Monday, August 31, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. I only received one book this week. This is a good thing as after last week's overflowing mailbox, it will allow me to catch up on my reading.

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater (from my friend Joy at Thoughts of Joy)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Review: Twilight Movie

I read the first book Twilight by Stephanie Meyer last year before I started blogging and went on to read the whole series. It was a fun series to read, even as an adult but it was not great literature. I recently watched the Twilight movie on DVD and am trying to put together my thoughts. I have to say that the movie was true to the book including some of the cheesy, teen angst filled lines from Bella. I wasn't thrilled with the casting of Robert Pattinson as Edward as it just didn't connect with the character of Edward from the book for me. Also, the Cullen family didn't connect with what I pictured from the descriptions in the book, except for Alice who was spot on as a character. Jacob, played by Taylor Lautner, was a good match except for the wig and fake hair. The cinematography and visual effects were beautiful and scenery of the Pacific Northwest were excellent. The baseball scene was exactly as I pictured it from the book. So, overall I would have to say that I enjoyed the movie for what it was, entertainment. I like that it is more of a teen based love story and not a horror film considering the vampire theme. I am more of a team Jacob fan so I look forward to the next movie, New Moon.

The Sunday Salon

This has been a bit of slow week for posts on my blog as I have been fighting a bad cough and just have not had the energy to post much. I am doing a bit better but still have a nagging cough. I have had a slow reading week as well as I just haven't been able to focus much on reading. I am currently reading Crossed Wires by Rosy Thornton a charming story that I am enjoying very much. The quaintness of the villages and characters as well as reading about life in England has drawn me in. It's the perfect book to read with a cup of tea or coffee by my side. My review will be posted this week.

My son doesn't start school until after Labor day this year so we have some last minute school shopping to do this week. He desperately needs a haircut as at 10 years old he likes the long hair look and I have to call it a "trim" not a haircut! He also needs a new pair of tennis shoes and he is so impatient shopping for them so I don't particularly look forward to that. Hopefully, we'll fit in a few fun things this week and if the weather cooperates, a few more visits to the water park.

I just made a pan of brownies to take to a BBQ even though it's raining outside. The house smells delicious and my husband and son are so tempted to dig in to those brownies. I will have to guard them for later!

I've been remiss in sharing some wonderful awards that were passed on to me:

From Mary at Bookfan I received The Bloody Great Blogger award which is to be given to 5 bloggers who have been supportive and extra special to you in the blogging process. That person who always comments or the one who emails you to let you know about that Freudian slip you missed, the blogger who links to your posts or lifts you up when your blog is down. Thank you bloggers:

I received the Heartfelt Award from Mari at Bookworm with a View. Thank you!!!

Do you reach for a cup of cocoa or tea when your relaxing, seeking comfort, sharing a plate of cookies with family and friends? You know the feeling you get when you drink a yummy cup of cocoa, tea, or a hot toddy? That is what the Heartfelt Award is all about, feeling warm inside.


The Giveaway for 5 copies of Julie & Julia ends in a few days, on September 2nd so make sure to enter by then. Enter here, or click on the link to the left in the sidebar.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Review: The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf is an absorbing novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page. It is the story of Calli, a 7 year old girl with selective mutism and her best friend Petra who both are found missing in the middle of the night. The story that ensues is not one that I usually like to read as a mother as it can be heartwrenching to read stories related to abduction. I found that Ms. Gudenkauf focused on so much more than an "abduction" so please don't let that sway you from reading this book as it is truly about so much more. It focuses on family dynamics, the unconditional love and acceptance of childhoold friends and the power that holds in our relationships and secrets that are often left unspoken.

The Weight of Silence focuses on three families, Calli who is dragged into the woods behind her house by her drunken and abusive father in the early hours of the morning. Her mother Antonia, searches for her and gets support from the sheriff which was her childhood sweetheart. Calli's older brother Ben is determined to find Calli as he knows the woods that they have explored as children. Petra is an only child and has a special connection to Calli and she accepts Calli and often speaks for her. She goes missing after seeing someone familiar from her window in the middle of the night and follows them. We don't know as a reader if it is Calli and her father or someone else until the story unwinds. Petra's father Martin is determined to find his daughter and is driven by his emotion and almost destroys his own family. Sheriff Louis still has a fondness for Toni who married another man instead of waiting for him to finish college. Louis' own marriage unravels as this story unfolds.

The story is told in alternating viewpoints of the girls, Antonia, Ben, Martin and the Sheriff. This style of storytelling worked well as they shared their thoughts in second and third person views. It flowed smoothly as each viewpoint was a relatively short chapter and then you quickly moved on to the next persons point of view. It kept my focus intent and involved as a reader and I couldn't wait to read what happened next. The author has a wonderful style of writing that skillfully weaves a story that makes you not want to put the book down. Ms. Gudenkauf writes with sensitivity and discretion related to the abduction scenes. It is not overly graphic, in my opinion, but it may be a sensitive subject for some to read about. I highly recommend it, and make sure that you block off some time to read it as you will most likely need to read straight through to the bittersweet ending.

This would be an excellent book for a book club discussion as there are many themes to discuss related to selective mutism, childhood friendships, family dynamics, marriage, motherhood, parenting, alcoholism, abuse etc. There is a list of Discussion questions at the back of the trade paperback edition. You can find more information at Heather Gudenkauf's website here . This is her debut novel and I was so happy to read that she is working on her second novel. This is an author to watch and I look forward to her next novel.

Thanks to Mothertalk for sending me this wonderful book as part of the The Weight of Silence blog tour.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. I didn't post a mailbox last week and my mailbox was overflowing. I'm almost embaressed to post all of these books! I need a serious reading vacation to spend some time catching up and enjoying reaading these books!

Last but not least, my August Beach themed bookmark from The Literate Housewife’s Bookmark It! Club. I posted about this yesterday and you can read my Bookmark It! Club post, here.

(August bookmark is the one on the far right with the beach theme)

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bookmark It! Club

I've been meaning to blog about this for quite awhile and share with everyone what an honor it has been for me to be part of The Literate Housewife's Bookmark It! Club. This past March, Jennifer from The Literate Housewife Review held a contest as part of the Book Giveaway Carnival and gave away 25 memberships to her first ever bookmark of the month club. I was thrilled to find out I was a winner as I saw pictures of her gorgeous bookmarks on her blog. As part of membership in this club, Jennifer makes a new handmade bookmark each month for one year. She is only making each bookmark design once and it is one of a kind. Jennifer's idea was to combine her love of stamping and making cards and bookmarks to create this unique and wonderful Bookmark It! Club. Jennifer started sending out these gorgeous bookmarks in April and I have received 5 beautiful bookmarks so far. I look forward to receiving a bookmark monthly and love to see what creative idea Jennifer has designed. She also sends a lovely letter describing why she chose the design of the bookmark and how she created them. She also picks 2 members a month to choose a book that was reviewed on The Literate Housewife Review and she shares who the winners are and what books were chosen in this monthly letter.

Here's a picture of all of the bookmarks that I've received so far. I've tried to arrange them so that you can see the beauty and detail of Jennifer's work. All of these bookmarks are even more gorgeous in person!

From Left to right I will describe the bookmarks:

1st-May Bookmark: April Showers bring May Flowers: A beautiful ribbon bookmark with a spray of flowers.

2nd-April Bookmark: This was the first bookmark Jennifer sent and is one of my favorites. I love them all but I especially like this one Jennifer calls "Delight in Life" as that is what is stamped next to the bicycle. I love the bright colors and the bicycle theme.

3rd-June Bookmark: A summer butterfly bookmark with a quote that reads " The Time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here." Jennifer compliments the design with a swirl of blue sky. This is the perfect bookmark to use in the summer and it makes me smile when I look at it.

4th-July Bookmark: Another gorgeous summer bookmark with bright colors from fresh summer fruit like strawberries and cherries. Jennifer added a red calico ribbon that complimented the summer theme perfectly.

5th-August Bookmark: This bookmark had a beach theme complete with Adirondack chairs, pails, sand & surf. Jennifer added a sun attached by hemp twine which worked nicely and was a nice touch. I wish that I was going to the beach to use it there but I will just have to daydream!

Jennifer is a very talented lady and this is one of the best giveaways that I have ever been part of as I have received gorgeous hand made bookmarks monthly and this will last for a year. I can only imagine the time and dedication that Jennifer has put into designing and making these beautiful bookmarks. I want to thank Jennifer and let her know how much I appreciate her hard work and dedication to this club and that I truly love the bookmarks. I use them daily and will treasure this collection of bookmarks that she has created. Thank you Jennifer for brightening my days and reading time with these gorgeous bookmarks!!

The Sunday Salon: Catching up!

It's cooling down here in the Midwest and feels like fall is around the corner. My son usually goes back to school around this time but his schools are under construction and they've delayed the start of school until after Labor Day. We hope to take advantage of some fun day trips and finish up back to school shopping. My son has to get some baby teeth pulled this week for the first time. He isn't too happy but hopefully it will be a quick recovery.

I haven't been posting as much or commenting on other blogs as I had a death in the family. My 95 year old great uncle passed away last weekend. He was one of 7 children with my grandmother being the only sister in the family. They were very close and she is 91 and lives in the same nursing home and would visit him daily. It was very hard for her to let him go and I spent several days by her side with my aunt reminiscing and supporting her. My great uncle Saul was a wonderful man, always happy and had a great sense of humor.

Some highlights from the past week have been:

Bookcase Review: Receiving my Antigua Four Tier Bookcase for review from CSN Office Furniture . You can read my review here.

Book Reviews:

My husband's Guest Review of The Richest Man in Town by W. Randall Jones (audio book).

My review of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler , my first book completed for the Everything Austen Challenge .


Make sure to enter my Giveaway: 5 Copies of Julie & Julia by Julie Powell which ends September 2nd.

Currently Reading:

The Weight of Silence by Heather Gudenkauf for a blog tour with Mothertalk. I will be posting my review this week. I started reading the book last night and couldn't put it down and read over 100 pages! I look forward to reading it again today.

Amazon Reviews:

I post my reviews on LibraryThing and Goodreads and decided to start posting them on Amazon as well under redlady. Several authors have asked me to consider this and I hadn't had the time to do so in the past. I've decided it was finally time to take the plunge and post my reviews there. What do you think of posting your blog reviews on other sites? Where do you post yours and are you happy with the sites or do you just want your reviews on your own blog? I'd like to hear your thoughts.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Review: Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

I knew that I had to read this book as part of the Everything Austen Challenge that I joined last month. This is the first book that I've read that is Jane Austen inspired. I am a fan of Jane Austen's work and my all time favorite is Pride & Prejudice. I have yet to read all of her works but that is another reason why I joined the Everything Austen Challenge .

It was pure joy and fun to read Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. Courtney is a modern day LA girl who is a self proclaimed Jane Austen addict and has read all of her books. Courtney is dealing with a broken heart after she ends her engagement to her cheating fiance when she awakens from a "dream" and finds herself in the body of a woman, Jane Mansfield, in Regency England. Courtney is forced to pretend she is Jane and must learn to adapt to life in nineteenth century British life. Although she is a fan of everything Austen, she is not prepared for chamber pots, public baths, bonnets, chaperones and different rules that apply to women of this time period.

This is the perfect summer book that is a fun and light read. It was fun to read how a modern day woman views life in Regency England. I highly recommend it to those who want a light hearted look at these possibilities and love Jane Austen. I like that the book takes on the style and language of both time periods and it definitely makes you appreciate things like modern day plumbing, toothpaste and much more!

I am looking forward to getting a copy and reading the author's next book that was recently released, Rude Awakenings of A Jane Austen Addict. The story continues when Jane awakens in Courtney's world in the 21st century. I can't wait to read it!

Listen to a discussion with the author Laurie Viera Rigler and Book Club Girl, here.

Check out Laurie Viera Rigler's website Jane Austen Addict.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Review: The Richest Man in Town by W. Randall Jones

Guest Review of The Richest Man in Town ,written by my husband Greg:

In a format vaguely reminiscent of Napoleon Hill's Think and Grow Rich, the author, W. Randall Jones,has interviewed quite a few so called "RMIT's" (richest man in town) across the country in order to extract the essence of what has made them so successful. In The Richest Man in Town , these interviews are then distilled into a set of twelve principles that are put forth for us mere mortals to follow. Among the most memorable and inspiring stories are those of the spiritually minded David Green, founder of "Hobby Lobby" and Jim Oelsclager of the Akron based investment company "Oak Associates" who has run a successful business despite the challenges he faces with multiple sclerosis.

Jones advises us to "find our perfect pitch". That is to say, one needs to delve into a certain amount of self discovery to learn what we do best and will consequently have the drive and passion to dedicate our energies too. It is essentially equivalent to the maxim "do what you love, the money will follow" with the additional qualification that we can't all be successful at everything we do. In other words, if your parents told you that "you can be anything you want to be", they were well meaning but misguided. The truth is that each of us must find our particular calling and pursue it, we can't all be successful at everything we do no matter how hard we try. We are not interchangeable parts.

This is not a step by step "how to" book to become rich (I don't know if such a thing exists). By digesting and emulating the principles described here, you will learn many common attributes of highly wealthy individuals. There are some common themes such as the focus being placed on the journey rather than the destination, if your only goal is to become rich rather than being the best at what you do, then you will likely fail, and that RMIT's don't understand the meaning of the word "retirement". Unbridled optimism can be detrimental and must be tempered with realistic thinking. It's a fact that something like 70% of all new business fail, so risk taking and putting oneself back in the ring following failure is part of the equation. I will add my personal observation that I believe that following these principles will not necessarily lead to the path of riches, however those who have made it typically do follow them. For example, if your ultimate passion is to create the best decorative toothpick holder in existence, you are not guaranteed success in the marketplace if there is close to zero demand for such a product. Once again, realistic thinking is a requirement.

Personally, I'm not interested in becoming an RMIT, I would be happy to reach the point of financial independence and be able to retire comfortably. The book is still relevant though as I suspect that these techniques "scale down" to lesser degrees of success.

The audio book concludes with an interview with Jones. As the founder of "Worth" magazine along with his other ventures, he has surrounded himself with wealthy individuals and clearly is qualified to report on this topic. In addition, his passion for the subject comes through in both the interview and in his writing style. I plan on listening to this again as the principles espoused are generally good principles to live by independent of the desire to become wealthy. In some respects The Richest Man in Town could be considered a modern day companion to Think and Grow Rich. I'll give it 5/5 stars.

Listen to an excerpt here.

Read an excerpt here.

Check out The Richest Man in Town author website.

Thanks to Hachette Books for providing this audiobook for review.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Review: A Brand New Bookcase from CSN Office Furniture!

I received my bookcase from CSN Office Furniture and must say that the process was smooth from start to finish. CSN Office Furniture allowed me to choose any bookcase (within budget, of course)and I wrote about this in my post, Choosing a new bookcase. My husband, Greg, and I were excited to see what the bookcase would look like assembled and if it would fit in the spot we had chosen.

Here is a picture of the bookcase as it arrived in its original packaging:

The box wasn't that heavy, I believe 32 lbs or less. It arrived intact and there was no damage to the packaging.

This is a picture of what was inside the box and you can see how well everything was packaged with additional styrofoam added to protect the bookcase parts. The hardware was all together in a sealed package and included an allen wrench needed for assembly. I "assisted" Greg which wasn't much more than keeping him company and reading the directions as this was an easy bookcase to assemble. We found the directions straightforward and easy to follow. Each part was labeled and the diagram was easy to read. I could have easily assembled this myself. All of the predrilled holes lined up and there were no problems assembling the bookcase. It's sturdy and attractive and it has floor levelers that you screw into the bottom of each leg which can be adjusted for uneven floors.

And now for the final unveiling, the completed bookcase.....

Here is the bookcase assembled in a nice spot in our bedroom. I've added some favorite books to the top shelf, the middle shelf holds books that I need to read soon for review, challenges etc. The bottom shelf is for Greg's books . I am sharing our new bookcase with him also!

Overall, we are both very happy with this great bookcase. I chose this bookcase as I liked the rustic look with the wrought iron blended with the darker wood that gave it a modern touch. The bookcase complements our bedroom and I am happy to have more shelves to display our books.

I want to thank CSN Office Furniture for this opportunity to review the Antigua Four Tier Bookcase. They were a pleasure to work with from the start and I was impressed with their efficiency in ordering the bookcase I requested quickly. I was sent a shipping confirmation with a tracking number through Fed Ex and was able to track the bookcase as it was shipped across the country and determined when the bookcase would be delivered. Their shipping is fast and in many cases, shipping is free. The Antigua Four Tier Bookcase that I ordered is sold for only $69.99 and includes free shipping. I will definitely consider purchasing more bookcases or office furniture from CSN Office Furniture in the future.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Book Club & A Book Review: Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn

Book Review:

I am a fan of epistolary novels and Ella Minnow Pea fits that style of novel as the story is told through letters. So, when my book club voted a few months ago for our August book, I was excited that Ella Minnow Pea was the top pick. It sounded like a fun, quirky book and I expected to like it. Well, I have to admit that I was not a fan of the book and I really wanted to like it!

Ella Minnow Pea is the actual name of a young girl who lives on the fictional island of Nollop. Nollop is considered it's own country separate from the U.S. and is off the coast of South Carolina. The Island of Nollop was named after the famous author Nevin Nollop who authored the famous pangram: "The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog". Mr. Nollop is the hero and icon of the island and a statue of him stands in honor with this infamous pangram included.

The residents of the island live a simpler life than the U.S. and primarily communicate through letters which are mailed by what appears to be pony express style delivery. There is no electricity, telephone, computers or technology of any kind. One day, the letters start falling off the infamous Nollop statue and the officials of the town council who govern the island deem that it is a message from Nollop not to use these letters. The town council decided that serious charges would be enforced if any of the residents used these letters in oral or written communication of any kind. The island becomes divided by those who follow these beliefs and those who disagree and mayhem ensues as letters continue to fall off the Nollop statue.

You learn all of this as you read the letters of Ella Minnow Pea to her parents, her cousin and aunt and then among other residents of the island. They must figure out a way to communicate without using the banned letters.

I found the letter writing style well done, the main characters were interesting and I wanted to know more about them and how they would survive this change of events on their island. I just didn't enjoy the story and found it silly at times and downright annoying at others. The author writes with a strong use of language and linguistics and those who love words and linguistics will most likely love this book. If you like satire, you most likely will enjoy this book.

Book Club Views:

During the summer, my book club usually goes out for dinner at a restaurant or to a wine bar for drinks and appetizers or dessert. We met last night at a wonderful new to me wine bar and sat outside on a beautiful night on an outdoor patio overlooking a river. It was very relaxing and a perfect spot to sit back and sip an appletini and share appetizers and discuss books. I have to admit this was my first appletini and it looked similar to this picture. It was absolutely delicious and served in a beautiful glass similar to this one. I guess that you can tell that I don't get out that much and am not a big drinker! This would be a fun drink to make for a book club or gathering of friends at a dinner party or get together. Is anyone else a fan of the appletini?

Onto the book discussion....We had a great discussion, although not all members of the book club could attend. Of the 5 of us that were there, 3 liked Ella Minnow Pea and 2 of us did not care for it. From what I understand, the 2 that did not make it to the book club were nays also. It was interesting for me to hear why the others liked the book and what they got out of it that I did not. They all liked the satire, the appeal to the word lover and the fantasy of the story. We had a great discussion about how the residents of the island communicated by letter writing and how we have lost that in our society with the increase of email and text messaging. The book club members that liked the book would definitely recommend it and for myself who was not fond of it would recommend Ella Minnow Pea to those that like satire and are word lovers.

We vote a few months ahead for our book club discussions and next month we are discussing Belong to Me by Marisa De los Santos. I read this book (and loved it)along with the Book Club Girl discussion group a few months ago and will post my review next month.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Giveaway: 5 Copies of Julie & Julia by Julie Powell

Thanks to Anna at Hachette Book Group I have 5 copies of JULIE AND JULIA: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell to giveaway! Most everyone has probably heard about this book as there is a movie based on the book in theaters now. I read the book recently and loved it, you can read my review here. I can't wait to see the movie!!

Here's some information from Hachette:
Julie & Julia, the bestselling memoir that's "irresistible....A kind of Bridget Jones meets The French Chef" (Philadelphia Inquirer), is now a major motion picture. Julie Powell, nearing thirty and trapped in a dead-end secretarial job, resolves to reclaim her life by cooking in the span of a single year, every one of the 524 recipes in Julia Child's legendary Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her unexpected reward: not just a newfound respect for calves' livers and aspic, but a new life-lived with gusto. The film version is written and directed by Nora Ephron and stars Amy Adams as Julie and Meryl Streep as Julia.

Read an excerpt here.


For each entry, please leave a seperate comment, this will make it easier to draw a winner as I won't be able to go back and count each entry. Also, make sure that you include your email or that your email is in your blog profile. If I have no way of contacting you by email, your entry will automatically be withdrawn.

  • For One Entry: Leave a comment and share what recipe that you have made that was unusual or a funny cooking mishap in the kitchen as Julie had many of these in the book. Also, make sure to post a way to contact you.
  • For a Second Entry: In a SEPARATE comment, Blog about this giveaway and share a link(posting in your sidebar is fine).
  • For a Third Entry: In a SEPARATE comment, Twitter about this giveaway and share a link, if you can.
  • For a Fourth Entry: In a SEPARATE comment: Follow my blog or subscribe to my blog(let me know if you are already a follower or subscriber).

This giveaway is ONLY open to US and Canada, (No PO Boxes Please)

I'll use to draw a winner and the contest will end on September 2nd , 2009 at Midnight EST. Good Luck!!


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Book & A Movie Review: The Curious Case of Benjamin Button by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Book Review:

I've been meaning to read The Curious Case of Benjamin Button for quite awhile. Especially with it being the inspiration for the movie version that was released on DVD in 2008. I usually like to read the book first but in this case I did not and saw the movie first. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a short novella that is just 52 pages in length. It packs a powerful story in such few pages. As most know, F. Scott Fitzgerald is a well known classic writer best known for writing The Great Gatsby.

I found the premise for this book intriguing that a baby named Benjamin is born in 1860 as an old man of the age of 70. He ages backwards and becomes younger every year until he "ages" backwards into a baby. His family and then his wife and son all don't understand how this is occurring. They actually believe he is somehow at fault and could essentially stop this reverse aging if he so chooses. The book makes the reader think about aging, and how one would deal with it either in reverse or normal forward aging. Everyone needs to find their place in the world and Benjamin had to do this but in a reverse order. It's heartbreaking at times and also humorous and Fitzgerald creates a world of fantasy yet it is realistic as well. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button is a book well worth reading.

Movie Review:

In most cases, I prefer the book over the movie but in this case I preferred the movie version of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. It is a modernized version of the book and I liked that it took the story to a deeper level that the book in short story form did not. The premise of the movie is loosely based on the book but has taken more creative liberties to expand on themes and events that didn't occur in the book. In the movie, Benjamin is born as an old white man and ages backwards but is not raised by his family and instead is abandoned at a home for the elderly and is essentially raised by a loving and nurturing black woman who lives and works there. Benjamin fits into this environment and new family well and develops relationships and an understanding of what happens as one ages normally. Benjamin is played by Brad Pitt who does a fabulous job and is easy on the eyes to watch as he gets younger. A love story and beautiful relationship develops with Cate Blanchett's character that shows their relationship and the short years that they were able to be a family and have a normal relationship. I didn't like how they ended the movie and how Benjamin chooses to live his life as he ages into infancy. This movie isn't a love story but more of a story about death and aging.

My Final Thoughts: I believe that the book and the movie are about life, death and aging. Both are about finding our place in the world however we come into the world and managing to make the best of that experience. We all age in different ways and in Benjamin's case is an extreme example as he ages backwards. The premise is that he is different and has to learn how to live life to the fullest being different.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Mailbox Monday

Mailbox Monday is hosted by Marcia at The Printed Page. We share what books that we found in our mailboxes last week. I didn't post a mailbox last week so here's what I received from the past two weeks:

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sunday Salon: Summer fun

This has been a busy week of summer for my family and myself. My son , who is 10, was in a local theater workshop called "It's Easy being Green". It was a series of musical skits that had a touch of an environmental focus and each child was able to participate in and act and sing. This was my son's second year participating in this workshop and he was very happy to have a small part and sang in several skits. It's amazing what can be accomplished in two short weeks, the staff was wonderful and the kids all had a wonderful time. Our camera is on the fritz and I was only able to take a few pictures and my son is not ready for me to put up his picture here on my blog.

Blog Updates:

I posted a few reviews this past week and I hope that you were able to read them. They were both Non-Fiction reviews which I didn't realize until I was looking back.
My husband Greg wrote a review of How Successful People Think by John C. Maxwell (Audio book edition). "Success is a relative and individualized concept, but according to the author, John C. Maxwell, it has a lot to do with "bottom line" thinking."

I wrote a review of Flourishing with Food Allergies by A. Anderson . This is one of the most comprehensive books on food allergies that I have read to date. I highly recommend reading it if you have a child, family member or friends with food allergies.

Highlights of the week:

I was offered a chance to review a bookcase for CSN Office Furniture and chose a unique bookcase that will fit nicely in my bedroom. You can read my preview post here about Choosing a bookcase. I expect it to arrive this week and when I have it set up I will have my review posted with pictures. It's my anniversary next week so that will be nice if it arrives by then.

I was the second place winner at Park Avenue Princess as part of Amy's 100th post and Royal Giveaway. I won a beautiful Vintage Typewriter Bookmark from LIZZY BLEU who makes beautiful vintage typewriter jewelry. You should definitely check out this gorgeous and unique jewelry and Park Avenue Princess is going to have more contests with the chance to win gift certificates from LIZZY BLEU. Make sure to stop by and visit! Here's some pictures of my Vintage Typewriter Bookmark that I received in the mail this week. Thanks to Amy and Lizzie for a beautiful bookmark!

The bookmark came packaged in this wonderful fabric gift bag.

This was how the bookmark was wrapped inside the fabric bag.

This is the beautiful Vintage Typewriter Bookmark and it even has an S to coordinate with my last name.

I had a run of good luck as I was also a winner of Foreign Tongue: A Novel of Life and Love in Paris by Vanina Marsot along with a French-type lip gloss at Book Chatter and Other Stuff . Thanks Ti!

I am currently reading:

Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters by Mark Dunn (Book Club Read)

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Review: Flourishing with Food Allergies by A. Anderson

If you have a child, family member or friends with food allergies then reading Flourishing with Food Allergies is a must read. This is one of the most comprehensive books on food allergies that I have read to date and I have read many. It provides the emotional support and tools that can help empower you in guiding your child's way in managing to live successfully with food allergies and not in fear. For my regular readers, I have shared that I have a 10 year old son who has dealt with major food allergies since he was 1 year old. He has outgrown many allergies but has consistently had peanut and tree nut allergies which are anaphylactic and life threatening. Recently we have had new allergies develop and it's a rigorous and stressful process trying to figure out what is going on as we work closely with our son's allergist and gastroenterologist.

The author, Ms. Anderson is the mother of two young children with food allergies. She presents a positive and practical approach to her journey of learning to deal with and manage life as a family with children who have food allergies. The book is broken down into sections and in the first section the author shares her personal story and the stories of 14 other parents from around the world. I believe that this is very helpful to families as you can read these experiences and relate to them and to know that you are not alone, share common feelings, and get new ideas and options that may help you handle a situation that you are personally experiencing. Personally, I found this section to have almost too much information and would have preferred some editing to the authors story and details of her life. With the 14 parents stories, they have captions so that you can pick and choose what you are interested in reading or that may apply to you at the time or to refer to at a later date. I say this as reading a book on any medical topic that relates to a child or a family member is most likely already a stressful and overwhelming situation that can trigger emotions. For me, I could not sit down and read this book all at once but had to read it in sections.

There is truly a wealth of information in Ms. Anderson's book Flourishing with Food Allergies that covers myths, facts and findings from all over the world that relate to food allergies. She addresses concerns over Genetically Modified Foods vs Organic as well as pesticides, antibiotics and hormones and how they effect the immune system and allergies. Ms Anderson sites research and studies to support this with detailed End Notes. This is something that I personally agree with and am in the process of researching and transitioning to choosing more organic and locally grown foods.

Ms. Anderson shares perspectives from various doctors and medical professionals including pediatricians, allergists, naturopaths and psychologists. As an added bonus, there is a chapter from Ms. Anderson's husband who is honest in sharing his feelings and experiences from a husband/father's perspective. This is an excellent chapter for a father of a child with food allergies to read.

There is a section on Diet which covers the big eight allergens (dairy, soy, egg, wheat, fish, shellfish, peanuts and tree nuts), ingredient information, dietary information, and information on Probiotics/acidophulus that may help with food allergies, which I found very interesting. Ms. Anderson has written an article for Natural Products Marketplace called Natural Supplements for Children with Allergies in which she highlights probiotics and other supplements. This is important to read and review and discuss with your child's allergist.

The final section covers social situations which is very thorough in discussing ways to handle birthday parties, friends, play dates and outings, preschool and kindergarten/school readiness. This section is chock full of information related towards younger children and from what I understood, Ms. Anderson had 2 children under the age of 4 at the time of writing this book. I would have loved to have had this book available to me as a resource when my son was entering preschool. Fortunately, I had a neighbor who had an older child with similar allergies and had educated my son's preschool and I continued the process as my son was at the preschool. School issues are ones that you have to prepare for with a child with food allergies and this is a great resource to help someone through this process. As I have an elementary aged son going into 5th grade, there wasn't much information in the book geared toward entering elementary school or the grades beyond. I'm assuming it may be due to the fact that Ms. Anderson hadn't experienced that yet as a parent while writing the book. I did appreciate the perspectives featured from both Grammar school (elementary) and Middle School teachers and found them very helpful to see their viewpoints as teachers in the classrooms. With that said, I have communicated via email with the publisher who shared with me that Ms. Anderson's older son just finished kindergarten and is now entering first grade. We are working on arranging a follow up guest post/interview with Ms. Anderson that I will feature here sometime in the next month or two as I would love to hear her perspectives from her school experiences with her son and share them with you.

This last section on social situations also covered travel including Ms. Anderson's own experiences as well as airline guidelines related to specific airlines. I appreciated this information as it is challenging as a parent to contact each airline to find out what their individual policies are related to foods and allergies. I would still double check to verify this information but Ms. Anderson gave extensive and detailed information that was very informative to know. She also addresses international travel and has an extensive list of International Emergency Telephone numbers that covered 6 1/2 pages. This is the type of book that would be highly beneficial to take along while traveling internationally.

Lastly, Ms Anderson encourages readers to reach out to government and let our voices be heard and to give more attention to food allergy research. Included is a sample letter that can be freely copied to send to a congress person.

I don't recall how much Ms. Anderson references finding and being involved in parent support groups. There is not an index at the back of the book which would have been helpful to locate information as you can only rely upon the table of contents. I highly recommend finding a local food allergy support group or starting one of your own, especially if you are just learning a child has food allergies. I am involved in a small, local group of parents who live in my community and I have found it very helpful to share information, support each other, provide education to our local schools, find information about doctors etc.

You can find a local support group in your area through Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

You can also find support groups online and Kids with Food Allergies is one that I am personally familiar with. You can search online for further support groups that may fit your needs.

You can read more about this book as well as links to discussions, food allergy resources and articles at the Flourishing with Food allergies Website.

Flourishing with Food Allergies was recently selected by the USDA’s National Agricultural Library for a resource in the WIC (Women, Infant and Children) Work’s Resource System. In addition, it was just listed as a resource by the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI).

*Thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this book.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Choosing a New Bookcase!

We are all avid readers in my family and also have many books that we have collected over the years. We are in need of a way to showcase our books that we have chosen to keep and ones that are waiting to be read. So, when I was contacted by CSN Office Furniture and offered to choose a product to review from their vast selection of fine office furniture, I couldn't refuse. There is a lot to choose from at CSN Office Furniture as they sell everything from home office furniture to office accessories including bookcases. For me, I knew that I had to choose a bookcase as that is what I really need and CSN Office Furniture had a great selection to choose from.

I found a unique bookcase that would fit nicely in my bedroom and I like the rustic look blended with a modern touch. My husband and I think that it will fit nicely in a corner spot in our bedroom.

Here is a preview of the bookcase that I've chosen:

It's called the Antigua Four Tier Bookcase.

I'm very excited about getting this new bookcase as I think it will complement our bedroom and I will have more shelves to display our books. I will post pictures and a review and let you know my thoughts on the bookshelf after it arrives. Make sure to take a peek at CSN Office Furniture's site as they have an amazing selection of bookcases and office furniture and according to their website, there is free shipping (on almost everything) and they ship to US and Canada.