Friday, August 28, 2015

Consumer Critique: Aftermath Lounge

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

This year marks the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Aftermath Lounge: A Novel in Stories (Calypso Editions) is a collection of ten interwoven stories that follow the people of Gulf Coast Mississippi in the five years following Katrina. Author Margaret McMullan received a National Endowment for the Arts to complete it and bases the novel loosely on her family’s historic home in Pass Christian, MS.

The book is somewhat disjointed at first, as the stories are pretty much able to stand alone. But as I read further in, the connections became deeper, and it left quite the picture of the broken homes and families that had to make things work long after the news cameras disappeared. Some of the stories were heartwrenching, others inspiration, and overall it provides a good picture of the type of things that went on as people picked up their lives and tried to recover.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Shopping Savings: Island Treasures Gourmet Rum Cakes

Smart shoppers and hostesses will stock up on Island Treasures Gourmet™ Rum Cakes for the holidays. These smooth, moist cakes are baked in Virginia and made with rum from a legendary Hawaiian recipe, creating an exquisite Made in America rum cake.

Choose the 32 oz size that serves 12 to 16 people or the Sampler Pack of four 4 oz cakes, including Vanilla, Coconut, Cinnamon Pecan Streusel and new flavor, Chocolate Chip rum cakes. Online customers enjoy $5 off the Sampler Pack and two 32 oz cakes for $39.95, a $10 savings.

Healthy Habits: Facts About Erectile Dysfunction You Should Know

It's the issue that most men, and some of their partners, don't want to learn or talk about and...erectile dysfunction. Along with physical health, mental stress from work, kids and  everything can all contribute.
Dr. Michael J. Trombley, M.D. The Medical Director of Physicians E.D. Center ( says couples better pay attention. Estimates of the number of American men who suffer from erectile dysfunction range from 15 million to 30 million, according to the National Institutes of Health.  "E.D. not only affects the overall happiness of a man's life, it can be a sign of larger issue of known medical problems or medical issues that maybe on the way.
E.D. is defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual intercourse.
Dr. Trombley has the following E.D. questions and answers that men should be aware of, whether they currently have an E.D. problem or not:

·         Can Erectile Dysfunction be a signal of more serious health issues?
“Unfortunately, yes. Erectile Dysfunction is caused by insufficient blood flow to the penis, and if you’vehave artery problems in the penis, you may very well have them else-where too, including hardening of the arteries in your heart and in your brain. Penile health is often an early indicator for general health. That’s why I urge men with Erectile Dysfunction to consult with a physician sooner rather than later. 

·         What are the biggest risk factors for ED?
“Without a doubt, the top ones include smoking and diabetes” Some of the others include high blood cholesterol, cardiac diseases, arterial sclerosis (age-related thickening and hardening of the arteries), poor overall circulation and certain types of medication.

·         Wouldn’t  it  be  OK to ignore my  ED  and just let my sex  life  fall  by  the  way side?
“Restoring your function can quickly make a huge improvement in your relationship with your partner. When a man avoids sexual relations, his mate may feel either unloved or unattractive, making them unhappy.

·         Are my options only pills like Viagra or Penis Pumps or Surgery?
“No! There is a highly specialized form of medicine that involves the use of combining medicines tailored to a patient’s needs. This form of treatment works when the pills stop working or don’t work at all and does not entail surgery.” “ Your doctor’s recommendation, as well as your individual preference, is important in determining the best and most acceptable form of treatment for you.”
Dr. Trombley adds that there is hope that the erectile dysfunction problem in this country will decrease. But the key for every man is to face facts, ask questions, and take action.
About Dr. Michael Trombley
Dr. Michael Trombley, MD is a Board Certified Physician and Medical Director of Physician’s E.D. Center and the author of the confidential report “Seven Secrets Doctor’s Wont’ Tell You About Erectile Dysfunction”.
He has focused on health and wellness issue of men for 20 years which includes more than 20 years of experience treating men with Erectile Dysfunction and Premature Ejaculation.  
Physicians E.D. Center
Physicians E.D. Center is committed to providing real, long lasting solutions to erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Its licensed physicians provide persona; diagnosis and a tailored treatment plan to safely awaken a patient’s sex life in just one visit.

Parenting Pointers: Interpreting Crying

Courtesy of Baby Care Basics by Dr. Jeremy Friedman, Dr. Natasha Saunders, with Dr. Norman Saunders © 2015 Reprinted with publisher permission. Available where books are sold.

Interpreting Crying

As parents, we are often sleep-deprived and worried, which makes interpretation very challenging at times. Use these questions to try to identify why your baby might be crying:

1.         Are you hungry? Most babies will cry when they are hungry. Your baby may put his hand to his mouth, suck vigorously on a finger or pacifier, smack his lips, or root. Try offering your baby a feed.

2.         Do you need a diaper change? Babies vary in how long they will tolerate a wet or soiled diaper. Some will want to be changed right away; others don’t seem to notice. A clean diaper will quickly resolve crying as a result of a dirty bottom.

3.         Are you tired? Babies need a lot of rest, but often have difficulty soothing themselves to sleep. They will often fuss, cry, and become agitated or inconsolable when they need to sleep, especially if they are overtired.

4.         Do you want to be held? Babies love to be held close in order to feel, hear, and smell their caregivers. Many people worry about spoiling a baby by carrying them too much, but you cannot spoil a baby with attention in the first few months of life.

5.         Is your tummy bothering you? Gas can make an infant uncomfortable. Infants may pull up their legs, pass gas, or strain and grunt when passing stool. Try placing your baby on his belly, moving his legs back and forth in a bicycling motion, or giving him a gentle tummy massage.

6.         Do you need to burp? Crying that occurs during or after a feed can be due to gas or liquid and stomach acid traveling back up the esophagus. Babies can swallow a lot of air while breast- or bottle-feeding and may need to burp during or after feeding. Some babies burp spontaneously, but others need help to do so.

7.         Are you too warm or cold? Babies may feel too hot or too cold, and are very sensitive to being over- or underdressed. Generally, one light layer more than what an adult is wearing will keep a baby comfortable.

8.         Are you in pain? Little things that can be hard to spot may be causing pain. Your baby may have a small cut or abrasion that is difficult to see, or a rough tag or stitching on clothing may be causing him discomfort.

9.         Are you teething? In general, the first tooth arrives between 6 and 10 months, but there is huge variation. Teething pain may be relieved by over-the-counter pain medication, including acetaminophen, or by providing a cool, clean cloth or teething ring for your baby to chew on.

10.       Do you need stimulation or a break? The sights, sounds, sensations, and smells of the world outside the womb are all new to a baby. Sometimes a baby may want to experience more of what is around him and he’ll cry to tell you he needs more stimulation. Other times, a baby may cry to tell you there is too much going on and he needs a break. Finding the right amount of stimulation for your baby is a learning process, and that amount will change as your baby grows.

11.       Are you sick? Babies may cry to tell you they are feeling sick. A sick baby may be less active, may not want to feed or may feed less, or may have a fever. Trust your instincts, because you know your baby best. If you suspect your baby is sick, talk to your doctor.

DR. JEREMY FRIEDMAN, MB.ChB, FR CPC, FAAP, is the Chief of Paediatric Medicine at the Hospital for Sick Children and a Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto.

DR. NATASHA SAUNDERS, MD, MSc, FR CPC, is a pediatrician at the Hospital for Sick Children and the mom of two small children.

Find more information on how to care for your baby in Baby Care Basics.

Sweepstakes: Cetaphil

Over 65 years ago, a leading pharmacist created the first Cetaphil product – a gentle, yet powerful formula that would clean without stripping and moisturize without clogging.  Today, Cetaphil is the #1 dermatologist-recommended brand of cleansers and moisturizers and is recognized around the world.  With leading global skincare experts, we continue to develop innovative skincare technologies for products with Gentle Power that help restore, protect and maintain your skin’s health every day.
Cetaphil® recently welcomed their newest addition to the brand, Cetaphil® Baby, and is inviting new and expectant parents to celebrate the joys of parenthood with them by entering the Cetaphil® Baby Babymoon Sweepstakes! New parents and parents-to-be can enter for the chance to win a 5-day/4-night Babymoon in Miami, Florida!* The lucky winner will get to celebrate at the Solé on the Ocean Resort and Spa (or comparable hotel, subject to availability), with its dramatic two-story lobby facing the ocean, magnificent balconies, and sculpted water fountains and relax with a $500 spa credit.
Enter for a chance to win at by providing an email address and filling out the registration form. Entrants can earn bonus entries by encouraging friends to enter, receiving one bonus entry for every friend who clicks on the link they post and enters (for a maximum of 10 possible bonus entries**)!

Caring Causes: Save the Children and Hurricane Katrina

Save the Children US has been on the frontlines of helping children affected by Katrina for 10 years. You can watch these videos to learn more about the work that's been done so far, and the work that has yet to be done.

Book Nook: Rescued for His Glory

Honest, refreshing and inspiring, Rescued For His Glory (Love Clones Publishing) presents sixteen stories of women who make a commitment to make dramatic changes, discovering in the process that their lives mean so much more than they believed at first.

"Our desire is to reach every race, creed, and gender to encourage them to confront the very fear that has been holding them back from pursuing their lives. We want people to know that they are not alone. In the book, we become transparent, telling our real life stories, so God's people can relate and be set free,” they write.

Life is difficult. Rape, abuse, financial hardships, chronic illness and addiction are part of being human, and the authors of these true stories don't pretend otherwise. But as ordinary people, they were granted the strength to overcome their obstacles; you can receive that same miraculous grace. The inspiration to look for miracles is found in the pages of Rescued For His Glory. Time after time, these women faced God's tests, and turned them into testimony.

Wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, preachers, healthcare workers, leaders, administrators, teachers, entrepreneurs: the sixteen authors present the unvarnished truth of God's power and mercy in a powerful and accessible format.

I had a chance to email the authors to learn more.

What was the inspiration behind this collection?
The Literary Leader, Joyce Samuels, was inspired to begin this collaboration when she began to write her own story and realized that many other women must have gone through a life changing experience at least once in their lifetime. She reached out and gathered us together to tell our stories from tragedy to triumph, dispair to hope. 
How did you choose the stories to be featured in the book?
Each author gave a brief description of what they had gone through prior to the book coming together. The publisher and Ms. Samuels created the layout and order once the final excerpts were completed. 
Can you give some advice to people who are currently struggling to overcome a difficult situation?
DO NOT GIVE UP!!!. Believe in what God has created you to be. What you have gone through or what you have done was not to destroy you. It was a process that you went through to bring you to your expected end. There is purpose and destiny in you.  
What advice do you have for those who want to help and support other women as they struggle?
Pray with these women; be a great support system; research on how to find shelters and an escape plan if necessary.  

Healthy Habits: Handwashing is Not the Answer to Combat Germs

Hand Washing Not the Answer to Combat Germs
William B. Miller, Jr., M. D.

They are everywhere. On every surface; on our hands, our lips and noses and everywhere on us and in us. There is no crevice, nook or cranny of our bodies that is excluded. They will find us, no matter what we do. It's just fact. Germs are everywhere, all around us, and it will always be so.  

Recent studies concentrating on schools have cataloged how surprisingly fast germs can spread.  For example in ones study conducted in a school, an invisible powder was placed on the hands of two children in a fourth grade class. The powder did not have any bacteria. Instead, it was a harmless product that remains invisible to the eye but can be tracked on any surface with an ultraviolet light scanner. In the span of a single hour, every child in the classroom had come into contact with it and had it on their hands, faces and noses. The video that accompanies this research is very impressive. Certainly, any virulent pathogen can exhibit the same kind of rapid spread. In fact, that particular school system had previously suffered an outbreak of Norovirus, the same type of virus that afflicts some cruise ships, and 150 children and staff were sickened.

What do these experiments teach us then? How might we best protect ourselves? Certainly, hand washing is important. If done correctly, risk of the spread of pathogens is diminished. However, many scientific studies indicate that hand washing as a societal solution has significant limitations. Most people don't wash their hands effectively or frequently enough to make any important difference. The current recommendations for hand rinsing with soap is for a 15-20 second scrub. It takes that long before it becomes an effective deterrent. However, a 2013 study from Michigan State found that fewer than 5% of all subjects washed their hands according to these guidelines. In fact, many individuals don't wash their hands at all when using the bathroom. Interestingly, the data for alcohol based hand sanitizers is decidedly mixed. It is more effective than soap and water in some circumstances for certain germs and not for others. For instance, there is some evidence that this is not an effective method to prevent the spread of Norovirus that leads to significant gastrointestinal illness. It is even possible that it actually hastens the dispersion of that pathogen.

Perhaps the better answer is to take a lesson from the experiments. The spread of any infection begins with a single individual in any specific local setting. So, if that index person is not in the classroom, then obviously everyone else had a much better chance of remaining healthy. The spread of pathogens is inevitable at school once the pathogen gains access to that environment. Therefore, a sick person shouldn't come to school. Although it might seem obvious, it really isn't. Some people come to school thinking that they are well, don't feel sick, but can still be carriers of a serious infectious agent. More commonly though, students and teachers come to school feeling 'just a bit under the weather' with a sniffle or an early cold. They (or their parents) are making a . This is a very ingrained aspect of our culture.

For example, when I was in active medical practice as a physician for 30 years, I never took a sick day. It was not that I was never sick. I came to work sick, often much sicker than my patients. That was our practice norm at that time. In that era, unless you were absolutely unable to function, you were  expected to come to work. So the single most effective means of improving health, particularly during seasonal illnesses such as the flu, is to create a culture that instructs those that are sick that they are expected to stay away and only return when they are better. Cultural norms need to be changed and systems need to be put in place that regard this response as a societal duty that does not penalize those that must remain absent. Sometimes, the answer to a problem in biology is not more technology. In certain circumstances, the best response is an obvious, time tested and low tech one. If you are sick, and know that you can spread germs to otherwise healthy people, stay home and let it pass.

There is also a little appreciated flip side to these same studies documenting how quickly germs can be transmitted. Although avoiding any active infection is an object to be sought, let's not forget that the continuous exposure to germs is a crucial element of a healthy immune system. As we more deeply investigate our complex interactions and co-existence with the microbial sphere, we are learning that there is continuous exposure to many good microbes as well as some bad ones.  A germ that doesn't kill you or permanently harm you makes you stronger on an immunological basis. So, let's learn how to better cope with germs, but let's not go crazy in doing so.

Dr. Bill Miller has been a physician in academic and private practice for over 30 years. He is the author of The Microcosm Within: Evolution and Extinction in the Hologenome. He currently serves as a scientific advisor to OmniBiome Therapeutics, a pioneering company in discovering and developing solutions to problems in human fertility and health through management of the human microbiome. For more information,

Mealtime Magic: Nutrition Sandwiches (and Contest)

Kids perform better in school with the proper nutrition, but how do you make sure they get a well-balanced and nutritious lunch? Health authorities recommend children ages 4 to 13 need 40 - 48 grams of whole grains each day and sandwiches made with whole grain breads provide a host of essential nutrients. Plus, they’re a perfect go-to-lunch choice for busy moms on the go. That said, kids can be pretty picky, so making their lunches exciting and fun could be the difference in your child eating what you packed or trading their lunches with other kids.
Not sandwich savvy and not sure how to make a nutritious sandwich your children will love?  Nature’s Harvest® bread has teamed up with Emmy-nominated cooking show host, mom and author Kelsey Nixon, for the Nature’s Harvest Back-to-School Sandwich Art Contest, to encourage moms to have a little whole grain fun with their kids’ lunches.
Contest highlights:                                                                                                                             
      Through Sept. 6, visit the Nature’s Harvest Facebook page and submit a photo of your sandwich art creation                       
      The top 10 semi-finalist entries will be posted for online voting from Sept. 14 -Sept. 20, 2015
      One Grand Prize winner will be announced in October and will receive a “Kitchen Crash” – where Kelsey will visit their personal home kitchen! 
Learn more and get some great tips:
Kelsey Nixon is an Emmy-nominated TV personality, author, wife, mom,  and cooking show host. Her show, Kelsey’s Essentials on Cooking Channel, Executive Produced by Chef Bobby Flay, centers around a tip, technique or tool that shows the home cook how to navigate the kitchen. A finalist on season 4 of The Next Food Network Star, Kelsey was voted ‘Fan Favorite.’ She jump started her culinary career with Kelsey’s Kitchen, a cooking show devoted to ‘fast, fun, and affordable meals for college students.’ Kelsey’s first cookbook Kitchen Confidence (Clarkson Potter) was released in February 2014 and her first product line with HSN debuted in July 2015.

Caring Causes: Black Cowboys/LilySarahGrace Fund

Black Cowboys is a children’s board board launching September 1 that explores the culture of African American cowboys. 

Published by Home Grown Books as part of its new Mini Museum Series, Black Cowboys features the photographs of Andrea Robbins and Max Becher. Targeted to 0-6 year olds, the book explores the culture of African American cowboys, a culture that is written out of our history but still thriving. The engaging photographs will appeal to even the youngest of children, while the subject matter will encourage further thought and discussion in older readers.

5% of all the books’ profits will be donated to the LilySarahGrace Fund, a non-profit that provides grants to struggling public schools to support child-centered learning and creativity in the classroom.
ARTIST NOTE: It comes as a surprise to many that over one-third of cowboys in the Wild West were African Americans. This is because the Black cowboy was written out of history by novels and the film and television industry. To this day, Black cowboy culture has been thriving and is widespread. Across the United States, Black riding clubs meet regularly and hold trail rides, backyard-jackpot rodeo competitions, and charity events. Besides the display of horsemanship skills, the Black cowboy/girl lifestyle allows for fellowship, the reuniting of families, mentoring of children and introducing young people to their history.
HOME GROWN BOOKS’ MINI MUSEUM SERIES: The series is the first of its kind, as a collection of contemporary art books for kids, and exposes young minds to art that will engage and inspire them. The museum quality book series introduces kids to cutting edge contemporary art by featuring the works of artists from different backgrounds, working in different mediums, and addressing different content than what is typically found in a children’s books. Kyla Ryman, founder of the independent publisher Home Grown Books, pairs the art with early reader language. As the only series of contemporary art books for kids, the books expose young minds to art that will engage and inspire them.