Thursday, April 24, 2014

Consumer Critique: Whip Smart - Lola Montez and the Poisoned Nom de Plume

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

I recently had a chance to read the book Whip Smart: Lola Montez and the Poisoned Nom de Plume. It's a follow up to another "Whip Smart" title, but reads fine independently. It's on sale at Amazon from April 25th through May 11th for just $0.99 for the ebook version! You an't go wrong at that price.

The book is set in the mid-1800s and follows beautiful and stubborn Lola Montez, who is encouraged by composer Franz Liszt to establish herself as a Parisian dancer. She attempts to write an adventure novel, but is thwarted and threatened.

It's an intriguing concept, and I enjoy reading period literature. Especially since this is based on a true story! It's artfully written, and clearly has been carefully researched. It's fun to read about interesting characters that tend to be historically obscure but with a unique, inspiring story.

Parenting Pointers: Termite Control

I recently had a chance to interview Stoy Hedges, entomologist with Terminix

, about termite control.

Q: How big of a risk are termites to homeowners?

A: Each year, termites cause 1 in 20 homeowners nationwide an average of $8,184 in property damage and repairs, according to internal Terminix research. That accounts for more than $5 billion in total property damages annually, according to the National Pest Management Association. Damage is rarely, if ever, covered by homeowner insurance policies.

Wood homes are at risk, but so are homes with brick, stucco, drywall, carpet backing and wallpaper--as those materials contain cellulose, a favorite food source of termites. Dubbed “the silent destroyer,” termites can eat away at a homeowner’s biggest investment 24 hours per day without them knowing it. In many areas, it’s not if you’re going to get termites, it’s when (they only need a crack to enter a home).

Q: What can property owners look out for if they're concerned about the possibility of termites?

A: Sometimes, termite damage is easy to identify by observing swarms, mud tunnels, damaged wood, excrement, or discarded wings. Other times, damage can be hidden, which is why it’s important to have annual inspections performed by knowledgeable and trained professionals.

During a swarm, winged termites leave their existing colony to mate and establish new colonies. Because swarming termites are often mistaken for flying ants, many homeowners don’t recognize these wings as the first sign of a termite infestation. But identifying winged termites can allow the homeowner to take action and alleviate a problem that may have otherwise remained unnoticed (colonies can be active for up to five years before damage is visible).

Termite swarm season typically takes place in the spring and is triggered by warm, moist conditions.  However, termites are active year-round with most damage taking place hidden within the walls, ceilings and substructure of a building.

Q: Prevention is the best way to help discourage termite invasions - how can homeowners work to lower the risk of termite activity?

A:            -      Fix roof and plumbing leaks. The moisture from these allows subterranean termites to survive above  
-          Clean and repair gutters. Gutters that do not drain properly can allow water to accumulate near the foundation.
-          Eliminate wood-to-soil contact. Any wood that simultaneously touches the soil and the home can provide termites with direct access into the structure. This includes storing firewood or other wood debris from being stacked against the side of the home.
-          Schedule an annual inspection with a trained professional. Early detection through regular inspections can save thousands of dollars in damage repair.

Q: Why is it important to use a professional instead of trying a DIY fix?

A: Terminix recently partnered with Harris Interactive in a survey that found 43% of homeowners think termites can be controlled using standard at-home, DIY treatments. Specialized tools and training are essential, however, to effectively treat termites and stop them from causing further damage to a home.

Remedial termite treatments are performed once active termite activity is confirmed.  Preventive treatment may be recommended when a home is believed to be at higher risk for termites with such factors including geographic region, moisture readings, a home’s age, condition and construction.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Consumer Critique: Kidz Bop 25

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

I recently got a copy of Kidz Bop 25 to review. I haven't really gotten into any of the Kidz Bop products. My girls are too young to really know any of the music, and I'm not really into pop music either. They are catchy tunes, especially with kids singing them, so I can see the appeal, especially for the tween set. And the videos are certainly more kid-friendly than most of the pop-star videos!

Soul Sustenance: Learning to Give Back - Children and Service (Volunteering)

Post by Clark Burbidge, author of Giants in the Land Trilogy,

A lesson often overlooked in the growth of a child is the need to volunteer to help others or give back to the community. While sharing is usually stressed at school and in the home, we can overlook talking about the value of a child sharing their time and contributing work to make something or someone’s life better. This can teach a child to pay closer attention to the world around them and consider others more deeply. It can also help them learn to work in groups and follow rules given to complete a task. Most of all it teaches a child the value of placing others’ needs before their own.
Here are a few tips to help inspire your child to volunteer and become a role-model in your community:
1) Give them choices
Allowing your child to choose the type of service helps them take title and responsibility for their decisions and follow through. There are opportunities at food banks, animal shelters, schools and with neighbors. Having choices, and counselling with them as they make the final decision will empower your child from the very start.
2) Start out with something fun
Make sure that the opportunities you pick have an element of fun, so that your child can learn to love serving others and work up to the more difficult jobs. Working at an animal shelter by playing with the pets or taking the animals for a walk or helping an elderly neighbor with simple chores are examples of starting with something manageable and fun. 
3) Serve side-by-side
Have you ever noticed it’s easier to get your child to do something if you offer to work together? Make sure that they’re not doing this alone. Support your child by volunteering with them and doing the same work that they do. A friendly presence and positive words will help the first few times volunteering fly by for your child. Long after they have forgotten the nature of the service they will remember that you did it with them. If you can’t volunteer with them, have your child volunteer with a friend. Having a parent or friend as a role model for their actions will inspire your child to work harder and continue to return. 
4) Emphasize the benefits
Talk about the benefits of volunteering. Make sure that your child knows why they’re doing what they’re doing and the difference it will make for those served. Show them who their work is helping and talk about what their life would be like without the volunteer work. Help them to understand the difference between self-benefits which will surely be present and the benefits that others receive from the service. This perspective will bring a better understanding of compassion in a world that sometimes only talks about passion. Compassion is a much more powerful and uplifting characteristic and worthy of effort to develop. 

About the AuthorClark Burbidge received an MBA degree from the University of Southern California and a BS degree in finance from the University of Utah. His career spans 34 years in banking, project finance, investment banking, and more recently as a Chief Financial Officer. He has been actively involved in community and church service, including lay youth and adult ministry, for over 38 years. His first book, Life on the Narrow Path: A Mountain Biker’s Guide to Spiritual Growth in Troubled Times was released nationally in 2011. His works A Piece of Silver: A Story of Christ (2012) and the Giants in the Land (2012 & 2013) Young Adult Fiction trilogy Books One and Two have been recognized with several international awards including Mom’s Choice Awards Gold Medals as the top books in the world in their categories. Learn more about Clark at his websites: and

Fun Freetime: Cinco de Mayo

Note: The following information provided by Birthday Express, with a full line of Cinco de Mayo supplies.
It’s fiesta time! Celebrate with our neighbors South of the border, and throw a party for the number one Mexican-American holiday, Cinco de Mayo! Interestingly enough, it's actually a much bigger and more popular holiday stateside, so let's show the world how it's done!
Now, while it is still technically Spring until mid-June, if you’re anything like us, you’re already craving that first splash of summer! Serve up some frozen margaritas for the grown-ups or slushies for the kids in plastic margarita glasses. Rim with sugar and add lime slices to complete the look.
To add some more fiesta flair to your refreshments table, dress up your drinks with our fiesta serape drink cozies! One size fits most bottles – just slip on and sip! Adding some fun fake moustaches adds to the humor, and your guests will definitely get a kick out of them.
To brighten up your party scene, try some festive paper fan decorations or our giant fiesta decorating kit. With three 24-foot banners, you’ll have enough party to go around for sure! You can even enhance the look further with handmade paper decorations of your own – this can make a great party activity for kids, too!
Simple white cupcakes with colored wrappers make a great accent, and a sombrero centerpiece ties the table together nicely. Red hot tissue paper chili peppers are another way to go, too, and piñatas are a necessity!
Try the rainbow donkey piñata for a classic style that screams Cinco de Mayo! Don’t forget to add a themed buster kit and piñata filler... after all, piñatas aren't just for decoration! Add some maracas as a fun finishing touch to your party theme.
So, how are you going to celebrate Cinco? Follow on Facebook and Twitter and share your thoughts! Be sure to check us out on Pinterest for even more party ideas and inspiration!

Sweepstakes: Mother of All Kitchens

Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery, the largest wholesale distributor of plumbing supplies in the U.S. with more than 270 showrooms nationwide is hosting a #MotherofAllKitchens “Pin it to Win it” Giveaway, open to all on Pinterest.

For Mother’s Day, we are honoring the women who so brazenly let us lick raw cake batter off the beaters and inviting you to participate in our “Mother of All Kitchens” Mother’s Day Giveaway. Pin your ideal kitchen for a chance to win a Kitchen Aid Artisan® Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer in Pistachio and a $150 Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery gift certificate.  
The contest runs through May 9th. To enter:          
1. Pick your pin: Choose from one of our favorites or your own inspiration.
2. Enter your information: Fill in your information in the spaces provided.
3. Get pinning: Click the “Submit & Pin” button to pin your selected item to any of your boards and you’ll be entered automatically.

Giveaway: FertilityBlend Supplements

Created by leading researchers, FertilityBlend is the first nutritional product to synergistically combine key natural ingredients to prime the body for conception, with individuals formulas tailored to the different needs of men and women. FertilityBlend For Women and FertilityBlend For Men were developed based on published scientific literature on nutritional components that benefit fertility and have a safe history of usage. In studies conducted with Stanford University Medical School, each formula has shown excellent results in both efficacy and safety.

Key ingredients in FertilityBlend For Women:
·         Chasteberry (natural herb that supports good hormone balance and normal ovulation)
·         L-arginine (amino acid that helps maintain healthy uterine lining)
·         Green tea, vitamin E, and selenium (antioxidants that help enhance reproductive health by repairing oxidative damage due to aging and environmental toxins)

Key ingredients in FertilityBlend For Men:
·         L-carnitine (amino acid that has been shown to be critical to the formation of healthy sperm)
·         Vitamins C and E, green tea and selenium (all potent antioxidants that help improve sperm counts and quality)

·         Ferulic acid (antioxidant that has been shown to improve sperm quality)

If you are interested, you can enter when you "like" FertilityBlend on Facebook or follow FertilityBlend on Twitter in order to enter the giveaway. You'll get one entry for each action (leave a comment for each one). Deadline is April 30th.

Shopping Savings: Twigtale

Twigtale - makers of great personalized children's books, especially for times of transition - is running a deal on Plum District for the next few days: just $12 for 1 book or 2 for $20! It's a great deal for these cute books that your kids will love.

Caring Causes: BeadforLife

Disclosure: I received complimentary products to facilitate this post. All opinions are my own.

BeadforLife is a non-profit organization empowering women to change their lives. We first teach them to earn income by rolling beads from recycled paper to create beautiful jewelry. They are simultaneously given business training so they can launch their own business (whatever they dream of: a salon, restaurant, retail store) after they graduate.

The NEW Mother’s Day Party is overflowing with many new items handcrafted with love! In addition to vibrant paper bead jewelry items, the Mother’s Day Party includes:
  • NEW Tendo line of necklaces and bracelets
  • NEW Shea Nilotica Tubes – 100% East African Shea Butter
  • Newly packaged Loose Beads, along with fun DIY craft projects
  • NEW Akora Bags in bright, poppy fabrics  
  • Hand-tailored fabric jewelry bags
  • Kibbo Baskets woven with hopes and dreams
  • 10 Mother’s Day cards to share with moms who inspire
When you host a party and order jewelry or shea butter products, you help support women in Uganda. At the same time, you're buying a really good-looking product. The jewelry is a very fair price (necklaces range from $18 to $30, bracelets $5 to $23, earrings $10 to $16) and so is are the shea butter body care products. If you like hosting parties and want to make your next party have a purpose, consider this great organization.

Healthy Habits: Foods that Fight Pain

There are a variety of foods that can be a natural solution to pain. These foods aren't going to instantly take away that headache, but they contain nutrients that fight inflammation and other causes of pain, so look for ways to add them to your diet.

Red pepper - vitamin C helps keep collagen (connective tissue) healthy. Add to salads, sauté into stir fry, or just eat plain! They make a great lightly sweet and crunchy snack.
Sweet potato - beta-carotene is a strong antioxidant. Roast like a baked potato, slice thinly and bake into chips, or puree and add to baked goods.
Ginger - works as an anti-inflammatory. Use it to spice up sweet or savory goods.
Salmon - omega 3 is good for joints. Use canned salmon like tuna, or bake or pan-fry.
Papaya - contains vitamin C and also has papain to help improve digestion and healing. Eat plain or dice into fruit salad or fruit salsa.
Blueberries - phytonutrietns and antioxidants. Eat plain, lightly dust with sugar, or fold into baked goods.
Avocado oil and extra-virgin olive oil - good sources of healthy fats and antioxidants. Use to replace vegetable oil.