The Real Deal

Have You Ever Wondered... Is that certain book really good? Does that product really work? So have I. From Indie authors and musicians to local products or nationally advertised, I can't tell you the countless products I've bought as seen on TV only to find out that they don't work at my house, the book was really a bunch of hype, the music was not what I had hoped for or a movie was a yawn. If you want an honest opinion, you will find it here. Although I do lots of book reviews, I also check out lots of other products and let you know if they really live up to their ads or their hype. Stay tuned, and check in often. You never know what I'm going to talk about next.


Excellent mid range sound!

iHome Bluetooth Rechargeable Mini Speaker System showed up and I couldn't wait to try them out. The mini speaker system is two iHome speakers that expand when you want to listen to them and you can close them for easy carrying. The speakers come with their own drawstring bag. To use, plug the cord into each speaker, and one into the headphone port of your device. Turn on the speakers. They glow blue when they are in use and red when they’re recharging. 

It took less than an hour to charge them to full capacity. My daughter was getting married and she wanted to listen to something calming. I took my net book and the iHome Bluetooth Rechargeable Mini Speaker System to the dressing room. She was also impressed with how crystal clear the sound was in such a tiny little speaker. We just couldn't get over it. Each one is about the size of a child’s fist and you just can’t beat the quality for the size. 

Take them to a picnic, a party, or camping. It makes great sound more portable. They also make a great holiday gift for your audiophile. I’ll recommend these to all my traveling, music loving friends.


The Devastating Truth: DRINK

DRINK, The Intimate Relationship Between Women and Alcohol by Ann Dowsett Johnston, could be the most controversial book of our age. Startling in its clarity, Johnston shines a halogen light on a subject that few people seem willing to talk about. DRINK, in the short of it, is about the frightening rise of alcoholism among women and the way alcohol affects them, their lives, their families and how it has already begun affecting the next generation. This issue is not a sleeping giant, but a ravenous, insatiable coyote, greedy as the grave.
Johnston’s careful brushstrokes of her own personal battle with alcoholism, paint a painful and terrifying picture of what is going on all over the civilized world. She blends candid interviews from alcoholic women in all walks of life, along with some eye opening, keep you up at night facts from the marketing aspect.

In this book, you will see a woman you know,  or several. You may, as I did, see yourself. I believe the adage, the truth will set you free. Find out what drives women to alcoholism and the marketing campaigns that target them. It is possible to be informed and make changes. The rise of alcoholism in women promises to be one of the most devastating to ever plague the civilized world and if you don’t believe me, get a copy and see for yourself. I can’t recommend this book enough.

Additionally, if you have concerns, click here. NCADD

This book was given to me free by the Amazon Vine program in exchange for my honest opinion.


Dark Tide: Excellent

Dark Tide by Elizabeth Haynes is the second of her books I've read, based in modern day London. The first one, Into the Darkest Corner was psychologically riveting. Dark Tide is an interesting, fast paced look into the life of Genevieve Shipley, a professional woman mind-numbingly stressed out
with software solution sales. She takes a second job, only weekends, to expedite her dream of buying a boat and taking a year off from her job. Her weekend job allows her to do something she enjoys: dancing. She keeps the second job a secret from her day job people. Things get complicated when someone there discovers she's an exotic dancer.

 Midway through boat renovations, Genevieve invites a few people from her day job to her barge for a party. Early the next morning, hung over and groggy, she makes a gruesome discovery: a woman's body in the water. Soon enough, she recognizes her as one of the dancers she had been friends with.

I enjoyed every page of this excellently written novel. Elizabeth Haynes paints lively and idiosyncratic characters, vivid scenes and spins not only a good yarn, but a tapestry. I'll be keeping my eye on her for future reads. Get your copy here.

I received this book free from the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for my honest opinion.


Heart Raced All Through "The Running Boy"

Dan Pollock’s book “The Running Boy” started out with such intensity that I was at risk of passing out from holding my breath worrying over the boy, Andy.
When I thought things would let up, they didn't.
When I hoped Ethan and Andy had put some distance between them and the bad guys, they hadn't.
Just when I thought, they really needed to catch a break, the chase ramped up even more.
At times, the only way for me to catch my breath was to book mark the page and stop for a moment. The suspense level in this book was a solid 9.5 almost from the beginning. The Running Boy is a surprising, heart-pounding, international thriller. Don’t miss out! Grab your copy soon!

I received this book free from the the Author in exchange for my honest opinion.


Nutrition in Your Backyard?

Sergei Boutenko's new book, Wild Edibles is a refreshing look regarding edible weeds. Even though some of the information is at times repetitive, I appreciated his brief descriptions of the plants and parts, along with clear color photos.

 He also gives nutrient data on quite a few of the plants. The poisonous plant list at the beginning, while not complete, at least covered some of the most common. I've not been an avid forager mostly because it fails to occur to me, but his presentation of the material has made this book a take-along to every hike. The recipes included tickled me. I had to go out and find something wild to put in a smoothie just to say I did it. Edible flowers frozen in ice for drinks. What a great idea!

 Sergei makes incorporating wild edibles easy. He also lists other helpful books as well as his websites (one exclusively devoted to green smoothies.) I am happy to have read Wild Edibles and the circumstances under which his family learned about this valuable information. (You are all very brave!) When I was young, my father taught me some of the plants and I remembered a fair amount of them. But with time, the memories had faded from lack of use.

The knowledge found in Wild Edibles will delight young and old. My family and I are planning many excursions into various parks and wilderness and hope to incorporate wild edibles into our kitchen at the peak of summer. If you are a hiker, or camper and enjoy walks in the woods and identifying plants, this would be a great addition to your library.

I received this book free from the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for my honest opinion.


Jewelee Peters debut album Look Inside My Soul

I couldn't wait to get my ears on this selection of music by Jewelee Peters. The first time I heard her sing was several years ago in person; she gave me chills. I knew if she ever put an album together, I would have to have it.
 Jewelee didn't disappoint. Hopeless, Look Inside My Soul and Wait for You are some favorites. I played Jewelee's music at work and everyone loved it, wanted to know when she was going to be playing in our area because they fell in love with her voice. They never seem to get tired of hearing it. I feel the same way.

This is a great collection of Rhythm and Blues sound and a voice that will reach right into your chest. Check it out and see what you think. I would give it six stars if I could. Five will have to do. I can't wait to see what she comes out with next. Get yours now at Amazon.


Painting the Rain: Book Review

 Today's post is from guest author, Jack Petersen of In Xanadu.

"PAINTING THE RAIN is a truly remarkable work of fiction. It has drama, action, and more than satisfying strength in both character and plot development. (Be prepared to read the last third of the story in one sitting. Yes, it’s that kind of a book – you can’t put it down.) 

 The novel is based on a play co-authored by J.E. Ocean and myself, so I was naturally curious to see the work “fleshed out.” I was not disappointed. 

Ocean took sub-plots in directions I never imagined. Subtle whimsy appears here and there, along with charming touches of romantic sentimentality I found surprisingly refreshing in a work of heavy drama. (I also discovered I had been written into the story – and killed on page 9. Another story for another time, I suspect.) 

 I must also confess that I am a novice at this downloading-to-a-Kindle business, but Amazon made it so easy I think I was just a little disappointed. 

 Bottom line: I loved the book. I think you will too. I know a 2nd, 3rd, and 4th novels are in progress. I can’t wait. J Petersen

To learn more about Jack's perspective, life and photos visit his blog In Xanadu.


Just in time for summer: Sport>>Brella!

I couldn’t wait to test drive the Sport Brella recliner chair. My husband and I have taken other sports chairs to the park and even got the beach chair edition. But a recliner with an umbrella? This feels like the  Cadillac of comfort, the extra wide seat (which I’m happy to say I didn’t need but it’s so comfy!).  The back of the chair is higher than the usual sport chair, and from just below the shoulders, it’s padded. I actually took a nap in it.

The hammock style foot rest lets you set your heels in, or if you want to pull your knees up a little, you can set them on the edge. The foot rest is adjustable and removable. Mine is let all the way out at the moment. I’m actually writing the review from the chair.

The pocket on the left arm rest is constructed so that you drop in your music player, and with an “X” portal, the headphone wire isn’t in danger of getting crimped. That lets you listen to your favorite beach tunes while watching the kids play in the surf and not worry about your player getting sunstroke. As always, the Sport Brella chair has installed a round mesh pocket to hold your favorite relaxing beverage. 

The right arm rest had other sweet features: a pocket with dual zipper entry and Velcro closure keeps whatever you have stashed from prying eyes. The water resistant lined pocket hangs under the right armrest and fits up to four beverages , your camera or your Kindle HD. We found two long-necks sit upright in it just fine (and stows empties until you’re ready to get up).
A pocket hangs from the front of the seat and a zipper pull with a bottle opener attached. Perfect for tailgating.  It’s big enough for a wallet, cell/smart phone, sunglasses, season tickets or the seashells you’ve been collecting.

At shoulder level is the three way swiveling asymmetric umbrella.  The UPF 50+undercoating blocks over 99.5% UVA/UVB rays. And if you’re by the water, you know how important that is. If you don’t need it, it unclips quickly and easily. You can easily attach it to either side of the chair.

The final fantastic feature of the Sport Brella chair, is the three-click range of reclining comfort. Whether you just need to rest that bellyful of fantastic BBQ or you want to wear your sunglasses and take a catnap, this chair is just a click away from your favorite relaxing position. For safety’s sake, I found I couldn’t adjust it while sitting in the chair which means when the chair is in position, it’s solidly locked in. I give Sport Brella five stars. Summer’s just getting underway, so be sure you get yours soon!


Haunted by Dark Skies

Dark Skies reaches out into your safe, normal looking neighborhood and grabs you into the unbelievable, mind boggling and just possible enough world of is-this-really-happening?  The Barretts are your everyday normal, struggling family trying to keep up appearances. When their youngest son starts talking about The Sandman, life takes a decidedly left turn for all of them.
 This very entertaining movie sucked me in even when I tried to remain emotionally disconnected. It’s been a long time since I watched a film in this genre and it really got into my head. Some weird little things happen in the story line that are tip offs that something bigger is coming. Days later, when weird little things happen around my house, I start thinking of the movie all over again.
If you're a fan of sci-fi, X Files or thoughts along those lines, you might like this. The movie was really well done and just enough special effects to keep me wondering what was around every corner… and sometimes, following th.em down the corridor. The children in Dark Skies were just as compelling as the adults. See the trailer here.

The disc contains Special features: Alternate and deleted scenes, commentary with writer/director Scott Stewart, producer Jason Blum, and others, which I can’t wait to see.

Even though it’s rated PG 13, I wouldn't recommend this as a family movie to watch with kids (or anyone) who is subject to nightmares. The cover art alone is disconcerting enough and since I saw the movie I can’t stand to look at it. It ends on a slightly fatalistic note with just enough thread hanging loose to wonder if there will be a follow up. If you like/love this sort of thriller, it’s a five star movie.


Bunnery Natural Foods: Tastefully Delicious

I have a deep appreciation for natural foods. It always makes me feel down to earth, connected to the planet and like I’m doing something good for myself. Granolas can be wonderful unless it contains unwanted, or refined sweeteners.

Bunnery Natural Foods sample pack arrived from Amazon Vine and what a treat! Five point five pounds of nutrition packed goodness! Opening the box was like looking into an Easter basket of pastel colored eggs. The Blueberry Granola and Original Granola are sweetened with honey. The Cranberry Nut Vanilla and Banana Honey Nut Granolas are sweetened with honey and rice syrup. The O.S.M (oats, sunflower seeds and millet) Pancake and Waffle Mix is sweetened with a tiny bit of brown sugar and the O.S.M. (could also be pronounced awesome!) Oatmeal is not sweetened at all. All of them are tasty and full flavored.

Bunnery Natural Foods frustration-free packaging is easy open rip tabs with re-sealable bag. The granolas arrived in 12 ounces packages, the pancake mix 18 ounces and the oatmeal 15 ounces. According to nutrition facts, one ounce is a serving. Even three ounces didn’t really hold me till lunch on its own. But, I added one ounce to a 10 ounce fruit smoothie enhanced with protein powder and that lasted me 5 hours.

The labeling on the sturdy bags is easy to read making it clear what you’re getting as well as a mountain shaped see-though window to display contents. Bunnery Natural Foods are made in Jackson Hole Wyoming. I figure if it sustains the cowboys out west, it will sustain the cowboy at my breakfast table. Five stars.


He's Gone: Perfectly Captured

Deb Caletti's book, He's Gone took me on quite a mental trip. When Dani Keller awakes one morning, her head is throbbing, her shoes are muddy and her husband is missing. She can't remember what happened.

Caletti's lyrical turns of phrase painted amazingly clear scenes and brings in a chef's blend of quirky people. Dani is the girl next door on her worst day. The thoughts she reveals as she goes through the process of discovery was frighteningly real in its insight regarding abusive men.

She bares the raw truth of what many women go through in less than ideal marriages and the tailspin that sometimes follows. It's a story that heats up one degree at a time until you are sweating the end.

I was pulled along from page to page, every chapter ending on a cliff hanger. It was the last thing I read at night before sleeping and the first thing I read when I came home from work.

For my conservative friends, there are several f-bombs and an occasional irreverant curse words. The book discusses adultery at length and other adult themes; nothing gratuitous or graphic.

A fantastic work. Don't miss out on this writer.

I received this book free from the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for my honest opinion.


Spark Lit a Bonfire

Jason Jaggards's book Spark was the book I've been looking for. I knew that there were lots of things I wanted to accomplish with my life. During the day, I was treading water in a job I didn't like working with people I loved, but that could not encourage me in the ways I needed. It left me exhausted and frankly, without much hope for my future.
It was clear, it was time to move on.
Well, you know what the economy is like, what the job market looks like? And my hours were finally right where I wanted them. Never mind the stress of looking for a new job. The stress from the current one drove me to take a risk. That scary 4 letter word.
Risk is the name sake of this book. Intentional and healthy risks.
If you are ready to cast your stone onto a still pond, to make changes in your life, and even the world, this is the book you have been looking for. And, you can start making changes this week, by getting Spark.
Spark is what I needed to feel encouraged about making positive changes in my life. I now have a better job that leaves me feeling energized and allows me to pursue other risks. Check it out. I'm glad I did.

I received this book from Waterbrook for free in exchange for my honest opinion.


Soderberg's The Andalucian Friend: A Thrilling Masterpiece

The Andalucian Friend by Alexander Soderberg is an excellently written, riveting novel with a cast of characters you won't soon forget. I could barely put this book down to go to work or even sleep. I couldn't wait to continue reading it the second I got home. Soderberg weaves an interesting and complex tale covering four countries, and had me guessing every inch of the way.

Though at times violent, it was graphic without being gratuitous and at times so suspenseful I forgot to breathe. Soderberg's words paint scenes so well, they bloom like a motion picture in the mind. When I first began reading, the book was a daunting 400 plus pages. By the second day I was halfway through it and at the end, I was sad to be finishing.
For my conservative friends: there are several degrading references about women, quite a lot of killing which is at times very unsettling, a healthy sprinkling of F-bombs and one character deals with some drug abuse which is not the least bit glamorized. The Andalucian Friend is the first in a trilogy that I cannot wait to read. Five stars. By all means, add this to your summer reading list. You won't be disappointed.

I received this book free from the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for my honest opinion.


Backyard Bug Control: Does Cutter Cut It?

Cutter's backyard bug control lantern came with 4 AA Ray-o-vac batteries, and snaps together easily enough. The frosted plastic panes allow the L.E.D. lights to cast a cool glow, while a small fan quietly runs inside, above the insect repellent cartridge. The cartridge is a sort of small plastic tub containing a cotton core saturated with repellent, and a fragrance that is not unpleasant. The cartridge snaps into place in the bottom,and it is possible for the core to fall out.

At first, I had a lot of trouble getting the tub to lock in place so it kept dropping out of the lantern. Installing it is a bit tricky because you can't turn it upside down to see where it's going, and when you tip it to watch what you're doing, the core slides out. Because the tub is made with super thin plastic, it is easily squished out of shape. You don't want to get the repellent (which is oily) on your hands as it seems to dry them out immediately and just can't be good for you. We used it at our picnic spot--at dusk by the water--and didn't have any issues at all with any bugs flying around us while we leisurely ate our meal and had conversation. The light in the lanterns lets you know the fan is running. My unit seemed to have trouble staying on.

 The on/off switch for the lantern is a bit bulky and awkward, but the effectiveness of the bug repellent was excellent. The lantern is nice looking and has to be set upon a flat surface. It might be nice if the lid covering the batteries fit a little tighter. I personally think the addition of a loop that also allowed it to be hung would be a good idea. This is something I'd consider taking camping if the tub holding the repellent was in anyway resealable. It's like having an open can of Sterno which makes me uncomfortable but may not be an issue with other buyers.

I've only used it a few times, but the box says it can last up to 3 months. I may revise my review if I find out how long it lasted us and what the usage was. I thought it worked very well.


EPA-DHA Works For Me

What I noticed after taking Jarrow Formulas EPA-DHA for two weeks is the clarity of thought I have, even early in the morning when I am usually foggy (not a morning person).

 My dreams are colorful, active and vivid (I don't mind that as a creative person) I find myself firing on all cylinders at my job. It's like drinking coffee only I haven't. There's no crash afterward. I like the effect of having my brain running like a well oiled machine. I work with young men half my age and enjoy the banter. When it's crunch time at work, I feel good, happy even.

 There is no fish odor, and no after taste with this product. It contains 120 softgels which are easy to swallow and a 4 month supply for one person. I like that it is also a pharmaceutical grade quality product, and feel that it's a good value.

No Soft Soaping; Clean is Hard Core Help

How far would you go to save a loved one's life? 

Author of Clean, David Sheff, exposes the deeper issues of the complex illness called addiction. The definition of addict in his book, goes so far as to include alcohol, street drugs and prescription drugs, marijuana, opiates and cocaine. He spotlights the problems with current day rehab clinics.

 I found Clean thought provoking, educational and extremely insightful. Written with great compassion, as one who lost a son to addiction, Sheff's book is a must-have if you are in any kind of relationship with an addict. Clean offers real answers for the questions that plague the loved ones of an addict. Sheff takes great pains to explain what he's learned though interviews with addicts and counselors and personal experience. Also author of Beautiful Boy which I have not yet read but will look into.

Reading this book was like having Sheff put his arm around my shoulder, share a game plan that is workable, that told me when to take action. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, do not hesitate to grab hold of this book. No matter what stage of abuse or addiction, this book can help. It may even save a life. This book was given to me by the Amazon Vine program in exchange for my honest opinion.


The Measure of a Good Cup Set

The OXO measuring cups arrived and I couldn't wait to try them! They are wonderful! My last set was a little inexpensive set that matched all the kitchen utensils. I was happy enough until the measurement stamps on them started to wear off. I don't keep my cups in a set, but separated in case I need to other things with them or leave them in, say, coffee. These are on a ring, but with the handle design it lets you pull them off easily and also put them back on the ring with no fuss.

These are thick stainless steel and can be used to warm small amounts of things like butter, or dissolve Monk fruit granules in vinegar for sushi on the stove. I like the super grip handles. The toughest thing my set will ever have to scoop will be rice. The handles didn't bend at all. I can see where they could, but I don't see the point in torturing a good set of measuring cups. (They aren't really scoops, after all. That's a different design altogether.)

I love them! If they sit on the counter, they don't fall over until they are filled. They stay put. I am placing these on my list of top things to have in a kitchen. I'm going to brag about them and make sure that if any brides-to-be don't have a set of these, they will get them! These get five stars from me.

Earphones With Her in Mind

Subjekt HPM-21BL HerPhones Petite Earphones with Microphone Designed for Small Ears I couldn't wait to get these ear buds. For quite a few years, I couldn't get earbuds to fit well in my ears. They would press in easy enough, but after a while, my ears began to throb. It never occurred to me, until I saw these, that they made ANYTHING smaller. I am so happy about Subjekt HPM-21BL HerPhones! The normal casing on the bud itself is approximately 9mm, while these are 8mm and the speaker is the same.

It sounded like my music was closer and had better quality. Best of all, no aching ears! After running through a couple dozen pairs of buds over the past 4 years, I've finally found the ones I love. I give these five stars. Thank you Subjekt! P.S. These might also be appropriate for kids, given the size of the ear gels.


Use Nexcare First

I used the Nexcare Waterproof bandages for the first time today. One of my jobs keep my hands in dishwater for a good twenty minutes, if not longer. I expected this bandage to peel after five minutes. But it didn't! It lasted through three sessions of 20 minute dish washing and was only beginning to peel at the one corner.

 I dried my hands and the adhesive resealed. I like that they are invisible and no one noticed I had it on. These are going in my first aid kit. I will also be looking to see what other sizes they have. This is great if you have swimmers with nicks and cuts that need protection. Never once did the dishwater touch my wound.


WR 333 Great Ambient Weather Radio

A day in the park in Mackstown.

Our family has several of these type radios. I received the Ambient Weather WR-333 Emergency Solar Hand Crank Weather Alert Radio, Flashlight, Smart Phone Charger a few days ago and what I noticed first of all is the rugged construction. The rounded reinforced corners, a built in, rigid handle that sports a quick release clip allowing the user to attach to belt loop, low hanging branch or tent ceiling. (Other units have a cord handle.)

The face has a digital read out which illuminates if you are in the dark trying to used it. The booklet explains clearly how to set the clock, with optional military time setting. The WR333 picks up even the weakest local station in our city. The speaker didn't really need any amplification, and came in nice and sharp considering the size, with no tinny sound. With the MODE button you can switch between FM, AM and WB (Weather Band and WB Alert) which, as usual sounds bizarre and robotic and repeats after a time. The station tuners are up and down arrow buttons which make tuning a bit tedious. The volume controls are plus and minus buttons.
The solar panel on the top of the unit is 10 to 15% bigger than the ones on comparable units. Along this panel is the telescoping antenna. A push button control works the 3 led lights for a really bright flashlight. The crank handle flips out of a notch as another mode of charging. Under the crank handle is a compartment which houses 3 triple A batteries and the rechargeable lithium. Other units have the access panel tightened down with a screw (which I've never attempted to open to see what's in there since it doesn't come with the micro-screwdriver) but this one has as teeny slot to stick in a fingernail to pry it up. My husband wasn't able to do it but I was with a little effort. The slot is so thin a dime doesn't fit either.
A half-inch wide dust protector covers 3 ports; a DC/in, USB and headphone (which worked great). It is also where you find the switch when you want to change from lithium to alkaline batteries. I had trouble using the GOAL ZERO speaker with this unit, which became so staticky that the station was drowned out. Possibly, because the solar charger was in use? I have several other types of travel speakers that worked fine, again the sound of the unit on its own was really impressive. The radio is a little bulkier due to its heavy duty appearance and larger solar panel. Instructions say it will charge a smartphone, but can't say to what extent because of variable power loads. It charged my text phone up 2 bars in under half an hour and I talked on it for 25 minutes. Ambient Weather WR-333 Emergency Solar Hand Crank Weather Alert Radio, Flashlight, Smart Phone Charger would be a great addition to any emergency kit, road trip gear, or camping provisions. You could take it boating or on vacation, but it isn't waterproof. I give this five stars.


Thule Perspektiv

Thule Perspectiv Action Sports Camera Case TPGP 101 is a small roll-top stash compartment, with a crush-proof padded camera compartment including divider system, flip down organization for SD cards and batteries and 9-hook closure. It also contains the high visibility lining material in the crush proof compartment. The zipper pulls and rugged but sleek construction is still all Thule.
The 9-hook closure didn't seem to be the best idea, fortunately the top of the bag is Velcro sealed. I love that Thule isn't afraid to make good use of it. Of all the things I've seen designed by Thule, this was about to be my least favorite. I was confused by the concept. And it bugged me.
I spent a bit of time trying to figure out why THULE went with the 9-clip instead of quick release. Why they chose a roll top instead of something to sling over your shoulder, or both of them for that matter. Then it came to me, this is a camera bag you can wear on your upper arm! The crush proof case on the exterior makes sense, the 9-clip stays secured so long as you pull the tension to fit your arm. If you rig it right, you
can be pulling your camera out of it with no danger of dumping it or your batteries. Obviously you wouldn't want to over fill the roll top compartment. I got excited about this, because under the right circumstances, it means hands free hiking, skiing or whatever adrenaline pumping activity one chooses with quick and easy access to camera gear when that next great shot arrives. Brilliant!


Hellman's Mayo with Olive Oil

Hellman's Mayonnaise Dressing with Olive Oil actually appealed to me. When my husband found out his cholesterol was edging higher, the culprit was easy to pinpoint. We don't eat a lot of meat but we enjoy a good bit of tuna and egg salad and several veggie dips that make use of mayonnaise.

 I love olive oil and the health benefits are a bonus. I made two batches of tuna salad, one with our regular brand and one with Hellman's Mayonnaise Dressing with Olive Oil. They were identical in every way. I tasted them and made notes then ran a blind experiment. My husband tried them both.

He picked out the Hellman's right away. We both noticed that it doesn't overwhelm the flavor of the food you mix it with, instead it lets those foods stand out more. What I wanted to see is how it held up. I've used one olive oil mayo product that broke down and became oily.

This held up just as I expected it would. The flavor of the mayonnaise on its own is very mild. The easy use container is great, and works better if you store it in the fridge up-side down. If you are health conscious, love olive oil and are trying to watch your cholesterol, I recommend this product.


Sleep on Tap with Dream Water

The trouble with sleeplessness, is by the time you figure out you need something, it may be too late to take anything for it. Most products require 8 hours to enjoy their full benefit. I occasionally have sleepless nights. I usually know it at 3 or 4 a.m.

We first heard about this on our return trip from Seattle, Washington. We were taking the red-eye home after a wedding reception. We had  Sunday to recover and hit the ground running at work on Monday. No time for jet lag. The gift shop at one airport was passing these out as a sample if you bought one item in their kiosk. My husband and I each bought something, and agreed to take these when we got home at 10 am. Our plan was to sleep all day anyway. We drank them at 10:30 and went to bed. We didn't sleep the whole day, we rose long enough to eat and have a drink and go back to bed. We were very refreshed on Monday, but I wanted to give Dream Water a much better try than overcoming jet lag.

I admit, we are not in the habit of taking sleep products, and we are not on medications that affect our sleep. Usually we are positively impacted by products like this. I recommend the whole 2.5 oz bottle if you are certainly anticipating a big event the next day: new job, taking a test, giving a speech.

Dream Water Snoozeberry Sleep Aid is tasty and fast acting. My husband and I sometimes have very busy schedules and as a result, we find shutting our minds off almost impossible. With Dream Water Snoozeberry Sleep Aid we can drink a partial bottle if we have half a night left to go and get to sleep. Dream Water Snoozeberry Sleep Aid offers refreshing sleep with out any medication hang-over.


Portable Lamp

My husband and I live in a tiny little place and the last thing we want is clutter. When we determined that he needed a bedside lamp , the hunt was on for something that fit in with our eclectic tastes: Art Deco, Seaside Motif and Modern art. 
 When Amazon Vine Program sent it, he squinted at me. 
 "I don't know." he said. 

 We hiked the lamp up the stairs and set it in the room. The shade reminds me of white sharkskin and the metal of the lamp feels heavy. I for one like the undulating lines of the pole and the simple, weighted base is wide enough to set rings, or a watch, and fit easily on the top of a corner bookcase with out overwhelming the entire corner. 

With a 60 watt bulb, it added the right splash of illumination and for us, it's just right for a reading lamp. It fit in with our decor perfectly and he couldn't stop raving about it.


Feed Your Head With MagMind

MagMind has helped me at work in maintaining focus, a sense of calm even in the middle of stressful situations. I notice that when I take it, my nighttime sleep is much deeper and it's easier for me to go back to sleep should I wake.

 I work in an environment where information is tossed around all day, and I feel better able to keep up with others in the office and that multitasking seems easier. It is recommended to take two a day, and on the days that I have obligations that run into the evening, I took the second one around dinner time and again, noticed enhanced focus with out feeling over tired. It helps me maintain a sense of well-being. 

Even though it is a little pricey, we intend to continue taking this product because I personally find it so effective. ADDENDUM: Interestingly, my dreams are also more varied and vivid. After taking this product for several weeks, my husband and I both noticed a different quality to our dreams. A decided left turn, but it hasn't been unpleasant, just notable.


Reading "Brilliance" is like standing on a railway platform and being snatched from it by a runaway train. The book pulls you through every page and doesn't let go until the very end. A breathless ride. Marcus Sakey is astounding. Almost 500 pages of heart-stopping action. Put this on your list of summer's must-read.

I received this book free from the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for my honest opinion.


Look into Lutein

I received my Jarrow Formulas Lutein from the Amazon Vine Program. I spend the better part of a day staring at a computer screen topped off with reading in the evening. Recently I noticed that when I looked up, I wasn't able to see clearly. Also, I found that reading small type was impossible with out assistance. It was as though my field of vision was pixelating. I wear glasses as I have astigmatism in both eyes, but even my glasses were of no help.

 When I saw Jarrow Formulas Lutein, I wanted to give it a try. The soft gels are football shaped and go down easily. There is no unpleasant after taste. With 60 softgels a bottle, I feel it's a good value. At first I didn't notice any change at all.

In the meantime, I shifted to less computer time. After only a few weeks, my eyes do not fatigue as easily, and I can read the small type on this bottles label without much effort. If you suffer from eyestrain you may want to check into this product. I certainly appreciate the difference it made for me.


The Godfather's Daughter

THE GODFATHER'S DAUGHTER by Rita Gigante with Natasha Stoynoff is not another mobster tale. Interestingly, this story picks up where I left off reading The Valachi Papers in the Genovese family, just as Vincent "The Chin" Gigante rises through the ranks to become the Godfather. One of his youngest children, Rita, tells what life was like as a child in the home of one of the most powerful men in New York City.
Her engaging tale is not at all what I would have expected, and seems to be a life filled with heart-sickening surprises. Among her earliest questions was, "What does my dad do for a living?" A question that went largely unasked and unanswered until she was well into her teens. Her own personal evolution was of interest to me as I watched how she went from not being able to speak in truth about the reality of her world to anyone, sometimes because she didn't know, or because of the" unspoken rule" don't ask questions.

I found the family dynamic interesting because, while my family was not connected, they were Catholic as was Gigante's family and there were other parallels I could appreciate. The judgmental attitude of the Catholic church, and living a lifestyle that goes against the grain. I Think it is commendable that Rita Gigante was strong and brave enough not only to pursue her own truth despite brutal beatings, family denials and threats, but that she found her own healing as a result. Although the author and I are far apart on many of her beliefs and ideas, it took a lot of guts to stand up for what she believes, right wrong or otherwise.

 I really don't know what to think of this book. It went in directions that seemed completely unreal to me. I am not comfortable recommending this to anyone. There are f-bombs and other profanities, and toward the end, the author moves into rather sensitive areas about her own sexual identity. I'll give it four stars for just being gutsy. The book on the whole was a relatively quick read for me, and if you are interested in Mafia tales, you might enjoy this unusual one.

 This book was given to me by the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for my opinion.


Primula French Press

I had originally ordered this press at Christmas time and it arrived in less than optimal condition (see original review link below)
Amazon pulled the review, as they should have, because the review mainly covered the shopping aspect and not the product.
I contacted the company directly and pleaded with them to please consider sending me a new unit. They promptly did so, not requiring the original damaged unit to be returned.
Then I dropped the ball. I enjoyed it a few times, put it on a shelf and failed to review it at all.

This week, when our morning coffee was too thin, I said I had a solution. I pulled out the Primula French press and added a few heaping tablespoons of coffee, and poured our still hot pot of weak coffee over the grounds.
I let it steep for about 4 minutes, letting the plunger rest above the floating grounds. At the end of that time,  I depressed the plunger and poured morning coffee. It took less time than re-brewing another pot from scratch. After I woke up, it occurred to me that I hadn't posted the review!

The Primula French Press is easy to use. As with any French Press, you will find some fine grounds in the bottom of your cup. The sturdy construction and thick glass carafe means you will enjoy this product for many years. The stainless steel filter and parts are easy to clean. The handle is large enough for a man's hands for easy pouring. The attractive black plastic frame fits with our decor and the lid has an easy pouring side and to keep the coffee hot a little longer, you can turn the lid to prevent heat loss.

I don't mind leaving it on the table. It makes six cups of coffee or tea. We like the Lady Grey loose leaf and couldn't be happier with the results. I give this item five stars and applaud the customer service department for their fast response.


Expand Your Gardening Season with Cobra

Spring is just around the corner in my neck of the woods and I've already begun dreaming of crisp lettuce, fresh herbs and juicy tomatoes. I got CobraCo Window Planter13 Expandable Window Planter to begin my seedlings long before the last frost. It fits in the standard 4 inch deep window sill and expands up to 24 inches long. The weathered wooden boxes are about 2 and a half inches deep and lined with plastic inserts to keep water from ruining the wood, or dripping on your sill. I'm planning an indoor lettuce garden this year where I can keep a close eye on it. (Take that, you bad rabbits!) And I can also start my tomatoes in it at the same time. CobraCo Window Planter13 Expandable Window Planter is perfect for indoor gardeners and seed starters!


Bellar Bellowing on Eighteen Weeks?

I like music that is a little different, minor keys, dreamy, scary, industrial, warbling experimental. I don't even mind if it sounds a little like its crashing off key. I was fine with it until the last 18 seconds give or take where a male voice begins to yell, in a truly disturbing tone. "Listen, listen listen!" A little too jarring an ending for me. This song goes into my listen only occasionally list. The cover art is great, I would love the poster!


Light up Your Piano Music Collection with PASSIONS

PASSIONS is the newest addition to an amazing collection of truly beautiful music. I've been a fan of George Skaroulis ever since I stumbled upon him at a Greek Festival some years back. If you love great relaxing piano music along the lines of George Winston or Jim Brickman, you are in for a real treat. I have never been disappointed in this artist's offerings. Listen to the tracks and find out for yourself, what you've been missing. And then get PASSIONS!


TP-LINK Hooks You Up!

My husband and I are not TV people. This drives our local cable company nuts. We have a mobile device we use to hook up to the internet because we like to write from various location and you can't take cable service on the road with you. However, this left me with an old desktop that occasionally needed to get online.

The TP-LINK Dual Band Wireless Adapter was the answer!

The box contains a mini set up disc with quick set up guide, the TP-LINK TL-WDN3200 Dual Band Wireless N600 USB adapter and should you need it, a 3 foot extension cable. I followed the instructions and in less than 5 minutes, I was online. This adapter works with XP, Vista and Windows 7. If it works on our old desktop, I think it would work on most laptops. It was easy to set up and use and works great!


Numi Cardamom Pu'erh Tea

My friend A.J. and I go way back. We met over food and she was the first person to tell me about cardamom, a wonderfully aromatic and exotic spice originally from South India, now grown in Guatemala, is a little citrusy, a bit spicy with hints of nutmeg. I add it to my french toast (don't tell anyone!). I couldn't wait to try the tea from Amazon Vine program.
Of all the teas I have drunk in my life, Numi Cardamom Pu'erh Tea is a deep rich chocolatey brown. If the tea bag is out, you might mistake it for coffee, except for the amazing aroma! I sweetened mine with a little raw agave syrup and it was glorious! It packs a little kick too. So if you find yourself in the middle of an after noon slump, Numi Cardamom Pu'erh might be a great tea for you! One box contains 16 individually wrapped tea bags. Opening one of them releases a fragrance that's like going on a mini vacation to some far away place.
I'm having a cup right now in honor of my friend A.J. Numi Cardamom Pu'erh Tea is a tasty treat for ones who are looking for coffee or power drink alternatives.



Schroeder opens with a young man making a change for the better, at least in his mind. I couldn't wait to start the book, wondering what anyone is thinking when they begin to change identities. My questions are how long did they do it and get away with it? They are of course answered in this highly entertaining tale by Amity Gauge. At times I laughed out loud, marvel at the way the character went full bore forward with his idealistic plan. With summer just around the corner (even though March has barely stepped through the door) you will definitely want to put this one on your summer reading list. It's serious with out being heavy, light-hearted, self-deprecating and droll, with flashes of grandiosity, but Gauge pulls it off in elegant style. I'm already looking for what else she's written.

I was given this book for free from the Amazon Vine Program in exchange for my honest opinion .


Nature's Bounty Vanilla Protein Shake Mix

Nature’s Bounty Protein Shake  Vanilla is loaded with vitamins, prebiotics and probiotics and is sweetened with Stevia. It does also contain some milk and soy ingredients, and is suitable for vegetarians. 
I've mixed it with water and soy milk with great results. It could easily be used with almond or rice milk. When mixed with water, it is a little lighter, and still tasty if you are watching calories. 
I feel great taking Nature’s Bounty Protein Shake knowing I am doing something positive for myself. It supports digestive health, hair, nails and skin health and immune health. 
Having used this is a meal replacement some mornings and most often as a midday boost, I'll tell you it makes me feel energized and focused as I go through my day. It also helps with establishing a fitness regimen as I do not feel drained or exhausted at the end of the day like I used to. 
When my schedule turns hectic, I mix Nature’s Bounty Protein Shake in a shaker and take it with me and enjoy it as I have opportunity. 
The vanilla flavor is rich and tasty when mixed with soy milk, even the plain. I recommend this to health conscious women on the go as well as anyone wanting to make positive changes in their lifestyle.


Sensa Chews Fabulous Chocolate Fudge

I used to carry protein bars as midday snacks in my purse and have, at various times,stuck these 220 calorie meal replacements in my desk drawers and glove box. Over time, these little meals throughout the day had blossomed into endless bouts of eating. Sitting at a desk all day was taking its toll: my waist had become the muffin top. I wanted to make changes. If I left the snacks at home, I felt ravenously hungry and only thought of the candy machine in the next office.
SENSA CHEWS appealed to me because each one of them is the size of a wrapped piece of candy, and looks like one and they come in Chocolate Fudge. I eat one with an 8 ounce cup of hot tea and I genuinely feel full; this tides me over as long as two hours. With one piece of fruit as my midday snack I can last up to three hours. I have taken two of the chews in a day with no side effects (maltitol sometimes causes excessive bathroom usage…)  and the SENSA CHEWS CHOCOLATE FUDGE flavor is satisfying enough that I don’t find myself tearing my desk apart looking for some long forgotten crumb or quarters for the vending machine. You can’t go wrong with only a 15 calorie investment.
My belly has been reigned in and I feel better about having some control over my diet. I usually eat a light breakfast and a healthy meal at dinner and I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything. I recommend this to anyone who is serious about changing their eating habits.


I COULD HAVE HAD A V-8 Energy Shot

 V8 Energy Shot contains 50 calories, caffeine equal to a cup of coffee and nine fruit and vegetable juices that makes this  a delicious blend of powerful energy. The 2.5 oz bottle is packed with flavor and it gave me a lift that served me through a cloudy, mid-week slump. They pack easily in brief case or purse and need no refrigeration. They’re a tasty alternative to coffee, soda or sugary energy drinks. If you're asking for a boost without the crash this might be the delicious answer. 


Natures Bounty Protein Powder Chocolate

Like you, after the first of the year, I re-evaluated my life and determined to make some changes. I wanted first to get healthier and get out of the habit of all day snacking. I work at a 925 for a 6 hour stretch and get one 15 minute break. Nature's Bounty Protein Shake Mix is enough to get me through the last leg of my day. I used one scoop with water and it's light but still very tasty. I made it with soy milk and it tasted like chocolate pudding! I am not even a big fan of chocolate and I loved it! Two scoops it 120 calories and with soy milk, I could use it to replace a midday meal.
Nature's Bounty Protein Shake Mix is packed with vitamins and minerals and is the perfect blend for female vegans and vegetarians.   makes me feel great all day. I've been eating less, just not feeling the need to constantly eat. I never feel that blazing hunger that makes me lose all perspective. When I start to feel hungry, I have already planned for my light snack, or meal.
I recommend this to anyone who loves chocolate drinks, wants to feel great and is trying to improve their health.


Mookeys: In a City Near You?

MOOKEYS by MORGAN R. BRAMLET is a walk down the what-if? path. Have you ever wondered what might happen if we could purchase genetically engineered pets? How perfect would they be, if they had all the best features anyone could ever ask for and could talk? Imagine that. Talking pets. Would you be the first among your friends to own one?

Engage with Morgan R. Bramlet as he explores this line of thought through his fictional novel, Mookeys. I found the book fascinating with a little science that was not over my head, a little too believable, and placed in 21st century United States, with an amazingly real scenario: a journalist receives one to take home to his family.

I fell under the spell of the story and let it unfold. I intended to read a few pages a day over the Christmas holidays. But the hook of this story embedded itself in my backbone, on which I lay for hours, too curious about the next event to put the book down.
 When I reached nearly the last plot twist of the book, the turn was so unexpected I had to take a moment to consider what I had just read. I almost put the book down. After careful thought, I decided to see where it would go. Glad I did. I commend the author on how he left the door ajar for future stories. Not sure if there’s anywhere left to go, but this author’s imagination challenges predictability. Check into it if you like sci-fi.

Just an FYI I recently acquired Bramlet’s book: Gargoyles. Stay tuned for that review by month’s end!