Monday, November 30, 2015

Consumer Critique: Deckopedia Cards

Natural health and wellness is a growing trend, but it can be hard to make changes or wade through all of the information out there. Deckopedia Publishing is taking in-demand topics – such as DIY organic skincare, juicing, and the pursuit of happiness –– and making them accessible and easy to learn. The deck contains a set of large (4.5x3 inch) flashcards, each one easy to read and with a great technique to learn.
I had a chance to review the decks. I found them really easy to use, and quite helpful. Some of them were techniques or ideas I already do, and some of them aren't things that would work for me, but all of the decks I saw had a substantial number of cards that were easy to apply and are things I definitely want to try. In some ways, it's easy to use the cards than a book, since I can pick one and keep it out until I feel like I've got it, then choose the next one.
There are four decks, each one priced at $19.95. They make great stocking stuffers for the person in your life who is looking for a healthier life!
50 Ways to a Better You: A Modern Guide to Happiness, Wisdom, and Well-being is your ideal companion for becoming a happier, better you. Self-improvement tips and inspirational advice guide you toward changes through lifestyle habits, self-care and spirituality. If you’re looking for personal growth, this is the deck for you!

Super Smoothies: Blending Your Way to Radiant Health puts a new spin on America’s favorite health treat. Nutritionist Kate Gavlick shares ideas in Super Smoothies, a collection of 50 mouthwatering recipes to shake up the routine and serve your health needs. Heading to the gym? There’s a smoothie for that. No time to cook a meal? There's a smoothie that can fill in the gaps. Feeling stressed, fatigued, or craving sweets? Just flip through the deck; they’ve got you covered! Recipes are categorized to address specific health goals, including: Antioxidant, Detoxifying, Meal Replacement, Digestion, Elixir, Energizing, Glowing Skin, Hydration, Mood Boosting, Pre/Post Workout, Immune System, and Stress Relief.
Replenish: A Collection of 50 Hearty Juices and Elixirs nourishes the body for radiant health and energy. Nutritionist Kate Gavlick brings her expertise to the juicer with Replenish, a collection of 50 hearty juice recipes that will fuel your body with all the nutrients it needs to thrive. Replenish isn’t just a deck of 50 juice recipes; it’s a practical guide with 50 ways to improve your health and well-being. As with the Smoothie deck, recipes are categorized to address specific health goals.
The Natural Beauty Skincare Deck: Easy Homemade Recipes for Happy and Healthy Skin turns the kitchen into a spa with DIY beauty treatments. Who knew you can treat dark spots and excess pigmentation with parsley? Get ready to glow with these homemade skincare recipes, designed to enhance your natural beauty and treat every type of skin concern. This deck guides you on how to use natural ingredients to create an array of organic beauty solutions, from cleansers and exfoliators to moisturizers, masks, sunscreens, and much more!

Consumer Critique: Art Therapy Magazine

Art Therapy Collection has a magazine that would make a great gift for art lovers in your life. I had a chance to sample a few issues, and it was really neat. My daughter, who is in elementary school but loves art, really enjoyed learning in the magazine; my mother-in-law and father, who are quite talented when it comes to art, also found it interesting. The techniques and images can be used by younger kids, but are also at a level that will be enjoyable for adults. Each magazine has images that can be colored, then cut out and used for other projects; creative coloring techniques to use for art (my daughter especially loved those); and relaxation tips that capitalize on the fact that art can also help de-stress us.

Each issue also contains high-quality coloring supplies - not just the quality that you'd buy for kids, but the same type that my dad buys for his own art. Right now, you can get the introductory offer for just $4.95, which has two issues, a storage box, and supplies - it's a great deal and the perfect time to try it out!

Shopping Savings: Serenity Acres Farm Soap

From now to December 27th, go to and enter HOLIDAY50 on check-out for $0.50 off each bar! These soaps are lovingly crafted with fresh goat's milk in every bar, free of chemicals, artificial dyes, preservatives or alcohol.

Consumer Critique: Gnoments

Gnoments is a new relationship-building tool to help you share and create special moments with the one you love. The gnomes are tiny little stuffed figures with magnetic hands that encourage playful interaction and thoughtfulness.

I had a chance to try out these gnomes, and they were fun for me to use - more so than for my husband. Although he really enjoyed getting the notes, he wasn't as good at sending them. They have pouches that can hold small objects or notes, for gnomes that are placed where both partners can see. For us, if he took one to his office, I could use the NFC tag to send messages that would be delivered when he got to his gnome. Messages can be videos, sound clips, texts, and more. There's also an easy way to set up the messages through the Gnomifications online site, using a Gnomitar avatar to do the same thing.

The Gnoments kit includes a boy and girl gnome, each with a special pouch for including notes, mementos, and gifts, along with an embedded NFC chip for high tech messages and a 32 page hard-covered, illustrated story book with ideas to get you started so you can begin making special moments today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Book Nook: Do I Have to Say Hello?

Blue Rider Press recently set me a copy of the re-release, Do I Have to Say Hello? Aunt Delia’s Manners Quiz for Kids and Their Grown-ups. In a light-hearted series of quizzes, alternate scenarios, and true-or-false questions, bestselling author/screenwriter Delia Ephron and New Yorker cartoonist Edward Koren teamed up to create a book experience that covers all types of manner guides – whether it’s for the playground, the car, or the dinner table.
It was a fun book. The questions and options were interesting enough to keep both of my girls intrigued, but contained some situations that they didn't know, so it provided a great way to start talking about some etiquette issues they hadn't experienced. It's a great book to read to help prep your kids for situations they may experience at holiday parties or get-togethers, in school, or when running errands out and about!

Soul Sustenance: If - Trading Your If Only Regrets for God's What If Possibilities

If is such a powerful word. It can be full of possibilities - or it can be used to destroy them. It can convey hope or regret. In Mark Batterson's new book "If" he looks at changing from regret to a forward-looking view of how God can use us.

I had a chance to review this book, and it was definitely worth my time. As I've gotten older, I've regretted less and less - in fact, there was a question that came up in Bible study a few weeks ago, asking what we would change, and I said nothing. Not that there aren't things that I would have done differently if I could do them over, but I've realized that even the mistakes, the tragedies, the struggles, have shaped me into who I am. So this book was mostly a confirmation of that gradual shift in attitude that's happened.

However, many of us struggle with regret, and that's perfectly normal. This book helps shift that attitude, based on the verse "If God is for us, who can be against us?" God has amazing things He wants to do to use us for His work, and if are open to the "what ifs" in life - the what can we do, not the what should we have done - we'll be in a better position to do that.

Movie Minute: The Letters

MOTHER TERESA, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, is considered one of the greatest humanitarians of modern times. Her selfless commitment changed hearts, lives and inspired millions throughout the world. THE LETTERS, as told through personal letters she wrote over the last 40 years of her life, reveal a troubled and vulnerable women who grew to feel an isolation and an abandonment by God. The story is told from the point of view of a Vatican priest charged with the task of investigating acts and events following her death. He recounts her life’s work, her political oppression, her religious zeal and her unbreakable spirit.

I had a chance to review the film in advance of its Dec. 4th release. It was well-done, providing more insight into who she was and how her relationship with God changed over her life. It's unfortunate that she had to see so much sorrow, but there are certainly live that have been changed because of her.

Book Nook: Passing the Baton of Light: Saving a Family Tree

In her autobiography, “Passing the Baton of Light: Saving a Family Tree,” former burlesque performer and actress Beverly J. Powers narrates her life starting from her youth, to working in Hollywood, to married life and raising her two sons, to working for God as a member of the clergy.

This book, which I was sent a copy to review, was a story of unconditional love, from a mother with a storied past and a son who ended up in prison on felony charges. Her book is designed to inspire mothers to never give up on their children, no matter what happens as they grow and mature. It was well-written and encouraging, honest and interesting.

About the author
Beverly J. Powers is an ordained minister with The Living Ministry ( in Hawaii, and serves as a chaplain at Maui Memorial Hospital. She has performed more than 2,700 weddings and vow renewals to date, and has co-pastored and founded multiple churches across the Hawaiian Islands. Born in Los Angeles, Calif., Powers spent 25 years in Hollywood starring in iconic movies and television shows, including her role as the Queen of Burlesque known as “Miss Beverly Hills.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Mealtime Magic: Family Pizza Nigh

Pizza is a really easy way to have a fun family night. Pizzas can be very healthy - and there are a lot more options out there than just cheese and traditional meats. You can even make it into dessert! Rustic Crust ready-made crusts has a ton of recipes for really unique flavors, like Thanksgiving pizza, ice cream sundae pizza, butternut squash pizza with cranberries and ricotta, and more!

They also have some ideas to share for your family pizza night.
1. After cleaning your countertop surface, place the Rustic Crust pizza crusts on top of some flour (gluten free is an option!)
2. Get in the cooking spirit, providing the kids with chef hats to decorate and wear while they cook
3. Put all ingredients in small bowls and arrange them around the crust so the kids can pick and choose what to put on their own pizza. Below are some of our favorite ingredients:
Mozzarella cheese (lots of it!), Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Shaved Parmesan, Prosciutto, Grilled Chicken, Diced ham, Pepperoni, Crumbled sausage, Bacon, Tomatoes, Chopped spinach, Diced scallions, Onions, Arugula, Diced pineapple, Assorted olives, Sundried tomato, Artichoke hearts, Peppers, Basil
4. Use one all natural Rustic Crust sauce bag per pizza crust- help little kids by spooning it onto the pizza for them and let them have fun spreading it
5. Add toppings and create your family’s favorite pizza combinations.
6. Make it a family game night while the pizza is in the oven.
7. Have fun and remember it's ok to play with your food!

I did have a chance to try out some crusts and sauce for our own pizza night, and they were delicious. My daughters loved each of the crusts we tried, and the sauce was just right - neutral enough to go with a variety of flavors, but not bland. These crusts, wchich are GMO and trans-fat free, are made in the USA from unbleached whole grain flours and bake quickly. Right now you can get a coupon on the website to try them out!

Soul Sustenance: Advice from a Turkey Dog

by Douglas Green
The word is out.  There’s something wrong with Thanksgiving.  
As with so many other holidays, we have ruined its original concept with enforced “traditions:” Macy’s parade, turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie, televised football. Don’t get me wrong, I like all of these traditions, I just don’t know what they have to do with gratitude, or with immigrants thanking locals for helping them survive.
The secret to re-legitimizing the day isn’t the food, or even family. It’s the name. Can we return to actually giving thanks? 
To find a way, I turn to the greatest teachers on gratitude I’ve ever known: dogs. Never unselfish, but habitually giving credit whenever they see it due.
So, from their pure integrity, here are some canine keys to a true Thanksgiving:
1. Sit in your front doorway and look around.  A clever pooch knows this is the best place to relax. He can watch everything going on outside, while poised to jump if any food should drop. And it’s a perfect first stop on the gratitude trail.
What sort of home do you have? Do you rent or own? Does the doorway reveal a Downton Abbey landscape or a parking lot? Whichever, sit on that threshold and find twenty things you appreciate about your shelter and the astounding world outside it. If you can’t, you’re not looking hard enough.
2. Pretend that everyone in your life didn’t have to be there, or do what they’ve done for you. Then realize that’s the truth. We laugh at the enthusiasm pups show over the simplest things – their human, a treat or leash. But only because we take those sights for granted. What if you never assumed the one who’d cared for you would come home? What if you harbored doubts about ever tasting another cookie?
Then look at your present relationships. Your parents, your spouse, your friends, and even your dog. Take a moment to ask what your life would be like with any of them not there, or not caring about you.
Scary? Then take it further; focus on your love for them. Feel it till your heart could burst. That appreciation, that pain, is what dogs feel for us all the time. When they’re staring up from the floor, unable to intellectualize their feelings as we do. That’s being alive.
3. Whatever your religious beliefs, pretend you’re wrong. Dogs lack dogma. Their brains aren’t big enough to perceive a rationale for the universe. Dogs are neither theist nor atheist, sectarian nor agnostic.
Instead, they just appreciate. Do any of us honor the sun like a pup who shifts her sleeping to follow the rays? Do we run out after rains to absorb every enhanced scent?
Take a breath, close your eyes, and forget all that you believe about why the world is. And when you free your brain from the “why,” let it all roll over you: The enormity of outer space, the miracle of an ant, the luck of our proximity to the sun, the breathtaking complexity of your own body. And just try not to feel grateful.
4. Even if you absolutely, 100%, know it’s completely and totally wrong, pretend for just a wee moment that things are actually better today than they were a year ago. And see how many of them you can count. Have we ever been told as often that our world, our leaders, our lives are horrible? News channels screaming, rants on Facebook, forcing us to focus on lousiness. And then all the great people who’ve died, all the pollution, and get a load of what the kids listen to – it’s just garbage! 
But if we put aside that all these worst-politicians-ever just lie and cheat, maybe we could remember that most of them, most of the time, are trying to do their best, and often get things right. 
And are you happy about anyone who was born this last year? And how many new inventions reduce pollution? And have you noticed that all the music you like is still around, and maybe you’ve actually enjoyed one new song? So then, things are better, right?
Okay, maybe that argument doesn’t hold, but just give a moment to thanking the few things that you can agree have improved. If you can’t think of any, then admit that you have less brain than any dumb mutt, who has no trouble saying, “Right now, at this moment, that mushroom gravy I smell from two houses down is the most glorious creation ever!”
5. Embrace everyone, in the way they can accept. True gratitude should glow, not just in feeling thanks, but in expressing it, as dogs do every waking moment. 
Now that doesn’t mean jumping onto the white dresses of frightened strangers. Own your social intelligence, like an obedience-school graduate, and treat people as you believe they would wish. Greet that work colleague with a warm handshake and smile. Embrace that chic friend with a peck-almost-on-the-cheek, that child with a warm hug, and your significant other with the passion you’ve stifled since Labor Day.  
And who knows?  Maybe these actions will give you more to be thankful for next year.
Now these canine behaviors create their own rewards, but there’s a higher goal here, too.  And again, I learned it from a dog.
My pooch, Shirelle, had a fatal cancer, and was supposed to have died already; I lived in fear every time I left her for even a few hours. So this Thanksgiving, I gently took her with me to the home of some neighbors for their family celebration.  
This couple had lost their own dog a couple of years before, and had embraced mine with an openness like grandparents. And Shirelle adored them, always lunging toward their door on our walks. I’d wondered why.
After chatting with some of their relatives, I realized the dog was missing. I checked room after room, until finally looking across at the open doorway to the kitchen.
There stood “Grandpa,” carving the turkey, with my big mutt sitting oh-so-politely at attention next to him. He carved slowly, methodically, putting one slice onto a platter for the family, handing the next slice to her, the next slice to the family, the next slice to her…spoiling the being I loved most just rotten.
Months of emotion welled up in my eyes. It was too goofy, too beautiful. He was thankful for her and she was thankful for him and I was thankful for both and for their gratitude to each other.
That should be our goal for the day. For thanks to go all the way around – everyone beholden to everyone – and the emotion overwhelming with its simplicity to where you realize that this is really the way the whole world should be, the way all of life should be.
Douglas Green is a psychotherapist, specializing in helping kids and teens build lives they can be proud of. He is also the creator and writer for, which helps kids, teens, parents, and others around the world with advice from the point of view of a friendly dog, and is the author of the upcoming book, The Teachings of Shirelle – Life Lessons from a Divine Knucklehead. Learn more about Green at, and connect on Facebook and Twitter.