Sunday, March 27, 2011


Cover photo from website.
Title: Just Food, Alternatives Journal: Just Food, V.37 ISSUE 2 2011
Author: Nicola Ross, editor, and contributors
Publisher: Alternatives, Inc., Independently published.
Recommended? Yes!

The 40-year old Alternatives Journal has a legacy of providing a timely discourse on environmental issues.

This issue, coinciding with the March observation of Nutrition Month, focuses on food. Informed articles by experts are interspersed with amazing artwork. I am not given to superlatives but the graphic images by Lori Langille and  Ju Duoqi are exceptional!

The cover image by Duoqi “From the Fantasies of Chinese Cabbage” is a striking backdrop to this themed issue about “Just Food”. 

In fact, the issue is about more than “just food” as readers will discern.

Beginning with a questioning intro about the revolutionary aspect of food issues by editor Nicola Ross, this issue of Alteratives is a must-read, far beyond this Nutrition Month of March.

In its usual studied approach, Alternatives Journal presents a smorgasbord of the real and the theoretical concerns and applications about food: from Brazilian experience with a government department responsible for food, energy, water and health to the empowerment of Venezuelan cacao growers for chocolate ; Ontario efforts at sustainability with activist individuals, groups and recommendations; Canadian snapshots of members of The People’s Food Policy Project.

In its journal format, Alternatives also includes Letters to the Editor, Reviews and reflections by Columnists along with links to “green” sites and, as well, to podcasts at the Alternatives Journal website, itself.

Just Food” is a thought-provoking issue. Volume 37 Number 2 2011 issue of Alternatives Journal is worth a look. Available for purchase in print version or digitally through Zinio Reader 4 an excellent “green” vehicle for reading this environmentally focused journal.

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Friday, March 25, 2011

Review: O The Oprah Magazine April 2011

Reviewed by: Patricia Anne McGoldrick
O Magazine April 2011(scan image)
Title: O The Oprah Magazine—April 2011
Author: Oprah and contributors
Publisher: Hearst Communications, Inc.
Recommended? Yes
O Magazine’s April
2011 issue drew me to it like a sun’s rays with its radiant yellow square in the top left corner

Having read the issue, I am sure that the actual contents will brighten readers’ lives with its inspirational words, articles and color.
Some of the highlights include the following:
o Excerpts from Oprah’s private journals from the 70s and 80s are reproduced in this issue.
o The excerpts are accompanied by a brief O List of tips for you to start and dress-up your own personal journal.
o Wellness, fashion, nutrition columns plus Reading Room recommends that offer a selection of shared experiences and encouraging optimism.

Overall, the content is rich and colorful. However, it was the Special section on The Power of a Poem that caught my attention.

Just in time for National Poetry Month 2011 celebrated in the United States, Canada, and many other countries, this April 2011 issue segment on poetry is a veritable anthology of poets, poetry, and style. Guest Editor, Maria Shriver, has compiled interviews, celebrity quotes, anecdotes and a list of 20 top poetry books along with words from writing notables including Wally Lamb and Maya Angelou.

Shriver’s dialogue with American poet, Mary Oliver, provides insight into the poet's life, writing approach and life choices. You can read Oliver’s poem, The Journey, alongside the interview.
In another poetry discussion entitled Tree Spirit, Susan Casey relates how poet W.S. Merwin shared with her about his philosophical approach to life and words and the environment from his perspective in Hawaii. The U.S. Poet Laureate, ironically, lives near the community of Haiku. Merwin recounts his tree-saving experiences to Susan Casey who finishes her interview visit with Merwin’s moving poem Place, beginning with the lines:
On the last day of the world
I would want to plant a tree….

Poetry has an impact, whether you write/read/listen to it. National Poetry Month 2011 will be here soon. Reading The Power of a Poem is a great way to start the celebration of NPM! More information on The Power of Poetry is available on the Oprah website.

In its April 2011 issue, O Magazine brings its monthly inspiration to readers on how to "Live Your Best Life" plus a grand slam of poetry in its Special section on The Power of a Poem. Check it out.

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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book Review: Mission Possible “Spiritual Covering”

Review By: Anjanette Belloni

Title: Mission Possible “Spiritual Covering”

Author: D. L. McCarragher

Publisher: Alabaster Box Publishing Inc.


Recommended? Yes

Synopsis: Your mission, if you choose to accept it, is to stand in the gap for your mate’s soul. This small book is a powerful tool for any woman who is married to a man who does not share her passion for Jesus. It will encourage and challenge the reader to embrace God’s promises for their spouse and future together. Awarded 2010 Gold Seal Best Book in Christian Non-Fiction category on Readers Favorite.

Review: I have to admit, I may not have picked up this book to read. With a newborn and a busy family life as it is, I really didn’t think I would find the time. In the end this book was well worth the time. Mission Possible has given me a new perspective; not only in my marriage, but in my approach to my spiritual life in general. It can be frustrating when your partner does not share your love and passion for Christ; I can relate to this. My spouse does not share the level of need and belief for our Lord that I hold dear. Within the pages of Mission Possible I found what I would call a ‘battle plan’ for overcoming this challenge. The author has created a workbook for us to use with the Bible, so we may have a greater understanding of the role the Lord has for us.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Book Review: Elements of the Soul

Title: Elements of the Soul
Author: Various authors and poets
Publisher: Twin Trinity Media
Recommend? Yes
My review: This anthology is full of well-written and a very intense collection of short stories and poems. Authors and poets include Steven Thor Gunnin (Author), Jennifer Walker (Author),Rissa Watkins (Author),Lindsay Maddox (Author), George Kramer (Author), Lucinda Gunnin(Author), Jo Brielyn (Author),M. Lori Motley (Author), Susan Sosbe (Author), Laurie Darroch-Meekis (Author)- it is an amazing collection of talent. There is a total of ten authors and six poets included in this anthology.

Each author/poet's expression was defined and brought emotions from deep within to the surface. Finding a collection like this is one of a kind.

I have to admit I was skeptical at first, not being a person or lover of poetry, but I am glad to have this masterpiece of work. I highly recommend this book to any book lover and especially poetry.

The Elements of the Soul is available at amazon

Friday, March 18, 2011

Product Review: Rachael Ray's Nylon Turner Set

ProductRachael Ray Tools 2-Piece Nylon Turner Set in Blue
Manufacturer: Rachael Ray
Product Details: Set of 2 spatulas 
Price: $11.99 (Sale price- MFSR$27.63)
Where to buy: CSN Stores online

My Review: This set of two spatulas is ideal for the advance and novice cook and baker. The simple design is easy to use, the item cleans well and remains heat resistant when using for frying on the stovetop.

  • Includes 2 turners
  • Pointed heads get into hard-to-reach corners
  • High heat silicone heads are heat safe to 400°F
  • Durable, lightweight handles are heat safe to 350°F
  • Material: Silicone
  • Color: Blue
  • Cleaning and Care: Dishwasher safe
  • Caution: Handles may melt if rested on the side of a hot pan

All items (including this one) that have been used through CSN Stores has been an excellent addition to my kitchen. When having to call CSN Stores for support, I've also found their customer service department extremely helpful.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Movie Review: 127 Hours

By Christina Newman

Title: 127 Hours
Genre: Adventure, Drama
Run Time: 84 min
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Danny Boyle
Writer: Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
Cast: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara
Recommended? Yes


127 Hours is the true story of mountain climber Aron Ralston's remarkable adventure to save himself after a fallen boulder crashes on his arm and traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah. Over the next five days Ralston examines his life and survives the elements to finally discover he has the courage and the wherewithal to extricate himself by any means necessary, scale a 65 foot wall and hike over eight miles before he can be rescued. Throughout his journey, Ralston recalls friends, lovers, family, and the two hikers he met before his accident. Will they be the last two people he ever had the chance to meet? Written by Fox Searchlight Pictures


James Franco gives the performance of his career!

This film far surpassed my wildest imagination and has given me much respect for James Franco. Packed with raw emotion that will have you on the edge of your seat wanting to scream and cry right along side him.

Mesmerizing and heart breaking all at the same time. This story reminds us that the will to live is so powerful that we can overcome even the most unthinkable of circumstances. Aron Ralston found the courage and will to carry on when he thought all hope was lost. No one was coming for him, they didn't even know where he was and yet he manages to stay alive for five days trapped under a boulder and in the end finds the nerve to cut off his own hand to survive. He does this and so much more.

Then before leaving the canyon he looks at the boulder and then looks up and says, "thank you."


My bottom line - See this film and experience the heartbreak, love and courage of one man.
Sunday, March 13, 2011

Keith Richards book review Life on the bleeding edge

The Rolling Stones 'Black And Blue'Image by En Ami via Flickr
Title: Life
Author: Keith Richards with James Fox
Publisher: Little Brown & Co.; Hachette Book Group
Recommended by BeyondBeautifulBabe: Yes
My review:

Much has been made of Keith Richards’s autobiography, Life, with his description of Sir Mick’s size, but the school boy bashing, girl swapping, and drug slurping episodes are distractions from the main attraction: How to play blues guitar.

When Keith fashions his 6-string guitar in tribute to a 5-string banjo, it’s goose-bump time. And when he talks about the search for the lost chord and drone notes that push a chord with a hit of D to lead you on….well, it’s heaven.

Keith also sings Mick’s praises as one of the best harmonica players, with his ability to suck and bend notes, so high and lonesome it touches the heart. And you remember Keith and Charlie Watts are there to drop you off the cliff those beautiful gaps between the beats.

It’s a reminder that the one thing Keith Richards does better than anyone else is play the edge of the note, bleeding into another. In his book, he sketches musical notes breaking out of the prison of a scale, and ending up on the edges. That is the best description of Keith – a man trying to live on the edge, pushing from one reality to another.

Here are the Top 10 Keith Richards edges he plays out in his book:

10. How much can I despise you, and still love you?

9. How close to death can I get, and still be alive?

8. How drugged can I be, but still function?

7. How crazy can I act, and still be sane?

6. How much can I mumble, and still be understood?

5. How lawless can I get, but stay out of jail?

4. How old can I be, but still be irresponsible?

3. How many names can I drop, but still be a working man?

2. How aloof can I act, but still connect?

And most important:

1.How off-tune can I play, and still be in harmony?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Book Review: TOP 100 Players of All-time by Position

Title: The Hockey News Top 100 Players of All-Time by Position

Author: Edited by Jason Kay

Publisher: The Hockey News, Transcontinental Media
Wayne Gretzky "The Great One"

Recommended? Yes!

My Review:

With a cover photo of Wayne Gretzky, The Great One,
this special Hockey News Collector's edition is sure to sell.
Hockey fans of all ages and decades will enjoy this photo-filled compilation of facts and figures—170 pages in all.
For those who are not familiar with hockey, there are 5 player positions:
o Goalies
o Defense
o Centers
o Left wingers
o Right wingers.
The book ranks the top 20 in hockey history for each playing position, a benefit for those who are newer to the game as fans or players.
Lists include Original Six team members from Maurice Richard and Jean Beliveau to Gordie Howe and Frank Mahovlich (The Big M, my all-time favorite left winger).

Newer younger players include: Sidney Crosby, Jarome Iginla, Alex Ovechkin and Martin Brodeur, among others. Brief hockey bios are listed for each player.

The book also includes some essay-length selections on the top candidate in each category:
o Goalie Terry Sawchuck
o Defensive Bobby Orr
o Center Wayne Gretzky
o Left winger Bobby Hull
o Right Winger Gordie Howe

This gem is found in the magazine section but is definitely a book-quality “collector” item!
Thursday, March 10, 2011

Product Review:

Product: Calphalon Silicone Balloon Whisk
Manufacturer: Ca;phalon
Product Details: Whisk material: nylon, material of handle: silicone and dishwasher safe
Price: $15.99
Where to buy: CSN Stores online
Recommend? Yes

My Review: When I first received this whisk I was concerned with the large size and my thoughts were of "what will I ever use this for?" Once I started in the kitchen Sunday morning making my infamous breakfast egg casserole I had no worries about using the over-sized whisk. After thinking briefly I realized this large whisk is perfect for many tasks in my kitchen, from making my daughter's favorite banana pudding recipe to large amounts of Jell-O (R) and pudding. I will definitely find hundreds of uses for this product.

While the price may seem a little high or extravagant I still recommend this brand. I've had dozens of whisks over the years and the teflon coating always seems to separate from the main whisk. This one is made of silicone and I'm confident it will uphold against my heavy usage.

The Calphalon Silicone Balloon Whisk is available at the CSN Stores.

Other Features:

Grip-anywhere handle features heat-resistant soft-touch silicone for more comfort and control
Silicone heat resistant to 500 degrees F
Nylon heat resistant to 400 degrees F
Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Product Review: Electrolux Home Care 166DX4 Super Broom Vacuum

by Alyssa Ast

Product: Electrolux Home Care 166DX4 Super Broom Vacuum

The handy lightweight conveniently cleans your house with an easy-empty dust cup, floor nozzle, crevice tool, and a telescopic handle. It also converts to a hand vac, weighs 3.8 lb., and uses the Clean Air System to do the job without doing you in. Easy-empty dust cup for quick disposal of dirt and dust. Converts to hand vac. Removable floor nozzle for cleaning stairs and upholstery. Stair cleaning handle. Easy-to-store telescopic handle makes storage a snap. Clean air system/motor protection. Floor nozzle. Lightweight - weighs less than 4 lb. Power - 2A. Standard filtration. Bagless. 0.5 dry quart. 8.5" cleaning width. Tool - crevice tool. 15´ cord. Sunflower yellow. Dimensions: 9" W. x 5.5" L. x 27" H.

Courtesy of
Price: $24.99

Recommended: Yes


I recently purchased the Electrolux Home Care 166DX4 Super Broom Vacuum to help me around the house. Previously, I had a Bissell, that is very similar to the Electrolux. However, the Bissell didn't pick anything up and was a huge pain in the neck to use so I eventually got rid of it. With the pains I had with the Bissell, I was kind of hesitant to purchase another broom vacuum, but I'm now glad I did.

In an all tile house with 4 little kids running around, my floors can quickly become a big mess. This broom vacuum is small enough I can keep it in the kitchen out of the way, and convenient enough I can pull it out any time and know it will get the job done. The canister is easy to empty and holds a decent amount so I'm not always having to empty it. I haven't had any issues with it's suction power and it rolls smoothly across the floor.

However, I do have one complaint. The cord is very, very short so I always have to stop to change outlets, which is a huge pain. But overall, I do recommend the Electrolux Home Care 166DX4 Super Broom Vacuum.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Book Review: Professional Cake Decorating

by Taqiyyah Shakirah Dawud

Title: Professional Cake Decorating
Author: Toba M. Garrett
Publisher: Wiley
Recommended? Yes, for any learning level.

Didn’t I tell you I’m a “caker?” I’m addicted to carb-filled sweets, so I bake a lot. And I’ve always loved making food perfect to look at before and during eating. So cake decorating is one of my most enjoyable hobbies. I’ve invested plenty of equipment, supplies, time, and sugar into finding the perfect frosting recipes; practicing shells and handwriting; and making chocolate roses and drop flowers.

As much as I love doing it, I almost love reading about it and watching it more. The collection of YouTube videos tucked in a Favorites folder on my browser can attest, and so can my growing collection of baking and cake decorating books. I bought Professional Cake Decorating mostly based on the ratings (4.5 out of 5 from 34 reviewers isn’t half bad) and proceeded to devour it. So to speak.

From Amazon’s author page, “Toba Garrett heads the department of cake decorating and design at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. Garrett holds a Master's Degree in Educational and Instructional Technology from Long Island University and is the author of Professional Cake Decorating, The Well-Decorated Cake and Creative Cookies: Delicious Decorating for Any Occasion. She is a member of the International Cake Exploration Societe and former President of the Confectionary Arts Guild of New Jersey, and was named one of the Top Ten Cake Artists in the U.S. in 2010 by Dessert Professional magazine.”

All that experience shows. This book is meant for serious study by students committed to learning or developing cake decorating skills from the most simple, like shell borders, to the most advanced, like latticework. The 200 full-color photos aren’t only for finished cake creations, although there are plenty of those. There are 125 photos focusing on performing specific steps or stage-by-stage creations (e.g., rosebud, half rose, full rose) and careful illustrations. Beyond the eye candy, there are Decorator’s Hints on many pages offering tips that only a long-time “caker” would be able to dispense, practical exercises at the end of each chapter, and of course recipes for cakes, icings, sugar paste, and chocolate plastique.

I found the instructions meticulous and easy to follow. She notes when a certain way of doing things is her preference, and provides options for students. Her tone is methodical, and each step is outlined as if written as she was performing it. Stencils in the back of the book allowed me to follow along with her exact examples in handwriting and runouts. She demonstrates over 17 beautiful and delicate flowers modeled in gumpaste, and 11 fruit from marzipan. Her recipes go beyond the simple chocolate and vanilla recipes many other authors offer to carrot cake, cherry/cranberry or almond/walnut pound cake, and lemon coconut cake. All come scaled for both regular- and industrial-sized mixers. Recipes for the fillings for each type of cake come afterward, and since she devotes an entire chapter to cookie decorating, a recipe for sugar cookies is included as well. Recipes for all the fondants and icings used in the book are also listed.

The only drawback for me as an American is that a large portion of the book is devoted to decorating the traditional European-style wedding or special occasion cake. That means most of the cakes she models are covered in stiff royal icing over marzipan, or fondant over a crumb coating of buttercream, with royal icing decorations. This makes for a very neat and smooth cake, but Americans tend to enjoy soft, fluffy buttercream better because we can eat it. Toba thoroughly explains how to make, apply, and decorate with buttercream, including many types of borders I'd never seen, but in terms of flowers she doesn't get much more complicated than the full-blown rose. I would probably try using a stiff buttercream to follow the instructions for flowers she demonstrated in royal icing, but I wouldn't recommend that for a beginner.

The most delicate work is done in royal icing because it's elastic while soft and hardens later. But royal icing and buttercream don't mix, so when learning those skills, I'd need to use a fondant-covered cake or a styrofoam model. I never tried it because I'd rather the buttercream, and I'd hate to waste so much time and sugar on something my family and I wouldn't eat. But if you have a European, South American, Australian, South African, or West Indian background in cakes, you'll love to impress everyone with these techniques.

Overall, it’s a thorough, well thought-out instruction book for cake decorators. It goes beyond showcasing the author’s incredible skill to really teach anyone who wants to learn to make sugar beautiful.
Monday, March 7, 2011

Product Review: Paderno World Cuisine Egg Ring

by Dawne Prochilo

Product: Paderno World Cuisine Egg Ring
Manufacturer: Paderno World Cuisine
Product Details: Flower egg ring, Non-stick, ideal for shaping an egg while being fried and great for making perfect pancakes
Price: $7.99
Where to Buy: CSN Stores online
Recommend: Yes

My Review: This kitchen gadget is a wonderful addition to my (or any cook's) kitchen. The possibilities for use are endless. I used this to make homemade egg-muffin sandwiches and silver dollar size pancakes with great results. The non-stick surface is just that- non-stick.

I highly recommend this product to everyone. The price is good and the company and customer service at CSN Stores is phenomenal.

Topurchase the Egg Ring, visit the CSN Stores.
Saturday, March 5, 2011

Product Review: Dell 1220 Notebook

By BeyondBeautifulBabe

Product: Dell Vostro 1220 notebook computer
Manufacturer: Dell

Product Details:

  • LCD Display: 12.1" Widescreen WXGA (1280 x 800) TrueLifeTM Display

  • Starting Weight: 3.36 lbs (1.52kg)
  • Size: 23.5 mm (front) – 37.6 mm (back) x 294 mm x 228.7 mm (0.93" (front) – 1.48" (back) x 11.57" x 9.00”
  • Options tested: Built-in web cam, Intel CoreDuo, Microsoft Office Small Business, Windows 7 Professional

Price: $499 starting price, refurbished

Where to get it: Dell website*

Recommended: Yes

Looking for a sweet notebook computer? The Dell Vostro 1220* meets the needs of busy, posting writers.

Considered an ultraportable laptop, the Vostro has built-in WIFI capability for the writer’s café, and the optional web cam.

On a daily basis, I run multiple users and multiple sites, with little-to-no delay.

Two drawbacks are the reflective screen, which shoots back glare in direct sun, and the low-volume speakers. You’ll need a pair of headphones.

BeyondBeautifulBabe's final verdict: The Vostro is lightweight, but with near-desktop performance, the Vostro’s speed makes it a bargain for the buck.

*Newer Vostro models available.

Related articles
Thursday, March 3, 2011

Product Review: Kindle Wi-Fi

By Christina Newman
Photo from

Product Name: Kindle Wi-Fi
Manufacturer Name: Amazon
Retail Price: $139.00
Where to Get It: Amazon, Staples

  • Display Size 6" diagonal
  • Display Type E Ink Pearl
  • Size 7.5" x 4.8" x 0.335"
  • Weight 8.5 ounces
  • Storage 3,500 books
  • Battery Life (Wireless Off) 1 month
  • Battery Life (Wireless On) 3 weeks
  • Books in 60 Seconds
  • Wi-Fi
  • Native PDF Support
  • Whispersync
  • Worry-Free Archive
  • Text-to-Speech
  • Portrait & Landscape View

Product Description: Electronic Reader

Recommended? Yes!


Simply put - I love it! I honestly did not think that I would enjoy having an easy reader. Feeling that I would miss handling books far too much I put off purchasing one.

On average I read anywhere from three to five books at any one time and I don't know about you but carrying them around with me can be a bit tiresome.

My husband recently bought me my first Kindle and after one night of playing with it I am in love. How did I ever manage without it? It's so incredibly light weight and the protective covers even give it the look of a real book. I was afraid that I would no longer be able to get lost in the words on the pages but the screen is amazing, you forget you're not holding a real book instantly. The buttons are easy to manage and allow for easy "flips" of the page.

One of my favorite things is being able to subscribe to my favorite newspapers and blogs! It is awesome to be in line at the market and have a nice giggle to myself reading my favorite humor blog or the latest from the New York Times.

My bottom line - If you don't have one, get one!
Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Website Review: Inside Track - College Admissions Coaching

By Pam Houghton

Website Name: Inside Track - College Admissions Coaching
Price: Website is free; coaching services are available in three different packages: Premium, $279/month; Standard, $149/month; Lite; $89/month
Product Description: Website and coaching services for high school students looking for guidance on the college application process.
Recommended? Website - yes, for starters; coaching services - can't say, didn't need; but other parents/students might find them useful.

We recently went through the college admissions process with our firstborn daughter. She pretty much had her mind made up on where she wanted to go to school a year before it was time to apply.

Once she applied, she was quickly accepted - and that was that!

We did not go through the sometimes agonizing process of figuring out which college was a "best-fit" by applying to numerous institutions or visiting multiple college campuses.

If your student/child is confused by where he or she wants to go, or wants to stand out among a group of "highly qualified candidates," you might want to poke around Inside Track's website for a few ideas.

And if you are really convinced that you and/or your student could benefit from added guidance, you might want to check out the paid monthly coaching services that are offered.

As mentioned, we did not need coaching services as our daughter knew where she wanted to go, and had the grades and test scores to get in. So, I guess you could say were were lucky that we didn't have to dilly-dally around with multiple applications and waiting to hear back.

But if a student is really unsure, and especially if the student aspires to a "dream" school, the coaching services might be worth checking out.

The website has decent information on how the coaching process works: over the phone, while the student has access to the coach via "e-mail, IM, Facebook and Skype." It claims to help the student understand their strengths and weaknesses, and how to stand out on a college application, along with "crafting winning personal statements and college essays", and "leveraging standardized test scores".

The website also has a nice little article on the financial aid process, which for most students starts with filing the Free Application for Student Aid form (FAFSA), which can be confusing. So there is value to the website alone, without purchasing the services.

I can recommend the website as a good starting point; but the coaching services? At your own discretion.

If you do use them, and like them, come back and leave your comments and thoughts here.

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