Monday, December 31, 2012

Book Review: Viewer Discretion Advised, plus a giveaway

***The giveaway is now closed***
Thank you to all those who entered!  
Please stay tuned for more book reviews from various genres and other giveaways
The winner of this giveaway was chosen by
Congratulations to Jeryl Marcus!  
Thank you to all that entered and please keep an eye out for more book reviews and giveaways!

When I was 8-years-old my parents took my brother and I to the local CBS affiliate for a tour of their newsroom.   At the time it had to have been one of the coolest things that ever happened to me.  Honestly, it seems like just yesterday I was walking through the studio checking out the anchor desk and learning about the green screen that the meteorologist used for their weather forecast.  It was incredible getting the chance to see how each broadcast was put together.  Several years later the movie "Broadcast News" was released and there was no doubt was to whether or not I was going to see it.  My family's tour of the newsroom had me hooked on broadcast journalism so a movies about it was just the icing on the cake at the time.

Recently, my interest with broadcast journalism led me to read, Viewer Discretion Advised by Cindy Roesel.  The story focuses on Charlene "Charley" Thomas, a confident new director who moves Miami for a new gig after getting fired from her job in Los Angles.  From day one, Charley faces many challenges keeping each and every moment filled with new surprises.

 I really liked this book.  If it weren't for my other book review responsibilities I wouldn't have put it down as much as I had to.  Cindy's characters are well developed and likeable.  I appreciate that Charley exuded confidence in all areas of her life while still expressing a caring and compassionate side, too.  I also like the variety of personalities all the characters in this book displayed.  All of them worked well together and you could without a doubt believe that this group worked together.

The story line itself was also another reason I sing the praises of this book.  You can tell this story is based off of Cindy's real life newsroom experiences. There is an authenticity to it you just can't fake. As a side note... For those that blush easily, consider yourself warned that this book has some hot romance moments... this book is called "Viewer Discretion Advised" for a reason!

This fast paced story has it all and is surely a fantastic debut from the talented Cindy Roesel.

You can find Cindy at her website and Twitter

Thanks to Cindy, I have a copy of "Viewer Discretion Advised" for one lucky reader located in the US.

How to win Viewer Discretion Advised:
Please tell me, who is your favorite celebrity news reporter or anchor of all time?  Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win. Entries without contact information will NOT be counted.

US only.  Giveaway ends January 4th at midnight CST.

Friday, December 21, 2012

I Am . . . The Cutest Thing, Ever!

Hi!  I'm Froggie's roommate, Elsie.

I noticed that Froggie hadn't posted her Thursday Blog Project post yet, so I thought I'd hijack it this week.  See, according to Froggie, I'm the cutest thing ever; however, she hasn't posted much about me since I moved-in.

As you can see, my life is really tough!  I spend my days and nights roaming the pad making sure the items that call this place home are well taken care of.  This even includes the cable box remote. Honestly, my ALL TIME FAVORITE item to take care of is the yarn.  I thought Froggie would be happy about this, but she isn't.  She's afraid I'm going to eat it and ruin my insides.  What I love most about taking care of the yarn is petting it with my paw.  It's SO soft.

Aside from protecting stuff, my other hobbies include chasing after twine mice, running up and down my jungle gym (Froggie call this "the cat tree") and sleeping.  Oh, I also enjoy fine dining, but since I don't get out much I have to settle for whatever Froggie has picked up at the grocery for me.  Most of the time its mediocre stuff, but periodically I luck out and feast on high-end eats.  I will say, I do like the dessert I'm served.  And get this.... I sometimes get dessert first thing in the morning, if I pout enough!!!  I'm not a big outdoors person, so when I do have to go outdoors I'm thankful I get to travel in my rad ride.  Isn't it sweet???  When I'm in the car with Froggie I like to sing the w-h-o-l-e time.  I even sing when there isn't a song on the radio. 

When she's home, I make sure that Froggie gives me back rubs. In addition to not having to pay any bills, it's one of the perks of living here.

Amongst the many silly things Froggie does to me, she once got me a collar with a bell on it. She did this when we were staying at a friend's place.  She said she did it so she'd know where I was since her friend's place is a lot bigger than hers.  At first I was a bit displeased with this development, but I got over it.  Then, she eventually took it off because she felt bad to put a collar on me at the same time she was subjecting me to a dog. (Honestly, Sunshine isn't THAT bad.  I just made it seem like it was horrible to be around her so I would be spoiled more.  Shhhh!  Don't tell Froggie!)

Overall, it's not so horrible of a life.  I sometimes worry that Froggie will bring home another roommate.  Part of me would like the company, but honestly I don't know that I'm uber thrilled about the idea.  I've tried voicing my opinion on this subject matter several times, but I just don't feel like I'm being heard.  It's like I'm speaking another language or something!  I guess we'll cross that bridge if/when we come to it.

Now that I've shared with you who "I am...." (Susanna's topic for this week), please take a moment to read what Froggie's fellow bloggers have to say on the topic:

to say about theirs:

•   Mom of Many (Susanna)

 •  Momarock (Sara)

•  Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Puttin' A "Tramp Stamp" On It

The Thursday Blog Project topic for the week ending December 14th was inspired by one of my favorite TV shows -- How I Met Your Mother.  Melissa asked us to write about: I'm going off another idea I got from "How I Met Your Mother." There was an episode where they were talking about being a "stamp tramp." This meant putting a seal of approval on anything and everything, even if it wasn't good.
What person (not a close friend or family member), place AND thing would you put your stamp of approval on and stand behind that stamp 100% of the way?


Once upon a time in a land far, far way I had a hard and fast rule that a vacuum couldn't cost me more than $75.  (With inflation, in today's standards I'd say $150.)  I felt there was no reason at all you should pay more than $75.  That is until I saw what a Dyson vacuum could do.

Yes, you may need to take out a loan to get one of these, but they are SOOO worth it.  My particular favorite is the pet Dyson.  The super powerful one that is built to suck-up the dander and hair that pets leave deep in the carpet.   I also like that it's bag-less. 

If you're not willing to take out a loan on a vacuum, you can refurbished ones online or if you are lucky like I was you could possibly get an older model on sale if they introduce a new model.  (Sure, it might still cost you an arm, but not the leg too.)

 This "thing" gets the Froggie Stamp of Approval!

Dulles Airport:

Maybe it was dumb luck, however it happened to me twice so maybe is wasn't.

When I took a recent trip to the Washington D.C./Maryland area I flew in and out of Dulles Airport.  Normally, I loath the airport experience; however, my experience at this airport was notable for only good reasons.  The worst thing I can think of about my experience was that I couldn't find a McDonalds to purchase my large dollar ice tea at.  All of the eating options appeared to be restaurants ranging from Five Guys to actual sit down restaurant chains -- unless I missed something which is quite possible since it was fairly early in the morning when I went on my hunt for food.

 This "place" gets the Froggie Stamp of Approval!

There are Too Many to Single One Person Out

I have a hard time picking just one person to talk about here.  Instead what I will say is that I will not recommend someone (for whatever reason) unless I fully believe that person is fit to do the job at hand.  I take giving a "stamp of approval" of any kind seriously, but the ones I take the most serious the one that I give to people. 

Now that I've talked about my "tramp stamps," please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say about theirs:

•   Mom of Many (Susanna)

 •  Momarock (Sara)

•  Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Memoir Junkie

For the Thursday Blog Project this week, Sara asked us to write on the following topic:  Talk about a book or movie ( if you have more than one, that's OK too) which you feel has changed your life, either for the better (or for the worse).

This year, I became a book blogger.  It all started innocently when I wrote a review of the book, Let's Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson for a book called Chick Lit Central.  It was never my intent to do more than one review for the blog, but after a series of e-mails between myself and the blog's founder I signed on to be the resident "memoir junkie".  I would get first shot at reviewing any memoirs the blogs received pitch letters about.

Not too long after, I agreed to review a book called, Making Piece by Beth Howard.  Aside from being about something I could related to, I was also drawn to the memoir because it involved one of my favorite desserts - pie.

Not too long after I began reading the book I realized there were pie recipes in the back of the book.  I had wanted to learn how to make pie from scratch since I was in college so I took finding these recipes as a sign that it was time for me to attempt pie making.  I rationalized this idea by saying it would be irresponsible of me as a reviewer not attempt at least one of the recipes.  I had to report back to readers about how easy it was (or wasn't) to make these recipes.  (All I will say about my pie making experience is that it was successful and was the start of a pie making obsession of sorts.)

It's been approximately 9 months since I got my first memoir to review.  Since then I've reviewed 9 different memoirs, amongst 15 reviews I've written this year.  Once when I told someone I review memoirs they responded me in shock.  They asked how I did it.  They couldn't understand how I read about people's problems.

"Isn't it depressing?  Reading and reviewing memoirs is truly a niche that not many people venture into." this person said with a tone of disbelief.

Sure.  It can be sad and depressing, in the beginning.  However, what I believe this person who asked me the question failed to acknowledge is that these people have overcome whatever obstacle was holding them back and they want to serve as inspiration for others.  In other cases I have found the memoirs I've read to be a testament to the power/importance of laughing at life, and oneself.

Reading about the various journeys of others has had an impact on my life.  (So, has joining Chick Lit Central ... but that's a whole different blog post all together.)   I have learned a variety of lessons from the stories of others and been shown that even the most "put together" and successful people have struggled through bad times.

Now that I've  shared with you why memoirs have changed my life, please take a moment  to see what my fellow bloggers have to say:

•   Mom of Many (Susanna)

 •  Momarock (Sara)

•  Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Froggie v.37 (Better late than never!)

In my ideal world, this post would have been up last Friday (or even last weekend).  However, something crazy happened... I spent a majority of the weekend celebrating my birthday.

I only call this crazy because it's been awhile since my birthday was celebrated on my actual birthday, let alone with multiple events within a 24 hour period.  I'm not complaining, but merely acknowledging a fact.

It didn't take me long to go from a playful weekend to focusing on the next year ahead.  Maybe 24 hours, tops.  I also had a lot of things to get done before the week started so that probably helped me settle back into reality a bit.

It also hasn't take me long to start focusing on the things I'm going to accomplish this coming year.  I'd like to note I said, "going to accomplish" instead of "would like to accomplish".  Though I acknowledge I only have so much control over how things happen in my life, I still like to say "going to" because I feel it gives me more direction and sets more structure around everything -- and though I can go with the flow, I believe structure can be a good thing, too!  Yes!  After a brief hiatus the planner in me is shining through more and I think there are a lot of people who like seeing it again.

I'm planning on traveling more in the coming year and completing a lot of races.  I'm also planning on continuing to lose weight as I have been over the past couple of months as well.  Also, I am to start reviewing book as a "Review Crew" member over at BookTrib very soon.  It was an unexpected thing, but I'm excited about the opportunity to showcase my writing talents to a new audience. 

There are other things I have in mind for this coming year that I'm not quite ready to talk about publicly as at the moment there is a lot of plotting and planning going on in my mind, but when the time is right I will write about it.

Overall, I can only hope this next year of life is as wonderful as the past year has been and that I can meet the challenge I set for myself each and every year - to be a better version of me than I was the year before.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Froggie v.36.12 (a.k.a. - My Erev Birthday)

Tomorrow is my birthday. 

Since today is (was) Thursday and it was my turn to pick the topic for my Thursday Blog Group I told everyone the topic was "freestyle" and they could pick what they wanted to write about.  I choose this topic because I knew I wanted to write my annual pre- (erev) birthday wrap-up and having no strict parameters around the topic would allow me to do this without having to write two posts in one day. 

(You may call it being lazy, I call it being efficient.)

So, my birthday is right around the corner.  In past years I dreaded my birthday, however this year I welcome it with open arms.  This might have something to do with the past 365 days being so amazing.  Now, don't get me wrong... not all of the days this year have been rock star days.  However, a good majority of them have been pretty fantastic and filled with some amazing surprises.

Over the past 12 months I have completed 14 5k races and 1 10k race.  My time during these races has gone done by almost 8 minutes.  I've raced in almost every neighborhood I've lived in over the past 10 years and even traveled out-of-state for one.  Also, my goal to complete 12 races this year helped me shed 10 pounds off my body and inspired me to not only continue to work more diligently at not letting the cold winter weather bring those pounds back, but also work at dropping even more pounds.

Over the past 12 months I have done my fair share of  traveling (something I haven't done a lot in a very long time).  I've taken chances that I never thought I would.  Though some of them didn't workout, I hold no regrets for trying.  

I had a beautiful and loving cat come into my life, suddenly.  What was suppose to be a "trial" situation became permanent just seconds after she exited her carrier.  She has made me into a proud "cat lady" and I couldn't imagine not having her roaming my home seeking out her next yarn score.  (Yes, E is a yarn addict, too!)

This year, I discovered a passion for reading that has had a huge impact on my life.  I also rediscovered why I majored in Advertising/Public Relations.  I've created opportunities that showed me it is possible to get paid to do something you love (this is something I never thought I'd experience.)

I could go on, but I think you get the point... it was an amazing year.  I have been very blessed this year and am thankful for all that I have been given.  I will always look back fondly on this years, however tomorrow starts a new year and a new adventure (which I will talk more about, tomorrow).

So with a smile on my face and an open heart, I look toward the next 365 days and hold high hopes for the potential it has to offer.

Now that I have written my "freestyle" Thursday Blog Group post, please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say:

•   Mom of Many (Susanna)

 •  Momarock (Sara)

•  Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Book Review: 365 Thank Yous (Audio Book)

This past June the radio unit that had been in my car for as long as I've owned it died.  I was upset about this happening.  Though I had wanted to replace the unit for a long time I could never justify the expense of replacing it. There always seemed to be something more important to put the money towards.  Even though the alternative to not replacing my dead the unit was total silence while I was in the car I was still upset about this happening as it was "pricey" to replace it. However, what made me even more miffed was my belief (whether valid or not) that the sole reason it died in the first place had to do with my friend futzing around with it just a few weeks prior.

Recently while making my way to West Lafayette, IN I listened to the audio book, 365 Thank Yous: The Year a Simple Act of Daily Gratitude Changed My Life by John Kralik thanks to the usb plug on my new car radio unit which allowed me to plug-in my smartphone and play files from it.

I had found out about this book due to some research I was doing for a freelance Public Relations job on the topic of gratitude just days prior to my trip.  As part of the piece that I was putting together, I was asked to highlight some books on the topic and came across this one on a GoodReads list of top rated books on gratitude.  Since I knew I was making the trip to Indiana and had an Audible credit waiting to be used I picked up a copy... and am I ever glad I did!

After experiencing a string of bad luck, one day John Kralik had a revaluation.  He would write a thank you note every day for a year hoping to gain a better appreciation for the things in his life that were good.  The book follows John's journey from the lowest moments of his life, through process of trying to write a thank you note everyday, to how writing these thank yous changed his life.

I loved this book.  I know what it is like to experience hard times and having difficulty finding something to be grateful for.  Been there, done that.  I appreciated what John had experienced, his candor about the struggles he had faced and related to his emotions.  (Publicly admitting such things can be difficult.)  I also appreciated the fact that he was open to the idea of thinking and viewing his circumstances differently.  Again - been there, done that. 

With all that in mind, I don't think this is just a book for people such as John and I who have faced adversity.  I think it a book that everyone can benefit from.  Personally, this story got me to think more thoughtfully about the thank you messages I send, and how I communicate them.  It helped me recall how much I love receiving thank you notes in the mail and would like to do the same for others.  Don't get me wrong, sending a thank you message in general is nice; however, there is something about receiving a note in the mail that makes the gesture that much more special . . especial in a world where a majority of our communication is done digitally.

This audio book was narrated by John Kralik.  At first when I listened to the sample of the book I was a bit concerned that I would turn it off as I couldn't decide if the narration would hold my interest, which is something I've had a problem with in the past.   However, this particular book is one that I would actually encourage you to purchase via audio book because I feel that the narration adds an additional layer of awesomeness to an already awesome story.  Actually, I got so drawn into listening to John that the miles between leaving my home and the Indiana state border escaped me.

My friend who contributed to the demise of my old radio unit gave me money towards the purchase of a new unit.  I sent them an e-thank you when I received their check.  However, it wasn't until my recent car trip that I felt the need to thank them for contributing to the demise of my radio, too.  The fact of the matter is that had my radio not died I wouldn't have purchased the nicer one that allows me to connect my smartphone to my radio.  If it hadn't of died, I wouldn't have been able to listen to this audio book during my drive to Indiana (and trust me when I say, it was this book that really made it an enjoyable trip).  With all that in mind, I must remember to send my friend a thank you note - soon.

Also, I'd like to send a thank you to John Kralik for sharing his story with me - and the many others who have read this book.  I am so glad I came across your book.  You are truly an inspiration to all and I am so glad that things in your life have turned around for the better.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Love It or Hate It - Black Friday is Here!

Today is Black Friday. 

In honor of Black Friday, and in keeping with the theme of shopping, for the Thursday Blog Project Susanna asked us to: share our thoughts on Black Friday. Love it or hate it, everyone has an opinion on it!

For many waiting in long Black Friday lines is exciting.  On my way home from Thanksgiving dinner last night I saw a massive line forming at a local Target.  Participants of Black Friday get excited by   waiting in lines for long periods of time in hope of getting a chance at a fantastic deal on a new TV, the hottest new toy or whatever the item they have their heart set on. 

Once upon a time I use to be one of those people.  Now, I just enjoy staying home the day after Thanksgiving with no pressure to get things done.  (Like I did today.) :)  Maybe it has to do with the fact that my family doesn't exchange Hanukkah presents.  Maybe it has to do with my love of online shopping and the fact that I can look forward to Cyber Monday.  Who knows! All I know is that I haven't participated in Black Friday in many, many, many years.

Regardless of your opinion regarding Black Friday, here is a little humor around the occassion:

Please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say on the topic of Black Friday:

•   Mom of Many (Susanna)

 •  Momarock (Sara)

•  Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Once A Yelper, Always A Yelper

What is your favorite place AND least favorite place to shop and why (for both)? 

That is the question Melissa posed to us for the Thursday Blog Project topic for November 15, 2012.

I'm a Yelper.  What that means is that I share my opinion of businesses on the website Yelp.  Beside sharing these opinions online, I also share them with friends and family.  

Honestly, it's hard for me to pick one place that is my favorite place to shop.  I even went back to my Yelp reviews hoping to find something that stood out as a STELLAR review, but alas there wasn't just one place.  On the flip side, I know which place I will never shop again...

Here is my Yelp review of the place I WILL NEVER shop at again....

"Grant's Appliances

I think Nancy Regan put it best when she said . . . "Just Say No!"

In true Grant's fashion there are no prices on anything in the store.  Everything is "packaged" together so the more you buy the better deal you'll get (in theory).  Negotiating your "package" is like negotiating the price of a car - time consuming.  Plan to bring a book, or whatever else will keep you busy while the sales person goes back-and-forth to talk with their manager.  If you do decide to buy from Grant's comparison shop first.  It helps with the negotiation process.

We had some problems with the install as the delivery guys wouldn't hook up the water line to the fridge for "liability reasons."  There was one additional problem with the install, but it's been so long I can't recall what it was.

As I said at the beginning of the review, "just say no" to shopping at Grant's Appliances."

Now that I have talked about my least favorite place I've shopped, please take a moment to read what my fellow bloggers have to say:

 •  Momarock (Sara)

•  Merryland Girl (Melissa)

•   Mom of Many (Susanna)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

BlogHer Book Club Book Review: "My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future"

On Thanksgiving it will be two years since I put together what I then called My Life Map.  I was in the midst of trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I "grew-up" and gave myself three options to explore.

As you might imagine, it seemed very appropriate when I recently got the opportunity to review the book, My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future by Kate Marshall and Dave Marshall.  

Unlike my "life map" project 2 years ago, this books provides individuals a more structured and thoughtful way to approach planning for the future... and even though I am less of a planner than I once was I still feel as though it never hurts to lay some sort of foundation for the future.

The first think I feel is important to note about this book is that it is not a traditional book.  As the title reflects, it is a journal.  The majority of the pages have spaces for the reader to write down their thoughts, feelings and aspirations.  I liked this.  Though some people could put something similar together, I liked the format Kate and David developed.

One thing that caught me off guard was that the program requires you to look back in order to plan to move forward.  I say this caught me off guard because I feel we are often told not to focus on the past and to only look at our present and future.  Also, for some looking back can be an emotional challenge they don't want to taken on.

Overall, I liked this program and can see where it would provide value to a person.  I don't know that it should be the sole structure for someone, but it is surely a useful tool.  The thing I liked the most about it was that it is a tool for people of any age.  Whether you're in your 20s just starting out or in your 50s starting over yet again this journal can be a good framework to use to get started with putting together goals you wish to achieve.

Lastly, I want to say that this is not a journal you can complete in just a couple of hours.  It takes time to really go through the steps which personally I think is a good idea since this is your future you're planning for.

Interested in learning more about the book, My Life Map: A Journal to Help You Shape Your Future?  Join the BlogHer Book Club discussion!

Disclosure: This is a paid review for BlogHer Book Club but the opinions expressed are my own.  

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Book Review: Baby Proof, plus a giveaway

***The giveaway is now closed***
Thank you to all those who entered!  
Please stay tuned for more book reviews from various genres and other giveaways.

 I first discovered Emily Giffin's books about six months before her third novel was published.  In some ways, the timing couldn't have been more perfect.  I had just finished falling in love with Rachel, Darcy and Dex and knowing there was another novel to continue my infatuation with Emily's writing was perfect since couldn't get enough of it.  However, in some ways I was a bit concerned.  After reading Something Borrowed, I at least had an attachment to and a vested interest in the characters in Something Blue; however, this time I would be venturing into a whole new world.  What if I didn't like the characters this time?  What if the storyline didn't interest me?  What if I didn't want to finish the book?

Thankfully, all my worries were put to rest rather quickly once I started reading Baby Proof.  In some ways I related to the central theme of the story - what happens when someone changes their mind on a significant life decision?  In other ways I couldn't.

From the very start of their relationship, Claudia and Ben agreed they didn't want to have children.  However, one day one of them has a change of heart, which significantly changes everything for them as a couple.  Suddenly, they have to figure out what this means for the future of their marriage.  Does true love conquer all?  Or, are some matters just too big to overcome?

From the get-go, I could tell these two characters really were in love.  So, when the bomb drops that one of them changes their mind about having children I immediately wanted to scream, "NOOOO!!!! How could you do that?" (Like these were real people who could hear me.)  From that point forward, I anxiously awaited every twist and turn this story had to offer.  I panicked that true love wouldn't prevail like it does in many of my favorite movies, TV shows and novels.

When all is said and done, I like how this story was tied together.   Additionally, I liked how the characters evolved over the course of story.  Part of me was satisfied with the "ending"; the other side not so much because Emily does end the story with some uncertainties about the future of these the characters.  At first I wasn't so thrilled with the latter, but then realized that that it made the story authentic.  The uncertainty of these character's future mirror the uncertain future we all face in real life.  Hopefully, Emily will bring back Claudia and Ben in one of her future novels, like she brings back a Something Borrowed/Something Blue character in this one.

How to win a paperback copy of Baby Proof
Please tell me, does true love always conquer all?  Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win. Entries without contact information will NOT be counted.

US/Canada only.  Giveaway ends November 18th at midnight EST.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Top Three

There is an episode of Friends where Ross creates a list of the top five celebrities he'd canoodle wiht if he got a chance.  It was this episode that inspired Sara to ask the group:  Who would be on your laminated top five list?

I have to admit, this was a bit difficult for me because I don't typically swoon over celebrities, however instead of five I came up with three:

Ira Glass:
For about four years now I've been a HUGE fan of This American Life which is hosted by Ira Glass.  That is how I first became fimiliar with.  Besides being a smart guy, he is also really attractive and I appreciate is dry sense of humor.

Jason Segel:

Since I was late to the How I Met Your Mother party, the first time I ever saw Jason Segel act was in the movie, The Muppets.

I was in love, immediately!

The I saw HIMYM, and fell even more in love.  ***SWOON!!!***  What I love about him is his wholesomeness.  In one of this tweets he asked fans if it they'd be ok with him dating. (Or something like that.)  Seriously, what celebrity doesn't that?

Oh, and did I mentioned how adorably cute he is???

Patrick Dempsey:
My crush on Patrick Dempsey formed long before he was "McDreamy" on Grey's Anatomy.... And it's still going strong!

Now that I've share my list of celebrity men I'd "canoodle" with, please take a moment to see what my fellow blogger have to say:

 •  Momarock (Sara)

•  Merryland Girl (Melissa)

•   Mom of Many (Susanna)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Book Review: Life Is A Test (Audio Book)

I've had the privileged of hearing Rebbetzin Ester Jungreis speak on two occasions.  The first was several years back, and the other this past September.

I have to admit, the first time I had no idea who the Rebbetzin was and why my friend who told me about the event was so insistent I attend.  However, by the end of the evening it was not a secret as to why.  So, when I heard she would be making an appearance again at a local shul, there was no question in my mind as to whether or not I would be in attendance.  Even if I had to move mountains, I would make sure I was at the event.

Now, I realize that this post is about the book, Life Is A Test, and not about the Rebbetzin's speaking engagements, however reading (or listening) to her book is just like being in the same room with Rebbetzin Jugreis.  The way she speaks to an audience is the same way she conveys her thoughts in writing - with warmth and compassion.

It's hard for me to sum-up this book because the subject matter in which the book deals with is so personal and complex.  Simply put, this book talks about the challenges people face in their lives and the various ways they can viewed and approached.  Furthermore, the book aims to drive-home the idea that no matter what the challenge may be, there is a reason the challenge has been placed before us.
If you are considering reading this book, please keep in mind that the book is written from an Orthodox Jewish perspective.  There are many references to the Torah, and the importance of Torah study is emphasized throughout the book.  Hopefully, that will not discourage you from reading the book.  Though I am Jewish, I am not an Orthodox Jew; however, I still found the Torah references interesting and felt they added a lot to Rebbetzin Jugreis' message.  Additionally, I learned a lot our Jewish history that I had not known before; which I always appreciate.

One criticism I've read about this book is that it is repetitive and that a lot of the stories are the same.  Though it is true that the stories are relatively the same, they are still unique in their own way.  Furthermore, sometimes, I believe, a person needs such repetition in order to learn really the lesson that is being put before them.  (At least that is what my life has shown me.)

Since I listened to the audio format of this book, I would like to comment on the narration piece briefly.  The audio version opens with Rebbetzin Jugreis making some opening remarks, however Mare Winningham is the main narrator.  Though I would have loved to listen to the Rebbetzin the whole time, I feel Winningham did a great job.  There was never a time I felt the need to turn off the book because I could not continue listening to her.

Lastly, I would like to say I am glad the Rebbetzin came back at the end of the audio book to narrate her final remarks.  It took me back to this past September's event.  As I listened intently, I felt her glowing spirit radiate through the speakers of my player.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Finishing it Off with the Perfect Bow

This week for the Thursday Blog Project, I asked the group to write about a fashion trend, or trends, they'd like to see come back in style.

My inspiration for the topic as a previous topic we wrote about.  It dealt with what item(s) of clothing would we not be caught dead in.

Funny enough, the trend I'd like to see come back in style is bow ties for non-formal occasions.

I realize that there are men that wear bow ties on a regular basis, but I'd love to see this as a trend that goes viral.  Though it does have a bit of a corny look to it, there is something classy about it that I feel can translate from fancy to casual attire.

Now that I've shown you what fashion trend I'd like to see come back in style, please take a moment to see what my fellow blogger have to say:

 • Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Mom of Many (Susanna)

 • Momarock (Sara)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

50,000+ Words in 30 Days

Back in 2008, during the month of November, I decide to see if I could go without High Fructose Corn Syrup for 30 days.  It was tough, but I did it.  Last November, I attempted to blog for 30 days straight.  I missed a day or two because due to a nasty cold, but writing 28 or so posts in one month wasn't too shabby.  Especially considering the fact that I up until that point I hadn't been posting as much as I had in the past and had an uber hectic schedule.  This year, I'm taking on a very ambitious challenge...

November is NationalNovel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).  The idea behind NaNo is to make writing a novel fun and adventurous.  Trust me when I say, the idea of writing a novel is daunting.  Think about it.  Once I was told the average novel is approximately 85,000 - 90,000 words.  That's 3,000 words if you break it up over 30 days.  HOLY CRAP MONKEYS!!!  

I like that NaNoWriMo participates are encouraged to write only a total of 50,000 words (175 pages), not 85,0000+ words.  I think it sets a realistic goal.  For me, what I want to get out of this next month of writing is a strong foundation for a book.  As I stated in the beginning of this post, taking on such a task is daunting and this challenge, at the very least, is a good way to get started toward that goal.  With all the writing I do for Chick Lit Central and work sometimes it's difficult to get motivated to do writing for me... Hopefully this will be the motivation I've been searching for so desperately.

So, as of tomorrow I will be feverishly plugging away at my NaNoWriMo goal... after I say a little prayer of course!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

"Find Your Understanding"

This week for the Thursday Blog Project, Susanna ask us to write about our favorite commercial and why it's our favorite commercial.

When we were given this topic I immediately thought of this one:

Now, I can't say that this is my "all time favorite" commercial, but it's pretty damn close.

The reasons I like this commercial are as follows:

  • Use of the "product" (in this case, Expedia's travel services) are implied, not explicitedly thrown in your face.
  • Like the memoirs I love to read oh-so-much, it tells someones story of a journey they took and where they are now in their life.
  • It expresses a two viewpoints on a controversial issue of our time in a calm manner.
Over all, I think this is a smart, articulate and well-made commercial and, as far as I know, the first of its kind.

Now that I've told you about my (recent) favorite commercial, please take a moment to read what my fellow bloggers have to say about their favorite commercials.

 • Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Mom of Many (Susanna)

 • Momarock (Sara)

Sunday, October 21, 2012

"Can you tell me how to get, how to get to Sesame Street?"

Share your favorite memories of "Sesame Street" or talk about the role it has played in your life.

When I was a child, watching Sesame Street was just a given.  It was just as essential to me as eating and breathing. Here are some clips of the show that standout for me:

Monsterpiece Theater:

The Death of Mr. Hooper (played by Harold Hooper):

In 1982, Harold Hooper, who played Mr. Hooper on Sesame Street, died. This is how the show addressed the event...

Death is a scary thing for children, and I think the Sesame Street did a great job of addressing it.

The Pinball Count:

Oscar the Grouch:
Need I say more?

Now that I've shared with you some clips of Sesame Street, please see what my fellow bloggers have to say about Sesame Street:

 • Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Mom of Many (Susanna)

 • Momarock (Sara)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Also Known As ... Shayna Reamington

After a serious topic last week, Sara gave us the following topic for this week's Thursday Blog Project:  We've all heard of creating your own "stripper name" based on this equation: your first pet= first name. Street you grew up on= last name. What is your stripper name? And, tell us about that first pet and the street you grew up on that inspired your name.

When I applied to my life, the equation yields the following name: Shayna Reamington

HOT name, isn't it?!

My first name, Shayna, is for the cat I adopted in December 2002.  I got her from a local shelter called Orphans of the Storm.  I still remember that day as if it were yesterday.  My BFF came with me.  After looking at all the cats in cages I went into the cat room.  I tried to get some of them to come over to me, but my BFF suggested that I just wait for one to come to me.  So I did.  That's when I met Shayna.  She was a short hair domestic, tortoise color, 8-month-old cat.  After playing with her for a few minute I knew she was "my cat".

There were many things I loved about Diva Shayna, but the thing that stands out to me is our Sunday morning time together.  After I got home from the gym, I would sit on my sofa, eat breakfast and read the newspaper with my beloved cat sitting right next to me.

I had "Diva Shayna" for about a year and a half (give or take a few months) and cried when I choose to give her away.  Thankfully, I know that she is alive and well, living with the individual whom adopted her after me.  (Yay!)

My last name, Reamington, is a blend of two streets that I would say I "grew up" on.  One was in the city and the other in the suburbs.  Of the two places I liked the city locale the most.  Mainly because there are more happy memories there than at the house in the burbs.

Now that I've given you some background on my "stripper name," please take a moment to see what my fellow bloggers have to say about their "stripper names":

 • Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)

Mom of Many (Susanna) 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Books, books, and more books!

One of the unexpected things that has taken place in my life in 2012 is that I'm big into writing book reviews for the blog Chick Lit Central.

Originally, my involvement with the blog was suppose to be behind the scene working on social media, publicity and whatever else I could help out with.  However, back in February/March through a series of events I ended up writing my first book review for the site.  It was the book, "Let's Pretend This Never Happend" by Jenny Lawson.

From there my role at the blog changed.  I would remain doing behind the scenes work for them, but also write reviews of memoirs since I am a self-proclaimed memoir junkie.  Before I knew it, I had a stack of books to review. Since my first review, I've written seven other reviews and am currently working on my eight, even though it's not going to be posted until early 2013 since the book is scheduled to publish on February 5, 2013. However, all the reviews I have published thus far are below:

"Making Piece" by Beth Howard

"Mum's List" by St. John Greene 

"Let's Pretend This Never Happened" by Jenny Lawson

"Wedding Cake for Breakfast" edited by Kim Perel and Wendy Sherman

"Unorthodox" by Deborah Feldman (Joint review with Melissa Amster)

"My Boyfriend Wrote a Book About Me" by Hilary Wilson

"In the Pink" by Susan McBribe

"Boy Meets Girl" by Meg Cabot

When I look at the above list, I smile.  A lot of those books have side stories associated with them.  For instance, "Making Piece" got me addicted to pie baking.  My "Mum's List" got praise from the publisher's publicist. (This was a first.)  And, I was suppose to review "Boy Meets Girl" back in February, but instead ended up writing an author tribute to Tori Spelling.  (I'm not quite sure how I got from Meg Cabot to Tori Spelling, but I somehow did.)

In addition to my reviews for CLC, in the coming months it is my hope to start post book reviews on this blog as well.  Some of the books will be in the Women's Literature genre, but not all of them.  Though I enjoy reading books in this genre, there are books in other genres I enjoy reading as well and would like to write reviews of as well.

It is my hope, that you (whoever you may be) will take time to read my reviews, and even comment on them if you are so inclined.  Additionally,  will also continue to post my latest and greatest CLC book reviews as well.

There is a lot more reading to be done going forward, so stay tuned!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Four Score and Seven Years Ago..."

The Thursday Blog Project topic for Thursday, October 4th was choosen by me.  I asked the group to write on the following topic:  If you could have a conversation with any President of the United States who would you want to talk to and what would you talk to them about?

My inspiration for this topic was the Lincoln Monument which gazes upon the reflecting pool in Washington, D.C.

I've now been to this monument twice.  Each and every time I've visited it I've gotten goose bumps.  It moves me.  It especially moved me the last time I visited because of what is going on in our political world today.

Abraham Lincoln has always been one of my favorite Presidents.  When I was in grade school I even cut the hair off my Tracy Bride Babie doll's hair to make a diorama of Abe Lincoln.  There has always been something about him, and his Presidency that's stayed with me since I first learned about him. 

These days I think about President Lincoln because of the challenges our country faces with some lawmakers trying to pass laws regarding matters that are personal to each and every citizen and shouldn't be controlled by the government.  Furthermore, the basis for these laws stem from some law makers religious belief which don't reflect the religious beliefs of all US citizens.  So, as one might imagine, I start to think about when our great landed was first founded, and the battles that were fought for such thing like "separation of church and state" and freedom from slavery and civil rights.  In someways, I feel like we are regressing from the principles our country was founded.

If I were to get a chance to ask President Lincoln a question, I'd ask him how he would approach these challenges.  Part of me assumes that he would already know what is going on when I present the question.  A part of me would phrase the question so he wasn't aware of specifics as I feel having such a general understanding could yield interesting answers as well.

Now that I've talked about what President I would ask a question to, please take a moment to read what my fellow bloggers had to say:

Mom of Many (Susanna)

Momarock (Sara)

Merryland Girl (Melissa)