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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WOW!Women on Writing Book Review & Giveaway: Memoir Revolution by Jerry Waxler

Thank you to WOW! Women on Writing and Jerry Waxler for making today's post possible.

Jerry - I value your friendship most of all and I am immensely grateful our paths have crossed. Thank you for sharing so much with me!

Readers - I met Jerry a year or so ago and he is one of the most well known and respected authors when it comes to memoir; it is my pleasure to review his book titled Memoir Revolution.

 Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of Memoir Revolution please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes next Friday, November 28th at 12:00 AM CST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

Book Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

I’ve been intrigued by memoir and during my time with WOW! Women on Writing have gotten to know many memoirists. Getting to know these authors personally while reading and promoting their memoirs has been a huge gift for me. Jerry Waxler has been very supportive of memoirists and has shared thoughts and ideas openly with anyone willing to listen. He blogs, hosts discussions, and if you email him a question or idea his response is quick and thorough. I have a huge respect for Waxler and when I found out he had published Memoir Revolution I was excited to read and review it! (Not to give away any secrets, but you won’t be disappointed with this 5 star book!)

Jerry Waxler, Author of Memoir Revolution

Whether you are a reader, a writer, or a journaler, or story teller you will find Memoir Revolution to be a worthwhile read. There’s definitely a story going on, but Waxler takes the role of teacher. I hesitate to refer to Memoir Revolution as “text book like”…so I would describe the experience of reading it as follows: It’s like getting to know a highly admired college professor and then being invited to his home for a study group and then you get there and there’s wine, snacks, fabulous coffee, and great conversation. You have an opportunity to learn something in an environment so comfortable you never want to leave.

Waxler has interesting insight into the reasons memoir has become so popular in recent years. He shares his insights as well as his personal stories and struggles. His openness and style is unique and respectable. I was not disappointed with Memoir Revolution and would recommend it to those considering writing their own stories, those who enjoy reading memoir, and anyone who has found it therapeutic to put their own stories to words.

For more information about Waxler and his work, please visit his website: Memory Writers Network.

(official book summary below)

Memoir Revolution is Jerry Waxler’s beautifully written story as he integrates it with his deep and abiding knowledge and passion for story. In the 1960s, Jerry Waxler, along with millions of his peers, attempted to find truth by rebelling against everything. After a lifetime of learning about himself and the world, he now finds himself in the middle of another social revolution. In the twenty-first century, increasing numbers of us are searching for truth by finding our stories. In Memoir Revolution, Waxler shows how memoirs link us to the ancient, pervasive system of thought called The Story. By translating our lives into this form, we reveal the meaning and purpose that eludes us when we view ourselves through the lens of memory. And when we share these stories, we create mutual understanding, as well. By exploring the cultural roots of this literary trend, based on an extensive list of memoirs and other book, Waxler makes the Memoir Revolution seem like an inevitable answer to questions about our psychological, social and spiritual well-being. 

Paperback: 190Pages
Genre: Fiction
Publisher: Neuralcoach Press; 1 edition (April 9, 2013)
ISBN-10: 0977189538

Twitter hashtag: #MRevolutionWaxler

Memoir Revolution is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon.

About the Author: Jerry Waxler teaches memoir writing at Northampton Community College, Bethlehem, PA, online, and around the country. His Memory Writers Network blog offers hundreds of essays, reviews, and interviews about reading and writing memoirs. He is on the board of the Philadelphia Writer's Conference and National Association of Memoir Writers and holds a BA in Physics and an MS in Counseling Psychology.


----------Remaining Blog Tour Dates
Friday, November 21 @ Lisa Haselton
Join Lisa Haselton as she interviews the knowledgeable and interesting Jerry Waxler about his memoir writing book Memoir Revolution. Jerry has graciously provided an ebook copy for one lucky giveaway winner. This is a blog stop you won't want to miss!

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Monday, November 3, 2014

WOW!Women on Writing Book Review & Giveaway: God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same by Nina Guilbeau

Book Review & Giveaway: God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same by Nina Guilbeau, Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto

Have you ever walked past someone on the street and wondered “what is their story?”? I’m not just talking about homeless people (which is a theme in God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same by Nina Guilbeau, but I’m talking about people in general. I often wonder about people’s stories and their history. What does the man with the tattoos and the tattered bible do for a living? What kind of house does he live in? The woman with the partially shaven head and pink Mohawk, does her mother take issue with her “look”, or does her mother have a green Mohawk? Since I live in Wisconsin where it is cold most of the year, I don’t have an opportunity to see many homeless people. However, when I see pictures of homeless people or have come across them in my travels, I find myself wondering about them as well. My thoughts venture to the extreme fear of COULD THAT BE ME?

My own fears and observations are what drew me to God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same by Nina Guilbeau. Like myself, Janine Harris seldom thought about homeless people. She was busy living her own life until she meets Vera, an old, homeless woman who seems to need her help.

Once Janine notices and befriends Vera, she wants to know how Vera ended up in her homeless situation. Vera shares her story and the two are forever changed by their new found knowledge, understanding and friendship. The lesson in the end is about self-forgiveness, but the path to that lesson is a lesson in itself. Guilbeau’s characters are richly written and God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same is an emotion filled read full of laughter, tears, sorrow, and understanding.

Just as Janine finds herself changed by her friendship, I felt changed as I finished the final chapter. I enjoyed everything about God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same and I am richly blessed to have “met” both Janine and Vera. This is a great read for anyone (regardless of your favorite genre). Thank you Nina Guilbeau for sharing your writing talents and bringing Janine and Vera into the lives and homes of your readers!

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Crystal is a church musician, business owner, active journaler, writer and blogger, Blog Tour Manager with WOW! Women on Writing, as well as a dairy farmer. She lives in Reedsville, Wisconsin with her husband, three young children (Carmen 7, Andre 6, Breccan 1), two dogs, two rabbits, four little piggies, a handful of cats and kittens, and over 200 Holsteins. The Otto family is expecting an addition with Delphine Elizabeth Otto due March 1st 2015!

You can find Crystal blogging and reviewing books and all sorts of other stuff at: and keep up with her WOW! tours and blog posts at:

God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same is the touching story about Janine Harris who never really thought about homeless people. She barely even notices them as she passes them by on her way to work in downtown Washington D.C. All Janine can focus on is the shambles of her own young life, afraid that she will never be able to get past the painful mistakes she has made. However, all of that changes on a snowy evening in December when Janine unexpectedly finds herself alone with Vera, an old, homeless woman who seems to need her help. Now Janie wants to know what could have possibly happened to Vera to leave her so broken and alone.

As Vera shares her life story with Janine, the two women form an unusual bond and begin a journey that changes both of their lives forever. Reluctantly, they each confront their own past and, in the process, discover the true meaning of sacrifice, family and love. Although to truly move forward in their lives, they must fast the most difficult challenge of all – forgiving themselves.

Paperback: 254Pages
Genre: Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Juania Books LLC (May 5, 2014)

Twitter hashtag: #GDLoveGuilbeau

God Doesn’t Love Us All the Same is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon.

About the Author: Nina Guilbeau is the Siblings Editor for BellaOnline The Voice of Women and writes weekly family articles for online magazines. Her e-book, Birth Order and Parenting, is a popular pick with students studying the Alfred Adler birth order theory.
She is a member of the Florida Writer's Association and the author of women's fiction novels Too Many Sisters and Too Many Secrets. A winner of the Royal Palm Literary Award for her God Doesn't Love Us All the Same manuscript, Nina's work has been published in the short story anthologies From Our Family to Yours and Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters. An excerpt from upcoming novel Being Non-Famous was published in the Orlando Sentinel as a Father's Day tribute.
Wyoming and settling in the Sonoran Desert. She lives in Tempe, Arizona with her husband and two children, Abig Twitter:


---------- Remaining Blog Tour Dates

Tuesday, November 4 @ Words, Crazy Words
Join Nina Guilbeau as she speaks to readers of Words, Crazy Words about "Genre Confusion" and offers a copy of God Doesn't Love Us All the Same for one lucky reader to win as part of a giveaway!

Wednesday, November 5 @ Sioux’s Page
Get in on the giveaway for Nina Guilbeau's God Doesn't Love Us All the Same and hear from Nina on the topic of "Character Inspirations" as she visits with Sioux's Page readers!
Thursday, November 6 @ Writing Truth
Author of God Doesn't Love Us All the Same, Nina Guilbeau makes a stop at Writing Truth as she tells Jorja Davis more about what and who inspired her to become a writer and specifically how God Doesn't Love Us All the Same came to be!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

WOW!Women on Writing Book Blog Tour Review & Giveaway for Kathleen Pooler's Memoir

Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse is a memoir, a true life tears-to-triumph story of self-defeating detours and dreams lost and found.

A young woman who loses sight of the faith she has been brought up with attempts to find her way in the world, rejecting her stable roots in lieu of finding adventure and romance. Despite periods of spiritual renewal in which she receives a prophecy, she slides back, taking several self-defeating detours that take her through a series of heartbreaking events. 

When Kathy's second husband, Dan's verbal abuse escalates, Kathy finally realizes she must move on before she and her children become a statistic. 

How does a young woman who came from a stable, loving family make so many wise choices when it came to career, but so many wrong choices when it came to love, so that she ended up sacrificing career and having to flee in broad daylight with her children from an abusive marriage? What is getting in her way and why does she keep taking so many self-defeating detours? 

The story opens up the day Kathy feels physically threatened for the first time in her three-year marriage to her second husband. This sends her on a journey to make sense of her life and discern what part she has played in the vulnerable circumstance she finds herself in.

She must make a decision--face her self-defeating patterns that have led to this situation and move on or repeat her mistakes. Her life and the lives of her two children are dependent upon the choices she makes and the chances she takes from this point forward.

Paperback: 242 pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Open Books Press (July 28, 2014)
ISBN-10: 0985936797
ISBN-13: 978-0985936792

Twitter hashtag: #EFaithPooler

Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey Away from Emotional Abuse is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, andIndieBound.

Book Giveaway Contest:
To win a copy of Ever Faithful To His Lead: My Journey to Memoir, please enter using the Rafflecopter form at the bottom of this post. The giveaway contest closes  October 28th at 12:00 AM EST. We will announce the winner the same day in the Rafflecopter widget. Good luck!

About the Author: 

Kathleen Pooler is an author and a retired Family Nurse Practitioner whose memoir,Ever Faithful to His Lead: My Journey Away From Emotional Abuse, published on July 28, 2014, and work-in-progress sequel, Hope Matters: A Memoir of Faithare about how the power of hope through her faith in God helped her to transform, heal and transcend life’s obstacles and disappointments: domestic abuse, divorce, single parenting, loving and letting go of an alcoholic son, cancer and heart failure to live a life of joy and contentment. She believes that hope matters and that we are all strengthened and enlightened when we share our stories.

She lives with her husband Wayne in eastern New York.

She blogs weekly at her Memoir Writer’s Journey blog: 

Twitter @kathypooler




Facebook (personal page):

Facebook author page:


One of her stories “The Stone on the Shore” is published in the anthology: The Woman I’ve Become: 37 Women Share Their Journeys From Toxic Relationships to Self-Empowerment by Pat LaPointe, 2012.

Another story, “Choices and Chances,” is published in the My Gutsy Story Anthology by Sonia Marsh, September, 2013.

Review by Crystal J. Casavant-Otto:

Wow did this memoir hit home! Kathleen Pooler's memoir about emotional abuse in her marriage is certainly an important theme, but for me the question about her choices in life is what really struck a chord. How does someone with such a "normal"upbringing make so many mistakes? Why do any of us make poor choices? This is what really drew me to Ever Faithful to His Lead. I felt immediately kindred to Kathleen because of mistakes I made in my life, and her gorgeous writing style made this book impossible to put down.

After my first divorce, I remember referring to my marriage as a "practice marriage" because somehow that made me feel better about how we had failed. Neither my husband or myself had come from families where divorce was a suitable solution to marital problems. When Kathleen describes feeling like a failure wanting nothing more than a loving and stable family like the one she grew up in I found myself nodding my head. Those of us who came from happy little loving families want to find a spouse like our parents had. Somehow we hadn't hit the mark the first time and even feeling like a failure, we still held out hope that next time we would get things right.

Kathleen is someone you would consider successful and independent. Yet she is waiting for her price (and hey...aren't we all?). Unfortunately Kathleen kept finding the idiot in tinfoil instead of the price charming she deserved. Was it because she secretly desired to live on the wild side? I remember someone telling me "you like to have a little chaos in your life, don't you?" and I didn't know what they meant at the time, but looking back I had chosen the bad boy (once again) instead of seeing that price charming was right in front of me. Kathleen rebelled and made poor decisions but they seem to be limited to certain areas of her life. She wasn't a disaster spinning out of control, for the most part she was the obedient daughter her parents expected. Somehow she settled and her second marriage failed as well.

I'm so glad to say the story doesn't end there. Kathleen finds her voice and finds the confidence she needs to make better choices...but I won't spoil the ending for you. Needless to say, Ever Faithful to His Lead speaks to me as a woman, mother, wife, and christian. This is a fabulously written memoir that is inspirational. It's a fabulous book to read and share with friends.

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Living Well with Bipolar Disorder by Tara Meissner and Book Giveaway

Tara Meissner stops by to chat as part of her WOW! Women on Writing Book Blog Tour. Tara shares her thoughts on "Bipolar and Living Well" and offers readers an opportunity to win a copy of her memoir through a giveaway. Don't miss your chance to hear from Tara and take home a copy of Stress Fracture: a Memoir of Psychosis.

Living Well with Bipolar Disorder by Tara Meissner

People have asked me to write about my daily struggles for living with bipolar disorder. Really, honestly, there are not daily struggles.
Even before I was on an effective treatment program, there were not daily struggles. I think that is part of what is misunderstood about bipolar disorder. Yes there are high moods, mania, and low moods, depression.
However, there is a lot of time spent in a normal mood, not elevated or depressed. I think that is why it is easy to deny the disease exists at all.

For me, living well, means doing what I can to avoid break-through symptoms of the disorder. I know my triggers, which include taking on too many projects, not getting enough alone time, not getting enough sleep, drinking alcohol, too much caffeine, and the weather. While, I cannot control the weather, most of the rest of the list can be controlled. Of course, sometimes it is unavoidable to over schedule.
I also have the real benefit of a support system, mainly family and friends. These champions of my health provide comfort, understanding, encouragement, and acceptance of who I am.

Another tangible thing is health insurance and access to quality medical care and prescriptions. The story, presented in "Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis" ends in 2011. However, the disease persists and will never be cured, only managed. Sadly, too many people do not have access to health care. Since treatment is able to help up to 90 percent of bipolar patients live mostly symptom free, I believe each person should have access to that care. The cost of untreated mental illness is far greater than the cost of a health-care system that allows each person to achieve full health. (Okay, stepping off the soapbox.)

It is possible to live well, only by accepting the limitations of the disease and the need for treatment. It is easy to get tricked by those prolonged periods of stable mood and think the manic or depressed modes were a fluke and will not return. However, the symptoms of the disease can erupt at any time disturbing normal life. This carries consequences that impact far beyond the person afflicted.

I no longer try to do it all. My family is my first priority and I am able to fit my career second. Now that my youngest is in school full-time and my oldest is driving, I am able to work about thirty hours a week, ten of those are at the library and the balance is from home. At home, I have the luxury of following my passion, which is writing. I make time for for what I most enjoy vocationally, which is the key to living well.
When I sign my books, I write "Live Well" above my name. That is really my message with the book and it is for everyone, regardless of their health diagnosis or lack of ailments. Living well is an approach to life. Spend time with yourself, know what brings you joy, and make those things a priority.

Book Summary:

Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is a moving and honest psychology memoir about the things that break us and how we heal. It offers a raw view a 33-year-old wife and mother swallowed by psychosis. The psychotic episode includes meeting Jesus Christ, dancing with Ellen DeGeneres, and narrowly escaping eternity in the underworld.
Casually called a nervous breakdown, psychosis is an entrapment outside of self where hallucinations and delusions anchor. Family, doctors, and fellow patients witnessed a nonverbal, confused, distraught shell of a woman. In the security of a psychiatric care center, the week-long psychosis broke and spit out a bipolar patient in the cushioned place of middle class medicine.
Outpatient recovery consumed the better part of a year with psychiatric treatment and spiritual contemplation. Left scarred and damaged, health returned allowing her to tentatively embrace a grace and peace earned through acceptance of bipolar disorder.

Paperback: 224Pages
Genre: Memoir
Publisher: Tara Meissner (June 23, 2014)
ASIN: B00L8G6C66

Twitter hashtag: #SFracMeissner

Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is available as an e-book and paperback at Amazon. And locally at LaDeDa Books and Beans where there will be a book signing and meet and greet with Tara on October 25th - check the facebook event for more details:

About the Author: Tara Meissner is a former journalist and a lifelong creative writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree and works part-time at her local library. Tara lives in Wisconsin with her husband, Mike, and their three sons. She writes longhand in composition notebooks. Stress Fracture: A Memoir of Psychosis is her first book. th grew up writing short stories and bad poetry before escaping the cold winters of Wyoming and settling in the Sonoran Desert. She lives in Tempe, Arizona with her husband and two children, Abigail (11) and Gabriel (6). She still loves to write, but fortunately gave up on poetry.





----------Remaining Blog Tour Dates

Wednesday, October 15 @ CMash Reads
Join author Tara Meisner as she discusses "Creating Time to Create" with a visit to CMash Reads. Read Tara's thoughts and find out more about her recently released memoir Stress Fracture: a Memoir of Psychosis.

Win a copy of Tara Meissner's Memoir: Stress Fracture, A Memoir of Psychosis - a winner will be drawn at noon on Friday, October 17th. Good Luck!!

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Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Product Review for Insta Natural Argan Oil Hair Mask

Product Review for

Argan Oil Hair Mask - Intensive Leave In Hair Conditioner That Will Turn Dry, Damaged Hair Into Luxurious, Silky Strands - With Organic Argan Oil, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, & Vitamin B5 - Deep Treatment Cream Increases Volume, Softness and Shine - Guaranteed to work for your body!

My Review: After using the Insta Natural Superior Hydration Argan Oil Hair Mask, my hair felt softer, smoother, and healthier. At first I wasn't sure I would enjoy putting a mask on my hair (I had never done anything like this before), but I enjoyed spending a little time pampering myself and the results were well worth the few minutes time I invested. This is a great product to help increase volume in limp hair and it gives your hair a lovely youthful shine!

Amazon Product Link:

Product Description:
  • PREMIUM INGREDIENTS: Our Argan Oil Hair Mask contains a superior collection of high-quality natural and organic ingredients - such as Argan Oil, Amino Acid Complex, Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, Vitamin B5, Jojoba Oil, Avocado Oil and more - that work together to moisturize and nurture hair.
  • REPAIRS DAMAGED HAIR: This deep conditioning treatment permeates the follicles to deliver ultimate nourishment and hydration. Limp and lifeless hair can be transformed in as little as 15 minutes.
  • GET SOFT & SHINY STRANDS: Our complex formula is designed to restore health to damaged strands to enhance texture and shine. The result? Softer, shinier, more manageable hair.
  • STRENGTHENS & PROTECTS HAIR: This nourishing blend of ingredients creates stronger hair that protects it from excessive heat and styling. Obtain healthy, youthful hair, even with blow drying, straightening and curling.
  • MANUFACTURER GUARANTEE: InstaNatural backs their products with a Lifetime Money Back Guarantee, no matter where you buy our product. If you're not satisfied, simply contact us and get a full refund.

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Product Review: Poppy Austin Rosehip Oil, 2 Fluid Ounce

Product Review:

Poppy Austin Rosehip Oil, 2 Fluid Ounce

A little dab will do you! This Popply Austin Rosehip Oil will last forever. You don't use much at all and the moisture goes on and on all day long! Works great with or without makeup!

I love that this product is pure and organic - and better yet, there's no perfumey smell. Even if you are outside in the elements, your skin feels like you just stepped out of the shower. Even at the end of the day you feel youthful and even hydrated. Awesome product and a fabulous price!

Link to my Amazon Review:

Amazon Product Link:

Product Description:
  • Muti-purpose; Our luxurious yet 100 per cent organic, toxin-free, and naturally occurring rosehip seed oil is one of nature's most effective skincare treatments; Applied topically, it is perfect for returning your skin's youthful glow by combating the signs of premature aging; Poppy Austin rose hip oil will directly tackle wrinkles, laughter lines, crows' feet, age spots, brittle nails, hyper-pigmentation, radiation and sun damage; It is an incredibly powerful and multi-purpose skincare remedy, used to restore moisture balance and combat dryness; It will also fight eczema, dermatitis and psoriasis, calm rashes and burns, and reduce the appearance of stretch marks and acne scars
  • Stunning results; Enjoy plump, fresh, rejuvenated skin, deeply penetrated with high levels of vitamins a, e, and c; Your complexion and skin tone will radiate with youth as our rosehip oil calms and moisturizes your entire body with it's smooth, light texture; Regular users of rosehip seed oil report a silky bloom-like finish to their skin and celebrities such as Miranda Kerr, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Victoria Beckham are avid fans of this wonder ingredient; Such is the versatility and effectiveness of pure organic rose hip oil, it will help your skin to retain moisture without creating an excess shine; This is vital for people living and working in harsh air-conditioned environments
  • Fast acting; This lightweight organic moisturizer will quickly absorb into your skin, leaving no oily residue; Within a few minutes, Poppy Austin rose hip seed oil will already be working it's magic, feeding your skin with vital fatty acids and antioxidants, helping to protect against free radical damage whilst keeping your skin supple and moist; Whether you use this product as preventative therapy or as a restorative treatment, you can expect to see visible improvements in your skin as little as 48 hours after first use; A gentle, all-natural remedy, our premium rosehip oil is suitable for all ages and skin types; It is particularly effective on sensitive, allergic, and problem skin
  • Finest quality; Poppy Austin rosehip oil is made by hand and responsibly sourced, using only the very finest organic rosa rubiginosa seeds and triple filtered for maximum purification; Each batch is harvested in small quantities and cold pressed using traditional extraction techniques; Poppy Austin has the strictest qualification standards of any natural cosmetics company and only the very best batches are approved for sale; We are also committed to education in both wellness based beauty and naturally occurring ingredients; This product has just one, rosehip seed oil; It is free from paragons, fillers, alcohol, artificial colors and fragrances with nothing added or taken away during production
  • Beautiful you; Your skin will look it's very best when it's cared for like a fine silk and allowed to age with grace and elegance; At Poppy Austin, we passionately believe in the idea of embracing your natural beauty and enhancing what you have without fighting against it with painful cosmetic procedures; There is no such thing as a flawless or perfect completion, but with the right all-natural skincare regime it is possible to look your mesmerizing best with super-soft, supple and hydrated skin that is free from imperfections and impurities; Rosehip oil is the perfect tonic to premature aging and the stresses and strains our of modern day lifestyle; Try it today for a beautiful you

Why I Use Amber Teething Necklaces

I get asked this question ALL THE TIME so I'm here to answer the following:

"Why is your son wearing a necklace?"

And here's the scoop in our household:

Short answer:

It's a baltic amber teething necklace that naturally helps reduce inflammation and pain from teething. He has 9 teeth (one of which is a molar) and we haven't had to use Tylenol and there haven't been any sleepless nights. I swear by these!

Long answer: (see above and add): Baltic Amber teething necklaces are made from fossilized tree resin which contains "succinic acid". The heat from our bodies helps release this acid into the skin and it's a natural anti-inflammatory. For a baby who is teething, this is going to reduce the drool and help with painful gums. We consider our necklaces to no longer be effective at the 6 month mark. They can still be worn because they look cool, but you'll want to add a new one to get the anti-inflammatory benefits. My son has two on right now and one is new and the other just looks amazing and has an intricate design. You shouldn't let baby wear them to bed (even with a safety clasp), and they are NOT made to be chewed on. Make sure you buy the right size so they aren't too big or too small. Obviously, too small would be uncomfortable, but too big would allow them to pull and chew. They come in 11-11.5 inch and 12-12.5 inch. You can even buy adult sizes, bracelets for baby, bracelets for adults, etc...

If you are local to me you'll find these gorgeous and beneficial necklaces at the following retailer:

Green BayBeez LLC
109 North Wisconsin Street
DePere, WI 54115

Fresh From Scratch Pumpkin Muffins

This recipe is not fast or easy...and you could make it faster and easier by using canned pumpkin, BUT...our judges agree these muffins are amazing and worth the time!


1 small/medium size pumpkin (you need 2 1.2 cups of pumpkin)

3 farm fresh eggs (beaten)

1 3/4 cups sugar (raw unbleached is best)

1 stick of butter (real butter...salted or unsalted, you choose)

3 Tablespoons of vanilla (we like alcohol free, natural vanilla but there again it's your choice)

2 1/4 cups unbleached flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon

3 cups raisins

optional: walnuts


If you are using fresh pumpkin start here:

Cut your pumpkin in half and remove the seeds and stringy insides (throw those away or save for a different project). place both pieces in a greased shallow baking dish outsides down - so they look like bowls sitting in the pan. Cut your stick of butter in half and place each half in half of the pumpkin. Add 3/4 cup of your sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon (splitting it between the two sections of pumpkin). Cover the pan with aluminum foil and bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes. Let cool and proceed to the next steps.

Scoop pumpkin and all the juice into a large mixing bowl. Be careful not to loose any of your butter because you won't be adding any more butter or oil to this's all right there already. Use a potato masher to make the pumpkin a bit smoother. Now add 3 eggs, and remaining amount of sugar (1 cup) and mix until the lumps have disappeared. Now add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix again. Finally you can add the raisins (and optional nuts if you wish). Bake at 350 degrees and check after 11 minutes and every minutes thereafter until they are done. You can check them by inserting a toothpick.

These are fabulous without any frosting, but if you have a sweet tooth you could add a cream cheese frosting for some extra yumminess! ENJOY!!!

If you are using canned pumpkin:

Combine 2 1/2 cups of pumpkin, eggs, sugar, butter (melted), and vanilla in a large bowl and mix until the lumps disappear. Add flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Mix again. Lastly you'll fold in the raisins and optional nuts if you wish. Bake at 350 degrees and check after 11 minutes and every minutes thereafter until they are done. You can check them by inserting a toothpick.

These are fabulous without any frosting, but if you have a sweet tooth you could add a cream cheese frosting for some extra yumminess! ENJOY!!!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Raw Organic Unfiltered Shea Butter Review

Raw Organic Unfiltered Shea Butter Review

I love many things about the Organic Raw Shea Butter but the nicest part is it's totally unscented, unaltered, and not tampered with. I can use it without worrying about overpowering smells, harsh chemicals, etc...and if I'm in the mood I can add some essential oils and use it on myself or the children as a safe treatment for stuffy noses. This is a great product, whether you're using it as it is or using it as part of a DIY project. It's completely customize-able!

Link to Amazon review:

Product Description Organic Raw Unrefined Shea Butter From Ghana- Ivory.

• 16 oz (1lb) of Pure Organic Unrefined Raw Shea Butter from Beauty By Shea is made with extra care to ensure you receive the purest Raw Shea Butter. Beauty By Shea Organic Shea Butter is double filtered, first in Ghana, and then at our US Lab where it is manufactured into our 1lb bricks, packaged into our heat sealed bags, and sent straight to Amazon thereby preserving the natural richness, and purity of the shea butter for our customers.
Beauty By Shea 100% Ivory Organic Raw, Unrefined Shea Butter is imported directly from Ghana, and is 100% pure and natural, nothing else added!
Naturally rich in essential vitamins for beautiful skin, Beauty By Shea Organic Shea Butter will nourish your skin with Vitamins A, E, F & K. Use this Beauty By Shea Organic Raw Shea Butter daily and often for beautiful, moisturized, luminous skin.
Raw Organic Unrefined Shea Butter is perfect for topical use on skin and hair, and the perfect essential ingredient for homemade lotions, soaps, conditioners and more!

Product URL:
Hashtag: BeautyByShea

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga Workout DVD with Julie Schoen Review

Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga Workout DVD with Julie Schoen Review

My review: This prenatal yoga workout is excellent and is a soothing way to start the day, limber up achy mommy joints, and help with the lower back pain that always seems to accompany pregnancy. You can definitely tell this was put together by moms for moms - it's encouraging and very well thought out!
Link to Amazon review:

Product Description:

"A beautiful at-home yoga practice for all expecting mothers..."

Julie Schoen, certified pre-natal yoga instructor, author, and founder of and Mommy Does Yoga, leads mommas-to-be on a beautiful 60-minute yoga session, keeping women active, comfortable, and relaxed during all stages of pregnancy.

An active vinyasa flow weaves modified yoga poses together to create a workout that feels good while still being effective at keeping and creating muscle tone. Bookended by a soothing meditation and relaxing restorative poses, Mommy Does Yoga's Prenatal Vinyasa Yoga Workout is the best thing expecting women can do for themselves and their babies.

Hashtag: #PrenatalDVD

Amazon Link:

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A Sign...I am NOT a Complete Failure as a Parent

As most of you know I'm Christian, a Wife, and a Mother ( that order). Most days I feel like I've failed at all three of those jobs. Usually I feel that way right about the time the sun comes up. Before I roll out of bed I have an idea of how I want the day to go. Within minutes I am headed off course. I let curse words slip every now and again, I forget playdates and sports practices, I lose someone's favorite socks or burn the eggs (that is on those days when I've remembered to pick up eggs).

Today was no exception and I cannot begin to list all the things that went wrong. Fortunately for me, I was raised by a total and complete optimist. Even though I know I've fallen short, I generally look at the positives and figure if no one is hospitalized by the end of the day we have successfully accomplished what we needed to for that day. Some days that is all I can ask for. I would love to send a Christmas letter talking about how my children never talk back, always eat organic food, and I would love to include a photograph with matching outfits, brilliant smiles, and absolutely no bumps or bruises. That's not who we are though. Right now I'm trying to remember if anyone brushed their teeth before bed and our youngest has a bruise under his eye that might lead a stranger to believe he was punched in the face by a sibling. That is of course not the case...but perception is everything.

I digress...what I really wanted to share was a quick story about my children and how they constantly surprise me and always bring immeasurable joy. Really...they do...even when I'm yelling, there is still a smile hiding back there somewhere.

This evening, I allowed the older children to stay up past their bedtime. I needed their help because we had been without internet for several days and I needed to get work done in my office. After homework was done I asked if they'd play with our youngest (who turns 1 in a week) so I could work. They eagerly agreed. I should probably explain that my office isn't downtown or upstairs office is completely open to the rest of the house so I can easily eavesdrop while still concentrating. The children were 'playing house' in the living room. I heard my daughter speaking in a soothing voice to her 'son' and as she came home from work she hugged her 'husband' and asked him in a very concerned and engaging tone 'honey - how was your day?'

This went on for nearly a half hour. There was no yelling, no smarmy tone, no sarcastic comments...there was love. She read a book to her 'son' and rocked him in her arms. My oldest son sat on the couch next to his 'wife' and they chatted about the rainy weather and the garden. They decided they should plant an apple tree.

I sat at my desk beaming with pride. My parenting goal was to never yell or lose my temper. Most days I feel like all I do is yell...and yet as I listen to my children I realize they see a side of me I would like to see more often. They see me as gentle and nurturing. They don't see my failures and shortcomings...and this gives me hope for their futures and my own. As  I tucked them in bed and we said our prayers I said a special thank you to God for sending me a message and reassuring me I have not failed as a parent.

Good night and God Bless!

May our paths be abundantly filled with lemons, sugar, sunshine, and moments that make you smile ear to ear!


Winter WOW! Blog Tours - NOW BOOKING BLOGGERS!!!

Grab Your Calendars!
I have three VERY exciting WOW! Women on Writing Book Blog Tours I can’t wait to start booking and I hope you’ll be part of the excitement!

Dates:   November 10th through December 10th 2014
Author:  Linda Appleman Shapiro

Title:   She's Not Herself: A psychotherapist's journey into and beyond her mother's mental illness

(Amazon Link:
Genre:  Memoir, Mental Illness
Audience: SHE'S NOT HERSELF was written to appeal to a wide range of readers from anyone who has grown up in a family fraught with the destructive power of hidden stressors -- mental or physical -- as well as students of psychology, teachers, patients, and the professional community of psychiatrists, psychologists, psychotherapists, and social workers. I believe that all readers will gain insight regarding family dysfunction, the destructive nature of secrets, and patterns of behavior that are set in motion -- as many professionals believe -- as early as in the womb. Without it being simply a first-person account of survival, the reader experiences me as I move from childhood through adolescence and into adulthood. They experience me as I try on various professional hats and ultimately train to become a psychotherapist. After years of trauma, I move beyond it and gain the ability to forgive without forgetting and do so with courage and, I hope, dignity. That is what I hope readers will be able to do for themselves, as well.

Book Description:  On the surface, her childhood seemed normal—even idyllic. Linda grew up in the iconic immigrant community of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, with her parents and a gifted older brother. But she spent her days at home alone with a mother who suffered major bouts of depression. At such times, young Linda was told, "Your mother…she’s not herself today." Those words did little to help Linda understand what she was witnessing. Instead, she experienced the anxiety and hyper-vigilance that often take root when secrecy and shame surround a family member who is ill.

She’s Not Herself is a journey to make sense of the effects of multi-generational traumas. Shapiro is ultimately able to forgive (without forgetting) those who left her to fend for herself—and to provide readers with the wisdom of a seasoned psychotherapist who has examined human vulnerability in its many disguises and has moved through it all with dignity and hope. The result is a memoir of love, loss, loyalty, and healing.

Guest Post Topics:

Writer topics -- 
1- How to write without my psychotherapist's voice. That is, how to tell my story by showing my family in action -- creating dialogue, describing details regarding how we looked, what our neighborhood and particular house was like . . . In short, how not to analyze but how to show without telling the particulars of our family's struggles, challenges, and successes.
2- How to decide what to write about and what to omit in order to create a flow vs. an overflow of information.
3- Why opt to write a memoir rather than a book of fiction in which much of one's story can be written as fiction?
4- How to write about very sad and challenging experiences and still leave the reader feeling hopeful.

Non-writer topics:
1- With mental illness coming out of the closet and constantly being in the news these days, personalizing what it is like to live with a person suffering from a mental illness, is allowing today's readers to be much more educated and able to seek help for themselves and loved ones thatn when I weas growing up in the 40s and 50s.

2- The importance of not stereotyping anyone who suffers from mental illness.
3- How to know what behaviors to recognize as being worrisome and why wishing them away will be counter-productive. Taking action is always necessary to avoid people from falling through the crack, not receiving help and opting to commit suicide, not knowing how to help themselves get rid of their demons.  
4- Despite the fact that we still do not have enough funding for mental health, we certainly are far better off when we know where to seek help and how to advocate for oureselves or a loved one who needs professional help. 


Author Bio: Linda Appleman Shapiro earned a B.A. in Literature from Bennington College, a Master’s degree in Human Development/Counseling from the Bank Street College of Education, a Master Certification in Neuro-Linguistic Programming from the NY Institute for N.L.P. and further certifications in Ericksonian Hypnosis and Substance Abuse/Addictions Counseling.

Shapiro is also a contributing author in the casebook, Leaves Before The Wind: Leading Edge Applications of N.L.P.

In private practice as a psychotherapist for more than 30 years, Shapiro served as a senior staff member for 10 years at an out-patient facility for recovering addicts and their families. As an Oral Historian, she has documented the lives of many of New York’s elderly for more than 30 years.



Dates:    November 17th through December 17th 2014
Author:   David W. Berner

Title:    Any Road Will Take You There: A journey of fathers and sons


Genre:   Memoir,Family, Parenting
Audience:  Any Road Will Take Your There is a book for everyone, but especially  for men who are father's and, and of course, sons. Mothers who want their father's or husband's to think about the connections with their sons. But I've also had women read and love this book. I think it's about the familial connections. 
Book Description: A father sets out on a 5000-mile road trip, the one he never had the guts to take as a young man, the one he hopes will spark a new chapter in his life. But the once-delayed journey now takes on new meaning when he’s forced to confront his family’s unsettled past, and face the reality that every man, including his own two sons, will eventually compare his life with the fathers who came before him.
Chicago writer, David W. Berner, takes to the road for a journey he hopes will rekindle a level of inspiration. After re-reading Jack Kerouac’s ON THE ROAD, the iconic American road trip story and the book he cherished as a teenager, he finds himself confronting an unexpected examination of his place in the world and the most important role of his life – fatherhood.
ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE: A Journey of Fathers and Sons is a heartwarming and heartbreaking story told with humor and grace, revealing the generational struggles and triumphs of being a dad, and the beautiful but imperfect ties that connect all of us.

Guest Post Topics:

1. The unique connection between fathers and sons
2. The allure and redemptive nature of road trips
3. Writing about your life, choosing what to write about. 
4. How to balance the story with what can be the sometimes the intrusive nature of writing about family.
5. About being the Writer-in-Residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando. 
6. How to incorporate reflective moments in memoir or creative nonfiction. 
7. Writing about the living and writing about the dead. How to be true to both. 
8. How to be a disciplined writing --- writing like you workout. 


Author Bio:  David W. Berner-the award winning author of ACCIDENTAL LESSONS and ANY ROAD WILL TAKE
YOU THERE-was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where he began his work as a broadcast journalist and writer. He moved to Chicago to work as a radio reporter and news anchor for CBS Radio and later pursue a career as a writer and educator. His book ACCIDENTAL LESSONS is about his year teaching in one of the Chicago area's most troubled school districts. The book won the Golden Dragonfly Grand Prize for Literature and has been called a "beautiful, elegantly written book" by award-winning author Thomas E. Kennedy, and "a terrific memoir" by Rick Kogan (Chicago Tribune and WGN Radio). ANY ROAD WILL TAKE YOU THERE is the author's story of a 5000-mile road trip with his sons and the revelations of fatherhood. The memoir has been called "heartwarming and heartbreaking" and "a five-star wonderful read."

David can be found online at:

twitter ---  @davidwberner
twitter -- @anyroadbook




Dates:      December 1st 2014 through January 1st 2015

Author:    Sandra Hurtes

Title:     The Ambivalent Memoirist: Obsessions Digressions Epiphanies


Genre:    Memoir
Audience:   Writers, Journalers, anyone with a story to tell or a story they aren’t sure is worth telling
Book Description:  In The Ambivalent Memoirist Sandra Hurtes asks, "Where is my place?" She's a single and childfree woman at midlife, whose parents were Holocaust survivors. Through writing, teaching, knitting, and yoga, Sandra searches for her place, one that is devoid of the trauma of her parents' past.

Guest Post Topics: Not available just yet

Author Bio:   I was born in Brooklyn in 1950 to immigrant parents who survived the Holocaust. My parents' lives--before and after the war--informs much of my writing and to a large degree my life. My first published essay, "A Daughter's Legacy," helped me to loosen my parents' expectations and begin to shed my sense of responsibility to heal them.
My essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Poets & Writers, Women in Judaism and numerous other publications. My essay, "The People We Love and Create" won an American Jewish Press Award. In 2009 I compiled my essays into a collection On My Way to Someplace Else. I've taught nonfiction and essay writing in continuing education and private classes. Currently, I teach English Composition at John Jay College.


 Sandra can be found online at: