Saturday, December 20, 2014

Consumer Critique: Earth and Sky

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

Guy Delcambre was living a normal life with his wife, Marianne, and three young daughters when Marianne passed away suddenly. In "Earth and Sky," Delcambre chronicles his journey through grief to find God's grace sufficient. He also shares the difficult conversations he had with his daughters and things he did to help them cope with the loss of their mother. Furthermore, Delcambre gives encouragement and practical advice to grieving readers, such as detailing how to use a grief journal.

I have never had to experience the loss of a spouse. But I still found this book helpful. We recently had two family friends pass away, and some of the ways that Guy shared conversations he had with his daughters helped me share with my own daughters about how people can die even if they're young, and what happens to them afterwards.

The book does have an element of sadness, but is overall positive and hopeful, a good way to read about grief from someone who has been there - especially someone who is finding themselves in the difficult position of grieving with a family.

Soul Sustenance: 25 Ways to Stay Upbeat When Surrounded by Negativity

Have you ever wondered where the good times have gone? Do you find yourself in the grocery store line listening to customers lament on the world's problems? Do you run in to pick up your dry cleaning in time to hear the latest update about a virus you've never heard of? Do you cook a fabulous dinner and sit down to enjoy family time around the table, but instead hear about your spouse's demanding boss or your child's teacher who will be out the rest of the year due to breast cancer? How much bad news can you take? How can you possibly remain upbeat when everyone around you is full of gloom, doom and negativity?

In truth, we all get down sometimes, but if you are surrounded by negative friends and family, you are exposing yourself to a contagious attitude. Negativity, like the common cold, is spread by word of mouth and actions. Like the common cold, the best way not to catch it is to use precaution and prevent being susceptible.

Here are my 25 favorite ways to stay upbeat and positive:
  1. Get involved with people or projects that give you meaning.
  2. Schedule time in your day to have five minutes of total quiet alone.
  3. Meditate by focusing on your breathing in and out slowly.
  4. Pray.
  5. Don't take other's negativity personally.
  6. Limit your time with negative people and make your life a no venting or complaining zone.
  7. Play: yoga, running and/or walking are good examples of adult playtime.
  8. Go to a movie with a friend or by yourself.
  9. Listen to music that makes you feel positive.
  10. Write down three things you've always wanted to do or were interested in and begin learning one of them.
  11. Have Friday or Sunday night potluck night. Everyone can come, but everyone brings something to the table.
  12. Have a suggestion box set up in your home so kids, as well as other family members, can write suggestions for innovative new family outings or rituals.
  13. Go to church: according to research church goers are happier, healthier and find more meaning in life than non-church goers.
  14. Play with your kids even when they're grown.
  15. Hug family and friends as much as you can.
  16. When worries take over, step back and focus on
  17. Be grateful and say thank you each opportunity you get. The more you give thanks, the more you have to be thankful for as time goes on.
  18. Volunteer.
  19. Plant a garden or at least a few plants.
  20. Get a pet or spend time watching animals on TV.
  21. Watch funny movies or movies that encourage good rather than evil.
  22. When faced with a challenge instead of getting discouraged think of it as an opportunity to learn and grow your business, relationship, or wherever the challenge is.
  23. Give away whatever you aren't using.
  24. Pay it forward every chance you get.
  25. Read autobiographies and biographies. They help you understand that everyone goes through really bad times and how you handle it defines your character.
Life gets rough for everyone sometimes, but life stays rough for those who allow the bad times to taint the joyful times as well. I have met people who live horrific lives of chronic pain, yet their attitude is so positive they infect others, which feeds back and revitalizes them with positivity. No one has you sign a negative contract, however. Surrounding and staying in negative relationships locks you into their contract. Break free! Find and encourage positive interactions and relationships for yourself and those who are open to being infected with good energy.

Mary Jo Rapini, MEd, LPC, is a licensed psychotherapist and co-author with Janine J. Sherman, of Start Talking: A Girl's Guide for You and Your Mom About Health, Sex or Whatever. Read more about the book at and more about Rapini at

10 Most Expensive Houses

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Amazing Apps: Hidden Object Adventure Games from Big Fish

Big Fish is proud to announce the recent release of Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Sacred Grove, the 10th installment in the successful Mystery Case Files ® series from Big Fish. The Mystery Case Files ® series is Big Fish’s most successful hidden object adventure series with over 100 million franchise downloads.  Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove, Sacred Grove returns franchise fans to one of their most favorite plot locations.  Dire Grove has been plunged into a record-defying cold, and wild animals threaten at every turn! You’ve been called in to uncover the source of the town’s troubles. But you quickly find yourself in the middle of a feud between the local hunters and the mysterious Mistwalkers who live in the woods. Can you prevent an all-out war? Pick your gender and use an innovative deduction mechanic as you try to discover the secret behind Dire Grove’s curse!  

Big Fish also recently released Dark Parables: The Little Mermaid and the Purple Tide on PC/Mac, the 8th installment in the popular Dark Parables ® series from Blue Tea Games, the second most popular series from Big Fish.  In addition, on December 4th, Big Fish released the 3rd installment of our most popular holiday series, Christmas Stories: Hans Christian Andersen’s Tin Soldier, which will be released simultaneously on PC/Mac and iOS.      


Mealtime Magic: Simple and Delicious Healthy Recipes

I have the chance to share a few simple yet delicious recipes that don’t require hours slaving over the stove, including Black Fried Rice with Snap Peas and Scallions, Coconut Kale Salad with Pickled Radishes and Carrots, and Mango Lassi with Aloe Water.

Incorporating coconut oil, liquid aminos, and aloe vera juice into meals is a great way to boost nutritional value through cooking, but many are unaware of ways to utilize these ingredients. To make things simple, yet fun, the Vitamin Shoppe teamed up with chef extraordinaire and food personality Phoebe Lapine to create four delicious recipes that weave in these hidden ingredients – nutritious cooking without the fuss!

Black Fried Rice with Snap Peas and Scallions
Makes 4 servings
Fried rice recipes work best when the grains are a day or two old. Split up your cooking work and make the black rice the day before. You can also sub black rice for leftover quinoa or brown rice from your takeout order.
·         2 tablespoons NEXT STEP Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil
·         2 medium carrots, diced
·         1 small yellow onion, diced
·         1 bunch scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
·         1 cup thinly sliced snap peas
·         2 garlic cloves, minced
·         1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
·         3 cups cooked black rice (from 1 cup uncooked)
·         3 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos
·         2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
·         1 teaspoon sriracha
·         2 eggs, beaten
·         1 tablespoon Organic Shelled Hemp Seed
1.     In a large wok or nonstick skillet heat the coconut oil. Sauté the carrot, onion, and white scallion over high heat until soft and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the snap peas, garlic, ginger, and green scallions and stir-fry until fragrant, another 2 minutes. Fold in the rice and stir-fry until well-coated in the vegetable mixture and beginning to toast, 2 minutes. Add the liquid aminos, sesame oil, and sriracha and stir to combine.
2.     Push the rice to the side of the pan to create a well. Pour the eggs into the center and cook, stirring gently, until nearly set. Toss the fried rice with the eggs and hemp seeds. Transfer the fried rice to bowls and serve right away.
Sesame Shrimp & Summer Vegetable Stir Fry with Hemp Seeds
Makes 4 servings
Hemp seeds are an amazing source of protein, making this dish an excellent vegan entree if you omit the shrimp. You can also substitute diced chicken breast for the shellfish.
·         ¼ cup Bragg Liquid Aminos
·         2 teaspoons sesame oil
·         2 tablespoons Royal Jelly Raw Honey
·         2 tablespoons Organic Shelled Hemp Seed
·         2 tablespoons NEXT STEP Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, divided
·         1 pound large peeled and deveined shrimp (preferably wild)
·         1 small yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
·         1 red or orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced
·         1 small yellow squash, cut into matchsticks
·         3 ounces shitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
·         2 garlic cloves, minced
·         2 cups thinly sliced rainbow chard
  1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the liquid aminos, sesame oil, raw honey, and hemp seeds.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet. Add the shrimp and stir-fry over high heat until pink, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the remaining oil and stir-fry the onion, peppers, squash and shitakes until lightly charred, 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Stir in the chard and cook until wilted, 2 minutes. Add the sauce and simmer until it thickens slightly, 2 minutes. Fold in the shrimp and cook one minute more. Serve over brown rice or quinoa.
Coconut Kale Salad with Pickled Radishes and Carrots
Makes 4 servings

You’ll want to serve this salad at room temperature so the coconut oil doesn’t solidify.
·         1 bunch Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale
·         1 large clove garlic, minced
·         2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
·         2 tablespoons Bragg Liquid Aminos
·         1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil or vegetable oil
·         2 tablespoons NEXT STEP Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, melted
·         6 red radishes, thinly sliced
·         2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
·         2 tablespoons Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar
·         1 teaspoon sea salt
·         1/3 cup large flake coconut
·         1 avocado, diced
  1. Remove the ribs from the kale by tearing away an inch or so from each side of the bottom of the stalk to form flaps. Then grab the bottom of the stalk and pull up.
  2. Stack the kale leaves in a pile and roll up like a cigar. Thinly slice the kale. Set aside in a large mixing bowl. Add the garlic, lemon juice, liquid aminos and olive oil. Mix together with your hands until each leaf of kale is very well coated in the lemon-oil mixture. Drizzle in the coconut oil and toss to combine. Set aside for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until wilted.
  3. Combine the carrots and radishes with the cider vinegar and salt. Let sit, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 15 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, toast the coconut in a skillet over medium heat until golden brown, 2 minutes. Set aside.
  5. Add the pickled vegetables to the kale, along with the avocado, and toss to combine. Transfer to a serving platter and garnish with the toasted coconut.
Healthy Mango Lassi with Aloe Water
Makes four 8-ounce servings

·         2 mangos
·         1 1/3 cups plain lactose-free Kefir
·         ½ cup C20 Pure Coconut Water Without Pulp
·         2 tablespoons Royal Jelly Raw Honey
·         2 tablespoons NEXT STEP Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, melted
·         1/4 cup Aloe Vera Juice
1.     Cut the top and bottom off the mango. Stand it up on the fatter cut side. Peel the mango with a chef’s knife, running it along the edges and turning the fruit clockwise until all the skin is removed. Remove the flesh on either side of the oblong pit and trim away any remaining pieces. Roughly chop the mango and add it to a food processor or blender along with the remaining ingredients.
2.     Puree until smooth. Divide between four 10-ounce glasses and chill until ready to serve.

The Long Night

The Long Night is a movie about sex trafficking in and around Seattle. One of the main people in the movie is Lisa who has been a prostitute since 13 (6 years) and is a heroin addict. She is now in jail. Her mother who has done everything she can to help Lisa, wants everyone to know this: 

"People NEED to see this film! I want to help get it out there. Not so people can watch with gory fascination, but so they can SEE reality and be moved to ACT. 

"My whole reason for wanting this film and it's subject matter put out there is because if it can spare one girl and her family, it's worth it. At the same time, I want Lisa to at least have a fair shot, EVERY SINGLE TIME she tries to get clean. 

"I just finished looking at the photo essay from MSNBC. Wow. I'm speechless. You did an amazing job capturing Lisa's struggle. I hope and pray daily that she makes it out. Alive would be even better, but we all know the stakes in this…People never want to examine the ugly reality too closely, so it needs to be amplified."
If this is a cause close to your heart, or just something you want to learn more about, check the movie out.

Giveaway: Boxed Water

Boxed Water is an alternative to bottled water that decreases  dependence on non-renewable resources, reduces wastes and decreases our carbon footprint.

Below are a few reasons why people believe Boxed Water is better:
·                More than three quarters of our packaging is made of paper, a renewable resource
·                Cartons are 100% BPA free
·                The company's carbon footprint is small:
  • Boxes are made from paper sourced exclusively from certified well-managed forests.
  • They ship our cartons flat to plants to be filled.
  • Once filled, the unique rectangular shape reduces shipping waste and carbon footprint versus round bottles.
  • They are building small, efficient regional filling plants to further reduce carbon footprint as they grow.
·                Boxed Water has partnered with 1% For the Planet, an international organization dedicated to improving and preserving our natural world. They commit at least one percent of total sales annually to environmental causes. 

I have a chance to give away a gift pack. To enter, leave a comment with your favorite feature of Boxed Water! Deadline is December 23rd.

Consumer Critique: GuruNanda Pulling Oil

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

Oil pulling is a practice that has been around for years and is reportedly effective for pulling toxins out of the body, resulting in a variety of benefits. Proponents cite cleaner, whiter teeth, fresher breath, and sometimes even weight loss or other benefits.

I didn't use it long enough to experience any of those, but I can say that the experience of oil pulling was surprisingly not as odd as it seemed like it would be. People often use an oil that they have - sunflower or sesame, for example - and for me, the thought of putting a swig of that in my mouth just seems disgusting.

However, GuruNanda makes an oil that's a combination of sunflower, sesame, coconut, and peppermint oil. I think it's the peppermint oil that makes it seem more like a mouthwash than just straight oil. Whatever it is, it's a habit I could get used to, and just might, if I notice any significant benefits over the next few weeks.

You Have to _____ Eat

If you remember the news about the story "Go the ___ to Sleep" you should check out this clip from You Have to ___ Eat. It's right along the same lines and can really resonate with parents of picky eaters!


DeLallo Recipe calendar