not too complicated to make it hard to read. I also love the fact that Sage often joked about the “Twilight” and “Harry Potter” series, both of which I love.

Overall, if you like paranormal romance, such as “Twilight” or the Sookie Stackhouse series that “True Blood” is based on, you will also more than likely love this book too. I can’t wait to read more of the books in the series!

Thank you to the author for contacting me to review the book and providing me with a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

March 23, 2011

Finding Our Way Again by Brian McLaren

Finding Our Way Again by Brian McLaren is a Christian book that brings ancient practices that we have perhaps forgotten, back into our spiritual lives. Find out more about fasting, fixed-hour prayer, sacred meals and more.

Book Description
“Why have certain spiritual disciplines been in use for centuries, and why are they so important?

It is questionable if one can ever be exactly the same person waking up on two consecutive days. How are spiritual sojourners to cope with the constant change? Many are beginning to explore the ancient Christian spiritual practices, such as fixed-hour prayer, fasting and sincere observance of the Sabbath. What is causing this hunger for deeper spirituality?

Brian McLaren guides us on this quest for an explanation of these spiritual practices, many of which go all the way back to Abraham and the establishment of Israel. In the midst of contemporary Christianity, we discover the beauty of these disciplines and the transformation through Christ that each can provide.

Includes foreword by Phyllis Tickle and leads into seven additional titles, The Ancient Practices, a classic series featuring some of the leading writers on spirituality in the world today.” – Finding Our Way Again

My Thoughts
Finding Our Way Again is a Christian spirituality book, so if that isn’t your thing, obviously this is not the book for you. If however, you are a Christian (or perhaps want to know more about it), this is a book you would probably be interested in.

Brian McLaren did a great job writing this book in a detailed way that is also easy to read (and understand). From what I could see, it isn’t directed towards any certain Christian religion, which I quite like. It also was not written in a “preachy” or “damning” tone, which I also really like. Who wants to be yelled at in a book? Not me!

If you want to know more about some of the ancient practices in the Christian religion, this is a very good book to learn more about it. It also contains study guide questions that you could use alone or in a group setting. Overall, I found it to be a good spiritual read and recommend it to all who are looking for more information or guidance on this subject.

* Thank you to the publisher of Finding Our Way Again, Thomas Nelson, for providing me with a copy of this book for review from their Book Sneeze review program. All opinions expressed are my own.

March 22, 2011

A New Diet and Amazing Shopping Deals!

Today I am starting a new diet/lifestyle change. You know how “diets” like to say “lifestyle change” instead of “diet” but we all really know it is actually a diet. Anyways, I am reviewing a new book out that is actually quite good called “21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart” by Neal D. Barnard, MD. I figured for this review, I’d give it the 21 day kickstart to see how it really does. So, in about 22 days, expect to see my review for it here with how it actually works (or not).

Want to know what kind of a diet it is? Vegetarian.

Yeah, I never really thought I’d go for it, but I have been partially vegetarian for over 10 years by not eating any form of red meats. I have occasionally lately, but always felt gross after eating it. So, I figured why not? If it works for Alicia Silverstone and makes me look a sliver as good as she does, and also helps with all of the other positive things, why not give it a try?

I went shopping yesterday with my Mom to one of my favorite stores. I have an account there and sometimes I get amazing coupons for a certain amount of money off the purchase. Well, I really put them to good use yesterday. I ended up buying $450 worth of clothes for only $33! Amazing huh? One of those items even included an $80 Seven7 jacket. Amazing! Sometimes my shopping skills even surprise myself.

I Hope everyone had a great weekend!

March 18, 2011

Psych Yourself Rich by Farnoosh Torabi

Psych Yourself Rich by Farnoosh Torabi is a financial self help book that is written to help the average person with debt get a grip on their finances and hopefully “Psych Yourself Rich.”

Book Description
“TV’s newest personal finance star shows how to develop the mindset, discipline, and spirit to grow wealth on your own terms—without fear or anxiety, Farnoosh Torabi combines behavioral psychology with real attitude! Build a healthier relationship with money…map a plan based on what you care about…transform dreams into reality.” – Psych Yourself Rich

My Thoughts
Psych Yourself Rich is a book about finances that is actually easy to read, understandable, relatable, and quite helpful. Farnoosh Torabi really explains finances to the average reader and wants to help everyone who reads this handle their finances better than they have been. Sure, not everyone who reads this book will probably be able to just “psych themselves rich” but it is a good hope that could possibly happen, right?

Much of the advice given in the book is commonsense, and nothing really “new” to most of those who will pick the book up. That doesn’t make it less helpful though because many times, people forget commonsense when it comes to using credit cards. I never really thought much about spending habits as being something that is formed from our past, but reading about it from Torabi, I find that it is quite true.

From the title of the book, you would think it would have more of the “Law of Attraction” tips in it. It doesn’t really, which did let me down. It was however, a very informative and well written book that I think would be quite helpful to many people that need help with their finances.

* Thank you to the publisher of Psych Yourself Rich, FT Press, for providing me with an e-book copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

March 16, 2011

Clean Flame Review

Stocking up on firewood for cold nights, a campfire, or perhaps going camping? Are you concerned about the wood that is purchasable and also worry about pests being in some logs? Well, Clean Flame is the “Earth-Friendly Firelog” company that uses 100% recycled materials for their products so you don’t have to worry about your carbon footprint and are actually helping to keep waxed cardboard boxes out of landfills.

Thanks to the fine people at Clean Flame, I was able to review a few samples of their products to share with you what I think of their products.

Clean Flame Firelogs

These logs burned quite a bit longer than regular logs in our fireplace. They didn’t smell like fuel at all and didn’t send sparks out into the living room. If you are purchasing logs, this is a really great option to look into, especially if you want to cook over it. This isn’t something I’ve tried, but reading other user’s testimonials on it for that use, it seems very promising. The added bonus of how they recycle cardboard could be just the bonus that makes you want to purchase this product.

Rapid Fire Firestarters

If you have problems starting fires naturally, this firestarter is something you should definitely look into buying. The people on “Survivor” would fight over this one in a challenge! It makes lighting a fire extremely easy and can even work when wet!

Overall, I really enjoyed using both of these products. The logs lasted around 3x longer than natural logs I’ve burned in the past. It also took 10x shorter amount of time (or more) for me to start a fire with their firestarter than if I hadn’t used it. I really love the fact that Clean Flame uses recycled waxed corrugated boxes to make these products. I try to be as eco-friendly as possible, and using these products makes me feel like I’m doing something to help.

I highly recommend these products for your home or camping trip. To give you a little help to try these out, download a Clean Flame coupon to get you started. If you haven’t seen these in a local store, use their “Store Locator” to find where you can buy these products.

* Thank you to Clean Flame for providing me with review samples of the products for review. All opinions and experiences are my own.

Damn You, Autocorrect! by Jillian Madison

Damn You, Autocorrect by Jillian Madison is a seriously funny book that shows all of the severely embarrassing texting mistakes people have made with the “autocorrect” function on their smart phones.

Book Description
“Sh#@ Your Phone Says

If you own an iPhone, BlackBerry, Droid, or any smartphone, there’s a good chance you’ve screamed that phrase out at least once. In Damn You, Autocorrect! Pop-culture blogger Jillian Madison shows you are not alone.

Filled with submissions from readers of her popular website, this laugh-out-loud funny book features cringe-worthy exchanges with parents, friends, significant others, and co-workers that contain some of the most unintentionally hilarious—and mortifying—mistakes ever caused by Autocorrect. Inside, you’ll find a husband who tells his wife that he just “laid” (paid) the babysitter, a dad who tells his daughter that he and her mom are going to “divorce” (Disney), and many more epic texting fails too raunchy to list here.

Whether you love technology, texting humor, or taking just a little bit of pleasure in the misfortune of others, Damn You, Autocorrect! will leave you laughing until you cry, and thankful that nothing this embarrassing has happened to you. Yet.” – Damn You, Autocorrect

My Thoughts

Damn You, Autocorrect is a hilarious read that uses the “autocorrect” feature on smartphones to make you laugh out loud. It appears that this autocorrect feature has a rather dirty mind yet really tries to make you not curse in text messages. Who cares if it changes pens to penis, parents to parrots, pick me up to oil me up, or hahahaha to Shabaka? The humor factor to it would make me want to use autocorrect to get funny messages like this to brighten a day. Some may be in the same boat as me on this, right?

I brought this book along to read while in a waiting room. I ended up reading half of the book while sitting there and found it incredibly hard to not giggle or laugh out loud when reading some of these amusing text messages. Sure, the people around me probably thought I was weird, but who cares? I bet I had a better time waiting for my appointment than they did!

Overall, I found this book to be extremely funny and a very good read for anyone that wants to laugh. I highly recommend it. Shabaka!

* Thank you to the publisher of Damn You Autocorrect, Hyperion, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

March 13, 2011

Mr. Funny Pants by Michael Showalter

Mr. Funny Pants by Michael Showalter is a sort of memoir about Michael and how he wrote a book. How interesting can a book about writing a book really be though? Find out if Michael was able to pull it off (or perhaps not).

Book Description
“I was at my wit's end. I'd had enough of this job, this life, and my relationship had broken up. Should I eat chocolate, or go to India, or fall in love? Then I had a revelation: Why not do all three, in that order? And so it was that I embarked on a journey that was segmented into three parts and was then made into a major motion picture. Later, I woke up on an airplane with a hole in my face and a really bad hangover. I was ushered brusquely off the plane by my parents who took me to a rehab where I tested positive for coke, classic coke, special k (the drug), Special K (the cereal), mushrooms, pepperoni, and Restless Leg Syndrome. It was there that I first began painting with my feet.

But rewind...the year was 1914. I was just a young German soldier serving in the trenches while simultaneously trying to destroy an evil ring with some help from an elf, a troll, and a giant sorcerer, all while cooking every recipe out of a Julia Child cookbook. What I'm trying to say is that there was a secret code hidden in a painting and I was looking for it with this girl who had a tattoo of a dragon! Let me clarify, it was the 1930s and a bunch of us were migrating out of Oklahoma, and I was this teenage wizard/CIA operative, okay? And, um then I floated off into the meta-verse as a ball of invisible energy that had no outer edge...

Ugh, okay. None of this is true. I'm just kind of a normal guy from New Jersey who moved to New York, got into comedy, wrote this book about trying to write this book, and then moved to Alaska, became the mayor of a small town, spent $30,000 on underwear, and now I'm going to rule the world!!!” – Mr. Funny Pants

My Thoughts
Mr. Funny Pants is a comedic look at how Michal Showalter writes a book and looks back at his life (among other random things). I was excited to read a funny book about anything really, but sadly, it really didn’t quite live up to my expectations on a “funny book.” It doesn’t have a good flow, is choppy, and to be quite honest I’ve read funnier
Blog posts by more talented writers.

Reading through Mr. Funny Pants is really more like reading an on-going diary by Michael about how he thinks a book that is funny should be and showcasing his procrastination. I didn’t find it very funny and the stories included that were supposed to be funny were really quite pointless.

Unless you are a huge Michael Showalter fan, or know him somehow, this probably wouldn’t be a very good book to pick up and enjoy.

* Thank you to the publisher of Mr. Funny Pants, Grand Central Publishing, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

March 12, 2011

Fairy Magnets Review

Looking for some beautiful artwork for your fridge, locker, or other places you can put magnets? Magnetic Fantasies is an online shop where you can purchase some seriously cool artwork for these areas (or anywhere else really).

Fae Forest is the retail website that you can buy these fairy artwork magnets from. The fairy magnets are available in two sizes: 5” x 7” and 8” x 10” at affordable prices. Plus, they are made in the USA (which apparently is something quite rare these days).

Fairy artists are added regularly to the available magnets you can purchase at this shop. Some of the artists available right now include: Selina Fenech, Jessica Galbreth, Amy Brown, Linda Biggs, Julie Fain, and many more for you to discover.

Thanks to Fae Forest, I was able to review two of these fun fairy magnets. Here are the ones I selected to review:

Small Things by Selina Fenech

This is one of my favorite pieces of artwork by Selina Fenech, so I do love it. It comes with a protective clear frame to protect the artwork, and a magnet on the back to securely hang the art. This piece is really quite beautiful and works well on a fridge, in a frame, or even sitting on a shelf.

Rhiannon by Jessica Galbreth

This is a really beautiful piece of artwork by Jessica Galbreth. It isn’t technically of a fairy, but it is quite enchanting and features Rhiannon, the Celtic Goddess of Inspiration and the Moon. Lovely!

The fairy artwork magnets from Fae Forest are a great way to add some fairy magic to the space you want to decorate. The quality is great and I don’t think you would be disappointed with your purchase of these fairy magnets. They are versatile to use where you want to put the artwork and would make a great addition to any fridge or bookshelf!

Thank you to Fae Forest for providing me with the magnets to review. All opinions expressed are my own.

March 9, 2011

I’m in the Hot 500!

As most of my readers know, I am a writer for Associated Content/Yahoo! and Bright Hub. This past month, I saw a HUGE page view jump on one of my articles on AC. The popular article was one I wrote last year for the Best Surf Spots in United States for Spring Break.

With it being Spring Break, it is a good article. I’m not sure if it was shown on a main Yahoo! page or what, but it is pretty exciting. It also was the article that put me into the “Hot 500 Yahoo!” category for the month. This is a title/badge only given to those in the top 500 that have the most page views. I’m quite excited about it.

Ironically though, I have more page views both overall and each month with my Bright Hub articles than I have on AC/Yahoo!, even with the big page view jump I had last month. I was just promoted to a Senior Writer on there, something I am also very excited about!

I mainly just write articles about video games on Bright Hub though. If you like to play video games such as The Sims 3, check out my articles!

Here are a few links to some recent and popular ones, but if you check out my profile page, you can view them all.

My most popular article on there? The Sims 3 Adult Mods – yeah…. it is something a lot of people search for apparently.

The Sims 3 Vampires – another highly popular article which is understandable because who doesn’t want to play as a vampire?

The Sims 3 Medieval Items to Download – in suspense for waiting for The Sims Medieval to be released, why not bring some medieval items into your Sims 3 game?

Disney Pixie Hollow Guide – this is a very cute fairy themed game for kids! Check it out if you haven’t heard of it before, it is pretty fun too.

March 8, 2011

Lastingness: The Art of Old Age by Nicholas Delbanco

Lastingness: The Art of Old Age by Nicholas Delbanco is a book that discusses the obsession that our culture places on the “young” and also shows how “older” is sometimes better.

Book Description
“America grows older yet stays focused on its young. Whatever hill we try to climb, we're "over" it by fifty and should that hill involve entertainment or athletics we're finished long before. But if younger is better, it doesn't appear that youngest is best: we want our teachers, doctors, generals, and presidents to have reached a certain age. In context after context and contest after contest, we're more than a little conflicted about elders of the tribe; when is it right to honor them, and when to say "step aside"?

In LASTINGNESS, Nicholas Delbanco, one of America's most celebrated men of letters, profiles great geniuses in the fields of visual art, literature, and music-Monet, Verdi, O'Keeffe, Yeats, among others - searching for the answers to why some artists' work diminishes with age, while others' reaches its peak. Both an intellectual inquiry into the essence of aging and creativity and a personal journey of discovery, this is a brilliant exploration of what determines what one needs to do to keep the habits of creation and achievement alive.” – Lastingness: The Art of Old Age

My Thoughts
Lastingness: The Art of Old Age is a well-researched book about aging and “lastingness.” Looking at such examples of Monet, Verdi, O’Keeffe, Yeats, and many more, about how they actually improved with age is a feel-good about aging kind of read that you won’t come across often. It is an uplifting read and gives hope that your creativity and genius doesn’t always decline with age, and in fact can be better!

Even though I did enjoy it, the book was choppy in places, and there were anecdotes that could have been left out. Some people would probably really enjoy them, and some would probably prefer they were never included.

This is a great book for those who are above that “certain age” where you feel like everything is going downhill and need some positive and uplifting encouragement for your years to come. It would also make a good gift for those at that age, if they wouldn’t take it the wrong way. Overall, I recommend it.

* Thank you to the publisher of Lastingness, Grand Central Publishing, for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All opinions expressed are my own.

March 4, 2011

Same Life, New Story by Jan Silvious

Same Life, New Story by Jan Silvious is a ten week Bible study for women that is aimed to “change your perspective to change your life.” Does it live up to this big promise?

Book Description
“Move from what is to what can be by changing how you think and talk to yourself.

Using powerful character studies of ten women from Scripture, as well as modern-day stories from her work as a professional life coach, Bible teacher Jan Silvious helps women choose new stories instead of dumping, or wallowing in, their old lives.

Naomi, Leah, Rahab, Deborah, Hannah, Anna, Jehosheba, Abigail, Naaman's servant girl, and Elizabeth round out the cast of characters who, with their own stories, help readers find new perspectives with amazing results. Chapters include:

*Realize it's time *Don't be held hostage by the past *Ask yourself good questions *Change your "I can't" to "I can" *Delete the drama of the day *Forget the "What might have beens" *Discover the power of wisdom and courage *Get past the resistance of fear *Choose to bounce back *The last chapter has not been written yet”
– Same Life, New Story

My Thoughts
Same Life, New Story is a well written 10 week Bible study for women. I’ve never been one to want to sit down and read the Bible. This book didn’t change that. It did however, change some perspectives I have on certain aspects. Just changing one thing, as suggested in this book, does show to have big changes – if you stick with the change.

I really enjoyed how the book was laid out and the “Personal Reflection” questions to ask and also what to add to a personal journal to go along with this book/Bible study.

Overall, it didn’t really “change my life” but it did change some perspectives, which is really all you can ask for from a book.

If you want to change some perspectives and maybe change your life (even if it is in a small way), this is a really good book/Bible study book for you to get. If you don’t like scripture at all and can’t stand the thought of reading anything about the Bible, obviously this isn’t the book for you.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com http://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.”

March 3, 2011

Who Really Cares About Charlie Sheen’s Drama?

Watching the drama unfold about celebrities is a favorite thing for many people. I even sometimes like watching train wrecks. Remember when Britney went crazy and shaved her head and slammed an umbrella into a car? Yeah, everyone remembers watching that.

Charlie Sheen’s drama going on right now being center stage when the world has much more important news to be reporting…. isn’t so cool with me. ABC had him on 20/20 behaving erratically and somehow passing a drug test. Yeah, I watched it while doing some work.

I get that he is a big celebrity and makes millions of dollars. Sure, his show Two and a Half Men is popular, but I’ve never been a fan of it. I maybe saw two episodes and wasn’t impressed. Honestly, I don’t see how the show has been on as long as it has when better shows are cancelled.

This morning on the news, Good Morning America spent an exorbitant amount of time covering Charlie Sheen. Something the news has been doing ever since his issues have come out. What makes me even angrier about this though is that each of the news blurbs scrolling across the bottom of the screen were much more important than hearing legal consultants talk about Sheen, his soon to be ex-wife, and their kids.

Why is our news being so bombarded by Charlie Sheen? Besides Sheen and the people involved, who really cares? Is it really more important than the issues in Libya, the Florida wildfire, or any of the other news stories that weren’t even mentioned?

March 1, 2011

Linda Biggs: International Rainbow Fairy Artist

In the world of fairy artists, most of you know about the regulars already. So, in this post I will not mention them. I am instead introducing you to one I just recently stumbled across that I absolutely love. Hopefully you will also love her very colorful and stunningly beautiful artwork too.

Linda Biggs, the “International Rainbow Fairy Artist” took a big fairy leap of faith back in 1999 when she started her fantasy career. She is a painter that loves to paint fairies, mermaids, and other magical creatures.

Check out some pictures of my favorite artwork created by Linda Biggs…

What I also love is that her artwork ranging from originals, prints, notecards, postcards, posters, coloring kits, tote bags, and even tattoo usage is affordable. Of course the originals are considerably more expensive than a print, but even some of these are very affordable for original artwork.

If you are looking to have some works by Linda Biggs, I suggest purchasing the book “Her Rainbow World” by Emerson Probst that features her artwork and details her journey. This is a fabulous art book that you could find many uses for. You could also purchase prints of some of your favorite pieces, which is a very affordable option as well.

No matter what your fairy budget is for a unique fairy item for yourself or others, you will find something by Linda Biggs that you just can’t live without!

Check out Linda Biggs website for further details on her artwork and purchasing her beautiful artwork and products.

Thank you very much to Linda Biggs for giving me sample prints of her artwork and “Her Rainbow World” to review for review purposes. All opinions expressed are my own.