Saturday, November 27, 2010

Product Review: Mission T/T Bunk bed


By Anjanette Belloni
Product Name: Mission T/T Bunk bed #460163
Manufacturer Name: Coaster Fine Furniture
Retail Price: $349+
Where to Get It: www.galafutonsandfurniture.com; jeromes.com; other various internet stores; Bed Mart; Beds 4 Less; other various furniture stores
Sizes/Specifications: 80” x 42-1/2” x 68” H
Product Description: Solid wood mission style bunk bed in Oak finish a space saver in children’s bed room. This bunk bed can be separated to two twin beds.
Recommended? Yes
My Review:
With an expanding family, the need for a bunk bed was becoming more and more apparent. For months my husband and I had searched all over for something that would with stand our growing boys. We looked at metal and wood bunk beds and a variety of configurations. We decided to go with a convertible twin style made of wood. For our family beds made of wood just seemed more logical and sturdy. The Mission T/T Bunk bed is just that, very sturdy and convertible. Upon unpacking the pieces and inspecting the quality I found it to be very attractive and actually made from wood, not some cheap pressboard material. The hardware was also very sturdy and well manufactured, which was also very reassuring.
Construction of the bunk bed was pretty smooth. The directions were just a bit confusing when it came to assembling the ladder, otherwise was pretty effortless. I was very pleased with the way in which the ladder steps were laid out, leaving no possibility of a child getting their head caught. Our boys absolutely love the beds! Our younger son loves the top bunk and has ease getting up the ladder. My older son adores the bottom bunk and is excited to be able to place glow in the dark stickers above him as well as a privacy curtain.
Now on the flip side of our experience, if you have the opportunity to purchase this product in a store, inspect the packaging and take it home with you go for it! Our experience was with the manufacturer and an internet retailer (that no longer carries this model on-line). It took us two weeks from the date we received the bunk bed to assembly. At first the packages were missing the entire hardware package and 2 ladder steps. I went through many hoops and extremely poor customer service before I could get the manufacturer to send out a set of hardware. Even still, that set of hardware was not accurate for the bunk bed we ordered. Almost a week later we finally received the correct hardware. My experience with the manufacturer was extremely horrible. However, my mother-in-law purchased the bunk bed from and internet retailer that provided her with much much better customer service. Unfortunately, even with all the issues the internet retailer will not refund her any money for the purchase as they take no responsibility for what the manufacturer ships. Neither will the manufacturer refund any portion of the purchase price as they were not the party selling the product. This type of experience may not happen to everyone, but it sure does put a damper on the idea of purchasing furniture on-line.
Bottom line: the Mission T/T bunk bed is highly recommended!
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Friday, November 26, 2010

PRODUCT REVIEW for Bloggers: BLOG-2-PRINT





Product Name: Blog2Print

Manufacturer Name: SharedBook

Retail Price: Varies from $14.95 U.S. upwards, depending on length of blog, number of posts

Where to Get It: online at Blog2Print

Sizes/Specifications: Varies according to blog, number of copies ordered

Product Description: The finished product is a printed book copy of your blog, in color or B & W.
.
Recommended? Yes!

Review:

Bloggers, here is a product for you! As a blog writer, do you spend a lot of time writing, being creative, with some blogging more journal-like than others? Bottom line, you do your best to create a product of which you can be proud.

Have you ever thought that you might want to look back at it, a few years down the road? If so, Blog2Print an online product to make a book of your blog!

Blog2Print works with various blog platforms: Blogger, TypePad, and WordPress.

Blog2Print is user-friendly. With a simple entry of your name and blog, your blog posts, within a range selected by you, can be harvested into a compilation for a book. Then, you have the opportunity for customizing it—cover, organization, dates, and some personal additions. The Blog2Print blog cover has numerous options—hard or soft-cover, varied choices of appearance—color, photos, title, and copyright message. When you have made your choices, then, you have a chance to see the all-important preview, with still further opportunities to edit the look and content.
Rushed for time? You can save your book and return to finish it.

If you decide to finish and purchase your blog book, this is possible with another click or two for payment.It is payable thru credit card or PayPal. It will be delivered to you soon, within a few weeks. It is worthwhile investment for your own writing library or as a gift to one of your family, friends, or blog followers.

Two cautions: 1) If you have a post entry message that occurs every day on your blog, you will want to disable it temporarily, to avoid seeing its repetition in your blog; 2) Sometimes a bonus code will be emailed to you—use this to enable a discount on your book. Be sure to use the code before the expiry date—it starts at midnight of that particular date, not at the end of said date.

There is a Help phone number with courteous respondents who respond to your call plus an email contact whereby someone will respond within 24.

Try Blog2Print. You will like it.
Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving to Our U.S. Readers!

The WM Review Connection Wishes You and Your Family a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving!!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Top 5 Tips for Memoir Writers



Memoir books noted and recommended:

The Liar's Club
Author Mary KarrPublisher Penguin

A Girl Named Zippy
Author Haven KimmelPublisher Doubleday

Have you ever wondered how to write a great memoir, like Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love? Here are the Top 5 Tips for Memoir Writers:

1. Be dramatic. It’s rare that a gentle recounting of good times strikes gold, like Haven Kimmel’s A Girl Named Zippy, where a small-town’s eccentricities are celebrated. You will have better luck with a story about overcoming a dastardly villain, whether it be weather, bullies, or a secret shame. The Gold Standard is a memoir so dramatic that it reads like fiction, so spill the most exciting drama and conflict of your life.

2. Be likeable. The reader has to love you, so if you whine about your parents and everyone who done-you-wrong, then your book will be a hard sell. Follow Mary Karr’s example with The Liar’s Club where she reveres her drunk, blue-collar daddy, despite his failures.

3. Be poetic. Do not start your memoir with “golden fields of wheat” poetry, but with words that pack punch. Precise writing makes the difference between the hack remembrance and one that gets reviewed.

4. Be specific. The unexamined life is not worth living, said Socrates, but how about the over-examined life? When it comes to memoirs, your first draft should include details about the significant places, events and people in your past. Once you get through these five tips, you will know which details to cut.

5. Hone your voice. If you’re Southern and write about people with names like Fermin, then you and Mary Karr are halfway there. For everyone else, your voice shows up in your word and cadence choice. A friend I know uses the word “nice” every third sentence when speaking because she wants the world to know she is a nice girl, even when talking about a new "nice" lamp or a friend’s dog. But, nice does not make a riveting memoir.

To find your voice, take a random page or chapter of your writing and look at your word choices. Do you go for choppy sentences and crass words? Are you a soothing writer, or do you have a style that is indistinct and, perhaps, dull? Now examine your favorite memoir, noting words and phrases that stand out. In a few pages in Haven Kimmel’s book, words like these appear: “Glimmer, good at decoupage, successful, pretty.” Clearly, Kimmel’s voice is gentle, clever and flattering. People want to hear her voice.

Unconsciously, your favorite writer’s voice speaks to you and it makes sense to analyze why. This is not about copying her style, but about becoming conscious of the voice in your head and getting it down on the page. Once you figure out the three words that describe your style, you are finding your voice.

I'd love to see your beautiful writing! Send a sample to http://www.beyondbeautifuljane.com
Sunday, November 21, 2010

Product Review- Qwik Shower


By: Dawne Prochio

Company: Qwik Shower Wipes

Developer: Qwik Shower/Kern Communications
Available: Online through company
Price: Starting at .49 per wipe
Recommend: Yes

My Review: I received four large wet wipes known as Qwik Shower, mainly used for odors and very dirty or grimey household jobs. The company claims safe for children and can be used directly on skin (particularly underarms if needed). I used one of the wipes to clean the entire console of my vehicle, which was splattered with sticky soda residue, dirty and, in general, grime from living on a dirt road.

The wipes are very moist, extremely durable and definitely cleaned better than any other wipes I have tried. When I completed the task, the entire dashboard, console and surrounding areas were extremely clean.

The second time used was when my husband cleaned out the wood furnace and had soot on his face, hands and arms. One wipe was plenty to clean the blackness from his body.

There is a nice fragrance from the wipe that doesn't have an antiseptic smell like most cleaning or odor wipes.

I highly recommend this product for any household. If I still had a teenage boy in the house, I would definitely try the product out on him when he returned from football practice.

The wipes are available here.
Saturday, November 20, 2010

Book Review: Her Fearful Symmetry

By: Christine Gatuiria
Title: Her Fearful Symmetry
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Publisher: Random House
Recommended: Reluctantly


Audrey Niffenegger's novel The Time Traveler's Wife was a blockbuster success and she received close to $5 million for her next book. Such a hefty advance would inspire most authors to strive to surpass expectations but with Her Fearful Symmetry, it seems that Niffenegger was instead struck by the sophomore curse.

Elspeth Noblin has died, leaving behind a grieving younger lover, Robert, and a flat located near Highgate Cemetery in London. She wills the flat to her twin nieces, Julia and Valentina, who live in the USA with their parents, Edie and Jack. The will stipulates that the twins must live in the flat for a year before they can sell it, and their parents are not allowed to visit. Edie happens to be Elspeth's estranged twin so these conditions raise questions. Nevertheless, Julia and Valentina move to London, where they meet Robert and Martin, the upstairs neighbor whose wife recently left him due to his annoying OCD habits.

The story revolves around Julia and Valentina's symbiotic yet turbulent relationship as well as Elspeth's ghostly presence in the flat. The mystery behind Edie & Elspeth's alienation lingers in the background; the secret lies in Elspeth's diaries, which Robert possesses but cannot read due to his grief. And the allure of Highgate Cemetery features throughout the novel.

Her Fearful Symmetry is a good read until you get to the end. I won't give away the finale but in my opinion it does not do the story justice. Niffenegger steers the characters in a direction that is hard to follow, let alone believe. It is almost as if she did not have an ending in mind when she started writing the book - unfortunately for the readers she picked a disappointing finish.

Product Review: Pureleaf Iced Tea

By Christina Newman


Product Name:Pureleaf Iced Tea
Manufacturer Name: Lipton Tea a partner of Pepsi
Retail Price: $1.29+
Sizes/Specifications: 16 fl oz
Product Description: Pureleaf Iced Tea is made from a hand picked blend of tea leaves from around the world.
Recommended? Yes

Your Review:
 
After a long hard day nothing hits the spot like a Lipton's Pureleaf Iced Tea.
 
Offering several flavors and both sweetened and unsweetened teas, Lipton's Pureleaf Iced Teas have come a family favorite in my home. Sweetened does happen to be my personal favorite but trust me when I say that all of the teas on this particular line are worth a try and very delicious. 
 
With a rich and creamy medley that dances on your tongue with every sip like a well oiled piano at your local jazz club, how can you resist? The bottle is made from glass, perfect for recycling. At least fifty percent of the leaves come from Rainforst Alliance Certified Farms. Giving me a product I can feel good about drinking; body, mind and soul.
 
At $1.29 per 16 fl oz it can be a bit costly compared to brewing your own at home. We always have a gallon or two of Lipton's Tea brewed at home.Though when we are out and about, in need of a drink and surrounded by soda, reaching for a natural iced tea is a much better choice.
 
My bottom line - wonderful product, highly recommended.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010

MOVIE REVIEW: UNSTOPPABLE

By: Christine Gatuiria

Title: Unstoppable
Genre: Action/Adventure, Thriller, Drama
Run Time: 1hr, 38min
MPAA Rating: PG 13
Director: Tony Scott
Writer: Mark Bomback
Cast: Denzel Washington, Chris Pine, Rosario Dawson, Kevin Dunn
Recommended: Watch it!

Denzel Washington. Chris Pine. And a speeding freight train carrying hazardous material towards a densely populated town. Sounds like a good movie and a great way to spend a free weekday afternoon! Or weekend evening, whatever works for you.

Unstoppable, directed by Tony Scott (Deja Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123), opened nationwide on November 12, 2010. I know what you're thinking - another Tony Scott movie featuring Denzel Washington and trains? What's up with that? Well, my answer is if it ain't broke, don't fix it! The pairing seems to work well for these two and just like The Taking of Pelham 123, Unstoppable is an entertaining, if predictable, movie.

Washington plays a patient and focused veteran train engineer against Pine's portrayal of an inexperienced train conductor with personal issues. They are assigned to work together for the first time and despite some initial friction, they end up gelling as a team to tackle a fast-moving freight train with nobody behind the wheel. And it's going fast, which is a problem since the runaway train is also carrying toxic material that can decimate entire towns if it derails. The movie speeds along with exciting action scenes, good humor and decent performances from the supporting cast (especially Rosario Dawson). Washington is at his suave best but Pine manages to hold his own (could it be due to his captivating blue eyes?) during the movie.

Unstoppable is worth the trip to the theater - it's best seen on the big screen with the proper sound effects and lots of buttery popcorn (even though a small popcorn now costs $5.25...but I digress). Watch this movie - it's a good start to the holiday movie season.
Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Review: The Vance Legacy by F. Haywood Glenn

by Laura Ast

Title: The Vance Legacy
Author: F. Haywood Glenn
Publisher: Ambiance Publishing
Where To Get It: http://www.ambiancepub.com/, Amazon
Recommended: Yes

Summary (from book jacket): "The turbulent lives of two women, Lillian. a mulatto slave, born to satisfy the sexual needs of her demanding master, and Elizabeth Gable Vance, the daughter of well-to-do parents from Philadelphia who marries the Vance heir, are brought together by the corrupt and prejudiced society of the south and the love they share for the same man. Their relationship begins as a bitter rivalry, but through the pain,passion and betrayal that each endures, grows a compassion for one another that neither understands.

This is the story of a powerful southern family whose tyrannical patriarch refuses to right the wrongs committed during his lifetime or even acknowledge their existence. His death leaves his family a legacy of lies and misdeeds that will eventually tear his family asunder."

Review: I wouldn't have picked this book up to buy for a couple of reasons. First, because of the size. I know more and more paperback books are being published 5 1/2" x 8 1/2", but I find them hard to hold. Also, by the summary on the back of the book, it's not something I would normally read.

I think the story is a good one. It's a quick read, and the characters are good. The summary on the back of the book is a little misleading because I don't believe a compassion grows between the two women until page 165, and there are 166 pages to the book.

My major complaint about this book started on page 18 and the story doesn't begin until page 12. This book desperately needs a proof reader. In some places, I had to reread it for it to make sense. The mistakes are very obvious.

If you like reading books around the Civil War era, you might enjoy this book. The story is not a romance, it's more a story of the sexual addiction of the Vance heir and the power Lillian has over him and the deception of many.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Product Review: Sound Beginnings


By Anjanette Belloni

Product Name: Sound Beginnings

Manufacturer Name: Creative Baby Inc.

Retail Price: $26.06 - $49.99

Where to Get It: Amazon.com, BedBathandBeyond.com, Toysrus.com and more.

Sizes/Specifications: Available in size B (4, 6, 8) or C (10, 12, 14); colors are black, white & nude.

Product Description: The Sound Beginnings Pre-Natal Sound Delivery Device is a comfortable nylon/Lycra band with built-in high quality speakers that allow expectant parents to play music, voice or soothing sounds using any MP3 player.

Recommended? YES

As a mother of two and now expecting my third baby, I have always been on the hunt for some sort of device I can play music for my baby. With my first two pregnancies I used the disc man to expose my babies to classical, educational and soothing music. Who wants to lug around a bulky disc man and deal with headphones which are uncomfortable to position? And, I was always a little worried as to whether or not the level of sound coming through the headphones would be safe for the baby.

There is a plethora of products designed for expecting families to hear the baby’s heartbeat. Great! But not exactly what I was looking for. I did find a product here and there that played educational programs, nothing that allowed for customization and with extremely steep price tags. Let’s face it we’re at a time in our lives where we make every penny count. Here I’ve stumbled upon a newer product that does just what I want and within my budget!

The concept is just fabulous! I have been able to download my entire classical and relaxation library to my IPOD and play the music I want when I want. Being mobile is such a super plus, I’m not carrying anything in my hand or worrying about headphones falling off. Sound Beginnings is designed with a pocket for your MP3 or IPOD. The speakers and cord are concealed in the pocket which also includes a Velcro closure so nothing will fall out. As long as I keep my IPOD charged, I have no more worries over changing batteries. Nor, do I need to worry about the level of sound coming through the speakers as these are designed to keep the sound at a safe level for baby.

One of the extra features I was impressed with is that of the Sound Delivery. This is a feature that allows you to record a message that you can upload that baby can hear. It is absolutely perfect for family members are not nearby or even those that are deployed. Sound Delivery is very simple to use and additional minutes can be purchased by family members for a reasonable price. My only concern with the product is with the sizing. The larger size is a bit snug for me, but after contacting the company there may be more sizes coming in the future. All in all Sound Beginnings is a must have!

Book Review: Sacrifices In The Name of Love By Vanessa Johnson

by Robert Medak

Book: Sacrifices in the Name of Love
Author: Vanessa Johnson

Summary:

Sacrifices In The Name of Love
is about a young High School girl named Tessa and the new neighbors the Martins. Being young and hormonal Tessa and Trey Martin begin an unprotected sexual relationship.

Tessa becomes pregnant. She is scared of what her father will think if the child is black like the Martins are. For most of Tessa’s life, her father has been spouting racist rhetoric. She fears for herself and the unborn child.

She concocts a cover story to answer why she is pregnant. The story works and she wants to carry the baby to term and keep it.

Once in the delivery room Tessa sees the child has dark skin. Fearing for herself and the child Tessa signs over her parental rights to the father, Trey; she asks the nurses not to say anything to her mother in the waiting room, not to tell her mother what room she is in.

When released the following day, Tessa leaves town to parts unknown.

Four years later she returns home to find that things have changed drastically. She hires a private investigator to find Trey since the Martins moved almost as soon as they came home with the baby Tyler from the relationship between Tessa and Trey.

Review:

I normally do not read this type of story. However, Vanessa has written a wonderful tale of the south where some people still have problems dealing with racial issues, and the concept of an interracial child is a child disowned by both races.

How the story plays out between Tessa and Trey while they are in the same High School is a story that can happen anywhere and at any time. A young girl whose father spouts racial epithets has to deal with an unwanted pregnancy, but decides she wants the child.

I found the story to be enthralling and wanted to read more.

Although not my normal type of story I would recommend Sacrifices In The Name of Love to anyone that enjoys reading.

There is much that Tessa needs to make up for, will she? Reading Sacrifices In The Name of Love will answer this question and any others the reader may have.
Thursday, November 11, 2010

Book Review: EXIT by Liliana Badd


by Alyssa Ast

Title: EXIT
Author: Liliana Badd
Publisher: Trafford Publishing
Where to Get It: exitlilianabadd.com
Recommendation: Yes

Summary:

"Ondine's story is dedicated to all those men and women I will never meet in person, and whose lives collapsed on a beautiful day, condemned to an incurable illness. It is my hope that Ondine's story will be like a ray of sunshine, a pleasant interlude, in their daily wrestle. And when they feel depressed, defeated and overwhelmed by their fate, I would like to remind them that, for as little as we know with certitude, for wealthy or poor, for healthy or sick, for old or younger, for all of us, sooner or later, at the end of our journey through the space called Life, there it is, majestic in its implacable serenity, silently awaiting... the EXIT."
by Author Liliana Badd

Review:

When I first opened the novel, EXIT by Liliana Badd, I was caught off guard by a quote from John Eldredge. These three paragraphs made me stop in my tracks and read and reread the quote because I think just about every woman can relate to the simple words written. From this point on, I was instantly engaged in the novel- from page one to the very end. How deeply I was intrigued by this novel was slightly odd to me because it is not my typical choice of novel. But none the less, Ondine's story captured my attention and drew me in to every detail of her life.

I was able to relate to Ondine's life lessons on so many levels, it was quite surprising. Even though my path in life is completely different than Ondine's I was still able to relate to many of the thoughts she had and lessons she had learned. Author Liliana Badd did such an excellent job portraying Ondine's character and emotions, that by the end of the book, she no longer appeared to be a character in a book. By the book's end, she appeared to be an everyday person, who could be your mother, your sister, or your friend. The level of intimacy author Liliana Badd captured within the character truly is what makes this book great.

Highly recommended!
Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Product Review: GE Frontload Washer


by Laura Ast

Product Name: GE Profile Front Load Energy Saver HE Washer
Manufacturers Name: GE
Retail Price: $630.00 approximately
Where To Get It: Home Depot, Lowes, appliances stores
Sizes/Specifications: 4.2 cu. ft drum size. 27"wide x30.6" deep x 40.6 " tall
Product Description: Front Load, energy saver, high efficiency (HE) washer
Recommended: Yes

My Review: I think the GE Profile Front Load washer is one of the better washers for the price. It uses a tiny bit, and I do mean a tiny bit, of powdered HE laundry detergent. I use 2 teaspoons or less to wash anywhere from a large load to a very small load. It is an Energy Star model, so it doesn't use much electricity. The card that came with it says it uses 122 kWh a year. If you have an electric water heater, its operating cost is $11.00 a year, and if you have a gas water heater, it costs $7.00 a year. These costs are based on eight loads of clothes a week.

I do wish the model I have had an extra spin cycle besides the extra rinse and spin cycle. You can program 1 favorite wash cycle. It has 9 wash types, 4 soil levels, 4 spin speeds, and 5 water temperature settings, including a sanitize setting and one for tap water. The washer has a delay start button and a button to lock the setting in place. This comes in handy because if you bump the wash settings nob, it will turn and change the wash setting. The spin speed, soil level and water temperature are all push button. It has a beep that you can adjust the loudness of, or turn off. You can get the extra plate and stack your dryer on to of it. I have the washer and dryer side by side, and I think they are the perfect height for folding the clothes on.

My biggest problem with this washer is it gets off balance and makes a terrible thumbing noise and vibrates violently. I have heard to fix this problem you should put it in your basement on a concrete slab. Unfortunately, I don't have a basement and I have wooden floors.

Even with the off balance problem, I would recommend it. I have been using the same 42 load box of Tide HE detergent for 1 1/2 years and am not out yet. I was at least 5 loads of clothes a week. I didn't like using liquid detergent in it because it sudsed too much.
Sunday, November 7, 2010

Product Review: www.newbielifeline.com


by Patricia Anne McGoldrick


Product Name: http://www.newbielifeline.com/
Manufacturer Name: Sheila Atwood, owner and author
Retail Price: free access to website
Where to Get It: online at http://www.newbielifeline.com/
Product Description: Website offering information on internet marketing for “Newbies”
Recommended? Yes.

My Review:
In the whirlwind of electronic media, this reviewer found it helpful to discover Newbie Lifeline, an inviting and user-friendly site geared towards the not-so-savvy about online communication.
Site owner, Sheila Atwood, enables Newbies to grapple with the intricacies of internet marketing by posting Newbie Commandments. Ms. Atwood, an entrepreneurial Mom & Grandma, has only 5 commandments, not the Biblical 10:


1. Never go past a word you do not fully understand.
2. Write a weekly battle plan.
3. Find a partner.
4. Completely understand what you are buying.
5. Have fun.


On site, Sheila Atwood elaborates on her five commandments with links to assist readers. Basically, Ms. Atwood advises that newcomers expand their knowledge with readily available resources, organize, network for support and knowledge, grasp nature of any potential purchases, and finally, enjoy the process!


Newbie or not, a list of resources that Sheila Recommends is well worth a look, everything from Word Press to You Tube!


Overall, Ms. Atwood states her intentions clearly: THE PURPOSE OF THIS SITE is to provide honest simple direction to people interested in building an online business. With numerous experiential recommends and accessible links, Sheila Atwood’s site does just that.
The best way to find out about this Newbie Lifeline? Check it out. Then, bookmark for future use!
Saturday, November 6, 2010

Book Review: Adventures of Rusty & Ginger Fox

Note from AngelaSince Adventures of Rusty & Ginger Fox is a children's book, I asked my 13 year old son to read the book to his sister and write today's review.

Book Review: Adventures of Rusty & Ginger Fox
By Cameron Atkinson 
Title: Adventures of Rusty & Ginger Fox
Author: Tim Ostermeyer (Master Photographer & Author)
Genre: Children's Fiction
Publisher: Synergy Books
Recommended: Yes

My Review:


This book is about two fox cubs who just opened their eyes for the first time. They get their red, white, and black fur and want to show it to the world and decide to go on an adventure. 

I think this is a great book to read to your children at bedtime. One reason I think it is a good book is because it is easy and fun to read. Another reason is that this book has a lot of real pictures but displays them creatively and the way they are done makes the pictures eye-catching. The photos are all of real life animals that include foxes, wolves (I really like wolves!) and more. They are really stunningly beautiful.

I read this book to my little sister, Sophia, who is going to be three soon. She was in love from the first page and told me it was her favorite book.

I would like to recommend this book to everyone who has kids. One reason is if you want to do some research. Another reason is that it is plainly and simply a fun book to read to others and by yourself.

I didn’t dislike this book at all. One reason is that it was fun and easy to read. Another reason is that I learned some stuff that I didn’t even know about some animals before.

You can learn more about this book at: http://www.rustyandgingerfox.com

Product Review: Fruit & Vegetable Juice Extractor

By Christina Newman

Product Name: Fruit & Vegetable Juice Extractor
Manufacturer Name: Black & Decker Home
Retail Price: $29.88 and up
Where to Get It: Wal-Mart
Sizes/Specifications:
  • On / off switch
  • 10-oz (300ml) juice cup with measurement markings
  • Clear cover with security latches
  • Non-slip rubber feet
  • 400W motor
  • Stainless steel cutter / strainer
  • Removable pulp container
  • Removable parts are dishwasher safe
Product Description: Get your daily dose of fruits and vegetables easy every day. Simple design makes creating your favorite juices easier than ever.
Recommended? Yes

Your Review:

My family recently decided to make some changes in our eating habits. Our decision included eating healthy foods and getting our daily dose of fruits and vegetables. I'm not sure if you have looked at just how much fruits and veggies a person is supposed to consume everyday but it is quite a bit. After doing some research on the best method to receive our daily fruits & veggies my husband and I decided we were going to juice everyday.

After making this decision we went to our local retailer and looked through the selection of juicers. Feeling a bit intimidated and not knowing what we truly needed we took an educated guess. Asking ourselves questions such as, "How many oz are we juicing at a time?" and " Is it going to be easy for the kids to use?" After looking through our options we settled on the Fruit & Vegetable Juice Extractor by Black & Decker.

We are very glad we did.

This is our first juicer and it works wonderful for us right now. It is so easy to use and clean. It comes apart in just a quick minute and goes back together just as quickly. The 10oz juice cup makes it easy to know when we have juiced enough for our family. My girls love using the juicer in the morning to create their vary own green juice!

This juicer is wonderful for those of us who are just starting out with juicing and only need the basic functions. However, the slot in which you put your fruits and veggies is on the smaller side. We do have to make sure we cut up our food to a fairly small size so that we can juice it. You also have to ensure that you are not losing parts of your food to the pulp container on the side. Every once in a while the food will hit the basket just right and spin off straight into the pulp container before it has a chance to be juiced.

This juicer is not perfect but it works beautifully for beginning juicers like us. For the price you really can't ask for a better product. While we do see a new juicer in our future we are very happy with our decision to purchase this product.

My bottom line - wonderful product for beginners but has limited functionality.
Friday, November 5, 2010

MUSIC REVIEW: BACK TO ME - FANTASIA

Title: Back To Me

Artist: Fantasia

Label: J Records

Recommended: Yes


Back To Me is Fantasia's third album release. It's been three years since her last release but those three years were definitely worth the wait. Originally released on August 24, 2010, a few weeks after her much publicized suicide attempt, the album has since sold 291,000 units as of November 3. It is not unusual for artists to create drama or buzz before a new music release but an overdose seemed a little over the top. What was really going on with Fantasia Monique Barrino?

Fantasia shot to fame in 2004 when she won the third season of American Idol. She got up on stage, took her shoes off and bared her soul to the world. Her performance paid off, garnering her more than 65 million votes nationwide to win the competition. She followed that milestone with two album releases, multiple Grammy nominations, a Lifetime movie based on her autobiography and a stint playing Celie in the Broadway musical The Color Purple. With all this success, why would Fantasia want to end her career so soon? Especially since Back To Me is actually quite good. The first official single ‘Bittersweet’ is on heavy rotation at most R&B radio stations and the second single ‘I’m Doin Me’ is also quickly rising up the charts. Fantasia's distinctive voice shines through on this album - when she sings, you can really feel her.

The soulful songs on Back To Me speak to independence, vulnerability and love. Listen to ‘The Thrill Is Gone’ (featuring Cee-Lo) and ‘Man Of The House’ and you’ll likely start to sing along and nod your head to the banging beats. Buy the CD or download the tracks – either way the listening experience is worth it. Whatever Fantasia was going through, her fans will be glad she stayed around. If only to keep giving us great music like the songs on Back to Me.

Product Review: It's A Boy/It's A Girl iPhone Apps

by Marina DelVecchio

Company: It's A Boy! / It's A Girl! iPhone Birth Announcement App
              
Developer: Dawn Kempf (http://dawnkempf.com)
Device: iPhone
Price: 1.99
Recommend: Yes

Product Information: Dawn Kempf has created an easy do-it-yourself birth announcement for either a boy or a girl that men and women can download onto their iPhones to show off their new bundle of joy and to share with family and friends. Designed for the less-than-techy user, Kempf's app is a wonderful and modern version of the paper announcements we used to have to first complete on the computer and then send to a photo store to print. The wait usually took 2-3 weeks, but this easy and beautiful app downloads into your cell phone in less than three seconds. The apps feature 67 different backgrounds and colors to suit the gender of your baby and your own personal tastes. All you need to do is choose the background, upload and edit your baby's picture, type in the birth information (birth date, weight, length, etc.), click on one of the custom messages provided, and then send the customized and unique birth announcement to every friend and family member located in your address book on your iPhone. It's easy, convenient, and a modern-day gift for every mom and dad celebrating the birth of their baby-delight.

Review: My daughter is three and my son is seven, but I was looking forward to downloading this app onto my iPhone because I now have a birth announcement for each one of them on my phone. These iPhone apps and amazing technological advances did not exist when my children were born, so I'm taking advantage of having Dawn Kempf''s creations on my cell. I highly recommend these birth announcement apps to anyone who has had a child before the advent of technology and to anyone about to have a baby. And if you don't have kids, Dawn Kempf allows you to send it to someone as a gift, so it's a perfect app for your pregnant friends and family members. It's magic at your fingertips, and a most precious way to share the arrival of the most important people in our lives.

For more information on this app, please visit http://dawnkempf.com
Wednesday, November 3, 2010

PRODUCT REVIEW: VICTORIA'S SECRET ACAI BERRY AND MAGNOLIA FRAGRANT MOISTURE MIST

By Anna Christiansen

Product Name: Victoria's Secret Acai Berry and Magnolia Fragrant Moisture Mist
Manufacturer Name:Victoria's Secret
Retail Price: $18
Where to Get It: Victoria's Secret website and brick/mortar shops
Sizes/Specifications: 10.1 fl.oz.
Product Description: From the Naturally Victoria's Secret line, a body mist that "protects and brightens."
Recommended? Yes . . . mostly.
As they prepared for graduation last spring, two of my favorite Japanese students stopped by my office and presented me with a "mahalo basket" for working with them in their writing classes.  In it, there were products for pampering which they thought I needed as their English teacher.  One of the items was a full-sized bottle of Victoria's Secret Acai Berry and Magnolia Fragrant Moisture Mist

On one hand, I scoff at any non-undergarment product sold at an undergarment franchise.  On the other hand, I love to smell good.  So I put aside my usual Bath & Body Works fragrance to try the Moisture Mist. Its lovely!  I've been using it ever since.  The scent is lightly flowery with just a hint of fruit underneath.  I start off in the mornings with several sprays on each wrist.  While not oily, it does have some kind of lotion in it although the liquid itself is transparent. 

The website says that it "protects and brightens" because of the "skin-protective açai berry, known as the most potent antioxidant in nature, with magnolia, revered in Chinese medicine for its brightening properties" but after six months of use I have yet to feel protected and brightened.  Also, the website promotes the mist as a "refreshing, alcohol-free splash is fortified with 34 essential minerals and vitamins C and E to touch skin with light moisture and sheer, nurturing scent."  I agree with this statement.  It is part of the Naturally Victoria's Secret line but the page for the product does not include a list of ingredients nor does the bottle.  If ingredients aren't readily provided on the site or the bottle, I have to wonder how natural the product is.  This is my main criticism of the product.  It otherwise smells great, leaving me feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the day.  Victoria's Secret Acai Berry and Magnolia Fragrant Moisture Mist also comes in a sizable bottle (10.1 fl. oz.) which will take me over a year to use and therefore represents at good value at the advertised price point.

Book Review: 'Ruth Reichl Remembers Mama'

Book Review by Jane Turner, Beyond Beautiful Babe

Title: For You Mom, Finally
Author: Ruth Reichl
Genre: Memoir (nonfiction)
Publisher: Penguin Group
Recommended: Yes

In a box of memorabilia, Ruth Reichl reluctantly uncovers the truth about her deceased mother, Miriam. As a young woman, Miriam's father called her homely and predicted spinsterhood - but Miriam married twice and had children. Still, Miriam pined for a career that would reveal her true self.

Without something to engage her mind, Miriam's manic-depression took hold and Ruth recounts her mother's near-poisoning of guests and girl scouts with moldy food. These are the golden stories that pushed Ruth’s previous books onto the bestseller lists, and they delight.

But Ruth is going for something deeper in this slim, but powerful book. Reading the letters, Ruth sees that her mother was crushed by obedience to her family. Destroying that legacy, Miriam generously encouraged Ruth to pursue independence and defiance - although Ruth's pursuit of a career was just as her mother wished.

Most telling is Ruth’s retraction of the original book title, Not Becoming My Mother, and turning it into For You Mom, Finally. This is the story of a daughter who finally sees the sacrifices Miriam made - and realizes she became her mother. We all do, somewhat, because we know the truth - we owe our lives to our mothers.

In the end, Ruth allows herself, and us, to see Miriam as an original, semi-selfless gem. The daughter’s apology for taking so long is complete.

www.beyondbeautifulbabe.com
Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Television Show Review: 'The Middle'

By Pam Houghton

Title: The Middle
Genre: Situation comedy, family
Cast: Patricia Heaton, Neil Flynn, Eden Sher, Charlie McDermott, Atticus Shaffer
Airs: 8pm EST/7:00 Central on ABC
Recommended? Yes.

The Middle, starring Patricia Heaton as married mother-of-three Frankie Heck, debuted in the fall of 2009.  It took me a while to warm up to it, but once I did, I hated to miss an episode. I'm very glad it was renewed for the current 2010 television season.

The show revolves around Frankie, husband Mike, and their three children: glum (but funny) high school student Axl,  hapless (but funny) middle child Sue, and strangely intelligent (but funny) grade-schooler, Brick.

Sue sells cars (or tries to) at the local dealership, and Mike is a manager at a quarry.  They struggle with the concerns of many families in the middle, a reference to middle-income, midwestern families: money, discipline, neighbors, teachers, schools, teenagers, popularity, academics, competition, working parents, and temporary job loss.

What I like about the show is that even though it is a sitcom, whoever writes the show has either lived the life of those in the middle, or knows - real well - folks who do. The concerns and the situations the family finds itself in feel real and are handled with doses of good humor, and a bit of sarcasm, without feeling warm and fuzzy. (I hate warm and fuzzy.)

The parents are especially human, and it shows when The Middle covers topics such as time constraints (and guilt) when both parents work; kids who "under perform" at school; and family trips that don't exactly spring from the pages of Travel and Leisure.

Though not uproariously funny, I like knowing that my own dilemmas have been experienced by others. What's surprising is that it has apparently afflicted the Hollywood types who write about them.

If you haven't caught the show, and are looking for humorous validation that you're not alone in your daily struggles, check it out.  The Middle airs Wednesday nights on ABC at 8:00pm EST, 7:00 Central.
Monday, November 1, 2010

PRODUCT REVIEW: CHAPSTICK FRESH EFFECTS

Manufacturer Name: Pfizer
Retail Price: Retails for $3.79 but can frequently be found on sale for less
Where to Get It: Grocery stores, drug stores, online retailers like Amazon.com
Sizes/Specifications: 0.15 ounce stick
Product Description: Hydrating Lip Balm
Recommended? Yes

Do you remember the old ChapStick commercials with Suzy Chaffee who called herself Suzy Chapstick for the sake of advertising?  Back in those days, ChapStick products were pretty waxy but I guess that's what you needed when speeding down a hill in the middle of winter on your skis.  Actually, many lip moisture products were waxy back then.  But times have changed and, thankfully, so has ChapStick.

I tried ChapStick Fresh Effects over a year ago. Walgreens had one of their fabulous promotions where you bought a product and they give you coupon for the same amount to be spent at a later time in their stores.  Free lip product.  Sounded good to me even though the Suzy Chapstick branding and product quality has always stuck with me.  Just a bit of context from me.  I take a medication that works wonders for my hormonal breakouts and oily skin but it has also dried out my skin, especially my lips.  My skin is 300% times better than it was (which is good because I'm 41!) but now I wear lip balm all.the.time.  Prior to trying ChapStick Fresh Effects, I was Carmex girl.  Now I've switched to ChapStick Fresh Effects (Refreshing Mandarin).  I love it and keep this product in my bag, my desk at work and in my make-up bag so I never go without.  My 14 yr old daughter tries to steal it from me.  Its that good.  ChapStick Fresh Effects does not have a waxy texture.  It glides on effortlessly, has a nice citrus scent, and provides a subtle cooling sensation upon contact with the skin.  According to the product website, ChapStick Fresh Effects has thirteen moisturizers to "keep lips hydrated."

I've been using ChapStick Fresh Effects since that fateful day at Walgreens and my purpose in writing this review is personal.  ChapStick can never stop making this product!  They've also released a new flavor, Invigorating Green Tea Mint, that I'm looking forward to trying.  I highly recommend ChapStick Fresh Effects for keeping your lips comfortable!

BOOK REVIEW: THE SERIALIST

By Christine Gatuiria


Title: The Serialist
Author: David Gordon
Publisher: Simon & Shuster Paperbacks
Recommended: Yes

My Review: If serial killers, writers and porn interest you, then pick up this book. The Serialist is an entertaining, fast-paced story about a writer (Harry Bloch) whose porn stories catch the attention of a soon-to-be executed serial killer who needs a ghost writer for his memoir. Writing the memoir could bring closure (and pain) to the victims' families, as well as a much-needed payday for Harry. But soon after he takes the deal, dead bodies start to pile up around him - there's another serial killer on the loose and Harry needs to figure out who the murderer is before he also ends up dead.

David Gordon adds interesting twists to his writing that make reading The Serialist enjoyable - it's not your typical serial-killer novel with a predictable plot of evil vs. good. It's a serial-killer novel by a writer about a writer doing his best to write the story of his career - and the desire to succeed in one's chosen field is something all readers can relate to. Add in a little sex and a little blood and you have what I call a good read. Highly recommended for those interested in a book that's different from the norm, in a good way.

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